Verse > Edmund Spenser > Complete Poetical Works
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Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1908.
 
The Faerie Queene
Book IV. The Legend of Cambel and Triamond
Canto VI
 
        Both Scudamour and Arthegall
  Doe fight with Britomart:
He sees her face; doth fall in love,
  And soone from her depart.

I
WHAT equall torment to the griefe of mind,
And pyning anguish hid in gentle hart,
That inly feeds it selfe with thoughts unkind,
And nourisheth her owne consuming smart?
What medicine can any leaches art        5
Yeeld such a sore, that doth her grievance hide,
And will to none her maladie impart?
Such was the wound that Scudamour did gride;
For which Dan Phebus selfe cannot a salve provide.
 
II
Who having left that restlesse House of Care,
        10
The next day, as he on his way did ride,
Full of melancholie and sad misfare,
Through misconceipt, all unawares espide
An armed knight under a forrest side,
Sitting in shade beside his grazing steede;        15
Who, soone as them approaching he descride,
Gan towards them to pricke with eger speede,
That seem’d he was full bent to some mischievous deede.
 
III
Which Scudamour perceiving, forth issewed
To have rencountred him in equall race;        20
But soone as th’ other, nigh approaching, vewed
The armes he bore, his speare he gan abase,
And voide his course: at which so suddain case
He wondred much. But th’ other thus can say:
‘Ah! gentle Scudamour, unto your grace        25
I me submit, and you of pardon pray,
That almost had against you trespassed this day.’
 
IV
Whereto thus Scudamour: ‘Small harme it were
For any knight upon a ventrous knight
Without displeasance for to prove his spere.        30
But reade you, sir, sith ye my name have hight,
What is your owne, that I mote you requite?’
‘Certes,’ sayd he, ‘ye mote as now excuse
Me from discovering you my name aright:
For time yet serves that I the same refuse;        35
But call ye me the Salvage Knight, as others use.’
 
V
‘Then this, Sir Salvage Knight,’ quoth he, ‘areede;
Or doe you here within this forrest wonne,
That seemeth well to answere to your weede?
Or have ye it for some occasion donne?        40
That rather seemes, sith knowen armes ye shonne.’
‘This other day,’ sayd he, ‘a stranger knight
Shame and dishonour hath unto me donne;
On whom I waite to wreake that foule despight,
When ever he this way shall passe by day or night.’        45
 
VI
‘Shame be his meede,’ quoth he, ‘that meaneth shame.
But what is he by whom ye shamed were?’
‘A stranger knight,’ sayd he, ‘unknowne by name,
But knowne by fame, and by an hebene speare,
With which he all that met him downe did beare.        50
He in an open turney, lately held,
Fro me the honour of that game did reare;
And having me, all wearie earst, downe feld,
The fayrest ladie reft, and ever since withheld.’
 
VII
When Scudamour heard mention of that speare,
        55
He wist right well that it was Britomart,
The which from him his fairest love did beare.
Tho gan he swell in every inner part,
For fell despight, and gnaw his gealous hart,
That thus he sharply sayd: ‘Now by my head,        60
Yet is not this the first unknightly part,
Which that same knight, whom by his launce I read,
Hath doen to noble knights, that many makes him dread.
 
VIII
‘For lately he my love hath fro me reft,
And eke defiled with foule villanie        65
The sacred pledge which in his faith was left,
In shame of knighthood and fidelitie;
The which ere long full deare he shall abie.
And if to that avenge by you decreed
This hand may helpe, or succour aught supplie,        70
It shall not fayle, when so ye shall it need.’
So both to wreake their wrathes on Britomart agreed.
 
IX
Whiles thus they communed, lo! farre away
A knight soft ryding towards them they spyde,
Attyr’d in forraine armes and straunge aray:        75
Whom when they nigh approcht, they plaine descryde
To be the same for whom they did abyde.
Sayd then Sir Scudamour, ‘Sir Salvage Knight,
Let me this crave, sith first I was defyde,
That first I may that wrong to him requite:        80
And, if I hap to fayle, you shall recure my right.’
 
X
Which being yeelded, he his threatfull speare
Gan fewter, and against her fiercely ran.
Who soone as she him saw approaching neare
With so fell rage, her selfe she lightly gan        85
To dight, to welcome him well as she can:
But entertaind him in so rude a wise,
That to the ground she smote both horse and man;
Whence neither greatly hasted to arise,
But on their common harmes together did devise.        90
 
XI
But Artegall, beholding his mischaunce,
New matter added to his former fire;
And eft aventring his steeleheaded launce,
Against her rode, full of despiteous ire,
That nought but spoyle and vengeance did require.        95
But to himselfe his felonous intent
Returning, disappointed his desire,
Whiles unawares his saddle he forwent,
And found himselfe on ground in great amazement.
 
XII
Lightly he started up out of that stound,
        100
And snatching forth his direfull deadly blade,
Did leape to her, as doth an eger hound
Thrust to an hynd within some covert glade,
Whom without perill he cannot invade.
With such fell greedines he her assayled,        105
That though she mounted were, yet he her made
To give him ground, (so much his force prevayled)
And shun his mightie strokes, gainst which no armes avayled.
 
XIII
So as they coursed here and there, it chaunst
That, in her wheeling round, behind her crest        110
So sorely he her strooke, that thence it glaunst
Adowne her backe, the which it fairely blest
From foule mischance; ne did it ever rest,
Till on her horses hinder parts it fell;
Where byting deepe, so deadly it imprest,        115
That quite it chynd his backe behind the sell,
And to alight on foote her algates did compell.
 
XIV
Like as the lightning brond from riven skie,
Throwne out by angry Jove in his vengeance,
With dreadfull force falles on some steeple hie;        120
Which battring, downe it on the church doth glance,
And teares it all with terrible mischance.
Yet she no whit dismayd, her steed forsooke,
And casting from her that enchaunted lance,
Unto her sword and shield her soone betooke;        125
And therewithall at him right furiously she strooke.
 
XV
So furiously she strooke in her first heat,
Whiles with long fight on foot he breathlesse was,
That she him forced backward to retreat,
And yeeld unto her weapon way to pas:        130
Whose raging rigour neither steele nor bras
Could stay, but to the tender flesh it went,
And pour’d the purple bloud forth on the gras;
That all his mayle yriv’d, and plates yrent,
Shew’d all his bodie bare unto the cruell dent.        135
 
XVI
At length, when as he saw her hastie heat
Abate, and panting breath begin to fayle,
He, through long sufferance growing now more great,
Rose in his strength, and gan her fresh assayle,
Heaping huge strokes, as thicke as showre of hayle,        140
And lashing dreadfully at every part,
As if he thought her soule to disentrayle.
Ah! cruell hand, and thrise more cruell hart,
That workst such wrecke on her to whom thou dearest art!
 
XVII
What yron courage ever could endure,
        145
To worke such outrage on so faire a creature?
And in his madnesse thinke with hands impure
To spoyle so goodly workmanship of nature,
The Maker selfe resembling in her feature?
Certes some hellish furie, or some feend,        150
This mischiefe framd, for their first loves defeature,
To bath their hands in bloud of dearest freend,
Thereby to make their loves beginning their lives end.
 
XVIII
Thus long they trac’d and traverst to and fro,
Sometimes pursewing, and sometimes pursewed,        155
Still as advantage they espyde thereto:
But toward th’ end Sir Arthegall renewed
His strength still more, but she still more decrewed.
At last his lucklesse hand he heav’d on hie,
Having his forces all in one accrewed,        160
And therewith stroke at her so hideouslie,
That seemed nought but death mote be her destinie.
 
XIX
The wicked stroke upon her helmet chaunst,
And with the force which in it selfe it bore
Her ventayle shard away, and thence forth glaunst        165
Adowne in vaine, ne harm’d her any more.
With that, her angels face, unseene afore,
Like to the ruddie morne appeard in sight,
Deawed with silver drops, through sweating sore,
But somewhat redder then beseem’d aright,        170
Through toylesome heate and labour of her weary fight.
 
XX
And round about the same, her yellow heare,
Having through stirring loosd their wonted band,
Like to a golden border did appeare,
Framed in goldsmithes forge with cunning hand:        175
Yet goldsmithes cunning could not understand
To frame such subtile wire, so shinie cleare.
For it did glister like the golden sand,
The which Pactolus, with his waters shere,
Throwes forth upon the rivage round about him nere.        180
 
XXI
And as his hand he up againe did reare,
Thinking to worke on her his utmost wracke,
His powrelesse arme, benumbd with secret feare,
From his revengefull purpose shronke abacke,
And cruell sword out of his fingers slacke        185
Fell downe to ground, as if the steele had sence,
And felt some ruth, or sence his hand did lacke,
Or both of them did thinke, obedience
To doe to so divine a beauties excellence.
 
XXII
And he himselfe long gazing thereupon,
        190
At last fell humbly downe upon his knee,
And of his wonder made religion,
Weening some heavenly goddesse he did see,
Or else unweeting what it else might bee;
And pardon her besought his errour frayle,        195
That had done outrage in so high degree:
Whilest trembling horrour did his sense assayle,
And made ech member quake, and manly hart to quayle.
 
XXIII
Nathelesse she, full of wrath for that late stroke,
All that long while upheld her wrathfull hand,        200
With fell intent on him to bene ywroke:
And looking sterne, still over him did stand,
Threatning to strike, unlesse he would withstand:
And bad him rise, or surely he should die.
But, die or live, for nought he would upstand,        205
But her of pardon prayd more earnestlie,
Or wreake on him her will for so great injurie.
 
XXIV
Which when as Scudamour, who now abrayd,
Beheld, where as he stood not farre aside,
He was therewith right wondrously dismayd,        210
And drawing nigh, when as he plaine descride
That peerelesse paterne of Dame Natures pride,
And heavenly image of perfection,
He blest himselfe, as one sore terrifide,
And turning feare to faint devotion,        215
Did worship her as some celestiall vision.
 
XXV
But Glauce, seeing all that chaunced there,
Well weeting how their errour to assoyle,
Full glad of so good end, to them drew nere,
And her salewd with seemly belaccoyle,        220
Joyous to see her safe after long toyle:
Then her besought, as she to her was deare,
To graunt unto those warriours truce a whyle;
Which yeelded, they their bevers up did reare,
And shew’d themselves to her, such as indeed they were.        225
 
XXVI
When Britomart with sharpe avizefull eye
Beheld the lovely face of Artegall,
Tempred with sternesse and stout majestie,
She gan eftsoones it to her mind to call,
To be the same which in her fathers hall        230
Long since in that enchaunted glasse she saw.
Therewith her wrathfull courage gan appall,
And haughtie spirits meekely to adaw,
That her enhaunced hand she downe can soft withdraw.
 
XXVII
Yet she it forst to have againe upheld,
        235
As fayning choler, which was turn’d to cold:
But ever when his visage she beheld,
Her hand fell downe, and would no longer hold
The wrathfull weapon gainst his countnance bold:
But when in vaine to fight she oft assayd,        240
She arm’d her tongue, and thought at him to scold;
Nathlesse her tongue not to her will obayd,
But brought forth speeches myld, when she would have missayd.
 
XXVIII
But Scudamour now woxen inly glad,
That all his gealous feare he false had found,        245
And how that hag his love abused had
With breach of faith and loyaltie unsound,
The which long time his grieved hart did wound,
Him thus bespake: ‘Certes, Sir Artegall,
I joy to see you lout so low on ground,        250
And now become to live a ladies thrall,
That whylome in your minde wont to despise them all.’
 
XXIX
Soone as she heard the name of Artegall,
Her hart did leape, and all her hart-strings tremble,
For sudden joy, and secret feare withall,        255
And all her vitall powres, with motion nimble,
To succour it, themselves gan there assemble,
That by the swift recourse of flushing blood
Right plaine appeard, though she it would dissemble,
And fayned still her former angry mood,        260
Thinking to hide the depth by troubling of the flood.
 
XXX
When Glauce thus gan wisely all upknit:
‘Ye gentle knights, whom fortune here hath brought,
To be spectators of this uncouth fit,
Which secret fate hath in this ladie wrought,        265
Against the course of kind, ne mervaile nought,
Ne thenceforth feare the thing that hether-too
Hath troubled both your mindes with idle thought,
Fearing least she your loves away should woo,
Feared in vaine, sith meanes ye see there wants theretoo.        270
 
XXXI
‘And you, Sir Artegall, the Salvage Knight,
Henceforth may not disdaine that womans hand
Hath conquered you anew in second fight:
For whylome they have conquerd sea and land,
And heaven it selfe, that nought may them withstand:        275
Ne henceforth be rebellious unto love,
That is the crowne of knighthood, and the band
Of noble minds derived from above,
Which being knit with vertue, never will remove.
 
XXXII
‘And you, faire ladie knight, my dearest dame,
        280
Relent the rigour of your wrathfull will,
Whose fire were better turn’d to other flame;
And wiping out remembrance of all ill,
Graunt him your grace, but so that he fulfill
The penance which ye shall to him empart:        285
For lovers heaven must passe by sorrowes hell.’
Thereat full inly blushed Britomart;
But Artegall, close smyling, joy’d in secret hart.
 
XXXIII
Yet durst he not make love so suddenly,
Ne thinke th’ affection of her hart to draw        290
From one to other so quite contrary:
Besides her modest countenance he saw
So goodly grave, and full of princely aw,
That it his ranging fancie did refraine,
And looser thoughts to lawfull bounds withdraw;        295
Whereby the passion grew more fierce and faine,
Like to a stubborne steede whom strong hand would restraine.
 
XXXIV
But Scudamour, whose hart twixt doubtfull feare
And feeble hope hung all this while suspence,
Desiring of his Amoret to heare        300
Some gladfull newes and sure intelligence,
Her thus bespake: ‘But, sir, without offence
Mote I request you tydings of my love,
My Amoret, sith you her freed fro thence,
Where she, captived long, great woes did prove;        305
That where ye left, I may her seeke, as doth behove.’
 
XXXV
To whom thus Britomart: ‘Certes, sir knight,
What is of her become, or whether reft,
I can not unto you aread a right.
For from that time I from enchaunters theft        310
Her freed, in which ye her all hopelesse left,
I her preserv’d from perill and from feare,
And evermore from villenie her kept:
Ne ever was there wight to me more deare
Then she, ne unto whom I more true love did beare.        315
 
XXXVI
‘Till on a day, as through a desert wyld
We travelled, both wearie of the way,
We did alight, and sate in shadow myld;
Where fearelesse I to sleepe me downe did lay.
But when as I did out of sleepe abray,        320
I found her not where I her left whyleare,
But thought she wandred was, or gone astray.
I cal’d her loud, I sought her farre and neare;
But no where could her find, nor tydings of her heare.’
 
XXXVII
When Scudamour those heavie tydings heard,
        325
His hart was thrild with point of deadly feare;
Ne in his face or bloud or life appeard,
But senselesse stood, like to a mazed steare
That yet of mortall stroke the stound doth beare;
Till Glauce thus: ‘Faire sir, be nought dismayd        330
With needelesse dread, till certaintie ye heare:
For yet she may be safe though somewhat strayd;
Its best to hope the best, though of the worst affrayd.’
 
XXXVIII
Nathlesse he hardly of her chearefull speech
Did comfort take, or in his troubled sight        335
Shew’d change of better cheare, so sore a breach
That sudden newes had made into his spright;
Till Britomart him fairely thus behight:
‘Great cause of sorrow certes, sir, ye have:
But comfort take: for by this heavens light        340
I vow, you dead or living not to leave,
Till I her find, and wreake on him that did her reave.’
 
XXXIX
Therewith he rested, and well pleased was.
So peace being confirm’d amongst them all,
They tooke their steeds, and forward thence did pas        345
Unto some resting place, which mote befall,
All being guided by Sir Artegall:
Where goodly solace was unto them made,
And dayly feasting both in bowre and hall,
Untill that they their wounds well healed had,        350
And wearie limmes recur’d after late usage bad.
 
XL
In all which time, Sir Artegall made way
Unto the love of noble Britomart,
And with meeke service and much suit did lay
Continuall siege unto her gentle hart:        355
Which being whylome launcht with lovely dart,
More eath was new impression to receive,
How ever she her paynd with womanish art
To hide her wound, that none might it perceive:
Vaine is the art that seekes it selfe for to deceive.        360
 
XLI
So well he woo’d her, and so well he wrought her,
With faire entreatie and sweet blandishment,
That at the length unto a bay he brought her,
So as she to his speeches was content
To lend an eare, and softly to relent.        365
At last, through many vowes which forth he pour’d,
And many othes, she yeelded her consent
To be his love, and take him for her lord,
Till they with mariage meet might finish that accord.
 
XLII
Tho, when they had long time there taken rest,
        370
Sir Artegall, who all this while was bound
Upon an hard adventure yet in quest,
Fit time for him thence to depart it found,
To follow that which he did long propound;
And unto her his congee came to take.        375
But her therewith full sore displeasd he found,
And loth to leave her late betrothed make,
Her dearest love full loth so shortly to forsake.
 
XLIII
Yet he with strong perswasions her asswaged,
And wonne her will to suffer him depart;        380
For which his faith with her he fast engaged,
And thousand vowes from bottome of his hart,
That all so soone as he by wit or art
Could that atchieve, whereto he did aspire,
He unto her would speedily revert:        385
No longer space thereto he did desire,
But till the horned moone three courses did expire.
 
XLIV
With which she for the present was appeased,
And yeelded leave, how ever malcontent
She inly were, and in her mind displeased.        390
So, early in the morrow next, he went
Forth on his way, to which he was ybent;
Ne wight him to attend, or way to guide,
As whylome was the custome ancient
Mongst knights, when on adventures they did ride,        395
Save that she algates him a while accompanide.
 
XLV
And by the way she sundry purpose found
Of this or that, the time for to delay,
And of the perils whereto he was bound,
The feare whereof seem’d much her to affray:        400
But all she did was but to weare out day.
Full oftentimes she leave of him did take;
And eft againe deviz’d some what to say,
Which she forgot, whereby excuse to make:
So loth she was his companie for to forsake.        405
 
XLVI
At last, when all her speeches she had spent,
And new occasion fayld her more to find,
She left him to his fortunes government,
And backe returned with right heavie mind
To Scudamour, who she had left behind:        410
With whom she went to seeke faire Amoret,
Her second care, though in another kind:
For vertues onely sake, which doth beget
True love and faithfull friendship, she by her did set.
 
XLVII
Backe to that desert forrest they retyred,
        415
Where sorie Britomart had lost her late;
There they her sought, and every where inquired,
Where they might tydings get of her estate;
Yet found they none. But by what haplesse fate
Or hard misfortune she was thence convayd,        420
And stolne away from her beloved mate,
Were long to tell; therefore I here will stay
Untill another tyde, that I it finish may.
 
 
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