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 VII
 
        Amoret rapt by greedie Lust
  Belphebe saves from dread:
The squire her loves, and being blam’d,
  His dayes in dole doth lead.

I
GREAT God of Love, that with thy cruell darts
Doest conquer greatest conquerors on ground,
And setst thy kingdome in the captive harts
Of kings and keasars, to thy service bound,
What glorie or what guerdon hast thou found        5
In feeble ladies tyranning so sore,
And adding anguish to the bitter wound,
With which their lives thou lanchedst long afore,
By heaping stormes of trouble on them daily more?
 
II
So whylome didst thou to faire Florimell;
        10
And so and so to noble Britomart:
So doest thou now to her of whom I tell,
The lovely Amoret, whose gentle hart
Thou martyrest with sorow and with smart,
In salvage forrests and in deserts wide,        15
With beares and tygers taking heavie part,
Withouten comfort, and withouten guide,
That pittie is to heare the perils which she tride.
 
III
So soone as she with that brave Britonesse
Had left that turneyment for beauties prise,        20
They travel’d long; that now for wearinesse,
Both of the way and warlike exercise,
Both through a forest ryding did devise
T’ alight, and rest their wearie limbs awhile.
There heavie sleepe the eye-lids did surprise        25
Of Britomart, after long tedious toyle,
That did her passed paines in quiet rest assoyle.
 
IV
The whiles faire Amoret, of nought affeard,
Walkt through the wood, for pleasure or for need;
When suddenly behind her backe she heard        30
One rushing forth out of the thickest weed,
That ere she backe could turne to taken heed,
Had unawares her snatched up from ground.
Feebly she shriekt, but so feebly indeed,
That Britomart heard not the shrilling sound,        35
There where through weary travel she lay sleeping sound.
 
V
It was to weet a wilde and salvage man,
Yet was no man, but onely like in shape,
And eke in stature higher by a span,
All overgrowne with haire, that could awhape        40
An hardy hart, and his wide mouth did gape
With huge great teeth, like to a tusked bore:
For he liv’d all on ravin and on rape
Of men and beasts; and fed on fleshly gore,
The signe whereof yet stain’d his bloudy lips afore.        45
 
VI
His neather lip was not like man nor beast,
But like a wide deepe poke, downe hanging low,
In which he wont the relickes of his feast
And cruell spoyle, which he had spard, to stow:
And over it his huge great nose did grow,        50
Full dreadfully empurpled all with bloud;
And downe both sides two wide long eares did glow,
And raught downe to his waste, when up he stood,
More great then th’ eares of elephants by Indus flood.
 
VII
His wast was with a wreath of yvie greene
        55
Engirt about, ne other garment wore:
For all his haire was like a garment seene;
And in his hand a tall young oake he bore,
Whose knottie snags were sharpned all afore,
And beath’d in fire for steele to be in sted.        60
But whence he was, or of what wombe ybore,
Of beasts, or of the earth, I have not red:
But certes was with milke of wolves and tygres fed.
 
VIII
This ugly creature in his armes her snatcht,
And through the forrest bore her quite away,        65
With briers and bushes all to-rent and scratcht;
Ne care he had, ne pittie of the pray,
Which many a knight had sought so many a day.
He stayed not, but in his armes her bearing
Ran, till he came to th’ end of all his way,        70
Unto his cave, farre from all peoples hearing,
And there he threw her in, nought feeling, ne nought fearing.
 
IX
For she, deare ladie, all the way was dead,
Whilest he in armes her bore; but when she felt
Her selfe downe soust, she waked out of dread        75
Streight into griefe, that her deare hart nigh swelt,
And eft gan into tender teares to melt.
Then when she lookt about, and nothing found
But darknesse and dread horrour, where she dwelt,
She almost fell againe into a swound,        80
Ne wist whether above she were, or under ground.
 
X
With that she heard some one close by her side
Sighing and sobbing sore, as if the paine
Her tender hart in peeces would divide:
Which she long listning, softly askt againe        85
What mister wight it was that so did plaine?
To whom thus aunswer’d was: ‘Ah, wretched wight!
That seekes to know anothers griefe in vaine,
Unweeting of thine owne like haplesse plight:
Selfe to forget to mind another, is oversight.’        90
 
XI
‘Aye me!’ said she, ‘where am I, or with whom?
Emong the living, or emong the dead?
What shall of me, unhappy maid, become?
Shall death be th’ end, or ought else worse, aread.’
‘Unhappy mayd,’ then answer’d she, ‘whose dread        95
Untride is lesse then when thou shalt it try:
Death is to him that wretched life doth lead,
Both grace and gaine; but he in hell doth lie,
That lives a loathed life, and wishing cannot die.
 
XII
‘This dismall day hath thee a caytive made,
        100
And vassall to the vilest wretch alive,
Whose cursed usage and ungodly trade
The heavens abhorre, and into darkenesse drive.
For on the spoile of women he doth live,
Whose bodies chast, when ever in his powre        105
He may them catch, unable to gainestrive,
He with his shamefull lust doth first deflowre,
And afterwards themselves doth cruelly devoure.
 
XIII
‘Now twenty daies, by which the sonnes of men
Divide their works, have past through heven sheene,        110
Since I was brought into this dolefull den;
During which space these sory eies have seen
Seaven women by him slaine, and eaten clene.
And now no more for him but I alone,
And this old woman, here remaining beene;        115
Till thou cam’st hither to augment our mone;
And of us three to morrow he will sure eate one.’
 
XIV
‘Ah! dreadfull tidings which thou doest declare,’
Quoth she, ‘of all that ever hath bene knowen!
Full many great calamities and rare        120
This feeble brest endured hath, but none
Equally to this, where ever I have gone.
But what are you, whom like unlucky lot
Hath linckt with me in the same chaine attone?’
‘To tell,’ quoth she, ‘that which ye see, needs not;        125
A wofull wretched maid, of God and man forgot.
 
XV
‘But what I was it irkes me to reherse;
Daughter unto a lord of high degree,
That joyd in happy peace, till Fates perverse
With guilefull Love did secretly agree,        130
To overthrow my state and dignitie.
It was my lot to love a gentle swaine,
Yet was he but a squire of low degree;
Yet was he meet, unlesse mine eye did faine,
By any ladies side for leman to have laine.        135
 
XVI
‘But, for his meannesse and disparagement,
My sire, who me too dearely well did love,
Unto my choise by no meanes would assent,
But often did my folly fowle reprove.
Yet nothing could my fixed mind remove,        140
But whether willed or nilled friend or foe,
I me resolv’d the utmost end to prove,
And rather then my love abandon so,
Both sire, and friends, and all for ever to forgo.
 
XVII
‘Thenceforth I sought by secret meanes to worke
        145
Time to my will, and from his wrathfull sight
To hide th’ intent which in my heart did lurke,
Till I thereto had all things ready dight.
So on a day, unweeting unto wight,
I with that squire agreede away to flit,        150
And in a privy place, betwixt us hight,
Within a grove appointed him to meete;
To which I boldly came upon my feeble feete.
 
XVIII
‘But ah! unhappy houre me thither brought:
For in that place where I him thought to find,        155
There was I found, contrary to my thought,
Of this accursed earle of hellish kind,
The shame of men, and plague of woman-kind;
Who trussing me, as eagle doth his pray,
Me hether brought with him, as swift as wind,        160
Where yet untouched till this present day,
I rest his wretched thrall, the sad Æmylia.’
 
XIX
‘Ah! sad Æmylia,’ then sayd Amoret,
‘Thy ruefull plight I pitty as mine owne.
But read to me, by what devise or wit        165
Hast thou, in all this time, from him unknowne
Thine honor sav’d, though into thraldome throwne?’
‘Through helpe,’ quoth she, ‘of this old woman here
I have so done, as she to me hath showne:
For ever, when he burnt in lustfull fire,        170
She in my stead supplide his bestiall desire.’
 
XX
Thus of their evils as they did discourse,
And each did other much bewaile and mone,
Loe! where the villaine selfe, their sorrowes sourse,
Came to the cave, and rolling thence the stone,        175
Which wont to stop the mouth thereof, that none
Might issue forth, came rudely rushing in,
And spredding over all the flore alone,
Gan dight him selfe unto his wonted sinne;
Which ended, then his bloudy banket should beginne.        180
 
XXI
Which when as fearefull Amoret perceoved,
She staid not the utmost end thereof to try,
But like a ghastly gelt, whose wits are reaved,
Ran forth in hast with hideous outcry,
For horrour of his shamefull villany.        185
But after her full lightly he uprose,
And her pursu’d as fast as she did flie:
Full fast she flies, and farre afore him goes,
Ne feeles the thorns and thickets pricke her tender toes.
 
XXII
Nor hedge, nor ditch, nor hill, nor dale she staies,
        190
But overleapes them all, like robucke light,
And through the thickest makes her nighest waies;
And evermore when with regardfull sight
She, looking backe, espies that griesly wight
Approching nigh, she gins to mend her pace,        195
And makes her feare a spur to hast her flight:
More swift then Myrrh’ or Daphne in her race,
Or any of the Thracian Nimphes in salvage chase.
 
XXIII
Long so she fled, and so he follow’d long;
Ne living aide for her on earth appeares,        200
But if the heavens helpe to redresse her wrong,
Moved with pity of her plenteous teares.
It fortuned, Belphebe with her peares,
The woody nimphs, and with that lovely boy,
Was hunting then the libbards and the beares,        205
In these wild woods, as was her wonted joy,
To banish sloth, that oft doth noble mindes annoy.
 
XXIV
It so befell, as oft it fals in chace,
That each of them from other sundred were,
And that same gentle squire arriv’d in place        210
Where this same cursed caytive did appeare,
Pursuing that faire lady full of feare;
And now he her quite overtaken had;
And now he her away with him did beare
Under his arme, as seeming wondrous glad,        215
That by his greuning laughter mote farre off be rad.
 
XXV
Which drery sight the gentle squire espying,
Doth hast to crosse him by the nearest way,
Led with that wofull ladies piteous crying,
And him assailes with all the might he may:        220
Yet will not he the lovely spoile downe lay,
But with his craggy club in his right hand
Defends him selfe, and saves his gotten pray.
Yet had it bene right hard him to with-stand,
But that he was full light and nimble on the land.        225
 
XXVI
Thereto the villaine used craft in fight;
For ever when the squire his javelin shooke,
He held the lady forth before him right,
And with her body, as a buckler, broke
The puissance of his intended stroke.        230
And if it chaunst, (as needs it must in fight)
Whilest he on him was greedy to be wroke,
That any little blow on her did light,
Then would he laugh aloud, and gather great delight.
 
XXVII
Which subtill sleight did him encumber much,
        235
And made him oft, when he would strike, forbeare;
For hardly could he come the carle to touch,
But that he her must hurt, or hazard neare:
Yet he his hand so carefully did beare,
That at the last he did himselfe attaine,        240
And therein left the pike head of his speare.
A streame of coleblacke bloud thence gusht amaine,
That all her silken garments did with bloud bestaine.
 
XXVIII
With that he threw her rudely on the flore,
And laying both his hands upon his glave,        245
With dreadfull strokes let drive at him so sore,
That forst him flie abacke, himselfe to save:
Yet he therewith so felly still did rave,
That scarse the squire his hand could once upreare,
But, for advantage, ground unto him gave,        250
Tracing and traversing, now here, now there;
For bootlesse thing it was to think such blowes to beare.
 
XXIX
Whilest thus in battell they embusied were,
Belphebe, raunging in that forrest wide,
The hideous noise of their huge strokes did heare,        255
And drew thereto, making her eare her guide.
Whom when that theefe approching nigh espide,
With bow in hand, and arrowes ready bent,
He by his former combate would not bide,
But fled away with ghastly dreriment,        260
Well knowing her to be his deaths sole instrument.
 
XXX
Whom seeing flie, she speedily poursewed
With winged feete, as nimble as the winde,
And ever in her bow she ready shewed
The arrow to his deadly marke desynde:        265
As when Latonaes daughter, cruell kynde,
In vengement of her mothers great disgrace,
With fell despight her cruell arrowes tynde
Gainst wofull Niobes unhappy race,
That all the gods did mone her miserable case.        270
 
XXXI
So well she sped her and so far she ventred,
That ere unto his hellish den he raught,
Even as he ready was there to have entred,
She sent an arrow forth with mighty draught,
That in the very dore him overcaught,        275
And in his nape arriving, through it thrild
His greedy throte, therewith in two distraught,
That all his vitall spirites thereby spild,
And all his hairy brest with gory bloud was fild.
 
XXXII
Whom when on ground she groveling saw to rowle,
        280
She ran in hast his life to have bereft:
But ere she could him reach, the sinfull sowle,
Having his carrion corse quite sencelesse left,
Was fled to hell, surcharg’d with spoile and theft.
Yet over him she there long gazing stood,        285
And oft admir’d his monstrous shape, and oft
His mighty limbs, whilest all with filthy bloud
The place there overflowne seemd like a sodaine flood.
 
XXXIII
Thenceforth she past into his dreadfull den,
Where nought but darkesome drerinesse she found,        290
Ne creature saw, but hearkned now and then
Some litle whispering, and soft groning sound.
With that she askt, what ghosts there under ground
Lay hid in horrour of eternall night;
And bad them, if so be they were not bound,        295
To come and shew themselves before the light,
Now freed from feare and danger of that dismall wight.
 
XXXIV
Then forth the sad Æmylia issewed,
Yet trembling every joynt through former feare;
And after her the hag, there with her mewed,        300
A foule and lothsome creature, did appeare;
A leman fit for such a lover deare:
That mov’d Belphebe her no lesse to hate,
Then for to rue the others heavy cheare;
Of whom she gan enquire of her estate:        305
Who all to her at large, as hapned, did relate.
 
XXXV
Thence she them brought toward the place where late
She left the gentle squire with Amoret:
There she him found by that new lovely mate,
Who lay the whiles in swoune, full sadly set,        310
From her faire eyes wiping the deawy wet,
Which softly stild, and kissing them atweene,
And handling soft the hurts which she did get:
For of that carle she sorely bruz’d had beene,
Als of his owne rash hand one wound was to be seene.        315
 
XXXVI
Which when she saw, with sodaine glauncing eye,
Her noble heart with sight thereof was fild
With deepe disdaine, and great indignity,
That in her wrath she thought them both have thrild
With that selfe arrow which the carle had kild:        320
Yet held her wrathfull hand from vengeance sore,
But drawing nigh, ere he her well beheld,
‘Is this the faith?’ she said,—and said no more,
But turnd her face, and fled away for evermore.
 
XXXVII
He, seeing her depart, arose up light,
        325
Right sore agrieved at her sharpe reproofe,
And follow’d fast: but when he came in sight,
He durst not nigh approch, but kept aloofe,
For dread of her displeasures utmost proofe.
And evermore, when he did grace entreat,        330
And framed speaches fit for his behoofe,
Her mortall arrowes she at him did threat,
And forst him backe with fowle dishonor to retreat.
 
XXXVIII
At last, when long he follow’d had in vaine,
Yet found no ease of griefe, nor hope of grace,        335
Unto those woods he turned backe againe,
Full of sad anguish and in heavy case:
And finding there fit solitary place
For wofull wight, chose out a gloomy glade,
Where hardly eye mote see bright heavens face,        340
For mossy trees, which covered all with shade
And sad melancholy: there he his cabin made.
 
XXXIX
His wonted warlike weapons all he broke,
And threw away, with vow to use no more,
Ne thenceforth ever strike in battell stroke,        345
Ne ever word to speake to woman more;
But in that wildernesse, of men forlore,
And of the wicked world forgotten quight,
His hard mishap in dolor to deplore,
And wast his wretched daies in wofull plight;        350
So on him selfe to wreake his follies owne despight.
 
XL
And eke his garment, to be thereto meet,
He wilfully did cut and shape anew;
And his faire lockes, that wont with ointment sweet
To be embaulm’d, and sweat out dainty dew,        355
He let to grow and griesly to concrew,
Uncomb’d, uncurl’d, and carelesly unshed;
That in short time his face they overgrew,
And over all his shoulders did dispred,
That who he whilome was, uneath was to be red.        360
 
XLI
There he continued in this carefull plight,
Wretchedly wearing out his youthly yeares,
Through wilfull penury consumed quight,
That like a pined ghost he soone appeares.
For other food then that wilde forrest beares,        365
Ne other drinke there did he ever tast,
Then running water, tempred with his teares,
The more his weakened body so to wast:
That out of all mens knowledge he was worne at last.
 
XLII
For on a day, by fortune as it fell,
        370
His owne deare lord, Prince Arthure, came that way,
Seeking adventures, where he mote heare tell;
And as he through the wandring wood did stray,
Having espide this cabin far away,
He to it drew, to weet who there did wonne;        375
Weening therein some holy hermit lay,
That did resort of sinfull people shonne;
Or else some woodman shrowded there from scorching sunne.
 
XLIII
Arriving there, he found this wretched man,
Spending his daies in dolour and despaire,        380
And through long fasting woxen pale and wan,
All overgrowen with rude and rugged haire;
That albeit his owne deare squire he were,
Yet he him knew not, ne aviz’d at all,
But like strange wight, whom he had seene no where,        385
Saluting him, gan into speach to fall,
And pitty much his plight, that liv’d like outcast thrall.
 
XLIV
But to his speach he aunswered no whit,
But stood still mute, as if he had beene dum,
Ne signe of sence did shew, ne common wit,        390
As one with griefe and anguishe overcum,
And unto every thing did aunswere mum:
And ever when the Prince unto him spake,
He louted lowly, as did him becum,
And humble homage did unto him make,        395
Midst sorrow shewing joyous semblance for his sake.
 
XLV
At which his uncouth guise and usage quaint
The Prince did wonder much, yet could not ghesse
The cause of that his sorrowfull constraint;
Yet weend by secret signes of manlinesse,        400
Which close appeard in that rude brutishnesse,
That he whilome some gentle swaine had beene,
Traind up in feats of armes and knightlinesse;
Which he observ’d, by that he him had seene
To weld his naked sword, and try the edges keene;        405
 
XLVI
And eke by that he saw on every tree
How he the name of one engraven had,
Which likly was his liefest love to be,
For whom he now so sorely was bestad;
Which was by him BELPHEBE rightly rad.        410
Yet who was that Belphebe he ne wist;
Yet saw he often how he wexed glad,
When he it heard, and how the ground he kist,
Wherein it written was, and how himselfe he blist.
 
XLVII
Tho, when he long had marked his demeanor,
        415
And saw that all he said and did was vaine,
Ne ought mote make him change his wonted tenor,
Ne ought mote ease or mitigate his paine,
He left him there in languor to remaine,
Till time for him should remedy provide,        420
And him restore to former grace againe.
Which for it is too long here to abide,
I will deferre the end untill another tide.
 
 
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