Verse > Edmund Spenser > Complete Poetical Works
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Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1908.
 
The Faerie Queene
Book V. The Legend of Artegall
Canto IX
 
        Arthur and Artegall catch Guyle,
  Whom Talus doth dismay:
They to Mercillaes pallace come,
  And see her rich array.

I
WHAT tygre, or what other salvage wight,
Is so exceeding furious and fell
As Wrong, when it hath arm’d it selfe with might?
Not fit mongst men, that doe with reason mell,
But mongst wyld beasts and salvage woods to dwell;        5
Where still the stronger doth the weake devoure,
And they that most in boldnesse doe excell
Are dreadded most, and feared for their powre;
Fit for Adicia, there to build her wicked bowre.
 
II
There let her wonne farre from resort of men,
        10
Where righteous Artegall her late exyled;
There let her ever keepe her damned den,
Where none may be with her lewd parts defyled,
Nor none but beasts may be of her despoyled:
And turne we to the noble Prince, where late        15
We did him leave, after that he had foyled
The cruell Souldan, and with dreadfull fate
Had utterly subverted his unrighteous state.
 
III
Where having with Sir Artegall a space
Well solast in that Souldans late delight,        20
They both resolving now to leave the place,
Both it and all the wealth therein behight
Unto that damzell in her ladies right,
And so would have departed on their way.
But she them woo’d by all the meanes she might,        25
And earnestly besought, to wend that day
With her, to see her ladie thence not farre away.
 
IV
By whose entreatie both they overcommen,
Agree to goe with her, and by the way,
(As often falles) of sundry things did commen.        30
Mongst which that damzell did to them bewray
A straunge adventure, which not farre thence lay;
To weet, a wicked villaine, bold and stout,
Which wonned in a rocke not farre away,
That robbed all the countrie there about,        35
And brought the pillage home, whence none could get it out.
 
V
Thereto both his owne wylie wit (she sayd)
And eke the fastnesse of his dwelling place,
Both unassaylable, gave him great ayde:
For he so crafty was to forge and face,        40
So light of hand, and nymble of his pace,
So smooth of tongue, and subtile in his tale,
That could deceive one looking in his face;
Therefore by name Malengin they him call,
Well knowen by his feates, and famous over all.        45
 
VI
Through these his slights he many doth confound,
And eke the rocke, in which he wonts to dwell,
Is wondrous strong, and hewen farre under ground
A dreadfull depth, how deepe no man can tell;
But some doe say, it goeth downe to hell.        50
And all within, it full of wyndings is,
And hidden wayes, that scarse an hound by smell
Can follow out those false footsteps of his,
Ne none can backe returne that once are gone amis.
 
VII
Which when those knights had heard, their harts gan earne
        55
To understand that villeins dwelling place,
And greatly it desir’d of her to learne,
And by which way they towards it should trace.
‘Were not,’ sayd she, ‘that it should let your pace
Towards my ladies presence by you ment,        60
I would you guyde directly to the place.’
‘Then let not that,’ said they, ‘stay your intent;
For neither will one foot, till we that carle have hent.’
 
VIII
So forth they past, till they approched ny
Unto the rocke where was the villains won:        65
Which when the damzell neare at hand did spy,
She warn’d the knights thereof: who thereupon
Gan to advize what best were to be done.
So both agreed to send that mayd afore,
Where she might sit nigh to the den alone,        70
Wayling, and raysing pittifull uprore,
As if she did some great calamitie deplore.
 
IX
With noyse whereof when as the caytive carle
Should issue forth, in hope to find some spoyle,
They in awayt would closely him ensnarle,        75
Ere to his den he backward could recoyle,
And so would hope him easily to foyle.
The damzell straight went, as she was directed,
Unto the rocke, and there upon the soyle
Having her selfe in wretched wize abjected,        80
Gan weepe and wayle, as if great griefe had her affected.
 
X
The cry whereof entring the hollow cave,
Eftsoones brought forth the villaine, as they ment,
With hope of her some wishfull boot to have.
Full dreadfull wight he was, as ever went        85
Upon the earth, with hollow eyes deepe pent,
And long curld locks, that downe his shoulders shagged,
And on his backe an uncouth vestiment
Made of straunge stuffe, but all to-worne and ragged,
And underneath his breech was all to-torne and jagged.        90
 
XI
And in his hand an huge long staffe he held,
Whose top was arm’d with many an yron hooke,
Fit to catch hold of all that he could weld,
Or in the compasse of his clouches tooke;
And ever round about he cast his looke.        95
Als at his backe a great wyde net he bore,
With which he seldome fished at the brooke,
But usd to fish for fooles on the dry shore,
Of which he in faire weather wont to take great store.
 
XII
Him when the damzell saw fast by her side,
        100
So ugly creature, she was nigh dismayd,
And now for helpe aloud in earnest cride.
But when the villaine saw her so affrayd,
He gan with guilefull words her to perswade
To banish feare, and with Sardonian smyle        105
Laughing on her, his false intent to shade,
Gan forth to lay his bayte her to beguyle,
That from her self unwares he might her steale the whyle.
 
XIII
Like as the fouler on his guilefull pype
Charmes to the birds full many a pleasant lay,        110
That they the whiles may take lesse heedie keepe,
How he his nets doth for their ruine lay:
So did the villaine to her prate and play,
And many pleasant trickes before her show,
To turne her eyes from his intent away:        115
For he in slights and jugling feates did flow,
And of legierdemayne the mysteries did know.
 
XIV
To which whilest she lent her intentive mind,
He suddenly his net upon her threw,
That oversprad her like a puffe of wind;        120
And snatching her soone up, ere well she knew,
Ran with her fast away unto his mew,
Crying for helpe aloud. But when as ny
He came unto his cave, and there did vew
The armed knights stopping his passage by,        125
He threw his burden downe, and fast away did fly.
 
XV
But Artegall him after did pursew,
The whiles the Prince there kept the entrance still:
Up to the rocke he ran, and thereon flew
Like a wyld gote, leaping from hill to hill,        130
And dauncing on the craggy cliffes at will;
That deadly daunger seem’d in all mens sight,
To tempt such steps, where footing was so ill:
Ne ought avayled for the armed knight
To thinke to follow him, that was so swift and light.        135
 
XVI
Which when he saw, his yron man he sent
To follow him; for he was swift in chace.
He him pursewd, where ever that he went;
Both over rockes, and hilles, and every place,
Where so he fled, he followd him apace:        140
So that he shortly forst him to forsake
The hight, and downe descend unto the base.
There he him courst a fresh, and soone did make
To leave his proper forme, and other shape to take.
 
XVII
Into a foxe himselfe he first did tourne;
        145
But he him hunted like a foxe full fast:
Then to a bush himselfe he did transforme;
But he the bush did beat, till that at last
Into a bird it chaung’d, and from him past,
Flying from tree to tree, from wand to wand:        150
But he then stones at it so long did cast,
That like a stone it fell upon the land;
But he then tooke it up, and held fast in his hand.
 
XVIII
So he it brought with him unto the knights,
And to his lord, Sir Artegall, it lent,        155
Warning him hold it fast, for feare of slights.
Who whilest in hand it gryping hard he hent,
Into a hedgehogge all unwares it went,
And prickt him so that he away it threw.
Then gan it runne away incontinent,        160
Being returned to his former hew:
But Talus soone him overtooke, and backward drew.
 
XIX
But when as he would to a snake againe
Have turn’d himselfe, he with his yron flayle
Gan drive at him, with so huge might and maine,        165
That all his bones as small as sandy grayle
He broke, and did his bowels disentrayle;
Crying in vaine for helpe, when helpe was past.
So did deceipt the selfe deceiver fayle.
There they him left a carrion outcast,        170
For beasts and foules to feede upon for their repast.
 
XX
Thence forth they passed with that gentle mayd,
To see her ladie, as they did agree.
To which when she approched, thus she sayd:
‘Loe now, right noble knights, arriv’d ye bee        175
Nigh to the place which ye desir’d to see:
There shall ye see my soverayne Lady Queene,
Most sacred wight, most debonayre and free,
That ever yet upon this earth was seene,
Or that with diademe hath ever crowned beene.’        180
 
XXI
The gentle knights rejoyced much to heare
The prayses of that prince so manifold,
And passing litle further, commen were
Where they a stately pallace did behold,
Of pompous show, much more then she had told;        185
With many towres and tarras mounted hye,
And all their tops bright glistering with gold,
That seemed to outshine the dimmed skye,
And with their brightnesse daz’d the straunge beholders eye.
 
XXII
There they alighting, by that damzell were
        190
Directed in, and shewed all the sight:
Whose porch, that most magnificke did appeare,
Stood open wyde to all men day and night;
Yet warded well by one of mickle might,
That sate thereby, with gyantlike resemblance,        195
To keepe out Guyle, and Malice, and Despight,
That under shew oftimes of fayned semblance
Are wont in princes courts to worke great scath and hindrance.
 
XXIII
His name was Awe; by whom they passing in
Went up the hall, that was a large wyde roome,        200
All full of people making troublous din,
And wondrous noyse, as if that there were some
Which unto them was dealing righteous doome.
By whom they passing, through the thickest preasse,
The marshall of the hall to them did come;        205
His name hight Order, who, commaunding peace,
Them guyded through the throng, that did their clamors ceasse.
 
XXIV
They ceast their clamors upon them to gaze;
Whom seeing all in armour bright as day,
Straunge there to see, it did them much amaze,        210
And with unwonted terror halfe affray:
For never saw they there the like array;
Ne ever was the name of warre there spoken,
But joyous peace and quietnesse alway,
Dealing just judgements, that mote not be broken        215
For any brybes, or threates of any to be wroken.
 
XXV
There as they entred at the scriene, they saw
Some one, whose tongue was for his trespasse vyle
Nayld to a post, adjudged so by law:
For that therewith he falsely did revyle        220
And foule blaspheme that queene for forged guyle,
Both with bold speaches which he blazed had,
And with lewd poems which he did compyle;
For the bold title of a poet bad
He on himselfe had ta’en, and rayling rymes had sprad.        225
 
XXVI
Thus there he stood, whylest high over his head
There written was the purport of his sin,
In cyphers strange, that few could rightly read,
Bon font: but Bon, that once had written bin,
Was raced out, and Mal was now put in:        230
So now Malfont was plainely to be red;
Eyther for th’ evill which he did therein,
Or that he likened was to a welhed
Of evill words, and wicked sclaunders by him shed.
 
XXVII
They, passing by, were guyded by degree
        235
Unto the presence of that gratious queene:
Who sate on high, that she might all men see,
And might of all men royally be seene,
Upon a throne of gold full bright and sheene,
Adorned all with gemmes of endlesse price,        240
As either might for wealth have gotten bene,
Or could be fram’d by workmans rare device;
And all embost with lyons and with flourdelice.
 
XXVIII
All over her a cloth of state was spred,
Not of rich tissew, nor of cloth of gold,        245
Nor of ought else that may be richest red,
But like a cloud, as likest may be told,
That her brode spreading wings did wyde unfold;
Whose skirts were bordred with bright sunny beams,
Glistring like gold, amongst the plights enrold,        250
And here and there shooting forth silver streames,
Mongst which crept litle angels through the glittering gleames.
 
XXIX
Seemed those litle angels did uphold
The cloth of state, and on their purpled wings
Did beare the pendants, through their nimblesse bold:        255
Besides, a thousand more of such as sings
Hymnes to High God, and carols heavenly things,
Encompassed the throne on which she sate:
She angel-like, the heyre of ancient kings
And mightie conquerors, in royall state,        260
Whylest kings and kesars at her feet did them prostrate.
 
XXX
Thus she did sit in soverayne majestie,
Holding a scepter in her royall hand,
The sacred pledge of peace and clemencie,
With which High God had blest her happie land,        265
Maugre so many foes which did withstand.
But at her feet her sword was likewise layde,
Whose long rest rusted the bright steely brand;
Yet when as foes enforst, or friends sought ayde,
She could it sternely draw, that all the world dismayde.        270
 
XXXI
And round about, before her feet there sate
A bevie of faire virgins clad in white,
That goodly seem’d t’ adorne her royall state,
All lovely daughters of high Jove, that hight
Litæ, by him begot in loves delight        275
Upon the righteous Themis: those they say
Upon Joves judgement seat wayt day and night,
And when in wrath he threats the worlds decay,
They doe his anger calme, and cruell vengeance stay.
 
XXXII
They also doe by his divine permission
        280
Upon the thrones of mortall princes tend,
And often treat for pardon and remission
To suppliants, through frayltie which offend.
Those did upon Mercillaes throne attend:
Just Dice, wise Eunomie, myld Eirene;        285
And them amongst, her glorie to commend,
Sate goodly Temperance in garments clene,
And sacred Reverence, yborne of heavenly strene.
 
XXXIII
Thus did she sit in royall rich estate,
Admyr’d of many, honoured of all,        290
An underneath her feete, there as she sate,
An huge great lyon lay, that mote appall
An hardie courage, like captived thrall,
With a strong yron chaine and coller bound,
That once he could not move, nor quich at all;        295
Yet did he murmure with rebellious sound,
And softly royne, when salvage choler gan redound.
 
XXXIV
So sitting high in dreaded soverayntie,
Those two strange knights were to her presence brought;
Who, bowing low before her majestie,        300
Did to her myld obeysance, as they ought,
And meekest boone that they imagine mought.
To whom she eke inclyning her withall,
As a faire stoupe of her high soaring thought,
A chearefull countenance on them let fall,        305
Yet tempred with some majestie imperiall.
 
XXXV
As the bright sunne, what time his fierie teme
Towards the westerne brim begins to draw,
Gins to abate the brightnesse of his beme,
And fervour of his flames somewhat adaw:        310
So did this mightie ladie, when she saw
Those two strange knights such homage to her make,
Bate somewhat of that majestie and awe,
That whylome wont to doe so many quake,
And with more myld aspect those two to entertake.        315
 
XXXVI
Now at that instant, as occasion fell,
When these two stranger knights arriv’d in place,
She was about affaires of common wele,
Dealing of justice with indifferent grace,
And hearing pleas of people meane and base.        320
Mongst which, as then, there was for to be heard
The tryall of a great and weightie case,
Which on both sides was then debating hard:
But at the sight of these, those were a while debard.
 
XXXVII
But after all her princely entertayne,
        325
To th’ hearing of that former cause in hand
Her selfe eftsoones she gan convert againe;
Which that those knights likewise mote understand,
And witnesse forth aright in forrain land,
Taking them up unto her stately throne,        330
Where they mote heare the matter throughly scand
On either part, she placed th’ one on th’ one,
The other on the other side, and neare them none.
 
XXXVIII
Then was there brought, as prisoner to the barre,
A ladie of great countenance and place,        335
But that she it with foule abuse did marre;
Yet did appeare rare beautie in her face,
But blotted with condition vile and base,
That all her other honour did obscure,
And titles of nobilitie deface:        340
Yet in that wretched semblant, she did sure
The peoples great compassion unto her allure.
 
XXXIX
Then up arose a person of deepe reach,
And rare in-sight, hard matters to revele;
That well could charme his tongue, and time his speach        345
To all assayes; his name was called Zele:
He gan that ladie strongly to appele
Of many haynous crymes, by her enured,
And with sharpe reasons rang her such a pele,
That those whom she to pitie had allured        350
He now t’ abhorre and loath her person had procured.
 
XL
First gan he tell, how this, that seem’d so faire
And royally arayd, Duessa hight,
That false Duessa, which had wrought great care
And mickle mischiefe unto many a knight,        355
By her beguyled and confounded quight:
But not for those she now in question came,
Though also those mote question’d be aright,
But for vyld treasons and outrageous shame,
Which she against the dred Mercilla oft did frame.        360
 
XLI
For she whylome (as ye mote yet right well
Remember) had her counsels false conspyred
With faithlesse Blandamour and Paridell,
(Both two her paramours, both by her hyred,
And both with hope of shadowes vaine inspyred.)        365
And with them practiz’d, how for to depryve
Mercilla of her crowne, by her aspyred,
That she might it unto her selfe deryve,
And tryumph in their blood, whom she to death did dryve.
 
XLII
But through high heavens grace, which favour not
        370
The wicked driftes of trayterous desynes
Gainst loiall princes, all this cursed plot,
Ere proofe it tooke, discovered was betymes,
And th’ actours won the meede meet for their crymes.
Such be the meede of all that by such mene        375
Unto the type of kingdomes title clymes.
But false Duessa, now untitled queene,
Was brought to her sad doome, as here was to be seene.
 
XLIII
Strongly did Zele her haynous fact enforce,
And many other crimes of foule defame        380
Against her brought, to banish all remorse,
And aggravate the horror of her blame.
And with him to make part against her, came
Many grave persons, that against her pled:
First was a sage old syre, that had to name        385
The Kingdomes Care, with a white silver hed,
That many high regards and reasons gainst her red.
 
XLIV
Then gan Authority her to appose
With peremptorie powre, that made all mute;
And then the Law of Nations gainst her rose,        390
And reasons brought, that no man could refute;
Next gan Religion gainst her to impute
High Gods beheast, and powre of holy lawes;
Then gan the Peoples Cry and Commons Sute
Importune care of their owne publicke cause;        395
And lastly Justice charged her with breach of lawes.
 
XLV
But then for her, on the contrarie part,
Rose many advocates for her to plead:
First there came Pittie, with full tender hart,
And with her joyn’d Regard of Womanhead;        400
And then came Daunger, threatning hidden dread
And high alliance unto forren powre;
Then came Nobilitie of Birth, that bread
Great ruth through her misfortunes tragicke stowre;
And lastly Griefe did plead, and many teares forth powre.        405
 
XLVI
With the neare touch whereof in tender hart
The Briton Prince was sore empassionate,
And woxe inclined much unto her part,
Through the sad terror of so dreadfull fate,
And wretched ruine of so high estate,        410
That for great ruth his courage gan relent.
Which when as Zele perceived to abate,
He gan his earnest fervour to augment,
And many fearefull objects to them to present.
 
XLVII
He gan t’ efforce the evidence anew,
        415
And new accusements to produce in place:
He brought forth that old hag of hellish hew,
The cursed Ate, brought her face to face,
Who privie was, and partie in the case:
She, glad of spoyle and ruinous decay,        420
Did her appeach, and, to her more disgrace,
The plot of all her practise did display,
And all her traynes and all her treasons forth did lay.
 
XLVIII
Then brought he forth, with griesly grim aspect,
Abhorred Murder, who with bloudie knyfe        425
Yet dropping fresh in hand did her detect,
And there with guiltie bloudshed charged ryfe:
Then brought he forth Sedition, breeding stryfe
In troublous wits, and mutinous uprore:
Then brought he forth Incontinence of Lyfe,        430
Even foule Adulterie her face before,
And lewd Impietie, that her accused sore.
 
XLIX
All which when as the Prince had heard and seene,
His former fancies ruth he gan repent,
And from her partie eftsoones was drawen cleene.        435
But Artegall, with constant firme intent,
For zeale of justice was against her bent.
So was she guiltie deemed of them all.
Then Zele began to urge her punishment,
And to their queene for judgement loudly call,        440
Unto Mercilla myld, for justice gainst the thrall.
 
L
But she, whose princely breast was touched nere
With piteous ruth of her so wretched plight,
Though plaine she saw, by all that she did heare,
That she of death was guiltie found by right,        445
Yet would not let just vengeance on her light;
But rather let in stead thereof to fall
Few perling drops from her faire lampes of light;
The which she covering with her purple pall
Would have the passion hid, and up arose withall.        450
 
 
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