Page images

It Merlin was, which whylome did excell
All living wightes in might of magicke spell:
Both shield, and sword, and armour all he wrought
For this young prince, when first to armes he fell;
But, when he dyde, the Faery queene it brought
To Faerie lond; where yet it may be seene, if sought.

A gentle youth, his dearely loved squire,
His speare of heben wood behind him bare,
Whose harmeful head, thrise heated in the fire,
Had riven many a brest with pikehead square ;
A goodly person ; and could menage faire
His stubborne steed with curbed canon bitt,
Who under him did trample as the aire,
And chauft, that any on his backe should sitt;
The yron rowels into frothy fome he bitt.

Whenas this knight nigh to the lady drew,
With lovely court he gan her entertaine ;
But, when he heard her aunswers loth, he knew
Some secret sorrow did her heart distraine:
Which to allay, and calme her storming paine,
Faire feeling words he wisely gan display,
And, for her humor fitting purpose faine,
To tempt the cause it selfe for to bewray ; [to say;
Wherewith enmovd, these bleeding words she gan

“What worlds delight, or ioy of living speach,
Can hart, so plungd in sea of sorrowes deep,
And heaped with so huge misfortunes, reach?
The carefull Cold beginneth for to creep,
And in my heart his yron arrow steep,
Soone as I thinke upon my bitter bale.
Such helplesse harmes yts better hidden keep,

Then rip up griefe, where it may not availe ;
My last left comfort is my woes to weepe and waile.”

" Ah, lady deare," quoth then the gentle knight,
“Well may I ween your griefe is wondrous great ;
For wondrous great griefe groneth in my spright,
Whiles thus I heare you of your sorrowes treat,
But, woefull lady, let me you intrete
For to unfold the anguish of your hart:
Mishaps are maistred by advice discrete,
And counsell mitigates the greatest smart ;
Foundneverhelp,who never would his hurtsimpart."

“O! but,” quoth she, “great griefe will not be tould, And can more easily be thought then said.” “Right so," quoth he ; “but he, that never would, Could never : will to might gives greatest aid.” “But griefe," quoth she, “ does greater grow dis

plaid, If then it find not helpe, and breedes despair.” “Despaire breeds not,” quoth he, “where faith is staid."

(paire." “No faith so fast,” quoth she, “but flesh does “Flesh may empaire,” quoth he, “but reason can



His goodly reason, and well-guided speach,
So deepe did settle in her gracious thought,
That her perswaded to disclose the breach
Which love and fortune in her hart had wrought;
And said, “ Faire sir, 1 hope good hap hath brought
You to inquere the secrets of my griefe ;
Or that your wisdome will direct my thought ;

Or that your prowesse can me yield reliefe; (briefe. Then heare the story sad, which I shall tell you

“ The forlorne maiden, whom your eies have seene
The laughing stocke of Fortunes mockeries,
Am th’ onely daughter of a king and queene,
Whose parents deare (whiles equal destinies
Did ronne about, and their felicities
The favourable Heavens did not envy)
Did spred their rule through all the territories,
Which Phison and Euphrates floweth by,
And Gehons golden waves doe wash continually:

“ Till that their cruell cursed enemy,
And huge great dragon, horrible in sight,
Bred in the loathy lakes of Tartary,
With murdrous ravine, and devouring might,
Their kingdome spoild, and countrey wasted quight.
Themselves, for feare into his iawes to fall,
He forst to castle strong to take their flight;
Where, fast embard in mighty brasen wall, (thral).
He has them now fowr years besiegd to make them

“ Full many knights, adventurous and stout,
Have enterpriz'd that monster to subdew :
From every coast, that Heaven walks about,
Have thither come the noble martial crew,
That famous harde atchievements still pursew;
Yet never any could that girlond win,
But all still shronke; and still he greater grew:
All they for want of faith, or guilt of sin,
The pitteous pray of his fiers cruelty have bin.

“At last, yled with far reported praise,
Which flying fame throughout the world had spred,
Of doughty knights, whom Faery land did raise,
That noble order hight of Maidenhed,
Forthwith to court of Gloriane I sped,
Of Gloriane, great queene of glory bright,
Whose kingdomes seat Cleopolis is red;
There to obtaine some such redoubted knight,
That parents deare from tyrants powre deliver might.

“ Yt was my chaunce (my chaunce was faire and There for to find a fresh unproved knight; (good) Whose manly hands imbrewd in guilty blood Had never beene, ne ever by his might Had throwne to ground the unregarded right : Yet of his prowesse proofe he since hath made (I witnes am) in many a cruell fight; 'The groning ghosts of many one dismaide Have felt the bitter dint of his avenging blade.

“ And ye, the forlorne reliques of his powre,
His biting Sword and his devouring Speare,
Which have endured many a dreadfull stowre,
Can speake his prowesse, that did earst you beare,
And well could rule ; now he hath left you heare
To be the record of his ruefull losse,
And of my dolefull disaventurous deare:
O heavie record of the good Redcrosse,
Where have ye left your lord, that could so well

you tosse ?

“Well hoped I, and faire beginnings had, That he my captive languor should redeeme: Till all unweeting an enchaunter bad

His sence abusd, and made him to misdeeme
My loyalty, not such as it did seeme,
That rather death desire then such despight.
Be iudge, ye Heavens, that all things right esteeme,
How I him lov’d, and love with all my might!
So thought I eke of him, and think I thought aright.

“ Thenceforth me desolate he quite forsooke,
To wander, where wilde Fortune would me lead,
And other bywaies he himselfe betooke,
Where never foute of living wight did tread,
That brought not backe the balefull body dead;
In which him chaunced false Duessa meete,
Mine onely foe, mine onely deadly dread;
Who with her witchcraft, and misseeming sweete,
Inveigled him to follow her desires unmeete.

“At last, by subtle sleights she him betraid
Unto his foe, a gyaunt huge and tall;
Who him disarmed, dissolute, dismaid,
Unwares surprised, and with mighty mall
The monster mercilesse him made to fall,
Whose fall did never foe before behold :
And now in darksome dungeon, wretched thrall,
Remédilesse, for aie he doth him hold:
This is my cause of griefe, more great then may be


Ere she had ended all, she gan to faint:
But he her comforted, and faire bespake;
“ Certes madáme, ye have great cause of plaint,
That stoutest hart, I weene, could cause to quake.
But be of cheare, and comfort to you take ;

« PreviousContinue »