Page images
PDF
EPUB

And in the way, as she did weep and wail,
A knight her met in mighty arms embost,
Yet knight was not for all his bragging boast;
But subtle Archimag, that Una sought
By traynes into new troubles to have tossed:

Of that old woman tidings he besought,
If that of such a lady she could tellen aught.

Therewith she gan her passion to renew,
And cry, and curse, and rail, and rend her hair,
Saying, that harlot she too lately knew,
That caused her shed so many a bitter tear;
And so forth told the story of her fear.
Much seemèd he to moan her hapless chance,
And after for that lady did inquere;

Which being taught, he forward gan advance
His fair enchanted steed, and eke his charmèd lance.

Erelong he came where Una traveled slow,
And that wild champion waiting her beside;
Whom seeing such, for dread he durst not show
Himself too nigh at hand, but turned wide
Unto an hill; from whence when she him spied,
By his like-seeming shield her knight by name
She weened it was, and towards him gan ride;

Approaching nigh she wist it was the same;
And with fair fearful humblesse towards him she came

And weeping said, “Ah, my long-lacked lord,
Where have ye been thus long out of

my sight?
Much feared I to have been quite abhorred,
Or aught have done, that ye displeasen might,
That should as death unto my dear heart light;
For since mine eye your joyous sight did miss,
My cheerful day is turned to cheerless night,

And eke my night of death the shadow is :
But welcome now, my light, and shining lamp of bliss !"

He thereto meeting said, “My dearest dame,
Far be it from your thought, and fro my will,
To think that knighthood I so much should shame,
As you to leave that have me lovèd still,
And chose in Faerie court, of mere good will,
Where noblest knights were to be found on earth.
The earth shall sooner leave her kindly skill

VOL. XII. – 20

To bring forth fruit, and make eternal dearth, Than I leave you, my life, yborn of heavenly birth.

“ And sooth to say, why I left you so long,
Was for to seek adventure in strange place;
Where, Archimago said, a felon strong
To many knights did daily work disgrace;
But knight he now shall nevermore deface:
Good cause of mine excuse that mote ye please
Well to accept, and evermore embrace

My faithful service, that by land and seas
Have vowed you to defend: now then your plaint appease.”

His lovely words her seemed due recompense
Of all her passèd pains; one loving hour
For many years of sorrow can dispense;
A dram of sweet is worth a pound of sour.
She has forgot how many a woeful stowre
For him she late endured ; she speaks no more
Of past: true is that true love hath no power

To looken back; his eyes be fixt before.
Before her stands her knight, for whom she toiled so sore.

Much like, as when the beaten mariner,
That long hath wand'red in the ocean wide,
Oft soused in swelling Țethys' saltish tear;
And long time having tanned his tawny hide
With blust'ring breath of heaven, that none can pide,
And scorching flames of fierce Orion's hound;
Soon as the port from far he has espied,

His cheerful whistle merrily doth sound,
And Nereus crowns with cups; his mates him pledge around:

Such joy made Una, when her knight she found;
And eke th’ enchanter joyous seemed no less
Than the glad merchant, that does view from ground
His ship far come from watery wilderness;
He hurls out vows, and Neptune oft doth bless.
So forth they passed; and all the way they spent
Discoursing of her dreadful late distress,

In which he asked her what the lion meant;
Who told, her all that fell in journey, as she went.

They had not ridden far, when they might see
One pricking towards them with hasty heat,

Full strongly armed, and on a courser free,
That through his fierceness foamèd all with sweat,
And the sharp iron did for anger eat,
When his hot rider spurred his chafèd side;
His look was stern, and seemed still to threat

Cruel revenge, which he in heart did hide:
And on his shield Sans loy in bloody lines was dyed.

When nigh he drew unto this gentle pair,
And saw the red cross which the knight did bear,
He burnt in fire; and gan eftsoones prepare
Himself to battle with his couchèd spear.
Loath was that other, and did faint through fear,
To taste th' untrièd dint of deadly steel :
But yet his lady did so well him cheer,

That hope of new good hap he gan to feel;
So bent his spear, and spurred his horse with iron heel.

But that proud Paynim forward came so fierce
And full of wrath, that, with his sharp-head spear,
Through vainly crossèd shield he quite did pierce;
And, had his staggering steed not shrunk for fear,
Through shield and body eke he should him bear:
Yet, so great was the puissance of his push,
That from his saddle quite he did him bear:

He tumbling rudely down to ground did rush,
And from his gorèd wound a well of blood did gush.

Dismounting lightly from his lofty steed,
He to him leapt, in mind to reave his life,
And proudly said: “Lo, there the worthy meed
Of him that slew Sansfoy with bloody knife;
Henceforth his ghost, freed from repining strife,
In peace may passen over Lethe lake;
When mourning altars, purged with enemy's life,

The black infernal furies do aslake:
Life from Sansfoy thou took'st, Sansloy shall from thee take."

Therewith in haste his helmet gan unlace,
Till Una cried : “O hold that heavy hand,
Dear sir, whatever that thou be in place:
Enough is that thy foe doth vanquished stand
Now at thy mercy; mercy not withstand;
For he is one the truest knight alive,
Though conquered now he lie on lowly land:

And, whilst him fortune favored, fair did thrive In bloody field; therefore of life him not deprive."

Her piteous words might not abate his rage;
But, rudely rending up his helmet, would
Have slain him straight; but when he sees his age,
And hoary head of Archimago old,
His hasty hand he doth amazed hold,
And, half ashamed, wond'red at the sight:
For the old man well knew he, though untold,

In charms and magic to have wondrous might;
Ne ever wont in field, ne in round lists to fight;

And said: “Why, Archimago, luckless sire,
What do I see? what hard mishap is this,
That hath thee hither brought to taste mine ire ?
Or thine the fault, or mine the error is,
Instead of foe to wound my friend amiss ?
He answered naught, but in a trance still lay,
And on those guileful dazed eyes of his

The cloud of death did sit; which done away,
He left him lying so, ne would no longer stay:

But to the virgin comes; who all this while
Amazed stands, herself so mocked to see
By him who has the guerdon of his guile,
For so misfeigning her true knight to be:
Yet is she now in more perplexity,
Left in the hand of that same Paynim bold,
From whom her booteth not at all to flee:

Who, by her cleanly garment catching hold,
Her from her palfrey plucked, her visage to behold.

But her fierce servant, full of kingly awe
And high disdain, whenas his sovereign dame
So rudely handled by her foe he saw,
With gaping jaws full greedy at him came,
And, ramping on his shield, did ween the same
Have reft away with his sharp rending claws:
But he was stout, and lust did now inflame

His courage more, that from his griping paws
He hath his shield redeemed; and forth his sword he draws.

O then, too weak and feeble was the force
Of savage beast, his puissance to withstand !

For he was strong, and of so mighty corse,
As ever wielded spear in warlike hand;
And feats of arms did wisely understand.
Eftsoones he piercèd through his chafèd chest
With thrilling point of deadly iron brand,

And lanced his lordly heart: with death opprest
He roared aloud, whiles life forsook his stubborn breast.

Who now is left to keep the fórlorn maid
From raging spoil of lawless victor's will?
Her faithful guard removed; her hope dismayed;
Herself a yielded prey to save or spill!
He now, lord of the field, his pride to fill,
With foul reproaches and disdainful spite
Her vilely entertains; and, will or nill,

Bears her away upon his courser light:
Her prayers naught prevail: his rage is more of might.

And all the way, with great lamenting pain,
And piteous plaints, she filleth his dull ears,
That stony heart could riven have in twain;
And all the way she wets with flowing tears:
But he, enraged with rancor, nothing hears.
Her servile beast yet would not leave her so,
But follows her far off, ne aught he fears

To be partaker of her wand'ring woe:
More mild in beastly kind, than that her beastly foe.

SONNET ON THE FAIRY QUEEN.

BY SIR WALTER RALEIGH.

METHOUGHT I saw the grave where Laura lay,
Within that temple where the vestal flame
Was wont to burn; and passing by that way
To see that buried dust of living fame,
Whose tomb fair Love, and fairer Virtue kept,
All suddenly I saw the Faery Queen:
At whose approach the soul of Petrarch wept,
And from thenceforth those Graces were not seen;
(For they this Queen attended ;) in whose stead
Oblivion laid him down on Laura's hearse :
Hereat the hardest stones were seen to bleed,
And groans of buried ghosts the heavens did pierce;
Where Homer's spright did tremble all for grief,
And cursed th' access of that celestial thief.

« PreviousContinue »