Page images
PDF

47 There was that great proud king of Babylon,

That would compell all nations to adore
And him, as onely God, to call upon;
Till, through celestiall doome thrown out of dore,
Into an oxe he was transformd of yore.
There also was king Croesus, that enhaunst
His hart too high through his great richesse store;
And proud Antiochus, the which advaunst
His cursed hand gainst God, and on his altars daunst.

48 And, them long time before, great Nimrod was,

That first the world with sword and fire warrayd ;
And after him old Ninus far did pas
In princely pomp, of all the world obayd;
There also was that mightie Monarch layd
Low under all, yet above all in pride,
That name of native syre did fowle upbrayd,
And would as Ammons sonne be magnifide;
Till, scornd of God and man, a shamefull death he dide.

49 All these together in one heape were throwne,

Like carkases of beastes in butchers stall.
And in another corner wide were strowne
The antique ruins of the Romanes fall :
Great Romulus, the Grandsyre of them all,
Proud Tarquin, and too lordly Lentulus,
Stout Scipio, and stubborne Hanniball,
Ambitious Sylla, and sterne Marius,
High Caesar, great Pompey, and fierce Antonius.

50 Amongst these mightie men were wemen mixt,

Proud wemen, vaine, forgetfull of their yoke :
The bold Semiramis, whose sides transfixt
With sonnes own blade her fowle reproches spoke;
Faire Sthenoboea, that her selfe did choke
With wilfull cord, for wanting of her will ;
High-minded Cleopatra, that with stroke
Of aspes sting her selfe did stoutly kill:
And thousands moe the like, that did that dongeon fill;

51 Besides the endlesse routs of wretched thralles,

Which thither were assembled day by day
From all the world, after their wofull falles
Through wicked pride and wasted welthes decay.
But most of all which in that dongeon lay,
Fell from high Princes courts, or Ladies bowres;
Where they in ydle pomp, or wanton play,
Consumed had their goods and thriftlesse howres,
And lastly thrown themselves into these heavy stowres.

52 Whose case whenas the careful Dwarfe had tould,

And made ensample of their mournfull sight
Unto his maister, he no lenger would
There dwell in perill of like painefull plight,
But early rose; and, ere that dawning light
Discovered had the world to heaven wyde,
He by a privy Posterne tooke his flight,
That of no envious eyes he mote be spyde:
For doubtlesse death ensewd, if any him descryde.

53 Scarse could he footing find in that fowle way,

For many corses, like a great Lay-stall,
Of murdred men, which therein strowed lay
Without remorse or decent funerall :
Which al through that great Princesse Pride did fall
And came to shamefull end. And them beside
Forth ryding underneath the castell wall,
A donghill of dead carkases he spide;
The dreadfull spectacle of that sad house of Pride.

CANTO VI.

From lawlesse lust by wondrous grace

fayre Una is releast;
Whom salvage nation does adore,

and learnes her wise bebeast.

I As when a ship, that flyes faire under saile,

An hidden rocke escaped hath unwares,
That lay in waite her wrack for to bewaile,
The mariner yet halfe amazed stares
At perill past, and yet in doubt ne dares
To joy at his foolhappie oversight:
So doubly is distrest twixt joy and cares
The dreadlesse courage of this Elfin knight,
Having escapt so sad ensamples in his sight.

2 Yet sad he was that his too hastie speede

The fayre Duess' had forst him leave behind;
And yet more sad, that Una his deare dreed
Her truth had staind with treason so unkind:
Yet crime in her could never creature find;
But for his love, and for her owne selfe sake,
She wandred had from one to other Ynd,
Him for to seeke, ne ever would forsake,
Till her unwares the fiers Sansloy did overtake.

6 The pitteous mayden, carefull, comfortlesse,

Does throw out thrilling shriekes, and shrieking cryes,
(The last vaine helpe of womens greate distresse,)
And with loud plaints importuneth the skyes,
That molten starres doe drop like weeping eyes;
And Phoebus, flying so most shameful sight,
His blushing face in foggy cloud implyes,
And hides for shame. What wit of mortall wight
Can now devise to quit a thrall from such a plight?

7 Eternall providence exceeding thought,
Where none appeares can make her selfe a way:
A wondrous way it for this Lady wrought,
From Lyons clawes to pluck the griped pray.
Her shrill outcryes and shriekes so loud did bray,
That all the woodes and forestes did resownd:
A troupe of Faunes and Satyres far away
Within the wood were dauncing in a rownd,
Whiles old Sylvanus slept in shady arber sownd:

8 Who when they heard that pitteous strained voice,

In haste forsooke their rurall merriment,
And ran towardes the far rebownded noyce,
To weet what wight so loudly did lament.
Unto the place they come incontinent:
Whom when the raging Sarazin espide,
A rude, mishapen, monstrous rablement,
Whose like he never saw, he durst not bide;
But got his ready steed, and fast away gan ride.

9 The wyld wood-gods, arrived in the place,

There find the virgin, doleful, desolate,
With ruffled rayments, and faire blubbred face,
As her outrageous foe had left her late;
And trembling yet through feare of former hate :
All stand amazed at so uncouth sight,
And gin to pittie her unhappie state ;
All stand astonied at her beautie bright,

In their rude eyes unworthy of so wofull plight. 10 She, more amazd, in double dread doth dwell;

And every tender part for feare does shake:
As when a greedy Wolfe, through honger fell,
A seely Lamb far from the flock does take,
Of whom he meanes his bloudy feast to make,
A Lyon spyes fast running towards him,
The innocent pray in hast he does forsake;
Which, quitt from death, yet quakes in every lim
With chaunge of feare, to see the Lyon look so grim.

11 Such fearefull fit assaid her trembling hart;

Ne worde to speake, ne joynt to move, she had:
The salvage nation feele her secret smart,
And read her sorrow in her count'nance sad;
Their frowning forheads, with rough hornes yclad
And rustick horror, all aside doe lay;
And, gently grenning, show a semblance glad
To comfort her; and, feare to put away,
Their backward bent knees teach her humbly to obay.

12 The doubtfull Damzell dare not yet commit

Her single person to their barbarous truth;
But still twixt feare and hope amazd does sit,
Late learnd what harme to hasty trust ensu'th:
They, in compassion of her tender youth,
And wonder of her beautie soveraine,
Are wonne with pitty and unwonted ruth;
And, all prostrate upon the lowly plaine,

[faine. Do kisse her feete, and fawne on her with count'nance

13 Their harts she ghesseth by their humble guise,

And yieldes her to extremitie of time :
So from the ground she fearlesse doth arise,
And walketh forth without suspect of crime :
They, all as glad as birdes of joyous Prime,
Thence lead her forth, about her dauncing round,
Shouting, and singing all 'a shepheards ryme,
And with greene braunches strowing all the ground,
Do worship her, as Queene, with olive girlond cround.

14 And all the way their merry pipes they sound,

That all the woods with double Eccho ring;
And with their horned feet do weare the ground,
Leaping like wanton kids in pleasant Spring.
So towards old Sylvanus they her bring;
Who, with the noyse awaked, commeth out
To weet the cause, his weake steps governing
And aged limbs on cypresse stadle stout;
And with an yvie twyne his wast is girt about.

« PreviousContinue »