Page images

-- - or---------------------- -


At last she chanced by good hap to meet
A goodly knight, fair marching by the way,
Together with his squire, arrayed meet:
His glittering armour shined far away,
Like giancing light of Phoebus' brightest ray;
From top to toe no place appeared bare,
That deadly dint of steel endanger may :

Athwart his breast a baldrich brave he ware, [rare:
That shined like twinklingstars,with stones most precious

And in the midst thereof one precious stone,
Of wondrous worth, and eke of wondrous might,
Shaped like a ladies head, exceeding shone,
Like Hesperus, amongst the lesser lights,
And strove for to amaze the weaker sights;
Thereby his mortal blade full comely hung
In ivory sheath, yearved with curious slights;

Whose hilts were burnished gold, and handle strong,

Of mother-pearl, and buckled with a golden tongue.

His haughty helmet, horrid all with gold,
Both glorious brightness and great terror bred;
For all the crest a dragon did enfold
With greedy paws, and over all did spread
ii is golden wings: his dreadful, hideous head,
Close couched on the beaver, seemed to throw
From flaming mouth bright sparkles, fiery red,
That sudden horror to faint hearts did show ;
And scaly tail was stretched down his back full low.

Upon the top of all his lofty crest,
A bunch of hairs, discoloured diversely,
With sprinkled pearl and gold full richly drest,
Did shake, and seemed to dance for jollity ;
Like to an almond tree, yimounted high
On top of green Selinis, all alone,
With blossoms brave bedecked daintily ;
Whose tender locks do tremble, every one,
At every little breath that under heaven is blown.

His warlike shield all closely covered was, Ne might of mortal eye be ever seen; Not made of steel, nor of enduring brass, (Such earthly metals soon consumed beene,) But all of diamond, perfect, pure, and clean It framed was, one massy, entire mould, Hewn out of adamant rocks with engine keen, That point of spear it never piercen could, No dint of direful sword divide the substance would.

The same to wight he never would disclose, But whenas monsters huge he would dismay, Or daunt unequal armies of his foes, Or when the flying heavens he would affray : For so exceeding shone its glistening ray, That Phoebus' golden face it did attaint, As when a cloud his beams doth overlay : And silver Cynthia waxed pale and faint, As when her face is stained with magic arts constraint.


Forthwith themselves disguising, both in strange And base attire, that none might them bewray, To Maridunum, that is now, by change Of name, Cayr-Merdid called, they took their way : There the wise Merlin, whylome wont (they say) To make his wonne, low underneath the ground, In a deep delve, far from the view of day; That of no living wight he mote be found, Whenso he counseld, with his sprites encompast round.

And if thou ever happen that same way To travel, go to see that dreadful place : It is an hideous hollow cave (they say) Under a rock that lies a little space From the swift Barry, tumbling down apace Amongst the woody hills of Dynevowre : But dare thou not, I charge, in any case, To enter into that same baleful bower, For fear the cruel fiends should thee un’wares devour.

But standing high aloft, low lay thine ear, And there such ghastly noise of iron chains, And brazen cauldrons thou shalt rumbling hear, Which thousand spirits, with long enduring pains, Do toss, that will stun thy feeble brains; And oftentimes great groans and grievous stounds, When too huge toil and labour them constrains ; And oftentimes loud strokes and ringing sounds, From under that deep rock most horribly rebounds.

The cause, some say, is this: a little whiie Before that Merlin died, he did intend A brazen wall in compass to compile About Cairmardin, and did it commend, Unto these sprites to bring to perfect end ; During which work the Lady of the Lake, Whom long he loved, for him in haste did send, Who thereby forced his workmen to forsake, Them bound till his return their labour not to slake,

In the meantime, through that false lady's train, He was surprized and buried under bier, Ne ever to his work returned again ; Natheless those fiends may not their work forbear, So greatly his commandement they fear, But there do toil and travail day and night, Until that brazen wall they up do rear; For Merlin had in magic more insight Than ever him before or after living wight.

For he by words could call out of the sky Both sun and moon, and make them him obey; The land to sea, and sea to mainland dry, And darksome night he eke could turn to day. Huge hosts of men he could alone dismay, And hosts of men of meanest things could frame, When so him list his enemies to fray; That to this day for terror of his fame, The fiends do quake, when any him to them does name



Are not these woods More free from peril than the envious court f Here feel we but the penalty of Adam, The seasons' difference; as the icy fang, And churlish chiding of the winter's wind; Which when it bites and blows upon my body, Even till I shrink with cold, I smile, and say, This is no flattery: these are counsellors That feelingly persuade me what I am. Sweet are the uses of adversity; Which like the toad, ugly and venomous, Wears yet a precious jewel in his head ; And this our life, exempt from public haunt, Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.

« PreviousContinue »