The Faerie Queene


The guilefull great Enchaunter parts

the Redcrosse Knight from truth,

Into whose stead faire Falshood steps,

and workes him wofull ruth.


By this the Northerne wagoner[*] had set

His sevenfold teme[*] behind the stedfast starre,[*]

That was in Ocean waves yet never wet,

But firme is fixt, and sendeth light from farre

To all that in the wide deepe wandring arre: 5

And chearefull Chaunticlere[*] with his note shrill

Had warned once, that Phoebus fiery carre[*]

In hast was climbing up the Easterne hill, Full envious that night so long his roome did fill.


When those accursed messengers of hell, 10

That feigning dreame, and that faire-forged Spright[*]

Came to their wicked maister, and gan tell

Their bootelesse paines, and ill succeeding night:

Who all in rage to see his skilfull might

Deluded so, gan threaten hellish paine 15

And sad Proserpines wrath, them to affright.

But when he saw his threatning was but vaine, He cast about, and searcht his baleful bookes againe.


Eftsoones he tooke that miscreated faire,

And that false other Spright, on whom he spred 20

A seeming body of the subtile aire,

Like a young Squire, in loves and lustybed

His wanton dayes that ever loosely led,

Without regard of armes and dreaded fight:

Those two he tooke, and in a secret bed, 25

Coverd with darknesse and misdeeming night, Them both together laid, to joy in vaine delight.


Forthwith he runnes with feigned faithfull hast

Unto his guest, who after troublous sights

And dreames, gan now to take more sound repast, 30

Whom suddenly he wakes with fearfull frights,

As one aghast with feends or damned sprights,

And to him cals, Rise, rise, unhappy Swaine

That here wex old in sleepe, whiles wicked wights

Have knit themselves in Venus shameful chaine, 35 Come see where your false Lady doth her honour staine.


All in amaze he suddenly upstart

With sword in hand, and with the old man went

Who soone him brought into a secret part

Where that false couple were full closely ment 40

In wanton lust and leud embracement:

Which when he saw, he burnt with gealous fire,

The eye of reason was with rage yblent,

And would have slaine them in his furious ire, But hardly was restreined of that aged sire. 45


Returning to his bed in torment great,

And bitter anguish of his guiltie sight,

He could not rest, but did his stout heart eat,

And wast his inward gall with deepe despight,

Yrkesome of life, and too long lingring night. 50

At last faire Hesperus[*] in highest skie

Had spent his lampe and brought forth dawning light,

Then up he rose, and clad him hastily; The Dwarfe him brought his steed: so both away do fly.


Now when the rosy-fingred Morning[*] faire, 55

Weary of aged Tithones[*] saffron bed,

Had spread her purple robe through deawy aire,

And the high hils Titan[*] discovered,

The royall virgin shooke off drowsy-hed;

And rising forth out of her baser bowre, 60

Lookt for her knight, who far away was fled,

And for her Dwarfe, that wont to wait each houre: Then gan she waile and weepe, to see that woefull stowre.


And after him she rode with so much speede

As her slow beast could make; but all in vaine: 65

For him so far had borne his light-foot steede,

Pricked with wrath and fiery fierce disdaine,

That him to follow was but fruitlesse paine;

Yet she her weary limbes would never rest,

But every hill and dale, each wood and plaine, 70

Did search, sore grieved in her gentle brest, He so ungently left her, whom she loved best.


But subtill Archimago, when his guests

He saw divided into double parts,

And Una wandring in woods and forrests, 75

Th' end of his drift, he praisd his divelish arts,

That had such might over true meaning harts:

Yet rests not so, but other meanes doth make,

How he may worke unto her further smarts:

For her he hated as the hissing snake, 80 And in her many troubles did most pleasure take.


He then devisde himselfe how to disguise;

For by his mightie science he could take

As many formes and shapes in seeming wise,

As ever Proteus[*] to himselfe could make: 85

Sometime a fowle, sometime a fish in lake,

Now like a foxe, now like a dragon fell,

That of himselfe he ofte for feare would quake,

And oft would flie away. O who can tell The hidden power of herbes[*] and might of Magicke spell? 90


But now seemde best the person to put on

Of that good knight, his late beguiled guest:

In mighty armes he was yclad anon:

And silver shield, upon his coward brest

A bloudy crosse, and on his craven crest 95

A bounch of haires discolourd diversly:

Full jolly knight he seemde, and well addrest,

And when he sate upon his courser free, Saint George himself ye would have deemed him to be.


But he the knight, whose semblaunt he did beare, 100

The true Saint George, was wandred far away,

Still flying from his thoughts and gealous feare;

Will was his guide, and griefe led him astray.

At last him chaunst to meete upon the way

A faithless Sarazin[*] all arm'd to point, 105

In whose great shield was writ with letters gay

_Sans foy:_ full large of limbe and every joint He was, and cared not for God or man a point.


He had a faire companion[*] of his way,

A goodly Lady clad in scarlot red, 110

Purfled with gold and pearle of rich assay,

And like a Persian mitre on her hed

She wore, with crowns and owches garnished,

The which her lavish lovers to her gave;

Her wanton palfrey all was overspred 115

With tinsell trappings, woven like a wave, Whose bridle rung with golden bels and bosses brave.


With faire disport and courting dalliaunce

She intertainde her lover all the way:

But when she saw the knight his speare advaunce, 120

She soone left off her mirth and wanton play,

And bade her knight addresse him to the fray:

His foe was nigh at hand. He prickt with pride

And hope to winne his Ladies heart that day,

Forth spurred fast: adowne his coursers side 125 The red bloud trickling staind the way, as he did ride.


The knight of the Redcrosse when him he spide,

Spurring so hote with rage dispiteous,

Gan fairely couch his speare, and towards ride:

Soone meete they both, both fell and furious, 130

That daunted with their forces hideous,

Their steeds do stagger, and amazed stand,

And eke themselves, too rudely rigorous,

Astonied with the stroke of their owne hand Doe backe rebut, and each to other yeeldeth land. 135


As when two rams[*] stird with ambitious pride,

Fight for the rule of the rich fleeced flocke,

Their horned fronts so fierce on either side

Do meete, that with the terrour of the shocke

Astonied both, stand sencelesse as a blocke, 140

Forgetfull of the hanging victory:[*]

So stood these twaine, unmoved as a rocke,

Both staring fierce, and holding idely The broken reliques[*] of their former cruelty.


The Sarazin sore daunted with the buffe 145

Snatcheth his sword, and fiercely to him flies;

Who well it wards, and quyteth cuff with cuff:

Each others equall puissaunce envies,[*]

And through their iron sides[*] with cruell spies

Does seeke to perce: repining courage yields 150

No foote to foe. The flashing fier flies

As from a forge out of their burning shields, And streams of purple bloud new dies the verdant fields.


Curse on that Crosse (quoth then the Sarazin),

That keepes thy body from the bitter fit;[*] 155

Dead long ygoe I wote thou haddest bin,

Had not that charme from thee forwarned it:

But yet I warne thee now assured sitt,[*]

And hide thy head. Therewith upon his crest

With rigour so outrageous[*] he smitt, 160

That a large share[*] it hewd out of the rest, And glauncing down his shield from blame him fairly blest.[*]


Who thereat wondrous wroth, the sleeping spark

Of native vertue gan eftsoones revive,

And at his haughtie helmet making mark, 165

So hugely stroke, that it the steele did rive,

And cleft his head. He tumbling downe alive,

With bloudy mouth his mother earth did kis.

Greeting his grave: his grudging[*] ghost did strive

With the fraile flesh; at last it flitted is, 170 Whither the soules do fly of men that live amis.


The Lady when she saw her champion fall,

Like the old ruines of a broken towre,

Staid not to waile his woefull funerall,

But from him fled away with all her powre; 175

Who after her as hastily gan scowre,

Bidding the Dwarfe with him to bring away

The Sarazins shield, signe of the conqueroure.

Her soone he overtooke, and bad to stay, For present cause was none of dread her to dismay. 180


She turning backe with ruefull countenaunce,

Cride, Mercy mercy Sir vouchsafe to show

On silly Dame, subject to hard mischaunce,

And to your mighty will. Her humblesse low

In so ritch weedes and seeming glorious show, 185

Did much emmove his stout heroicke heart,

And said, Deare dame, your suddin overthrow

Much rueth me; but now put feare apart, And tell, both who ye be, and who that tooke your part.


Melting in teares, then gan she thus lament; 190

The wretched woman, whom unhappy howre

Hath now made thrall to your commandement,

Before that angry heavens list to lowre,

And fortune false betraide me to your powre,

Was, (O what now availeth that I was!) 195

Borne the sole daughter of an Emperour,[*]

He that the wide West under his rule has, And high hath set his throne, where Tiberis doth pas.


He in the first flowre of my freshest age,

Betrothed me unto the onely haire[*] 200

Of a most mighty king, most rich and sage;

Was never Prince so faithfull and so faire,

Was never Prince so meeke and debonaire;

But ere my hoped day of spousall shone,

My dearest Lord fell from high honours staire 205

Into the hands of his accursed fone, And cruelly was slaine, that shall I ever mone.


His blessed body spoild of lively breath,

Was afterward, I know not how, convaid

And fro me hid: of whose most innocent death 210

When tidings came to me, unhappy maid,

O how great sorrow my sad soule assaid.

Then forth I went his woefull corse to find,

And many yeares throughout the world I straid,

A virgin widow, whose deepe wounded mind 215 With love long time did languish as the striken hind.


At last it chaunced this proud Sarazin

To meete me wandring, who perforce me led

With him away, but yet could never win

The Fort, that Ladies hold in soveraigne dread; 220

There lies he now with foule dishonour dead,

Who whiles he livde, was called proud Sansfoy,

The eldest of three brethren, all three bred

Of one bad sire, whose youngest is Sansjoy; And twixt them both was born the bloudy bold Sansloy. 225


In this sad plight, friendlesse, unfortunate,

Now miserable I Fidessa dwell,

Craving of you in pitty of my state,

To do none ill, if please ye not do well.

He in great passion all this while did dwell, 230

More busying his quicke eyes, her face to view,

Then his dull eares, to heare what she did tell;

And said, Faire Lady hart of flint would rew The undeserved woes and sorrowes which ye shew.


Henceforth in safe assuraunce may ye rest, 235

Having both found a new friend you to aid,

And lost an old foe that did you molest:

Better new friend then an old foe is said.

With chaunge of cheare the seeming simple maid

Let fall her eyen, as shamefast to the earth, 240

And yeelding soft, in that she nought gain-said,

So forth they rode, he feining seemely merth, And she coy lookes: so dainty they say maketh derth.[*]


Long time they thus together traveiled,

Till weary of their way, they came at last 245

Where grew two goodly trees, that faire did spred

Their armes abroad, with gray mosse overcast,

And their greene leaves trembling with every blast,

Made a calme shadow far in compasse round:

The fearfull Shepheard often there aghast 250

Under them never sat, ne wont there sound[*] His mery oaten pipe, but shund th' unlucky ground.


But this good knight soone as he them can spie,

For the cool shade[*] him thither hastly got:

For golden Phoebus now ymounted hie, 255

From fiery wheeles of his faire chariot

Hurled his beame so scorching cruell hot,

That living creature mote it not abide;

And his new Lady it endured not.

There they alight, in hope themselves to hide 260 From the fierce heat, and rest their weary limbs a tide.


Faire seemely pleasaunce[*] each to other makes,

With goodly purposes[*] there as they sit:

And in his falsed fancy he her takes

To be the fairest wight that lived yit; 265

Which to expresse he bends his gentle wit,

And thinking of those braunches greene to frame

A girlond for her dainty forehead fit,

He pluckt a bough;[*] out of whose rift there came Small drops of gory bloud, that trickled down the same. 270


Therewith a piteous yelling voyce was heard,

Crying, O spare with guilty hands[*] to teare

My tender sides in this rough rynd embard,

But fly, ah fly far hence away, for feare

Least to you hap, that happened to me heare, 275

And to this wretched Lady, my deare love,

O too deare love, love bought with death too deare.

Astond he stood, and up his haire did hove, And with that suddein horror could no member move.


At last whenas the dreadfull passion 280

Was overpast, and manhood well awake,

Yet musing at the straunge occasion,

And doubting much his sence, he thus bespake;

What voyce of damned Ghost from Limbo lake,[*]

Or guilefull spright wandring in empty aire, 285

Both which fraile men do oftentimes mistake,

Sends to my doubtfull eares these speaches rare, And ruefull plaints, me bidding guiltlesse bloud to spare?


Then groning deepe, Nor damned Ghost, (quoth he,)

Nor guileful sprite to thee these wordes doth speake, 290

But once a man Fradubio,[*] now a tree,

Wretched man, wretched tree; whose nature weake

A cruell witch her cursed will to wreake,

Hath thus transformd, and plast in open plaines,

Where Boreas doth blow full bitter bleake, 295

And scorching Sunne does dry my secret vaines: For though a tree I seeme, yet cold and heat me paines.


Say on Fradubio then, or man, or tree,

Quoth then the knight, by whose mischievous arts

Art thou misshaped thus, as now I see? 300

He oft finds med'cine, who his griefe imparts;

But double griefs afflict concealing harts,

As raging flames who striveth to suppresse.

The author then (said he) of all my smarts,

Is one Duessa a false sorceresse, 305 That many errant knights hath brought to wretchednesse.


In prime of youthly yeares, when corage hot

The fire of love and joy of chevalree

First kindled in my brest, it was my lot

To love this gentle Lady, whom ye see, 310

Now not a Lady, but a seeming tree;

With whom as once I rode accompanyde,

Me chaunced of a knight encountred bee,

That had a like faire Lady by his syde, Like a faire Lady, but did fowle Duessa hyde. 315


Whose forged beauty he did take in hand,

All other Dames to have exceeded farre;

I in defence of mine did likewise stand,

Mine, that did then shine as the Morning starre.

So both to battell fierce arraunged arre, 320

In which his harder fortune was to fall

Under my speare: such is the dye of warre:

His Lady left as a prise martiall, Did yield her comely person to be at my call.


So doubly lov'd of Ladies unlike faire, 325

Th' one seeming such, the other such indeede,

One day in doubt I cast for to compare,

Whether in beauties glorie did exceede;

A Rosy girlond was the victors meede:

Both seemde to win, and both seemde won to bee, 330

So hard the discord was to be agreede.

Fraelissa was as faire, as faire mote bee, And ever false Duessa seemde as faire as shee.


The wicked witch now seeing all this while

The doubtfull ballaunce equally to sway, 335

What not by right, she cast to win by guile,

And by her hellish science raisd streightway

A foggy mist, that overcast the day,

And a dull blast, that breathing on her face,

Dimmed her former beauties shining ray, 340

And with foule ugly forme did her disgrace: Then was she faire alone, when none was faire in place.[*]


Then cride she out, Fye, fye, deformed wight,

Whose borrowed beautie now appeareth plaine

To have before bewitched all mens sight; 345

O leave her soone, or let her soone be slaine.

Her loathly visage viewing with disdaine,

Eftsoones I thought her such, as she me told,

And would have kild her; but with faigned paine

The false witch did my wrathfull hand with-hold; 350 So left her, where she now is turnd to treen mould.[*]


Then forth I tooke Duessa for my Dame,

And in the witch unweeting joyd long time,

Ne ever wist but that she was the same,[*]

Till on a day (that day is every Prime, 355

When Witches wont do penance for their crime)

I chaunst to see her in her proper hew,[*]

Bathing her selfe in origane and thyme:

A filthy foule old woman I did vew, That ever to have toucht her I did deadly rew. 360


Her neather parts misshapen, monstruous,

Were hidd in water, that I could not see.

But they did seeme more foule and hideous,

Then womans shape man would beleeve to bee.

Thensforth from her most beastly companie 365

I gan refraine, in minde to slip away,

Soone as appeard safe opportunitie:

For danger great, if not assur'd decay, I saw before mine eyes, if I were knowne to stray.


The divelish hag by chaunges of my cheare[*] 370

Perceiv'd my thought, and drownd in sleepie night,[*]

With wicked herbs and ointments did besmeare

My body all, through charms and magicke might,

That all my senses were bereaved quight:

Then brought she me into this desert waste, 375

And by my wretched lovers side me pight,

Where now enclosd in wooden wals full faste, Banisht from living wights, our wearie dayes we waste.


But how long time, said then the Elfin knight,

Are you in this misformed house to dwell? 380

We may not chaunge (quoth he) this evil plight,

Till we be bathed in a living well;[*]

That is the terme prescribed by the spell.

O how, said he, mote I that well out find,

That may restore you to your wonted well? 385

Time and suffised fates to former kynd Shall us restore, none else from hence may us unbynd.


The false Duessa, now Fidessa hight,

Heard how in vaine Fradubio did lament,

And knew well all was true. But the good knight 390

Full of sad feare and ghastly dreriment,

When all this speech the living tree had spent,

The bleeding bough did thrust into the ground,

That from the bloud he might be innocent,

And with fresh clay did close the wooden wound: 395 Then turning to his Lady, dead with feare her found.


Her seeming dead he found with feigned feare,

As all unweeting of that well she knew,

And paynd himselfe with busie care to reare

Her out of carelesse swowne. Her eyelids blew 400

And dimmed sight with pale and deadly hew

At last she up gan lift: with trembling cheare

Her up he tooke, too simple and too trew,

And oft her kist. At length all passed feare,[*] He set her on her steede, and forward forth did beare. 405