The Faerie Queene


From lawlesse lust by wondrous grace

fayre Una is releast:

Whom salvage nation does adore,

and learnes her wise beheast.


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 Marriner yet halfe amazed stares

At perill past, and yet in doubt ne dares 5

To joy at his foole-happie oversight:

So doubly is distrest twixt joy and cares

The dreadlesse courage of this Elfin knight, Having escapt so sad ensamples in his sight.


Yet sad he was that his too hastie speede 10

The faire 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, 15

She wandred had from one to other Ynd,[*]

Him for to seeke, ne ever would forsake, Till her unwares the fiers Sansloy did overtake.


Who, after Archimagoes fowle defeat,

Led her away into a forest wilde, 20

And turning wrathfull fyre to lustfull heat,

With beastly sin thought her to have defilde,

And made the vassal of his pleasures wilde.

Yet first he cast by treatie, and by traynes,

Her to persuade that stubborne fort to yilde: 25

For greater conquest of hard love he gaynes, That workes it to his will, then he that it constraines.


With fawning words he courted her awhile,

And looking lovely, and oft sighing sore,

Her constant hart did tempt with diverse guile, 30

But wordes and lookes, and sighes she did abhore;

As rocke of Diamond steadfast evermore,

Yet for to feed his fyrie lustfull eye,

He snatcht the vele that hong her face before;

Then gan her beautie shyne, as brightest skye 35 And burnt his beastly hart t'efforce her chastitye.


So when he saw his flatt'ring artes to fayle,

And subtile engines bett from batteree;

With greedy force he gan the fort assayle,

Whereof he weend possessed soone to bee, 40

And with rich spoile of ransackt chastitee.

Ah heavens! that do this hideous act behold,

And heavenly virgin thus outraged see,

How can ye vengeance just so long withold And hurle not flashing flames upon that Paynim bold? 45


The pitteous maiden carefull comfortlesse,

Does throw out thrilling shriekes, and shrieking cryes,

The last vaine helpe of womens great distresse,

And with loud plaints importuneth the skyes,

That molten starres do drop like weeping eyes; 50

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?


Eternal providence exceeding thought, 55

Where none appeares can make herselfe 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; 60

A troupe of Faunes and Satyres[*] far away

Within the wood were dauncing in a rownd, Whiles old Sylvanus[*] slept in shady arber sownd:


Who when they heard that pitteous strained voice,

In haste forsooke their rurall meriment, 65

And ran towards 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, 70

Whose like he never saw, he durst not bide, But got his ready steed, and fast away gan ride.


The wyld woodgods arrived in the place,

There find the virgin dolefull desolate,

With ruffled rayments, and faire blubbred face, 75

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, 80 In their rude eyes unworthy of so wofull plight.


She more amaz'd, in double dread doth dwell;

And every tender part for feare doth shake:

As when a greedie Wolfe, through hunger fell,

A seely Lambe farre from the flocke does take, 85

Of whom he meanes his bloudie feast to make,

A Lyon spyes fast running towards him,

The innocent pray in hast he does forsake,

Which quit from death yet quakes in every lim With chaunge of feare,[*] to see the Lyon looke so grim. 90


Such fearefull fit assaid her trembling hart,

Ne word 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, 95

And rustick horror[*] all a side 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.


The doubtfull Damzell dare not yet commit 100

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, 105

Are wonne with pitty and unwonted ruth,

And all prostrate upon the lowly plaine, Do kisse her feete, and fawne on her with count'nance faine.


Their harts she ghesseth by their humble guise,

And yieldes her to extremitie of time; 110

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, 115

And with greene braunches strowing all the ground, Do worship her, as Queene, with olive[*] girlond cround.


And all the way their merry pipes they sound,

That all the woods with doubled Eccho ring,

And with their horned feet[*] do weare the ground, 120

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; 125 And with an yvie twyne his wast is girt about.


Far off he wonders, what them makes so glad,

Or Bacchus merry fruit[*] they did invent,

Or Cybeles franticke rites[*] have made them mad,

They drawing nigh, unto their God present 130

That flowre of faith and beautie excellent.

The God himselfe, vewing that mirrhour rare,[*]

Stood long amazd, and burnt in his intent;

His owne faire Dryope[*] now he thinkes not faire, And Pholoe fowle when her to this he doth compaire. 135


The woodborne people fall before her flat,

And worship her as Goddesse of the wood;

And old Sylvanus selfe bethinkes not, what

To thinke of wight so faire, but gazing stood,

In doubt to deeme her borne of earthly brood; 140

Sometimes Dame Venus selfe he seemes to see,

But Venus never had so sober mood;

Sometimes Diana he her takes to bee, But misseth bow, and shaftes, and buskins to her knee.


By vew of her he ginneth to revive 145

His ancient love, and dearest Cyparisse,[*]

And calles to mind his pourtraiture alive,

How faire he was, and yet not faire to this,[*]

And how he slew with glauncing dart amisse

A gentle Hynd, the which the lovely boy 150

Did love as life, above all worldly blisse;

For griefe whereof the lad n'ould after joy,[*] But pynd away in anguish and selfe-wild annoy.[*]


The wooddy Nymphes, faire Hamadryades,[*]

Her to behold do thither runne apace, 155

And all the troupe of light-foot Naiades[*]

Flocke all about to see her lovely face:

But when they vewed have her heavenly grace,

They envy her in their malitious mind,

And fly away for feare of fowle disgrace: 160

But all the Satyres scorne their woody kind,[*] And henceforth nothing faire but her on earth they find.


Glad of such lucke, the luckelesse[*] lucky maid,

Did her content to please their feeble eyes,

And long time with that salvage people staid, 165

To gather breath in many miseries.

During which time her gentle wit she plyes,

To teach them truth, which worshipt her in vaine,

And made her th' Image of Idolatryes[*];

But when their bootlesse zeale she did restraine 170 From her own worship, they her Asse would worship fayn.


It fortuned a noble warlike knight[*]

By just occasion[*] to that forrest came,

To seeke his kindred, and the lignage right,

From whence he tooke his well deserved name: 175

He had in armes abroad wonne muchell fame,

And fild far lands with glorie of his might,

Plaine, faithfull, true, and enimy of shame,

And ever lov'd to fight for Ladies right: But in vaine glorious frayes he litle did delight. 180


A Satyres sonne yborne in forrest wyld,

By straunge adventure as it did betyde,

And there begotten of a Lady myld,

Faire Thyamis[*] the daughter of Labryde,

That was in sacred bands of wedlocke tyde 185

To Therion, a loose unruly swayne;

Who had more joy to raunge the forrest wyde,

And chase the salvage beast with busie payne, Then serve his Ladies love, and wast in pleasures vayne.


The forlorne mayd did with loves longing burne 190

And could not lacke her lovers company,

But to the wood she goes, to serve her turne,

And seeke her spouse that from her still does fly,

And followes other game and venery:

A Satyre chaunst her wandring for to finde, 195

* * * * * And made her person thrall unto his beastly kind.


So long in secret cabin there he held

* * * * *

Then home he suffred her for to retyre,

For ransome leaving him the late borne childe;

Whom till to ryper yeares he gan aspire, 200

He noursled up in life and manners wilde, Emongst wild beasts and woods, from lawes of men exilde.


For all he taught the tender ymp, was but[*]

To banish cowardize and bastard feare;

His trembling hand he would him force to put 205

Upon the Lyon and the rugged Beare;

And from the she Beares teats her whelps to teare;

And eke wyld roaring Buls he would him make

To tame, and ryde their backes not made to beare;

And the Robuckes in flight to overtake, 210 That every beast for feare of him did fly and quake.


Thereby so fearlesse, and so fell he grew,

That his owne sire and maister of his guise[*]

Did often tremble at his horrid vew,[*]

And oft for dread of hurt would him advise, 215

The angry beasts not rashly to despise,

Nor too much to provoke; for he would learne

The Lyon stoup to him in lowly wise,

(A lesson hard) and make the Libbard sterne Leave roaring, when in rage he for revenge did earne. 220


And for to make his powre approved more,

Wyld beasts in yron yokes he would compell;

The spotted Panther, and the tusked Bore,

The Pardale swift, and the tigre cruell,

The Antelope, and Wolfe both fierce and fell; 225

And them constraine in equall teme to draw.

Such joy he had, their stubborne harts to quell,

And sturdie courage tame with dreadfull aw, That his beheast they feared, as a tyrans law.


His loving mother came upon a day 230

Unto the woods, to see her little sonne;

And chaunst unwares to meet him in the way,

After his sportes, and cruell pastime donne;

When after him a Lyonesse did runne,

That roaring all with rage, did lowd requere 235

Her children deare, whom he away had wonne:

The Lyon whelpes she saw how he did beare, And lull in rugged armes, withouten childish feare.


The fearefull Dame all quaked at the sight,

And turning backe, gan fast to fly away, 240

Untill with love revokt from vaine affright,

She hardly yet perswaded was to stay,

And then to him these womanish words gan say;

Ah Satyrane, my dearling, and my joy,

For love of me leave off this dreadfull play; 245

To dally thus with death is no fit toy, Go find some other play-fellowes, mine own sweet boy.


In these and like delights of bloudy game

He trayned was, till ryper yeares he raught;

And there abode, whilst any beast of name 250

Walkt in that forest, whom he had not taught

To feare his force: and then his courage haught

Desird of forreine foemen to be knowne,

And far abroad for straunge adventures sought;

In which his might was never overthrowne; 255 But through all Faery lond his famous worth was blown.[*]


Yet evermore it was his manner faire,

After long labours and adventures spent,

Unto those native woods for to repaire,

To see his sire and offspring auncient. 260

And now he thither came for like intent;

Where he unwares the fairest Una found,

Straunge Lady, in so straunge habiliment,

Teaching the Satyres, which her sat around, Trew sacred lore, which from her sweet lips did redound. 265


He wondred at her wisedome heavenly rare,

Whose like in womens wit he never knew;

And when her curteous deeds he did compare,

Gan her admire, and her sad sorrowes rew,

Blaming of Fortune, which such troubles threw, 270

And joyd to make proofe of her crueltie,

On gentle Dame, so hurtlesse, and so trew:

Thenceforth he kept her goodly company, And learnd her discipline of faith and veritie.


But she all vowd unto the Redcrosse knight, 275

His wandring perill closely did lament,

Ne in this new acquaintaunce could delight,

But her deare heart with anguish did torment,

And all her wit in secret counsels spent,

How to escape. At last in privie wise 280

To Satyrane she shewed her intent;

Who glad to gain such favour, gan devise How with that pensive Maid he best might thence arise.


So on a day when Satyres all were gone

To do their service to Sylvanus old, 285

The gentle virgin left behind alone

He led away with courage stout and bold.

Too late it was, to Satyres to be told,

Or ever hope recover her againe:

In vaine he seekes that having cannot hold. 290

So fast he carried her with carefull paine, That they the woods are past, and come now to the plaine.


The better part now of the lingring day,

They traveild had, whenas they farre espide

A weary wight forwandring by the way, 295

And towards him they gan in haste to ride,

To weete of newes, that did abroad betide,

Or tydings of her knight of the Redcrosse.

But he them spying, gan to turne aside,

For feare as seemd, or for some feigned losse; 300 More greedy they of newes, fast towards him do crosse.


A silly man, in simple weedes forworne,

And soild with dust of the long dried way;

His sandales were with toilsome travell torne,

And face all tand with scorching sunny ray, 305

As he had traveild many a sommers day,

Through boyling sands of Arabie and Ynde;

And in his hand a Jacobs staffe,[*] to stay

His wearie limbes upon: and eke behind, His scrip did hang, in which his needments he did bind. 310


The knight approaching nigh, of him inquerd

Tidings of warre, and of adventures new;

But warres, nor new adventures none he herd.

Then Una gan to aske, if ought he knew,

Or heard abroad of that her champion trew, 315

That in his armour bare a croslet red.

Aye me, Deare dame (quoth he) well may I rew

To tell the sad sight which mine eies have red. These eies did see that knight both living and eke ded.


That cruell word her tender hart so thrild, 320

That suddein cold did runne through every vaine,

And stony horrour all her sences fild

With dying fit, that downe she fell for paine.

The knight her lightly reared up againe,

And comforted with curteous kind reliefe: 325

Then, wonne from death, she bad him tellen plaine

The further processe of her hidden griefe: The lesser pangs can beare, who hath endur'd the chiefe.


Then gan the Pilgrim thus, I chaunst this day,

This fatall day, that shall I ever rew, 330

To see two knights in travell on my way

(A sory sight) arraung'd in battell new,

Both breathing vengeaunce, both of wrathfull hew:

My fearefull flesh did tremble at their strife,

To see their blades so greedily imbrew, 335

That drunke with bloud, yet thristed after life: What more? the Redcrosse knight was slaine with Paynim knife.


Ah dearest Lord (quoth she) how might that bee,

And he the stoughtest knight, that ever wonne?

Ah dearest dame (quoth he) how might I see 340

The thing, that might not be, and yet was donne?

Where is (said Satyrane) that Paynims sonne,

That him of life, and us of joy hath reft?

Not far away (quoth he) he hence doth wonne

Foreby a fountaine, where I late him left 345 Washing his bloudy wounds, that through the steele were cleft.


Therewith the knight thence marched forth in hast,

Whiles Una with huge heavinesse opprest,

Could not for sorrow follow him so fast;

And soone he came, as he the place had ghest, 350

Whereas that Pagan proud him selfe did rest,

In secret shadow by a fountaine side:

Even he it was, that earst would have supprest

Faire Una: whom when Satyrane espide, With fowle reprochfull words he boldly him defide. 355


And said, Arise thou cursed Miscreaunt,

That hast with knightlesse guile and trecherous train

Faire knighthood fowly shamed, and doest vaunt

That good knight of the Redcrosse to have slain:

Arise, and with like treason now maintain 360

Thy guilty wrong, or els thee guilty yield.

The Sarazin this hearing, rose amain,

And catching up in hast his three-square shield, And shining helmet, soone him buckled to the field.


And drawing nigh him said, Ah misborne Elfe, 365

In evill houre thy foes thee hither sent,

Anothers wrongs to wreake upon thy selfe:

Yet ill thou blamest me, for having blent

My name with guile and traiterous intent:

That Redcrosse knight, perdie, I never slew, 370

But had he beene, where earst his arms were lent,[*]

Th' enchaunter vaine[*] his errour should not rew: But thou his errour shalt,[*] I hope, now proven trew.


Therewith they gan, both furious and fell,

To thunder blowes, and fiersly to assaile 375

Each other bent his enimy to quell,

That with their force they perst both plate and maile,

And made wide furrowes in their fleshes fraile,

That it would pitty any living eie.

Large floods of bloud adowne their sides did raile; 380

But floods of bloud could not them satisfie: Both hungred after death: both chose to win, or die.


So long they fight, and fell revenge pursue,

That fainting each, themselves to breathen let,

And oft refreshed, battell oft renue: 385

As when two Bores with rancling malice met,[*]

Their gory sides fresh bleeding fiercely fret,

Til breathlesse both them selves aside retire,

Where foming wrath, their cruell tuskes they whet,

And trample th' earth, the whiles they may respire; 390 Then backe to fight againe, new breathed and entire.


So fiersly, when these knights had breathed once,

They gan to fight returne, increasing more

Their puissant force, and cruell rage attonce.

With heaped strokes more hugely then before, 395

That with their drerie wounds and bloudy gore

They both deformed, scarsely could be known.

By this, sad Una fraught with anguish sore,

Led with their noise, which through the aire was thrown: Arriv'd, wher they in erth their fruitles bloud had sown. 400


Whom all so soone as that proud Sarazin

Espide, he gan revive the memory

Of his lewd lusts, and late attempted sin,

And left the doubtfull battell hastily,

To catch her, newly offred to his eie: 405

But Satyrane with strokes him turning, staid,

And sternely bad him other businesse plie,

Then hunt the steps of pure unspotted Maid: Wherewith he all enrag'd, these bitter speaches said.


O foolish faeries son, what fury mad 410

Hath thee incenst, to hast thy doefull fate?

Were it not better I that Lady had,

Then that thou hadst repented it too late?

Most senseless man he, that himselfe doth hate

To love another. Lo then for thine ayd 415

Here take thy lovers token on thy pate.[*]

So they two fight; the whiles the royall Mayd Fledd farre away, of that proud Paynim sore afrayd.


But that false Pilgrim, which that leasing told,

Being in deed old Archimage, did stay 420

In secret shadow, all this to behold,

And much rejoiced in their bloudy fray:

But when he saw the Damsell passe away,

He left his stond, and her pursewd apace,

In hope to bring her to her last decay,[*] 425

But for to tell her lamentable cace,[*] And eke this battels end, will need another place.