The Faerie Queene


Faire Una to the Redcrosse knight,

betrouthed is with joy:

Though false Duessa it to barre

her false sleights doe imploy.


BEHOLD I see the haven nigh at hand,

To which I meane my wearie course to bend;

Vere the maine shete,[*] and beare up with the land,

The which afore is fairely to be kend,

And seemeth safe from storms that may offend; 5

There this faire virgin wearie of her way

Must landed be, now at her journeyes end:

There eke my feeble barke a while may stay Till merry wind and weather call her thence away.


Scarsely had Phoebus in the glooming East 10

Yet harnessed his firie-footed teeme,

Ne reard above the earth his flaming creast;

When the last deadly smoke aloft did steeme

That signe of last outbreathed life did seeme

Unto the watchman on the castle wall, 15

Who thereby dead that balefull Beast did deeme,

And to his Lord and Ladie lowd gan call, To tell how he had seene the Dragons fatall fall.


Uprose with hastie joy, and feeble speed

That aged Sire, the Lord of all that land, 20

And looked forth, to weet if true indeede

Those tydings were, as he did understand,

Which whenas true by tryall he out found,

He bad to open wyde his brazen gate,

Which long time had bene shut, and out of hond[*] 25

Proclaymed joy and peace through all his state; For dead now was their foe which them forrayed late.


Then gan triumphant Trompets sound on hie,

That sent to heaven the ecchoed report

Of their new joy, and happie victorie 30

Gainst him, that had them long opprest with tort,

And fast imprisoned in sieged fort.

Then all the people, as in solemne feast,

To him assembled with one full consort,

Rejoycing at the fall of that great beast, 35 From whose eternall bondage now they were releast.


Forth came that auncient Lord and aged Queene,

Arayd in antique robes downe to the ground,

And sad habiliments right well beseene;

A noble crew about them waited round 40

Of sage and sober Peres, all gravely gownd;

Whom farre before did march a goodly band

Of tall young men,[*] all hable armes to sownd,

But now they laurell braunches bore in hand; Glad signe of victorie and peace in all their land. 45


Unto that doughtie Conquerour they came,

And him before themselves prostrating low,

Their Lord and Patrone loud did him proclame,

And at his feet their laurell boughes did throw.

Soone after them all dauncing on a row 50

The comely virgins came, with girlands dight,

As fresh as flowres in medow greene do grow,

When morning deaw upon their leaves doth light: And in their hands sweet Timbrels all upheld on hight.


And them before, the fry of children young 55

Their wanton sports and childish mirth did play,

And to the Maydens[*] sounding tymbrels sung,

In well attuned notes, a joyous lay,

And made delightfull musicke all the way,

Untill they came, where that faire virgin stood; 60

As faire Diana in fresh sommers day,

Beholds her Nymphes enraung'd in shadie wood, Some wrestle, some do run, some bathe in christall flood:


So she beheld those maydens meriment

With chearefull vew; who when to her they came, 65

Themselves to ground with gracious humblesse bent,

And her ador'd by honorable name,

Lifting to heaven her everlasting fame:

Then on her head they set a girland greene,

And crowned her twixt earnest and twixt game; 70

Who in her self-resemblance well beseene,[*] Did seeme such, as she was, a goodly maiden Queene.


And after, all the raskall many[*] ran,

Heaped together in rude rablement,

To see the face of that victorious man: 75

Whom all admired, as from heaven sent,

And gazd upon with gaping wonderment.

But when they came where that dead Dragon lay,

Stretcht on the ground in monstrous large extent,

The sight with idle feare did them dismay, 80 Ne durst approch him nigh, to touch, or once assay.


Some feard, and fled; some feard and well it faynd;

One that would wiser seeme then all the rest,

Warnd him not touch, for yet perhaps remaynd

Some lingring life within his hollow brest, 85

Or in his wombe might lurke some hidden nest

Of many Dragonets, his fruitfull seed;

Another said, that in his eyes did rest

Yet sparckling fire, and bad thereof take heed; Another said, he saw him move his eyes indeed. 90


One mother, when as her foolehardie chyld

Did come too neare, and with his talants play,

Halfe dead through feare, her little babe revyld,

And to her gossips gan in counsell say;

How can I tell, but that his talants may 95

Yet scratch my sonne, or rend his tender hand?

So diversly themselves in vaine they fray;

Whiles some more bold, to measure him nigh stand, To prove how many acres he did spread of land.


Thus flocked all the folke him round about, 100

The whiles that hoarie king, with all his traine,

Being arrived where that champion stout

After his foes defeasance did remaine,

Him goodly greetes, and faire does entertaine

With princely gifts of yvorie and gold, 105

And thousand thankes him yeelds for all his paine.

Then when his daughter deare he does behold, Her dearely doth imbrace, and kisseth manifold.


And after to his Pallace he them brings,

With shaumes, and trompets, and with Clarions sweet; 110

And all the way the joyous people sings,

And with their garments strowes the paved street:

Whence mounting up, they find purveyance meet

Of all that royall Princes court became,

And all the floore was underneath their feet 115

Bespred with costly scarlot of great name,[*] On which they lowly sit, and fitting purpose frame.[*]


What needs me tell their feast and goodly guize,[*]

In which was nothing riotous nor vaine?

What needs of dainty dishes to devize, 120

Of comely services, or courtly trayne?

My narrow leaves cannot in them containe

The large discourse of royall Princes state.

Yet was their manner then but bare and plaine:

For th' antique world excesse and pride did hate; 125 Such proud luxurious pompe is swollen up but late.


Then when with meates and drinkes of every kinde

Their fervent appetites they quenched had,

That auncient Lord gan fit occasion finde,

Of straunge adventures, and of perils sad, 130

Which in his travell him befallen had,

For to demaund of his renowmed guest:

Who then with utt'rance grave, and count'nance sad,

From point to point, as is before exprest, Discourst his voyage long, according his request. 135


Great pleasures mixt with pittiful regard,

That godly King and Queene did passionate,

Whiles they his pittifull adventures heard,

That oft they did lament his lucklesse state,

And often blame the too importune fate, 140

That heaped on him so many wrathfull wreakes:

For never gentle knight, as he of late,

So tossed was in fortunes cruell freakes; And all the while salt teares bedeawd the hearers cheaks.


Then sayd the royall Pere in sober wise; 145

Deare Sonne, great beene the evils which ye bore

From first to last in your late enterprise,

That I note whether prayse, or pitty more:

For never living man, I weene, so sore

In sea of deadly daungers was distrest; 150

But since now safe ye seised have the shore,

And well arrived are, (high God be blest) Let us devize of ease and everlasting rest.


Ah, dearest Lord, said then that doughty knight,

Of ease or rest I may not yet devize, 155

For by the faith, which I to armes have plight,

I bounden am streight after this emprize,

As that your daughter can ye well advize,

Backe to returne to that great Faerie Queene,

And her to serve six yeares in warlike wize, 160

Gainst that proud Paynim king[*] that workes her teene Therefore I ought crave pardon, till I there have beene.


Unhappie falles that hard necessitie,

(Quoth he) the troubler of my happie peace,

And vowed foe of my felicitie; 165

Ne I against the same can justly preace:

But since that band ye cannot now release,

Nor doen undo[*]; (for vowes may not be vaine,)

Soone as the terme of those six yeares shall cease,

Ye then shall hither backe returne againe, 170 The marriage to accomplish vowd betwixt you twain.


Which for my part I covet to performe,

In sort as[*] through the world I did proclame,

That whoso kild that monster most deforme,

And him in hardy battaile overcame, 175

Should have mine onely daughter to his Dame,

And of my kingdome heyre apparaunt bee:

Therefore since now to thee perteines the same,

By dew desert of noble chevalree, Both daughter and eke kingdome, lo, I yield to thee. 180


Then forth he called that his daughter faire,

The fairest Un' his onely daughter deare,

His onely daughter, and his onely heyre;

Who forth proceeding with sad sober cheare,

As bright as doth the morning starre appeare 185

Out of the East, with flaming lockes bedight,

To tell that dawning day is drawing neare,

And to the world does bring long wished light: So faire and fresh that Lady shewd her selfe in sight.


So faire and fresh, as freshest flowre in May; 190

For she had layd her mournefull stole aside,

And widow-like sad wimple throwne away,

Wherewith her heavenly beautie she did hide,

Whiles on her wearie journey she did ride;

And on her now a garment she did weare, 195

All lilly white, withoutten spot, or pride,

That seemd like silke and silver woven neare, But neither silke nor silver therein did appeare.


The blazing brightnesse of her beauties beame,

And glorious light of her sunshyny face, 200

To tell, were as to strive against the streame;

My ragged rimes are all too rude and bace,

Her heavenly lineaments for to enchace.

Ne wonder; for her owne deare loved knight,

All were she[*] dayly with himselfe in place, 205

Did wonder much at her celestiall sight: Oft had he seene her faire, but never so faire dight.


So fairely dight, when she in presence came,

She to her Sire made humble reverence,

And bowed low, that her right well became, 210

And added grace unto her excellence:

Who with great wisedome and grave eloquence

Thus gan to say. But eare he thus had said,

With flying speede, and seeming great pretence

Came running in, much like a man dismaid, 215 A Messenger with letters, which his message said.


All in the open hall amazed stood

At suddeinnesse of that unwarie sight,

And wondred at his breathlesse hastie mood.

But he for nought would stay his passage right, 220

Till fast before the king he did alight;

Where falling flat, great humblesse he did make,

And kist the ground, whereon his foot was pight;

Then to his hands that writ he did betake, Which he disclosing, red thus, as the paper spake. 225


To thee, most mighty king of Eden faire,

Her greeting sends in these sad lines addrest,

The wofull daughter, and forsaken heire

Of that great Emperour of all the West;

And bids thee be advized for the best, 230

Ere thou thy daughter linck in holy band

Of wedlocke to that new unknowen guest:

For he already plighted his right hand Unto another love, and to another land.


To me sad mayd, or rather widow sad, 235

He was affiaunced long time before,

And sacred pledges he both gave, and had,

False erraunt knight, infamous, and forswore:

Witnesse the burning Altars, which he swore,

And guiltie heavens of his bold perjury, 240

Which though he hath polluted oft of yore,

Yet I to them for judgement just do fly, And them conjure t'avenge this shamefull injury.


Therefore since mine he is, or free or bond,

Or false or trew, or living or else dead, 245

Withhold, O soveraine Prince, your hasty hond

From knitting league with him, I you aread;

Ne weene my right with strength adowne to tread,

Through weaknesse of my widowhed, or woe;

For truth is strong her rightfull cause to plead, 250

And shall find friends, if need requireth soe. So bids thee well to fare, Thy neither friend, nor foe, _Fidessa_.


When he these bitter byting wordes had red,

The tydings straunge did him abashed make,

That still he sate long time astonished, 255

As in great muse, ne word to creature spake.

At last his solemne silence thus he brake,

With doubtfull eyes fast fixed on his guest;

Redoubted knight, that for mine onely sake

Thy life and honour late adventurest, 260 Let nought be hid from me, that ought to be exprest.


What meane these bloody vowes, and idle threats,

Throwne out from womanish impatient mind?

What heavens? what altars? what enraged heates

Here heaped up with termes of love unkind, 265

My conscience cleare with guilty bands would bind?

High God be witnesse, that I guiltlesse ame.

But if your selfe, Sir knight, ye faultie find,

Or wrapped be in loves of former Dame, With crime do not it cover, but disclose the same. 270


To whom the Redcrosse knight this answere sent

My Lord, my King, be nought hereat dismayd,

Till well ye wote by grave intendiment,

What woman, and wherefere doth me upbrayd

With breach of love, and loyalty betrayd. 275

It was in my mishaps, as hitherward

I lately traveild, that unwares I strayd

Out of my way, through perils straunge and hard; That day should faile me, ere I had them all declard.


There did I find, or rather I was found 280

Of this false woman, that Fidessa hight,

Fidessa hight the falsest Dame on ground,

Most false Duessa, royall richly dight,

That easy was to invegle weaker sight:

Who by her wicked arts, and wylie skill, 285

Too false and strong for earthly skill or might,

Unwares me wrought unto her wicked will, And to my foe betrayd, when least I feared ill.


Then stepped forth the goodly royall Mayd,

And on the ground her selfe prostrating low, 290

With sober countenaunce thus to him sayd;

O pardon me, my soveraigne Lord, to show

The secret treasons, which of late I know

To have bene wroght by that false sorceresse.

She onely she it is, that earst did throw 295

This gentle knight into so great distresse, That death him did awaite in dayly wretchednesse.


And now it seemes, that she suborned hath

This craftie messenger with letters vaine,

To worke new woe and unprovided scath, 300

By breaking of the band betwixt us twaine;

Wherein she used hath the practicke paine

Of this false footman, clokt with simplenesse,

Whom if ye please for to discover plaine,

Ye shall him Archimago find, I ghesse, 305 The falsest man alive; who tries shall find no lesse.


The king was greatly moved at her speach,

And, all with suddein indignation fraight,

Bad on that Messenger rude hands to reach.

Eftsoones the Gard, which on his state did wait, 310

Attacht that faitor false, and bound him strait:

Who seeming sorely chauffed at his band,

As chained Beare, whom cruell dogs do bait,[*]

With idle force did faine them to withstand, And often semblaunce made to scape out of their hand. 315


But they him layd full low in dungeon deepe,

And bound him hand and foote with yron chains

And with continual watch did warely keepe:

Who then would thinke, that by his subtile trains

He could escape fowle death or deadly paines? 320

Thus when that princes wrath was pacifide,

He gan renew the late forbidden bains,

And to the knight his daughter dear he tyde, With sacred rites and vowes for ever to abyde.


His owne two hands the holy knots did knit, 325

That none but death for ever can devide;

His owne two hands, for such a turne most fit,

The housling fire[*] did kindle and provide,

And holy water thereon sprinckled wide;

At which the bushy Teade a groome did light, 330

And sacred lamp in secret chamber hide,

Where it should not be quenched day nor night, For feare of evill fates, but burnen ever bright.


Then gan they sprinckle all the posts with wine,

And made great feast to solemnize that day; 335

They all perfumde with frankencense divine,

And precious odours fetcht from far away,

That all the house did sweat with great aray:

And all the while sweete Musicke did apply

Her curious skill, the warbling notes to play, 340

To drive away the dull Melancholy; The whiles one sung a song of love and jollity.


During the which there was an heavenly noise

Heard sound through all the Pallace pleasantly,

Like as it had bene many an Angels voice 345

Singing before th' eternall Majesty,

In their trinall triplicities[*] on hye;

Yet wist no creature whence that heavenly sweet

Proceeded, yet eachone felt secretly

Himselfe thereby reft of his sences meet, 350 And ravished with rare impression in his sprite.


Great joy was made that day of young and old,

And solemne feast proclaimd throughout the land,

That their exceeding merth may not be told:

Suffice it heare by signes to understand 355

The usuall joyes at knitting of loves band.

Thrise happy man the knight himselfe did hold,

Possessed of his Ladies hart and hand,

And ever, when his eye did her behold, His heart did seeme to melt in pleasures manifold. 360


Her joyous presence, and sweet company

In full content he there did long enjoy;

Ne wicked envie, ne vile gealosy,

His deare delights were able to annoy:

Yet swimming in that sea of blissfull joy, 365

He nought forgot how he whilome had sworne,

In case he could that monstrous beast destroy,

Unto his Faerie Queene backe to returne; The which he shortly did, and Una left to mourne.


Now strike your sailes ye jolly Mariners, 370

For we be come unto a quiet rode,

Where we must land some of our passengers,

And light this wearie vessell of her lode.

Here she a while may make her safe abode,

Till she repaired have her tackles spent,[*] 375

And wants supplide. And then againe abroad

On the long voyage whereto she is bent: Well may she speede and fairely finish her intent.