The Faerie Queene


The Redcrosse knight is captive made

by Gyaunt proud opprest,

Prince Arthur meets with Una great-

ly with those newes distrest.


What man so wise, what earthly wit so ware,

As to discry the crafty cunning traine,

By which deceipt doth maske in visour faire,

And cast her colours dyed deepe in graine,

To seeme like Truth, whose shape she well can faine, 5

And fitting gestures to her purpose frame;

The guiltlesse man with guile to entertaine?

Great maistresse of her art was that false Dame, The false Duessa, cloked with Fidessaes name.


Who when returning from the drery Night, 10

She fownd not in that perilous house of Pryde,

Where she had left, the noble Redcrosse knight,

Her hoped pray; she would no lenger bide,

But forth she went, to seeke him far and wide.

Ere long she fownd, whereas he wearie sate 15

To rest him selfe, foreby a fountaine side,

Disarmed all of yron-coted Plate, And by his side his steed the grassy forage ate.


He feedes upon[*] the cooling shade, and bayes

His sweatie forehead in the breathing wind, 20

Which through the trembling leaves full gently playes,

Wherein the cherefull birds of sundry kind

Do chaunt sweet musick, to delight his mind:

The Witch approaching gan him fairely greet,

And with reproch of carelesnesse unkind 25

Upbrayd, for leaving her in place unmeet, With fowle words tempring faire, soure gall with hony sweet.


Unkindnesse past, they gan of solace treat,

And bathe in pleasaunce of the joyous shade,

Which shielded them against the boyling heat, 30

And with greene boughes decking a gloomy glade,

About the fountaine like a girlond made;

Whose bubbling wave did ever freshly well,

Ne ever would through fervent sommer fade:

The sacred Nymph, which therein wont to dwell, 35 Was out of Dianes favour, as it then befell.


The cause was this: One day, when Phoebe[*] fayre

With all her band was following the chace,

This Nymph, quite tyr'd with heat of scorching ayre,

Sat downe to rest in middest of the race: 40

The goddesse wroth gan fowly her disgrace,

And bad the waters, which from her did flow,

Be such as she her selfe was then in place.

Thenceforth her waters waxed dull and slow, And all that drinke thereof do faint and feeble grow.[*] 45


Hereof this gentle knight unweeting was,

And lying downe upon the sandie graile,

Drunke of the streame, as cleare as cristall glas:

Eftsoones his manly forces gan to faile,

And mightie strong was turned to feeble fraile. 50

His chaunged powres at first them selves not felt,

Till crudled cold his corage gan assaile,

And cheareful bloud in faintnesse chill did melt, Which like a fever fit through all his body swelt.


Yet goodly court he made still to his Dame, 55

Pourd[*] out in loosnesse on the grassy grownd,

Both carelesse of his health, and of his fame:

Till at the last he heard a dreadfull sownd,

Which through the wood loud bellowing did rebownd,

That all the earth for terrour seemd to shake, 60

And trees did tremble. Th' Elfe therewith astownd,

Upstarted lightly from his looser make,[*] And his unready weapons gan in hand to take.


But ere he could his armour on him dight,

Or get his shield, his monstrous enimy 65

With sturdie steps came stalking in his sight,

An hideous Geant,[*] horrible and hye,

That with his tallnesse seemd to threat the skye,

The ground eke groned under him for dreed;

His living like saw never living eye, 70

Ne durst behold: his stature did exceed The hight of three the tallest sonnes of mortall seed.


The greatest Earth his uncouth mother was,

And blustering Aeolus his boasted syre,

* * * * *

Brought forth this monstrous masse of earthly slime 75 Puft up with emptie wind, and fild with sinfull crime.


So growen great through arrogant delight

Of th' high descent, whereof he was yborne,

And through presumption of his matchlesse might,

All other powres and knighthood he did scorne. 80

Such now he marcheth to this man forlorne,

And left to losse: his stalking steps are stayde

Upon a snaggy Oke, which he had torne

Out of his mothers bowelles, and it made His mortall mace, wherewith his foeman he dismayde. 85


That when the knight he spide, he gan advance

With huge force and insupportable mayne,

And towardes him with dreadfull fury praunce;

Who haplesse, and eke hopelesse, all in vaine

Did to him pace, sad battaile to darrayne, 90

Disarmd, disgrast, and inwardly dismayde,

And eke so faint in every joynt and vaine,

Through that fraile fountaine, which him feeble made, That scarsely could he weeld his bootlesse single blade.


The Geaunt strooke so maynly mercilesse, 95

That could have overthrowne a stony towre,

And were not heavenly grace, that did him blesse,

He had beene pouldred all, as thin as flowre:

But he was wary of that deadly stowre,

And lightly lept from underneath the blow: 100

Yet so exceeding was the villeins powre,

That with the wind it did him overthrow, And all his sences stound, that still he lay full low.


As when that divelish yron Engin[*] wrought

In deepest Hell, and framd by Furies skill, 105

With windy Nitre and quick Sulphur fraught,

And ramd with bullet round, ordaind to kill,

Conceiveth fire, the heavens it doth fill

With thundring noyse, and all the ayre doth choke,

That none can breath, nor see, nor heare at will, 110

Through smouldry cloud of duskish stincking smoke, That th' onely breath[*] him daunts, who hath escapt the stroke.


So daunted when the Geaunt saw the knight,

His heavie hand he heaved up on hye,

And him to dust thought to have battred quight, 115

Untill Duessa loud to him gan crye;

O great Orgoglio, greatest under skye,

O hold thy mortall hand for Ladies sake,

Hold for my sake, and do him not to dye,[*]

But vanquisht thine eternall bondslave make, 120 And me, thy worthy meed, unto thy Leman take.


He hearkned, and did stay from further harmes,

To gayne so goodly guerdon, as she spake:

So willingly she came into his armes,

Who her as willingly to grace did take, 125

And was possessed of his new found make.

Then up he tooke the slombred sencelesse corse,

And ere he could out of his swowne awake,

Him to his castle brought with hastie forse, And in a Dongeon deepe him threw without remorse. 130


From that day forth Duessa was his deare,

And highly honourd in his haughtie eye,

He gave her gold and purple pall to weare,

And triple crowne set on her head full hye,

And her endowd with royall majestye: 135

Then for to make her dreaded more of men,

And peoples harts with awfull terrour tye,

A monstrous beast[*] ybred in filthy fen He chose, which he had kept long time in darksome den.[*]


Such one it was, as that renowmed Snake[*] 140

Which great Alcides in Stremona slew,

Long fostred in the filth of Lerna lake,

Whose many heads out budding ever new

Did breed him endlesse labour to subdew:

But this same Monster much more ugly was; 145

For seven great heads out of his body grew,

An yron brest, and back of scaly bras,[*] And all embrewd in bloud, his eyes did shine as glas.


His tayle was stretched out in wondrous length,

That to the house of heavenly gods it raught,[*] 150

And with extorted powre, and borrow'd strength,

The ever-burning lamps from thence it braught,

And prowdly threw to ground, as things of naught;

And underneath his filthy feet did tread

The sacred things, and holy heasts foretaught.[*] 155

Upon this dreadfull Beast with sevenfold head He sett the false Duessa, for more aw and dread.


The wofull Dwarfe, which saw his maisters fall,

Whiles he had keeping of his grasing steed,

And valiant knight become a caytive thrall, 160

When all was past, tooke up his forlorne weed,[*]

His mightie armour, missing most at need;

His silver shield, now idle maisterlesse;

His poynant speare, that many made to bleed,

The rueful moniments[*] of heavinesse, 165 And with them all departes, to tell his great distresse.


He had not travaild long, when on the way

He wofull Ladie, wofull Una met,

Fast flying from that Paynims greedy pray,

Whilest Satyrane him from pursuit did let: 170

Who when her eyes she on the Dwarfe had set,

And saw the signes, that deadly tydings spake,

She fell to ground for sorrowfull regret,

And lively breath her sad brest did forsake, Yet might her pitteous hart be seene to pant and quake. 175


The messenger of so unhappie newes,

Would faine have dyde: dead was his hart within,

Yet outwardly some little comfort shewes:

At last recovering hart, he does begin

To rub her temples, and to chaufe her chin, 180

And everie tender part does tosse and turne.

So hardly[*] he the flitted life does win,

Unto her native prison to retourne: Then gins her grieved ghost thus to lament and mourne.


Ye dreary instruments of dolefull sight, 185

That doe this deadly spectacle behold,

Why do ye lenger feed on loathed light,

Or liking find to gaze on earthly mould,

Sith cruell fates the carefull threeds unfould,

The which my life and love together tyde? 190

Now let the stony dart of senselesse cold

Perce to my hart, and pas through every side, And let eternall night so sad sight fro me hide.


O lightsome day, the lampe of highest Jove,

First made by him, mens wandring wayes to guyde, 195

When darkenesse he in deepest dongeon drove,

Henceforth thy hated face for ever hyde,

And shut up heavens windowes shyning wyde:

For earthly sight can nought but sorrow breed,

And late repentance, which shall long abyde. 200

Mine eyes no more on vanitie shall feed, But seeled up with death,[*] shall have their deadly meed.


Then downe againe she fell unto the ground;

But he her quickly reared up againe:

Thrise did she sinke adowne in deadly swownd 205

And thrise he her reviv'd with busie paine,

At last when life recover'd had the raine,

And over-wrestled his strong enemie,

With foltring tong, and trembling every vaine,

Tell on (quoth she) the wofull Tragedie, 210 The which these reliques sad present unto mine eie.


Tempestuous fortune hath spent all her spight,

And thrilling sorrow throwne his utmost dart;

Thy sad tongue cannot tell more heavy plight,

Then that I feele, and harbour in mine hart: 215

Who hath endur'd the whole, can beare each part.

If death it be, it is not the first wound,

That launched hath my brest with bleeding smart.

Begin, and end the bitter balefull stound;[*] If lesse then that I feare,[*] more favour I have found. 220


Then gan the Dwarfe the whole discourse declare,

The subtill traines of Archimago old;

The wanton loves of false Fidessa faire,

Bought with the blood of vanquisht Paynim bold;

The wretched payre transformed to treen mould; 225

The house of Pride, and perils round about;

The combat, which he with Sansjoy did hould;

The lucklesse conflict with the Gyant stout, Wherein captiv'd, of life or death he stood in doubt.


She heard with patience all unto the end, 230

And strove to maister sorrowfull assay,[*]

Which greater grew, the more she did contend,

And almost rent her tender hart in tway;

And love fresh coles unto her fire did lay:

For greater love, the greater is the losse. 235

Was never Lady[*] loved dearer day,

Then she did love the knight of the Redcrosse; For whose deare sake so many troubles her did tosse.


At last when fervent sorrow slaked was,

She up arose, resolving him to find 240

Alive or dead: and forward forth doth pas,

All as the Dwarfe the way to her assynd:

And evermore, in constant carefull mind,

She fed her wound with fresh renewed bale;

Long tost with stormes, and bet with bitter wind, 245

High over hills, and low adowne the dale, She wandred many a wood, and measurd many a vale.


At last she chaunced by good hap to meet

A goodly knight,[*] faire marching by the way

Together with his Squire, arrayed meet: 250

His glitterand armour shined farre away,

Like glauncing light of Phoebus brightest ray;

From top to toe no place appeared bare,

That deadly dint of steele endanger may:

Athwart his brest a bauldrick brave he ware, 255 That shynd, like twinkling stars, with stons most pretious rare.


And in the midst thereof one pretious stone

Of wondrous worth, and eke of wondrous mights,

Shapt like a Ladies head,[*] exceeding shone,

Like Hesperus[*] emongst the lesser lights, 260

And strove for to amaze the weaker sights:

Thereby his mortall blade full comely hong

In yvory sheath, ycarv'd with curious slights;

Whose hilts were burnisht gold, and handle strong Of mother pearle, and buckled with a golden tong. 265


His haughtie helmet, horrid all with gold,

Both glorious brightnesse, and great terrour bred;

For all the crest a Dragon[*] did enfold

With greedie pawes, and over all did spred

His golden wings: his dreadfull hideous hed 270

Close couched on the bever, seem'd to throw

From flaming mouth bright sparkles fierie red,

That suddeine horror to faint harts did show, And scaly tayle was stretcht adowne his backe full low.


Upon the top of all his loftie crest, 275

A bunch of haires discolourd diversly,

With sprincled pearle, and gold full richly drest,

Did shake, and seemd to daunce for jollity,

Like to an Almond tree ymounted hye

On top of greene Selinis[*] all alone, 280

With blossoms brave bedecked daintily;

Whose tender locks do tremble every one At every little breath that under heaven is blowne.


His warlike shield[*] all closely cover'd was,

Ne might of mortall eye be ever seene; 285

Not made of steele, nor of enduring bras,

Such earthly mettals soone consumed beene;

But all of Diamond perfect pure and cleene

It framed was, one massie entire mould,

Hewen out of Adamant rocke with engines keene, 290

That point of speare it never percen could, Ne dint of direfull sword divide the substance would.


The same to wight he never wont disclose,

But when as monsters huge he would dismay,

Or daunt unequall armies of his foes, 295

Or when the flying heavens he would affray;

For so exceeding shone his glistring ray,

That Phoebus golden face it did attaint,

As when a cloud his beames doth over-lay;

And silver Cynthia[*] wexed pale and faint, 300 As when her face is staynd with magicke arts constraint.


No magicke arts hereof had any might,

Nor bloudie wordes of bold Enchaunters call;

But all that was not such as seemd in sight,[*]

Before that shield did fade, and suddeine fall; 305

And, when him list[*] the raskall routes appall,

Men into stones therewith he could transmew,

And stones to dust, and dust to nought at all;

And when him list the prouder lookes subdew, He would them gazing blind, or turne to other hew. 310


Ne let it seeme, that credence this exceedes,

For he that made the same, was knowne right well

To have done much more admirable deedes.

It Merlin[*] was, which whylome did excell

All living wightes in might of magicke spell: 315

Both shield, and sword, and armour all he wrought

For this young Prince, when first to armes he fell;

But when he dyde, the Faerie Queene it brought To Faerie lond, where yet it may be seene, if sought.


A gentle youth, his dearely loved Squire, 320

His speare of heben wood behind him bare,

Whose harmefull head, thrice heated in the fire,

Had riven many a brest with pikehead square:

A goodly person, and could menage faire

His stubborne steed with curbed canon bit, 325

Who under him did trample[*] as the aire,

And chauft, that any on his backe should sit; The yron rowels into frothy fome he bit.


When as this knight nigh to the Ladie drew,

With lovely court he gan her entertaine; 330

But when he heard her answeres loth, he knew

Some secret sorrow did her heart distraine:

Which to allay, and calme her storming paine,

Faire feeling words he wisely gan display,

And for her humour[*] fitting purpose faine, 335

To tempt the cause it selfe for to bewray; Wherewith emmov'd, these bleeding words she gan to say.


What worlds delight, or joy of living speach

Can heart, so plung'd in sea of sorrowes deep,

And heaped with so huge misfortunes, reach? 340

The carefull cold beginneth for to creepe,

And in my heart his yron arrow steepe,

Soone as I thinke upon my bitter bale:

Such helplesse harmes yts better hidden keepe,

Then rip up griefe, where it may not availe, 345 My last left comfort is, my woes to weepe and waile.


Ah Ladie deare, quoth then the gentle knight,

Well may I weene your griefe is wondrous great;

For wondrous great griefe groneth in my spright,

Whiles thus I heare you of your sorrowes treat. 350

But wofull Ladie, let me you intrete

For to unfold the anguish of your hart:

Mishaps are maistred by advice discrete,

And counsell mittigates the greatest smart; Found[*] never helpe who never would his hurts impart. 355


O but (quoth she) great griefe will not be tould,[*]

And can more easily be thought then said.

Right so (quoth he), but he that never would,

Could never: will to might gives greatest aid.

But griefe (quoth she) does greater grow displaid, 360

If then it find not helpe, and breedes despaire.

Despaire breedes not (quoth he) where faith is staid.

No faith[*] so fast (quoth she) but flesh does paire. Flesh may empaire (quoth he) but reason can repaire.


His goodly reason, and well guided speach, 365

So deepe did settle in her gracious thought,

That her perswaded to disclose the breach,

Which love and fortune in her heart had wrought,

And said; Faire Sir, I hope good hap hath brought

You to inquire the secrets of my griefe, 370

Or that your wisedome will direct my thought,

Or that your prowesse can me yield reliefe: Then heare the storie sad, which I shall tell you briefe.


The forlorne Maiden, whom your eyes have seene

The laughing stocke of fortunes mockeries, 375

Am th' only daughter[*] of a King and Queene,

Whose parents deare, whilest equal destinies[*]

Did runne about, and their felicities

The favourable heavens did not envy,

Did spread their rule through all the territories, 380

Which Phison[*] and Euphrates floweth by, And Gehons golden waves doe wash continually.


Till that their cruell cursed enemy,

An huge great Dragon horrible in sight,

Bred in the loathly lakes of Tartary,[*] 385

With murdrous ravine, and devouring might

Their kingdome spoild, and countrey wasted quight:

Themselves, for feare into his jawes to fall,

He forst to castle strong to take their flight,

Where fast embard in mighty brasen wall, 390 He has them now foure yeres besiegd to make them thrall.[*]


Full many knights adventurous and stout

Have enterpriz'd that Monster to subdew;

From every coast that heaven walks about,[*]

Have thither come the noble Martiall crew, 395

That famous hard atchievements still pursew;

Yet never any could that girlond win,

But all still shronke, and still he greater grew:

All they for want of faith, or guilt of sin, The pitteous pray of his fierce crueltie have bin. 400


At last yledd with farre reported praise,

Which flying fame throughout the world had spred,

Of doughty knights, whom Faery land did raise,

That noble order[*] hight of Maidenhed,

Forthwith to court of Gloriane[*] I sped 405

Of Gloriane great Queene of glory bright,

Whose Kingdomes seat Cleopolis[*] is red,

There to obtaine some such redoubted knight, The Parents deare from tyrants powre deliver might.


It was my chance (my chance was faire and good) 410

There for to find a fresh unproved knight,

Whose manly hands imbrew'd in guiltie blood

Had never bene, ne ever by his might

Had throwne to ground the unregarded right:

Yet of his prowesse proofe he since hath made 415

(I witnesse am) in many a cruell fight;

The groning ghosts of many one dismaide Have felt the bitter dint of his avenging blade.


And ye the forlorne reliques of his powre,

His byting sword, and his devouring speare, 420

Which have endured many a dreadfull stowre,

Can speake his prowesse, that did earst you beare,

And well could rule: now he hath left you heare

To be the record of his ruefull losse,

And of my dolefull disaventurous deare:[*] 425

O heavie record of the good Redcrosse, Where have you left your Lord, that could so well you tosse?


Well hoped I, and faire beginnings had,

That he my captive languor[*] should redeeme,

Till all unweeting, an Enchaunter bad 430

His sence abusd, and made him to misdeeme

My loyalty,[*] not such as it did seeme;

That rather death desire, then such despight.

Be judge ye heavens, that all things right esteeme,

How I him lov'd, and love with all my might, 435 So thought I eke of him, and thinke I thought aright.


Thenceforth me desolate he quite forsooke,

To wander, where wilde fortune would me lead,

And other bywaies he himselfe betooke,

Where never foot of living wight did tread, 440

That brought[*] not backe the balefull body dead;

In which him chaunced false Duessa meete,

Mine onely foe, mine onely deadly dread,

Who with her witchcraft, and misseeming sweete, Inveigled him to follow her desires unmeete. 445


At last by subtill sleights she him betraid

Unto his foe, a Gyant huge and tall,

Who him disarmed, dissolute, dismaid,

Unwares surprised, and with mighty mall

The monster mercilesse him made to fall, 450

Whose fall did never foe before behold;

And now in darkesome dungeon, wretched thrall,

Remedilesse, for aie he doth him hold; This is my cause of griefe, more great then may be told.


Ere she had ended all, she gan to faint: 455

But he her comforted and faire bespake,

Certes, Madame, ye have great cause of plaint,

The stoutest heart, I weene, could cause to quake.

But be of cheare, and comfort to you take:

For till I have acquit your captive knight, 460

Assure your selfe, I will you not forsake.

His chearefull wordes reviv'd her chearelesse spright, So forth they went, the Dwarfe them guiding ever right.