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Led with delight, they thus beguile the way,

Untill the blustring storme is overblowne ; When weening to returne, whence they did stray, They cannot finde that path, which first was showne, But wander too and fro in wayes unknowne, Furthest from end then, when they neerest weene, That makes them doubt, their wits be not their owne : So many pathes, so many turnings seene, That which of them to take, in diverse doubt they been.

xi

At last resolving forward still to fare,

Till that some end they finde or in or out,
That path they take, that beaten seemd most bare,
And like to lead the labyrinth about ;
Which when by tract they hunted had throughout,
At length it brought them to a hollow cave,
Amid the thickest woods. The Champion stout

Eftsoones dismounted from his courser brave,
And to the Dwarfe a while his needlesse spere he gave.

Be well aware, quoth then that Ladie milde,

xii Least suddaine mischiefe ye too rash provoke : The danger hid, the place unknowne and wilde, Breedes dreadfull doubts : Oft fire is without smoke, And perill without show: therefore your stroke Sir knight with-hold, till further triall made. Ah Ladie (said he) shame were to revoke

The forward footing for an hidden shade : Vertue gives her selfe light, through darkenesse for to wade.

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103

The Fight with the Dragon

Book I, Canto XI
HIGH time now gan it wex for Una faire,

To thinke of those her captive Parents deare,
And their forwasted kingdome to repaire :
Whereto whenas they now approched neare,
With hartie words her knight she gan to cheare,
And in her modest manner thus bespake ;
Deare knight, as deare, as ever knight was deare,

That all these sorrowes suffer for my sake,
High heaven behold the tedious toyle, ye for me take. •

Now are we come unto my native soyle,

And to the place, where all our perils dwell ;
Here haunts that feend, and does his dayly spoyle,
Therefore henceforth be at your keeping well,
And ever ready for your foeman fell.
The sparke of noble courage now awake,
And strive your excellent selfe to excell ;

That shall ye evermore renowmed make,
Above all knights on earth, that batteill undertake.

iii

And pointing forth, lo yonder is (said she)

The brasen towre in which my parents deare
For dread of that huge feend emprisond be,
Whom I from far see on the walles appeare,
Whose sight my feeble soule doth greatly cheare :
*And on the top of all I do espye
The watchman wayting tydings glad to heare,

That O my parents might I happily
Unto you bring, to ease you of your misery.

With that they heard a roaring hideous sound, - iv

That all the ayre with terrour filled wide,
And seemd uneath to shake the stedfast ground.
Eftsoones that dreadfull Dragon they espide,
Where stretcht he lay upon the sunny side
Of a great hill, himselfe like a great hill.
But all so soone, as he from far descride

Those glistring armes, that heaven with light did fill, He rousd himselfe full blith, and hastned them untill.

Then bad the knight his Lady yede aloofe,
And to an hill her selfe with draw aside,
From whence she might behold that battailles proof
And eke be safe from daunger far descryde :
. She him obayd, and turned a little wyde.

Now O thou sacred Muse, most learned Dame,
Faire ympe of Phoebus, and his aged bride,

The Nourse of time, and everlasting fame,
That warlike hands ennoblest with immortall name ;

O gently come into my feeble brest,

Come gently, but not with that mighty rage,
Wherewith the martiall troupes thou doest infest,
And harts of great Heroës doest enrage,
That nought their kindled courage may aswage,
Soone as thy dreadfull trompe begins to sownd ;
The God of warre with his fiers equipage

Thou doest awake, sleepe never he so sownd,
And scared nations doest with horrour sterne astownd.

vii

Faire Goddesse lay that furious fit aside,

Till I of warres and bloudy Mars do sing,
And Briton fields with Sarazin bloud bedyde,
Twixt that great faery Queene and Paynim king,

That with their horrour heaven and earth did ring,
A worke of labour long, and endlesse prayse :
But now a while let downe that haughtie string,

And to my tunes thy second tenor rayse,
That I this man of God his godly armes may blaze.

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By this the dreadfull Beast drew nigh to hand, viii
Halfe flying, and halfe footing in his hast,
That with his largenesse measured much land,
And made wide shadow under his huge wast;
As mountaine doth the valley overcast.
Approching nigh, he reared high afore
His body monstrous, horrible, and vast,

Which to increase his wondrous greatnesse more,
Was swolne with wrath, and poyson, and with bloudy gore.

And over, all with brasen scales was armd,

Like plated coate of steele, so couched neare,
That nought mote perce, ne might his corse be harmd
With dint of sword, nor push of pointed speare ;
Which as an Eagle, seeing pray appeare,
His aery plumes doth rouze, full rudely dight,
So shaked he, that horrour was to heare,

For as the clashing of an Armour bright,
Such noyse his rouzed scales did send unto the knight.

His flaggy wings when forth he did display,
Were like two sayles, in which the hollow wynd
Is gathered full, and worketh speedy way :
And eke the pennes, that did his pineons bynd,
Were like mayne-yards, with flying canvas lynd,
With which whenas him list the ayre to beat,
And there by force unwonted passage find,

The cloudes before him fled for terrour great,
And all the heavens stood still amazed with his threat.

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