Page images

44 For griefe thereof and divelish despight,

From his infernall fournace forth he threw
Huge flames, that dimmed all the heavens light,
Enrold in .duskish smoke and brimstone blew :
As burning Aetna from his boyling stew
Doth belch out flames, and rockes in peeces broke,
And ragged ribs of mountaines molten new,

Enwrapt in coleblacke clouds and filthy smoke, That all the land with stench, and heaven with horror choke. 45 The heate whereof, and harmefull pestilence,

So sore him noyd, that forst him to retire
A little backward for his best defence,
To save his body from the scorching fire,
Which he from hellish entrailes did expire.
It chaunst (eternall God that chaunce did guide,)
As he recoiled backward, in the mire

His nigh forwearied feeble feet did slide,
And downe he fell, with dread of shame sore terrifide.

46 There grew a goodly tree him faire beside,

Loaden with fruit and apples rosy red,
As they in pure vermilion had beene dide,
Whereof great vertues over all were red :
For happy life to all which thereon fed,
And life eke everlasting did befall :
Great God it planted in that blessed sted

With his Almighty hand, and did it call
The tree of life, the crime of our first fathers fall.
47 In all the world like was not to be found,

Save in that soile, where all good things did grow,
And freely sprong out of the fruitfull ground,
As incorrupted nature did them sow,
Till that dread dragon all did overthrow.
Another like faire tree eke grew thereby,
Whereof whoso did eat, eftsoones did know

Both good and ill : O mournfull memory;
That tree through one mans fault hath doen us all to dy.

48 From that first tree forth flowd, as from a well,

A trickling streame of balme, most soveraine
And dainty deare, which on the ground still fell,
And overflowed' all the fertile plaine,
As it had deawed bene with timely raine;
Life and long health that gracious ointment gave,
And deadly wounds could heale, and reare againe

The senselesse corse appointed for the grave.
Into that same he fell: which did from death him save.

49 For nigh thereto the ever damned beast

Durst not approch, for he was deadly made,
And all that life preserved' did detest :
Yet he it oft adventur'd to invade.
By this the drouping day-light gan to fade,
And yield his roome to sad succeeding night,
Who with her sable mantle 'gan to shade

The face of earth, and wayes of living wight,
And high her burning torch set up in heaven bright.
50 When gentle Una saw the second fall

Of her deare knight, who weary of long fight,
And faint through losse of blood, mov'd not at all,
But lay, as in a dreame of deepe delight,
Besmeard with pretious balme, whose vertuous might
Did heale his wounds, and scorching heat alay;
Againe she stricken was with sore affright,

And for his safetie gan devoutly pray, And watch the noyous night, and wait for joyous day. 51 The joyous day gan early to appeare;

And faire Aurora from the deawy bed
Of aged Tithone gan herselfe to reare
With rosy cheekes, for shame as blushing red;
Her golden locks for haste were loosely shed
About her eares, when Una her did marke
Clymbe to her charet, all with flowers spred,

From heaven high to chace the chearelesse darke ; With merry note her loud salutes the mounting larke.


52 Then freshly up arose the doughty knight,

All healed of his hurts and woundes wide,
And did himselfe to battell ready dight;
Whose early foe awaiting him beside
To have devourd, so soone as day he spyde,
When now he saw himselfe so freshly reare,
As if late fight had nought him damnifyde,

He woxe dismayd, and gan his fate to feare; Nathlesse with wonted rage he him advaunced neare. 53 And in his first encounter, gaping wide,

He thought attonce him to have swallowd quight,
And rusht upon him with outragious pride;
Who him r'encountring fierce, as hauke in flight,
Perforce rebutted backe. The weapon bright,
Taking advantage of his open jaw,
Ran through his mouth with so importune might,

That deepe emperst his darksome hollow maw, And, back retyrd, his life blood forth with all did draw. 54 So downe he fell, and forth his life did breath,

That yanisht into smoke and cloudes swift;
So downe he fell, that th' earth him underneath
Did grone, as feeble so great load to lift;
So downe he fell, as an huge rocky clift,
Whose false foundation waves have washt away,
With dreadfull poyse is from the mayneland rift,

And, rolling downe, great Neptune doth dismay; So downe he fell, and like an heaped mountaine lay. 55 The knight himselfe even trembled at his fall,

So huge and horrible a masse it seem'd:
And his deare lady, that beheld it all,
Durst not approch for dread, which she misdeemid;
But yet at last, whenas the direfull feend
She saw not stirre, off-shaking vaine affright
She nigher drew, and saw that joyous end:

Then God she praysd, and thankt her faithfull knight, That had atchieyd so great a conquest by his might.



Faire Una to the Redcrosse knight

betrouthed is with joy: Though false Duessa it to barre

ber false steights doe imploy.

1 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:
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. 2 Scarsely had Phoebus in the glooming east

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,
Who thereby dead that balefull beast did deeme,

And to his lord and lady lowd gan call,
To tell how he had seene the dragons fatall: fall.

3 Uprose with hasty joy, and feeble speed,

That aged sire, the lord of all that land,
And looked forth, to weet if true indeed
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 beene shut, and out of hond

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 victory
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,
From whose eternall bondage now they were releast.
5 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
Of sage and sober peres, all gravely gownd;
Whom far 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 victory and peace in all their land. 6 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,
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. 7 And, them before, the fry of children young

Their wanton sportes and childish mirth did play,
And to the maydens sounding tymbrels song,
In well attuned notes, a joyous lay,
And made delightfull musick all the way,
Untill they came, where that faire virgin stood:
As faire Diana in fresh sommers day

Beholdes her nymphes enraung'd in shady wood,
Some wrestle, some do run, some bathe in christall flood:

« PreviousContinue »