Page images
PDF
EPUB

40 Then forth I tooke Duessa for my Dame,

And in the witch unweeting joyd long time,
Ne ever wist, but that she was the same :
Till on a day (that day is every prime,
When witches wont do penance for their crime)
I chaunst to see her in her proper hew,
Bathing her selfe in origane and thyme:

A filthy foule old woman I did vew,
That ever to have toucht her I did deadly rew.

**

*

*

42 The hatefull hag by chaunges of my cheare

Perceiv'd my thought, and, drownd in sleepie night,
With wicked herbes and ointments did besmeare
My body all, through charmes and magicke might,
That all my senses were bereaved quight:
Then brought she me into this desert waste,
And by my wretched lovers side me pight;

Where now enclosd in wooden wals full faste, Banisht from living wights, our wearie dayes we waste. 43 But how long time, said then the Elfin knight,

Are you in this misformed house to dwell ?
We may not chaunge (quoth he) this evil plight,
Till we be bathed in a living well;
That is the terme prescribed by the spell.
O how, said he, mote I that well out find,
That may restore you to your wonted well ?

Time and suffised fates to former kynd Shall us restore, none else from hence may us unbynd. 44 The false Duessa, now Fidessa hight,

Heard how in vaine Fradubio did lament,
And knew well all was true. But the good knight,
Full of sad feare and ghastly dreriment,
When all this speech the living tree had spent,
The bleeding bough did thrust into the ground,
That from the bloud he might be innocent,

And with fresh clay did close the wooden wound: Then turning to his lady, dead with feare her found.

45 Her seeming dead he found with feigned feare,

As all unweeting of that well she knew;
And paynd himselfe with busie care to reare
Her out of carelesse swowne. Her eylids blew
And dimmed sight with pale and deadly hew
At last she gan up lift: with trembling cheare
Her up he tooke, too simple and too trew,

And oft her kist. At length all passed feare,
He set her on her steede, and forward forth did beare.

CANTO III.

Forsaken Truth long seekes ber love,

and makes the Lyon mylde,
Marres blind Devotions mart, and fals

in band of treacbour vylde.

i Nought is there under heav'ns wide hollownesse,

That moves more deare compassion of mind,
Then beautie brought t' unworthy wretchednesse
Through envies snares, or fortunes freakes unkind.
I, whether lately through her brightnesse blind,
Or through alleageance and fast fealtie,
Which I do owe unto all woman kind,

Feele my hart perst with so great agony, When such I see, that all for pitty I could die. 2 And now it is empassioned so deepe,

For fairest Unaes sake, of whom I sing,
That

my
fraile
eyes

these lines with teares do steepe,
To thinke how she through guilefull handeling,
Though true as touch, though daughter of a king,
Though faire as ever living wight was faire,
Though nor in word nor deede ill meriting,

Is from her knight divorced in despaire, And her dew loves deriv'd to that vile witches share.

3 Yet she most faithfull ladie all this while

Forsaken, wofull, solitarie mayd,
Far from all peoples preace, as in exile,
In wildernesse and wastfull deserts strayd,
To seeke her knight; who subtily betrayd
Through that late vision, which th' enchaunter wrought,
Had her abandond. She of nought affrayd,

Through woods and wastnesse wide him daily sought; Yet wished tydings none of him unto her brought.

4. One day nigh wearie of the yrkesome way,

From her unhastie beast she did alight,
And on the grasse her dainty limbs did lay
In secret shadow, far from all mens sight:
From her faire head her fillet she undight,
And laid her stole aside. Her angels face,
As the great eye of heaven shyned bright,

And made a sunshine in the shadie place;
Did never mortall eye behold such heavenly grace.

5 It fortuned out of the thickest wood

A ramping lyon rushed suddainly,
Hunting full greedy after salvage blood;
Soone as the royall virgin he did spy,
With gaping mouth at her ran greedily,
To have attonce devourd her tender corse :
But to the pray when as he drew more ny,

His bloody rage aswaged with remorse, And with the sight amazd, forgat his furious forse. 6 In stead thereof he kist her wearie feet,

And lickt her lilly hands with fawning tong,
As he her wronged innocence did weet.
O how can beautie maister the most strong,
And simple truth subdue avenging wrong!
Whose yielded pride and proud submission,
Still dreading death, when she had marked long,

Her hart gan melt in great compassion,
And drizling teares did shed" for pure affection.

7 The lyon lord of everie beast in field,

Quoth she, his princely puissance doth abate,
And mightie proud to humble weake does yield,
Forgetfull of the hungry rage, which late
Him prickt, in pittie of my sad estate:
But he my lyon, and my noble lord,
How does he find in cruell hart to hate,

Her that him lov'd, and ever most adord,
As the God of my life? why hath he me abhord ?

8 Redounding teares did choke th' end of her plaint,

Which softly ecchoed from the neighbour wood;
And, sad to see her sorrowfull constraint,
The kingly beast upon her gazing stood;
With pittie calmd, downe fell his angry mood.
At last in close hart shutting up her paine,
Arose the virgin borne of heavenly brood,

And to her snowy palfrey got againe
To seeke her strayed champion, if she might attaine.

9 The lyon would not leave her desolate,

But with her went along, as a strong gard
Of her chast person, and a faithfull mate
Of her sad troubles and misfortunes hard :
Still when she slept, he kept both watch and ward,
And when she wakt, he waited diligent,
With humble service to her will prepard :

From her faire eyes he tooke commandement,
And ever by her lookes conceived her intent.

10 Long she thus traveiled through deserts wyde,

By which she thought her wandring knight shold pas,
Yet never shew of living wight espyde;
Till that at length she found the troden gras,
In which the tract of peoples footing was,
Under the steepe foot of a mountaine hore;
The same she followes, till at last she has

A damzell spyde slow footing her before, That on her shoulders sad a pot of water bore. 11 To whom approaching she to her gan call,

To weet, if dwelling place were nigh at hand;
But the rude wench her answerd nought at all;
She could not heare, nor speake, nor understand;
Till seeing by her side the lyon stand,
With suddaine feare her pitcher downe she threw,
And fled away: for never in that land

Face of faire lady she before did vew,
And that dread lyons looke her cast in deadly hew.

« PreviousContinue »