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TO

THE MOST HIGH, MIGHTIE, AND MAGNIFICENT

EMPERESSE

RENOWNED FOR PIETIE, VERTVE, AND ALL GRATIOVS GOVERNMENT

ELIZABETH

BY THE GRACE OF GOD

Queene of England, Frabnce, and Ireland, and of Virginia

Defender of the Faith etc.

HER MOST HUMBLE SERVAUNT

ED MVND SPENSER

DOTH IN ALL HUMILITIE

DEDICATE, PRESENT, AND CONSECRATE

THESE HIS LABOVRS

TO LIVE WITH THE ETERNITIE OF HER FAME.

THE FIRST BOOKE OF

THE FAERY QUEENE

CONTAYNING

The Legend
of the Knight of the Red Crosse,

or of Holinesse.

i Lo I the man, whose Muse whilome did maske,

As time her taught, in lowly Shepheards weeds,
Am now enforst, a far unfitter taske,
For trumpets sterne to chaunge mine oaten reeds,
And sing of knights and ladies gentle deeds;
Whose praises having slept in silence long,
Me, all too meane, the sacred Muse areeds

To blazon broade emongst her learned throng: Fierce warres and faithfull loves shall moralize my song. 2 Helpe then, O holy virgin chiefe of nine,

Thy weaker novice to performe thy will ;
Lay forth out of thine everlasting scryne
The antique rolles, which there lye hidden still,
Of Faerie knights and fairest Tanaquill,
Whom that most noble Briton prince so long
Sought through the world, and suffered so much ill,

That I must rue his undeserved wrong:
O helpe thou my weake wit, and sharpen my dull tong.

B

3 And thou most dreaded impe of highest Jove,

Faire Venus sonne, that with thy cruell dart
At that good knight so cunningly didst rove,
That glorious fire it kindled in his hart,
Lay now thy deadly heben bow apart,
And with thy mother milde come to mine ayde;
Come both, and with you bring triumphant Mart,

In loves and gentle jollities arrayd,
After his murdrous spoiles and bloudy rage allayd.
4 And with them eke, O Goddesse heavenly bright,

Mirrour of grace and majestie divine,
Great Lady of the greatest isle, whose light
Like Phoebus lampe throughout the world doth shine,
Shed thy faire beames into my feeble eyne,
And raise my thoughts, too humble and too vile,
To thinke of that true glorious type of tnine,

The argument of mine afflicted stile :
The which to heare, vouchsafe, 0 dearest dread, a while.

3

CANTO I.

The patron of true Holinesse

foule Errour doth defeate ; Hypocrisie bim to entrappe

doth to his bome entreate.

I A GENTLE Knight was pricking on the plaine,

Ycladd in mightie armes and silver shielde,
Wherein old dints of deepe wounds did remaine,
The cruel markes of many a bloudy fielde;
Yet armes till that time did he never wield:
His angry steede did chide his foming bitt,
As much disdayning to the curbe to yield:

Full jolly knight he seemd, and faire did sitt,
As one for knightly giusts and fierce encounters fitt.

2 And on his brest a bloudie crosse he bore,

The deare remembrance of his dying Lord,
For whose sweete sake that glorious badge he wore,
And dead as living ever him ador'd:
Upon his shield the like was also scor'd,
For soveraine hope, which in his helpe he had :
Right faithfull true he was in deede and word,

But of his cheere did seeme too solemne sad;
Yet nothing did he dread, but ever was ydrad.

3 Upon a great adventure he was bond,

That greatest Gloriana to him gave,
That greatest glorious Queene of Faerie lond,
To winne him worship, and her grace to have,
Which of all earthly things he most did crave;
And ever as he rode, his hart did earne
To prove his puissance in battell brave

Upon his foe, and his new force to learne;
Upon his foe, a dragon horrible and stearne.

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