Page images
PDF
EPUB

45 So fiersly, when these knights had breathed once,

They gan to fight returne, increasing more
Their puissant force, and cruell rage attonce,
With heaped strokes more hugely then before;
That with their drery woundes and bloody gore,
They both deformed, scarsely could be known.
By this, sad Una fraught with anguish sore,

Led with their noise which through the aire was thrown, Arriv'd, wher they in erth their fruitles blood had sown.

46 Whom all so soone as that proud Sarazin

Espide, he lefte the battell hastily,

To catch her, newly offred to his eie:
But Satyrane, with strokes him turning, staid,
And sternely bad him other businesse plie

Then hunt the steps of pure unspotted maid :
Wherewith he all enrag'd these bitter speaches said,

47 O foolish faeries sonne, what fury mad

Hath thee incenst to hast thy dolefull fate?
Were it not better I that lady had
Then that thou hadst repented it too late?
Most sencelesse man he, that himselfe doth hate
To love another. Lo then for thine ayd
Here take thy lovers token on thy pate.

So they two fight; the whiles the royall mayd
Fledd farre away, of that proud Paynim sore afrayd.

48 But that false pilgrim, which that leasing told,

Being in deed old Archimage, did stay
In secret shadow, all this to behold;
And much rejoiced in their bloody fray:
But when he saw the damsell passe away,
He left his stond, and her pursewd apace,
In hope to bring her to her last decay.

But for to tell her lamentable cace,
And eke this battels end, will need another place.

75

CANTO VII.

The Redcrosse knight is captive made

by gyaunt proud opprest :
Prince Arthur meets with Una great-

ly with those newes distrest.

1 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 deep in graine,
To seeme like truth, whose shape she well can faine,
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.

2 Who when, returning from the drery Night,

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
To rest him selfe, foreby a fountaine side,

Disarmed all of yron-coted plate,
And by his side his steed the grassy forage ate.
3 He feedes upon the cooling shade, and bayes

His sweatie forehead in the breathing wind,
Which through the trembling leaves full gently playes,
Wherein the chearefull birds of sundry kind
Do chaunt sweet musick, to delight his mind :
The witch approching gan him fairely greet,
And with reproch of carelesnesse unkind

Upbrayd, for leaving her in place unmeet, [sweet, With fowle words tempring faire, soure gall with hony 4 Unkindnesse past, they gan of solace treat,

And bathe in pleasaunce of the joyous shade,
Which shielded them against the boyling heat,
And, with greene boughes decking a gloomy shade,
About the fountaine like a girlond made;
Whose bubbling wave did ever freshly well,
Ne ever would through fervent sommer de :

The sacred nymph, which therein wont to dwell,
Was out of Dianes favor, as it then befell.

5 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:
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.

6 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 turnd to feeble fraile.
His chaunged powres at first themselves 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.

7 Yet goodly court he made still to his dame,

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 terror seemd to shake,
And trees did tremble. Th’ Elfe, therewith astownd,

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

8 But ere he could his armour on him dight,

Or get his shield, his monstrous enimy
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,

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

[blocks in formation]

10 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.
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 foemen he dismayde. 11 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,
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.. 12 The geaunt strooke so maynly mercilesse,

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 :
Yet so exceeding was the villeins powre

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

13 As when that divelish yron engin wrought

In deepest hell, and framd by Furies skill,
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,

Through smouldry cloud of duskish stincking smoke; That th' only breath him daunts, who hath escapt the stroke. 14 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,
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,
And me, thy worthy meed, unto thy leman take.

[ocr errors]

15 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,
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.

16 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:
Then for to make her dreaded more of men,
And peoples harts with awfull terror tye,

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

« PreviousContinue »