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“ Then do no further go, no further stray ;
But here lie down, and to thy rest betake,
Th’ill to prevent, that life ensewen may.
For what hath life, that may it loved make,
And gives not rather cause it to forsake ?
Fear, sickness, age, loss, labour, sorrow, strife,
Pain, hunger, cold, that makes the heart to quake;
And ever fickle fortune rageth rife;
All which, and thousands more, do make a loathsome life.
“ Thou, wretched man, of death hath greatest need,
If in true balance thou wilt weigh thy state ;
For never knight, that dared warlike deed,
More luckless disadventures did await.
Witness the dungeon deep, wherein of late
Thy life shut up for death so oft did call ;
And though good luck prolonged hath thy date,
Yet death then would the like mishaps forestall,
Into the which, hereafter, thou maist happen fall.
Why then dost thou, O man of sin, desire
To draw thy days forth to their last degree ?
Is not the measure of thy sinful hire
High heaped up with huge iniquity
Against the day of wrath, to burden thee ?
Is’t not enough, that to this lady mild
Thou falsed hast thy faith with perjury,
And sold thyself to serve Duessa vile,
With whom in all abuse thou hast thyself defiled ?
“ 'Is not he just that all this doth behold
From highest heaven, and bears an equal eye ?
Shall he thy sins up in his knowledge fold,
And guilty be of thine impiety ?
Is not his law, Let every sinner die,
Die shall all flesh? what then must needs be done,
Is it not better to die willingly,
Than linger till the glass be all outrun ?
Death is the end of woes : die soon, O fairy's son.”
The knight was much enmoved with this speech,
That as a sword's point through his heart did pierce;
And in his conscience made a secret breach,
Well knowing true all that he did rehearse,
And to his fresh remembrance did reverse
The ugly view of his deformed crimes;
That all his manly powers it did disperse,
As he were charmed with enchanted rhymes,
That oftentimes he quaked, and fainted oftentimes.
In which amazement when the miscreant
Perceived him to waver weak and frail,
(Whiles trembling horror did his conscience daunt,
And hellish anguish did his soul assail,)
To drive him to despair, and quite to quail,
He showed him painted in a table plain,
The damned ghosts that do in torments wail,
And thousand fiends, that do them endless pain, With fire and brimstone, which for ever shall remain.
The sight thereof so throughly him dismayed,
That nought but death before his eyes
And ever-burning wrath before him laid,
By righteous sentence of the Almighty's law.
Then gan the villain him to over-craw,
And brought unto him swords, ropes, poison, fire,
And all that might him to perdition draw;
And bade him choose what death he would desire:
For death was due to bim, that had provoked God's ire.
But whenas none of them he saw him take,
He to him brought a dagger, sharp and keen,
And gave it him in hand : his hand did quake,
And tremble like a leaf of aspen green,
And troubled blood through his pale face was seen
and with tidings from the heart, As it a running messenger had been.
At last, resolved to work his final smart,
He lifted up his hand, that back again did start.
That house's form within was rude and strong,
Like an huge cave hewn out of rocky clift,
From whose rough vault the ragged breaches hung,
Embossed with massy gold of glorious gift,
And with rich metal loaded every rift,
That heavy ruin they did seem to threat :
And over them Arachne high did lift
Her cunning web, and spread her subtle net, Enwrapped in foul smoke, and clouds more black than jet.
Both roof and floor and walls were all of gold,
But overgrown with dust and old decay,
And hid in darkness, that none could behold
The hue thereof: for view of cheerful day
Did never in that house itself display,
But a faint shadow of uncertain light;
Such as a lamp whose life doth fade away;
Or as the moon, clothed with cloudy night,
Does show to him that walks in fear and sad affright.
And over all sad Horror, with grim hue,
Did always soar, beating his iron wings;
And after him owls and night-ravens flew,
The hateful messengers of heavy things,
Of death and dolour telling sad tidings;
Whiles sad Celleno, sitting on a clift,
A song of bale and bitter sorrow sings,
That heart of flint asunder could have rift;
Which having ended, after him she flieth swift.
DESCRIPTION OF PRINCE ARTHUR,
At last she chanced by good hap to meet
A goodly knight, fair marching by the way,
Together with his squire, arrayed meet :
His glittering armour shined far away,
Like glancing light of Phoebus' brightest ray ;
From top to toe no place appeared bare,
That deadly dint of steel endanger may;
Athwart his breast a baldrich brave he ware, [rare : That shined like twinkling stars, with stones most precious
And in the midst thereof one precious stone,
Of wondrous worth, and eke of wondrous might,
Shaped like a ladies head, exceeding shone,
Like Hesperus, amongst the lesser lights,
And strove for to amaze the weaker sights ;
Thereby his mortal blade full comely hung
In ivory sheath, ycarved with curious slights;
Whose hilts were burnished gold, and handle strong, Of mother-pearl, and buckled with a golden tongue.
His haughty helmet, horrid all with gold,
Both glorious brightness and great terror bred ;
For all the crest a dragon did enfold
With greedy paws, and over all did spread
His golden wings : his dreadful, hideous head,
Close couched on the beaver, seemed to throw
From flaming mouth bright sparkles, fiery red,
That sudden horror to faint hearts did show;
And scaly tail was stretched down his back full low.