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Upon a great adventure he was bond,
That greatest Gloriana to him gave,
(That greatest glorious queene of Faerie lond,)
To winne him worshippe, and her grace to have,
Which of all earthly thinges he most did crave:
And ever, as he rode, his hart did earnel
To prove his puissance in battell brave
Upon his foe, and his new force to learne;
Upon his foe, a Dragon horrible and stearne.
A lovely Ladie rode him faire beside,
Upon a lowly asse more white then snow:
Yet she much whiter; but the same did hide
Under a vele, that whimpled 2 was full low;
And over all a blacke stole shee did throw:
As one that inly mournd, so was she sad,
And heavie sate upon her palfrey slow;
Seemed in heart some hidden care she had;
And by her in a line a milke-white lamb she lad.
So pure and innocent, as that same lambe,
She was in life and every vertuous lore;
And by descent from royall lynage came
Of ancient kinges and queenes, that had of yore
Their scepters stretcht from cast to westerne shore,
And all the world in their subjection held;
Till that infernal Feend with foule uprore
Forwasted 3 all their land, and them expeld;
Whom to avenge, she had this Knight from far compeld.
Behind her farre away a Dwarfe did lag,
That lasie seemd, in being ever last,
Or wearied with bearing of her bag
Of needments at his backe. Thus as they past,
The day with cloudes was suddeine overcast,
And angry Iove an hideous storme of raine
Did poure into his lemans lap so fast,
That everie wight to shrowd it did constrain;
And this faire couple eke to shroud themselves were fain.
Enforst to seeke some covert nigh at hand,
A shadie grove not farr away they spide,
That promist ayde the tempest to withstand;
Whose loftie trees, yclad with sommers pride,
Did spred so broad, that heavens light did hide,
Not perceable with power of any starr:
And all within were pathes and alleies wide,
With footing worne, and leading inward farr:
Faire harbour that them seems; so in they entred ar.
And foorth they passe, with pleasure forward led,
loving to heare the birdes sweete harmony,
Which, therein shrouded from the tempest dred,
Seemd in their song to scorne the cruell sky.
Much can they praisel the trees so straight and hy,
The sayling pine; the cedar proud and tall;
The vine-propp elme; the poplar never dry;
The builder oake, sole king of forrests all;
The aspine good for staves; the cypresse funerall;
The laurell, meed of mightie conquerours
And poets sage; the firre that weepeth still;
The willow, worne of forlorne paramours;
The eugh, obedient to the benders will;
The birch for shaftes; the sallow for the mill;
The mirrhe sweete-bleeding in the bitter wound;
The warlike beech; the ash for nothing ill;
The fruitfull olive; and the platane round;
The carver holme; the maple seeldom inward sound.
Led with delight, they thus beguile the way,
Untill the blustering storme is overblowne;
When, weening to returne whence they did stray,
They cannot finde that path, which first was showne,
But wander too and fro in waics unknowne,
Furthest from end then, when they neerest weene,
That makes them doubt their wits be not their owne:
So many pathes, so many turnings seene,
That, which of them to take, in diverse doubt they been.
UNA FOLLOWED BY THE LION.
Nought is there under heaven's wide hollownesse
That moves more deare compassion of mind,
Then beautie brought t' unworthie wretchednesse
Through envies snares, or fortunes freakes unkind.
I, whether lately through her brightnes blynd,
Or through allegeance, and fast fealty,
Which I do owe unto all womankynd,
Feele my hart perst with so great agony,
When such I see, that all for pitty I could dy.
And now it is empassioned 4 so deepe,
For fairest Unaes sake, of whom I sing,
That my frayle eies these lines with teares do steepe,
To think how she through guyleful landeling,
Though true as touch, though daughter of a king,
Though faire as ever living wight was fayre,
Though nor in word nor deede ill meriting,
Is from her Knight divorced in despayre,
And her dew loves deryv'd2 to that vyle Witches shayre,
III. Yet she, most faithfull Ladie, all this while Forsaken, wofull, solitarie mayd, Far from all peoples preace,3 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 wastness wide him daily sought; Yet wished tydinges none of him unto her brought.
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 secrete shadow, far from all mens sight;
From her fayre head her fillet she undight,
And layd her stole aside: Her angels face,
As the great eye of heaven, shyned bright,
And make a sunshine in the shady place;
Did ever mortall eye behold such heavenly grace ?
It fortuned, out of the thickest wood
A ramping lyons rushed suddeinly,
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.
Instead thereof he kist her wearie feet,
And lickt her lilly hands with fawning tong;
As he her wronged innocence did weet.7
O how can beautie maister the most strong,
And simple truth subdue avenging wrong!
Whose yielded pryde 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.
* The lyon. lord of everic 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 lovod, and ever most adord
As the god of my life? why hath he me abhord ?"
Redounding' tears did choke th' end of her plaing,
Which softly echoed from the neighbour wood;
And, sad to see her sorrowfull constraint,
The kingly beast upon her gazing stood;
With pittie calmnd, downe fell his angry mood,
At last, in close hart shutting up her payne,
Arose the Virgin borne of heavenly brood,
And to her snowy palfrey got agayne,
To seek her strayed Champion if she might attayne.
The lyon would not leave her desolate,
But with her went along, as a strong gard
Of her chast person, and a faythfull mate
Of her sad troubles and misfortunes hard :
Still, when she slept, he kept both watch and ward;
And, when she wakt, he wayted diligent,
With humble service to her will prepard:
From her fayre eyes he took commandément,
And ever by her lookes conceived her intent,
Book I. Canto III.
DESCRIPTION OF PRINCE ARTHUR.
At last she chaunced by good hap to meet
A goodly Knight,2 faire marching by the way,
Together with his Squyre, arrayed meet:
His glitterand armour shined far away,
Like glauncing light of Phæbus brightest ray;
From top to toe no place appeared bare,
That deadly dint of steele endanger may:
Athwart his brest a bauldrick brave he ware,
That shind, like twinkling stars, with stones most pretious rare:
And, in the midst thereof, one pretious stone
Of wondrous worth, and eke of wondrous mights,
Shapt like a Ladies head, exceeding shone,
Like Hesperus emongst the lesser lights,
And strove for to amaze the weaker sights:
Thereby his mortall blade full comely hong
In yvory sheath, ycarv'd with curious slights,
Whose luilts were burnisht gold; and handle strong
Of mother perle; and buckled with a golden tong.
His hanghtie helmet, horrid all with gold,
Both glorious brightnesse and great terrour bredd:
For all the crest a dragon did enfold
With greedie pawes, and over all did spredd
His golden winges; his dreadfull hideous hedd,
Close couched on the bever, seemd to throw
From flaming mouth bright sparckles fiery redd,
That suddeine horrour to faint hartes did show;
And scaly tayle was stretcht adowne his back full low.
Upon the top of all his loftie crest,
A bounch of heares discolourd diversly,
With sprincled pearle and gold full richly drest,
Did shake, and seemd to daunce for iollity;
Like to an almond tree ymounted hye
On top of greene Selinis all alone,
With blossoms brave bedecked daintily;
Whose tender locks do tremble every one
At everie little breath, that under heaven is blowne.
Book I. Canto VII.
Eftsoone3 there stepped foorth
A goodly Ladiet clad in hunters weed,
That seemd to be a woman of great worth,
And by her stately portances borne of heavenly birth.
Her face so faire, as flesh it seemed not,
But hevenly pourtraict of bright angels hew,
Cleare as the skye, withouten blame or blot,
Through goodly mixture of complexions dew;
And in her cheekes the vermeill red did shew
Like roses in a bed of lillies shed,
The which ambrosiall odours from them threw,