The Faerie Queene, Book I, Canto 7 (1596)

Original Text: 
Facsimile: Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene 1596, Volume 1, Introduction by Graham Hough (London: Scolar Press, 1976). PR 2358 A2H6 1976 Robarts Library. Electronic Text from Ian Lancashire, in collaboration with John Bradley, Willard McCarty, Michael Stairs, and T. R. Wooldridge, Using TACT with Electronic Texts: A Guide to Text-Analysis Computing Tools, Version 2.1 for MS-DOS and PC DOS (New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1996). CD-ROM. QA 76.9.T48 L36.1976 Robarts Library.
Canto 7
The Redcrosse knight is captiue made
By Gyaunt proud opprest,
Prince Arthur meets with Vna great-
ly with those newes distrest.
2As to descry the crafty cunning traine,
3By which deceipt doth maske in visour faire,
4And cast her colours dyed deepe in graine,
5To seeme like Truth, whose shape she well can faine,
6And fitting gestures to her purpose frame;
7The guiltlesse man with guile to entertaine?
8Great maistresse of her art was that false Dame,
9The false Duessa, cloked with Fidessaes name.
10[Fol. F6v; p. 90] Who when returning from the drery Night,
11She fownd not in that perilous house of Pryde,
12Where she had left, the noble Redcrosse knight,
13Her hoped pray; she would no lenger bide,
14But forth she went, to seeke him far and wide.
15Ere long she fownd, whereas he wearie sate,
16To rest him selfe, foreby a fountaine side,
17Disarmed all of yron-coted Plate,
18And by his side his steed the grassy forage ate.
19He feedes vpon the cooling shade, and bayes
20His sweatie forehead in the breathing wind,
21Which through the trembling leaues full gently playes
22Wherein the cherefull birds of sundry kind
23Do chaunt sweet musick, to delight his mind:
24The Witch approching gan him fairely greet,
25And with reproch of carelesnesse vnkind
26Vpbrayd, for leauing her in place vnmeet,
27With fowle words tempring faire, soure gall with hony sweet.
28Vnkindnesse past, they gan of solace treat,
29And bathe in pleasaunce of the ioyous shade,
30Which shielded them against the boyling heat,
31And with greene boughes decking a gloomy glade,
32About the fountaine like a girlond made;
33Whose bubbling waue did euer freshly well,
34Ne euer would through feruent sommer fade:
35The sacred Nymph, which therein wont to dwell,
36Was out of Dianes fauour, as it then befell.
37The cause was this: one day when Phœbe fayre
38With all her band was following the chace,
39This Nymph, quite tyr'd with heat of scorching ayre
40Sat downe to rest in middest of the race:
42And bad the waters, which from her did flow,
43Be such as she her selfe was then in place.
44Thenceforth her waters waxed dull and slow,
45And all that drunke thereof, did faint and feeble grow.
46Hereof this gentle knight vnweeting was,
47And lying downe vpon the sandie graile,
48Drunke of the streame, as cleare as cristall glas,
49Eftsoones his manly forces gan to faile,
50And mightie strong was turnd to feeble fraile.
51His chaunged powres at first them selues not felt,
52Till crudled cold his corage gan assaile,
53And chearefull bloud in faintnesse chill did melt,
54Which like a feuer fit through all his body swelt.
55Yet goodly court he made still to his Dame,
56Pourd out in loosnesse on the grassy grownd,
57Both carelesse of his health, and of his fame:
58Till at the last he heard a dreadfull sownd,
59Which through the wood loud bellowing, did rebownd,
60That all the earth for terrour seemd to shake,
61And trees did tremble. Th'Elfe therewith astownd,
62Vpstarted lightly from his looser make,
63And his vnready weapons gan in hand to take.
64But ere he could his armour on him dight,
65Or get his shield, his monstrous enimy
66With sturdie steps came stalking in his sight,
67An hideous Geant horrible and hye,
68That with his talnesse seemd to threat the skye,
69The ground eke groned vnder him for dreed;
70His liuing like saw neuer liuing eye,
71Ne durst behold: his stature did exceed
72The hight of three the tallest sonnes of mortall seed.
73[Fol. F7v; p. 92] The greatest Earth his vncouth mother was,
74And blustring AEolus his boasted sire,
75Who with his breath, which through the world doth pas,
76Her hollow womb did secretly inspire,
77And fild her hidden caues with stormie yre,
78That she conceiu'd; and trebling the dew time,
79In which the wombes of women do expire,
80Brought forth this monstrous masse of earthly slime,
81Puft vp with emptie wind, and fild with sinfull crime.
82So growen great through arrogant delight
83Of th'high descent, whereof he was yborne,
84And through presumption of his matchlesse might,
85All other powres and knighthood he did scorne.
86Such now he marcheth to this man forlorne,
87And left to losse: his stalking steps are stayde
88Vpon a snaggy Oke, which he had torne
89Out of his mothers bowelles, and it made
90His mortall mace, wherewith his foemen he dismayde.
91That when the knight he spide, he gan aduance
92With huge force and insupportable mayne,
93And towardes him with dreadfull fury praunce;
94Who haplesse, and eke hopelesse; all in vaine
95Did to him pace, sad battaile to darrayne,
96Disarmd, disgrast, and inwardly dismayde,
97And eke so faint in euery ioynt and vaine,
98Through that fraile fountaine, which him feeble made,
99That scarsely could he weeld his bootlesse single blade.
100The Geaunt strooke so maynly mercilesse,
101That could haue ouerthrowne a stony towre,
102And were not heauenly grace, that him did blesse,
103He had beene pouldred all, as thin as flowre:
104[Fol. F8r; p. 93] But he was wary of that deadly stowre,
105And lightly lept from vnderneath the blow:
106Yet so exceeding was the villeins powre,
107That with the wind it did him ouerthrow,
108And all his sences stound, that still he lay full low.
109As when that diuelish yron Engin wrought
110In deepest Hell, and framd by Furies skill,
111With windy Nitre and quick Sulphur fraught,
112And ramd with bullet round, ordaind to kill,
113Conceiueth fire, the heauens it doth fill
114With thundring noyse, and all the ayre doth choke,
115That none can breath, nor see, nor heare at will,
116Through smouldry cloud of duskish stincking smoke,
117That th'onely breath him daunts, who hath escapt the stroke.
118So daunted when the Geaunt saw the knight
119His heauie hand he heaued vp on hye,
120And him to dust thought to haue battred quight,
121Vntill Duessa loud to him gan crye;
122O great Orgoglio, greatest vnder skye,
123O hold thy mortall hand for Ladies sake,
124Hold for my sake, and do him not to dye,
125But vanquisht thine eternall bondslaue make,
126And me thy worthy meed vnto thy Leman take.
127He hearkned, and did stay from further harmes,
128To gayne so goodly guerdon, as she spake:
129So willingly she came into his armes,
130Who her as willingly to grace did take,
131And was possessed of his new found make.
132Then vp he tooke the slombred sencelesse corse,
133And ere he could out of his swowne awake,
134Him to his castle brought with hastie forse,
135And in a Dongeon deepe him threw without remorse.
136[Fol. F8v; p. 94] From that day forth Duessa was his deare,
137And highly honourd in his haughtie eye,
138He gaue her gold and purple pall to weare,
139And triple crowne set on her head full hye,
140And her endowd with royall maiestye:
141Then for to make her dreaded more of men,
142And peoples harts with awfull terrour tye,
143A monstrous beast ybred in filthy fen
144He chose, which he had kept long time in darksome den.
145Such one it was, as that renowmed Snake
146Which great Alcides in Stremona slew,
147Long fostred in the filth of Lerna lake,
148Whose many heads out budding euer new,
149Did breed him endlesse labour to subdew:
150But this same Monster much more vgly was;
151For seuen great heads out of his body grew,
152An yron brest, and backe of scaly bras,
153And all embrewd in bloud, his eyes did shine as glas.
154His tayle was stretched out in wondrous length,
155That to the house of heauenly gods it raught,
156And with extorted powre, and borrow'd strength,
157The euer-burning lamps from thence it brought,
158And prowdly threw to ground, as things of nought;
159And vnderneath his filthy feet did tread
160The sacred things, and holy heasts foretaught.
161Vpon this dreadfull Beast with seuenfold head
162He set the false Duessa, for more aw and dread.
163The wofull Dwarfe, which saw his maisters fall,
164Whiles he had keeping of his grasing steed,
165And valiant knight become a caytiue thrall,
166When all was past, tooke vp his forlorne weed,
167[Fol. G1r; p. 95] His mightie armour, missing most at need;
168His siluer shield, now idle maisterlesse;
169His poynant speare, that many made to bleed,
170The ruefull moniments of heauinesse,
171And with them all departes, to tell his great distresse.
172He had not trauaild long, when on the way
173He wofull Ladie, wofull Vna met,
174Fast flying from the Paynims greedy pray,
175Whilest Satyrane him from pursuit did let:
176Who when her eyes she on the Dwarfe had set,
177And saw the signes, that deadly tydings spake,
178She fell to ground for sorrowfull regret,
179And liuely breath her sad brest did forsake,
180Yet might her pitteous hart be seene to pant and quake.
181The messenger of so vnhappie newes,
182Would faine haue dyde: dead was his hart within,
183Yet outwardly some little comfort shewes:
184At last recouering hart, he does begin
185To rub her temples, and to chaufe her chin,
186And euery tender part does tosse and turne:
187So hardly he the flitted life does win,
188Vnto her natiue prison to retourne:
189Then gins her grieued ghost thus to lament and mourne.
190Ye dreary instruments of dolefull sight,
191That doe this deadly spectacle behold,
192Why do ye lenger feed on loathed light,
193Or liking find to gaze on earthly mould,
194Sith cruell fates the carefull threeds vnfould,
195The which my life and loue together tyde?
196Now let the stony dart of senselesse cold
197Perce to my hart, and pas through euery side,
198And let eternall night so sad sight fro me hide.
199[Fol. G1v; p. 96] O lightsome day, the lampe of highest Ioue,
200First made by him, mens wandring wayes to guyde,
201When darknesse he in deepest dongeon droue,
202Henceforth thy hated face for euer hyde,
203And shut vp heauens windowes shyning wyde:
204For earthly sight can nought but sorrow breed,
205And late repentance, which shall long abyde.
206Mine eyes no more on vanitie shall feed,
207But seeled vp with death, shall haue their deadly meed.
208Then downe againe she fell vnto the ground;
209But he her quickly reared vp againe:
210Thrise did she sinke adowne in deadly swownd,
211And thrise he her reviu'd with busie paine:
212At last when life recouer'd had the raine,
213And ouer-wrestled his strong enemie,
214With foltring tong, and trembling euery vaine,
215Tell on (quoth she) the wofull Tragedie,
216The which these reliques sad present vnto mine eie.
217Tempestuous fortune hath spent all her spight,
218And thrilling sorrow throwne his vtmost dart;
219Thy sad tongue cannot tell more heauy plight,
220Then that I feele, and harbour in mine hart:
221Who hath endur'd the whole, can beare each part.
222If death it be, it is not the first wound,
223That launched hath my brest with bleeding smart.
224Begin, and end the bitter balefull stound;
225If lesse, then that I feare, more fauour I haue found.
226Then gan the Dwarfe the whole discourse declare,
227The subtill traines of Archimago old;
228The wanton loues of false Fidessa faire,
229Bought with the bloud of vanquisht Paynim bold:
230[Fol. G2r; p. 97] The wretched payre transform'd to treen mould;
231The house of Pride, and perils round about;
232The combat, which he with Sansioy did hould;
233The lucklesse conflict with the Gyant stout,
234Wherein captiu'd, of life or death he stood in doubt.
235She heard with patience all vnto the end,
236And stroue to maister sorrowfull assay,
237Which greater grew, the more she did contend,
238And almost rent her tender hart in tway;
239And loue fresh coles vnto her fire did lay:
240For greater loue, the greater is the losse.
241Was neuer Ladie loued dearer day,
242Then she did loue the knight of the Redcrosse;
243For whose deare sake so many troubles her did tosse.
244At last when feruent sorrow slaked was,
245She vp rose, resoluing him to find
246A liue or dead: and forward forth doth pas,
247All as the Dwarfe the way to her assynd:
248And euermore in constant carefull mind
249She fed her wound with fresh renewed bale;
250Long tost with stormes, and bet with bitter wind,
251High ouer hils, and low adowne the dale,
252She wandred many a wood, and measurd many a vale.
253At last she chaunced by good hap to meet
254A goodly knight, faire marching by the way
255Together with his Squire, arayed meet:
256His glitterand armour shined farre away,
257Like glauncing light of Phœbus brightest ray;
258From top to toe no place appeared bare,
259That deadly dint of steele endanger may:
260Athwart his brest a bauldrick braue he ware,
261That shynd, like twinkling stars, with stons most pretious rare.
262[Fol. G2v; p. 98] And in the midst thereof one pretious stone
263Of wondrous worth, and eke of wondrous mights,
264Shapt like a Ladies head, exceeding shone,
265Like Hesperus emongst the lesser lights,
266And stroue for to amaze the weaker sights;
267Thereby his mortall blade full comely hong
268In yuory sheath, ycaru'd with curious slights;
269Whose hilts were burnisht gold, and handle strong
270Of mother pearle, and buckled with a golden tong.
271His haughtie helmet, horrid all with gold,
272Both glorious brightnesse, and great terrour bred;
273For all the crest a Dragon did enfold
274With greedie pawes, and ouer all did spred
275His golden wings: his dreadfull hideous hed
276Close couched on the beuer, seem'd to throw
277From flaming mouth bright sparkles fierie red,
278That suddeine horror to faint harts did show;
279And scaly tayle was stretcht adowne his backe full low.
280Vpon the top of all his loftie crest,
281A bunch of haires discolourd diuersly,
282With sprincled pearle, and gold full richly drest,
283Did shake, and seem'd to daunce for iollity,
284Like to an Almond tree ymounted hye
285On top of greene Selinis all alone,
286With blossomes braue bedecked daintily;
287Whose tender locks do tremble euery one
288At euery little breath, that vnder heauen is blowne.
289His warlike shield all closely couer'd was,
290Ne might of mortall eye be euer seene;
291Not made of steele, nor of enduring bras,
292Such earthly mettals soone consumed bene:
293[Fol. G3r; p. 99] But all of Diamond perfect pure and cleene
294It framed was, one massie entire mould,
295Hewen out of Adamant rocke with engines keene,
296That point of speare it neuer percen could,
297Ne dint of direfull sword diuide the substance would.
298The same to wight he neuer wont disclose,
299But when as monsters huge he would dismay,
300Or daunt vnequall armies of his foes,
301Or when the flying heauens he would affray;
302For so exceeding shone his glistring ray,
303That Phœbus golden face it did attaint,
304As when a cloud his beames doth ouer-lay;
305And siluer Cynthia wexed pale and faint,
306As when her face is staynd with magicke arts constraint.
307No magicke arts hereof had any might,
308Nor bloudie wordes of bold Enchaunters call,
309But all that was not such, as seemd in sight,
310Before that shield did fade, and suddeine fall:
311And when him list the raskall routes appall,
312Men into stones therewith he could transmew,
313And stones to dust, and dust to nought at all;
314And when him list the prouder lookes subdew,
315He would them gazing blind, or turne to other hew.
316Ne let it seeme, that credence this exceedes,
317For he that made the same, was knowne right well
318To haue done much more admirable deedes.
319It Merlin was, which whylome did excell
320All liuing wightes in might of magicke spell:
321Both shield, and sword, and armour all he wrought
322For this young Prince, when first to armes he fell;
323But when he dyde, the Faerie Queene it brought
324To Faerie lond, where yet it may be seene, if sought.
325[Fol. G3v; p. 100] A gentle youth, his dearely loued Squire
326His speare of heben wood behind him bare,
327Whose harmefull head, thrice heated in the fire,
328Had riuen many a brest with pikehead square;
329A goodly person, and could menage faire,
330His stubborne steed with curbed canon bit,
331Who vnder him did trample as the aire,
332And chauft, that any on his backe should sit;
333The yron rowels into frothy fome he bit.
334When as this knight nigh to the Ladie drew,
335With louely court he gan her entertaine;
336But when he heard her answeres loth, he knew
337Some secret sorrow did her heart distraine:
338Which to allay, and calme her storming paine,
339Faire feeling words he wisely gan display,
340And for her humour fitting purpose faine,
341To tempt the cause it selfe for to bewray;
342Wherewith emmou'd, these bleeding words she gan to say.
343What worlds delight, or ioy of liuing speach
344Can heart, so plung'd in sea of sorrowes deepe,
345And heaped with so huge misfortunes, reach?
346The carefull cold beginneth for to creepe,
347And in my heart his yron arrow steepe,
348Soone as I thinke vpon my bitter bale:
349Such helplesse harmes yts better hidden keepe,
350Then rip vp griefe, where it may not auaile,
351My last left comfort is, my woes to weepe and waile.
352Ah Ladie deare, quoth then the gentle knight,
353Well may I weene, your griefe is wondrous great;
354For wondrous great griefe groneth in my spright,
355Whiles thus I heare you of your sorrowes treat.
356[Fol. G4r; p. 101] But wofull Ladie let me you intrete,
357For to vnfold the anguish of your hart:
358Mishaps are maistred by aduice discrete,
359And counsell mittigates the greatest smart;
360Found neuer helpe, who neuer would his hurts impart.
361O but (quoth she) great griefe will not be tould,
362And can more easily be thought, then said.
363Right so; (quoth he) but he, that neuer would,
364Could neuer: will to might giues greatest aid.
365But griefe (quoth she) does greater grow displaid,
366If then it find not helpe, and breedes despaire.
367Despaire breedes not (quoth he) where faith is staid.
368No faith so fast (quoth she) but flesh does paire.
369Flesh may empaire (quoth he) but reason can repaire.
370His goodly reason, and well guided speach
371So deepe did settle in her gratious thought,
372That her perswaded to disclose the breach,
373Which loue and fortune in her heart had wrought,
374And said; faire Sir, I hope good hap hath brought
375You to inquire the secrets of my griefe,
376Or that your wisedome will direct my thought,
377Or that your prowesse can me yield reliefe:
378Then heare the storie sad, which I shall tell you briefe.
379The forlorne Maiden, whom your eyes haue seene
380The laughing stocke of fortunes mockeries,
381Am th'only daughter of a King and Queene,
382Whose parents deare, whilest equall destinies
383Did runne about, and their felicities
384The fauourable heauens did not enuy,
385Did spread their rule through all the territories,
386Which Phison and Euphrates floweth by,
388[Fol. G4v; p. 102] Till that their cruell cursed enemy,
389An huge great Dragon horrible in sight,
390Bred in the loathly lakes of Tartary,
391With murdrous rauine, and deuouring might
392Their kingdome spoild, and countrey wasted quight:
393Themselues, for feare into his iawes to fall,
394He forst to castle strong to take their flight,
395Where fast embard in mightie brasen wall,
396He has them now foure yeres besiegd to make them thrall.
397Full many knights aduenturous and stout
398Haue enterprizd that Monster to subdew;
399From euery coast that heauen walks about,
400Haue thither come the noble Martiall crew,
401That famous hard atchieuements still pursew,
402Yet neuer any could that girlond win,
403But all still shronke, and still he greater grew:
404All they for want of faith, or guilt of sin,
405The pitteous pray of his fierce crueltie haue bin.
406At last yledd with farre reported praise,
407Which flying fame throughout the world had spred,
408Of doughtie knights, whom Faery land did raise,
409That noble order hight of Maidenhed,
410Forthwith to court of Gloriane I sped,
411Of Gloriane great Queene of glory bright,
412Whose kingdomes seat Cleopolis is red,
413There to obtaine some such redoubted knight,
414That Parents deare from tyrants powre deliuer might.
415It was my chance (my chance was faire and good)
416There for to find a fresh vnproued knight,
417Whose manly hands imbrew'd in guiltie blood
418Had neuer bene, ne euer by his might
419[Fol. G5r; p. 103] Had throwne to ground the vnregarded right:
420Yet of his prowesse proofe he since hath made
421(I witnesse am) in many a cruell fight;
422The groning ghosts of many one dismaide
423Haue felt the bitter dint of his auenging blade.
424And ye the forlorne reliques of his powre,
425His byting sword, and his deuouring speare,
426Which haue endured many a dreadfull stowre,
427Can speake his prowesse, that did earst you beare,
428And well could rule: now he hath left you heare,
429To be the record of his ruefull losse,
430And of my dolefull disauenturous deare:
431O heauie record of the good Redcrosse,
432Where haue you left your Lord, that could so well you tosse?
433Well hoped I, and faire beginnings had,
434That he my captiue langour should redeeme,
435Till all vnweeting, an Enchaunter bad
436His sence abusd, and made him to misdeeme
437My loyalty, not such as it did seeme;
438That rather death desire, then such despight.
439Be iudge ye heauens, that all things right esteeme,
440How I him lou'd, and loue with all my might,
441So thought I eke of him, and thinke I thought aright.
442Thenceforth me desolate he quite forsooke,
443To wander, where wilde fortune would me lead,
444And other bywaies he himselfe betooke,
445Where neuer foot of liuing wight did tread,
446That brought not backe the balefull body dead;
447In which him chaunced false Duessa meete,
448Mine onely foe, mine onely deadly dread,
449Who with her witchcraft and misseeming sweete,
450Inueigled him to follow her desires vnmeete.
451[Fol. G5v; p. 104] At last by subtill sleights she him betraid
452Vnto his foe, a Gyant huge and tall,
453Who him disarmed, dissolute, dismaid,
454Vnwares surprised, and with mightie mall
455The monster mercilesse him made to fall,
456Whose fall did neuer foe before behold;
457And now in darkesome dungeon, wretched thrall,
458Remedilesse, for aie he doth him hold;
459This is my cause of griefe, more great, then may be told.
460Ere she had ended all, she gan to faint:
461But he her comforted and faire bespake,
462Certes, Madame, ye haue great cause of plaint,
463That stoutest heart, I weene, could cause to quake.
464But he of cheare, and comfort to you take:
465For till I haue acquit your captiue knight,
466Assure your selfe, I will you not forsake.
467His chearefull words reuiu'd her chearelesse spright,
468So forth they went, the Dwarfe them guiding euer right.


1] Old spelling is retained except for ligatured letters, which are normalized. Contractions and abbreviations are expanded and underlined.Italics and original lineation are retained, but not small capitals and the text of catchwords, signatures, and running titles. Irregularities in spacing areignored. Reference citations are by signatures and page numbers, and by editorial canto, stanza, and verse line numbers. Emendations are noted.Hung words are reattached to the end of the lines to which they belong. Back to Line
41] her: "he" in original. Back to Line
387] Gehons: "Gebons" in original. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire