The Faerie Queene, Book I, Canto 9 (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 9
His loues and lignage Arthur tells
The knights knit friendly bands:
Sir Treuisan flies from Despayre,
Whom Redcrosse knight withstands.
2 The vertues linked are in louely wize:
3 And noble minds of yore allyed were,
4 In braue poursuit of cheualrous emprize,
5 That none did others safety despize,
6 Nor aid enuy to him, in need that stands,
7 But friendly each did others prayse deuize
8 How to aduaunce with fauourable hands,
9 As this good Prince redeemd the Redcrosse knight from bands.
10 Who when their powres empaird through labour long,
11 With dew repast they had recured well,
12 And that weake captiue wight now wexed strong,
13 Them list no lenger there at leasure dwell,
14 But forward fare, as their aduentures fell,
15 But ere they parted, Vna faire besought
16 That straunger knight his name and nation tell;
17 Least so great good, as he for her had wrought,
18 Should die vnknown, & buried be in thanklesse thought.
19[Fol. H5v; p. 120] Faire virgin (said the Prince) ye me require
20 A thing without the compas of my wit:
21 For both the lignage and the certain Sire,
22 From which I sprong, from me are hidden yit.
23 For all so soone as life did me admit
24 Into this world, and shewed heauens light,
25 From mothers pap I taken was vnfit:
26 And streight deliuered to a Faery knight,
27 To be vpbrought in gentle thewes and martiall might.
28 Vnto old Timon he me brought byliue,
29 Old Timon, who in youthly yeares hath beene
30 In warlike feates th'expertest man aliue,
31 And is the wisest now on earth I weene;
32 His dwelling is low in a valley greene,
33 Vnder the foot of Rauran mossy hore,
34 From whence the riuer Dee as siluer cleene
35 His tombling billowes rolls with gentle rore:
36 There all my dayes he traind me vp in vertuous lore.
37 Thither the great Magicien Merlin came,
38 As was his vse, ofttimes to visit me:
39 For he had charge my discipline to frame,
40 And Tutours nouriture to ouersee.
41 Him oft and oft I askt in priuitie,
42 Of what loines and what lignage I did spring:
43 Whose aunswere bad me still assured bee,
44 That I was sonne and heire vnto a king,
45 As time in her iust terme the truth to light should bring.
46 Well worthy impe, said then the Lady gent,
47 And Pupill fit for such a Tutours hand.
48 But what aduenture, or what high intent
49 Hath brought you hither into Faery land,
50[Fol. H6r; p. 121] Aread Prince Arthur, crowne of Martiall band?
51 Full hard it is (quoth he) to read aright
52 The course of heauenly cause, or vnderstand
53 The secret meaning of th'eternall might,
54 That rules mens wayes, and rules the thoughts of liuing wight.
55 For whither he through fatall deepe foresight
56 Me hither sent, for cause to me vnghest,
57 Or that fresh bleeding wound, which day and night
58 Whilome doth rancle in my riuen brest,
59 With forced fury following his behest,
60 Me hither brought by wayes yet neuer found,
61 You to haue helpt I hold my selfe yet blest.
62 Ah curteous knight (quoth she) what secret wound
63 Could euer find, to grieue the gentlest hart on ground?
64 Deare Dame (quoth he) you sleeping sparkes awake,
65 Which troubled once, into huge flames will grow,
66 Ne euer will their feruent fury slake,
67 Till liuing moysture into smoke do flow,
68 And wasted life do lye in ashes low.
69 Yet sithens silence lesseneth not my fire,
70 But told it flames, and hidden it does glow,
71 I will reuele, what ye so much desire:
72 Ah Loue, lay downe thy bow, the whiles I may respire.
73 It was in freshest flowre of youthly yeares,
74 When courage first does creepe in manly chest,
75 Then first the coale of kindly heat appeares
76 To kindle loue in euery liuing brest;
77 But me had warnd old Timons wise behest,
78 Those creeping flames by reason to subdew,
79 Before their rage grew to so great vnrest,
80 As miserable louers vse to rew,
81 Which still wex old in woe, whiles woe still wexeth new.
82[Fol. H6v; p. 122] That idle name of loue, and louers life,
83 As losse of time, and vertues enimy
84 I euer scornd, and ioyd to stirre vp strife,
85 In middest of their mournfull Tragedy,
86 Ay wont to laugh, when them I heard to cry,
87 And blow the fire, which them to ashes brent:
88 Their God himselfe, grieu'd at my libertie,
89 Shot many a dart at me with fiers intent,
90 But I them warded all with wary gouernment.
91 But all in vaine: no fort can be so strong,
92 Ne fleshly brest can armed be so sound,
93 But will at last be wonne with battrie long,
94 Or vnwares at disauantage found;
95 Nothing is sure, that growes on earthly ground:
96 And who most trustes in arme of fleshly might,
97 And boasts, in beauties chaine not to be bound,
98 Doth soonest fall in disauentrous fight,
99 And yeeldes his caytiue neck to victours most despight.
100 Ensample make of him your haplesse ioy,
101 And of my selfe now mated, as ye see;
102 Whose prouder vaunt that proud auenging boy
103 Did soone pluck downe, and curbd my libertie.
104 For on a day prickt forth with iollitie
105 Of looser life, and heat of hardiment,
106 Raunging the forest wide on courser free,
107 The fields, the floods, the heauens with one consent
108 Did seeme to laugh on me, and fauour mine intent.
109 For-wearied with my sports, I did alight
110 From loftie steed, and downe to sleepe me layd;
111 The verdant gras my couch did goodly dight,
112 And pillow was my helmet faire displayd:
113[Fol. H7r; p. 123] Whiles euery sence the humour sweet embayd,
114 And slombring soft my hart did steale away,
115 Me seemed, by my side a royall Mayd
116 Her daintie limbes full softly down did lay:
117 So faire a creature yet saw neuer sunny day.
118 Most goodly glee and louely blandishment
119 She to me made, and bad me loue her deare,
120 For dearely sure her loue was to me bent,
121 As when iust time expired should appeare.
122 But whether dreames delude, or true it were,
123 Was neuer hart so rauisht with delight,
124 Ne liuing man like words did euer heare,
125 As she to me deliuered all that night;
126 And at her parting said, She Queene of Faeries hight.
127 When I awoke, and found her place deuoyd,
128 And nought but pressed gras, where she had lyen,
129 I sorrowed all so much, as earst I ioyd,
130 And washed all her place with watry eyen.
131 From that day forth I lou'd that face diuine;
132 From that day forth I cast in carefull mind,
133 To seeke her out with labour, and long tyne,
134 And neuer vow to rest, till her I find,
135 Nine monethes I seeke in vaine yet ni'll that vow vnbind.
136 Thus as he spake, his visage wexed pale,
137 And chaunge of hew great passion did bewray;
138 Yet still he stroue to cloke his inward bale,
139 And hide the smoke, that did his fire display,
140 Till gentle Vna thus to him gan say;
141 O happy Queene of Faeries, that hast found
142 Mongst many, one that with his prowesse may
143 Defend thine honour, and thy foes confound:
144 True Loues are often sown, but seldom grow on ground.
145[Fol. H7v; p. 124] Thine, O then, said the gentle Redcrosse knight,
146 Next to that Ladies loue, shalbe the place,
147 O fairest virgin, full of heauenly light,
148 Whose wondrous faith, exceeding earthly race,
149 Was firmest fixt in mine extremest case.
150 And you, my Lord, the Patrone of my life,
151 Of that great Queene may well gaine worthy grace:
152 For onely worthy you through prowes priefe
153 Yf liuing man mote worthy be, to be her liefe.
154 So diuersly discoursing of their loues,
155 The golden Sunne his glistring head gan shew,
156 And sad remembraunce now the Prince amoues,
157 With fresh desire his voyage to pursew:
158 Als Vna earnd her traueill to renew.
159 Then those two knights, fast friendship for to bynd,
160 And loue establish each to other trew,
161 Gaue goodly gifts, the signes of gratefull mynd,
162 And eke as pledges firme, right hands together ioynd.
163 Prince Arthur gaue a boxe of Diamond sure,
164 Embowd with gold and gorgeous ornament,
165 Wherein were closd few drops of liquor pure,
166 Of wondrous worth, and vertue excellent,
167 That any wound could heale incontinent:
168 Which to requite, the Redcrosse knight him gaue
169 A booke, wherein his Saueours testament
170 Was writ with golden letters rich and braue;
171 A worke of wondrous grace, and able soules to saue.
172 Thus beene they parted, Arthur on his way
173 To seeke his loue, and th'other for to fight
174 With Vnaes foe, that all her realme did pray.
175 But she now weighing the decayed plight,
176[Fol. H8r; p. 125] And shrunken synewes of her chosen knight,
177 Would not a while her forward course pursew,
178 Ne bring him forth in face of dreadfull fight,
179 Till he recouered had his former hew:
180 For him to be yet weake and wearie well she knew.
181 So as they traueild, lo they gan espy
182 An armed knight towards them gallop fast,
183 That seemed from some feared foe to fly,
184 Or other griesly thing, that him agast.
185 Still as he fled, his eye was backward cast,
186 As if his feare still followed him behind;
187 Als flew his steed, as he his bands had brast,
188 And with his winged heeles did tread the wind,
189 As he had beene a fole of Pegasus his kind.
190 Nigh as he drew, they might perceiue his head
191 To be vnarmd, and curld vncombed heares
192 Vpstaring stiffe, dismayd with vncouth dread;
193 Nor drop of bloud in all his face appeares
194 Nor life in limbe: and to increase his feares,
195 In fowle reproch of knighthoods faire degree,
196 About his neck an hempen rope he weares,
197 That with his glistring armes does ill agree;
198 But he of rope or armes has now no memoree.
199 The Redcrosse knight toward him crossed fast,
200 To weet, what mister wight was so dismayd:
201 There him he finds all sencelesse and aghast,
202 That of him selfe he seemd to be afrayd;
203 Whom hardly he from flying forward stayd,
204 Till he these wordes to him deliuer might;
205 Sir knight, aread who hath ye thus arayd,
206 And eke from whom make ye this hasty flight.
207 For neuer knight I saw in such misseeming plight.
208[Fol. H8v; p. 126] He answerd nought at all, but adding new
209 Feare to his first amazment, staring wide
210 With stony eyes, and hartlesse hollow hew,
211 Astonisht stood, as one that had aspide
212 Infernall furies, with their chaines vntide.
213 Him yet againe, and yet againe bespake
214 The gentle knight; who nought to him replide,
215 But trembling euery ioynt did inly quake,
216 And foltring tongue at last these words seemd forth to shake.
217 For Gods deare loue, Sir knight, do me not stay;
218 For loe he comes, he comes fast after mee.
219 Eft looking backe would faine haue runne away;
220 But he him forst to stay, and tellen free
221 The secret cause of his perplexitie:
222 Yet nathemore by his bold hartie speach,
223 Could his bloud-frosen hart emboldned bee,
224 But through his boldnesse rather feare did reach,
225 Yet forst, at last he made through silence suddein breach.
226 And am I now in safetie sure (quoth he)
227 From him, that would haue forced me to dye?
228 And is the point of death now turnd fro mee,
229 That I may tell this haplesse history?
230 Feare nought: (quoth he) no daunger now is nye.
231 Then shall I you recount a ruefull cace,
232 (Said he) the which with this vnlucky eye
233 I late beheld, and had not greater grace
234 Me reft from it, had bene partaker of the place.
235 I lately chaunst (Would I had neuer chaunst)
236 With a faire knight to keepen companee,
237 Sir Terwin hight, that well himselfe aduaunst
238 In all affaires, and was both bold and free,
239[Fol. I1r; p. 127] But not so happie as mote happie bee:
240 He lou'd, as was his lot, a Ladie gent,
241 That him againe lou'd in the least degree:
242 For she was proud, and of too high intent,
243 And ioyd to see her louer languish and lament.
244 From whom returning sad and comfortlesse,
245 As on the way together we did fare,
246 We met that villen (God from him me blesse)
247 That cursed wight, from whom I scapt whyleare,
248 A man of hell, that cals himselfe Despaire:
249 Who first vs greets, and after faire areedes
250 Of tydings strange, and of aduentures rare:
251 So creeping close, as Snake in hidden weedes,
252 Inquireth of our states, and of our knightly deedes.
253 Which when he knew, and felt our feeble harts
254 Embost with bale, and bitter byting griefe,
255 Which loue had launched with his deadly darts,
256 With wounding words and termes of foule repriefe,
257 He pluckt from vs all hope of due reliefe,
258 That earst vs held in loue of lingring life;
259 Then hopelesse hartlesse, gan the cunning thiefe
260 Perswade vs die, to stint all further strife:
261 To me he lent this rope, to him a rustie knife.
262 With which sad instrument of hastie death,
263 That woful louer, loathing lenger light,
264 A wide way made to let forth liuing breath.
265 But I more fearefull, or more luckie wight,
266 Dismayd with that deformed dismall sight,
267 Fled fast away, halfe dead with dying feare:
268 Ne yet assur'd of life by you, Sir knight,
269 Whose like infirmitie like chaunce may beare:
270 But God you neuer let his charmed speeches heare.
271[Fol. I1v; p. 128] How may a man (said he) with idle speach
272 Be wonne, to spoyle the Castle of his health?
273 I wote (quoth he) whom triall late did teach,
274 That like would not for all this worldes wealth:
276 Into the hart, and searcheth euery vaine,
277 That ere one be aware, by secret stealth
278 His powre is reft, and weaknesse doth remaine.
279 O neuer Sir desire to try his guilefull traine.
280 Certes (said he) hence shall I neuer rest,
281 Till I that treachours art haue heard and tride;
282 And you Sir knight, whose name mote I request,
283 Of grace do me vnto his cabin guide.
284 I that hight Treuisan (quoth he) will ride
285 Against my liking backe, to doe you grace:
286 But nor for gold nor glee will I abide
287 By you, when ye arriue in that same place;
288 For leuer had I die, then see his deadly face.
289 Ere long they come, where that same wicked wight
290 His dwelling has, low in an hollow caue,
291 Farre vnderneath a craggie clift ypight,
292 Darke, dolefull, drearie, like a greedie graue,
293 That still for carrion carcases doth craue:
294 On top whereof aye dwelt the ghastly Owle,
295 Shrieking his balefull note, which euer draue
296 Farre from that haunt all other chearefull fowle;
297 And all about it wandring ghostes did waile and howle.
298 And all about old stockes and stubs of trees,
299 Whereon nor fruit, nor leafe was euer seene,
300 Did hang vpon the ragged rocky knees;
301 On which had many wretches hanged beene,
302[Fol. I2r; p. 129] Whose carcases were scattered on the greene,
303 And throwne about the cliffs. Arriued there,
304 That bare-head knight for dread and dolefull teene,
305 Would faine haue fled, ne durst approchen neare,
306 But th'other forst him stay, and comforted in feare.
307 That darkesome caue they enter, where they find
308 That cursed man, low sitting on the ground,
309 Musing full sadly in his sullein mind;
310 His griesie lockes, long growen, and vnbound,
311 Disordred hong about his shoulders round,
312 And hid his face; through which his hollow eyne
313 Lookt deadly dull, and stared as astound;
314 His raw-bone cheekes through penurie and pine,
315 Were shronke into his iawes, as he did neuer dine.
316 His garment nought but many ragged clouts,
317 With thornes together pind and patched was,
318 The which his naked sides he wrapt abouts;
319 And him beside there lay vpon the gras
320 A drearie corse, whose life away did pas,
321 All wallowd in his owne yet luke-warme blood,
322 That from his wound yet welled fresh alas;
323 In which a rustie knife fast fixed stood,
324 And made an open passage for the gushing flood.
325 Which piteous spectacle, approuing trew
326 The wofull tale that Treuisan had told,
327 When as the gentle Redcrosse knight did vew,
328 With firie zeale he burnt in courage bold,
329 Him to auenge, before his bloud were cold,
330 And to the villein said, Thou damned wight,
331 The author of this fact, we here behold,
332 What iustice can but iudge against thee right,
333 With thine owne bloud to price his bloud, here shed in sight?
334[Fol. I2v; p. 130] What franticke fit (quoth he) hath thus distraught
335 Thee, foolish man, so rash a doome to giue?
336 What iustice euer other iudgement taught,
337 But he should die, who merites not to liue?
338 None else to death this man despayring driue,
339 But his owne guiltie mind deseruing death.
340 Is then vniust to each his due to giue?
342 Or let him die at ease, that liueth here vneath?
343 Who trauels by the wearie wandring way,
344 To come vnto his wished home in haste,
345 And meetes a flood, that doth his passage stay,
346 Is not great grace to helpe him ouer past,
347 Or free his feet, that in the myre sticke fast?
348 Most enuious man, that grieues at neighbours good,
349 And fond, that ioyest in the woe thou hast,
350 Why wilt not let him passe, that long hath stood
351 Vpon the banke, yet wilt thy selfe not passe the flood?
352 He there does now enioy eternall rest
353 And happie ease, which thou doest want and craue,
354 And further from it daily wanderest:
355 What if some litle paine the passage haue,
356 That makes fraile flesh to feare the bitter waue?
357 Is not short paine well borne, that brings long ease,
358 And layes the soule to sleepe in quiet graue?
359 Sleepe after toyle, port after stormie seas,
360 Ease after warre, death after life does greatly please.
361 The knight much wondred at his suddeine wit,
362 And said, The terme of life is limited,
363 Ne may a man prolong, nor shorten it;
364 The souldier may not moue from watchfull sted,
365[Fol. I3r; p. 131] Nor leaue his stand, vntill his Captaine bed.
366 Who life did limit by almightie doome,
367 (Quoth he) knowes best the termes established;
368 And he, that points the Centonell his roome,
369 Doth license him depart at sound of morning droome.
370 Is not his deed, what euer thing is donne,
371 In heauen and earth? did not he all create
372 To die againe? all ends that was begonne.
373 Their times in his eternall booke of fate
374 Are written sure, and haue their certaine date.
375 Who then can striue with strong necessitie,
376 That holds the world in his still chaunging state,
377 Or shunne the death ordaynd by destinie?
378 When houre of death is come, let none aske whence, nor why.
379 The lenger life, I wote the greater sin,
380 The greater sin, the greater punishment:
381 All those great battels, which thou boasts to win,
382 Through strife, and bloud-shed, and auengement,
383 Now praysd, hereafter deare thou shalt repent:
384 For life must life, and bloud must bloud repay.
385 Is not enough thy euill life forespent?
386 For he, that once hath missed the right way,
387 The further he doth goe, the further he doth stray.
388 Then do no further goe, no further stray,
389 But here lie downe, and to thy rest betake,
390 Th'ill to preuent, that life ensewen may.
391 For what hath life, that may it loued make,
392 And giues not rather cause it to forsake?
393 Feare, sicknesse, age, losse, labour, sorrow, strife,
394 Paine, hunger, cold, that makes the hart to quake;
395 And euer fickle fortune rageth rife,
396 All which, and thousands mo do make a loathsome life.
397[Fol. I3v; p. 132] Thou wretched man, of death hast greatest need,
398 If in true ballance thou wilt weigh thy state:
399 For neuer knight, that dared warlike deede,
400 More lucklesse disauentures did amate:
401 Witnesse the dongeon deepe, wherein of late
402 Thy life shut vp, for death so oft did call;
403 And though good lucke prolonged hath thy date,
404 Yet death then, would the like mishaps forestall,
405 Into the which hereafter thou maiest happen fall.
406 Why then doest thou, ô man of sin, desire
407 To draw thy dayes forth to their last degree?
408 Is not the measure of thy sinfull hire
409 High heaped vp with huge iniquitie,
410 Against the day of wrath, to burden thee?
411 Is not enough, that to this Ladie milde
412 Thou falsed hast thy faith with periurie,
413 And sold thy selfe to serue Duessa vilde,
414 With whom in all abuse thou hast thy selfe defilde?
415 Is not he iust, that all this doth behold
416 From highest heauen, and beares an equall eye?
417 Shall he thy sins vp in his knowledge fold,
418 And guiltie be of thine impietie?
419 Is not his law, Let euery sinner die:
420 Die shall all flesh? what then must needs be donne,
421 Is it not better to doe willinglie,
422 Then linger, till the glasse be all out ronne?
423 Death is the end of woes: die soone, O faeries sonne.
424 The knight was much enmoued with his speach,
425 That as a swords point through his hart did perse,
426 And in his conscience made a secret breach,
427 Well knowing true all, that he did reherse,
428[Fol. I4r; p. 133] And to his fresh remembrance did reuerse
429 The vgly vew of his deformed crimes,
430 That all his manly powres it did disperse,
431 As he were charmed with inchaunted rimes,
432 That oftentimes he quakt, and fainted oftentimes.
433 In which amazement, when the Miscreant
434 Perceiued him to wauer weake and fraile,
435 Whiles trembling horror did his conscience dant,
436 And hellish anguish did his soule assaile,
437 To driue him to despaire, and quite to quaile,
438 He shew'd him painted in a table plaine,
439 The damned ghosts, that doe in torments waile,
440 And thousand feends that doe them endlesse paine
441 With fire and brimstone, which for euer shall remaine.
442 The sight whereof so throughly him dismaid,
443 That nought but death before his eyes he saw,
444 And euer burning wrath before him laid,
445 By righteous sentence of th'Almighties law:
446 Then gan the villein him to ouercraw,
447 And brought vnto him swords, ropes, poison, fire,
448 And all that might him to perdition draw;
449 And bad him choose, what death he would desire:
450 For death was due to him, that had prouokt Gods ire.
451 But when as none of them he saw him take,
452 He to him raught a dagger sharpe and keene,
453 And gaue it him in hand: his hand did quake,
454 And tremble like a leafe of Aspin greene,
455 And troubled bloud through his pale face was seene
456 To come, and goe with tydings from the hart,
457 As it a running messenger had beene.
458 At last resolu'd to worke his finall smart,
459 He lifted vp his hand, that backe againe did start.
460[Fol. I4v; p. 134] Which when as Vna saw, through euery vaine
461 The crudled cold ran to her well of life,
462 As in a swowne: but soone reliu'd againe,
463 Out of his hand she snatcht the cursed knife,
464 And threw it to the ground, enraged rife,
465 And to him said, Fie, fie, faint harted knight,
466 What meanest thou by this reprochfull strife?
467 Is this the battell, which thou vauntst to fight
468 With that fire-mouthed Dragon, horrible and bright?
469 Come, come away, fraile, seely, fleshly wight,
470 Ne let vaine words bewitch thy manly hart,
471 Ne diuelish thoughts dismay thy constant spright.
472 In heauenly mercies hast thou not a part?
473 Why shouldst thou then despeire, that chosen art?
474 Where iustice growes, there grows eke greater grace,
475 The which doth quench the brond of hellish smart,
476 And that accurst hand-writing doth deface,
477 Arise, Sir knight arise, and leaue this cursed place.
478 So vp he rose, and thence amounted streight.
479 Which when the carle beheld, and saw his guest
480 Would safe depart, for all his subtill sleight,
481 He chose an halter from among the rest,
482 And with it hung himselfe, vnbid vnblest.
483 But death he could not worke himselfe thereby;
484 For thousand times he so himselfe had drest,
485 Yet nathelesse it could not doe him die,
486 Till he should die his last, that is eternally.


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 are ignored. 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
275] subtill tongue: one word in the original. Back to Line
341] liuing: "liuiung" in original. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire