The Faerie Queene, Book VI, Canto 10

Original Text: 
Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, 2nd edn. (R. Field for W. Ponsonbie, 1596). STC 23082. Facsimile: The Faerie Queene 1596, Volume 1, Introduction by Graham Hough (London: Scolar Press, 1976). PR 2358 A2H6 1976 Robarts Library.
Calidore sees the Graces daunce,
     To Colins melody:
The whiles his Pastorell is led,
     Into captivity.
2Whilest Calidore does follow that faire Mayd,
3Unmyndfull of his vow and high beheast,
4Which by the Faery Queene was on him layd,
5That he should never leave, nor be delayd
6From chacing him, till he had it attchieved?
7But now entrapt of love, which him betrayd,
8He mindeth more, how he may be relieved
9With grace from her, whose love his heart hath sore engrieved.
11His former quest, so full of toile and paine;
12Another quest, another game in vew
13He hath, the guerdon of his love to gaine:
14With whom he myndes for ever to remaine,
15And set his rest amongst the rusticke sort,
16Rather then hunt still after shadowes vaine
17Of courtly favour, fed with light report
18Of every blaste, and sayling alwaies on the port.
19Ne certes mote he greatly blamed be,
20From so high step to stoupe unto so low.
21For who had tasted once (as oft did he)
22The happy peace, which there doth overthow,
23And prov'd the perfect pleasures, which doe grow
25Would never more delight in painted show
28For what hath all that goodly glorious gaze
29Like to one sight, which Calidore did vew?
30The glaunce whereof their dimmed eies would daze,
31That never more they should endure the shew
32Of that sunne-shine, that makes them looke askew.
33Ne ought in all that world of beauties rare,
34(Save onely Glorianaes heavenly hew
35To which what can compare?) can it compare;
36The which as commeth now, by course I will declare.
37One day as he did raunge the fields abroad,
38Whilest his faire Pastorella was elsewhere,
40Unto a place, whose pleasaunce did appere
41To passe all others, on the earth which were:
42For all that ever was by natures skill
43Devized to worke delight, was gathered there,
44And there by her were poured forth at fill,
46It was an hill plaste in an open plaine,
47That round about was bordered with a wood
48Of matchlesse hight, that seem'd th'earth to disdaine,
49In which all trees of honour stately stood,
50And did all winter as in sommer bud,
51Spredding pavilions for the birds to bowre,
52Which in their lower braunches sung aloud;
53And in their tops the soring hauke did towre,
54Sitting like King of fowles in majesty and powre.
55And at the foote thereof, a gentle flud
56His silver waves did softly tumble downe,
57Unmard with ragged mosse or filthy mud,
58Ne mote wylde beastes, ne mote the ruder clowne
59Thereto approch, ne filth mote therein drowne:
60But Nymphes and Faeries bythe bancks did sit,
61In the woods shade, which did the waters crowne,
62Keeping all noysome things away from it,
63And to the waters fall tuning their accents fit.
64And on the top thereof a spacious plaine
65Did spred it selfe, to serve to all delight,
66Either to daunce, when they to daunce would faine,
68Ne ought there wanted, which for pleasure might
69Desired be, or thence to banish bale:
70So pleasauntly the hill with equall hight,
71Did seeme to overlooke the lowly vale;
73They say that Venus, when she did dispose
74Her selfe to pleasaunce, used to resort
75Unto this place, and therein to repose
76And rest her selfe, as in a gladsome port,
79She used most to keepe her royall court,
80And in her soveraine Majesty to sit,
81She in regard thereof refusde and thought unfit.
82Unto this place when as the Elfin Knight
83Approcht, him seemed that the merry sound
84Of a shrill pipe he playing heard on hight,
85And many feete fast thumping th'hollow ground,
86That through the woods their Eccho did rebound.
87He nigher drew, to weete what mote it be;
88There he a troupe of Ladies dauncing found
89Full merrily, and making gladfull glee,
90And in the midst a Shepheard piping he did see.
91He durst not enter into th'open greene,
92For dread of them unwares to be descryde,
93For breaking of their daunce, if he were seene;
94But in the covert of the wood did byde,
95Beholding all, yet of them unespyde.
96There he did see, that pleased much his sight,
97That even he him selfe his eyes envyde,
99All raunged in a ring, and dauncing in delight.
100All they without were raunged in a ring,
101And daunced round; but in the midst of them
102Three other Ladies did both daunce and sing,
103The whilest the rest them round about did hemme,
104And like a girlond did in compasse stemme:
105And in the middest of those same three, was placed
108That with her goodly presence all the rest much graced.
110Upon her yvory forehead that same day,
111That Theseus her unto his bridale bore,
112When the bold Centaures made that bloudy fray
113With the fierce Lapithes, which did them dismay;
114Being now placed in the firmament,
115Through the bright heaven doth her beams display,
116And is unto the starres an ornament,
117Which round about her move in order excellent.
118Such was the beauty of this goodly band,
119Whose sundry parts were here too long to tell:
120But she that in the midst of them did stand,
121Seem'd all the rest in beauty to excell,
122Crownd with a rosie girlond, that right well
123Did her beseeme. And ever, as the crew
124About her daunst, sweet flowres, that far did smell,
125And fragrant odours they uppon her threw;
126But most of all, those three did her with gifts endew.
127Those were the Graces, daughters of delight,
128Handmaides of Venus, which are wont to haunt
129Uppon this hill, and daunce there day and night:
130Those three to men all gifts of grace do graunt,
131And all, that Venus in her selfe doth vaunt,
132Is borrowed of them. But that faire one,
134Was she to whom that shepheard pypt alone,
135That made him pipe so merrily, as never none.
136She was to weete that jolly Shepheards lasse,
137Which piped there unto that merry rout,
138That jolly shepheard, which there piped, was
139Poore Colin Clout (who knowes not Colin Clout?)
140He pypt apace, whilest they him daunst about.
141Pype jolly shepheard, pype thou now apace
143Thy love is present there with thee in place,
144Thy love is there advaunst to be another Grace.
145Much wondred Calidore at this straunge sight,
146Whose like before his eye had never seene,
147And standing long astonished in spright,
148And rapt with pleasaunce, wist not what to weene;
149Whether it were the traine of beauties Queene,
150Or Nymphes, or Faeries, or enchaunted show,
151With which his eyes mote have deluded beene.
152Therefore resolving, what it was, to know,
153Out of the wood he rose, and toward them did go.
154But soone as he appeared to their vew,
155They vanisht all away out of his sight,
156And cleane were gone, which way he never knew;
157All save the shepheard, who for fell despight
158Of that displeasure, broke his bagpipe quight,
159And made great mone for that unhappy turne.
160But Calidore, though no lesse sory wight,
161For that mishap, yet seeing him to mourne,
162Drew neare, that he the truth of all by him mote learne.
163And first him greeting, thus unto him spake,
164Haile jolly shepheard, which thy joyous dayes
166Frequented of these gentle Nymphes alwayes,
167Which to thee flocke, to heare thy lovely layes;
168Tell me, what mote these dainty Damzels be,
169Which here with thee doe make their pleasant playes?
170Right happy thou, that mayst them freely see:
171But why when I them saw, fled they away from me?
172Not I so happy, answerd then that swaine,
173As thou unhappy, which them thence didst chace,
174Whom by no meanes thou canst recall againe,
175For being gone, none can them bring in place,
176But whom they of them selves list so to grace.
177Right sory I, (said then Sir Calidore,)
178That my ill fortune did them hence displace.
179But since all things passed none may now restore,
180Tell me, what were they all, whose lacke thee grieves so sore.
182Then wote thou shepheard, whatsoever thou bee,
183That all those Ladies, which thou sawest late,
184Are Venus Damzels, all within her fee,
185But differing in honour and degree:
186They all are Graces, which on her depend,
187Besides a thousand more, which ready bee
188Her to adorne, when so she forth doth wend:
189But those three in the midst, doe chiefe on her attend.
190They are the daughters of sky-ruling Jove,
191By him begot of faire Eurynome,
192The Oceans daughter, in this pleasant grove,
193As he this way comming from feastfull glee,
195In sommers shade him selfe here rested weary.
196The first of them hight mylde Euphrosyne,
197Next faire Aglaia, last Thalia merry:
199These three on men all gracious gifts bestow,
200Which decke the body or adorne the mynde,
201To make them lovely or well favourd show,
202As comely carriage, entertainment kynde,
203Sweete semblaunt. friendly offices that bynde,
204And all the complements of curtesie:
205They teach us, how to each degree and kynde
207To friends, to foes, which skill men call Civility.
208Therefore they alwaies smoothly seeme to smile,
209That we likewise should mylde and gentle be,
211Or false dissemblaunce all them plaine may see,
212Simple and true from covert malice free:
213And eeke them selves so in their daunce they bore,
214That two of them still froward seem'd to bee,
215But one still towards shew'd her selfe afore;
216That good should from us goe, then come in greater store.
217Such were those Goddesses, which ye did see;
218But that fourth Mayd, which there amidst them traced,
220Whether a creature, or a goddesse graced
222But what so sure she was, she worthy was
223To be the fourth with those three other placed:
224Yet was she certes but a countrey lasse,
225Yet she all other countrey lasses farre did passe.
226So farre as doth the daughter of the day,
227All other lesser lights in light excell,
228So farre doth she in beautyfull array,
229Above all other lasses beare the bell,
230Ne lesse in vertue that beseemes her well,
231Doth she exceede the rest of all her race,
232For which the Graces that here wont to dwell,
233Have for more honor brought her to this place,
234And graced her so much to be another Grace.
235Another Grace she well deserves to be,
236In whom so many Graces gathered are,
237Excelling much the meane of her degree;
238Divine resemblaunce, beauty soveraine rare,
239Firme Chastity, that spight ne blemish dare;
240All which she with such courtesie doth grace,
241That all her peres cannot with her compare,
242But quite are dimmed, when she is in place.
243She made me often pipe and now to pipe apace.
244Sunne of the world, great glory of the sky,
245That all the earth doest lighten with thy rayes,
246Great Gloriana, greatest Majesty,
247Pardon thy shepheard, mongst so many layes,
248As he hath sung of thee in all his dayes,
250And underneath thy feete to place her prayse,
251That when thy glory shall be farre displayd
252To future age of her this mention may be made.
253When thus that shepherd ended had his speach,
254Sayd Calidore: Now sure it yrketh mee,
255That to thy blisse I made this luckelesse breach,
256As now the author of thy bale to be,
257Thus to bereave thy loves deare sight from thee:
258But gentle Shepheard pardon thou my shame,
259Who rashly sought that, which I mote not see.
260Thus did the courteous Knight excuse his blame,
261And to recomfort him, all comely meanes did frame.


1] Sir Calidore, the champion of Courtesy, whose mission is to overtake and subdue the Blatant Beast (Slander), has turned aside from his quest to dwell among shepherds for love of the fair Pastorella. During that sojourn he sees the vision described in this canto. For Colin Clout see The Shepheardes Calender. Back to Line
10] sew: pursue. Back to Line
24] hyndes: rustics. Back to Line
26] stales: snares. Back to Line
27] bales: griefs. Back to Line
39] troad: path. Back to Line
45] pill: rob. Back to Line
67] their bases light: as in the game of prisoner's base. Back to Line
72] Acidale: cf. "the Acidalian brooke" of Epithalamion, line 310. A resort of Venus (cf. Æneid, I, 720). Spenser seems here to derive the word, by an absurd etymology, from acies ("point'' or ''peak'') and "dale'': hence meaning something like "Valley View." Back to Line
77] the Graces: "three sisters, the daughters of Jupiter (whose names are Aglaia, Thalia, Euphrosyne . . .), otherwise called Charites, that is thanks. Whom the Poets feyned to be the Goddesses of al bountie and comelines'' (E.K.). Cf. "Aprill," line 109 and stanzas xxii-xxiv, below. Back to Line
78] her owne Cytheron. Venus is so called because she had an important sanctuary in Cythera. Back to Line
98] An hundred naked maidens: nymphs, spirits of nature and of poetic inspiration. Back to Line
106] Another Damzell: Elizabeth Boyle, Spenser's wife. Back to Line
107] enchaced: set, like a jewel. Back to Line
109] Ariadne, daughter of Minos of Crete, deserted by Theseus, whom she had helped in his killing of the Minotaur, was wedded by Bacchus, and her crown was set among the constellations, between Hercules and Ophiuchus. See Ovid, Metamorphoses, VIII, 176-82. The combat of the Centaurs and Lapiths, commemorated on the metopes of the Parthenon, actually took place at the marriage of Pirithous and Hippodamia, at which Theseus was present. Back to Line
133] paravaunt: pre-eminent. Back to Line
142] lout: bow. Back to Line
165] make: company. Back to Line
181] dilate: relate. Back to Line
194] Thetis wedding. Thetis, a sea-maiden, was married to Peleus son of Aeacus; their son was Achilles. Back to Line
198] cherry: delight. Back to Line
206] demeane: behave. Back to Line
210] And also naked are ... in greater store. Cf. E.K. (gloss to "Aprill"): "And Boccace saith, that they be painted naked ... the one having her backe toward us, and her face fromwarde, as proceeding from us: the other two toward us, noting double thanke to be due to us for the benefit we have done." E.K. is here following, not Boccaccio, but Servius' commentary on Æneid, I, 720: profecta a nobis gratia duplex solet reverti. But here Spenser has reversed the pose ("froward"=turned away) in accord with the Christian principle that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Back to Line
219] aread: tell. Back to Line
221] enraced: implanted. Back to Line
249] minime: note, little song. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Millar MacLure
RPO Edition: 
3RP 1: 113.