« PreviousContinue »
the cursed Wretch alowd to cry, Accusing highest love and gods ingrate;
And eke blaspheming heaven bitterly,
As author of uniustice, there to let him dye.
He lookt a litle further, and espyde
Another Wretch, whose carcas deepe was drent1
Within the river which the same did hyde:
But both his handes, most filthy feculent,
Above the water were on high extent,
And faynd 4 to wash themselves incessantly,
Yet nothing cleaner were for such intent,
But rather fowler seemed to the eye;
So lost his labour vaine and ydle industry.
The Knight, him calling, asked who he was?
Who, lifting up his head, him answerd thus;
“I Pilate am, the falsest iudge, alas !
And most uniust; that, by unrighteous
And wicked dooie, to Iewes despiteous 5
Delivered up the Lord of Life to dye,
And did acquite a murdrer felonous;
The whiles my handes I washt in purity,
The whiles my soule was soyld with fowle iniquity.”
LXIII. Infinite moe 6 tormented in like paine He there beheld, too long here to be told : Ne Mammon would there let him long remayne,
Drent, drenched. % Feculent, foul.
4 Faynd, pretended, seemed.
5 Despiteous, malicious.
6 Moe, more.
LXII. 8. — In purity.] In token of purity.
For terrour of the tortures manifold,
In which the damned soules he did behold,
But roughly him bespake: “Thou fearefull foole,
Why takest not of that same fruite of gold?
Ne sittest downe on that same silver stoole,
To rest thy weary person in the shadow coole ?”
All which he did to do him deadly fall
In frayle intemperaunce through sinfull bayt;
To which if he inclyned had at all,
That Dreadfull Feend, which did behinde him wayt,
Would him have rent in thousand peeces strayt:
But he was wary wise in all his way,
And well perceived his deceiptfull sleight,
Ne suffred lust 1 his safety to betray:
So goodly did beguile the guyler of his pray.
And now he has so long remained theare,
That vitall powres gan wexe both weake and wan
For want of food and sleepe, which two upbeare,
Like mightie pillours, this frayle life of man,
That none without the same enduren can:
For now three dayes of men were full outwrought,
Since he this hardy enterprise began :
Forthy ? great Mammon fayrely he besought Into the world to guyde him backe, as he him brought.
LXVI. The God, though loth, yet was constraynd tobay; For lenger time, then 3 that, no living wight Below the earth might suffred be to stay: So backe againe him brought to living light.
But all so soone as his enfeebled spright
Gan sucke this vitall ayre into his brest,
As overcome with too exceeding might,
The life did fit away out of her nest,
And all his sences were with deadly fit opprest.*
Sir Guyon, layd in swowne, is by
Acrates sonnes despoyld;
Whom Arthure soone hath reskewed,
And Paynim brethren foyld.
And is there care in heaven? And is there love
In heavenly spirits to these creatures bace,
That may compassion of their evils move?
There is :-else much more wretched were the cace
Of men then beasts: But O! th' exceeding grace
Of Highest God that loves his creatures so,
And all his workes with mercy doth embrace,
That blessed Angels he sends to and fro,
To serve to wicked man, to serve his wicked foe!
How oft do they their silver bowers leave
To come to succour us that succour want!
How oft do they with golden pineons cleave
The flitting 2 skyes, like flying pursuivant,
Against fowle feendes to ayd us militant !
They for us fight, they watch and dewly ward,
And their bright squadrons round about us plant ;
1. 1.- And is there care in heaven? &c.] These two introductory stanzas are very beautiful — equally remarkable for dignity of sentiment and beauty of versification
And all for love and nothing for reward :
O, why should Hevenly God to men have such regard !
During the while that Guyon did abide
In Mammons House, the Palmer, whom whyleare 1
That wanton Mayd of passage had denide,
By further search had passage found elsewhere;
And, being on his way, approached neare
Where Guyon lay in traunce; when suddeinly
He heard a voyce that called lowd and cleare,
“Come hether, come hether, O! come hastily!” That all the fields resounded with the ruefull cry.
The Palmer lent his ear unto the noyce,
To weet? who called so importunely:
Againe he heard a more efforced 3 voyce,
That bad him come in haste: He by and by
His feeble feet directed to the cry;
Which to that shady delve 4 him brought at last,
Where Mammon earst 5 did sunne his threasury :
There the good Guyon he found slumbring fast
In senceles dreame; which sight at first him sore aghast.
Beside his head there satt a faire young man,
Of wondrous beauty and of freshest yeares,
Whose tender bud to blossome new began,
And florish faire above his equall peares:
His snowy front, curled with golden heares,
1 Whyleare, a little while ago. 4 Deloc, cave.
? Weet, learn.
* Earst, before.
3 More efforced, louder.
6 Aghast, terrified.
III. 3. — That wanton Mayd, &c.] Phædria. See canto VI. stanza XIX.