« PreviousContinue »
And, downe him plucking, with his nayles and teeth
Gan him to hale, and teare, and scratch, and bite;
And, from him taking his owne whip, therewith
So sore him scourgeth that the bloud downe followeth.
And sure I weene, had not the Ladies cry
Procur'd the Prince his cruell hand to stay,
He would with whipping him have done to dye:
But, being checkt, he did abstaine streightway
And let him rise. Then thus the Prince gan say;
“ Now, Lady, sith your fortunes thus dispose,
That, if ye list have liberty, ye may;
, Unto yourselfe I freely leave to chose, Whether I shall you leave, or from these Villaines lose.”
“Ah! nay, Sir Knight,” said she, “ it may not be,
But that I needes must by all meanes fulfill
This penaunce, which enioyned is to me,
Least 3 unto me betide a greater ill :
Yet no lesse thankes to you for your good will."
So humbly taking leave she turnd aside:
But Arthure with the rest went onward still
On his first quest, in which did him betide
A great adventure, which did him from them devide.
But first it falleth me by course to tell
Of faire Serena; who, as earst you heard,
When first the gentle Squire at variaunce fell
i Sith, since. ? Lose, loose, deliver. 3 Least, lest.
4 Quest, expedition. 5 Earst, before.
XXXI. 2. — As earst you heard.] See the fiftieth stanza of the preceding canto.
With those two Carles, fled fast away, afeard
Of villany to be to her in ferd 1 :
So fresh the image of her former dread,
Yet dwelling in her eye, to her appeard,
That every foote did tremble which did tread,
And every body two, and two she foure did read.?
Through hils and dales, through bushes and through breres,
Long thus she fled, till that at last she thought
Herselfe now past the perill of her feares:
Then looking round about, and seeing nought
Which doubt of daunger to her offer mought,
She from her palfrey lighted on the plaine ;
And, sitting downe, herselfe awhile bethought
Of her long travell and turmoyling paine ;
And often did of love, and oft of lucke, complaine.
And evermore she blamed Calepine,
The good Sir Calepine, her owne true Knight,
As th' onely author of her wofull tine 4;
For being of his love to her so light,
As her to leave in such a piteous plight:
Yet never turtle truer to bis Make,5
Then he was tride unto his Lady bright:
Who all this while endured for her sake
Great perill of his life, and restlesse paines did take.
Tho 6 whenas all her plaints she had displayd,
And well disburdened her engrieved brest,
Upon the grasse herselfe adowne she layd;
Where, being tyrde with travell, and opprest
With sorrow, she betooke herselfe to rest :
There whilest in Morpheus bosome safe she lay,
Fearelesse of ought that mote her peace molest,
False Fortune did her safëty betray
Unto a strange mischaunce, that menac'd her decay.
In these wylde deserts, where she now abode,
There dwelt a salvage nation, which did live
Of stealth and spoile, and making nightly rode 2
Into their neighbours borders; ne did give
Themselves to any trade, (as for to drive
The painefull plough, or cattell for to breed,
Or by adventrous merchandize to thrive,)
But on the labours of poor men to feed,
And serve their owne necessities with others need.
“Thereto 3 they usde one most accursed order,4
To eate the flesh of men, whom they mote fynde,
And straungers to devoure, which on their border
Were brought by errour or by wreckfull wynde:
A monstrous cruelty gainst course of kynde 5!
They, towards evening wandering every way
To seeke for booty, came by fortune blynde
Whereas this Lady, like a sheepe astray, Now drowned in the depth of sleepe all fearlesse lay.
XXXVII. Soone as they spide her, lord! what gladfull glee They made amongst themselves! but when her face
Like the faire yvory shining they did see,
Each gan his fellow solace and embrace
For ioy of such good hap by heavenly grace."
Then gan they to devize what course to take ;
Whether to slay her there upon the place,
Or suffer her out of her sleepe to wake,
And then her eate attonce, or many meales to make.
The best advizement was, of bad, to let her
Sleepe out her fill without encomberment;
For sleepe, they sayd, would make her battill better:
Then, when she wakt, they all gave one consent
That, since by grace of God she there was sent,
Unto their god they would her sacrifize,
Whose share, her guiltlesse bloud they would present :
But of her dainty flesh they did devize
To make a common feast, and feed with gurmandize.
So round about her they themselves did place
Upon the grasse, and diversely dispose,
As each thought best to spend the lingring space:
Some with their eyes the daintest morsels chose;
Some praise her paps ; some praise her lips and nose;
Some whet their knives, and strip their elboes bare:
The Priest himselfe a garland doth compose
Of finest flowers, and with full busie care His bloudy vessels wash and holy fire prepare.
XXXVIII. 3. — Battill.] This word is explained by the commentators to mean to grow fat. But that could not be the consequence of her being allowed to sleep undisturbed. It seems rather to mean here to relish.
The Damzell wakes; then all attonce upstart,
And round about her flocke, like many flies,
Whooping and hallowing on every part,
As if they would have rent the brasen skies.
Which when she sees with ghastly griefful ? eies,
Her heart does quake, and deadly pallid hew
Benumbes her cheekes: then out aloud she cries,
Where none is nigh to heare, that will her rew,?
And rends her golden locks, and snowy brests embrew.3
But all bootes not; they hands upon her lay;
And first they spoile her of her iewels deare,
And afterwards of all her rich aray;
The which amongst them they in peeces teare,
And of the pray each one a part doth beare.
Now being naked, to their sordid eyes
The goodly threasures of nature appeare:
Which as they view with lustfull fantasyes,
Each wisheth to himselfe, and to the rest envyes.
Her yvorie neck; her alabaster brest;
Her paps, which like white silken pillowes were
For Love in soft delight thereon to rest;
Her tender sides ; her bellie white and clere,
Which like an altar did itselfe uprere
To offer sacrifice divine thereon ;
Her goodly thighes, whose glorie did appeare
Like a triumphall arch, and thereupon
The spoiles of Princes hang’d which were in battel won.