« PreviousContinue »
Bloud is no blemish; for it is no blame
To punish those that doe deserve the same ;
But they that breake bands of civilitie,
And wicked customes make, those doe defame
Both noble armes and gentle curtesie:
No greater shame to man then inhumanitie.
“ Then doe yourselfe, for dread of shame, forgoe
This evill manner which ye here maintaine,
And doe instead thereof mild curt'sie showe
To all that passe : That shall you glory gaine
More then his love, which thus ye seeke t'obtaine."
Wherewith all full of wrath she thus replyde;
“ Vile recreant! know that I doe much disdaine
Thy courteous lore,” that doest my Love deride,
Who scornes thy ydle scoffe, and bids thee be defyde.”
“ To take defiaunce at a Ladies word,”
Quoth he, “I hold it no indignity ;
But were he here, that would it with his sword
Abett, perhaps he mote it deare aby.4 "
“Cowherd,” quoth she, “ were not that thou wouldst fly
Ere he doe come, he should be soone in place.”
“If I doe so," sayd he," then liberty
I leave to you for aye me to disgrace
With all those shames, that erst5 ye spake me to deface.”
With that a Dwarfe she cald to her in hast,
And taking from her hand a ring of gould
(A privy token which betweene them past)
· Then, than. ? Lore, lesson, advice. Abett, maintain.
• Aby, abide. 5 Erst, before.
Bad him to flie with all the speed he could
To Crudor; and desire him that he would
Vouchsafe to reskue her against a Knight,
Who through strong powre had now herself in hould,
Having late slaine her Seneschall in fight,
And all her people murdred with outragious might:
The Dwarfe his way did hast, and went all night:
But Calidore did with her there abyde
The comming of that so much threatned Knight;
Where that discourteous Dame with scornfull pryde
And fowle entreaty him indignifyde,
That yron heart it hardly could sustaine:
Yet he, that could his wrath full wisely guyde,
Did well endure her womanish disdaine,
And did himselfe from fraile impatience refraine.
The morrow next, before the lampe of light
Above the earth upreard his flaming head,
The Dwarfe, which bore that message to her Knight,
Brought aunswere backe, that ere he tasted bread
He would her succour, and alive or dead
Her foe deliver up into her hand:
Therefore he wild her doe away all dread;
And, that of him she mote assured stand,
He sent to her his basenet 2 as a faithfull band.
Thereof full blyth the Lady streight became,
And gan t'augment her bitternesse much more:
Indignifyde, treated with indignity.
XXXI. 9. - As a faithfull band.] As a pledge of protection.
Yet no whit more appalled for the same,
Ne ought dismayed was Sir Calidore;
But rather did more chearefull seeme therefore:
And, having soone his armes about him dight,
Did issue forth to meete his foe afore;
Where long he stayed not, whenas a Knight
He spide come pricking on with all his powre and might.
Well weend he streight that he should be the same
Which tooke in hand her quarrell to maintaine ;
Ne stayd to aske if it were he by name,
But coucht his speare, and ran at him amaine.?
They bene ymett in middest of the plaine
With so fell fury and dispiteous forse,
That neither could the others stroke sustaine,
But rudely rowld to ground both man and horse,
Neither of other taking pitty nor remorse.
But Calidore up rose againe full light,
Whiles yet his foe lay fast in sencelesse sound 3;
Yet would he not him hurt although he might:
For shame he weend a sleeping wight to wound.
But when Briana saw that drery stound,
There where she stood uppon the Castle wall,
She deem'd him sure to have bene dead on ground;
And made such piteous mourning therewithall,
That from the battlements she ready seem'd to fall.
1 Dight, disposed.
2 Amaine, with violence.
3 Sound, swoon.
* Drery stound, sad affliction.
XXXIII. 5. — They bene ymett in middest of the plaine.] They met in the middle of the plain.
Nathlesse at length himselfe he did upreare
In lustlessed wise; as if against his will,
Ere he had slept his fill, he wakened were,
And gan to stretch his limbs; which feeling ill
of his late fall, awhile he rested still:
But, when he saw his foe before in vew,
He shooke off luskishnesse ?; and, courage chill
Kindling afresh, gan battell to renew,
To prove if better foote then 3 horsebacke would ensew.
There then began a fearefull cruell fray
Betwist them two for maystery of might:
For both were wondrous practicke 4 in that play,
And passing well expert in single fight,
And both inflam’d with furious despight;
Which as it still encreast, so still encreast
Their cruell strokes and terrible affright;
Ne once for ruth” their rigour they releast,
Ne once to breath awhile their angers tempest ceast.
Thus long they trac'd and traverst to and fro,
And tryde all waies how each mote entrance make
Into the life of his malignant foe;
They hew'd their helmes, and plates asunder brake,
As they had potshares 6 bene; for nought mote slake
Their greedy vengeaunces but goary blood;
· Lustlesse, listless. ? Luskishnesse, sluggishness. 3 Then, than. * Practicke, skilful. 5 Ruth, pity.
6 Potshares, potsherds, fragments of a broken vessel.
XXXVI. 2.- Maystery of might.] Superiority in prowess.
That at the last like to a purple lake
Of bloudy gore congeal'd about them stood,
Which from their riven sides forth gushed like a flood.
At length it chaunst that both their hands on hie
At once did heave with all their
and might, Thinking the utmost of their force to trie, And prove the finall fortune of the fight; But Calidore, that was more quicke of sight And nimbler-handed then his enemie, Prevented him before his stroke could light,
And on the helmet smote him formerlie,
That made him stoupe to ground with meeke humilitie:
And, ere he could recover foote againe,
He following that faire advantage fast
His stroke redoubled with such might and maine,
That him upon the ground he groveling cast ;
And leaping to him light would have unlast 4
His helme, to make unto his vengeance way:
Who, seeing in what daunger he was plast,
Cryde out ; “ Ah mercie, Sir! doe me not slay,
But save my life, which lot" before your foot doth lay.”
XL. With that his mortall hand awhile he stayd; And, having somewhat calm'd his wrath full heat With goodly patience, thus he to him sayd; “ And is the boast of that proud Ladies threat, That menaced me from the field to beat, Now brought to this? By this now may ye learne