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BOOKE OF THE
3 The rugged forhead that with graue foresight Which who so list looke backe to former ages, Welds kingdomes causes, and affaires of state, And call to count the things that then were My looser rimes (I wote) doth sharply wite, donne, For praising loue, as I haue done of late, Shall find, that all the workes of those wise And magnifying louers deare debate ;
sages, By which fraile youth is oft to follie led, And braue exploits which great Heroes wonne, Through false allurement of that pleasing In loue were either ended or begunne : baite,
Witnesse the father of Philosophie, That better were in vertues discipled, Which to his Critias, shaded oft from sunne, Then with vaine poemes weeds to haue their Of loue full manie lessons did apply, fancies fed.
The which these Stoicke censours cannot well
deny. Such ones ill iudge of loue, that cannot loue,
4 Ne in their frosen hearts feele kindly flame : To such therefore I do not sing at all, For thy they ought not thing vnknowne But to that sacred Saint my soueraigne reproue,
Queene, Ne naturall affection faultlesse blame, In whose chast breast all bountie naturall, For fault of few that haue abusd the same. And treasures of true loue enlocked beene, For it of honor and all vertue is
Boue all her sexe that euer yet was seene ; The roote, and brings forth glorious flowres To her I sing of loue, that loueth best, of fame,
And best is lou'd of all aliue I weene : That crowne true louers with immortall blis, To her this song most fitly is addrest, The meed of them that loue, and do not liue The Queene of loue, and Prince of peace from amisse.
5 Which that she may the better deigne to heare, Seuen moneths he so her kept in bitter smart, Do thou dred infant, Venus dearling doue, Because his sinfull lust she would not serue, From her high spirit chase imperious feare, Vntill such time as noble Brilomart And vse of awfull Maiestie romoue:
Released her, that else was like to sterue, In sted thereof with drops of melting loue, Through cruell knife that her deare heart did Deawd with ambrosiall kisses, by thee gotten
kerue. From thy sweete smyling mother from aboue, And now she is with her vpon the way, Sprinckleher heart and haughtiecouragesoften, Marching in louely wise, that could deserue That she may hearke to loue, and reade this No spot of blame, though spite did oft assay lesson often.
To blot her with dishonor of so faire a pray.
Yet should it be a pleasant tale, to tell COXXOCOCOOOOOOOO The diuerse vsage and demeanure daint,
That each to other made, as oft befell. Fayre Brilomart saues Amoret,
For Amoret right fearefull was and faint, Duessa discord breedes
Lest she with blame her honor should attaint, Twixt Scudamour and Blandamour : That euerie word did tremble as she spake, Their fight and warlike deedes.
Andeuerie looke was coy,and wondrous quaint,
And euerie limbe that touched her did quake : SXNOSSONONONNOSSO
Yet could she not but curteous countenance to
her make. Of louers sad calamities of old,
6 Full many piteous stories doe remaine, For well she wist, as true it was indeed, But none more piteous euer was ytold, That her liues Lord and patrone of her health Then that of Amorets hart-binding chaine, Right well deserued as his duefull meed, And this of Florimels vnworthie paine : Her loue, her seruice, and her vtmost wealth. The deare compassion of whose bitter fit All is his iustly, that all freely dealth : My softened heart so sorely doth constraine, Nathlesse her honor dearer then her life, That I with teares full oft doe pittie it, Shesoughttosaue,asthingreseru'dfromstealth; And oftentimes doe wish it neuer had bene writ. Die had she leuer with Enchanters knife,
Then to be false in loue, profest a virgine wife. For from the time that Scudamour her bought
7 In perilous fight, she neuer ioyed day, Thereto her feare was made so much the greater A perilous fight when he with force her brought Through fine abusion of that Briton mayd: From twentie Knights, that did him all assay: Who for to hide her fained sex the better, Yet fairely well he did them all dismay: And maske her wounded mind, both did and And with great glorie both the shield of loue, sayd And eke the Ladie selfe he brought away, Full many things so doubtfull to be wayd, Whom hauing wedded as did him behoue, That well she wist not what by them to gesse, A new vnknowen mischiefe did from him re- For other whiles to her she purpos made
Of loue, and otherwhiles of lustfulnesse, 3
That much she feard his mind would grow to For that same vile Enchauntour Busyran, The very selfe same day that she was wedded,
8 Amidst the bridale feast, whilest euery man His will she feard ; for him she surely thought Surcharg'd with wine, were heedlesse and ill To be a man, such as indeed he seemed, hedded,
And much the more, by that he lately wrought, All bent to mirth before the bride was bedded, When her from deadly thraldome he redeemed, Brought in that mask of loue which late was For which no seruice she too much esteemed, showen :
Yet dreadof shame, and doubtoffowle dishonor And there the Ladie ill of friends bestedded, Made her not yeeld so much, as dueshedeemed. By way of sport, as oft in maskes is knowen, Yet Britomart attended duly on her, Conueyed quite away to liuing wight vnknowen. As well became a knight,and did to herall honor.
14 It so befell one euening, that they came Such when those Knights and Ladies all about Vnto a Castell, lodged there to bee,
Beheld her, all were with amazement smit, Where many a knight and many a louely Dame And euery one gan grow in secret dout Was then assembled, deeds of armes to see : Of this and that, according to each wit: Amongst all which was none more faire then Some thought that some enchantment faygned shee,
it; That many of them mou'd to eye her sore. Some, that Bellona in that warlike wise The custome of that place was such, that hee To them appear'd, with shield and armour fit; Which had no loue nor lemman there in store, Some, that it was a maske of strange disguise : Should either winne him one, or lye without Sodiuersely each one did sundrie doubts deuise. the dore.
15 Amongst the rest there was a iolly knight, But that young Knight, which through her Who being asked for his loue, auow'd
gentle deed That fairest Amoret was his by right, Was to that goodly fellowship restor’d, And offred that to iustifie alowd.
Ten thousand thankes did yeeld her for her The warlike virgine seeing his so prowd
meed, And boastfull chalenge, wexed inlie wroth, And doubly ouercommen, her ador'd: But for the present did her anger shrowd ; So did they all their former strife accord; And sayd, her loue to lose she was full loth, And eke fayre Amoret now freed from feare, But either he should neither of them haue, or More franke affection did to her afford, both.
And to her bed, which she was wont forbeare, II So foorth they went, and both together giusted ;
Now freely drew, and found right safe assurance
theare. But that same younker soone was ouerthrowne,
16 And made repent, that he had rashly lusted Where allthat night they of their loues did treat, For thing vnlawfull, that was not his owne : And hard aduentures twixt themselues alone, Yetsince heseemed valiant, though vnknowne, That each the other gan with passion great, She that no lesse was courteous then stout, And griefull pittie priuately bemone. Cast how tosalue, that both the customeshowne The morow next so soone as Tilan shone, Were kept and yet that Knight not locked out, They both vprose, and to their waies them dight: That seem'd full hard t'accord two things so Long wandred they, yet neuer met with none, far in dout.
That to their willes could them direct aright, The Seneschall was cald to deeme the right,
Or to them tydings tell, that mote their harts Whom she requir'd, that first fayre Amoret
17 Might be to her allow'd, as to a Knight, Lo thus they rode, till at the last they spide That did her win and free from chalenge set : Twoarmed Knights, that toward them did pace, Which straight to her was yeelded without let. And ech of them had ryding by his side Then since that strange Knights loue from A Ladie, seeming in so farre a space, him was quitted,
But Ladies none they were, albee in face She claim'd that to her selfe, as Ladies det, And outward shew faire semblance they did He as a Knight might iustly be admitted ;
beare; So none should be out shut, sith all of loues For vnder maske of beautie and good grace, were fitted.
Vile treason and fowle falshood hidden were, 13 With that her glistring helmet she vnlaced ;
That mote to none but to the warie wise appeare. Which doft, her golden lockes, that were vp
The one of them the false Duessa hight, Still in a knot, vnto her heeles downe traced, That now had chang'd her former wonted hew: And like a silken veile in compasse round For she could d'on so manie shapes in sight, About her backe and all her bodie wound: As euer could Cameleon colours new; Like as the shining skie in summers night, So could she forge all colours, saue the trew. Whattime thedayes with scorchingheatabound, The other no whit better was then shee, Is creasted all with lines of firie light, But that such as she was, she plaine did shew; That it prodigious seemes in common peoples Yet otherwise much worse, if worse might bee, sight.
And dayly more offensiue vnto each degree.