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About their Ladye first they flockt arownd ;
Whom having laid in comfortable couch,
Shortly they reard out of her frosen swownd;
And afterwardes they gan with fowle reproch
To stirre up strife, and troublous contecke broch:
But, by ensample of the last dayes losse,
None of them rashly durst to her approch,
Ne in so glorious spoile themselves embosse :
Her succourd eke the Champion of the Bloody Crosse.

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But one of those sixe Knights, Gardantè hight,
Drew out a deadly bow and arrow keene,
Which forth he sent with felonous despight
And fell intent against the Virgin sheene:
The mortall steele stayd not till it was seene
To
gore her side; yet was the wound not deepe,
But lightly rased her soft silken skin,
That drops of purple blood thereout did weepe,
Which did her lilly smock with staines of vermeil steep.

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Wherewith enrag'd she fiercely at them flew,

And with her flaming sword about her layd, That none of them foule mischiefe could eschew, But with her dreadfull strokes were all dismayd: Here, there, and every where, about her swayd Her wrathfull steele, that none mote it abyde; And eke the Redcrosse Knight gave her good ayd, Ay joyning foot to foot, and syde to syde; That in short space their foes they have quite terrifyde.

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Tho, whenas all were put to shamefull flight,
The noble Britomartis her arayd,

And her bright armes about her body dight :
For nothing would she lenger there be stayd,
Where so loose life, and so ungentle trade,
Was usd of Knightes and Ladies seeming gent:
So, earely, ere the grosse Earthes gryesy shade
Was all disperst out of the firmament,

They tooke their steeds, and forth upon their journey went.

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CANTO II.

The Redcrosse Knight to Britomart
Describeth Artegall :

The wondrous Myrrhour, by which she
In love with him did fall.

FORCE

H

ERE have I cause in men just blame to find, That in their proper praise too partiall bee, And not indifferent to woman kind,

To whom no share in armes and chevalree

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They doe impart, ne maken memoree
Of their brave gestes and prowesse Martiall:
Scarse do they spare to one, or two, or three,

Rowme in their writtes: yet the same writing small Does all their deedes deface, and dims their glories all.

But by record of antique times I finde

That wemen wont in warres to beare most sway,
And to all great exploites themselves inclin❜d,
Of which they still the girlond bore away;
Till envious Men, fearing their rules decay,
Gan coyne streight lawes to curb their liberty:
Yet, sith they warlike armes have laide away,
They have exceld in artes and pollicy,
That now we foolish men that prayse gin eke t'envý.

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Of warlike puissaunce in ages spent,

Be thou, faire Britomart, whose prayse I wryte;
But of all wisedom bee thou precedent,

O soveraine Queene, whose prayse
I would endyte,
Endite I would as dewtie doth excyte;
But ah! my rymes too rude and rugged arre,
When in so high an object they doe lyte,
And, striving fit to make, I feare, doe marre :
Thyselfe thy prayses tell, and make them knowen farre.

:

She, traveiling with Guyon, by the way
Of sondry thinges faire purpose gan to find,
T'abridg their journey long and lingring day
Mongst which it fell into that Fairies mind
To aske this Briton Maid, what uncouth wind
Brought her into those partes, and what inquest
Made her dissemble her disguised kind :
Faire Lady she him seemd like Lady drest,
But fairest Knight alive when armed was her brest.

Thereat she sighing softly had no powre

To speake awhile, ne ready answere make;
But with hart-thrilling throbs and bitter stowre,
As if she had a fever fitt, did quake,

And every daintie limbe with horrour shake;
And ever and anone the rosy red

Flasht through her face, as it had beene a flake
Of lightning through bright heven fulmined :
At last, the passion past, she thus him answered:

"Faire Sir, I let you weete, that from the howre
I taken was from Nourses tender pap,

I have been trained up in warlike stowre,
To tossen speare and shield, and to affrap
The warlike ryder to his most mishap;
Sithence I loathed have my life to lead,
As Ladies wont, in Pleasures wanton lap,
To finger the fine needle and nyce thread;
Me lever were with point of foemans speare be dead.

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"All my delight on deedes of armes is sett,

To hunt out perilles and adventures hard, By sea, by land, whereso they may be mett, Onely for honour and for high regard, Without respect of richesse or reward: For such intent into these partes I came, Withouten compasse or withouten card, Far fro my native soyle, that is by name The Greater Brytayne, here to seeke for praise and fame.

"Fame blazed hath, that here in Faery Lond
Doe many famous Knightes and Ladies wonne,
And many straunge adventures to bee fond,
Of which great worth and worship may be wonne :
Which to prove, I this voyage have begonne.
But mote I weet of you, right courteous Knight,
Tydings of one that hath unto me donne
Late foule dishonour and reprochfull spight,
The which I seek to wreake, and Arthegall he hight."

The worde gone out she backe againe would call,
As her repenting so to have missayd,
But that he, it uptaking ere the fall,
Her shortly answered; "Faire martiall Mayd,
Certes ye misavised beene t' upbrayd
A gentle Knight with so unknightly blame:
For, weet ye well, of all that ever playd
At tilt or tourney, or like warlike game,
The noble Arthegall hath ever borne the name.

'Forthy great wonder were it, if such shame
Should ever enter in his bounteous thought,
Or ever doe that mote deserven blame :
The noble corage never weeneth ought
That may unworthy of itselfe be thought.
Therefore, faire Damzell, be ye well aware,
Least that too farre ye have your sorrow sought:
You and your Countrey both I wish welfare,
And honour both; for each of other worthy are.'

The royall Maid woxe inly wondrous glad,
To heare her Love so highly magnifyde;
And joyd that ever she affixed had
Her hart on Knight so goodly glorifyde,
However finely she it faind to hyde.
The loving mother, that nine monethes did beare
In the deare closett of her painefull syde
Her tender babe, it seeing safe appeare,
Did not so much rejoyce as she rejoyced theare.

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But to occasion him to further talke,
To feed her humor with his pleasing style,
Her list in stryfull termes with him to balke,
And thus replyde; "However, Sir, ye fyle
Your courteous tongue his prayses to compyle,
It ill beseemes a Knight of gentle sort,
Such as ye have him boasted, to beguyle
A simple Maide, and worke so ha
ous tort,
In shame of Knighthood, as I largely can report.

"Let bee therefore my vengeaunce to disswade,

And read, where I that Faytour false may find.”
"Ah! but if reason faire might you perswade
To slake your wrath, and mollify your mind,"
Said he, " perhaps ye should it better find :
For hardie thing it is, to weene by might
That man to hard conditions to bind;
Or ever hope to match in equall fight,
Whose prowesse paragone saw never living wight.

"Ne soothlich is it easie for to read

Where now on earth, or how, he may be fownd;
For he ne wonneth in one certeine stead,
But restlesse walketh all the world arownd,
Ay doing thinges that to his fame redownd,
Defending Ladies cause and Orphans right,
Whereso he heares that any doth confownd
Them comfortlesse through tyranny or might;
So is his soveraine honour raisde to hevens hight."

His feeling wordes her feeble sence much pleased,
And softly sunck into her molten hart:
Hart, that is inly hurt, is greatly eased
With hope of thing that may allegge his smart;
For pleasing wordes are like to Magick art,
That doth the charmed Snake in slomber lay:
Such secrete ease felt gentle Britomart,
Yet list the same efforce with faind gainesay;
(So dischord ofte in Musick makes the sweeter lay ;)

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