Page images
PDF
EPUB

"What had th' Eternall Maker need of thee
The world in his continuall course to keepe,
That doest all thinges deface, ne lettest see
The beautie of his worke? Indeed in sleepe
The slouthfull body that doth love to steepe
His lustlesse limbes, and drowne his baser mind,
Doth praise thee oft, and oft from Stygian deepe
Calles thee his goddesse, in his errour blind,
And great Dame Natures handmaide chearing every kind.

"But well I wote that to an heavy hart

Thou art the roote and nourse of bitter cares,
Breeder of new, renewer of old smarts:
Instead of rest thou lendest rayling teares;
Instead of sleepe thou sendest troublous feares
And dreadfull visions, in the which alive
The dreary image of sad Death appeares :
So from the wearie spirit thou doest drive
Desired rest, and men of happinesse deprive.

56

"Under thy mantle black there hidden lye
Light-shonning Thefte, and traiterous Intent,
Abhorred Bloodshed, and vile Felony,
Shamefull Deceipt, and Daunger imminent,
Fowle Horror, and eke hellish Dreriment:
All these I wote in thy protection bee,
And light doe shonne, for feare of being shent :
For light ylike is loth'd of them and thee;
And all, that lewdnesse love, doe hate the light to see.

"For Day discovers all dishonest wayes,

And sheweth each thing as it is in deed:
The prayses of High God he faire displayes,
And His large bountie rightly doth areed:
Dayes dearest children be the blessed seed
Which Darknesse shall subdue and heaven win:
Truth is his daughter; he her first did breed
Most sacred Virgin without spot of sinne :
Our life is day; but death with darknesse doth begin.

57

58

59

“O, when will Day then turne to me againe,
And bring with him his long-expected light!
O Titan! hast to reare thy joyous waine;
Speed thee to spred abroad thy beamës bright,
And chace away this too long lingring Night;
Chace her away, from whence she came, to hell:
She, she it is, that hath me done despight:
There let her with the damned spirits dwell,
And yield her rowme to Day, that can it governe well."

Thus did the Prince that wearie night outweare
In restlesse anguish and unquiet paine;
And earely, ere the Morrow did upreare
His deawy head out of the Ocean maine,
He up arose, as halfe in great disdaine,
And clombe unto his steed: So forth he went
With heavy looke and lumpish pace, that plaine
In him bewraid great grudge and maltalent :
His steed eke seemd t' apply his steps to his intent.

60

61

CANTO V.

Prince Arthur hears of Florimell:
Three Fosters Timias wound;
Belphabe findes him almost dead,
And reareth out of swownd.

Quy

ONDER it is to see in diverse mindes
How diversly Love doth his pageaunts play,
And shewes his powre in variable kindes:
The baser wit, whose ydle thoughts alway
Are wont to cleave unto the lowly clay,
It stirreth up to sensuall desire,

And in lewd slouth to wast his carelesse day;
But in brave sprite it kindles goodly fire,
That to all high desert and honour doth aspire.

Ne suffereth it uncomely Idlenesse

In his free thought to build her sluggish nest;
Ne suffereth it thought of ungentlenesse
Ever to creepe into his noble brest;
But to the highest and the worthiest
Lifteth it up that els would lowly fall:

It lettes not fall, it lettes it not to rest;
It lettes not scarse this Prince to breath at all,
But to his first poursuit him forward still doth call:

Who long time wandred through the forest wyde
To finde some issue thence; till that at last
He met a Dwarfe that seemed terrifyde
With some late perill which he hardly past,
Or other accident which him aghast;
Of whom he asked, whence he lately came,
And whether now he traveiled so fast:

2

3

For sore he swat, and, ronning through that same Thicke forest, was bescracht and both his feet nigh lame.

Panting for breath, and almost out of hart,
The Dwarfe him answerd; "Sir, ill mote I stay
To tell the same: I lately did depart
From Faery Court, where I have many a day
Served a gentle Lady of great sway

And high accompt throughout all Elfin Land,
Who lately left the same, and tooke this way:
Her now I seeke; and if ye understand
Which way she fared hath, good Sir, tell out of hand."

"What mister wight," saide he, " and how arayd?"
"Royally clad," quoth he, "in cloth of gold,
As meetest may beseeme a noble mayd ;
Her faire lockes in rich circlet be enrold,
· A fayrer wight did never sunne behold;
And on a Palfrey rydes more white then snow,
Yet she herselfe is whiter manifold;

The surest signe, whereby ye may her know, Is, that she is the fairest wight alive, I trow."

5

"Now certes, Swaine," saide he, “such one, I weene, 6
Fast flying through this forest from her fo,
A foule ill-favoured Foster, I have seene;
Herselfe, well as I might, I reskewd tho,
But could not stay; so fast she did foregoe,
Carried away with wings of speedy feare."
"Ah! dearest God," quoth he, "that is great woe,
And wondrous ruth to all that shall it heare:
But can ye read, Sir, how I may her finde, or where ?"

"Perdy me lever were to weeten that,”

Saide he, "then ransome of the richest Knight,
Or all the good that ever yet I gat:

But froward Fortune, and too forward Night,
Such happinesse did, maulgre, to me spight,
And fro me reft both life and light attone.
But, Dwarfe, aread what is that Lady bright
That through this forrest wandreth thus alone;
For of her errour straunge I have great ruth and mone."

7

"That Lady is," quoth he, "whereso she bee,
The bountiest Virgin and most debonaire
That ever living eye, I weene, did see :
Lives none this day that may with her compare
In stedfast chastitie and vertue rare,

The goodly ornaments of beauty bright;
And is ycleped Florimell the fayre,
Faire Florimell belov'd of many a Knight,
Yet she loves none but one, that Marinell is hight;

"A Sea-nymphes sonne, that Marinell is hight,
Of my deare Dame is loved dearely well;
In other none, but him, she sets delight;
All her delight is set on Marinell ;
But he sets nought at all by Florimell:
For Ladies love his mother long ygoe
Did him, they say, forwarne through sacred spell :
But fame now flies, that of a forreine foe

He is yslaine, which is the ground of all our woe.

"Five daies there be since he (they say) was slaine, And fowre since Florimell the Court forwent, And vowed never to returne againe

Till him alive or dead she did invent.
Therefore, faire Sir, for love of knighthood gent
And honour of trew Ladies, if ye may
By your good counsell, or bold hardiment,
Or succour her, or me direct the way,
Do one or other good, I you most humbly pray :

9

10

"So may ye gaine to you full great renowme

Of all good Ladies through the worlde so wide,
And haply in her hart finde highest rowme
Of whom ye seeke to be most magnifide!
At least eternall meede shall you abide."
To whom the Prince; "Dwarfe, comfort to thee take
For, till thou tidings learne what her betide,
I here avow thee never to forsake :

Ill weares he armes, that nill them use for Ladies sake."

11

« PreviousContinue »