Page images
PDF
EPUB

Fiercely that Straunger forward came; and, nigh
Approching, with bold words and bitter threat
Bad that same Boaster, as he mote on high,
To leave to him that Lady for excheat,
Or bide him batteill without further treat.
That challenge did too peremptory seeme,
And fild his senses with abashment great;
Yet, seeing nigh him jeopardy extreme,
He it dissembled well, and light seemd to esteeme;

16

Saying, "Thou foolish Knight, that weenst with words
To steale away that I with blowes have wonne,
And brought through points of many perilous swords!
But if thee list to see thy Courser ronne,
Or prove thyselfe; this sad encounter shonne,
And seeke els without hazard of thy hedd."
At those prowd words that other Knight begonne
To wex exceeding wroth, and him aredd

To turne his steede about, or sure he should be dedd.

The Knight, him seeing flie, had no regard
Him to poursew, but to the Lady rode;
And, having her from Trompart lightly reard,
Upon his courser sett the lovly lode,
And with her fled away without abode :
Well weened he, that fairest Florimell
It was with whom in company he yode,
And so herselfe did alwaies to him tell;

So made him thinke himselfe in heven that was in hell.

17

"Sith then," said Braggadochio, "needes thou wilt 18
Thy daies abridge, through proofe of puissance;
Turne we our steeds; that both in equall tilt
May meete againe, and each take happy chaunce."
This said, they both a furlongs mountenaunce
Retird their steeds, to ronne in even race :
But Braggadochio with his bloody launce
Once having turnd, no more returnd his face,
But lefte his Love to losse, and fled himselfe apace.

19

But Florimell herselfe was far away,

Driven to great distresse by fortune straunge, And taught the carefull Mariner to play, Sith late mischaunce had her compeld to chaunge The land for sea, at randon there to raunge: Yett there that cruell Queene avengeresse, Not satisfyde so far her to estraunge From courtly blis and wonted happiness Did heape on her new waves of weary wretchednesse.

For, being fled into the Fishers bote

For refuge from the Monsters cruelty,
Long so she on the mighty Maine did flote,
And with the tide drove forward carelesly;
For th' ayre was milde and cleared was the skit,
And all his windes Dan Aeolus did keepe
From stirring up their stormy enmity,
As pittying to see her waile and weepe;
But all the while the Fisher did securely sleepe.

At last when droncke with drowsinesse he woke,
And saw his drover drive along the streame,
He was dismayd; and thrise his brest he stroke,
For marveill of that accident extreame:

But when he saw that blazing beauties beame,
Which with rare light his bote did beautifye,
He marveild more, and thought he yet did dreame
Not well awakte; or that some extasye,
Assotted had his sence, or dazed was his eye.

But, when her well avizing hee perceiv'd
To be no vision nor fantasticke sight,
Great comfort of her presence he conceiv'd,
And felt in his old corage new delight
To gin awake, and stir his frosen spright:
Tho rudely askte her, how she thether came?
"Ah!" sayd she, "father, I note read aright
What hard misfortune brought me to this same;
Yet am I glad that here I now in safety ame.

20

21

22

23

"But thou, good man, sith far in sea we bee,
And the great waters gin apace to swell,
That now no more we can the mayn-land see,
Have care, I pray, to guide the cock-bote well,
Least worse on sea then us on land befell."
Thereat th' old man did nought but fondly grin,
And saide, his boat the way could wisely tell :
But his deceiptfull eyes did never lin
To looke on her faire face and marke her snowy skin.

The sight whereof in his congealed flesh

Infixt such secrete sting of greedy lust,
That the drie withered stocke it gan refresh,
And kindled heat, that soone in flame forth brust:
The driest wood is soonest burnt to dust.
Rudely to her he lept, and his rough hand,
Where ill became him, rashly would have thrust:
But she with angry scorne him did withstond,
And shamefully reproved for his rudenes fond.

But he, that never good nor maners knew,

Her sharpe rebuke full litle did esteeme;
Hard is to teach an old horse amble trew:
The inward smoke, that did before but steeme,
Broke into open fire and rage extreme;
And now he strength gan adde unto his will,
Forcyng to doe that did him fowle misseeme:
Beastly he threwe her downe, ne car'd to spill
Her garments gay with scales of fish, that all did fill.

The silly Virgin strove him to withstand

All that she might, and him in vaine revild;
Shee strugled strongly both with foote and hand
To save her honor from that villaine vilde,
And cride to heven, from humane help exild.
O! ye brave Knights, that boast this Ladies love,
Where be ye now, when she is nigh defild
Of filthy wretch! well may she you reprove
Of falsehood or of slouth, when most it may behove!

24

25

26

27

But if that thou, Sir Satyran, didst weete,
Or thou, Sir Peridure, her sory state,
How soone would yee assemble many a fleete,
To fetch from sea that ye at land lost late!
Towres, Citties, Kingdomes, ye would ruinate
In your avengement and despiteous rage,
Ne ought your burning fury mote abate :
But, if Sir Calidore could it
presage,
No living creature could his cruelty asswage.

But, sith that none of all her Knights is nye,
See how the heavens, of voluntary grace
And soveraine favor towards chastity,
Doe succor send to her distressed cace :
So much High God doth innocence embrace!
It fortuned, whilest thus she stifly strove,
And the wide sea impórtuned long space
With shrilling shriekes, Proteus abrode did rove,
Along the fomy waves driving his finny drove.

And comming to that Fishers wandring bote,
That went at will withouten card or sayle,
He therein saw that yrkesome sight, which smote
Deepe indignation and compassion frayle
Into his hart attonce: streight did he hayle
The greedy villein from his hoped pray,
Of which he now did very little fayle;

28

29

Proteus is Shepheard of the Seas of yore,

And hath the charge of Neptune's mighty heard; An aged sire with head all frowy hore, And sprinckled frost upon his deawy beard: Who when those pittifull outcries he heard Through all the seas so ruefully resownd, His Charett swifte in hast he thether steard, Which with a teeme of scaly Phocas bownd Was drawne upon the waves, that fomed him arownd;

30

31

And with his staffe, that drives his heard astray, Him bett so sore, that life and sence did much dismay.

The whiles the pitteous Lady up did ryse,
Ruffled and fowly raid with filthy soyle,
And blubbred face with teares of her faire eyes;
Her heart nigh broken was with weary toyle,
To save herselfe from that outrageous spoyle:
But when she looked up, to weet what wight
Had her from so infamous fact assoyld,
For shame, but more for feare of his grim sight,
Downe in her lap she hid her face, and lowdly shright.

But he endevored with speaches milde

Her to recomfort, and accourage bold,

32

Herselfe not saved yet from daunger dredd

33

She thought, but chaung'd from one to other feare:' Like as a fearefull Partridge, that is fledd From the sharpe Hauke which her attached neare, And fals to ground to seeke for succor theare, Whereas the hungry Spaniells she does spye With greedy jawes her ready for to teare: In such distresse and sad perplexity Was Florimell, when Proteus she did see her by.

Bidding her feare no more her foeman vilde,
Nor doubt himselfe; and who he was her told:
Yet all that could not from affright her hold,
Ne to recomfort her at all prevayld;

For her faint hart was with the frosen cold
Benumbd so inly that her wits nigh fayld,
And all her sences with abashment quite were quayld.

34

Her
up betwixt his rugged hands he reard,
And with his frory lips full softly kist,
Whiles the cold ysickles from his rough beard
Dropped adowne upon her yvory brest:
Yet he himselfe so busily addrest,
That her out of astonishment he wrought;
And, out of that same fishers filthy nest
Removing her, into his charet brought,

And there with many gentle termes her faire besought.

35

« PreviousContinue »