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5 So pure and innocent, as that same lambe,
She was in life and every vertuous lore;
And by descent from royall lynage came
Of ancient kinges and queenes, that had of yore
Their scepters stretcht from east to westerne shore,
And all the world in their subiection held;

Till that infernall feend with foule uprore Forwasted1 all their land, and them expeld; Whom to avenge, she had this Knight from far compeld.

6 Behind her farre away a Dwarfe did lag, That lasie seemd, in being ever last,

Or wearied with bearing of her bag Of needments at his backe. Thus as they past, The day with cloudes was suddeine overcast, And angry Iove an hideous storme of raine Did poure into his lemans lap so fast, That everie wight to shrowd it did constrain; And this faire couple eke to shroud themselves were


7 Enforst to seeke some covert nigh at hand,
A shadie grove not farr away they spide,
That promist ayde the tempest to withstand;
Whose loftie trees, yclad with sommers pride,
Did spred so broad, that heavens light did hide,
Not perceable with power of any starr:

And all within were pathes and alleies wide,
With footing worne, and leading inward farr :
Faire harbour that them seemes; so in they entred ar.

1 Forwasted. For is here intensive.

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8 And foorth they passe, with pleasure forward led,
Ioying to heare the birdes sweete harmony,
Which, therein shrouded from the tempest dred,
Seemd in their song to scorne the cruell sky.
Much can1 they praise the trees so straight and hy,
The sayling pine; the cedar proud and tall;
The vine-propp elme; the poplar never dry ;
The builder oake, sole king of forrests all;
The aspine good for staves; the cypresse funerall;

9 The laurell, meed of mightie conquerours
And poets sage; the firre that weepeth still;
The willow, worne of forlorne paramours ;
The eugh,2 obedient to the benders will;
The birch for shaftes; the sallow for the mill;
The mirrhe sweete-bleeding in the bitter wound;
The warlike beech; the ash for nothing ill;
The fruitfull olive; and the platane round;
The carver holme; the maple seeldom inward sound.

10 Led with delight, they thus beguile the way,
Untill the blustring storme is overblowne;
When, weening to returne whence they did stray,
They cannot finde that path, which first was showne,
But wander too and fro in waies unknowne,
Furthest from end then, when they neerest weene,
That makes them doubt their wits be not their owne:
So many pathes, so many turnings seene,

That which of them to take, in diverse doubt they been.

1 Can or gan with the infinitive is a common circumlocution for the preterite. C. 2 Eugh, yew.

11 At last resolving forward still to fare,

Till that some end they finde, or in or out, That path they take, that beaten seemd most bare, And like to lead the labyrinth about; Which when by tract1 they hunted had throughout, At length it brought them to a hollowe cave, Amid the thickest woods. The Champion stout Eftsoones 2 dismounted from his courser brave, And to the Dwarfe a while his needlesse spere he




12 Be well aware," quoth then that Ladie milde, "Least suddaine mischiefe ye too rash provoke: The danger hid, the place unknowne and wilde, Breedes dreadfull doubts: oft fire is without smoke, And perill without show: therefore your stroke, Sir Knight, withhold, till further tryall made." "Ah Ladie," sayd he, "shame were to revoke The forward footing for an hidden shade: Vertue gives her selfe light through darkenesse for to wade."

13 "Yea, but,” quoth she, "the perill of this place
I better wot then you: though nowe too late
To wish you backe returne with foule disgrace,
Yet wisedome warnes, whilest foot is in the gate,
To stay the steppe, ere forced to retrate.
This is the wandring wood, this Errours den,
A monster vile, whom God and man does hate:

1 Tract, tracing.

3 Needlesse. The spear was used only on horseback.

2 Eftsoones, immediately.

Therefore I read1 beware." "Fly, fly," quoth then The fearefull Dwarfe; "this is no place for living men."

14 But full of fire and greedy hardiment,2

The youthfull Knight could not for ought be staide; But forth unto the darksom hole he went, And looked in his glistring armor made A litle glooming light, much like a shade; By which he saw the ugly monster plaine, Halfe like a serpent horribly displaide, But th' other halfe did womans shape retaine, Most lothsom, filthie, foule, and full of vile disdaine.3


15 And, as she lay upon the durtie ground,
Her huge long taile her den all overspred,
Yet was in knots and many boughtes upwound,
Pointed with mortall sting. Of her there bred
A thousand yong ones, which she dayly fed,
Sucking upon her poisnous dugs; each one
Of sundrie shapes, yet all ill-favored :
Soone as that uncouth light upon them shone,
Into her mouth they crept, and suddain all were gone.


16 Their dam upstart, out of her den effraide,

And rushed forth, hurling her hideous taile About her cursed head; whose folds displaid Were stretcht now forth at length without entraile. She lookt about, and seeing one in mayle,

1 Read, advise.

3 I. e. such as would excite disdain.

4 Boughtes, circular folds.
6 Without entraile, untwisted.

2 Hardiment, boldness.

5 Uncouth, unknown, strange.


Armed to point, sought backe to turne againe;
For light she hated as the deadly bale,'
Ay wont in desert darknes to remaine,

Where plain none might her see, nor she see any


17 Which when the valiant Elfe perceiv'd, he lept As lyon fierce upon the flying pray,

And with his trenchand blade her boldly kept From turning backe, and forced her to stay: Therewith enrag'd she loudly gan to bray, And turning fierce her speckled taile advaunst, Threatning her angrie sting, him to dismay; Who, nought aghast, his mightie hand enhaunst2; The stroke down from her head unto her shoulder


18 Much daunted with that dint, her sence was dazd3; Yet kindling rage her selfe she gathered round, And all attonce her beastly bodie raizd

With double forces high above the ground:


Tho, wrapping up her wrethed sterne arownd, Lept fierce upon his shield, and her huge traine All suddenly about his body wound,

That hand or foot to stirr he strove in vaine.

God helpe the man so wrapt in Errours endlesse traine 5 !

19 His Lady, sad to see his sore constraint,

Cride out, "Now, now, Sir Knight, shew what ye bee;

5· Qu. chaine?

1 Bale, destruction.

2 Enhaunst, lifted up.

3 Dazd, confounded.

4 Tho, then.

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