Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE FIRST BOOKE OF

THE FAERIE QUEENE

CONTAYNING

THE LEGENDE OF THE KNIGHT OF THE RED

CROSSE, OR OF HOLINESSE

I

Lo I the man,' whose Muse whilome did maske,

As time her taught, in lowly Shepheards weeds,
Am now enforst a far unfitter taske,
For trumpets sterne to chaunge mine Oaten reeds,
And sing of Knights and Ladieso gentle deeds;
Whose prayses having slept in silence long,
Me, all too meane, the sacred Muse areeds

To blazon broade emongst her learned throng:
Fierce warres and faithfull loves shall moralize my song.

II

10

Helpe then, O holy Virgin chiefe of nine, o

Thy weaker Novice to performe thy will ;
Lay forth out of thine everlasting scryne
The antique rolles, which there lye hidden still,
Of Faerie knightso and fairest Tanaquill, o
Whom that most noble Briton Prince° so long
Sought through the world, and suffered so much ill,

That I must rue his undeserved wrong :
O helpe thou my weake wit, and sharpen my dull tong.

15 III

20

And thou most dreaded impe of highest Jove,

Faire Venus sonne, that with thy cruell dart
At that good knight so cunningly didst rove,
That glorious fire it kindled in his hart,
Lay now thy deadly Heben bow apart,
And with thy mother milde come to mine ayde;
Come both, and with you bring triumphant Mart,o

In loves and gentle jollities arrayd,
After his murdrous spoiles and bloudy rage allayd.

25

IV

30

And with them eke, O Goddesse heavenly bright, o

Mirrour of grace and Majestie divine,
Great Lady of the greatest Isle, whose light
Like Phoebus lampeo throughout the world doth shine,
Shed thy faire beames into my feeble eyne,
And raise my thoughts, too humble and too vile,
To thinke of that true glorious type of thine,

The argument of mine afflicted stile :o
The which to heare, vouchsafe, O dearest dred, o a-while.

[ocr errors]

35

CANTO I

The Patron of true Holinesse

foule Errour doth defeate; Hypocrisie him to entrappe

doth to his home entreate.

I

A GENTLE Knight° was pricking on the plaine,

Ycladd in mightie armes and silver shielde,
Wherein old dints of deepe wounds did remaine,
The cruel markes of many'a bloudy fielde ;
Yet armes till that time did he never wield :
His angry steede did chide his foming bitt,
As much disdayning to the curbe to yield:

Full jolly knight he seemd, and faire did sitt,
As one for knightly giusts and fierce encounters fitt.

5

II

10

And on his brest a bloudie Crosse he bore,

The deare remembrance of his dying Lord,
For whose sweete sake that glorious badge he wore,
And dead as living ever him ador'd :
Upon his shield the like was also scor’d,
For soveraine hope, which in his helpe he had :
Right faithfull true he was in deede and word,

But of his cheere did seeme too solemne sad;
Yet nothing did he dread, but ever was ydrad.

15 III

20

Upon a great adventure he was bond,

That greatest Glorianao to him gave,
That greatest Glorious Queene of Faerie lond,
To winne him worship, and her grace to have,
Which of all earthly things he most did crave;
And ever as he rode, his hart did earne
To prove his puissance in battell brave

Upon his foe, and his new force to learne;
Upon his foe, a Dragono horrible and stearne.

25

IV

30

A lovely Ladie rode him faire beside,

Upon a lowly Asse more white then snow,
Yet she much whiter, but the same did hide
Under a vele, that wimpled was full low,
And over all a blacke stole she did throw,
As one that inly mournd : so was she sad,
And heavie sat upon her palfrey slow;

Seemed in heart some hidden care she had,
And by her in a line a milke white lambe she lad.

35

V

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 Kings and Queenes, that had of yore 40
Their scepters stretcht from East to Westerne shore,
And all the world in their subjection held ;
Till that infernall feend with foule uprore

Forwasted all their land, and them expeld :
Whom to avenge, she had this Knight from far compeld. 45

VI

Behind her farre away a Dwarfeo 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 Jove 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 fain.

50

VII

55

Enforst to seeke some covert nigh at hand,

A shadie groveo not far 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 starre :
And all within were pathes and alleies wide,

With footing worne, and leading inward farre :
Faire barbour that them seemes; so in they entred arre.

60

VIII

65

And foorth they passe, with pleasure forward led,

Joying to heare the birdes sweete harmony,
Which therein shrouded from the tempest dred,
Seemd in their song to scorne the cruell sky.
Much can they prayse the trees so straight and hy,
The sayling Pine, the Cedar proud and tall,
The vine-prop Elme, the Poplar never dry,

The builder Oake, ° sole king of forrests all,
The Aspine good for staves, the Cypresse funerall.°

70

« PreviousContinue »