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But forth into 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.


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 uncouth2 light upon them shone, Into her mouth they crept, and suddain all were gone.


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.3
She lookt about, and seeing one in mayle,

Armed to point, sought backe to turne againe;

For light she hated as the deadly bale,4

Ay wont in desert darknes to remaine,

Where plain none might her see, nor she see any plaine.


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

1 Boughtes, circular folds.

3 Without entraile, untwisted

2 Uncouth, unknown, strange.

4 Bale, mischief, poison.

XIV. 9— Full of vile disdaine.] Such as would excite disgust.

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 enhaunst1; The stroke down from her head unto her shoulder glaunst.


Much daunted with that dint her sence was dazd 2;
Yet kindling rage her selfe she gathered round,
And all attonce her beastly bodie raizd
With doubled 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!


His Lady, sad to see his sore constraint,

Cride out, "Now, now, Sir Knight, shew what ye bee; Add faith unto your force, and be not faint; Strangle her, els she sure will strangle thee." That when he heard, in great perplexitie, His gall did grate 4 for griefe and high disdaine; And, knitting all his force, got one hand free, Wherewith he grypt her gorge 5 with so great paine, That soone to loose her wicked bands did her constraine.

1 Enhaunst, lifted up. 2 Dazd, dimmed.
His gall did grate, his anger was roused.

3 Tho, then.

5 Gorge, throat.

XVII. 4. — Forced her to stay.] The knight intercepts the retreat of Error into her den.

XVIII. 9. Traine.] Upton conjectures that Spenser wrote

"chaine" instead of "traine."




Therewith she spewd out of her filthie maw
A floud of poyson horrible and blacke,
Full of great lumps of flesh and gobbets raw,
Which stunck so vildly, that it forst him slacke
His grasping hold, and from her turne him backe:
Her vomit full of bookes and papers was,

With loathly frogs and toades, which eyes did lacke, And creeping sought way in the weedy gras: Her filthie parbreake1 all the place defiled has.


As when old father Nilus gins to swell
With timely pride above the Aegyptian vale,
His fattie waves doe fertile slime outwell, 2
And overflow each plaine and lowly dale:
But, when his later ebbe gins to avale,3
Huge heapes of mudd he leaves, wherein there breed
Ten thousand kindes of creatures, partly male

And partly femall, of his fruitful seed;

Such ugly monstrous shapes elswhere may no man reed.


The same so sore annoyed has the Knight,

That well-nigh choked with the deadly stinke,

His forces faile, ne can no lenger fight.

Whose corage when the Feend perceivd to shrinke, She poured forth out of her hellish sinke Her fruitfull cursed spawne of serpents small, (Deformed monsters, fowle, and blacke as inke,) Which swarming all about his legs did crall, And him encombred sore, but could not hurt at all.

1 Parbreake, vomit.

2 Outwell, cause to gush forth.

3 Arale, sink away.

4 Reed, discover.


As gentle shepheard in sweete eventide
When ruddy Phebus gins to welke1 in west,
High on an hill, his flocke to vewen 2 wide,
Markes which doe byte their hasty supper best;
A cloud of cumbrous gnattes doe him molest,
All striving to infixe their feeble stinges,
That from their noyance he no where can rest;
But with his clownish hands their tender wings
He brusheth oft, and oft doth mar their murmurings.


Thus ill bestedd,3 and fearefull more of shame
Then of the certeine perill he stood in,
Halfe furious unto his foe he came,
Resolvd in minde all suddenly to win,
Or soone to lose, before he once would lin';

And stroke at her with more than manly force,
That from her body, full of filthie sin,

He raft 5 her hatefull heade without remorse:

A streame of cole-black blood forth gushed from her corse.


Her scattred brood, soone as their parent deare They saw so rudely falling to the ground, Groning full deadly all with troublous feare Gathred themselves about her body round, Weening their wonted entrance to have found At her wide mouth; but, being there withstood, They flocked all about her bleeding wound, And sucked up their dying mothers bloud; Making her death their life, and eke her hurt their good.

1 Welke, wither, wane.

2 Vewen, view.

3 Bestedd, situated.

▲ Lin, give way.

5 Raft, struck off.

6 Weening, expecting.


That détestable sight him much amazde,
To see th' unkindly impes, of heaven accurst,
Devoure their dam; on whom while so he gazd,
Having all satisfide their bloudy thurst,
Their bellies swolne he saw with fulnesse burst,
And bowels gushing forth: Well worthy end

Of such, as drunke her life, the which them nurst!
Now needeth him no lenger labour spend,

His foes have slaine themselves, with whom he should contend.


His Lady seeing all, that chaunst,1 from farre,
Approcht in hast to greet his victorie;

And saide, "Faire Knight, borne under happie starre,
Who see your vanquisht foes before you lye;
Well worthie be you of that armory,
Wherein ye have great glory wonne this day,

And proov'd your strength on a strong enimie;
Your first adventure: Many such I pray,

And henceforth ever wish that like succeed it may!"


Then mounted he upon his steed againe,

And with the Lady backward sought to wend:

That path he kept, which beaten was most plaine,
Ne ever would to any by-way bend;

But still did follow one unto the end,

The which at last out of the wood them brought.
So forward on his way (with God to frend 3)
He passed forth, and new adventure sought:
Long way he traveiled, before he heard of ought.

1 Chaunst, happened.

2 Ne, nor. 3 To frend, for a friend.

XXVI. 7. — Them nurst!] The vital principle of Error being destroyed, its offspring or consequences do not long survive.

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