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The faithfull Knight in equall field
Subdewes his faithlesse foe;
Whom false Duessa saves, and for
His cure to hell does goe.


THE noble hart that harbours vertuous thought, And is with childe of glorious great intent, Can never rest, untill it forth have brought Th' eternall brood of glorie excellent. Such restlesse passion did all night torment The flaming corage of that Faery Night, Devizing, how that doughtie turnament With greatest honour he atchieven might: Still did he wake, and still did watch for dawning light.


At last, the golden oriental gate

Of greatest heaven gan to open fayre;

And Phoebus, fresh as brydegrome to his mate,
Came dauncing forth, shaking his deawie hayre;
And hurld his glistring beams through gloomy ayre.
Which when the wakeful Elfe perceiv'd, streightway
He started up, and did him selfe prepayre
In sunbright armes, and battailous array;

For with that Pagan proud he combatt will that day.


And forth he comes into the commune hall;
Where earely waite him many a gazing eye,

To weet what end to straunger Knights may fall.
There many minstrales maken melody,
To drive away the dull melancholy;

And many bardes, that to the trembling chord
Can tune their timely voices cunningly;

And many chroniclers, that can record

Old loves, and warres for Ladies doen by many a Lord.


Soon after comes the cruell Sarazin,

In woven maile all armed warily;

And sternly lookes at him, who not a pin
Does care for looke of living creatures eye.
They bring them wines of Greece and Araby,
And daintie spices fetcht from furthest Ynd,
To kindle heat of corage privily;

And in the wine a solemne oth they bynd T'observe the sacred lawes of armes, that are assynd.


At last forth comes that far renowmed Queene.
With royall pomp and princely maiestie
She is ybrought unto a paled greene,
And placed under stately canapee,

The warlike feates of both those Knights to see.
On th' other side in all mens open vew

Duessa placed is, and on a tree

Sansfoy his shield is hangd with bloody hew: Both those, the lawrell girlonds to the victor dew.


A shrilling trompett sownded from on hye,

And unto battaill bad themselves addresse:

V. 9. Both those, the lawrell girlonds.] Both Duessa and the shield of Sansfoy are to be the rewards of the victor.

Their shining shieldes about their wrestes1 they tye,
And burning blades about their heades doe blesse,2
The instruments of wrath and heavinesse:
With greedy force each other doth assayle,
And strike so fiercely, that they do impresse

Deepe dinted furrowes in the battred mayle:
The yron walles to ward their blowes are weak and fraile.


The Sarazin was stout and wondrous strong,
And heaped blowes like yron hammers great;
For after blood and vengeance he did long.
The Knight was fiers, and full of youthly heat,
And doubled strokes, like dreaded thunders threat:
For all for praise and honour did he fight.

Both stricken stryke, and beaten both doe beat;
That from their shields forth flyeth firie light,

And helmets, hewen deepe, shew marks of eithers might.


So th' one for wrong, the other strives for right:
As when a gryfon,3 seized of his pray,
A dragon fiers encountreth in his flight,
Through widest ayre making his ydle way,
That would his rightfull ravine rend away:
With hideous horror both together smight,
And souce 5 so sore, that they the heavens affray :

2 Blesse, blaze.

1 Wrestes, wrists.


Gryfon, commonly spelled griffin, a fabulous animal, with the body

of a lion and the wings of an eagle.

4 Ravine, prey.

5 Souce, strike, as a bird strikes his prey.

VIII. 2. -As when, &c.] The construction is, "As when a gryfon, seized of his pray, encountreth in his flight a fiers dragon making his idle way through middest ayre, which dragon would rend away his rightful ravine," &c.

The wise southsayer, seeing so sad sight,

Th' amazed vulgar telles of warres and mortal fight.


So th' one for wrong, the other strives for right;
And each to deadly shame would drive his foe:
The cruell steele so greedily doth bight


In tender flesh, that streames of blood down flow;
With which the armes, that earst so bright did show,
Into a pure vermillion now are dyde.

Great ruth in all the gazers harts did grow,
Seeing the gored woundes to gape so wyde,
That victory they dare not wish to either side.


At last the Paynim chaunst to cast his eye,
His suddein eye, flaming with wrathfull fyre,
Upon his brothers shield, which hong thereby:
Therewith redoubled was his raging yre,

And said; "Ah! wretched sonne of wofull syre,
Doest thou sit wayling by blacke Stygian lake,
Whylest here thy shield is hangd for victors hyre?

And, sluggish german,2 doest thy forces slake
To after-send his foe, that him may overtake?


"Go, caytive Elfe, him quickly overtake,
And soone redeeme from his long-wandring woe:
Goe, guiltie ghost, to him my message make,
That I his shield have quit 3 from dying foe."
Therewith upon his crest he stroke him so,
That twise he reeled, readie twise to fall:

2 German, brother.

1 Earst, before.

3 Quit, rescued.

X. 8. And, sluggish german, &c.] He is addressing himself"And, sluggish german, doest [thou] thy forces slake?"


End of the doubtfull battaile deemed tho

The lookers on; and lowd to him gan call The false Duessa, "Thine the shield, and I, and all!"


Soone as the Faerie heard his Ladie speake,
Out of his swowning dreame he gan awake;

And quickning faith, that earst1 was woxen weake,
The creeping deadly cold away did shake:

Tho' mov'd with wrath, and shame, and ladies sake,
Of all attonce he cast 3 aveng'd to be,

And with so' exceeding furie at him strake,
That forced him to stoupe upon his knee:
Had he not stouped so, he should have cloven bee.


And to him said; "Goe now, proud miscreant, Thyselfe thy message do to german 4 deare; Alone he, wandring, thee too long doth want: Goe say, his foe thy shield with his doth beare." Therewith his heavie hand he high gan reare, Him to have slaine; when lo! a darkesome clowd Upon him fell; he no where doth appeare, But vanisht is. The Elfe him calls alowd, But answer none receives; the darknes him does shrowd.


In haste Duessa from her place arose,

And to him running said; "O prowest 5 Knight,

That ever Ladie to her love did chose,
Let now abate the terrour of your might,
And quench the flame of furious despight
And bloodie vengeance: lo! th' infernall Powres,
Covering your foe with cloud of deadly night,

1 Earst, before. 2 Tho, then. 3 Cast, resolved.
4 German, brother. 5 Prowest, bravest.

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