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The Faerie Queene, Book I, Canto 3 Post by :magicthought Category :Poems Author :Edmund Spenser Date :March 2011 Read :2906

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The Faerie Queene, Book I, Canto 3


Forsaken Truth long seekes her love,
and makes the Lyon mylde,
Marres blind Devotions mart, and fals
in hand of leachour vylde.


Nought is there under heav'ns wide hollownesse,
That moves more deare compassion of mind,
Then beautie brought t' unworthy wretchednesse
Through envies snares, or fortunes freakes unkind.
I, whether lately through her brightnesse blind, 5
Or through alleageance and fast fealtie,
Which I do owe unto all woman kind,
Feele my hart perst with so great agonie,
When such I see, that all for pittie I could die.


And now it is empassioned so deepe, 10
For fairest Unaes sake, of whom I sing,
That my fraile eyes these lines with teares do steepe,
To thinke how she through guilefull handeling,
Though true as touch,(*) though daughter of a king,
Though faire as ever living wight was faire, 15
Though nor in word nor deede ill meriting,
Is from her knight divorced in despaire,
And her due loves(*) deriv'd to that vile witches share.


Yet she most faithfull Ladie all this while
Forsaken, wofull, solitarie mayd 20
Far from all peoples prease, as in exile,
In wildernesse and wastfull deserts strayd,
To seeke her knight; who subtilly betrayd
Through that late vision, which th' Enchaunter wrought,
Had her abandond. She of nought affrayd, 25
Through woods and wastnesse wide him daily sought;
Yet wished tydings(*) none of him unto her brought.


One day nigh wearie of the yrkesome way,
From her unhastie beast she did alight,
And on the grasse her daintie limbes did lay 30
In secret shadow, farre from all mens sight:
From her faire head her fillet she undight,
And laid her stole aside. Her angels face
As the great eye of heaven(*) shyned bright,
And made a sunshine in the shadie place; 35
Did never mortall eye behold such heavenly grace.


It fortuned out of the thickest wood
A ramping Lyon(*) rushed suddainly,
Hunting full greedy after salvage blood;
Soone as the royall virgin he did spy, 40
With gaping mouth at her ran greedily,
To have attonce devourd her tender corse:
But to the pray when as he drew more ny,
His bloody rage asswaged with remorse,
And with the sight amazd, forgat his furious forse. 45


In stead thereof he kist her wearie feet,
And lickt her lilly hands with fawning tong,
As he her wronged innocence did weet.
O how can beautie maister the most strong,
And simple truth subdue avenging wrong? 50
Whose yeelded pride(*) and proud submission,
Still dreading death, when she had marked long,
Her hart gan melt in great compassion,
And drizling teares did shed for pure affection.


The Lyon Lord of every beast in field, 55
Quoth she, his princely puissance doth abate,
And mightie proud to humble weake does yield,
Forgetfull of the hungry rage, which late
Him prickt, in pittie of my sad estate:
But he my Lyon, and my noble Lord, 60
How does he find in cruell hart to hate,
Her that him lov'd, and ever most adord,
As the God of my life? why hath he me abhord?


Redounding teares did choke th' end of her plaint,
Which softly ecchoed from the neighbour wood; 65
And sad to see her sorrowfull constraint
The kingly beast upon her gazing stood;
With pittie calmd, downe fell his angry mood.
At last in close hart shutting up her paine,
Arose the virgin borne of heavenly brood, 70
And to her snowy Palfrey got againe,
To seeke her strayed Champion, if she might attaine.


The Lyon would not leave her desolate,
But with her went along, as a strong gard
Of her chast person, and a faithfull mate 75
Of her sad troubles and misfortunes hard:
Still when she slept, he kept both watch and ward,(*)
And when she wakt, he waited diligent,
With humble service to her will prepard:
From her faire eyes he tooke commaundement, 80
And ever by her lookes conceived her intent.


Long she thus traveiled through deserts wyde,
By which she thought her wandring knight shold pas,
Yet never shew of living wight espyde;
Till that at length she found the troden gras, 85
In which the tract of peoples footing was,
Under the steepe foot of a mountaine hore;
The same she followes, till at last she has
A damzell spyde(*) slow footing her before,
That on her shoulders sad a pot of water bore. 90


To whom approching she to her gan call,
To weet, if dwelling place were nigh at hand;
But the rude wench her answerd nought at all;
She could not heare, nor speake, nor understand;
Till seeing by her side the Lyon stand, 95
With suddaine feare her pitcher downe she threw,
And fled away: for never in that land
Face of faire Ladie she before did vew,
And that dread Lyons looke her cast in deadly hew.(*)


Full fast she fled, ne never lookt behynd, 100
As if her life upon the wager lay,(*)
And home she came, whereas her mother blynd(*)
Sate in eternall night: nought could she say,
But suddaine catching hold, did her dismay
With quaking hands, and other signes of feare; 105
Who full of ghastly fright and cold affray,
Gan shut the dore. By this arrived there
Dame Una, wearie Dame, and entrance did requere.


Which when none yeelded, her unruly Page(*)
With his rude claws the wicket open rent, 110
And let her in; where of his cruell rage
Nigh dead with feare, and faint astonishment,
She found them both in darkesome corner pent;
Where that old woman day and night did pray
Upon her beads devoutly penitent; 115
Nine hundred _Pater nosters_(*) every day,
And thrise nine hundred _Aves_ she was wont to say.


And to augment her painefull pennance more,
Thrise every weeke in ashes she did sit,
And next her wrinkled skin rough sackcloth wore, 120
And thrise three times did fast from any bit:
But now for feare her beads she did forget.
Whose needlesse dread for to remove away,
Faire Una framed words and count'nance fit:
Which hardly doen, at length she gan them pray, 125
That in their cotage small that night she rest her may.


The day is spent, and commeth drowsie night,
When every creature shrowded is in sleepe;
Sad Una downe her laies in wearie plight,
And at her feete the Lyon watch doth keepe: 130
In stead of rest, she does lament, and weepe
For the late losse of her deare loved knight,
And sighes, and grones, and ever more does steepe
Her tender brest in bitter teares all night,
All night she thinks too long, and often lookes for light. 135


Now when Aldeboran(*) was mounted hie
Above the shynie Cassiopeias chaire,(*)
And all in deadly sleepe did drowned lie,
One knocked at the dore,(*) and in would fare;
He knocked fast, and often curst, and sware, 140
That readie entrance was not at his call:
For on his backe a heavy load he bare
Of nightly stelths, and pillage severall,
Which he had got abroad by purchase criminall.


He was, to weete, a stout and sturdy thiefe, 145
Wont to robbe Churches of their ornaments,
And poore mens boxes of their due reliefe,
Which given was to them for good intents;
The holy Saints of their rich vestiments
He did disrobe, when all men carelesse slept, 150
And spoild the Priests of their habiliments,
Whiles none the holy things in safety kept;
Then he by conning sleights in at the window crept.


And all that he by right or wrong could find,
Unto this house he brought, and did bestow 155
Upon the daughter of this woman blind,
Abessa, daughter of Corceca slow,
With whom he whoredome usd, that few did know,
And fed her fat with feast of offerings,
And plentie, which in all the land did grow; 160
Ne spared he to give her gold and rings:
And now he to her brought part of his stolen things.


Thus long the dore with rage and threats he bet,
Yet of those fearfull women none durst rize,
The Lyon frayed them, him in to let: 165
He would no longer stay him to advize,(*)
But open breakes the dore in furious wize,
And entring is; when that disdainfull beast
Encountring fierce, him suddaine doth surprize,
And seizing cruell clawes on trembling brest, 170
Under his Lordly foot him proudly hath supprest.


Him booteth not resist,(*) nor succour call,
His bleeding hart is in the vengers hand,
Who streight him rent in thousand peeces small,
And quite dismembred hath: the thirsty land 175
Drunke up his life; his corse left on the strand.
His fearefull friends weare out the wofull night,
Ne dare to weepe, nor seeme to understand
The heavie hap, which on them is alight,
Affraid, least to themselves the like mishappen might. 180


Now when broad day the world discovered has,
Up Una rose, up rose the Lyon eke,
And on their former journey forward pas,
In wayes unknowne, her wandring knight to seeke,
With paines farre passing that long wandring Greeke,(*) 185
That for his love refused deitie;
Such were the labours of his Lady meeke,
Still seeking him, that from her still did flie;
Then furthest from her hope, when most she weened nie.


Soone as she parted thence, the fearfull twaine, 190
That blind old woman and her daughter deare,(*)
Came forth, and finding Kirkrapine there slaine,
For anguish great they gan to rend their heare,
And beat their brests, and naked flesh to teare.
And when they both had wept and wayld their fill, 195
Then forth they ran like two amazed deare,
Halfe mad through malice, and revenging will,
To follow her, that was the causer of their ill.


Whom overtaking, they gan loudly bray,
With hollow howling, and lamenting cry, 200
Shamefully at her rayling all the way,
And her accusing of dishonesty,
That was the flowre of faith and chastity;
And still amidst her rayling, she did pray,
That plagues, and mischiefs, and long misery 205
Might fall on her, and follow all the way,
And that in endlesse error she might ever stray.


But when she saw her prayers nought prevaile,
She backe returned with some labour lost;
And in the way as shee did weepe and waile, 210
A knight her met in mighty armes embost,
Yet knight was not for all his bragging bost,
But subtill Archimag, that Una sought
By traynes into new troubles to have tost:
Of that old woman tidings he besought, 215
If that of such a Ladie she could tellen ought.


Therewith she gan her passion to renew,
And cry, and curse, and raile, and rend her heare,
Saying, that harlot she too lately knew,
That caused her shed so many a bitter teare, 220
And so forth told the story of her feare:
Much seemed he to mone her haplesse chaunce,
And after for that Ladie did inquere;
Which being taught, he forward gan advaunce
His fair enchaunted steed, and eke his charmed launce. 225


Ere long he came where Una traveild slow,
And that wilde Champion wayting her besyde:
Whom seeing such, for dread he durst not show
Himselfe too nigh at hand, but turned wyde
Unto an hill; from whence when she him spyde, 230
By his like seeming shield, her knight by name
She weend it was, and towards him gan ryde:
Approaching nigh, she wist it was the same,
And with faire fearefull humblesse towards him shee came:


And weeping said, Ah my long lacked Lord, 235
Where have ye bene thus long out of my sight?
Much feared I to have bene quite abhord,
Or ought have done,(*) that ye displeasen might,
That should as death(*) unto my deare heart light:
For since mine eye your joyous sight did mis, 240
My chearefull day is turnd to chearelesse night,
And eke my night of death the shadow is;
But welcome now my light, and shining lampe of blis.


He thereto meeting said, My dearest Dame,
Farre be it from your thought, and fro my will, 245
To thinke that knighthood I so much should shame,
As you to leave, that have me loved still,
And chose in Faery court(*) of meere goodwill,
Where noblest knights were to be found on earth:
The earth shall sooner leave her kindly skill,(*) 250
To bring forth fruit, and make eternall derth,
Then I leave you, my liefe, yborne of heavenly berth.


And sooth to say, why I left you so long,
Was for to seeke adventure in strange place,
Where Archimago said a felon strong 255
To many knights did daily worke disgrace;
But knight he now shall never more deface:
Good cause of mine excuse; that mote ye please
Well to accept, and evermore embrace
My faithfull service, that by land and seas 260
Have vowd you to defend: now then your plaint appease.


His lovely words her seemd due recompence
Of all her passed paines: one loving howre
For many yeares of sorrow can dispence:
A dram of sweet is worth a pound of sowre: 265
She has forgot, how many a woful stowre
For him she late endurd; she speakes no more
Of past: true is, that true love hath no powre
To looken backe; his eyes be fixt before.
Before her stands her knight, for whom she toyld so sore. 270


Much like, as when the beaten marinere,
That long hath wandred in the Ocean wide,
Oft soust in swelling Tethys saltish teare,
And long time having tand his tawney hide
With blustring breath of heaven, that none can bide, 275
And scorching flames of fierce Orions hound,(*)
Soone as the port from farre he has espide,
His chearefull whistle merrily doth sound,
And Nereus crownes with cups(*); his mates him pledg around.


Such joy made Una, when her knight she found; 280
And eke th' enchaunter joyous seemd no lesse,
Then the glad marchant, that does vew from ground(*)
His ship farre come from watrie wildernesse,
He hurles out vowes, and Neptune oft doth blesse:
So forth they past, and all the way they spent 285
Discoursing of her dreadful late distresse,
In which he askt her, what the Lyon ment:
Who told her all that fell in journey as she went.


They had not ridden farre, when they might see
One pricking towards them with hastie heat, 290
Full strongly armd, and on a courser free,
That through his fiercenesse fomed all with sweat,
And the sharpe yron did for anger eat,
When his hot ryder spurd his chauffed side;
His looke was sterne, and seemed still to threat 295
Cruell revenge, which he in hart did hyde,
And on his shield _Sans loy_(*) in bloudie lines was dyde.


When nigh he drew unto this gentle payre
And saw the Red-crosse, which the knight did beare,
He burnt in fire, and gan eftsoones prepare 300
Himselfe to battell with his couched speare.
Loth was that other, and did faint through feare,
To taste th' untryed dint of deadly steele;
But yet his Lady did so well him cheare,
That hope of new goodhap he gan to feele; 305
So bent his speare, and spurd his horse with yron heele.


But that proud Paynim forward came so fierce,
And full of wrath, that with his sharp-head speare,
Through vainly crossed shield(*) he quite did pierce,
And had his staggering steede not shrunke for feare, 310
Through shield and bodie eke he should him beare:
Yet so great was the puissance of his push,
That from his saddle quite he did him beare:
He tombling rudely downe to ground did rush,
And from his gored wound a well of bloud did gush. 315


Dismounting lightly from his loftie steed,
He to him lept, in mind to reave his life,
And proudly said, Lo there the worthie meed
Of him that slew Sansfoy with bloudie knife;
Henceforth his ghost freed from repining strife, 320
In peace may passen over Lethe lake,(*)
When mourning altars purgd with enemies life,
The blacke infernall Furies(*) doen aslake:
Life from Sansfoy thou tookst, Sansloy shall from thee take.


Therewith in haste his helmet gan unlace,(*) 325
Till Una cried, O hold that heavie hand,
Deare Sir, what ever that thou be in place:
Enough is, that thy foe doth vanquisht stand
Now at thy mercy: Mercie not withstand:
For he is one the truest knight alive, 330
Though conquered now he lie on lowly land,
And whilest him fortune favourd, faire did thrive
In bloudie field: therefore of life him not deprive.


Her piteous words might not abate his rage,
But rudely rending up his helmet, would 335
Have slaine him straight: but when he sees his age,
And hoarie head of Archimago old,
His hasty hand he doth amazed hold,
And halfe ashamed, wondred at the sight:
For that old man well knew he, though untold, 340
In charmes and magicke to have wondrous might,
Ne ever wont in field,(*) ne in round lists to fight;


And said, Why Archimago, lucklesse syre,
What doe I see? what hard mishap is this,
That hath thee hither brought to taste mine yre? 345
Or thine the fault, or mine the error is,
Instead of foe to wound my friend amis?
He answered nought, but in a traunce still lay,
And on those guilefull dazed eyes of his
The cloude of death did sit. Which doen away, 350
He left him lying so, ne would no lenger stay:


But to the virgin comes, who all this while
Amased stands, her selfe so mockt to see
By him, who has the guerdon of his guile,
For so misfeigning her true knight to bee: 355
Yet is she now in more perplexitie,
Left in the hand of that same Paynim bold,
From whom her booteth not at all to flie;
Who, by her cleanly garment catching hold,
Her from her Palfrey pluckt, her visage to behold. 360


But her fierce servant, full of kingly awe
And high disdaine, whenas his soveraine Dame
So rudely handled by her foe he sawe,
With gaping jawes full greedy at him came,
And ramping on his shield, did weene the same 365
Have reft away with his sharpe rending clawes:
But he was stout, and lust did now inflame
His corage more, that from his griping pawes
He hath his shield redeem'd, and foorth his swerd he drawes.


O then too weake and feeble was the forse 370
Of salvage beast, his puissance to withstand:
For he was strong, and of so mightie corse,
As ever wielded speare in warlike hand,
And feates of armes did wisely understand.
Eftsoones he perced through his chaufed chest 375
With thrilling point of deadly yron brand,
And launcht his Lordly hart: with death opprest
He roar'd aloud, whiles life forsooke his stubborne brest.


Who now is left to keepe the forlorne maid
From raging spoile of lawlesse victors will? 380
Her faithfull gard remov'd, her hope dismaid,
Her selfe a yielded pray to save or spill.
He now Lord of the field, his pride to fill,
With foule reproches, and disdainfull spight
Her vildly entertaines, and will or nill, 385
Beares her away upon his courser light:
Her prayers nought prevaile, his rage is more of might.(*)


And all the way, with great lamenting paine,
And piteous plaints she filleth his dull eares,
That stony hart could riven have in twaine, 390
And all the way she wets with flowing teares:
But he enrag'd with rancor, nothing heares.
Her servile beast yet would not leave her so,
But followes her farre off, ne ought he feares,
To be partaker of her wandring woe, 395
More mild in beastly kind, then that her beastly foe.



I. _The Plot:_ Una wandering in quest of her Knight is guarded by a Lion.
With difficulty they gain entrance to the cottage of Corceca and her
daughter Abessa, the paramour of Kirkrapine. The latter is killed by the
Lion. Fleeing the next day, Una falls in with Archimago disguised as the
Redcross Knight. They journey on and meet a second Saracen knight, Sansloy.
In the fight which ensues Archimago is unhorsed and his deception unmasked.
The Lion is slain, and Una becomes the captive of Sansloy.

II. _The Allegory:_ 1. Truth finds temporary protection in Reason, or
Natural Honor (Lion), and with its help puts a stop to the Robbing of
Churches (Kirkrapine), which is connived at by Blind Devotion (Corceca) and
Secret Sin (Abessa). Truth is then associated with Hypocrisy under the
guise of Holiness, but it is soon unmasked by Lawlessness (Sansloy), with
which Truth is forced into an unnatural alliance.

2. "The lion is said to represent Henry VIII, overthrowing the monasteries,
destroying church-robbers, disturbing the dark haunts of idleness,
ignorance and superstition."--Kitchin. The battle between Archimago and
Sansloy refers to the contests of the Catholic powers with the Moslems. The
whole canto also has a hint of the violence and lawlessness connected with
the English conquest of Ireland.

LINE 14. THOUGH TRUE AS TOUCH, though true as if tested on the touchstone
(by which true gold was distinguished from counterfeit).

18. AND HER DUE LOVES, etc., the love due to her diverted, etc.

27. YET WISHED TYDINGS, etc., yet none brought unto her the wished-for
tidings of him. An awkward transposition.

34. THE GREAT EYE OF HEAVEN, the sun. Cf. _Paradise Lost_, v. 171.

38. A RAMPING LYON. Reason or Natural Honor; also Henry VIII. According to
the ancient belief, no lion would attack a true virgin or one of royal
blood. Similar scenes are found in _Sir Bevis of Hampton_, _The Seven
Champions of Christendom_, etc. Cf. I _Henry_ IV, ii, 4. The allegory
signifies that man guided merely by reason will recognize Truth and pay it

51. WHOSE YEELDED PRIDE, etc., object of _had marked_, l. 52.

77. HE KEPT BOTH WATCH AND WARD, he kept awake and guarded her.

89. A DAMZELL SPYDE, Abessa, who symbolizes Flagrant or Secret Sin.

99. HER CAST IN DEADLY HEW, threw her into a deathly paleness.

101. UPON THE WAGER LAY, was at stake.

102. WHEREAS HER MOTHER BLYND, where her blind mother, Corceca, or Blind

109. UNRULY PAGE. This refers to the violence with which Henry VIII forced
Protestantism upon the people. In his _Present State of Ireland_ (p. 645),
Spenser speaks of the ignorance and blind devotion of the Irish Papists in
the benighted country places.

116. PATER NOSTERS, the Lord's Prayer; AVES, prayers to the Virgin.

136. ALDEBORAN, the Bull's Eye, a double star of the first magnitude in the
constellation Taurus.

137. CASSIOPEIAS CHAIRE, a circumpolar constellation having a fancied
resemblance to a chair.

139. ONE KNOCKED AT THE DORE, Kirkrapine, the plunderer of the Church.
Spenser represents in him the peculiar vices of the Irish clergy and laity.

166. STAY HIM TO ADVIZE, stop to reflect.

172. HIM BOOTETH NOT RESIST, it does him no good to resist. This whole
passage refers, perhaps, to Henry VIII's suppression of the monasteries and
convents in 1538-39.

185. THAT LONG WANDRING GREEKE. Ulysses, or Odysseus, the hero of Homer's
_Odyssey_, who wandered ten years and refused immortality from the goddess
Calypso in order that he might return to Penelope.

xxii. Note the rhymes _deare_, _heare_, and _teare_ (air). This 16th
century pronunciation still survives in South Carolina. See Ellis's _Early
English Pronunciation_, III, 868. This stanza reads like the description of
an Irish wake.

238. OR OUGHT HAVE DONE, or have done something to displease you.

239. THAT SHOULD AS DEATH, etc., that should settle like death, etc.

248. AND CHOSE IN FAERY COURT. See Spenser's letter to Sir W. Raleigh, p.

250. HER KINDLY SKILL, her natural power.

276. FIERCE ORIONS HOUND, Sirius, the Dog-star, the brightest of the fixed
stars. The constellation Orion was named from a giant hunter who was
beloved by Aurora and slain by Diana.

279. AND NEREUS CROWNES WITH CUPS, and Nereus drinks bumpers in his honor.
Nereus was a sea-god, son of Ocean and Earth.

282. FROM GROUND, from the land.

297. SANS LOY symbolizes the pagan lawlessness in Ireland. There is also a
wider reference to the struggles between the Turks and the allied Christian
powers, which had been going on since the siege of Vienna in 1529.

309. VAINLY CROSSED SHIELD, Archimago's false cross lacked the protecting
power of St. George's charmed true cross.

321. LETHE LAKE, a lake or river of Hades, whose water brought oblivion or
forgetfulness to all who drank of it.

322. Refers to the ancient custom of sacrificing an enemy on the funeral
altar to appease the shade of the dead.

323. THE BLACKE INFERNALL FURIES, the Erinyes, or goddesses of vengeance,
who dwelt in Erebus. They were robed in black, bloody garments befitting
their gloomy character.

325. In romance it was customary for the victor to unlace the helmet of the
knight whom he had unhorsed before slaying him. Friends and relatives were
sometimes discovered by this precaution.

342. NE EVER WONT IN FIELD, etc., was never accustomed to fight in the
battle-field or in the lists of the tournament.

xliii. Contrast Sansloy's rude treatment of Una with the chivalrous respect
and courtesy always shown by a true knight to woman.


(Canto III)

1. What moral reflections does the poet make in the introductory stanza?
Note the reference to the Queen. 2. What do you learn of the laws, customs,
and sentiments of chivalry in this canto? 3. Give an account of Una's
meeting with the Lion. 4. Explain the allegory of the incident of the Lion.
5. Describe the character, appearance, and actions of Corceca, and explain
the allegory. 6. Note the use of the stars to indicate time. 7. Under what
circumstances does Una meet Archimago? 8. Explain the allegory in ix. 9.
Note the Euphuistic balance in xxvii. 10. What figure do you find in xxxi?
Note the Homeric style. 11. Describe the fight between Archimago and
Sansloy, and explain the double allegory. 12. What is the moral
interpretation of xli-xlii?

13. Explain the Latinisms in ll. 37 and 377. 14. How are the adjectives
used in l. 57? 15. Note change of pronouns in vii from third person to
first. 16. Explain tense of _shold pas_ in l. 83. 17. Note confusion of
pronouns in xxii and xxxv. 18. Examine the _nominative absolute_
construction in st. xiv and xxxix. 19. Explain the ambiguous construction
in l. 165. 20. Parse _her_ in l. 262. 21. Note careless use of relative in
l. 288.

(The end)
Edmund Spenser's poem: Faerie Queene, Book I, Canto 3

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CANTO IV To sinfull house of Pride, Duessa guides the faithfull knight, Where brother's death to wreak Sansjoy doth chalenge him to fight. IYoung knight whatever that dost armes professe, And through long labours huntest after fame, Beware of fraud, beware of ficklenesse, In choice, and change