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The Faerie Queene
Canto III.

by Edmund Spenser

Merlin bewrayes to Britomart,
the state of Artegall.
And shewes the famous Progeny
which from them springen shall.




Most sacred fire, that burnest mightily
In liuing brests, ykindled first aboue,
Emongst th'eternall spheres and lamping sky,
And thence pourd into men, which men call Loue;
Not that same, which doth base affections moue
In brutish minds, and filthy lust inflame,
But that sweet fit, that doth true beautie loue,
And choseth vertue for his dearest Dame,
Whence spring all noble deeds and neuer dying fame:
Well did Antiquitie a God thee deeme,
That ouer mortall minds hast so great might,
To order them, as best to thee doth seeme,
And all their actions to direct aright;
The fatall purpose of diuine foresight,
Thou doest effect in destined descents,
Through deepe impression of thy secret might,
And stirredst vp th'Heroes high intents,
Which the late world admyres for wondrous monim&etilde;ts.

But thy dread darts in none doe triumph more,
Ne brauer proofe in any, of thy powre
Shew'dst thou, then in this royall Maid of yore,
Making her seeke an vnknowne Paramoure,
From the worlds end, through many a bitter stowre:
From whose two loynes thou afterwards did rayse
Most famous fruits of matrimoniall bowre,
Which through the earth haue spred their liuing prayse,
That fame in trompe of gold eternally displayes.

Begin then, ˘ my dearest sacred Dame,
Daughter of Phoebus and of Memorie,
That doest ennoble with immortall name
The warlike Worthies, from antiquitie,
In thy great volume of Eternitie:
Begin, ˘ Clio, and recount from hence
My glorious Soueraines goodly auncestrie,
Till that by dew degrees and long pretence,
Thou haue it lastly brought vnto her Excellence.

Full many wayes within her troubled mind,
Old Glauce cast, to cure this Ladies griefe:
Full many waies she sought, but none could find,
Nor herbes, nor charmes, nor counsell, that is chiefe
And choisest med'cine for sicke harts reliefe:
For thy great care she tooke, and greater feare,
Least that it should her turne to foule repriefe,
And sore reproch, when so her father deare
Should of his dearest daughters hard misfortune heare.

At last she her auisd, that he, which made
That mirrhour, wherein the sicke Damosell
So straungely vewed her straunge louers shade,
To weet, the learned Merlin, well could tell,
Vnder what coast of heauen the man did dwell,
And by what meanes his loue might best be wrought:
For though beyond the Africk Ismaell,
Or th'Indian Peru he were, she thought
Him forth through infinite endeuour to haue sought.

Forthwith themselues disguising both in straunge
And base attyre, that none might them bewray,
To Maridunum, that is now by chaunge
Of name Cayr-Merdin cald, they tooke their way:
There the wise Merlin whylome wont (they say)
To make his wonne, low vnderneath the ground,
In a deepe delue, farre from the vew of day,
That of no liuing wight he mote be found,
When so he counseld with his sprights enc§past round.

And if thou euer happen that same way
To trauell, goe to see that dreadfull place:
It is an hideous hollow caue (they say)
Vnder a rocke that lyes a little space
From the swift Barry, tombling downe apace,
Emongst the woodie hilles of Dyneuowre:
But dare thou not, I charge, in any cace,
To enter into that same balefull Bowre,
For fear the cruell Feends should thee vnwares deuowre.

But standing high aloft, low lay thine eare,
And there such ghastly noise of yron chaines,
And brasen Caudrons thou shalt rombling heare,
Which thousand sprights with long enduring paines
Doe tosse, that it will stonne thy feeble braines,
And oftentimes great grones, and grieuous stounds,
When too huge toile and labour them constraines:
And oftentimes loud strokes, and ringing sounds
From vnder that deepe Rocke most horribly rebounds.

The cause some say is this: A litle while
Before that Merlin dyde, he did intend,
A brasen wall in compas to compile
About Cairmardin, and did it commend
Vnto these Sprights, to bring to perfect end.
During which worke the Ladie of the Lake,
Whom long he lou'd, for him in hast did send,
Who thereby forst his workemen to forsake,
Them bound till his returne, their labour not to slake.

In the meane time through that false Ladies traine,
He was surprisd, and buried vnder beare,
Ne euer to his worke returnd againe:
Nath'lesse those feends may not their worke forbeare,
So greatly his commaundement they feare,
But there doe toyle and trauell day and night,
Vntill that brasen wall they vp doe reare:
For Merlin had in Magicke more insight,
Then euer him before or after liuing wight.

For he by words could call out of the sky
Both Sunne and Moone, and make them him obay:
The land to sea, and sea to maineland dry,
And darkesome night he eke could turne to day:
Huge hostes of men he could alone dismay,
And hostes of men of meanest things could frame,
When so him list his enimies to fray:
That to this day for terror of his fame,
The feends do quake, when any him to them does name.

And sooth, men say that he was not the sonne
Of mortall Syre, or other liuing wight,
But wondrously begotten, and begonne
By false illusion of a guilefull Spright,
On a faire Ladie Nonne, that whilome hight
Matilda, daughter to Pubidius,
Who was the Lord of Mathrauall by right,
And coosen vnto king Ambrosius:
Whence he indued was with skill so maruellous.

They here ariuing, staid a while without,
Ne durst aduenture rashly in to wend,
But of their first intent gan make new dout
For dread of daunger, which it might portend:
Vntill the hardie Mayd (with loue to frend)
First entering, the dreadfull Mage there found
Deepe busied bout worke of wondrous end,
And writing strange characters in the ground,
With which the stubborn feends he to his seruice bound.

He nought was moued at their entrance bold:
For of their comming well he wist afore,
Yet list them bid their businesse to vnfold,
As if ought in this world in secret store
Were from him hidden, or vnknowne of yore.
Then Glauce thus, Let not it thee offend,
That we thus rashly through thy darkesome dore,
Vnwares haue prest: for either fatall end,
Or other mightie cause vs two did hither send.

He bad tell on; and then she thus began.
Now haue three Moones with borrow'd brothers light,
Thrice shined faire, and thrice seem'd dim and wan,
Sith a sore euill, which this virgin bright
Tormenteth, and doth plonge in dolefull plight,
First rooting tooke; but what thing it mote bee,
Or whence it sprong, I cannot read aright:
But this I read, that but if remedee
Thou her afford, full shortly I her dead shall see.

Therewith th'Enchaunter softly gan to smyle
At her smooth speeches, weeting inly well,
That she to him dissembled womanish guyle,
And to her said, Beldame, by that ye tell,
More need of leach-craft hath your Damozell,
Then of my skill: who helpe may haue elsewhere,
In vaine seekes wonders out of Magicke spell.
Th'old woman wox half blanck, those words to heare;
And yet was loth to let her purpose plaine appeare.

And to him said, If any leaches skill,
Or other learned meanes could haue redrest
This my deare daughters deepe engraffed ill,
Certes I should be loth thee to molest:
But this sad euill, which doth her infest,
Doth course of naturall cause farre exceed,
And housed is within her hollow brest,
That either seemes some cursed witches deed,
Or euill spright, that in her doth such torment breed.

The wisard could no lenger beare her bord,
But brusting forth in laughter, to her sayd;
Glauce, what needs this colourable word,
To cloke the cause, that hath it selfe bewrayd?
Ne ye faire Britomartis, thus arayd,
More hidden are, then Sunne in cloudy vele;
Whom thy good fortune, hauing fate obayd,
Hath hither brought, for succour to appele;
The which the powres to thee are pleased to reuele.

The doubtfull Mayd, seeing her selfe descryde,
Was all abasht, and her pure yuory
Into a cleare Carnation suddeine dyde;
As faire Aurora rising hastily,
Doth by her blushing tell, that she did lye
All night in old Tithonus frosen bed,
Whereof she seemes ashamed inwardly.
But her old Nourse was nought dishartened,
But vauntage made of that, which Merlin had ared.

And sayd, Sith then thou knowest all our griefe,
(For what doest not thou know?) of grace I pray,
Pitty our plaint, and yield vs meet reliefe.
With that the Prophet still awhile did stay,
And then his spirite thus gan forth display;
Most noble Virgin, that by fatall lore
Hast learn'd to loue, let no whit thee dismay
The hard begin, that meets thee in the dore,
And with sharpe fits thy tender hart oppresseth sore.

For so must all things excellent begin,
And eke enrooted deepe must be that Tree,
Whose big embodied braunches shall not lin,
Till they to heauens hight forth stretched bee.
For from thy wombe a famous Progenie
Shall spring, out of the auncient Troian blood,
Which shall reuiue the sleeping memorie
Of those same antique Peres, the heauens brood,
Which Greece and Asian riuers stained with their blood.

Renowmed kings, and sacred Emperours,
Thy fruitfull Ofspring, shall from thee descend;
Braue Captaines, and most mighty warriours,
That shall their conquests through all lands extend,
And their decayed kingdomes shall amend:
The feeble Britons, broken with long warre,
They shall vpreare, and mightily defend
Against their forrein foe, that comes from farre,
Till vniuersall peace compound all ciuill iarre.

It was not, Britomart, thy wandring eye,
Glauncing vnwares in charmed looking glas,
But the streight course of heauenly destiny,
Led with eternall prouidence, that has
Guided thy glaunce, to bring his will to pas:
Ne is thy fate, ne is thy fortune ill,
To loue the prowest knight, that euer was.
Therefore submit thy wayes vnto his will,
And do by all dew meanes thy destiny fulfill.

But read (said Glauce) thou Magitian
What meanes shall she out seeke, or what wayes take?
How shall she know, how shall she find the man?
Or what needs her to toyle, sith fates can make
Way for themselues, their purpose to partake?
Then Merlin thus; Indeed the fates are firme,
And may not shrinck, though all the world do shake:
Yet ought mens good endeuours them confirme,
And guide the heauenly causes to their constant terme.

The man whom heauens haue ordaynd to bee
The spouse of Britomart, is Arthegall:
He wonneth in the land of Fayeree,
Yet is no Fary borne, ne sib at all
To Elfes, but sprong of seed terrestriall,
And whilome by false Faries stolne away,
Whiles yet in infant cradle he did crall;
Ne other to himselfe is knowne this day,
But that he by an Elfe was gotten of a Fay.

But sooth he is the sonne of Gorlois,
And brother vnto Cador Cornish king,
And for his warlike feates renowmed is,
From where the day out of the sea doth spring,
Vntill the closure of the Euening.
From thence, him firmely bound with faithfull band,
To this his natiue soyle thou backe shalt bring,
Strongly to aide his countrey, to withstand
The powre of forrein Paynims, which inuade thy land.

Great aid thereto his mighty puissaunce,
And dreaded name shall giue in that sad day:
Where also proofe of thy prow valiaunce
Thou then shalt make, t'increase thy louers pray.
Long time ye both in armes shall beare great sway,
Till thy wombes burden thee from them do call,
And his last fate him from thee take away,
Too rathe cut off by practise criminall
Of secret foes, that him shall make in mischiefe fall.

Where thee yet shall he leaue for memory
Of his late puissaunce, his Image dead,
That liuing him in all actiuity
To thee shall represent. He from the head
Of his coosin Constantius without dread
Shall take the crowne, that was his fathers right,
And therewith crowne himselfe in th'others stead:
Then shall he issew forth with dreadfull might,
Against his Saxon foes in bloudy field to fight.

Like as a Lyon, that in drowsie caue
Hath long time slept, himselfe so shall he shake,
And comming forth, shall spred his banner braue
Ouer the troubled South, that it shall make
The warlike Mertians for feare to quake:
Thrise shall he fight with them, and twise shall win,
But the third time shall faire accordaunce make:
And if he then with victorie can lin,
He shall his dayes with peace bring to his earthly In.

His sonne, hight Vortipore, shall him succeede
In kingdome, but not in felicity;
Yet shall he long time warre with happy speed,
And with great honour many battels try:
But at the last to th'importunity
Of froward fortune shall be forst to yield.
But his sonne Malgo shall full mightily
Auenge his fathers losse, with speare and shield,
And his proud foes discomfit in victorious field.

Behold the man, and tell me Britomart,
If ay more goodly creature thou didst see;
How like a Gyaunt in each manly part
Beares he himselfe with portly maiestee,
That one of th'old Heroes seemes to bee:
He the six Islands, comprouinciall
In auncient times vnto great Britainee,
Shall to the same reduce, and to him call
Their sundry kings to do their homage seuerall.

All which his sonne Careticus awhile
Shall well defend, and Saxons powre suppresse,
Vntill a straunger king from vnknowne soyle
Arriuing, him with multitude oppresse;
Great Gormond, hauing with huge mightinesse
Ireland subdewd, and therein fixt his throne,
Like a swift Otter, fell through emptinesse,
Shall ouerswim the sea with many one
Of his Norueyses, to assist the Britons fone.

He in his furie all shall ouerrunne,
And holy Church with faithlesse hands deface,
That thy sad people vtterly fordonne,
Shall to the vtmost mountaines fly apace:
Was neuer so great wast in any place,
Nor so fowle outrage doen by liuing men:
For all thy Cities they shall sacke and race,
And the greene grasse, that groweth, they shall bren,
That euen the wild beast shall dy in starued den.

Whiles thus thy Britons do in languour pine,
Proud Etheldred shall from the North arise,
Seruing th'ambitious will of Augustine,
And passing Dee with hardy enterprise,
Shall backe repulse the valiaunt Brockwell twise,
And Bangor with massacred Martyrs fill;
But the third time shall rew his foolhardise:
For Cadwan pittying his peoples ill,
Shall stoutly him defeat, and thousand Saxons kill.

But after him, Cadwallin mightily
On his sonne Edwin all those wrongs shall wreake;
Ne shall auaile the wicked sorcery
Of false Pellite, his purposes to breake,
But him shall slay, and on a gallowes bleake
Shall giue th'enchaunter his vnhappy hire;
Then shall the Britons, late dismayd and weake,
From their long vassalage gin to respire,
And on their Paynim foes auenge their ranckled ire.

Ne shall he yet his wrath so mitigate,
Till both the sonnes of Edwin he haue slaine,
Offricke and Osricke, twinnes vnfortunate,
Both slaine in battell vpon Layburne plaine,
Together with the king of Louthiane,
Hight Adin, and the king of Orkeny,
Both ioynt partakers of the fatall paine:
But Penda, fearefull of like desteny,
Shall yield him selfe his liegeman, and sweare fealty.

Him shall he make his fatall Instrument,
T'afflict the other Saxons vnsubdewd;
He marching forth with fury insolent
Against the good king Oswald, who indewd
With heauenly powre, and by Angels reskewd,
All holding crosses in their hands on hye,
Shall him defeate withouten bloud imbrewd:
Of which, that field for endlesse memory,
Shall Heuenfield be cald to all posterity.

Where at Cadwallin wroth, shall forth issew,
And an huge hoste into Northumber lead,
With which he godly Oswald shall subdew,
And crowne with martyrdome his sacred head.
Whose brother Oswin, daunted with like dread,
With price of siluer shall his kingdome buy,
And Penda, seeking him adowne to tread,
Shall tread adowne, and do him fowly dye,
But shall with gifts his Lord Cadwallin pacify.

Then shall Cadwallin dye, and then the raine
Of Britons eke with him attonce shall dye;
Ne shall the good Cadwallader with paine,
Or powre, be hable it to remedy,
When the full time prefixt by destiny,
Shalbe expird of Britons regiment.
For heauen it selfe shall their successe enuy,
And them with plagues and murrins pestilent
Consume, till all their warlike puissaunce be spent.

Yet after all these sorrowes, and huge hills
Of dying people, during eight yeares space,
Cadwallader not yielding to his ills,
From Armoricke, where long in wretched cace
He liu'd, returning to his natiue place,
Shalbe by vision staid from his intent:
For th'heauens haue decreed, to displace
The Britons, for their sinnes dew punishment,
And to the Saxons ouer-giue their gouernment.

Then woe, and woe, and euerlasting woe,
Be to the Briton babe, that shalbe borne,
To liue in thraldome of his fathers foe;
Late King, now captiue, late Lord, now forlorne,
The worlds reproch, the cruell victors scorne,
Banisht from Princely bowre to wastfull wood:
O who shall helpe me to lament, and mourne
The royall seed, the antique Troian blood,
Whose Empire lenger here, then euer any stood.

The Damzell was full deepe empassioned,
Both for his griefe, and for her peoples sake,
Whose future woes so plaine he fashioned,
And sighing sore, at length him thus bespake;
Ah but will heauens fury neuer slake,
Nor vengeaunce huge relent it selfe at last?
Will not long misery late mercy make,
But shall their name for euer be defast,
And quite from of th'earth their memory be rast?

Nay but the terme (said he) is limited,
That in this thraldome Britons shall abide,
And the iust reuolution measured,
That they as Straungers shalbe notifide.
For twise foure hundreth yeares shalbe supplide,
Ere they to former rule restor'd shalbee,
And their importune fates all satisfide:
Yet during this their most obscuritee,
Their beames shall oft breake forth, that men them faire may see.

For Rhodoricke, whose surname shalbe Great,
Shall of him selfe a braue ensample shew,
That Saxon kings his friendship shall intreat;
And Howell Dha shall goodly well indew
The saluage minds with skill of iust and trew;
Then Griffyth Conan also shall vp reare
His dreaded head, and the old sparkes renew
Of natiue courage, that his foes shall feare,
Least backe againe the kingdome he from them should beare.

Ne shall the Saxons selues all peaceably
Enioy the crowne, which they from Britons wonne
First ill, and after ruled wickedly:
For ere two hundred yeares be full outronne,
There shall a Rauen far from rising Sunne,
With his wide wings vpon them fiercely fly,
And bid his faithlesse chickens ouerronne
The fruitfull plaines, and with fell cruelty,
In their auenge, tread downe the victours surquedry.

Yet shall a third both these, and thine subdew;
There shall a Lyon from the sea-bord wood
Of Neustria come roring, with a crew
Of hungry whelpes, his battailous bold brood,
Whose clawes were newly dipt in cruddy blood,
That from the Daniske Tyrants head shall rend
Th'vsurped crowne, as if that he were wood,
And the spoile of the countrey conquered
Emongst his young ones shall diuide with bountyhed.

Tho when the terme is full accomplishid,
There shall a sparke of fire, which hath long-while
Bene in his ashes raked vp, and hid,
Be freshly kindled in the fruitfull Ile
Of Mona, where it lurked in exile;
Which shall breake forth into bright burning flame,
And reach into the house, that beares the stile
Of royall maiesty and soueraigne name;
So shall the Briton bloud their crowne againe reclame.

Thenceforth eternall vnion shall be made
Betweene the nations different afore,
And sacred Peace shall louingly perswade
The warlike minds, to learne her goodly lore,
And ciuile armes to exercise no more:
Then shall a royall virgin raine, which shall
Stretch her white rod ouer the Belgicke shore,
And the great Castle smite so sore with all,
That it shall make him shake, and shortly learne to fall.

But yet the end is not. There Merlin stayd,
As ouercomen of the spirites powre,
Or other ghastly spectacle dismayd,
That secretly he saw, yet note discoure:
Which suddein fit, and halfe extatick stoure
When the two fearefull women saw, they grew
Greatly confused in behauioure;
At last the fury past, to former hew
Hee turnd againe, and chearefull looks as earst did shew.

Then, when them selues they well instructed had
Of all, that needed them to be inquird,
They both conceiuing hope of comfort glad,
With lighter hearts vnto their home retird;
Where they in secret counsell close conspird,
How to effect so hard an enterprize,
And to possesse the purpose they desird:
Now this, now that twixt them they did deuise,
And diuerse plots did frame, to maske in strange disguise.

At last the Nourse in her foolhardy wit
Conceiu'd a bold deuise, and thus bespake;
Daughter, I deeme that counsell aye most fit,
That of the time doth dew aduauntage take;
Ye see that good king Vther now doth make
Strong warre vpon the Paynim brethren, hight
Octa and Oza, whom he lately brake
Beside Cayr Verolame, in victorious fight,
That now all Britanie doth burne in armes bright.

That therefore nought our passage may empeach,
Let vs in feigned armes our selues disguize,
And our weake hands (whom need new strength shall teach)
The dreadfull speare and shield to exercize:
Ne certes daughter that same warlike wize
I weene, would you misseeme; for ye bene tall,
And large of limbe, t'atchieue an hard emprize,
Ne ought ye want, but skill, which practize small
Will bring, and shortly make you a mayd Martiall.

And sooth, it ought your courage much inflame,
To heare so often, in that royall hous,
From whence to none inferiour ye came,
Bards tell of many women valorous
Which haue full many feats aduenturous
Performd, in paragone of proudest men:
The bold Bunduca, whose victorious
Exploits made Rome to quake, stout Guendolen,
Renowmed Martia, and redoubted Emmilen.

And that, which more then all the rest may sway,
Late dayes ensample, which these eyes beheld,
In the last field before Meneuia
Which Vther with those forrein Pagans held,
I saw a Saxon Virgin, the which feld
Great Vlfin thrise vpon the bloudy plaine,
And had not Carados her hand withheld
From rash reuenge, she had him surely slaine,
Yet Carados himselfe from her escapt with paine.

Ah read, (quoth Britomart) how is she hight?
Faire Angela (quoth she) men do her call,
No whit lesse faire, then terrible in fight:
She hath the leading of a Martiall
And mighty people, dreaded more then all
The other Saxons, which do for her sake
And loue, themselues of her name Angles call.
Therefore faire Infant her ensample make
Vnto thy selfe, and equall courage to thee take.

Her harty words so deepe into the mynd
Of the young Damzell sunke, that great desire
Of warlike armes in her forthwith they tynd,
And generous stout courage did inspire,
That she resolu'd, vnweeting to her Sire,
Aduent'rous knighthood on her selfe to don,
And counseld with her Nourse, her Maides attire
To turne into a massy habergeon,
And bad her all things put in readinesse anon.

Th'old woman nought, that needed, did omit;
But all things did conueniently puruay:
It fortuned (so time their turne did fit)
A band of Britons ryding on forray
Few dayes before, had gotten a great pray
Of Saxon goods, emongst the which was seene
A goodly Armour, and full rich aray,
Which long'd to Angela, the Saxon Queene,
All fretted round with gold, and goodly well beseene.

The same, with all the other ornaments,
King Ryence caused to be hanged hy
In his chiefe Church, for endlesse moniments
Of his successe and gladfull victory:
Of which her selfe auising readily,
In th'euening late old Glauce thither led
Faire Britomart, and that same Armory
Downe taking, her therein appareled,
Well as she might, and with braue bauldrick garnished.

Beside those armes there stood a mighty speare,
Which Bladud made by Magick art of yore,
And vsd the same in battell aye to beare;
Sith which it had bin here preseru'd in store,
For his great vertues proued long afore:
For neuer wight so fast in sell could sit,
But him perforce vnto the ground it bore:
Both speare she tooke, and shield, which hong by it:
Both speare & shield of great powre, for her purpose fit.

Thus when she had the virgin all arayd,
Another harnesse, which did hang thereby,
About her selfe she dight, that the young Mayd
She might in equall armes accompany,
And as her Squire attend her carefully:
Tho to their ready Steeds they clombe full light,
And through back wayes, that none might them espy,
Couered with secret cloud of silent night,
Themselues they forth conuayd, & passed forward right.

Ne rested they, till that to Faery lond
They came, as Merlin them directed late:
Where meeting with this Redcrosse knight, she fond
Of diuerse things discourses to dilate,
But most of Arthegall, and his estate.
At last their wayes so fell, that they mote part
Then each to other well affectionate,
Friendship professed with vnfained hart,
The Redcrosse knight diuerst, but forth rode Britomart.
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