The Faerie Queene, Book I, Canto 1
Edmund Spenser [More Titles by Spenser
The Patron of true Holinesse
foule Errour doth defeate;
Hypocrisie him to entrappe
doth to his home entreate.
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: 5
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.
And on his brest a bloudie Crosse he bore, 10
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: 15
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.
Upon a great adventure he was bond,
That greatest Gloriana[*] to him gave, 20
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 25
Upon his foe, and his new force to learne;
Upon his foe, a Dragon[*] horrible and stearne.
A lovely Ladie[*] rode him faire beside,
Upon a lowly Asse more white then snow,
Yet she much whiter, but the same did hide 30
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, 35
And by her in a line a milke white lambe she lad.
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
Behind her farre away a Dwarfe[*] 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, 50
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.
Enforst to seeke some covert nigh at hand, 55
A shadie grove[*] 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: 60
And all within were pathes and alleies wide,
With footing worne, and leading inward farre:
Faire harbour that them seemes; so in they entred arre.
And foorth they passe, with pleasure forward led,
Joying to heare the birdes sweete harmony, 65
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,[*] 70
The builder Oake,[*] sole king of forrests all,
The Aspine good for staves, the Cypresse funerall.[*]
The Laurell,[*] meed of mightie Conquerours
And Poets sage, the firre that weepeth still,[*]
The Willow[*] worne of forlorne Paramours, 75
The Eugh[*] obedient to the benders will,
The Birch for shaftes, the Sallow for the mill,
The Mirrhe[*] sweete bleeding in the bitter wound,
The warlike Beech,[*] the Ash for nothing ill,[*]
The fruitfull Olive, and the Platane round, 80
The carver Holme,[*] the Maple seeldom inward sound.
Led with delight, they thus beguile the way,
Untill the blustring storme is overblowne;
When weening to returne, whence they did stray,
They cannot finde that path, which first was showne, 85
But wander too and fro in wayes unknowne,
Furthest from end then, when they neerest weene,
That makes them doubt their wits be not their owne:
So many pathes, so many turnings seene,
That which of them to take, in diverse doubt they been. 90
At last resolving forward still to fare,
Till that some end they finde or in or out,
That path they take, that beaten seemd most bare,
And like to lead the labyrinth about;
Which when by tract they hunted had throughout, 95
At length it brought them to a hollow cave
Amid the thickest woods. The Champion stout
Eftsoones dismounted from his courser brave,
And to the Dwarfe awhile his needlesse spere he gave.
Be well aware, quoth then that Ladie milde, 100
Least suddaine mischiefe ye too rash provoke:
The danger hid, the place unknowne and wilde,
Breedes dreadfull doubts: Oft fire is without smoke,
And perill without show: therefore your stroke,
Sir Knight, with-hold, till further triall made. 105
Ah Ladie, (said he) shame were to revoke[*]
The forward footing for an hidden shade:
Vertue gives her selfe light, through darkenesse for to wade.
Yea but (quoth she) the perill of this place
I better wot then you, though now too late 110
To wish you backe returne with foule disgrace,
Yet wisedome warnes, whilest foot is in the gate,
To stay the steppe, ere forced to retrate.
This is the wandring wood,[*] this Errours den,
A monster vile, whom God and man does hate: 115
Therefore I read beware. Fly fly (quoth then
The fearefull Dwarfe) this is no place for living men.
But full of fire and greedy hardiment,
The youthfull knight could not for ought be staide,
But forth unto the darksome hole he went, 120
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, 125
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[*] 130
A thousand yong ones, which she dayly fed,
Sucking upon her poisnous dugs, eachone
Of sundry shapes, yet all ill favored:
Soone as that uncouth light upon them shone,
Into her mouth they crept, and suddain all were gone. 135
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.
She lookt about, and seeing one in mayle 140
Armed to point,[*] sought backe to turne againe;
For light she hated as the deadly bale,
Ay wont in desert darknesse to remaine,
Where plain none might her see, nor she see any plaine.
Which when the valiant Elfe[*] perceiv'd, he lept 145
As Lyon fierce upon the flying pray,
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, 150
Threatning her angry sting, him to dismay:
Who nought aghast his mightie hand enhaunst:
The stroke down from her head unto her shoulder glaunst.
Much daunted with that dint, her sence was dazd,
Yet kindling rage, her selfe she gathered round, 155
And all attonce her beastly body 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, 160
That hand or foot to stirre 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: 165
Strangle her, else she sure will strangle thee.
That when he heard, in great perplexitie,
His gall did grate for griefe[*] and high disdaine,
And knitting all his force got one hand free,
Wherewith he grypt her gorge with so great paine, 170
That soone to loose her wicked bands did her constraine.
Therewith she spewd out of her filthy maw
A floud of poyson horrible and blacke,
Full of great lumpes of flesh and gobbets raw,
Which stunck so vildly, that it forst him slacke 175
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 filthy parbreake all the place defiled has. 180
As when old father Nilus[*] gins to swell
With timely pride above the Aegyptian vale,
His fattie waves do fertile slime outwell,
And overflow each plaine and lowly dale:
But when his later spring gins to avale, 185
Huge heapes of mudd he leaves, wherein there breed
Ten thousand kindes of creatures, partly male
And partly female of his fruitful seed;
Such ugly monstrous shapes elswhere may no man reed.
The same so sore annoyed has the knight, 190
That welnigh choked with the deadly stinke,
His forces faile, ne can no lenger fight.
Whose corage when the feend perceiv'd to shrinke,
She poured forth out of her hellish sinke
Her fruitfull cursed spawne of serpents small, 195
Deformed monsters, fowle, and blacke as inke,
With swarming all about his legs did crall,
And him encombred sore, but could not hurt at all.
As gentle Shepheard[*] in sweete even-tide,
When ruddy Phoebus gins to welke in west, 200
High on an hill, his flocke to vewen wide,
Markes which do byte their hasty supper best,
A cloud of combrous gnattes do him molest,
All striving to infixe their feeble stings,
That from their noyance he no where can rest, 205
But with his clownish hands their tender wings
He brusheth oft, and oft doth mar their murmurings.
Thus ill bestedd,[*] and fearefull more of shame,
Then of the certeine perill he stood in,
Halfe furious unto his foe he came, 210
Resolv'd in minde all suddenly to win,
Or soone to lose, before he once would lin
And strooke at her with more then manly force,
That from her body full of filthie sin
He raft her hatefull head without remorse; 215
A streame of cole black bloud 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, 220
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 blood,
Making her death their life, and eke her hurt their good. 225
That detestable 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, 230
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 Ladie seeing all that chaunst, from farre 235
Approcht in hast to greet his victorie,
And said, Faire knight, borne under happy starre,[*]
Who see your vanquisht foes before you lye:
Well worthie be you of that Armorie,[*]
Wherin ye have great glory wonne this day, 240
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 Steede againe,
And with the Lady backward sought to wend; 245
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)[*] 250
He passed forth, and new adventure sought;
Long way he travelled, before he heard of ought.
At length they chaunst to meet upon the way
An aged Sire,[*] in long blacke weedes yclad,
His feete all bare, his beard all hoarie gray 255
And by his belt his booke he hanging had;
Sober he seemde, and very sagely sad,
And to the ground his eyes were lowly bent,
Simple in shew, and voyde of malice bad,
And all the way he prayed, as he went, 260
And often knockt his brest, as one that did repent.
He faire the knight saluted, louting low,
Who faire him quited, as that courteous was:
And after asked him, if he did know
Of straunge adventures, which abroad did pas. 265
Ah my deare Sonne (quoth he) how should, alas,
Silly old man, that lives in hidden cell,
Bidding his beades all day for his trespas,
Tydings of warre and worldly trouble tell?
With holy father sits not with such things to mell. 270
But if of daunger which hereby doth dwell,
And homebred evil ye desire to heare,
Of a straunge man I can you tidings tell,
That wasteth all this countrey farre and neare.
Of such (said he) I chiefly do inquere, 275
And shall you well reward to shew the place,
In which that wicked wight his dayes doth weare:
For to all knighthood it is foule disgrace,
That such a cursed creature lives so long a space.
Far hence (quoth he) in wastfull wildernesse 280
His dwelling is, by which no living wight
May ever passe, but thorough great distresse.
Now (sayd the Lady) draweth toward night,
And well I wote, that of your later fight
Ye all forwearied be: for what so strong, 285
But wanting rest will also want of might?
The Sunne that measures heaven all day long,
At night doth baite his steedes the Ocean waves emong.
Then with the Sunne take Sir, your timely rest,
And with new day new worke at once begin: 290
Untroubled night they say gives counsell best.
Right well Sir knight ye have advised bin,
(Quoth then that aged man;) the way to win
Is wisely to advise: now day is spent;
Therefore with me ye may take up your In[*] 295
For this same night. The knight was well content:
So with that godly father to his home they went.
A little lowly Hermitage it was,
Downe in a dale, hard by a forests side,
Far from resort of people, that did pas 300
In travell to and froe: a little wyde[*]
There was an holy Chappell edifyde,
Wherein the Hermite dewly wont to say
His holy things each morne and eventyde:
Thereby a Christall streame did gently play, 305
Which from a sacred fountaine welled forth alway.
Arrived there, the little house they fill,
Ne looke for entertainement, where none was:
Rest is their feast, and all things at their will:
The noblest mind the best contentment has. 310
With faire discourse the evening so they pas:
For that old man of pleasing wordes had store,
And well could file his tongue as smooth as glas,
He told of Saintes and Popes, and evermore
He strowd an _Ave-Mary_[*] after and before. 315
The drouping Night thus creepeth on them fast,
And the sad humour[*] loading their eye liddes,
As messenger of Morpheus[*] on them cast
Sweet slombring deaw, the which to sleepe them biddes.
Unto their lodgings then his guestes he riddes: 320
Where when all drownd in deadly sleepe he findes,
He to this study goes, and there amiddes
His Magick bookes and artes[*] of sundry kindes,
He seekes out mighty charmes, to trouble sleepy mindes.
Then choosing out few words most horrible, 325
(Let none them read) thereof did verses frame,
With which and other spelles like terrible,
He bad awake blacke Plutoes griesly Dame,[*]
And cursed heaven and spake reprochfull shame
Of highest God, the Lord of life and light; 330
A bold bad man, that dar'd to call by name
Great Gorgon,[*] Prince of darknesse and dead night,
At which Cocytus[*] quakes, and Styx is put to flight.
And forth he cald out of deepe darknesse dred
Legions of Sprights,[*] the which like little flyes 335
Fluttring about his ever damned hed,
Awaite whereto their service he applyes,
To aide his friends, or fray his enimies:
Of those he chose[*] out two, the falsest twoo,
And fittest for to forge true-seeming lyes; 340
The one of them he gave a message too,
The other by him selfe staide other worke to doo.
He making speedy way through spersed ayre,
And through the world of waters wide and deepe,
To Morpheus house doth hastily repaire. 345
Amid the bowels of the earth full steepe,
And low, where dawning day doth never peepe,
His dwelling is; there Tethys[*] his wet bed
Doth ever wash, and Cynthia[*] still doth steepe
In silver deaw his ever-drouping hed, 350
Whiles sad Night over him her mantle black doth spred.
Whose double gates[*] he findeth locked fast,
The one faire fram'd of burnisht Yvory,
The other all with silver overcast;
And wakeful dogges before them farre do lye, 355
Watching to banish Care their enimy,
Who oft is wont to trouble gentle Sleepe.
By them the Sprite doth passe in quietly,
And unto Morpheus comes, whom drowned deepe
In drowsie fit he findes: of nothing he takes keepe. 360
And more, to lulle him in his slumber soft,[*]
A trickling streame from high rock tumbling downe,
And ever-drizling raine upon the loft,
Mixt with a murmuring winde, much like the sowne
Of swarming Bees, did cast him in a swowne: 365
No other noyse, nor peoples troublous cryes,
As still are wont t'annoy the walled towne,
Might there be heard: but carelesse Quiet lyes,
Wrapt in eternall silence farre from enemyes.
The messenger approching to him spake, 370
But his wast wordes returnd to him in vaine:
So sound he slept, that nought mought him awake.
Then rudely he him thrust, and pusht with paine
Whereat he gan to stretch: but he againe
Shooke him so hard, that forced him to speake. 375
As one then in a dreame, whose dryer braine[*]
Is tost with troubled sights and fancies weake,
He mumbled soft, but would not all[*] his silence breake.
The Sprite then gan more boldly him to wake,
And threatned unto him the dreaded name 380
Of Hecate[*]: whereat he gan to quake,
And lifting up his lumpish head, with blame
Halfe angry asked him, for what he came.
Hither (quoth he) me Archimago sent,
He that the stubborne Sprites can wisely tame, 385
He bids thee to him send for his intent
A fit false dreame, that can delude the sleepers sent.[*]
The God obayde, and, calling forth straightway
A diverse dreame out of his prison darke,
Delivered it to him, and downe did lay 390
His heavie head, devoide of carefull carke,
Whose sences all were straight benumbed and starke.
He backe returning by the Yvorie dore,
Remounted up as light as chearefull Larke,
And on his litle winges the dreame he bore 395
In hast unto his Lord, where he him left afore.
Who all this while with charmes and hidden artes,
Had made a Lady of that other Spright,
And fram'd of liquid ayre her tender partes
So lively, and so like in all mens sight, 400
That weaker sence it could have ravisht quight:
The maker selfe, for all his wondrous witt,
Was nigh beguiled with so goodly sight:
Her all in white he clad, and over it
Cast a black stole, most like to seeme[*] for Una fit. 405
Now when that ydle dreame was to him brought,
Unto that Elfin knight he bad him fly,
Where he slept soundly void of evill thought,
And with false shewes abuse his fantasy,
In sort as he him schooled privily: 410
And that new creature, borne without her dew,[*]
Full of the makers guile, with usage sly
He taught to imitate that Lady trew,
Whose semblance she did carrie under feigned hew.
Thus well instructed, to their worke they hast, 415
And coming where the knight in slomber lay,
The one upon his hardy head him plast
And made him dreame of loves and lustfull play,
That nigh his manly hart did melt away,
Bathed in wanton blis and wicked joy: 420
Then seemed him his Lady by him lay,
And to him playnd, how that false winged boy,
Her chast hart had subdewd, to learne Dame Pleasures toy.
And she herselfe of beautie soveraigne Queene,
Fayre Venus[*] seemde unto his bed to bring 425
Her, whom he waking evermore did weene,
To bee the chastest flowre, that ay did spring
On earthly braunch, the daughter of a king,
Now a loose Leman to vile service bound:
And eke the Graces[*] seemed all to sing, 430
_Hymen Io Hymen_[*] dauncing all around,
Whilst freshest Flora[*] her with Yvie girlond crownd.
In this great passion of unwonted lust,
Or wonted feare of doing ought amis,
He started up, as seeming to mistrust 435
Some secret ill, or hidden foe of his:
Lo there before his face his Lady is,
Under blake stole hyding her bayted hooke;
And as halfe blushing offred him to kis,
With gentle blandishment and lovely looke, 440
Most like that virgin true, which for her knight him took.
All cleane dismayd to see so uncouth sight,
And half enraged at her shamelesse guise,
He thought have slaine her in his fierce despight:
But hasty heat tempring with suffrance wise, 445
He stayde his hand, and gan himselfe advise
To prove his sense,[*] and tempt her faigned truth.
Wringing her hands in womans pitteous wise,
Tho can she weepe,[*] to stirre up gentle ruth,
Both for her noble bloud, and for her tender youth. 450
And said, Ah Sir, my liege Lord and my love,
Shall I accuse the hidden cruell fate,
And mightie causes wrought in heaven above,
Or the blind God,[*] that doth me thus amate,
For hoped love to winne me certaine hate? 455
Yet thus perforce he bids me do, or die.
Die is my dew; yet rew my wretched state
You, whom my hard avenging destinie
Hath made judge of my life or death indifferently.
Your owne deare sake forst me at first to leave 460
My Fathers kingdome--There she stopt with teares;
Her swollen hart her speech seemd to bereave,
And then againe begun; My weaker yeares
Captiv'd to fortune and frayle worldly feares,
Fly to your fayth for succour and sure ayde: 465
Let me not dye in languor and long teares.
Why Dame (quoth he) what hath ye thus dismayd?
What frayes ye, that were wont to comfort me affrayd?
Love of your selfe, she saide, and deare constraint,
Lets me not sleepe, but wast the wearie night 470
In secret anguish and unpittied plaint,
Whiles you in carelesse sleepe are drowned quight.
Her doubtfull words made that redoubted knight
Suspect her truth: yet since no' untruth he knew,
Her fawning love with foule disdainefull spight 475
He would not shend; but said, Deare dame I rew,
That for my sake unknowne such griefe unto you grew.
Assure your selfe, it fell not all to ground;[*]
For all so deare as life is to my hart,
I deeme your love, and hold me to you bound: 480
Ne let vaine feares procure your needlesse smart,
Where cause is none, but to your rest depart.
Not all content, yet seemd she to appease
Her mournefull plaintes, beguiled of her art,
And fed with words that could not chuse but please, 485
So slyding softly forth, she turned as to her ease.
Long after lay he musing at her mood,
Much griev'd to thinke that gentle Dame so light,
For whose defence he was to shed his blood.
At last, dull wearinesse of former fight 490
Having yrockt asleepe his irkesome spright,
That troublous dreame gan freshly tosse his braine,
With bowres, and beds, and Ladies deare delight:
But when he saw his labour all was vaine,
With that misformed spright he backe returnd againe. 495
I. _The Plot:_ At the bidding of Gloriana, the Redcross Knight undertakes to deliver Una's parents from a dragon who holds them captive. He sets out upon his quest attended by a dwarf and guided by Una, mounted on an ass and leading a lamb. They are driven by a storm into a forest, where they discover the cave of Error, who is slain by the Knight. They are then beguiled into the house of Archimago, an old enchanter. By his magic he leads the Knight in a dream to believe that Una is false to him, and thus separates them.
II. _The Allegory:_ 1. Holiness, the love of God, united with Truth, the knowledge of God, is to deliver man from the thraldom of the Devil. Together they are able to overthrow Error; but Hypocrisy deceitfully alienates Holiness from Truth by making the latter appear unworthy of love.
2. There is a hint of the intrigues of the false Roman church and the treacherous Spanish king, Philip II, to undermine the religious and political freedom of the English people. The English nation, following the Reformed church, overthrows the Catholic faith, but is deceived by the machinations of Spanish diplomacy.
LINE 1. A GENTLE KNIGHT, the Redcross Knight, representing the church militant, and Reformed England. He is the young, untried champion of the old cause whose struggles before the Reformation are referred to in ll. 3, 4. His shield bore "a cross gules upon a field argent," a red cross on a silver ground. See _The Birth of St. George_ in Percy's _Reliques_, iii, 3, and Malory's _Morte d'Arthur_, iii, 65.
15. FOR SOVERAINE HOPE, as a sign of the supreme hope.
20. GREATEST GLORIANA, Queen Elizabeth. In other books of _The Faerie Queene_ she is called Belphoebe, the patroness of chastity, and Britomart, the military genius of Britain.
27. A DRAGON, "the great dragon, that old serpent, called the devil," _Revelation_, xii, 9, also Rome and Spain. Cf. legend of St. George and the dragon, and Fletcher's _Purple Island_, vii _seq._
28. A LOVELY LADIE, Una, the personification of truth and true religion. Her lamb symbolizes innocence.
46. A DWARFE, representing prudence, or common sense; according to Morley, the flesh.
56. A SHADIE GROVE, the wood of Error. "By it Spenser shadows forth the danger surrounding the mind that escapes from the bondage of Roman authority and thinks for itself."--Kitchin. The description of the wood is an imitation of Ariosto's _Orlando Furioso_, i, 37, Chaucer's _Assembly of Foules_, 176, and Tasso's _Jerusalem Delivered_, iii, 75. Morley sees in this grove an allegory of man's life, the trees symbolizing trade, pleasure, youth, etc.
69. THE SAYLING PINE. Ships were built of pine.
70. THE LOPLAR NEVER DRY, because it grows best in moist soil.
71. THE BUILDER OAKE. In the Middle Ages most manor houses and churches were built of oak.
72. THE CYPRESSE FUNERALL, an emblem of death among the ancients, and sacred to Pluto. Sidney says that they were wont to dress graves with cypress branches in old times.
73. THE LAURELL. Victors at the Pythian games and triumphing Roman generals were crowned with laurel. It was also sacred to Apollo, the god of poetry, hence "meed of poets sage."
74. THE FIRRE THAT WEEPETH STILL. The fir exudes resinous substance.
75. THE WILLOW. "Willows: a sad tree, whereof such who have lost their love make their mourning garlands."--Fuller's _Worthies_, i, 153. Cf. Heywood's _Song of the Green Willow_, and Desdemona's song in _Othello_, IV, iii, 39.
76. THE EUGH. Ascham in his _Toxophilus_ tells us that the best bows were made of yew.
78. THE MIRRHE, the Arabian myrtle, which exudes a bitter but fragrant gum. The allusion is to the wounding of Myrrha by her father and her metamorphosis into this tree.
79. THE WARLIKE BEECH, because lances and other arms were made of it. THE ASH FOR NOTHING ILL. "The uses of the ash is one of the most universal: it serves the souldier, the carpenter, the wheelwright, cartwright, cooper, turner, and thatcher."--Evelyn's _Sylva_. The great tree Igdrasil in the northern mythology was an ash.
81. THE CARVER HOLME, or evergreen oak, was good for carving.
106. SHAME WERE TO REVOKE, etc., it would be cowardly not to go forward for fear of some suspected unseen danger.
114. THE WANDRING WOOD, i.e. which causes men to go astray.
123. MONSTER. The description of the monster Error, or Falsehood, is based on Hesiod's Echidna, _Theog_. 301, and the locusts in _Revelation_, ix, 7-10. She is half human, half serpent, because error is partly true and partly false. Dante's Fraud and Milton's Sin are similar monsters.
126. FULL OF VILE DISDAINE, full of vileness that bred disgust in the beholder.
130. OF HER THERE BRED, etc., of her were born a thousand young ones. Her offspring are lies and rumors of many shapes.
141. ARMED TO POINT, completely armed. Cf. Fr. _a point_, to a nicety.
145. THE VALIANT ELFE, because he was the reputed son of an Elfin or Faerie, though really sprung from "an ancient race of Saxon kings." Three kinds of elves are mentioned in the _Edda_: the black dwarfs, and brownies, who both dwelt under ground, and the fair elves, who dwelt in Fairyland or Alfheim. "The difference between Spenser's elves and these Teutonic elves shows how he perverts Fairy mythology in the same way as he does Classical myths."--Percival.
168. HIS GALL DID GRATE FOR GRIEFE, his anger was aroused on account of pain. In the old anatomy anger had its seat in the gallbladder. See Burton's _Anatomy of Melancholy_, I, i, 2.
177. HER VOMIT FULL OF BOOKES, etc. From 1570, when Pope Sixtus V issued his bull of deposition against Queen Elizabeth, to 1590, great numbers of scurrilous pamphlets attacking the Queen and the Reformed church had been disseminated by Jesuit refugees.
181. NILUS. Pliny believed that the mud of the Nile had the power of breeding living creatures like mice. _Hist. Nat._ ix, 84. So Shakespeare, _Antony and Cleopatra_, II, vii, 29.
199. GENTLE SHEPHEARD. In this pastoral simile, Spenser imitates Homer's _Iliad_, ii, 469, and xvii, 641, and Ariosto's _Orlando Furioso_, xiv, 109.
208. THUS ILL BESTEDD. There is a similar combat in the old romance _Guy of Warwick_, ix, between the hero and a man-eating dragon.
217. HER SCATTRED BROOD. The poet here follows a belief as old as Pliny that the young of serpents fed on their mother's blood. In this entire passage the details are too revolting for modern taste.
232. THE WHICH THEM NURST. The antecedent of _which_ is _her_. In the sixteenth century _the_ was frequently placed before _which_, which was also the equivalent of _who_. Cf. the Lord's Prayer.
234. HE SHOULD CONTEND, he should have had to contend.
237. BORNE UNDER HAPPY STARRE. Belief in astrology was once common, and Spenser being a Pythagorean would hold the doctrine of the influence of the stars on human destiny.
239. THAT ARMORIE, the armor of the Christian warrior. _Ephesians_, vi, 13.
243. THAT LIKE SUCCEED IT MAY, that like successful adventures may succeed it. The word order is inverted for the sake of the rhyme.
250. TO FREND, as his friend.
254. AN AGED SIRE, the false enchanter, Archimago, or Hypocrisy, who is supposed to represent Pope Sixtus V or King Philip II of Spain. In general he stands for false religion or the Church of Rome. The character and adventure are taken from _Orlando Furioso_, ii, 12, in which there is a hypocritical hermit. The Knight at first takes Archimago to be a palmer, and inquires for the foreign news.
295. TAKE UP YOUR IN, take lodging.
301. A LITTLE WYDE, a little way off.
315. AN AVE-MARY, Hail Mary, a prayer to the Virgin. Cf. _Luke_, i, 28.
317. THE SAD HUMOUR, the heavy moisture, or "slombring deaw."
318. MORPHEUS, the son of Somnus and god of sleep and dreams, who sprinkled the dew of sleep on the brow of mortals from his horn or wings or from a bough dipped in Lethe.
323. HIS MAGICK BOOKES AND ARTES. Monks engaged in scientific investigation, such as Friar Roger Bacon, were popularly supposed to use cabalistic books, and to make compacts with the Devil by means of necromancy, or the black art, as in st. xxxvii. Before the close of the century Marlowe's _Doctor Faustus_ and Greene's _Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay_, both based on the popular belief in magic, were presented on the London stage.
328. BLACKE PLUTOES GRIESLY DAME, Proserpine, the avenger of men, and inflicter of curses on the dead. She is identified with Shakespeare's Hecate, the goddess of sorcery, and with Milton's Cotytto, goddess of lust. To this latter sin the knight is tempted.
332. GREAT GORGON, Demogorgon, whose name might not be uttered, a magician who had power over the spirits of the lower world. The poet is here imitating the Latin poets Lucan and Statius.
333. COCYTUS, the river of wailing, and STYX, the river of hate, both in Hades. There were two others, _Acheron_, the river of sorrow, and _Phlegethon_, the river of fire.
335. LEGIONS OF SPRIGHTS. In this stanza and the preceding Spenser follows Tasso's _Jerusalem Delivered_, xiii, 6-11, where the magician Ismeno, guarding the Enchanted Wood, conjures "legions of devils" with the "mighty name" (l. 332).
339. CHOSE. Imitation of Ariosto's _Orlando Furioso_, ii, 15, in which a false spirit is called up by a hypocritical hermit. The description of the House of Sleep in st. xxxix _seq_. is modelled on the same poet, _Orlando Furioso_, ii, 15 _seq_. The influence of Homer's _Odyssey_, xi, 16 is seen in st. xxxix, ll. 348 _seq_.
348. TETHYS, the ocean. In classical mythology she is the daughter of Uranus (heaven) and Gaea (earth), and the wife of Oceanus.
349. CYNTHIA, the moon. The allusion is to the story of Diana and Endymion. See Lyly's play _Endymion_.
352. WHOSE DOUBLE GATES. Homer, _Odyssey_, xix, 562, and Vergil, _Aeneid_, vi, 893, give the House of Dreams a horn and an ivory gate. Spenser substitutes silver for horn, mirrors being overlaid with silver in his time. From the ivory gate issued false dreams; from the other, true ones.
361. SLUMBER SOFT. This stanza shows Spenser's wonderful technique. His exquisite effects are produced, it will be noticed, partly by the choice of musical words and partly by the rhythmical cadence of the verse phrases. It is an example of perfect "keeping," or adaptation of sound to sense. Cf. Chaucer's description of the waterfalls in the Cave of Sleep in his _Boke of the Duchesse_, 162.
376. WHOSE DRYER BRAINE, whose brain too dry. In the old physiology, a dry brain was the cause of slow and weak perception, and a moist brain of quickness.
378. ALL, entirely, altogether.
381. HECATE, queen of phantoms and demons in Hades, and mistress of witches on earth. See xxxvii.
387. THE SLEEPERS SENT, the sleeper's sense.
405. MOST LIKE TO SEEME, etc.. most likely fit to seem for (represent) Una. _Like_ is an adv. A very awkward inversion.
411. BORNE WITHOUT HER DEW, i.e. created by him in an unnatural manner.
425. FAYRE VENUS, the daughter of Jupiter, or Zeus, and the sea-nymph Dione. She is the same as Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty.
430. THE GRACES, Euphrosyne, Aglaia, and Thalia, daughters of Zeus and Aphrodite.
431. HYMEN IO HYMEN, refrain of an old Roman nuptial song. Hymen, the son of Apollo and the Muse Urania, was the god of marriage.
432. FRESHEST FLORA, the goddess of flowers. She typified spring.
447. TO PROVE HIS SENSE, etc. To test his perception and prove her feigned truth.
449. THO CAN SHE WEEPE, then did she weep. _Can_ here is the Northern dialect form for the middle English _gan_, past tense of _ginnen_, to begin, which was used as an auxiliary.
454. THE BLIND GOD, Cupid, Eros, or Amor, the god of love.
478. Like other knights of romance, e.g. Sir Galahad and Sir Gareth in Malory's _Morte d'Arthur_, iii, 65, etc., the Redcross Knight does not yield to the temptation of the flesh, but overcomes it.
QUESTIONS AND TOPICS FOR STUDY
1. Tell in your own words the story of this canto. 2. Which muse does Spenser invoke? 3. Who were the nine muses? 4. What is the difference between _pastoral_ and _epic_ poetry? 5. Illustrate by _The Shepheards Calender_ and the _The Faerie Queene_. 6. Point out imitations of Homer, Vergil, Lucan, Statius, Ariosto, Tasso, and Chaucer. 7. Explain the reference to the religious questions and politics of Queen Elizabeth's reign. 8. Where does Spenser use classical mythology--mediaeval legends? 9. What references to the Bible do you find? 10. Try to make a mental picture of the Knight--of Una--of Error--of Archimago. 11. Is Spenser's character drawing objective or subjective? 12. Is the description of the wood in vii true to nature? Could so many trees grow together in a thick wood? 13. Study the Rembrandt-like effects of light and shade in xiv. 14. What infernal deities are conjured up by Archimago?
15. Paraphrase in your own language ll. 88, 106-107, 116, 267-268.
16. Explain use of _of_ in l. 75. 17. What part of speech is _wandering_ l. 114? _to viewen_ l. 201? parse _which_ l. 232; _him_ and _spend_ l. 233; _you_ and _shew_ l. 276. 18. Find examples of Euphuistic hyperbole in iv, of alliteration in xiv. 19. Explain the use and form of _eyne_, _edified_, _afflicted_, _weeds_, _Hebean_, _impe_, _compeld_, _areeds_, _blazon_, _ycladd_.
[The end] ________________________________________________
GO TO TOP OF SCREEN
Edmund Spenser's poem: The Faerie Queene, Book I, Canto 1