1590 Edition, Book III, Cantos XI and XII of The Faerie Queene
Skipped stanzas are summarized in prose.
The third Booke of the Faerie Queene.
Contayning The Legend of Britomartis. OR Of Chastity.
Britomart chaceth Ollyphant,
findes Scudamour distrest:
Assayes the house of Busyrane,
where loues spoyles are exprest,
Britomart, a lady knight in search of her own love, is chasing after the villainous Ollyphant when she is detained by her encounter with the despairing Scudamour.
Fayre Britomart so long him followed,
That she at last came to a fountaine sheare,
By which there lay a knight all wallowed
Vpon the grassy ground, and by him neare
His haberieon, his helmet, and his speare;
A little of his shield was rudely throwne,
On which the winged boy in colours cleare
Depeincted was, full easie to be knowne,
And he thereby, where euer it in field was showne.
His face vpon the grownd did groueling ly,
As if he had beene slombring in the shade,
That the braue Mayd would not for courtesy,
Out of his quiet slomber him abrade,
Nor seeme too suddeinly him to inuade:
Still as she stood, she heard with grieuous throb
Him grone, as if his hart were peeces made,
And with most painefull pangs to sigh and sob,
That pitty did the Virgins hart of patience rob.
At last forth breaking into bitter plaintes
He sayd, O souerayne Lord that sit'st on hye,
And raignst in blis emongst thy blessed Saintes,
How suffrest thou such shamefull cruelty,
So long vnwreaked of thine enimy?
Or hast, thou Lord, of good mens cause no heed?
Or doth thy iustice sleepe, and silently?
What booteth then the good and righteous deed,
If goodnesse find no grace, nor righteousnes no meed?
If good find grace, and righteousnes reward,
Why then is Amoret in caytiue band,
Sith that more bounteous creature neuer far'd
On foot, vpon the face of liuing land?
Or if that heuenly iustice may withstand
The wrongfull outrage of vnrighteous men,
Why then is Busiranewith wicked hand
Suffred, these seuen monethes day in secret den
My Lady and my loue so cruelly to pen?
My Lady and my loue is cruelly pend
In dolefull darkenes from the vew of day,
Whilest deadly torments doe her chast brest rend,
And the sharpe steele doth riue her hart in tway,
All for she Scudamore will not denay.
Yet thou vile man, vile Scudamore art sound,
Ne canst her ay de, ne canst her foe dismay;
Vnworthy wretch to tread vpon the ground,
For whom so faire a Lady feeles so sore a wound.
There an huge heape of singulfes did oppresse
His strugling soule, and swelling throbs empeach
His foltring toung with pangs of drerinesse,
Choking the remnant of his plaintife speach,
As if his dayes were come to their last reach.
Which when she heard, and saw the ghastly fit,
Threatning into his life to make a breach,
Both with great ruth and terrour she was smit,
Fearing least from her cage the wearie soule would flit.
Tho stouping downe she him amoued light;
Who therewith somewhat starting, vp gan looke,
And seeing him behind a stranger knight,
Whereas no liuing creature he mistooke,
With great indignaunce he that sight forsooke,
And downe againe himselfe disdainefully
Abiecting, th'earth with his faire forhead strooke:
Which the bold Virgin seeing, gan apply
Fit medcine to his griefe, and spake thus courtesly.
Ah gentle knight, whose deepe conceiued griefe
Well seemest'exceede the powre of patience,
Yet if that heuenly gracesome good reliefe
You send, submit you to high prouidence,
And euer in your noble hart prepense,
That all the sorrow in the world is lesse,
Then vertues might, and values confidence.
For who nill bide the burden of distresse,
Must not here thinke to liue: for life is wretchednesse.
Therefore, faire Sir, doe comfort to you take,
And freely read, what wicked felon so
Hath outrag'd you, and thrald your gentle make.
Perhaps this hand may helpe to ease your woe,
And wreake your sorrow on your cruell foe,
At least it faire endeuour will apply.
Those feeling words so neare the quicke did goe,
That vp his head he reared easily,
And leaning on his elbowe, these few words lett fly.
What boots it plaine, that cannot be redrest,
And fow vaine sorrow in a fruitlesse eare,
Sith powre of hand, nor skill of learned brest,
Ne worldly price cannot redeeme my deare,
Out of her thraldome and continuall feare?
For he the tyrant, which her hath in ward
By strong enchauntments and blacke Magicke leare,
Hath in a dungeon deepe her close embard,
And many dreadfull feends hath pointed to her gard.
There he tormenteth her most terribly,
And day and night afflicts with mortall paine,
Because to yield him loue she doth deny,
Once to me yold, not to be yolde againe:
But yet by torture he would her constraine
Loue to conceiue in her disdainfull brest;
Till so she doe, she must in doole remaine,
Ne may by liuing meanes be thence relest:
What boots it then to plaine, that cannot be redrest?
With this sad hersall of his heauy stresse,
The warlike Damzell was empassiond sore,
And sayd, Sir knight, your cause is nothing lesse,
Then is your sorrow, certes if not more;
For nothing so much pitty doth implore,
As gentle Ladyes helplesse misery.
But yet, if please ye listen to my lore,
I will with proofe of last extremity,
Deliuer her fro thence, or with her for you dy.
Ah gentlest knight aliue, (sayd Scudamore)
What huge heroicke magnanimity
Dwells in thy bounteous brest? what couldst thou more,
If shee were thine, and thou as now am I?
O spare thy happy daies, and them apply
To better boot, but let me die, that ought;
More is more losse: one is enough to dy,
Life is not lost, (said she) for which is bought
Endlesse renowm, that more then death is to be sought.
Thus shee at length persuaded him to rise,
And with her wend, to see what new successe
Mote him befall vpon new enterprise:
His armes, which he had vowed to disprofesse,
She gathered vp and did about him dresse,
And his forwandred steed vnto him gott:
So forth they both yfere make their progresse,
And march not past the mountenaunce of a shott,
Till they arriu'd, whereas their purpose they did plott.
There they dismounting, drew their weapons bold
And stoutly came vnto the Castle gate;
Whereas no gate they found, them to withhold,
Nor ward to wait at morne and euening late,
But in the Porch, that did them sore amate,
A flaming fire, ymixt with smouldry smoke,
And stinking Sulphure, that with griesly hate
And dreadfull horror did all entraunce choke,
Enforced them their forward footing to reuoke.
Greatly thereat was Britomart dismayd,
Ne in that stownd wist, how her selfe to beare;
For daunger vaine it were to haue assayd
That cruell element, which all things feare,
Ne none can suffer to approchen neare:
And turning backe to Scudamour, thus sayd;
What monstrous enmity prouoke we heare,
Foolhardy, as the Earthes children, which made
Batteill against the Gods? so we a God inuade.
Daunger without discretion to attempt,
Inglorious and beastlike is: therefore Sir knight,
Aread what course of you is safest dempt.
And how we with our foe may come to fight.
This is (quoth he) the dolorous despight,
Which earst to you I playnd: for neither may
This fire be quencht by any witt or might,
Ne yet by any meanes remou'd away;
So mighty be th'enchau~tments, which the same do stay.
What is there ells, but cease these fruitlesse paines,
And leaue me to my former languishing?
Faire Amorett must dwell in wicked chaines,
And Scudamore here die with sorrowing.
Perdy not so; (saide shee) for shameful thing
Yt were t'abandon noble cheuisaunce,
For shewe of perill, without venturing:
Rather let try extremities of chaunce,
Then enterprised praise for dread to disauaunce.
Therewith resolu'd to proue her vtmost might,
Her ample shield she threw before her face,
And her swords point directing forward right,
Assayld the flame, the which eftesoones gaue place,
And did it selfe diuide with equall space,
That through she passed, as a thonder bolt
Perceth the yielding ayre, and doth displace
The soring clouds into sad showres ymolt;
So to her yold the flames, and did their force reuolt.
Whome whenas Scudam our saw past the fire,
Safe and vntoucht, he likewise gan assay,
With greedy will, and enuious desire,
And bad the stubborne flames to yield him way:
But cruell Mulciber would not obay
His threatfull pride, but did the more augment
His mighty rage, and with imperious sway
Him forst (maulgre) his fercenes to relent,
And backe retire, all scorcht and pitifully brent.
With huge impatience he inly swelt,
More for great sorrow, that he could not pas,
Then for the burning torment, which he felt,
That with fell woodnes he effierced was,
And wilfully him throwing on the gras,
Did beat and bounse his head and brestful sore;
The whiles the Championesse now decked has
The vtmost rowme, and past the formest dore,
The vtmost rowme, abounding with all precious store.
The maske of Cupid, and th'enchanted
Chamber are displayd,
Whence Britomart redeemes faire
Amoret, through charmes decayd.
Britomart enters the house of Busirane, and enters the first room to find the walls hung with tapestries depicting the loves and disguises of the ever-shifting Cupid. The second room is all in cold, leading to an altar on which a statue of Cupid stands, blindfolded.
By the door to the innermost room of the apparently deserted castle, where she waits until evening, seeing no one, not sleeping, her weapons dressed about her in readiness.
After all these there marcht a most faire Dame,
Led of two grysie villeins, th'one Despight,
The other cleped Cruelty by name:
She dolefull Lady, like a dreary Spright,
Cald by strong charmes out of eternall night,
Had Deathes owne ymage figurd in her face,
Full of sad signes, fearfull to liuing sight,
Yet in that horror shewd a seemely grace,
And with her feeble feete did moue a comely pace.
Her brest all naked, as nett yuory,
Without adorne of gold or siluer bright,
Wherewith the Craftesman wonts it beautify,
Of her dew honour was despoyled quight,
And a wide wound therein (O ruefull sight)
Entrenched deep with knyfe accursed keene,
Yet freshly bleeding forth her fainting spright,
(The worke of cruell hand) was to be seene,
That dyde in sanguine red her skin all snowy cleene.
At that wide orifice her trembling hart
Was drawne forth, and in siluer basin layd,
Quite through transfixed with a deadly dart,
And in her blood yet steeming fresh embayd:
And those two villeins, which her steps vpstayd,
When her weake feete could scarcely her sustaine,
And fading vitall powres gan to fade,
Her forward skill with torture did constraine,
And euermore encreased her consuming paine.
During the night, Britomart witnesses the entrance of various costumed figures to Busirane's Maske of Cupid.
Following Ease, Fancy, Desyre, Doubt, Daunger, Feare, Hope, Dissemblance, Suspect, Dissemblance, Griefe, Fury, Displeasure, and Pleasure, Amoret enters the mask.
After Amoret, Cupid rides into the maske, followed by Reproch, Repentence, Shame, and a confused "rout / Of persons flockt," including Strife, Anger, Care, Unthriftihead, Losse of Time, Sorrow, Change, Disloyaltie, Riotise, Dread, Infitmity, Povertie, and finally death.
The doors lock behind the members of the masque. Unable to open it with either force or magic, Britomart waits until the next night, when the masque arizes again and then, concealed in dark costume, she enters the innermost room of the house of Busirane.
So soone as she was entred, rownd about
Shee cast her eies, to see what was become
Of all those persons, which she saw without:
But lo, they streight were vanisht all and some,
Ne liuing wight she saw in all that roome,
Saue that same woefull Lady, both whose hands
Were bounden fast, that did her ill become,
And her small waste girt rownd with yron bands,
Vnto a brasen pillour, by the which she stands.
And her before the vile Enchaunter sate,
Figuring straunge characters of his art,
With liuing blood he those characters wrate,
Dreadfully dropping from her dying hart,
Seeming transfixed with a cruell dart,
And all perforce to make her him to loue.
Ah who can loue the worker of her smart?
A thousand charmes he formerly did proue;
Yet thousand charmes could not her stedfast hart re|moue.
Soone as that virgin knight he saw in place,
His wicked bookes in hast he ouerthrew,
Not caring his long labours to deface,
And fiercely running to that Lady trew,
A murdrous knife out of his pocket drew,
The which he thought, for villeinous despight,
In her tormented bodie to embrew:
But the stout Damzell to him leaping light,
His cursed hand withheld, and maistered his might.
From her, to whom his fury first he ment,
The wicked weapon rashly he did wrest,
And turning to the next his fell intent.
Vnwares it strooke into her snowie chest,
That litle drops empurpled her faire brest.
Exceeding wroth therewith the virgin grew,
Albe the wound were nothing deepe imprest,
And fiercely forth her mortall blade she drew,
To giue him the reward for such vile outrage dew.
So mightily she smote him, that to ground
He fell halfe dead; next stroke him should haue slaine,
Had not the Lady, which by him stood bound,
Dernly vnto him called to abstaine,
From doing him to dy. For else her paine
Should be remedilesse, sith none but hee,
Which wrought it, could the same recure againe.
Therewith she stayd her hand, loth stayd to bee;
For life she him enuyde, and long'd reuenge to see.
And to him said, Thou wicked man, whose meed
For so huge mischiefe, and vile villany
Is death, or if that ought doe death exceed,
Be sure, that nought may saue thee from to dy,
But if that thou this Dame doe presently
Restore vnto her health, and former state;
This doe and liue, els dye vndoubtedly.
He glad of life, that lookt for death but late,
Did yield him selfe right willing to prolong his date.
And rising vp, gan streight to ouerlooke
Those cursed leaues, his charmes back to reuerse;
Full dreadfull thinges out of that balefull booke
He red, and measur'd many a sad verse,
That horrour gan the virgins hart to perse,
And her faire locks vp stared stiffe on end,
Hearing him those same bloody lynes reherse;
And all the while he red, she did extend
Her sword high ouer him, if ought he did offend.
Anon she gan perceiue the house to quake,
And all the dores to rattle round about;
Yet all that did not her dismaied make,
Nor slack her threatfull hand for daungers dout,
But still with stedfast eye and courage stout,
Abode to weet, what end would come of all.
At last that mightie chaine, which round about
Her tender waste was wound, adowne gan fall,
And that great brasen pillour broke in peeces small.
The cruell steele, which thrild her dying hart,
Fell softly forth, as of his owne accord,
And the wyde wound, which lately did dispart
Her bleeding brest, and riuen bowels gor'd,
Was closed vp, as it had not beene sor'd,
And euery part to safety full sownd,
As she were neuer hurt, was soone restor'd:
Tho when she felt her selfe to be vnbownd,
And perfect hole, prostrate she fell vnto the grownd,
Before faire Britomart, she fell prostrate,
Saying, Ah noble knight, what worthy meede
Can wretched Lady, quitt from wofull state,
Yield you in lieu of this your gracious deed;
Your vertue selfe her owne reward shall breed,
Euen immortall prayse, and glory wyde
Which I your vassall, by your prowesse freed,
Shall through the world make to be notifyde,
And goodly well aduaunce that goodly well was tryde.
But Britomart vprearing her from grownd,
Said, Gentle Dame, reward enough I weene
For many labours more, then I haue found,
This, that in safetie now I haue you seene,
And meane of your deliuerance haue beene:
Henceforth faire Lad comfort to you take,
And put away remembraunce of late teene;
Insted thereof know, that your louing Make,
Hath no lesse griefe endured for your gentle sake.
She much was cheard to heare him mentiond,
Whom of all liuing wightes she loued best.
Then laid the noble Championesse strong hond
Vpon th'enchaunter, which had her distrest
So sore, and with foule outrages opprest:
With that great chaine, wherewith not long ygoe
He bound that pitteous Lady prisoner, now relest,
Himselfe she bound, more worthy to be so,
And captiue with her led to wretchednesse and wo.
Returning back, those goodly rowmes, which erst
He saw so rich and royally arayd,
Now vanisht vtterly, and cleane subuerst
He found, and all their glory quite decayd,
That sight of such a chaunge him much dismayd.
Thenceforth descending to that perlous Porch,
Those dreadfull flames she also found delayd,
And quenched quite, like a consumed torch,
That erst all entrers wont so cruelly to scorch.
At last she came vnto the place, where late
She left Sir Scudamour in great distresse,
Twixt dolour and despight halfe desperate,
Of his loues succour, of his owne redresse,
And of the hardie Britomarts successe:
There on the cold earth him now thrown she found,
In wilfull anguish, and dead heauinesse,
And to him cald; whose voices knowen sound
Soone as he heard, himself he reared light from ground.
There did he see, that most on earth him ioyd,
His dearest loue, the comfort of his dayes,
Whose too long absence him had sore annoyd,
And wearied his life with dull delayes:
Straight he vp started from the loath ed layes,
And to her ran with hasty egernesse,
Like as a Deare, that greedily embayes
In the coole soile, after long thirstinesse,
Which he in chace endured hath, now nigh breathlesse.
Lightly he clipt her twixt his armes twaine,
And streightly did embrace her body bright,
Her body, late the prison of sad paine,
Now the sweet lodge of loue and deare delight:
But she faire Lady ouercommen quight
Of huge affection, did in pleasure melt,
And in sweete rauishment pourd out her spright:
No word they spake, nor earthly thing they felt,
But like two senceles stocks in long embraceme~t dwelt.
Had ye them seene, ye would haue surely thought,
That they had beene that faire Hermaphrodite,
Which that rich Romaneof white marble wrought,
And in his costly Bath causd to bee site:
So seemd those two, as growne together quite,
That Britomart halfe enuying their blesse,
Was much empassiond in her gentle sprite,
And to her selfe oft wisht like happinesse,
In vaine she wisht, that fate n'ould let her yet possesse.
Thus doe those louers with sweet counteruayle,
Each other of loues bitter fruit despoile.
But now my teme begins to faint and fayle,
All woxen weary of their iournall toyle:
Therefore I will their sweatie yokes assoyle
At this same furrowes end, till a new day:
And ye faire Swayns, after your long turmoyle,
Now cease your worke, and at your pleasure play;
Now cease your worke; to morrow is an holy day.