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.
Containing The Legend of Britomartis. OR Of Chastity.
Britomart chaceth Ollyphant,
findes Scudamour distress'd :
Assayes the house of Busyrane,
where loves spoils are express'd ,
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.
Faire Britomart so long him followed,
That she at last came to a fountaine sheare,
By which there lay a knight all wallowed
Upon the grassy ground, and by him neare
His habergeon , his helmet, and his speare;
A little of his shield was rudely throwne,
On which the winged boy in colours cleare
Depicted was, full easy to be knowne,
And he thereby, where ever it in field was showne.
His face upon the ground did grovelling lie ,
As if he had beene slumb'ring in the shade,
That the brave Mayd would not for courtesy,
Out of his quiet slumber him abrade,
Nor seeme too suddeinly him to invade :
Still as she stood, she heard with grievous throb
Him groan , as if his hart were pieces made,
And with most painefull pangs to sigh and sob,
That pity did the Virgins hart of patience rob.
At last forth breaking into bitter plaintes
He said , O sovereign Lord that sit'st on high ,
And reigns in bliss among thy blessed Saintes,
How suffrest thou such shamefull cruelty,
So long unwreaked of thine enemy ?
Or hast, thou Lord, of good mens cause no heed?
Or doth thy justice sleepe, and silently?
What booteth then the good and righteous deed,
If goodnesse find no grace, nor righteousness no meed?
If good find grace, and righteousness reward,
Why then is Amoret in caytiue bann'd ,
Sith that more bounteous creature never far'd
On foot, upon the face of living land?
Or if that heavenly justice may withstand
The wrongfull outrage of unrighteous men,
Why then is Busiranewith wicked hand
Suff'red , these seven months day in secret den
My Lady and my love so cruelly to pen?
My Lady and my love is cruelly penn'd
In dolefull darkness from the view of day,
Whilest deadly torments doe her chast brest rend,
And the sharpe steele doth rive 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;
Unworthy wretch to tread upon the ground,
For whom so faire a Lady feeles so sore a wound.
There an huge heape of singulfes did oppresse
His struggling soule, and swelling throbs empeach
His falt'ring toungue with pangs of drearinesse ,
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,
Threat'ning into his life to make a breach,
Both with great ruth and terrour she was smit,
Fearing least from her cage the weary soule would flit.
Though stooping downe she him amoved light;
Who therewith somewhat starting, up gan looke,
And seeing him behind a stranger knight,
Whereas no living creature he mistooke,
With great indignance he that sight forsooke,
And downe againe himselfe disdainefully
Abjecting , th'earth with his faire forhead strooke:
Which the bold Virgin seeing, gan apply
Fit med'cine to his griefe, and spake thus courtesly.
Ah gentle knight, whose deepe conceived griefe
Well seemest'exceede the power of patience,
Yet if that heavenly gracesome good reliefe
You send, submit you to high providence ,
And ever in your noble hart prepense,
That all the sorrow in the world is lesse,
Then virtues might, and values confidence.
For who nill bide the burden of distresse,
Must not here thinke to live : for life is wretchednesse.
Therefore, faire Sir, doe comfort to you take,
And freely read, what wicked felon so
Hath outrag'd you, and thrall'd your gentle make.
Perhaps this hand may helpe to ease your woe,
And wreake your sorrow on your cruell foe,
At least it faire endeavor will apply.
Those feeling words so neare the quicke did goe,
That up his head he reared easily,
And leaning on his elbowe, these few words lett fly.
What boots it plaine, that cannot be redress'd ,
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 enchantments and blacke Magicke leare,
Hath in a dungeon deepe her close embarr'd ,
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 love she doth deny,
Once to me yold, not to be yolde againe:
But yet by torture he would her constraine
Love to conceive in her disdainfull brest;
Till so she doe, she must in doole remaine,
Ne may by living meanes be thence relest:
What boots it then to plaine, that cannot be redress'd ?
With this sad hersall of his heavy stresse,
The warlike Damzell was empassiond sore,
And said , Sir knight, your cause is nothing lesse,
Then is your sorrow, certes if not more;
For nothing so much pity doth implore,
As gentle Ladies helplesse misery.
But yet, if please ye listen to my lore,
I will with proofe of last extremity,
Deliver her from thence, or with her for you die .
Ah gentlest knight alive , (said Scudamore)
What huge heroicke magnanimity
Dwells in thy bounteous brest? what couldst thou more,
If she were thine, and thou as now am I?
O spare thy happy dayes , and them apply
To better boot, but let me die, that ought;
More is more losse: one is enough to die ,
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 upon new enterprise:
His armes, which he had vowed to disprofesse,
She gathered up and did about him dresse,
And his forwand'red steed unto him got :
So forth they both yfere make their progresse,
And march not past the mountenaunce of a shott,
Till they arriv'd , whereas their purpose they did plot .
There they dismounting, drew their weapons bold
And stoutly came unto the Castle gate;
Whereas no gate they found, them to withhold,
Nor ward to wait at morne and evening late,
But in the Porch, that did them sore amate,
A flaming fire, ymix'd with smouldry smoke,
And stinking Sulphure, that with griesly hate
And dreadfull horror did all entrance choke,
Enforced them their forward footing to revoke .
Greatly thereat was Britomart dismayd,
Ne in that stownd wist, how her selfe to beare;
For daunger vaine it were to have assay'd
That cruel element, which all things feare,
Ne none can suffer to approchen neare:
And turning backe to Scudamour, thus sayd;
What monstrous enmity provoke we heare,
Foolhardy, as the Earthes children, which made
Batteill against the Gods? so we a God invade .
Danger 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 plain'd : for neither may
This fire be quench'd by any wit or might,
Ne yet by any meanes remov'd away;
So mighty be th'enchantments , which the same do stay.
What is there ells, but cease these fruitlesse paines,
And leave me to my former languishing?
Faire Amorett must dwell in wicked chaines,
And Scudamore here die with sorrowing.
Perdy not so; (saide she ) for shameful thing
It were t'abandon noble chevisance ,
For showe of perill, without venturing:
Rather let try extremities of chance ,
Then enterprised praise for dread to disavaunce .
Therewith resolv'd to prove her utmost might,
Her ample shield she threw before her face,
And her swords point directing forward right,
Assayl'd the flame, the which eftesoones gave place,
And did it selfe divide with equall space,
That through she passed, as a thonder bolt
Perceth the yielding aire , and doth displace
The soring clouds into sad showers ymolt;
So to her yold the flames, and did their force revolt .
Whome whenas Scudam our saw past the fire,
Safe and untouch'd , he likewise gan assay,
With greedy will, and envious 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 forc'd (maulgre) his fercenes to relent,
And backe retire, all schorch'd and pitifully brent.
With huge impatience he inly swelt,
More for great sorrow, that he could not pass ,
Then for the burning torment, which he felt,
That with fell woodness he effierced was,
And wilfully him throwing on the gras,
Did beat and bounce his head and brestful sore;
The whiles the Championesse now decked has
The utmost rowme, and past the formest door ,
The utmost rowme, abounding with all precious store.
The maske of Cupid, and th'enchanted
Chamber are display'd ,
Whence Britomart redeemes faire
Amoret, through charmes decay'd .
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 march'd 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,
Call'd by strong charmes out of eternall night,
Had Deathes owne image figur'd in her face,
Full of sad signes, fearfull to living sight,
Yet in that horror show'd a seemely grace,
And with her feeble feete did move a comely pace.
Her brest all naked, as nett ivory ,
Without adorne of gold or silver bright,
Wherewith the Craftesman wonts it beautify,
Of her dew honour was despoiled quight,
And a wide wound therein (O ruefull sight)
Entrenched deep with knife 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 silver basin layd,
Quite through transfixed with a deadly dart,
And in her blood yet steaming fresh embay'd :
And those two villeins, which her steps upstay'd ,
When her weake feete could scarcely her sustaine,
And fading vitall powers gan to fade,
Her forward skill with torture did constraine,
And evermore 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, round about
She cast her eyes , to see what was become
Of all those persons, which she saw without:
But lo, they streight were vanish'd all and some,
Ne living wight she saw in all that roome,
Save that same woefull Lady, both whose hands
Were bounden fast, that did her ill become,
And her small waste girt round with iron bands,
Unto a brasen pillour, by the which she stands.
And her before the vile Enchanter sate,
Figuring strange characters of his art,
With living 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 love .
Ah who can love the worker of her smart?
A thousand charmes he formerly did prove ;
Yet thousand charmes could not her stedfast hart remove .
Soone as that virgin knight he saw in place,
His wicked bookes in haste he overthrew ,
Not caring his long labours to deface,
And fiercely running to that Lady true ,
A murd'rous knife out of his pocket drew,
The which he thought, for villeinous despight,
In her tormented body to embrew:
But the stout Damzell to him leaping light,
His cursed hand withheld, and mastered 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.
Unwares it strooke into her snowie chest,
That little drops empurpled her faire brest.
Exceeding wroth therewith the virgin grew,
Albe the wound were nothing deepe impress'd ,
And fiercely forth her mortall blade she drew,
To give him the reward for such vile outrage dew.
So mightily she smote him, that to ground
He fell halfe dead; next stroke him should have slaine,
Had not the Lady, which by him stood bound,
Dernly unto him called to abstaine,
From doing him to die . For else her paine
Should be remedilesse, sith none but he ,
Which wrought it, could the same recure againe.
Therewith she stay'd her hand, loth stay'd to be ;
For life she him envied , and long'd revenge 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 save thee from to die ,
But if that thou this Dame doe presently
Restore unto her health, and former state;
This doe and live , else die undoubtedly .
He glad of life, that look'd for death but late,
Did yield him selfe right willing to prolong his date.
And rising up , gan streight to overlooke
Those cursed leaves , his charmes back to reverse ;
Full dreadfull thinges out of that balefull booke
He read , and measur'd many a sad verse,
That horrour gan the virgins hart to perse,
And her faire locks up stared stiffe on end,
Hearing him those same bloody lines rehearse ;
And all the while he read , she did extend
Her sword high over him, if ought he did offend.
Anon she gan perceive the house to quake,
And all the dores to rattle round about;
Yet all that did not her dismay'd make,
Nor slack her threatfull hand for dangers dout,
But still with steadfast eye and courage stout,
Abode to weet, what end would come of all.
At last that mighty 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 thrill'd her dying hart,
Fell softly forth, as of his owne accord,
And the wide wound, which lately did dispart
Her bleeding brest, and riven bowels gor'd,
Was closed up , as it had not beene sor'd,
And every part to safety full sownd,
As she were never hurt, was soone restor'd:
Though when she felt her selfe to be unbown'd ,
And perfect hole, prostrate she fell unto the grownd,
Before faire Britomart, she fell prostrate,
Saying, Ah noble knight, what worthy meede
Can wretched Lady, quit from woeful state,
Yield you in lieu of this your gracious deed;
Your virtue selfe her owne reward shall breed,
Even immortall praise , and glory wide
Which I your vassall, by your prowesse freed,
Shall through the world make to be notified ,
And goodly well advance that goodly well was tried .
But Britomart uprearing her from grownd,
Said, Gentle Dame, reward enough I weene
For many labours more, then I have found,
This, that in safety now I have you seene,
And meane of your deliverance have beene:
Henceforth faire Lad comfort to you take,
And put away remembrance of late teene;
Instead thereof know, that your loving Make,
Hath no lesse griefe endured for your gentle sake.
She much was chear'd to heare him mention'd ,
Whom of all living wightes she loved best.
Then laid the noble Championesse strong hond
Upon th'enchanter , which had her distress'd
So sore, and with foule outrages oppress'd :
With that great chaine, wherewith not long ago
He bound that pitteous Lady prisoner, now relest,
Himselfe she bound, more worthy to be so,
And captive with her led to wretchednesse and woe .
Returning back, those goodly rooms , which erst
He saw so rich and royally arayd,
Now vanish'd utterly , and cleane subvers'd
He found, and all their glory quite decayd,
That sight of such a change 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 unto the place, where late
She left Sir Scudamour in great distresse,
Twixt dolour and despight halfe desperate,
Of his loves 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 heavinesse ,
And to him call'd ; whose voices knowen sound
Soone as he heard, himself he reared light from ground.
There did he see, that most on earth him joy'd ,
His dearest love , the comfort of his dayes,
Whose too long absence him had sore annoy'd ,
And wearied his life with dull delayes:
Straight he up started from the loath ed layes,
And to her ran with hasty eagernesse ,
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 clipp'd 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 love and deare delight:
But she faire Lady ouercommen quight
Of huge affection, did in pleasure melt,
And in sweete ravishment pour'd out her spright:
No word they spake, nor earthly thing they felt,
But like two senseless stocks in long embraceme~t dwelt.
Had ye them seene, ye would have surely thought,
That they had beene that faire Hermaphrodite,
Which that rich Romaneof white marble wrought,
And in his costly Bath causd to be site:
So seemd those two, as growne together quite,
That Britomart halfe envying their blesse,
Was much empassiond in her gentle sprite,
And to her selfe oft wish'd like happinesse,
In vaine she wish'd , that fate n'ould let her yet possesse.
Thus doe those lovers with sweet countervayle ,
Each other of loves bitter fruit despoile.
But now my teme begins to faint and faile ,
All woxen weary of their journall 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.