The Faerie Queene

Author: Edmund Spenser  | Date: 1596


The maske of Cupid, and the enchant-

ed Chamber are displayd;

Whence Britomart redeemes faire A-

moret through charmes decayd.

I. THO, whenas chearelesse Night ycovered had

Fayre heaven with an universall clowd,

That every wight dismayd with darkenes sad

In silence and in sleepe themselves did shrowd,

She heard a shrilling Trompet sound alowd,

Signe of nigh battaill, or got victory:

Nought therewith daunted was her courage prowd,

But rather stird to cruell enmity,

Expecting ever when some foe she might descry.

II. With that an hideous storme of winde arose,

With dreadfull thunder and lightning atwixt,

And an earthquake, as if it streight would lose

The worlds foundations from his centre fixt:

A direfull stench of smoke and sulphure mixt

Ensewd, whose noyaunce fild the fearefull sted

From the fourth howre of night untill the sixt;

Yet the bold Britonesse was nought ydred,

Though much emmov’d, but stedfast still persevered.

III. All suddeinly a stormy whirlwind blew

Throughout the house, that clapped every dore,

With which that yron wicket open flew,

As it with mighty levers had bene tore;

And forth yssewd, as on the readie flore

Of some Theatre, a grave personage

That in his hand a braunch of laurell bore,

With comely haveour and count’nance sage,

Yclad in costly garments fit for tragicke Stage.

IV. Proceeding to the midst he stil did stand,

As if in minde he somewhat had to say;

And to the vulgare beckning with his hand,

In signe of silence, as to heare a play,

By lively actions he gan bewray

Some argument of matter passioned:

Which doen, he backe retyred soft away,

And, passing by, his name discovered,

Ease, on his robe in golden letters cyphered.

V. The noble Mayd still standing all this vewd,

And merveild at his straunge intendiment.

With that a joyous fellowship issewd

Of Minstrales making goodly meriment,

With wanton Bardes, and Rymers impudent;

All which together song full chearefully

A lay of loves delight with sweet concent:

After whom marcht a jolly company,

In manner of a maske, enranged orderly.

VI. The whiles a most delitious harmony

In full straunge notes was sweetly heard to sound,

That the rare sweetnesse of the melody

The feeble sences wholly did confound,

And the frayle soule in deepe delight nigh drownd:

And, when it ceast, shrill trompets lowd did bray,

That their report did far away rebound;

And, when they ceast, it gan againe to play,

The whiles the maskers marched forth in trim aray.

VII. The first was Fansy, like a lovely Boy

Of rare aspect, and beautie without peare,

Matchable ether to that ympe of Troy,

Whom Jove did love and chose his cup to beare;

Or that same daintie lad, which was so deare

To great Alcides, that, when as he dyde,

He wailed womanlike with many a teare,

And every wood and every valley wyde

He filled with Hylas name; the Nymphes eke Hylas cryde.

VIII. His garment nether was of silke nor say,

But paynted plumes in goodly order dight,

Like as the sunburnt Indians do aray

Their tawney bodies in their proudest plight:

As those same plumes so seemd he vaine and light,

That by his gate might easily appeare;

For still he far’d as dauncing in delight,

And in his hand a windy fan did beare,

That in the ydle ayre he mov’d still here and theare.

IX. And him beside marcht amorous Desyre,

Who seemd of ryper yeares then th’ other Swayne,

Yet was that other swayne this elders syre,

And gave him being, commune to them twayne:

His garment was disguysed very vayne,

And his embrodered Bonet sat awry:

Twixt both his hands few sparks he close did strayne,

Which still he blew and kindled busily,

That soone they life conceiv’d, and forth in flames did


X. Next after him went Doubt, who was yclad

In a discolour’d cote of straunge disguyse,

That at his backe a brode Capuccio had,

And sleeves dependaunt Albanese-wyse:

He lookt askew with his mistrustfull eyes,

And nycely trode, as thornes lay in his way,

Or that the flore to shrinke he did avyse;

And on a broken reed he still did stay

His feeble steps, which shrunck when hard thereon he lay.

XI. With him went Daunger, cloth’d in ragged weed

Made of Beares skin, that him more dreadfull made;

Yet his owne face was dreadfull, ne did need

Straunge horrour to deforme his griesly shade:

A net in th’ one hand, and a rusty blade

In th’ other was; this Mischiefe, that Mishap:

With th’ one his foes he threatned to invade,

With th’ other he his friends ment to enwrap;

For whom he could not kill he practizd to entrap.

XII. Next him was Feare, all arm’d from top to toe,

Yet thought himselfe not safe enough thereby,

But feard each shadow moving too or froe;

And, his owne armes when glittering he did spy

Or clashing heard, he fast away did fly,

As ashes pale of hew, and winged heeld,

And evermore on Daunger fixt his eye,

Gainst whom he alwayes bent a brasen shield,

Which his right hand unarmed fearefully did wield.

XIII. With him went Hope in rancke, a handsome Mayd,

Of chearefull looke and lovely to behold:

In silken samite she was light arayd,

And her fayre lockes were woven up in gold:

She alway smyld, and in her hand did hold

An holy-water-sprinckle, dipt in deowe,

With which she sprinckled favours manifold

On whom she list, and did great liking sheowe,

Great liking unto many, but true love to feowe.

XIV. And after them Dissemblaunce and Suspect

Marcht in one rancke, yet an unequall paire;

For she was gentle and of milde aspect,

Courteous to all and seeming debonaire,

Goodly adorned and exceeding faire:

Yet was that all but paynted and pourloynd,

And her bright browes were deckt with borrowed haire;

Her deeds were forged, and her words false coynd,

And alwaies in her hand two clewes of silke she twynd.

XV. But he was fowle, ill favoured, and grim,

Under his eiebrowes looking still askaunce;

And ever, as Dissemblaunce laught on him,

He lowrd on her with daungerous eyeglaunce,

Shewing his nature in his countenaunce:

His rolling eies did never rest in place,

But walkte each where for feare of hid mischaunce,

Holding a lattis still before his face,

Through which he stil did peep as forward he did pace.

XVI. Next him went Griefe and Fury, matcht yfere;

Griefe all in sable sorrowfully clad,

Downe hanging his dull head with heavy chere,

Yet inly being more then seeming sad:

A paire of Pincers in his hand he had,

With which he pinched people to the hart,

That from thenceforth a wretched life they ladd,

In wilfull languor and consuming smart,

Dying each day with inward wounds of dolours dart.

XVII. But Fury was full ill appareiled

In rags, that naked nigh she did appeare,

With ghastly looks and dreadfull drerihed;

And from her backe her garments she did teare,

And from her head ofte rente her snarled heare:

In her right hand a firebrand shee did tosse

About her head, still roming here and there;

As a dismayed Deare in chace embost,

Forgetfull of his safety, hath his right way lost.

XVIII. After them went Displeasure and Pleasaunce,

He looking lompish and full sullein sad,

And hanging downe his heavy countenaunce;

She chearfull, fresh, and full of joyaunce glad,

As if no sorrow she ne felt ne drad;

That evill matched paire they seemd to bee:

An angry Waspe th’ one in a viall had,

Th’ other in hers an hony-laden Bee.

Thus marched these six couples forth in faire degree.

XIX. 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 living sight;

Yet in that horror shewd a seemely grace,

And with her feeble feete did move a comely pace.

XX. Her brest all naked, as nett yvory

Without adorne of gold or silver 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.

XXI. 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 steeming fresh embayd:

And those two villeins, which her steps upstayd,

When her weake feete could scarcely her sustaine,

And fading vitall powres gan to fade,

Her forward still with torture did constraine,

And evermore encreased her consuming paine.

XXII. Next after her, the winged God him selfe

Came riding on a Lion ravenous,

Taught to obay the menage of that Elfe

That man and beast with powre imperious

Subdeweth to his kingdome tyrannous.

His blindfold eies he bad awhile unbinde,

That his proud spoile of that same dolorous

Faire Dame he might behold in perfect kinde;

Which seene, he much rejoyced in his cruell minde.

XXIII. Of which ful prowd, him selfe up rearing hye

He looked round about with sterne disdayne,

And did survay his goodly company;

And, marshalling the evill-ordered trayne,

With that the darts which his right hand did straine

Full dreadfully he shooke, that all did quake,

And clapt on hye his coulourd winges twaine,

That all his many it affraide did make:

Tho, blinding him againe, his way he forth did take.

XXIV. Behinde him was Reproch, Repentaunce, Shame;

Reproch the first, Shame next, Repent behinde:

Repentaunce feeble, sorrowful, and lame;

Reproch despightfull, carelesse, and unkinde;

Shame most ill-favourd, bestiall, and blinde:

Shame lowrd, Repentaunce sighd, Reproch did scould;

Reproch sharpe stings, Repentaunce whips entwinde,

Shame burning brond-yrons in her hand did hold:

All three to each unlike, yet all made in one mould.

XXV. And after them a rude confused rout

Of persons flockt, whose names is hard to read:

Emongst them was sterne Strife, and Anger stout;

Unquiet Care, and fond Unthriftyhead;

Lewd Losse of Time, and Sorrow seeming dead;

Inconstant Chaunge, and false Disloyalty;

Consuming Riotise, and guilty Dread

Of heavenly vengeaunce; faint Infirmity;

Vile Poverty; and, lastly, Death with infamy.

XXVI. There were full many moe like maladies,

Whose names and natures I note readen well;

So many moe, as there be phantasies

In wavering wemens witt, that none can tell,

Or paines in love, or punishments in hell:

All which disguized marcht in masking wise

About the chamber by the Damozell;

And then returned, having marched thrise,

Into the inner rowme from whence they first did rise.

XXVII. So soone as they were in, the dore streightway

Fast locked, driven with that stormy blast

Which first it opened, and bore all away.

Then the brave Maid, which al this while was plast

In secret shade, and saw both first and last,

Issewed forth, and went unto the dore

To enter in, but fownd it locked fast:

It vaine she thought with rigorous uprore

For to efforce, when charmes had closed it afore.

XXVIII. Where force might not availe, there sleights and art

She cast to use, both fitt for hard emprize:

Forthy from that same rowme not to depart

Till morrow next shee did her selfe avize,

When that same Maske againe should forth arize.

The morrowe nexte appeard with joyous cheare,

Calling men to their daily exercize:

Then she, as morrow fresh, her selfe did reare

Out of her secret stand that day for to outweare.

XXIX. All that day she outwore in wandering

And gazing on that Chambers ornament,

Till that againe the second evening

Her covered with her sable vestiment,

Wherewith the worlds faire beautie she hath blent:

Then, when the second watch was almost past,

That brasen dore flew open, and in went

Bold Britomart, as she had late forecast,

Nether of ydle showes, nor of false charmes aghast.

XXX. 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 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 rownd with yron bands

Upon a brasen pillour, by the which she stands.

XXXI. And her before the vile Enchaunter sate,

Figuring straunge 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.

XXXII. Soone as that virgin knight he saw in place,

His wicked bookes in hast he overthrew,

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.

XXXIII. From her, to whom his fury first he ment,

The wicked weapon rashly he did wrest,

And, turning to herselfe, his fell intent,

Unwares 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 give him the reward for such vile outrage dew.

XXXIV. 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 her 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 envyde, and long’d revenge to see:

XXXV. 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 dy

But if that thou this Dame do presently

Restore unto her health and former state:

This doe, and live, els dye undoubtedly."

He, glad of life, that lookt for death but late,

Did yield him selfe right willing to prolong his date:

XXXVI. And, rising up, gan streight to over-looke

Those cursed leaves, his charmes back to reverse.

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 up stared stiffe on end,

Hearing him those same bloody lynes reherse;

And, all the while he red, she did extend

Her sword high over him, if ought he did offend.

XXXVII. Anon she gan perceive 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.

XXXVIII. 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 riven bowels gor’d,

Was closed up, as it had not beene bor’d,

And every part to safety full sownd,

As she were never hurt, was soone restord.

Tho, when she felt her selfe to be unbownd

And perfect hole, prostrate she fell unto the grownd.

XXXIX. 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,

Even immortal prayse and glory wyde,

Which I your vassall, by your prowesse freed,

Shall through the world make to be notifyde,

And goodly well advaunce that goodly well was tryde."

XL. But Britomart, uprearing her from grownd,

Said: "Gentle Dame, reward enough I weene,

For many labours more then I have found,

This, that in safetie now I have you seene,

And meane of your deliverance have beene.

Henceforth, faire Lady, comfort to you take,

And put away remembrance of late teene;

Insted thereof, know that your loving Make

Hath no lesse griefe endured for your gentle sake."

XLI. She much was cheard to heare him mentiond,

Whom of all living wightes she loved best.

Then laid the noble Championesse strong hond

Upon 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 captive with her led to wretchednesse and wo.

XLII. Returning back, those goodly rowmes, which erst

She saw so rich and royally arayd,

Now vanisht utterly and cleane subverst

She found, and all their glory quite decayd;

That sight of such a chaunge her much dismayd

Thence forth 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.

XLIII. More easie issew now then entrance late

She found; for now that fained dreadfull flame,

Which chokt the porch of that enchaunted gate

And passage bard to all that thither came,

Was vanisht quite, as it were not the same,

And gave her leave at pleasure forth to passe.

Th’ Enchaunter selfe, which all that fraud did frame

To have efforst the love of that faire lasse,

Seeing his worke now wasted, deepe engrieved was.

XLIV. But when the Victoresse arrived there

Where late she left the pensife Scudamore

With her own trusty Squire, both full of feare,

Neither of them she found where she them lore:

Thereat her noble hart was stonisht sore;

But most faire Amoret, whose gentle spright

Now gan to feede on hope, which she before

Conceived had, to see her own deare knight,

Being thereof beguyld, was fild with new affright.

XLV. But he, sad man, when he had long in drede

Awayted there for Britomarts returne,

Yet saw her not, nor signe of her good speed,

His expectation to despaire did turne,

Misdeeming sure that her those flames did burne;

And therefore gan advize with her old Squire,

Who her deare nourslings losse no lesse did mourne,

Thence to depart for further aide t’ enquire:

Where let them wend at will, whilest here I doe respire.


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Chicago: Edmund Spenser, "Canto XII," The Faerie Queene in Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0 (Irvine, CA: World Library, Inc., 1996), Original Sources, accessed March 24, 2019,

MLA: Spenser, Edmund. "Canto XII." The Faerie Queene, in Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0, Irvine, CA, World Library, Inc., 1996, Original Sources. 24 Mar. 2019.

Harvard: Spenser, E, 'Canto XII' in The Faerie Queene. cited in 1996, Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0, World Library, Inc., Irvine, CA. Original Sources, retrieved 24 March 2019, from