The Faerie Queene

Author: Edmund Spenser  | Date: 1596


Guyon does Furor bind in chaines,

And stops occasion:

Delivers Phaon, and therefore

By strife is rayld uppon.

I. IN brave poursuitt of honorable deed,

There is I know not (what) great difference

Betweene the vulgar and the noble seed,

Which unto things of valorous pretence

Seemes to be borne by native influence;

As feates of armes, and love to entertaine:

But chiefly skill to ride seemes a science

Proper to gentle blood: some others faine

To menage steeds, as did this vaunter, but in vaine.

II. But he, the rightfull owner of that steede,

Who well could menage and subdew his pride,

The whiles on foot was forced for to yeed

With that blacke Palmer, his most trusty guide,

Who suffred not his wandring feete to slide;

But when strong passion, or weake fleshlinesse,

Would from the right way seeke to draw him wide,

He would, through temperaunce and stedfastnesse,

Teach him the weak to strengthen, and the strong


III. It fortuned, forth faring on his way,

He saw from far, or seemed for to see,

Some troublous uprore or contentious fray,

Whereto he drew in hast it to agree.

A mad man, or that feigned mad to bee,

Drew by the heare along upon the grownd

A handsom stripling with great crueltee,

Whom sore he bett, and gor’d with many a wownd,

That cheekes with teares, and sydes with blood, did all


IV. And him behynd a wicked Hag did stalke,

In ragged robes and filthy disaray;

Her other leg was lame, that she no’te walke,

But on a staffe her feeble steps did stay:

Her lockes, that loathly were and hoarie gray,

Grew all afore, and loosely hong unrold;

But all behinde was bald, and worne away,

That none thereof could ever taken hold;

And eke her face ill-favourd, full of wrinckles old.

V. And ever as she went her toung did walke

In fowle reproch, and termes of vile despight,

Provoking him, by her outrageous talke,

To heape more vengeance on that wretched wight:

Sometimes she raught him stones, wherwith to smite,

Sometimes her staffe, though it her one leg were,

Withouten which she could not goe upright;

Ne any evill meanes she did forbeare,

That might him move to wrath, and indignation reare.

VI. The noble Guyon, mov’d with great remorse,

Approching, first the Hag did thrust away;

And after, adding more impetuous forse,

His mighty hands did on the madman lay,

And pluckt him backe; who, all on fire streight way,

Against him turning all his fell intent,

With beastly brutish rage gan him assay,

And smott, and bitt, and kickt, and scratcht, and rent,

And did he wist not what in his avengement.

VII. And sure he was a man of mickle might,

Had he had governaunce it well to guyde;

But, when the frantick fitt inflamd his spright,

His force was vaine, and strooke more often wyde,

Then at the aymed marke which he had eyde:

And oft himselfe he chaunst to hurt unwares,

Whylest reason, blent through passion, nought descryde;

But, as a blindfold Bull, at randon fares,

And where he hits nought knowes, and whom he hurts nought


VIII. His rude assault and rugged handeling

Straunge seemed to the knight, that aye with foe

In fayre defence and goodly menaging

Of armes was wont to fight; yet nathemoe

Was he abashed now, not fighting so;

But more enfierced through his currish play,

Him sternly grypt, and hailing to and fro,

To overthrow him strongly did assay,

But overthrew him selfe unwares, and lower lay:

IX. And being downe the villein sore did beate

And bruze with clownish fistes his manly face;

And eke the Hag, with many a bitter threat,

Still cald upon to kill him in the place.

With whose reproch, and odious menace,

The knight emboyling in his haughtie hart

Knitt all his forces, and gan soone unbrace

His grasping hold: so lightly did upstart,

And drew his deadly weapon to maintaine his part.

X. Which when the Palmer saw, he loudly cryde,

"Not so, O Guyon! never thinke that so

That Monster can be maistred or destroyd:

He is not, ah! he is not such a foe,

As steele can wound, or strength can overthroe.

That same is Furor, cursed cruel wight,

That unto knighthood workes much shame and woe;

And that same Hag, his aged mother, hight

Occasion; the roote of all wrath and despight.

XI. "With her, whoso will raging Furor tame,

Must first begin, and well her amenage:

First her restraine from her reprochfull blame

And evill meanes, with which she doth enrage

Her frantick sonne, and kindles his corage;

Then, when she is withdrawne or strong withstood,

It’s eath his ydle fury to aswage,

And calme the tempest of his passion wood:

The bankes are overflowne when stopped is the flood."

XII. Therewith Sir Guyon left his first emprise,

And, turning to that woman, fast her hent

By the hoare lockes that hong before her eyes,

And to the ground her threw: yet n’ould she stent

Her bitter rayling and foule revilement,

But still provokt her sonne to wreake her wrong;

But nathelesse he did her still torment,

And, catching hold of her ungratious tonge

Thereon an yron lock did fasten firme and strong.

XIII. Then, whenas use of speach was from her reft,

With her two crooked handes she signes did make,

And beckned him, the last help she had left;

But he that last left helpe away did take,

And both her handes fast bound unto a stake,

That she note stirre. Then gan her sonne to flye

Full fast away, and did her quite forsake;

But Guyon after him in hast did hye,

And soone him overtooke in sad perplexitye.

XIV. In his strong armes he stifly him embraste,

Who him gainstriving nought at all prevaild;

For all his power was utterly defaste,

And furious fitts at earst quite weren quaild:

Oft he re’nforst, and oft his forces fayld,

Yet yield he would not, nor his rancor slack.

Then him to ground he cast, and rudely hayld,

And both his hands fast bound behind his backe,

And both his feet in fetters to an yron racke.

XV. With hundred yron chaines he did him bind,

And hundred knots, that did him sore constraine;

Yet his great yron teeth he still did grind

And grimly gnash, threatning revenge in vaine:

His burning eyen, whom bloody strakes did staine,

Stared full wide, and threw forth sparkes of fyre;

And more for ranck despight then for great paine,

Shakt his long locks colourd like copper-wyre,

And bitt his tawny beard to shew his raging yre.

XVI. Thus when as Guyon Furor had captivd,

Turning about he saw that wretched Squyre,

Whom that mad man of life nigh late deprivd,

Lying on ground, all soild with blood and myre:

Whom whenas he perceived to respyre,

He gan to comfort, and his woundes to dresse.

Being at last recured, he gan inquyre

What hard mishap him brought to such distresse,

And made that caytives thrall, the thrall of


XVII. With hart then throbbing, and with watry eyes,

"Fayre Sir" (quoth he) "What man can shun the hap,

That hidden lyes unwares him to surpryse?

Misfortune waites advantage to entrap

The man most wary in her whelming lap:

So me weake wretch, of many weakest one,

Unweeting and unware of such mishap,

She brought to mischiefe through Occasion,

Where this same wicked villein did me light upon.

XVIII. "It was a faithlesse Squire, that was the sourse

Of all my sorrow and of these sad teares,

With whom from tender dug of commune nourse

Attonce I was upbrought; and eft, when yeares

More rype us reason lent to chose our Peares,

Our selves in league of vowed love wee knitt;

In which we long time, without gealous feares

Or faultie thoughts, contynewd as was fitt;

And for my part, I vow, dissembled not a whitt.

XIX. "It was my fortune, commune to that age,

To love a Lady fayre of great degree,

The which was borne of noble parentage,

And set in highest seat of dignitee,

Yet seemd no lesse to love then lov’d to bee:

Long I her serv’d, and found her faithful still,

Ne ever thing could cause us disagree.

Love, that two harts makes one, makes eke one will;

Each strove to please, and others pleasure to fulfill.

XX. "My friend, hight Philemon, I did partake

Of all my love and all my privitie;

Who greatly joyous seemed for my sake,

And gratious to that Lady as to mee;

Ne ever wight that mote so welcome bee

As he to her, withouten blott or blame;

He ever thing that she could think or see,

But unto him she would impart the same.

O wretched man, that would abuse so gentle Dame!

XXI. "At last such grace I found, and meanes I wrought,

That I that Lady to my spouse had wonne;

Accord of friendes, consent of Parents sought,

Affyaunce made, my happinesse begonne,

There wanted nought but few rites to be donne,

Which mariage make: that day too farre did seeme.

Most joyous man, on whom the shining Sunne

Did shew his face, my selfe I did esteeme,

And that my falser friend did no less joyous deeme.

XXII. "But ear that wished day his beame disclosd,

He, either envying my toward good,

Or of him selfe to treason ill disposed,

One day unto me came in friendly mood,

And told for secret, how he understood

That Lady, whom I had to me assynd,

Had both distaind her honorable blood,

And eke the faith which she to me did bynd;

And therefore wisht me stay till I more truth should fynd.

XXIII. "The gnawing anguish, and sharp gelosy,

Which his sad speach infixed in my brest,

Ranckled so sore, and festred inwardly,

That my engreeved mind could find no rest,

Till that the truth thereof I did out wrest;

And him besought, by that same sacred band

Betwixt us both, to counsell me the best:

He then with solemne oath and plighted hand

Assurd, ere long the truth to let me understand.

XXIV. "Ere long with like againe he boorded mee,

Saying, he now had boulted all the floure,

And that it was a groome of base degree,

Which of my love was partener Paramoure:

Who used in a darkesome inner bowre

Her oft to meete: which better to approve,

He promised to bring me at that howre,

When I should see that would me nearer move,

And drive me to withdraw my blind abused love.

XXV. "This gracelesse man, for furtherance of his guile,

Did court the handmayd of my Lady deare,

Who, glad t’ embosome his affection vile,

Did all she might more pleasing to appeare.

One day, to worke her to his will more neare,

He woo’d her thus: Pryene, (so she hight,)

What great despight doth fortune to thee beare,

Thus lowly to abase thy beautie bright,

That it should not deface all others lesser light?

XXVI. "But if she had her least helpe to thee lent,

T’adorne thy forme according thy desart,

Their blazing pride thou wouldest soone have blent,

And staynd their prayses with thy least good part;

Ne should faire Claribell with all her art,

Tho’ she thy Lady be, approch thee neare:

For proofe thereof, this evening, as thou art,

Aray thyselfe in her most gorgeous geare,

That I may more delight in thy embracement deare.

XXVII. "The Mayden, proud through praise and mad through love,

Him hearkned to, and soone her selfe arrayd,

The whiles to me the treachour did remove

His craftie engin; and, as he had sayd,

Me leading, in a secret corner layd,

The sad spectatour of my Tragedie:

Where left, he went, and his owne false part playd,

Disguised like that groome of base degree,

Whom he had feignd th’ abuser of my love to bee.

XXVIII. "Eftsoones he came unto th’ appointed place,

And with him brought Pryene, rich arayd,

In Claribellaes clothes. Her proper face

I not descerned in that darkesome shade,

But weend it was my love with whom he playd.

Ah God! what horrour and tormenting griefe

My hart, my handes, mine eies, and all assayd!

Me liefer were ten thousand deathes priefe

Then wounde of gealous worme, and shame of such repriefe.

XXIX. "I home retourning, fraught with fowle despight,

And chawing vengeaunce all the way I went,

Soone as my loathed love appeard in sight,

With wrathfull hand I slew her innocent,

That after soone I dearely did lament;

For, when the cause of that outrageous deede

Demaunded, I made plaine and evident,

Her faultie Handmayd, which that bale did breede,

Confest how Philemon her wrought to chaunge her weede.

XXX. "Which when I heard, with horrible affright

And hellish fury all enragd, I sought

Upon myselfe that vengeable despight

To punish: yet it better first I thought

To wreake my wrath on him that first it wrought:

To Philemon, false faytour Philemon,

I cast to pay that I so dearely bought.

Of deadly drugs I gave him drinke anon,

And washt away his guilt with guilty potion.

XXXI. "Thus heaping crime on crime, and griefe on griefe,

To losse of love adjoyning losse of frend,

I meant to purge both with a third mischiefe,

And in my woes beginner it to end:

That was Pryene; she did first offend,

She last should smart: with which cruell intent,

When I at her my murdrous blade did bend,

She fled away with ghastly dreriment,

And I, poursewing my fell purpose, after went.

XXXII. "Feare gave her winges, and rage enforst my flight;

Through woods and plaines so long I did her chace,

Till this mad man, whom your victorious might

Hath now fast bound, me met in middle space.

As I her, so he me poursewd apace,

And shortly overtooke: I, breathing yre,

Sore chauffed at my stay in such a cace,

And with my heat kindled his cruell fyre;

Which kindled once, his mother did more rage inspyre.

XXXIII. "Betwixt them both they have me doen to dye,

Through wounds, and strokes, and stubborne handeling,

That death were better then such agony

As griefe and fury unto me did bring;

Of which in me yet stickes the mortall sting,

That during life will never be appeased!"

When he thus ended had his sorrowing,

Said Guyon; "Squyre, sore have ye beene diseasd,

But all your hurts may soone through temperance be easd."

XXXIV. Then gan the Palmer thus; "Most wretched man,

That to affections does the bridle lend!

In their beginning they are weake and wan,

But soone through suff’rance growe to fearefull end:

Whiles they are weake, betimes with them contend;

For, when they once to perfect strength do grow,

Strong warres they make, and cruell battry bend

Gainst fort of Reason, it to overthrow:

Wrath, gelosy, griefe, love, this Squyre have laide thus


XXXV. "Wrath, gealosie, griefe, love, do thus expell:

Wrath is a fire; and gealosie a weede;

Griefe is a flood; and love a monster fell;

The fire of sparkes, the weede of little seede,

The flood of drops, the Monster filth did breede:

But sparks, seed, drops, and filth, do thus delay;

The sparks soone quench, the springing seed outweed,

The drops dry up, and filth wipe cleane away:

So shall wrath, gealosy, griefe, love, die and decay."

XXXVI. "Unlucky Squire," (saide Guyon) "sith thou hast

Falne into mischiefe through intemperaunce,

Henceforth take heede of that thou now hast past,

And guyde thy waies with warie governaunce,

Least worse betide thee by some later chaunce,

But read how art thou nam’d, and of what kin?"

"Phaon I hight," (quoth he) "and do advaunce

Mine auncestry from famous Coradin,

Who first to rayse our house to honour did begin."

XXXVII. Thus as he spake, lo! far away they spyde

A varlet ronning towardes hastily,

Whose flying feet so fast their way applyde,

That round about a cloud of dust did fly,

Which, mingled all with sweate, did dim his eye.

He soone approched, panting, breathlesse, whot,

And all so soyld that none could him descry:

His countenance was bold, and bashed not

For Guyons lookes, but scornefull eyeglaunce at him shot.

XXXVIII. Behind his backe he bore a brasen shield,

On which was drawen faire, in colours fit,

A flaming fire in midst of bloody field,

And round about the wreath this word was writ,

Burnt I doe burne. Right well beseemed it

To be the shield of some redoubted knight;

And in his hand two dartes, exceeding flit

And deadly sharpe, he held, whose heads were dight

In poyson and in blood of malice and despight.

XXXIX. When he in presence came, to Guyon first

He boldly spake; "Sir knight, if knight thou bee,

Abandon this forestalled place at erst,

For feare of further harme, I counsell thee;

Or bide the chaunce at thine owne jeopardee."

The knight at his great boldnesse wondered;

And, though he scornd his ydle vanitee,

Yet mildly him to purpose answered;

For not to grow of nought he it conjectured.

XL. "Varlet, this place most dew to me I deeme,

Yielded by him that held it forcibly:

But whence should come that harme, which thou dost seeme

To threat to him that mindes his chaunce t’ abye?"

"Perdy," (sayd he) "here comes, and is hard by,

A knight of wondrous powre and great assay,

That never yet encountred enemy

But did him deadly daunt, or fowle dismay;

Ne thou for better hope, if thou his presence stay."

XLI. "How hight he then," (said Guyon) "and from whence?"

"Pyrochles is his name, renowmed farre

For his bold feates and hardy confidence,

Full oft approvd in many a cruell warre;

The brother of Cymochles, both which arre

The sonnes of old Acrates and Despight;

Acrates, sonne of Phlegeton and Jarre;

But Phlegeton is sonne of Herebus and Night;

But Herebus sonne of Aeternitie is hight.

XLII. "So from immortall race he does proceede,

That mortall hands may not withstand his might,

Drad for his derring doe and bloody deed;

For all in blood and spoile is his delight.

His am I Atin, his in wrong and right,

That matter make for him to worke upon,

And stirre him up to strife and cruell fight.

Fly therefore, fly this fearefull stead anon,

Least thy foolhardize worke thy sad confusion."

XLIII. "His be that care, whom most it doth concerne,"

(Sayd he) "but whither with such hasty flight

Art thou now bownd? for well mote I discerne

Great cause, that carries thee so swifte and light."

"My Lord," (quoth he) "me sent, and streight behight

To seeke Occasion, where so she bee:

For he is all disposd to bloody fight,

And breathes out wrath and hainous crueltee:

Hard is his hap that first fals in his jeopardee."

XLIV. "Mad man," (said then the Palmer) "that does seeke

Occasion to wrath, and cause of strife:

Shee comes unsought, and shonned followes eke.

Happy! who can abstaine, when Rancor rife

Kindles Revenge, and threats his rusty knife.

Woe never wants where every cause is caught;

And rash Occasion makes unquiet life!"

"Then loe! wher bound she sits, whom thou hast sought,"

Said Guyon: "let that message to thy Lord be brought."

XLV. That when the varlett heard and saw, streight way

He wexed wondrous wroth, and said; "Vile knight,

That knights and knighthood doest with shame upbray,

And shewst th’ ensample of thy childishe might,

Great glory and gay spoile, sure hast thou gott,

And stoutly prov’d thy puissaunce here in sight.

That shall Pyrochles well requite, I wott,

And with thy blood abolish so reprochfull blott."

XLVI. With that one of his thrillant darts he threw,

Headed with yre and vengeable despight.

The quivering steele his aymed end wel knew,

And to his brest it selfe intended right:

But he was wary, and, ere it empight

In the meant marke, advaunst his shield atweene,

On which it seizing no way enter might,

But backe rebownding left the forckhead keene:

Eftsoones he fled away, and might no where be seene.


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Chicago: Edmund Spenser, "Canto IV," The Faerie Queene Original Sources, accessed August 10, 2022,

MLA: Spenser, Edmund. "Canto IV." The Faerie Queene, Original Sources. 10 Aug. 2022.

Harvard: Spenser, E, 'Canto IV' in The Faerie Queene. Original Sources, retrieved 10 August 2022, from