The Faerie Queene

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Author: Edmund Spenser  | Date: 1596

CANTO VI

Talus brings newes to Britomart

Of Artegals mishap:

She goes to seeke him, Dolon meetes,

Who seekes her to entrap.

I. SOME men, I wote, will deeme in Artegall

Great weaknesse, and report of him much ill,

For yeelding so himselfe a wretched thrall

To th’ insolent commaund of womens will;

That all his former praise doth fowly spill:

But he the man, that say or doe so dare,

Be well adviz’d that he stand stedfast still;

For never yet was wight so well aware,

But he, at first or last, was trapt in womens snare.

II. Yet in the streightnesse of that captive state

This gentle knight himselfe so well behaved,

That notwithstanding all the subtill bait

With which those Amazons his love still craved,

To his owne love his loialtie he saved:

Whose character in th’ Adamantine mould

Of his true hart so firmely was engraved,

That no new loves impression ever could

Bereave it thence: such blot his honour blemish should.

III. Yet his owne love, the noble Britomart,

Scarse so conceived in her jealous thought,

What time sad tydings of his balefull smart

In womans bondage Talus to her brought;

Brought in untimely houre, ere it was sought:

For, after that the utmost date assynde

For his returne she waited had for nought,

She gan to cast in her misdoubtfull mynde

A thousand feares, that love-sicke fancies faine to fynde.

IV. Sometime she feared least some hard mishap

Had him misfalne in his adventurous quest;

Sometime least his false foe did him entrap

In traytrous traine, or had unwares opprest;

But most she did her troubled mynd molest,

And secretly afflict with jealous feare,

Least some new love had him from her possest:

Yet loth she was, since she no ill did heare,

To thinke of him so ill; yet could she not forbeare.

V. One while she blam’d her selfe; another whyle

She him condemn’d as trustlesse and untrew;

And then, her griefe with errour to beguyle,

She fayn’d to count the time againe anew,

As if before she had not counted trew:

For houres, but dayes; for weekes that passed were,

She told but moneths, to make them seeme more few;

Yet when she reckned them, still drawing neare,

Each hour did seeme a moneth, and every moneth a yeare.

VI. But when as yet she saw him not returne,

She thought to send some one to seeke him out;

But none she found so fit to serve that turne,

As her owne selfe, to ease her selfe of dout.

Now she deviz’d, amongst the warlike rout

Of errant Knights, to seeke her errant Knight;

And then againe resolv’d to hunt him out

Amongst loose Ladies lapped in delight:

And then both Knights envide, and Ladies eke did spight.

VII. One day when as she long had sought for ease

In every place, and every place thought best,

Yet found no place that could her liking please,

She to a window came that opened West,

Towards which coast her love his way addrest:

There looking forth, shee in her heart did find

Many vaine fancies working her unrest;

And sent her winged thoughts, more swift then wind,

To beare unto her love the message of her mind.

VIII. There as she looked long, at last she spide

One comming towards her with hasty speede.

Well weend she then, ere him she plaine descride,

That it was one sent from her love indeede;

Who when he nigh approcht, shee mote arede

That it was Talus, Artegall his groome:

Whereat her heart was fild with hope and drede,

Ne would she stay till he in place could come,

But ran to meete him forth to know his tidings somme.

IX. Even in the dore him meeting, she begun:

"And where is he thy Lord, and how far hence?

Declare at once: and hath he lost or wun?"

The yron man, albe he wanted sence

And sorrowes feeling, yet, with conscience

Of his ill newes, did inly chill and quake,

And stood still mute, as one in great suspence;

As if that by his silence he would make

Her rather reade his meaning then him selfe it spake.

X. Till she againe thus sayd: "Talus, be bold,

And tell what ever it be, good or bad,

That from thy tongue thy hearts intent doth hold."

To whom he thus at length: "The tidings sad,

That I would hide, will needs, I see, be rad.

My Lord, your love, by hard mishap doth lie

In wretched bondage, wofully bestad."

"Ay me," (quoth she) "what wicked destinie!

And is he vanquisht by his tyrant enemy?"

XI. "Not by that Tyrant, his intended foe,

But by a Tyrannesse," (he then replide)

"That him captived hath in haplesse woe."

"Cease, thou bad newes-man! badly doest thou hide

Thy maisters shame, in harlots bondage tide:

The rest my selfe too readily can spell."

With that in rage she turn’d from him aside,

Forcing in vaine the rest to her to tell;

And to her chamber went like solitary cell.

XII. There she began to make her monefull plaint

Against her Knight for being so untrew;

And him to touch with falshoods fowle attaint,

That all his other honour overthrew.

Oft did she blame her selfe, and often rew,

For yeelding to a straungers love so light,

Whose life and manners straunge she never knew;

And evermore she did him sharpely twight

For breach of faith to her, which he had firmely plight.

XIII. And then she in her wrathfull will did cast

How to revenge that blot of honour blent,

To fight with him, and goodly die her last:

And then againe she did her selfe torment,

Inflicting on her selfe his punishment.

A while she walkt, and chauft; a while she threw

Her selfe uppon her bed, and did lament:

Yet did she not lament with loude alew,

As women wont, but with deepe sighes and singults few.

XIV. Like as a wayward childe, whose sounder sleepe

Is broken with some fearefull dreams affright,

With froward will doth set him selfe to weepe,

Ne can be stild for all his nurses might,

But kicks, and squals, and shriekes for fell despight;

Now scratching her, and her loose locks misusing,

Now seeking darkenesse, and now seeking light,

Then craving sucke, and then the sucke refusing:

Such was this Ladies fit in her loves fond accusing.

XV. But when she had with such unquiet fits

Her selfe there close afflicted long in vaine,

Yet found no easement in her troubled wits,

She unto Talus forth return’d againe,

By change of place seeking to ease her paine;

And gan enquire of him with mylder mood

The certaine cause of Artegals detaine,

And what he did, and in what state he stood,

And whether he did woo, or whether he were woo’d?

XVI. "Ah wellaway!" (sayd then the yron man)

"That he is not the while in state to woo;

But lies in wretched thraldome, weake and wan,

Not by strong hand compelled thereunto,

But his owne doome, that none can now undoo."

"Sayd I not then" (quoth shee), "erwhile aright,

That this is things compacte betwixt you two,

Me to deceive of faith unto me plight,

Since that he was not forst, nor overcome in fight?"

XVII. With that he gan at large to her dilate

The whole discourse of his captivance sad,

In sort as ye have heard the same of late:

All which when she with hard enduraunce had

Heard to the end, she was right sore bestad,

With sodaine stounds of wrath and griefe attone;

Ne would abide, till she had aunswere made,

But streight her selfe did dight, and armor don,

And mounting to her steede bad Talus guide her on.

XVIII. So forth she rode uppon her ready way,

To seeke her Knight, as Talus her did guide.

Sadly she rode, and never word did say

Nor good nor bad, ne ever lookt aside,

But still right downe; and in her thought did hide

The felnesse of her heart, right fully bent

To fierce avengement of that womans pride,

Which had her Lord in her base prison pent,

And so great honour with so fowle reproch had blent.

XIX. So as she thus melancholicke did ride,

Chawing the cud of griefe and inward paine,

She chaunst to meete, toward the even-tide,

A Knight that softly paced on the plaine,

As if him selfe to solace he were faine:

Well shot in yeares he seem’d, and rather bent

To peace then needlesse trouble to constraine,

As well by view of that his vestiment,

As by his modest semblant that no evill ment.

XX. He comming neare gan gently her salute

With curteous words, in the most comely wize;

Who though desirous rather to rest mute,

Then termes to entertaine of common guize,

Yet rather then she kindnesse would despize,

She would her selfe displease; so him requite.

Then gan the other further to devize

Of things abrode, as next to hand did light,

And many things demaund, to which she answer’d light.

XXI. For little lust had she to talke of ought,

Or ought to heare that mote delightfull bee:

Her minde was whole possessed of one thought,

That gave none other place. Which when as hee

By outward signes (as well he might) did see,

He list no lenger to use lothfull speach,

But her besought to take it well in gree,

Sith shady dampe had dimd the heavens reach,

To lodge with him that night, unles good cause empeach.

XXII. The Championesse, now seeing night at dore,

Was glad to yeeld unto his good request,

And with him went without gaine-saying more.

Not farre away, but little wide by West,

His dwelling was, to which he him addrest:

Where soone arriving they received were

In seemely wise, as them beseemed best;

For he, their host, them goodly well did cheare,

And talk’t of pleasant things the night away to weare.

XXIII. Thus passing th’ evening well, till time of rest,

Then Britomart unto a bowre was brought,

Where groomes awayted her to have undrest;

But she ne would undressed be for ought,

Ne doffe her armes, though he her much besought:

For she had vow’d, she sayd, not to forgo

Those warlike weedes, till she revenge had wrought

Of a late wrong uppon a mortall foe;

Which she would sure performe, betide her wele or wo.

XXIV. Which when their Host perceiv’d, right discontent

In minde he grew, for feare least by that art

He should his purpose misse, which close he ment:

Yet taking leave of her he did depart.

There all that night remained Britomart,

Restlesse, recomfortlesse, with heart deepe grieved,

Nor suffering the least twinckling sleepe to start

Into her eye, which th’ heart mote have relieved;

But if the least appear’d, her eyes she streight

reprieved:

XXV. "Ye guilty eyes," (sayd she) "the which with guyle

My heart at first betrayd, will ye betray

My life now too, for which a little whyle

Ye will not watch? false watches, wellaway!

I wote when ye did watch both night and day

Unto your losse; and now needes will ye sleepe?

Now ye have made my heart to wake alway,

Now will ye sleepe? ah! wake, and rather weepe

To thinke of your nights want, that should yee waking

keepe."

XXVI. Thus did she watch, and weare the weary night

In waylfull plaints that none was to appease;

Now walking soft, now sitting still upright,

As sundry chaunge her seemed best to ease.

Ne lesse did Talus suffer sleepe to seaze

His eye-lids sad, but watcht continually,

Lying without her dore in great disease:

Like to a Spaniell wayting carefully

Least any should betray his Lady treacherously.

XXVII. What time the native Belman of the night,

The bird that warned Peter of his fall,

First rings his silver Bell t’ each sleepy wight,

That should their mindes up to devotion call,

She heard a wondrous noise below the hall:

All sodainely the bed, where she should lie,

By a false trap was let adowne to fall

Into a lower roome, and by and by

The loft was raysd againe, that no man could it spie.

XXVIII. With sight whereof she was dismayd right sore,

Perceiving well the treason which was ment;

Yet stirred not at all for doubt of more,

But kept her place with courage confident,

Wayting what would ensue of that event.

It was not long before she heard the sound

Of armed men comming with close intent

Towards her chamber; at which dreadfull stound

She quickly caught her sword, and shield about her bound.

XXIX. With that there came unto her chamber dore

Two Knights all armed ready for to fight;

And after them full many other more,

A raskall rout, with weapons rudely dight;

Whom soone as Talus spide by glims of night,

He started up, there where on ground he lay,

And in his hand his thresher ready keight.

They seeing that let drive at him streightway,

And round about him preace in riotous aray.

XXX. But, soone as he began to lay about

With his rude yron flaile, they gan to flie,

Both armed Knights and eke unarmed rout;

Yet Talus after them apace did plie,

Where ever in the darke he could them spie,

That here and there like scattred sheepe they lay:

Then, backe returning where his Dame did lie,

He to her told the story of that fray,

And all that treason there intended did bewray.

XXXI. Wherewith though wondrous wroth, and inly burning

To be avenged for so fowle a deede,

Yet being forst to abide the daies returning,

She there remain’d; but with right wary heede,

Least any more such practise should proceede.

Now mote ye know (that which to Britomart

Unknowen was) whence all this did proceede;

And for what cause so great mischievous smart

Was ment to her that never evill ment in hart.

XXXII. The goodman of this house was Dolon hight;

A man of subtill wit and wicked minde,

That whilome in his youth had bene a Knight,

And armes had borne, but little good could finde,

And much lesse honour by that warlike kinde

Of life: for he was nothing valorous,

But with slie shiftes and wiles did underminde

All noble Knights, which were adventurous,

And many brought to shame by treason treacherous.

XXXIII. He had three sonnes, all three like fathers sonnes,

Like treacherous, like full of fraud and guile,

Of all that on this earthly compasse wonnes;

The eldest of the which was slaine erewhile

By Artegall, through his owne guilty wile:

His name was Guizor; whose untimely fate

For to avenge, full many treasons vile

His father Dolon had deviz’d of late

With these his wicked sons, and shewd his cankred hate.

XXXIV. For sure he weend that this his present guest

Was Artegall, by many tokens plaine;

But chiefly by that yron page he ghest,

Which still was wont with Artegall remaine;

And therefore ment him surely to have slaine:

But by Gods grace, and her good heedinesse,

She was preserved from their traytrous traine.

Thus she all night wore out in watchfulnesse,

Ne suffred slothfull sleepe her eyelids to oppresse.

XXXV. The morrow next, so soone as dawning houre

Discovered had the light to living eye,

She forth yssew’d out of her loathed bowre,

With full intent t’avenge that villany

On that vilde man and all his family;

And, comming down to seeke them where they wond,

Nor sire, nor sonnes, nor any could she spie:

Each rowme she sought, but them all empty fond.

They all were fled for feare; but whether, nether kond.

XXXVI. She saw it vaine to make there lenger stay,

But tooke her steede; and thereon mounting light

Gan her addresse unto her former way.

She had not rid the mountenance of a flight,

But that she saw there present in her sight

Those two false brethren on that perillous Bridge,

On which Pollente with Artegall did fight.

Streight was the passage, like a ploughed ridge,

That, if two met, the one mote needes fall over the lidge.

XXXVII. There they did thinke them selves on her to wreake;

Who as she nigh unto them drew, the one

These vile reproches gan unto her speake;

"Thou recreant false traytor, that with lone

Of armes hast knighthood stolne, yet Knight art none,

No more shall now the darkenesse of the night

Defend thee from the vengeance of thy fone;

But with thy bloud thou shalt appease the spright

Of Guizor by thee slaine, and murdred by thy slight."

XXXVIII. Strange were the words in Britomartis eare,

Yet stayd she not for them, but forward fared,

Till to the perillous Bridge she came; and there

Talus desir’d that he might have prepared

The way to her, and those two losels scared;

But she thereat was wroth, that for despight

The glauncing sparkles through her bever glared,

And from her eies did flash out fiery light,

Like coles that through a silver Censer sparkle bright.

XXXIX. She stayd not to advise which way to take,

But putting spurres unto her fiery beast,

Thorough the midst of them she way did make.

The one of them, which most her wrath increast,

Uppon her speare she bore before her breast,

Till to the Bridges further end she past;

Where falling downe his challenge he releast:

The other over side the Bridge she cast

Into the river, where he drunke his deadly last.

XL. As when the flashing Levin haps to light

Uppon two stubborne oakes, which stand so neare

That way betwixt them none appeares in sight;

The Engin, fiercely flying forth, doth teare

Th’ one from the earth, and through the aire doth bear;

The other it with force doth overthrow

Uppon one side, and from his rootes doth reare:

So did the Championesse those two there strow,

And to their sire their carcasses left to bestow.

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Chicago: Edmund Spenser, "Canto VI," The Faerie Queene Original Sources, accessed August 9, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4B863K1ZYJ4WSZX.

MLA: Spenser, Edmund. "Canto VI." The Faerie Queene, Original Sources. 9 Aug. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4B863K1ZYJ4WSZX.

Harvard: Spenser, E, 'Canto VI' in The Faerie Queene. Original Sources, retrieved 9 August 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4B863K1ZYJ4WSZX.