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THE FAERIE QUEENE.

BOOK I.

CONTAYNING THE LEGEND OF THE KNIGHT OP TIE RED

CROSSE, OR OF HOLINESSE.

Lo! I, the man whose Muse whylome did maske, As time her taught, in lowly shepherds weeds, Am now enforst, a farre unfitter taske, For trumpets sterne to chaunge mine oaten reeds, And sing of knights and ladies gentle deeds ; Whose praises having slept in silence long, Me, all too meane, the sacred Muse areeds To blazon broade emongst her learned throng: Fierce warres and faithful loves shall moralize my

song

Help then, O holy virgin, chiefe of nyne,
Thy weaker novice to perform thy will;
Lay forth out of thine everlasting scryne
The antique rolles, which there lye hidden still,
Of Faerie knights, and fayrest Tanaquill,
Whom that most noble Briton prince so long
Sought through the world, and suffered so much ill,
That I must rue his undeserved wrong: (tong!
O, helpe thou my weake wit, and sharpen my dull

And thou, most dreaded impe of highest love,
Faire Venus sonne, that with thy cruell dart
At that good knight so cunningly didst rove,
That glorious fire it kindled in his hart;
Lay now thy deadly heben bowe apart,
And, with thy mother mylde, come to mine ayde ;
Come, both; and with you bring triumphant Mart,
In loves and gentle iollities arraid,
After his murdrous spoyles and bloudie rage allayd.

And with them eke, O goddesse heavenly bright,
Mirrour of grace and majestie divine,
Great ladie of the greatest isle, whose light
Like Phæbus lampe throughout the world doth shine,
Shed thy faire beames into my feeble eyne,
And raise my thoughtes, too humble and too vile,
To thinke of that true glorious type of thine,
The argument of mine afflicted stile : (while.
The which to heare vouchsafe, 0 dearest dread, a

CANTO I.

The patron of true Holinesse

Foule Errour doth defeate;
Hypocrisie, him to entrappe,

Doth to his home entreate.

A GENTLE knight was pricking on the plaine, Ycladd in mightie armes and silver shielde, Wherein old dints of deepe woundes did remaine, The cruel markes of many a bloody fielde ;

Yet armes till that time did he never wield:
His angry steede did chide his foming bitt,
As much disdayning to the curbe to yield:
Full iolly knight he seemd, and faire did sitt,
As one for knightly giusts and fierce encounters

fitt.

And on his brest a bloodie crosse he bore,
The deare remembrance of his dying Lord,
For whose sweete sake that glorious badge he

wore,
And dead, as living ever, him ador'd:
Upon his shield the like was also scord,
For soveraine hope, which in his helpe he had.
Right, faithfull, true he was in deede and word;
But of his cheere did seeme too solemne sad;
Yet nothing did he dread, but ever was ydrad.

Upon a great adventure he was bond,
That greatest Gloriana to him gave,
(That greatest glorious queene of Faery lond)
To winne him worshippe, and her grace to have,
Which of all earthly thinges he most did crave:
And ever, as he rode, his hart did earne
To prove his puissance in battell brave
Upon his foe, and his new force to learne,
Upon his foe, a dragon horrible and stearne.

A lovely ladie rode him faire beside,
Upon a lowly asse more white than snow;
Yet she much whiter; but the same did hide
Under a vele, that wimpled was full low ;
And over all a blacke stole she did throw;

As one that inly mournd, so was she sad,
And heavie sate upon her palfrey slow;
Seemed in hart some hidden care she had ;
And by her in a line a milke-white lambe she lad.

So pure and innocent, as that same lambe, She was in life and every vertuous lore; And by descent from royall lynage came Of ancient kinges and queenes, that had of yore Their sceptres stretcht from east to western shore, And all the world in their subjection held; Till that infernal feend with foule uprore Forwasted all their land, and them expeld; (peld. Whom to avenge, she had this knight from far com

Behind her farre away a dwarfe did lag,
That lasie seemd, in being ever last,
Or wearied with bearing of her bag
Of needments at his backe. Thus as they past,
The day with cloudes was suddeine overcast,
And angry love an hideous storme of raine
Did poure into his lemans lap so fast,
That everie wight to shrowd it did constrain; (fain.
And this fair couple eke to shroud themselves were

Enforst to seeke some covert nigh at hand,
A shadie grove not far away they spide,
That promist ayde the tempest to withstand ;
Whose loftie trees, yclad with sommers pride,
Did spred so broad, that Heavens light did hide,
Not perceable with power of any star :
And all within were pathes and alleies wide,
With footing worne, and leading inward farr:
Faire harbour that them seemes; so in they entred ar.

And foorth they passe, with pleasure forward led,
loying to heare the birdes sweete harmony,
Which, therein shrouded from the tempest dred,
Seemd in their song to scorne the cruel sky.
Much can they praise the trees so straight and hy,
The sayling pine; the cedar proud and tall;
The vine-propp elme; the poplar never dry ;
The builder oake, sole king of forrests all ;
The aspine good for staves; the cypresse funerall ;

The laurell, meed of mighty conquerours
And poets sage; the firre that weepeth still;
The willow, worne of forlorne paramours;
The eugh, obedient to the benders will,
The birch for shaftes; the sallow for the mill ;
The mirrhe sweete-bleeding in the bitter wound;
'The warlike beech; the ash for nothing ill;
The fruitfull olive; and the platane round;
The carver holme; the maple seeldom inward

sound.

Led with delight, they thus beguile the way,
Until the blustring storme is overblowne;
When, weening to returne whence they did stray,
They cannot finde that path, which first was showne,
But wander too and fro in waies unknowne,
Furthest from end then, when they neerest weene,
That makes them doubt their wits be not their owne:
So many pathes, so many turnings seene, [been.
That, which of them to take, in diverse doubt they

At last resolving forward still to fare,
Till that some end they finde, or in or out,
That path they take, that beaten seemd most bare,

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