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And on his breast a bloody cross he bore,
The dear remembrance of his dying Lord,
For whose sweet sake that glorious badge he wore,
And dead (as living) ever him ador’d:
Upon his shield the like was allo scor’d,
For soveraine hope, which in his help he had:
Right faithful true he was in deed and word ;
But of his cheer did seem too solemn sad :
Yet nothing did he dread, but ever was ydrad.
Upon a great adventure he was bond,
That greateft Gloriana to him gave,
That greatest glorious Queen of Fairy lond,
To win him worship, and her grace to have,
Which of all earthly things he most did crave;
And ever as he rode, his heart did carn
To prove his puissance in battle brave
Upon his foe, and his new force to learn;
Upon his foe, a Dragon horrible and stearn.
A lovely Lady rode him fair beside,
Upon a lowly Affe more white than snow;
Yet the much whiter, but the fame did hide
Under a veil, that wimpled was full low,
And over all a black stole she did throw,
As one that inly mourn'd: so was she sad,
And heavy fat upon her palfrey now;
Seemed in heart lome hidden care she had,
And by her in a line a milk white Lamb the lad.
So pure and innocent, as that same Lamb.
She was in life and ev'ry vertuous lore,
And from descent from royal lynage came
Of ancient Kings and Queens, that had of yore
Their scepters stretcht from east to western shore,
And all the world in their subjection held;
Till that infernal fiend with foul up-rore
Forwasted all their lard, and chem expeld: [peld. Whom to avenge, she had this Knight from far com
Behind her far away a Dwarf did lag,
That lazy seem'd in being ever last,
Or wearied with bearing of her bag
Of needments at his back. Thus as they paft,
The day with clouds was suddain overcaft,
And angry Jove an hideous storm of rain,
Did pour into his Lemans lap fo fast,
That every wight to shroud it did constrain,
And this fair couple eke to shroud themselves were fain.
Enforct to seek some covert nigh at hand,
A shady grove not far away they spide,
That promist aid the tempest to withstand :
Whole lofty trees, yclad with summers pride,
Did spread so broad, that heavens light did hide,
Not pierceable with powre of any star :
: And all within were paths and alleys wide,
With footing worne, and leading inward far:
Fair harbour, that them seems; fo in they entred are.
And forth they pass, with pleasure forward led,
Joying to hear the birds sweet harmony.
Which therein shrouded from the tempests dred,
Seem'd in their song to fcorn the cruel sky.
Much 'gan they praise the trees fo straight and high,
The failing Pine, the Cedar proud and tall,
The vine-prop Elm, the Poplar never dry,
The builder Oak, sole King of forrests all,
The Aspine, good for staves, the Cypress funeral.
The Laurel, meed of mighty conquerours
And poets sage, the Fir that weepeth still,
The Willow, worne of forlorne paramours,
The Eugh, obedient to the benders will,
The Birch for shafts, the Sallow for the mill,
The Myrrhe, sweet bleeding in the bitter wound,
The warlike Beech, the Al for nothing ill,
The fruitful Olive, and the Platane round,
The carver Holme, the Maple seldom inward sound.
Led with delight, they thus beguile the way,
Until the bluftring storm is over-blown,
When, weening to return whence they did stray,
They cannot find that path which firit was shown,
But wander to and fro in ways unknown,
Furthest from end then, when they nearest ween,
That makes them doubt their wits be not their own :
So many paths, so many turnings seen,
That which of them to take, in diverse doubt they been.
XI. At last, resolving forward still to fare, · Till that some end they find, or in or out, That path they take, that beaten seem'd most bare, And like to lead the labyrinth about; Which when by tract they hunted had throughout, At length it brought them to a hollow cave Amid the thickest woods. The champion stout
Eftsoons dismounted from his courser brave,
And to the Dwarf a while his needless spear he gave.
Be well aware, quoth then that Lady mild,
Least suddain mischief ye too rash provoke:
The danger hid, the place unknown and wild,
Breeds dreadful doubts : oft fire is without smoke,
And peril without show: therefore your stroke,
Sir Knight with-hold, till further trial made.
Ah Lady (said he) shame were to revoke
The forward footing for an hidden shade:
Vertue gives herself light, through darkness for to wade.
Yea, but (quoth she) the peril of this place
I better wot than you: though now too late
To wish you back return with foul disgrace;
Yet wisdom warns, whilst foot is in the gate,
To stay the step, ere forced to retrate.
This is the wandring wood, this Errours den;
A monster vile, whom God and man does hate :
Therefore, I read beware, Ay, fly, (quoth then The fearful Dwarf:) this is no place for living men.
But full of fire and greedy hardiment,
The youthful Knight could not for ought be staid ;
But forth unto the darksome hole he went,
And looked in : his gliftring armour made
A little glooming light, much like a shade,
By which he saw the ugly monster plain,
Half like a terpent horribly displaid :
But th' other half did womans shape retain,
Most lothsome, filthy, foul, and full of vile disdain.
And, as she lay upon the dirty ground,
Her huge long tail her den all overspred,
Yet was in knots and many boughtes upwound,
Pointed with mortal sting. Of her there bred
A thousand young ones, which she daily fed,
Sucking upon her pois'nous dugs, each one
Of sundry shapes, yet all ill-favoured :
Soon as that uncouth light upon them shone,
Into her mouth they crept, and suddain all were gone.
Their dam upstart, out of her den effraid,
And rushed forth, hurling her hideous tail
About her cursed head, whose folds displaid
Were stretcht now forth at length without entrail.
She lookt about, and feeing one in mail
Armed to point, sought back to turn again ;
For light she hated as the deadly bale,
Ay wont in desert darkness to remain,
Where plain none might her fee, nor the fee any plain.
Which when the valiant Elf perceiv'd, he lept
As Lyon fierce upon the flying prey,
And with his trenchant blade her boldly kept
From turning back, and forced her to stay :
There-with enrag'd she loudly ’gan to bray,
And turning fierce, her speckled tail advaunst,
Threatning her angry sting, him to dismay:
Who, nought aghast, his mighty hand enhaunft:
The stroke down from her head unto her shoulder glaunft.
Much daunted with that dint, her sense was daz'd:-
Yet kindling rage, herself she gather'd round,
And all attonce her beastly body rais’d
With doubled forces high above the ground;
Tho wrapping up her wreathed stern around,
Lept fierce upon his shield, and her huge train
All suddainly about his body wound,
That hand or foot to ftir he strove in vain :
God help the man so wrapt in Errours endless train.
His Lady, fad to see his fore constraint,
Cry'd out, now, now, Sir Knight, shew what ye be,
Add faith unto your force, and be not faint:
Strangle her, elfe she sure will strangle thee.
That when he heard, in great perplexitie,
His gall did grate for grief and high disdain,
And knitting all his force got one hand free,
Where-with he gript her gorge with so great pain, That foon to loose her wicked bands did her constrain,
There-with she fpew'd out of her filthy maw
A food of poison horrible and black,
Full of great lumps of Aesh and gobbets raw,
Which Itunk so vildly, that it forct him Nack
His grasping hold, and from her turn him back;
Her vomit full of books and papers was,
With loathly frogs and toads, which eyes did lack,
And creeping, fought way in the weedy grass:
Her filthy parbreake all the place defiled has.
As when old father Nilus 'gins to swell
With timely pride above th' Egyptian vale,
His fatty-waves do fertile sime outwell,
And over-flow each plain and lowly dale :
But when his later Spring ‘gins to avale,
Huge heaps of mud he leaves, wherein there breed
Ten thousand kinds of creatures, partly male,
And partly female of his fruitful seed;
Such ugly monstrous Shapes elsewhere may no man reed,