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Of ancient kings and queens, that had of yore
Their sceptres stretcht from east to western shore,
Till that infernal Fiend with foul uproar
Forwasted all their land, and them expelled;
Whom to avenge, she had this Knight from far compelled.
Behind her far away a Dwarf did lag,
Or wearied with bearing of her bag
Of needments at his back. Thus as they past,
The day with clouds was sudden overcast,
And angry Jove an hideous storm of rain
Did pour into his leman's lap so fast,
That every wight to shroud it did constrain;
And this fair couple eke to shroud themselves were fain.
Enforced to seek some cover nigh at hand,
A shady grove not far away they spied,
And all within were paths and alleys wide,
And forth they pass, with pleasure forward led,
Much can they praise the trees so straight and high,
The sailing pine; the cedar proud and tall;
The laurel, meed of mighty conquerors
Led with delight, they thus beguile the way,
Furthest from end then, when they nearest ween,
So many paths, so many turnings seen,
That, which of them to take, in diverse doubt they been.
At last resolving forward still to fare,
Till that some end they find, or in or out,
That path they take, that beaten seemed 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,
Virtue gives her self 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 forcéd to retrate. This is the Wandering Wood, this Error's Den, A monster vile, whom God and man does hate: Therefore I readt beware."-" Fly, fly," quoth then The fearful dwarf; "this is no place for living men."
ADVENTURE OF UNA WITH THE LION.
Yet she, most faithful lady, all this while
Forsaken, woeful, solitary maid,
Far from all people's press, as in exile,
In wilderness and wasteful deserts strayed,
To seek her knight; who, subtily betrayed
Through that late vision which th' enchanter wrought, Had her abandoned; she of nought afraid
Through woods and wasteness wide him daily sought; Yet wished tidings none of him unto her brought.
One day, nigh weary of the irksome way,
It fortuned, out of the thickest wood
Hunting full greedy after savage blood:
But to the prey when as he drew more nigh,
And with the sight amazed forgat his furious force.
Instead thereof he kiss'd her weary feet,
O how can beauty master the most strong,
"The lion, lord of every beast in field,"
Quoth she, "his princely puissance doth abate,
But he, my lion, and my noble lord,
How does he find in cruel heart to hate
Her that him loved, and ever most adored,
As the God of my life? why hath he me abhorred!”
Redounding tears did choke th' end of her plaint
The kingly beast upon her gazing stood:
To seek her strayed champion if she might attain.
The lion would not leave her desolate,
But with her went along, as a strong guara