3.4.2. Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, 1590-96


In 1590 the first three books (I - III) comprehensive edition of The Faerie Queene were published. Spenser added, as an appendage, commendatory poems by W.R. (=Walter Raleigh), Hobynoll (=Gabriel Harvey), R.P., H.B., W.L. (=William L'Isle ?) and, last but not least, on page 600 a poem by Ignoto (= Lat. Unknown) :

To look upon a work of rare devise
The which a workman setteth out to view,
And not to yield it the deserved praise
That unto such a workmanship is due,
Doth either prove the judgement to be naught,
Or else doth show a mind with envy fraught.

To labour to commend a piece of work
Which no man goes about to discommend,
Would raise a jealous doubt that there did lurk,
Some secret doubt, whereto the praise did tend.
For when men know the goodness of the wine,
'Tis needless for the host to have a sign.

Thus then to show my judgement to be such
As can discern of colours black and white,
As all’s to free my mind from envy’s touch,
That never gives to any man his right,
I here pronounce this workmanship is such,
As that no pen can set it forth too much.

And thus I hang a garland at the door,
Not for to show the goodness of the ware:
But such hath been the custom heretofore,
And customs very hardly broken are.
And when your taste shall tell you this is true,
Then look you give your host his utmost due.

The poem, which, on the merit of its technical perfection and intellectual content, rates very highly in English literature, deals, similarly to Oxford’s well known poem of 1572 (“The Earle of Oxenforde to the Reader”, 5.2.1, No. 1) with the discrepancy between that which is praiseworthy and that which is actually praised.

 In the October eclogue of the Shepheardes Calender (1579) plays on the closing line of Oxford’s poem with the words:

Cuddie, the praise is better then the prize,
The glory eke much greater then the gain.
To which he has Cuddie (=Oxford) reply:
Sike praise is smoke that sheddeth in the sky,
Sike words be wind, and wasten soon in vain.

(See 3.4.1 Spenser, The Shepheardes Calender.)

To which “Ignoto” replies by saying that although withholding praise, where it is due, is unseemly, at the same time overtly exuberant praise may cause a reader to be distrusting. To avoid this dilemma he says that Spenser’s work is indescribable: “I here pronounce this workmanship is such, / As that no pen can set it forth too much”.

William Shake-speare was obviously following the same train of thought when he wrote, in sonnet 83:

How far a modern quill doth come too short,
Speaking of worth, what worth in you doth grow.
This silence for my sin you did impute,
Which shall be most my glory being dumb -
He continues with the same idea in sonnet 84:
Who is it that says most, which can say more
Than this rich praise, that you alone are you,
In whose confine immured is the store
Which should example where your equal grew?
Lean penury within that Pen doth dwell
That to his subject lends not some small glory,
But he that writes of you, if he can tell
That you are you, so dignifies his story.

The imagery of a garland hanging over a door as praise for the wine is typically Shakespearian. In the epilogue to As You Like It the wise Rosalinde says:

ROSALINDE. It is not the fashion to see the lady the epilogue; but it is no more unhandsome than to see the lord the prologue. If it be true that good wine needs no bush, 'tis true that a good play needs no epilogue. Yet to good wine they do use good bushes; and good plays prove the better by the help of good epilogues.

Otherwise the manner in which “Ignoto” circumvents his duty to praise is reminiscent of Oxford’s commendation poem for Gascoigne’s Steele Glas (No. 104). Here: “I here pronounce this workmanship is such, / As that no pen can set it forth too much.” There: “Like sort my pen shall Gascoigne’s praise descry, / Which wanting grace, his graces to rehearse, / Doth shroud and cloud them thus in silent verse.”

On page 602 of The Faerie Queene (1590) Edmund Spenser concedes, in a poem directed at the Earl of Oxford, to have written from him “under a shady veil”.

To the right Honourable The Earle of Oxenforde, Lord high Chamberlayne of England. &c.

Receive, most noble Lord, in gentle gree,
  The unripe fruit of an unready wit:
  Which, by thy countenance, doth crave to be
  Defended from foul envy's poisonous bit.
Which so to do may thee right well befit,
  Sith th' antique glory of thine ancestry
  Under a shady veil is therein writ,
  And eke thine own long-living memory;
Succeeding them in true nobility:
  And also for the love, which thou doost bear
  To th' Heliconian imps, and they to thee;
  They unto thee, and thou to them most dear:
Dear as thou art unto thy self, so love
  That loves and honours thee, as doth behove.

The question "which of Spenser's chivalrous heroes portrays Oxford?" has long been a subject of vain speculation.

The bridge that has been missing can be found in one of Oxford's earlier poems which he included in “Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen” in the anthology A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres (1573). After a long period of all consuming love the "absent lover", too weak to hold up his own "shield of love"; asks the lady to lend him her shield as a sign of her love and fidelity (“Mine own poor shield hath me defended long, / Now lend me yours, for else you do me wrong”). The poem is signed Meritum petere grave: “It is painful to have to beg for that which one has earned”. The poem also has a further special feature: Edward De Vere included his name in an extremely artful manner. - See 3.2.1 The Poems, No. 63, and 5.0.4 A Poetic Cryptogram.

The absent lover (in ciphers) deciphering his name, doth crave some speedy relief as followeth.

L'Escü d'amour, the shield of perfect love,
The shield of love, the force of steadfast faith,
The force of faith which never will remove,
But standeth fast to bide the brunts of death:
That trusty targe hath long borne off the blows,
And broke the thrusts which absence at me throws.

In doleful days I lead an absent life
And wound my will with many a weary thought:
I plead for peace, yet starve in storms of strife,
I find debate where quiet rest was sought.
These pangs with mo unto my pain I prove,
Yet bear I all upon my shield of love.

In colder cares are my conceits consumed
Than Dido felt when false Eneas fled:
In far more heat than trusty Troilus fumed
When crafty Cresside dwelt with Diomed:
My hope such frost, my hot desire such flame,
That I both freeze and smoulder in the same.

So that I live and die in one degree,
Healed by hope and hurt again with dread:
Fast bound by faith when fancy would be free,
Untied by trust, though thoughts enthrall my head:
Reviv'd by joys when hope doth most abound,
And yet with grief in depth of dolours drownd.

In these assaults I feel my feebled force
Begins to faint, thus wearied still in woes:
And scarcely can my thus consumed course
Hold up this buckler to bear of these blows:
So that I crave, or presence for relief,
Or some supply to ease mine absent grief.


To you (dear Dame) this doleful plaint I make,
Whose only sight may soon redress my smart:
Then show yourself, and for your servants sake,
Make haste post haste to help a faithful heart:
Mine own poor shield hath me defended long,
Now lend me yours, for else you do me wrong.

Meritum petere grave.

In spite of theories that have been propagated by Prouty (1942), Pigman (2000) and Austen (2008), this poem has nothing whatever to do with the insignificant courtier Sir John Scudamore (1542–1623) who then used to write his name Skydemore.

Oxford uses the „shield of perfect love“ for his central theme, taking the concept from two epics: the French Lancelot–Grail or Prose Lancelot (13th century), from which he adopted the term “L’écu d’amour”,  and Matteo Maria Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato (1495) Book 1, Canto 26. In the Lancelot-Grail Viviane, the Lady of the Lake, gives Queen Guinevere a magical split shield. One half of the shield depicted a knight and woman kissing, but their lips not touching one another because of the split in the shield. Once Lancelot and Guinevere consummate their passion, the shield will be made whole.

In Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato (I/26) the beautiful Princess Angelica gives the hero Orlando two presents, one of them a helmet crest bearing the likeness of Amor, the other a shield with white ermine on a golden background, as a sign of her true love.

(10) She hugged the valiant warrior and asked, "Where are you going, knight? You swore to be my cavalier, that you would dedicate this fight. Therefore, to show you love me, wear  this helmet crest and this fine shield. Remember who remembers you, and do the best that you can do."

(11) She spoke and handed him a shield with a white ermine on gold field, then this fine crest: a naked boy  with wings, a quiver, and a bow. Orlando, often so ungentle, grew dizzy as he watched the damsel, and he felt such joy, such desire, such happiness, he thought he'd die.

(Orlando Innamorato. Orlando in Love. Translated with an Introduction and Notes by Charles Stanley Ross. West Lafayette 2004.)

Oxford sees himself as the gracious Queen Guinevere's Lancelot, or as the second Orlando to the proud and haughty Princess Angelica with whom we had a brief encounter in “The deadly drops of dark disdain” (5.2.1. No. 51). A series of dramatical references give rise to the assumption that the poem is written for Queen Elizabeth.

Edmund Spenser, who had busied himself extensively with Oxford's early poetry (see 3.2.1 Spenser, The Shepheardes Calender, note 5) used the poem “L'Escü d'amour, the shield of perfect love” as his inspiration, from which he developed the hero, based on the Earl of Oxford, in The Faerie Queene.

He called his character -- Sir Scudamour!

Sometimes written: Sir Scudamore.

Furthermore, his representation of the chivalrous hero draws from the same literary source as Oxford poem, namely to Matteo Maria Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato I/26 and III/2.  (See H. H. Blanchard, Spenser and Boiardo, PMLA XL, 1925, p. 828-51).


Sir Scudamour, who appears for the first time in Book III of The Faerie Queene , falls in love with, abducts and marries the heavenly and virtuous "Amoret" -  yet still he does not truly possess her. Fortune does not smile on the seemingly ideal couple - Scudamour and Amoret. On the day of her wedding, Amoret is kidnapped by a magician who would take her for his wife. Britomart, the English heroine (and an idealized mirroring of Queen Elizabeth) goes through hell to free her from the hands of the wizard. Scudamour does not thank her for her bravery, because he has been deceived by Duessa, the personification of falsehood and deception (a caricature of the Catholic Mary Stuart), and her two helpers, Blandamour and Paridell. Duessa tells Scudamour that she has seen Amoret in the embrace of the Knight Britomart. Thinking that the said knight is a man, Sir Scudamour is consumed with a burning jealousy, until at the end, the fog of deceit lifts.

It doesn't require a phenomenal imagination to see from whence Spenser got this allegory.  Although there is no wizard involved in the relationship between the Earl of Oxford and his young wife Anne Cecil; there was an Italian journey, which caused a deep chasm between them. On his return, he allowed his Catholic friends - Lord Henry Howard and Sir Charles Arundell - to convince him that Anne (Amoret) was unfaithful to him during his one-year absence. Angry and jealous at the same time, Oxford distanced itself from the innocent young woman - not returning until six years had elapsed, at the end of 1581.

The Scudamour episode in Book III was conceived and written in the middle of the fifteen eighties. In the second version and the continuation of the Faerie Queene (1596), Spenser endeavours to make the sweet Amoret more ethereal and untouchable. She is captured by three evil powers, not just one. The happy reunification with Sir Scudamour (included in Book III from 1590) does not take place in the new version. Unclear is whether it was deleted or if it merely fell victim to the author's forgetfulness. Such forgetfulness may have its reason in the fact that Amoret's model - the heavenly Anne Cecil - died in the year 1588 and that the Earl of Oxford married for the second time in December 1591.

The central theme to “Sir Scudamour's” story is that of unfulfilled and unrequited love. For his fight against the inner demon, Venus equips him with the shield of the unfortunate Hector - the “shield of love”. It almost seems as if Scudamour (or the Earl of Oxford) uses this shield not only to protect himself from his enemies’ attacks but also from love itself, even though he goes into battle under love’s banner.



 Disposed into twelve bookes,


XII. Morall vertues


Printed for William Ponsonbie.



The Third Book  (1590)



The Birth of fair Belphoebe, and
Of Amoret is told:
The Gardens of Adonis, fraught
With pleasures manifold.

Well may I ween [think], fair Ladies, all this while
Ye wonder, how this noble Damozel [Damsel] [1]
So great perfections did in her compile;
Sith that in salvage forests she did dwell,
So far from court and royal Citadel,
The great schoolmistress of all courtesy:
Seemèth that such wild woods should far expell
All civil usage and gentility,
And gentle sprite deform with rude rusticity.

But to this fair Belphoebe in her birth
The heavens so favourable were and free,
Looking with mild aspect upon the earth,
In th' Horoscope of her nativity,
That all the gifts of grace and chastity
On her they pourèd forth of plenteous horn;
Jove laugh'd on Venus from his sovereign see [seat],
And Phoebus with fair beams did her adorn,
And all the Graces rock'd her cradle, being born.

Her birth was of the womb of Morning dew,
And her conception of the joyous Prime,
And all her whole creation did her show
Pure and unspotted from all loathly crime,
That is ingenerate in fleshly slime.
So was this virgin born, so was she bred,
So was she trainèd up from time to time,
In all chaste virtue, and true bountihead,
Till to her due perfection she was ripened.

Her mother was the fair Chrysogonee,
The daughter of Amphisa, who by race
A faery was, yborn of high degree;
She bore Belphoebe, she bore in like case
Fair Amoretta in the second place:[2]
These two were twins, and 'twixt them two did share
The heritage of all celestial grace;
That all the rest it seem'd they robbed bare
Of bounty, and of beauty, and all virtues rare.

Now it so chanced that at this time Venus had left her heavenly house ... to look after 'her little son, the winged God of love,' who had fled from her 'for some light displeasance,' as he had often done before, wandering about in the world, and disguising himself in a thousand shapes. She sought him in the court, in cities, and then in the country, where 'the gentle shepherd swains, which sat | Keeping their fleecy flocks as they were hired'.... At last she resolved to repair to the woods.... There she found Diana with her companions seated around a fountain, resting themselves in the cool shade — their mistress herself, with her bow and painted quiver hung on a neighbouring bough, her silver buskins unlaced, all her dress loosened, and her golden locks hanging undight about her shoulders. Ashamed and half angry with her Damsels for allowing her to he so surprised, she gathered her garments about her as well as she could, and rising up advanced to meet her sister goddess, 'Whiles all her nymphs did like a girland her enclose.' When Venus informed her what had brought her to the wilderness, she smiled in scorn 'of her vain plaint;' but the other replied to her contemptuous words, that it ill became her, with her lofty crest, 'To scorn the joy that Jove is glad to seek;' and then proceeded narrowly to inspect each of the nymphs, in the notion that one of them might possibly be her lost boy in disguise....

While thus engaged they came to the place where lay Chrysogone, and, wonderful to tell, by her side two new-born babes 'as fair as springing day,' which she had brought forth, without pain, and unawares, in her slumbrous trance. The goddesses agreed not to awake the mother, but to take the babes from her loving side, each appropriating one. Diana gave her's one of her own names, Belphoebe, and committed her to a nymph 'to be upbrought in perfect maidenhead:' 'But Venus her's thence far away conveyed, | To be brought up in goodly woman head.... | She brought her to her joyous paradise | Where most she wons when she on earth does dwell, | And called is, by her lost lover's name, | The Garden of Adonis, far renowmed by fame.'

From this garden are brought all the goodly flowers wherewith Dame Nature beautifies herself; there is the first seminary of all things born to live and die, according to their kinds; it were an endless work to enumerate 'all the weeds that bloom and blossom there.' It had two walls, the one of iron, the other of gold and two gates always standing open, 'the one fair and fresh, the other old and dried.' Old Genius was the porter at both — 'old Genius, the which a double nature has.' All who desire to come into the world he lets both in and out: 'A thousand thousand naked babes attend | About him day and night, which do require | That he with fleshly weeds would them attire: | Such as him list, such as eternal fate | Ordained hath, he clothes with sinful mire, | And sendeth forth to live in mortal state'.... Infinite shapes of creatures are there bred, both human and bestial; and although some are constantly sent away to replenish the earth, yet is the stock never diminished, for 'in the wide womb of the world' lies a huge eternal chaos out of which comes continually a new supply. Besides, nothing is consumed or annihilated, but only changed that is to say, only the form is altered — the substance remains: 'For forms are variable, and decay | By course of kind and by occasion; | And that fair flower of beauty fades away, | As doth the lily fresh before the sunny ray'....[3]

Hither great Venus brought this infant fair [Amoret],
The younger daughter of Chrysogonee,
And unto Psyche with great trust and care
Committed her yfostered to be,
And trained up in true feminity:
Who no less carefully her tendered,
Than her own daughter Pleasure, to whom she
Made her companion, and her lessoned
In all the lore of love, and goodly womanhead.

In which when she to perfect ripeness grew,
Of grace and beauty noble Paragon,
She brought her forth into the worldes view,
To be th' ensample of true love alone,
And Loadstar of all chaste affection,
To all fair Ladies that do live on ground.
To Faery court she came, where many one
Admir'd her goodly ʼhaviour, and found
His feeble heart wide lanced with love's cruel wound.

But she to none of them her love did cast,
Save to the noble knight, Sir Scudamore,[4]
To whom her loving heart she linked fast
In faithful love, t' abide for evermore,
And for his dearest sake endured sore,
Sore trouble of an heinous enemy,
Who her would forced have to have forlore [abandoned]
Her former love and steadfast loyalty,
As ye may elsewhere read that rueful history.



Britomart chaseth Ollyphant, [5]
Finds Scudamour distress'd:
Assays the House of Busirane,
Where love's spoils are express'd.

O Hateful hellish Snake, what fury first
Brought thee from baleful house of Prosperine,
Where in her bosom she thee long hath nurs‘d,
And fost'red up with bitter milk of teen [woe],
Foul Jealousy, that turnest love divine
To joyless dread, and mak'st the loving heart
With hateful thoughts to languish and to pine,
And feed itself with self-consuming smart?
Of all the passions in the mind thou vilest art!

The poet now winds his way back to Sir Satyrane and Britomart, who, as will be remembered, had left the castle of Malbecco together, through a brief but passionate anathema of Jealousy, concluding — 'And ye, fair ladies, that your kingdoms make | In the hearts of men, them govern wisely well, | And of fair Britomart ensample take, | That was as true in love as turtle to her make.' As the two ride along they, see at a distance a young man flying from a huge giant, who proves to be Oliphant, the brother of the vile Argante, and as great a monster of the one sex as she is of the other. Britomart immediately dashes forward to attack him, and is quickly followed by Satyrane, on which, abandoning the chase of the youth, he takes to flight, and, being 'long and swift as any roe,' outruns them both.

Fair Britomart so long him followed,
That she at last came to a fountain sheer [clear],
By which there lay a knight all wallowed
Upon the grassy ground, and by him near
His habergeon [coat of mail], his helmet, and his spear.
A little off, his shield was rudely thrown,
On which the winged boy in colours clear
Depainted was[6], full easy to be known,
And he thereby, wherever it in field was shown.

His face upon the ground did grovelling lie,
As if he had been slumbring in the shade
That the brave Maid would not for courtesy,
Out of his quiet slumber him abraid [rouse],
Nor seem too suddenly him to invade:
Still as she stood, she heard with grievous throb
Him groan, as if his heart were pieces made,
And with most painful pangs to sigh and sob,
That pity did the Virgin's heart of patience rob.

At last, forth breaking into bitter plaints,
He said: O sovereign Lord that sit'st on high,
And reign'st in bliss amongst thy blessed Saints,
How suffrest thou such shameful cruelty,
So long unwreaked of thine enemy?
Or hast thou, Lord, of good mens cause no heed?
Or doth thy justice sleep, and silent lie?
What booteth then the good and righteous deed,
If goodness find no grace? nor righteousness no meed?

If good find grace, and righteousness reward,
Why then is Amoret in caitiff [captive] band,
Sith that more bounteous [virtuous] creature never far'd
On foot upon the face of living land?
Or if that heavenly justice may withstand
The wrongful outrage of unrighteous men,
Why then is Busirane with wicked hand [7]
Suff’rèd, these seven monthsʼ day, in secret den
My Lady and my love so cruelly to pen [shut in]? [8]

My Lady and my love is cruelly pent [shut up in sloth]
In doleful darkness from the view of day,
Whilst deadly torments do her chaste breast rend,
And the sharp steel doth rive her heart in tway,[9]
All for she Scudamore will not denay [deny].
Yet thou, vile man, vile Scudamore, art sound,
Ne canst her aid, ne canst her foe dismay;
Unworthy wretch to tread upon the ground,
For whom so fair a Lady feels so sore a wound.

There an huge heap of singults [sobs] did oppress
His struggling soul, and swelling throbs empeach
His foltring tongue with pangs of dreariness,
Choking the remnant of his plaintive speech,
As if his days were come to their last reach.
Which, when she heard, and saw the ghastly fit,
Threatning into his life to make a breach,
Both with great ruth [pity] and terror she was smit,
Fearing lest from her cage the weary soul would flit.

Tho [then], stooping down, she him amoved light;
Who therewith somewhat starting up 'gan look,
And seeing him behind a stranger knight,
Whereas no living creature he mistook,
With great indignance he that sight forsook,
And down again himself disdainfully
Abjecting, th' earth with his fair forehead strook:
Which the bold Virgin seeing, 'gan apply
Fit medʼcine to his grief, and spake thus courteously:

Ah gentle knight, whose deep conceived grief
Well seems t' exceed the power of patience,
Yet, if that heavenly grace some good relief
You send, submit you to high providence;
And ever in your noble heart prepense [consider],
That all the sorrow in the world is less
Than virtue's might and value's confidence;
For who nill [will not] bide the burden of distress,
Must not here think to live; for life is wretchedness.

Therefore, fair Sir, do comfort to you take,
And freely read [explain] what wicked felon so
Hath outrag'd you, and thrall'd your gentle make [mate].
Perhaps this hand may help to ease your woe,
And wreak your sorrow on your cruel foe,
At least it fair endeavour will apply. –

Those feeling words so near the quick did go,
That up his head he reared easily:
And leaning on his elbow, these few words let fly:

What boots it 'plain, that cannot be redress'd, [10]
And sow vain sorrow in a fruitless ear,
Sith power of hand, nor skill of learned breast,
Ne worldly price cannot redeem my dear
Out of her thraldom and continual fear?
For he, the tyrant, which her hath in ward
By strong enchantments, and black magic lear [lore],
Hath in a dungeon deep her close embarred [shut in],
And many dreadful fiends hath pointed to her guard.

There he tormenteth her most terribly,
And day and night afflicts with mortal pain,
Because to yield him love she doth deny,
Once to me yold [yielded], not to be yold again:
But yet by torture he would her constrain:
Love to conceive in her disdainful breast;
Till so she do, she must in dole remain,
Ne may by living means be thence releas'd:
What boots it then to 'plain, that cannot be redress'd?

With this sad hersal [rehearsal] of his heavy stress [distress],
The warlike Damsel was impassion'd sore,
And said; Sir knight, your cause is nothing less
Than is your sorrow, certes, if not more;
For nothing so much pity doth implore,
As gentle Ladies’ helpless misery.
But yet, if please ye listen to my lore,
I will (with proof of last extremity)
Deliver her from thence, or with her for you die.

Ah gentlest knight alive, (said Scudamore)
What huge heroic magnanimity
Dwells in thy bounteous breast? What couldst thou more,
If she were thine, and thou as now am I?
O spare thy happy days, and them apply
To better boot, but let me die that ought;
More is more loss: one is enough to die. –

Life is not lost, said she, for which is bought
Endless renown, that more than death is to be sought.

Thus, she at length persuaded him to rise,
And with her wend to see what new success
Mote [might] him befall upon new enterprise:
His arms, which he had vow'd to disprofess,
She gather'd up, and did about him dress,
And his forwandred [stayed away] steed unto him got:
So forth they both yfere [together] make their progress,
And march not past the mount'nance of a shot,
Till they arriv'd, whereas their purpose they did plot.

There they dismounting, drew their weapons bold,
And stoutly came unto the Castle gate;
Whereas no gate they found them to withhold,
Nor ward to wait at morn and evening late;
But in the Porch (that did them sore amate [daunt])
A flaming fire ymix'd with smouldry smoke
And stinking Sulphur, that with grisly [terrible] hate
And dreadful horror did all entrance choke,
Enforced them their forward footing to revoke.

Greatly thereat was Britomart dismay'd,
Ne in that stound [moment] wist [knew] how herself to bear;
For danger vain it were to have assay'd
That cruel element, which all things fear,
Ne none can suffer to approachen near:
And turning back to Scudamour, thus said:
What monstrous enmity provoke we here,
Foolhardy as th' Earthes children, the which made
Battaile [battle] against the Gods? so we a God invade.

Danger without discretion to attempt,
Inglorious and beast-like is: therefore, Sir knight,
Aread [declare] what course of you is safest dempt [deemed],
And how we with our foe may come to fight. –

This is  (quoth he) the dolorous despite [vexation],
Which earst to you I 'plained: for neither may
This fire be quench'd by any wit or might,
Ne yet by any means remov'd away,
So mighty be th' enchantments which the same do stay.

What is there else but cease these fruitless pains,
And leave me to my former languishing;
Fair Amoret must dwell in wicked chains,
And Scudamore here die with sorrowing. –

Perdy [truly] not so (said she) for shameful thing
It were t' abandon noble chevisance [enterprise],
For show of peril, without venturing:
Rather let try extremities of chance
Than enterprized praise for dread to disavance [retreat].

Therewith resolv'd to prove her utmost might,
Her ample shield she threw before her face,
And (her sword's point directing forward right)
Assailed the flame, the which eftsoons [soon] gave place,
And did it self divide with equal space,
That through she passèd: as a thunderbolt
Pierceth the yielding air, and doth displace
The soaring clouds into sad [heavy] showers ymolt [melted];
So to her yold the flames, and did their force revolt.

Whom, whenas Scudamour saw past the fire,
Safe and untouch'd, he likewise 'gan assay,
With greedy will and envious desire,
And bade the stubborn flames to yield him way:
But cruel Mulciber [Vulcan] would not obey
His threatful pride; but did the more augment
His mighty rage, and his imperious sway
Him forc’d (maugrè) his fierceness to relent,
And back retire, all scorch'd and pitifully brent [burned].

With huge impatience he inly swelt,
More for great sorrow that he could not pass
Than for the burning torment which he felt,
That with fell woodness [madness] he effierced was;
And willfully him throwing on the grass,
Did beat and bounce his head and breast full sore;
The whiles the Championess now entered has [11]
The utmost room, and past the formost door;
The utmost room abounding with all precious store.

For round about, the walls yclothed were
With goodly arras of great majesty,
Woven with gold and silk so close and near,
That the rich metal lurked privily,
As feigning to be hid from envious eye:
Yet here, and there, and everywhere unwares
It show'd itself and shone unwillingly;
Like a discolour'd Snake, whose hidden snares [coils]
Through the green grass his long bright burnish'd back declares.

And in those Tapets weren fashioned
Many fair portraits, and many a fair feat;
And all of love, and all of lustihead,
As seemèd by their semblant [appearance], did entreat:
And eke all Cupid's wars they did repeat,
And cruel battles, which he whilom fought
'Gainst all the Gods, to make his empire great;
Besides the huge massacres which he wrought
On mighty kings and kesars, into thraldom brought.

Then, 'at the upper end of that fair room | There was an altar built of precious stone | Of passing value and of great renowm, | On which there stood an image all alone | Of massy gold, which with his own light shone'.... Transfixed with astonishment, Britomart gazes long upon the splendid scene around her; then, looking back, she perceives written over the door the words 'Be Bold;' she cannot make out what the inscription may mean but, 'no whit thereby discouraged,' she advances boldly into the next room. 'Much fairer than the former was that room, | And richlier, by many parts, arrayed; | For not with arras made in painful loom, | But with pure gold it all was overlaid, | Wrought with wild antics which their follies played | In the rich metal, as they living were'.... Britomart marvels greatly that all this while no living thing has appeared — that there should be nothing but emptiness and solemn silence over all the place. Then, as she looks around, she sees again the words 'Be bold, Be bold,' written over every door.

And as she looked about, she did behold,
How over that same door was likewise writ,
Be bold, Be bold, and everywhere Be bold;
That much she mused, yet could not construe it
By any riddling skill, or common wit.
At last she spied at that room's upper end,
Another iron door, on which was writ,
Be not too bold; whereto though she did bend
Her earnest mind, yet wist not what it might intend.

Thus there she waited until eventide,
Yet living creature none she saw appear:
And now sad shadows 'gan the world to hide
From mortal view, and wrap in darkness drear;
Yet nould she dʼoff [would she not take off] her weary arms, for fear
Of secret danger, ne let sleep oppress
Her heavy eyes with nature's burden dear,
But drew herself aside in sickerness [safety],
And her well pointed weapons did about her dress [rise].



The Mask of Cupid, and th' enchanted
chamber are display'd;
Whence Britomart redeems fair
Amoret, through charms decay'd.

At last, when it is quite dark, a trumpet sounds, and then, after a storm of thunder and lightning and earthquake, and a stench of smoke and sulphur, lasting 'from the fourth hour of the night until the sixth, — 'All suddenly a stormy whirlwind blew | Throughout the house, that clapped every door, | With which that iron wicket open flew, | As it with mighty levers had been tore; | And forth issued, as on the ready floor | Of some theatre, a grave personage | That in his hand a branch of laurel bore'.... In the argument at the head of the Canto this splendid show, so wonderful for the profusion of allegoric invention displayed in it, is called the Masque of Cupid; and, as already noticed, it has been supposed to be perhaps an adaptation of the author's early composition, The Court of Cupid, mentioned by E.K. in his Epistle to Harvey prefixed to the Shepherd's Calendar.

As soon as they have retired, the floor is again fast locked, driven to by a blast of wind even as it had been driven open. Britomart courageously advances to it, but tries in vain to open it, first by force then by art. She resolves to remain in the room where she is till the following morning, when she concludes the mask will probably again come forth. Accordingly, after another night, towards the close of the second watch, open flies the brazen door as before, and in walks bold Britomart:

So soon as she was enter'd, round about
She cast her eyes, to see what was become
Of all those persons, which she saw without:
But lo! they straight were vanish'd all and some,
Ne living wight she saw in all that room,
Save that same woeful Lady; both whose hands
Were bounden fast, that did her ill become,
And her small waist girt round with iron bands
Unto a brazen pillar, by the which she stands.

And her before the vile Enchanter sate,
Figuring strange characters of his art:
With living blood he those characters wrate [wrote],
Dreadfully dropping from her dying heart,
Seeming transfixed with a cruel dart;
And all perforce to make her him to love.
Ah who can love the worker of her smart?
A thousand charms he formerly did prove;
Yet thousand charms could not her steadfast heart remove.

Soon as that virgin knight he saw in place,
His wicked books in haste he overthrew,
Not caring his long labours to deface [destroy];
And fiercely running to that Lady true,
A murdrous knife out of his pocket drew;
The which he thought, for villainous despite,
In her tormented body to imbrue [steep in]:
But the stout Damsel to him leaping light,
His cursed hand witheld, and maistered his might.

From her, to whom his fury first he meant,
The wicked weapon rashly he did rest;
And turning to herself his fell intent,
Unwares it strook into her snowy chest,
That little drops empurpled her fair breast.
Exceeding wroth therewith the virgin grew,
Albe [although] the wound were nothing deep impressʼd;
And fiercely forth her mortal blade she drew,
To give him the reward for such vile outrage due.

So mightily she smote him, that to ground
He fell half dead; next stroke him should have slain,
Had not the Lady, which by him stood bound,
Dernly [sadly] unto her callèd to abstain
From doing him to die. For else her pain
Should be remediless, sith [since] none but he,
Which wrought it, could the same recure again.
Therewith she staid her hand, loth stayed to be;
For life she him envied, and longed revenge to see.

And to him said: Thou wicked man, whose meed
For so huge mischief, and vile villany
Is death, or if that ought do death exceed,
Be sure, that nought may save thee from to die
But if that thou this Dame do presently
Restore unto her health and former state,
This do and live, else die undoubtedly.
He glad of life, that looked for death but late,
Did yield himself right willing to prolong his date.

And rising up, 'gan straight to overlook
Those cursed leaves, his charms back to reverse;
Full dreadful things out of that baleful book
He read, and measur'd many a sad [important] verse,
That horror 'gan the virgin's heart to pierce,
And her fair locks up stared stiff on end,
Hearing him those same bloody lines rehearse;
And all the while he read, she did extend
Her sword high over him, if ought he did offend.

Anon she 'gan perceive the house to quake,
And all the doors to rattle round about;
Yet all that did not her dismayed make,
Nor slack her threatful hand for danger's doubt;
But still with steadfast eye and courage stout
Abode, to weet [know] what end would come of all.
At last, that mighty chain, which round about
Her tender waist was wound, adown 'gan fall,
And that great brazen pillar broke in pieces small.

The cruel steel which thrill'd [pierced] her dying heart,
Fell softly forth, as of his own accord:
And the wide wound, which lately did dispart [divide]
Her bleeding breast, and riven bowels gored,
Was closed up, as it had not been bored;
And every part to safety full sound,
As she were never hurt, was soon restored.
Tho [then] when she felt herself to be unbound,
And perfect whole, prostrate she fell unto the ground.

Before fair Britomart she fell prostrate,
Saying; Ah noble knight, what worthy meed
Can wretched Lady, quit from woeful state
Yield you in lieu of this your gracious deed?
Your virtue self her own reward shall breed
Even immortal praise and glory wide,
Which I, your vassal, by your prowess freed,
Shall through the world make to be notified,
And goodly well advance that goodly well was tried.

But Britomart, uprearing her from ground,
Said, Gentle Dame, reward enough I ween [think]
For many labours more than I have found,
This, that in safety now I have you seen,
And mean[s] of your deliverance have been:
Henceforth, fair Lady, comfort to you take,
And put away remembrance of late teen [sorrow];
Instead thereof know, that your loving Make
Hath no less grief endured for your gentle sake. –

She much was cheered to hear him mentioned,
Whom of all living wights she loved best.
Then laid the noble Championess strong hond [hand]
Upon th' enchanter; which had her distressʼd
So sore, and with foul outrages oppressʼd:
With that great chain, wherewith not long ygo
He bound that piteous Lady prisoner, now releasʼd,
Himself she bound, more worthy to be so,
And captive with her led to wretchedness and woe.

Returning back, those goodly rooms, which erst
She saw so rich and royally arrayed,
Now vanish'd utterly, and clean subversʼd
She found, and all their glory quite decayed,
That sight of such a change her much dismayed.
Thenceforth descending to that perilous Porch,
Those dreadful flames she also found delayed,
And quenched quite, like a consumed torch,
That erst all entʼrers wont so cruelly to scorch.

More easy issue now, than entrance late
She found: for now that feignèd [not real] dreadful flame,
Which choked the porch of that enchanted gate
And passage barred to all that thither came,
Was vanish'd quite, as it were not the same,
And gave her leave at pleasure forth to pass.
Th' Enchanter self, which all that fraud did frame,
To have efforc'd the love of that fair lass,
Seeing his work now wasted, deep engrieved was.


At last she came unto the place where late
She left Sir
Scudamour in great distress,
'Twixt dolor and despite half desperate
Of his love's succour, of his own redress,
And of the hardy
Britomart's success:
There on the cold earth him how thrown she found,
In willful anguish and dead heaviness,
And to him call'd; whose voice's knowen sound
Soon as he heard, himself he rearèd light from ground.

There did he see that most on earth him joyed,
His dearest love, the comfort of his days,
Whose too long absence had him sore annoyed,
And wearièd his life with dull delays:
Straight he upstarted from the loathed lays,
And to her ran with hasty eagerness,
Like as a Deer that greedily embays
In the cool soil, after long thirstiness,
Which he in chase endurèd hath, now nigh breathless.

Lightly he clipped her twixt his armes twain,
And straitly did embrace her body bright,
Her body, late the prison of sad pain,
Now the sweet lodge of love and dear delight:
But she, fair Lady, overcomen quite
Of huge affection, did in pleasure melt,
And in sweet ravishment poured out her sprite:
No word they spake, nor earthly thing they felt,
But like two senseless stocks in long embracement dwelt.

Had ye them seen, ye would have surely thought
That thy had been that fair Hermaphrodite
The which that Roman of white marble wrought,
And in his costly bath caused to be site:
So seemed those two, as grown together quite,
Britomart, half envying their bliss,
Was much impassioned in her gentle sprite,
And to herself oft wished like happiness;
In vain she wished, that fate nould let her yet possess.

Thus do those lovers with sweet countervail
Each other of love's bitter fruit despoil.
But now my team begins to faint and fail,
All waxen [grown] weary of their journal toil:
Therefore I will their sweaty yokes assoil [dispel]
At this same furrow's end, till a new day:
And ye fair swains, after long turmoil,
Now cease your work, and at your pleasure play:
Now cease your work, tomorrow is an holyday.

In the alteration which he made when he reprinted the poem with its continuation, Spenser judiciously availed himself of the opportunity of keeping up the excitement of suspense with regard to Scudamore and Amoret, as well as with regard to Britomart and Artegal, Florimell, and other personages that figure in this third Book.


But when the victoress arrived there
Where late she left the pensife Scudamore
With her own trusty squire, both full of fear,
Neither of them she found where she them lore [left]:
Thereat her noble heart was 'stonished sore;
But most fair Amoret, whose gentle sprite
Now gan to feed on hope, which she before
Conceived had, to see her own dear knight,
Being thereof beguiled, was filled with new affright.

But he, sad man, when he had long in dread
Awaited there for Britomart's return,
Yet saw her not, nor sign of her good speed,
His expectation to despair did turn,
Misdeeming sure that her those flames did burn;
And therefore gan advise with her old Squire,
Who her dear nursling's loss no less did mourn,
Thence to depart for further aid t' enquire:
Where let them wend at will, whilst here I do respire.


The Fourth Book  (1596)

The Fourth Book of the Faery Queen is entitled The Legend of Cambel and Triamond (misprinted in the old editions Telamond), or of Friendship. It is preceded by five introductory stanzas, setting out as follows, with what is no doubt an allusion to Burleigh and the little favour, or rather avowed contempt, with which the former portion of the work had been regarded, both for its form and its subject, by the wise but not poetical Lord Treasurer.



Fair Britomart saves Amoret:
Duessa discord breeds
'Twixt Scudamour and Blandamour:[14]
Their fight and warlike deeds.

Of lovers sad calamities of old
Full many piteous stories do remain,
But none more piteous ever was ytold
Than that of Amoret's heart-binding chain,
And this of Florimell's unworthy pain: [15]
The dear compassion of whose bitter fit [stroke]
My softened heart so sorely doth constrain,
That I with tears full oft do pity it,
And oftentimes do wish it never had been writ.

For from the time that Scudamour her bought
In perilous fight, she never joyèd day;
A perilous fight, when he with force her brought
From twenty Knights[16], that did him all assay [assail]:
Yet fairly well he did them all dismay;
And with great glory both the shield of love,
And eke the Lady self he brought away:
Whom having wedded, as did him behove,
A new unknowen mischief did from him remove.

For that same vile Enchanter Busyran,
The very self same day that she was wedded,
Amidst the bridal feast, whilst every man
Surcharg'd with wine were heedless and ill headed,
All bent to mirth before the bride was bedded,
Brought in that Mask of Love which late was shown:
And there the Lady ill of friends bestedded [assisted],
By way of sport, as oft in Masks is known,
Conveyed quite away to living wight unknown.

Seven months he so her kept in bitter smart,
Because his sinful lust she would not serve,
Until such time as noble Britomart
Released her, that else was like to sterve [starve =die],
Through cruel knife that her dear heart did kerve [carve].
And now she is with her upon the way,
Marching in lovely wise, that could deserve
No spot of blame, though spite did oft assay
To blot her with dishonour of so fair a prey.

But Amoret’s misfortunes are not yet at an end. Scudamore, as we have seen, is still lost to her and she is left alone with the Briton maid, whose sex of course she does not suspect. It would be a pleasant tale, says the poet, to tell 'the diverse usage and demeanor daint' of the one to the other, as they rode along....

At last one evening they come to a castle, where many knights and ladies are assembled to witness and take part in deeds of arms: — 'Amongst all which was none more fair than she, | That many of them moved to eye her sore. | The custom of that place was such, that he | Which had no love nor leman there in store | Should either win him one, or lie without the door.' A jolly knight, who lays claim to Amoret, is easily and speedily disposed of by 'the warlike virgin;' yet, although he had been overthrown by her in fight, as he seems to be a youth of valour, she, who is as courteous as stout, is loth that he should be either forced to pass the night in the open air, or that the custom of the place should be broken. Having first, therefore, obtained an assurance that in any circumstances Amoret should remain under her protection, she then surprises them all by claiming the admission of the knight into the castle as due to her, his conqueror, in her quality of a Lady: 'With that, her glistering helmet she unlaced; | Which deft, her golden locks, that were upbound | Still in a knot, unto her heels down traced, | And like a silken veil in compass round | About her back and all her body wound'.... Some think that the transformation is the work of enchantment; some that she is Bellona, the Goddess of War, visibly revealed to them 'with shield and armour fit.' But to Amoret especially the discovery is a great relief.

The two spend the night in conversing of their loves, and then on the morrow at sunrise resume their journey. At length they spy two armed knights pacing towards them, each with a Lady, as seems, riding by his side but ladies they are none, although fair enough in face and outward show: the one is the false Duessa, in yet another of her endless disguises — 'For she could don so many shapes in sight | As ever could chamelion colours new; | So could she forge all colours, save the true:' the other was no whit better than she, but rather, if possible, much worse: 'her name was Ate, mother of debate and all dissension,' raised by Duessa 'from below | Out of the dwellings of the damned sprites, | Where she in darkness wastes her cursed days and nights.' Her dwelling is 'in a darksome delve, far under ground,' hard by the gates of hell;' environed with thorns and brakes, yet with many ways to enter, although with none whereby to issue forth.... The two knights are our former acquaintance, Paridell, who accompanies Ate, and a new personage, Sir Blandamour, 'a man of mickle might,' and 'that bore great sway in arms and chivalry,' who has attached himself to Duessa…. Blandamour and Paridell, were young and handsome, but both equally foolish, fickle, and false. When they saw Britomart and the lovely Lady Amoret approaching, Blandamour jestingly tried to make his companion attack Britomart, so that he might win Amoret for himself. But Paridell remembered how he had already fought with a knight bearing those arms and that shield, outside the castle of the churl Malbecco, and he had no desire to provoke a new fight. "Very well," said Blandamour; "I will challenge him myself;" and he rode straight at Britomart.

But he had soon cause to repent his rashness, for Britomart received his advance with so rude a welcome that he speedily left his saddle. Then she passed quietly on, leaving him on the ground much hurt, an example of his own folly, and as sad now as he had formerly been merry, well warned to beware in future with whom he dared to interfere.

Paridell ran to his aid and helped him to mount again, and they marched on their way, Blandamour trying as well as he could to hide the evil plight he was in. Before long they saw two other knights coming quickly to meet them, and Blandamour was enraged to see that one was Sir Scudamour, whom he hated mortally, both because of his worth, which made all men love him, and because he had won by right the Lady Amoret.

For th' one of them he perfectly descried
To be Sir Scudamour, by that he bore
The God of love, with wings displayed wide;
Whom mortally he hates evermore,
Both for his worth (that all men did adore)
And eke because his love he won by right:
Which when he thought, it grieved him full sore,
That through the bruises of his former fight,
He now unable was to wreak his old despite.

For-thy, he thus to Paridell bespake:[17]
Fair Sir, of friendship let me now you pray,
That as I late adventured for your sake,
The hurts whereof me now from battle stay,
Ye will me now with like good turn repay,
And justify my cause on yonder knight. –

Ah Sir (said Paridell) do not dismay
Yourself for this; myself will for you fight,
As ye have done for me: the left hand rubs the right.

With that he put his spurs unto his steed,
With spear in rest, and toward him did fare,
Like shaft out of a bow preventing [surpassing] speed.
But Scudamour was shortly well aware
Of his approach, and 'gan himself prepare
Him to receive with entertainment meet.
So furiously they met, that either bare
The other down under their horses feet,
That what of them became themselves did scarcely weet [know].

As when two billows in the Irish sounds,
Forcibly driven with contrary tides,
Do meet together, each aback rebounds
With roaring rage; and dashing on all sides,
That filleth all the sea with foam, divides
The doubtful current into divers ways;
So fell those two in spite of both their prides:
But Scudamour himself did soon upraise,
And mounting light, his foe for lying long upbraids.

Who, rolled on an heap, lay still in swound [swoon],
All careless of his taunt and bitter rail [railing]:
Till that the rest, him seeing lie on ground,
Ran hastily, to weet what did him ail.
Where finding that the breath 'gan him to fail,
With busy care they strove him to awake,
And doft his helmet, and undid his mail:
So much they did, that at the last they brake
His slumber, yet so mazed, that he nothing spake.

Which whenas Blandamour beheld, he said:
False faitour [traitor] Scudamour, that hast by sleight
And foul advantage this good Knight dismayed,
A knight much better than thy self behight [reputed],
Well falls it thee that I am not in plight [condition]
This day, to wreak the damage by thee done:
Such is thy wont, that still when any knight
Is weakʼned, then thou dost him overrun;
So hast thou to thyself false honour often won.

He little answer'd, but in manly heart
His mighty indignation did forbear;
Which was not yet so secret, but some part
Thereof did in his frowning face appear:
Like as a gloomy cloud, the which doth bear
An hideous storm, is by the Northern blast
Quite overblown, yet doth not pass so dear,
But that it all the sky doth overcast
With darkness dread, and threatens all the world to waste.

Ah gentle knight, then false Duessa said,
Why do ye strive for ladiesʼ love so sore,
Whose chief desire is love and friendly aid
'Mongst, gentle Knights to nourish evermore?
Ne be ye wroth, Sir Scudamour, therefore,
That she your love list love another knight,
Ne do yourself dislike a whit the more;
For love is free, and led with self-delight,
Ne will enforced be with masterdom or might.

So false Duessa, but vile Ate thus:[18]
Both foolish knights, I can but laugh at both,
That strive and storm with stir outrageous,
For her that each of you alike doth loath,
And loves another, with whom now she go'th
In lovely wise, and sleeps and sports, and plays;
Whilst both you here with many a cursed oath,
Swear she is yours, and stir up bloody frays,
To win a willow bough, whilst other wears the bays.

Vile hag (said Scudamour) why dost thou lie?
And falsly seek'st a virtuous wight to shame? –

Fond knight, said she, the thing that with this eye
I saw, why should I doubt to tell the same? –

Then tell (quoth Blandamour) and fear no blame,
Tell what thou saw'st, maugrè who-so it hears. [19]

I saw (quoth she) a stranger knight, whose name
I wote not well, but in his shield he bears
(That well I wote) the heads of many broken spears.

I saw him have your Amoret at will,
I saw him kiss, I saw him her embrace,
I saw him sleep with her all night his fill,
All many nights, and many by in place,
That present were to testify the case.[20]
Which when as Scudamour did hear, his heart
Was thrill'd with inward grief; as when in chase
The Parthian strikes a stag with shivering dart,
The beast astonish'd stands in middest of his smart.

So stood Sir Scudamour when this he heard;
Ne word he had to speak for great dismay,
But look'd on Glaucè grim, who woxe [grew] affearʼd
Of outrage for the words which she heard say,
Albe [although] untrue she wist them by assay.
But Blandamour, whenas he did espy
His change of cheer that anguish did bewray,
He woxe full blithe, as he had got thereby,
And 'gan thereat to triumph without victory.

Lo! recreant (said he) the fruitless end
Of thy vain boast, and spoil of love misgotten,
Whereby the name of knighthood thou dost shend [ruin], [21]
And all true lovers with dishonour blotten!
All things not rooted well will soon be rotten. –

Fie, fie, false knight (then false Duessa cried)
Unworthy life, that love with guile hast gotten;
Be thou, whereever thou do go or ride,
Loathed of ladies all, and of all knights defied.

But Scudamour (for passing great despite)
Stayed not to answer, scarcely did refrain,
But that in all those knights and ladies sight,
He for revenge had guiltless Glauce slain:
But being past, he thus began amain [violently];
False traitor squire, false squire of falsest knight,
Why doth mine hand from thine avenge abstain,
Whose Lord hath done my love this foul despite?
Why do I not it wreak on thee, now in my might?

Discourteous, disloyal Britomart,
Untrue to God, and unto man unjust,
What vengeance due can equal thy desert,
That hast with shameful spot of sinful lust
Defil'd the pledge committed to thy trust?
Let ugly shame, and endless infamy
Colour thy name with foul reproaches rust;
Yet thou, false Squire, his fault shalt dear aby [pay for],
And with thy punishment his penance shalt supply.

The aged Dame him seeing so enraged,
Was dead with fear; nath'less [nevertheless] as need required,
His flaming fury sought to have assuaged
With sober words, that sufferance [patience ]desired
Till time the trial of her truth expired:
And evermore sought Britomart to clear.
But he the more with furious rage was fired,
And thrice his hand to kill her did uprear,
And thrice he drew it back; so did at last forbear.



Britomart, however, taking with her the lovely Amoret, proceeds upon her own proper adventure, the quest of her Arthegal — 'Unlucky maid, to seek her enemy! | Unlucky maid, to seek him far and wide, | Whom, when he was unto herself most nigh, | She through his late disguisement could him not descry!'

Meanwhile Amoret's lover, Scudamore, has been travelling on, enduring all the pangs of jealousy and unsatisfied thirst of revenge — feelings which will not be allayed by all that his companion, old Glauce, can say or do.

The gentle Scudamour, whose heart whilere
That strifeful hag with jealous discontent
Had fill'd, that he to fell [fierce] revenge was fully bent.

Bent to revenge on blameless Britomart
The crime, which cursed Ate kindled erst,
The which like thorns did prick his jealous heart,[22]
And through his soul like poisoned arrow pierc'd,
That by no reason it might be revers'd [drawn out],
For ought that Glauce could or do or say.[23]
For, aye, the more that she the same rehears'd,
The more it galled and grieved him night and day,
That nought but dire revenge his anger mote defray [might appease].

So as they travelled, the drooping night
Covered with cloudy storm and bitter shower,
That dreadful seem'd to every living wight,
Upon them fell, before her timely hour;
That forced them to seek some covert bower,
Where they might hide their heads in quiet rest,
And shroud their persons from that stormy stour [turmoil].
Not far away, not meet for any guest,
They spied a little cottage, like some poor man's nest.

Under a steep hill's side it placed was,
There where the moulder'd earth had caved the bank;
And fast beside a little brook did pass
Of muddy water, that like puddle stank;
By which few crooked sallows [willows] grew in rank:
Whereto approaching nigh, they heard the sound
Of many iron hammers beating rank [violently],
And answering their weary turns around,
That seemed some blacksmith dwelt in that desert ground.

There entring in, they found the goodman self,
Full busily unto his work ybent;
Who was to weet [know] a wretched wearish [withered] elf,
With hollow eyes and raw-bone cheeks forspent [wasted],
As if he had in prison long been pent:
Full black and grisly did his face appear,
Besmear'd with smoke that nigh his eye-sight blent [blinded];
With rugged beard, and hoary shagged hair,
The which he never wont to comb, or comely shear.

Rude was his garment, and to rags all rent,
Ne better had he, ne for better cared:
With blister'd hands amongst the cinders brent,
And fingers filthy with long nails unpared,
Right fit to rend the food, on which he fared.
His name was Care; a blacksmith by his trade,[24]
That neither day nor night from working spared,
But to small purpose iron wedges made;
Those be unquiet thoughts, that careful minds invade.

In which his work he had six servants press'd [ready],
About the Anvil standing evermore,
With huge great hammers, that did never rest
From heaping strokes which thereon soused sore:
All six strong grooms, but one than other more;
For by degrees they all were disagreed [made to differ];
So likewise did the hammers which they bore,
Like bells in greatness orderly succeed,
That he which was the last, the first did far exceed.

He like a monstrous Giant seem'd in sight,
Far passing Bronteus, or Pyracmon great, [25]
The which in Lipari do day and night
Frame thunderbolts for Jove's avengeful threat.
So dreadfully he did the anvil beat,
That seem'd to dust he shortly would it drive:
So huge his hammer, and so fierce his heat,
That seem'd a rock of Diamond it could rive
And rend asunder quite, if he thereto list strive.

Sir Scudamour there entring, much admir'd [wondered at]
The manner of their work and weary pain;
And having long beheld, at last enquir'd
The cause and end thereof: but all in vain;
For they for nought would from their work refrain,
Ne let his speeches come unto their ear.
And eke the breathful bellows blew amain,
Like to the Northern wind, that none could hear:
Those Pensiveness did move; and Sighs the bellows were.

Which when that warrior saw, he said no more,
But in his armour laid him down to rest:
To rest, he laid him down upon the floor,
(Whilom for ventrous [adventurous] Knights the bedding best)
And thought his weary limbs to have redress'd.
And that old aged Dame, his faithful Squire,
Her feeble joints laid eke adown to rest;
That needed much her weak age to desire
After so long a travel which them both did tire.

There lay Sir Scudamour, long while expecting
When gentle sleep his heavy eyes would close;
Oft changing sides, and oft new place electing,
Where better seem'd he mote himself repose;
And oft in wrath he thence again uprose;
And oft in wrath he laid him down again.
But wheresoever he did himself dispose,
He by no means could wished ease obtain:
So every place seem'd painful, and each changing vain.

And evermore, when he to sleep did think,
The hammer's sound his senses did molest;
And evermore, when he began to wink [close his eyes],
The bellows noise disturb'd his quiet rest,
Ne suffʼred sleep to settle in his breast:
And all the night the dogs did bark and howl
About the house, at scent of stranger guest:
And now the crowing Cock, and now the Owl
Loud shrieking, him afflicted to the very soul.

And, if by fortune any little nap
Upon his heavy eye-lids chanced to fall,
Eftsoons [again] one of those villains him did rap
Upon his head-piece with his iron mall;
That he was soon awakèd therewithall,
And lightly started up as one afraid;
Or as if one him suddenly did call.
So oftentimes he out of sleep upbraid [started up],
And then lay musing long on that him ill apaid [ill pleased].

So long he musèd, and so long he lay,
That at the last his weary sprite oppress'd
With fleshly weakness, which no creature may
Long time resist, gave place to kindly rest,
That all his senses did full soon arrest:
Yet in his soundest sleep, his daily fear [fear of the day]
His idle brain 'gan busily molest,
And made him dream those two disloyal were: [26]
The things that day most minds, at night do most appear.

With that, the wicked carl [churl], the master Smith,
A pair of red-hot iron tongs did take
Out of the burning cinders, and therewith
Under his side him nips; that forc'd to wake,
He felt his heart for very pain to quake,
And started up avengèd for to be
On him, the which his quiet slumber brake:
Yet looking round about him none could see;
Yet did the smart remain, though he [Care] himself did flee.

In such disquiet and heart-fretting pain
He all that night, that too long night, did pass.
And now the day out of the Ocean main [mighty ocean]
Began to peep above this earthly mass,
With pearly dew sprinkling the morning grass:
Then up he rose like heavy lump of lead;
That in his face, as in a looking-glass,
The signs of anguish one mote plainly read,
And guess the man to be dismay'd with jealous dread. [27]

Unto his lofty steed he clomb anon,
And forth upon his former voyage fared,
And with him eke that aged Squire at one [together];
Who, whatsoever peril was prepared,
Both equal pains, and equal peril shared:
The end whereof and dangerous event
Shall for another canticle be spared.
But here my weary team, nigh over-spent [tired out],
Shall breathe it self awhile, after so long a went [way].



Both Scudamour and Artegal [28]
Do fight with Britomart:
He sees her face, doth fall in love,
And soon from her depart.

What equal torment to the grief of mind,
And pining anguish hid in gentle heart,
That inly feeds itself with thoughts unkind,
And nourisheth her own confusing smart?
What medicine can any Leeches [physician’s] art
Yield such a sore, that doth her grievance hide,
And will to none her malady impart?
Such was the wound that Scudamour did gride [pierce]:
For which Dan Phoebus self cannot a salve provide.

Who, having left that restless house of Care,
The next day, as he on his way did ride,
Full of melancholy and sad misfare
Through misconceit, all unawares he spied
An armed Knight under a forest side,
Sitting in shade beside his grazing steed;
Who soon as them approaching he descried,
'Gan towards them to prick [using spurs] with eager speed,
That seem'd he was full bent to some mischievous deed.

Which Scudamour perceiving, forth issu'd
To have rencounter'd him in equal race; [29]
But soon as th' other, nigh approaching, view'd
The arms he bore, his spear he 'gan abase,
And void [remove] his course: at which so sudden case
He wonder'd much. But th' other thus 'gan say;
Ah gentle Scudamour, unto your grace
I me submit, and of you pardon pray,
That almost had against you trespassed this day.

Whereto, thus Scudamour; Small harm it were
For any knight, upon a ventrous knight
Without displeasance for to prove his spear.
But read [declare] you Sir, sith ye my name have hight,
What is your own? that I mote you requite. –
Certes (said he) ye mote as now excuse
Me from discovering you my name aright:
For time yet serves that I the same refuse,
But call ye me the Salvage Knight, as others use.

Sir Scudamore then asks him if he dwells in the forest; to which the other replies that he is waiting to take vengeance, whenever he shall pass that way, on a stranger knight from whom he has suffered shame and dishonour: — 'Shame be his meed, quoth he, that meaneth shame! | But what is he by whom ye shamed were? | A stranger knight, said he, unknown by name, | But known by fame, and by an ebon spear | With which he all that met him down did bear'.... When Scudamore hears of the ebon spear, he knows right well who it is, and his anger and jealousy are immediately roused by the recollection of the supposed wrongs that he has received at the hands of Britomart, whose apparently treacherous conduct he recounts to the Salvage Knight, and offers to join him in chastising their common enemy when an opportunity shall offer. 'So both to wreak their wraths on Britomart agree.'

Whiles thus they communed, lo! far away
A Knight soft riding towards them they spied,
Attir'd in foreign arms and strange array:
Whom when they nigh approach'd, they plain descried
To be the same, for whom they did abide.
Said then Sir Scudamour, Sir Salvage knight,
Let me this crave, sith first I was defied,
That first I may that wrong to him requite;
And if I hap to fail, you shall recure my right.

Which being yielded, he his threatful spear
'Gan fewter [put in the rest], and against her fiercely ran.
Who soon as she him saw approaching near
With so fell rage, herself she lightly 'gan
To dight [prepare], to welcome him well as she can:
But entertain'd him in so rude a wise,
That to the ground she smote both horse and man;
Whence neither greatly hasted to arise,
But on their common harms together did devise.

At this mischance of Scudamore, Artegal, with his former rage still farther inflamed, 'eft aventuring,' that is, quickly advancing, his steel-headed lance, rides against the victor, but, to his no small amazement, is also himself unhorsed in an instant. Lightly starting up, however, he attacks his adversary with his sword so furiously that, mounted as she is, she is compelled to give ground; and presently, as she is wheeling round to avoid his blows, one of them, after glancing down her back, falls on her horse, and quite chining, or dividing, the unfortunate beast behind the saddle, compels her to alight.... The vehemence of her first attack is irresistible, and Artegal is forced to fall back, while his blood flows forth through his rent and riven armour; but, as soon as he perceives her heat to be a little abated, he rises in his strength and assails her afresh; 'Heaping huge strokes as thick as shower of hail, | And lashing dreadfully at every part, | As if he thought her soul to disentrail. | Ah! cruel hand, and thrice more cruel heart, | That work'st such wreck on her to whom thou dearest art!'

As they continue the fight, Artegal recovers the strength he has lost from his wounds, while that of Britomart rather decreases.... 'The wicked stroke upon her helmet chanced, | And with the force which in itself it bore | Her ventail shared away, and thenceforth glanced | Adown in vain, ne harmed her any more. | With that her angel's face, unseen before, Like to the ruddy morn appeared in sight'.... The hand of Artegal is again upraised, but down falls the sword to ground 'out of his fingers slack,' — 'as if the steel had sense, | And felt some ruth, or sense his hand did lack,' — at the view of that overpowering beauty.

And he himself, long gazing thereupon,
At last fell humbly down upon his knee,
And of his wonder made relígión,
Weening some heavenly goddess he did see,
Or else unweeting [not knowing] what it else might be;
And pardon her besought his error frail,
That had done outrage in so high degree:
Whilst trembling horror did his sense assail,
And made each member quake, and manly heart to quail.

Nevertheless she, full of wrath for that late stroke,
All that long while upheld her wrathful hand,
With fell intent on him to be ywroke [avenged];
And, looking stern, still over him did stand,
Threat'ning to strike unless he would withstand;
And bade him rise, or surely he should die.
But, die or live, for nought he would upstand;
But her of pardon prayed more earnestly,
Or wreak on him her will for so great injury.

Which whenas Scudamour, who now upbraid [awoke],
Beheld, whereas he stood not far aside,
He was therewith right wondrously dismay'd:
And drawing nigh, whenas he plain descried
That peerless pattern of Dame nature's pride,
And heavenly image of perfèctión,
He bless’d himself as one sore terrified;
And turning fear to faint devotion,
Did worship her as some celestial vision.

But Glauce, seeing all that chanced there,
Well weeting how their error to assoil [dispel],
Full glad of so good end, to them drew near,
And her salued [saluted] with seemly bel-accoil [kindly greeting]
Joyous to see her safe after long toil.
Then her besought, as she to her was dear,
To grant unto those warriors truce awhile;
Which yielded, they their beavers up did rear,
And show'd themselves to her such as indeed they were.

When Britomart, with sharp aviseful eye,
Beheld the lovely face of Artegal,
Temper'd with sternness and stout majesty,
She 'gan eftsoons it to her mind to call,
To be the same which in her father's hall
Long since in that enchanted glass she saw.
Therewith her wrathful courage 'gan appall [began to weaken],
And haughty spirits meekly to adaw [abate],
That her enhanced hand she down 'gan soft withdraw.

Yet she it forc'd to have again upheld,
As faining choler, which was turn'd to cold:
But ever when his visage she beheld,
Her hand fell down, and would no longer hold
The wrathful weapon 'gainst his count'nance bold.
But when in vain to fight she oft assayed,
She arm'd her tongue, and thought at him to scold;
Nath'less her tongue not to her will obeyed,
But brought forth speeches mild, when she would have mis-said.

But Scudamour, now waxen [grown] inly glad,
That all his jealous fear he false had found,
And how that hag his love abused had
With breach of faith, and loyalty unsound,
The which long time his grieved heart did wound,
He thus bespake: Certes, Sir Artegal,
I joy to see you lout so low on ground,
And now become to live a Lady's thrall,
That whilom in your mind wont to despise them all.

Soon as she heard the name of Artegal,
Her heart did leap, and all her heart-strings tremble,
For sudden joy, and secret fear withall,
And all her vital powers with motion nimble,
To succour it, themselves 'gan there assemble;
That by the swift recourse of flushing blood
Right plain appear'd, tho she it would dissemble,
And feigned still her former angry mood,
Thinking to hide the depth by troubling of the flood.

Glauce now addresses the three. First, she reminds both Artegal and Scudamore, that they may now lay aside all the fears that had troubled them so much, lest Britomart should 'woo away' their loves. Then she exhorts Artegal not henceforth to make it matter of regret or self-reproach that he has a second time been conquered by a woman's hand: — 'for,' says she, — 'whilome they have conquered sea and land, | And heaven itself, that nought may them withstand:' 'Ne,' she adds, — 'henceforth be rebellious unto love, | That is the crown of knighthood, and the band | Of noble minds derived from above, | Which, being knit with virtue, never will remove.' Britomart she recommends to repress somewhat of her wrathful spirit, the fire of which, she tells her, 'were better turned to other flame,' and to lend a favourable ear to her lover, only, however, on condition that he fulfil the penance she shall lay upon him — 'For lovers' heaven must pass by sorrow's hell.' 'Thereat,' we are told, — 'full inly blushed Britomart; | But Artegal, close-smiling, joyed in secret heart.'

But Scudamour, whose heart 'twixt doubtful fear
And feeble hope hung all this while suspense,
Desiring of his Amoret to hear
Some gladful news and sure intelligence,
Her thus bespake: But, Sir, without offence
Mote I request you tidings of my love,
My Amoret sith you her freed from thence,
Where she captived long, great woes did prove;
That where ye left, I may her seek, as doth behove.

To whom thus Britomart: Certes, Sir knight,
What is of her become, or whither reft,
I cannot unto you aread [make known] aright.
For from that time I from enchanter's theft
Her freed, in which ye her all hopeless left,
I her preserv'd from peril and from fear,
And evermore from villany her kept:
Ne ever was there wight to me more dear
Than she, ne unto whom I more true love did bear.[30]

Till on a day, as througha desart wild
We travelled, both weary of the way,
We did alight, and sate in shadow mild;
Where fearless I to sleep me down did lay.
But whenas I did out of sleep upbraid,
I found her not, where I her left whilere,
But thought she wand’red was, or gone astray.
I call'd her loud, I sought her far and near;
But no where could her find, nor tidings of her hear.

When Scudamour those heavy tidings heard
His heart was thrill'd with point of deadly fear;
Ne in his face or blood or life appear'd,
But senseless stood, like to a dazed steer,
That yet of mortal stroke the stound [pain] doth bear;
Till Glauce thus: Fair Sir, be nought dismay'd
With needless dread, till certainty ye hear:
For yet she may be safe, though somewhat stray'd;
It's best to hope the best, though of the worse afraid.

Nath'less, he hardly of her cheerful speech
Did comfort take, or in his troubled sight
Show'd change of better cheer: so sore a breach
That sudden news had made into his sprite;
Till Britomart him fairly thus behight [promised]:
Great cause of sorrow certes, Sir, ye have:
But comfort take; for, by this heaven's light,
I vow you dead or living not to leave,
Till I her find, and wreak on him that her did reave.  [take vengeance on]

Therewith she rested, and well pleased was.
So peace being confirm'd amongst them all,
They took their steeds, and forward thence did pass
Unto some resting-place which mote befall,
All being guided by Sir Artegal.
Where goodly solace was unto them made,
And daily feasting both in bower and hall,
Until that they their wounds well healed had,
And weary limbs recur'd after late usage bad.

In all this time Sir Artegal, too, we are told, was making way 'unto the love of noble Britomart;' and that, notwithstanding the pains she took 'with womanish art' to conceal the impression he had made on her heart, 'So well he wooed her, and so well he wrought her, | With fair entreaty and sweet blandishment, | That at the length unto a bay he brought her, | So as she to his speeches was content | To lend an ear, and softly to relent'.... But at last, after they have rested here for a long while, Artegal, to the great grief of Britomart, finds it necessary to depart in order to proceed upon an adventure in which he had been engaged when they met. It is with much difficulty that he obtains her permission to go; but on his pledging his faith to her by a 'thousand vows from bottom of his heart,' and promising to return to her as soon as he shall have achieved his object, for which he only demands three months, she yields her consent. 'So, early on the morrow next, he went | Forth on his way to which he was ybent'...

At last, when all her speeches she had spent,
And new occasion fail'd her more to find,
She left him to his fortune's government,
And back returnèd with right heavy mind,
To Scudamour, whom she had left behind;
With whom she went to seek fair Amoret,
Her second care, though in another kind:
For virtue's only sake (which doth beget
True love and faithful friendship) she by her did set.

Back to that desert forest they retir'd,
Where sorry Britomart had lost her late;
There they her sought, and everywhere inquir'd,
Where they might tidings get of her estate:
Yet found they none. But by what hapless fate
Or hard misfortune she was thence convey'd,
And stol’n away from her beloved mate,
Were long to tell; therefore I here will stay
Until another time, that I it finish may.

The poet tells how Amoret was stolen by a monstrous creature, and how she was carried by him to his cave. After much suffering she managed to make her escape, and later fell in with Prince Arthur, the perfect knight. He cared for her most tenderly. 



The Squire of low degree releas’d
  Poeana takes to wife:
Britomart fights with many Knights,
  Prince Arthur stints their strife.

The stratagem that Prince Arthur adopts for getting into the castle of the slain tyrant, where Amias is detained, is to take Corflambo's dead body, and, having again imprest, or fastened, the head to it, to set it on his dromedary, with Placidas laid before it, as if he had been taken captive; and then to force the dwarf to lead the beast along. When they come to the gate it is immediately opened without any suspicion by the warder, and Arthur enters. Here he finds the fair Paeana in her delicious bower....

A vast store of hoarded treasure is found in the castle: — 'Upon all which the Briton prince made seizure | And afterwards continued there awhile | To rest himself, and solace in soft pleasure | Those weaker ladies after weary toil | To whom he did divide part of his purchased spoil.' For more joy, he even grants her liberty to 'that captive lady fair, the fair Paeana,' and sets her 'in sumptuous chair, to feast and frolic' with the rest; but she nevertheless will show no gladsome countenance, grieving for the loss both of her sire and of her 'land and fee,' but most of all for loss of her love, the handsome squire (though whether she has yet made up her mind which of the two young men it is that she has been attached to, and would like to retain, we are not informed). The Prince, however, takes great pains to mollify her both by 'good thewes,' or courtesy of manner, and kind speeches.... 'Thereto he offered for to make him [Placidas] chief | Of all her land and lordship during life: | He yielded, and her took; so stinted all their strife'.... From that day, it is added, they lived together long in peace and joy; and the fair Paeana, whose beauty, unsurpassed by that of any other lady of her time, had formerly been stained by such irregularities, 'thenceforth reformed her ways, | That all men much admired her change, arid spake her praise.'

It may be presumed that, Placidas being thus provided for, Amias and Aemilia were also united; but all that is said is, that the Prince 'perfectly compiled (that is, brought together) these pairs of friends in peace and settled rest;' and then, turning to his proper quest, set out again, taking only Amoret with him. Poor Amoret, who has gone through so many dangers, does not find herself left alone and helpless 'in the victor's power, like vassal bond,' without some natural feelings of shame and fear; but she has no ground for any apprehension with so honourable a protector as Arthur: — 'all the while he by his side her bore, | She was as safe as in a sanctuary;' and so they ride together for many miles, she hoping to find her love, he his, and not showing 'their heart's privity' to one another.

At length they come upon six knights, all, as appears, in a state of great excitement, and fighting with one another, but four of them engaged with especial activity and fury. These are four of the knights from whose competition, as related in the Fifth Canto, the false Florimel had been won and carried off by Braggadoccio — namely, our old acquaintances Blandamour and Paridel, and two others, the stern Druon and the lewd Claribel. The other two are Britomart and Scudamore, whom, it may be remembered, we left setting out together in quest of Amoret at the end of the Sixth Canto; they have only just come up, and are standing aside, wondering at the confused contention of the rest, who, spurred on by Ate and Duessa, were waging this wild and doubtful strife 'for love of that same snowy maid.' And 'sometimes Paridel and Blandamour | The better had, and bet the others back; | Eftsoons the others did the field recoure, | And on their foes did work full cruel wrack'....

"But soon, perceiving Scudamore and Britomart, and remembering how they had been discomfited by the latter at the recent tournay, they all turn upon these two: — 'Who wondering much at that so sudden fit, | Yet nought dismayed, them stoutly well withstood; | Ne yielded foot, ne once aback did flit, | But, being doubly smitten, likewise doubly smit'.... It is in vain that Britomart again and again tries to bring them to parley; they will no more stop for a moment to listen to her than will an eager mastiff be called off by words from the gored beast whose blood he has once tasted. Arthur, however, indignant to see the unequal match, now strikes in; he, too, after he has compelled them somewhat to give way, endeavours to pacify them with mild speeches; but, when this kind attempt produces no effect, he is not long in compelling them by force to crave respite and mercy. They then accuse Britomart of having both despoiled them of their public praise and beguiled them of their private loves; she easily shows the absurdity of these charges; and the Prince declares his judgment that they are much in the wrong.

But Scudamour, then sighing deep, thus said;
Certes, her loss ought me to sorrow most
Whose right she is, where-ever she be stray'd,
Through many perils won, and many fortunes wade.

For from the first that I her love profess’d,
Unto this hour, this present luckless hour,
I never joyed happiness nor rest;
But, thus turmoil'd from one to other stour,
I waste my life, and do my days devour
In wretched anguish and incessant woe,
Palling the measure of my feeble pow'r;
That living thus, a wretch, and loving so,
I neither can my love, ne yet my life forgo.

Then good Sir Claribel him thus bespake:
Now were it not, Sir Scudamour, to you
Dislikeful pain so sad a task to take,
Mote we intreat you, sith this gentle crew
Is now so well accorded all anew,
That as we ride together on our way
Ye will recount to us in order due
All that adventure, which ye did assay
For that fair Ladies’ love; past perils well apay.

So 'gan the rest him likewise to require;
But Britomart did him importune hard
To take on him that pain: whose great desire
He glad to satisfy, himself prepar'd
To tell through what misfortune he had far'd,
In that achievement, as to him befell,
And all those dangers unto them declar'd:
Which sith they cannot in this Canto well
Comprised be, I will them in another tell.

We think that something is clearly wanting[31], and that probably the poet intended to introduce here, after the speech of Scudamore, with some few necessary alterations, the stanzas which originally stood at the end of the Third Book describing the happy meeting between him and Amoret. As it is, no mention is made of Amoret in this place; but, a general harmony having now been established, and the whole party having agreed to pursue their journey together, Scudamore is besought by Sir Claribel (now characterized by the epithet 'good') to favour them, as they ride along, with a recital of the adventure he had undertaken for his fair lady's love; and all the rest joining in the request, Britomart especially urging it with earnest importunity, Scudamore consents to comply, as he does in the next Canto.



Scudamour doth his conquest tell
Of virtuous Amoret:
Great Venus' Temple is describ'd,
And lover's life forth set.

True he it said, whatever man it said,
That love with gall and honey doth abound:
But if the one be with the other weigh'd,
For every dram of honey therein found,
A pound of gall doth over it redound;
That I too true by trial have approv'd:
For since the day that first with deadly wound
My heart was lanc'd and learnèd to have loved
I never joyèd hour, but still with care was moved. [32]

And yet such grace is given them from above,
That all the cares and evil which they meet,
May nought at all their settled minds remove,
But seem 'gainst common sense to them most sweet;
As boasting in their martyrdom unmeet.
So all that ever yet I have endur'd,
I count as nought, and tread down under feet,
Sith of my love at length I rest assur'd,
That to disloyalty she will not be allur'd.

Long were to tell the travel and long toil,
Through which this shield of love I late have won,
And purchasèd this peerless beauty's spoil,
That harder may be ended than begun.
But since ye so desire, your will be done.
Then hark, ye gentle knights and Ladies free,
My hard mishaps that ye may learn to shun;
For though sweet love to conquer glorious be,
Yet is the pain thereof much greater than the fee.

What time the fame of this renowned prize
Flew first abroad, and all men’s ears possess’d,
I having arms then taken, 'gan avise
To win me honour by some noble guest,
And purchase me some place among the best.
I boldly thought (so young men’s thoughts are bold)
That this same brave emprise for me did rest,
And that both shield and She whom I behold,
Might be my lucky lot; sith all by lot we hold.

So, on that hard adventure forth I went,
And to the place of peril shortly came:
That was a temple fair and ancient,
Which of great Mother Venus bare the name,
And far renowned through exceeding fame;
Much more than that which was in Paphos built,
Or that in Cyprus, both long since this same,
Though all the pillars of the one were gilt,
And all the other's pavement were with ivory spilt.

And it was seated in an Island strong,
Abounding all with delices most rare,
And wall'd by nature 'gainst invaders wrong;
That none mote have access nor inward fare,
But by one way, that passage did prepare.
It was a bridge ybuilt in goodly wise,
With curious Corbs [curves], and pendants graven fair,
And (arched all with porches) did arise
On stately pillars, fram'd after the Doric guise.

And for defence thereof, on th' other end
There reared was a castle fair and strong,
That warded all which in or out did wend,
And flanked both the bridge's sides along
'Gainst all that would it fain to force or wrong,
And therein wonnèd twenty valiant Knights;
All twenty tried in war's experience long;
Whose office was, against all manner wights,
By all means to maintain that castle's ancient rights.

Before that Castle was an open plain,
And in the midst thereof a pillar plac'd;
On which this shield, of many sought in vain,
The shield of Love, whose guerdon me hath grac'd,
Was hang'd on high, with golden ribbons lac'd; [33]
And in the marble stone was written this,
With golden letters goodly well enchas'd [ornamented]:
Blessed the man that well can use his bliss:
Whose-ever be the shield, fair Amoret be his.

Which when I read, my heart did inly yearn,
And pant with hope of that adventure's hap:
Ne stayed further news thereof to learn,
But with my spear upon the shield did rap
That all the castle ringed with the clap.[34]
Straight forth issu'd a Knight all arm'd to proof,
And bravely mounted to his most mishap;
Who, staring nought to question from aloof,
Ran fierce at me, that fire glanc’d from his horse's hoof.

Whom boldly I encount’red (as I could)
And by good fortune shortly him unseated.
Eftsoons out sprung two more of equal mould;
But I them both with equal hap defeated:
So all the twenty I likewise entreated,
And left them groaning there upon the plain.
Then pressing to the pillar, I repeated
The read thereof for guerdon of my pain,
And taking down the shield, with me did it retain.

So forth without impediment I past,
Till to the Bridgè's outer gate I came:
The which I found sure lock'd and chained fast.
I knock'd, but no man answer'd me by name;
I call'd, but no man answer'd to my claim.
Yet I persever'd still to knock and call;
Till at the last I spide within the same,
Where one stood peeping through a crevice small;
To whom I call'd aloud, half angry therewithal.

That was, to weet, the Porter of the place,
Unto whose trust the charge thereof was lent:
His name was Doubt, that had a double face,
Th' one forward looking, th' other backward bent,
Therein resembling Janus ancient,
Which had in charge the ingate [entrance] of the year:
And evermore his eyes about him went,
As if some proved peril he did fear,
Or did misdoubt some ill, whose cause did not appear.

On th' one side he, on th' other sat Delay,
Behind the gate, that none her might espy;
Whose manner was all passengers to stay,
And entertain with her occasions sly;
Throughwhich some lost great hope unheedily [heedlessly],
Which never they recover might again;
And others quite excluded forth, did lie
Long languishing there in unpitied pain,
And seeking often entrance afterwards in vain.

Me whenas he had privily espied,
Bearing the shield which I had conquer'd late,
He ken'd it straight, and to me open'd wide:
So in I pass’d, and straight he clos'd the gate.
But being in, Delay in close await
Caught hold on me, and thought my steps to stay,
Feigning full many a fond excuse to prate,
And time to steal, the treasure of man's day;
Whose smallest minute lost, no riches render may.

'But,' continues Scudamore, 'by no means my way I would forslow | For aught that ever she could do or say; | But from my lofty steed dismounting low | Passed forth on foot.... | But in the porch did evermore abide | An hideous giant, dreadful to behold.... | His name was Danger, dreaded over all'.... Scudamore disdained either to stoop to him, or to creep between his legs; but, advancing his enchanted shield, began to lay about him with all his might; on which Danger immediately lowered his sword, and allowed him to pass freely on. Looking back, he now perceived that worse lay concealed behind the giant than what appeared in front of him; for there lay lurking in ambush Hatred, Murder, Treason, Despite, and many more such foes, ready to entrap whosoever did not protect himself against them with vigilant circumspection. He was now fairly within the island; 'the which,' he says, 'did seem, unto my simple doom, | The only pleasant and delightful place'.... 'Unto that purposed place I did me draw, | Whereas my love was lodged day and night, | The temple of great Venus'.... The hymn or prayer to Venus that follows is a free translation of the exquisitely beautiful invocation with which Lucretius opens his great poem: — 'Great Venus! Queen of Beauty and of Grace, | The joy of gods and men, that under sky | Dost fairest shine, and most adorn thy place'... [35]

Thus sate they all around in seemly rate:
And in the midst of them a goodly maid,
Even in the lap of Womanhood there sate,
The which was all in lilly white array'd,
With silver streams amongst the linen stray'd;
Like to the morn, when first her shining face
Hath to the gloomy world it self bewray'd:
That same was fairest Amoret in place,
Shining with beauty's light, and heavenly virtue's grace.

Whom soon as I beheld, my heart 'gan throb,
And wade in doubt what best were to be done:
For sacrilege me seem'd the Church to rob;
And folly seem'd to leave the thing undone,
Which with so strong attempt I had begun
Tho [then], shaking off all doubt and shamefac'd fear,
Which Ladies’ love I heard had never won
'Mongst men of worth, I to her stepped near,
And by the lilly hand her labour'd up to rear.

Thereat that formost matron me did blame,
And sharp rebuke, for being overbold;
Saying it was to Knight unseemly shame,
Upon a recluse Virgin to lay hold,
That unto Venus' services was sold.
To whom I thus: Nay but it fitteth best
For Cupid's man with Venus' maid to hold:
For ill your goddess' services are dress’d
By virgins, and her sacrifices let to rest.

With that my shield I forth to her did show,
Which all that while I closely had conceal'd;
On which when Cupid, with his killing bow
And cruel shafts emblazon'd she beheld,
At sight thereof she was with terror quell'd,
And said no more: but I which all that while,
The pledge of faith, her hand engaged held,
Like wary Hind within the weedy soil,
For no intreaty would forgo so glorious spoil.

And evermore upon the Goddess' face
Mine eye was fix'd, for fear of her offence;
Whom when I saw with amiable grace
To laugh on me, and favour my pretence,
I was embolden'd with more confidence;
And nought for niceness, nor for envy sparing,
In presence of them all forth led her thence,
All looking on, and like astonish'd staring,
Yet to lay hand on her, not one of all them daring.

She often pray'd and often me besought,
Sometime with tender tears to let her go,
Sometime with witching smiles: but yet for nought,
That ever she to me could say or do,
Could she her wished freedom from me woo;
But forth I led her through the Temple gate,
By which I hardly pass’d with much ado:
But that same Lady which me friended late
In entrance, did me also friend in my retreat.

No less did Danger threaten me with dread,
Whenas he saw me, maugre all his pow'r,
That glorious spoil of beauty with me lead,
Than Cerberus, when Orpheus did recov’r
His Leman from the Stygian Prince's bow'r;
But evermore my shield did me defend
Against the storm of every dreadful stour:[36]
Thus safely with my love I thence did wend.
So ended he his tale, where I this Canto end.



[1] “this noble Damozel”: Belphoebe, the beautiful, chaste and powerful sister of Amoret who spends her time in the woods hunting and avoiding the numerous amorous men who chase her. She shares certain character traits with Queen Elizabeth I.

[2] “she [Chrysogonee] bore in like case / Fair Amoretta in the second place”: At this point we need to consider just how important and how perfect Spenser considers the character of Amoret, Sir Scudamour’s future wife. There are a lot of sad characters in Spenser's Faerie Queene, but none really tops the long-suffering Amoret, whose life is a series of near rapes, imprisonments, and trials against her will.

[3] The inserted texts come from George L. Craik, Spenser and his Poetry, Vol.II, London 1871

[4] “But she to none of them her love did cast, / Save to the noble knight, Sir Scudamore”: Steadfast truth is a main characteristic of Amoret.

[5]Britomart chaseth Ollyphant”: “Britomart, a female knight, the personification and champion of Chastity. She is young and beautiful, and falls in love with Artegal upon first seeing his face in her father’s magic mirror. Although there is no interaction between them, she falls in love with him, and travels, dressed as a knight and accompanied by her nurse, Glauce, in order to find Artegal again. Britomart carries an enchanted spear that allows her to defeat every knight she encounters, until she loses to a knight who turns out to be her beloved Artegal. Parallel figure in Ariosto: Bradamante. Britomart searches the world, including a pilgrimage to the shrine of Isis, and a visit with Merlin the magician.” (https://thefaeriequeenedotorg.wordpress.com/the-faerie-queene/characters/)

[6] “his shield … On which the winged boy in colours clear /Depainted was”: See M. M. Boiardo, Orlando Innamorato I.26.11: “She [Angelica] spoke and handed him a shield with a white ermine on gold field, then this fine crest: a naked boy  with wings, a quiver, and a bow.”

[7]Busirane with wicked hand”: Busirane, the evil sorcerer who captures Amoret on her wedding night. When Britomart enters his castle to defeat him, she finds him holding Amoret captive. She is bound to a pillar and Busirane is torturing her to force her to love.

[8] “My Lady and my love so cruelly to pen”: OED: pen, v.1 - to shut in, shut up, confine. - See Edmund Spenser, The Shepheardes Calender, October: Gloss of E. K.: “pent) shut up in sloth, as in a coop or cage.”

[9] “And the sharp steel doth rive her heart in tway”: After Amoret is freed from the spell by Britomart she feels her pain is such that it feels as if a knife were thrust in to her heart.- A parallel to the pain felt by Anne Cecil when Oxford deserted her. Oxford’s return to her in 1581 was actually ordered by Queen Elizabeth. On 12 July 1581, Sir Francis Walsingham wrote to Lord Burghley: “Her maiesty is resolved (uppon some perswatyon used) not to restore the Earl of Oxeford to his full lybertye before he hathe ben dealt withall for his wyfe.” (In Spenser‘s ideal fairy story, it goes without saying that Sir Scudamour bears no guilt for Amoret’s pain.) 

[10] “What boots it 'plain, that cannot be redress'd”: What is the use of complaining of what cannot be helped.

[11] “The whiles the Championess now entered has”: In Pierces Supererogation (1593), Gabriel Harvey makes an emphatic choice of words: “the Gentlewoman, my Patroness, or rather Championess in this quarrel, is meeter by nature, and fitter by nurture, to be an enchanting Angel with her white quill than a tormenting Fury with her black ink.” - In this case the term “Championess” refers to the Earl of Oxford. (See 3.1.6 Harvey, Pierces Supererogation.)

[12]But like two senseless stocks in long embracement dwelt”: The happy end that Spenser had written for the story in the middle of the fifteen eighties wasn’t to be. Anne Cecil, on whom Amoret was based, died in 1588 and Oxford married for the second time in the middle of 1591. Spenser might, or might not have planned on including the happy end in the 1596 version - but if he did plan it, then he forgot it.

[13]Duessa discord breeds”: Duessa, a lady who personfies Falsehood. As the opposite of Una, she represents the “false” religion of the Roman Catholic Church. Furthermore, Duessa is a negative depiction Mary, Queen of Scots.

[14]'Twixt Scudamour and Blandamour”: Blandamour is constantly falling in love with every other woman he meets, which in turn leads to quarrels between friends as he attempts to steal women from their partners. Blandamour, the blended lover, embodies a kind of inconstant and flighty desire that is incompatible with true friendship.

[15] “And this of Florimell's unworthy pain”: Florimell, a lady in love with the knight Marinell, who initially rejects her. Hearing he was wounded, she set out in search and faced various perils, culminating in her being captured by Proteus.

[16] “A perilous fight, when he with force her brought / From twenty Knights”: Davon, wie er Amoret aus dem Garten der Venus entführte, erzählt Sir Scudamour in Canto X von Book IV. - A veiled reference to the bravery of the Earl of Oxford.

[17] “For-thy, he thus to Paridell bespake”: “Paridell embodies the worst elements of a court culture: seemingly refined and sophisticated, but actually fickle and fake, Paridell is superficiality and performance at it's worst.” (http://www.shmoop.com/faerie-queene/characters.html)

[18] “So false Duessa, but vile Ate thus”: “Ate, a fiend from Hell disguised as a beautiful maiden, Ate opposes Book IV’s virtue of friendship through spreading discord. She is aided in her task by Duessa, the female deceiver of Book I, whom Ate summoned from Hell. Ate and Duessa have fooled the false knights Blandamour and Paridell into taking them as lovers.” (https://thefaeriequeenedotorg.wordpress.com/the-faerie-queene/characters/)

[19] “Then tell (quoth Blandamour) and fear no blame, / Tell what thou saw'st, maugrè who-so it hears”: The fact that Blandamour and Paridell both have an antipathy for Sir Scudamour, that they are both conniving and intriguing and that they are both in league with Duessa (see note 13) leads to the assumption that the two Knights are actually caricatures of Lord Henry Howard and Sir Charles Arundell. 

[20] “I saw him have your Amoret at will …That present were to testify the case”: We know that Blandamour und Paridell are behind this false denunciation even though the words come from Ate. The parallel to Howard’s and Arundell’s act of libel in 1576, against the innocent Anne Cecil, is obvious.

[21] “Lo! recreant (said he) the fruitless end / Of thy vain boast, and spoil of love misgotten, / Whereby the name of knighthood thou dost shend”: See ‘Howard-Arundell Libels’: “Articles whereof Oxford would have accused Leicester… 5. That he boasted of his greatness in alliance, wealth, credit with the Queen, etc, affirming further that he was able to make the proudest subject to sweat that would oppose himself against him, and that he made the Duke of Norfolk stoop, notwithstanding all his bragging.” (PRO SP12/151[150], f. 110.)

[22] “The which like thorns did prick his jealous heart”: Just like the Earl of Oxford, Sir Scudamour behaves in a very jealous manner.

[23] “For ought that Glauce could or do or say”: Glauce, an elderly woman who serves as Britomart’s squire.

[24] “His name was Care; a blacksmith by his trade”: The concept of  “care” is often the theme of Oxford’s lyrics in the fifteen seventies. - See note 27.

[25] “Far passing Bronteus, or Pyracmon great”: Brontes and the cyclops Pyracmon are servants of Vulcan.

[26] “And made him dream those two disloyal were”: Amoret and Britomart, the supposed knight.

[27] “And guess the man to be dismay'd with jealous dread”: In his earlier works, Oxford often dealt with the subjects; care, jealousy and mistrust.  - See Oxford, Poems No. 7:

A cloud of care hath covered all my coast,
And storms of strife do threaten to appear:
The waves of woe which I mistrusted most,
Have broke the banks wherein my life lay clear:
Chips of ill chance are fallen amid my choice,
To mar the mind, that meant for to rejoice.

Before I sought, I found the haven of hap,
Wherin (once found) I sought to shrowd my ship,
But lowring love hath lift me from her lap,
And crabbed lot begins to hang the lip:
The drops of dark mistrust do fall so thick,
They pierce my coat, and touch my skin at quick.

What may be said, where truth cannot prevail?
What plea may serve, where will itself is judge?
What reason rules, where right and reason fail?
Remediless then must the guiltless trudge:
And seek out care, to be the carving knife,
To cut the thread that lingereth such a life.

[28]Both Scudamour and Artegal”: “Artegal, a knight who is the personification and champion of Justice. He meets Britomart after defeating her in a swordfight (she had been dressed as a knight) and removing her helmet, revealing her beauty. Artegal quickly falls in love with Britomart.”

[29] “To have rencounter'd him in equal race”: To have encountered him in equal speed.

[30] “Ne ever was there wight to me more dear / Than she, ne unto whom I more true love did bear”: A posthumous bow to Amoret (=Anne Cecil).

[31] “We think that something is clearly wanting”: See note 13.

[32] “I never joyèd hour, but still with care was moved”: See note 27.

[33] “The shield of Love, whose guerdon me hath grac'd, /Was hang'd on high, with golden ribbons lac'd”: Sir Scudamour’s story partially follows Matteo Maria Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato I/26 and III/2.

[34] “But with my spear upon the shield did rap / That all the castle ringed with the clap”: Sir Scudamour is also shaking the spear.

[35] The connecting texts were written by George L. Craik, Spenser and his Poetry, Vol.II, London 1871. (See note 1.)

[36] “But evermore my shield did me defend / Against the storm of every dreadful stour”: See Oxford, “L'Escü d'amour, the shield of perfect love” (Poems, No. 63):

Mine own poor shield hath me defended long,
Now lend me yours, for else you do me wrong.