The Faerie Queene, Book I, Canto IV (excerpts)

CANTO IIII
  To sinfull house of Pride, Duessa
  guides the faithfull knight,
  Where brothers death to wreak Sansjoy
  doth chalenge him to fight.

i
  Young knight, what ever that dost armes professe,
  And through long labours huntest after fame,
  Beware of fraud, beware of ficklenesse,
  In choice, and change of thy deare loved Dame,
  Least thou of her beleeve too lightly blame,
  And rash misweening doe thy hart remove:
  For unto knight there is no greater shame,
  Then lightnesse and inconstancie in love;
  That doth this Redcrosse knights ensample plainly prove.

ii

  Who after that he had faire Una lorne,
  Through light misdeeming of her loialtie,
  And false Duessa in her sted had borne,
  Called Fidess', and so supposd to bee;
  Long with her traveild, till at last they see
  A goodly building, bravely garnished,
  The house of mightie Prince it seemd to bee:
  And towards it a broad high way that led,
  All bare through peoples feet, which thither traveiled.

iii

  Great troupes of people traveild thitherward
  Both day and night, of each degree and place,
  But few returned, having scaped hard,
  With balefull beggerie, or foule disgrace,
  Which ever after in most wretched case,
  Like loathsome lazars, by the hedges lay.
  Thither Duessa bad him bend his pace:
  For she is wearie of the toilesome way,
  And also nigh consumed is the lingring day.

iv

  A stately Pallace built of squared bricke,
  Which cunningly was without morter laid,
  Whose wals were high, but nothing strong, nor thick,
  And golden foile all over them displaid,
  That purest skye with brightnesse they dismaid:
  High lifted up were many loftie towres,
  And goodly galleries farre over laid,
  Full of faire windowes, and delightfull bowres;
  And on the top a Diall told the timely howres.

v

  It was a goodly heape for to behould,
  And spake the praises of the workmans wit;
  But full great pittie, that so faire a mould
  Did on so weake foundation ever sit:
  For on a sandie hill, that still did flit,
  And fall away, it mounted was full hie,
  That every breath of heaven shaked it:
  And all the hinder parts, that few could spie,
  Were ruinous and old, but painted cunningly.

vi

  Arrived there they passed in forth right;
  For still to all the gates stood open wide,
  Yet charge of them was to a Porter hight
  Cald Malven{'u}, who entrance none denide:
  Thence to the hall, which was on every side,
  With rich array and costly arras dight:
  Infinite sorts of people did abide
  There waiting long, to win the wished sight
  Of her, that was the Lady of that Pallace bright.

vii

  By them they passe, all gazing on them round,
  And to the Presence mount; whose glorious vew
  Their frayle amazed senses did confound:
  In living Princes court none ever knew
  Such endlesse richesse, and so sumptuous shew;
  Ne Persia selfe, the nourse of pompous pride
  Like ever saw. And there a noble crew
  Of Lordes and Ladies stood on every side
  Which with their presence faire, the place much beautifide.

viii

  High above all a cloth of State was spred,
  And a rich throne, as bright as sunny day,
  On which there sate most brave embellished
  With royall robes and gorgeous array,
  A mayden Queene, that shone as Titans ray,
  In glistring gold, and peerelesse pretious stone:
  Yet her bright blazing beautie did assay
  To dim the brightnesse of her glorious throne,
  As envying her selfe, that too exceeding shone.

ix

  Exceeding shone, like Phoebus fairest childe,
  That did presume his fathers firie wayne,
  And flaming mouthes of steedes unwonted wilde
  Through highest heaven with weaker hand to rayne;
  Proud of such glory and advancement vaine,
  While flashing beames do daze his feeble eyen,
  He leaves the welkin way most beaten plaine,
  And rapt with whirling wheels, inflames the skyen,
  With fire not made to burne, but fairely for to shyne.

x

  So proud she shyned in her Princely state,
  Looking to heaven; for earth she did disdayne,
  And sitting high; for lowly she did hate:
  Lo underneath her scornefull feete, was layne
  A dreadfull Dragon with an hideous trayne,
  And in her hand she held a mirrhour bright,
  Wherein her face she often vewed fayne,
  And in her selfe-lov'd semblance tooke delight;
  For she was wondrous faire, as any living wight.

xi

  Of grie
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Edmund Spenser

Edmund Spenser was an English poet best known for The Faerie Queene, an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I. more…

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