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EXTRACTS FROM THE FAERIE QUEENE.
A GENTLE knight was pricking1 on the plaine,
Ycladd in mightie arms and silver shielde,
Wherein old dints of deepe woundes did remaine,
The cruel markes of many a bloody fielde;
Yet armes till that time did he never wield:
His angry steede did chide his foming bit,
As much disdayning to the curbe to yield:
Full iolly knight he seemd, and faire did sitt,
As one for knightly giusts and fierce encounters fitt.
And on his brest a bloodie crosse he bore,
The deare remembrance of his dying Lord,
For whose sweete sake that glorious badge he wore,
And dead (as living) ever him ador'd:
Upon his shield the like was also scor'd,
For soveraine hope, which in his helpe he had.
Right faithfull true he was in deede and word;
But of his cheere did seeme too solemne sad;
Yet nothing did he dread, but ever was ydrad.
A lovely ladie rode him faire beside,
Upon a lowly asse, more white then snow;
Yet she much whiter; but the same did hide
Under a vele, that wimpled2 was full low;
And over all a blacke stole shee did throw:
As one that inly mournd, so was she sad,
And heavie sate upon her palfrey slow;
Seemed in her heart some hidden care she had;
And by her in a line a milke-white lambe she lad.
The day with cloudes was suddeine overcast,
And angry Iove an hideous storme of raine
Did poure into his lemans lap so fast,
That everie wight to shroud it did constrain;
And this faire couple eke to shroud themselves were fain.
Enforst to seeke some covert nigh at hand,
A shadie grove not farr away they spide,
That promist ayde the tempest to withstand;
Whose loftie trees, yclad with sommers pride,
Did spred so broad, that Heavens light did hide,
Not pierceable with power of any starr:
And all within were pathes and alleies wide,
With footing worne, and leading inward farr:
Faire harbour that them seems; so in they entered are.
And foorth they passe, with pleasure forward led,
Ioying to heare the birds sweete harmony,
Which, therein shrouded from the tempest dred,
Seemd in their song to scorne the cruell sky.
Till towards night they came unto a plaine,
By which a little hermitage there lay,
Far from all neighbourhood, the which annoy it may.
And nigh thereto a little chappel stoode,
Which being all with yvy overspred,
Deckt all the roofe, and, shadowing the roode,3
Seem'd like a grove fair braunched over hed:
Therein the hermite, which his life here led
In streight observaunce of religious vow,
Was wont his howres and holy things to bed ;4
And therein he likewise was praying now,
Whenas these knights arrived, they wist not where nor how.
They stayd not there, but streightway in did pas:
Whom when the hermite present saw in place,
From his devotion streight he troubled was;
Which breaking off he toward them did pace
With stayed steps and grave beseeming grace:
For well it seem'd that whilome he had beene
Some goodly person, and of gentle race,
That could his good to all; and well did weene
How each to entertaine with curt'sie well beseene:
And soothly it was sayd by common fame,
So long as age enabled him thereto,
That he had bene a man of mickle name,
Renowned much in armes and derring doe:
But being aged now, and weary to
Of warres delight and worlds contentious toyle,
The name of knighthood he did disavow;
And, hanging up his armes and warlike spoyle,
From all this worlds incumbrance did himself assoyle.
He thence them led into his hermitage,
Letting their steedes to graze upon the
Small was his house, and, like a little cage,
For his owne turne; yet inly neate and cleane,
Deckt with greene boughes and flowers gay beseene :
Therein he them full faire did entertaine
Not with such forged showes as fitter beene
For courting fooles that curtesies would faine,
But with entire affection, and appearaunce plaine.
AND is there care in Heaven?
And is there love
In heavenly spirits to these creatures bace,
That may compassion of their evils move?
There is: else much more wretched were the cace
Of men than beasts. But O! th' exceeding grace
Of highest God, that loves his creatures so,
And all his workes with mercy doth embrace,
That blessed angels he sends to and fro,
To serve to wicked man, to serve his wicked foe!
How oft do they their silver bowers leave,
To come to succour us that succour want!
How oft do they with golden pinions cleave
The flitting skyes, like flying pursuivant,
Against fowle feendes to ayd us militant!
They for us fight, they watch and dewly ward,
And their bright squadrons round about us plant;
And all for love, and nothing for reward:
O, why should heavenly God to men have such regard!