Letter of the Authors expounding his whole intention in the course of this worke, which for that it giueth great light to the Reader, for the better vnderstanding is hereunto annexed.
To the Right noble, and Valorous, Sir Walter Raleigh knight, Lo. Wardein of the Stanneryes, and her Maiesties lieftenaunt of the County of Cornewayll.
Sir knowing how doubtfully all Allegories may be construed, and this booke of mine, which I have entituled the Faery Queene, being a continued Allegory, or darke conceit, I haue thought good aswell for auoyding of gealous opinions and misco[n]structions, as also for your better light in reading thereof, (being so by you commanded) to discouer vnto you the general intention and meaning, which in the whole course thereof I haue fashioned, without expressing of any particular purposes or by accidents therein occasioned. The generall end therefore of all the booke is to fashion a gentleman or noble person in vertuous and gentle discipline: Which for that I conceiued shoulde be most plausible and pleasing, being coloured with an historicall fiction, the which the most part of men delight to read, rather for variety of matter, then for profite of the ensample: I chose the historye of king Arthure, as most fitte for the excellency of his person being made famous by many mens former workes, and also furthest from the daunger of enuy, and suspition of present time. In which I haue followed all the antique Poets historicall, first Homere, who in the Persons of Agamemnon and Vlysses hath ensampled a good gouernour and a vertuous man, the one in his Ilias, the other in his Odysseis: then Virgil, whose like intention was to doe in the person of Aeneas: after him Ariosto comprised them both in his Orlando: and lately Tasso disseuered them againe, and formed both parts in two persons, namely that part which they in Philosophy call Ethice, or vertues of a priuate man, coloured in his Rinaldo: The other named Politice in his Godfredo. By ensample of which excellente Poets, I labour to pourtraict in Arthure, before he was king, the image of a braue knight, perfected in the twelue morall vertues, as Aristotle hath deuised, the which is the purpose of these first twelue bookes: which if I finde to be well accepted, I may be perhaps encoraged, to frame the other part of polliticke vertues in his person, after that hee came to be king. To some I know this Methode will seeme displeasaunt, which had rather haue good discipline deliuered plainly in way of precepts, or sermoned at large, as they vse, then thus clowdily enrapped in Allegoricall deuises. But such, me seeme, should be satisfide with the vse of these dayes seeing all things accounted by their showes, and nothing esteemed of, that is not delightfull and pleasing to commune sence. For this cause Xenophon preferred before Plato, for that the one in the exquisite depth of his iudgement, formed a Commune welth such as it should be, but the other in the person of Cyrus and the Persians fashioned a gouernment such as it might best be: So much more profitable and gratious is doctrine by ensample, then by rule. So haue I laboured to doe in the person of Arthure: whome I conceiue after his long education by Timon, to whome he was by Merlin deliuered to be brought vp, so soone as he was borne of the Lady Igrayne, to haue seene in a dream or vision the Faery Queen, with whose excellent beauty rauished, he awaking resolued to seeke her out, and so being by Merlin armed, and by Timon throughly instructed, he went to seeke her forth in Faerye land. In that Faery Queene I meane glory in my generall intention, but in my particular I conceiue the most excellent and glorious person of our soueraine the Queene, and her kingdome in Faery land. And yet in some places els I do otherwise shadow her. For considering she beareth two persons, the one of a most royall Queene or Empresse, the other of a most vertuous and beautifull Lady, this latter part in some places I doe ezpresse in Belphoebe, fashioning her name according to your owne excellent conceipt of Cynthia (Phoebe and Cynthia being both names of Diana). So in the person of Prince Arthure I sette forth magnificence in particular, which vertue for that (according to Aristotle and the rest) it is the perfection of all the rest, and conteineth in it them all, therefore in the whole course I mention the deedes of Arthure applyable to that vertue, which I write of in that booke. But of the xii. other vertues, I make xii. other knights the patrones, for the more variety of the history. Of which these three bookes contayn three. The first of the knight of the Redcrosse, in whome I express Holynes. The seconde of Sir Guyon, in whome I sette forth Temperaunce: The third of Britomartis a Lady knight, in whome I picture Chastity. But because the beginning of the whole worke seemeth abrupte and as depending vpon other antecedents, it needs that ye know the occasion of these three knights seuerall aduentures. For the Methode of a Poet historical is not such, as of an Historiographer. For an Historiographer discourseth of affayres orderly as they were donne, accounting as well the times as the actions, but a Poet thrusteth into the middest, euen where it most concerneth him, and there recoursing to the thinges forepaste, and diuining of thinges to come, maketh a pleasing Analysis of all. The beginning therefore of my history, if it were to be told by an Historiographer should be the twelfth booke, which is the last, where I deuise that the Faery Queene kept her Annuall feaste xii. dayes, vppon which xii. seuerall dayes, the occasions of the xii. seuerall aduentures, hapned, which being vndertaken by xii. seuerall knights, are in these xii. books seuerally handled and discoursed. The first was this. In the beginning of the feast, there presented himselfe a tall clownish younge man, who falling before the Queen of Faries desired a boone (as the manner then was) which during that feast she might not refuse: which was that hee might haue the atchieument of any aduenture, which during that feaste should happen: that being graunted, he rested him on the floore, vnfitte through his rusticity for a better place. Soone after entred a faire Ladye in mourning weedes, riding on a white Asse, with a dwarfe behind her leading a warlike steed, that bore the Armes of a knight, and his speare in the dwarfes hand. Shee falling before the Queene of Faeries complayned that her father and mother an ancient King and Queene, had bene by an huge dragon many years shut vp in a brasen Castle, who thence suffred them not to yssew: and therefore besought the Faery Queene to assygne her some one of her knights to take on him that exployt. Presently that clownish person vpstarting, desired that aduenture: whereat the Queene much wondering, and the Lady much gainesaying, yet he earnestly importuned his desire. In the end the Lady told him that vnlesse that armour which she brought, would serue him (that is the armour of a Christian man specified by Saint Paul v. Ephes.) that he could not succeed in that enterprise, which being forthwith put upon him with dewe furnitures thereunto, he seemed the goodliest man in al that company, and was well liked of the Lady. And eftesoones taking on him knighthood, and mounting on that straunge Courser, he went forth with her on that aduenture: where beginneth the first booke, vz.
A gentle knight was pricking on the playne, &c.
The second day ther came in a Palmer bearing an Infant with bloody hands, whose Parents he complained to haue bene slayne by an Enchauntresse called Acrasia: and therfore craued of the Faery Queene, to appoint him some knight, to performe that aduenture, which being assigned to Sir Guyon, he presently went forth with that same Palmer: which is the beginning of the second booke and the whole subiect thereof. The third day there came in a Groome, who complained before the Faery Queene, that a vile Enchaunter called Busirane had in hand a most faire Lady called Amoretta, whom he kept in most grieuous torment, because she would not yield him the pleasure of her body. Whereupon Sir Scudamour the louer of that Lady presently tooke on him that aduenture. But being vnable to performe it by reason of the hard Enchauntments, after long sorrow, in the end he met with Britomartis who succoured him, and reskewed his loue.
But by occasion hereof, many other aduentures are intermedled, but rather as Accidents, then intendments. As the loue of Britomart, the ouerthrow of Marinell, the misery of Florimell, the vertuousnes of Belphoebe, the lasciuiousnes of Hellenora, and many the like.
Thus much Sir, I haue briefly ouerronne to direct your vnderstanding to the wel-head of the History, that from thence gathering the whole intention of the conceit, ye may as in a handfull gripe al the discourse, which otherwise may happily seeme tedious and confused. So humbly crauing the continuaunce of your honorable fauour towardes me, and th’eternall establishment of your happines, I humbly take leaue.
A Vision vpon this conceipt of the Faery Queene.
ME thought I saw the graue where Laura lay
Within that Temple, where the vestall flame
Was wont to burne, and passing by that way,
To see that buried dust of liuing fame,
Whose tombe faire loue, and fairer vertue kept,
All suddenly I saw the Faery Queene:
At whose approch the soule of Petrarke wept,
And from thenceforth those graces were not seene.
For they this Queene attended, in whose steed
Obliuion laid him downe on Lauras herse:
Hereat the hardest stones were seene to bleed,
And grones of buried ghostes the heuens did perse.
Where Homers spright did tremble all for griefe,
And curst th’accesse of that celestiall theife.
Another of the same.
THe prayse of meaner wits this worke like profit brings,
As doth the Cuckoes song delight when Philumena sings.
If thou hast formed right true vertues face herein:
Vertue her selfe can best discerne, to whom they writen bin.
If thou hast beauty praysd, let her sole looks diuine
Iudge if ought therein be amis, and mend it by her meine.
If Chastitie want ought, or Temperaunce her dew,
Behold her Princely mind aright, and write thy Queene anew.
Meane while she shall perceiue, how far her vertues sore
Aboue the reach of all that liue, or such as wrote of yore:
And thereby will excuse and fauour thy good will:
Whose vertue can not be exprest, but by an Angels quill.
Of me no lines are lou’d, nor letters are of price,
Of all which speak our English tongue, but those of thy deuice.
COllyn I see by thy new taken taske,
some sacred fury hath enricht thy braynes,
That leades thy muse in hautie verse to maske,
and loath the layes that longs to lowly swaynes.
That lifts thy notes from Shepheardes vnto kinges
So like the liuely Larke that mounting singes.
Thy louely Rosolinde seemes now forlorne,
and all thy gentle flocks forgotten quight,
Thy chaunged hart now holdes thy pypes in scorne,
those prety pypes that did thy mates delight.
Those trustie mates, that loued thee so well,
VVhom thou gau’st mirth: as they gaue thee the bell.
Yet as thou earst with thy sweete roundelayes,
didst stirre to glee our laddes in homely bowers:
So moughtst thou now in these refyned layes,
delight the daintie eares of higher powers.
And so mought they in their deepe skanning skill
Alow and grace our Collyns flowing quill.
And fare befall that Faery Queene of thine,
in whose faire eyes loue linckt with vertue sites:
Enfusing by those bewties fyers deuine,
such high conceites into thy humble wits,
As raised hath poore pastors oaten reede,
From rustick tunes, to chaunt heroique deedes.
So mought thy Redcrosseknight with happy hand
victorious be in that faire Ilands right:
Which thou dost vaile in Type of Faery land
Elyzaes blessed field, that Albionhight.
That shieldes her friends, and warres her mightie foes,
Yet still with people, peace, and plentie flowes.
But (iolly Shepheard) though with pleasing style,
thou feast the humour of the Courtly traine:
Let not conceipt thy setled sence beguile,
ne daunted be through enuy or disdaine.
Subiect thy dome to her Empyring spright,
From whence thy Muse, and all the world takes light.
Fayre Thamis streame, that from Ludds stately towne,
Runst paying tribute to the Ocean seas,
Let all thy Nymphes and Syrens of renowne
Be silent, whyle this Bryttane Orpheus playes:
Nere thy sweet bankes, there liues that sacred crowne,
Whose hand strowes Palme and neuer-dying bayes.
Let all at once with thy soft murmuring sowne
Present her with this worthy Poets prayes.
For he hath taught hye drifts in Shepeherdes weedes,
And deepe conceites now singes in Faeries deedes.
GRaue Muses march in triumph and with prayses,
Our Goddesse here hath giuen you leaue to land:
And biddes this rare dispenser of your graces
Bow downe his brow vnto her sacred hand.
Desertes findes dew in that most princely doome,
In whose sweete brest are all the Muses bredde:
So did that great Augustus erst in Roome
With leaues of fame adorne his Poets hedde.
Faire be the guerdon of your Faery Queene,
Euen of the fairest that the world hath seene.
WHen stout Achilles heard of Helen’s rape
And what reuenge the States of Greece deuisd:
Thinking by sleight the fatall warres to scape,
In womens weedes him selfe he then disguisde.
But this deuise Vlysses soone did spy,
And brought him forth, the chaunce of warre to try.
When Spencer saw the fame was spredd so large
Through Faery land of their renowned Queene:
Loth that his Muse should take so great a charge,
As in such haughty matter to be seene,
To seeme a Shepeheard then he made his choice,
But Sidney heard him sing, and knew his voice.
And as Vlysses brought faire Thetis sonne
From his retyred life to menage armes:
So Spencer was by Sidneys speaches wonne,
To blaze her fame not fearing future harmes:
For well he knew, his Muse would soone be tyred
In her high praise, that all the world admired.
Yet as Achilles in those warlike frayes,
Did win the palme from all the Grecian Peeres:
So Spencer now to his immortall prayse,
Hath wonne the Laurell quite from all his feres.
What though his taske exceed a humaine witt
He is excus’d, sith Sidney thought it fitt.
TO looke vpon a worke of rare deuise
The which a workman setteth out to view,
And not to yield it the deserued prise,
That vnto such a workmanship is dew,
Doth either proue the iudgement to be naught
Or els doth shew a mind with enuy fraught.
To labour to commend a peece of worke,
Which no man goes about to discommend,
Would raise a iealous doubt that there did lurke
Some secret doubt, whereto the prayse did tend.
For when men know the goodnes of the wyne,
Tis needlesse for the hoast to haue a sygne.
Thus then to shew my iudgement to be such
As can discern of colours blacke, and white,
As alls to free my minde from enuies tuch,
That neuer giues 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 dore,
Not for to shew the goodnes of the ware:
But such hath beene the custome heretofore,
And customes very hardly broken are.
And when your tast shall tell you this is trew,
Then looke you giue your hoast his vtmost dew.
The Faerie Queene, by Edmund Spenser
Addressed, by the Author of the Faerie Queene, to Various Noblemen, &c.
To the right honourable Sir Christopher Hatton, Lord High Chauncelor of England. &c.
THose prudent heads, that with theire counsels wise
Whylom the Pillours of th’earth did sustaine,
And taught ambitious Rome to tyrannise,
And in the neck of all the world to rayne,
Oft from those graue affaires were wont abstaine,
With the sweet Lady Muses for to play:
So Ennius the elder Africane
So Maro oft did Cæsars cares allay.
So you great Lord, that with your counsell sway
The burdeine of this kingdom mightily,
With like delightes sometimes may eke delay,
The rugged brow of carefull Policy:
And to these ydle rymes lend litle space,
Which for their titles sake may find more grace.
To the most honourable and excellent Lo. the Earle of Essex. Great Maister of the Horse to her Highnesse, and knight of the Noble order of the Garter.&c.
MAgnificke Lord, whose vertues excellent
Doe merit a most famous Poets witt,
To be thy liuing praises instrument,
Yet doe not sdeigne, to let thy name be writt
In this base Poeme, for thee far vnfitt.
Nought is thy worth disparaged thereby,
But when my Muse, whose fethers nothing flitt
Doe yet but flagg, and lowly learne to fly
With bolder wing shall dare alofte to sty
To the last praises of this Faery Queene,
Then shall it make more famous memory
Of thine Heroicke parts, such as they beene:
Till then vouchsafe thy noble countenaunce,
To these first labours needed furtheraunce.
To the right Honourable the Earle of Oxenford, Lord high Chamberlayne of England. &c.
REceiue most Noble Lord in gentle gree,
The vnripe fruit of an vnready wit:
Which by thy countenaunce doth craue to bee
Defended from foule Enuies poisnous bit.
Which so to doe may thee right well befit,
Sith th’antique glory of thine auncestry
Vnder a shady vele is therein writ,
And eke thine owne long liuing memory,
Succeeding them in true nobility:
And also for the loue, which thou doest beare
To th’Heliconian ymps, and they to thee,
They vnto thee, and thou to them most deare:
Deare as thou art unto thy selfe, so loue
That loues & honours thee, as doth behoue.
To the right honourable the Earle of Northumberland.
The sacred Muses haue made alwaies clame
To be the Nourses of nobility,
And Registres of euerlasting fame
To all that armes professe and cheualry.
Then by like right the noble Progeny,
Which them succeed in fame and worth, are tyde
T’embrace the seruice of sweete Poetry,
By whose endeuours they are glorifide,
And eke from all, of whom it is enuide,
To patronize the authour of their praise,
Which giues them life, that els would soone haue dide,
And crownes their ashes with immortall baies.
To thee therefore right noble Lord I send
This present of my paines, it to defend.
To the right Honourable the Earle of Ormond and Ossory.
REceiue most noble Lord a simple taste
Of the wilde fruit, which saluage soyl hath bred,
Which being through long wars left almost waste,
With brutish barbarisme is ouerspredd:
And in so faire a land, as may be redd,
Not one Parnassus, nor one Helicone
Left for sweete Muses to be harboured,
But where thy selfe hast thy braue mansione:
There in deede dwel faire Graces many one.
And gentle Nymphes, delights of learned wits;
And in thy person without Paragone
All goodly bountie and true honour sits,
Such therefore, as that wasted soyl doth yield,
Receiue dear Lord in worth, the fruit of barren field.
To the right honourable the Lo. Ch. Howard, Lo. high Admiral of England, knight of the noble order of the Garter, and one of her Maiesties priuie Counsel. &c.
ANd ye, braue Lord, whose goodly personage,
And noble deeds each other garnishing,
Make you ensample to the present age,
Of th’old Heroes, whose famous ofspring
The antique Poets wont so much to sing,
In this same Pageaunt haue a worthy place,
Sith those huge castles of Castilian king,
That vainly threatned kingdomes to displace,
Like flying doues ye did before you chace;
And that proud people woxen insolent
Through many victories, didst first deface:
Thy praises euerlasting monument
Is in this verse engr[a]uen semblab[l]y,
That it may liue to all posterity.
To the most renowmed and valiant Lord, the Lord Grey of Wilton, knight of the Noble order of the Garter, &c.
MOst Noble Lord the pillor of my life,
And Patrone of my Muses pupillage,
Through whose large bountie poured on me rife,
In the first season of my feeble age,
I now doe liue, bound yours by vassalage:
Sith nothing euer may redeeme, nor reaue
Out of your endlesse debt so sure a gage,
Vouchsafe in worth this small guift to receaue,
Which in your noble hands for pledge I leaue,
Of all the rest, that I am tyde t’account:
Rude rymes, the which a rustick Muse did weane
In sauadge soyle, far from Parnasso mount,
And roughly wrought in an vnlearned Loome:
The which vouchsafe dear Lord your fauorable doome.
To the right noble and valorous knight, Sir Walter Raleigh,Lo. Wardein of the Stanneryes, and lief[t]enaunt of Cornwaile.
TO thee that art the sommers Nightingale,
Thy soueraine Goddesses most deare delight,
Why doe I send this rusticke Madrigale,
That may thy tunefull eare vnseason quite?
Thou onely fit this Argument to write,
In whose high thoughts Pleasure hath built her bowre,
And dainty loue learnd sweetly to endite.
My rimes I know vnsauory and sowre,
To taste the streames, that like a golden showre
Flow from thy fruitfull head, of thy loues praise,
Fitter perhaps to thonder Martiall stowre,
When so thee list thy lofty Muse to raise:
Yet till that thou Poeme wilt make knowne,
Let thy faire Cinthias praises bee thus rudely showne.
To the most vertuous, and beautifull Lady, the Lady Carew.
NE may I, without blot of endlesse blame,
You fairest Lady leaue out of this place,
But with remembraunce of your gracious name,
Wherewith that courtly garlond most ye grace,
And deck the world, adorne these verses base:
Not that these few lines can in them comprise
Those glorious ornaments of heuenly grace,
Wherewith ye triumph ouer feeble eyes,
And in subdued harts do tyranyse:
For thereunto doth need a golden quill,
And siluer leaues, them rightly to deuise,
But to make humble present of good will:
Which whenas timely meanes it purchase may,
In ampler wise it self will forth display.
To all the gratious and beautifull Ladies in the Court.
THe Chian Peincter, when he was requirde
To pourtraict Venus in her perfect hew,
To make his worke more absolute, desird
Of all the fairest Maides to haue the vew.
Much more me needs to draw the semblant trew,
Of beauties Queene, the worlds sole wonderment,
To sharpe my sence with sundry beauties vew,
And steale from each some part of ornament.
If all the world to seeke I ouerwent,
A fairer crew yet no where could I see,
Then that braue court doth to mine eie present,
That the worlds pride seemes gathered there to bee.
Of each part I stole by cunning thefte:
Forgiue it me faire Dames, sith lesse ye haue not lefte.
To the right honourable the Lo. Burleigh, Lo. high Threasurer of England.
TO you right noble Lord, whose carefull brest
To menage of most graue affaires is bent,
And on whose mightie shoulders most doth rest
The burdein of this kingdomes gouernement,
As the wide compasse of the firmament,
On Atlas mighty shoulders is vpstayed;
Vnfitly I these ydle rimes present,
The labour of lost time, and wit vnstayd:
Yet if their deeper sence be inly wayd,
And the dim vele, with which from comune vew
Their fairer parts are hid, aside be layd.
Perhaps not vaine the might appeare to you.
Such as they be, vouchsafe them to receaue,
And wipe their faults out of your censure graue.
To the right honourable the Lord of Hunsdon, high Chamberlaine to her Maiesty.
REnowmed Lord, that for your worthinesse
And noble deeds haue your deserued place,
High in the fauour of that Empresse,
The worlds sole glory and her sexes grace,
Here eke of right haue you a worthie place,
Both for your nearnes to that Faerie Queene,
And for your owne high merit in like cace,
Of which, apparaunt proofe was to be sene,
When that tumultuous rage and fearfull deene
Of Northerne rebels ye did pacify,
And their disloiall powre defaced clene,
The record of enduring memory.
Liue Lord for euer in this lasting verse,
That all posteritie thy honor may reherse.
To the right honourable the Lord of Buckhurst, one of her Maiesties priuie Counsell.
IN vain I thinke right honourable Lord,
By this rude rime to memorize thy name;
Whose learned Muse hath writ her owne record,
In golden verse, worthy immortal fame:
Thou much more fit (were leasure to the same)
Thy gracious Souerain praises to compile.
And her imperiall Maiestie to frame,
In loftie numbers and heroicke stile,
But sith thou maist not so, giue leaue a while
To baser wit his power therein to spend,
Whose grosse defaults thy daintie pen may file,
And vnaduised ouersights amend.
But euermore vouchsafe it to maintaine
Against vile Zoilus backbightings vaine.
To the right honourable Sir Fr. Walsingham, knight, principall Secretary to her Maiesty, and of her honourable Priuy Counsell.
THat Mantuane Poetes incompared spirit,
Whose girland now is set in highest place,
Had not Mecænas for his worthy merit,
It first aduaunst to great Augustus grace,
Might long perhaps haue lien in silence bace,
Ne bene so much admir’d of later age.
This lowly Muse, that learns like steps to trace,
Flies for like aide vnto your Patronage;
That as the great Mecenas of this age,
As wel to al that ciuil artes professe
As those that are inspired with Martial rage,
And craues protection of her feeblenesse:
Which if ye yield, perhaps ye may her rayse
In bigger times to sound your liuing prayse.
To the right noble LORD and most valiaunt Captaine, Sir Iohn Norris knight, Lord President of Mounster.
WHo euer gaue more honourable prize
To the sweet Muse, then did the Martiall crew
That their braue deeds she might immortalize
In her shril tromp, and sound their praises dew?
Who then ought more to fauour her, then you
Moste noble Lord, the honor of this age,
And Precedent of all that armes ensue?
Whose warlike prowess and manly courage
Tempred with reason and aduizement sage
Hath fild sad Belgiacke with victorious spoile,
In Fraunce and Ireland left a famous gage,
And lately shakt the Luistanian soile.
Sith then each where thou hast dispredd thy fame,
Loue him, that hath eternized your name.
To the right honourable and most vertuous Lady, the Countesse of Pe[m]broke.
REmembraunce of that most Heroicke Spirit,
The heuens pride, the glory of our daies,
Which now triumpheth through immortall merit
Of his braue vertues crownd with lasting baies,
Of heuenlie blis and euerlasting praises;
Who first my Muse did lift out of the flore,
To sing his sweet delights in lowlie laies;
Bids me most noble Lady to adore
His goodly image liuing euermore,
In the diuine resemblaunce of your face,
Which with your vertues ye embellish more,
And natiue beauty deck with heuenlie grace.
For his, and for your owne especial sake,
Vouchsafe from him this toke[n] in good worth to take.
To the right honourable the Earle of Cumberland.
REdoubted Lord, in whose corageous mind
The flowre of cheualry now bloosming faire,
Doth promise fruite worthy the noble kind
Which of their praises haue left you the haire;
To you this humble present I prepare,
For loue of vertue and of Martiall praise;
To which though nobly ye inclined are,
As goodlie well ye shew’d in late assaies,
Yet braue ensample of long passed daies,
In which trew honor ye may fashioned see,
To like desire of honor may ye raise,
And fill your mind with magnanimitee.
Receiue it, Lord, therefore, as it was ment,
For honor of your name and high descent.