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1-pi-FaerieQueene2 6565FinlR



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Page 212

The Faerie Queene: Book Two

That secretly doth us procure1 to fall,

Through guilefull semblants, which he makes us see.

He of this Gardin had the governall,2

And Pleasures porter was devizd3 to bee,

Holding a staffe in hand for more formalitee.


With diverse flowres he daintily was deckt,

And strowed rownd about, and by his side

A mighty Mazer4 bowle of wine was sett,

As if it had to him bene sacrifide;5

Wherewith all new-come guests he gratyfide:6

So did he eke Sir Guyon passing by:

But he his ydle curtesie defide,

And overthrew his bowle disdainfully;

And broke his staffe, with which he charmed semblants sly.7


Thus being entred, they behold arownd

A large and spacious plaine, on every side

Strowed with pleasauns,8 whose fayre grassy grownd

Mantled9 with greene, and goodly beautifide

With all the ornaments of Floraes pride,10

Wherewith her mother Art,11 as halfe in scorne

Of niggard Nature, like a pompous12 bride

Did decke her, and too lavishly adorne,

When forth from virgin bowre she comes in th’early morne.


procure: cause.

governall: governanace. This figure is

thus both the genius loci, the presiding spirit

of the place, and also, allegorically, each

person’s misleading “bad genius,” the counterpart to one’s good angel.



devizd: designated, considered, feigned.

Mazer: maple.


sacrifide: consecrated, offered up.



gratyfide: welcomed, pleased.

charmed semblants sly: slyly conjured

false appearances.


pleasauns: pleasure-grounds.


Mantled: clothed, suffused.



I.e., with flowers; Flora was the Roman

goddess of flowers.


The Bower of Bliss is the child, not of

Nature, but of Art, which decorates it lavishly. “Art,” in Spenser’s work as in his time

more generally, can have both positive connotations (as representing human skill and

achievement) and negative (as suggesting artifice and deception). The relationship between art and nature forms a major subject

of this canto; see below, 58.5n.


niggard: stingy; pompous: magnificent, ostentatious.

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Canto Twelve


Therewith the Heavens alwayes Joviall,1

Lookte on them lovely, still in stedfast state,

Ne suffred storme nor frost on them to fall,

Their tender buds or leaves to violate,2

Nor scorching heat, nor cold intemperate

T’afflict the creatures, which therein did dwell,

But the milde ayre with season moderate

Gently attempred,3 and disposd so well,

That still it breathed forth sweet spirit and holesom smell.


More sweet and holesome, then the pleasaunt hill

Of Rhodope, on which the Nimphe, that bore

A gyaunt babe, her selfe for griefe did kill:4

Or the Thessalian Tempe, where of yore

Fayre Daphne Phoebus hart with love did gore;5

Or Ida, where the Gods lov’d to repayre,6

When ever they their heavenly bowres forlore;

Or sweet Parnasse,7 the haunt of Muses fayre;

Or Eden selfe, if ought with Eden mote compayre.


Much wondred Guyon at the fayre aspect

Of that sweet place, yet suffred no delight

To sincke into his sence, nor mind affect,

But passed forth, and lookt still forward right,8

Brydling his will, and maystering his might:

Till that he came unto another gate,

No gate, but like one, being goodly dight

With bowes and braunches, which did broad dilate9

Their clasping armes, in wanton wreathings intricate.


Therewith: in addition, moreover;

Joviall: smiling, favorable; literally, under

the influence of Jupiter. The description

that follows, with its negative constructions

(Ne . . . nor . . . Nor), is based on a classical

trope deriving from Homer—e.g., Odyssey,

4.567–69, 6.43–45.


violate: injure, ravish.


attempred: regulated.


Mt. Rhodope was named after a nymph

who was transformed into the mountain for

her presumption; see Ovid, Metamorphoses,




Phoebus (Apollo) fell in love with the

nymph Daphne in the vale of Tempe in

Thessaly, where he pursued her against her

will until she was transformed into a laurel;

see Metamorphoses, 1.452–567.


repayre: retire. Mt. Ida near Troy was

where Paris judged the three goddesses,

choosing Venus as the fairest and thus setting in motion the Trojan War.


Mount Parnassus at Delphi was the seat of

the Muses.

8 forward right: straight ahead.

9 dilate: spread.

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The Faerie Queene: Book Two


So fashioned a Porch with rare device,1

Archt over head with an embracing vine,

Whose bounches2 hanging downe, seemd to entice

All passers by, to taste their lushious wine,

And did them selves into their hands incline,

As freely offering to be gathered:

Some deepe empurpled as the Hyacint,3

Some as the Rubine,4 laughing sweetely red,

Some like faire Emeraudes, not yet well ripened.


And them amongst, some were of burnisht gold,

So made by art, to beautify the rest,

Which did themselves emongst the leaves enfold,

As lurking from the vew of covetous guest,

That the weake boughes, with so rich load opprest,

Did bow adowne, as overburdened.

Under that Porch a comely dame did rest,

Clad in fayre weedes, but fowle disordered,

And garments loose, that seemd unmeet for womanhed.


In her left hand a Cup of gold she held,

And with her right the riper fruit did reach,

Whose sappy liquor,5 that with fulnesse sweld,

Into her cup she scruzd, with daintie breach6

Of her fine fingers, without fowle empeach,7

That so faire winepresse made the wine more sweet:

Thereof she usd to give to drinke to each,

Whom passing by she happened to meet:

It was her guise, all Straungers goodly so to greet.


So she to Guyon offred it to tast,

Who taking it out of her tender hond,

The cup to ground did violently cast,

That all in peeces it was broken fond,

And with the liquor stained all the lond:





device: design.

bounches: clusters (of grapes).

3 Hyacint: hyacinth, both a gemstone (also

called jacinth) and a flower. Some editions

read “Hyacine” to preserve the rhyme; see



Rubine: ruby.

sappy liquor: juicy liquid.

scruzd: squeezed; breach: crushing.

empeach: detriment, sullying (of either

the juice or the fingers).


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Canto Twelve


Whereat Excesse exceedingly was wroth,

Yet no’te the same amend, ne yet withstond,

But suffered him to passe, all1 were she loth;

Who nought regarding her displeasure, forward goth.


There the most daintie Paradise on ground,

It selfe doth offer to his sober eye,

In which all pleasures plenteously abownd,

And none does others happinesse envye:

The painted2 flowres, the trees upshooting hye,

The dales for shade, the hilles for breathing space,

The trembling groves, the christall3 running by;

And that, which all faire workes doth most aggrace,4

The art, which all that wrought, appeared in no place.


One would have thought, (so cunningly, the rude5

And scorned6 partes were mingled with the fine,)

That nature had for wantonesse ensude7

Art, and that Art at nature did repine;8

So striving each th’other to undermine,

Each did the others worke more beautify;

So diff’ring both in willes, agreed in fine:9

So all agreed through sweete diversity,

This Gardin to adorne with all variety.


And in the midst of all, a fountaine stood,

Of richest substance, that on earth might bee,

So pure and shiny, that the silver flood

Through every channell running one might see;

Most goodly it with curious ymageree


all: although.

painted: colorful, variegated; but given

that the garden contains grapes made of

gold (above, 55.1) and that art has enhanced

nature throughout (stanza 59), some of the

flowers may simply be painted. Alternately,

they may be hybridized by crossbreeding, a

mingling of art and nature that was a subject of contemporary debate; see, for instance, Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale,




christall: clear streams.

aggrace: enhance.


rude: simple, unadorned.


scorned: humble, neglected.


for wantonesse ensude: imitated in jest

or out of extravagance.


repine: complain, chafe.


in fine: in the end, and also perhaps “in



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The Faerie Queene: Book Two

Was overwrought,1 and shapes of naked boyes,

Of which some seemd with lively jollitee,

To fly about, playing their wanton toyes,2

Whylest others did them selves embay3 in liquid joyes,


And over all, of purest gold was spred,

A trayle of yvie in his native hew:4

For the rich metall was so coloured,

That wight, who did not well avis’d it vew,

Would surely deeme it to bee yvie trew:

Low his lascivious armes adown did creepe,

That themselves dipping in the silver dew,5

Their fleecy flowres they fearefully6 did steepe,

Which drops of Christall seemd for wantones to weep.


Infinit streames continually did well

Out of this fountaine, sweet and faire to see,

The which into an ample laver7 fell,

And shortly grew to so great quantitie,

That like a litle lake it seemd to bee;

Whose depth exceeded not three cubits8 hight,

That through the waves one might the bottom see,

All pav’d beneath with Jaspar9 shining bright,

That seemd the fountaine in that sea did sayle10 upright.


And all the margent11 round about was sett,

With shady Laurell trees, thence to defend12

The sunny beames, which on the billowes bett,13

And those which therein bathed, mote offend:

As Guyon hapned by the same to wend,

Two naked Damzelles he therein espyde,


overwrought: wrought all over, overworked; cf. Keats, “Ode on a Grecian

Urn,” 41–42 (“with brede / Of marble

men and maidens overwrought”).

2 toyes: games.

3 embay: bathe, drench.

4 his native hew: its natural color.

5 silver dew: silvery water.


fleecy: soft; fearefully: tremulously.


laver: basin.

cubits: a measure the length of a forearm.

9 Jaspar: jasper, a crystal that exists in a

range of different shades.


sayle: leap, dance.


margent: margin.


defend: keep off.


bett: beat.


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Canto Twelve


Which therein bathing, seemed to contend,

And wrestle wantonly, ne car’d to hyde,

Their dainty partes from vew of any, which them eyd.


Sometimes the one would lift the other quight

Above the waters, and then downe againe

Her plong,1 as over maystered by might,

Where both awhile would covered remaine,

And each the other from to rise2 restraine;

The whiles their snowy limbes, as through a vele,3

So through the christall waves appeared plaine:

Then suddeinly both would themselves unhele,4

And th’amarous5 sweet spoiles to greedy eyes revele.


As that faire Starre,6 the messenger of morne,

His deawy face out of the sea doth reare:

Or as the Cyprian goddesse,7 newly borne

Of th’Oceans fruitfull froth, did first appeare:

Such seemed they, and so their yellow heare

Christalline humor8 dropped downe apace.

Whom such when Guyon saw, he drew him neare,

And somewhat gan relent his earnest pace;

His stubborne brest gan secret pleasaunce to embrace.


The wanton Maidens him espying, stood

Gazing a while at his unwonted9 guise;

Then th’one her selfe low ducked in the flood,

Abasht, that her a straunger did avise:10

But thother rather higher did arise,

And her two lilly paps aloft displayd,

And all, that might his melting hart entyse

To her delights, she unto him bewrayd:11

The rest hidd underneath, him more desirous made.


plong: plunge.

to rise: rising.


vele: veil.


unhele: uncover.


amarous: erotic, but with a hint of “bitter” (Latin amarus).


The morning star, also called Phosphor or




Cyprian goddesse: Venus, who had a

shrine in Cyprus and who was born out of

the foam of the sea (“Oceans fruitfull



humor: liquid.


unwonted: unaccustomed, unusual (for



avise: behold.


bewrayd: revealed.

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With that, the other likewise up arose,

And her faire lockes, which formerly were bownd

Up in one knott, she low adowne did lose:1

Which flowing long and thick, her cloth’d arownd,

And th’yvorie in golden mantle gownd:

So that faire spectacle from him was reft,

Yet that, which reft it, no lesse faire was fownd:

So hidd in lockes and waves from lookers theft,2

Nought but her lovely face she for his looking left.


Withall she laughed, and she blusht withall,

That blushing to her laughter gave more grace,

And laughter to her blushing, as did fall:3

Now when they spyde the knight to slacke his pace,

Them to behold, and in his sparkling face

The secrete signes of kindled lust appeare,

Their wanton meriments they did encreace,

And to him beckned, to approch more neare,

And shewd him many sights, that corage cold could reare.4


On which when gazing him the Palmer saw,

He much rebukt those wandring eyes of his,

And counseld well, him forward thence did draw.

Now are they come nigh to the Bowre of blis

Of her fond favorites so nam’d amis:

When thus the Palmer, “Now Sir, well avise;

For here the end of all our traveill5 is:

Here wonnes Acrasia, whom we must surprise,

Els she will slip away, and all our drift despise.”6


Eftsoones they heard a most melodious sound,

Of all that mote delight a daintie eare,

Such as attonce7 might not on living ground,

Save in this Paradise, be heard elswhere:

Right hard it was, for wight, which did it heare,



lose: loosen.

I.e., from an onlooker’s stealing a glance.

3 fall: befall, happen.

4 corage: desire; reare: arouse.


end: aim, completion; traveill: labor,


6 drift: plan; despise: scorn, render contemptible.

7 attonce: all together.

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Canto Twelve


To read, what manner musicke that mote bee:

For all that pleasing is to living eare,

Was there consorted 1 in one harmonee,

Birdes, voices, instruments, windes, waters, all agree.


The joyous birdes shrouded in chearefull shade,

Their notes unto the voice attempred2 sweet;

Th’Angelicall soft trembling voyces made

To th’instruments divine respondence3 meet:

The silver sounding instruments did meet4

With the base5 murmure of the waters fall:

The waters fall with difference discreet,6

Now soft, now loud, unto the wind did call:

The gentle warbling wind low answered to all.


There, whence that Musick seemed heard to bee,

Was the faire Witch her selfe now solacing,7

With a new Lover, whom through sorceree

And witchcraft, she from farre did thether bring:

There she had him now laid a slombering,

In secret shade, after long wanton joyes:

Whilst round about them pleasauntly did sing

Many faire Ladies, and lascivious boyes,

That ever mixt their song with light licentious toyes.8


And all that while, right over him she hong,

With her false eyes fast fixed in his sight,

As seeking medicine, whence she was stong,9

Or greedily depasturing10 delight:

And oft inclining11 downe with kisses light,

For feare of waking him, his lips bedewd,





consorted: arranged, combined.

attempred: attuned.


respondence: response.


meet: join.


base: low, bass.


difference discreet: distinct variation


solacing: taking pleasure.

toyes: play.


I.e., as if seeking remedy in the very thing

that caused her injury (namely, the sight of

his beauty).

10 depasturing: feeding on.

11 inclining: bending.

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The Faerie Queene: Book Two

And through his humid eyes did sucke his spright,

Quite molten1 into lust and pleasure lewd;

Wherewith she sighed soft, as if his case she rewd.


The whiles some one did chaunt this lovely2 lay;

“Ah see, who so fayre thing doest faine to see,

In springing flowre the image of thy day;

Ah see the Virgin Rose, how sweetly shee

Doth first peepe foorth with bashfull modestee,

That fairer seemes, the lesse ye see her may;

Lo see soone after, how more bold and free

Her bared bosome she doth broad display;

Lo see soone after, how she fades, and falls away.


“So passeth, in the passing of a day,

Of mortall life the leafe, the bud, the flowre,

Ne more doth florish after first decay,

That earst was sought to deck both bed and bowre,

Of many a Lady’, and many a Paramowre:

Gather therefore the Rose, whilest yet is prime,3

For soone comes age, that will her pride deflowre:

Gather the Rose of love, whilest yet is time,

Whilest loving thou mayst loved be with equall crime.”4


He ceast, and then gan all the quire of birdes

Their diverse notes t’attune unto his lay,

As in approvaunce of his pleasing wordes.

The constant5 payre heard all, that he did say,

Yet swarved not, but kept their forward way,

Through many covert groves, and thickets close,

In which they creeping did at last display6

That wanton Lady, with her lover lose,

Whose sleepie head she in her lap did soft dispose.7


molten: melted.

lovely: beautiful, of love. This “lay” or

song is an example of the theme of carpe

diem (literally “seize the day”), introduced

in Roman poetry and greatly expanded on

in the Renaissance. Spenser’s immediate

model is Tasso, Gerusalemme Liberata,




prime: early, in her prime.

crime: guilt; the last word of the song

breaks the spell cast by the rest.



constant: steadfast, faithful.

display: discover.


dispose: lay, cradle.


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Canto Twelve



Upon a bed of Roses she was layd,

As faint through heat, or dight to pleasant sin,

And was arayd, or rather disarayd,

All in a vele of silke and silver thin,

That hid no whit her alablaster1 skin,

But rather shewd more white, if more might bee:

More subtile web Arachne 2 cannot spin,

Nor the fine nets, which oft we woven see

Of scorched deaw,3 do not in th’ayre more lightly flee.


Her snowy brest was bare to ready spoyle4

Of hungry eies, which n’ote therewith be fild,

And yet through languour5 of her late sweet toyle,

Few drops, more cleare then Nectar, forth distild,

That like pure Orient perles adowne it trild,6

And her faire eyes sweet smyling in delight,

Moystened their fierie beames, with which she thrild

Fraile harts, yet quenched not; like starry light

Which sparckling on the silent waves, does seeme more bright.


The young man sleeping by her, seemd to be

Some goodly swayne of honorable place,7

That certes it great pitty was to see

Him his nobility so fowle deface;

A sweet regard,8 and amiable grace,

Mixed with manly sternesse did appeare

Yet9 sleeping, in his well proportiond face,

And on his tender lips the downy heare

Did now but freshly spring, and silken blossoms beare.





alablaster: alabaster, ivory-white.

subtile: fine, light; Arachne: the spider,

or else the name of the girl, expert in weaving, who according to myth was turned

into a spider.


The “fine nets” are also spiderwebs, pictured as being fabricated of dried dew.

spoyle: ravishment.

languour: weariness.


trild: trickled.


place: rank, station.


regard: aspect, look.


Yet: even while.

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His warlike Armes, the ydle instruments

Of sleeping praise,1 were hong upon a tree,

And his brave shield, full of old moniments,2

Was fowly ra’st,3 that none the signes might see,

Ne for them, ne for honour cared hee,

Ne ought, that did to his advauncement tend,

But in lewd loves, and wastfull luxuree,4

His dayes, his goods, his bodie he did spend:

O horrible enchantment, that him so did blend.5


The noble Elfe, and carefull Palmer drew

So nigh them, minding nought,6 but lustfull game,

That suddein forth they on them rusht, and threw

A subtile net, which only for that same7

The skilfull Palmer formally8 did frame.

So held them under fast, the whiles the rest

Fled all away for feare of fowler shame.

The faire Enchauntresse, so unwares opprest,9

Tryde all her arts, and all her sleights, thence out to wrest.10


And eke her lover strove: but all in vaine;

For that same net so cunningly was wound,

That neither guile, nor force might it distraine.11

They tooke them both, and both them strongly bound

In captive bandes, which there they readie found:

But her in chaines of adamant12 he tyde;


While he sleeps, so does the praise that he

would otherwise be winning with his arms,

now “ydle.” His position resembles a traditional emblem of effeminization or emasculation; see, for instance, Botticelli’s painting,

Venus and Mars.


moniments: emblems, tokens of former


3 ra’st: erased.

4 luxuree: excess, lust.

5 blend: blind.


minding nought: heedful of nothing.

that same: that very purpose.


formally: in good order, expressly. The

Palmer’s net echoes the one used by Hephaestus to trap Ares and Aphrodite in Homer,

Odyssey, 8.272–99.


opprest: surprised, held down.



wrest: twist.

distraine: tear off.

12 adamant: the strongest or hardest substance in the world.


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