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The Faerie Queene, Book I, Canto 1
by [?]


Enforst to seeke some covert nigh at hand, 55
A shadie grove[*] not far 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 perceable with power of any starre: 60
And all within were pathes and alleies wide,
With footing worne, and leading inward farre:
Faire harbour that them seemes; so in they entred arre.


And foorth they passe, with pleasure forward led,
Joying to heare the birdes sweete harmony, 65
Which therein shrouded from the tempest dred,
Seemd in their song to scorne the cruell sky.
Much can they prayse the trees so straight and hy,
The sayling Pine,[*] the Cedar proud and tall,
The vine-prop Elme, the Poplar never dry,[*] 70
The builder Oake,[*] sole king of forrests all,
The Aspine good for staves, the Cypresse funerall.[*]


The Laurell,[*] meed of mightie Conquerours
And Poets sage, the firre that weepeth still,[*]
The Willow[*] worne of forlorne Paramours, 75
The Eugh[*] obedient to the benders will,
The Birch for shaftes, the Sallow for the mill,
The Mirrhe[*] sweete bleeding in the bitter wound,
The warlike Beech,[*] the Ash for nothing ill,[*]
The fruitfull Olive, and the Platane round, 80
The carver Holme,[*] the Maple seeldom inward sound.


Led with delight, they thus beguile the way,
Untill the blustring storme is overblowne;
When weening to returne, whence they did stray,
They cannot finde that path, which first was showne, 85
But wander too and fro in wayes unknowne,
Furthest from end then, when they neerest weene,
That makes them doubt their wits be not their owne:
So many pathes, so many turnings seene,
That which of them to take, in diverse doubt they been. 90


At last resolving forward still to fare,
Till that some end they finde or in or out,
That path they take, that beaten seemd most bare,
And like to lead the labyrinth about;
Which when by tract they hunted had throughout, 95
At length it brought them to a hollow cave
Amid the thickest woods. The Champion stout
Eftsoones dismounted from his courser brave,
And to the Dwarfe awhile his needlesse spere he gave.


Be well aware, quoth then that Ladie milde, 100
Least suddaine mischiefe ye too rash provoke:
The danger hid, the place unknowne and wilde,
Breedes dreadfull doubts: Oft fire is without smoke,
And perill without show: therefore your stroke,
Sir Knight, with-hold, till further triall made. 105
Ah Ladie, (said he) shame were to revoke[*]
The forward footing for an hidden shade:
Vertue gives her selfe light, through darkenesse for to wade.


Yea but (quoth she) the perill of this place
I better wot then you, though now too late 110
To wish you backe returne with foule disgrace,
Yet wisedome warnes, whilest foot is in the gate,
To stay the steppe, ere forced to retrate.
This is the wandring wood,[*] this Errours den,
A monster vile, whom God and man does hate: 115
Therefore I read beware. Fly fly (quoth then
The fearefull Dwarfe) this is no place for living men.