The Redcrosse knight is captive made
by Gyaunt proud opprest,
Prince Arthur meets with Una great-
ly with those newes distrest.
What man so wise, what earthly wit so ware,
As to discry the crafty cunning traine,
By which deceipt doth maske in visour faire,
And cast her colours dyed deepe in graine,
To seeme like Truth, whose shape she well can faine, 5
And fitting gestures to her purpose frame;
The guiltlesse man with guile to entertaine?
Great maistresse of her art was that false Dame,
The false Duessa, cloked with Fidessaes name.
Who when returning from the drery Night, 10
She fownd not in that perilous house of Pryde,
Where she had left, the noble Redcrosse knight,
Her hoped pray; she would no lenger bide,
But forth she went, to seeke him far and wide.
Ere long she fownd, whereas he wearie sate 15
To rest him selfe, foreby a fountaine side,
Disarmed all of yron-coted Plate,
And by his side his steed the grassy forage ate.
He feedes upon[*] the cooling shade, and bayes
His sweatie forehead in the breathing wind, 20
Which through the trembling leaves full gently playes,
Wherein the cherefull birds of sundry kind
Do chaunt sweet musick, to delight his mind:
The Witch approaching gan him fairely greet,
And with reproch of carelesnesse unkind 25
Upbrayd, for leaving her in place unmeet,
With fowle words tempring faire, soure gall with hony sweet.
Unkindnesse past, they gan of solace treat,
And bathe in pleasaunce of the joyous shade,
Which shielded them against the boyling heat, 30
And with greene boughes decking a gloomy glade,
About the fountaine like a girlond made;
Whose bubbling wave did ever freshly well,
Ne ever would through fervent sommer fade:
The sacred Nymph, which therein wont to dwell, 35
Was out of Dianes favour, as it then befell.
The cause was this: One day, when Phoebe[*] fayre
With all her band was following the chace,
This Nymph, quite tyr’d with heat of scorching ayre,
Sat downe to rest in middest of the race: 40
The goddesse wroth gan fowly her disgrace,
And bad the waters, which from her did flow,
Be such as she her selfe was then in place.
Thenceforth her waters waxed dull and slow,
And all that drinke thereof do faint and feeble grow.[*] 45
Hereof this gentle knight unweeting was,
And lying downe upon the sandie graile,
Drunke of the streame, as cleare as cristall glas:
Eftsoones his manly forces gan to faile,
And mightie strong was turned to feeble fraile. 50
His chaunged powres at first them selves not felt,
Till crudled cold his corage gan assaile,
And cheareful bloud in faintnesse chill did melt,
Which like a fever fit through all his body swelt.