His loves and lignage Arthur tells:
the Knights knit friendly hands:
Sir Trevisan flies from Despayre,
whom Redcrosse Knight withstands.
O goodly golden chaine,[*] wherewith yfere
The vertues linked are in lovely wize:
And noble mindes of yore allyed were,
In brave poursuit of chevalrous emprize,
That none did others safety despize, 5
Nor aid envy to him, in need that stands,
But friendly each did others prayse devize,
How to advaunce with favourable hands,
As this good Prince redeemd the Redcrosse knight from bands.
Who when their powres empaird through labour long, 10
With dew repast they had recured well,
And that weake captive wight now wexed strong,
Them list no lenger there at leasure dwell,
But forward fare, as their adventures fell,
But ere they parted, Una faire besought 15
That straunger knight his name and nation tell;
Least so great good, as he for her had wrought,
Should die unknown, and buried be in thanklesse[*] thought.
Faire virgin (said the Prince) ye me require
A thing without the compas of my wit: 20
For both the lignage and the certain Sire,
From which I sprong, from me are hidden yit.
For all so soone as life did me admit
Into this world, and shewed heavens light,
From mothers pap I taken was unfit: 25
And streight deliver’d to a Faery knight,[*]
To be upbrought in gentle thewes and martiall might.
Unto old Timon he me brought bylive,
Old Timon, who in youthly yeares hath beene
In warlike feates th’expertest man alive, 30
And is the wisest now on earth I weene;
His dwelling is low in a valley greene,
Under the foot of Rauran mossy hore,[*]
From whence the river Dee[*] as silver cleene,
His tombling billowes roll with gentle rore: 35
There all my dayes he traind me up in vertuous lore.
Thither the great magicien Merlin came,
As was his use, ofttimes to visit me:
For he had charge my discipline to frame,[*]
And Tutours nouriture to oversee. 40
Him oft and oft I askt in privitie,
Of what loines and what lignage I did spring:
Whose aunswere bad me still assured bee,
That I was sonne and heire unto a king,
As time in her just terme[*] the truth to light should bring.
Well worthy impe, said then the Lady gent,
And pupill fit for such a Tutours hand.
But what adventure, or what high intent
Hath brought you hither into Faery land,
Aread Prince Arthur, crowne of Martiall band? 50
Full hard it is (quoth he) to read aright
The course of heavenly cause, or understand
The secret meaning of th’ eternall might,
That rules mens wayes, and rules the thoughts of living wight.