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Much was the man encumb’red with his hold,
In fear to lose his weapon in his paw,
Ne wist yet, how his talons to unfold ;
Nor harder was from Cerberus' greedy jaw
To pluck a bone, than from his cruel claw
To reave by strength the gripèd gage away:
Thrice he assay'd it from his foot to draw,
And thrice in vain to draw it did assay ;
It booted nought to think to rob him of his prey.
Tho when he saw no power might prevail,
His trusty sword he callid to his last aid,
Wherewith he fiercely did his foe assail,
And double blows about him stoutly laid,
That glancing fire out of the iron play'd,
As sparkles from the anvil used to fly,
When heavy hammers on the wedge are sway'd ;
Therewith at last he forced him to untie
One of his grasping feet, him to defend thereby.
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The other foot, fast fixed on his shield,
Whenas no strength nor strokes mote him constrain
To loose, ne yet the warlike pledge to yield ;
He smote thereat with all his might and main,
That nought so wondrous puissance might sustain :
Upon the joint the lucky steel did light,
And made such way, that hewd it quite in twain ;
The paw yet missèd not his minish'd might,
But hung still on the shield, as it at first was pight.
For grief thereof and devilish despite,
From his infernal furnace forth he threw
Huge flames, that dimmèd all the heaven's light,
Enroll'd in duskish smoke, and brimstone blue :
As burning Etna, from his boiling stew
Doth belch out flames, and rocks in pieces broke,
And ragged ribs of mountain molten new,
Enwrapt in coalblack clouds and filthy smoke,
That all the land with stench, and heaven with horror choke.
The heat whereof, and harmful pestilence,
So sore him 'noy'd, that forced him to retire
A little backward for his best defence,
To save his body from the scorching fire,
Which he from hellish entrails did expire
It chanced (Eternal God that chance did guide),
As he recoiled backward, in the mire
His nigh forwearied feeble feet did slide,
And down he fell, with dread of shame sore terrified.
There grew a goodly tree him fair beside,
Loaden with fruit and apples rosy red,
As they in pure vermilion had been dyed,
Whereof great virtues over all were read :
For happy life to all which thereon fed,
And life eke everlasting did befall :
Great God it planted in that blessed stead
With His Almighty hand, and did it call
The Tree of Life, the crime of our first father's fall.
In all the world like was not to be found,
Save in that soil, where all good things did grow,
And freely sprang out of the fruitful ground,
As incorrupted Nature did them sow,
Till that dread dragon all did overthrow,
Another like fair tree eke grew thereby,
Whereof whoso did eat, eftsoones did know
Both good and ill: 0 mournful memory!
That tree through one man's fault hath done us all to die !
From that first tree forth flow'd, as from a well,
A trickling stream of balm, most sovereign
And dainty dear, which on the ground still fell,
And overflowed all the fertile plain,
As it had dewèd been with timely rain;
Life and long health that gracious ointment gave;
And deadly wounds could heal; and rear again
The senseless corse appointed for the grave;
Into that same he fell, which did from death him save.
For nigh thereto the ever damnèd beast
Durst not approach, for he was deadly made,
And all that life preserved did detest;
Yet he it oft adventured to invade.
By this the drooping Day-light gan to fade,
And yield his room to sad succeeding Night,
Who with her sable mantle gan to shade
The face of earth and ways of living wight,
And high her burning torch set up in heaven bright.
When gentle Una saw the second fall
Of her dear knight, who, weary of long fight,
And faint through loss of blood, moved not at all,
But lay, as in a dream of deep delight,
Besmear’d with precious balm, whose virtuous might
Did heal his wounds, and scorching heat allay,
Again she stricken was with sore affright,
And for his safety gan devoutly pray,
And watch the noyous night, and wait for joyous day.
LI. The joyous day gan early to appear; And fair Aurora from the dewy bed Of aged Tithone gan herself to rear With rosy cheeks, for shame as blushing red; Her golden locks, for haste, were loosely shed About her ears, when Una her did mark Climb to her charet, all with flowers spread From heaven high to chase the cheerless dark; With merry note her loud salutes the mountain lark.
Then freshly up arose the doughty knight,
All healèd of his hurts and woundès wide,
And did himself to battle ready dight;
Whose early foe awaiting him beside
To have devour’d, so soon as day he spied,
When none he saw himself so freshly rear,
As if late fight had nought him damnified,
He woxe dismay'd, and gan his fate to fear;
Nathless with wonted rage he him advancèd near;
And in his first encounter, gaping wide,
He thought at once him to have swallow'd quite,
And rush'd upon him with outrageous pride;
Who him rencount’ring fierce as hawk in flight,
Perforce rebutted back: the weapon bright,
Taking advantage of his open jaw,
Ran through his mouth with so importune might,
That deep empierced his darksome hollow maw,
And, back retired, his life-blood forth withall did draw.
So down he fell, and forth his life did breathe,
That vanish'd into smoke and cloudès swift;
So down he fell, that th' earth him underneath
Did groan, as feeble so great load to lift;
So down he fell, as an huge rocky clift,
Whose false foundation waves have wash'd
With dreadful poise is from the mainland rift,
And rolling down, great Neptune doth dismay:
So down he fell, and like an heaped mountain lay.
The knight himself even trembled at his fall,
So huge and horrible a mass it seem’d;
And his dear lady, that beheld it all,
Durst not approach for dread which she misdeemid;
But yet at last, whenas the direful fiend
She saw not stir, off-shaking vain affright
She nigher drew, and saw that joyous end :
Then God she praised, and thank' her faithful knight,
That had achieved so great a conquest by his might.
WHEN the British warrior queen,
Bleeding from the Roman rods,
Sought, with an indignant mien,
Counsel of her country's gods,
Sage beneath the spreading oak,
Sat the Druid, hoary chief;
Every burning word he spoke
Full of rage, and full of grief.
“ Princess! if our aged eyes
Weep upon thy matchless wrongs, 'Tis because resentment ties
All the terrors of our tongues.