BY THE GRACE OF GOD
Queen of England, Fraunce and Ireland, and of Virginia,
Defender of the Faith etc.
HER MOST HUMBLE SERVAUNT
DOTH IN ALL HUMILITIE
DEDICATE, PRESENT, AND CONSECRATE THESE HIS LABOVRS
TO LIVE WITH THE ETERNITIE OF HER FAME.
* * * * *
THE FIRST BOOKE OF
THE FAERIE QUEENE
THE LEGENDE OF THE KNIGHT OF THE
CROSSE, OR OF HOLINESSE
* * * *
Lo I the man,[*] whose Muse whilome did maske,
As time her taught, in lowly Shepheards weeds,
Am now enforst a far unfitter taske,
For trumpets sterne to chaunge mine Oaten reeds,
And sing of Knights and Ladies[*] gentle deeds; 5
Whose prayses having slept in silence long,
Me, all too meane, the sacred Muse areeds
To blazon broade emongst her learned throng:
Fierce warres and faithfull loves shall moralize my song.
Helpe then, O holy Virgin chiefe of nine,[*]
Thy weaker Novice to performe thy will;
Lay forth out of thine everlasting scryne
The antique rolles, which there lye hidden still,
Of Faerie knights[*] and fairest Tanaquill,[*]
Whom that most noble Briton Prince[*] so long 15
Sought through the world, and suffered so much ill,
That I must rue his undeserved wrong:
O helpe thou my weake wit, and sharpen my dull tong.
And thou most dreaded impe of highest Jove,[*]
Faire Venus sonne, that with thy cruell dart 20
At that good knight so cunningly didst rove,
That glorious fire it kindled in his hart,
Lay now thy deadly Heben bow apart,
And with thy mother milde come to mine ayde;
Come both, and with you bring triumphant Mart,[*] 25
In loves and gentle jollities arrayd,
After his murdrous spoiles and bloudy rage allayd.
And with them eke, O Goddesse heavenly bright,[*]
Mirrour of grace and Majestie divine,
Great Lady of the greatest Isle, whose light 30
Like Phoebus lampe[*] throughout the world doth shine,
Shed thy faire beames into my feeble eyne,
And raise my thoughts, too humble and too vile,
To thinke of that true glorious type of thine,[*]
The argument of mine afflicted stile:[*] 35
The which to heare, vouchsafe, O dearest dred,[*] a-while.
* * * * *
The Patron of true Holinesse
foule Errour doth defeate;
Hypocrisie him to entrappe
doth to his home entreate.