An interactive outline of Book 1 of The Faerie Queene

Canto VIII

Faire virgin, to redeeme her deare

brings Arthur to the fight:

Who slayes that Gyant, woundes the beast,

and strips Duessa quight.

Arthur slays Orgoglio (1-25) +

Una is faithful to RCK (1)

AY me, how many perils doe enfold

The righteous man, to make him daily fall,

Were not that heavenly grace doth him uphold,

And stedfast truth acquite him out of all.

Her love is firme, her care continuall,

So oft as he through his owne foolish pride,

Or weaknesse is to sinfull bands made thrall:

Else should this Redcrosse knight in bands have dydd

For whose deliverance she this Prince doth thither guide.

Dwarf confirms RCK's imprisonment (2)

They sadly traveild thus, until they came

Nigh to a castle builded strong and hie:

Then cryde the Dwarfe, Lo yonder is the same,

In which my Lord my liege doth lucklesse lie,

Thrall to that Gyants hateful tyrannie:

Therefore, deare Sir, your mightie powres assay.

The noble knight alighted by and by

From loftie steede, and bad the Ladie stay,

To see what end of fight should him befall that day.

Squire's trumpet blast blows open the doors (3-4)

So with the Squire, th' admirer of his might,

He marched forth towards that castle wall;

Whose gates he found fast shut, ne living wight

To ward the same, nor answere commers call.

Then tooke that Squire an horne of bugle small.

Which hong adowne his side in twisted gold

And tassels gay. Wyde wonders over all

Of that same hornes great vertues weren told,

Which had approved bene in uses manifold.


Was never wight that heard that shrilling sownd,

But trembling feare did feel in every vaine;

Three miles it might be easie heard around,

And Ecchoes three answerd it selfe againe:

No false enchauntment, nor deceiptfull traine,

Might once abide the terror of that blast,

But presently was voide and wholly vaine:

No gate so strong, no locke so firme and fast,

But with that percing noise flew open quite, or brast.

Orgoglio and Duessa (on a many-headed beast) come forth (5-6)

The same before the Geants gate he blew,

That all the castle quaked from the ground,

And every dore of freewill open flew.

The Gyant selfe dismaied with that sownd,

Where he with his Duessa dalliance fownd,

In hast came rushing forth from inner bowre,

With staring countenance sterne, as one astownd,

And staggering steps, to weet, what suddein stowre,

Had wrought that horror strange, and dar'd his dreaded powre.


And after him the proud Duessa came

High mounted on her many-headed beast;

And every head with fyrie tongue did flame,

And every head was crowned on his creast,

And bloody mouthed with late cruell feast.

That when the knight beheld, his mightie shild

Upon his manly arme he soone addrest,

And at him fiercely flew, with courage fild,

And eger greedinesse through every member thrild.

Orgoglio attacks Arthur (7-11)

Therewith the Gyant buckled him to fight,

Inflam'd with scornefull wrath and high disdaine,

And lifting up his dreadfull club on hight,

All arm'd with ragged snubbes and knottie graine,

Him thought at first encounter to have slaine.

But wise and wary was that noble Pere,

And lightly leaping from so monstrous maine,

Did faire avoide the violence him nere;

It booted nought to thinke such thunderbolts to beare.


Ne shame he thought to shunne so hideous might:

The idle stroke, enforcing furious way,

Missing the marke of his misaymed sight

Did fall to ground, and with his heavie sway

So deepely dinted in the driven clay,

That three yardes deepe a furrow up did throw:

The sad earth wounded with so sore assay,

Did grone full grievous underneath the blow,

And trembling with strange feare, did like an earthquake show.


As when almightie Jove, in wrathfull mood,

To wreake the guilt of mortall sins is bent,

Hurles forth his thundring dart with deadly food,

Enrold in flames, and smouldring dreriment,

Through riven cloudes and molten firmament;

The fierce threeforked engin making way

Both loftie towres and highest trees hath rent,

And all that might his angry passage stay,

And shooting in the earth, casts up a mount of clay.


His boystrous club, so buried in the ground,

He could not rearen up againe so light,

But that the knight him at avantage found,

And whiles he strove his combred clubbe to quight

Out of the earth, with blade all burning bright

He smote off his left arme, which like a blocke

Did fall to ground, depriv'd of native might;

Large streames of bloud out of the truncked stocke

Forth gushed, like fresh water streame from riven rocke.


Dismayed with so desperate deadly wound,

And eke impatient of unwonted paine,

He lowdly brayd with beastly yelling sound,

That all the fields rebellowed againe;

As great a noyse, as when in Cymbrian plaine

An heard of Bulles, whom kindly rage doth sting,

Do for the milkie mothers want complaine,

And fill the fields with troublous bellowing,

The neighbour woods around with hollow murmur ring.

Duessa, on her beast, attacks; Squire rebuffs her (12-14)

That when his deare Duessa heard, and saw

The evil stownd, that daungerd her estate,

Unto his aide she hastily did draw

Her dreadfull beast, who swolne with blood of late

Came ramping forth with proud presumpteous gate,

And threatned all his heads like flaming brands.

But him the Squire made quickly to retrate,

Encountring fierce with single sword in hand,

And twixt him and his Lord did like a bulwarke stand.


The proud Duessa, full of wrathfull spight,

And fierce disdaine, to be affronted so,

Enforst her purple beast with all her might

That stop out of the way to overthroe,

Scorning the let of so unequall foe:

But nathemore would that courageous swayne

To her yeeld passage, gainst his Lord to goe,

But with outrageous strokes did him restraine,

And with his bodie bard the way atwixt them twaine.


Then tooke the angrie witch her golden cup,

Which still she bore, replete with magick artes;

Death and despeyre did many thereof sup,

And secret poyson through their inner parts,

Th' eternall bale of heavie wounded harts;

Which after charmes and some enchauntments said

She lightly sprinkled on his weaker parts;

Therewith his sturdie courage soone was quayd,

And all his senses were with suddeine dread dismayd.

Arthur saves his Squire by fighting the beast (15-16)

So downe he fell before the cruell beast,

Who on his neck his bloody clawes did seize,

That life nigh crusht out of his panting brest:

No powre he had to stirre, nor will to rize.

That when the carefull knight gan well avise,

He lightly left the foe, with whom he fought,

And to the beast gan turne his enterprise;

For wondrous anguish in his hart it wrought,

To see his loved Squire into such thraldome brought.


And high advauncing his blood-thirstie blade,

Stroke one of those deformed heads so sore,

That of his puissance proud ensample made;

His monstrous scalpe downe to his teeth it tore,

And that misformed shape mis-shaped more:

A sea of blood gusht from the gaping wound,

That her gay garments staynd with filthy gore,

And overflowed all the field around;

That over shoes in bloud he waded on the ground.

Orgoglio returns to the fight (17-18)

Thereat he roared for exceeding paine,

That to have heard great horror would have bred,

And scourging th' emptie ayre with his long traine,

Through great impatience of his grieved hed

His gorgeous ryder from her loftie sted

Would have cast downe, and trod in durtie myre,

Had not the Gyant soone her succoured;

Who all enrag'd with smart and franticke yre,

Came hurtling in full fierce, and forst the knight retyre.


The force which wont in two to be disperst,

In one alone left hand he now unites,

Which is through rage more strong than both were erst;

With which his hideous club aloft he dites,

And at his foe with furious rigour smites,

That strongest Oake might seeme to overthrow:

The stroke upon his shield so heavie lites,

That to the ground it doubleth him full low:

What mortall wight could ever beare so monstrous blow?

Arthur's shield is revealed (19-21)

And in his fall his shield, that covered was,

Did loose his vele by chaunce, and open flew:

The light whereof, that heavens light did pas,

Such blazing brightnesse through the aier threw,

That eye mote not the same endure to vew.

Which when the Gyaunt spyde with staring eye,

He downe let fall his arme, and soft withdrew

His weapon huge, that heaved was on hye

For to have slaine the man, that on the ground did lye.


And eke the fruitfull-headed beast, amazd

At flashing beames of that sunshiny shield,

Became starke blind, and all his sences daz'd,

That downe he tumbled on the durtie field,

And seem'd himselfe as conquered to yield.

Whom when his maistresse proud perceiv'd to fall,

Whiles yet his feeble feet for faintnesse reeld,

Unto the Gyant loudly she gan call,

O helpe Orgoglio, helpe, or else we perish all.


At her so pitteous cry was much amoov'd

Her champion stout, and for to ayde his frend,

Againe his wonted angry weapon proov'd:

But all in vaine: for he has read his end

In that bright shield, and all their forces spend

Themselves in vaine: for since that glauncing sight,

He had no powre to hurt, nor to defend;

As where th' Almighties lightning brond does light,

It dimmes the dazed eyen, and daunts the senses quight.

Arthur slays Orgoglio (22-24)

Whom when the Prince, to battell new addrest,

And threatning high his dreadfull stroke did see,

His sparkling blade about his head he blest,

And smote off quite his right leg by the knee,

That downe he tombled; as an aged tree,

High growing on the top of rocky clift,

Whose hartstrings with keene steele nigh hewen be,

The mightie trunck halfe rent, with ragged rift

Doth roll adowne the rocks, and fall with fearefull drift.


Or as a Castle reared high and round,

By subtile engins and malitious slight

Is undermined from the lowest ground,

And her foundation forst, and feebled quight,

At last downe falles, and with her heaped hight

Her hastie ruine does more heavie make,

And yields it selfe unto the victours might;

Such was this Gyants fall, that seemd to shake

The stedfast globe of earth, as it for feare did quake.


The knight then lightly leaping to the pray,

With mortall steele him smot againe so sore,

That headlesse his unweldy bodie lay,

All wallowd in his owne fowle bloudy gore,

Which flowed from his wounds in wondrous store.

But soone as breath out of his breast did pas,

That huge great body, which the Gyaunt bore,

Was vanisht quite, and of that monstrous mas

Was nothing left, but like an emptie bladder was.

Duessa tries to flee, but the Squire stops her (25)

Whose grievous fall, when false Duessa spide,

Her golden cup she cast unto the ground,

And crowned mitre rudely threw aside;

Such percing griefe her stubborne hart did wound,

That she could not endure that dolefull stound,

But leaving all behind her, fled away;

The light-foot Squire her quickly turnd around,

And by hard meanes enforcing her to stay,

So brought unto his Lord, as his deserved pray.

Arthur retrieves RCK (26-45) +

Una still distressed because RCK is still missing (26-28)

The royall Virgin which beheld from farre,

In pensive plight, and sad perplexitie,

The whole atchievement of this doubtfull warre,

Came running fast to greet his victorie,

With sober gladnesse, and myld modestie,

And with sweet joyous cheare him thus bespake:

Faire braunch of noblesse, flowre of chevalrie,

That with your worth the world amazed make,

How shall I quite the paines ye suffer for my sake?


And you fresh budd of vertue springing fast,

Whom these sad eyes saw nigh unto deaths dore,

What hath poore Virgin for such perill past

Wherewith you to reward? Accept therefore

My simple selfe, and service evermore;

And he that high does sit, and all things see

With equall eyes, their merites to restore,

Behold what ye this day have done for mee,

And what I cannot quite, requite with usuree.


But sith the heavens, and your faire handeling

Have made you master of the field this day,

Your fortune maister eke with governing,

And well begun end all so well, I pray.

Ne let that wicked woman scape away;

For she it is, that did my Lord bethrall,

My dearest Lord, and deepe in dongeon lay,

Where he his better dayes hath wasted all.

O heare, how piteous he to you for ayd does call.

Arthur enters Orgoglio's castle (29)

Forthwith he gave in charge unto his Squire,

That scarlot whore to keepen carefully;

Whiles he himselfe with greedie great desire

Into the Castle entred forcibly,

Where living creature none he did espye;

Then gan he lowdly through the house to call:

But no man car'd to answere to his crye.

There raignd a solemne silence over all,

Nor voice was heard, nor wight was seene in bowre or hall.

Arthur tries to get help from Ignaro (30-34)

At last with creeping crooked pace forth came

An old old man, with beard as white as snow,

That on a staffe his feeble steps did frame,

And guide his wearie gate both to and fro:

For his eye sight him failed long ygo,

And on his arme a bounch of keyes he bore,

The which unused rust did overgrow:

Those were the keyes of every inner dore,

But he could not them use, but kept them still in store.


But very uncouth sight was to behold,

How he did fashion his untoward pace,

For as he forward moov'd his footing old,

So backward still was turnd his wrincled face,

Unlike to men, who ever as they trace,

Both feet and face one way are wont to lead.

This was the auncient keeper of that place,

And foster father of the Gyant dead;

His name Ignaro did his nature right aread.


His reverend haires and holy gravitie

The knight much honord, as beseemed well,

And gently askt, where all the people bee,

Which in that stately building wont to dwell.

Who answerd him full soft, he could not tell.

Again he askt, where that same knight was layd,

Whom great Orgoglio with his puissance fell

Had made his caytive thrall, againe he sayde,

He could not tell: ne ever other answere made.


Then asked he, which way he in might pas:

He could not tell, againe he answered.

Thereat the curteous knight displeased was,

And said, Old sire, it seemes thou hast not red

How ill it sits with that same silver hed,

In vaine to mocke, or mockt in vaine to bee:

But if thou be, as thou art pourtrahed

With natures pen, in ages grave degree,

Aread in graver wise, what I demaund of thee.


His answere likewise was, he could not tell.

Whose sencelesse speach, and doted ignorance

When as the noble Prince had marked well,

He ghest his nature by his countenance,

And calmd his wrath with goodly temperance.

Then to him stepping, from his arme did reach

Those keyes, and made himselfe free enterance.

Each dore he opened without any breach;

There was no barre to stop, nor foe him to empeach.

Description of the castle's interior (35-36)

There all within full rich arrayd he found,

With royall arras and resplendent gold.

And did with store of every thing abound,

That greatest Princes presence might behold.

But all the floore (too filthy to be told)

With bloud of guiltlesse babes, and innocents trew,

Which there were slaine, as sheepe out of the fold,

Defiled was, that dreadfull was to vew,

And sacred ashes over it was strowed new.


And there beside of marble stone was built

An Altare, carv'd with cunning ymagery,

On which true Christians bloud was often spilt,

And holy Martyrs often doen to dye,

With cruell malice and strong tyranny:

Whose blessed sprites from underneath the stone

To God for vengeance cryde continually,

And with great griefe were often heard to grone,

That hardest heart would bleede, to hear their piteous mone.

Arthur finds and rescues a nearly dead RCK (37-41)

Through every rowme he sought, and every bowr,

But no where could he find that woful thrall:

At last he came unto an yron doore,

That fast was lockt, but key found not at all

Emongst that bounch, to open it withall;

But in the same a little grate was pight,

Through which he sent his voyce, and lowd did call

With all his powre, to weet, if living wight

Were housed there within, whom he enlargen might.


Therewith an hollow, dreary, murmuring voyce

These pitteous plaints and dolours did resound;

O who is that, which brings me happy choyce

Of death, that here lye dying every stound,

Yet live perforce in balefull darkenesse bound?

For now three Moones have changed thrice their hew,

And have been thrice hid underneath the ground,

Since I the heavens chearfull face did vew,

O welcome thou, that doest of death bring tydings trew.


Which when that Champion heard, with percing point

Of pitty deare his hart was thrilled sore,

And trembling horrour ran through every joynt

For ruth of gentle knight so fowle forlore:

Which shaking off, he rent that yron dore,

With furious force, and indignation fell;

Where entred in, his foot could find no flore,

But all a deepe descent, as darke as hell,

That breathed ever forth a filthie banefull smell.


But neither darkenesse fowle, nor filthy bands,

Nor noyous smell his purpose could withhold,

(Entire affection hateth nicer hands)

But that with constant zeale, and courage bold,

After long paines and labours manifold,

He found the meanes that Prisoner up to reare;

Whose feeble thighes, unhable to uphold

His pined corse, him scarse to light could beare.

A ruefull spectacle of death and ghastly drere.


His sad dull eyes deepe sunck in hollow pits,

Could not endure th' unwonted sunne to view;

His bare thin cheekes for want of better bits,

And empty sides deceived of their dew,

Could make a stony hart his hap to rew;

His rawbone armes, whose mighty brawned bowrs

Were wont to rive steele plates, and helmets hew,

Were cleane consum'd, and all his vitall powres

Decayd, and all his flesh shronk up like withered flowres.

Una is reunited with RCK (42-43)

Whom when his Lady saw, to him she ran

With hasty joy: to see him made her glad,

And sad to view his visage pale and wan,

Who earst in flowres of freshest youth was clad.

Tho when her well of teares she wasted had,

She said, Ah dearest Lord, what evill starre

On you hath fround, and pourd his influence bad,

That of your selfe ye thus berobbed arre,

And this misseeming hew your manly looks doth marre?


But welcome now my Lord, in wele or woe,

Whose presence I have lackt too long a day;

And fie on Fortune mine avowed foe,

Whose wrathful wreakes them selves doe now alay.

And for these wrongs shall treble penaunce pay

Of treble good: good growes of evils priefe.

The chearelesse man, whom sorrow did dismay,

Had no delight to treaten of his griefe;

His long endured famine needed more reliefe.

Arthur advises Una and RCK (44-45)

Faire Lady, then said that victorious knight,

The things, that grievous were to do, or beare,

Them to renew, I wote, breeds no delight;

Best musicke breeds delight in loathing eare:

But th' onely good, that growes of passed feare,

Is to be wise, and ware of like agein.

This dayes ensample hath this lesson deare

Deepe written in my heart with yron pen,

That blisse may not abide in state of mortall men.


Henceforth sir knight, take to you wonted strength,

And maister these mishaps with patient might;

Loe where your foe lyes stretcht in monstrous length,

And loe that wicked woman in your sight,

The roote of all your care, and wretched plight,

Now in your powre, to let her live, or dye.

To do her dye (quoth Una) were despight,

And shame t'avenge so weake an enimy;

But spoile her of her scarlot robe, and let her fly.

Duessa stripped and released (46-50)


So as she bad, that witch they disaraid,

And robd of royall robes, and purple pall,

And ornaments that richly were displaid;

Ne spared they to strip her naked all.

Then when they had despoiled her tire and call,

Such as she was, their eyes might her behold,

That her misshaped parts did them appall,

A loathly, wrinckled hag, ill favoured, old,

Whose secret filth good manners biddeth not be told.


Her craftie head was altogether bald,

And as in hate of honorable eld,

Was ouergrowne with scurfe and filthy scald;

Her teeth out of her rotten gummes were feld,

And her sowre breath abhominably smeld;

Her dried dugs, like bladders lacking wind,

Hong downe, and filthy matter from them weld;

Her wrizled skin as rough, as maple rind,

So scabby was, that would haue loathd all womankind.


Her neather parts, the shame of all her kind,

My chaster Muse for shame doth blush to write

But at her rompe she growing had behind

A foxes taile, with dong all fowly dight;

And eke her feete most monstrous were in sight;

For one of them was like an Eagles claw,

With griping talaunts armd to greedy fight,

The other like a Beares vneuen paw:

More vgly shape yet neuer liuing creature saw.


Which when the knights beheld, amazd they were,

And wondred at so fowle deformed wight.

Such then (said Una) as she seemeth here,

Such is the face of falshood, such the sight

Of fowle Duessa, when her borrowed light

Is laid away, and counterfesaunce knowne.

Thus when they had the witch disrobed quight,

And all her filthy feature open showne,

They let her goe at will, and wander wayes unknowne.


She flying fast from heavens hated face,

And from the world that her discovered wide,

Fled to the wastfull wildernesse apace,

From living eyes her open shame to hide,

And lurkt in rocks and caves long unespide.

But that faire crew of knights, and Una faire

Did in that castle afterwards abide,

To rest them selves, and weary powres repaire,

Where store they found of all that dainty was and rare.