An interactive outline of Book 1 of The Faerie Queene

Canto XI

The knight with that old Dragon fights

two dayes incessantly;

The third him overthrowes, and gayns

most glorious victory.

Day 1 (1-32) +

Heading toward Dragon (1-4)

HIGH time now gan it wex for Una faire

To thinke of those her captive Parents deare,

And their forwasted kingdome to repaire:

Whereto whenas they now approched neare,

With hartie wordes her knight she gan to cheare,

And in her modest manner thus bespake;

Deare knight, as deare as ever knight was deare,

That all these sorrowes suffer for my sake,

High heaven behold the tedious toyle ye for me take.


Now are we come unto my native soyle,

And to the place where all our perils dwell;

Here haunts that feend, and does his dayly spoyle;

Therefore henceforth be at your keeping well,

And ever ready for your foeman fell.

The sparke of noble courage now awake,

And strive your excellent selfe to excell:

That shall ye evermore renowmed make,

Above all knights on earth that batteill undertake.


And pointing forth, Lo yonder is (said she)

The brasen towre in which my parents deare

For dread of that huge feend emprisond be,

Whom I from far, see on the walles appeare,

Whose sight my feeble soule doth greatly cheare:

And on the top of all I do espye

The watchman wayting tydings glad to heare,

That O my parents might I happily

Unto you bring, to ease you of your misery.


With that they heard a roaring hideous sound,

That all the ayre with terrour filled wide,

And seemd uneath to shake the stedfast ground.

Eftsoones that dreadful Dragon they espide,

Where stretcht he lay upon the sunny side,

Of a great hill, himselfe like a great hill.

But all so soone as he from far descride

Those glistring armes, that heaven with light did fill,

He rousd himselfe full blith, and hastned them untill.

Spenser invoking muse (5-7)

Then bad the knight his Lady yede aloofe,

And to an hill her selfe withdraw aside:

From whence she might behold that battailles proof,

And eke be safe from daunger far descryde:

She him obayd, and turnd a little wyde.

Now O thou sacred muse, most learned Dame,

Faire ympe of Phoebus and his aged bride,

The Nourse of time and everlasting fame,

That warlike hands ennoblest with immortall name;


O gently come into my feeble brest

Come gently, but not with that mighty rage,

Wherewith the martiall troupes thou doest infest,

And harts of great Heroes doest enrage,

That nought their kindled courage may aswage,

Soone as thy dreadfull trompe begins to sownd,

The God of warre with his fiers equipage

Thou doest awake, sleepe never he so sownd,

All scared nations doest with horrour sterne astownd.


Faire Goddesse, lay that furious fit aside,

Till I of warres and bloody Mars do sing,

And Briton fields with Sarazin bloud bedyde,

Twixt that great Faery Queene, and Paynim king,

That with their horrour heaven and earth did ring;

A worke of labour long and endlesse prayse:

But now a while let downe that haughtie string

And to my tunes thy second tenor rayse,

That I this man of God his godly armes may blaze.

Description of Dragon (8-14)

By this the dreadfull Beast drew nigh to hand,

Halfe flying, and halfe footing in his haste,

That with his largenesse measured much land,

And made wide shadow under his huge wast,

As mountaine doth the valley overcast.

Approching nigh, he reared high afore

His body monstrous, horrible, and vaste,

Which to increase his wondrous greatnesse more,

Was swoln with wrath, and poyson, and with bloudy gore.


And over, all with brasen scales was armd,

Like plated coate of steele, so couched neare,

That nought mote perce, ne might his corse be harmd

With dint of sword, nor push of pointed speare;

Which, as an Eagle, seeing pray appeare,

His aery plumes doth rouze, full rudely dight;

So shaked he, that horrour was to heare,

For as the clashing of an Armour bright,

Such noyse his rouzed scales did send unto the knight.


His flaggy wings when forth he did display,

Were like two sayles, in which the hollow wynd

Is gathered full, and worketh speedy way:

And eke the pennes, that did his pineons bynd,

Were like mayne-yards, with flying canvas lynd;

With which whenas him list the ayre to beat,

And there by force unwonted passage find,

The cloudes before him fled for terrour great,

And all the heavens stood still amazed with his threat.


His huge long tayle wound up in hundred foldes,

Does overspred his long bras-scaly backe,

Whose wreathed boughts when ever he unfoldes,

And thicke entangled knots adown does slacke,

Bespotted as with shields of red and blacke,

It sweepeth all the land behind him farre,

And of three furlongs does but litle lacke;

And at the point two stings in-fixed arre,

Both deadly sharpe, that sharpest steele exceeden farre.


But stings and sharpest steele did far exceed

The sharpnesse of his cruell rending clawes;

Dead was it sure, as sure as death in deed,

What ever thing does touch his ravenous pawes,

Or what within his reach he ever drawes.

But his most hideous head my toung to tell

Does tremble: for his deepe devouring jawes

Wide gaped, like the griesly mouth of hell,

Through which into his darke abisse all ravin fell.


And that more wondrous was, in either jaw

Three ranckes of yron teeth enraunged were,

In which yet trickling blood, and gobbets raw

Of late devoured bodies did appeare,

That sight thereof bred cold congealed feare:

Which to increase, and as atonce to kill,

A cloud of smoothering smoke and sulphure seare,

Out of his stinking gorge forth steemed still,

That all the ayre about with smoke and stench did fill.


His blazing eyes, like two bright shining shields,

Did burne with wrath, and sparkled living fyre:

As two broad Beacons, set in open fields,

Send forth their flames far off to every shyre,

And warning give, that enemies conspyre

With fire and sword the region to invade;

So flam'd his eyne with rage and rancorous yre:

But farre within, as in a hollow glade,

Those glaring lampes were set, that made a dreadfull shade.

First battle (15-32)

So dreadfully he towards him did pas,

Forelifting up aloft his speckled brest,

And often bounding on the brused gras,

As for great joyance of his newcome guest.

Eftsoones he gan advance his haughtie crest,

As chauffed Bore his bristles doth upreare,

And shoke his scales to battell ready drest;

That made the Redcrosse knight nigh quake for feare,

As bidding bold defiance to his foeman neare.


The knight gan fairely couch his steadie speare,

And fiercely ran at him with rigorous might:

The pointed steele arriving rudely theare,

His harder hide would neither perce, nor bight,

But glauncing by forth passed forward right;

Yet sore amoved with so puissaunt push,

The wrathfull beast about him turned light,

And him so rudely passing by, did brush

With his long tayle, that horse and man to ground did rush.


Both horse and man up lightly rose againe,

And fresh encounter towards him addrest:

But th'idle stroke yet backe recoyld in vaine,

And found no place his deadly point to rest.

Exceeding rage enflam'd the furious beast,

To be avenged of so great despight;

For never felt his imperceable brest

So wondrous force, from hand of living wight;

Yet had he prov'd the powre of many a puissant knight.


Then with his waving wings displayed wyde,

Himselfe up high he lifted from the ground,

And with strong flight did forcibly divide

The yielding aire, which nigh too feeble found

Her flitting parts, and element unsound,

To beare so great a weight: he cutting way

With his broad sayles, about him soared round:

At last low stouping with unweldie sway,

Snatcht up both horse and man, to beare them quite away.


Long he them bore above the subject plaine,

So far as Ewghen bow a shaft may send,

Till struggling strong did him at last constraine

To let them downe before his flightes end:

As hagard hauke, presuming to contend

With hardie fowle, above his hable might,

His wearie pounces all in vaine doth spend

To trusse the pray too heavy for his flight;

Which comming downe to ground, does free it selfe by fight.


He so disseized of his gryping grosse,

The knight his thrillant speare again assayd

In his bras-plated body to embosse,

And three mens strength unto the stroke he layd;

Wherewith the stiffe beame quaked, as affrayd,

And glauncing from his scaly necke, did glyde

Close under his left wing, then broad displayd:

The percing steele there wrought a wound full wyde,

That with the uncouth smart the Monster lowdly cryde.


He cryde, as raging seas are wont to rore,

When wintry storme his wrathfull wreck does threat

The roaring billowes beat the ragged shore,

As they the earth would shoulder from her seat,

And greedy gulfe does gape, as he would eat

His neighbour element in his revenge:

Then gin the blustring brethren boldly threat

To move the world from off his steadfast henge,

And boystrous battell make, each other to avenge.


The steely head stucke fast still in his flesh,

Till with his cruell clawes he snatcht the wood,

And quite a sunder broke. Forth flowed fresh

A gushing river of blacke goarie blood,

That drowned all the land, whereon he stood;

The streame thereof would drive a water-mill:

Trebly augmented was his furious mood

With bitter sence of his deepe rooted ill,

That flames of fire he threw forth from his large nosethrill.


His hideous tayle then hurled he about,

And therewith all enwrapt the nimble thyes

Of his froth-fomy steed, whose courage stout

Striving to loose the knot that fast him tyes,

Himselfe in streighter bandes too rash implyes,

That to the ground he is perforce constraynd

To throw his rider: who can quickly ryse

From off the earth, with durty blood distaynd,

For that reprochfull fall right fowly he disdaynd.


And fiercely tooke his trenchand blade in hand,

With which he stroke so furious and so fell,

That nothing seemd the puissaunce could withstand:

Upon his crest the hardned yron fell,

But his more hardned crest was armd so well,

That deeper dint therein it would not make;

Yet so extremely did the buffe him quell,

That from thenceforth he shund the like to take,

But when he saw them come, he did them still forsake.


The knight was wroth to see his stroke beguyld,

And smote againe with more outrageous might;

But backe againe the sparckling steele recoyld,

And left not any marke, where it did light,

As if in Adamant rocke it had bene pight.

The beast impatient of his smarting wound,

And of so fierce and forcible despight,

Thought with his wings to stye above the ground;

But his late wounded wing unserviceable found.


Then full of griefe and anguish vehement,

He lowdly brayd, that like was never heard,

And from his wide devouring oven sent

A flake of fire, that, flashing in his beard,

Him all amazd, and almost made affeard:

The scorching flame sore swinged all his face,

And through his armour all his body seard,

That he could not endure so cruell cace,

But thought his armes to leave, and helmet to unlace.


Not that great Champion of the antique world,

Whom famous Poetes verse so much doth vaunt,

And hath for twelve huge labours high extold,

So many furies and sharpe fits did haunt,

When him the poysond garment did enchaunt,

With Centaures bloud and bloudie verses charm'd;

As did this knight twelve thousand dolours daunt,

Whom fyrie steele now burnt, that earst him arm'd,

That erst him goodly arm'd, now most of all him harm'd.


Faint, wearie, sore, emboyled, grieved, brent

With heat, toyle, wounds, armes, smart, and inward fire,

That never man such mischiefes did torment;

Death better were, death did he oft desire,

But death will never come, when needes require.

Whom so dismayd when that his foe beheld,

He cast to suffer him no more respire,

But gan his sturdy sterne about to weld,

And him so strongly stroke, that to the ground him feld.


It fortuned, (as faire it then befell,)

Behind his backe unweeting, where he stood,

Of auncient time there was a springing well,

From which fast trickled forth a silver flood,

Full of great vertues, and for med'cine good.

Whylome, before that cursed Dragon got

That happy land, and all with innocent blood

Defyld those sacred waves, it rightly hot

The well of life, ne yet his vertues had forgot.


For unto life the dead it could restore,

And guilt of sinfull crimes cleane wash away,

Those that with sicknesse were infected sore

It could recure, and aged long decay

Renew, as one were borne that very day.

Both Silo this, and Jordan did excell,

And th' English Bath, and eke the German Spau;

Ne can Cephise, nor Hebrus match this well:

Into the same the knight back overthrowen, fell.


Now gan the golden Phœbus for to steepe

His fierie face in billowes of the west,

And his faint steedes watred in Ocean deepe,

Whiles from their journall labours they did rest,

When that infernall Monster, having kest

His wearie foe into that living well,

Can high advance his broad discoloured brest

Above his wonted pitch, with countenance fell,

And clapt his yron wings, as victor he did dwell.


Which when his pensive Ladie saw from farre,

Great woe and sorrow did her soule assay,

As weening that the sad end of the warre,

And gan to highest God entirely pray,

That feared chance from her to turne away;

With folded hands and knees full lowly bent,

All night she watcht, ne once adowne would lay

Her daintie limbs in her sad dreriment,

But praying still did wake, and waking did lament.

Day 2 (33-50)


The morrow next gan early to appeare,

That Titan rose to runne his daily race;

But early ere the morrow next gan reare

Out of the sea faire Titans deawy face,

Up rose the gentle virgin from her place,

And looked all about, if she might spy

Her loved knight to move his manly pace:

For she had great doubt of his safety,

Since late she saw him fall before his enemy.


At last she saw, where he upstarted brave

Out of the well, wherein he drenched lay:

As Eagle fresh out of the Ocean wave,

Where he hath left his plumes all hoary gray,

And deckt himselfe with feathers youthly gay,

Like Eyas hauke up mounts unto the skies,

His newly budded pineons to assay,

And marveiles at himselfe, still as he flies:

So new this new-borne knight to battell new did rise.


Whom when the damned feend so fresh did spy,

No wonder if he wondred at the sight,

And doubted, whether his late enemy

It were, or other new supplied knight.

He, now to prove his late renewed might,

High brandishing his bright deaw-burning blade,

Upon his crested scalpe so sore did smite,

That to the scull a yawning wound it made;

The deadly dint his dulled senses all dismaid.


I wote not, whether the revenging steele

Were hardned with that holy water dew,

Wherein he fell, or sharper edge did feele,

Or his baptized hands now greater grew;

Or other secret vertue did ensew;

Else never could the force of fleshly arme,

Ne molten mettall in his blood embrew;

For till that stownd could never wight him harme,

By subtilty, nor slight, nor might, nor mighty charme.


The cruell wound enraged him so sore,

That loud he yelded for exceeding paine;

As hundred ramping Lyons seem'd to rore,

Whom ravenous hunger did thereto constraine:

Then gan he tosse aloft his stretched traine,

And therewith scourge the buxome aire so sore,

That to his force to yeelden it was faine;

Ne ought his sturdy strokes might stand afore,

That high trees overthrew, and rocks in peeces tore.


The same advauncing high above his head,

With sharpe intended sting so rude him smot,

That to the earth him drove, as stricken dead,

Ne living wight would have him life behot:

The mortall sting his angry needle shot

Quite through his shield, and in his shoulder seasd,

Where fast it stucke, ne would there out be got:

The griefe thereof him wondrous sore diseasd,

Ne might his ranckling paine with patience be appeasd.


But yet more mindfull of his honour deare,

Then of the grievous smart, which him did wring,

From loathed soile he can him lightly reare,

And strove to loose the far infixed sting:

Which when in vaine he tryde with struggeling,

Inflam'd with wrath, his raging blade he heft,

And strooke so strongly, that the knotty string

Of his huge taile he quite a sunder cleft,

Five joints thereof he hewd, and but the stump him left.


Hart cannot thinke, what outrage, and what cryes,

With foule enfouldred smoake and flashing fire,

The hell-bred beast threw forth unto the skyes,

That all was covered with darkenesse dire:

Then fraught with rancour, and engorged ire,

He cast at once him to avenge for all,

And gathering up himselfe out of the mire,

With his uneven wings did fiercely fall,

Upon his sunne-bright shield, and gript it fast withall.


Much was the man encombred with his hold,

In feare to lose his weapon in his paw,

Ne wist yet, how his talaunts to unfold;

For harder was from Cerberus greedy jaw

To plucke a bone, then from his cruell claw

To reave by strength the griped gage away:

Thrise he assayd it from his foot to draw,

And thrise in vaine to draw it did assay,

It booted nought to thinke to robbe him of his pray.


Tho when he saw no power might prevaile,

His trustie sword he cald to his last aid,

Wherewith he fiercely did his foe assaile,

And double blowes about him stoutly laid,

That glauncing fire out of the yron plaid;

As sparckles from the Andvile use to fly,

When heavy hammers on the wedge are swaid;

Therewith at last he forst him to unty

One of his grasping feete, him to defend thereby.


The other foot, fast fixed on his shield,

Whenas no strength, nor stroks mote him constraine

To loose, ne yet the warlike pledge to yield,

He smot thereat with all his might and maine,

That nought so wondrous puissaunce might sustaine;

Upon the joint the lucky steele did light,

And made such way, that hewd it quite in twaine;

The paw yett missed not his minisht might,

But hong still on the shield, as it at first was pight.


For griefe thereof and divelish despight,

From his infernall fournace forth he threw

Huge flames, that dimmed all the heavens light,

Enrold in duskish smoke and brimstone blew:

As burning Aetna from his boyling stew

Doth belch out flames, and rockes in peeces broke,

And ragged ribs of mountains molten new,

Enwrapt in coleblacke clouds and filthy smoke,

That all the land with stench, and heaven with horror choke.


The heate whereof, and harmefull pestilence

So sore him noyd, that forst him to retire

A little backward for his best defence,

To save his body from the scorching fire,

Which he from hellish entrailes did expire.

It chaunst (eternall God that chaunce did guide,)

As he recoiled backward, in the mire

His nigh forwearied feeble feet did slide,

And downe he fell, with dread of shame sore terrifide.


There grew a goodly tree him faire beside,

Loaden with fruit and apples rosie red,

As they in pure vermilion had beene dide,

Whereof great vertues over all were red:

For happy life to all which thereon fed,

And life eke everlasting did befall:

Great God it planted in that blessed sted

With his Almighty hand, and did it call

The tree of life, the crime of our first fathers fall.


In all the world like was not to be found,

Save in that soile, where all good things did grow,

And freely sprong out of the fruitfull ground,

As incorrupted Nature did them sow,

Till that dread Dragon all did overthrow.

Another like faire tree eke grew thereby,

Whereof whoso did eat, eftsoones did know

Both good and ill: O mornefull memory:

That tree through one mans fault hath doen us all to dy.


From that first tree forth flowd, as from a well,

A trickling streame of Balme, most soveraine

And dainty deare, which on the ground, still fell,

And overflowed all the fertile plaine,

As it had deawed bene with timely raine:

Life and long health that gratious ointment gave,

And deadly wounds could heale and reare againe

The senselesse corse appointed for the grave.

Into that same he fell: which did from death him save.


For nigh thereto the ever damned beast

Durst not approch, for he was deadly made,

And all that life preserved did detest:

Yet he is oft adventur'd to invade.

By this the drouping day-light gan to fade,

And yield his roome to sad succeeding night,

Who with her sable mantle gan to shade

The face of earth, and wayes of living wight,

And high her burning torch set up in heaven bright.


When gentle Una saw the second fall

Of her deare knight, who wearie of long fight,

And faint through losse of blood, mov'd not at all,

But lay, as in a dreame of deepe delight,

Besmeard with pretious Balme, whose vertuous might

Did heale his wounds, and scorching heat alay,

Againe she stricken was with sore affright,

And for his safetie gan devoutly pray,

And watch the noyous night, and wait for joyous day.

Day 3 (51-55)


The joyous day gan early to appeare,

And faire Aurora from the deawy bed

Of aged Tithone gan herselfe to reare

With rosy cheekes, for shame as blushing red;

Her golden locks for haste were loosely shed

About her eares, when Una her did marke

Clymbe to her charet, all with flowers spred;

From heaven high to chase the chearelesse darke,

With merry note her loud salutes the mounting larke.


Then freshly up arose the doughtie knight,

All healed of his hurts and woundes wide,

And did himselfe to battell ready dight;

Whose early foe awaiting him beside

To have devourd, so soone as day he spyde,

When now he saw himselfe so freshly reare,

As if late fight had nought him damnifyde,

He woxe dismayd, and gan his fate to feare;

Nathlesse with wonted rage he him advaunced neare.


And in his first encounter, gaping wide,

He thought attonce him to have swallowd quight,

And rusht upon him with outragious pride;

Who him r'encountring fierce, as hauke in flight

Perforce rebutted backe. The weapon bright

Taking advantage of his open jaw,

Ran through his mouth with so importune might,

That deepe emperst his darksome hollow maw,

And back retyrd, his life blood forth with all did draw.


So downe he fell, and forth his life did breath,

That vanisht into smoke and cloudes swift;

So downe he fell, that th' earth him underneath

Did grone, as feeble so great load to lift;

So downe he fell, as an huge rockie clift,

Whose false foundation waves have washt away,

With dreadfull poyse is from the mayneland rift,

And rolling downe, great Neptune doth dismay;

So downe he fell, and like an heaped mountaine lay.


The knight himselfe even trembled at his fall,

So huge and horrible a masse it seem'd,

And his deare Ladie, that beheld it all,

Durst not approch for dread, which she misdeem'd;

But yet at last, whenas the direfull feend

She saw not stirre, off-shaking vaine affright,

She nigher drew, and saw that joyous end:

Then God she praysd, and thankt her faithfull knight,

That had atchieved so great a conquest by his might.