The beginning of Book One of The Faerie Queene


A gentle Knight was picking on the plaine,
     Y clad in mightie armes and siluer shielde,
     Wherein old dints of deepe wounds did remaine,
     The cruell markes of many a bloudy fielde;
     Yet armes till that time did he neuer wield:
     His angry steede did chide his foming bitt,
     As much disdayning to the curbe to yield:
     Full iolly knight he seemed, and faire did sitt,
As one for knightly giusts and fierce encounters fitt.

But on his brest a bloudie Crosse he bore,
     The deare remembrance of his dying Lord,
     For whose sweete sake that glorious badge he wore,
     And dead as liuing euer him ador’d:
     Vpon his shield the like was also scor’d,
     For soueraine hope, which in his helpe he had:
     Right faithfull true he was in deede and word,
     But of his cheere he did seeme too solemne sad,
Yet nothing did he dread, but euer was ydrade.

Vpon a great aduenture he was bond,
     That greatest Gloriana to him gaue,
     That greatest Glorious Queene of Faerie lond,
     To winne him worship, and her grace to haue,
     Which of all earthly things he most did craue
     And euer as he rode, his heart did earne
     To proue his puissance in battell braue
     Vpon his foe, and his new force to learne
Vpon his foe, a Dragon horrible and stearne.

A louely Ladie rode him faire beside,
     Vpon a lowly Asse more white than snow,
     Yet she much whiter, but the same did hide
     Vnder a vele, that wimpled was full low,
     And ouer all a black stole she did throw,
     As one that inly mourned: so was she sad,
     And heauie sat vpon her palfrey slow;
     Seemed in heart some hidden care she had,
And by her in a line a milke white lambe she lad.

So pure an innocent, as that same lambe,
     She was in life and euery virtuous lore,
     And by descent from Royall lynage came
     Of ancient Kings and Queenes, that had of yore
     Their spectres stretcht from East to Westerne shore,
     And all the world in their subiection held;
     Till that infernall feend with foule vprore
     Forwasted all their land, and them expeld:
Whom to auenge, she had this Knight from far compeld.

Behind her farre away a Dwarfe did lag,
     That lasie seemd in being euer last,
     Or wearied with bearing of her bag
     Or needments at his backe. Thus as they past
     The day with cloudes was suddeine ouercast,
     And angry Ioue an hideous storme of raine
     Did poure into his Lemans lap so fast,
     That euery wight to shrowd it did constrain,
And this fair couple eke to shroud themselves were fain.

(Canto 1, 1-6)