Cymochles is looking for Guyon to take revenge for the presumed death of his brother. He and Atin come upon a wide river, and see;
"A litle Gondelay, bedecked trim
With boughs and arbours woven cunningly,
That like a little forest seemed outwardly.
And therein sat a Ladie fresh and fair,
Making sweet solace to her self alone;
Sometimes she sung, as loud a lark in air,
Sometimes she laughed, that nigh her breath was gone,
Yet was there not with her else any one,
That might to her move cause of merriment:
Matter of mirth enough, though there were none
She could devise, and thousand ways invent,
To feed her foolish humour, and vain jolliment."
Another beautifully-drawn, and very strange Spencerian character. This jolly Uber driver rides around in a magic boat;
"More swift, then swallow shears the liquid sky,"
which is a fucking great line. The boat steers itself and the Lady will take only knights, one at a time, and no-one else. Cymochles gets in (she won't let Atin get on) and she rambles to him;
"Her light behaviour, and loose dalliance,
Gave wonderous great contentment to the knight,
That of his way, he had no souvenaunce,
But to weak wench did yield his martial might.
So easy was to quench his flamed mind
With one sweet drop of sensual delight,
So easy is,t'appease the story wind
Of malice in the calm of pleasant womankind."
This is Phoedra, a servant of Acrasia and she leads Cymochles across this inland sea called the Idle Lake to an island, where there is a bower, with all the birds and streams and whatever, but no Damizels this time, and there she lulls him to sleep.
Ok at this stage I have no idea if this is good or bad, lesson or farce.
Then Phoedra gets back in her boat, which takes her to Guyon, who is also trying to cross the same river/lake, from the other side.
Guyon is a bit more "wise and wary of her will", and does not get sung to sleep.
At the same time Cymochles wakes up in shock and shame for forgetting about his (presumed dead) brother, storms off and runs right into Guyon and Phoedra;
"And therewithall he fiercely at him flew,
And with importune outrage him assailed;
Who soon prepared to field, his sword forth drew,
And him with equal alue countervailed:
Their mighty strokes their haberieons dismaiyled,
And naked made each others manly spalles;
The mortal steel despiteously entailed
Deep in their flesh, quite through the yron walls,
That a large purple stream adown their garments falles."
Not only that but Cymochles takes another chunk out of Guyons shield;
"..thereof nigh one quater sheared away;"
Ok, a quarter of whatever it originally was before Pyrochles took his chunk out of it, or a quarter of what was left? How much shield does this guy even have? How is he surviving the massive blood loss? Who's repairing his armour and mail because fuck all of that should be left? Is the Palmer also a blacksmith? Is that where he got the 'yron chains' to bind Furor? What time is it? What the fuck is going on?
Phoedra pulls a classic 'throwing herself between two knights move and appeals for them to do battle in a more sexy way? I mean;
"Such cruell game my scarmoges disarmes:
Another warre, and other weapons I
Doe love, where love does give his sweet alarmes,
Without bloudshed, and where the enemy
Does yeild unto his foe a pleasant victory."
Ok is this an invitation to a threesome or am I having a breakdown?
Phoedra calms down Cymochles and decides to get rid of Guyon as he is;
"A foe of folly and immodest toy,"
So takes him to the opposite bank, where he finds Atin still waiting for his knight. Who went to kill Guyon.
He rails at Guyon for a bit, but Guyon being Guyon, he just leaves, and that's the last we see of him this Canto.
This is a three-act Canto though, and more crazy shit is to come. Atin sees;
"An armed knight, that towards him fast ran,
He ran on foot, as if in lucklesse warre
His forlorne steed from him the victour wan;
He seemed breathlesse, hartlesse, faint and wan,"
This guy leaps right in the river, and then;
"The waves about, and all his armour swept,
That all the bloud and filth away was washt,
Yet still he bet the water, and the billowes dasht."
Looking closer, Atin finds his thought-dead master Pyrochles. Pyrochles is burning up inside;
"I burne, I burne, I burne, then loud he cryde,
O how I burne with implacable fire,
Yet nought can quench mine inly flaming syde,
Nor sea of loquor cold, nor lake of mire,
Nothing but death can do me to respire."
Pryrocles has been wounded with the fire given to Furor in the last Canto, fire from the rivers of hell that is now consuming him inwardly and which nothing can prevent.
Atin dives into the river to save him but;
"The waves thereof so slow and sluggish were,
Engrost with mud, which did them foul agrise,
That ever weightie thing they did upbear,
Ne ought mote ever inke down to the bottom there."
So now they are sinking and drowning and burning in a big goddamn pile, when who should happen by?
"Lo, to that shore one in an auncient gowne,
Whose hoarie locks great garvity did crown,
Holding in hand a goodly sword,
By fortune came, led with a troublous sowne:
Him Atin spying, knew right well of yore,
And loudly cald, Helpe helpe, o Archimage:"
HE'S BACK PEOPLE. DARK DEEDS DONE RIGHT.
Archimago searches the wounds and uses balms, herbs and 'mighty spels' and heals Pyrocles.
Another 'bad guy episode' where none of the main heroic characters are around but we see that all of these 'baddies' from different 'episodes' all have interrelationships with each other, even when the heroes aren't around, and will help each other sometimes, even when it has nothing to do with dicking a hero about.
I really like these but as we go on I continually find them fucking bizzare becasue EVERY character is a literalised metaphor/allegory whatever for a very particular value, sin, quality, emotion or way of being.
With the legendary entities, where Spenser can say, 'oh, they are the grandsons of Night' or whatever, it almost makes sense. But with the non-legenarady ones which he not only did not not adapt but clearly made up, why do they have this bad-guy ecology behind the scenes?
Is it some even-more-elaborate allegory that Renaissance courtiers would get and be like 'Ah yes, of course Archimago will assist Pyrochles with Furor, that makes perfect sense."
Or is it Spenser being, essentially a nerd, and getting carried away with either his poetry or his world-building or both?
Or is it something else?