To draw their dayes unto the utmost date,
And doe not rather with them soone expire,
Knowing the miserie of their estate,"
Good opener Edmund, and I have asked the same question myself. Often.
"Therefore this Fay I hold but fond and vaine,
The which in seeking for her children three
Long life, thereby did more prolong their paine."
If this is depressing you, reader, don't worry, this Canto is another massive blow-by-blow Spencerian action scene with magic and (arguably) Zombies. Well, one Zombie.
The three triplets all want to get with Canacee, Cambels sister, so they decide to fight in his tournament. We get a few verses of setups, but not much. Priamond enters first and the fight begins;
"Full many mightie strokes on either side
Were sent, that seemed death in them to beare,
But they were both so watchful and well eyde,
That they avoyded were, and vainely by did slyde."
This can't last for long and a strike by Priamond takes Cambell in the shoulder;
"That forced him his shield to disadvaunce,"
Much was he grieved with that graceless chaunce,
Yet from the wound no drop of bloud there fell,"
But wondrous paine, that did the more enhaunce
His haughtie courage to advengement fell:
Smart darts not mighty harts, but makes them more to swell."
So Cambell still has his magic ring, but he can feel pain. Being super-knightly this just makes him tougher.
Cambell strikes back;
"With that his poynant speare he fierce aventred,
With doubled force close underneath his shield,
That through the mayles into his thigh it entred,"
"Like an old Oke whose pith sap is seare,
At puffe of every storme doth stagger here and theare."
I'm a bit confused as to exactly what happens at this point but I think Priamond strikes back, driving his spear into Cambells side so deeply that, pulling it 'forth to wrest, the staff a sunder brake,'. Priamond comes at Cambell with only the 'shivering speare' and curses him.
"The wicked weapon heard his wrathful vow" and pierces through his helmet 'quite into his brow', forcing him to bow and yes Spencer does rhyme these lines. Then the spear breaks, leaving 'in his hand nought but the troncheon left'.
Then Cambell pulls the spear out of his own helmet and either throws or just strikes with it so fiercely that it penetrates 'His weasand pipe it through and his gorget cleft'.
You need your weasand pipe of course and amongst 'stremes of purple bloud' Priamond goes down.
BUT, of course his mother is a Neil Gaiman fan and has dicked about with his life-line;
"His weare ghost assoyld from fleshy band,
Did not as others wont, directly fly
Unto her rest in Plutoes griesly land,
Ne into ayre did vanish presently,
Ne chaunged was into a starre in sky:
But through traduction was eftsoones derived,
Like as his mother prayd the Destinie,
Into his other brethren, that survived,
In whom he liv'd a new, of former life deprived."
So now the second (possibly soul-supercharged?) brother comes in to fight and the situation gets extremely metal;
"With that they both together fiercely met,
As if that each ment other to devoure;
And with their axes both so sorely bet,
That neither plate or mayle, whereas their powre
They felt, could once sustaine that hideous stowre,
But rived were like rotten wood a sunder,
Whilest through their rifts the ruddie bloud did showre
And fire did flash, like lightning after thunder,
That fild the lookers on attonce with ruth and wonder."
So metal that it leads to a Tiger-metaphor verse which I will leave to the text or the recording.
After 'full many strokes', Diamond 'disdeigning long delay', resolves to end it 'one or other way' and commits to a killer blow.
Which doesn't connect, and causes Diaomond to be 'nigh feld' with his own momentum and his right foot to slip.
We know whats about to happen but Spenser preps us with another animal verse, this one about a Vulture and a Heron. Then Cambell;
".. let drive at him with all his power,
And with his axe him smote in evill hower,
That from his shoulders quite his head he reft:"
The head falls and there is so much life left in the body that it takes a whole verse to work out it is dead.
Of course, now Triamond, the final brother, has TRIPLE SOUL POWER;
"Streight entring into Triamond, him fild
With double life, and griefe, which when he felt,
As one whose inner parts has bene ythrild
With point of steele, that close his hartbloud spild,
He lightly lept out of his place of rest,
And rushing forth into the emptie field,"
Not just extra life, but extra grief as well.
Cambell has fought two guys, but he has his magic ring and cannot bleed, and it also fills him with energy;
"Some newborne wight ye would him surely weene:
So fresh he seemed and so fierce in sight;
Like as a Snake, whom wearie winters teene,
Hath worne to nought, now feeling sommers might,
Casts off his ragged skin and freshly doth him dight."
Triamond lets forth 'heapes of strokes' 'As thicke as hayle forth poured from the skie:'
"She stroke, he soust, he fynd, he hewd, he last,
And did his yron brond so fast applie,
That from the same the fierie sparkles flasht,
As fast as waster-sprinkels gainst a rocke are dasht."
Cambell is driven back for a verse, then recalls his badassery in another tidal metaphor, this one about the tide flowing up the Shenan river encountering the rivers flow and prevailing for a while before being served 'his owne with double gain'. It's another great verse. There are a lot in this one, I can't write them all.
They drive back and forth for a pair of verses. Triamond begins to pale somewhat, but Cambell;
"Like as a withered tree through husbands toyle
Is often seene full fresly to have florisht,
And fruitfull apples to have borne awhile,
As fresh as when it first was planted in the soyle."
And smites Triamond
"Into his throte and life it pierced quight,
That downe he fell as dead in all mens sight:
Yed dead he was not, yet he sure did die,
As all men do that lose the living spright:
So did one soule out of his bodie flie
Unto her native home from mortall miserie."
Amazing everyone, Triamond gets back up 'As one that had out of a dreame bene reard,'. Cambell is so shocked that he can barely defend himself and 'Stood still amaz'd, holding his idle sweard;'. Triamond looks to finish it with a mighty blow from on high.
Cambell see this, recovers and strikes Triamond close underneath his shield 'In th'arm-pit full, that through both sides the wound appeared.'
But he can't stop Triamonds mega blow, luckily it also hits his shield, losing much of its force and only knocks him down with a 'hideous wound' in his head.
'So both at once fell dead upon the field,
And each to other seemd the victorie to yield."
The crowd thinks its all over. The Judges rise, the marshals break up the lists, Canacee 'gan wayle her dearest frend'.
"All suddenly they both upstarted light"
Ands the fight is back on!
THEY FIGHT FOR A LONG GODDAMN TIME.
The audience who 'Stood gazing, filled were with rufull tine,
And secret feare, to see their fatall fine,."
A sudden clamour breaks out in the audience, 'Towards them, driving like a storme out sent' is a Golden Chariot in 'Persian Monarks antique guize', drawn by 'grim lyons' and in it is a girl who is not only super hot, but super magical.
It's Triamonds sister.
"Great heapes of them, like sheepe in narrow fold,
For hast did over-runne, in dust enrould,
That thorough rude confusion of the rout,
Some fearing shriekt, some being harmed hould,
Some laught for sport, some did for wonder shout,
And some that would seeme wise, their wonder turnd to dout."
In one hand she has a magic wand 'About the which two Serpents weren wound,', in the other a magic cup, filled with Nepenthe, the drink used by the Gods to bring peace to men.
How is she controlling the chariot? MAGIC.
She greets her brother;
"That so to see him made her heart fo quaile:
And next to Cambell, whose sad ruefull cheare
Made her to change her hew, and hidden love t'appeare."
On seeing two of her brothers dead and everyon extremely fucked up, she begs them to stop.
They don't listen so she tazes them both with the magic wand;
"And they like men astonisht still did stand,
Thus whilest their minds were doubtfully distraught,"
Then she roofies them both with the magic Nepenthe;
"Of which so soone as they once tasted had,
Wonder it is that sudden change to see;
Instead of strokes they kissed each other glad,
And lovely hault from feare of treson free,
And plighted hands for ever friends to be.
When all men say this sudden change of things,
So mortall foes so friendly to agree,
For passing joy, which so great marvaile brings,
They all gan shout aloud, that all the heaven rings."
There's a little more, but we can leave it there.