"Such ones ill judge of love that cannot love,
Ne in their frosen hearts feel kindly flame:
For thy they ought not thing unknowne reprove,
Ne naturall affection faultless blame,
For fault of few that have abusd the same.
For it of honor and all verue is
The roote, and brings forth glorious flowres of fame,
That crowne true lovers with immortal blis,
The meed of them that love, and do not live amisse."
He also appeals to Elizabth as the Queen of Love to 'please read this Liiizzzz'.
And we are into Canto One.
We begin with Spenser going on about how sad his story is (going to be);
"My softened heart so sorely doth constraine,
That I with teares full oft doe pittie it,
And oftentimes doe wish it never had bene writ."
This is the latest of a long series of Spenser highlighting his own limitations relative to the story in order to build hype. He’s been too simple to 'rime' a tale so great, he's called upon the muse Calliope, but in fearful terms because she's so amazing, he's talked about his own muse being too petty to record such greatness and he's talked about Elizabeth being so magnificent that he's ashamed to tell her the story. Now we get the story being so sad that it breaks him to tell it.
It's a good job no-one believes a fucking word you say isn't it Edmund because they would just stop listening, you being so fucking rubbish and all.
Anyway, a bit with Scudamore first, thinking about how he got Amoret in a fight and then had her stolen by an enchanter before they got to bone on the wedding night. This is our first hint of a background to that particular tale.
Then we go to Amoret, lately rescued by Britomart. Amoret is super-hot on staying a virgin (she literally had her heart cut out over it last canto), and is freaking out somewhat because she thinks Britomart is a man;
"Thereto her feare was made so much the greater
Through fine abusion of that Briton mayd:
Who for to hide her fained sex the better,
And maske her wounded mind, both did and sayd
Full many things so doubtfull to be wayd,
That well she wist to her she purpos made
Of love, and otherwise of lustfulnesse,
That much she feard his mind would grow to some excesse."
They both come to a castle where the deal is that you have to win a 'love or lemman' or 'lye without the dore.'
A 'jolly knight' claims Amoret. At this Britomart 'wexed inlie wroth' and says;
'to lose she was full loth.
But either he should neither of them have, or both.'
Britomart takes the guy down easily. But, being Britomart, feels bad for the knight and doesn't want him locked out of the castle. She claims Amoret;
"Then since that strange knights love from him was quitted,
She claim'd that to her selfe, as Ladies det,
He as a Knight might justly be admitted;
So none should be outshut, sith all of love were fitted."
Then we get another Magnificent Hair Scene;
"With that her glistring helmet she unlaced;
Which doft, her golden lockes, that were up bound
Still in a knot, unto her helles downe traced,
And like a silken veile in compasse round
About her backe and all her bodie wound:
Like as the shining skie in summers night,
What time the dayes with scorching heat abound,
Is creasted all with lines of firie light,
That is prodigious seemes in common peoples sight."
The crowd is bemused by this;
"Some, that it was a maske of strange disguise:
So diversely each one did sundrie doubts devise."
But the other Knight is cool with it and at least 'Amoret now freed from feare, More franke affection did to her afford,’.
They wake the next day and wander long, eventually they come upon two Knights, with two Ladies, BUT; 'Ladies none they were, albee in face'.
In fact this is 'false Duessa' who I'm sure we're all glad to see return from wherever she was last time, I think it was a cave or a wilderness or something.
Duessa has her magic back and so is hott again;
"For she could d'on so manie shapes in sight;
As ever could Cameleon colours new;"
The second Lady is even better, because Duessa, presumably needing evil backup since Archimago was benched, has gone straight to Hell to raise the Goddess of Discord herself; Ate, of Trojan Wars fame, and who gets a whole range of excellent verses in description. I'll show you two. Her dwelling place;
"And all within the riven walls were hung
With ragged monuments of times forepast,
All which the sad effects of discord sund,
There were rent robes, and broken scepters plast,
Altars defyl'd, and holy things defast,
Disshivered speares, and shields ytorne in twaine,
Great cities ransackt, and strong castles rast,
Nations captived, and huge armies slaine:
Of all which ruines there some relicks did remaine."
"Her face most fowle and filthy was to see,
With squinted eyes contrarie wayes intended,
And loathly mouth, unmeete a mouth to bee,
That nought but gall and venim comprehended,
And wicked wordes that God and man offended:
Her lying tongue was in two parts divided,
And both the parts did speake, and both contended;
And as her tongue, so was her hart discided,
That never thoght one thing, but doubly stil was guided."
The Knights are a guy called Blandamour and our old friend Paridell, making for an excellent team of sleazebags.
They see Britomart, Blandamour recommends that Paridell take her on but Paridell remembers being crushed by Britomart previously and offers Blandamour the joust.
Britomart takes him down; 'Which done, she passed forth not taking leave,' and the point of view passes, as before, on the point of a spear and we follow team bad-guy for a while.
Team Rocket comes upon two more knights. Blandamour recognises Scudamore;
"For they he thus to Paridel bespake,
Faire Sir, of friendship let me now you pray,
That as I late adventured for your sake,
The hurst whereof me now from battle stay,
Ye will me now with like good turne repay,
And justifie my cause on yonder knight.
Ah Sir (said Paridell) do not dismay
Your selfe for this, my selfe will for you fight,
As ye have done for me: the left hand rubs the right."
They race upon each other;
"As when two billowes in the Irish sowndes,
Forcibly driven with contrarie tydes
Do meete together, each abacke rebowndes
With roaring rage; and dashing on all sides,
That filleth all the sea with fome, divydes
The doubtfull current into divers wayes:
So fell those two in spight of both their prydes,
But Scudamour himselfe did soone uprayse,
And mounting light his foe for lying long upbrayes."
Paridell is 'all mazed', in a glassic ‘Pyrochles-esque example of ‘bad knighthood’, Blandamour acts like a little bitch about the whole thing, but Scudamor manages to keep his temper.
Duessa mocks Scudamore;
"Ne be ye wroth Sir Scudamour therefore,
That she your love list love another knight,"
Then Ate breaks out the high-level motherfuckery;
".. Both foolish knights, I can but laugh at both,
That strive and storme with stirre outrageous,
For her that each of you alike doth loth,
And loves another, with whome now she goth
In lovely wise, and sleepes, and sports, and playes;
Whiles both you here with many a cursed oth,
Sweare she is ours, and stirre up bloudie frayes,
To win a willow bough, whilest other weares the bayes.
I saw (quoth she) a stranger knight..
I saw him have your _Amoret_ at will,
I saw him kisse, I saw him her embrace,
I saw him sleepe with her all night his fill,
All manie nights, and manie by in place,
That present were to testifie the case."
That is how you get promoted to Goddess of Discord.
Scudamore 'ne word he had to speake for great dismay', 'But lookt on Glauce grim, who woxe afeard'. Glauce, Britmarts nurse, is still with Scudamore and presumably still in disguise as a man.
At Scudamours 'change of cheere', Blandamour 'woxe full blithe', 'and gan thereat to triumph without victorie.'
Scudamour starts to have a complete breakdown and blames Glauce;
"False traitour squire, false squire, of falsest knight,
Why doth mine hand from thine avenge abstaine,
Whose Lord hath done my love this foule despight?
Why do I not it wreake, on thee now in my might?"
"The aged Dame him seeing so enraged,
Was dead with feare, nathlesse as neede required,
His flamine furie sought to have assuaged
With sober words, that sufferance desired,
Till time they tryall of her truth expyred:
And evermore sought Britomart to cleare.
But he that more with furious rage was fyred,
And thrise his hand to kill her did upreare,
And thrise he drew it backe: so did at last forbeare."
Book Four Canto One