Friday, 9 February 2018

it is commendable to coyne a lye - FQ Book 6 Canto 3

Starts up with tiresome logistical titting around, dumps the hero by half way, goes on with some random, then, surprisingly, turns out to be pretty damn good in the second half with the addition of that old Faerie Queene dramiturgial steroid; A Complete Asshole.

Opener is some rennaisance Genetic Essentialism;

"True it is, that whilome that good Poet sayd,
The gentle minde by gentle deeds is knowne.
For a man by nothing is so well bewrayd,
As by his manners, in which plaine is showne
Of what degree and what race he is growne.
For seldome seene, a trotting Stalion get
An ambling colt, that is his proper owne:
So seldome seene, that one in basenesse set
Doth noble courage shew, with curteous manners met.

But evermore contrary hath bene tryde,
That gentle bloud will gentle manners breed:"

Most of the decent verse and good drama is in the second half so I will skip the first with a baseline description.

Calidore is dragging the wounded knight from Canto 2 back to his castle with his Lady in tow. The guy there is the knights dad, a super-great guy called Aldus. The knight is Aladine. Aldus is upset to see his son all messed up but makes the best of things and cheers his guests. Courtesy. 

This lady, Priscilla, is the daughter of a local lord who wanted to marry her off, but she was more into Aladine, who is poor(er, but still NOT A FILTHY COMMONER). They had just met up in that glade (and apparently got busy) when the baddy knight showed up. Now Aladine is a mess and she can't go home. She is now thinking about how screwed she is and;

"Weherof she now bethinking, gan t'advize,
How great a hazard she at earst had made
Of her good fame, and further gan devize,
How she the blame might salve with coloured disguize."

Calidore cheers her up and goes to bed himself. Priscilla stays up all night watching Aladine;

"And with her tears his wounds did wash and steepe.
So well she washt them, and so well she wacht him,
That of the deadly swound, in which full deepe
He drenched was, she at the length dispacht him,
And drove away the stound, which mortally attacht him."

They are saline I suppose.

Aladine wakes up the next day and feels really bad about the situation he has gotten Priscilla into.

"So both conspiring, gan to intimate
Each others griefe with zele affectionate,"

They ask Calidore for help and he agrees. He leaves with Priscilla and;

"So as they past together on their way,
He can devize this counter-cast of slight,
To give faire colour to that Ladies cause in sight."

So he goes back to the downed body of the guy that Tristram killed, cuts his head off and takes it to Priscillas father claiming that he saw this guy letching on her, killed him, nothing to worry about. Another piece of surprising murderhobo douchebaggery from a paragon character. remember when Arthur pretended to be dead?

So the Knight of Courtesy has just lied his ass off. And yes, apparently this has caused quite a bit of trouble in the poem-analysis community over the years. From the notes;

"Judson (Var., p. 341) cites Guazzo: 'I denie not but that it is commendable to coyne a lye at some time, and in some place, so that it tende to some honest ende'"

Lets hope Redcrosse, Una, and especially Talus don't find out.

Anyway, Calidore is promptly off into a new episodic encounter;


He finds a knight, Calepine (another mirror/shadow character?), getting amorous with a lady, Serena. In a perfect expression of the virtue of Courtesy, he does not instantly attack and kill them, but instead talks to them.

This is going pretty well until, while Calidore and Calepine are chatting about chivalry, a scene familar to horror movie fans takes place;

"The faire Serena (so his Lady hight)
Allur'd with myldnesse of the gentle wether,
And pleasaunce of the place, the which was dight
With divers flowres distinct with rare delight;
Wandred about the fields, as liking led
Her wavering lust after her wandring sight,
To make a garland to adorne her hed,

My caps. Sorry. The Blatant Beast eats her.

But doesn't chew or swallow, just runs off with her in its mouth.

Our boys chase after it, Calidore is "more light of foote and swift in chace," so catches up and charges the Beast who spits out Serena and dashes away. Calidore doesn't help Serena,

(Ok, this thing with people not trying to stop the bleeding. People in the past knew bleeding was bad surely? Did they have a fatalistic attitude to it? Is the closeness of hospitals and the integration of medical care and aspect of the modern world that makes stopping the bleeding a much more useful thing to do, and so we are obsessed with it but in the past it might not have made as much of a difference? Is it the chance of infection? Are they just fucking stupid back then about bleeding and how bad it is? Or is it just a literary affectation for this story?)

Calidore knows Serenas knight is coming so her hares off after the beast. We apparently will not see him again till Canto 9, half the Book away, so wave goodbye to that dude we hardly knew anyway.


The rest of Canto Three is based around a completely different knight also NOT STOPPING THE BLEEDING.

"And now by this Sir Calepine (so hight)
Came to the place, where he his Lady found
In dolorous dismay and deadly plight,
All in gore bloud there tumbled on the ground,
Having both sides through grypt with griesly wound.
His weapons soone from him he threw away,
And stouping downe to her in drery swound,
Uprear'd her from the ground, whereon she lay,
And in his tender armes her forced up to stay."

His 'busie paines' do manage to return her 'faint sprite' to the 'mansion of mortality', then he places her on his horse and 'soft footing beside' starts looking for somewhere he can take her to be healed.

But. Not. Before!;

"Now when as Phoebus with his fiery waine
Unto his Inne began to draw apace;"


Calepine sees a 'faire and stately place' in the distance and makes for it, he comes upon a river;

"But comming to the rivers side, he found
That hardly passable on foote it was:"

Luckily he sees an armed knight with a Lady 'lincked by his side' preparing 'through the foord to ride'. Calepine asks for help from the knight and gets an unexpected response;

"Perdy thou peasant Knight, mightst rightly reed
Me then to be full base and evill borne,
If I would beare behinde a burden of suchn scorne.

But as thou hast thy steed forlorne with shame,
So fare on foote till thou another gayne,
And let the Lady likewise doe the same,
Or bear her on thy backe with pleasing payne,
And prove thy manhood on the billowes vayne."

Because this is Turpine (I think, 'base') and he is a magnificent asshole.

The Lady is less of a scumbag and offers her Palfrey but Calepine is too 'inly wroth'and goes for ultra-drama;

"And strongly wading through the eaves unused,
With speare in th'one heand stayd him selfe upright,
With th'other staide his Lady up with steddy might.

And all the while, that same discourteous Knight,
Stood on the further banke beholding him,
At whose calamity, for more despight
He laught, and mockt to see him like to swim."

Calepine makes it across, alive, and having done so his 'heart with vengeaunce inwardly did swell', he shouts some awesome smack talk back across the river;

"Unknightly Knight, the blemish of that name,
And blot of all that armes uppon them take,
Which is the badge of honour and of fame,
Loe I defie thee, and here challenge make,
That thou for ever doe those armes forsake;
And be for ever held a recreant Knight.
Unlesse thou dare for thy deare Ladies sake,
And for thine owne defence on foote alight,
To justifie thy fault gainst me in equal fight."

Turpine is still a magnificent bastard, or indeed, dastard;

"The dastard, that did heare him selfe defyde,
Seem'd not to weigh his threatfull words at all,
But laught them out, as if his greater pryde,
Did scorne the challenge of so base a thrall:
Or had no courage, or else had no gall.
But he nought weighing what he sayd or did,
Turned his steed about another way,
And with his Lady to the Castle rid"

There is nothing Calepine can do but go on, Phoebus is getting to his Inne and darkness is coming.

He makes it to the castle and with 'prayers meeke, And myld entreaty lodging did for her beseeke.'


This is not Gawains 'pure porter' but instead;

".. the rude Porter that no manners had,
Did shut the gate against him in his face,
... there was no place
Of lodging fit for any errant Knight,
Unlesse that with his Lord he formerly did fight."

Calidore replies;

"Full loth am I (quoth he) as now at earst,
When day is spent, and rest us needeth most,
And that this Lady, both whose sides are pearst
With wounds, is ready to forgo the ghost:
Ne would I gladly combate with mine host,
That should to me such curtesie afford,
Unlesse that I were thereunto enforst."

But still he says to send a message to the lord that he 'house-rome craves' and would certainly fight him but could they possibly put that off till tomorrow since Phoebus has gone to his Inne?

The Lord; (I can't tell from the context if this is Turpine or not)

"Who sitting with his Lady then at bord,
Not onely did not his demand approve,
But both himselfe revi'd and eke his love;
Albe his Lady, that Blandina hight,
Him of ungentle usage did reprove
Yet would he not perswaded be for ought,
Ne from his currish will awhit reclame.
Which answer when the groome returning brought
To Calepine, his heart did inly flame
With wrathfull fury for so foule a shame,
That he could not thereof avenged bee:
But most for pitty of his dearest Dame,
Whom now in deadly daunger he did see;
Yet had no meanes to comfort, nor procure her glee.
So downe he tooke his Lady in distresse,
And layd her underneath a bush to sleepe,
Cover'd with cold, and wrapt in wretchednesse,
Whiles he him selfe all night did nought but weepe,
And wary watch about her for her safegard keepe."

The next day they limp on on their sorry journey to find someone who isn't a complete dick;

"He goth on foote all armed by her side,
Upstaying still her selfe upon her steede,
Being unable else alone to ride;
So sore her sides, so much her wounds did bleede:"

C'mon people you have to be feeling this.

More bad news, a Knight is coming at them fast 'who well he wist to be some enemy'. Even worse, its Turpine, back again!

"He bad him stand, t'abide the bitter stoure
Of his sore vengeance, or to make avoure
Of the lewd words and deedes, which he had done:"

Remember that time I watched you nearly die in that river, and laughed, and you got upset? Well you better apologise for that boy.

"With that ran at him, as he would devoure
His life attonce; who nought could do, but shun
The perill of his pride, or else be overrun."

Turpine follows him on horseback;

"And like a wilde goate round about did chace,"

Then things get even stranger;

"But his best succour and refuge was still
Behinde his Ladies backe, who to him cryde,
And called oft with prayers loud and shrill,
As ever he to Lady was affyde,
To spare her Knight, and rest with reason pacifyde."

Calepine hiding behind his damizell is also something that gets attention in the notes. Presumably there's some chivalric reason why this is ok? oR some allegorical reason why this means something?

Turpine eventually chases him down and strikes him through the shoulder;

"He saw his life powrd forth dispiteously:
The which was certes in great jeopardy,
Had not a wondrous chaunce his reskeu wrought,
And saved from his cruell villany.
Such chaunces oft exceed all humaine thought:
That in another Canto shall to end be brought."

Edmund you goddam cheese merchant.

It is rather ripe and wonderful cheese though.


  1. I think you may be being a bit unfair to people in the past with the whole "stopping the bleeding" thing. How do you stop the bleeding from a serious sword wound or the teeth of a giant wolf bite? Without proper modern medical facilities, bandages and whatnot.

    1. Put pressure on it? A bandage is not a high-technology item.

    2. Yeah, but who carries around bandages? Or long strips of cloth even?

    3. Well hopefully Knights because they are combat troops, but also everyone because they wear clothes and clothes are made out of cloth.