Backe to the furrow which I lately left;
I lately left a furrow, one or twayne
Unplough'd, the which my coulter hath not cleft:
Yet seem'd the soyle both fayre and frutefull eft,
As I it past, that were too great a shame,
That so rich frute should be from us bereft;
Besides the great dishonour and defame,
Which should befall the Calidores immortal name."
Yes! Remember Calidore? The guy this Book is meant to be about, how he chased and fought the Blatant Beast and how the last thing we saw from him was him ignoring a wounded woman to dash into the forest after that self-same creature?
Well don't worry, because Calidore is about to leap back into action, he is focused, he is calm and absolutely nothing on earth is going to stop him from completely ignoring the Blatant Beast and spending a few weeks trying to bone a hot shepardess.
|This does not happen in this Canto|
So Calidore has been wandering 'Through hils, through dales, throgh forests, & through plaines;
"Him first from court he to the citties coursed,
And from the citties to the townes him prest,
And from the townes into the countrie forsed,
And from the country back to private farms he scoursed."
The agricultural hinterland, a place rare indeed to visit in adventure fiction.
"From thence into the open fields he fled,"
"... to the folds, where sheepe at night do seat,
And to the litle cots, where shepheards lie
In winters wrathfull time, he forced him to flie."
But its not winters wrathfull time now, but chillout season and Calidore sees some shepherds 'Playing on pipes, and caroling apace,' and stops to ask them about the Blatant Beast. They know nothing about that but do offer him a drink;
"The knight was nothing nice, where was no need,
And tooke their gentle offer: so adowne
They prayd him sit, and gave him for to feed
Such homely what, as serves the simple clowne,
That doth despise the dainties of the towne."
But look out Calidore, because here comes the ultimate challenge to all knights; female hotness;
".. a faire damizell, which did weare a crowne
Of sundry flowres, wtih silken ribbands tyde,
Yclad in home-made greene that her owne hands had dyde."
"And soothly she was full fayre of face,
And perfectly well shapt in every lim,
Which she did more augment with modest grace,
And comely carriage of her count'nance trim,
That all the rest like letter lamps did dim:"
This is Patorella. She is not into any of the swains who are into her, although, not in the bad friendzone way that means she could be divinely punished, but in an honourable way, somehow.
Calidore is, of course;
".. unwares surprisd in subtile bands
Of the blynd boy, ne thence could be redeemed
By any skill out of his cruell hands,
Caught like the bird, which gazing still on others stands."
Calidore keeps making up excuses to not leave, 'discoursing diversly' until;
".. the moystie night approaching fast,
Her dewy humour gan on th'earth to shed,
That warn'd the shepheards to their homes to last
For feare of wetting them before their bed:"
So Pastorells dad comes along to take her home, this is on old greybeard called Meliboee who found her one day in a field and adopted her (third abandoned/adopted/wild baby in this book along - the Salvage Man, the baby in the bears mouth and now this, WTF is going on with parenting in this part of Faerie?)
Since Calidore is alone and its getting dark, Meliboee invites him home, where they have dinner and talk about pastoral happiness;
"Hoe much (sayd he) more happie is the state,
In which ye father here doe dwell at ease,
Leading a life so free and fortunate,
From all the tempests of these wordly seas,
Which toss the rest in daungerous disease?
Where warres, and wreckes, and wicked emnite
Doe them afflict, which no man can appease,
That certes I your happinesse envie,
And wish my lot were plast in such felicitie."
Meliboee agrees that the pastoral thing is pretty fucking great;
".. having small, yet doe I not complaine
But doe my selfe, with that I have, content;
So tought of nature, which doth litle need
Of forreine helpes to lifes due nourishment:"
"Therefore I doe not any one envy,
Nor am envyde of any one therefore;
They that have much, feare much to lose thereby,
And store of cares do follow riches store."
"To them, that list, the worlds gay showes I leave,
And to great ones such follies doe forgive,
Which oft through ambition pride do their owne perill weave,
And through ambition downe themselves doe drive
To sad decay, that might contented live."
"Sometimes I hunt the Fox, the vowed foe
Unto my Lambes, and him dislodge away;
Sometimes the fawne I practice from the Doe,
Or from the Goat her kidde how to convay;
Another while I baytes and nets display,
The birds to catch, or fishes to beguyle:
And when I wearie am, I downe do lay
My limbes in every shade, to rest from toyle,
And drinke of every brooke, when thirst my throte doth boyle."
And there's a lot more about how great it is to be a low-level agricultural worker in a world where you don't have to worry about your own expanding family's needs, trouble from landlords, rent, taxes, feudal lords, demands, environmental degradation, plague and where there is always enough land of just the right temperate kind and for some reason no-one was already living on it that you had to murder to get it.
"Whylest thus he talkt, the knight with greedy eare
Hong still upon his melting mouth attent;
Whose sensefull words empierst his hart so neare,
That he was rapt with double ravishment,
Both of his speach that wrought him great content,
And also of the object of his vew,
On which his hungry eye was alwayes bent;
That twixt his pleasing tongue, and her faire hew,
He lost himselfe, and like one halfe entraunced grew."
I think maybe this Canto is partly about Spenser not really wanting to write the Faerie Queene any more?
Calidore is deeply persuaded of the shephards speech;
".. Now surely syre, I find,
That all this worlds gay showes, which we admire,
Be but vaine shadowes to this safe retyre
Of life, which here in lowlinesse ye lead,
Fearlesse of foes, or fortunes wrackfull yre,
Which tosseth states, and under foot doth tread
The mightie ones, affrayd of every chaunges dred."
It's only now that I realise that Spensers obsession with those Irish prisoners he ordered killed, is possibly mirrored in Elizabeths execution of Mary. The woman had (relative to your view of 'had') to kill her own sister to preserve the state. So they are all bound together, up and down the line, by similar circumstance.
But Meliboe disagrees with this desired change of station in these verses which prefigure Shakespeare (though they are probably just both ripping off the some other guy);
"In vaine (said then old Meliboe) doe men
The heavens of their fortunes fault accuse,
Sith they know best, what is the best for them:
For they to each such fortune doth diffuse,
As they doe know each can most aptly use.
For not that, which men covet most, is best,
Nor that thing worst, which men do most refuse;
But fittest is, that all contented rest
With that they hold: each hath his fortune in his brest.
It is the mynd, that maketh good or ill,
That maketh wretch or happie, rich or poore:
For some, that hath abundance at his will,
Hath not enough, but wants in greatest store;
And other, that hath litle, askes no more,
But in that litle is both rich and wise.
For wisdome is most riches; fooles therefore
They are, which fortunes dow by vowes devize,
Sith each unto himselfe his life may fortunize."
A slightly less relentelssly authoritarian version of Arthegalls argument to the Giant Hugo Chavez who was going to level everything. You just have to deal with the shit that is handed to you.
He does, however, allow Calidore to hang around in the pastoral paradise with Pastorella (there is an awkward point where Calidore offers him money which, of course, in these circumstances, he should never do. And which reminds me of my dads description of the builders and workmen he met in Andalucia, who, when the time came to exchange money, would put on a kind of performance of high and grand masculinity, as if money was merely a minor element of that meeting).
Calidore doffs his bright armes' and hangs around being a shepheard, impressing everyone with what a great guy he is, helping with the sheep and 'In his strong hand their rugged teats to hold, And out of them to presse the milke: love so much could.'
There is some buisness with a shepheard called Coridon, who is into Pastorell and generally fucked-off with Calidore and his slumming-it 1%-er bullshit.
Coridon semi-challenges Calidore in dancing and wrestling but Calidore is not only better at everything but Courteous as FUCK;
"Thus did the gentle knight himself abeare
Amongst that rusticke rout in all his deeds,
That even they, the which his rivals were,
Could not maligne him, but commend him needs:
For courtesie amongst the rudest breeds
Good will and favour. So it surely wrought
With this faire Mayd, and in her mynde the seeds
Of perfect love did sow, that last forth brought
The fruite of joy and blisse, though long time dearely bought."