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The first Booke of the Faerie Queene. Contayning The Legend of the Knight of the Red Crosse, OR Of Holinesse.
[1]
LOLo I the man, whose Muse whylome did maske,
As time her taught, in lowly Shephards weeds,
Am now enforst a farre vnfitterunfitter taske,
For trumpets sterne to chaunge mine Oaten reeds:
And sing of Knights and Ladies gentle deeds,
Whose praises hauinghaving slept in silence long,
Me, all too meane, the sacred Muse areeds
To blazon broade emongst her learned throng:
Fierce warres and faithfull louesloves shall moralize my song.
[2]
Helpe then, O holy virgin chiefe of nyne,
Thy weaker NouiceNovice to performe thy will,
Lay forth out of thine euerlastingeverlasting scryne
The antique rolles, which there lye hidden still,
Of Faerie knights and fayrest Tanaquill,
Whom that most noble Briton Prince so long
Sought through the world, and suffered so much ill,
That I must rue his vndeseruedundeserved wrong:
O helpe thou my weake wit, and sharpen my dull tong.
[3]
And thou most dreaded impe of highest IoueJove,
Faire Venus sonne, that with thy cruell dart
At that good knight so cunningly didst rouerove,
That glorious fire it kindled in his hart,
Lay now thy deadly Heben bowe apart,
And with thy mother mylde come to mine ayde:
Come both, and with you bring triumphant Mart,
In louesloves and gentle iollitiesjollities arraid,
After his murdrous spoyles and bloudie rage allayd.
[4]
And with them eke, O Goddesse heauenlyheavenly bright,
Mirrour of grace and MaiestieMajestie diuinedivine,
Great Ladie of the greatest Isle, whose light
Like Phœbus lampe throughout the world doth shine,
Shed thy faire beames into mymine feeble eyne,
And raise my thoughtes too humble and too vile,
To thinke of that true glorious type of thine,
The argument of mine afflicted stile:
The which to heare, vouchsafe, O dearest dread a while.
4.5. my] 1596, 1609; mine 1590
Editorial policy for this edition is to silently close up compounds, there being no warrant to assume that details like spacing and orthography reflect authorial intention. We make an exception here because it is just possible that the 1590 reading accurately renders copy that gave an outdated form deliberately as part of the effort to lend an archaic feel to the language. "Ther to" and "there to" are at least as frequent as "thereto" in Medieval texts; the close-up form appears to have become standard during the sixteenth century.
Building display . . .
Re-selecting textual changes . . .

Introduction

The toggles above every page allow you to determine both the degree and the kind of editorial intervention present in the text as you read it. They control, as well, the display of secondary materials—collational notes, glosses, and links to commentary.

Textual Changes

The vagaries of early modern printing often required that lines or words be broken. Toggling Modern Lineation on will reunite divided words and set errant words in their lines.

Off: That a large share it hewd out of the rest, (blest. And glauncing downe his shield, from blame him fairely (FQ I.ii.18.8-9) On: That a large share it hewd out of the rest, And glauncing downe his shield, from blame him fairely blest.

Toggling Expansions on will undo certain early modern abbreviations.

Off: Sweet slõbring deaw, the which to sleep them biddes: (FQ I.i.36.4)

Toggling Modern Characters on will convert u, v, i, y, and vv to v, u, j, i, and w. (N.B. the editors have silently replaced ſ with s, expanded most ligatures, and adjusted spacing according contemporary norms.)

Off: And all the world in their subiection held, Till that infernall feend with foule vprore (FQ I.i.5.6-7) On: And all the world in their subjection held, Till that infernall feend with foule uprore

Toggling Lexical Modernizations on will conform certain words to contemporary orthographic standards.

Off: But wander too and fro in waies vnknowne (FQ I.i.10.5) On: But wander to and fro in waies vnknowne.

Toggling Emendations on will correct obvious errors in the edition on which we base our text and modernize its most unfamiliar features.

Most lothsom, filthie, foule, and full of vile disdaine (FQ I.i.14.9) 14.9. Most lothsom] this edn.; Mostlothsom 1590

(The text of 1590 reads Mostlothsom, while the editors’ emendation reads Most lothsom.)

Apparatus

Toggling Collation Notes on will highlight words that differ among printings.

And shall thee well rewarde to shew the place, (FQ I.i.31.5) 5. thee] 1590; you 15961609

(The text of 1590 reads thee, while the texts of 1596 and 1609 read you.)

Toggling Commentary Links on will show links to the editors’ commentary.

Toggling Line Numbers on will show the number of the line within each stanza.

Toggling Stanza Numbers on will show the number of the stanza within each canto.

Toggling Glosses on will show the definitions of unfamiliar words or phrases.

To my long approoved and singular good frende, Master G.H. (Letters I.1) 1. long aprooved: tried and true, found trustworthy over a long period