St George encounters the Dragon by Edmund Spenser

With that they heard a roaring hideous sound,
That all the ayre with terrour filled wide,
And seemd uneath to shake the stedfast ground.
Eftsoones that dreadful Dragon they espide,
Where stretcht he lay upon the sunny side,
Of a great hill, himselfe like a great hill.
But all so soone as he from far descride
Those glistring armes, that heaven with light did fill,
He rousd himselfe full blith, and hastned them untill.

Then bad the knight his Lady yede aloofe,
And to an hill her selfe withdraw aside:
From whence she might behold that battailles proof,
And eke be safe from daunger far descryde:
She him obayd, and turnd a little wyde.
Now O thou sacred muse, most learned Dame,
Faire ympe of Phœbus and his aged bride,
The Nourse of time and everlasting fame,
That warlike hands ennoblest with immortall name;

O gently come into my feeble brest
Come gently, but not with that mighty rage,
Wherewith the martiall troupes thou doest infest,
And harts of great Heroës doest enrage,
That nought their kindled courage may aswage,
Soone as thy dreadfull trompe begins to sownd,
The God of warre with his fiers equipage
Thou doest awake, sleepe never he so sownd,
All scared nations doest with horrour sterne astownd.

Faire Goddesse, lay that furious fit aside,
Till I of warres and bloody Mars do sing,
And Briton fields with Sarazin bloud bedyde,
Twixt that great Faery Queene, and Paynim king,
That with their horrour heaven and earth did ring;
A worke of labour long and endlesse prayse:
But now a while let downe that haughtie string°
And to my tunes thy second tenor rayse,
That I this man of God his godly armes may blaze.

By this the dreadfull Beast drew nigh to hand,
Halfe flying, and halfe footing in his haste,
That with his largenesse measured much land,
And made wide shadow under his huge wast,
As mountaine doth the valley overcast.
Approching nigh, he reared high afore
His body monstrous, horrible, and vaste,
Which to increase his wondrous greatnesse more,
Was swoln with wrath, and poyson, and with bloudy gore.

And over, all with brasen scales was armd,
Like plated coate of steele, so couched neare,
That nought mote perce, ne might his corse be harmd
With dint of sword, nor push of pointed speare;
Which, as an Eagle, seeing pray appeare,
His aery plumes doth rouze, full rudely dight;
So shaked he, that horrour was to heare,
For as the clashing of an Armour bright,
Such noyse his rouzed scales did send unto the knight.

His flaggy wings when forth he did display,
Were like two sayles, in which the hollow wynd
Is gathered full, and worketh speedy way:
And eke the pennes, that did his pineons bynd,
Were like mayne-yards, with flying canvas lynd;
With which whenas him list the ayre to beat,
And there by force unwonted passage find,
The cloudes before him fled for terrour great,
And all the heavens stood still amazed with his threat.

His huge long tayle wound up in hundred foldes,
Does overspred his long bras-scaly backe,
Whose wreathed boughts when ever he unfoldes,
And thicke entangled knots adown does slacke,
Bespotted as with shields of red and blacke,
It sweepeth all the land behind him farre,
And of three furlongs does but litle lacke;
And at the point two stings in-fixed arre,
Both deadly sharpe, that sharpest steele exceeden farre.

But stings and sharpest steele did far exceed
The sharpnesse of his cruell rending clawes;
Dead was it sure, as sure as death in deed,
What ever thing does touch his ravenous pawes,
Or what within his reach he ever drawes.
But his most hideous head my toung to tell
Does tremble: for his deepe devouring jawes
Wide gaped, like the griesly mouth of hell,
Through which into his darke abisse all ravin fell.

And that more wondrous was, in either jaw
Three ranckes of yron teeth enraunged were,
In which yet trickling blood, and gobbets raw
Of late devoured bodies did appeare,
That sight thereof bred cold congealed feare:
Which to increase, and as atonce to kill,
A cloud of smoothering smoke and sulphure seare,
Out of his stinking gorge forth steemed still,
That all the ayre about with smoke and stench did fill.

His blazing eyes, like two bright shining shields,
Did burne with wrath, and sparkled living fyre:
As two broad Beacons, set in open fields,
Send forth their flames far off to every shyre,
And warning give, that enemies conspyre
With fire and sword the region to invade;
So flam’d his eyne with rage and rancorous yre:
But farre within, as in a hollow glade,
Those glaring lampes were set, that made a dreadfull shade.

So dreadfully he towards him did pas,
Forelifting up aloft his speckled brest,
And often bounding on the brused gras,
As for great joyance of his newcome guest.
Eftsoones he gan advance his haughtie crest,
As chauffed Bore his bristles doth upreare,
And shoke his scales to battell ready drest;
That made the Redcrosse knight nigh quake for feare,
As bidding bold defiance to his foeman neare.

The knight gan fairely couch his steadie speare,
And fiercely ran at him with rigorous might:
The pointed steele arriving rudely theare,
His harder hide would neither perce, nor bight,
But glauncing by forth passed forward right;
Yet sore amoved with so puissaunt push,
The wrathfull beast about him turned light,
And him so rudely passing by, did brush
With his long tayle, that horse and man to ground did rush.

Both horse and man up lightly rose againe,
And fresh encounter towards him addrest:
But th’idle stroke yet backe recoyld in vaine,
And found no place his deadly point to rest.
Exceeding rage enflam’d the furious beast,
To be avenged of so great despight;
For never felt his imperceable brest
So wondrous force, from hand of living wight;
Yet had he prov’d the powre of many a puissant knight.

Then with his waving wings displayed wyde,
Himselfe up high he lifted from the ground,
And with strong flight did forcibly divide
The yielding aire, which nigh too feeble found
Her flitting parts, and element unsound,
To beare so great a weight: he cutting way
With his broad sayles, about him soared round:
At last low stouping with unweldie sway,
Snatcht up both horse and man, to beare them quite away.

Long he them bore above the subject plaine,
So far as Ewghen bow a shaft may send,
Till struggling strong did him at last constraine
To let them downe before his flightes end:
As hagard hauke, presuming to contend
With hardie fowle, above his hable might,
His wearie pounces all in vaine doth spend
To trusse the pray too heavy for his flight;
Which comming downe to ground, does free it selfe by fight.

He so disseized of his gryping grosse,
The knight his thrillant speare again assayd
In his bras-plated body to embosse,
And three mens strength unto the stroke he layd;
Wherewith the stiffe beame quaked, as affrayd,
And glauncing from his scaly necke, did glyde
Close under his left wing, then broad displayd:
The percing steele there wrought a wound full wyde,
That with the uncouth smart the Monster lowdly cryde.

He cryde, as raging seas are wont to rore,
When wintry storme his wrathfull wreck does threat
The roaring billowes beat the ragged shore,
As they the earth would shoulder from her seat,
And greedy gulfe does gape, as he would eat
His neighbour element in his revenge:
Then gin the blustring brethren boldly threat
To move the world from off his steadfast henge,
And boystrous battell make, each other to avenge.

Find the full text here: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/15272/15272-h/15272-h.htm

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