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Sixteenth Century.

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QAN GENTLE knight was pricking on the plain.

Yclad in mighty arms and silver shield,

Wherein old dints of deep wounds did remain,

2 The cruel marks of many a bloody field ;
Yet arms till that time did he never wield :
His angry steed did chide his foaming bit,
As much disdaining to the curb to yield :
Full jolly knight he seemed, and fair did sit,
As one for knightly jousts and fierce encounters fit.

And on his breast a bloody cross he bore,
The dear remembrance of his dying Lord,
For whose sweet sake that glorious badge he wore,
And dead (as living) ever him adored :
Upon his shield the like was also scored,
For sovereign hope, which in his help he had :
Right faithful true he was in deed and word ;
But of his cheer did seem too solemn sad :
Yet nothing did he dread, but ever was ydrad.

Upon a great adventure he was bound,
That glorious Gloriana to him gave,
(That greatest glorious queen of fairy lond,)
To win him worship, and her grace to have.

Which of all earthly things he most did crave;
And ever as he rode his heart did yearn
To prove his puissance in battle brave
Upon his foe, and his new force to learn ;
Upon his foe, a dragon horrible and stern.

A lovely lady rode him fair beside,
Upon a lowly ass more white than snow;
Yet she much whiter, but the same did hide
Under a veil that wimpled was full low,
And over all a black stole she did throw,
As one that inly mourned : so was she sad,
And heavy sat upon her palfrey slow;
Seemed in her heart some hidden care she had,
And by her in a line a milk-white lamb she lad.

So pure and innocent, as that same lamb,
She was in life, and every virtuous lore ;
And by descent from royal lineage came
Of ancient Kings and Queens, that had of yore
Their scepters stretcht from east to western shore,
And all the world in their subjection held;
Till that infernal fiend with foul uproar
Forwasted all their land, and them expelled ;
Whom to avenge she had this knight from far compelled.

Behind her far away a Dwarf did lag,
That lazy seemed, in being ever last,
Or wearied with bearing of her bag,
Of needments at his back. Thus as they past,
The day with clouds was sudden overcast,
And angry Jove an hideous storm of rain
Did pour into his leman's lap so fast,
That every wight to shroud it did constrain ;
And this fair couple eke to shroud themselves were fain.

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