The Faerie Queene

by Edmund Spenser

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"Divine Tobacco"

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Context: The bold and virtuous squire, Timias, pursues a wicked foster, or forester, who had attempted an assault upon the person of the beautiful damsel, Florimell. The foster, knowing the woods, escapes from the pursuit and makes his way to his two brothers, who are as wicked and depraved as he; the three band together to go to meet Timias, with whom they do battle. He finally slays all three of them, but not before he is severely wounded in the thigh by an arrow. The wound and the resultant loss of blood cause him to fall in a faint, almost dead, upon the ground. In the meanwhile the beautiful Belphoebe is ranging the forest in search of a wild beast that she has wounded in the chase. Instead of finding her prey, she comes upon the unconscious Timias, who lies weltering in his blood. Tenderly she removes his armor, and at the sight of his face she falls completely in love with him. She tries for a while unsuccessfully to revive him to consciousness, and then decides that medicines are called for:

Into the woods thenceforth in hast she went,
To seeke for hearbes, that mote him remedy;
For she of hearbes had great intendiment,
Taught of the Nymphe, which from her infancy
Her nourced had in trew Nobility;
There, whether it diuine Tobacco were,
Or Panachaea, or Polygony,
She found, and brought it to her patient deare
Who al this while lay bleeding out his hartbloud neare.

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