I stumble forth through foreign wilderness,
With bloody foot and hand, without my way
And wanting to prosper by break of day.
Yet growing speed makes aiding light seem less:
I focus not on my dear Euridess.
Eternally I seem to wander ay,
Until full from the path I have away
And hope for naught, but that she me address
In thought, or voice, or vision from afar.
But where in Hell can such a hope be found?
Begin I to despair, losing this war
Within, that opens wide a mortal wound.
As life doth from me ebb, approach I see
Squire and horse, bearing arms of piety.
1. “stumble forth ... wilderness”: Reference to various sonnets which begin with a narrator lost and wandering (usually for desire or error: see Petrarch Rime 6, for example) as well as a reference to the beginning of Dante’s Inferno, in which he finds himself in a foreign wood, and the beginning of The Faerie Queene and the evil woods that the Redcross Knight and Una mistakenly enter (which takes its circumstance from the Inferno and Orlando Furioso). Orphos also stumbles because he wants to find his love quickly – he lacks the virtue of patience, and it nearly ends his journey.
2. “bloody foot and hand”: While practically speaking, this is a reference to the narrator’s wounds from stumbling through a rough wilderness, it is also an image of Christ’s stigmata (the wounds from his crucifixion) to show the Christianity and the Christian values of the protagonists within this ‘pagan’ mythological setting.
10. “where in Hell … be found?” Another reference to the Inferno and the gates of Hell which read, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”
14. Squire and horse: The squire serves as a kind of Christian deus ex machina to show God’s presence in the poem when all seems lost (like Arthur’s arrivals in The Faerie Queene). One could very tentatively tie Wiglaf (from Beowulf) into this tradition, but I cannot recall offhand if a 16 th century author would have been familiar with that poem.