Part 10 out of 10
Down, where the plain was dangerous, broad and wide,
And where his foes with their great numbers would
Perchance environ round his squadrons bold.
There all his Lorrainers and men of might,
All his best armed he placed, and chosen bands,
And with those horse some footmen armed light,
That archers were, used to that service, stands;
The adventurers then, in battle and in fight
Well tried, a squadron famous through all lands,
On the right hand he set, somedeal aside,
Rinaldo was their leader, lord and guide.
To whom the Duke, "In thee our hope is laid
Of victory, thou must the conquest gain,
Behind this mighty wing, so far displayed,
Thou with thy noble squadron close remain;
And when the Pagans would our backs invade,
Assail them then, and make their onset vain;
For if I guess aright, they have in mind
To compass us, and charge our troops behind."
Then through his host, that took so large a scope,
He rode, and viewed them all, both horse and foot;
His face was bare, his helm unclosed and ope,
Lightened his eyes, his looks bright fire shot out;
He cheers the fearful, comforts them that hope,
And to the bold recounts his boasting stout,
And to the valiant his adventures hard,
These bids he look for praise, those for reward.
At last he stayed where of his squadrons bold
And noblest troops assembled was best part;
There from a rising bank his will he told,
And all that heard his speech thereat took heart:
And as the mountain snow from mountains cold
Runs down in streams with eloquence and art,
So from his lips his words and speeches fell,
Shrill, speedy, pleasant, sweet, and placed well.
"My hardy host, you conquerors of the East,
You scourge wherewith Christ whips his heathen fone,
Of victory behold the latest feast,
See the last day for which you wished alone;
Not without cause the Saracens most and least
Our gracious Lord hath gathered here in one,
For all your foes and his assembled are,
That one day's fight may end seven years of war.
"This fight shall bring us many victories,
The danger none, the labor will be small,
Let not the number of your enemies
Dismay your hearts, grant fear no place at all;
For strife and discord through their army flies,
Their bands ill ranked themselves entangle shall,
And few of them to strike or fight shall come,
For some want strength, some heart, some elbow-room.
"This host, with whom you must encounter now,
Are men half naked, without strength or skill,
From idleness, or following the plough,
Late pressed forth to war against their will,
Their swords are blunt, shields thin, soon pierced through,
Their banners shake, their bearers shrink, for ill
Their leaders heard, obeyed, or followed be,
Their loss, their flight, their death I will foresee.
"Their captain clad in purple, armed in gold,
That seems so fierce, so hardy, stout and strong,
The Moors or weak Arabians vanquish could,
Yet can he not resist your valors long.
What can he do, though wise, though sage, though bold,
In that confusion, trouble, thrust and throng?
Ill known he is, and worse he knows his host,
Strange lords ill feared are, ill obeyed of most.
"But I am captain of this chosen crew,
With whom I oft have conquered, triumphed oft,
Your lands and lineages long since I knew,
Each knight obeys my rule, mild, easy, soft,
I know each sword, each dart, each shaft I view,
Although the quarrel fly in skies aloft,
Whether the same of Ireland be, or France,
And from what bow it comes, what hand perchance.
"I ask an easy and a usual thing,
As you have oft, this day, so win the field,
Let zeal and honor be your virtue's sting,
Your lives, my fame, Christ's faith defend and shield,
To earth these Pagans slain and wounded bring,
Tread on their necks, make them all die or yield, --
What need I more exhort you? from your eyes
I see how victory, how conquest flies."
Upon the captain, when his speech was done,
It seemed a lamp and golden light down came,
As from night's azure mantle oft doth run
Or fall, a sliding star, or shining flame;
But from the bosom of the burning sun
Proceeded this, and garland-wise the same
Godfredo's noble head encompassed round,
And, as some thought, foreshowed he should be crowned.
Perchance, if man's proud thought or saucy tongue
Have leave to judge or guess at heavenly things,
This was the angel which had kept him long,
That now came down, and hid him with his wings.
While thus the Duke bespeaks his armies strong,
And every troop and band in order brings.
Lord Emiren his host disposed well,
And with bold words whet on their courage fell;
The man brought forth his army great with speed,
In order good, his foes at hand he spied,
Like the new moon his host two horns did spreed,
In midst the foot, the horse were on each side,
The right wing kept he for himself to lead,
Great Altamore received the left to guide,
The middle ward led Muleasses proud,
And in that battle fair Armida stood.
On the right quarter stood the Indian grim,
With Tisipherne and all the king's own band;
But when the left wing spread her squadrons trim
O'er the large plain, did Altamoro stand,
With African and Persian kings with him,
And two that came from Meroe's hot sand,
And all his crossbows and his slings he placed,
Where room best served to shoot, to throw, to cast.
Thus Emiren his host put in array,
And rode from band to band, from rank to rank,
His truchmen now, and now himself, doth say,
What spoil his folk shall gain, what praise, what thank.
To him that feared, "Look up, ours is the day,"
He says, "Vile fear to bold hearts never sank,
How dareth one against an hundred fight?
Our cry, our shade, will put them all to flight."
But to the bold, "Go, hardy knight," he says,
"His prey out of this lion's paws go tear:"
To some before his thoughts the shape he lays,
And makes therein the image true appear,
How his sad country him entreats and prays,
His house, his loving wife, and children dear:
"Suppose," quoth he, "thy country doth beseech
And pray thee thus, suppose this is her speech.
"Defend my laws, uphold my temples brave,
My blood from washing of my streets withhold,
From ravishing my virgins keep, and save
Thine ancestors' dead bones and ashes cold!
To thee thy fathers dear and parents grave
Show their uncovered heads, white, hoary, old,
To thee thy wife -- her breasts with tears o'erspread --
Thy sons, their cradles, shows, thy marriage bed."
To all the rest, "You for her honor's sake
Whom Asia makes her champions, by your might
Upon these thieves, weak, feeble, few, must take
A sharp revenge, yet just, deserved and right."
Thus many words in several tongues he spake,
And all his sundry nations to sharp fight
Encouraged, but now the dukes had done
Their speeches all, the hosts together run.
It was a great, a strange and wondrous sight,
When front to front those noble armies met,
How every troop, how in each troop each knight
Stood prest to move, to fight, and praise to get,
Loose in the wind waved their ensigns light,
Trembled the plumes that on their crests were set;
Their arms, impresses, colors, gold and stone,
Against the sunbeams smiled, flamed, sparkled, shone.
Of dry topped oaks they seemed two forests thick,
So did each host with spears and pikes abound,
Bent were their bows, in rests their lances stick,
Their hands shook swords, their slings held cobbles round:
Each steed to run was ready, prest and quick,
At his commander's spur, his hand, his sound,
He chafes, he stamps, careers, and turns about,
He foams, snorts, neighs, and fire and smoke breathes out.
Horror itself in that fair fight seemed fair,
And pleasure flew amid sad dread and fear;
The trumpets shrill, that thundered in the air,
Were music mild and sweet to every ear:
The faithful camp, though less, yet seemed more rare
In that strange noise, more warlike, shrill and clear,
In notes more sweet, the Pagan trumpets jar,
These sung, their armors shined, these glistered far.
The Christian trumpets give the deadly call,
The Pagans answer, and the fight accept;
The godly Frenchmen on their knees down fall
To pray, and kissed the earth, and then up leapt
To fight, the land between was vanished all,
In combat close each host to other stepped;
For now the wings had skirmish hot begun,
And with their battles forth the footmen run.
But who was first of all the Christian train,
That gave the onset first, first won renown?
Gildippes thou wert she, for by thee slain
The King of Orms, Hircano, tumbled down,
The man's breastbone thou clov'st and rent in twain,
So Heaven with honor would thee bless and crown,
Pierced through he fell, and falling hard withal
His foe praised for her strength and for his fall.
Her lance thus broke, the hardy dame forth drew
With her strong hand a fine and trenchant blade,
And gainst the Persians fierce and bold she flew,
And in their troop wide streets and lanes she made,
Even in the girdling-stead divided new
In pieces twain, Zopire on earth she laid;
And then Alarco's head she swept off clean,
Which like a football tumbled on the green.
A blow felled Artaxerxes, with a thrust
Was Argeus slain, the first lay in a trance,
Ismael's left hand cut off fell in the dust,
For on his wrist her sword fell down by chance:
The hand let go the bridle where it lust,
The blow upon the courser's ears did glance,
Who felt the reins at large. and with the stroke
Half mad, the ranks disordered, troubled, broke.
All these, and many mo, by time forgot,
She slew and wounded, when against her came
The angry Persians all, cast on a knot,
For on her person would they purchase fame:
But her dear spouse and husband wanted not
In so great need, to aid the noble dame;
Thus joined, the haps of war unhurt they prove,
Their strength was double, double was their love.
The noble lovers use well might you see,
A wondrous guise, till then unseen, unheard,
To save themselves forgot both he and she,
Each other's life did keep, defend, and guard;
The strokes that gainst her lord discharged be,
The dame had care to bear, to break, to ward,
His shield kept off the blows bent on his dear,
Which, if need be, his naked head should bear.
So each saved other, each for other's wrong
Would vengeance take, but not revenge their own:
The valiant Soldan Artabano strong
Of Boecan Isle, by her was overthrown,
And by his hand, the bodies dead among,
Alvante, that durst his mistress wound, fell down,
And she between the eyes hit Arimont,
Who hurt her lord, and cleft in twain his front.
But Altamore who had that wing to lead
Far greater slaughter on the Christians made;
For where he turned his sword, or twined his steed,
He slew, or man and beast on earth down laid,
Happy was he that was at first struck dead,
That fell not down on live, for whom his blade
Had speared, the same cast in the dusty street
His horse tore with his teeth, bruised with his feet.
By this brave Persian's valor, killed and slain
Were strong Brunello and Ardonia great;
The first his head and helm had cleft in twain,
The last in stranger-wise he did intreat,
For through his heart he pierced, and his seat,
Where laughter hath his fountain and his seat,
So that, a dreadful thing, believed uneath,
He laughed for pain, and laughed himself to death.
Nor these alone with that accursed knife,
Of this sweet light and breath deprived lie;
But with that cruel weapon lost their life
Gentonio, Guascar, Rosimond, and Guy;
Who knows how many in that fatal strife
He slew? what knights his courser fierce made die?
The names and countries of the people slain
Who tells? their wounds and deaths who can explain?
With this fierce king encounter durst not one.
Not one durst combat him in equal field,
Gildippes undertook that task alone;
No doubt could make her shrink, no danger yield,
By Thermodont was never Amazone,
Who managed steeled axe, or carried shield,
That seemed so bold as she, so strong, so light,
When forth she run to meet that dreadful knight.
She hit him, where with gold and rich anmail,
His diadem did on his helmet flame,
She broke and cleft the crown, and caused him veil
His proud and lofty top, his crest down came,
Strong seemed her arm that could so well assail:
The Pagan shook for spite and blushed for shame,
Forward he rushed, and would at once requite
Shame with disgrace, and with revenge despite.
Right on the front he gave that lady kind
A blow so huge, so strong, so great, so sore,
That out of sense and feeling, down she twined:
But her dear knight his love from ground upbore,
Were it their fortune, or his noble mind,
He stayed his hand and strook the dame no more:
A lion so stalks by, and with proud eyes
Beholds, but scorns to hurt a man that lies.
This while Ormondo false, whose cruel hand
Was armed and prest to give the trait'rous blow,
With all his fellows mongst Godfredo's band
Entered unseen, disguised that few them know:
The thievish wolves, when night o'ershades the land,
That seem like faithful dogs in shape and show,
So to the closed folds in secret creep,
And entrance seek; to kill some harmless sheep.
He proached nigh, and to Godfredo's side
The bloody Pagan now was placed near:
But when his colors gold and white he spied,
And saw the other signs that forged were,
"See, see, this traitor false!" the captain cried,
"That like a Frenchman would in show appear,
Behold how near his mates and he are crept!"
This said, upon the villain forth he leapt;
Deadly he wounded him, and that false knight
Nor strikes nor wards nor striveth to be gone;
But, as Medusa's head were in his sight,
Stood like a man new turned to marble stone,
All lances broke, unsheathed all weapons bright,
All quivers emptied were on them alone,
In parts so many were the traitors cleft,
That those dead men had no dead bodies left.
When Godfrey was with Pagan blood bespread,
He entered then the fight and that was past
Where the bold Persian fought and combated,
Where the close ranks he opened, cleft and brast;
Before the knight the troops and squadrons fled,
As Afric dust before the southern blast;
The Duke recalled them, in array them placed,
Stayed those that fled, and him assailed that chased.
The champions strong there fought a battle stout,
Troy never saw the like by Xanthus old:
A conflict sharp there was meanwhile on foot
Twixt Baldwin good and Muleasses bold:
The horsemen also near the mountains rout,
And in both wings, a furious skirmish hold,
And where the barbarous duke in person stood,
Twixt Tisiphernes and Adrastus proud;
With Emiren Robert the Norman strove,
Long time they fought, yet neither lost nor won;
The other Robert's helm the Indian clove,
And broke his arms, their fight would soon be done:
From place to place did Tisiphernes rove,
And found no match, against him none dust run,
But where the press was thickest thither flew
The knight, and at each stroke felled, hurt, or slew.
Thus fought they long, yet neither shrink nor yield,
In equal balance hung their hope and fear:
All full of broken lances lay the field,
All full of arms that cloven and shattered were;
Of swords, some to the body nail the shield,
Some cut men's throats, and some their bellies tear;
Of bodies, some upright, some grovelling lay,
And for themselves eat graves out of the clay.
Beside his lord slain lay the noble steed,
There friend with friend lay killed like lovers true,
There foe with foe, the live under the dead,
The victor under him whom late he slew:
A hoarse unperfect sound did eachwhere spread,
Whence neither silence, nor plain outcries flew:
There fury roars, ire threats, and woe complains,
One weeps, another cries, he sighs for pains.
The arms that late so fair and glorious seem,
Now soiled and slubbered, sad and sullen grow,
The steel his brightness lost, the gold his beam;
The colors had no pride nor beauty's show;
The plumes and feathers on their crests that stream,
Are strowed wide upon the earth below:
The hosts both clad in blood, in dust and mire,
Had changed their cheer, their pride, their rich attire.
But now the Moors, Arabians, Ethiops black,
Of the left wing that held the utmost marge,
Spread forth their troops, and purposed at the back
And side their heedless foes to assail and charge:
Slingers and archers were not slow nor slack
To shoot and cast, when with his battle large
Rinaldo came, whose fury, haste and ire,
Seemed earthquake, thunder, tempest, storm and fire.
The first he met was Asimire, his throne
That set in Meroe's hot sunburnt land,
He cut his neck in twain, flesh, skin and bone,
The sable head down tumbled on the sand;
But when by death of this black prince alone
The taste of blood and conquest once he fand,
Whole squadrons then, whole troops to earth he brought,
Things wondrous, strange, incredible he wrought.
He gave more deaths than strokes, and yet his blows
Upon his feeble foes fell oft and thick,
To move three tongues as a fierce serpent shows,
Which rolls the one she hath swift, speedy, quick,
So thinks each Pagan; each Arabian trows
He wields three swords, all in one hilt that stick;
His readiness their eyes so blinded hath,
Their dread that wonder bred, fear gave it faith.
The Afric tyrants and the negro kings
Fell down on heaps, drowned each in other's blood,
Upon their people ran the knights he brings,
Pricked forward by their guide's example good,
Killed were the Pagans, broke their bows and slings:
Some died, some fell; some yielded, none withstood:
A massacre was this, no fight; these put
Their foes to death, those hold their throats to cut.
Small while they stood, with heart and hardy face,
On their bold breasts deep wounds and hurts to bear,
But fled away, and troubled in the chase
Their ranks disordered be with too much fear:
Rinaldo followed them from place to place,
Till quite discomfit and dispersed they were.
That done, he stays, and all his knights recalls,
And scorns to strike his foe that flies or falls.
Like as the wind stopped by some wood or hill,
Grows strong and fierce, tears boughs and trees in twain,
But with mild blasts, more temperate, gentle, still,
Blows through the ample field or spacious plain;
Against the rocks as sea-waves murmur shrill,
But silent pass amid the open main:
Rinaldo so, when none his force withstood,
Assuaged his fury, calmed his angry mood;
He scorned upon their fearful backs that fled
To wreak his ire and spend his force in vain,
But gainst the footmen strong his troops he led,
Whose side the Moors had open left and plain,
The Africans that should have succored
That battle, all were run away or slain,
Upon their flank with force and courage stout
His men at arms assailed the bands on foot:
He brake their pikes, and brake their close array,
Entered their battle, felled them down around,
So wind or tempest with impetuous sway
The ears of ripened corn strikes flat to ground:
With blood, arms, bodies dead, the hardened clay
Plastered the earth, no grass nor green was found;
The horsemen running through and through their bands,
Kill, murder, slay, few scape, not one withstands.
Rinaldo came where his forlorn Armide
Sate on her golden chariot mounted high,
A noble guard she had on every side
Of lords, of lovers, and much chivalry:
She knew the man when first his arms she spied,
Love, hate, wrath, sweet desire strove in her eye,
He changed somedeal his look and countenance bold,
She changed from frost to fire, from heat to cold.
The prince passed by the chariot of his dear
Like one that did his thoughts elsewhere bestow,
Yet suffered not her knights and lovers near
Their rival so to scape withouten blow,
One drew his sword, another couched his spear,
Herself an arrow sharp set in her bow,
Disdain her ire new sharped and kindled hath,
But love appeased her, love assuaged her wrath.
Love bridled fury, and revived of new
His fire, not dead, though buried in displeasure,
Three times her angry hand the bow updrew,
And thrice again let slack the string at leisure;
But wrath prevailed at last, the reed outflew,
For love finds mean, but hatred knows no measure,
Outflew the shaft, but with the shaft, this charm,
This wish she sent: Heaven grant it do no harm:
She bids the reed return the way it went,
And pierce her heart which so unkind could prove,
Such force had love, though lost and vainly spent,
What strength hath happy, kind and mutual love?
But she that gentle thought did straight repent,
Wrath, fury, kindness, in her bosom strove,
She would, she would not, that it missed or hit,
Her eyes, her heart, her wishes followed it.
But yet in vain the quarrel lighted not,
For on his hauberk hard the knight it hit,
Too hard for woman's shaft or woman's shot,
Instead of piercing, there it broke and split;
He turned away, she burnt with fury hot,
And thought he scorned her power, and in that fit
Shot oft and oft, her shafts no entrance found,
And while she shot, love gave her wound on wound.
"And is he then unpierceable," quoth she,
"That neither force nor foe he needs regard?
His limbs, perchance, armed with that hardness be,
Which makes his heart so cruel and so hard,
No shot that flies from eye or hand I see
Hurts him, such rigor doth his person guard,
Armed, or disarmed; his foe or mistress kind
Despised alike, like hate, like scorn I find.
"But what new form is left, device or art,
By which, to which exchanged, I might find grace?
For in my knights, and all that take my part,
I see no help; no hope, no trust I place;
To his great prowess, might, and valiant heart,
All strength is weak, all courage vile and base."
This said she, for she saw how through the field
Her champions fly, faint, tremble, fall and yield.
Nor left alone can she her person save,
But to be slain or taken stands in fear,
Though with a bow a javelin long she have,
Yet weak was Phebe's bow, blunt Pallas' spear.
But, as the swan, that sees the eagle brave
Threatening her flesh and silver plumes to tear,
Falls down, to hide her mongst the shady brooks:
Such were her fearful motions, such her looks.
But Altamore, this while that strove and sought
From shameful flight his Persian host to stay,
That was discomfit and destroyed to nought,
Whilst he alone maintained the fight and fray,
Seeing distressed the goddess of his thought,
To aid her ran, nay flew, and laid away
All care both of his honor and his host:
If she were safe, let all the world be lost.
To the ill-guarded chariot swift he flew,
His weapon made him way with bloody war:
Meanwhile Lord Godfrey and Rinaldo slew
His feeble bands, his people murdered are,
He saw their loss, but aided not his crew,
A better lover than a leader far,
He set Armida safe, then turned again
With tardy succor, for his folk were slain.
And on that side the woful prince beheld
The battle lost, no help nor hope remained;
But on the other wing the Christians yield,
And fly, such vantage there the Egyptians gained,
One of the Roberts was nigh slain in field;
The other by the Indian strong constrained
To yield himself his captive and his slave;
Thus equal loss and equal foil they have.
Godfredo took the time and season fit
To bring again his squadrons in array,
And either camp well ordered, ranged and knit,
Renewed the furious battle, fight and fray,
New streams of blood were shed, new swords them hit;
New combats fought, new spoils were borne away,
And unresolved and doubtful, on each side,
Did praise and conquest, Mars and Fortune ride.
Between the armies twain while thus the fight
Waxed sharp, hot, cruel, though renewed but late,
The Soldan clomb up to the tower's height,
And saw far off their strife and fell debate,
As from some stage or theatre the knight
Saw played the tragedy of human state,
Saw death, blood, murder, woe and horror strange,
And the great acts of fortune, chance, and change.
At first astonished and amazed he stood
Then burnt with wrath, and self-consuming ire,
Swelled his bosom like a raging flood,
To be amid that battle; such desire,
Such haste he had; he donned his helmet good,
His other arms he had before entire,
"Up, up!" he cried, "no more, no more, within
This fortress stay, come follow, die or win."
Whether the same were Providence divine
That made him leave the fortress he possessed,
For that the empire proud of Palestine
This day should fall, to rise again more blessed;
Or that he breaking felt the fatal line
Of life, and would meet death with constant breast,
Furious and fierce he did the gates unbar,
And sudden rage brought forth, and sudden war.
Nor stayed he till the folk on whom he cried
Assemble might, but out alone he flies,
A thousand foes the man alone defied,
And ran among a thousand enemies:
But with his fury called from every side,
The rest run out, and Aladine forth hies,
The cowards had no fear, the wise no care,
This was not hope, nor courage, but despair.
The dreadful Turk with sudden blows down cast
The first he met, nor gave them time to plain
Or pray, in murdering them he made such haste
That dead they fell ere one could see them slain;
From mouth to mouth, from eye to eye forth passed
The fear and terror, that the faithful train
Of Syrian folk, not used to dangerous fight,
Were broken, scattered, and nigh put to flight.
But with less terror, and disorder less,
The Gascoigns kept array, and kept their ground,
Though most the loss and peril them oppress,
Unwares assailed they were, unready found.
No ravening tooth or talon hard I guess
Of beast or eager hawk, doth slay and wound
So many sheep or fowls, weak, feeble, small,
As his sharp sword killed knights and soldiers tall.
It seemed his thirst and hunger 'suage he would
With their slain bodies, and their blood poured out,
With him his troops and Aladino old
Slew their besiegers, killed the Gascoign rout:
But Raymond ran to meet the Soldan bold,
Nor to encounter him had fear or doubt,
Though his right hand by proof too well he know,
Which laid him late for dead at one huge blow.
They met, and Raymond fell amid the field,
This blow again upon his forehead light,
It was the fault and weakness of his eild,
Age is not fit to bear strokes of such might,
Each one lift up his sword, advanced his shield,
Those would destroy, and these defend the knight.
On went the Soldan, for the man he thought
Was slain, or easily might be captive brought.
Among the rest he ran, he raged, he smote,
And in small space, small time, great wonders wrought
And as his rage him led and fury hot,
To kill and murder, matter new he sought:
As from his supper poor with hungry throat
A peasant hastes, to a rich feast ybrought;
So from this skirmish to the battle great
He ran, and quenched with blood his fury's heat.
Where battered was the wall he sallied out,
And to the field in haste and heat he goes,
With him went rage and fury, fear and doubt
Remained behind, among his scattered foes:
To win the conquest strove his squadron stout,
Which he unperfect left; yet loth to lose
The day, the Christians fight, resist and die,
And ready were to yield, retire and fly.
The Gascoign bands retired, but kept array,
The Syrian people ran away outright,
The fight was near the place where Tancred lay,
His house was full of noise and great affright,
He rose and 1ooked forth to see the fray,
Though every limb were weak, faint, void of might;
He saw the country lie, his men o'erthrown,
Some beaten back, some killed, some felled down.
Courage in noble hearts that ne'er is spent,
Yet fainted not, though faint were every limb,
But reinforced each member cleft and rent,
And want of blood and strength supplied in him;
In his left hand his heavy shield he hent,
Nor seemed the weight too great, his curtlax trim
His right hand drew, nor for more arms he stood
Or stayed, he needs no more whose heart is good:
But coming forth, cried, "Whither will you run,
And leave your leader to his foes in prey?
What! shall these heathen of his armor won,
In their vile temples hang up trophies gay?
Go home to Gascoign then, and tell his son
That where his father died, you ran away:"
This said, against a thousand armed foes,
He did his breast weak, naked, sick, oppose.
And with his heavy, strong and mighty targe,
That with seven hard bulls' hides was surely lined,
And strengthened with a cover thick and large
Of stiff and well-attempered steel behind,
He shielded Raymond from the furious charge,
From swords, from darts, from weapons of each kind,
And all his foes drove back with his sharp blade,
That sure and safe he lay, as in a shade.
Thus saved, thus shielded, Raymond 'gan respire,
He rose and reared himself in little space,
And in his bosom burned the double fire
Of vengeance; wrath his heart; shame filled his face;
He looked around to spy, such was his ire,
The man whose stroke had laid him in that place,
Whom when he sees not, for disdain he quakes,
And on his people sharp revengement takes.
The Gascoigns turn again, their lord in haste
To venge their loss his hand recorded brings,
The troop that durst so much now stood aghast,
For where sad fear grew late, now boldness springs,
Now followed they that fled, fled they that chased;
So in one hour altereth the state of things,
Raymond requites his loss, shame, hurt and all,
And with an hundred deaths revenged one fall.
Whilst Raymond wreaked thus his just disdain
On the proud-heads of captains, lords and peers,
He spies great Sion's king amid the train,
And to him leaps, and high his sword he rears,
And on his forehead strikes, and strikes again,
Till helm and head he breaks, he cleaves, he tears;
Down fell the king, the guiltless land he bit,
That now keeps him, because he kept not it.
Their guides, one murdered thus, the other gone,
The troops divided were, in diverse thought,
Despair made some run headlong gainst their fone,
To seek sharp death that comes uncalled, unsought;
And some, that laid their hope on flight alone,
Fled to their fort again; yet chance so wrought,
That with the flyers in the victors pass,
And so the fortress won and conquered was.
The hold was won, slain were the men that fled,
In courts, halls, chambers high; above, below,
Old Raymond fast up to the leads him sped,
And there, of victory true sign and show,
His glorious standard to the wind he spread,
That so both armies his success might know.
But Solyman saw not the town was lost,
For far from thence he was. and near the host;
Into the field he came, the lukewarm blood
Did smoke and flow through all the purple field,
There of sad death the court and palace stood,
There did he triumphs lead, and trophies build;
An armed steed fast by the Soldan yood,
That had no guide, nor lord the reins to wield,
The tyrant took the bridle, and bestrode
The courser's empty back, and forth he rode.
Great, yet but short and sudden was the aid
That to the Pagans, faint and weak, he brought,
A thunderbolt he was, you would have said,
Great, yet that comes and goes as swift as thought
And of his coming swift and flight unstayed
Eternal signs in hardest rocks hath wrought,
For by his hand a hundred knights were slain,
But time forgot hath all their names but twain;
Gildippes fair, and Edward thy dear lord,
Your noble death, sad end, and woful fate,
If so much power our vulgar tongue afford,
To all strange wits, strange ears let me dilate,
That ages all your love and sweet accord,
Your virtue, prowess, worth may imitate,
And some kind servant of true love that hears,
May grace your death, my verses, with some tears.
The noble lady thither boldly flew,
Where first the Soldan fought, and him defied,
Two mighty blows she gave the Turk untrue,
One cleft his shield, the other pierced his side;
The prince the damsel by her habit knew,
"See, see this mankind strumpet, see," he cried,
"This shameless whore, for thee fit weapons were
Thy neeld and spindle, not a sword and spear."
This said, full of disdain, rage and despite,
A strong, a fierce, a deadly stroke he gave,
And pierced her armor, pierced her bosom white,
Worthy no blows, but blows of love to have:
Her dying hand let go the bridle quite,
She faints, she falls, 'twixt life and death she strave,
Her lord to help her came, but came too late,
Yet was not that his fault, it was his fate.
What should he do? to diverse parts him call
Just ire and pity kind, one bids him go
And succor his dear lady, like to fall,
The other calls for vengeance on his foe;
Love biddeth both, love says he must do all,
And with his ire joins grief, with pity woe.
What did he then? with his left hand the knight
Would hold her up, revenge her with his right.
But to resist against a knight so bold
Too weak his will and power divided were;
So that he could not his fair love uphold,
Nor kill the cruel man that slew his dear.
His arm that did his mistress kind enfold,
The Turk cut off, pale grew his looks and cheer,
He let her fall, himself fell by her side,
And, for he could not save her, with her died.
As the high elm, whom his dear vine hath twined
Fast in her hundred arms and holds embraced,
Bears down to earth his spouse and darling kind
If storm or cruel steel the tree down cast,
And her full grapes to naught doth bruise and grind,
Spoils his own leaves, faints, withers, dies at last,
And seems to mourn and die, not for his own,
But for her death, with him that lies o'erthrown:
So fell he mourning, mourning for the dame
Whom life and death had made forever his;
They would have spoke, but not one word could frame,
Deep sobs their speech, sweet sighs their language is,
Each gazed on other's eyes, and while the same
Is lawful, join their hands, embrace and kiss:
And thus sharp death their knot of life untied,
Together fainted they, together died.
But now swift fame her nimble wings dispread,
And told eachwhere their chance, their fate, their fall,
Rinaldo heard the case, by one that fled
From the fierce Turk and brought him news of all.
Disdain, good-will, woe, wrath the champion led
To take revenge; shame, grief, for vengeance call;
But as he went, Adrastus with his blade
Forestalled the way, and show of combat made.
The giant cried, "By sundry signs I note
That whom I wish, I search, thou, thou art he,
I marked each worthy's shield, his helm, his coat,
And all this day have called and cried for thee,
To my sweet saint I have thy head devote,
Thou must my sacrifice, my offering be,
Come let us here our strength and courage try,
Thou art Armida's foe, her champion I."
Thus he defied him, on his front before,
And on his throat he struck him, yet the blow
His helmet neither bruised, cleft nor tore,
But in his saddle made him bend and bow;
Rinaldo hit him on the flank so sore,
That neither art nor herb could help him now;
Down fell the giant strong, one blow such power,
Such puissance had; so falls a thundered tower.
With horror, fear, amazedness and dread,
Cold were the hearts of all that saw the fray,
And Solyman, that viewed that noble deed,
Trembled, his paleness did his fear bewray;
For in that stroke he did his end areed,
He wist not what to think, to do, to say,
A thing in him unused, rare and strange,
But so doth heaven men's hearts turn, alter, change.
As when the sick or frantic men oft dream
In their unquiet sleep and slumber short,
And think they run some speedy course, and seem
To move their legs and feet in hasty sort,
Yet feel their limbs far slower than the stream
Of their vain thoughts that bears them in this sport,
And oft would speak, would cry, would call or shout,
Yet neither sound, nor voice, nor word send out:
So run to fight the angry Soldan would,
And did enforce his strength, his might, his ire,
Yet felt not in himself his courage old,
His wonted force, his rage and hot desire,
His eyes, that sparkled wrath and fury bold,
Grew dim and feeble, fear had quenched that fire,
And in his heart an hundred passions fought,
Yet none on fear or base retire he thought.
While unresolved he stood, the victor knight
Arrived, and seemed in quickness, haste and speed,
In boldness, greatness, goodliness and might,
Above all princes born of human seed:
The Turk small while resists, not death nor fight
Made him forget his state or race, through dreed,
He fled no strokes, he fetched no groan nor sigh,
Bold were his motions last, proud, stately, high.
Now when the Soldan, in these battles past
That Antheus-like oft fell oft rose again,
Evermore fierce, more fell, fell down at last
To lie forever, when this prince was slain,
Fortune, that seld is stable, firm or fast,
No longer durst resist the Christian train,
But ranged herself in row with Godfrey's knights,
With them she serves, she runs, she rides, she fights.
The Pagan troops, the king's own squadron fled,
Of all the east, the strength, the pride, the flower,
Late called Immortal, now discomfited,
It lost that title proud, and lost all power;
To him that with the royal standard fled,
Thus Emireno said, with speeches sour,
"Art not thou he to whom to bear I gave
My king's great banner, and his standard brave?
"This ensign, Rimedon, I gave not thee
To be the witness of thy fear and flight,
Coward, dost thou thy lord and captain see
In battle strong, and runn'st thyself from fight?
What seek'st thou? safety? come, return with me,
The way to death is path to virtue right,
Here let him fight that would escape; for this
The way to honor, way to safety is."
The man returned and swelled with scorn and shame,
The duke with speeches grave exhorts the rest;
He threats, he strikes sometime, till back they came,
And rage gainst force, despair gainst death addressed.
Thus of his broken armies gan he frame
A battle now, some hope dwelt in his breast,
But Tisiphernes bold revived him most,
Who fought and seemed to win, when all was lost;
Wonders that day wrought noble Tisipherne,
The hardy Normans all he overthrew;
The Flemings fled before the champion stern,
Gernier, Rogero, Gerard bold he slew;
His glorious deeds to praise and fame etern
His life's short date prolonged, enlarged and drew,
And then, as he that set sweet life at nought,
The greatest peril, danger, most he sought.
He spied Rinaldo, and although his field
Of azure purple now and sanguine shows,
And though the silver bird amid his shield
Were armed gules; yet he the champion knows.
And says, "Here greatest peril is, heavens yield
Strength to my courage, fortune to my blows,
That fair Armida her revenge may see,
Help, Macon, for his arms I vow to thee."
Thus prayed he, but all his vows were vain,
Mahound was deaf, or slept in heavens above,
And as a lion strikes him with his train,
His native wrath to quicken and to move,
So he awaked his fury and disdain,
And sharped his courage on the whetstone love;
Himself he saved behind his mighty targe,
And forward spurred his steed and gave the charge.
The Christian saw the hardy warrior come,
And leaped forth to undertake the fight,
The people round about gave place and room,
And wondered on that fierce and cruel sight,
Some praised their strength, their skill and courage some,
Such and so desperate blows struck either knight,
That all that saw forgot both ire and strife,
Their wounds, their hurts, forgot both death and life.
One struck, the other did both strike and wound,
His arms were surer, and his strength was more;
From Tisipheme the blood streamed down around;
His shield was deft, his helm was rent and tore.
The dame, that saw his blood besmear the ground,
His armor broke, limbs weak, wounds deep and sore,
And all her guard dead, fled, and overthrown,
Thought, now her field lay waste, her hedge lay down:
Environed with so brave a troop but late,
Now stood she in her chariot all alone,
She feared bondage, and her life did hate,
All hope of conquest and revenge was gone,
Half mad and half amazed from where she sate,
She leaped down, and fled from friends' and fone,
On a swift horse she mounts, and forth she rides
Alone, save for disdain and love, her guides.
In days of old, Queen Cleopatra so
Alone fled from the fight and cruel fray,
Against Augustus great his happy foe,
Leaving her lord to loss and sure decay.
And as that lord for love let honor go,
Followed her flying sails and lost the day:
So Tisipherne the fair and fearful dame
Would follow, but his foe forbids the same.
But when the Pagan's joy and comfort fled,
It seemed the sun was set, the day was night,
Gainst the brave prince with whom he combated
He turned, and on the forehead struck the knight:
When thunders forged are in Typhoius' bed,
Not Brontes' hammer falls so swift, so right;
The furious stroke fell on Rinaldo's crest,
And made him bend his head down to his breast.
The champion in his stirrups high upstart,
And cleft his hauberk hard and tender side,
And sheathed his weapon in the Pagan's heart,
The castle where man's life and soul do bide;
The cruel sword his breast and hinder part
With double wound unclosed, and opened wide;
And two large doors made for his life and breath,
Which passed, and cured hot love with frozen death.
This done, Rinaldo stayed and looked around,
Where he should harm his foes, or help his friends;
Nor of the Pagans saw he squadron sound:
Each standard falls, ensign to earth descends;
His fury quiet then and calm he found,
There all his wrath, his rage, and rancor ends,
He called to mind how, far from help or aid,
Armida fled, alone, amazed, afraid:
Well saw he when she fled, and with that sight
The prince had pity, courtesy and care;
He promised her to be her friend and knight
When erst he left her in the island bare:
The way she fled he ran and rode aright,
Her palfrey's feet signs in the grass outware:
But she this while found out an ugly shade,
Fit place for death, where naught could life persuade.
Well pleased was she with those shadows brown,
And yet displeased with luck, with life, with love;
There from her steed she lighted, there laid down
Her bow and shafts, her arms that helpless prove.
"There lie with shame," she says, "disgraced, o'erthrown,
Blunt are the weapons, blunt the arms I move,
Weak to revenge my harms, or harm my foe,
My shafts are blunt, ah, love, would thine were so!
Alas, among so many, could not one,
Not one draw blood, one wound or rend his skin?
All other breasts to you are marble stone,
Dare you then pierce a woman's bosom thin?
See, see, my naked heart, on this alone
Employ your force this fort is eath to win,
And love will shoot you from his mighty bow,
Weak is the shot that dripile falls in snow.
"I pardon will your fear and weakness past,
Be strong, mine arrows, cruel, sharp, gainst me,
Ah, wretch, how is thy chance and fortune cast,
If placed in these thy good and comfort be?
But since all hope is vain all help is waste,
Since hurts ease hurts, wounds must cure wounds in thee;
Then with thine arrow's stroke cure stroke of love,
Death for thy heart must salve and surgeon prove.
"And happy me if, being dead and slain,
I bear not with me this strange plague to hell:
Love, stay behind, come thou with me disdain,
And with my wronged soul forever dwell;
Or else with it turn to the world again
And vex that knight with dreams and visions fell,
And tell him, when twixt life and death I strove
My last wish, was revenge -- last word, was love."
And with that word half mad, half dead, she seems,
An arrow, poignant, strong and sharp she took,
When her dear knight found her in these extremes,
Now fit to die, and pass the Stygian brook,
Now prest to quench her own and beauty's beams;
Now death sat on her eyes, death in her look,
When to her back he stepped, and stayed her arm
Stretched forth to do that service last, last harm.
She turns and, ere she knows, her lord she spies,
Whose coming was unwished, unthought, unknown,
She shrieks, and twines away her sdainful eyes
From his sweet face, she falls dead in a swoon,
Falls as a flower half cut, that bending lies:
He held her up, and lest she tumble down,
Under her tender side his arm he placed,
His hand her girdle loosed, her gown unlaced;
And her fair face, fair bosom he bedews
With tears, tears of remorse, of ruth, of sorrow.
As the pale rose her color lost renews
With the fresh drops fallen from the silver morrow,
So she revives, and cheeks empurpled shows
Moist with their own tears and with tears they borrow;
Thrice looked she up, her eyes thrice closed she;
As who say, "Let me die, ere look on thee."
And his strong arm, with weak and feeble hand
She would have thrust away, loosed and untwined:
Oft strove she, but in vain, to break that band,
For he the hold he got not yet resigned,
Herself fast bound in those dear knots she fand,
Dear, though she feigned scorn, strove and repined:
At last she speaks, she weeps, complains and cries;
Yet durst not, did not, would not see his eyes.
"Cruel at thy departure, at return
As cruel, say, what chance thee hither guideth,
Would'st thou prevent her death whose heart forlorn
For thee, for thee death's strokes each hour divideth?
Com'st thou to save my life? alas, what scorn,
What torment for Armida poor abideth?
No, no, thy crafts and sleights I well descry,
But she can little do that cannot die.
"Thy triumph is not great nor well arrayed
Unless in chains thou lead a captive dame:
A dame now ta'en by force, before betrayed,
This is thy greatest glory, greatest fame:
Time was that thee of love and life I prayed,
Let death now end my love. my life, my shame.
Yet let not thy false hand bereave this breath,
For if it were thy gift, hateful were death.
"Cruel, myself an hundred ways can find,
To rid me from thy malice, from thy hate,
If weapons sharp, if poisons of all kind,
If fire, if strangling fail, in that estate,
Yet ways enough I know to stop this wind:
A thousand entries hath the house of fate.
Ah, leave these flatteries, leave weak hope to move,
Cease, cease, my hope is dead, dead is my love."
Thus mourned she, and from her watery eyes
Disdain and love dropped down, rolled up in tears;
From his pure fountains ran two streams likewise,
Wherein chaste pity and mild ruth appears:
Thus with sweet words the queen he pacifies,
"Madam, appease your grief, your wrath, your fears,
For to be crowned, not scorned, your life I save;
Your foe nay, but your friend, your knight, your slave.
"But if you trust no speech. no oath, no word;
Yet in mine eyes, my zeal, my truth behold:
For to that throne, whereof thy sire was lord,
I will restore thee, crown thee with that gold,
And if high Heaven would so much grace afford
As from thy heart this cloud this veil unfold
Of Paganism, in all the east no dame
Should equalize thy fortune, state and fame."
Thus plaineth he, thus prays, and his desire
Endears with sighs that fly and tears that fall;
That as against the warmth of Titan's fire,
Snowdrifts consume on tops of mountains tall,
So melts her wrath; but love remains entire.
"Behold," she says, "your handmaid and your thrall:
My life, my crown, my wealth use at your pleasure;"
Thus death her life became, loss proved her tensure.
This while the captain of the Egyptian host, --
That saw his royal standard laid on ground,
Saw Rimedon, that ensign's prop and post,
By Godfrey's noble hand killed with one wound,
And all his folk discomfit, slain and lost,
No coward was in this last battle found,
But rode about and sought, nor sought in vain,
Some famous hand of which he might be slain;
Against Lord Godfrey boldly out he flew,
For nobler foe he wished not, could not spy,
Of desperate courage showed he tokens true,
Where'er he joined, or stayed, or passed by,
And cried to the Duke as near he drew,
"Behold of thy strong hand I come to die,
Yet trust to overthrow thee with my fall,
My castle's ruins shall break down thy wall."
This said, forth spurred they both, both high advance
Their swords aloft, both struck at once, both hit,
His left arm wounded had the knight of France,
His shield was pierced, his vantbrace cleft and split,
The Pagan backward fell, half in a trance,
On his left ear his foe so hugely smit,
And as he sought to rise, Godfredo's sword
Pierced him through, so died that army's lord.
Of his great host, when Emiren was dead,
Fled the small remnant that alive remained;
Godfrey espied as he turned his steed,
Great Altamore on foot, with blood all stained,
With half a sword, half helm upon his head,
Gainst whom a hundred fought, yet not one gained.
"Cease, cease this strife," he cried: "and thou, brave knight,
Yield, I am Godfrey, yield thee to my might!"
He that till then his proud and haughty heart
To act of humbleness did never bend,
When that great name he heard, from the north part
Of our wide world renowned to Aethiop's end,
Answered, "I yield to thee, thou worthy art,
I am thy prisoner, fortune is thy friend:
On Altamoro great thy conquest bold
Of glory shall be rich, and rich of gold:
"My loving queen, my wife and lady kind
Shall ransom me with jewels, gold and treasure."
"God shield," quoth Godfrey, "that my noble mind
Should praise and virtue so by profit measure,
All that thou hast from Persia and from Inde
Enjoy it still, therein I take no pleasure;
I set no rent on life, no price on blood,
I fight, and sell not war for gold or good."
This said, he gave him to his knights to keep
And after those that fled his course he bent;
They to their rampiers fled and trenches deep,
Yet could not so death's cruel stroke prevent:
The camp was won, and all in blood doth steep
The blood in rivers streamed from tent to tent,
It soiled, defiled, defaced all the prey,
Shields, helmets, armors, plumes and feathers gay.
Thus conquered Godfrey, and as yet the sun
Dived not in silver waves his golden wain,
But daylight served him to the fortress won
With his victorious host to turn again,
His bloody coat he put not off, but run
To the high temple with his noble train,
And there hung up his arms, and there he bows
His knees, there prayed, and there performed his vows.