Part 2 out of 10
Had fitter time or greater cause to moan."
This while the wary watchman looked over,
From tops of Sion's towers, the hills and dales,
And saw the dust the fields and pastures cover,
As when thick mists arise from moory vales.
At last the sun-bright shields he gan discover,
And glistering helms for violence none that fails,
The metal shone like lightning bright in skies,
And man and horse amid the dust descries.
Then loud he cries, "O what a dust ariseth!
O how it shines with shields and targets clear!
Up, up, to arms, for valiant heart despiseth
The threatened storm of death and danger near.
Behold your foes;" then further thus deviseth,
"Haste, haste, for vain delay increaseth fear,
These horrid clouds of dust that yonder fly,
Your coming foes does hide, and hide the sky."
The tender children, and the fathers old,
The aged matrons, and the virgin chaste,
That durst not shake the spear, nor target hold,
Themselves devoutly in their temples placed;
The rest, of members strong and courage bold,
On hardy breasts their harness donned in haste,
Some to the walls, some to the gates them dight,
Their king meanwhile directs them all aright.
All things well ordered, he withdrew with speed
Up to a turret high, two ports between,
That so he might be near at every need,
And overlook the lands and furrows green.
Thither he did the sweet Erminia lead,
That in his court had entertained been
Since Christians Antioch did to bondage bring,
And slew her father, who thereof was king.
Against their foes Clorinda sallied out,
And many a baron bold was by her side,
Within the postern stood Argantes stout
To rescue her, if ill mote her betide:
With speeches brave she cheered her warlike rout,
And with bold words them heartened as they ride,
"Let us by some brave act," quoth she, "this day
Of Asia's hopes the groundwork found and lay."
While to her folk thus spake the virgin brave,
Thereby behold forth passed a Christian band
Toward the camp, that herds of cattle drave,
For they that morn had forayed all the land;
The fierce virago would that booty save,
Whom their commander singled hand for hand,
A mighty man at arms, who Guardo hight,
But far too weak to match with her in fight.
They met, and low in dust was Guardo laid,
'Twixt either army, from his sell down kest,
The Pagans shout for joy, and hopeful said,
Those good beginnings would have endings blest:
Against the rest on went the noble maid,
She broke the helm, and pierced the armed breast,
Her men the paths rode through made by her sword,
They pass the stream where she had found the ford.
Soon was the prey out of their hands recovered,
By step and step the Frenchmen gan retire,
Till on a little hill at last they hovered,
Whose strength preserved them from Clorinda's ire:
When, as a tempest that hath long been covered
In watery clouds breaks out with sparkling fire,
With his strong squadron Lord Tancredi came,
His heart with rage, his eyes with courage flame.
Mast great the spear was which the gallant bore
That in his warlike pride he made to shake,
As winds tall cedars toss on mountains hoar:
The king, that wondered at his bravery, spake
To her, that near him seated was before,
Who felt her heart with love's hot fever quake,
"Well shouldst thou know," quoth he, "each Christian knight,
By long acquaintance, though in armor dight.
"Say, who is he shows so great worthiness,
That rides so rank, and bends his lance so fell?"
To this the princess said nor more nor less,
Her heart with sighs, her eyes with tears, did swell;
But sighs and tears she wisely could suppress,
Her love and passion she dissembled well,
And strove her love and hot desire to cover,
Till heart with sighs, and eyes with tears ran over:
At last she spoke, and with a crafty sleight
Her secret love disguised in clothes of hate:
"Alas, too well," she says, "I know that knight,
I saw his force and courage proved late,
Too late I viewed him, when his power and might
Shook down the pillar of Cassanoe's state;
Alas what wounds he gives! how fierce, how fell!
No physic helps them cure, nor magic's spell.
"Tancred he hight, O Macon, would he wear
My thrall, ere fates him of this life deprive,
For to his hateful head such spite I bear,
I would him reave his cruel heart on live."
Thus said she, they that her complainings hear
In other sense her wishes credit give.
She sighed withal, they construed all amiss,
And thought she wished to kill, who longed to kiss.
This while forth pricked Clorinda from the throng
And 'gainst Tancredi set her spear in rest,
Upon their helms they cracked their lances long,
And from her head her gilden casque he kest,
For every lace he broke and every thong,
And in the dust threw down her plumed crest,
About her shoulders shone her golden locks,
Like sunny beams, on alabaster rocks.
Her looks with fire, her eyes with lightning blaze,
Sweet was her wrath, what then would be her smile?
Tancred, whereon think'st thou? what dost thou gaze?
Hast thou forgot her in so short a while?
The same is she, the shape of whose sweet face
The God of Love did in thy heart compile,
The same that left thee by the cooling stream,
Safe from sun's heat, but scorched with beauty's beam.
The prince well knew her, though her painted shield
And golden helm he had not marked before,
She saved her head, and with her axe well steeled
Assailed the knight; but her the knight forbore,
'Gainst other foes he proved him through the field,
Yet she for that refrained ne'er the more,
But following, "Turn thee," cried, in ireful wise;
And so at once she threats to kill him twice.
Not once the baron lifts his armed hand
To strike the maid, but gazing on her eyes,
Where lordly Cupid seemed in arms to stand,
No way to ward or shun her blows he tries;
But softly says, "No stroke of thy strong hand
Can vanquish Tancred, but thy conquest lies
In those fair eyes, which fiery weapons dart,
That find no lighting place except this heart."
At last resolved, although he hoped small grace,
Yet ere he did to tell how much he loved,
For pleasing words in women's ears find place,
And gentle hearts with humble suits are moved:
"O thou," quoth he, "withhold thy wrath a space,
For if thou long to see my valor proved,
Were it not better from this warlike rout
Withdrawn, somewhere, alone to fight it out?
"So singled, may we both our courage try:"
Clorinda to that motion yielded glad,
And helmless to the forestward gan hie,
Whither the prince right pensive wend and sad,
And there the virgin gan him soon defy.
One blow she strucken, and he warded had,
When he cried, "Hold, and ere we prove our might,
First hear thou some conditions of the fight."
She stayed, and desperate love had made him bold;
"Since from the fight thou wilt no respite give,
The covenants be," he said, "that thou unfold
This wretched bosom, and my heart out rive,
Given thee long since, and if thou, cruel, would
I should be dead, let me no longer live,
But pierce this breast, that all the world may say,
The eagle made the turtle-dove her prey.
"Save with thy grace, or let thine anger kill,
Love hath disarmed my life of all defence;
An easy labor harmless blood to spill,
Strike then, and punish where is none offence."
This said the prince, and more perchance had will
To have declared, to move her cruel sense.
But in ill time of Pagans thither came
A troop, and Christians that pursued the same.
The Pagans fled before their valiant foes,
For dread or craft, it skills not that we know,
A soldier wild, careless to win or lose,
Saw where her locks about the damsel flew,
And at her back he proffereth as he goes
To strike where her he did disarmed view:
But Tancred cried, "Oh stay thy cursed hand,"
And for to ward the blow lift up his brand.
But yet the cutting steel arrived there,
Where her fair neck adjoined her noble head,
Light was the wound, but through her amber hair
The purple drops down railed bloody red,
So rubies set in flaming gold appear:
But Lord Tancredi, pale with rage as lead,
Flew on the villain, who to flight him bound;
The smart was his, though she received the wound.
The villain flies, he, full of rage and ire,
Pursues, she stood and wondered on them both,
But yet to follow them showed no desire,
To stray so far she would perchance be loth,
But quickly turned her, fierce as flaming fire,
And on her foes wreaked her anger wroth,
On every side she kills them down amain,
And now she flies, and now she turns again.
As the swift ure by Volga's rolling flood
Chased through the plains the mastiff curs toforn,
Flies to the succor of some neighbor wood,
And often turns again his dreadful horn
Against the dogs imbrued in sweat and blood,
That bite not, till the beast to flight return;
Or as the Moors at their strange tennice run,
Defenced, the flying balls unhurt to shun:
So ran Clorinda, so her foes pursued,
Until they both approached the city's wall,
When lo! the Pagans their fierce wrath renewed,
Cast in a ring about they wheeled all,
And 'gainst the Christians' backs and sides they showed
Their courage fierce, and to new combat fall,
When down the hill Argantes came to fight,
Like angry Mars to aid the Trojan knight.
Furious, tofore the foremost of his rank,
In sturdy steel forth stept the warrior bold,
The first he smote down from his saddle sank,
The next under his steel lay on the mould,
Under the Saracen's spear the worthies shrank,
No breastplate could that cursed tree outhold,
When that was broke his precious sword he drew,
And whom he hit, he felled, hurt, or slew.
Clorinda slew Ardelio; aged knight,
Whose graver years would for no labor yield,
His age was full of puissance and might
Two sons he had to guard his noble eild,
The first, far from his father's care and sight,
Called Alicandro wounded lay in field,
And Poliphern the younger, by his side,
Had he not nobly fought had surely died.
Tancred by this, that strove to overtake
The villain that had hurt his only dear,
From vain pursuit at last returned back,
And his brave troop discomfit saw well near,
Thither he spurred, and gan huge slaughter make,
His shock no steed, his blow no knight could bear,
For dead he strikes him whom he lights upon,
So thunders break high trees on Lebanon.
Dudon his squadron of adventurers brings,
To aid the worthy and his tired crew,
Before the residue young Rinaldo flings
As swift as fiery lightning kindled new,
His argent eagle with her silver wings
In field of azure, fair Erminia knew,
"See there, sir King," she says, "a knight as bold
And brave, as was the son of Peleus old.
"He wins the prize in joust and tournament,
His acts are numberless, though few his years,
If Europe six likes him to war had sent
Among these thousand strong of Christian peers,
Syria were lost, lost were the Orient,
And all the lands the Southern Ocean wears,
Conquered were all hot Afric's tawny kings,
And all that dwells by Nilus' unknown springs.
"Rinaldo is his name, his armed fist
Breaks down stone walls, when rams and engines fail,
But turn your eyes because I would you wist
What lord that is in green and golden mail,
Dudon he hight who guideth as him list
The adventurers' troop whose prowess seld doth fail,
High birth, grave years, and practise long in war,
And fearless heart, make him renowned far.
"See that big man that all in brown is bound,
Gernando called, the King of Norway's son,
A prouder knight treads not on grass or ground,
His pride hath lost the praise his prowess won;
And that kind pair in white all armed round,
Is Edward and Gildippes, who begun
Through love the hazard of fierce war to prove,
Famous for arms, but famous more for love."
While thus they tell their foemen's worthiness,
The slaughter rageth in the plain at large.
Tancred and young Rinaldo break the press,
They bruise the helm, and press the sevenfold targe;
The troop by Dudon led performed no less,
But in they come and give a furious charge:
Argantes' self fell at one single blow,
Inglorious, bleeding lay, on earth full low:
Nor had the boaster ever risen more,
But that Rinaldo's horse e'en then down fell,
And with the fall his leg opprest so sore,
That for a space there must be algates dwell.
Meanwhile the Pagan troops were nigh forlore,
Swiftly they fled, glad they escaped so well,
Argantes and with him Clorinda stout,
For bank and bulwark served to save the rout.
These fled the last, and with their force sustained
The Christians' rage, that followed them so near;
Their scattered troops to safety well they trained,
And while the residue fled, the brunt these bear;
Dudon pursued the victory he gained,
And on Tigranes nobly broke his spear,
Then with his sword headless to ground him cast,
So gardeners branches lop that spring too fast.
Algazar's breastplate, of fine temper made,
Nor Corban's helmet, forged by magic art,
Could save their owners, for Lord Dudon's blade
Cleft Corban's head, and pierced Algazar's heart,
And their proud souls down to the infernal shade,
From Amurath and Mahomet depart;
Not strong Argantes thought his life was sure,
He could not safely fly, nor fight secure.
The angry Pagan bit his lips for teen,
He ran, he stayed, he fled, he turned again,
Until at last unmarked, unviewed, unseen,
When Dudon had Almansor newly slain,
Within his side he sheathed his weapon keen,
Down fell the worthy on the dusty plain,
And lifted up his feeble eyes uneath,
Opprest with leaden sleep, of iron death.
Three times he strove to view Heaven's golden ray,
And raised him on his feeble elbow thrice,
And thrice he tumbled on the lowly lay,
And three times closed again his dying eyes,
He speaks no word, yet makes his signs to pray;
He sighs, he faints, he groans, and then he dies;
Argantes proud to spoil the corpse disdained,
But shook his sword with blood of Dudon stained.
And turning to the Christian knights, he cried:
"Lordlings, behold, this bloody reeking blade
Last night was given me by your noble guide,
Tell him what proof thereof this day is made,
Needs must this please him well that is betide,
That I so well can use this martial trade,
To whom so rare a gift he did present,
Tell him the workman fits the instrument.
"If further proof thereof he long to see,
Say it still thirsts, and would his heart-blood drink;
And if he haste not to encounter me,
Say I will find him when he least doth think."
The Christians at his words enraged be,
But he to shun their ire doth safely shrink
Under the shelter of the neighbor wall,
Well guarded with his troops and soldiers all.
Like storms of hail the stones fell down from high,
Cast from their bulwarks, flankers, ports and towers,
The shafts and quarries from their engines fly,
As thick as falling drops in April showers:
The French withdrew, they list not press too nigh,
The Saracens escaped all the powers,
But now Rinaldo from the earth upleapt,
Where by the leg his steed had long him kept;
He came and breathed vengeance from his breast
'Gainst him that noble Dudon late had slain;
And being come thus spoke he to the rest,
"Warriors, why stand you gazing here in vain?
Pale death our valiant leader had opprest,
Come wreak his loss, whom bootless you complain.
Those walls are weak, they keep but cowards out
No rampier can withstand a courage stout.
"Of double iron, brass or adamant,
Or if this wall were built of flaming fire,
Yet should the Pagan vile a fortress want
To shroud his coward head safe from mine ire;
Come follow then, and bid base fear avaunt,
The harder work deserves the greater hire;"
And with that word close to the walls he starts,
Nor fears he arrows, quarries, stones or darts.
Above the waves as Neptune lift his eyes
To chide the winds, that Trojan ships opprest,
And with his countenance calmed seas, winds and skies;
So looked Rinaldo, when he shook his crest
Before those walls, each Pagan fears and flies
His dreadful sight, or trembling stayed at least:
Such dread his awful visage on them cast.
So seem poor doves at goshawks' sight aghast.
The herald Ligiere now from Godfrey came,
To will them stay and calm their courage hot;
"Retire," quoth he, "Godfrey commands the same;
To wreak your ire this season fitteth not;"
Though loth, Rinaldo stayed, and stopped the flame,
That boiled in his hardy stomach hot;
His bridled fury grew thereby more fell,
So rivers, stopped, above their banks do swell.
The hands retire, not dangered by their foes
In their retreat, so wise were they and wary,
To murdered Dudon each lamenting goes,
From wonted use of ruth they list not vary.
Upon their friendly arms they soft impose
The noble burden of his corpse to carry:
Meanwhile Godfredo from a mountain great
Beheld the sacred city and her seat.
Hierusalem is seated on two hills
Of height unlike, and turned side to side,
The space between, a gentle valley fills,
From mount to mount expansed fair and wide.
Three sides are sure imbarred with crags and hills,
The rest is easy, scant to rise espied:
But mighty bulwarks fence that plainer part,
So art helps nature, nature strengtheneth art.
The town is stored of troughs and cisterns, made
To keep fresh water, but the country seems
Devoid of grass, unfit for ploughmen's trade,
Not fertile, moist with rivers, wells and streams;
There grow few trees to make the summer's shade,
To shield the parched land from scorching beams,
Save that a wood stands six miles from the town,'
With aged cedars dark, and shadows brown.
By east, among the dusty valleys, glide
The silver streams of Jordan's crystal flood;
By west, the Midland Sea, with bounders tied
Of sandy shores, where Joppa whilom stood;
By north Samaria stands, and on that side
The golden calf was reared in Bethel wood;
Bethlem by south, where Christ incarnate was,
A pearl in steel, a diamond set in brass.
While thus the Duke on every side descried
The city's strength, the walls and gates about,
And saw where least the same was fortified,
Where weakest seemed the walls to keep him out;
Ermina as he armed rode, him spied,
And thus bespake the heathen tyrant stout,
"See Godfrey there, in purple clad and gold,
His stately port, and princely look behold.
"Well seems he born to be with honor crowned,
So well the lore he knows of regiment,
Peerless in fight, in counsel grave and sound,
The double gift of glory excellent,
Among these armies is no warrior found
Graver in speech, bolder in tournament.
Raymond pardie in counsel match him might;
Tancred and young Rinaldo like in fight."
To whom the king: "He likes me well therefore,
I knew him whilom in the court of France
When I from Egypt went ambassador,
I saw him there break many a sturdy lance,
And yet his chin no sign of manhood bore;
His youth was forward, but with governance,
His words, his actions, and his portance brave,
Of future virtue, timely tokens gave.
"Presages, ah too true:" with that a space
He sighed for grief, then said, "Fain would I know
The man in red, with such a knightly grace,
A worthy lord he seemeth by his show,
How like to Godfrey looks he in the face,
How like in person! but some-deal more low."
"Baldwin," quoth she, "that noble baron hight,
By birth his brother, and his match in might.
"Next look on him that seems for counsel fit,
Whose silver locks betray his store of days,
Raymond he hight, a man of wondrous wit,
Of Toulouse lord, his wisdom is his praise;
What he forethinks doth, as he looks for, hit,
His stratagems have good success always:
With gilded helm beyond him rides the mild
And good Prince William, England's king's dear child.
"With him is Guelpho, as his noble mate,
In birth, in acts, in arms alike the rest,
I know him well, since I beheld him late,
By his broad shoulders and his squared breast:
But my proud foe that quite hath ruinate
My high estate, and Antioch opprest,
I see not, Boemond, that to death did bring
Mine aged lord, my father, and my king."
Thus talked they; meanwhile Godfredo went
Down to the troops that in the valley stayed,
And for in vain he thought the labor spent,
To assail those parts that to the mountains laid,
Against the northern gate his force he bent,
Gainst it he camped, gainst it his engines played;
All felt the fury of his angry power,
That from those gates lies to the corner tower.
The town's third part was this, or little less,
Fore which the duke his glorious ensigns spread,
For so great compass had that forteress,
That round it could not be environed
With narrow siege -- nor Babel's king I guess
That whilom took it, such an army led --
But all the ways he kept, by which his foe
Might to or from the city come or go.
His care was next to cast the trenches deep,
So to preserve his resting camp by night,
Lest from the city while his soldiers sleep
They might assail them with untimely flight.
This done he went where lords and princes weep
With dire complaints about the murdered knight,
Where Dudon dead lay slaughtered on the ground.
And all the soldiers sat lamenting round.
His wailing friends adorned the mournful bier
With woful pomp, whereon his corpse they laid,
And when they saw the Bulloigne prince draw near,
All felt new grief, and each new sorrow made;
But he, withouten show or change of cheer,
His springing tears within their fountains stayed,
His rueful looks upon the corpse he cast
Awhile, and thus bespake the same at last;
"We need not mourn for thee, here laid to rest,
Earth is thy bed, and not the grave the skies
Are for thy soul the cradle and the nest,
There live, for here thy glory never dies:
For like a Christian knight and champion blest
Thou didst both live and die: now feed thine eyes
With thy Redeemer's sight, where crowned with bliss
Thy faith, zeal, merit, well-deserving is.
"Our loss, not thine, provokes these plaints and tears:
For when we lost thee, then our ship her mast,
Our chariot lost her wheels, their points our spears,
The bird of conquest her chief feather cast:
But though thy death far from our army hears
Her chiefest earthly aid, in heaven yet placed
Thou wilt procure its help Divine, so reaps
He that sows godly sorrow, joy by heaps.
"For if our God the Lord Armipotent
Those armed angels in our aid down send
That were at Dothan to his prophet sent,
Thou wilt come down with them, and well defend
Our host, and with thy sacred weapons bent
Gainst Sion's fort, these gates and bulwarks rend,
That so by hand may win this hold, and we
May in these temples praise our Christ for thee."
Thus he complained; but now the sable shade
Ycleped night, had thick enveloped
The sun in veil of double darkness made;
Sleep, eased care; rest, brought complaint to bed:
All night the wary duke devising laid
How that high wall should best be battered,
How his strong engines he might aptly frame,
And whence get timber fit to build the same.
Up with the lark the sorrowful duke arose,
A mourner chief at Dudon's burial,
Of cypress sad a pile his friends compose
Under a hill o'ergrown with cedars tall,
Beside the hearse a fruitful palm-tree grows,
Ennobled since by this great funeral,
Where Dudon's corpse they softly laid in ground,
The priest sung hymns, the soldiers wept around.
Among the boughs, they here and there bestow
Ensigns and arms, as witness of his praise,
Which he from Pagan lords, that did them owe,
Had won in prosperous fights and happy frays:
His shield they fixed on the hole below,
And there this distich under-writ, which says,
"This palm with stretched arms, doth overspread
The champion Dudon's glorious carcase dead."
This work performed with advisement good,
Godfrey his carpenters, and men of skill
In all the camp, sent to an aged wood,
With convoy meet to guard them safe from ill.
Within a valley deep this forest stood,
To Christian eyes unseen, unknown, until
A Syrian told the duke, who thither sent
Those chosen workmen that for timber went.
And now the axe raged in the forest wild,
The echo sighed in the groves unseen,
The weeping nymphs fled from their bowers exiled,
Down fell the shady tops of shaking treen,
Down came the sacred palms, the ashes wild,
The funeral cypress, holly ever green,
The weeping fir, thick beech, and sailing pine,
The married elm fell with his fruitful vine.
The shooter grew, the broad-leaved sycamore,
The barren plantain, and the walnut sound,
The myrrh, that her foul sin doth still deplore,
The alder owner of all waterish ground,
Sweet juniper, whose shadow hurteth sore,
Proud cedar, oak, the king of forests crowned;
Thus fell the trees, with noise the deserts roar;
The beasts, their caves, the birds, their nests forlore.
Satan his fiends and spirits assembleth all,
And sends them forth to work the Christians woe,
False Hidraort their aid from hell doth call,
And sends Armida to entrap his foe:
She tells her birth, her fortune, and her fall,
Asks aid, allures and wins the worthies so
That they consent her enterprise to prove;
She wins them with deceit, craft, beauty, love.
While thus their work went on with lucky speed,
And reared rams their horned fronts advance,
The Ancient Foe to man, and mortal seed,
His wannish eyes upon them bent askance;
And when he saw their labors well succeed,
He wept for rage, and threatened dire mischance.
He choked his curses, to himself he spake,
Such noise wild bulls that softly bellow make.
At last resolving in his damned thought
To find some let to stop their warlike feat,
He gave command his princes should be brought
Before the throne of his infernal seat.
O fool! as if it were a thing of naught
God to resist, or change his purpose great,
Who on his foes doth thunder in his ire,
Whose arrows hailstones he and coals of fire.
The dreary trumpet blew a dreadful blast,
And rumbled through the lands and kingdoms under,
Through wasteness wide it roared, and hollows vast,
And filled the deep with horror, fear and wonder,
Not half so dreadful noise the tempests cast,
That fall from skies with storms of hail and thunder,
Not half so loud the whistling winds do sing,
Broke from the earthen prisons of their King.
The peers of Pluto's realm assembled been
Amid the palace of their angry King,
In hideous forms and shapes, tofore unseen,
That fear, death, terror and amazement bring,
With ugly paws some trample on the green,
Some gnaw the snakes that on their shoulders hing,
And some their forked tails stretch forth on high,
And tear the twinkling stars from trembling sky.
There were Silenus' foul and loathsome route,
There Sphinxes, Centaurs, there were Gorgons fell,
There howling Scillas, yawling round about,
There serpents hiss, there seven-mouthed Hydras yell,
Chimera there spues fire and brimstone out,
And Polyphemus blind supporteth hell,
Besides ten thousand monsters therein dwells
Misshaped, unlike themselves, and like naught else.
About their princes each took his wonted seat
On thrones red-hot, ybuilt of burning brass,
Pluto in middest heaved his trident great,
Of rusty iron huge that forged was,
The rocks on which the salt sea billows beat,
And Atlas' tops, the clouds in height that pass,
Compared to his huge person mole-hills be,
So his rough front, his horns so lifted he.
The tyrant proud frowned from his lofty cell,
And with his looks made all his monsters tremble,
His eyes, that full of rage and venom swell,
Two beacons seem, that men to arms assemble,
His feltered locks, that on his bosom fell,
On rugged mountains briars and thorns resemble,
His yawning mouth, that foamed clotted blood,
Gaped like a whirlpool wide in Stygian flood.
And as Mount Etna vomits sulphur out,
With cliffs of burning crags, and fire and smoke,
So from his mouth flew kindled coals about,
Hot sparks and smells that man and beast would choke,
The gnarring porter durst not whine for doubt;
Still were the Furies, while their sovereign spoke,
And swift Cocytus stayed his murmur shrill,
While thus the murderer thundered out his will:
"Ye powers infernal, worthier far to sit
About the sun, whence you your offspring take,
With me that whilom, through the welkin flit,
Down tumbled headlong to this empty lake;
Our former glory still remember it,
Our bold attempts and war we once did make
Gainst him, that rules above the starry sphere,
For which like traitors we lie damned here.
"And now instead of clear and gladsome sky,
Of Titan's brightness, that so glorious is,
In this deep darkness lo we helpless lie,
Hopeless again to joy our former bliss,
And more, which makes my griefs to multiply,
That sinful creature man, elected is;
And in our place the heavens possess he must,
Vile man, begot of clay, and born of dust.
"Nor this sufficed, but that he also gave
His only Son, his darling to be slain,
To conquer so, hell, death, sin and the grave,
And man condemned to restore again,
He brake our prisons and would algates save
The souls there here should dwell in woe and pain,
And now in heaven with him they live always
With endless glory crowned, and lasting praise.
"But why recount I thus our passed harms?
Remembrance fresh makes weakened sorrows strong,
Expulsed were we with injurious arms
From those due honors, us of right belong.
But let us leave to speak of these alarms,
And bend our forces gainst our present wrong:
Ah! see you not, how he attempted hath
To bring all lands, all nations to his faith?
"Then, let us careless spend the day and night,
Without regard what haps, what comes or goes,
Let Asia subject be to Christians' might,
A prey he Sion to her conquering foes,
Let her adore again her Christ aright,
Who her before all nations whilom chose;
In brazen tables he his lore ywrit,
And let all tongues and lands acknowledge it.
"So shall our sacred altars all be his,
Our holy idols tumbled in the mould,
To him the wretched man that sinful is
Shall pray, and offer incense, myrrh and gold;
Our temples shall their costly deckings miss,
With naked walls and pillars freezing cold,
Tribute of souls shall end, and our estate,
Or Pluto reign in kingdoms desolate.
"Oh, he not then the courage perished clean,
That whilom dwelt within your haughty thought,
When, armed with shining fire and weapons keen,
Against the angels of proud Heaven we fought,
I grant we fell on the Phlegrean green,
Yet good our cause was, though our fortune naught;
For chance assisteth oft the ignobler part,
We lost the field, yet lost we not our heart.
"Go then, my strength, my hope, my Spirits go,
These western rebels with your power withstand,
Pluck up these weeds, before they overgrow
The gentle garden of the Hebrews' land,
Quench out this spark, before it kindles so
That Asia burn, consumed with the brand.
Use open force, or secret guile unspied;
For craft is virtue gainst a foe defied.
"Among the knights and worthies of their train,
Let some like outlaws wander uncouth ways,
Let some be slain in field, let some again
Make oracles of women's yeas and nays,
And pine in foolish love, let some complain
On Godfrey's rule, and mutinies gainst him raise,
Turn each one's sword against his fellow's heart,
Thus kill them all or spoil the greatest part."
Before his words the tyrant ended had,
The lesser devils arose with ghastly roar,
And thronged forth about the world to gad,
Each land they filled, river, stream and shore,
The goblins, fairies, fiends and furies mad,
Ranged in flowery dales, and mountains hoar,
And under every trembling leaf they sit,
Between the solid earth and welkin flit.
About the world they spread forth far and wide,
Filling the thoughts of each ungodly heart
With secret mischief, anger, hate and pride,
Wounding lost souls with sin's empoisoned dart.
But say, my Muse, recount whence first they tried
To hurt the Christian lords, and from what part,
Thou knowest of things performed so long agone,
This latter age hears little truth or none.
The town Damascus and the lands about
Ruled Hidraort, a wizard grave and sage,
Acquainted well with all the damned rout
Of Pluto's reign, even from his tender age;
Yet of this war he could not figure out
The wished ending, or success presage,
For neither stars above, nor powers of hell,
Nor skill, nor art, nor charm, nor devil could tell.
And yet he thought, -- Oh, vain conceit of man,
Which as thou wishest judgest things to come! --
That the French host to sure destruction ran,
Condemned quite by Heaven's eternal doom:
He thinks no force withstand or vanquish can
The Egyptian strength, and therefore would that some
Both of the prey and glory of the fight
Upon this Syrian folk would haply light.
But for he held the Frenchmen's worth in prize,
And feared the doubtful gain of bloody war,
He, that was closely false and slyly war,
Cast how he might annoy them most from far:
And as he gan upon this point devise, --
As counsellors in ill still nearest are, --
At hand was Satan, ready ere men need,
If once they think, to make them do, the deed.
He counselled him how best to hunt his game,
What dart to cast, what net, what toil to pitch,
A niece he had, a nice and tender dame,
Peerless in wit, in nature's blessings rich,
To all deceit she could her beauty frame,
False, fair and young, a virgin and a witch;
To her he told the sum of this emprise,
And praised her thus, for she was fair and wise:
"My dear, who underneath these locks of gold,
And native brightness of thy lovely hue,
Hidest grave thoughts, ripe wit, and wisdom old,
More skill than I, in all mine arts untrue,
To thee my purpose great I must unfold,
This enterprise thy cunning must pursue,
Weave thou to end this web which I begin,
I will the distaff hold, come thou and spin.
"Go to the Christians' host, and there assay
All subtle sleights that women use in love,
Shed brinish tears, sob, sigh, entreat and pray,
Wring thy fair hands, cast up thine eyes above,
For mourning beauty hath much power, men say,
The stubborn hearts with pity frail to move;
Look pale for dread, and blush sometime for shame,
In seeming truth thy lies will soonest frame.
"Take with the bait Lord Godfrey, if thou may'st;
Frame snares of look, strains of alluring speech;
For if he love, the conquest then thou hast,
Thus purposed war thou may'st with ease impeach,
Else lead the other Lords to deserts waste,
And hold them slaves far from their leader's reach:"
Thus taught he her, and for conclusion, saith,
"All things are lawful for our lands and faith."
The sweet Armida took this charge on hand,
A tender piece, for beauty, sex and age,
The sun was sunken underneath the land,
When she began her wanton pilgrimage,
In silken weeds she trusteth to withstand,
And conquer knights in warlike equipage,
Of their night ambling dame the Syrians prated,
Some good, some bad, as they her loved or hated.
Within few days the nymph arrived there
Where puissant Godfrey had his tents ypight;
Upon her strange attire, and visage clear,
Gazed each soldier, gazed every knight:
As when a comet doth in skies appear,
The people stand amazed at the light;
So wondered they and each at other sought,
What mister wight she was, and whence ybrought.
Yet never eye to Cupid's service vowed
Beheld a face of such a lovely pride;
A tinsel veil her amber locks did shroud,
That strove to cover what it could not hide,
The golden sun behind a silver cloud,
So streameth out his beams on every side,
The marble goddess, set at Cnidos, naked
She seemed, were she unclothed, or that awaked.
The gamesome wind among her tresses plays,
And curleth up those growing riches short;
Her spareful eye to spread his beams denays,
But keeps his shot where Cupid keeps his fort;
The rose and lily on her cheek assays
To paint true fairness out in bravest sort,
Her lips, where blooms naught but the single rose,
Still blush, for still they kiss while still they close.
Her breasts, two hills o'erspread with purest snow,
Sweet, smooth and supple, soft and gently swelling,
Between them lies a milken dale below,
Where love, youth, gladness, whiteness make their dwelling,
Her breasts half hid, and half were laid to show,
So was the wanton clad, as if this much
Should please the eye, the rest unseen, the touch.
As when the sunbeams dive through Tagus' wave,
To spy the store-house of his springtime gold,
Love-piercing thought so through her mantle drave,
And in her gentle bosom wandered bold;
It viewed the wondrous beauty virgins have,
And all to fond desire with vantage told,
Alas! what hope is left, to quench his fire
That kindled is by sight, blown by desire.
Thus passed she, praised, wished, and wondered at,
Among the troops who there encamped lay,
She smiled for joy, but well dissembled that,
Her greedy eye chose out her wished prey;
On all her gestures seeming virtue sat,
Toward the imperial tent she asked the way:
With that she met a bold and lovesome knight,
Lord Godfrey's youngest brother, Eustace hight.
This was the fowl that first fell in the snare,
He saw her fair, and hoped to find her kind;
The throne of Cupid had an easy stair,
His bark is fit to sail with every wind,
The breach he makes no wisdom can repair:
With reverence meet the baron low inclined,
And thus his purpose to the virgin told,
For youth, use, nature, all had made him bold.
"Lady, if thee beseem a stile so low,
In whose sweet looks such sacred beauty shine, --
For never yet did Heaven such grace bestow
On any daughter born of Adam's line --
Thy name let us, though far unworthy, know,
Unfold thy will, and whence thou art in fine,
Lest my audacious boldness learn too late
What honors due become thy high estate."
"Sir Knight," quoth she, "your praises reach too high
Above her merit you commenden so,
A hapless maid I am, both born to die
And dead to joy, that live in care and woe,
A virgin helpless, fugitive pardie,
My native soil and kingdom thus forego
To seek Duke Godfrey's aid, such store men tell
Of virtuous ruth doth in his bosom dwell.
"Conduct me then that mighty duke before,
If you be courteous, sir, as well you seem."
"Content," quoth he, "since of one womb ybore,
We brothers are, your fortune good esteem
To encounter me whose word prevaileth more
In Godfrey's hearing than you haply deem:
Mine aid I grant, and his I promise too,
All that his sceptre, or my sword, can do."
He led her easily forth when this was said,
Where Godfrey sat among his lords and peers,
She reverence did, then blushed, as one dismayed
To speak, for secret wants and inward fears,
It seemed a bashful shame her speeches stayed,
At last the courteous duke her gently cheers;
Silence was made, and she began her tale,
They sit to hear, thus sung this nightingale:
"Victorious prince, whose honorable name
Is held so great among our Pagan kings,
That to those lands thou dost by conquest tame
That thou hast won them some content it brings;
Well known to all is thy immortal fame,
The earth, thy worth, thy foe, thy praises sings,
And Paynims wronged come to seek thine aid,
So doth thy virtue, so thy power persuade.
"And I though bred in Macon's heathenish lore,
Which thou oppressest with thy puissant might,
Yet trust thou wilt an helpless maid restore,
And repossess her in her father's right:
Others in their distress do aid implore
Of kin and friends; but I in this sad plight
Invoke thy help, my kingdom to invade,
So doth thy virtue, so my need persuade.
"In thee I hope, thy succors I invoke,
To win the crown whence I am dispossest;
For like renown awaiteth on the stroke
To cast the haughty down or raise the opprest;
Nor greater glory brings a sceptre broke,
Than doth deliverance of a maid distrest;
And since thou canst at will perform the thing,
More is thy praise to make, than kill a king.
"But if thou would'st thy succors due excuse,
Because in Christ I have no hope nor trust,
Ah yet for virtue's sake, thy virtue use!
Who scorneth gold because it lies in dust?
Be witness Heaven, if thou to grant refuse,
Thou dost forsake a maid in cause most just,
And for thou shalt at large my fortunes know,
I will my wrongs and their great treasons show.
"Prince Arbilan that reigned in his life
On fair Damascus, was my noble sire,
Born of mean race he was, yet got to wife
The Queen Chariclia, such was the fire
Of her hot love, but soon the fatal knife
Had cut the thread that kept their joys entire,
For so mishap her cruel lot had cast,
My birth, her death; my first day, was her last.
"And ere five years were fully come and gone
Since his dear spouse to hasty death did yield,
My father also died, consumed with moan,
And sought his love amid the Elysian fields,
His crown and me, poor orphan, left alone,
Mine uncle governed in my tender eild;
For well he thought, if mortal men have faith,
In brother's breast true love his mansion hath.
"He took the charge of me and of the crown,
And with kind shows of love so brought to pass
That through Damascus great report was blown
How good, how just, how kind mine uncle was;
Whether he kept his wicked hate unknown
And hid the serpent in the flowering grass,
On that true faith did in his bosom won,
Because he meant to match me with his son.
"Which son, within short while, did undertake
Degree of knighthood, as beseemed him well,
Yet never durst he for his lady's sake
Break sword or lance, advance in lofty sell;
As fair he was, as Citherea's make,
As proud as he that signoriseth hell,
In fashions wayward, and in love unkind,
For Cupid deigns not wound a currish mind.
"This paragon should Queen Armida wed,
A goodly swain to be a princess' fere,
A lovely partner of a lady's bed,
A noble head a golden crown to wear:
His glosing sire his errand daily said,
And sugared speeches whispered in mine ear
To make me take this darling in mine arms,
But still the adder stopt her ears from charms.
"At last he left me with a troubled grace,
Through which transparent was his inward spite,
Methought I read the story in his face
Of these mishaps that on me since have light,
Since that foul spirits haunt my resting-place,
And ghastly visions break any sleep by night,
Grief, horror, fear my fainting soul did kill,
For so my mind foreshowed my coming ill.
"Three times the shape of my dear mother came,
Pale, sad, dismayed, to warn me in my dream,
Alas, how far transformed from the same
Whose eyes shone erst like Titan's glorious beam:
`Daughter,' she says, `fly, fly, behold thy dame
Foreshows the treasons of thy wretched eame,
Who poison gainst thy harmless life provides:'
This said, to shapeless air unseen she glides.
"But what avail high walls or bulwarks strong,
Where fainting cowards have the piece to guard?
My sex too weak, mine age was all to young,
To undertake alone a work so hard,
To wander wild the desert woods among,
A banished maid, of wonted ease debarred,
So grievous seemed, that liefer were my death,
And there to expire where first I drew my breath.
"I feared deadly evil if long I stayed,
And yet to fly had neither will nor power,
Nor durst my heart declare it waxed afraid,
Lest so I hasten might my dying hour:
Thus restless waited I, unhappy maid,
What hand should first pluck up my springing flower,
Even as the wretch condemned to lose his life
Awaits the falling of the murdering knife.
"In these extremes, for so my fortune would
Perchance preserve me to my further ill,
One of my noble father's servants old,
That for his goodness bore his child good will,
With store of tears this treason gan unfold,
And said; my guardian would his pupil kill,
And that himself, if promise made be kept,
Should give me poison dire ere next I slept.
"And further told me, if I wished to live,
I must convey myself by secret flight,
And offered then all succours he could give
To aid his mistress, banished from her right.
His words of comfort, fear to exile drive,
The dread of death, made lesser dangers light:
So we concluded, when the shadows dim
Obscured the earth I should depart with him.
"Of close escapes the aged patroness,
Blacker than erst, her sable mantle spread,
When with two trusty maids, in great distress,
Both from mine uncle and my realm I fled;
Oft looked I back, but hardly could suppress
Those streams of tears, mine eyes uncessant shed,
For when I looked on my kingdom lost,
It was a grief, a death, an hell almost.
"My steeds drew on the burden of my limbs,
But still my locks, my thoughts, drew back as fast,
So fare the men, that from the heaven's brims,
Far out to sea, by sudden storm are cast;
Swift o'er the grass the rolling chariot swims,
Through ways unknown, all night, all day we haste,
At last, nigh tired, a castle strong we fand,
The utmost border of my native land.
"The fort Arontes was, for so the knight
Was called, that my deliverance thus had wrought,
But when the tyrant saw, by mature flight
I had escaped the treasons of his thought,
The rage increased in the cursed wight
Gainst me, and him, that me to safety brought,
And us accused, we would have poisoned
Him, but descried, to save our lives we fled.
"And that in lieu of his approved truth,
To poison him I hired had my guide,
That he despatched, mine unbridled youth
Might rage at will, in no subjection tied,
And that each night I slept -- O foul untruth! --
Mine honor lost, by this Arontes' side:
But Heaven I pray send down revenging fire,
When so base love shall change my chaste desire.
"Not that he sitteth on my regal throne,
Nor that he thirst to drink my lukewarm blood,
So grieveth me, as this despite alone,
That my renown, which ever blameless stood,
Hath lost the light wherewith it always shone:
With forged lies he makes his tale so good,
And holds my subjects' hearts in such suspense,
That none take armor for their queen's defence.
"And though he do my regal throne possess,
Clothed in purple, crowned with burnished gold;
Yet is his hate, his rancor, ne'er the less,
Since naught assuageth malice when 'tis old:
He threats to burn Arontes' forteress,
And murder him unless he yield the hold,
And me and mine threats not with war, but death,
Thus causeless hatred, endless is uneath.
"And so he trusts to wash away the stain,
And hide his shameful fact with mine offence,
And saith he will restore the throne again
To his late honor and due excellence,
And therefore would I should be algates slain,
For while I live, his right is in suspense,
This is the cause my guiltless life is sought,
For on my ruin is his safety wrought.
"And let the tyrant have his heart's desire,
Let him perform the cruelty he meant,
My guiltless blood must quench the ceaseless fire
On which my endless tears were bootless spent,
Unless thou help; to thee, renowned Sire,
I fly, a virgin, orphan, innocent,
And let these tears that on thy feet distil,
Redeem the drops of blood, he thirsts to spill.
"By these thy glorious feet, that tread secure
On necks of tyrants, by thy conquests brave,
By that right hand, and by those temples pure
Thou seek'st to free from Macon's lore, I crave
Help for this sickness none but thou canst cure,
My life and kingdom let thy mercy save
From death and ruin: but in vain I prove thee,
If right, if truth, if justice cannot move thee.
"Thou who dost all thou wishest, at thy will,
And never willest aught but what is right,
Preserve this guiltless blood they seek to spill;
Thine be my kingdom, save it with thy might:
Among these captains, lords, and knights of skill,
Appoint me ten, approved most in fight,
Who with assistance of my friends and kin,
May serve my kingdom lost again to win.
"For lo a knight, that had a gate to ward,
A man of chiefest trust about his king,
Hath promised so to beguile the guard
That me and mine he undertakes to bring
Safe, where the tyrant haply sleepeth hard
He counselled me to undertake this thing,
Of these some little succor to intreat,
Whose name alone accomplish can the feat."
This said, his answer did the nymph attend,
Her looks, her sighs, her gestures all did pray him:
But Godfrey wisely did his grant suspend,
He doubts the worst, and that awhile did stay him,
He knows, who fears no God, he loves no friend,
He fears the heathen false would thus betray him:
But yet such ruth dwelt in his princely mind,
That gainst his wisdom, pity made him kind.
Besides the kindness of his gentle thought,
Ready to comfort each distressed wight,
The maiden's offer profit with it brought;
For if the Syrian kingdom were her right,
That won, the way were easy, which he sought,
To bring all Asia subject to his might:
There might he raise munition, arms and treasure
To work the Egyptian king and his displeasure.
Thus was his noble heart long time betwixt
Fear and remorse, not granting nor denying,
Upon his eyes the dame her lookings fixed,
As if her life and death lay on his saying,
Some tears she shed, with sighs and sobbings mixed,
As if her hopes were dead through his delaying;
At last her earnest suit the duke denayed,
But with sweet words thus would content the maid:
"If not in service of our God we fought,
In meaner quarrel if this sword were shaken,
Well might thou gather in thy gentle thought,
So fair a princess should not be forsaken;
But since these armies, from the world's end brought,
To free this sacred town have undertaken,
It were unfit we turned our strength away,
And victory, even in her coming, stay.
"I promise thee, and on my princely word
The burden of thy wish and hope repose,
That when this chosen temple of the Lord,
Her holy doors shall to his saints unclose
In rest and peace; then this victorious sword
Shall execute due vengeance on thy foes;
But if for pity of a worldly dame
I left this work, such pity were my shame."
At this the princess bent her eyes to ground,
And stood unmoved, though not unmarked, a space,
The secret bleeding of her inward wound
Shed heavenly dew upon her angel's face,
"Poor wretch," quoth she, "in tears and sorrows drowned,
Death be thy peace, the grave thy resting-place,
Since such thy hap, that lest thou mercy find
The gentlest heart on earth is proved unkind.
"Where none attends, what boots it to complain?
Men's froward hearts are moved with women's tears
As marble stones are pierced with drops of rain,
No plaints find passage through unwilling ears:
The tyrant, haply, would his wraith restrain
Heard he these prayers ruthless Godfrey hears,
Yet not thy fault is this, my chance, I see,
Hath made even pity, pitiless in thee.
"So both thy goodness, and good hap, denayed me,
Grief, sorrow, mischief, care, hath overthrown me,
The star that ruled my birthday hath betrayed me,
My genius sees his charge, but dares not own me,
Of queen-like state, my flight hath disarrayed me,
My father died, ere he five years had known me,
My kingdom lost, and lastly resteth now,
Down with the tree sith broke is every bough.
"And for the modest lore of maidenhood,
Bids me not sojourn with these armed men,
O whither shall I fly, what secret wood
Shall hide me from the tyrant? or what den,
What rock, what vault, what cave can do me good?
No, no, where death is sure, it resteth then
To scorn his power and be it therefore seen,
Armida lived, and died, both like a queen."
With that she looked as if a proud disdain
Kindled displeasure in her noble mind,
The way she came she turned her steps again,
With gesture sad but in disdainful kind,
A tempest railed down her cheeks amain,
With tears of woe, and sighs of anger's wind;
The drops her footsteps wash, whereon she treads,
And seems to step on pearls, or crystal beads.
Her cheeks on which this streaming nectar fell,
Stilled through the limbeck of her diamond eyes,
The roses white and red resembled well,
Whereon the rory May-dew sprinkled lies
When the fair morn first blusheth from her cell,
And breatheth balm from opened paradise;
Thus sighed, thus mourned, thus wept this lovely queen,
And in each drop bathed a grace unseen.
Thrice twenty Cupids unperceived flew
To gather up this liquor, ere it fall,
And of each drop an arrow forged new,
Else, as it came, snatched up the crystal ball,
And at rebellious hearts for wildfire threw.
O wondrous love! thou makest gain of all;
For if she weeping sit, or smiling stand,
She bends thy bow, or kindleth else thy brand.
This forged plaint drew forth unfeigned tears
From many eyes, and pierced each worthy's heart;
Each one condoleth with her that her hears,
And of her grief would help her bear the smart:
If Godfrey aid her not, not one but swears
Some tigress gave him suck on roughest part
Midst the rude crags, on Alpine cliffs aloft:
Hard is that heart which beauty makes not soft.
But jolly Eustace, in whose breast the brand
Of love and pity kindled had the flame,
While others softly whispered underhand,
Before the duke with comely boldness came:
"Brother and lord," quoth he, "too long you stand
In your first purpose, yet vouchsafe to frame
Your thoughts to ours, and lend this virgin aid:
Thanks are half lost when good turns are delayed.
"And think not that Eustace's talk assays
To turn these forces from this present war,
Or that I wish you should your armies raise
From Sion's walls, my speech tends not so far:
But we that venture all for fame and praise,
That to no charge nor service bounden are,
Forth of our troop may ten well spared be
To succor her, which naught can weaken thee.
"And know, they shall in God's high service fight,
That virgins innocent save and defend:
Dear will the spoils be in the Heaven's sight,
That from a tyrant's hateful head we rend:
Nor seemed I forward in this lady's right,
With hope of gain or profit in the end;
But for I know he arms unworthy bears,
To help a maiden's cause that shuns or fears.
"Ah! be it not pardie declared in France,
Or elsewhere told where courtesy is in prize,
That we forsook so fair a chevisance,
For doubt or fear that might from fight arise;
Else, here surrender I both sword and lance,
And swear no more to use this martial guise;
For ill deserves he to be termed a knight,
That bears a blunt sword in a lady's right."
Thus parleyed he, and with confused sound,
The rest approved what the gallant said,
Their general their knights encompassed round,
With humble grace, and earnest suit they prayed:
"I yield," quoth he, "and it be happy found,
What I have granted, let her have your aid:
Yours be the thanks, for yours the danger is,
If aught succeed, as much I fear, amiss.
"But if with you my words may credit find,
Oh temper then this heat misguides you so!"
Thus much he said, but they with fancy blind,
Accept his grant, and let his counsel go.
What works not beauty, man's relenting mind
Is eath to move with plaints and shows of woe:
Her lips cast forth a chain of sugared words,
That captive led most of the Christian lords.
Eustace recalled her, and bespake her thus:
"Beauty's chief darling, let those sorrows be,
For such assistance shall you find in us
As with your need, or will, may best agree:"
With that she cheered her forehead dolorous,
And smiled for joy, that Phoebus blushed to see,
And had she deigned her veil for to remove,
The God himself once more had fallen in love.
With that she broke the silence once again,
And gave the knight great thanks in little speech,
She said she would his handmaid poor remain,
So far as honor's laws received no breach.
Her humble gestures made the residue plain,
Dumb eloquence, persuading more than speech:
Thus women know, and thus they use the guise,
To enchant the valiant, and beguile the wise.
And when she saw her enterprise had got
Some wished mean of quick and good proceeding,
She thought to strike the iron that was hot,
For every action hath his hour of speeding:
Medea or false Circe changed not
So far the shapes of men, as her eyes spreading
Altered their hearts, and with her syren's sound
In lust, their minds, their hearts, in love she drowned.
All wily sleights that subtle women know,
Hourly she used, to catch some lover new.
None kenned the bent of her unsteadfast bow,
For with the time her thoughts her looks renew,
From some she cast her modest eyes below,
At some her gazing glances roving flew,
And while she thus pursued her wanton sport,
She spurred the slow, and reined the forward short.
If some, as hopeless that she would be won,
Forebore to love, because they durst not move her,
On them her gentle looks to smile begun,
As who say she is kind if you dare prove her
On every heart thus shone this lustful sun,
All strove to serve, to please, to woo, to love her,
And in their hearts that chaste and bashful were,
Her eye's hot glance dissolved the frost of fear.
On them who durst with fingering bold assay
To touch the softness of her tender skin,
She looked as coy, as if she list not play,
And made as things of worth were hard to win;
Yet tempered so her deignful looks alway,
That outward scorn showed store of grace within:
Thus with false hope their longing hearts she fired,
For hardest gotten things are most desired.
Alone sometimes she walked in secret where,
To ruminate upon her discontent,
Within her eyelids sate the swelling tear,
Not poured forth, though sprung from sad lament,
And with this craft a thousand souls well near
In snares of foolish ruth and love she hent,
And kept as slaves, by which we fitly prove
That witless pity breedeth fruitless love.
Sometimes, as if her hope unloosed had
The chains of grief, wherein her thoughts lay fettered,
Upon her minions looked she blithe and glad,
In that deceitful lore so was she lettered;
Not glorious Titan, in his brightness clad,
The sunshine of her face in lustre bettered:
For when she list to cheer her beauties so,
She smiled away the clouds of grief and woe.
Her double charm of smiles and sugared words,
Lulled on sleep the virtue of their senses,
Reason shall aid gainst those assaults affords,
Wisdom no warrant from those sweet offences;
Cupid's deep rivers have their shallow fords,
His griefs, bring joys; his losses, recompenses;
He breeds the sore, and cures us of the pain:
Achilles' lance that wounds and heals again.
While thus she them torments twixt frost and fire,
Twixt joy and grief, twixt hope and restless fear,
The sly enchantress felt her gain the nigher,
These were her flocks that golden fleeces bear:
But if someone durst utter his desire,
And by complaining make his griefs appear,
He labored hard rocks with plaints to move,
She had not learned the gamut then of love.
For down she bet her bashful eyes to ground,
And donned the weed of women's modest grace,
Down from her eyes welled the pearls round,
Upon the bright enamel of her face;
Such honey drops on springing flowers are found
When Phoebus holds the crimson morn in chase;
Full seemed her looks of anger, and of shame;
Yet pity shone transparent through the same.
If she perceived by his outward cheer,
That any would his love by talk bewray,
Sometimes she heard him, sometimes stopped her ear,
And played fast and loose the livelong day:
Thus all her lovers kind deluded were,
Their earnest suit got neither yea nor nay;
But like the sort of weary huntsmen fare,
That hunt all day, and lose at night the hare.
These were the arts by which she captived
A thousand souls of young and lusty knights;
These were the arms wherewith love conquered
Their feeble hearts subdued in wanton fights:
What wonder if Achilles were misled,
Of great Alcides at their ladies' sights,
Since these true champions of the Lord above
Were thralls to beauty, yielden slaves to lore.
Gernando scorns Rinaldo should aspire
To rule that charge for which he seeks and strives,
And slanders him so far, that in his ire
The wronged knight his foe of life deprives:
Far from the camp the slayer doth retire,
Nor lets himself be bound in chains or gyves:
Armide departs content, and from the seas
Godfrey hears news which him and his displease.
While thus Armida false the knights misled
In wandering errors of deceitful love,
And thought, besides the champions promised,
The other lordlings in her aid to move,
In Godfrey's thought a strong contention bred
Who fittest were this hazard great to prove;
For all the worthies of the adventures' band
Were like in birth, in power, in strength of hand.
But first the prince, by grave advice, decreed
They should some knight choose at their own election,
That in his charge Lord Dudon might succeed,
And of that glorious troop should take protection;
So none should grieve, displeased with the deed,
Nor blame the causer of their new subjection:
Besides, Godfredo showed by this device,
How much he held that regiment in price.
He called the worthies then, and spake them so:
"Lordlings, you know I yielded to your will,
And gave you license with this dame to go,
To win her kingdom and that tyrant kill:
But now again I let you further know,
In following her it may betide yon ill;
Refrain therefore, and change this forward thought
For death unsent for, danger comes unsought.
"But if to shun these perils, sought so far,
May seem disgraceful to the place yon hold;
If grave advice and prudent counsel are
Esteemed detractors from your courage bold;
Then know, I none against his will debar,
Nor what I granted erst I now withhold;
But he mine empire, as it ought of right,
Sweet, easy, pleasant, gentle, meek and light.
"Go then or tarry, each as likes him best,
Free power I grant you on this enterprise;
But first in Dudon's place, now laid in chest,
Choose you some other captain stout and wise;
Then ten appoint among the worthiest,
But let no more attempt this hard emprise,
In this my will content you that I have,
For power constrained is but a glorious slave."
Thus Godfrey said, and thus his brother spake,
And answered for himself and all his peers:
"My lord, as well it fitteth thee to make
These wise delays and cast these doubts and fears,
So 'tis our part at first to undertake;
Courage and haste beseems our might and years;
And this proceeding with so grave advice,
Wisdom, in you, in us were cowardice.
"Since then the feat is easy, danger none,
All set in battle and in hardy fight,
Do thou permit the chosen ten to gone
And aid the damsel:" thus devised the knight,
To make men think the sun of honor shone
There where the lamp of Cupid gave the light:
The rest perceive his guile, and it approve,
And call that knighthood which was childish love.
But loving Eustace, that with jealous eye
Beheld the worth of Sophia's noble child,
And his fair shape did secretly envy,
Besides the virtues in his breast compiled,
And, for in love he would no company,
He stored his mouth with speeches smoothly filed,
Drawing his rival to attend his word;
Thus with fair sleight he laid the knight abord:
"Of great Bertoldo thou far greater heir,
Thou star of knighthood, flower of chivalry,
Tell me, who now shall lead this squadron fair,
Since our late guide in marble cold doth lie?
I, that with famous Dudon might compare
In all, but years, hoar locks, and gravity,
To whom should I, Duke Godfrey's brother, yield,
Unless to thee, the Christian army's shield?
"Thee whom high birth makes equal with the best
Thine acts prefer both me and all beforn;
Nor that in fight thou both surpass the rest,
And Godfrey's worthy self, I hold in scorn;
Thee to obey then am I only pressed;
Before these worthies be thine eagle borne;
This honor haply thou esteemest light,
Whose day of glory never yet found night.
"Yet mayest thou further by this means display
The spreading wings of thy immortal fame;
I will procure it, if thou sayest not nay,
And all their wills to thine election frame:
But for I scantly am resolved which way
To bend my force, or where employ the same,
Leave me, I pray, at my discretion free
To help Armida, or serve here with thee."
This last request, for love is evil to hide,
Empurpled both his cheeks with scarlet red;
Rinaldo soon his passions had descried,
And gently smiling turned aside his head,
And, for weak Cupid was too feeble eyed
To strike him sure, the fire in him was dead;
So that of rivals was he naught afraid,
Nor cared he for the journey or the maid.
But in his noble thought revolved he oft
Dudon's high prowess, death and burial,
And how Argantes bore his plumes aloft,
Praising his fortunes for that worthy's fall;
Besides, the knight's sweet words and praises soft
To his due honor did him fitly call,
And made his heart rejoice, for well he knew,
Though much he praised him, all his words were true.
"Degrees," quoth he, "of honors high to hold,
I would them first deserve, and the desire;
And were my valor such as you have told,
Would I for that to higher place aspire:
But if to honors due raise me you would,
I will not of my works refuse the hire;
And much it glads me, that my power and might
Ypraised is by such a valiant knight.
"I neither seek it nor refuse the place,
Which if I get, the praise and thanks be thine."
Eustace, this spoken, hied thence apace
To know which way his fellows' hearts incline:
But Prince Gernando coveted the place,
Whom though Armida sought to undermine,
Gainst him yet vain did all her engines prove,
His pride was such, there was no place for love.
Gernando was the King of Norway's son,
That many a realm and region had to guide,
And for his elders lands and crowns had won.
His heart was puffed up with endless pride:
The other boasts more what himself had done
Than all his ancestors' great acts beside;
Yet his forefathers old before him were
Famous in war and peace five hundred years.
This barbarous prince, who only vainly thought
That bliss in wealth and kingly power doth lie,
And in respect esteemed all virtue naught
Unless it were adorned with titles high,
Could not endure, that to the place he sought
A simple knight should dare to press so nigh;
And in his breast so boiled fell despite,
That ire and wrath exiled reason quite.
The hidden devil, that lies in close await
To win the fort of unbelieving man,
Found entry there, where ire undid the gate,
And in his bosom unperceived ran;
It filled his heart with malice, strife and hate,
It made him rage, blaspheme, swear, curse and ban,
Invisible it still attends him near,
And thus each minute whispereth in his ear.
What, shall Rinaldo match thee? dares he tell
Those idle names of his vain pedigree?
Then let him say, if thee he would excel,
What lands, what realms his tributaries be:
If his forefathers in the graves that dwell,
Were honored like thine that live, let see:
Oh how dares one so mean aspire so high,
Born in that servile country Italy?
Now, if he win, or if he lose the day,
Yet is his praise and glory hence derived,
For that the world will, to his credit, say,
Lo, this is he that with Gernando strived.
The charge some deal thee haply honor may,
That noble Dudon had while here he lived;
But laid on him he would the office shame,
Let it suffice, he durst desire the same.
If when this breath from man's frail body flies
The soul take keep, or know the things done here,
Oh, how looks Dudon from the glorious skies?
What wrath, what anger in his face appear,
On this proud youngling while he bends his eyes,
Marking how high he doth his feathers rear?
Seeing his rash attempt, how soon he dare,
Though but a boy, with his great worth compare.
He dares not only, but he strives and proves,
Where chastisement were fit there wins he praise:
One counsels him, his speech him forward moves;
Another fool approveth all he says:
If Godfrey favor him more than behoves,
Why then he wrongeth thee an hundred ways;
Nor let thy state so far disgraced be,
Now what thou art and canst, let Godfrey see.
With such false words the kindled fire began
To every vein his poisoned heart to reach,
It swelled his scornful heart, and forth it ran
At his proud looks, and too audacious speech;
All that he thought blameworthy in the man,
To his disgrace that would be each where preach;
He termed him proud and vain, his worth in fight
He called fool-hardise, rashness, madness right.
All that in him was rare or excellent,
All that was good, all that was princely found,
With such sharp words as malice could invent,
He blamed, such power has wicked tongue to wound.
The youth, for everywhere those rumors went,
Of these reproaches heard sometimes the sound;
Nor did for that his tongue the fault amend,
Until it brought him to his woful end.
The cursed fiend that set his tongue at large,
Still bred more fancies in his idle brain,
His heart with slanders new did overcharge,
And soothed him still in his angry vein;
Amid the camp a place was broad and large,
Where one fair regiment might easily train;
And there in tilt and harmless tournament
Their days of rest the youths and gallants spent.
There, as his fortune would it should betide,
Amid the press Gernando gan retire,
To vomit out his venom unespied,
Wherewith foul envy did his heart inspire.
Rinaldo heard him as he stood beside,
And as he could not bridle wrath and ire,
"Thou liest," cried he loud, and with that word
About his head he tossed his flaming sword.
Thunder his voice, and lightning seemed his brand,
So fell his look, and furious was his cheer,
Gernando trembled, for he saw at hand
Pale death, and neither help nor comfort near,
Yet for the soldiers all to witness stand
He made proud sign, as though he naught did fear,
But bravely drew his little-helping blade,
And valiant show of strong resistance made.
With that a thousand blades of burnished steel
Glistered on heaps like flames of fire in sight,
Hundreds, that knew not yet the quarrel weel,
Ran thither, some to gaze and some to fight:
The empty air a sound confused did feel
Of murmurs low, and outcries loud on height,
Like rolling waves and Boreas' angry blasts
When roaring seas against the rocks he casts.
But not for this the wronged warrior stayed
His just displeasure and incensed ire,
He cared not what the vulgar did or said,
To vengeance did his courage fierce aspire:
Among the thickest weapons way he made,
His thundering sword made all on heaps retire,
So that of near a thousand stayed not one,
But Prince Gernando bore the brunt alone.
His hand, too quick to execute his wrath,
Performed all, as pleased his eye and heart,
At head and breast oft times he strucken hath,
Now at the right, now at the other part:
On every side thus did he harm and scath,
And oft beguile his sight with nimble art,
That no defence the prince of wounds acquits,
Where least he thinks, or fears, there most he hits.
Nor ceased be, till in Gernando's breast
He sheathed once or twice his furious blade;
Down fell the hapless prince with death oppressed,
A double way to his weak soul was made;
His bloody sword the victor wiped and dressed,
Nor longer by the slaughtered body stayed,
But sped him thence, and soon appeased hath
His hate, his ire, his rancor and his wrath.
Called by the tumult, Godfrey drew him near,
And there beheld a sad and rueful sight,
The signs of death upon his face appear,
With dust and blood his locks were loathly dight,
Sighs and complaints on each side might he hear,
Made for the sudden death of that great knight:
Amazed, he asked who durst and did so much;
For yet he knew not whom the fault would touch.
Arnoldo, minion of the Prince thus slain,
Augments the fault in telling it, and saith,
This Prince murdered, for a quarrel vain,
By young Rinaldo in his desperate wrath,
And with that sword that should Christ's law maintain,
One of Christ's champions bold he killed hath,
And this he did in such a place and hour,
As if he scorned your rule, despised your power.
And further adds, that he deserved death
By law, and law should inviolate,
That none offence could greater be uneath,
And yet the place the fault did aggravate:
If he escapes, that mischief would take breath,
And flourish bold in spite of rule and state;
And that Gernando's friends would venge the wrong,
Although to justice that did first belong,
And by that means, should discord, hate and strife
Raise mutinies, and what therefore ensueth: