Part 4 out of 10
A fortress stately built at last they see,
Bout which a muddy stinking lake there went,
There they arrived when Titan went to rest
His weary limbs in night's untroubled nest.
The courier gave the fort a warning blast;
The drawbridge was let down by them within:
"If thou a Christian be," quoth he, "thou mayest
Till Phoebus shine again, here take thine inn,
The County of Cosenza, three days past,
This castle from the Turks did nobly win."
The prince beheld the piece, which site and art
Impregnable had made on every part.
He feared within a pile so fortified
Some secret treason or enchantment lay,
But had he known even there he should have died,
Yet should his looks no sign of fear betray;
For wheresoever will or chance him guide,
His strong victorious hand still made him way:
Yet for the combat he must shortly make,
No new adventures list he undertake.
Before the castle, in a meadow plain
Beside the bridge's end, he stayed and stood,
Nor was entreated by the speeches vain
Of his false guide, to pass beyond the flood.
Upon the bridge appeared a warlike swain,
From top to toe all clad in armor good,
Who brandishing a broad and cutting sword,
Thus threatened death with many an idle word.
"O thou, whom chance or will brings to the soil,
Where fair Armida doth the sceptre guide,
Thou canst not fly, of arms thyself despoil,
And let thy hands with iron chains be tied;
Enter and rest thee from thy weary toil.
Within this dungeon shalt thou safe abide,
And never hope again to see the day,
Or that thy hair for age shall turn to gray;
"Except thou swear her valiant knights to aid
Against those traitors of the Christian crew."
Tancred at this discourse a little stayed,
His arms, his gesture, and his voice he knew:
It was Rambaldo, who for that false maid
Forsook his country and religion true,
And of that fort defender chief became,
And those vile creatures stablished in the same.
The warrior answered, blushing red for shame,
"Cursed apostate, and ungracious wight,
I am that Tancred who defend the name
Of Christ, and have been aye his faithful knight;
His rebel foes can I subdue and tame,
As thou shalt find before we end this fight;
And thy false heart cleft with this vengeful sword,
Shall feel the ire of thy forsaken Lord."
When that great name Rambaldo's ears did fill,
He shook for fear and looked pale for dread,
Yet proudly said, "Tancred, thy hap was ill
To wander hither where thou art but dead,
Where naught can help, thy courage, strength and skill;
To Godfrey will I send thy cursed head,
That he may see, how for Armida's sake,
Of him and of his Christ a scorn I make."
This said, the day to sable night was turned,
That scant one could another's arms descry,
But soon an hundred lamps and torches burned,
That cleared all the earth and all the sky;
The castle seemed a stage with lights adorned,
On which men play some pompous tragedy;
Within a terrace sat on high the queen,
And heard, and saw, and kept herself unseen.
The noble baron whet his courage hot,
And busked him boldly to the dreadful fight;
Upon his horse long while he tarried not,
Because on foot he saw the Pagan knight,
Who underneath his trusty shield was got,
His sword was drawn, closed was his helmet bright,
Gainst whom the prince marched on a stately pace,
Wrath in his voice, rage in his eyes and face.
His foe, his furious charge not well abiding,
Traversed his ground, and stated here and there,
But he, though faint and weary both with riding,
Yet followed fast and still oppressed him near,
And on what side he felt Rambaldo sliding,
On that his forces most employed were;
Now at his helm, not at his hauberk bright,
He thundered blows, now at his face and sight.
Against those numbers battery chief he maketh,
Wherein man's life keeps chiefest residence;
At his proud threats the Gascoign warrior quaketh,
And uncouth fear appalled every sense,
To nimble shifts the knight himself betaketh,
And skippeth here and there for his defence:
Now with his rage, now with his trusty blade,
Against his blows he good resistance made.
Yet no such quickness for defence he used,
As did the prince to work him harm and scathe;
His shield was cleft in twain, his helmet bruised,
And in his blood is other arms did bathe;
On him he heaped blows, with thrusts confused,
And more or less each stroke annoyed him hath;
He feared, and in his troubled bosom strove
Remorse of conscience, shame, disdain and love.
At last so careless foul despair him made,
He meant to prove his fortune ill or good,
His shield cast down, he took his helpless blade
In both his hands, which yet had drawn no blood,
And with such force upon the prince he laid,
That neither plate nor mail the blow withstood,
The wicked steel seized deep in his right side,
And with his streaming blood his bases dyed:
Another stroke he lent him on the brow,
So great that loudly rung the sounding steel;
Yet pierced he not the helmet with the blow,
Although the owner twice or thrice did reel.
The prince, whose looks disdainful anger show,
Now meant to use his puissance every deal,
He shaked his head and crashed his teeth for ire,
His lips breathed wrath, eyes sparkled shining fire.
The Pagan wretch no longer could sustain
The dreadful terror of his fierce aspect,
Against the threatened blow he saw right plain
No tempered armor could his life protect,
He leapt aside, the stroke fell down in vain,
Against a pillar near a bridge erect.
Thence flaming fire and thousand sparks outstart,
And kill with fear the coward Pagan's heart.
Toward the bridge the fearful Paynim fled,
And in swift flight, his hope of life reposed;
Himself fast after Lord Tancredi sped,
And now in equal pace almost they closed,
When all the burning lamps extinguished
The shining fort his goodly splendor losed,
And all those stars on heaven's blue face that shone
With Cynthia's self, dispeared were and gone.
Amid those witchcrafts and that ugly shade,
No further could the prince pursue the chase,
Nothing he saw, yet forward still he made,
With doubtful steps, and ill assured pace;
At last his foot upon a threshold trad,
And ere he wist, he entered had the place;
With ghastly noise the door-leaves shut behind,
And closed him fast in prison dark and blind.
As in our seas in the Commachian Bay,
A silly fish, with streams enclosed, striveth,
To shun the fury and avoid the sway
Wherewith the current in that whirlpool driveth,
Yet seeketh all in vain, but finds no way
Out of that watery prison, where she diveth:
For with such force there be the tides in brought,
There entereth all that will, thence issueth naught:
This prison so entrapped that valiant knight;
Of which the gate was framed by subtle train,
To close without the help of human wight,
So sure none could undo the leaves again;
Against the doors he bended all his might,
But all his forces were employed in vain,
At last a voice gan to him loudly call,
"Yield thee," quoth it, "thou art Armida's thrall."
"Within this dungeon buried shalt thou spend
The res'due of thy woful days and years;"
The champions list not more with words contend,
But in his heart kept close his griefs and fears,
He blamed love, chance gan he reprehend,
And gainst enchantment huge complaints he rears.
"It were small loss," softly he thus begun,
"To lose the brightness of the shining sun;
"But I. alas, the golden beam forego
Of my far brighter sun; nor can I say
If these poor eyes shall e'er be blessed so,
As once again to view that shining ray:"
Then thought he on his proud Circassian foe,
And said, "Ah! how shall I perform that fray?
He, and the world with him, will Tancred blame,
This is my grief, my fault, mine endless shame."
While those high spirits of this champion good,
With love and honor's care are thus oppressed,
While he torments himself, Argantes wood,
Waxed weary of his bed and of his rest,
Such hate of peace, and such desire of blood,
Such thirst of glory, boiled in his breast;
That though he scant could stir or stand upright,
Yet longed he for the appointed day to fight.
The night which that expected day forewent,
Scantly the Pagan closed his eyes to sleep,
He told how night her sliding hours spent,
And rose ere springing day began to peep;
He called for armor, which incontinent
Was brought by him that used the same to keep,
That harness rich old Aladine him gave,
A worthy present for a champion brave.
He donned them on, not long their riches eyed,
Nor did he aught with so great weight incline,
His wonted sword upon his thigh he tied,
The blade was old and tough, of temper fine.
As when a comet far and wide descried,
In scorn of Phoebus midst bright heaven doth shine,
And tidings sad of death and mischief brings
To mighty lords, to monarchs, and to kings.
So shone the Pagan in bright armor clad,
And rolled his eyes great swollen with ire and blood,
His dreadful gestures threatened horror sad,
And ugly death upon his forehead stood;
Not one of all his squires the courage had
To approach their master in his angry mood,
Above his head he shook his naked blade,
And gainst the subtle air vain battle made.
"The Christian thief," quoth he, "that was so bold
To combat me in hard and single fight,
Shall wounded fall inglorious on the mould,
His locks with clods of blood and dust bedight,
And living shall with watery eyes behold
How from his back I tear his harness bright,
Nor shall his dying words me so entreat,
But that I'll give his flesh to dogs for meat."
Like as a bull when, pricked with jealousy,
He spies the rival of his hot desire,
Through all the fields doth bellow, roar and cry,
And with his thundering voice augments his ire,
And threatening battle to the empty sky,
Tears with his horn each tree, plant, bush and brier,
And with his foot casts up the sand on height,
Defying his strong foe to deadly fight:
Such was the Pagan's fury, such his cry.
A herald called he then, and thus he spoke;
"Go to the camp, and in my name, defy
The man that combats for his Jesus' sake;"
This said, upon his steed he mounted high,
And with him did his noble prisoner take,
The town he thus forsook, and on the green
He ran, as mad or frantic he had been.
A bugle small he winded loud and shrill,
That made resound the fields and valleys near,
Louder than thunder from Olympus hill
Seemed that dreadful blast to all that hear;
The Christian lords of prowess, strength and skill,
Within the imperial tent assembled were,
The herald there in boasting terms defied
Tancredi first, and all that durst beside.
With sober those ten which chosen were by lot,
And viewed at leisure every lord and knight;
But yet for all his looks not one stepped out,
With courage bold, to undertake the fight:
Absent were all the Christian champions stout,
No news of Tancred since his secret flight;
Boemond far off, and banished from the crew
Was that strong prince who proud Gernando slew:
And eke those ten which chosen were by lot,
And all the worthies of the camp beside,
After Armida false were followed hot,
When night were come their fight to hide;
The rest their hands and hearts that trusted not,
Blushed for shame, yet silent still abide;
For none there was that sought to purchase fame
In so great peril, fear exiled shame.
The angry duke their fear discovered plain,
By their pale looks and silence from each part,
And as he moved was with just disdain,
These words he said, and from his seat upstart:
"Unworthy life I judge that coward swain
To hazard it even now that wants the heart,
When this vile Pagan with his glorious boast
Dishonors and defies Christ's sacred host.
"But let my camp sit still in peace and rest,
And my life's hazard at their ease behold.
Come bring me here my fairest arms and best;"
And they were brought sooner than could be told.
But gentle Raymond in his aged breast,
Who had mature advice, and counsel old,
Than whom in all the camp were none or few
Of greater might, before Godfredo drew,
And gravely said, "Ah, let it not betide,
On one man's hand to venture all his host!
No private soldier thou, thou are our guide,
If thou miscarry, all our hope were lost,
By thee must Babel fell, and all her pride;
Of our true faith thou art the prop and post,
Rule with thy sceptre, conquer with thy word,
Let others combat make with spear and sword.
"Let me this Pagan's glorious pride assuage,
These aged arms can yet their weapons use,
Let others shun Bellona's dreadful rage,
These silver locks shall not Raymondo scuse:
Oh that I were in prime of lusty age,
Like you that this adventure brave refuse,
And dare not once lift up your coward eyes,
Gainst him that you and Christ himself defies!
"Or as I was when all the lords of fame
And Germain princes great stood by to view,
In Conrad's court, the second of that name,
When Leopold in single fight I slew;
A greater praise I reaped by the same,
So strong a foe in combat to subdue,
Than he should do who all alone should chase
Or kill a thousand of these Pagans base.
"Within these arms, bad I that strength again,
This boasting Paynim had not lived now,
Yet in this breast doth courage still remain;
For age or years these members shall not bow;
And if I be in this encounter slain,
Scotfree Argantes shall not scape, I vow;
Give me mine arms, this battle shall with praise
Augment mine honor, got in younger days."
The jolly baron old thus bravely spake,
His words are spurs to virtue; every knight
That seemed before to tremble and to quake,
Now talked bold, example hath such might;
Each one the battle fierce would undertake,
Now strove they all who should begin the fight;
Baldwin and Roger both, would combat fain,
Stephen, Guelpho, Gernier and the Gerrards twain;
And Pyrrhus, who with help of Boemond's sword
Proud Antioch by cunning sleight opprest;
The battle eke with many a lowly word,
Ralph, Rosimond, and Eberard request,
A Scottish, an Irish, and an English lord,
Whose lands the seas divide far from the rest,
And for the fight did likewise humbly sue,
Edward and his Gildippes, lovers true.
But Raymond more than all the rest doth sue
Upon that Pagan fierce to wreak his ire,
Now wants he naught of all his armors due
Except his helm that shone like flaming fire.
To whom Godfredo thus; "O mirror true
Of antique worth! thy courage doth inspire
New strength in us, of Mars in thee doth shine
The art, the honor and the discipline.
"If ten like thee of valor and of age,
Among these legions I could haply find,
I should the best of Babel's pride assuage,
And spread our faith from Thule to furthest Inde;
But now I pray thee calm thy valiant rage,
Reserve thyself till greater need us bind,
And let the rest each one write down his name,
And see whom Fortune chooseth to this game, --
"Or rather see whom God's high judgement taketh,
To whom is chance, and fate, and fortune slave."
Raymond his earnest suit not yet forsaketh,
His name writ with the residue would he have,
Godfrey himself in his bright helmet shaketh
The scrolls, with names of all the champions brave:
They drew, and read the first whereon they hit,
Wherein was "Raymond, Earl of Tholouse," writ.
His name with joy and mighty shouts they bless;
The rest allow his choice, and fortune praise,
New vigor blushed through those looks of his;
It seemed he now resumed his youthful days,
Like to a snake whose slough new changed is,
That shines like gold against the sunny rays:
But Godfrey most approved his fortune high,
And wished him honor, conquest, victory.
Then from his side he took his noble brand,
And giving it to Raymond, thus he spake:
"This is the sword wherewith in Saxon land,
The great Rubello battle used to make,
From him I took it, fighting hand to hand,
And took his life with it, and many a lake
Of blood with it I have shed since that day,
With thee God grant it proves as happy may."
Of these delays meanwhile impatient,
Argantes threateneth loud and sternly cries,
"O glorious people of the Occident!
Behold him here that all your host defies:
Why comes not Tancred, whose great hardiment,
With you is prized so dear? Pardie he lies
Still on his pillow, and presumes the night
Again may shield him from my power and might.
"Why then some other come, by hand and hand,
Come all, come forth on horseback, come on foot,
If not one man dares combat hand to hand,
In all the thousands of so great a rout:
See where the tomb of Mary's Son doth stand,
March thither, warriors hold, what makes you doubt?
Why run you not, there for your sins to weep
Or to what greater need these forces keep?"
Thus scorned by that heathen Saracine
Were all the soldiers of Christ's sacred name:
Raymond, while others at his words repine,
Burst forth in rage, he could not bear this shame:
For fire of courage brighter far doth shine
If challenges and threats augment the same;
So that, upon his steed he mounted light,
Which Aquilino for his swiftness hight.
This jennet was by Tagus bred; for oft
The breeder of these beasts to war assigned,
When first on trees burgeon the blossoms soft
Pricked forward with the sting of fertile kind,
Against the air casts up her head aloft
And gathereth seed so from the fruitful wind
And thus conceiving of the gentle blast,
A wonder strange and rare, she foals at last.
And had you seen the beast, you would have said
The light and subtile wind his father was;
For if his course upon the sands he made
No sign was left what way the beast did pass;
Or if he menaged were, or if he played,
He scantly bended down the tender grass:
Thus mounted rode the Earl, and as he went,
Thus prayed, to Heaven his zealous looks upbent.
"O Lord, that diddest save, keep and defend
Thy servant David from Goliath's rage,
And broughtest that huge giant to his end,
Slain by a faithful child of tender age;
Like grace, O Lord, like mercy now extend!
Let me this vile blasphemous pride assuage,
That all the world may to thy glory know,
Old men and babes thy foes can overthrow!"
Thus prayed the County, and his prayers dear
Strengthened with zeal, with godliness and faith,
Before the throne of that great Lord appear,
In whose sweet grace is life, death in his wrath,
Among his armies bright and legions clear,
The Lord an angel good selected hath,
To whom the charge was given to guard the knight,
And keep him safe from that fierce Pagan's might.
The angel good, appointed for the guard
Of noble Raymond from his tender eild,
That kept him then, and kept him afterward,
When spear and sword he able was to wield,
Now when his great Creator's will he heard,
That in this fight he should him chiefly shield,
Up to a tower set on a rock he flies,
Where all the heavenly arms and weapons lies:
There stands the lance wherewith great Michael slew
The aged dragon in a bloody fight,
There are the dreadful thunders forged new,
With storms and plagues that on poor sinners light;
The massy trident mayest thou pendant view
There on a golden pin hung up on height,
Wherewith sometimes he smites this solid land,
And throws down towns and towers thereon which stand.
Among the blessed weapons there which stands
Upon a diamond shield his looks he bended,
So great that it might cover all the lands,
Twixt Caucasus and Atlas hills extended;
With it the lord's dear flocks and faithful bands,
The holy kings and cities are defended,
The sacred angel took his target sheen,
And by the Christian champion stood unseen.
But now the walls and turrets round about,
Both young and old with many thousands fill;
The king Clorinda sent and her brave rout,
To keep the field, she stayed upon the hill:
Godfrey likewise some Christian bands sent out
Which armed, and ranked in good array stood still,
And to their champions empty let remain
Twixt either troop a large and spacious plain.
Argantes looked for Tancredi bold,
But saw an uncouth foe at last appear,
Raymond rode on, and what he asked him, told,
Better by chance, "Tancred is now elsewhere,
Yet glory not of that, myself behold
Am come prepared, and bid thee battle here,
And in his place, or for myself to fight,
Lo, here I am, who scorn thy heathenish might."
The Pagan cast a scornful smile and said,
"But where is Tancred, is he still in bed?
His looks late seemed to make high heaven afraid;
But now for dread he is or dead or fled;
But whe'er earth's centre or the deep sea made
His lurking hole, it should not save his head."
"Thou liest," he says, "to say so brave a knight
Is fled from thee, who thee exceeds in might."
The angry Pagan said, "I have not spilt
My labor then, if thou his place supply,
Go take the field, and let's see how thou wilt
Maintain thy foolish words and that brave lie;"
Thus parleyed they to meet in equal tilt,
Each took his aim at other's helm on high,
Even in the fight his foe good Raymond hit,
But shaked him not, he did so firmly sit.
The fierce Circassian missed of his blow,
A thing which seld befell the man before,
The angel, by unseen, his force did know,
And far awry the poignant weapon bore,
He burst his lance against the sand below,
And bit his lips for rage, and cursed and swore,
Against his foe returned he swift as wind,
Half mad in arms a second match to find.
Like to a ram that butts with horned head,
So spurred he forth his horse with desperate race:
Raymond at his right hand let slide his steed,
And as he passed struck at the Pagan's face;
He turned again, the earl was nothing dread,
Yet stept aside, and to his rage gave place,
And on his helm with all his strength gan smite,
Which was so hard his courtlax could not bite.
The Saracen employed his art and force
To grip his foe within his mighty arms,
But he avoided nimbly with his horse,
He was no prentice in those fierce alarms,
About him made he many a winding course,
No strength, nor sleight the subtle warrior harms,
His nimble steed obeyed his ready hand,
And where he stept no print left in the sand.
As when a captain doth besiege some hold,
Set in a marsh or high up on a hill,
And trieth ways and wiles a thousandfold,
To bring the piece subjected to his will;
So fared the County with the Pagan bold;
And when he did his head and breast none ill,
His weaker parts he wisely gan assail,
And entrance searched oft 'twixt mail and mail.
At last he hit him on a place or twain,
That on his arms the red blood trickled down,
And yet himself untouched did remain,
No nail was broke, no plume cut from his crown;
Argantes raging spent his strength in vain,
Waste were his strokes, his thrusts were idle thrown,
Yet pressed he on, and doubled still his blows,
And where he hits he neither cares nor knows.
Among a thousand blows the Saracine
At last struck one, when Raymond was so near,
That not the swiftness of his Aquiline
Could his dear lord from that huge danger bear:
But lo, at hand unseen was help divine,
Which saves when worldly comforts none appear,
The angel on his targe received that stroke,
And on that shield Argantes' sword was broke.
The sword was broke, therein no wonder lies
If earthly tempered metal could not hold
Against that target forged above the skies,
Down fell the blade in pieces on the mould;
The proud Circassian scant believed his eyes,
Though naught were left him but the hilts of gold,
And full of thoughts amazed awhile he stood,
Wondering the Christian's armor was so good.
The brittle web of that rich sword he thought,
Was broke through hardness of the County's shield;
And so thought Raymond, who discovered naught
What succor Heaven did for his safety yield:
But when he saw the man gainst whom he fought
Unweaponed, still stood he in the field;
His noble heart esteemed the glory light,
At such advantage if he slew the knight.
"Go fetch," he would have said, "another blade,"
When in his heart a better thought arose,
How for Christ's glory he was champion made,
How Godfrey had him to this combat chose,
The army's honor on his shoulder laid
To hazards new he list not that expose;
While thus his thoughts debated on the case,
The hilts Argantes hurled at his face.
And forward spurred his mounture fierce withal,
Within his arms longing his foe to strain,
Upon whose helm the heavy blow did fall,
And bent well-nigh the metal to his brain:
But he, whose courage was heroical,
Leapt by, and makes the Pagan's onset vain,
And wounds his hand, which he outstretched saw,
Fiercer than eagles' talon, lions' paw.
Now here, now there, on every side he rode,
With nimble speed, and spurred now out, now in,
And as he went and came still laid on load
Where Lord Argantes' arms were weak and thin;
All that huge force which in his arms abode,
His wrath, his ire, his great desire to win,
Against his foe together all he bent,
And heaven and fortune furthered his intent.
But he, whose courage for no peril fails,
Well armed, and better hearted, scorns his power.
Like a tall ship when spent are all her sails,
Which still resists the rage of storm and shower,
Whose mighty ribs fast bound with bands and nails,
Withstands fierce Neptune's wrath, for many an hour,
And yields not up her bruised keel to winds,
In whose stern blast no ruth nor grace she finds:
Argantes such thy present danger was,
When Satan stirred to aid thee at thy need,
In human shape he forged an airy mass,
And made the shade a body seem indeed;
Well might the spirit of Clorinda pass,
Like her it was, in armor and in weed,
In stature, beauty, countenance and face,
In looks, in speech, in gesture, and in pace.
And for the spirit should seem the same indeed,
From where she was whose show and shape it had,
Toward the wall it rode with feigned speed,
Where stood the people all dismayed and sad,
To see their knight of help have so great need,
And yet the law of arms all help forbad.
There in a turret sat a soldier stout
To watch, and at a loop-hole peeped out;
The spirit spake to him, called Oradine,
The noblest archer then that handled bow,
"O Oradine," quoth she, "who straight as line
Can'st shoot, and hit each mark set high or low,
If yonder knight, alas! be slain in fine,
As likest is, great ruth it were you know,
And greater shame, if his victorious foe
Should with his spoils triumphant homeward go.
"Now prove thy skill, thine arrow's sharp head dip
In yonder thievish Frenchman's guilty blood,
I promise thee thy sovereign shall not slip
To give thee large rewards for such a good;"
Thus said the spirit; the man did laugh and skip
For hope of future gain, nor longer stood,
But from his quiver huge a shaft he hent,
And set it in his mighty bow new bent,
Twanged the string, out flew the quarrel long,
And through the subtle air did singing pass,
It hit the knight the buckles rich among,
Wherewith his precious girdle fastened was,
It bruised them and pierced his hauberk strong,
Some little blood down trickled on the grass;
Light was the wound; the angel by unseen,
The sharp head blunted of the weapon keen.
Raymond drew forth the shaft, as much behoved,
And with the steel, his blood out streaming came,
With bitter words his foe he then reproved,
For breaking faith, to his eternal shame.
Godfrey, whose careful eyes from his beloved
Were never turned, saw and marked the same,
And when he viewed the wounded County bleed,
He sighed, and feared, more perchance than need;
And with his words, and with his threatening eyes,
He stirred his captains to revenge that wrong;
Forthwith the spurred courser forward hies,
Within their rests put were their lances long,
From either side a squadron brave out flies,
And boldly made a fierce encounter strong,
The raised dust to overspread begun
Their shining arms, and far more shining sun.
Of breaking spears, of ringing helm and shield,
A dreadful rumor roared on every side,
There lay a horse, another through the field
Ran masterless, dismounted was his guide;
Here one lay dead, there did another yield,
Some sighed, some sobbed, some prayed, and some cried;
Fierce was the fight, and longer still it lasted,
Fiercer and fewer, still themselves they wasted.
Argantes nimbly leapt amid the throng,
And from a soldier wrung an iron mace,
And breaking through the ranks and ranges long,
Therewith he passage made himself and place,
Raymond he sought, the thickest press among.
To take revenge for !ate received disgrace,
A greedy wolf he seemed, and would assuage
With Raymond's blood his hunger and his rage.
The way he found not easy as he would,
But fierce encounters put him oft to pain,
He met Ormanno and Rogero bold,
Of Balnavile, Guy, and the Gerrards twain;
Yet nothing might his rage and haste withhold,
These worthies strove to stop him, but in vain,
With these strong lets increased still his ire,
Like rivers stopped, or closely smouldered fire.
He slew Ormanno, and wounded Guy, and laid
Rogero low, among the people slain,
On every side new troops the man invade,
Yet all their blows were waste, their onsets vain,
But while Argantes thus his prizes played,
And seemed alone this skirmish to sustain,
The duke his brother called and thus he spake,
"Go with thy troop, fight for thy Saviour's sake;
"There enter in where hottest is the fight,
Thy force against the left wing strongly bend."
This said, so brave an onset gave the knight,
That many a Paynim bold there made his end:
The Turks too weak seemed to sustain his might,
And could not from his power their lives defend,
Their ensigns rent, and broke was their array,
And men and horse on heaps together lay.
O'erthrown likewise away the right wing ran,
Nor was there one again that turned his face,
Save bold Argantes, else fled every man,
Fear drove them thence on heaps, with headlong chase:
He stayed alone, and battle new began,
Five hundred men, weaponed with sword and mace,
So great resistance never could have made,
As did Argantes with his single blade:
The strokes of swords and thrusts of many a spear,
The shock of many a joust he long sustained,
He seemed of strength enough this charge to bear,
And time to strike, now here, now there, he gained
His armors broke, his members bruised were,
He sweat and bled, yet courage still he feigned;
But now his foes upon him pressed so fast,
That with their weight they bore him back at last.
His back against this storm at length he turned,
Whose headlong fury bore him backward still,
Not like to one that fled, but one that mourned
Because he did his foes no greater ill,
His threatening eyes like flaming torches burned,
His courage thirsted yet more blood to spill,
And every way and every mean he sought,
To stay his flying mates, but all for naught.
This good he did, while thus he played his part,
His bands and troops at ease, and safe, retired;
Yet coward dread lacks order, fear wants art,
Deaf to attend, commanded or desired.
But Godfrey that perceived in his wise heart,
How his bold knights to victory aspired,
Fresh soldiers sent, to make more quick pursuit,
And help to gather conquest's precious fruit.
But this, alas, was not the appointed day,
Set down by Heaven to end this mortal war:
The western lords this time had borne away
The prize, for which they travelled had so far,
Had not the devils, that saw the sure decay
Of their false kingdom by this bloody war,
At once made heaven and earth with darkness blind,
And stirred up tempests, storms, and blustering wind.
Heaven's glorious lamp, wrapped in an ugly veil
Of shadows dark, was hid from mortal eye,
And hell's grim blackness did bright skies assail;
On every side the fiery lightnings fly,
The thunders roar, the streaming rain and hail
Pour down and make that sea which erst was dry.
The tempests rend the oaks and cedars brake,
And make not trees but rocks and mountains shake.
The rain, the lightning, and the raging wind,
Beat in the Frenchmen's eyes with hideous force,
The soldiers stayed amazed in heart and mind,
The terror such that stopped both man and horse.
Surprised with this evil no way they find,
Whither for succor to direct their course,
But wise Clorinda soon the advantage spied,
And spurring forth thus to her soldiers cried:
"You hardy men at arms behold," quoth she,
"How Heaven, how Justice in our aid doth fight,
Our visages are from this tempest free,
Our hands at will may wield our weapons bright,
The fury of this friendly storm you see
Upon the foreheads of our foes doth light,
And blinds their eyes, then let us take the tide,
Come, follow me, good fortune be our guide."
This said, against her foes on rode the dame,
And turned their backs against the wind and rain;
Upon the French with furious rage she came,
And scorned those idle blows they struck in vain;
Argantes at the instant did the same,
And them who chased him now chased again,
Naught but his fearful back each Christian shows
Against the tempest, and against their blows.
The cruel hail, and deadly wounding blade,
Upon their shoulders smote them as they fled,
The blood new spilt while thus they slaughter made,
The water fallen from skies had dyed red,
Among the murdered bodies Pyrrhus laid,
And valiant Raiphe his heart blood there out bled,
The first subdued by strong Argantes' might,
The second conquered by that virgin knight.
Thus fled the French, and then pursued in chase
The wicked sprites and all the Syrian train:
But gainst their force and gainst their fell menace
Of hail and wind, of tempest and of rain,
Godfrey alone turned his audacious face,
Blaming his barons for their fear so vain,
Himself the camp gate boldly stood to keep,
And saved his men within his trenches deep.
And twice upon Argantes proud he flew,
And beat him backward, maugre all his might,
And twice his thirsty sword he did imbrue,
In Pagan's blood where thickest was the fight;
At last himself with all his folk withdrew,
And that day's conquest gave the virgin bright,
Which got, she home retired and all her men,
And thus she chased this lion to his den.
Yet ceased not the fury and the ire
Of these huge storms, of wind, of rain and hail,
Now was it dark, now shone the lightning fire,
The wind and water every place assail,
No bank was safe, no rampire left entire,
No tent could stand, when beam and cordage fail,
Wind, thunder, rain, all gave a dreadful sound,
And with that music deafed the trembling ground.
A messenger to Godfrey sage doth tell
The Prince of Denmark's valour, death and end:
The Italians, trusting signs untrue too well,
Think their Rinaldo slain: the wicked fiend
Breeds fury in their breasts, their bosoms swell
With ire and hate, and war and strife forth send:
They threaten Godfrey; he prays to the Lord,
And calms their fury with his look and word.
Now were the skies of storms and tempests cleared,
Lord Aeolus shut up his winds in hold,
The silver-mantled morning fresh appeared,
With roses crowned, and buskined high with gold;
The spirits yet which had these tempests reared,
Their malice would still more and more unfold;
And one of them that Astragor was named,
His speeches thus to foul Alecto framed.
"Alecto, see, we could not stop nor stay
The knight that to our foes new tidings brings,
Who from the hands escaped, with life away,
Of that great prince, chief of all Pagan kings:
He comes, the fall of his slain lord to say,
Of death and loss he tells, and such sad things,
Great news he brings, and greatest dangers is,
Bertoldo's son shall be called home for this.
"Thou knowest what would befall, bestir thee than;
Prevent with craft, what force could not withstand,
Turn to their evil the speeches of the man,
With his own weapon wound Godfredo's hand;
Kindle debate, infect with poison wan
The English, Switzer, and Italian band,
Great tumult move, make brawls and quarrels rife,
Set all the camp on uproar and at strife.
"This act beseems thee well, and of the deed
Much may'st thou boast before our lord and king."
Thus said the sprite. Persuasion small did need,
The monster grants to undertake the thing.
Meanwhile the knight, whose coming thus they dread,
Before the camp his weary limbs doth bring,
And well-nigh breathless, "Warriors bold," he cried,
"Who shall conduct me to your famous guide?"
An hundred strove the stranger's guide to be,
To hearken news the knights by heaps assemble,
The man fell lowly down upon his knee,
And kissed the hand that made proud Babel tremble;
"Right puissant lord, whose valiant acts," quoth he,
"The sands and stars in number best resemble,
Would God some gladder news I might unfold,"
And there he paused, and sighed; then thus he told:
"Sweno, the King of Denmark's only heir,
The stay and staff of his declining eild,
Longed to be among these squadrons fair
Who for Christ's faith here serve with spear and shield;
No weariness, no storms of sea or air,
No such contents as crowns and sceptres yield,
No dear entreaties of so kind a sire,
Could in his bosom quench that glorious fire.
"He thirsted sore to learn this warlike art
Of thee, great lord and master of the same;
And was ashamed in his noble heart,
That never act he did deserved fame;
Besides, the news and tidings from each part
Of young Rinaldo's worth and praises came:
But that which most his courage stirred hath,
Is zeal, religion, godliness, and faith.
"He hasted forward, then without delay,
And with him took of knights a chosen band,
Directly toward Thrace we took the way,
To Byzance old, chief fortress of that land,
There the Greek monarch gently prayed him stay,
And there an herald sent from you we fand,
How Antioch was won, who first declared,
And how defended nobly afterward.
"Defended gainst Corbana, valiant knight,
That all the Persian armies had to guide,
And brought so many soldiers bold to fight,
That void of men he left that kingdom wide;
He told thine acts, thy wisdom and thy might,
And told the deeds of many a lord beside,
His speech at length to young Rinaldo passed,
And told his great achievements, first and last:
"And how this noble camp of yours, of late
Besieged had this town, and in what sort,
And how you prayed him to participate
Of the last conquest of this noble fort.
In hardy Sweno opened was the gate
Of worthy anger by this brave report,
So that each hour seemed five years long,
Till he were fighting with these Pagans strong.
"And while the herald told your fights and frays,
Himself of cowardice reproved he thought,
And him to stay that counsels him, or prays,
He hears not, or, else heard, regardeth naught,
He fears no perils but whilst he delays,
Lest this last work without his help be wrought:
In this his doubt, in this his danger lies,
No hazard else he fears, no peril spies.
"Thus hasting on, he hasted on his death,
Death that to him and us was fatal guide.
The rising morn appeared yet aneath,
When he and we were armed, and fit to ride,
The nearest way seemed best, o'er hold and heath
We went, through deserts waste, and forests wide,
The streets and ways he openeth as he goes,
And sets each land free from intruding foes.
"Now want of food, now dangerous ways we find,
Now open war, now ambush closely laid;
Yet passed we forth, all perils left behind,
Our foes or dead or run away afraid,
Of victory so happy blew the wind,
That careless all the heedless to it made:
Until one day his tents he happed to rear,
To Palestine when we approached near.
"There did our scouts return and bring us news,
That dreadful noise of horse and arms they hear,
And that they deemed by sundry signs and shows
There was some mighty host of Pagans near.
At these sad tidings many changed their hues,
Some looked pale for dread, some shook for fear,
Only our noble lord was altered naught,
In look, in face, in gesture, or in thought.
"But said, `A crown prepare you to possess
Of martyrdom, or happy victory;
For this I hope, for that I wish no less,
Of greater merit and of greater glory.
Brethren, this camp will shortly be, I guess,
A temple, sacred to our memory,
To which the holy men of future age,
To view our graves shall come in pilgrimage.'
"This said, he set the watch in order right
To guard the camp, along the trenches deep,
And as he armed was, so every knight
He willed on his back his arms to keep.
Now had the stillness of the quiet night
Drowned all the world in silence and in sleep,
When suddenly we heard a dreadful sound,
Which deafed the earth, and tremble made the ground.
" `Arm, arm,' they cried; Prince Sweno at the same,
Glistering in shining steel leaped foremost out,
His visage shone, his noble looks did flame,
With kindled brand of courage bold and stout,
When lo, the Pagans to assault us came,
And with huge numbers hemmed us round about,
A forest thick of spears about us grew,
And over us a cloud of arrows flew:
"Uneven the fight, unequal was the fray,
Our enemies were twenty men to one,
On every side the slain and wounded lay
Unseen, where naught but glistering weapons shone:
The number of the dead could no man say,
So was the place with darkness overgone,
The night her mantle black upon its spreads,
Hiding our losses and our valiant deeds.
"But hardy Sweno midst the other train,
By his great acts was well descried I wot,
No darkness could his valor's daylight stain,
Such wondrous blows on every side he smote;
A stream of blood, a bank of bodies slain,
About him made a bulwark of bodies slain,
And when soe'er he turned his fatal brand,
Dread in his looks and death sate in his hand.
"Thus fought we till the morning bright appeared,
And strewed roses on the azure sky,
But when her lamp had night's thick darkness cleared,
Wherein the bodies dead did buried lie,
Then our sad cries to heaven for grief we reared,
Our loss apparent was, for we descry
How all our camp destroyed was almost,
And all our people well-nigh slain and lost;
"Of thousands twain an hundred scant survived.
When Sweno murdered saw each valiant knight,
I know not if his heart in sunder rived
For dear compassion of that woful sight;
He showed no change, but said: `Since so deprived
We are of all our friends by chance of fight,
Come follow them, the path to heaven their blood
Marks out, now angels made, of martyrs good.'
"This said, and glad I think of death at hand,
The signs of heavenly joy shone through his eyes,
Of Saracens against a mighty band,
With fearless heart and constant breast he flies;
No steel could shield them from his cutting bran
But whom he hits without recure he dies,
He never struck but felled or killed his foe
And wounded was himself from top to toe.
"Not strength, but courage now, preserved on live
This hardy champion, fortress of our faith,
Strucken he strikes, still stronger more they strive,
The more they hurt him, more he doth them scathe,
When toward him a furious knight gan drive,
Of members huge, fierce looks, and full of wrath,
That with the aid of many a Pagan crew,
After long fight, at last Prince Sweno slew.
"Ah, heavy chance! Down fell the valiant youth,
Nor mongst us all did one so strong appear
As to revenge his death: that this is truth,
By his dear blood and noble bones I swear,
That of my life I had not care nor ruth,
No wounds I shunned, no blows I would off bear,
And had not Heaven my wished end denied,
Even there I should, and willing should, have died.
"Alive I fell among my fellows slain,
Yet wounded so that each one thought me dead,
Nor what our foes did since can I explain,
So sore amazed was my heart and head;
But when I opened first mine eyes again,
Night's curtain black upon the earth was spread,
And through the darkness to my feeble sight,
Appeared the twinkling of a slender light.
"Not so much force or judgement in me lies
As to discern things seen and not mistake,
I saw like them who ope and shut their eyes
By turns, now half asleep, now half awake;
My body eke another torment tries,
My wounds began to smart, my hurts to ache;
For every sore each member pinched was
With night's sharp air, heaven's frost and earth's cold grass.
"But still the light approached near and near,
And with the same a whispering murmur run,
Till at my side arrived both they were,
When I to spread my feeble eyes begun:
Two men behold in vestures long appear,
With each a lamp in hand, who said, `O son
In that dear Lord who helps his servants, trust,
Who ere they ask, grants all things to the just.'
"This said, each one his sacred blessings flings
Upon my corse, with broad our-stretched hand,
And mumbled hymns and psalms and holy things,
Which I could neither hear nor understand;
`Arise,' quoth they, with that as I had wings,
All whole and sound I leaped up from the land.
Oh miracle, sweet, gentle, strange and true!
My limbs new strength received, and vigor new.
"I gazed on them like one whose heart denieth
To think that done, he sees so strangely wrought;
Till one said thus, `O thou of little faith,
What doubts perplex thy unbelieving thought?
Each one of us a living body hath,
We are Christ's chosen servants, fear us naught,
Who to avoid the world's allurements vain,
In wilful penance, hermits poor remain.
" `Us messengers to comfort thee elect
That Lord hath sent that rules both heaven and hell;
Who often doth his blessed will effect,
By such weak means, as wonder is to tell;
He will not that this body lie neglect,
Wherein so noble soul did lately dwell
To which again when it uprisen is
It shall united be in lasting bliss.
" `I say Lord Sweno's corpse, for which prepared
A tomb there is according to his worth,
By which his honor shall be far declared,
And his just praises spread from south to north:"
But lift thine eyes up to the heavens ward,
Mark yonder light that like the sun shines forth
That shall direct thee with those beams so clear,
To find the body of thy master dear.'
"With that I saw from Cynthia's silver face,
Like to a falling star a beam down slide,
That bright as golden line marked out the place,
And lightened with clear streams the forest wide;
So Latmos shone when Phoebe left the chase,
And laid her down by her Endymion's side,
Such was the light that well discern I could,
His shape, his wounds, his face, though dead, yet bold.
"He lay not grovelling now, but as a knight
That ever had to heavenly things desire,
So toward heaven the prince lay bolt upright,
Like him that upward still sought to aspire,
His right hand closed held his weapon bright,
Ready to strike and execute his ire,
His left upon his breast was humbly laid,
That men might know, that while he died he prayed.
"Whilst on his wounds with bootless tears I wept,
That neither helped him, nor eased my care,
One of those aged fathers to him stepped,
And forced his hand that needless weapon spare:
`This sword,' quoth he, `hath yet good token kept,
That of the Pagans' blood he drunk his share,
And blusheth still he could not save his lord,
Rich, strong and sharp, was never better sword.
" `Heaven, therefore, will not, though the prince be slain,
Who used erst to wield this precious brand
That so brave blade unused should remain;
But that it pass from strong to stronger hand,
Who with like force can wield the same again,
And longer shall in grace of fortune stand,
And with the same shall bitter vengeance take
On him that Sweno slew, for Sweno's sake.
" `Great Solyman killed Sweno, Solyman
For Sweno's sake, upon this sword must die.
Here, take the blade, and with it haste thee than
Thither where Godfrey doth encamped lie,
And fear not thou that any shall or can
Or stop thy way, or lead thy steps awry;
For He that doth thee on this message send,
Thee with His hand shall guide, keep and defend.
" `Arrived there it is His blessed will,
With true report that thou declare and tell
The zeal, the strength, the courage and the skill
In thy beloved lord that late did dwell,
How for Christ's sake he came his blood to spill,
And sample left to all of doing well,
That future ages may admire his deed,
And courage take when his brave end they read.
" `It resteth now, thou know that gentle knight
That of this sword shall be thy master's heir,
It is Rinaldo young, with whom in might
And martial skill no champion may compare,
Give it to him and say, "The Heavens bright
Of this revenge to him commit the care."
While thus I listened what this old man said,
A wonder new from further speech us stayed;
"For there whereas the wounded body lay,
A stately tomb with curious work, behold,
And wondrous art was built out of the clay,
Which, rising round, the carcass did enfold;
With words engraven in the marble gray,
The warrior's name, his worth and praise that told,
On which I gazing stood, and often read
That epitaph of my dear master dead.
" `Among his soldiers,' quoth the hermit, `here
Must Sweno's corpse remain in marble chest,
While up to heaven are flown their spirits dear,
To live in endless joy forever blest,
His funeral thou hast with many a tear
Accompanied, it's now high time to rest,
Come be my guest, until the morning ray
Shall light the world again, then take thy way.'
"This said, he led me over holts and hags,
Through thorns and bushes scant my legs I drew
Till underneath a heap of stones and crags
At last he brought me to a secret mew;
Among the bears, wild boars, the wolves and stags,
There dwelt he safe with his disciple true,
And feared no treason, force, nor hurt at all,
His guiltless conscience was his castle's wall.
"My supper roots; my bed was moss and leaves;
But weariness in little rest found ease:
But when the purple morning night bereaves
Of late usurped rule on lands and seas,
His loathed couch each wakeful hermit leaves,
To pray rose they, and I, for so they please,
I congee took when ended was the same,
And hitherward, as they advised me, came."
The Dane his woful tale had done, when thus
The good Prince Godfrey answered him, "Sir knight,
Thou bringest tidings sad and dolorous,
For which our heavy camp laments of right,
Since so brave troops and so dear friends to us,
One hour hath spent, in one unlucky fight;
And so appeared hath thy master stout,
As lightning doth, now kindled, now quenched out.
"But such a death and end exceedeth all
The conquests vain of realms, or spoils of gold,
Nor aged Rome's proud stately capital,
Did ever triumph yet like theirs behold;
They sit in heaven on thrones celestial,
Crowned with glory, for their conquest bold,
Where each his hurts I think to other shows,
And glory in those bloody wounds and blows.
"But thou who hast part of thy race to run,
With haps and hazards of this world ytost,
rejoice, for those high honors they have won,
Which cannot be by chance or fortune crossed:
But for thou askest for Bertoldo's son,
Know, that he wandereth, banished from this host,
And till of him new tidings some man tell,
Within this camp I deem it best thou dwell."
These words of theirs in many a soul renewed
The sweet remembrance of fair Sophia's child,
Some with salt tears for him their cheeks bedewed,
Lest evil betide him mongst the Pagans wild,
And every one his valiant prowess showed,
And of his battles stories long compiled,
Telling the Dane his acts and conquests past,
Which made his ears amazed, his heart aghast.
Now when remembrance of the youth had wrought
A tender pity in each softened mind,
Behold returned home with all they caught
The bands that were to forage late assigned,
And with them in abundance great they brought
Both flocks and herds of every sort and kind.
And corn, although not much, and hay to feed
Their noble steeds and coursers when they need.
They also brought of misadventure sad
Tokens and signs, seemed too apparent true,
Rinaldo's armor, frushed and hacked they had,
Oft pierced through, with blood besmeared new;
About the camp, for always rumors bad
Are farthest spread, these woful tidings flew.
Longing to see what they were loth to know.
His heavy hauberk was both seen and known,
And his brand shield, wherein displayed flies
The bird that proves her chickens for their own
By looking against the sun with open eyes;
That shield was to the Pagans often shown,
In many a hard and hardy enterprise,
But now with many a gash and many a stroke
They see, and sigh to see it, frushed and broke.
While all his soldiers whispered under hand,
And here and there the fault and cause do lay,
Godfrey before him called Aliprand
Captain of those that brought of late this prey,
A man who did on points of virtue stand,
Blameless in words, and true whate'er he say,
"Say," quoth the duke, "where you this armor had,
Hide not the truth, but tell it good or bad."
He answered him, "As far from hence think I
As on two days a speedy post well rideth,
To Gaza-ward a little plain doth lie,
Itself among the steepy hills which hideth,
Through it slow falling from the mountains high,
A rolling brook twixt bush and bramble glideth,
Clad with thick shade of boughs of broad-leaved treen,
Fit place for men to lie in wait unseen.
"Thither, to seek some flocks or herds, we went
Perchance close hid under the green-wood shaw,
And found the springing grass with blood besprent,
A warrior tumbled in his blood we saw,
His arms though dusty, bloody, hacked and rent,
Yet well we knew, when near the corse we draw;
To which, to view his face, in vain I started,
For from his body his fair head was parted;
"His right hand wanted eke, with many a wound
The trunk through pierced was from back to breast,
A little by, his empty helm we found
The silver eagle shining on his crest;
To spy at whom to ask we gazed round,
A child then toward us his steps addressed,
But when us armed by the corse he spied,
He ran away his fearful face to hide:
"But we pursued him, took him, spake him fair,
Till comforted at last he answer made,
How that, the day before, he saw repair
A band of soldiers from that forest shade,
Of whom one carried by the golden hair
A head but late cut off with murdering blade,
The face was fair and young, and on the chin
No sign of heard to bud did yet begin.
"And how in sindal wrapt away he bore
That head with him hung at his saddle-bow.
And how the murtherers by the arms they wore,
For soldiers of our camp he well did know;
The carcass I disarmed and weeping sore,
Because I guessed who should that harness owe,
Away I brought it, but first order gave,
That noble body should be laid in grave.
"But if it be his trunk whom I believe,
A nobler tomb his worth deserveth well."
This said, good Aliprando took his leave,
Of certain troth he had no more to tell,
Sore sighed the duke, so did these news him grieve,
Fears in his heart, doubts in his bosom dwell,
He yearned to know, to find and learns the truth,
And punish would them that had slain the youth.
But now the night dispread her lazy wings
O'er the broad fields of heaven's bright wilderness,
Sleep, the soul's rest, and ease of careful things,
Buried in happy peace both more and less,
Thou Argillan alone, whom sorrow stings,
Still wakest, musing on great deeds I guess,
Nor sufferest in thy watchful eyes to creep
The sweet repose of mild and gentle sleep.
This man was strong of limb, and all his 'says
Were bold, of ready tongue, and working sprite,
Near Trento born, bred up in brawls and frays,
In jars, in quarrels, and in civil fight,
Which exiled, the hills and public ways
He filled with blood, and robberies day and night
Until to Asia's wars at last he came,
And boldly there he served, and purchased fame.
He closed his eyes at last when day drew near.
Yet slept he not, but senseless lay opprest
With strange amazedness and sudden fear
Which false Alecto breathed in his breast,
His working powers within deluded were,
Stone still he quiet lay, yet took no rest,
For to his thought the fiend herself presented,
And with strange visions his weak brain tormented.
A murdered body huge beside him stood,
Of head and right hand both but lately spoiled,
His left hand bore the head, whose visage good,
Both pale and wan, with dust and gore defoiled,
Yet spake, though dead, with whose sad words the blood
Forth at his lips in huge abundance boiled,
"Fly, Argillan, from this false camp fly far,
Whose guide, a traitor; captains, murderers are.
"Godfrey hath murdered me by treason vile,
What favor then hope you my trusty friends?
His villain heart is full of fraud and guile,
To your destruction all his thoughts he bends,
Yet if thou thirst of praise for noble stile,
If in thy strength thou trust, thy strength that ends
All hard assays, fly not, first with his blood
Appease my ghost wandering by Lethe flood;
"I will thy weapon whet, inflame thine ire,
Arm thy right hand, and strengthen every part."
This said; even while she spake she did inspire
With fury, rage, and wrath his troubled heart:
The man awaked, and from his eyes like fire
The poisoned sparks of headstrong madness start,
And armed as he was, forth is he gone,
And gathered all the Italian bands in one.
He gathered them where lay the arms that late
Were good Rinaldo's; then with semblance stout
And furious words his fore-conceived hate
In bitter speeches thus he vomits out;
"Is not this people barbarous and ingrate,
In whom truth finds no place, faith takes no rout?
Whose thirst unquenched is of blood and gold,
Whom no yoke boweth, bridle none can hold.
"So much we suffered have these seven years long,
Under this servile and unworthy yoke,
That thorough Rome and Italy our wrong
A thousand years hereafter shall be spoke:
I count not how Cilicia's kingdom strong,
Subdued was by Prince Tancredi's stroke,
Nor how false Baldwin him that land bereaves
Of virtue's harvest, fraud there reaped the sheaves:
"Nor speak I how each hour, at every need,
Quick, ready, resolute at all assays,
With fire and sword we hasted forth with speed,
And bore the brunt of all their fights and frays;
But when we had performed and done the deed,
At ease and leisure they divide the preys,
We reaped naught but travel for our toil,
Theirs was the praise, the realms, the gold, the spoil.
"Yet all this season were we willing blind,
Offended unrevenged, wronged but unwroken,
Light griefs could not provoke our quiet mind,
But now, alas! the mortal blow is stroken,
Rinaldo have they slain, and law of kind,
Of arms, of nations, and of high heaven broken,
Why doth not heaven kill them with fire and thunder?
To swallow them why cleaves not earth asunder?
"They have Rinaldo slain, the sword and shield
Of Christ's true faith, and unrevenged he lies;
Still unrevenged lieth in the field
His noble corpse to feed the crows and pies:
Who murdered him? who shall us certain yield?
Who sees not that, although he wanted eyes?
Who knows not how the Italian chivalry
Proud Godfrey and false Baldwin both envy
"What need we further proof? Heaven, heaven, I swear,
Will not consent herein we be beguiled,
This night I saw his murdered sprite appear,
Pale, sad and wan, with wounds and blood defiled,
A spectacle full both of grief and fear;
Godfrey, for murdering him, the ghost reviled.
I saw it was no dream, before mine eyes,
Howe'er I look, still, still methinks it flies.
"What shall we do? shall we be governed still
By this false hand, contaminate with blood?
Or else depart and travel forth, until
To Euphrates we come, that sacred flood,
Where dwells a people void of martial skill,
Whose cities rich, whose land is fat and good,
Where kingdoms great we may at ease provide,
Far from these Frenchmen's malice, from their pride;
"Then let us go, and no revengement take
For this brave knight, though it lie in our power:
No, no, that courage rather newly wake,
Which never sleeps in fear and dread one hour,
And this pestiferous serpent, poisoned snake,
Of all our knights that hath destroyed the flower,
First let us slay, and his deserved end
Example make to him that kills his friend.
"I will, I will, if your courageous force,
Dareth so much as it can well perform,
Tear out his cursed heart without remorse,
The nest of treason false and guile enorm."
Thus spake the angry knight with headlong course;
The rest him followed with a furious storm,
"Arm, arm." they cried, to arms the soldiers ran.
And as they run, "Arm, arm," cried every man.
Mongst them Alecto strowed wasteful fire,
Envenoming the hearts of most and least,
Folly, disdain, madness, strife, rancor, ire,
Thirst to shed blood, in every breast increased,
This ill spread far, and till it set on fire
With rage the Italian lodgings, never ceased,
From thence unto the Switzers' camp it went,
And last infected every English tent.
Not public loss of their beloved knight,
Alone stirred up their rage and wrath untamed,
But fore-conceived griefs, and quarrels light,
The ire still nourished, and still inflamed,
Awaked was each former cause of spite,
The Frenchmen cruel and unjust they named,
And with bold threats they made their hatred known,
Hate seld kept close, and oft unwisely shown:
Like boiling liquor in a seething pot,
That fumeth, swelleth high, and bubbleth fast,
Till o'er the brims among the embers hot,
Part of the broth and of the scum is cast,
Their rage and wrath those few appeased not
In whom of wisdom yet remained some taste,
Camillo, William, Tancred were away,
And all whose greatness might their madness stay.
Now headlong ran to harness in this heat
These furious people, all on heaps confused,
The roaring trumpets battle gan to threat,
As it in time of mortal war is used,
The messengers ran to Godfredo great,
And bade him arm, while on this noise he mused,
And Baldwin first well clad in iron hard,
Stepped to his side, a sure and faithful guard.
Their murmurs heard, to heaven he lift his een,
As was his wont, to God for aid he fled;
"O Lord, thou knowest this right hand of mine
Abhorred ever civil blood to shed,
Illumine their dark souls with light divine,
Repress their rage, by hellish fury bred,
The innocency of my guiltless mind
Thou knowest, and make these know, with fury blind."
Tis said he felt infused in each vein,
A sacred heat from heaven above distilled,
A heat in man that courage could constrain
That his brave look with awful boldness filled.
Well guarded forth he went to meet the train
Of those that would revenge Rinaldo killed;
And though their threats he heard, and saw them bent
To arms on every side, yet on he went.
Above his hauberk strong a coat he ware,
Embroidered fair with pearl and rich stone,
His hands were naked, and his face was bare,
Wherein a lamp of majesty bright shone;
He shook his golden mace, wherewith he dare
Resist the force of his rebellious foe:
Thus he appeared, and thus he gan them teach,
In shape an angel, and a God in speech:
"What foolish words? what threats be these I hear?
What noise of arms? who dares these tumults move?
Am I so honored? stand you so in fear?
Where is your late obedience? where your love?
Of Godfrey's falsehood who can witness bear?
Who dare or will these accusations prove?
Perchance you look I should entreaties bring,
Sue for your favors, or excuse the thing.
"Ah, God forbid these lands should hear or see
Him so disgraced at whose great name they quake;
This sceptre and my noble acts for me
A true defence before the world can make:
Yet for sharp justice governed shall be
With clemency, I will no vengeance take
For this offence, but for Rinaldo's love,
I pardon you, hereafter wiser prove.
"But Argillano's guilty blood shall wash
This stain away, who kindled this debate,
And led by hasty rage and fury rash,
To these disorders first undid the gate;"
While thus he spoke, the lightning beams did flash
Out of his eyes of majesty and state,
That Argillan, -- who would have thought it? -- shook
For fear and terror, conquered with his look.
The rest with indiscreet and foolish wrath
Who threatened late with words of shame and pride,
Whose hands so ready were to harm and scath,
And brandished bright swords on every side;
Now hushed and still attend what Godfrey saith,
With shame and fear their bashful looks they hide,
And Argillan they let in chains be bound,
Although their weapons him environed round.
So when a lion shakes his dreadful mane,
And beats his tail with courage proud and wroth,
If his commander come, who first took pain
To tame his youth, his lofty crest down goeth,
His threats he feareth, and obeys the rein
Of thralldom base, and serviceage, though loth,
Nor can his sharp teeth nor his armed paws,
Force him rebel against his ruler's laws.
Fame as a winged warrior they beheld,
With semblant fierce and furious look that stood,
And in his left hand had a splendent shield
Wherewith he covered safe their chieftain good,
His other hand a naked sword did wield,
From which distilling fell the lukewarm blood,
The blood pardie of many a realm and town,
Whereon the Lord his wrath had poured down.
Thus was the tumult, without bloodshed, ended.
Their arms laid down, strife into exile sent.
Godfrey his thoughts to greater actions bended.
And homeward to his rich pavilion went,
For to assault the fortress he intended
Before the second or third day were spent;
Meanwhile his timber wrought he oft surveyed
Whereof his ram and engines great he made.
Alecto false great Solyman doth move
By night the Christians in their tents to kill:
But God who their intents saw from above,
Sends Michael down from his sacred hill:
The spirits foul to hell the angels drove;
The knights delivered from the witch, at will
Destroy the Pagans, scatter all their host:
The Soldan flies when all his bands are lost.
The grisly child of Erebus the grim,
Who saw these tumults done and tempest spent,
Gainst stream of grace who ever strove to swim
And all her thoughts against Heaven's wisdom bent,
Departed now, bright Titan's beams were dim
And fruitful lands waxed barren as she went.
She sought the rest of her infernal crew,
New storms to raise, new broils, and tumults new.
She, that well wist her sisters had enticed,
By their false arts, far from the Christian host,
Tancred, Rinaldo, and the rest, best prized
For martial skill, for might esteemed most,
Said, of these discords and these strifes advised,
"Great Solyman, when day his light hath lost,
These Christians shall assail with sudden war,
And kill them all while thus they strive and jar."
With that where Solyman remained she flew,
And found him out with his Arabian bands,
Great Solyman, of all Christ's foes untrue,
Boldest of courage, mightiest of his hands,
Like him was none of all that earth-bred crew
That heaped mountains on the Aemonian sands,
Of Turks he sovereign was, and Nice his seat,
Where late he dwelt, and ruled that kingdom great.
The lands forenenst the Greekish shore he held,
From Sangar's mouth to crooked Meander's fall,
Where they of Phrygia, Mysia, Lydia dwelled,
Bithynia's towns, and Pontus' cities all:
But when the hearts of Christian princes swelled,
And rose in arms to make proud Asia thrall,
Those lands were won where he did sceptre wield
And he twice beaten was in pitched field.
When Fortune oft he had in vain assayed,
And spent his forces, which availed him naught,
To Egypt's king himself he close conveyed,
Who welcomed him as he could best have thought,
Glad in his heart, and inly well apayed,
That to his court so great a lord was brought:
For he decreed his armies huge to bring
To succor Juda land and Juda's king.
But, ere he open war proclaimed, he would
That Solyman should kindle first the fire,
And with huge sums of false enticing gold
The Arabian thieves he sent him forth to hire,
While he the Asian lords and Morians hold
Unites; the Soldan won to his desire
Those outlaws, ready aye for gold to fight,
The hope of gain hath such alluring might.
Thus made their captain to destroy and burn,
In Juda land he entered is so far,
That all the ways whereby he should return
By Godfrey's people kept and stopped are,
And now he gan his former losses mourn,
This wound had hit him on an elder scar,
On great adventures ran his hardy thought,
But naught assured, he yet resolved on naught.
To him Alecto came, and semblant bore
Of one whose age was great, whose looks were grave,
Whose cheeks were bloodless, and whose locks were hoar
Mustaches strouting long and chin close shave,
A steepled turban on her head she wore,
Her garment wide, and by her side, her glaive,
Her gilden quiver at her shoulders hung,
And in her hand a bow was, stiff and strong.
"We have." Quoth she,."through wildernesses gone,
Through sterile sands, strange paths, and uncouth ways,
Yet spoil or booty have we gotten none,
Nor victory deserving fame or praise,
Godfrey meanwhile to ruin stick and stone
Of this fair town, with battery sore assays;
And if awhile we rest, we shall behold
This glorious city smoking lie in mould.
"Are sheep-cotes burnt, or preys of sheep or kine,
The cause why Solyman these bands did arm?
Canst thou that kingdom lately lost of thine
Recover thus, or thus redress thy harm?
No, no, when heaven's small candles next shall shine,
Within their tents give them a bold alarm;
Believe Araspes old, whose grave advice
Thou hast in exile proved, and proved in Nice.
"He feareth naught, he doubts no sudden broil
From these ill-armed and worse-hearted bands,
He thinks this people, used to rob and spoil,
To such exploit dares not lift up their hands;
Up then and with thy courage put to foil
This fearless camp, while thus secure it stands."
This said, her poison in his breast she hides,
And then to shapeless air unseen she glides.
The Soldan cried, "O thou which in my thought
Increased hast my rage and fury so,
Nor seem'st a wight of mortal metal wrought,
I follow thee, whereso thee list to go,
Mountains of men by dint of sword down brought
Thou shalt behold, and seas of red blood flow
Where'er I go; only be thou my guide
When sable night the azure skies shall hide."
When this was said, he mustered all his crew,
Reproved the cowards, and allowed the bold:
His forward camp, inspired with courage new,
Was ready dight to follow where he would:
Alecto's self the warning trumpet blew
And to the wind his standard great unrolled,
Thus on they marched, and thus on they went,
Of their approach their speed the news prevent.
Alecto left them, and her person dight
Like one that came some tidings new to tell:
It was the time, when first the rising night
Her sparkling diamonds poureth forth to sell,
When, into Sion come, she marched right
Where Juda's aged tyrant used to dwell,
To whom of Solyman's designment bold,
The place, the manner, and the time she told.
Their mantle dark, the grisly shadows spread,
Stained with spots of deepest sanguine hue,
Warm drops of blood, on earth's black visage shed,
Supplied the place of pure and precious dew,
The moon and stars for fear of sprites were fled,
The shrieking goblins eachwhere howling flew,
The furies roar, the ghosts and fairies yell,
The earth was filled with devils, and empty hell.
The Soldan fierce, through all this horror, went
Toward the camp of his redoubted foes,
The night was more than half consumed and spent;
Now headlong down the western hill she goes,
When distant scant a mile from Godfrey's tent
He let his people there awhile repose,
And victualled them, and then he boldly spoke
These words which rage and courage might provoke:
"See there a camp, full stuffed of spoils and preys,
Not half so strong as false report recordeth;
See there the storehouse, where their captain lays
Our treasures stolen, where Asia's wealth he hoardeth;
Now chance the ball unto our racket plays,
Take then the vantage which good luck affordeth;
For all their arms, their horses, gold and treasure
Are ours, ours without loss, harm or displeasure.
"Nor is this camp that great victorious host
That slew the Persian lords, and Nice hath won:
For those in this long war are spent and lost,
These are the dregs, the wine is all outrun,
And these few left, are drowned and dead almost
In heavy sleep, the labor half is done
To send them headlong to Avernus deep,
For little differs death and heavy sleep.