Part 6 out of 10
So weakness oft subdues the greatest might.
While thus the worthies of the western crew
Maintained their brave assault and skirmish hot,
Her mighty bow Clorinda often drew,
And many a sharp and deadly arrow shot;
And from her bow no steeled shaft there flew
But that some blood the cursed engine got,
Blood of some valiant knight or man of fame,
For that proud shootress scorned weaker game.
The first she hit among the Christian peers
Was the bold son of England's noble king,
Above the trench himself he scantly rears,
But she an arrow loosed from the string,
The wicked steel his gauntlet breaks and tears,
And through his right hand thrust the piercing sting;
Disabled thus from fight, he gan retire,
Groaning for pain, but fretting more for ire.
Lord Stephen of Amboise on the ditch's brim,
And on a ladder high, Clotharius died,
From back to breast an arrow pierced him,
The other was shot through from side to side:
Then as he managed brave his courser trim,
On his left arm he hit the Flemings' guide,
He stopped, and from the wound the reed out-twined,
But left the iron in his flesh behind.
As Ademare stood to behold the fight
High on the bank, withdrawn to breathe a space,
A fatal shaft upon his forehead light,
His hand he lifted up to feel the place,
Whereon a second arrow chanced right,
And nailed his hand unto his wounded face,
He fell, and with his blood distained the land,
His holy blood shed by a virgin's hand.
While Palamede stood near the battlement,
Despising perils all, and all mishap,
And upward still his hardy footings bent,
On his right eye he caught a deadly clap,
Through his right eye Clorinda's seventh shaft went,
And in his neck broke forth a bloody gap;
He underneath that bulwark dying fell,
Which late to scale and win he trusted well.
Thus shot the maid: the duke with hard assay
And sharp assault, meanwhile the town oppressed,
Against that part which to his campward lay
An engine huge and wondrous he addressed,
A tower of wood built for the town's decay
As high as were the walls and bulwarks best,
A turret full of men and weapons pent,
And yet on wheels it rolled, moved, and went.
This rolling fort his nigh approaches made,
And darts and arrows spit against his foes,
As ships are wont in fight, so it assayed
With the strong wall to grapple and to close,
The Pagans on each side the piece invade,
And all their force against this mass oppose,
Sometimes the wheels, sometimes the battlement
With timber, logs and stones, they broke and rent,
So thick flew stones and darts, that no man sees
The azure heavens, the sun his brightness lost,
The clouds of weapons, like to swarms of bees,
Move the air, and there each other crossed:
And look how falling leaves drop down from trees,
When the moist sap is nipped with timely frost,
Or apples in strong winds from branches fall;
The Saracens so tumbled from the wall.
For on their part the greatest slaughter light,
They had no shelter gainst so sharp a shower,
Some left on live betook themselves to flight,
So feared they this deadly thundering tower:
But Solyman stayed like a valiant knight,
And some with him, that trusted in his power,
Argantes with a long beech tree in hand,
Ran thither, this huge engine to withstand:
With this he pushed the tower, and back it drives
The length of all his tree, a wondrous way,
The hardy virgin by his side arrives,
To help Argantes in this hard assay:
The band that used the ram, this season strives
To cut the cords, wherein the woolpacks lay,
Which done, the sacks down in the trenches fall,
And to the battery naked left the wall.
The tower above, the ram beneath doth thunder,
What lime and stone such puissance could abide?
The wall began, new bruised and crushed asunder,
Her wounded lap to open broad and wide,
Godfrey himself and his brought safely under
The shattered wall, where greatest breach he spied,
Himself he saves behind his mighty targe,
A shield not used but in some desperate charge.
From hence he sees where Solyman descends,
Down to the threshold of the gaping breach,
And there it seems the mighty prince intends
Godfredo's hoped entrance to impeach:
Argantes, and with him the maid, defends
The walls above, to which the tower doth reach,
His noble heart, when Godfrey this beheld,
With courage new with wrath and valor swelled.
He turned about and to good Sigiere spake,
Who bare his greatest shield and mighty bow,
"That sure and trusty target let me take,
Impenetrable is that shield I know,
Over these ruins will I passage make,
And enter first, the way is eath and low,
And time requires that by some noble feat
I should make known my strength and puissance great."
He scant had spoken, scant received the charge,
When on his leg a sudden shaft him hit,
And through that part a hole made wide and large,
Where his strong sinews fastened were and knit.
Clorinda, thou this arrow didst discharge,
And let the Pagans bless thy hand for it,
For by that shot thou savedst them that day
From bondage vile, from death and sure decay.
The wounded duke, as though he felt no pain,
Still forward went, and mounted up the breach
His high attempt at first he nould refrain,
And after called his lords with cheerful speech;
But when his leg could not his weight sustain,
He saw his will did far his power outreach,
And more he strove his grief increased the more,
The bold assault he left at length therefore:
And with his hand he beckoned Guelpho near,
And said, "I must withdraw me to my tent,
My place and person in mine absence bear,
Supply my want, let not the fight relent,
I go, and will ere long again be here;
I go and straight return: "this said, he went,
On a light steed he leaped, and o'er the green
He rode, but rode not, as he thought, unseen.
When Godfrey parted, parted eke the heart, .
The strength and fortune of the Christian bands,.
Courage increased in their adverse part,
Wrath in their hearts, and vigor in their hands:
Valor, success, strength, hardiness and art,
Failed in the princes of the western lands,
Their swords were blunt, faint was their trumpet's blast,
Their sun was set, or else with clouds o'ercast.
Upon the bulwarks now appeared bold
That fearful band that late for dread was fled!
The women that Clorinda's strength behold,
Their country's love to war encouraged,
They weapons got, and fight like men they would,
Their gowns tucked up, their locks were loose and spread,
Sharp darts they cast, and without dread or fear,
Exposed their breasts to save their fortress dear.
But that which most dismayed the Christian knights,
And added courage to the Pagans most,
Was Guelpho's sudden fall in all men's sights,
Who tumbled headlong down, his footing lost,
A mighty stone upon the worthy lights,
But whence it came none wist, nor from what coast;
And with like blow, which more their hearts dismayed,
Beside him low in dust old Raymond laid:
And Eustace eke within the ditches large,
To narrow shifts and last extremes they drive,
Upon their foes so fierce the Pagans charge,
And with good-fortune so their blows they give,
That whom they hit, in spite of helm or targe,
They deeply wound, or else of life deprive.
At this their good success Argantes proud,
Waxing more fell, thus roared and cried aloud:
"This is not Antioch, nor the evening dark
Can help your privy sleights with friendly shade,
The sun yet shines, your falsehood can we mark,
In other wise this bold assault is made;
Of praise and glory quenched is the spark
That made you first these eastern lands invade,
Why cease you now? why take you not this fort?
What! are you weary for a charge so short?"
Thus raged he, and in such hellish sort
Increased the fury in the brain-sick knight,
That he esteemed that large and ample fort
Too strait a field, wherein to prove his might,
There where the breach had framed a new-made port,
Himself he placed, with nimble skips and light,
He cleared the passage out, and thus he cried
To Solyman, that fought close by his side:
"Come, Solyman, the time and place behold,
That of our valors well may judge the doubt,
What sayest thou? amongst these Christians bold,
First leap he forth that holds himself most stout:"
While thus his will the mighty champion told,
Both Solyman and he at once leaped out,
Fury the first provoked, disdain the last,
Who scorned the challenge ere his lips it passed.
Upon their foes unlooked-for they flew,
Each spited other for his virtue's sake,
So many soldiers this fierce couple slew,
So many shields they cleft and helms they break,
So many ladders to the earth they threw,
That well they seemed a mount thereof to make,
Or else some vamure fit to save the town,
Instead of that the Christians late beat down.
The folk that strove with rage and haste before
Who first the wall and rampire should ascend,
Retire, and for that honor strive no more,
Scantly they could their limbs and lives defend,
They fled, their engines lost the Pagans tore
In pieces small, their rams to naught they rend,
And all unfit for further service make
With so great force and rage their beams they brake.
The Pagans ran transported with their ire,
Now here, now there, and woful slaughters wrought,
At last they called for devouring fire,
Two burning pines against the tower they brought,
So from the palace of their hellish sire,
When all this world they would consume to naught,
The fury sisters come with fire in hands,
Shaking their snaky locks and sparkling brands:
But noble Tancred, who this while applied
Grave exhortations to his bold Latines,
When of these knights the wondrous acts he spied,
And saw the champions with their burning pines,
He left his talk, and thither forthwith hied,
To stop the rage of those fell Saracines.
And with such force the fight he there renewed,
That now they fled and lost who late pursued.
Thus changed the state and fortune of the fray,
Meanwhile the wounded duke, in grief and teen,
Within his great pavilion rich and gay,
Good Sigiere and Baldwin stood between;
His other friends whom his mishap dismay,
With grief and tears about assembled been:
He strove in haste the weapon out to wind,
And broke the reed, but left the head behind.
He bade them take the speediest way they might,
Of that unlucky hurt to make him sound,
And to lay ope the depth thereof to sight,
He willed them open, search and lance the wound,
"Send me again," quoth he, "to end this fight,
Before the sun be sunken under ground;"
And leaning on a broken spear, he thrust
His leg straight out, to him that cure it must.
Erotimus, born on the banks of Po,
Was he that undertook to cure the knight,
All what green herbs or waters pure could do,
He knew their power, their virtue, and their might,
A noble poet was the man also,
But in this science had a more delight,
He could restore to health death-wounded men,
And make their names immortal with his pen.
The mighty duke yet never changed cheer,
But grieved to see his friends lamenting stand;
The leech prepared his cloths and cleansing gear,
And with a belt his gown about him band,
Now with his herbs the steely head to tear
Out of the flesh he proved, now with his hand,
Now with his hand, now with his instrument
He shaked and plucked it, yet not forth it went.
His labor vain, his art prevailed naught,
His luck was ill, although his skill were good,
To such extremes the wounded prince he brought,
That with fell pain he swooned as he stood:
But the angel pure, that kept him, went and sought
Divine dictamnum, out of Ida wood,
This herb is rough, and bears a purple flower,
And in his budding leaves lies all his power.
Kind nature first upon the craggy clift
Bewrayed this herb unto the mountain goat,
That when her sides a cruel shaft hath rift,
With it she shakes the reed out of her coat;
This in a moment fetched the angel swift,
And brought from Ida hill, though far remote,
The juice whereof in a prepared bath
Unseen the blessed spirit poured hath.
Pure nectar from that spring of Lydia than,
And panaces divine therein he threw,
The cunning leech to bathe the wound began,
And of itself the steely head outflew;
The bleeding stanched, no vermile drop outran,
The leg again waxed strong with vigor new:
Erotimus cried out, "This hurt and wound
No human art or hand so soon makes sound:
"Some angel good I think come down from skies
Thy surgeon is, for here plain tokens are
Of grace divine which to thy help applies,
Thy weapon take and haste again to war."
In precious cloths his leg the chieftain ties,
Naught could the man from blood and fight debar;
A sturdy lance in his right hand he braced,
His shield he took, and on his helmet laced:
And with a thousand knights and barons bold,
Toward the town he hasted from his camp,
In clouds of dust was Titan's face enrolled,
Trembled the earth whereon the worthies stamp,
His foes far off his dreadful looks behold,
Which in their hearts of courage quenched the lamp,
A chilling fear ran cold through every vein,
Lord Godfrey shouted thrice and all his train:
Their sovereign's voice his hardy people knew,
And his loud cries that cheered each fearful heart;
Thereat new strength they took and courage new,
And to the fierce assault again they start.
The Pagans twain this while themselves withdrew
Within the breach to save that battered part,
And with great loss a skirmish hot they hold
Against Tancredi and his squadron bold.
Thither came Godfrey armed round about
In trusty plate, with fierce and dreadful look;
At first approach against Argantes stout
Headed with poignant steel a lance he shook,
No casting engine with such force throws out
A knotty spear, and as the way it took,
It whistled in the air, the fearless knight
Opposed his shield against that weapon's might.
The dreadful blow quite through his target drove,
And bored through his breastplate strong and thick,
The tender skin it in his bosom rove,
The purple-blood out-streamed from the quick;
To wrest it out the wounded Pagan strove
And little leisure gave it there to stick;
At Godfrey's head the lance again he cast,
And said, "Lo, there again thy dart thou hast."
The spear flew back the way it lately came,
And would revenge the harm itself had done,
But missed the mark whereat the man did aim,
He stepped aside the furious blow to shun:
But Sigiere in his throat received the same,
The murdering weapon at his neck out-run,
Nor aught it grieved the man to lose his breath,
Since in his prince's stead he suffered death.
Even then the Soldan struck with monstrous main
The noble leader of the Norman band,
He reeled awhile and staggered with the pain,
And wheeling round fell grovelling on the sand:
Godfrey no longer could the grief sustain
Of these displeasures, but with flaming brand,
Up to the breach in heat and haste he goes,
And hand to hand there combats with his foes;
And there great wonders surely wrought he had,
Mortal the fight, and fierce had been the fray,
But that dark night, from her pavilion sad,
Her cloudy wings did on the earth display,
Her quiet shades she interposed glad
To cause the knights their arms aside to lay;
Godfrey withdrew, and to their tents they wend,
And thus this bloody day was brought to end.
The weak and wounded ere he left the field,
The godly duke to safety thence conveyed,
Nor to his foes his engines would he yield,
In them his hope to win the fortress laid;
Then to the tower he went, and it beheeld,
The tower that late the Pagan lords dismayed
But now stood bruised, broken, cracked and shivered,
From some sharp storm as it were late delivered.
From dangers great escaped, but late it was,
And now to safety brought well-nigh it seems,
But as a ship that under sail doth pass
The roaring billows and the raging streams,
And drawing nigh the wished port, alas,
Breaks on some hidden rocks her ribs and beams;
Or as a steed rough ways that well hath passed,
Before his inn stumbleth and falls at last:
Such hap befell that tower, for on that side
Gainst which the Pagans' force and battery bend,
Two wheels were broke whereon the piece should ride,
The maimed engine could no further wend,
The troop that guarded it that part provide
To underprop with posts, and it defend
Till carpenters and cunning workmen came
Whose skill should help and rear again the same.
Thus Godfrey bids, and that ere springing-day,
The cracks and bruises all amend they should,
Each open passage, and each privy way
About the piece, he kept with soldiers bold:
But the loud rumor, both of that they say,
And that they do, is heard within the hold,
A thousand lights about the tower they view,
And what they wrought all night both saw and knew.
Clorinda hears her eunuch old report
Her birth, her offspring, and her native land;
Disguised she fireth Godfrey's rolling fort.
The burned piece falls smoking on the sand:
With Tancred long unknown in desperate sort
She fights, and falls through pierced with his brand:
Christened she dies; with sighs, with plaints and tears.
He wails her death; Argant revengement swears.
Now in dark night was all the world embarred;
But yet the tired armies took no rest,
The careful French kept heedful watch and ward,
While their high tower the workmen newly dressed,
The Pagan crew to reinforce prepared
The weakened bulwarks, late to earth down kest,
Their rampiers broke and bruised walls to mend,
Lastly their hurts the wounded knights attend.
Their wounds were dressed, part of the work was brought
To wished end, part left to other days,
A dull desire to rest deep midnight wrought,
His heavy rod sleep on their eyelids lays:
Yet rested not Clorinda's working thought,
Which thirsted still for fame and warlike praise,
Argantes eke accompanied the maid
From place to place, which to herself thus said:
"This day Argantes strong, and Solyman,
Strange things have done, and purchased great renown,
Among our foes out of the walls they ran,
Their rams they broke and rent their engines down:
I used my bow, of naught else boast I can,
My self stood safe meanwhile within this town,
And happy was my shot, and prosperous too,
But that was all a woman's hand could do.
"On birds and beasts in forests wild that feed
It were more fit mine arrows to bestow,
Than for a feeble maid in warlike deed
With strong and hardy knights herself to show.
Why take I not again my virgin's weed,
And spend my days in secret cell unknow?"
Thus thought, thus mused, thus devised the maid,
And turning to the knight, at last thus said:
"My thoughts are full, my lord, of strange desire
Some high attempt of war to undertake,
Whether high God my mind therewith inspire
Or of his will his God mankind doth make,
Among our foes behold the light and fire,
I will among them wend, and burn or break
The tower, God grant therein I have my will
And that performed, betide me good or ill.
"But if it fortune such my chance should be,
That to this town I never turn again,
Mine eunuch, whom I dearly love, with thee
I leave my faithful maids, and all my train,
To Egypt then conducted safely see
Those woful damsels and that aged swain,
Help them, my lord, in that distressed case,
Their feeble sex, his age, deserveth grace."
Argantes wondering stood, and felt the effect
Of true renown pierce through his glorious mind,
"And wilt thou go," quoth he, "and me neglect,
Disgraced, despised, leave in this fort behind?
Shall I while these strong walls my life protect
Behold thy flames and fires tossed in the wind,
No, no, thy fellow have I been in arms,
And will be still, in praise, in death, in harms.
"This heart of mine death's bitter stroke despiseth,
For praise this life, for glory take this breath."
"My soul and more," quoth she, "thy friendship prizeth,
For this thy proffered aid required uneath,
I but a woman am, no loss ariseth
To this besieged city by my death,
But if, as God forbid, this night thou fall,
Ah! who shall then, who can, defend this wall!"
"Too late these 'scuses vain," the knight replied,
"You bring; my will is firm, my mind is set,
! follow you whereso you list me guide,
Or go before if you my purpose let."
This said, they hasted to the palace wide
About their prince where all his lords were met,
Clorinda spoke for both, and said, "Sir king,
Attend my words, hear, and allow the thing:
"Argantes here, this bold and hardy knight,
Will undertake to burn the wondrous tower,
And I with him, only we stay till night
Bury in sleep our foes at deadest hour."
The king with that cast up his hands on height,
The tears for joy upon his cheeks down pour.
"Praised," quoth he, "be Macon whom we serve,
This land I see he keeps and will preserve:
"Nor shall so soon this shaken kingdom fall,
While such unconquered hearts my state defend:
But for this act what praise or guerdon shall
I give your virtues, which so far extend?
Let fame your praises sound through nations all,
And fill the world therewith to either end,
Take half my wealth and kingdom for your meed?
You are rewarded half even with the deed."
Thus spake the prince, and gently 'gan distrain,
Now him, now her, between his friendly arms:
The Soldan by, no longer could refrain
That noble envy which his bosom warms,
"Nor I," quoth he, "bear this broad sword in vain,
Nor yet am unexpert in night alarms,
Take me with you: ah." Quoth Clorinda, "no!
Whom leave we here of prowess if you go?"
This spoken, ready with a proud refuse
Argantes was his proffered aid to scorn,
Whom Aladine prevents, and with excuse
To Solyman thus gan his speeches torn:
"Right noble prince, as aye hath been your use
Your self so still you bear and long have borne,
Bold in all acts, no danger can affright
Your heart, nor tired is your strength with fight.
"If you went forth great things perform you would,
In my conceit yet far unfit it seems
That you, who most excel in courage bold,
At once should leave this town in these extremes,
Nor would I that these twain should leave this hold,
My heart their noble lives far worthier deems,
If this attempt of less importance were,
Or weaker posts so great a weight could bear.
"But for well-guarded is the mighty tower
With hardy troops and squadrons round about,
And cannot harmed be with little power,
Nor fit the time to send whole armies out,
This pair who passed have many a dreadful stowre,
And proffer now to prove this venture stout,
Alone to this attempt let them go forth,
Alone than thousands of more price and worth.
"Thou, as it best beseems a mighty king,
With ready bands besides the gate attend,
That when this couple have performed the thing,
And shall again their footsteps homeward bend,
From their strong foes upon them following
Thou may'st them keep, preserve, save and defend:"
Thus said the king, "The Soldan must consent,"
Silent remained the Turk, and discontent.
Then Ismen said, "You twain that undertake
This hard attempt, awhile I pray you stay,
Till I a wildfire of fine temper make,
That this great engine burn to ashes may;
Haply the guard that now doth watch and wake,
Will then lie tumbled sleeping on the lay;"
Thus they conclude, and in their chambers sit,
To wait the time for this adventure fit.
Clorinda there her silver arms off rent,
Her helm, her shield, her hauberk shining bright,
An armor black as jet or coal she hent,
Wherein withouten plume herself she dight;
For thus disguised amid her foes she meant
To pass unseen, by help of friendly night,
To whom her eunuch, old Arsetes, came,
That from her cradle nursed and kept the dame.
This aged sire had followed far and near,
Through lands and seas, the strong and hardy maid,
He saw her leave her arms and wonted gear,
Her danger nigh that sudden change foresaid:
By his white locks from black that changed were
In following her, the woful man her prayed,
By all his service and his taken pain,
To leave that fond attempt, but prayed in vain.
"At last," quoth he, "since hardened to thine ill,
Thy cruel heart is to thy loss prepared,
That my weak age, nor tears that down distil,
Not humble suit, nor plaint, thou list regard;
Attend awhile, strange things unfold I will,
Hear both thy birth and high estate declared;
Follow my counsel, or thy will that done,"
She sat to hear, the eunuch thus begun:
"Senapus ruled, and yet perchance doth reign
In mighty Ethiop, and her deserts waste,
The lore of Christ both he and all his train
Of people black, hath kept and long embraced,
To him a Pagan was I sold for gain,
And with his queen, as her chief eunuch, placed;
Black was this queen as jet, yet on her eyes
Sweet loveliness, in black attired, lies.
"The fire of love and frost of jealousy,
Her husband's troubled soul alike torment,
The tide of fond suspicion flowed high,
The foe to love and plague to sweet content,
He mewed her up from sight of mortal eye,
Nor day he would his beams on her had bent:
She, wise and lowly, by her husband's pleasure,
Her joy, her peace, her will, her wish did measure.
"Her prison was a chamber, painted round
With goodly portraits and with stories old,
As white as snow there stood a virgin bound,
Besides a dragon fierce, a champion bold
The monster did with poignant spear through wound,
The gored beast lay dead upon the mould;
The gentle queen before this image laid.
She plained, she mourned, she wept, she sighed, she prayed:
"At last with child she proved, and forth she brought,
And thou art she, a daughter fair and bright,
In her thy color white new terror wrought,
She wondered on thy face with strange affright,
But yet she purposed in her fearful thought
To hide thee from the king, thy father's sight,
Lest thy bright hue should his suspect approve,
For seld a crow begets a silver dove.
"And to her spouse to show she was disposed
A negro's babe late born, in room of thee,
And for the tower wherein she lay enclosed,
Was with her damsels only wond and me,
To me, on whose true faith she most reposed,
She gave thee, ere thou couldest christened be,
Nor could I since find means thee to baptize,
In Pagan lands thou knowest it's not the guise.
"To me she gave thee, and she wept withal,
To foster thee in some far distant place.
Who can her griefs and plaints to reckoning call,
How oft she swooned at the last embrace:
Her streaming tears amid her kisses fall,
Her sighs, her dire complaints did interlace?
And looking up at last, ` O God,' quoth she,
`Who dost my heart and inward mourning see,
"`If mind and body spotless to this day,
If I have kept my bed still undefiled,
Not for myself a sinful wretch I pray,
That in thy presence am an abject vilde,
Preserve this babe, whose mother must denay
To nourish it, preserve this harmless child,
Oh let it live, and chaste like me it make,
But for good fortune elsewhere sample take.
"'Thou heavenly soldier which delivered hast
That sacred virgin from the serpent old,
If on thine altars I have offerings placed,
And sacrificed myrrh, frankincense and gold,
On this poor child thy heavenly looks down cast,
With gracious eye this silly babe behold;'
This said, her strength and living sprite was fled,
She sighed, she groaned, she swooned in her bed.
"Weeping I took thee, in a little chest,
Covered with herbs and leaves, I brought thee out
So secretly, that none of all the rest
Of such an act suspicion had or doubt,
To wilderness my steps I first addressed,
Where horrid shades enclosed me round about,
A tigress there I met, in whose fierce eyes
Fury and wrath, rage, death and terror lies:
"Up to a tree I leaped, and on the grass,
Such was my sudden fear, I left thee lying,
To thee the beast with furious course did pass,
With curious looks upon thy visage prying,
All suddenly both meek and mild she was,
With friendly cheer thy tender body eying:
At last she licked thee, and with gesture mild
About thee played, and thou upon her smiled.
"Her fearful muzzle full of dreadful threat,
In thy weak hand thou took'st withouten dread;
The gentle beast with milk-outstretched teat,
As nurses' custom, proffered thee to feed.
As one that wondereth on some marvel great,
I stood this while amazed at the deed.
When thee she saw well filled and satisfied,
Unto the woods again the tigress hied.
"She gone, down from the tree I came in haste,
And took thee up, and on my journey wend,
Within a little thorp I stayed at last,
And to a nurse the charge of thee commend,
And sporting with thee there long time I passed,
Till term of sixteen months were brought to end,
And thou begun, as little children do,
With half clipped words to prattle, and to go.
"But having passed the August of mine age,
When more than half my tap of life was run,
Rich by rewards given by your mother sage,
For merits past, and service yet undone,
I longed to leave this wandering pilgrimage,
And in my native soil again to won,
To get some seely home I had desire,
Loth still to warm me at another's fire.
"To Egypt-ward, where I was born, I went,
And bore thee with me, by a rolling flood,
Till I with savage thieves well-nigh was hent;
Before the brook, the thieves behind me stood:
Thee to forsake I never could consent,
And gladly would I 'scape those outlaws wood,
Into the flood I leaped far from the brim,
My left hand bore thee, with the right I swim.
"Swift was the current, in the middle stream
A whirlpool gaped with devouring jaws,
The gulf, on such mishap ere I could dream,
Into his deep abyss my carcass draws,
There I forsook thee, the wild waters seem
To pity thee, a gentle wind there blows
Whose friendly puffs safe to the shore thee drive,
Where wet and weary I at last arrive:
"I took thee up, and in my dream that night,
When buried was the world in sleep and shade,
I saw a champion clad in armor bright
That o'er my head shaked a flaming blade,
He said, 'I charge thee execute aright,
That charge this infant's mother on thee laid,
Baptize the child, high Heaven esteems her dear,
And I her keeper will attend her near:
"`I will her keep, defend, save and protect,
I made the waters mild, the tigress tame,
O wretch that heavenly warnings dost reject!'
The warrior vanished having said the same.
I rose and journeyed on my way direct
When blushing morn from Tithon's bed forth came,
But for my faith is true and sure I ween,
And dreams are false, you still unchristened been.
"A Pagan therefore thee I fostered have,
Nor of thy birth the truth did ever tell,
Since you increased are in courage brave,
Your sex and nature's-self you both excel,
Full many a realm have you made bond and slave,
Your fortunes last yourself remember well,
And how in peace and war, in joy and teen,
I have your servant, and your tutor been.
"Last morn, from skies ere stars exiled were,
In deep and deathlike sleep my senses drowned,
The self-same vision did again appear,
With stormy wrathful looks, and thundering sound,
`Villain,' quoth he, `within short while thy dear
Must change her life, and leave this sinful ground,
Thine be the loss, the torment, and the care,'
This said, he fled through skies, through clouds and air.
"Hear then my joy, my hope, my darling, hear,
High Heaven some dire misfortune threatened hath,
Displeased pardie, because I did thee lere
A lore repugnant to thy parents' faith;
Ah, for my sake, this bold attempt forbear;
Put off these sable arms, appease thy wrath."
This said, he wept, she pensive stood and sad,
Because like dream herself but lately had.
With cheerful smile she answered him at last,
"I will this faith observe, it seems me true,
Which from my cradle age thou taught me hast;
I will not change it for religion new,
Nor with vain shows of fear and dread aghast
This enterprise forbear I to pursue,
No, not if death in his most dreadful face
Wherewith he scareth mankind, kept the place."
Approachen gan the time, while thus she spake,
Wherein they ought that dreadful hazard try;
She to Argantes went, who should partake
Of her renown and praise, or with her die.
Ismen with words more hasty still did make
Their virtue great, which by itself did fly,
Two balls he gave them made of hollow brass,
Wherein enclosed fire, pitch, and brimstone was.
And forth they went, and over dale and hill
They hasted forward with a speedy pace,
Unseen, unmarked, undescried, until
Beside the engine close themselves they place,
New courage there their swelling hearts did fill,
Rage in their breasts, fury shown in their face,
They yearned to blow the fire, and draw the sword.
The watch descried them both, and gave the word.
Silent they passed on, the watch begun
To rear a huge alarm with hideous cries,
Therewith the hardy couple forward run
To execute their valiant enterprise:
So from a cannon or a roaring gun
At once the noise, the flame, and bullet flies,
They run, they give the charge, begin the fray,
And all at once their foes break, spoil and slay.
They passed first through thousand thousand blows,
And then performed their designment bold,
A fiery ball each on the engine throws,
The stuff was dry, the fire took quickly hold,
Furious upon the timber-work it grows,
How it increased cannot well be told,
How it crept up the piece, and how to skies
The burning sparks and towering smoke upflies.
A mass of solid fire burning bright
Rolled up in smouldering fumes, there bursteth out,
And there the blustering winds add strength and might
And gather close the sparsed flames about:
The Frenchmen trembled at the dreadful light,
To arms in haste and fear ran all the rout,
Down fell the piece dreaded so much in war,
Thus what long days do make one hour doth mar.
Two Christian bands this while came to the place
With speedy haste, where they beheld the fire,
Argantes to them cried with scornful grace,
"Your blood shall quench these flames, and quench mine ire:"
This said, the maid and he with sober pace
Drew back, and to the banks themselves retire,
Faster than brooks which falling showers increase
Their foes augment, and faster on them press.
The gilden port was opened, and forth stepped
With all his soldiers bold, the Turkish king,
Ready to aid the two his force he kept,
When fortune should them home with conquest bring,
Over the bars the hardy couple leapt
And after them a band of Christians fling,
Whom Solyman drove back with courage stout,
And shut the gate, but shut Clorinda out.
Alone was she shut forth, for in that hour
Wherein they closed the port, the virgin went,
And full of heat and wrath, her strength and power
Gainst Arimon, that struck her erst, she bent,
She slew the knight, nor Argant in that stowre
Wist of her parting, or her fierce intent,
The fight, the press, the night, and darksome skies
Care from his heart had ta'en, sight from his eyes.
But when appeased was her angry mood,
Her fury calmed, and settled was her head,
She saw the gates were shut, and how she stood
Amid her foes, she held herself for dead;
While none her marked at last she thought it good,
To save her life, some other path to tread,
She feigned her one of them, and close her drew
Amid the press that none her saw or knew:
Then as a wolf guilty of some misdeed
Flies to some grove to hide himself from view,
So favored with the night, with secret speed
Dissevered from the press the damsel flew:
Tancred alone of her escape took heed,
He on that quarter was arrived new,
When Arimon she killed he thither came,
He saw it, marked it, and pursued the dame.
He deemed she was some man of mickle might,
And on her person would he worship win,
Over the hills the nymph her journey dight
Toward another port, there to get in:
With hideous noise fast after spurred the knight,
She heard and stayed, and thus her words begin,
"What haste hast thou? ride softly, take thy breath,
What bringest thou?" He answered, "War and death."
"And war and death," quoth she, "here mayest thou get
If thou for battle come," with that she stayed:
Tancred to ground his foot in haste down set,
And left his steed, on foot he saw the maid,
Their courage hot, their ire and wrath they whet,
And either champion drew a trenchant blade,
Together ran they, and together stroke,
Like two fierce bulls whom rage and love provoke.
Worthy of royal lists and brightest day,
Worthy a golden trump and laurel crown,
The actions were and wonders of that fray
Which sable knight did in dark bosom drown:
Yet night, consent that I their acts display
And make their deeds to future ages known,
And in records of long enduring story
Enrol their praise, their fame, their worth and glory.
They neither shrunk, nor vantage sought of ground,
They traverse not, nor skipped from part to part,
Their blows were neither false nor feigned found,
The night, their rage would let them use no art,
Their swords together clash with dreadful sound,
Their feet stand fast, and neither stir nor start,
They move their hands, steadfast their feet remain,
Nor blow nor loin they struck, or thrust in vain.
Shame bred desire a sharp revenge to take,
And vengeance taken gave new cause of shame:
So that with haste and little heed they strake,
Fuel enough they had to feed the flame;
At last so close their battle fierce they make,
They could not wield their swords, so nigh they came,
They used the hilts, and each on other rushed,
And helm to helm, and shield to shield they crushed.
Thrice his strong arms he folds about her waist,
And thrice was forced to let the virgin go,
For she disdained to be so embraced, .
No lover would have strained his mistress so:
They took their swords again, and each enchased
Deep wounds in the soft flesh of his strong foe,
Till weak and weary, faint, alive uneath,
They both retired at once, at once took breath.
Each other long beheld, and leaning stood
Upon their swords, whose points in earth were pight,
When day-break, rising from the eastern flood,
Put forth the thousand eyes of blindfold night;
Tancred beheld his foe's out-streaming blood,
And gaping wounds, and waxed proud with the sight,
Oh vanity of man's unstable mind,
Puffed up with every blast of friendly wind!
Why joy'st thou, wretch? Oh, what shall be thy gain?
What trophy for this conquest is't thou rears?
Thine eyes shall shed, in case thou be not slain,
For every drop of blood a sea of tears:
The bleeding warriors leaning thus remain,
Each one to speak one word long time forbears,
Tancred the silence broke at last, and said,
For he would know with whom this fight he made:
"Evil is our chance and hard our fortune is
Who here in silence, and in shade debate,
Where light of sun and witness all we miss
That should our prowess and our praise dilate:
If words in arms find place, yet grant me this,
Tell me thy name, thy country, and estate;
That I may know, this dangerous combat done,
Whom I have conquered, or who hath me won."
"What I nill tell, you ask," quoth she, "in vain,
Nor moved by prayer, nor constrained by power,
But thus much know, I am one of those twain
Which late with kindled fire destroyed the tower."
Tancred at her proud words swelled with disdain,
"That hast thou said," quoth he, "in evil hour;
Thy vaunting speeches, and thy silence both,
Uncivil wretch, hath made my heart more wroth."
Ire in their chafed breasts renewed the fray,
Fierce was the fight, though feeble were their might,
Their strength was gone, their cunning was away,
And fury in their stead maintained the fight,
Their swords both points and edges sharp embay
In purple blood, whereso they hit or light,
And if weak life yet in their bosoms lie,
They lived because they both disdained to die.
As Aegean seas when storms be calmed again
That rolled their tumbling waves with troublous blasts,
Do yet of tempests past some shows retain,
And here and there their swelling billows casts;
So, though their strength were gone and might were vain,
Of their first fierceness still the fury lasts,
Wherewith sustained, they to their tackling stood,
And heaped wound on wound, and blood on blood.
But now, alas, the fatal hour arrives
That her sweet life must leave that tender hold,
His sword into her bosom deep he drives,
And bathed in lukewarm blood his iron cold,
Between her breasts the cruel weapon rives
Her curious square, embossed with swelling gold,
Her knees grow weak, the pains of death she feels,
And like a falling cedar bends and reels.
The prince his hand upon her shield doth stretch,
And low on earth the wounded damsel layeth,
And while she fell, with weak and woful speech,
Her prayers last and last complaints she sayeth,
A spirit new did her those prayers teach,
Spirit of hope, of charity, and faith;
And though her life to Christ rebellious were,
Yet died she His child and handmaid dear.
"Friend, thou hast won, I pardon thee, nor save
This body, that all torments can endure,
But save my soul, baptism I dying crave,
Come wash away my sins with waters pure:"
His heart relenting nigh in sunder rave,
With woful speech of that sweet creature,
So that his rage, his wrath, and anger died,
And on his cheeks salt tears for ruth down slide.
With murmur loud down from the mountain's side
A little runnel tumbled near the place,
Thither he ran and filled his helmet wide,
And quick returned to do that work of grace,
With trembling hands her beaver he untied,
Which done he saw, and seeing, knew her face,
And lost therewith his speech and moving quite,
Oh woful knowledge, ah unhappy sight!
He died not, but all his strength unites,
And to his virtues gave his heart in guard,
Bridling his grief, with water he requites
The life that he bereft with iron hard,
And while the sacred words the knight recites,
The nymph to heaven with joy herself prepared;
And as her life decays her joys increase,
She smiled and said, "Farewell, I die in peace."
As violets blue mongst lilies pure men throw,
So paleness midst her native white begun;
Her looks to heaven she cast, their eyes I trow
Downward for pity bent both heaven and sun,
Her naked hand she gave the knight, in show
Of love and peace, her speech, alas, was done,
And thus the virgin fell on endless sleep, --
Love, Beauty, Virtue, for your darling weep!
But when he saw her gentle soul was went,
His manly courage to relent began,
Grief, sorrow, anguish. sadness, discontent,
Free empire got and lordship on the man,
His life within his heart they close up pent,
Death through his senses and his visage ran:
Like his dead lady, dead seemed Tancred good,
In paleness, stillness, wounds and streams of blood.
And his weak sprite, to be unbodied
From fleshly prison free that ceaseless strived,
Had followed her fair soul but lately fled
Had not a Christian squadron there arrived,
To seek fresh water thither haply led,
And found the princess dead, and him deprived
Of signs of life; yet did the knight remain
On live, nigh dead, for her himself had slain.
Their guide far off the prince knew by his shield,
And thither hasted full of grief and fear,
Her dead, him seeming so, he there beheld,
And for that strange mishap shed many a tear;
He would not leave the corpses fair in field
For food to wolves, though she a Pagan were,
But in their arms the soldiers both uphent,
And both lamenting brought to Tancred's tent.
With those dear burdens to their camp they pass,
Yet would not that dead seeming knight awake,
At last he deeply groaned, which token was
His feeble soul had not her flight yet take:
The other lay a still and heavy mass,
Her spirit had that earthen cage forsake;
Thus were they brought, and thus they placed were
In sundry rooms, yet both adjoining near.
All skill and art his careful servants used
To life again their dying lord to bring,
At last his eyes unclosed, with tears suffused,
He felt their hands and heard their whispering,
But how he thither came long time he mused,
His mind astonished was with everything;
He gazed about, his squires in fine he knew,
Then weak and woful thus his plaints out threw:
"What, live I yet? and do I breathe and see
Of this accursed day the hateful light?
This spiteful ray which still upbraideth me
With that accursed deed I did this night,
Ah, coward hand, afraid why should'st thou be;
Thou instrument of death, shame and despite,
Why should'st thou fear, with sharp and trenchant knife,
To cut the thread of this blood-guilty life?
"Pierce through this bosom, and my cruel heart
In pieces cleave, break every string and vein;
But thou to slaughters vile which used art,
Think'st it were pity so to ease my pain:
Of luckless love therefore in torments' smart
A sad example must I still remain,
A woful monster of unhappy love,
Who still must live, lest death his comfort prove:
"Still must I live in anguish, grief, and care;
Furies my guilty conscience that torment,
The ugly shades, dark night, and troubled air
In grisly forms her slaughter still present,
Madness and death about my bed repair,
Hell gapeth wide to swallow up this tent;
Swift from myself I run, myself I fear,
Yet still my hell within myself I bear.
"But where, alas, where be those relics sweet,
Wherein dwelt late all love, all joy, all good?
My fury left them cast in open street,
Some beast hath torn her flesh and licked her blood,
Ah noble prey! for savage beast unmeet,
Ah sweet! too sweet, and far too precious food,
Ah, seely nymph! whom night and darksome shade
To beasts, and me, far worse than beasts, betrayed.
"But where you be, if still you be, I wend
To gather up those relics dear at least,
But if some beast hath from the hills descend,
And on her tender bowels made his feast,
Let that fell monster me in pieces rend,
And deep entomb me in his hollow chest:
For where she buried is, there shall I have
A stately tomb, a rich and costly grave."
Thus mourned the knight, his squires him told at last,
They had her there for whom those tears he shed;
A beam of comfort his dim eyes outcast,
Like lightning through thick clouds of darkness spread,
The heavy burden of his limbs in haste,
With mickle pain, he drew forth of his bed,
And scant of strength to stand, to move or go,
Thither he staggered, reeling to and fro.
When he came there, and in her breast espied
His handiwork, that deep and cruel wound,
And her sweet face with leaden paleness dyed,
Where beauty late spread forth her beams around,
He trembled so, that nere his squires beside
To hold him up, he had sunk down to ground,
And said, "O face in death still sweet and fair!
Thou canst not sweeten yet my grief and care:
"O fair right hand, the pledge of faith and love?
Given me but late, too late, in sign of peace,
How haps it now thou canst not stir nor move?
And you, dear limbs, now laid in rest and ease,
Through which my cruel blade this flood-gate rove,
Your pains have end, my torments never cease,
O hands, O cruel eyes, accursed alike!
You gave the wound, you gave them light to strike.
"But thither now run forth my guilty blood,
Whither my plaints, my sorrows cannot wend."
He said no more, but, as his passion wood
Inforced him, he gan to tear and rend
His hair, his face, his wounds, a purple flood
Did from each side in rolling streams descend,
He had been slain, but that his pain and woe
Bereft his senses, and preserved him so.
Cast on his bed his squires recalled his sprite
To execute again her hateful charge,
But tattling fame the sorrows of the knight
And hard mischance had told this while at large:
Godfrey and all his lords of worth and might,
Ran thither, and the duty would discharge
Of friendship true, and with sweet words the rage
Of bitter grief and woe they would assuage.
But as a mortal wound the more doth smart
The more it searched is, handled or sought;
So their sweet words to his afflicted heart
More grief, more anguish, pain and torment brought
But reverend Peter that would set apart
Care of his sheep, as a good shepherd ought,
His vanity with grave advice reproved
And told what mourning Christian knights behoved:
"O Tancred, Tancred, how far different
From thy beginnings good these follies be?
What makes thee deaf? what hath thy eyesight blent?
What mist, what cloud thus overshadeth thee?
This is a warning good from heaven down sent,
Yet His advice thou canst not hear nor see
Who calleth and conducts thee to the way
From which thou willing dost and witting stray:
"To worthy actions and achievements fit
For Christian knights He would thee home recall;
But thou hast left that course and changed it,
To make thyself a heathen damsel's thrall;
But see, thy grief and sorrow's painful fit
Is made the rod to scourge thy sins withal,
Of thine own good thyself the means He makes,
But thou His mercy, goodness, grace forsakes.
"Thou dost refuse of heaven the proffered
And gainst it still rebel with sinful ire,
Oh wretch! Oh whither doth thy rage thee chase?
Refrain thy grief, bridle thy fond desire,
At hell's wide gate vain sorrow doth thee place,
Sorrow, misfortune's son, despair's foul fire:
Oh see thine evil, thy plaint and woe refrain,
The guides to death, to hell, and endless pain."
This said, his will to die the patient
Abandoned, that second death he feared,
These words of comfort to his heart down went,
And that dark night of sorrow somewhat cleared;
Yet now and then his grief deep sighs forth sent,
His voice shrill plaints and sad laments oft reared,
Now to himself, now to his murdered love,
He spoke, who heard perchance from heaven above.
Till Phoebus' rising from his evening fall
To her, for her, he mourns, he calls, he cries;
The nightingale so when her children small
Some churl takes before their parents' eyes,
Alone, dismayed, quite bare of comforts all,
Tires with complaints the seas, the shores, the skies,
Till in sweet sleep against the morning bright
She fall at last; so mourned, so slept the knight.
And clad in starry veil, amid his dream,
For whose sweet sake he mourned, appeared the maid,
Fairer than erst, yet with that heavenly beam.
Not out of knowledge was her lovely shade,
With looks of ruth her eyes celestial seem
To pity his sad plight, and thus she said,
"Behold how fair, how glad thy love appears,
And for my sake, my dear, forbear these tears.
"Thine be the thanks, my soul thou madest flit
At unawares out of her earthly nest,
Thine be the thanks, thou hast advanced it
In Abraham's dear bosom long to rest,
There still I love thee, there for Tancred fit
A seat prepared is among the blest;
There in eternal joy, eternal light,
Thou shalt thy love enjoy, and she her knight;
"Unless thyself, thyself heaven's joys envy,
And thy vain sorrow thee of bliss deprive,
Live, know I love thee, that I nill deny,
As angels, men: as saints may wights on live:"
This said, of zeal and love forth of her eye
An hundred glorious beams bright shining drive,
Amid which rays herself she closed from sigh,
And with new joy, new comfort left her knight.
Thus comforted he waked, and men discreet
In surgery to cure his wounds were sought,
Meanwhile of his dear love the relics sweet,
As best he could, to grave with pomp he brought:
Her tomb was not of varied Spartan greet,
Nor yet by cunning hand of Scopas wrought,
But built of polished stone, and thereon laid
The lively shape and portrait of the maid.
With sacred burning lamps in order long
And mournful pomp the corpse was brought to ground
Her arms upon a leafless pine were hung,
The hearse, with cypress; arms, with laurel crowned:
Next day the prince, whose love and courage strong
Drew forth his limbs, weak, feeble, and unsound,
To visit went, with care and reverence meet,
The buried ashes of his mistress sweet:
Before her new-made tomb at last arrived,
The woful prison of his living sprite,
Pale, cold, sad, comfortless, of sense deprived,
Upon the marble gray he fixed his sight,
Two streams of tears were from his eyes derived:
Thus with a sad "Alas!" began the knight,
"0 marble dear on my dear mistress placed!
My flames within, without my tears thou hast.
"Not of dead bones art thou the mournful grave,
But of quick love the fortress and the hold,
Still in my heart thy wonted brands I have
More bitter far, alas! but not more cold;
Receive these sighs, these kisses sweet receive,
In liquid drops of melting tears enrolled,
And give them to that body pure and chaste,
Which in thy bosom cold entombed thou hast.
"For if her happy soul her eye doth bend
On that sweet body which it lately dressed,
My love, thy pity cannot her offend,
Anger and wrath is not in angels blessed,
She pardon will the trespass of her friend,
That hope relieves me with these griefs oppressed,
This hand she knows hath only sinned, not I,
Who living loved her, and for love now die:
"And loving will I die, oh happy day
Whene'er it chanceth! but oh far more blessed
If as about thy polished sides I stray,
My bones within thy hollow grave might rest,
Together should in heaven our spirits stay,
Together should our bodies lie in chest;
So happy death should join what life doth sever,
0 Death, 0 Life! sweet both, both blessed ever."
Meanwhile the news in that besieged town
Of this mishap was whispered here and there,
Forthwith it spread, and for too true was known,
Her woful loss was talked everywhere,
Mingled with cries and plaints to heaven upthrown,
As if the city's self new taken were
With conquering foes, or as if flame and fire,
Nor house, nor church, nor street had left entire.
But all men's eyes were on Arsetes bent,
His sighs were deep, his looks full of despair,
Out of his woful eyes no tear there went,
His heart was hardened with his too much care,
His silver locks with dust he foul besprent,
He knocked his breast, his face he rent and tare,
And while the press flocked to the eunuch old,
Thus to the people spake Argantes bold:
"I would, when first I knew the hardy maid
Excluded was among her Christian foes,
Have followed her to give her timely aid,
Or by her side this breath and life to lose,
What did I not, or what left I unsaid
To make the king the gates again unclose?
But he denied, his power did aye restrain
My will, my suit was waste, my speech was vain:
"Ah, had I gone, I would from danger free
Have brought to Sion that sweet nymph again,
Or in the bloody fight, where killed was she,
In her defence there nobly have been slain:
But what could I do more? the counsels be
Of God and man gainst my designments plain,
Dead is Clorinda fair, laid in cold grave,
Let me revenge her whom I could not save.
"Jerusalem, hear what Argantes saith,
Hear Heaven, and if he break his oath and word,
Upon this head cast thunder in thy wrath:
I will destroy and kill that Christian lord
Who this fair dame by night thus murdered hath,
Nor from my side I will ungird this sword
Till Tancred's heart it cleave, and shed his blood,
And leave his corpse to wolves and crows for food."
This said, the people with a joyful shout
Applaud his speeches and his words approve,
And calmed their grief in hope the boaster stout
Would kill the prince, who late had slain his love.
O promise vain! it otherwise fell out:
Men purpose, but high gods dispose above,
For underneath his sword this boaster died
Whom thus he scorned and threatened in his pride.
Ismeno sets to guard the forest old
The wicked sprites, whose ugly shapes affray
And put to flight the men, whose labor would
To their dark shades let in heaven's golden ray:
Thither goes Tancred hardy, faithful, bold,
But foolish pity lets him not assay
His strength and courage: heat the Christian power
Annoys, whom to refresh God sends a shower.
But scant, dissolved into ashes cold,
The smoking tower fell on the scorched grass,
When new device found out the enchanter old
By which the town besieged secured was,
Of timber fit his foes deprive he would,
Such terror bred that late consumed mass:
So that the strength of Sion's walls to shake,
They should no turrets, rams, nor engines make.
From Godfrey's camp a grove a little way
Amid the valleys deep grows out of sight,
Thick with old trees whose horrid arms display
An ugly shade, like everlasting night;
There when the sun spreads forth his clearest ray,
Dim, thick, uncertain, gloomy seems the light;
As when in evening, day and darkness strive
Which should his foe from our horizon drive.
But when the sun his chair in seas doth steep,
Night, horror, darkness thick the place invade,
Which veil the mortal eyes with blindness deep
And with sad terror make weak hearts afraid,
Thither no groom drives forth his tender sheep
To browse, or ease their faint in cooling shade,
Nor traveller nor pilgrim there to enter,
So awful seems that forest old, dare venture.
United there the ghosts and goblins meet
To frolic with their mates in silent night,
With dragons' wings some cleave the welkin fleet,
Some nimbly run o'er hills and valleys light,
A wicked troop, that with allurements sweet
Draws sinful man from that is good and right,
And there with hellish pomp their banquets brought
They solemnize, thus the vain Parians thought.
No twist, no twig, no bough nor branch, therefore,
The Saracens cut from that sacred spring;
But yet the Christians spared ne'er the more
The trees to earth with cutting steel to bring:
Thither went Ismen old with tresses hoar,
When night on all this earth spread forth her wing,
And there in silence deaf and mirksome shade
His characters and circles vain he made:
He in the circle set one foot unshod,
And whispered dreadful charms in ghastly wise,
Three times, for witchcraft loveth numbers odd,
Toward the east he gaped, westward thrice,
He struck the earth thrice with his charmed rod
Wherewith dead bones he makes from grave to rise,
And thrice the ground with naked foot he smote,
And thus he cried loud, with thundering note:
"Hear, hear, you spirits all that whilom fell,
Cast down from heaven with dint of roaring thunder;
Hear, you amid the empty air that dwell
And storms and showers pour on these kingdoms under;
Hear, all you devils that lie in deepest hell
And rend with torments damned ghosts asunder,
And of those lands of death, of pain and fear,
Thou monarch great, great Dis, great Pluto, hear!
"Keep you this forest well, keep every tree,
Numbered I give you them and truly told;
As souls of men in bodies clothed be
So every plant a sprite shall hide and hold,
With trembling fear make all the Christians flee,
When they presume to cut these cedars old:"
This said, his charms he gan again repeat,
Which none can say but they that use like feat.
At those strange speeches, still night's splendent fires
Quenched their lights, and shrunk away for doubt,
The feeble moon her silver beams retires,
And wrapt her horns with folding clouds about,
Ismen his sprites to come with speed requires,
"Why come you not, you ever damned rout?
Why tarry you so long? pardie you stay
Till stronger charms and greater words I say.
"I have not yet forgot for want of use,
What dreadful terms belong this sacred feat,
My tongue, if still your stubborn hearts refuse,
That so much dreaded name can well repeat,
Which heard, great Dis cannot himself excuse,
But hither run from his eternal seat,
O great and fearful!" -- More he would have said,
But that he saw the sturdy sprites obeyed.
Legions of devils by thousands thither come,
Such as in sparsed air their biding make,
And thousands also which by Heavenly doom
Condemned lie in deep Avernus lake,
But slow they came, displeased all and some
Because those woods they should in keeping take,
Yet they obeyed and took the charge in hand,
And under every branch and leaf they stand.
When thus his cursed work performed was,
The wizard to his king declared the feat,
"My lord, let fear, let doubt and sorrow pass,
Henceforth in safety stands your regal seat,
Your foe, as he supposed, no mean now has
To build again his rams and engines great:"
And then he told at large from part to part,
All what he late performed by wondrous art.
"Besides this help, another hap," quoth he,
"Will shortly chance that brings not profit small.
Within few days Mars and the Sun I see
Their fiery beams unite in Leo shall;
And then extreme the scorching heat will be,
Which neither rain can quench nor dews that fall,
So placed are the planets high and low,
That heat, fire, burning all the heavens foreshow:
"So great with us will be the warmth therefore,
As with the Garamants or those of Inde;
Yet nill it grieve us in this town so sore,
We have sweet shade and waters cold by kind:
Our foes abroad will be tormented more,
What shield can they or what refreshing find?
Heaven will them vanquish first, then Egypt's crew
Destroy them quite, weak, weary, faint and few:
"Thou shalt sit still and conquer; prove no more
The doubtful hazard of uncertain fight.
But if Argantes bold, that hates so sore
All cause of quiet peace, though just and right,
Provoke thee forth to battle, as before,
Find means to calm the rage of that fierce knight,
For shortly Heaven will send thee ease and peace,
And war and trouble mongst thy foes increase."
The king assured by these speeches fair,
Held Godfrey's power, his might and strength in scorn,
And now the walls he gan in part repair,
Which late the ram had bruised with iron horn,
With wise foresight and well advised care
He fortified each breach and bulwark torn,
And all his folk, men, women, children small,
With endless toil again repaired the wall.
But Godfrey nould this while bring forth his power
To give assault against that fort in vain,
Till he had builded new his dreadful tower,
And reared high his down-fallen rams again:
His workmen therefore he despatched that hour
To hew the trees out of the forest main,
They went, and scant the wood appeared in sight
When wonders new their fearful hearts affright:
As silly children dare not bend their eye
Where they are told strange bugbears haunt the place,
Or as new monsters, while in bed they lie,
Their fearful thoughts present before their face;
So feared they, and fled, yet wist not why,
Nor what pursued them in that fearful chase.
Except their fear perchance while thus they fled,
New chimeras, sphinxes, or like monsters bred:
Swift to the camp they turned back dismayed,
With words confused uncertain tales they told,
That all which heard them scorned what they said
And those reports for lies and fables hold.
A chosen crew in shining arms arrayed
Duke Godfrey thither sent of soldiers bold,
To guard the men and their faint arms provoke
To cut the dreadful trees with hardy stroke:
These drawing near the wood where close ypent
The wicked sprites in sylvan pinfolds were,
Their eyes upon those shades no sooner bent
But frozen dread pierced through their entrails dear;
Yet on they stalked still, and on they went,
Under bold semblance hiding coward fear,
And so far wandered forth with trembling pace,
Till they approached nigh that enchanted place:
When from the grove a fearful sound outbreaks,
As if some earthquake hill and mountain tore,
Wherein the southern wind a rumbling makes,
Or like sea waves against the scraggy shore;
There lions grumble, there hiss scaly snakes,
There howl the wolves, the rugged bears there roar,
There trumpets shrill are heard and thunders fell,
And all these sounds one sound expressed well.
Upon their faces pale well might you note
A thousand signs of heart-amating fear,
Their reason gone, by no device they wot
How to press nigh, or stay still where they were,
Against that sudden dread their breasts which smote,
Their courage weak no shield of proof could bear,
At last they fled, and one than all more bold,
Excused their flight, and thus the wonders told:
"My lord, not one of us there is, I grant,
That dares cut down one branch in yonder spring,
I think there dwells a sprite in every plant,
There keeps his court great Dis infernal king,
He hath a heart of hardened adamant
That without trembling dares attempt the thing,
And sense he wanteth who so hardy is
To hear the forest thunder, roar and hiss."
This said, Alcasto to his words gave heed,
Alcasto leader of the Switzers grim,
A man both void of wit and void of dreed,
Who feared not loss of life nor loss of limb.
No savage beasts in deserts wild that feed
Nor ugly monster could dishearten him,
Nor whirlwind, thunder, earthquake, storm, or aught
That in this world is strange or fearful thought.
He shook his head, and smiling thus gan say,
"The hardiness have I that wood to fell,
And those proud trees low in the dust to lay
Wherein such grisly fiends and monsters dwell;
No roaring ghost my courage can dismay,
No shriek of birds, beast's roar, or dragon's yell;
But through and through that forest will I wend,
Although to deepest hell the paths descend."
Thus boasted he, and leave to go desired,
And forward went with joyful cheer and will,
He viewed the wood and those thick shades admired,
He heard the wondrous noise and rumbling shrill;
Yet not one foot the audacious man retired,
He scorned the peril, pressing forward still,
Till on the forest's outmost marge he stepped,
A flaming fire from entrance there him kept.
The fire increased, and built a stately wall
Of burning coals, quick sparks, and embers hot,
And with bright flames the wood environed all,
That there no tree nor twist Alcasto got;
The higher stretched the flames seemed bulwarks tall,
Castles and turrets full of fiery shot,
With slings and engines strong of every sort; --
What mortal wight durst scale so strange a fort?
Oh what strange monsters on the battlement
In loathsome forms stood to defend the place?
Their frowning looks upon the knight they bent,
And threatened death with shot, with sword and mace:
At last he fled, and though but slow he went,
As lions do whom jolly hunters chase;
Yet fled the man and with sad fear withdrew,
Though fear till then he never felt nor knew.
That he had fled long time he never wist,
But when far run he had discoverd it,
Himself for wonder with his hand he blist,
A bitter sorrow by the heart him bit,
Amazed, ashamed, disgraced, sad, silent, trist,
Alone he would all day in darkness sit,
Nor durst he look on man of worth or fame,
His pride late great, now greater made his shame.
Godfredo called him, but he found delays
And causes why he should his cabin keep,
At length perforce he comes, but naught he says,
Or talks like those that babble in their sleep.
His shamefacedness to Godfrey plain bewrays
His flight, so does his sighs and sadness deep:
Whereat amazed, "What chance is this ?" quoth he.
"These witchcrafts strange or nature's wonders be.
"But if his courage any champion move
To try the hazard of this dreadful spring,
I give him leave the adventure great to prove,
Some news he may report us of the thing:"
This said, his lords attempt the charmed grove,
Yet nothing back but fear and flight they bring,
For them inforced with trembling to retire,
The sight, the sound, the monsters and the fire.
This happed when woful Tancred left his bed
To lay in marble cold his mistress dear,
The lively color from his cheek was fled,
His limbs were weak his helm or targe to bear;
Nathless when need to high attempts him led,
No labor would he shun, no danger fear,
His valor, boldness, heart and courage brave,
To his faint body strength and vigor gave.
To this exploit forth went the venturous knight,
Fearless, yet heedful; silent, well advised,
The terrors of that forest's dreadful sight,
Storms, earthquakes, thunders, cries, he all despised:
He feared nothing, yet a motion light,
That quickly vanished, in his heart arised
When lo, between him and the charmed wood,
A fiery city high as heaven up stood.
The knight stepped back and took a sudden pause,
And to himself, "What help these arms?" quoth he,
"If in this fire, or monster's gaping jaws
I headlong cast myself, what boots it me?
For common profit, or my country's cause,
To hazard life before me none should be:
But this exploit of no such weight I hold,
For it to lose a prince or champion bold.
But if I fly, what will the Pagans say?
If I retire, who shall cut down this spring?
Godfredo will attempt it every day.
What if some other knight perform the thing?
These flames uprisen to forestall my way
Perchance more terror far than danger bring.
But hap what shall;" this said, he forward stepped,
And through the fire, oh wondrous boldness, leapt!
He bolted through, but neither warmth nor heat!
He felt, nor sign of fire or scorching flame;
Yet wist he not in his dismayed conceit,
If that were fire or no through which he came;
For at first touch vanished those monsters great,
And in their stead the clouds black night did frame
And hideous storms and showers of hail and rain;
Yet storms and tempests vanished straight again.
Amazed but not afraid the champion good
Stood still, but when the tempest passed he spied,
He entered boldly that forbidden wood,
And of the forest all the secrets eyed,
In all his walk no sprite or phantasm stood
That stopped his way or passage free denied,
Save that the growing trees so thick were set,
That oft his sight, and passage oft they let.
At length a fair and spacious green he spied,
Like calmest waters, plain, like velvet, soft,
Wherein a cypress clad in summer's pride,
Pyramid-wise, lift up his tops aloft;
In whose smooth bark upon the evenest side,
Strange characters he found, and viewed them oft,
Like those which priests of Egypt erst instead
Of letters used, which none but they could read.
Mongst them he picked out these words at last,
Writ in the Syriac tongue, which well he could,
"Oh hardy knight, who through these woods hast passed:
Where Death his palace and his court doth hold!
Oh trouble not these souls in quiet placed,
Oh be not cruel as thy heart is bold,
Pardon these ghosts deprived of heavenly light,
With spirits dead why should men living fight?"
This found he graven in the tender rind,
And while he mused on this uncouth writ,
Him thought he heard the softly whistling wind
His blasts amid the leaves and branches knit
And frame a sound like speech of human kind,
But full of sorrow grief and woe was it,
Whereby his gentle thoughts all filled were
With pity, sadness, grief, compassion, fear.
He drew his sword at last, and gave the tree
A mighty blow, that made a gaping wound,
Out of the rift red streams he trickling see
That all bebled the verdant plain around,
His hair start up, yet once again stroke he,
He nould give over till the end he found
Of this adventure, when with plaint and moan,
As from some hollow grave, he heard one groan.
"Enough, enough!" the voice lamenting said,
"Tancred, thou hast me hurt, thou didst me drive
Out of the body of a noble maid
Who with me lived, whom late I kept on live,
And now within this woful cypress laid,
My tender rind thy weapon sharp doth rive,
Cruel, is't not enough thy foes to kill,
But in their graves wilt thou torment them still?
"I was Clorinda, now imprisoned here,
Yet not alone within this plant I dwell,
For every Pagan lord and Christian peer,
Before the city's walls last day that fell,
In bodies new or graves I wot not clear,
But here they are confined by magic's spell,
So that each tree hath life, and sense each bough,
A murderer if thou cut one twist art thou."
As the sick man that in his sleep doth see
Some ugly dragon, or some chimera new,
Though he suspect, or half persuaded be,
It is an idle dream, no monster true,
Yet still he fears, he quakes, and strives to flee,
So fearful is that wondrous form to view;
So feared the knight, yet he both knew and thought
All were illusions false by witchcraft wrought:
But cold and trembling waxed his frozen heart,
Such strange effects, such passions it torment,
Out of his feeble hand his weapon start,
Himself out of his wits nigh, after went:
Wounded he saw, he thought, for pain and smart,
His lady weep, complain, mourn, and lament,
Nor could he suffer her dear blood to see,
Or hear her sighs that deep far fetched be.
Thus his fierce heart which death had scorned oft,
Whom no strange shape or monster could dismay,
With feigned shows of tender love made soft,
A spirit false did with vain plaints betray;
A whirling wind his sword heaved up aloft,
And through the forest bare it quite away.
O'ercome retired the prince, and as he came,
His sword he found, and repossessed the same,
Yet nould return, he had no mind to try
His courage further in those forests green;
But when to Godfrey's tent he proached nigh,
His spirits waked, his thoughts composed been,
"My Lord." quoth he, "a witness true am I
Of wonders strange, believe it scant though seen,
What of the fire, the shades, the dreadful sound
You heard, all true by proof myself have found;