Part 8 out of 10
He rose, and to his mistress held the glass,
A noble page, graced with that service great;
She, with glad looks, he with inflamed, alas,
Beauty and love beheld, both in one seat;
Yet them in sundry objects each espies,
She, in the glass, he saw them in her eyes:
Her, to command; to serve, it pleased the knight;
He proud of bondage; of her empire, she;
"My dear," he said, "that blessest with thy sight
Even blessed angels, turn thine eyes to me,
For painted in my heart and portrayed right
Thy worth, thy beauties and perfections be,
Of which the form; the shape and fashion best,
Not in this glass is seen, but in my breast.
"And if thou me disdain, yet be content
At least so to behold thy lovely hue,
That while thereon thy looks are fixed and bent
Thy happy eyes themselves may see and view;
So rare a shape no crystal can present,
No glass contain that heaven of beauties true;
Oh let the skies thy worthy mirror be!
And in dear stars try shape and image see."
And with that word she smiled, and ne'ertheless
Her love-toys still she used, and pleasures bold!
Her hair, that done, she twisted up in tress,
And looser locks in silken laces rolled,
Her curles garlandwise she did up-dress,
Wherein, like rich enamel laid on gold,
The twisted flowers smiled, and her white breast
The lilies there that spring with roses dressed.
The jolly peacock spreads not half so fair
The eyed feathers of his pompous train;
Nor golden Iris so bends in the air
Her twenty-colored bow, through clouds of rain;
Yet all her ornaments, strange, rich and rare,
Her girdle did in price and beauty stain,
Nor that, with scorn, which Tuscan Guilla lost,
Igor Venus Ceston, could match this for cost.
Of mild denays, of tender scorns, of sweet
Repulses, war, peace, hope, despair, joy, fear,
Of smiles, jests, mirth, woe, grief, and sad regreet,
Sighs, sorrows, tears, embracements, kisses dear,
That mixed first by weight and measure meet,
Then at an easy fire attempered were,
This wondrous girdle did Armida frame,
And, when she would be loved, wore the same.
But when her wooing fit was brought to end,
She congee took, kissed him, and went her way;
For once she used every day to wend
Bout her affairs, her spells and charms to say:
The youth remained, yet had no power to bend
One step from thence, but used there to stray
Mongst the sweet birds, through every walk and grove
Alone, save for an hermit false called Love.
And when the silence deep and friendly shade
Recalled the lovers to their wonted sport,
In a fair room for pleasure built, they laid,
And longest nights with joys made sweet and short.
Now while the queen her household things surveyed,
And left her lord her garden and disport,
The twain that hidden in the bushes were
Before the prince in glistering arms appear:
As the fierce steed for age withdrawn from war
Wherein the glorious beast had always wone,
That in vile rest from fight sequestered far,
Feeds with the mares at large, his service done,
If arms he see, or hear the trumpet's jar,
He neigheth loud and thither fast doth run,
And wiseth on his back the armed knight,
Longing for jousts, for tournament and fight:
So fared Rinaldo when the glorious light
Of their bright harness glistered in his eyes,
His noble sprite awaked at that sight
His blood began to warm, his heart to rise,
Though, drunk with ease, devoid of wonted might
On sleep till then his weakened virtue lies.
Ubaldo forward stepped, and to him hield
Of diamonds clear that pure and precious shield.
Upon the targe his looks amazed he bent,
And therein all his wanton habit spied,
His civet, balm, and perfumes redolent,
How from his locks they smoked and mantle wide,
His sword that many a Pagan stout had shent,
Bewrapped with flowers, hung idly by his side,
So nicely decked that it seemed the knight
Wore it for fashion's sake but not for fight.
As when, from sleep and idle dreams abraid,
A man awaked calls home his wits again;
So in beholding his attire he played,
But yet to view himself could not sustain,
His looks he downward cast and naught he said,
Grieved, shamed, sad, he would have died fain,
And oft he wished the earth or ocean wide
Would swallow him, and so his errors hide.
Ubaldo took the time, and thus begun,
"All Europe now and Asia be in war,
And all that Christ adore and fame have won,
In battle strong, in Syria fighting are;
But thee alone, Bertoldo's noble son,
This little corner keeps, exiled far
From all the world, buried in sloth and shame,
A carpet champion for a wanton dame.
"What letharge hath in drowsiness up-penned
Thy courage thus? what sloth doth thee infect?
Up, up, our camp and Godfrey for thee send,
Thee fortune, praise and victory expect,
Come, fatal champion, bring to happy end
This enterprise begun, all that sect
Which oft thou shaken hast to earth full low
With thy sharp brand strike down, kill, overthrow."
This said, the noble infant stood a space
Confused, speechless, senseless, ill-ashamed;
But when that shame to just disdain gave place,
To fierce disdain, from courage sprung untamed,
Another redness blushed through his face,
Whence worthy anger shone, displeasure flamed,
His nice attire in scorn he rent and tore,
For of his bondage vile that witness bore;
That done, he hasted from the charmed fort,
And through the maze passed with his searchers twain.
Armida of her mount and chiefest port
Wondered to find the furious keeper slain,
Awhile she feared, but she knew in short,
That her dear lord was fled, then saw she plain,
Ah, woful sight! how from her gates the man
In haste, in fear, in wrath, in anger ran.
"Whither, O cruel! leavest thou me alone?"
She would have cried, her grief her speeches stayed,
So that her woful words are backward gone,
And in her heart a bitter echo made;
Poor soul, of greater skill than she was one
Whose knowledge from her thus her joy conveyed,
This wist she well, yet had desire to prove
If art could keep, if charms recall her love.
All what the witches of Thessalia land,
With lips unpure yet ever said or spake,
Words that could make heaven's rolling circles stand,
And draw the damned ghosts from Limbo lake,
All well she knew, but yet no time she fand
To use her knowledge or her charms to make,
But left her arts, and forth she ran to prove
If single beauty were best charm for love.
She ran, nor of her honor took regard,
Oh where be all her vaunts and triumphs now?
Love's empire great of late she made or marred,
To her his subjects humbly bend and bow,
And with her pride mixed was a scorn so hard,
That to be loved she loved, yet whilst they woo
Her lovers all she hates; that pleased her will
To conquer men, and conquered so, to kill.
But now herself disdained, abandoned,
Ran after him; that from her fled in scorn,
And her despised beauty labored
With humble plaints and prayers to adorn:
She ran and hasted after him that fled,
Through frost and snow, through brier, bush and thorn,
And sent her cries on message her before,
That reached not him till he had reached the shore.
"Oh thou that leav'st but half behind," quoth she,
"Of my poor heart, and half with thee dost carry,
Oh take this part, or render that to me,
Else kill them both at once, ah tarry, tarry:
Hear my last words, no parting kiss of thee
I crave, for some more fit with thee to marry
Keep them, unkind; what fear'st thou if thou stay?
Thou may'st deny, as well as run away."
At this Rinaldo stopped, stood still, and stayed,
She came, sad, breathless, weary, faint and weak,
So woe-begone was never nymph or maid
And yet her beauty's pride grief could not break,
On him she looked, she gazed, but naught she said,
She would not, could not, or she durst not speak,
At her he looked not, glanced not, if he did,
Those glances shamefaced were, close, secret, hid.
As cunning singers, ere they strain on high,
In loud melodious tunes, their gentle voice,
Prepare the hearers' ears to harmony
With feignings sweet, low notes and warbles choice:
So she, not having yet forgot pardie
Her wonted shifts and sleights in Cupid's toys,
A sequence first of sighs and sobs forthcast,
To breed compassion dear, then spake at last:
"Suppose not, cruel, that I come to vow
Or pray, as ladies do their loves and lords;
Such were we late, if thou disdain it now,
Or scorn to grant such grace as love affords,
At least yet as an enemy listen thou:
Sworn foes sometimes will talk and chaffer words,
For what I ask thee, may'st thou grant right well,
And lessen naught thy wrath and anger fell.
"If me thou hate, and in that hate delight,
I come not to appease thee, hate me still,
It's like for like; I bore great hate and spite
Gainst Christians all, chiefly I wish thee ill:
I was a Pagan born, and all my might
Against Godfredo bent, mine art and skill:
I followed thee, took thee, and bore thee far,
To this strange isle, and kept thee safe from war.
"And more, which more thy hate may justly move,
More to thy loss, more to thy shame and grief,
I thee inchanted, and allured to love,
Wicked deceit, craft worthy sharp reprief;
Mine honor gave I thee all gifts above,
And of my beauties made thee lord and chief,
And to my suitors old what I denayed,
That gave I thee, my lover new, unprayed.
"But reckon that among, my faults, and let
Those many wrongs provoke thee so to wrath,
That hence thou run, and that at naught thou set
This pleasant house, so many joys which hath;
Go, travel, pass the seas, fight, conquest get,
Destroy our faith, what shall I say, our faith?
Ah no! no longer ours; before thy shrine
Alone I pray, thou cruel saint of mine;
"All only let me go with thee, unkind,
A small request although I were thy foe,
The spoiler seldom leaves the prey behind,
Who triumphs lets his captives with him go;
Among thy prisoners poor Armida bind,
And let the camp increase thy praises so,
That thy beguiler so thou couldst beguile,
And point at me, thy thrall and bondslave vile.
"Despised bondslave, since my lord doth hate
These locks, why keep I them or hold them dear?
Come cut them off, that to my servile state
My habit answer may, and all my gear:
I follow thee in spite of death and fate,
Through battles fierce where dangers most appear,
Courage I have, and strength enough perchance,
To lead thy courser spare, and bear thy lance:
"I will or bear, or be myself, thy shield,
And to defend thy life. will lose mine own:
This breast, this bosom soft shall be thy bield
Gainst storms of arrows, darts and weapons thrown;
Thy foes, pardie, encountering thee in field,
Will spare to strike thee, mine affection known,
Lest me they wound, nor will sharp vengeance take
On thee, for this despised beauty's sake.
"O wretch! dare I still vaunt, or help invoke
From this poor beauty, scorned and disdained?"
She said no more, her tears her speeches broke,
Which from her eyes like streams from springs down rained:
She would have caught him by the hand or cloak,
But he stepped backward, and himself restrained,
Conquered his will, his heart ruth softened not,
There plaints no issue, love no entrance got.
Love entered not to kindle in his breast,
Which Reason late had quenched, his wonted flame;
Yet entered Pity in the place at least,
Love's sister, but a chaste and sober dame,
And stirred him so, that hardly he suppressed
The springing tears that to his eyes up came;
But yet even there his plaints repressed were,
And, as he could, he looked, and feigned cheer.
"Madam," quoth he, "for your distress I grieve,
And would amend it, if I might or could.
From your wise heart that fond affection drive:
I cannot hate nor scorn you though I would,
I seek no vengeance, wrongs I all forgive,
Nor you my servant nor my foe I hold,
Truth is, you erred, and your estate forgot,
Too great your hate was, and your love too hot.
"But those are common faults, and faults of kind,
Excused by nature, by your sex and years;
I erred likewise, if I pardon find
None can condemn you, that our trespass hears;
Your dear remembrance will I keep in mind,
In joys, in woes, in comforts, hopes and fears,
Call me your soldier and your knight, as far
As Christian faith permits, and Asia's war.
"Ah, let our faults and follies here take end,
And let our errors past you satisfy,
And in this angle of the world ypend,
Let both the fame and shame thereof now die,
From all the earth where I am known and kenned,
I wish this fact should still concealed lie:
Nor yet in following me, poor knight, disgrace
Your worth, your beauty, and your princely race.
"Stay here in peace, I go, nor wend you may
With me, my guide your fellowship denies,
Stay here or hence depart some better way,
And calm your thoughts, you are both sage and wise."
While thus he spoke, her passions found no stay,
But here and there she turned and rolled her eyes,
And staring on his face awhile, at last
Thus in foul terms, her bitter wrath forth brast:
"Of Sophia fair thou never wert the child,
Nor of the Azzain race ysprung thou art,
The mad sea-waves thee hare, some tigress wild
On Caucasus' cold crags nursed thee apart;
Ah, cruel man l in whom no token mild
Appears, of pity, ruth, or tender heart,
Could not my griefs, my woes, my plaints, and all
One sigh strain from thy breast, one tear make fall?
"What shall I say, or how renew my speech?
He scorns me, leaves me, bids me call him mine:
The victor hath his foe within his reach;
Yet pardons her, that merits death and pine;
Hear how he counsels me; how he can preach,
Like chaste Xenocrates, gainst love divine;
O heavens, O gods! why do these men of shame,
Thus spoil your temples and blaspheme your name?
"Go cruel, go, go with such peace, such rest,
Such joy, such comfort, as thou leavest me here:
My angry soul discharged from this weak breast,
Shall haunt thee ever, and attend thee near,
And fury-like in snakes and firebrands dressed,
Shall aye torment thee, whom it late held dear:
And if thou 'scape the seas, the rocks, and sands
And come to fight among the Pagan bands,
"There lying wounded, mongst the hurt and slain,
Of these my wrongs thou shalt the vengeance bear,
And oft Armida shalt thou call in vain,
At thy last gasp; this hope I soon to hear:"
Here fainted she, with sorrow, grief and pain,
Her latest words scant well expressed were,
But in a swoon on earth outstretched she lies,
Stiff were her frozen limbs, closed were her eyes.
Thou closed thine eyes, Armida, heaven envied
Ease to thy grief, or comfort to thy woe;
Ah, open then again, see tears down slide
From his kind eyes, whom thou esteem'st thy foe,
If thou hadst heard, his sighs had mollified
Thine anger, hard he sighed and mourned so;
And as he could with sad and rueful look
His leave of thee and last farewell he took.
What should he do? leave on the naked sand
This woful lady half alive, half dead?
Kindness forbade, pity did that withstand;
But hard constraint, alas! did thence him lead;
Away he went, the west wind blew from land
Mongst the rich tresses of their pilot's head,
And with that golden sail the waves she cleft,
To land he looked, till land unseen he left.
Waked from her trance, foresaken, speechless, sad,
Armida wildly stared and gazed about,
"And is he gone," quoth she, "nor pity had
To leave me thus twixt life and death in doubt?
Could he not stay? could not the traitor-lad
From this last trance help or recall me out?
And do I love him still, and on this sand
Still unrevenged, still mourn, still weeping stand?
"Fie no! complaints farewell! with arms and art
I will pursue to death this spiteful knight,
Not earth's low centre, nor sea's deepest part,
Not heaven, nor hell, can shield him from my might,
I will o'ertake him, take him, cleave his heart,
Such vengeance fits a wronged lover's spite,
In cruelty that cruel knight surpass
I will, but what avail vain words, alas?
"O fool! thou shouldest have been cruel than,
For then this cruel well deserved thine ire,
When thou in prison hadst entrapped the man,
Now dead with cold, too late thou askest fire;
But though my wit, my cunning nothing can,
Some other means shall work my heart's desire,
To thee, my beauty, thine be all these wrongs,
Vengeance to thee, to thee revenge belongs.
"Thou shalt be his reward, with murdering brand
That dare this traitor of his head deprive,
O you my lovers, on this rock doth stand
The castle of her love for whom you strive,
I, the sole heir of all Damascus land,
For this revenge myself and kingdom give,
If by this price my will I cannot gain,
Nature gives beauty; fortune, wealth in vain.
"But thee, vain gift, vain beauty, thee I scorn,
I hate the kingdom which I have to give,
I hate myself, and rue that I was born,
Only in hope of sweet revenge I live."
Thus raging with fell ire she gan return
From that bare shore in haste, and homeward drive,
And as true witness of her frantic ire,
Her locks waved loose, face shone, eyes sparkled fire.
When she came home, she called with outcries shrill,
A thousand devils in Limbo deep that won,
Black clouds the skies with horrid darkness fill,
And pale for dread became the eclipsed sun,
The whirlwind blustered big on every hill,
And hell to roar under her feet begun,
You might have heard how through the palace wide,
Some spirits howled, some barked, some hissed, some cried.
A shadow, blacker than the mirkest night,
Environed all the place with darkness sad,
Wherein a firebrand gave a dreadful light,
Kindled in hell by Tisiphone the mad;
Vanished the shade, the sun appeared in sight,
Pale were his beams, the air was nothing glad,
And all the palace vanished was and gone,
Nor of so great a work was left one stone.
As oft the clouds frame shapes of castles great
Amid the air, that little time do last,
But are dissolved by wind or Titan's heat,
Or like vain dreams soon made, and sooner past:
The palace vanished so, nor in his seat
Left aught but rocks and crags, by kind there placed;
She in her coach which two old serpents drew,
Sate down, and as she used, away she flew.
She broke the clouds, and cleft the yielding sky,
And bout her gathered tempest, storm and wind,
The lands that view the south pole flew she by,
And left those unknown countries far behind,
The Straits of Hercules she passed, which lie
Twixt Spain and Afric, nor her flight inclined
To north or south, but still did forward ride
O'er seas and streams, till Syria's coasts she spied.
Now she went forward to Damascus fair,
But of her country dear she fled the sight,
And guided to Asphaltes' lake her chair,
Where stood her castle, there she ends her flight,
And from her damsels far, she made repair
To a deep vault, far from resort and light,
Where in sad thoughts a thousand doubts she cast,
Till grief and shame to wrath gave place at last.
"I will not hence," quoth she, "till Egypt's lord
In aid of Zion's king his host shall move;
Then will I use all helps that charms afford,
And change my shape or sex if so behove:
Well can I handle bow, or lance, or sword,
The worthies all will aid me, for my love:
I seek revenge, and to obtain the same,
Farewell, regard of honor; farewell, shame.
"Nor let mine uncle and protector me
Reprove for this, he most deserves the blame,
My heart and sex, that weak and tender be,
He bent to deeds that maidens ill became;
His niece a wandering damsel first made he,
He spurred my youth, and I cast off my shame,
His be the fault, if aught gainst mine estate
I did for love, or shall commit for hate."
This said, her knights, her ladies, pages, squires
She all assembleth, and for journey fit
In such fair arms and vestures them attires
As showed her wealth, and well declared her wit;
And forward marched, full of strange desires,
Nor rested she by day or night one whit,
Till she came there, where all the eastern bands,
Their kings and princes, lay on Gaza's sands.
Egypt's great host in battle-ray forth brought,
The Caliph sends with Godfrey's power to fight;
Armida, who Rinaldo's ruin sought,
To them adjoins herself and Syria's might.
To satisfy her cruel will and thought,
She gives herself to him that kills her knight:
He takes his fatal arms, and in his shield
His ancestors and their great deeds beheld.
Gaza the city on the frontier stands
Of Juda's realm, as men to Egypt ride,
Built near the sea, beside it of dry sands
Huge wildernesses lie and deserts wide
Which the strong winds lift from the parched lands
And toss like roaring waves in roughest tide,
That from those storms poor passengers almost
No refuge find, but there are drowned and lost.
Within this town, won from the Turks of yore
Strong garrison the king of Egypt placed,
And for it nearer was, and fitted more
That high emprise to which his thoughts he cast,
He left great Memphis, and to Gaza bore
His regal throne, and there, from countries vast
Of his huge empire all the puissant host
Assembled he, and mustered on the coast.
Come say, my Muse, what manner times these were,
And in those times how stood the state of things,
What power this monarch had, what arms they bear,
What nations subject, and what friends he brings;
From all lands the southern ocean near,
Or morning star, came princes, dukes and kings,
And only thou of half the world well-nigh
The armies, lords, and captains canst descry.
When Egypt from the Greekish emperor
Rebelled first, and Christ's true faith denied,
Of Mahomet's descent a warrior
There set his throne and ruled that kingdom wide,
Caliph he hight, and Caliphs since that hour
Are his successors named all beside:
So Nilus old his kings long time had seen
That Ptolemies and Pharaohs called had been.
Established was that kingdom in short while,
And grew so great, that over Asia's lands
And Lybia's realms it stretched many a mile,
From Syria's coasts as far as Cirene sands,
And southward passed gainst the course of Nile,
Through the hot clime where burnt Syene stands,
Hence bounded in with sandy deserts waste,
And thence with Euphrates' rich flood embraced.
Maremma, myrrh and spices that doth bring,
And all the rich red sea it comprehends,
And to those lands, toward the morning spring
That lie beyond that gulf, it far extends;
Great is that empire, greater by the king
That rules it now, whose worth the land amends,
And makes more famous, lord thereof by blood,
By wisdom, valor, and all virtues good.
With Turks and Persians war he oft did wage,
And oft he won, and sometimes lost the field,
Nor could his adverse fortune aught assuage
His valor's heat or make his proud heart yield,
But when he grew unfit for war through age,
He sheathed his sword and laid aside his shield:
But yet his warlike mind he laid not down,
Nor his great thirst of rule, praise and renown,
But by his knights still cruel wars maintained.
So wise his words, so quick his wit appears,
That of the kingdom large o'er which he reigned,
The charge seemed not too weighty for his years;
His greatness Afric's lesser kings constrained
To tremble at his name, all Ind him fears,
And other realms that would his friendship hold;
Some armed soldiers sent, some gifts, some gold.
This mighty prince assembled had the flower
Of all his realms, against the Frenchmen stout,
To break their rising empire and their power,
Nor of sure conquest had he fear or doubt:
To him Armida came, even at the hour
When in the plains, old Gaza's walls without,
The lords and leaders all their armies bring
In battle-ray, mustered before their king.
He on his throne was set, to which on height
Who clomb an hundred ivory stairs first told,
Under a pentise wrought of silver bright,
And trod on carpets made of silk and gold;
His robes were such as best beseemen might
A king, so great, so grave, so rich, so old,
And twined of sixty ells of lawn and more
A turban strange adorned his tresses hoar.
His right hand did his precious sceptre wield,
His beard was gray, his looks severe and grave,
And from his eyes, not yet made dim with eild,
Sparkled his former worth and vigor brave,
His gestures all the majesty upheild
And state, as his old age and empire crave,
So Phidias carved, Apelles so, pardie,
Erst painted Jove, Jove thundering down from sky.
On either side him stood a noble lord,
Whereof the first held in his upright hand
Of severe justice the unpartial sword;
The other bare the seal, and causes scanned,
Keeping his folk in peace and good accord,
And termed was lord chancellor of the land;
But marshal was the first, and used to lead
His armies forth to war, oft with good speed.
Of bold Circassians with their halberts long,
About his throne his guards stood in a ring,
All richly armed in gilden corslets strong,
And by their sides their crooked swords down hing:
Thus set, thus seated, his grave lords among,
His hosts and armies great beheld the king,
And every band as by his throne it went,
Their ensigns low inclined, and arms down bent:
Their squadrons first the men of Egypt show,
In four troops, and each his several guide,
Of the high country two, two of the low
Which Nile had won out of the salt seaside,
His fertile slime first stopped the waters' flow,
Then hardened to firm land the plough to bide,
So Egypt still increased, within far placed
That part is now where ships erst anchor cast.
The foremost band the people were that dwelled
In Alexandria's rich and fertile plain,
Along the western shore, whence Nile expelled
The greedy billows of the swelling main;
Araspes was their guide, who more excelled
In wit and craft than strength or warlike pain,
To place an ambush close, or to devise
A treason false, was none so sly, so wise.
The people next that gainst the morning rays
Along the coasts of Asia have their seat,
Arontes led them, whom no warlike praise
Ennobled, but high birth and titles great,
His helm ne'er made him sweat in toilsome frays,
Nor was his sleep e'er broke with trumpet's threat,
But from soft ease to try the toil of fight
His fond ambition brought this carpet knight.
The third seemed not a troop or squadron small,
But an huge host; nor seemed it so much grain
In Egypt grew as to sustain them all;
Yet from one town thereof came all that train,
A town in people to huge shires equal,
That did a thousand streets and more contain,
Great Caire it hight, whose commons from each side
Came swarming out to war, Campson their guide.
Next under Gazel marched they that plough
The fertile lands above that town which lie
Up to the place where Nilus tumbling low
Falls from his second cataract from high;
The Egyptians weaponed were with sword and bow,
No weight of helm or hauberk list they try,
And richly armed, in their strong foes no dreed
Of death but great desire of spoil they breed.
The naked folk of Barca these succeed,
Unarmed half, Alarcon led that band,
That long in deserts lived, in extreme need,
On spoils and preys purchased by strength of hand.
To battle strong unfit, their king did lead
His army next brought from Zumara land.
Then he of Tripoli, for sudden fight
And skirmish short, both ready, bold, and light.
Two captains next brought forth their bands to show
Whom Stony sent and Happy Araby,
Which never felt the cold of frost and snow,
Or force of burning heat, unless fame lie,
Where incense pure and all sweet odors grow,
Where the sole phoenix doth revive, not die,
And midst the perfumes rich and flowerets brave
Both birth and burial, cradle hath and grave.
Their clothes not rich, their garments were not gay,
But weapons like the Egyptian troops they had,
The Arabians next that have no certain stay,
No house, no home, no mansion good or bad,
But ever, as the Scythian hordes stray,
From place to place their wandering cities gad:
These have both voice and stature feminine,
Hair long and black, black face, and fiery eyne.
Long Indian canes, with iron armed, they bear,
And as upon their nimble steeds they ride,
Like a swift storm their speedy troops appear,
If winds so fast bring storms from heavens wide:
By Syphax led the first Arabians were;
Aldine the second squadron had no guide,
And Abiazar proud, brought to the fight
The third, a thief, a murderer, not a knight.
The islanders came then their prince before
Whose lands Arabia's gulf enclosed about,
Wherein they fish and gather oysters store,
Whose shells great pearls rich and round pour out;
The Red Sea sent with them from his left shore,
Of negroes grim a black and ugly rout;
These Agricalt and those Osmida brought,
A man that set law, faith and truth at naught.
The Ethiops next which Meroe doth breed,
That sweet and gentle isle of Meroe,
Twixt Nile and Astrabore that far doth spread,
Where two religions are, and kingdoms three,
These Assimiro and Canario led,
Both kings, both Pagans, and both subjects be
To the great Caliph, but the third king kept
Christ's sacred faith, nor to these wars outstepped.
After two kings, both subjects also, ride,
And of two bands of archers had the charge,
The first Soldan of Ormus placed in the wide
Huge Persian Bay, a town rich, fair, and large:
The last of Boecan, which at every tide
The sea cuts off from Persia's southern marge,
And makes an isle; but when it ebbs again,
The passage there is sandy, dry and plain.
Nor thee, great Altamore, in her chaste bed
Thy loving queen kept with her dear embrace,
She tore her locks, she smote her breast, and shed
Salt tears to make thee stay in that sweet place,
"Seem the rough seas more calm, cruel," she said,
"Than the mild looks of thy kind spouse's face?
Or is thy shield, with blood and dust defiled,
A dearer armful than thy tender child?"
This was the mighty king of Samarcand,
A captain wise, well skilled in feats of war,
In courage fierce, matchless for strength of hand,
Great was his praise, his force was noised far;
His worth right well the Frenchmen understand,
By whom his virtues feared and loved are:
His men were armed with helms and hauberks strong,
And by their sides broad swords and maces hong.
Then from the mansions bright of fresh Aurore
Adrastus came, the glorious king of Ind,
A snake's green skin spotted with black he wore,
That was made rich by art and hard by kind,
An elephant this furious giant bore,
He fierce as fire, his mounture swift as wind;
Much people brought he from his kingdoms wide,
Twixt Indus, Ganges, and the salt seaside.
The king's own troop come next, a chosen crew,
Of all the camp the strength, the crown, the flower,
Wherein each soldier had with honors due
Rewarded been, for service ere that hour;
Their arms were strong for need, and fair for show,
Upon fierce steeds well mounted rode this power,
And heaven itself with the clear splendor shone
Of their bright armor, purple, gold and stone.
Mongst these Alarco fierce, and Odemare
The muster master was, and Hidraort,
And Rimedon, whose rashness took no care
To shun death's bitter stroke, in field or fort,
Tigranes, Rapold stem, the men that fare
By sea, that robbed in each creek and port,
Ormond, and Marlabust the Arabian named,
Because that land rebellious he reclaimed.
There Pirga, Arimon, Orindo are,
Brimarte the scaler, and with him Suifant
The breaker of wild horses brought from far;
Then the great wresteler strong Aridamant,
And Tisapherne, the thunderbolt of war,
Whom none surpassed, whom none to match durst vaunt
At tilt, at tourney, or in combat brave,
With spear or lance, with sword, with mace or glaive.
A false Armenian did this squadron guide,
That in his youth from Christ's true faith and light
To the blind lore of Paganism did slide,
That Clement late, now Emireno, hight;
Yet to his king he faithful was, and tried
True in all causes, his in wrong and right:
A cunning leader and a soldier bold,
For strength and courage, young; for wisdom, old.
When all these regiments were passed and gone,
Appeared Armide, and came her troop to show;
Set in a chariot bright with precious stone,
Her gown tucked up, and in her hand a bow;
In her sweet face her new displeasures shone,
Mixed with the native beauties there which grow,
And quickened so her looks that in sharp wise
It seems she threats and yet her threats entice.
Her chariot like Aurora's glorious wain,
With carbuncles and jacinths glistered round:
Her coachman guided with the golden rein
Four unicorns, by couples yoked and bound;
Of squires and lovely ladies hundreds twain,
Whose rattling quivers at their backs resound,
On milk-white steeds, wait on the chariot bright,
Their steeds to manage, ready; swift, to flight.
Followed her troop led forth by Aradin,
Which Hidraort from Syria's kingdom sent,
As when the new-born phoenix doth begin
To fly to Ethiop-ward, at the fair bent
Of her rich wings strange plumes and feathers thin
Her crowns and chains with native gold besprent,
The world amazed stands; and with her fly
An host of wondering birds, that sing and cry:
So passed Armida, looked on, gazed on, so,
A wondrous dame in habit, gesture, face;
There lived no wight to love so great a foe
But wished and longed those beauties to embrace,
Scant seen, with anger sullen, sad for woe,
She conquered all the lords and knights in place,
What would she do, her sorrows passed, think you,
When her fair eyes, her looks and smiles shall woo?
She passed, the king commanded Emiren
Of his rich throne to mount the lofty stage,
To whom his host, his army, and his men,
He would commit, now in his graver age.
With stately grace the man approached then;
His looks his coming honor did presage:
The guard asunder cleft and passage made,
He to the throne up went, and there he stayed.
To earth he cast his eyes, and bent his knee:
To whom the king thus gan his will explain,
"To thee this sceptre, Emiren, to thee
These armies I commit, my place sustain
Mongst them, go set the king of Judah free,
And let the Frenchmen feel my just disdain,
Go meet them, conquer them, leave none alive;
Or those that scape from battle, bring captive."
Thus spake the tyrant. and the sceptre laid
With all his sovereign power upon the knight:
"I take this sceptre at your hand," he said,
"And with your happy fortune go to fight,
And trust, my lord, in your great virtue's aid
To venge all Asia's harms, her wrongs to right,
Nor e'er but victor will I see your face;
Our overthrow shall bring death, not disgrace.
"Heavens grant if evil, yet no mishap I dread,
Or harm they threaten against this camp of thine,
That all that mischief fall upon my head,
Theirs be the conquest, and the danger mine;
And let them safe bring home their captain dead,
Buried in pomp of triumph's glorious shine."
He ceased, and then a murmur loud up went,
With noise of joy and sound of instrument.
Amid the noise and shout uprose the king,
Environed with many a noble peer
That to his royal tent the monarch bring,
And there he feasted them and made them cheer,
To him and him he talked, and carved each thing,
The greatest honored, meanest graced were;
And while this mirth, this joy and feast doth last,
Armida found fit time her nets to cast:
But when the feast was done, she, that espied
All eyes on her fair visage fixed and bent,
And by new notes and certain signs described,
How love's empoisoned fire their entrails brent,
Arose, and where the king sate in his pride,
With stately pace and humble gestures, went;
And as she could in looks in voice she strove
Fierce, stern, bold, angry, and severe to prove.
"Great Emperor, behold me here," she said.
"For thee, my country, and my faith to fight,
A dame, a virgin, but a royal maid;
And worthy seems this war a princess hight,
For by the sword the sceptre is upstayed,
This hand can use them both with skill and might,
This hand of mine can strike, and at each blow
Thy foes and ours kill, wound, and overthrow.
"Nor yet suppose this is the foremost day
Wherein to war I bent my noble thought,
But for the surety of thy realms, and stay
Of our religion true, ere this I wrought:
Yourself best know if this be true I say,
Or if my former deeds rejoiced you aught,
When Godfrey's hardy knights and princes strong
I captive took, and held in bondage long.
"I took them, bound them, and so sent them bound
To thee, a noble gift, with whom they had
Condemned low in dungeon under ground
Forever dwelt, in woe and torment sad:
So might thine host an easy way have found
To end this doubtful war, with conquest glad,
Had not Rinaldo fierce my knights all slain,
And set those lords, his friends, at large again.
"Rinaldo is well known," and there a long
And true rehearsal made she of his deeds,
"This is the knight that since hath done me wrong,
Wrong yet untold, that sharp revengement needs:
Displeasure therefore, mixed with reason strong,
This thirst of war in me, this courage breeds;
Nor how he injured me time serves to tell,
Let this suffice, I seek revengement fell,
"And will procure it, for all shafts that fly
Light not in vain; some work the shooter's will,
And Jove's right hand with thunders cast from sky
Takes open vengeance oft for secret ill:
But if some champion dare this knight defy
To mortal battle, and by fight him kill,
And with his hateful head will me present,
That gift my soul shall please, my heart content:
"So please, that for reward enjoy he shall,
The greatest gift I can or may afford,
Myself, my beauty, wealth, and kingdoms all,
To marry him, and take him for my lord,
This promise will I keep whate'er befall,
And thereto bind myself by oath and word:
Now he that deems this purchase worth his pain,
Let him step forth and speak, I none disdain."
While thus the princess said, his hungry eyne
Adrastus fed on her sweet beauty's light,
"The gods forbid," quoth he, "one shaft of thine
Should be discharged gainst that discourteous knight,
His heart unworthy is, shootress divine,
Of thine artillery to feel the might;
To wreak thine ire behold me prest and fit,
I will his head cut off, and bring thee it.
"I will his heart with this sharp sword divide,
And to the vultures cast his carcass out."
Thus threatened he, but Tisapherne envied
To hear his glorious vaunt and boasting stout,
And said, "But who art thou, that so great pride
Thou showest before the king, me, and this rout?
Pardie here are some such, whose worth exceeds
Thy vaunting much yet boast not of their deeds."
The Indian fierce replied, "I am the man
Whose acts his words and boasts have aye surpassed;
But if elsewhere the words thou now began
Had uttered been, that speech had been thy last."
Thus quarrelled they; the monarch stayed them than,
And 'twixt the angry knights his sceptre cast:
Then to Armida said, "Fair Queen, I see
Thy heart is stout, thy thoughts courageous be;
"Thou worthy art that their disdain and ire
At thy commands these knights should both appease,
That gainst thy foe their courage hot as fire
Thou may'st employ, both when and where you please,
There all their power and force, and what desire
They have to serve thee, may they show at ease."
The monarch held his peace when this was said,
And they new proffer of their service made.
Nor they alone, but all that famous were
In feats of arms boast that he shall be dead,
All offer her their aid, all say and swear,
To take revenge on his condemned head:
So many arms moved she against her dear,
And swore her darling under foot to tread,
But he, since first the enchanted isle he left,
Safe in his barge the roaring waves still cleft.
By the same way returned the well-taught boat
By which it came, and made like haste, like speed;
The friendly wind, upon her sail that smote,
So turned as to return her ship had need:
The youth sometimes the Pole or Bear did note,
Or wandering stars which dearest nights forthspread:
Sometimes the floods, the hills, or mountains steep,
Whose woody fronts o'ershade the silent deep.
Now of the camp the man the state inquires,
Now asks the customs strange of sundry lands;
And sailed, till clad in beams and bright attires
The fourth day's sun on the eastern threshold stands:
But when the western seas had quenched those fires,
Their frigate struck against the shore and sands;
Then spoke their guide, "The land of Palestine
This is, here must your journey end and mine."
The knights she set upon the shore all three,
And vanished thence in twinkling of an eye,
Uprose the night in whose deep blackness be
All colors hid of things in earth or sky,
Nor could they house, or hold, or harbor see,
Or in that desert sign of dwelling spy,
Nor track of man or horse, or aught that might
Inform them of some path or passage right.
When they had mused what way they travel should,
From the west shore their steps at last they twined,
And lo, far off at last their eyes behold
Something, they wist not what, that clearly shined
With rays of silver and with beams of gold
Which the dark folds of night's black mantle lined.
Forward they went and marched against the light,
To see and find the thing that shone so bright.
High on a tree they saw an armor new,
That glistered bright gainst Cynthia's silver ray,
Therein, like stars in skies, the diamonds show
Fret in the gilden helm and hauberk gay,
The mighty shield all scored full they view
Of pictures fair, ranged in meet array;
To keep them sate an aged man beside,
Who to salute them rose, when them he spied.
The twain who first were sent in this pursuit
Of their wise friend well knew the aged face:
But when the wizard sage their first salute
Received and quitted had with kind embrace,
To the young prince, that silent stood and mute,
He turned his speech, "In this unused place
For you alone I wait, my lord," quoth he,
"My chiefest care your state and welfare be.
"For, though you wot it not, I am your friend,
And for your profit work, as these can tell,
I taught them how Armida's charms to end,
And bring you thither from love's hateful cell,
Now to my words, though sharp perchance, attend,
Nor be aggrieved although they seem too fell,
But keep them well in mind, till in the truth
A wise and holier man instruct thy youth.
"Not underneath sweet shades and fountains shrill,
Among the nymphs, the fairies, leaves and flowers;
But on the steep, the rough and craggy hill
Of virtue stands this bliss, this good of ours:
By toil and travel, not by sitting still
In pleasure's lap, we come to honor's bowers;
Why will you thus in sloth's deep valley lie?
The royal eagles on high mountains fly.
"Nature lifts up thy forehead to the skies,
And fills thy heart with high and noble thought,
That thou to heavenward aye shouldst lift thine eyes,
And purchase fame by deeds well done and wrought;
She gives thee ire, by which not courage flies
To conquests, not through brawls and battles fought
For civil jars, nor that thereby you might
Your wicked malice wreak and cursed spite.
"But that your strength spurred forth with noble wrath,
With greater fury might Christ's foes assault,
And that your bridle should with lesser scath
Each secret vice, and kill each inward fault;
For so his godly anger ruled hath
Each righteous man beneath heaven's starry vault,
And at his will makes it now hot, now cold,
Now lets it run, now doth it fettered hold."
Thus parleyed he; Rinaldo, hushed and still,
Great wisdom heard in those few words compiled,
He marked his speech, a purple blush did fill
His guilty checks, down went his eyesight mild.
The hermit by his bashful looks his will
Well understood, and said, "Look up, my child,
And painted in this precious shield behold
The glorious deeds of thy forefathers old.
"Thine elders' glory herein see and know,
In virtue's path how they trod all their days,
Whom thou art far behind, a runner slow
In this true course of honor, fame and praise:
Up, up, thyself incite by the fair show
Of knightly worth which this bright shield bewrays,
That be thy spur to praise!" At last the knight
Looked up, and on those portraits bent his sight.
The cunning workman had in little space
Infinite shapes of men there well expressed,
For there described was the worthy race
And pedigree of all of the house of Est:
Come from a Roman spring o'er all the place
Flowed pure streams of crystals east and west,
With laurel crowned stood the princes old,
Their wars the hermit and their battles told.
He showed them Caius first, when first in prey
To people strange the falling empire went,
First Prince of Est, that did the sceptre sway
O'er such as chose him lord by tree consent;
His weaker neighbors to his rule obey,
Need made them stoop, constraint doth force content;
After, when Lord Honorius called the train
Of savage Goths into his land again,
And when all Italy did burn and flame
With bloody war, by this fierce people mad,
When Rome a captive and a slave became,
And to be quite destroyed was most afraid,
Aurelius, to his everlasting fame,
Preserved in peace the folk that him obeyed:
Next whom was Forest, who the rage withstood
Of the bold Huns, and of their tyrant proud.
Known by his look was Attila the fell,
Whose dragon eyes shone bright with anger's spark,
Worse faced than a dog, who viewed him well
Supposed they saw him grin and heard him bark;
But when in single fight he lost the bell,
How through his troops he fled there might you mark,
And how Lord Forest after fortified
Aquilea's town, and how for it he died.
For there was wrought the fatal end and fine,
Both of himself and of the town he kept:
But his great son renowned Acarine,
Into his father's place and honor stepped:
To cruel fate, not to the Huns, Altine
Gave place, and when time served again forth leapt,
And in the vale of Po built for his seat
Of many a village a small city great;
Against the swelling flood he banked it strong,
And thence uprose the fair and noble town
Where they of Est should by succession long
Command, and rule in bliss and high renown:
Gainst Odoacer then he fought, but wrong
Oft spoileth right, fortune treads courage down,
For there he died for his dear country's sake,
And of his father's praise did so partake.
With him died Alforisio, Azzo was
With his dear brother into exile sent,
But homeward they in arms again repass --
The Herule king oppressed -- from banishment.
His front through pierced with a dart, alas,
Next them, of Est the Epaminondas went,
That smiling seemed to cruel death to yield,
When Totila was fled, and safe his shield.
Of Boniface I speak; Valerian,
His son, in praise and power succeeded him,
Who durst sustain, in years though scant a man,
Of the proud Goths an hundred squadrons trim:
Then he that gainst the Sclaves much honor wan,
Ernesto, threatening stood with visage grim;
Before him Aldoard, the Lombard stout
Who from Monselce boldly erst shut out.
There Henry was and Berengare the bold
That served great Charles in his conquest high,
Who in each battle give the onset would,
A hardy soldier and a captain sly;
After, Prince Lewis did he well uphold
Against his nephew, King of Italy,
He won the field and took that king on live:
Next him stood Otho with his children five.
Of Almeric the image next they view,
Lord Marquis of Ferrara first create,
Founder of many churches, that upthrew
His eyes, like one that used to contemplate;
Gainst him the second Azzo stood in rew,
With Berengarius that did long debate,
Till after often change of fortune stroke,
He won, and on all Italy laid the yoke.
Albert his son the Germans warred among,
And there his praise and fame was spread so wide,
That having foiled the Danes in battle strong,
His daughter young became great Otho's bride.
Behind him Hugo stood with warfare long,
That broke the horn of all the Romans' pride,
Who of all Italy the marquis hight,
And Tuscan whole possessed as his right.
After Tebaldo, puissant Boniface
And Beatrice his dear possessed the stage;
Nor was there left heir male of that great race,
To enjoy the sceptre, state and heritage;
The Princess Maud alone supplied the place,
Supplied the want in number, sex and age;
For far above each sceptre, throne and crown,
The noble dame advanced her veil and gown.
With manlike vigor shone her noble look,
And more than manlike wrath her face o'erspread,
There the fell Normans, Guichard there forsook
The field, till then who never feared nor fled;
Henry the Fourth she beat, and from him took
His standard, and in Church it offered;
Which done, the Pope back to the Vatican
She brought, and placed in Peter's chair again.
As he that honored her and held her dear,
Azzo the Fifth stood by her lovely side;
But the fourth Azzo's offspring far and near
Spread forth, and through Germania fructified;
Sprung from the branch did Guelpho bold appear,
Guelpho his son by Cunigond his bride,
And in Bavaria's field transplanted new
The Roman graft flourished, increased and grew.
A branch of Est there in the Guelfian tree
Engrafted was, which of itself was old,
Whereon you might the Guelfoes fairer see,
Renew their sceptres and their crowns of gold,
Of which Heaven's good aspects so bended be
That high and broad it spread and flourished bold,
Till underneath his glorious branches laid
Half Germany, and all under his shade.
This regal plant from his Italian rout
Sprung up as high, and blossomed fair above,
Fornenst Lord Guelpho, Bertold issued out,
With the sixth Azzo whom all virtues love;
This was the pedigree of worthies stout,
Who seemed in that bright shield to live and move.
Rinaldo waked up and cheered his face,
To see these worthies of his house and race.
To do like acts his courage wished and sought,
And with that wish transported him so far
That all those deeds which filled aye his thought,
Towns won, forts taken, armies killed in war,
As if they were things done indeed and wrought,
Before his eyes he thinks they present are,
He hastily arms him, and with hope and haste,
Sure conquest met, prevented and embraced.
But Charles, who had told the death and fall
Of the young prince of Danes, his late dear lord,
Gave him the fatal weapon, and withal,
"Young knight," quoth he, "take with good luck this sword,
Your just, strong, valiant hand in battle shall
Employ it long, for Christ's true faith and word,
And of his former lord revenge the wrongs,
Who loved you so, that deed to you belongs."
He answered, "God for his mercy's sake,
Grant that this hand which holds this weapon good
For thy dear master may sharp vengeance take,
May cleave the Pagan's heart, and shed his blood."
To this but short reply did Charles make,
And thanked him much, nor more on terms they stood:
For lo, the wizard sage that was their guide
On their dark journey hastes them forth to ride.
"High time it is," quoth he, "for you to wend
Where Godfrey you awaits, and many a knight,
There may we well arrive ere night doth end,
And through this darkness can I guide you right."
This said, up to his coach they all ascend,
On his swift wheels forth rolled the chariot light,
He gave his coursers fleet the rod and rein,
And galloped forth and eastward drove amain;
While silent so through night's dark shade they fly,
The hermit thus bespake the young man stout:
"Of thy great house, thy race, thine offspring high,
Here hast thou seen the branch, the bole, the root,
And as these worthies born to chivalry
And deeds of arms it hath tofore brought out,
So is it, so it shall be fertile still,
Nor time shall end, nor age that seed shall kill.
"Would God, as drawn from the forgetful lap
Of antique time, I have thine elders shown;
That so I could the catalogue unwrap
Of thy great nephews yet unborn, unknown,
That ere this light they view, their fate and hap
I might foretell, and how their chance is thrown,
That like thine elders so thou mightst behold
Thy children, many, famous, stout and bold.
"But not by art or skill, of things future
Can the plain truth revealed be and told,
Although some knowledge doubtful, dark, obscure
We have of coming haps in clouds uprolled;
Nor all which in this cause I know for sure
Dare I foretell: for of that father old,
The hermit Peter, learned I much, and he
Withouten veil heaven's secrets great doth see.
"But this, to him revealed by grace divine,
By him to me declared, to thee I say,
Was never race Greek, barbarous, or Latine,
Great in times past, or famous at this day,
Richer in hardy knights than this of thine;
Such blessings Heaven shall on thy children lay
That they in fame shall pass, in praise o'ercome,
The worthies old of Sparta, Carthage, Rome.
"But mongst the rest I chose Alphonsus bold,
In virtue first, second in place and name,
He shall be born when this frail world grows old,
Corrupted, poor, and bare of men of fame,
Better than he none shall, none can, or could,
The sword or sceptre use or guide the same,
To rule in peace or to command in fight,
Thine offspring's glory and thy house's light.
"His younger age foretokens true shall yield
Of future valor, puissance, force and might,
From him no rock the savage beast shall shield;
At tilt or tourney match him shall no knight:
After, he conquer shall in pitched field
Great armies and win spoils in single fight,
And on his locks, rewards for knightly praise,
Shall garlands wear of grass, of oak, of bays.
"His graver age, as well that eild it fits,
Shall happy peace preserve and quiet blest,
And from his neighbors strong mongst whom he sits
Shall keep his cities safe in wealth and rest,
Shall nourish arts and cherish pregnant wits,
Make triumphs great, and feast his subjects best,
Reward the good, the evil with pains torment,
Shall dangers all foresee, and seen, prevent.
"But if it hap against those wicked bands
That sea and earth invest with blood and war,
And in these wretched times to noble lands
Give laws of peace false and unjust that are,
That he be sent, to drive their guilty hands
From Christ's pure altars and high temples far,
Oh, what revenge, what vengeance shall he bring
On that false sect, and their accursed king!
"Too late the Moors, too late the Turkish king,
Gainst him should arm their troops and legions bold
For he beyond great Euphrates should bring,
Beyond the frozen tops of Taurus cold,
Beyond the land where is perpetual spring,
The cross, the eagle white, the lily of gold,
And by baptizing of the Ethiops brown
Of aged Nile reveal the springs unknown."
Thus said the hermit, and his prophecy
The prince accepted with content and pleasure,
The secret thought of his posterity
Of his concealed joys heaped up the measure.
Meanwhile the morning bright was mounted high,
And changed Heaven's silver wealth to golden treasure,
And high above the Christian tents they view
How the broad ensigns trembled, waved and blew,
When thus again their leader sage begun,
"See how bright Phoebus clears the darksome skies,
See how with gentle beams the friendly sun
The tents, the towns, the hills and dales descries,
Through my well guiding is your voyage done,
From danger safe in travel off which lies,
Hence without fear of harm or doubt of foe
March to the camp, I may no nearer go."
Thus took he leave, and made a quick return,
And forward went the champions three on foot,
And marching right against the rising morn
A ready passage to the camp found out,
Meanwhile had speedy fame the tidings borne
That to the tents approached these barons stout,
And starting from his throne and kingly seat
To entertain them, rose Godfredo great.
The charms and spirits false therein which lie
Rinaldo chaseth from the forest old;
The host of Egypt comes; Vafrin the spy
Entereth their camp, stout, crafty, wise and bold;
Sharp is the fight about the bulwarks high
And ports of Zion, to assault the hold:
Godfrey hath aid from Heaven, by force the town
Is won, the Pagans slain, walls beaten down.
Arrived where Godfrey to embrace him stood,
"My sovereign lord," Rinaldo meekly said,
"To venge my wrongs against Gernando proud
My honor's care provoked my wrath unstayed;
But that I you displeased, my chieftain good,
My thoughts yet grieve, my heart is still dismayed,
And here I come, prest all exploits to try
To make me gracious in your gracious eye."
To him that kneeled, folding his friendly arms
About his neck, the duke this answer gave:
"Let pass such speeches sad, of passed harms.
Remembrance is the life of grief; his grave,
Forgetfulness; and for amends, in arms
Your wonted valor use and courage brave;
For you alone to happy end must bring
The strong enchantments of the charmed spring.
"That aged wood whence heretofore we got,
To build our scaling engines, timber fit,
Is now the fearful seat, but how none wot,
Where ugly fiends and damned spirits sit;
To cut one twist thereof adventureth not
The boldest knight we have, nor without it
This wall can battered be: where others doubt
There venture thou, and show thy courage stout."
Thus said he, and the knight in speeches few
Proffered his service to attempt the thing,
To hard assays his courage willing flew,
To him praise was no spur, words were no sting;
Of his dear friends then he embraced the crew
To welcome him which came; for in a ring
About him Guelpho, Tancred and the rest
Stood, of the camp the greatest, chief and best.
When with the prince these lords had iterate
Their welcomes oft, and oft their dear embrace,
Toward the rest of lesser worth and state,
He turned, and them received with gentle grace;
The merry soldiers bout him shout and prate,
With cries as joyful and as cheerful face
As if in triumph's chariot bright as sun,
He had returned Afric or Asia won.
Thus marched to his tent the champion good,
And there sat down with all his friends around;
Now of the war he asked, now of the wood,
And answered each demand they list propound;
But when they left him to his ease, up stood
The hermit, and, fit time to speak once found,
"My lord," he said, "your travels wondrous are,
Far have you strayed, erred, wandered far.
"Much are you bound to God above, who brought
You safe from false Armida's charmed hold,
And thee a straying sheep whom once he bought
Hath now again reduced to his fold,
And gainst his heathen foes these men of naught
Hath chosen thee in place next Godfrey bold;
Yet mayest thou not, polluted thus with sin,
In his high service war or fight begin.
"The world, the flesh, with their infection vile
Pollute the thoughts impure, thy spirit stain;
Not Po, not Ganges, not seven-mouthed Nile,
Not the wide seas, can wash thee clean again,
Only to purge all faults which thee defile
His blood hath power who for thy sins was slain:
His help therefore invoke, to him bewray
Thy secret faults, mourn, weep, complain and pray."
This said, the knight first with the witch unchaste
His idle loves and follies vain lamented;
Then kneeling low with heavy looks downcast,
His other sins confessed and all repented,
And meekly pardon craved for first and last.
The hermit with his zeal was well contented,
And said, "On yonder hill next morn go pray
That turns his forehead gainst the morning ray.
"That done, march to the wood, whence each one brings
Such news of furies, goblins, fiends, and sprites,
The giants, monsters, and all dreadful things
Thou shalt subdue, which that dark grove unites:
Let no strange voice that mourns or sweetly sings,
Nor beauty, whose glad smile frail hearts delights,
Within thy breast make ruth or pity rise,
But their false looks and prayers false despise."
Thus he advised him, and the hardy knight
Prepared him gladly to this enterprise,
Thoughtful he passed the day, and sad the night;
And ere the silver morn began to rise,
His arms he took, and in a coat him dight
Of color strange, cut in the warlike guise;
And on his way sole, silent, forth he went
Alone, and left his friends, and left his tent.
It was the time when gainst the breaking day
Rebellious night yet strove, and still repined,
For in the east appeared the morning gray
And yet some lamps in Jove's high palace shined,
When to Mount Olivet he took his way,
And saw, as round about his eyes he twined,
Night's shadows hence, from thence the morning's shine,
This bright, that dark; that earthly, this divine.
Thus to himself he thought, how many bright
And splendent lamps shine in heaven's temple high,
Day hath his golden sun, her moon the night,
Her fixed and wandering stars the azure sky,
So framed all by their Creator's might
That still they live and shine, and ne'er shall die
Till, in a moment, with the last day's brand
They burn, and with them burn sea, air, and land.
Thus as he mused, to the top he went,
And there kneeled down with reverence and fear,
His eyes upon heaven's eastern face he bent,
His thoughts above all heavens uplifted were:
"The sins and errors, which I now repent,
Of mine unbridled youth, O Father dear,
Remember not, but let thy mercy fall,
And purge my faults and mine offences all."
Thus prayed he, with purple wings upflew
In golden weed the morning's lusty queen,
Begilding with the radiant beams she threw
His helm, his harness, and the mountain green;
Upon his breast and forehead gently blew
The air, that balm and nardus breathed unseen,
And o'er his head let down from clearest skies
A cloud of pure and precious clew there flies.
The heavenly dew was on his garments spread,
To which compared, his clothes pale ashes seem,
And sprinkled so, that all that paleness fled
And thence, of purest white, bright rays outstream;
So cheered are the flowers late withered
With the sweet comfort of the morning beam,
And so, returned to youth, a serpent old
Adorns herself in new and native gold.
The lovely whiteness of his changed weed,
The Prince perceived well, and long admired;
Toward the forest marched he on with speed,
Resolved, as such adventures great required;
Thither he came whence shrinking back for dread
Of that strange desert's sight the first retired,
But not to him fearful or loathsome made
That forest was, but sweet with pleasant shade:
Forward he passed, mid in the grove before
He heard a sound that strange, sweet, pleasing was;
There rolled a crystal brook with gentle roar,
There sighed the winds as through the leaves they pass,
There did the nightingale her wrongs deplore,
There sung the swan, and singing died, alas!
There lute, harp, cittern, human voice he heard,
And all these sounds one sound right well declared.
A dreadful thunder-clap at last he heard,
The aged trees and plants well-nigh that rent;
Yet heard the nymphs and sirens afterward,
Birds, winds, and waters, sing with sweet consent:
Whereat amazed he stayed, and well prepared
For his defence, heedful and slow forth went:
Nor in his way his passage aught withstood,
Except a quiet, still, transparent flood.
On the green banks which that fair stream inbound,
Flowers and odors sweetly smiled and smelled,
Which reaching out his stretched arms around,
All the large desert in his bosom held,
And through the grove one channel passage found;
That in the wood; in that, the forest dwelled:
Trees clad the streams; streams green those trees aye made
And so exchanged their moisture and their shade.
The knight some way sought out the flood to pass,
And as he sought, a wondrous bridge appeared,
A bridge of gold, a huge and weighty mass,
On arches great of that rich metal reared;
When through that golden way he entered was,
Down fell the bridge, swelled the stream, and weared
The work away, nor sign left where it stood,
And of a river calm became a flood.
He turned, amazed to see it troubled so,
Like sudden brooks increased with molten snow,
The billows fierce that tossed to and fro,
The whirlpools sucked down to their bosoms low;
But on he went to search for wonders mo,
Through the thick trees there high and broad which grow,
And in that forest huge and desert wide,
The more he sought, more wonders still he spied.
Whereso he stepped, it seemed the joyful ground
Renewed the verdure of her flowery weed,
A fountain here, a wellspring there he found;
Here bud the roses, there the lilies spread
The aged wood o'er and about him round
Flourished with blossoms new, new leaves, new seed,
And on the boughs and branches of those treen,
The bark was softened, and renewed the green.
The manna on each leaf did pearled lie,
The honey stilled from the tender rind;
Again he heard that wondrous harmony,
Of songs and sweet complaints of lovers kind,
The human voices sung a triple high,
To which respond the birds, the streams, the wind,
But yet unseen those nymphs, those singers were,
Unseen the lutes, harps, viols which they bear.
He looked, he listened, yet his thoughts denied
To think that true which he both heard and see,
A myrtle in an ample plain he spied,
And thither by a beaten path went he:
The myrtle spread her mighty branches wide,
Higher than pine or palm or cypress tree:
And far above all other plants was seen
That forest's lady and that desert's queen.
Upon the trees his eyes Rinaldo bent,.
And there a marvel great and strange began;
An aged oak beside him cleft and rent,
And from his fertile hollow womb forth ran,
Clad in rare weeds and strange habiliment,
A nymph, for age able to go to man,
An hundred plants beside, even in his sight,
Childed an hundred nymphs, so great, so dight.
Such as on stages play, such as we see
The Dryads painted whom wild Satyrs love,
Whose arms half-naked, locks untrussed be,
With buskins laced on their legs above,
And silken robes tucked short above their knee;
Such seemed the sylvan daughters of this grove,
Save that instead of shafts and boughs of tree,
She bore a lute, a harp, or cittern she.
And wantonly they cast them in a ring,
And sung and danced to move his weaker sense,
Rinaldo round about environing,
As centres are with their circumference;
The tree they compassed eke, and gan to sing,
That woods and streams admired their excellence;
"Welcome, dear lord, welcome to this sweet grove,
Welcome our lady's hope, welcome her love.
"Thou com'st to cure our princess, faint and sick
For love, for love of thee, faint, sick, distressed;
Late black, late dreadful was this forest thick,
Fit dwelling for sad folk with grief oppressed,
See with thy coming how the branches quick
Revived are, and in new blosoms dressed:"
This was their song, and after, from it went
First a sweet sound, and then the myrtle rent.
If antique times admired Silenus old
That oft appeared set on his lazy ass,
How would they wonder if they had behold
Such sights as from the myrtle high did pass?
Thence came a lady fair with locks of gold,
That like in shape, in face and beauty was
To sweet Armide; Rinaldo thinks he spies
Her gestures, smiles, and glances of her eyes.
On him a sad and smiling look she cast,
Which twenty passions strange at once bewrays:
"And art thou come," quoth she, "returned at last
To her from whom but late thou ran'st thy ways?
Com'st thou to comfort me for sorrows past?
To ease my widow nights and careful days?
Or comest thou to work me grief and harm?
Why nilt thou speak? -- why not thy face disarm?
"Com'st thou a friend or foe? I did not frame
That golden bridge to entertain my foe,
Nor opened flowers and fountains as you came,
To welcome him with joy that brings me woe:
Put off thy helm, rejoice me with the flame
Of thy bright eyes, whence first my fires did grow.
Kiss me, embrace me, if you further venture,
Love keeps the gate, the fort is eath to enter."
Thus as she woos she rolls her rueful eyes
With piteous look, and changeth oft her cheer,
An hundred sighs from her false heart upflies,
She sobs, she mourns, it is great ruth to hear;
The hardest breast sweet pity mollifies,
What stony heart resists a woman's tear?
But yet the knight, wise, wary, not unkind,
Drew forth his sword and from her careless twined.
Toward the tree he marched, she thither start,
Before him stepped, embraced the plant and cried,
"Ah, never do me such a spiteful part,
To cut my tree, this forest's joy and pride,
Put up thy sword, else pierce therewith the heart
Of thy forsaken and despised Armide;
For through this breast, and through this heart unkind
To this fair tree thy sword shall passage find."
He lift his brand, nor cared though oft she prayed,
And she her form to other shape did change;
Such monsters huge when men in dreams are laid
Oft in their idle fancies roam and range:
Her body swelled, her face obscure was made,
Vanished her garments, her face and vestures strange,
A giantess before him high she stands,
Like Briareus armed with an hundred hands.
With fifty swords, and fifty targets bright,
She threatened death, she roared, cried and fought,
Each other nymph in armor likewise dight,
A Cyclops great became: he feared them naught,
But on the myrtle smote with all his might,
That groaned like living souls to death nigh brought,
The sky seemed Pluto's court, the air seemed hell,
Therein such monsters roar, such spirits yell.
Lightened the heavens above, the earth below
Roared loud, that thundered, and this shook;
Blustered the tempests strong, the whirlwinds blow,
The bitter storm drove hailstones in his look;
But yet his arm grew neither weak nor slow,
Nor of that fury heed or care he took,
Till low to earth the wounded tree down bended;
Then fled the spirits all, the charms all ended.
The heavens grew clear, the air waxed calm and still,
The wood returned to his wonted state,
Of withcrafts free, quite void of spirits ill;
Of horror full, but horror there innate;
He further proved if aught withstood his will
To cut those trees as did the charms of late,
And finding naught to stop him, smiled, and said,
"O shadows vain! O fools, of shades afraid!"
From thence home to the campward turned the knight,
The hermit cried, upstarting from his seat,
"Now of the wood the charms have lost their might,
The sprites are conquered, ended is the feat,
See where he comes!" In glistering white all dight
Appeared the man, bold, stately, high and great,
His eagle's silver wings to shine begun
With wondrous splendor gainst the golden sun.
The camp received him with a joyful cry,
A cry the dales and hills about that flied;
Then Godfrey welcomed him with honors high,
His glory quenched all spite, all envy killed:
"To yonder dreadful grove," quoth he, "went I,
And from the fearful wood, as me you willed,
Have driven the sprites away, thither let be
Your people sent, the way is safe and free."
Sent were the workmen thither, thence they brought
Timber enough, by good advice select,
And though by skilless builders framed and wrought
Their engines rude and rams were late elect,
Yet now the forts and towers from whence they fought
Were framed by a cunning architect,
William, of all the Genoese lord and guide,
Which late ruled all the seas from side to side;
But forced to retire from him at last,
The Pagan fleet the seas moist empire won,
His men with all their stuff and store in haste
Home to the camp with their commander run,
In skill, in wit, in cunning him surpassed
Yet never engineer beneath the sun,
Of carpenters an hundred large he brought,
That what their lord devised made and wrought.
This man began with wondrous art to make,
Not rams, not mighty brakes, not slings alone,
Wherewith the firm and solid walls to shake,
To cast a dart, or throw a shaft or stone;
But framed of pines and firs, did undertake
To build a fortress huge, to which was none
Yet ever like, whereof he clothed the sides
Against the balls of fire with raw bull's hides.
In mortices and sockets framed just,
The beams, the studs and puncheons joined he fast;
To beat the city's wall, beneath forth brust
A ram with horned front, about her waist
A bridge the engine from her side out thrust,
Which on the wall when need she cast;
And from her top a turret small up stood,
Strong, surely armed, and builded of like wood.
Set on an hundred wheels the rolling mass,
On the smooth lands went nimbly up and down,
Though full of arms and armed men it was,
Yet with small pains it ran, as it had flown:
Wondered the camp so quick to see it pass,
They praised the workmen and their skill unknown,
And on that day two towers they builded more,
Like that which sweet Clorinda burned before.
Yet wholly were not from the Saracines
Their works concealed and their labors hid,
Upon that wall which next the camp confines
They placed spies, who marked all they did:
They saw the ashes wild and squared pines,
How to the tents, trailed from the grove, they slid:
And engines huge they saw, yet could not tell
How they were built, their forms they saw not well.
Their engines eke they reared, and with great art
Repaired each bulwark, turret, port and tower,