Part 9 out of 10
And fortified the plain and easy part,
To bide the storm of every warlike stoure,
Till as they thought no sleight or force of Mart
To undermine or scale the same had power;
And false Ismeno gan new balls prepare
Of wicked fire, wild, wondrous, strange and rare.
He mingled brimstone with bitumen fell
Fetched from that lake where Sodom erst did sink,
And from that flood which nine times compassed hell
Some of the liquor hot he brought, I think,
Wherewith the quenchless fire he tempered well,
To make it smoke and flame and deadly stink:
And for his wood cut down, the aged sire
Would thus revengement take with flame and fire.
While thus the camp, and thus the town were bent,
These to assault, these to defend the wall,
A speedy dove through the clear welkin went,
Straight o'er the tents, seen by the soldiers all;
With nimble fans the yielding air she rent,
Nor seemed it that she would alight or fall,
Till she arrived near that besieged town,
Then from the clouds at last she stooped down:
But lo, from whence I nolt, a falcon came,
Armed with crooked bill and talons long,
And twixt the camp and city crossed her game,
That durst nor bide her foe's encounter strong;
But right upon the royal tent down came,
And there, the lords and princes great among,
When the sharp hawk nigh touched her tender head
In Godfrey's lap she fell, with fear half dead:
The duke received her, saved her, and spied,
As he beheld the bird, a wondrous thing,
About her neck a letter close was tied,
By a small thread, and thrust under her wing,
He loosed forth the writ and spread it wide,
And read the intent thereof, "To Judah's king,"
Thus said the schedule, "honors high increase,
The Egyptian chieftain wisheth health and peace:
"Fear not, renowned prince, resist, endure
Till the third day, or till the fourth at most,
I come, and your deliverance will procure,
And kill your coward foes and all their host."
This secret in that brief was closed up sure,
Writ in strange language, to the winged post
Given to transport; for in their warlike need
The east such message used, oft with good speed.
The duke let go the captive dove at large,
And she that had his counsel close betrayed,
Traitress to her great Lord, touched not the marge
Of Salem's town, but fled far thence afraid.
The duke before all those which had or charge
Or office high, the letter read, and said:
"See how the goodness of the Lord foreshows
The secret purpose of our crafty foes.
"No longer then let us protract the time,
But scale the bulwark of this fortress high,
Through sweat and labor gainst those rocks sublime
Let us ascend, which to the southward lie;
Hard will it be that way in arms to climb,
But yet the place and passage both know I,
And that high wall by site strong on that part,
Is least defenced by arms, by work and art.
"Thou, Raymond, on this side with all thy might
Assault the wall, and by those crags ascend,
My squadrons with mine engines huge shall fight
And gainst the northern gate my puissance bend,
That so our foes, beguiled with the sight,
Our greatest force and power shall there attend,
While my great tower from thence shall nimbly slide,
And batter down some worse defended side;
"Camillo, thou not far from me shalt rear
Another tower, close to the walls ybrought."
This spoken, Raymond old, that sate him near,
And while he talked great things tossed in his thought,
Said, "To Godfredo's counsel, given us here,
Naught can be added, from it taken naught:
Yet this I further wish, that some were sent
To spy their camp, their secret and intent,
"That may their number and their squadrons brave
Describe, and through their tents disguised mask."
Quoth Tancred, "Lo, a subtle squire I have,
A person fit to undertake this task,
A man quick, ready, bold, sly to deceive,
To answer, wise, and well advised to ask;
Well languaged, and that with time and place,
Can change his look, his voice, his gait, his grace."
Sent for, he came, and when his lord him told
What Godfrey's pleasure was and what his own,
He smiled and said forthwith he gladly would.
"I go," quoth he, "careless what chance be thrown,
And where encamped be these Pagans bold,
Will walk in every tent a spy unknown,
Their camp even at noon-day I enter shall,
And number all their horse and footmen all;
"How great, how strong, how armed this army is,
And what their guide intends, I will declare,
To me the secrets of that heart of his
And hidden thoughts shall open lie and bare."
Thus Vafrine spoke, nor longer stayed on this,
But for a mantle changed the coat he ware,
Naked was his neck, and bout his forehead bold,
Of linen white full twenty yards he rolled.
His weapons were a Syrian bow and quiver,
His gestures barbarous, like the Turkish train,
Wondered all they that heard his tongue deliver
Of every land the language true and plain:
In Tyre a born Phoenician, by the river
Of Nile a knight bred in the Egyptian main,
Both people would have thought him; forth he rides
On a swift steed, o'er hills and dales that glides.
But ere the third day came the French forth sent
Their pioneers to even the rougher ways,
And ready made each warlike instrument,
Nor aught their labor interrupts or stays;
The nights in busy toll they likewise spent
And with long evenings lengthened forth short days,
Till naught was left the hosts that hinder might
To use their utmost power and strength in fight.
That day, which of the assault the day forerun,
The godly duke in prayer spent well-nigh,
And all the rest, because they had misdone,
The sacrament receive and mercy cry;
Then oft the duke his engines great begun
To show where least he would their strength apply;
His foes rejoiced, deluded in that sort,
To see them bent against their surest port:
But after, aided by the friendly night,
His greatest engine to that side he brought
Where plainest seemed the wall, where with their might
The flankers least could hurt them as they fought;
And to the southern mountain's greatest height
To raise his turret old Raymondo sought;
And thou Camillo on that part hadst thine,
Where from the north the walls did westward twine.
But when amid the eastern heaven appeared
The rising morning bright as shining glass,
The troubled Pagans saw, and seeing feared,
How the great tower stood not where late it was,
And here and there tofore unseen was reared
Of timber strong a huge and fearful mass,
And numberless with beams, with ropes and strings,
They view the iron rams, the barks and slings.
The Syrian people now were no whit slow,
Their best defences to that side to bear,
Where Godfrey did his greatest engine show,
From thence where late in vain they placed were:
But he who at his back right well did know
The host of Egypt to be proaching near,
To him called Guelpho, and the Roberts twain,
And said, "On horseback look you still remain,
"And have regard, while all our people strive
To scale this wall, where weak it seems and thin,
Lest unawares some sudden host arrive,
And at our backs unlooked-for war begin."
This said, three fierce assaults at once they give,
The hardy soldiers all would die or win,
And on three parts resistance makes the king,
And rage gainst strength, despair gainst hope doth bring.
Himself upon his limbs with feeble eild
That shook, unwieldy with their proper weight,
His armor laid and long unused shield,
And marched gainst Raymond to the mountain's height;
Great Solyman gainst Godfrey took the field;
Fornenst Camillo stood Argantes straight
Where Tancred strong he found, so fortune will
That this good prince his wonted foe shall kill.
The archers shot their arrows sharp and keen,
Dipped in the bitter juice of poison strong,
The shady face of heaven was scantly seen,
Hid with the clouds of shafts and quarries long;
Yet weapons sharp with greater fury been
Cast from the towers the Pagan troops among,
For thence flew stones and clifts of marble rocks,
Trees shod with iron, timber, logs and blocks.
A thunderbolt seemed every stone, it brake
His limbs and armors on whom so it light,
That life and soul it did not only take
But all his shape and face disfigured quite;
The lances stayed not in the wounds they make,
But through the gored body took their flight,
From side to side, through flesh, through skin and rind
They flew, and flying, left sad death behind.
But yet not all this force and fury drove
The Pagan people to forsake the wall,
But to revenge these deadly blows they strove,
With darts that fly, with stones and trees that fall;
For need so cowards oft courageous prove,
For liberty they fight, for life and all,
And oft with arrows, shafts, and stones that fly,
Give bitter answer to a sharp reply.
This while the fierce assailants never cease,
But sternly still maintain a threefold charge,
And gainst the clouds of shafts draw nigh at ease,
Under a pentise made of many a targe,
The armed towers close to the bulwarks press,
And strive to grapple with the battled marge,
And launch their bridges out, meanwhile below
With iron fronts the rams the walls down throw.
Yet still Rinaldo unresolved went,
And far unworthy him this service thought,
If mongst the common sort his pains he spent;
Renown so got the prince esteemed naught:
His angry looks on every side he bent,
And where most harm, most danger was, he fought,
And where the wall high, strong and surest was,
That part would he assault, and that way pass.
And turning to the worthies him behind,
All hardy knights, whom Dudon late did guide,
"Oh shame," quoth he, "this wall no war doth find,
When battered is elsewhere each part, each side;
All pain is safety to a valiant mind,
Each way is eath to him that dares abide,
Come let us scale this wall, though strong and high,
And with your shields keep off the darts that fly."
With him united all while thus he spake,
Their targets hard above their heads they threw,
Which joined in one an iron pentise make
That from the dreadful storm preserved the crew.
Defended thus their speedy course they take,
And to the wall without resistance drew,
For that strong penticle protected well
The knights, from all that flew and all that fell.
Against the fort Rinaldo gan uprear
A ladder huge, an hundred steps of height,
And in his arm the same did easily bear
And move as winds do reeds or rushes light,
Sometimes a tree, a rock, a dart or spear,
Fell from above, yet forward clomb the knight,
And upward fearless pierced, careless still,
Though Mount Olympus fell, or Ossa hill:
A mount of ruins, and of shafts a wood
Upon his shoulders and his shield he bore,
One hand the ladder held whereon he stood,
The other bare his targe his face before;
His hardy troop, by his example good
Provoked, with him the place assaulted sore,
And ladders long against the wall they clap,
Unlike in courage yet, unlike in hap:
One died, another fell; he forward went,
And these he comforts, and he threateneth those,
Now with his hand outstretched the battlement
Well-nigh he reached, when all his armed foes
Ran thither, and their force and fury bent
To throw him headlong down, yet up he goes,
A wondrous thing, one knight whole armed bands
Alone, and hanging in the air, withstands:
Withstands, and forceth his great strength so far,
That like a palm whereon huge weight doth rest,
His forces so resisted stronger are,
His virtues higher rise the more oppressed,
Till all that would his entrance bold debar,
He backward drove, upleaped and possessed
The wall, and safe and easy with his blade,
To all that after came, the passage made.
There killing such as durst and did withstand,
To noble Eustace that was like to fall
He reached forth his friendly conquering hand,
And next himself helped him to mount the wall.
This while Godfredo and his people land
Their lives to greater harms and dangers thrall,
For there not man with man, nor knight with knight
Contend, but engines there with engines fight.
For in that place the Paynims reared a post,
Which late had served some gallant ship for mast,
And over it another beam they crossed,
Pointed with iron sharp, to it made fast
With ropes which as men would the dormant tossed,
Now out, now in, now back, now forward cast.
In his swift pulleys oft the men withdrew
The tree, and oft the riding-balk forth threw:
The mighty beam redoubted oft his blows,
And with such force the engine smote and hit,
That her broad side the tower wide open throws,
Her joints were broke, her rafters cleft and split;
But yet gainst every hap whence mischief grows,
Prepared the piece, gainst such extremes made fit,
Launch forth two scythes, sharp, cutting, long and broad
And cut the ropes whereon the engine rode:
As an old rock, which age or stormy wind
Tears from some craggy hill or mountain steep,
Doth break, doth bruise, and into dust doth grind
Woods, houses, hamlets, herds, and folds of sheep,
So fell the beam, and down with it all kind
Of arms, of weapons, and of men did sweep,
Wherewith the towers once or twice did shake,
Trembled the walls, the hills and mountains quake.
Victorious Godfrey boldly forward came,
And had great hope even then the place to win;
But lo, a fire, with stench, with smoke and flame
Withstood his passage, stopped his entrance in:
Such burning Aetna yet could never frame,
When from her entrails hot her fires begin,
Nor yet in summer on the Indian plain,
Such vapors warm from scorching air down rain.
There balls of wildfire, there fly burning spears,
This flame was black, that blue, this red as blood;
Stench well-nigh choked them, noise deafs their ears,
Smoke blinds their eyes, fire kindleth on the wood;
Nor those raw hides which for defence it wears
Could save the tower, in such distress it stood;
For now they wrinkle, now it sweats and fries,
Now burns, unless some help come down from skies.
The hardy duke before his folk abides,
Nor changed he color, countenance or place,
But comforts those that from the scaldered hides
With water strove the approaching flames to chase:
In these extremes the prince and those he guides
Half roasted stood before fierce Vulcan's face,
When lo, a sudden and unlooked-for blast
The flames against the kindlers backward cast:
The winds drove back the fire, where heaped lie
The Pagans' weapons, where their engines were,
Which kindling quickly in that substance dry,
Burnt all their store and all their warlike gear:
O glorious captain! whom the Lord from high
Defends, whom God preserves, and holds so dear;
For thee heaven fights, to thee the winds, from far,
Called with thy trumpet's blast, obedient are!
But wicked Ismen to his harm that saw
How the fierce blast drove back the fire and flame,
By art would nature change, and thence withdraw
Those noisome winds, else calm and still the same;
'Twixt two false wizards without fear or awe
Upon the walls in open sight he came,
Black, grisly, loathsome, grim and ugly faced,
Like Pluto old, betwixt two furies placed;
And now the wretch those dreadful words begun,
Which trouble make deep hell and all her flock,
Now trembled is the air, the golden sun
His fearful beams in clouds did close and lock,
When from the tower, which Ismen could not shun,
Out fled a mighty stone, late half a rock,
Which light so just upon the wizards three,
That driven to dust their bones and bodies be.
To less than naught their members old were torn,
And shivered were their heads to pieces small,
As small as are the bruised grains of corn
When from the mill dissolved to meal they fall;
Their damned souls, to deepest hell down borne
Far from the joy and light celestial,
The furies plunged in the infernal lake:
O mankind, at their ends ensample take!
This while the engine which the tempest cold
Had saved from burning with his friendly blast,
Approached had so near the battered hold
That on the walls her bridge at ease she cast:
But Solyman ran thither fierce and bold,
To cut the plank whereon the Christians passed.
And had performed his will, save that upreared
High in the skies a turret new appeared;
Far in the air up clomb the fortress tall,
Higher than house, than steeple, church or tower;
The Pagans trembled to behold the wall
And city subject to her shot and power;
Yet kept the Turk his stand, though on him fall
Of stones and darts a sharp and deadly shower,
And still to cut the bridge he hopes and strives,
And those that fear with cheerful speech revives.
The angel Michael, to all the rest
Unseen, appeared before Godfredo's eyes,
In pure and heavenly armor richly dressed,
Brighter than Titan's rays in clearest skies;
"Godfrey," quoth he, "this is the moment blest
To free this town that long in bondage lies,
See, see what legions in thine aid I bring,
For Heaven assists thee, and Heaven's glorious King:
"Lift up thine eyes, and in the air behold
The sacred armies, how they mustered be,
That cloud of flesh in which for times of old
All mankind wrapped is, I take from thee,
And from thy senses their thick mist unfold,
That face to face thou mayest these spirits see,
And for a little space right well sustain
Their glorious light and view those angels plain.
"Behold the souls of every lord and knight
That late bore arms and died for Christ's dear sake,
How on thy side against this town they fight,
And of thy joy and conquest will partake:
There where the dust and smoke blind all men's sight,
Where stones and ruins such an heap do make,
There Hugo fights, in thickest cloud imbarred,
And undermines that bulwark's groundwork hard.
"See Dudon yonder, who with sword and fire
Assails and helps to scale the northern port,
That with bold courage doth thy folk inspire
And rears their ladders gainst the assaulted fort:
He that high on the mount in grave attire
Is clad, and crowned stands in kingly sort,
Is Bishop Ademare, a blessed spirit,
Blest for his faith, crowned for his death and merit.
"But higher lift thy happy eyes, and view
Where all the sacred hosts of Heaven appear."
He looked, and saw where winged armies flew,
Innumerable, pure, divine and clear;
A battle round of squadrons three they show
And all by threes those squadrons ranged were,
Which spreading wide in rings still wider go,
Moved with a stone calm water circleth so.
With that he winked, and vanished was and gone;
That wondrous vision when he looked again,
His worthies fighting viewed he one by one,
And on each side saw signs of conquest plain,
For with Rinaldo gainst his yielding lone,
His knights were entered and the Pagans slain,
This seen, the duke no longer stay could brook,
But from the bearer bold his ensign took:
And on the bridge he stepped, but there was stayed
By Solyman, who entrance all denied,
That narrow tree to virtue great was made,
The field as in few blows right soon was tried,
"Here will I give my life for Sion's aid,
Here will I end my days," the Soldan cried,
"Behind me cut or break this bridge, that I
May kill a thousand Christians first, then die."
But thither fierce Rinaldo threatening went,
And at his sight fled all the Soldan's train,
"What shall I do? If here my life be spent,
I spend and spill," quoth he, "my blood in vain!"
With that his steps from Godfrey back he bent,
And to him let the passage free remain,
Who threatening followed as the Soldan fled,
And on the walls the purple Cross dispread:
About his head he tossed, he turned, he cast,
That glorious ensign, with a thousand twines,
Thereon the wind breathes with his sweetest blast,
Thereon with golden rays glad Phoebus shines,
Earth laughs for joy, the streams forbear their haste,
Floods clap their hands, on mountains dance the pines,
And Sion's towers and sacred temples smile
For their deliverance from that bondage vile.
And now the armies reared the happy cry
Of victory, glad, joyful, loud, and shrill.
The hills resound, the echo showereth high,
And Tancred bold, that fights and combats still
With proud Argantes, brought his tower so nigh,
That on the wall, against the boaster's will,
In his despite, his bridge he also laid,
And won the place, and there the cross displayed.
But on the southern hill, where Raymond fought
Against the townsmen and their aged king,
His hardy Gascoigns gained small or naught;
Their engine to the walls they could not bring,
For thither all his strength the prince had brought,
For life and safety sternly combating,
And for the wall was feeblest on that coast,
There were his soldiers best, and engines most.
Besides, the tower upon that quarter found
Unsure, uneasy, and uneven the way,
Nor art could help, but that the rougher ground
The rolling mass did often stop and stay;
But now of victory the joyful sound
The king and Raymond heard amid their fray;
And by the shout they and their soldiers know,
The town was entered on the plain below.
Which heard, Raymondo thus bespake this crew,
"The town is won, my friends, and doth it yet
Resist? are we kept out still by these few?
Shall we no share in this high conquest get?"
But from that part the king at last withdrew,
He strove in vain their entrance there to let,
And to a stronger place his folk he brought,
Where to sustain the assault awhile he thought.
The conquerors at once now entered all,
The walls were won, the gates were opened wide,
Now bruised, broken down, destroyed fall
The ports and towers that battery durst abide;
Rageth the sword, death murdereth great and small,
And proud 'twixt woe and horror sad doth ride.
Here runs the blood, in ponds there stands the gore,
And drowns the knights in whom it lived before.
Tancred in single combat kills his foe,
Argantes strong: the king and Soldan fly
To David's tower, and save their persons so;
Erminia well instructs Vafrine the spy,
With him she rides away, and as they go
Finds where her lord for dead on earth doth lie;
First she laments, then cures him: Godfrey hears
Ormondo's treason, and what marks he bears.
Now death or fear or care to save their lives
From their forsaken walls the Pagans chase:
Yet neither force nor fear nor wisdom drives
The constant knight Argantes from his place;
Alone against ten thousand foes he strives,
Yet dreadless, doubtless, careless seemed his face,
Nor death, nor danger, but disgrace he fears,
And still unconquered, though o'erset, appears.
But mongst the rest upon his helmet gay
With his broad sword Tancredi came and smote:
The Pagan knew the prince by his array,
By his strong blows, his armor and his coat;
For once they fought, and when night stayed that fray,
New time they chose to end their combat hot,
But Tancred failed, wherefore the Pagan knight
Cried, "Tancred, com'st thou thus, thus late to fight?
"Too late thou com'st, and not alone to war,
But yet the fight I neither shun nor fear,
Although from knighthood true thou errest far,
Since like an engineer thou dost appear,
That tower, that troop, thy shield and safety are,
Strange kind of arms in single fight to bear;
Yet shalt thou not escape, O conqueror strong
Of ladies fair, sharp death, to avenge that wrong."
Lord Tancred smiled, with disdain and scorn,
And answerd thus, "To end our strife," quoth he,
"Behold at last I come, and my return,
Though late, perchance will be too soon for thee;
For thou shalt wish, of hope and help forlorn,
Some sea or mountain placed twixt thee and me,
And well shalt know before we end this fray
No fear of cowardice hath caused my stay.
"But come aside, thou by whose prowess dies
The monsters, knights and giants in all lands,
The killer of weak women thee defies."
This said, he turned to his fighting bands,
And bids them all retire. "Forbear," he cries,
"To strike this knight, on him let none lay hands;
For mine he is, more than a common foe,
By challenge new and promise old also."
"Descend," the fierce Circassian gan reply,
"Alone, or all this troop for succor take
To deserts waste, or place frequented high,
For vantage none I will the fight forsake:"
Thus given and taken was the bold defy,
And through the press, agreed so, they brake,
Their hatred made them one, and as they went,
Each knight his foe did for despite defend:
Great was his thirst of praise, great the desire
That Tancred had the Pagan's blood to spill,
Nor could that quench his wrath or calm his ire
If other hand his foe should foil or kill.
He saved him with his shield, and cried "Retire!"
To all he met, "and do this knight none ill:"
And thus defending gainst his friends his foe,
Through thousand angry weapons safe they go.
They left the city, and they left behind
Godfredo's camp, and far beyond it passed,
And came where into creeks and bosoms blind
A winding hill his corners turned and cast,
A valley small and shady dale they find
Amid the mountains steep so laid and placed
As if some theatre or closed place
Had been for men to fight or beasts to chase.
There stayed the champions both with rueful eyes,
Argantes gan the fortress won to view;
Tancred his foe withouten shield espies,
And said, "Whereon doth thy sad heart devise?
Think'st thou this hour must end thy life untrue?
If this thou fear, and dost foresee thy fate,
Thy fear is vain, thy foresight comes too late."
"I think," quoth he, "on this distressed town,
The aged Queen of Judah's ancient land,
Now lost, now sacked, spoiled and trodden down,
Whose fall in vain I strived to withstand,
A small revenge for Sion's fort o'erthrown,
That head can be, cut off by my strong hand."
This said, together with great heed they flew,
For each his foe for bold and hardy knew.
Tancred of body active was and light,
Quick, nimble, ready both of hand and foot;
But higher by the head, the Pagan knight
Of limbs far greater was, of heart as stout:
Tancred laid low and traversed in his fight,
Now to his ward retired, now struck out,
Oft with his sword his foe's fierce blows he broke,
And rather chose to ward-than bear his stroke.
But bold and bolt upright Argantes fought,
Unlike in gesture, like in skill and art,
His sword outstretched before him far he brought,
Nor would his weapon touch, but pierce his heart,
To catch his point Prince Tancred strove and sought,
But at his breast or helm's unclosed part
He threatened death, and would with stretched-out brand
His entrance close, and fierce assaults withstand.
With a tall ship so doth a galley fight,
When the still winds stir not the unstable main;
Where this in nimbleness as that in might
Excels; that stands, this goes and comes again,
And shifts from prow to poop with turnings light;
Meanwhile the other doth unmoved remain,
And on her nimble foe approaching nigh,
Her weighty engines tumbleth down from high.
The Christian sought to enter on his foe,
Voiding his point, which at his breast was bent;
Argantes at his face a thrust did throw,
Which while the Prince awards and doth prevent,
His ready hand the Pagan turned so,
That all defence his quickness far o'erwent,
And pierced his side, which done, he said and smiled,
"The craftsman is in his own craft beguiled."
Tancredi bit his lip for scorn and shame,
Nor longer stood on points of fence and skill,
But to revenge so fierce and fast he came
As if his hand could not o'ertake his will,
And at his visor aiming just, gan frame
To his proud boast an answer sharp, but still
Argantes broke the thrust; and at half-sword,
Swift, hardy, bold, in stepped the Christian lord.
With his left foot fast forward gan he stride,
And with his left the Pagan's right arm bent,
With his right hand meanwhile the man's right side
He cut, he wounded, mangled, tore and rent.
"To his victorious teacher," Tancred cried,
"His conquered scholar hath this answer sent;"
Argantes chafed, struggled, turned and twined,
Yet could not so his captive arm unbind:
His sword at last he let hang by the chain,
And griped his hardy foe in both his hands,
In his strong arms Tancred caught him again,
And thus each other held and wrapped in bands.
With greater might Alcides did not strain
The giant Antheus on the Lybian sands,
On holdfast knots their brawny arms they cast,
And whom he hateth most, each held embraced:
Such was their wrestling, such their shocks and throws
That down at once they tumbled both to ground,
Argantes, -- were it hap or skill, who knows,
His better hand loose and in freedom found;
But the good Prince, his hand more fit for blows,
With his huge weight the Pagan underbound;
But he, his disadvantage great that knew,
Let go his hold, and on his feet up flew:
Far slower rose the unwieldy Saracine,
And caught a rap ere he was reared upright.
But as against the blustering winds a pine
Now bends his top, now lifts his head on height,
His courage so, when it 'gan most decline,
The man reinforced, and advanced his might,
And with fierce change of blows renewed the fray,
Where rage for skill, horror for art, bore sway.
The purple drops from Tancred's sides down railed,
But from the Pagan ran whole streams of blood,
Wherewith his force grew weak, his courage quailed
As fires die which fuel want or food.
Tancred that saw his feeble arm now failed
To strike his blows, that scant he stirred or stood,
Assuaged his anger, and his wrath allayed,
And stepping back, thus gently spoke and said:
"Yield, hardy knight, and chance of war or me
Confess to have subdued thee in this fight,
I will no trophy, triumph, spoil of thee,
Nor glory wish, nor seek a victor's right
More terrible than erst;" herewith grew he
And all awaked his fury, rage and might,
And said, "Dar'st thou of vantage speak or think,
Or move Argantes once to yield or shrink?
"Use, use thy vantage, thee and fortune both
I scorn, and punish will thy foolish pride:"
As a hot brand flames most ere it forth go'th,
And dying blazeth bright on every side;
So he, when blood was lost, with anger wroth,
Revived his courage when his puissance died,
And would his latest hour which now drew nigh,
Illustrate with his end, and nobly die.
He joined his left hand to her sister strong,
And with them both let fall his weighty blade.
Tancred to ward his blow his sword up slung,
But that it smote aside, nor there it stayed,
But from his shoulder to his side along
It glanced, and many wounds at once it made:
Yet Tancred feared naught, for in his heart
Found coward dread no place, fear had no part.
His fearful blow he doubled, but he spent
His force in waste, and all his strength in vain;
For Tancred from the blow against him bent,
Leaped aside, the stroke fell on the plain.
With thine own weight o'erthrown to earth thou went,
Argantes stout, nor could'st thyself sustain,
Thyself thou threwest down, O happy man,
Upon whose fall none boast or triumph can!
His gaping wounds the fall set open wide,
The streams of blood about him made a lake,
Helped with his left hand, on one knee he tried
To rear himself, and new defence to make:
The courteous prince stepped back, and "Yield thee!" cried,
No hurt he proffered him, no blow he strake.
Meanwhile by stealth the Pagan false him gave
A sudden wound, threatening with speeches brave:
Herewith Tancredi furious grew, and said,
"Villain, dost thou my mercy so despise?"
Therewith he thrust and thrust again his blade,
And through his ventil pierced his dazzled eyes,
Argantes died, yet no complaint he made,
But as he furious lived he careless dies;
Bold, proud, disdainful, fierce and void of fear
His motions last, last looks, last speeches were.
Tancred put up his sword, and praises glad
Gave to his God that saved him in this fight;
But yet this bloody conquest feebled had
So much the conqueror's force, strength and might,
That through the way he feared which homeward led
He had not strength enough to walk upright;
Yet as he could his steps from thence he bent,
And foot by foot a heavy pace forth-went;
His legs could bear him but a little stound,
And more he hastes, more tired, less was his speed,
On his right hand, at last, laid on the ground
He leaned, his hand weak like a shaking reed,
Dazzled his eyes, the world on wheels ran round,
Day wrapped her brightness up in sable weed;
At length he swooned, and the victor knight
Naught differed from his conquered foe in fight.
But while these lords their private fight pursue,
Made fierce and cruel through their secret hate,
The victor's ire destroyed the faithless crew
From street to street, and chased from gate to gate.
But of the sacked town the image true
Who can describe, or paint the woful state,
Or with fit words this spectacle express
Who can? or tell the city's great distress?
Blood, murder, death, each street, house, church defiled,
There heaps of slain appear, there mountains high;
There underneath the unburied hills up-piled
Of bodies dead, the living buried lie;
There the sad mother with her tender child
Doth tear her tresses loose, complain and fly,
And there the spoiler by her amber hair
Draws to his lust the virgin chaste and fair.
But through the way that to the west-hill yood
Whereon the old and stately temple stands,
All soiled with gore and wet with lukewarm blood
Rinaldo ran, and chased the Pagan bands;
Above their heads he heaved his curtlax good,
Life in his grace, and death lay in his hands,
Nor helm nor target strong his blows off bears,
Best armed there seemed he no arms that wears;
For gainst his armed foes he only bends
His force, and scorns the naked folk to wound;
Them whom no courage arms, no arms defends,
He chased with his looks and dreadful sound:
Oh, who can tell how far his force extends?
How these he scorns, threats those, lays them on ground?
How with unequal harm, with equal fear
Fled all, all that well armed or naked were:
Fast fled the people weak, and with the same
A squadron strong is to the temple gone
Which, burned and builded oft, still keeps the name
Of the first founder, wise King Solomon;
That prince this stately house did whilom frame
Of cedar trees, of gold and marble stone;
Now not so rich, yet strong and sure it was,
With turrets high, thick walls, and doors of brass.
The knight arrived where in warklike sort
The men that ample church had fortified.
And closed found each wicket, gate and port,
And on the top defences ready spied,
He left his frowning looks, and twice that fort
From his high top down to the groundwork eyed,
And entrance sought, and twice with his swift foot
The mighty place he measured about.
Like as a wolf about the closed fold
Rangeth by night his hoped prey to get,
Enraged with hunger and with malice old
Which kind 'twixt him and harmless sheep hath set:
So searched he high and low about that hold,
Where he might enter without stop or let,
In the great court he stayed, his foes above
Attend the assault, and would their fortune prove.
There lay by chance a posted tree thereby,
Kept for some needful use, whate'er it were,
The armed galleys not so thick nor high
Their tall and lofty masts at Genes uprear;
This beam the knight against the gates made fly
From his strong hands all weights which lift and bear,
Like a light lance that tree he shook and tossed,
And bruised the gate, the threshold and the post.
No marble stone, no metal strong outbore
The wondrous might of that redoubled blow,
The brazen hinges from the wall it tore,
It broke the locks, and laid the doors down low,
No iron ram, no engine could do more,
Nor cannons great that thunderbolts forth throw,
His people like a flowing stream inthrong,
And after them entered the victor strong;
The woful slaughter black and loathsome made
That house, sometime the sacred house of God,
O heavenly justice, if thou be delayed,
On wretched sinners sharper falls thy rod!
In them this place profaned which invade
Thou kindled ire, and mercy all forbode,
Until with their hearts' blood the Pagans vile
This temple washed which they did late defile.
But Solyman this while himself fast sped
Up to the fort which David's tower is named,
And with him all the soldiers left he led,
And gainst each entrance new defences framed:
The tyrant Aladine eke thither fled,
To whom the Soldan thus, far off, exclaimed,
Thyself, within this fortress safe uplock:
"For well this fortress shall thee and thy crown
Defend, awhile here may we safe remain."
"Alas!" quoth he, "alas, for this fair town,
Which cruel war beats down even with the plain,
My life is done, mine empire trodden down,
I reigned, I lived, but now nor live nor reign;
For now, alas! behold the fatal hour
That ends our life, and ends our kingly power."
"Where is your virtue, where your wisdom grave,
And courage stout?" the angry Soldan said,
"Let chance our kingdoms take which erst she gave,
Yet in our hearts our kingly worth is laid;
But come, and in this fort your person save,
Refresh your weary limbs and strength decayed:"
Thus counselled he, and did to safety bring
Within that fort the weak and aged king.
His iron mace in both his hands he hent,
And on his thigh his trusty sword he tied,
And to the entrance fierce and fearless went,
And kept the strait, and all the French defied:
The blows were mortal which he gave or lent,
For whom he hit he slew, else by his side
Laid low on earth, that all fled from the place
Where they beheld that great and dreadful mace.
But old Raymondo with his hardy crew
By chance came thither, to his great mishap;
To that defended path the old man flew,
And scorned his blows and him that kept the gap,
He struck his foe, his blow no blood forth drew,
But on the front with that he caught a rap,
Which in a swoon, low in the dust him laid,
Wide open, trembling, with his arms displayed.
The Pagans gathered heart at last, though fear
Their courage weak had put to flight but late,
So that the conquerors repulsed were,
And beaten back, else slain before the Gate:
The Soldan, mongst the dead beside him near
That saw Lord Raymond lie in such estate,
Cried to his men, "Within these bars," quoth he,
"Come draw this knight, and let him captive be."
Forward they rushed to execute his word,
But hard and dangerous that emprise they found,
For none of Raymond's men forsook their lord,
But to their guide's defence they flocked round,
Thence fury fights, hence pity draws the sword,
Nor strive they for vile cause or on light ground,
The life and freedom of that champion brave,
Those spoil, these would preserve, those kill, these save.
But yet at last if they had longer fought
The hardy Soldan would have won the field;
For gainst his thundering mace availed naught
Or helm of temper fine or sevenfold shield:
But from each side great succor now was brought
To his weak foes, now fit to faint and yield,
And both at once to aid and help the same
The sovereign Duke and young Rinaldo came.
As when a shepherd, raging round about
That sees a storm with wind, hail, thunder, rain,
When gloomy clouds have day's bright eye put out,
His tender flocks drives from the open plain
To some thick grove or mountain's shady foot,
Where Heaven's fierce wrath they may unhurt sustain,
And with his hook, his whistle and his cries
Drives forth his fleecy charge, and with them flies:
So fled the Soldan, when he gan descry
This tempest come from angry war forthcast,
The armor clashed and lightened gainst the sky,
And from each side swords, weapons, fire outbrast:
He sent his folk up to the fortress high,
To shun the furious storm, himself stayed last,
Yet to the danger he gave place at length,
For wit, his courage; wisdom ruled his strength.
But scant the knight was safe the gate within,
Scant closed were the doors, when having broke
The bars, Rinaldo doth assault begin
Against the port, and on the wicket stroke
His matchless might, his great desire to win,
His oath and promise, doth his wrath provoke,
For he had sworn, nor should his word be vain,
To kill the man that had Prince Sweno slain.
And now his armed hand that castle great
Would have assaulted, and had shortly won,
Nor safe pardie the Soldan there a seat
Had found his fatal foes' sharp wrath to shun,
Had not Godfredo sounded the retreat;
For now dark shades to shroud the earth begun,
Within the town the duke would lodge that night,
And with the morn renew the assault and fight.
With cheerful look thus to his folk he said,
"High God hath holpen well his children dear,
This work is done, the rest this night delayed
Doth little labor bring, less doubt, no fear,
This tower, our foe's weak hope and latest aid,
We conquer will, when sun shall next appear:
Meanwhile with love and tender ruth go see
And comfort those which hurt and wounded be;
"Go cure their wounds which boldly ventured
Their lives, and spilt their bloods to get this hold,
That fitteth more this host for Christ forth led,
Than thirst of vengeance, or desire of gold;
Too much, ah, too much blood this day is shed!
In some we too much haste to spoil behold,
But I command no more you spoil and kill,
And let a trumpet publish forth my will."
This said, he went where Raymond panting lay,
Waked from the swoon wherein he late had been.
Nor Solyman with countenance less gay
Bespake his troops, and kept his grief unseen;
"My friends, you are unconquered this day,
In spite of fortune still our hope is green,
For underneath great shows of harm and fear,
Our dangers small, our losses little were:
"Burnt are your houses, and your people slain,
Yet safe your town is, though your walls be gone,
For in yourselves and in your sovereign
Consists your city, not in lime and stone;
Your king is safe, and safe is all his train
In this strong fort defended from their fone,
And on this empty conquest let them boast,
Till with this town again, their lives be lost;
"And on their heads the loss at last will light,
For with good fortune proud and insolent,
In spoil and murder spend they day and night,
In riot, drinking, lust and ravishment,
And may amid their preys with little fight
At ease be overthrown, killed, slain and spent,
If in this carelessness the Egyptian host
Upon them fall, which now draws near this coast.
"Meanwhile the highest buildings of this town
We may shake down with stones about their ears,
And with our darts and spears from engines thrown,
Command that hill Christ's sepulchre that bears:"
Thus comforts he their hopes and hearts cast down,
Awakes their valors, and exiles their fears.
But while the things hapt thus, Vafrino goes
Unknown, amid ten thousand armed foes.
The sun nigh set had brought to end the day,
When Vafrine went the Pagan host to spy,
He passed unknown a close and secret way;
A traveller, false, cunning, crafty, sly,
Past Ascalon he saw the morning gray
Step o'er the threshold of the eastern sky,
And ere bright Titan half his course had run,
That camp, that mighty host to show begun.
Tents infinite, and standards broad he spies,
This red, that white, that blue, this purple was,
And hears strange tongues, and stranger harmonies
Of trumpets, clarions, and well-sounding brass:
The elephant there brays, the camel cries.
The horses neigh as to and fro they pass:
Which seen and heard, he said within his thought,
Hither all Asia is, all Afric, brought.
He viewed the camp awhile, her site and seat,
What ditch, what trench it had, what rampire strong,
Nor close, nor secret ways to work his feat
He longer sought, nor hid him from the throng;
But entered through the gates, broad, royal, great,
And oft he asked, and answered oft among,
In questions wise, in answers short and sly;
Bold was his look, eyes quick, front lifted high:
On every side he pried here and there,
And marked each way, each passage and each tent:
The knights he notes, their steeds, and arms they bear,
Their names, their armor, and their government;
And greater secrets hopes to learn, and hear,
Their hidden purpose, and their close intent:
So long he walked and wandered, till he spied
The way to approach the great pavilions' side:
There as he looked he saw the canvas rent,
Through which the voice found eath and open way
From the close lodgings of the regal tent
And inmost closet where the captain lay;
So that if Emireno spake, forth went
The sound to them that listen what they say,
There Vafrine watched, and those that saw him thought
To mend the breach that there he stood and wrought.
The captain great within bare-headed stood,
His body armed and clad in purple weed,
Two pages bore his shield and helmet good,
He leaning on a bending lance gave heed
To a big man whose looks were fierce and proud,
With whom he parleyed of some haughty deed,
Godfredo's name as Vafrine watched he heard,
Which made him give more heed, take more regard:
Thus spake the chieftain to that surly sir,
"Art thou so sure that Godfrey shall be slain?"
"I am," quoth he, "and swear ne'er to retire,
Except he first be killed, to court again.
I will prevent those that with me conspire:
Nor other guerdon ask I for my pain
But that I may hang up his harness brave
At Gair, and under them these words engrave:
" `These arms Ormondo took in noble fight
From Godfrey proud, that spoiled all Asia's lands,
And with them took his life, and here on high,
In memory thereof, this trophy stands.' "
The duke replied, "Ne'er shall that deed, bold knight,
Pass unrewarded at our sovereign's hands,
What thou demandest shall he gladly grant,
Nor gold nor guerdon shalt thou wish or want.
"Those counterfeited armors then prepare,
Because the day of fight approacheth fast."
"They ready are," quoth he; then both forbare
From further talk, these speeches were the last.
Vafrine, these great things heard, with grief and care
Remained astound, and in his thoughts oft cast
What treason false this was, how feigned were
Those arms, but yet that doubt he could not clear.
From thence he parted, and broad waking lay
All that long night, nor slumbered once nor slept:
But when the camp by peep of springing day
Their banner spread, and knights on horseback leapt,
With them he marched forth in meet array,
And where they pitched lodged, and with them kept,
And then from tent to tent he stalked about,
To hear and see, and learn this secret out;
Searching about, on a rich throne he fand
Armida set with dames and knights around,
Sullen she sat, and sighed, it seemed she scanned
Some weighty matters in her thoughts profounds,
Her rosy cheek leaned on her lily hand,
Her eyes, love's twinkling stars, she bent to ground,
Weep she, or no, he knows not, yet appears
Her humid eyes even great with child with tears.
He saw before her set Adrastus grim,
That seemed scant to live, move, or respire,
So was he fixed on his mistress trim,
So gazed he, and fed his fond desire;
But Tisiphern beheld now her now him,
And quaked sometime for love, sometime for ire,
And in his cheeks the color went and came,
For there wrath's fire now burnt, now shone love's flame.
Then from the garland fair of virgins bright,
Mongst whom he lay enclosed, rose Altamore,
His hot desire he hid and kept from sight,
His looks were ruled by Cupid's crafty lore,
His left eye viewed her hand, her face, his right
Both watched her beauties hid and secret store,
And entrance found where her thin veil bewrayed
The milken-way between her breasts that laid.
Her eyes Armida lift from earth at last,
And cleared again her front and visage sad,
Midst clouds of woe her looks which overcast
She lightened forth a smile, sweet, pleasant, glad;
"My lord," quoth she, "your oath and promise passed,
Hath freed my heart of all the griefs it had,
That now in hope of sweet revenge it lives,
Such joy, such ease, desired vengeance gives."
"Cheer up thy looks," answered the Indian king,
"And for sweet beauty's sake, appease thy woe,
Cast at your feet ere you expect the thing,
I will present the head of thy strong foe;
Else shall this hand his person captive bring
And cast in prison deep;" he boasted so.
His rival heard him well, yet answered naught,
But bit his lips, and grieved in secret thought.
To Tisipherne the damsel turning right,
"And what say you, my noble lord ?" quoth she.
He taunting said, "I that am slow to fight
Will follow far behind, the worth to see
Of this your terrible and puissant knight,"
In scornful words this bitter scoff gave he.
"Good reason," quoth the king, "thou come behind,
Nor e'er compare thee with the Prince of Ind."
Lord Tisiphernes shook his head, and said,
"Oh, had my power free like my courage been,
Or had I liberty to use this blade,
Who slow, who weakest is, soon should be seen,
Nor thou, nor thy great vaunts make me afraid,
But cruel love I fear, and this fair queen."
This said, to challenge him the king forth leapt,
But up their mistress start, and twixt them stepped:
"Will you thus rob me of that gift," quoth she,
"Which each hath vowed to give by word and oath?
You are my champions, let that title be
The bond of love and peace between you both;
He that displeased is, is displeased with me,
For which of you is grieved, and I not wroth?"
Thus warned she them, their hearts, for ire nigh broke,
In forced peace and rest thus bore love's yoke."
All this heard Vafrine as he stood beside,
And having learned the truth, he left the tent,
That treason was against the Christian's guide
Contrived, he wist, yet wist not how it went,
By words and questions far off, he tried
To find the truth; more difficult, more bent
Was he to know it, and resolved to die,
Or of that secret close the intent to spy.
Of sly intelligence he proved all ways,
All crafts, all wiles, that in his thoughts abide,
Yet all in vain the man by wit assays,
To know that false compact and practice hid:
But chance, what wisdom could not tell, bewrays,
Fortune of all his doubt the knots undid,
So that prepared for Godfrey's last mishap
At ease he found the net, and spied the trap.
Thither he turned again where seated was,
The angry lover, 'twixt her friends and lords,
For in that troop much talk he thought would pass,
Each great assembly store of news affords,
He sided there a lusty lovely lass,
And with some courtly terms the wench he boards,
He feigns acquaintance, and as bold appears
As he had known that virgin twenty years.
He said, "Would some sweet lady grace me so,
To chose me for her champion, friend and knight,
Proud Godfrey's or Rinaldo's head, I trow,
Should feel the sharpness of my curtlax bright;
Ask me the head, fair mistress, of some foe,
For to your beauty wooed is my might;"
So he began, and meant in speeches wise
Further to wade, but thus he broke the ice.
Therewith he smiled, and smiling gan to frame
His looks so to their old and native grace,
That towards him another virgin came,
Heard him, beheld him, and with bashful face
Said, "For thy mistress choose no other dame
But me, on me thy love and service place,
I take thee for my champion, and apart
Would reason with thee, if my knight thou art."
Withdrawn, she thus began, "Vafrine, pardie,
I know thee well, and me thou knowest of old,"
To his last trump this drove the subtle spy,
But smiling towards her he turned him bold,
"Ne'er that I wot I saw thee erst with eye,
Yet for thy worth all eyes should thee behold,
Thus much I know right well, for from the same
Which erst you gave me different is my name.
"My mother bore me near Bisertus wall,
Her name was Lesbine, mine is Almansore!"
"I knew long since," quoth she, "what men thee call,
And thine estate, dissemble it no more,
From me thy friend hide not thyself at all,
If I betray thee let me die therefore,
I am Erminia, daughter to a prince,
But Tancred's slave, thy fellow-servant since;
"Two happy months within that prison kind,
Under thy guard rejoiced I to dwell,
And thee a keeper meek and good did find,
The same, the same I am; behold me well."
The squire her lovely beauty called to mind,
And marked her visage fair: "From thee expel
All fear," she says, "for me live safe and sure,
I will thy safety, not thy harm procure.
"But yet I pray thee, when thou dost return,
To my dear prison lead me home again;
For in this hateful freedom even and morn
I sigh for sorrow, mourn and weep for pain:
But if to spy perchance thou here sojourn,
Great hap thou hast to know these secrets plain,
For I their treasons false, false trains can say,
Which few beside can tell, none will betray."
On her he gazed, and silent stood this while,
Armida's sleights he knew, and trains unjust,
Women have tongues of craft, and hearts of guile,
They will, they will not, fools that on them trust,
For in their speech is death, hell in their smile;
At last he said, "If hence depart you lust,
I will you guide; on this conclude we here,
And further speech till fitter time forbear."
Forthwith, ere thence the camp remove, to ride
They were resolved, their flight that season fits,
Vafrine departs, she to the dames beside
Returns, and there on thorns awhile she sits,
Of her new knight she talks, till time and tide
To scape unmarked she find, then forth she gets,
Thither where Vafrine her unseen abode,
There took she horse, and from the camp they rode.
And now in deserts waste and wild arrived,
Far from the camp, far from resort and sight,
Vafrine began, "Gainst Godfrey's life contrived
The false compacts and trains unfold aright:"
Then she those treasons, from their spring derived,
Repeats, and brings their hid deceits to light,
"Eight knights," she says, "all courtiers brave, there are,
But Ormond strong the rest surpasseth far:
"These, whether hate or hope of gain them move,
Conspired have, and framed their treason so,
That day when Emiren by fight shall prove
To win lost Asia from his Christian foe,
These, with the cross scored on their arms above,
And armed like Frenchmen will disguised go,
Like Godfrey's guard that gold and white do wear,
Such shall their habit be, and such their gear:
"Yet each will bear a token in his crest,
That so their friends for Pagans may them know:
But in close fight when all the soldiers best
Shall mingled be, to give the fatal blow
They will keep near, and pierce Godfredo's breast,
While of his faithful guard they bear false show,
And all their swords are dipped in poison strong,
Because each wound shall bring sad death ere long.
"And for their chieftain wist I knew your guise,
What garments, ensigns, and what arms you carry,
Those feigned arms he forced me to devise,
So that from yours but small or naught they vary;
But these unjust commands my thoughts despise,
Within their camp therefore I list not tarry,
My heart abhors I should this hand defile
With spot of treason, or with act of guile.
"This is the cause, but not the cause alone:"
And there she ceased, and blushed, and on the main
Cast down her eyes, these last words scant outgone,
She would have stopped, nor durst pronounce them plain.
The squire what she concealed would know, as one
That from her breast her secret thoughts could strain,
"Of little faith," quoth he, "why would'st thou hide
Those causes true, from me thy squire and guide?"
With that she fetched a sigh, sad, sore and deep,
And from her lips her words slow trembling came,
"Fruitless," she said, "untimely, hard to keep,
Vain modesty farewell, and farewell shame,
Why hope you restless love to bring on sleep?
Why strive you fires to quench, sweet Cupid's flame?
No, no, such cares, and such respects beseem
Great ladies, wandering maids them naught esteem.
"That night fatal to me and Antioch town,
Then made a prey to her commanding foe,
My loss was greater than was seen or known,
There ended not, but thence began my woe:
Light was the loss of friends, of realm or crown;
But with my state I lost myself also,
Ne'er to be found again, for then I lost
My wit, my sense, my heart, my soul almost.
"Through fire and sword, through blood and death, Vafrine,
Which all my friends did burn, did kill, did chase,
Thou know'st I ran to thy dear lord and mine,
When first he entered had my father's place,
And kneeling with salt ears in my swollen eyne;
`Great prince,' quoth I, `grant mercy, pity, grace,
Save not my kingdom, not my life I said,
But save mine honor, let me die a maid.'
"He lift me by the trembling hand from ground,
Nor stayed he till my humble speech was done;
But said, `A friend and keeper hast thou found,
Fair virgin, nor to me in vain you run:'
A sweetness strange from that sweet voice's sound
Pierced my heart, my breast's weak fortress won,
Which creeping through my bosom soft became
A wound, a sickness, and a quenchless flame.
"He visits me, with speeches kind and grave
He sought to ease my grief, and sorrows' smart.
He said, `I give thee liberty, receive
All that is thine, and at thy will depart:'
Alas, he robbed me when he thought he gave,
Free was Erminia, but captived her heart,
Mine was the body, his the soul and mind,
He gave the cage but kept the bird behind.
"But who can hide desire, or love suppress?
Oft of his worth with thee in talk I strove,
Thou, by my trembling fit that well could'st guess
What fever held me, saidst, `Thou art in love;'
But I denied, for what can maids do less?
And yet my sighs thy sayings true did prove,
Instead of speech, my looks, my tears, mine eyes,
Told in what flame, what fire thy mistress fries.
"Unhappy silence, well I might have told
My woes, and for my harms have sought relief,
Since now my pains and plaints I utter bold,
Where none that hears can help or ease my grief.
From him I parted, and did close upfold
My wounds within my bosom, death was chief
Of all my hopes and helps, till love's sweet flame
Plucked off the bridle of respect and shame,
"And caused me ride to seek my lord and knight,
For he that made me sick could make me sound:
But on an ambush I mischanced to light
Of cruel men, in armour clothed round,
Hardly I scaped their hand by mature flight.
And fled to wilderness and desert ground,
And there I lived in groves and forests wild,
With gentle grooms and shepherds' daughters mild.
"But when hot love which fear had late suppressed,
Revived again, there nould I longer sit,
But rode the way I came, nor e'er took rest,
Till on like danger, like mishap I hit,
A troop to forage and to spoil addressed,
Encountered me, nor could I fly from it:
Thus was I ta'en, and those that had me caught,
Egyptians were, and me to Gaza brought,
"And for a present to their captain gave,
Whom I entreated and besought so well,
That he mine honor had great care to save,
And since with fair Armida let me dwell.
Thus taken oft, escaped oft I have,
Ah, see what haps I passed, what dangers fell,
So often captive, free so oft again,
Still my first bands I keep, still my first chain.
"And he that did this chain so surely bind
About my heart, which none can loose but he,
Let him not say, `Go, wandering damsel, find
Some other home, thou shalt not bide with me,'
But let him welcome me with speeches kind,
And in my wonted prison set me free:"
Thus spake the princess, thus she and her guide
Talked day and night, and on their journey ride.
Through the highways Vafrino would not pass,
A path more secret, safe and short, he knew,
And now close by the city's wall he was,
When sun was set, night in the east upflew,
With drops of blood besmeared he found the grass,
And saw where lay a warrior murdered new,
That all be-bled the ground, his face to skies
He turns, and seems to threat, though dead he lies:
His harness and his habit both betrayed
He was a Pagan; forward went the squire,
And saw whereas another champion laid
Dead on the land, all soiled with blood and mire,
"This was some Christian knight," Vafrino said:
And marking well his arms and rich attire,
He loosed his helm, and saw his visage plain,
And cried, "Alas, here lies Tancredi slain!"
The woful virgin tarried, and gave heed
To the fierce looks of that proud Saracine,
Till that high cry, full of sad fear and dread,
Pierced through her heart with sorrow, grief and pine,
At Tancred's name thither she ran with speed,
Like one half mad, or drunk with too much wine,
And when she saw his face, pale, bloodless, dead,
She lighted, nay, she stumbled from her steed:
Her springs of tears she 1ooseth forth, and cries,
"Hither why bring'st thou me, ah, Fortune blind?
Where dead, for whom I lived, my comfort lies,
Where war for peace, travail for rest I find;
Tancred, I have thee, see thee, yet thine eyes
Looked not upon thy love and handmaid kind,
Undo their doors, their lids fast closed sever,
Alas, I find thee for to lose thee ever.
"I never thought that to mine eyes, my dear,
Thou couldst have grievous or unpleasant been;
But now would blind or rather dead I were,
That thy sad plight might be unknown, unseen!
Alas! where is thy mirth and smiling cheer?
Where are thine eyes' clear beams and sparkles sheen?
Of thy fair cheek where is the purple red,
And forehead's whiteness? are all gone, all dead?
"Though gone, though dead, I love thee still, behold;
Death wounds, but kills not love; yet if thou live,
Sweet soul, still in his breast, my follies bold
Ah, pardon love's desires, and stealths forgive;
Grant me from his pale mouth some kisses cold,
Since death doth love of just reward deprive;
And of thy spoils sad death afford me this,
Let me his mouth, pale, cold and bloodless, kiss;
"O gentle mouth! with speeches kind and sweet
Thou didst relieve my grief, my woe and pain,
Ere my weak soul from this frail body fleet,
Ah, comfort me with one dear kiss or twain!
Perchance if we alive had happed to meet,
They had been given which now are stolen, O vain,
O feeble life, betwixt his lips out fly,
Oh, let me kiss thee first, then let me die!
"Receive my yielding spirit, and with thine
Guide it to heaven, where all true love hath place:"
This said, she sighed, and tore her tresses fine,
And from her eyes two streams poured on his face,
The man revived, with those showers divine
Awaked, and opened his lips a space;
His lips were open; but fast shut his eyes,
And with her sighs, one sigh from him upflies.
The dame perceived that Tancred breathed and sighed,
Which calmed her grief somedeal and eased her fears:
"Unclose thine eyes," she says, "my lord and knight,
See my last services, my plaints and tears,
See her that dies to see thy woful plight,
That of thy pain her part and portion bears;
Once look on me, small is the gift I crave,
The last which thou canst give, or I can have."
Tancred looked up, and closed his eyes again,
Heavy and dim, and she renewed her woe.
Quoth Vafrine, "Cure him first, and then complain,
Medicine is life's chief friend; plaint her most foe:"
They plucked his armor off, and she each vein,
Each joint, and sinew felt, and handled so,
And searched so well each thrust, each cut and wound,
That hope of life her love and skill soon found.
From weariness and loss of blood she spied
His greatest pains and anguish most proceed,
Naught but her veil amid those deserts wide
She had to bind his wounds, in so great need,
But love could other bands, though strange, provide,
And pity wept for joy to see that deed,
For with her amber locks cut off, each wound
She tied: O happy man, so cured so bound!
For why her veil was short and thin, those deep
And cruel hurts to fasten, roll and blind,
Nor salve nor simple had she, yet to keep
Her knight on live, strong charms of wondrous kind
She said, and from him drove that deadly sleep,
That now his eyes he lifted, turned and twined,
And saw his squire, and saw that courteous dame
In habit strange, and wondered whence she came.
He said, "O Vafrine, tell me, whence com'st thou?
And who this gentle surgeon is, disclose;"
She smiled, she sighed, she looked she wist not how,
She wept, rejoiced, she blushed as red as rose.
"You shall know all," she says, "your surgeon now
Commands you silence, rest and soft repose,
You shall be sound, prepare my guerdon meet,"
His head then laid she in her bosom sweet.
Vafrine devised this while how he might bear
His master home, ere night obscured the land,
When lo, a troop of soldiers did appear,
Whom he descried to be Tancredi's band,
With him when he and Argant met they were;
But when they went to combat hand for hand,
He bade them stay behind, and they obeyed,
But came to seek him now, so long he stayed.
Besides them, many followed that enquest,
But these alone found out the rightest way,
Upon their friendly arms the men addressed
A seat whereon he sat, he leaned, he lay:
Quoth Tancred, "Shall the strong Circassian rest
In this broad field, for wolves and crows a prey?
Ah no, defraud not you that champion brave
Of his just praise, of his due tomb and grave:
"With his dead bones no longer war have I,
Boldly he died and nobly was he slain,
Then let us not that honor him deny
Which after death alonely doth remain:"
The Pagan dead they lifted up on high,
And after Tancred bore him through the plain.
Close by the virgin chaste did Vafrine ride,
As he that was her squire, her guard, her guide.
"Not home," quoth Tancred, "to my wonted tent,
But bear me to this royal town, I pray,
That if cut short by human accident
I die, there I may see my latest day,
The place where Christ upon his cross was rent
To heaven perchance may easier make the way,
And ere I yield to Death's and Fortune's rage,
Performed shall be my vow and pilgrimage."
Thus to the city was Tancredi borne,
And fell on sleep, laid on a bed of down.
Vafrino where the damsel might sojourn
A chamber got, close, secret, near his own;
That done he came the mighty duke beforn,
And entrance found, for till his news were known,
Naught was concluded mongst those knights and lords,
Their counsel hung on his report and words.
Where weak and weary wounded Raymond laid,
Godfrey was set upon his couch's side,
And round about the man a ring was made
Of lords and knights that filled the chamber wide;
There while the squire his late discovery said,
To break his talk, none answered, none replied,
"My lord," he said, "at your command I went
And viewed their camp, each cabin, booth and tent;
"But of that mighty host the number true
Expect not that I can or should descry,
All covered with their armies might you view
The fields, the plains, the dales and mountains high,
I saw what way soe'er they went and drew,
They spoiled the land, drunk floods and fountains dry,
For not whole Jordan could have given them drink,
Nor all the grain in Syria, bread, I think.
"But yet amongst them many bands are found
Both horse and foot, of little force and might,
That keep no order, know no trumpet's sound,
That draw no sword, but far off shoot and fight,
But yet the Persian army doth abound
With many a footman strong and hardy knight,
So doth the King's own troop which all is framed
Of soldiers old, the Immortal Squadron named.
"Immortal called is that band of right,
For of that number never wanteth one,
But in his empty place some other knight
Steps in, when any man is dead or gone:
This army's leader Emireno hight,
Like whom in wit and strength are few or none,
Who hath in charge in plain and pitched field,
To fight with you, to make you fly or yield.
"And well I know their army and their host
Within a day or two will here arrive:
But thee Rinaldo it behoveth most
To keep thy noble head, for which they strive,
For all the chief in arms or courage boast
They will the same to Queen Armida give,
And for the same she gives herself in price,
Such hire will many hands to work entice.
"The chief of these that have thy murder sworn,
Is Altamore, the king of Samarcand!
Adrastus then, whose realm lies near the morn,
A hardy giant, bold, and strong of hand,
This king upon an elephant is borne,
For under him no horse can stir or stand;
The third is Tisipherne, as brave a lord
As ever put on helm or girt on sword."
This said, from young Rinaldo's angry eyes,
Flew sparks of wrath, flames in his visage shined,
He longed to be amid those enemies,
Nor rest nor reason in his heart could find.
But to the Duke Vafrine his talk applies,
"The greatest news, my lord, are yet behind,
For all their thoughts, their crafts and counsels tend
By treason false to bring thy life to end."
Then all from point to point he gan expose
The false compact, how it was made and wrought,
The arms and ensigns feigned, poison close,
Ormondo's vaunt, what praise, what thank he sought,
And what reward, and satisfied all those
That would demand, inquire, or ask of aught.
Silence was made awhile, when Godfrey thus, --
"Raymondo, say, what counsel givest thou us?"
"Not as we purposed late, next morn," quoth he,
"Let us not scale, but round besiege this tower,
That those within may have no issue free
To sally out, and hurt us with their power,
Our camp well rested and refreshed see,
Provided well gainst this last storm and shower,
And then in pitched field, fight, if you will;
If not, delay and keep this fortress still.
"But lest you be endangered, hurt, or slain,
Of all your cares take care yourself to save,
By you this camp doth live, doth win, doth reign,
Who else can rule or guide these squadrons brave?
And for the traitors shall be noted plain,
Command your guard to change the arms they have,
So shall their guile be known, in their own net
So shall they fall, caught in the snare they set."
"As it hath ever," thus the Duke begun,
"Thy counsel shows thy wisdom and thy love,
And what you left in doubt shall thus be done,
We will their force in pitched battle prove;
Closed in this wall and trench, the fight to shun,
Doth ill this camp beseem, and worse behove,
But we their strength and manhood will assay,
And try, in open field and open day.
"The fame of our great conquests to sustain,
Or bide our looks and threats, they are not able,
And when this army is subdued and slain
Then is our empire settled, firm and stable,
The tower shall yield, or but resist in vain,
For fear her anchor is, despair her cable."
Thus he concludes, and rolling down the west
Fast set the stars, and called them all to rest.
The Pagan host arrives, and cruel fight
Makes with the Christians and their faithful power;
The Soldan longs in field to prove his might,
With the old king quits the besieged tower;
Yet both are slain, and in eternal night
A famous hand gives each his fatal hour;
Rinald appeased Armida; first the field
The Christians win, then praise to God they yield.
The sun called up the world from idle sleep,
And of the day ten hours were gone and past
When the bold troop that had the tower to keep
Espied a sudden mist, that overcast
The earth with mirksome clouds and darkness deep,
And saw it was the Egyptian camp at last
Which raised the dust, for hills and valleys broad
That host did overspread and overload.
Therewith a merry shout and joyful cry
The Pagans reared from their besieged hold;
The cranes from Thrace with such a rumor fly,
His hoary frost and snow when Hyems old
Pours down, and fast to warmer regions hie,
From the sharp winds, fierce storms and tempests cold;
And quick, and ready this new hope and aid,
Their hands to shoot, their tongues to threaten made.
From whence their ire, their wrath and hardy threat
Proceeds, the French well knew, and plain espied,
For from the walls and ports the army great
They saw; her strength, her number, pomp, and pride,
Swelled their breasts with valor's noble heat;
Battle and fight they wished, "Arm, arm!" they cried;
The youth to give the sign of fight all prayed
Their Duke, and were displeased because delayed
Till morning next, for he refused to fight;
Their haste and heat he bridled, but not brake,
Nor yet with sudden fray or skirmish light
Of these new foes would he vain trial make.
"After so many wars," he says, "good right
It is, that one day's rest at least you take,"
For thus in his vain foes he cherish would
The hope which in their strength they have and hold.
To see Aurora's gentle beam appear,
The soldiers armed, prest and ready lay,
The skies were never half so fair and clear
As in the breaking of that blessed day,
The merry morning smiled, and seemed to wear
Upon her silver crown sun's golden ray,
And without cloud heaven his redoubled light
Bent down to see this field, this fray, this fight.
When first he saw the daybreak show and shine,
Godfrey his host in good array brought out,
And to besiege the tyrant Aladine
Raymond he left, and all the faithful rout
That from the towns was come of Palestine
To serve and succor their deliverer stout,
And with them left a hardy troop beside
Of Gascoigns strong, in arms well proved, oft tried.
Such was Godfredo's countenance, such his cheer,
That from his eye sure conquest flames and streams,
Heaven's gracious favors in his looks appear,
And great and goodly more than erst he seems;
His face and forehead full of noblesse were,
And on his cheek smiled youth's purple beams,
And in his gait, his grace, his acts, his eyes,
Somewhat, far more than mortal, lives and lies.
He had not marched far ere he espied
Of his proud foes the mighty host draw nigh;
A hill at first he took and fortified
At his left hand which stood his army by,
Broad in the front behind more strait uptied
His army ready stood the fight to try,
And to the middle ward well armed he brings
His footmen strong, his horsemen served for wings.
To the left wing, spread underneath the bent
Of the steep hill that saved their flank and side,
The Roberts twain, two leaders good, he sent;
His brother had the middle ward to guide;
To the right wing himself in person went