Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #13
THE ARGUMENT. Clorinda hears her eunuch old report Her birth, her offspring, and her native land; Disguised she fireth Godfrey's rolling fort. The burned piece falls smoking on the sand: With Tancred long unknown in desperate sort She fights, and falls through pierced with his brand: Christened she dies; with sighs, with plaints and tears. He wails her death; Argant revengement swears. I Now in dark night was all the world embarred; But yet the tired armies took no rest, The careful French kept heedful watch and ward, While their high tower the workmen newly dressed, The Pagan crew to reinforce prepared The weakened bulwarks, late to earth down kest, Their rampiers broke and bruised walls to mend, Lastly their hurts the wounded knights attend. II Their wounds were dressed, part of the work was brought To wished end, part left to other days, A dull desire to rest deep midnight wrought, His heavy rod sleep on their eyelids lays: Yet rested not Clorinda's working thought, Which thirsted still for fame and warlike praise, Argantes eke accompanied the maid From place to place, which to herself thus said: III "This day Argantes strong, and Solyman, Strange things have done, and purchased great renown, Among our foes out of the walls they ran, Their rams they broke and rent their engines down: I used my bow, of naught else boast I can, My self stood safe meanwhile within this town, And happy was my shot, and prosperous too, But that was all a woman's hand could do. IV "On birds and beasts in forests wild that feed It were more fit mine arrows to bestow, Than for a feeble maid in warlike deed With strong and hardy knights herself to show. Why take I not again my virgin's weed, And spend my days in secret cell unknow?" Thus thought, thus mused, thus devised the maid, And turning to the knight, at last thus said: V "My thoughts are full, my lord, of strange desire Some high attempt of war to undertake, Whether high God my mind therewith inspire Or of his will his God mankind doth make, Among our foes behold the light and fire, I will among them wend, and burn or break The tower, God grant therein I have my will And that performed, betide me good or ill. VI "But if it fortune such my chance should be, That to this town I never turn again, Mine eunuch, whom I dearly love, with thee I leave my faithful maids, and all my train, To Egypt then conducted safely see Those woful damsels and that aged swain, Help them, my lord, in that distressed case, Their feeble sex, his age, deserveth grace." VII Argantes wondering stood, and felt the effect Of true renown pierce through his glorious mind, "And wilt thou go," quoth he, "and me neglect, Disgraced, despised, leave in this fort behind? Shall I while these strong walls my life protect Behold thy flames and fires tossed in the wind, No, no, thy fellow have I been in arms, And will be still, in praise, in death, in harms. VIII "This heart of mine death's bitter stroke despiseth, For praise this life, for glory take this breath." "My soul and more," quoth she, "thy friendship prizeth, For this thy proffered aid required uneath, I but a woman am, no loss ariseth To this besieged city by my death, But if, as God forbid, this night thou fall, Ah! who shall then, who can, defend this wall!" IX "Too late these 'scuses vain," the knight replied, "You bring; my will is firm, my mind is set, ! follow you whereso you list me guide, Or go before if you my purpose let." This said, they hasted to the palace wide About their prince where all his lords were met, Clorinda spoke for both, and said, "Sir king, Attend my words, hear, and allow the thing: X "Argantes here, this bold and hardy knight, Will undertake to burn the wondrous tower, And I with him, only we stay till night Bury in sleep our foes at deadest hour." The king with that cast up his hands on height, The tears for joy upon his cheeks down pour. "Praised," quoth he, "be Macon whom we serve, This land I see he keeps and will preserve: XI "Nor shall so soon this shaken kingdom fall, While such unconquered hearts my state defend: But for this act what praise or guerdon shall I give your virtues, which so far extend? Let fame your praises sound through nations all, And fill the world therewith to either end, Take half my wealth and kingdom for your meed? You are rewarded half even with the deed." XII Thus spake the prince, and gently 'gan distrain, Now him, now her, between his friendly arms: The Soldan by, no longer could refrain That noble envy which his bosom warms, "Nor I," quoth he, "bear this broad sword in vain, Nor yet am unexpert in night alarms, Take me with you: ah." Quoth Clorinda, "no! Whom leave we here of prowess if you go?" XIII This spoken, ready with a proud refuse Argantes was his proffered aid to scorn, Whom Aladine prevents, and with excuse To Solyman thus gan his speeches torn: "Right noble prince, as aye hath been your use Your self so still you bear and long have borne, Bold in all acts, no danger can affright Your heart, nor tired is your strength with fight. XIV "If you went forth great things perform you would, In my conceit yet far unfit it seems That you, who most excel in courage bold, At once should leave this town in these extremes, Nor would I that these twain should leave this hold, My heart their noble lives far worthier deems, If this attempt of less importance were, Or weaker posts so great a weight could bear. XV "But for well-guarded is the mighty tower With hardy troops and squadrons round about, And cannot harmed be with little power, Nor fit the time to send whole armies out, This pair who passed have many a dreadful stowre, And proffer now to prove this venture stout, Alone to this attempt let them go forth, Alone than thousands of more price and worth. XVI "Thou, as it best beseems a mighty king, With ready bands besides the gate attend, That when this couple have performed the thing, And shall again their footsteps homeward bend, From their strong foes upon them following Thou may'st them keep, preserve, save and defend:" Thus said the king, "The Soldan must consent," Silent remained the Turk, and discontent. XVII Then Ismen said, "You twain that undertake This hard attempt, awhile I pray you stay, Till I a wildfire of fine temper make, That this great engine burn to ashes may; Haply the guard that now doth watch and wake, Will then lie tumbled sleeping on the lay;" Thus they conclude, and in their chambers sit, To wait the time for this adventure fit. XVIII Clorinda there her silver arms off rent, Her helm, her shield, her hauberk shining bright, An armor black as jet or coal she hent, Wherein withouten plume herself she dight; For thus disguised amid her foes she meant To pass unseen, by help of friendly night, To whom her eunuch, old Arsetes, came, That from her cradle nursed and kept the dame. XIX This aged sire had followed far and near, Through lands and seas, the strong and hardy maid, He saw her leave her arms and wonted gear, Her danger nigh that sudden change foresaid: By his white locks from black that changed were In following her, the woful man her prayed, By all his service and his taken pain, To leave that fond attempt, but prayed in vain. XX "At last," quoth he, "since hardened to thine ill, Thy cruel heart is to thy loss prepared, That my weak age, nor tears that down distil, Not humble suit, nor plaint, thou list regard; Attend awhile, strange things unfold I will, Hear both thy birth and high estate declared; Follow my counsel, or thy will that done," She sat to hear, the eunuch thus begun: XXI "Senapus ruled, and yet perchance doth reign In mighty Ethiop, and her deserts waste, The lore of Christ both he and all his train Of people black, hath kept and long embraced, To him a Pagan was I sold for gain, And with his queen, as her chief eunuch, placed; Black was this queen as jet, yet on her eyes Sweet loveliness, in black attired, lies. XXII "The fire of love and frost of jealousy, Her husband's troubled soul alike torment, The tide of fond suspicion flowed high, The foe to love and plague to sweet content, He mewed her up from sight of mortal eye, Nor day he would his beams on her had bent: She, wise and lowly, by her husband's pleasure, Her joy, her peace, her will, her wish did measure. XXIII "Her prison was a chamber, painted round With goodly portraits and with stories old, As white as snow there stood a virgin bound, Besides a dragon fierce, a champion bold The monster did with poignant spear through wound, The gored beast lay dead upon the mould; The gentle queen before this image laid. She plained, she mourned, she wept, she sighed, she prayed: XXIV "At last with child she proved, and forth she brought, And thou art she, a daughter fair and bright, In her thy color white new terror wrought, She wondered on thy face with strange affright, But yet she purposed in her fearful thought To hide thee from the king, thy father's sight, Lest thy bright hue should his suspect approve, For seld a crow begets a silver dove. XXV "And to her spouse to show she was disposed A negro's babe late born, in room of thee, And for the tower wherein she lay enclosed, Was with her damsels only wond and me, To me, on whose true faith she most reposed, She gave thee, ere thou couldest christened be, Nor could I since find means thee to baptize, In Pagan lands thou knowest it's not the guise. XXVI "To me she gave thee, and she wept withal, To foster thee in some far distant place. Who can her griefs and plaints to reckoning call, How oft she swooned at the last embrace: Her streaming tears amid her kisses fall, Her sighs, her dire complaints did interlace? And looking up at last, ` O God,' quoth she, `Who dost my heart and inward mourning see, XXVII "`If mind and body spotless to this day, If I have kept my bed still undefiled, Not for myself a sinful wretch I pray, That in thy presence am an abject vilde, Preserve this babe, whose mother must denay To nourish it, preserve this harmless child, Oh let it live, and chaste like me it make, But for good fortune elsewhere sample take. XXVIII "'Thou heavenly soldier which delivered hast That sacred virgin from the serpent old, If on thine altars I have offerings placed, And sacrificed myrrh, frankincense and gold, On this poor child thy heavenly looks down cast, With gracious eye this silly babe behold;' This said, her strength and living sprite was fled, She sighed, she groaned, she swooned in her bed. XXIX "Weeping I took thee, in a little chest, Covered with herbs and leaves, I brought thee out So secretly, that none of all the rest Of such an act suspicion had or doubt, To wilderness my steps I first addressed, Where horrid shades enclosed me round about, A tigress there I met, in whose fierce eyes Fury and wrath, rage, death and terror lies: XXX "Up to a tree I leaped, and on the grass, Such was my sudden fear, I left thee lying, To thee the beast with furious course did pass, With curious looks upon thy visage prying, All suddenly both meek and mild she was, With friendly cheer thy tender body eying: At last she licked thee, and with gesture mild About thee played, and thou upon her smiled. XXXI "Her fearful muzzle full of dreadful threat, In thy weak hand thou took'st withouten dread; The gentle beast with milk-outstretched teat, As nurses' custom, proffered thee to feed. As one that wondereth on some marvel great, I stood this while amazed at the deed. When thee she saw well filled and satisfied, Unto the woods again the tigress hied. XXXII "She gone, down from the tree I came in haste, And took thee up, and on my journey wend, Within a little thorp I stayed at last, And to a nurse the charge of thee commend, And sporting with thee there long time I passed, Till term of sixteen months were brought to end, And thou begun, as little children do, With half clipped words to prattle, and to go. XXXIII "But having passed the August of mine age, When more than half my tap of life was run, Rich by rewards given by your mother sage, For merits past, and service yet undone, I longed to leave this wandering pilgrimage, And in my native soil again to won, To get some seely home I had desire, Loth still to warm me at another's fire. XXXIV "To Egypt-ward, where I was born, I went, And bore thee with me, by a rolling flood, Till I with savage thieves well-nigh was hent; Before the brook, the thieves behind me stood: Thee to forsake I never could consent, And gladly would I 'scape those outlaws wood, Into the flood I leaped far from the brim, My left hand bore thee, with the right I swim. XXXV "Swift was the current, in the middle stream A whirlpool gaped with devouring jaws, The gulf, on such mishap ere I could dream, Into his deep abyss my carcass draws, There I forsook thee, the wild waters seem To pity thee, a gentle wind there blows Whose friendly puffs safe to the shore thee drive, Where wet and weary I at last arrive: XXXVI "I took thee up, and in my dream that night, When buried was the world in sleep and shade, I saw a champion clad in armor bright That o'er my head shaked a flaming blade, He said, 'I charge thee execute aright, That charge this infant's mother on thee laid, Baptize the child, high Heaven esteems her dear, And I her keeper will attend her near: XXXVII "`I will her keep, defend, save and protect, I made the waters mild, the tigress tame, O wretch that heavenly warnings dost reject!' The warrior vanished having said the same. I rose and journeyed on my way direct When blushing morn from Tithon's bed forth came, But for my faith is true and sure I ween, And dreams are false, you still unchristened been. XXXVIII "A Pagan therefore thee I fostered have, Nor of thy birth the truth did ever tell, Since you increased are in courage brave, Your sex and nature's-self you both excel, Full many a realm have you made bond and slave, Your fortunes last yourself remember well, And how in peace and war, in joy and teen, I have your servant, and your tutor been. XXXIX "Last morn, from skies ere stars exiled were, In deep and deathlike sleep my senses drowned, The self-same vision did again appear, With stormy wrathful looks, and thundering sound, `Villain,' quoth he, `within short while thy dear Must change her life, and leave this sinful ground, Thine be the loss, the torment, and the care,' This said, he fled through skies, through clouds and air. XL "Hear then my joy, my hope, my darling, hear, High Heaven some dire misfortune threatened hath, Displeased pardie, because I did thee lere A lore repugnant to thy parents' faith; Ah, for my sake, this bold attempt forbear; Put off these sable arms, appease thy wrath." This said, he wept, she pensive stood and sad, Because like dream herself but lately had. XLI With cheerful smile she answered him at last, "I will this faith observe, it seems me true, Which from my cradle age thou taught me hast; I will not change it for religion new, Nor with vain shows of fear and dread aghast This enterprise forbear I to pursue, No, not if death in his most dreadful face Wherewith he scareth mankind, kept the place." XLII Approachen gan the time, while thus she spake, Wherein they ought that dreadful hazard try; She to Argantes went, who should partake Of her renown and praise, or with her die. Ismen with words more hasty still did make Their virtue great, which by itself did fly, Two balls he gave them made of hollow brass, Wherein enclosed fire, pitch, and brimstone was. XLIII And forth they went, and over dale and hill They hasted forward with a speedy pace, Unseen, unmarked, undescried, until Beside the engine close themselves they place, New courage there their swelling hearts did fill, Rage in their breasts, fury shown in their face, They yearned to blow the fire, and draw the sword. The watch descried them both, and gave the word. XLIV Silent they passed on, the watch begun To rear a huge alarm with hideous cries, Therewith the hardy couple forward run To execute their valiant enterprise: So from a cannon or a roaring gun At once the noise, the flame, and bullet flies, They run, they give the charge, begin the fray, And all at once their foes break, spoil and slay. XLV They passed first through thousand thousand blows, And then performed their designment bold, A fiery ball each on the engine throws, The stuff was dry, the fire took quickly hold, Furious upon the timber-work it grows, How it increased cannot well be told, How it crept up the piece, and how to skies The burning sparks and towering smoke upflies. XLVI A mass of solid fire burning bright Rolled up in smouldering fumes, there bursteth out, And there the blustering winds add strength and might And gather close the sparsed flames about: The Frenchmen trembled at the dreadful light, To arms in haste and fear ran all the rout, Down fell the piece dreaded so much in war, Thus what long days do make one hour doth mar. XLVII Two Christian bands this while came to the place With speedy haste, where they beheld the fire, Argantes to them cried with scornful grace, "Your blood shall quench these flames, and quench mine ire:" This said, the maid and he with sober pace Drew back, and to the banks themselves retire, Faster than brooks which falling showers increase Their foes augment, and faster on them press. XLVIII The gilden port was opened, and forth stepped With all his soldiers bold, the Turkish king, Ready to aid the two his force he kept, When fortune should them home with conquest bring, Over the bars the hardy couple leapt And after them a band of Christians fling, Whom Solyman drove back with courage stout, And shut the gate, but shut Clorinda out. XLIX Alone was she shut forth, for in that hour Wherein they closed the port, the virgin went, And full of heat and wrath, her strength and power Gainst Arimon, that struck her erst, she bent, She slew the knight, nor Argant in that stowre Wist of her parting, or her fierce intent, The fight, the press, the night, and darksome skies Care from his heart had ta'en, sight from his eyes. L But when appeased was her angry mood, Her fury calmed, and settled was her head, She saw the gates were shut, and how she stood Amid her foes, she held herself for dead; While none her marked at last she thought it good, To save her life, some other path to tread, She feigned her one of them, and close her drew Amid the press that none her saw or knew: LI Then as a wolf guilty of some misdeed Flies to some grove to hide himself from view, So favored with the night, with secret speed Dissevered from the press the damsel flew: Tancred alone of her escape took heed, He on that quarter was arrived new, When Arimon she killed he thither came, He saw it, marked it, and pursued the dame. LII He deemed she was some man of mickle might, And on her person would he worship win, Over the hills the nymph her journey dight Toward another port, there to get in: With hideous noise fast after spurred the knight, She heard and stayed, and thus her words begin, "What haste hast thou? ride softly, take thy breath, What bringest thou?" He answered, "War and death." LIII "And war and death," quoth she, "here mayest thou get If thou for battle come," with that she stayed: Tancred to ground his foot in haste down set, And left his steed, on foot he saw the maid, Their courage hot, their ire and wrath they whet, And either champion drew a trenchant blade, Together ran they, and together stroke, Like two fierce bulls whom rage and love provoke. LIV Worthy of royal lists and brightest day, Worthy a golden trump and laurel crown, The actions were and wonders of that fray Which sable knight did in dark bosom drown: Yet night, consent that I their acts display And make their deeds to future ages known, And in records of long enduring story Enrol their praise, their fame, their worth and glory. LV They neither shrunk, nor vantage sought of ground, They traverse not, nor skipped from part to part, Their blows were neither false nor feigned found, The night, their rage would let them use no art, Their swords together clash with dreadful sound, Their feet stand fast, and neither stir nor start, They move their hands, steadfast their feet remain, Nor blow nor loin they struck, or thrust in vain. LVI Shame bred desire a sharp revenge to take, And vengeance taken gave new cause of shame: So that with haste and little heed they strake, Fuel enough they had to feed the flame; At last so close their battle fierce they make, They could not wield their swords, so nigh they came, They used the hilts, and each on other rushed, And helm to helm, and shield to shield they crushed. LVII Thrice his strong arms he folds about her waist, And thrice was forced to let the virgin go, For she disdained to be so embraced, . No lover would have strained his mistress so: They took their swords again, and each enchased Deep wounds in the soft flesh of his strong foe, Till weak and weary, faint, alive uneath, They both retired at once, at once took breath. LVIII Each other long beheld, and leaning stood Upon their swords, whose points in earth were pight, When day-break, rising from the eastern flood, Put forth the thousand eyes of blindfold night; Tancred beheld his foe's out-streaming blood, And gaping wounds, and waxed proud with the sight, Oh vanity of man's unstable mind, Puffed up with every blast of friendly wind! LIX Why joy'st thou, wretch? Oh, what shall be thy gain? What trophy for this conquest is't thou rears? Thine eyes shall shed, in case thou be not slain, For every drop of blood a sea of tears: The bleeding warriors leaning thus remain, Each one to speak one word long time forbears, Tancred the silence broke at last, and said, For he would know with whom this fight he made: LX "Evil is our chance and hard our fortune is Who here in silence, and in shade debate, Where light of sun and witness all we miss That should our prowess and our praise dilate: If words in arms find place, yet grant me this, Tell me thy name, thy country, and estate; That I may know, this dangerous combat done, Whom I have conquered, or who hath me won." LXI "What I nill tell, you ask," quoth she, "in vain, Nor moved by prayer, nor constrained by power, But thus much know, I am one of those twain Which late with kindled fire destroyed the tower." Tancred at her proud words swelled with disdain, "That hast thou said," quoth he, "in evil hour; Thy vaunting speeches, and thy silence both, Uncivil wretch, hath made my heart more wroth." LXII Ire in their chafed breasts renewed the fray, Fierce was the fight, though feeble were their might, Their strength was gone, their cunning was away, And fury in their stead maintained the fight, Their swords both points and edges sharp embay In purple blood, whereso they hit or light, And if weak life yet in their bosoms lie, They lived because they both disdained to die. LXIII As Aegean seas when storms be calmed again That rolled their tumbling waves with troublous blasts, Do yet of tempests past some shows retain, And here and there their swelling billows casts; So, though their strength were gone and might were vain, Of their first fierceness still the fury lasts, Wherewith sustained, they to their tackling stood, And heaped wound on wound, and blood on blood. LXIV But now, alas, the fatal hour arrives That her sweet life must leave that tender hold, His sword into her bosom deep he drives, And bathed in lukewarm blood his iron cold, Between her breasts the cruel weapon rives Her curious square, embossed with swelling gold, Her knees grow weak, the pains of death she feels, And like a falling cedar bends and reels. LXV The prince his hand upon her shield doth stretch, And low on earth the wounded damsel layeth, And while she fell, with weak and woful speech, Her prayers last and last complaints she sayeth, A spirit new did her those prayers teach, Spirit of hope, of charity, and faith; And though her life to Christ rebellious were, Yet died she His child and handmaid dear. LXVI "Friend, thou hast won, I pardon thee, nor save This body, that all torments can endure, But save my soul, baptism I dying crave, Come wash away my sins with waters pure:" His heart relenting nigh in sunder rave, With woful speech of that sweet creature, So that his rage, his wrath, and anger died, And on his cheeks salt tears for ruth down slide. LXVII With murmur loud down from the mountain's side A little runnel tumbled near the place, Thither he ran and filled his helmet wide, And quick returned to do that work of grace, With trembling hands her beaver he untied, Which done he saw, and seeing, knew her face, And lost therewith his speech and moving quite, Oh woful knowledge, ah unhappy sight! LXVIII He died not, but all his strength unites, And to his virtues gave his heart in guard, Bridling his grief, with water he requites The life that he bereft with iron hard, And while the sacred words the knight recites, The nymph to heaven with joy herself prepared; And as her life decays her joys increase, She smiled and said, "Farewell, I die in peace." LXIX As violets blue mongst lilies pure men throw, So paleness midst her native white begun; Her looks to heaven she cast, their eyes I trow Downward for pity bent both heaven and sun, Her naked hand she gave the knight, in show Of love and peace, her speech, alas, was done, And thus the virgin fell on endless sleep, -- Love, Beauty, Virtue, for your darling weep! LXX But when he saw her gentle soul was went, His manly courage to relent began, Grief, sorrow, anguish. sadness, discontent, Free empire got and lordship on the man, His life within his heart they close up pent, Death through his senses and his visage ran: Like his dead lady, dead seemed Tancred good, In paleness, stillness, wounds and streams of blood. LXXI And his weak sprite, to be unbodied From fleshly prison free that ceaseless strived, Had followed her fair soul but lately fled Had not a Christian squadron there arrived, To seek fresh water thither haply led, And found the princess dead, and him deprived Of signs of life; yet did the knight remain On live, nigh dead, for her himself had slain. LXXII Their guide far off the prince knew by his shield, And thither hasted full of grief and fear, Her dead, him seeming so, he there beheld, And for that strange mishap shed many a tear; He would not leave the corpses fair in field For food to wolves, though she a Pagan were, But in their arms the soldiers both uphent, And both lamenting brought to Tancred's tent. LXXIII With those dear burdens to their camp they pass, Yet would not that dead seeming knight awake, At last he deeply groaned, which token was His feeble soul had not her flight yet take: The other lay a still and heavy mass, Her spirit had that earthen cage forsake; Thus were they brought, and thus they placed were In sundry rooms, yet both adjoining near. LXXIV All skill and art his careful servants used To life again their dying lord to bring, At last his eyes unclosed, with tears suffused, He felt their hands and heard their whispering, But how he thither came long time he mused, His mind astonished was with everything; He gazed about, his squires in fine he knew, Then weak and woful thus his plaints out threw: LXXV "What, live I yet? and do I breathe and see Of this accursed day the hateful light? This spiteful ray which still upbraideth me With that accursed deed I did this night, Ah, coward hand, afraid why should'st thou be; Thou instrument of death, shame and despite, Why should'st thou fear, with sharp and trenchant knife, To cut the thread of this blood-guilty life? LXXVI "Pierce through this bosom, and my cruel heart In pieces cleave, break every string and vein; But thou to slaughters vile which used art, Think'st it were pity so to ease my pain: Of luckless love therefore in torments' smart A sad example must I still remain, A woful monster of unhappy love, Who still must live, lest death his comfort prove: LXXVII "Still must I live in anguish, grief, and care; Furies my guilty conscience that torment, The ugly shades, dark night, and troubled air In grisly forms her slaughter still present, Madness and death about my bed repair, Hell gapeth wide to swallow up this tent; Swift from myself I run, myself I fear, Yet still my hell within myself I bear. LXXVIII "But where, alas, where be those relics sweet, Wherein dwelt late all love, all joy, all good? My fury left them cast in open street, Some beast hath torn her flesh and licked her blood, Ah noble prey! for savage beast unmeet, Ah sweet! too sweet, and far too precious food, Ah, seely nymph! whom night and darksome shade To beasts, and me, far worse than beasts, betrayed. LXXIX "But where you be, if still you be, I wend To gather up those relics dear at least, But if some beast hath from the hills descend, And on her tender bowels made his feast, Let that fell monster me in pieces rend, And deep entomb me in his hollow chest: For where she buried is, there shall I have A stately tomb, a rich and costly grave." LXXX Thus mourned the knight, his squires him told at last, They had her there for whom those tears he shed; A beam of comfort his dim eyes outcast, Like lightning through thick clouds of darkness spread, The heavy burden of his limbs in haste, With mickle pain, he drew forth of his bed, And scant of strength to stand, to move or go, Thither he staggered, reeling to and fro. LXXXI When he came there, and in her breast espied His handiwork, that deep and cruel wound, And her sweet face with leaden paleness dyed, Where beauty late spread forth her beams around, He trembled so, that nere his squires beside To hold him up, he had sunk down to ground, And said, "O face in death still sweet and fair! Thou canst not sweeten yet my grief and care: LXXXII "O fair right hand, the pledge of faith and love? Given me but late, too late, in sign of peace, How haps it now thou canst not stir nor move? And you, dear limbs, now laid in rest and ease, Through which my cruel blade this flood-gate rove, Your pains have end, my torments never cease, O hands, O cruel eyes, accursed alike! You gave the wound, you gave them light to strike. LXXXIII "But thither now run forth my guilty blood, Whither my plaints, my sorrows cannot wend." He said no more, but, as his passion wood Inforced him, he gan to tear and rend His hair, his face, his wounds, a purple flood Did from each side in rolling streams descend, He had been slain, but that his pain and woe Bereft his senses, and preserved him so. LXXXIV Cast on his bed his squires recalled his sprite To execute again her hateful charge, But tattling fame the sorrows of the knight And hard mischance had told this while at large: Godfrey and all his lords of worth and might, Ran thither, and the duty would discharge Of friendship true, and with sweet words the rage Of bitter grief and woe they would assuage. LXXXV But as a mortal wound the more doth smart The more it searched is, handled or sought; So their sweet words to his afflicted heart More grief, more anguish, pain and torment brought But reverend Peter that would set apart Care of his sheep, as a good shepherd ought, His vanity with grave advice reproved And told what mourning Christian knights behoved: LXXXVI "O Tancred, Tancred, how far different From thy beginnings good these follies be? What makes thee deaf? what hath thy eyesight blent? What mist, what cloud thus overshadeth thee? This is a warning good from heaven down sent, Yet His advice thou canst not hear nor see Who calleth and conducts thee to the way From which thou willing dost and witting stray: LXXXVII "To worthy actions and achievements fit For Christian knights He would thee home recall; But thou hast left that course and changed it, To make thyself a heathen damsel's thrall; But see, thy grief and sorrow's painful fit Is made the rod to scourge thy sins withal, Of thine own good thyself the means He makes, But thou His mercy, goodness, grace forsakes. LXXXVIII "Thou dost refuse of heaven the proffered And gainst it still rebel with sinful ire, Oh wretch! Oh whither doth thy rage thee chase? Refrain thy grief, bridle thy fond desire, At hell's wide gate vain sorrow doth thee place, Sorrow, misfortune's son, despair's foul fire: Oh see thine evil, thy plaint and woe refrain, The guides to death, to hell, and endless pain." LXXXIX This said, his will to die the patient Abandoned, that second death he feared, These words of comfort to his heart down went, And that dark night of sorrow somewhat cleared; Yet now and then his grief deep sighs forth sent, His voice shrill plaints and sad laments oft reared, Now to himself, now to his murdered love, He spoke, who heard perchance from heaven above. XC Till Phoebus' rising from his evening fall To her, for her, he mourns, he calls, he cries; The nightingale so when her children small Some churl takes before their parents' eyes, Alone, dismayed, quite bare of comforts all, Tires with complaints the seas, the shores, the skies, Till in sweet sleep against the morning bright She fall at last; so mourned, so slept the knight. XCI And clad in starry veil, amid his dream, For whose sweet sake he mourned, appeared the maid, Fairer than erst, yet with that heavenly beam. Not out of knowledge was her lovely shade, With looks of ruth her eyes celestial seem To pity his sad plight, and thus she said, "Behold how fair, how glad thy love appears, And for my sake, my dear, forbear these tears. XCII "Thine be the thanks, my soul thou madest flit At unawares out of her earthly nest, Thine be the thanks, thou hast advanced it In Abraham's dear bosom long to rest, There still I love thee, there for Tancred fit A seat prepared is among the blest; There in eternal joy, eternal light, Thou shalt thy love enjoy, and she her knight; XCIII "Unless thyself, thyself heaven's joys envy, And thy vain sorrow thee of bliss deprive, Live, know I love thee, that I nill deny, As angels, men: as saints may wights on live:" This said, of zeal and love forth of her eye An hundred glorious beams bright shining drive, Amid which rays herself she closed from sigh, And with new joy, new comfort left her knight. XCIV Thus comforted he waked, and men discreet In surgery to cure his wounds were sought, Meanwhile of his dear love the relics sweet, As best he could, to grave with pomp he brought: Her tomb was not of varied Spartan greet, Nor yet by cunning hand of Scopas wrought, But built of polished stone, and thereon laid The lively shape and portrait of the maid. XCV With sacred burning lamps in order long And mournful pomp the corpse was brought to ground Her arms upon a leafless pine were hung, The hearse, with cypress; arms, with laurel crowned: Next day the prince, whose love and courage strong Drew forth his limbs, weak, feeble, and unsound, To visit went, with care and reverence meet, The buried ashes of his mistress sweet: XCVI Before her new-made tomb at last arrived, The woful prison of his living sprite, Pale, cold, sad, comfortless, of sense deprived, Upon the marble gray he fixed his sight, Two streams of tears were from his eyes derived: Thus with a sad "Alas!" began the knight, "0 marble dear on my dear mistress placed! My flames within, without my tears thou hast. XCVII "Not of dead bones art thou the mournful grave, But of quick love the fortress and the hold, Still in my heart thy wonted brands I have More bitter far, alas! but not more cold; Receive these sighs, these kisses sweet receive, In liquid drops of melting tears enrolled, And give them to that body pure and chaste, Which in thy bosom cold entombed thou hast. XCVIII "For if her happy soul her eye doth bend On that sweet body which it lately dressed, My love, thy pity cannot her offend, Anger and wrath is not in angels blessed, She pardon will the trespass of her friend, That hope relieves me with these griefs oppressed, This hand she knows hath only sinned, not I, Who living loved her, and for love now die: XCIX "And loving will I die, oh happy day Whene'er it chanceth! but oh far more blessed If as about thy polished sides I stray, My bones within thy hollow grave might rest, Together should in heaven our spirits stay, Together should our bodies lie in chest; So happy death should join what life doth sever, 0 Death, 0 Life! sweet both, both blessed ever." C Meanwhile the news in that besieged town Of this mishap was whispered here and there, Forthwith it spread, and for too true was known, Her woful loss was talked everywhere, Mingled with cries and plaints to heaven upthrown, As if the city's self new taken were With conquering foes, or as if flame and fire, Nor house, nor church, nor street had left entire. CI But all men's eyes were on Arsetes bent, His sighs were deep, his looks full of despair, Out of his woful eyes no tear there went, His heart was hardened with his too much care, His silver locks with dust he foul besprent, He knocked his breast, his face he rent and tare, And while the press flocked to the eunuch old, Thus to the people spake Argantes bold: CII "I would, when first I knew the hardy maid Excluded was among her Christian foes, Have followed her to give her timely aid, Or by her side this breath and life to lose, What did I not, or what left I unsaid To make the king the gates again unclose? But he denied, his power did aye restrain My will, my suit was waste, my speech was vain: CIII "Ah, had I gone, I would from danger free Have brought to Sion that sweet nymph again, Or in the bloody fight, where killed was she, In her defence there nobly have been slain: But what could I do more? the counsels be Of God and man gainst my designments plain, Dead is Clorinda fair, laid in cold grave, Let me revenge her whom I could not save. CIV "Jerusalem, hear what Argantes saith, Hear Heaven, and if he break his oath and word, Upon this head cast thunder in thy wrath: I will destroy and kill that Christian lord Who this fair dame by night thus murdered hath, Nor from my side I will ungird this sword Till Tancred's heart it cleave, and shed his blood, And leave his corpse to wolves and crows for food." CV This said, the people with a joyful shout Applaud his speeches and his words approve, And calmed their grief in hope the boaster stout Would kill the prince, who late had slain his love. O promise vain! it otherwise fell out: Men purpose, but high gods dispose above, For underneath his sword this boaster died Whom thus he scorned and threatened in his pride.
Go to the Thirteenth Book.