Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #13
THE ARGUMENT. Ismeno conjures, but his charms are vain; Aladine will kill the Christians in his ire: Sophronia and Olindo would be slain To save the rest, the King grants their desire; Clorinda hears their fact and fortunes plain, Their pardon gets and keeps them from the fire: Argantes, when Aletes' speeches are Despised, defies the Duke to mortal war. I While thus the tyrant bends his thoughts to arms, Ismeno gan tofore his sight appear, Ismen dead bones laid in cold graves that warms And makes them speak, smell, taste, touch, see, and hear; Ismen with terror of his mighty charms, That makes great Dis in deepest Hell to fear, That binds and looses souls condemned to woe, And sends the devils on errands to and fro. II A Christian once, Macon he now adores, Nor could he quite his wonted faith forsake, But in his wicked arts both oft implores Help from the Lord, and aid from Pluto black; He, from deep caves by Acheron's dark shores, Where circles vain and spells he used to make, To advise his king in these extremes is come, Achitophel so counselled Absalom. III "My liege," he says, "the camp fast hither moves, The axe is laid unto this cedar's root, But let us work as valiant men behoves, For boldest hearts good fortune helpeth out; Your princely care your kingly wisdom proves, Well have you labored, well foreseen about; If each perform his charge and duty so, Nought but his grave here conquer shall your foe. IV "From surest castle of my secret cell I come, partaker of your good and ill, What counsel sage, or magic's sacred spell May profit us, all that perform I will: The sprites impure from bliss that whilom fell Shall to your service bow, constrained by skill; But how we must begin this enterprise, I will your Highness thus in brief advise. V "Within the Christian's church from light of skies, An hidden alter stands, far out of sight, On which the image consecrated lies Of Christ's dear mother, called a virgin bright, An hundred lamps aye burn before her eyes, She in a slender veil of tinsel dight, On every side great plenty doth behold Of offerings brought, myrrh, frankincense and gold. VI "This idol would I have removed away From thence, and by your princely hand transport, In Macon's sacred temple safe it lay, Which then I will enchant in wondrous sort, That while the image in that church doth stay, No strength of arms shall win this noble fort, Of shake this puissant wall, such passing might Have spells and charms, if they be said aright." VII Advised thus, the king impatient Flew in his fury to the house of God, The image took, with words unreverent Abused the prelates, who that deed forbode, Swift with his prey, away the tyrant went, Of God's sharp justice naught he feared the rod, But in his chapel vile the image laid, On which the enchanter charms and witchcraft said. VIII When Phoebus next unclosed his wakeful eye, Up rose the sexton of that place profane, And missed the image, where it used to lie, Each where he sough in grief, in fear, in vain; Then to the king his loss he gan descry, Who sore enraged killed him for his pain; And straight conceived in his malicious wit, Some Christian bade this great offence commit. IX But whether this were act of mortal hand, Or else the Prince of Heaven's eternal pleasure, That of his mercy would this wretch withstand, Nor let so vile a chest hold such a treasure, As yet conjecture hath not fully scanned; By godliness let us this action measure, And truth of purest faith will fitly prove That this rare grace came down from Heaven above. X With busy search the tyrant gan to invade Each house, each hold, each temple and each tent To them the fault or faulty one bewrayed Or hid, he promised gifts or punishment, His idle charms the false enchanter said, But in this maze still wandered and miswent, For Heaven decreed to conceal the same, To make the miscreant more to feel his shame. XI But when the angry king discovered not What guilty hand this sacrilege had wrought, His ireful courage boiled in vengeance hot Against the Christians, whom he faulters thought; All ruth, compassion, mercy he forgot, A staff to beat that dog he long had sought, "Let them all die," quoth he, "kill great and small, So shall the offender perish sure withal. XII "To spill the wine with poison mixed with spares? Slay then the righteous with the faulty one, Destroy this field that yieldeth naught but tares, With thorns this vineyard all is over-gone, Among these wretches is not one, that cares For us, our laws, or our religion; Up, up, dear subjects, fire and weapon take, Burn, murder, kill these traitors for my sake." XIII This Herod thus would Bethlem's infants kill, The Christians soon this direful news receave, The trump of death sounds in their hearing shrill, Their weapon, faith; their fortress, was the grave; They had no courage, time, device, or will, To fight, to fly, excuse, or pardon crave, But stood prepared to die, yet help they find, Whence least they hope, such knots can Heaven unbind. XIV Among them dwelt, her parents' joy and pleasure, A maid, whose fruit was ripe, not over-yeared, Her beauty was her not esteemed treasure; The field of love with plough of virtue eared, Her labor goodness; godliness her leisure; Her house the heaven by this full moon aye cleared, For there, from lovers' eyes withdrawn, alone With virgin beams this spotless Cynthia shone. XV But what availed her resolution chaste, Whose soberest looks were whetstones to desire? Nor love consents that beauty's field lie waste, Her visage set Olindo's heart on fire, O subtle love, a thousand wiles thou hast, By humble suit, by service, or by hire, To win a maiden's hold, a thing soon done, For nature framed all women to be won. XVI Sophronia she, Olindo hight the youth, Both or one town, both in one faith were taught, She fair, he full of bashfulness and truth, Loved much, hoped little, and desired nought, He durst not speak by suit to purchase ruth, She saw not, marked not, wist not what he sought, Thus loved, thus served he long, but not regarded, Unseen, unmarked, unpitied, unrewarded. XVII To her came message of the murderment, Wherein her guiltless friends should hopeless starve, She that was noble, wise, as fair and gent, Cast how she might their harmless lives preserve, Zeal was the spring whence flowed her hardiment, From maiden shame yet was she loth to swerve: Yet had her courage ta'en so sure a hold, That boldness, shamefaced; shame had made her bold. XVIII And forth she went, a shop for merchandise Full of rich stuff, but none for sale exposed, A veil obscured the sunshine of her eyes, The rose within herself her sweetness closed, Each ornament about her seemly lies, By curious chance, or careless art, composed; For what the most neglects, most curious prove, So Beauty's helped by Nature, Heaven, and Love. XIX Admired of all, on went this noble maid, Until the presence of the king she gained, Nor for he swelled with ire was she afraid, But his fierce wrath with fearless grace sustained, "I come," quoth she, "but be thine anger stayed, And causeless rage 'gainst faultless souls restrained -- I come to show thee, and to bring thee both, The wight whose fact hath made thy heart so wroth." XX Her molest boldness, and that lightning ray Which her sweet beauty streamed on his face, Had struck the prince with wonder and dismay, Changed his cheer, and cleared his moody grace, That had her eyes disposed their looks to play, The king had snared been in love's strong lace; But wayward beauty doth not fancy move, A frown forbids, a smile engendereth love. XXI It was amazement, wonder and delight, Although not love, that moved his cruel sense; "Tell on," quoth he, "unfold the chance aright, Thy people's lives I grant for recompense." Then she, "Behold the faulter here in sight, This hand committed that supposed offence, I took the image, mine that fault, that fact, Mine be the glory of that virtuous act." XXII This spotless lamb thus offered up her blood, To save the rest of Christ's selected fold, O noble lie! was ever truth so good? Blest be the lips that such a leasing told: Thoughtful awhile remained the tyrant wood, His native wrath he gan a space withhold, And said, "That thou discover soon I will, What aid? what counsel had'st thou in that ill?" XXIII "My lofty thoughts," she answered him, "envied Another's hand should work my high desire, The thirst of glory can no partner bide, With mine own self I did alone conspire." "On thee alone," the tyrant then replied, "Shall fall the vengeance of my wrath and ire." " `Tis just and right," quoth she, "I yield consent, Mine be the honor, mine the punishment." XXIV The wretch of new enraged at the same, Asked where she hid the image so conveyed: "Not hid," quoth she, "but quite consumed with flame, The idol is of that eternal maid, For so at least I have preserved the same, With hands profane from being eft betrayed. My Lord, the thing thus stolen demand no more, Here see the thief that scorneth death therefor. XXV "And yet no theft was this, yours was the sin, I brought again what you unjustly took." This heard, the tyrant did for rage begin To whet his teeth, and bend his frowning look, No pity, youth; fairness, no grace could win; Joy, comfort, hope, the virgin all forsook; Wrath killed remorse, vengeance stopped mercy's breath Love's thrall to hate, and beauty's slave to death. XXVI Ta'en was the damsel, and without remorse, The king condemned her guiltless to the fire, Her veil and mantle plucked they off by force, And bound her tender arms in twisted wire: Dumb was the silver dove, while from her corse These hungry kites plucked off her rich attire, And for some deal perplexed was her sprite, Her damask late, now changed to purest white. XXVII The news of this mishap spread far and near, The people ran, both young and old, to gaze; Olindo also ran, and gan to fear His lady was some partner in this case; But when he found her bound, stript from her gear, And vile tormentors ready saw in place, He broke the throng, and into presence brast; And thus bespake the king in rage and haste: XXXVIII "Not so, not so this grief shall bear away From me the honor of so noble feat, She durst not, did not, could not so convey The massy substance of that idol great, What sleight had she the wardens to betray? What strength to heave the goddess form her seat? No, no, my Lord, she sails but with my wind." Ah, thus he loved, yet was his love unkind! XXIX He added further: "Where the shining glass, Lets in the light amid your temple's side, By broken by-ways did I inward pass, And in that window made a postern wide, Nor shall therefore this ill-advised lass Usurp the glory should this fact betide, Mine be these bonds, mine be these flames so pure, O glorious death, more glorious sepulture!" XXX Sophronia raised her modest looks from ground, And on her lover bent her eyesight mild, "Tell me, what fury? what conceit unsound Presenteth here to death so sweet a child? Is not in me sufficient courage found, To bear the anger of this tyrant wild? Or hath fond love thy heart so over-gone? Wouldst thou not live, nor let me die alone?" XXXI Thus spake the nymph, yet spake but to the wind, She could not alter his well-settled thought; O miracle! O strife of wondrous kind! Where love and virtue such contention wrought, Where death the victor had for meed assigned; Their own neglect, each other's safety sought; But thus the king was more provoked to ire, Their strife for bellows served to anger's fire. XXXII He thinks, such thoughts self-guiltiness finds out, They scorned his power, and therefore scorned the pain, "Nay, nay," quoth he, "let be your strife and doubt, You both shall win, and fit reward obtain." With that the sergeants hent the young man stout, And bound him likewise in a worthless chain; Then back to back fast to a stake both ties, Two harmless turtles dight for sacrifice. XXXIII About the pile of fagots, sticks and hay, The bellows raised the newly-kindled flame, When thus Olindo, in a doleful lay, Begun too late his bootless plaints to frame: "Be these the bonds? Is this the hoped-for day, Should join me to this long-desired dame? Is this the fire alike should burn our hearts? Ah, hard reward for lovers' kind desarts! XXXIV "Far other flames and bonds kind lovers prove, But thus our fortune casts the hapless die, Death hath exchanged again his shafts with love, And Cupid thus lets borrowed arrows fly. O Hymen, say, what fury doth thee move To lend thy lamps to light a tragedy? Yet this contents me that I die for thee, Thy flames, not mine, my death and torment be. XXXV "Yet happy were my death, mine ending blest, My torments easy, full of sweet delight, It this I could obtain, that breast to breast Thy bosom might receive my yielded sprite; And thine with it in heaven's pure clothing drest, Through clearest skies might take united flight." Thus he complained, whom gently she reproved, And sweetly spake him thus, that so her loved: XXXVI "Far other plaints, dear friend, tears and laments The time, the place, and our estates require; Think on thy sins, which man's old foe presents Before that judge that quits each soul his hire, For his name suffer, for no pain torments Him whose just prayers to his throne aspire: Behold the heavens, thither thine eyesight bend, Thy looks, sighs, tears, for intercessors send." XXXVII The Pagans loud cried out to God and man, The Christians mourned in silent lamentation, The tyrant's self, a thing unused, began To feel his heart relent, with mere compassion, But not disposed to ruth or mercy than He sped him thence home to his habitation: Sophronia stood not grieved nor discontented, By all that saw her, but herself, lamented. XXXVIII The lovers standing in this doleful wise, A warrior bold unwares approached near, In uncouth arms yclad and strange disguise, From countries far, but new arrived there, A savage tigress on her helmet lies, The famous badge Clorinda used to bear; That wonts in every warlike stowre to win, By which bright sign well known was that fair inn. XXXIX She scorned the arts these silly women use, Another thought her nobler humor fed, Her lofty hand would of itself refuse To touch the dainty needle or nice thread, She hated chambers, closets, secret news, And in broad fields preserved her maidenhead: Proud were her looks, yet sweet, though stern and stout, Her dam a dove, thus brought an eagle out. XL While she was young, she used with tender hand The foaming steed with froary bit to steer, To tilt and tourney, wrestle in the sand, To leave with speed Atlanta swift arear, Through forests wild, and unfrequented land To chase the lion, boar, or rugged bear, The satyrs rough, the fauns and fairies wild, She chased oft, oft took, and oft beguiled. XLI This lusty lady came from Persia late, She with the Christians had encountered eft, And in their flesh had opened many a gate, By which their faithful souls their bodies left, Her eye at first presented her the state Of these poor souls, of hope and help bereft, Greedy to know, as is the mind of man, Their cause of death, swift to the fire she ran. XLII The people made her room, and on them twain Her piercing eyes their fiery weapons dart, Silent she saw the one, the other 'plain, The weaker body lodged the nobler heart: Yet him she saw lament, as if his pain Were grief and sorrow for another's smart, And her keep silence so, as if her eyes Dumb orators were to entreat the skies. XLIII Clorinda changed to ruth her warlike mood, Few silver drops her vermeil cheeks depaint; Her sorrow was for her that speechless stood, Her silence more prevailed than his complaint. She asked an aged man, seemed grave and good, "Come say me, sir," quoth she, "what hard constraint Would murder here love's queen and beauty's king? What fault or fare doth to this death them bring?" XLIV Thus she inquired, and answer short he gave, But such as all the chance at large disclosed, She wondered at the case, the virgin brave, That both were guiltless of the fault supposed, Her noble thought cast how she might them save, The means on suit or battle she reposed. Quick to the fire she ran, and quenched it out, And thus bespake the sergeants and the rout: XLV "Be there not one among you all that dare In this your hateful office aught proceed, Till I return from court, nor take you care To reap displeasure for not making speed." To do her will the men themselves prepare, In their faint hearts her looks such terror breed; To court she went, their pardon would she get, But on the way the courteous king she met. XLVI "Sir King," quoth she, "my name Clorinda hight, My fame perchance has pierced your ears ere now, I come to try my wonted power and might, And will defend this land, this town, and you, All hard assays esteem I eath and light, Great acts I reach to, to small things I bow, To fight in field, or to defend this wall, Point what you list, I naught refuse at all." XLVII To whom the king, "What land so far remote From Asia's coasts, or Phoebus' glistering rays, O glorious virgin, that recordeth not Thy fame, thine honor, worth, renown, and praise? Since on my side I have thy succors got, I need not fear in these my aged days, For in thine aid more hope, more trust I have, Than in whole armies of these soldiers brave. XLVIII "Now, Godfrey stays too long; he fears, I ween; Thy courage great keeps all our foes in awe; For thee all actions far unworthy been, But such as greatest danger with them draw: Be you commandress therefore, Princess, Queen Of all our forces: be thy word a law." This said, the virgin gan her beaver vail, And thanked him first, and thus began her tale. XLIX "A thing unused, great monarch, may it seem, To ask reward for service yet to come; But so your virtuous bounty I esteem, That I presume for to intreat this groom And silly maid from danger to redeem, Condemned to burn by your unpartial doom, I not excuse, but pity much their youth, And come to you for mercy and for ruth. L "Yet give me leave to tell your Highness this, You blame the Christians, them my thoughts acquite, Nor be displeased, I say you judge amiss, At every shot look not to hit the white, All what the enchanter did persuade you, is Against the lore of Macon's sacred rite, For us commandeth mighty Mahomet No idols in his temple pure to set. LI "To him therefore this wonder done refar, Give him the praise and honor of the thing, Of us the gods benign so careful are Lest customs strange into their church we bring: Let Ismen with his squares and trigons war, His weapons be the staff, the glass, the ring; But let us manage war with blows like knights, Our praise in arms, our honor lies in fights." LII The virgin held her peace when this was said; And though to pity he never framed his thought, Yet, for the king admired the noble maid, His purpose was not to deny her aught: "I grant them life," quoth he, "your promised aid Against these Frenchmen hath their pardon bought: Nor further seek what their offences be, Guiltless, I quit; guilty, I set them free." LIII Thus were they loosed, happiest of humankind, Olindo, blessed be this act of thine, True witness of thy great and heavenly mind, Where sun, moon, stars, of love, faith, virtue, shine. So forth they went and left pale death behind, To joy the bliss of marriage rites divine, With her he would have died, with him content Was she to live that would with her have brent. LIV The king, as wicked thoughts are most suspicious, Supposed too fast this tree of virtue grew, O blessed Lord! why should this Pharaoh vicious, Thus tyrannize upon thy Hebrews true? Who to perform his will, vile and malicious, Exiled these, and all the faithful crew, All that were strong of body, stout of mind, But kept their wives and children pledge behind. LV A hard division, when the harmless sheep Must leave their lambs to hungry wolves in charge, But labor's virtues watching, ease her sleep, Trouble best wind that drives salvation's barge, The Christians fled, whither they took no keep, Some strayed wild among the forests large, Some to Emmaus to the Christian host, And conquer would again their houses lost. LVI Emmaus is a city small, that lies From Sion's walls distant a little way, A man that early on the morn doth rise, May thither walk ere third hour of the day. Oh, when the Christian lord this town espies How merry were their hearts? How fresh? How gay? But for the sun inclined fast to west, That night there would their chieftain take his rest. LVII Their canvas castles up they quickly rear, And build a city in an hour's space. When lo, disguised in unusual gear, Two barons bold approachen gan the place; Their semblance kind, and mild their gestures were, Peace in their hands, and friendship in their face, From Egypt's king ambassadors they come, Them many a squire attends, and many a groom. LVIII The first Aletes, born in lowly shed, Of parents base, a rose sprung from a brier, That now his branches over Egypt spread, No plant in Pharaoh's garden prospered higher; With pleasing tales his lord's vain ears he fed, A flatterer, a pick-thank, and a liar: Cursed be estate got with so many a crime, Yet this is oft the stair by which men climb. LIX Argantes called is that other knight, A stranger came he late to Egypt land, And there advanced was to honor's height, For he was stout of courage, strong of hand, Bold was his heart, and restless was his sprite, Fierce, stern, outrageous, keen as sharpened brand, Scorner of God, scant to himself a friend, And pricked his reason on his weapon's end. LX These two entreatance made they might be heard, Nor was their just petition long denied; The gallants quickly made their court of guard, And brought them in where sate their famous guide, Whose kingly look his princely mind declared, Where noblesse, virtue, troth, and valor bide. A slender courtesy made Argantes bold, So as one prince salute another wold; LXI Aletes laid his right hand on his heart, Bent down his head, and cast his eyes full low, And reverence made with courtly grace and art, For all that humble lore to him was know; His sober lips then did he softly part, Whence of pure rhetoric, whole streams outflow, And thus he said, while on the Christian lords Down fell the mildew of his sugared words: LXII "O only worthy, whom the earth all fears, High God defend thee with his heavenly shield, And humble so the hearts of all thy peers, That their stiff necks to thy sweet yoke may yield: These be the sheaves that honor's harvest bears, The seed thy valiant acts, the world the field, Egypt the headland is, where heaped lies Thy fame, worth, justice, wisdom, victories. LXIII "These altogether doth our sovereign hide In secret store-house of his princely thought, And prays he may in long accordance bide, With that great worthy which such wonders wrought, Nor that oppose against the coming tide Of proffered love, for that he is not taught Your Christian faith, for though of divers kind, The loving vine about her elm is twined. LXIV "Receive therefore in that unconquered hand The precious handle of this cup of love, If not religion, virtue be the band 'Twixt you to fasten friendship not to move: But for our mighty king doth understand, You mean your power 'gainst Juda land to prove, He would, before this threatened tempest fell, I should his mind and princely will first tell. LXV "His mind is this, he prays thee be contented To joy in peace the conquests thou hast got, Be not thy death, or Sion's fall lamented, Forbear this land, Judea trouble not, Things done in haste at leisure be repented: Withdraw thine arms, trust not uncertain lot, For oft to see what least we think betide; He is thy friend 'gainst all the world beside. LXVI "True labour in the vineyard of thy Lord, Ere prime thou hast the imposed day-work done, What armies conquered, perished with thy sword? What cities sacked? what kingdoms hast thou won? All ears are mazed while tongues thine acts record, Hands quake for fear, all feet for dread do run, And though no realms you may to thraldom bring, No higher can your praise, your glory spring. LXVII "Thy sign is in his Apogaeon placed, And when it moveth next, must needs descend, Chance in uncertain, fortune double faced, Smiling at first, she frowneth in the end: Beware thine honor be not then disgraced, Take heed thou mar not when thou think'st to mend, For this the folly is of Fortune's play, 'Gainst doubtful, certain; much, 'gainst small to lay. LXVIII "Yet still we sail while prosperous blows the wind, Till on some secret rock unwares we light, The sea of glory hath no banks assigned, They who are wont to win in every fight Still feed the fire that so inflames thy mind To bring more nations subject to thy might; This makes thee blessed peace so light to hold, Like summer's flies that fear not winter's cold. LXIX "They bid thee follow on the path, now made So plain and easy, enter Fortune's gate, Nor in thy scabbard sheathe that famous blade, Till settled by thy kingdom, and estate, Till Macon's sacred doctrine fall and fade, Till woeful Asia all lie desolate. Sweet words I grant, baits and allurements sweet, But greatest hopes oft greatest crosses meet. LXX "For, if thy courage do not blind thine eyes, If clouds of fury hide not reason's beams, Then may'st thou see this desperate enterprise. The field of death, watered with danger's streams; High state, the bed is where misfortune lies, Mars most unfriendly, when most kind he seems, Who climbeth high, on earth he hardest lights, And lowest falls attend the highest flights. LXXI "Tell me if, great in counsel, arms and gold, The Prince of Egypt war 'gainst you prepare, What if the valiant Turks and Persians bold, Unite their forces with Cassanoe's heir? Oh then, what marble pillar shall uphold The falling trophies of your conquest fair? Trust you the monarch of the Greekish land? That reed will break; and breaking, wound your hand. LXXII "The Greekish faith is like that half-cut tree By which men take wild elephants in Inde, A thousand times it hath beguiled thee, As firm as waves in seas, or leaves in wind. Will they, who erst denied you passage free, Passage to all men free, by use and kind, Fight for your sake? Or on them do you trust To spend their blood, that could scarce spare their dust? LXXIII "But all your hope and trust perchance is laid In these strong troops, which thee environ round; Yet foes unite are not so soon dismayed As when their strength you erst divided found: Besides, each hour thy bands are weaker made With hunger, slaughter, lodging on cold ground, Meanwhile the Turks seek succors from our king, Thus fade thy helps, and thus thy cumbers spring. LXXIV "Suppose no weapon can thy valor's pride Subdue, that by no force thou may'st be won, Admit no steel can hurt or wound thy side, And be it Heaven hath thee such favor done: 'Gainst Famine yet what shield canst thou provide? What strength resist? What sleight her wrath can shun? Go, shake the spear, and draw thy flaming blade, And try if hunger so be weaker made. LXXV "The inhabitants each pasture and each plain Destroyed have, each field to waste is laid, In fenced towers bestowed is their grain Before thou cam'st this kingdom to invade, These horse and foot, how canst them sustain? Whence comes thy store? whence thy provision made? Thy ships to bring it are, perchance, assigned, Oh, that you live so long as please the wind! LXXVI "Perhaps thy fortune doth control the wind, Doth loose or bind their blasts in secret cave, The sea, pardie, cruel and deaf by kind, Will hear thy call, and still her raging wave: But if our armed galleys be assigned To aid those ships which Turks and Persians have, Say then, what hope is left thy slender fleet? Dare flocks of crows, a flight of eagles meet? LXXVII "My lord, a double conquest must you make, If you achieve renown by this emprize: For if our fleet your navy chase or take, For want of victuals all your camp then dies; Of if by land the field you once forsake, Then vain by sea were hope of victories. Nor could your ships restore your lost estate: For steed once stolen, we shut the door too late. LXXVIII "In this estate, if thou esteemest light The proffered kindness of the Egyptian king, Then give me leave to say, this oversight Beseems thee not, in whom such virtues spring: But heavens vouchsafe to guide my mind aright, To gentle thoughts, that peace and quiet bring, So that poor Asia her complaints may cease, And you enjoy your conquests got, in peace. LXXIX "Nor ye that part in these adventures have, Part in his glory, partners in his harms, Let not blind Fortune so your minds deceive, To stir him more to try these fierce alarms, But like the sailor 'scaped from the wave From further peril that his person arms By staying safe at home, so stay you all, Better sit still, men say, than rise to fall." LXXX This said Aletes: and a murmur rose That showed dislike among the Christian peers, Their angry gestures with mislike disclose How much his speech offends their noble ears. Lord Godfrey's eye three times environ goes, To view what countenance every warrior bears, And lastly on the Egyptian baron stayed, To whom the duke thus for his answer said: LXXXI "Ambassador, full both of threats and praise, Thy doubtful message hast thou wisely told, And if thy sovereign love us as he says, Tell him he sows to reap an hundred fold, But where thy talk the coming storm displays Of threatened warfare from the Pagans bold: To that I answer, as my cousin is, In plainest phrase, lest my intent thou miss. LXXXII "Know, that till now we suffered have much pain, By lands and seas, where storms and tempests fall, To make the passage easy, safe, and plain That leads us to this venerable wall, That so we might reward from Heaven obtain, And free this town from being longer thrall; Nor is it grievous to so good an end Our honors, kingdoms, lives and goods to spend. LXXXIII "Nor hope of praise, nor thirst of worldly good, Enticed us to follow this emprise, The Heavenly Father keep his sacred brood From foul infection of so great a vice: But by our zeal aye be that plague withstood, Let not those pleasures us to sin entice. His grace, his mercy, and his powerful hand Will keep us safe from hurt by sea and land. LXXXIV "This is the spur that makes our coursers run; This is our harbor, safe from danger's floods; This is our bield, the blustering winds to shun: This is our guide, through forests, deserts, woods; This is our summer's shade, our winter's sun: This is our wealth, our treasure, and our goods: This is our engine, towers that overthrows, Our spear that hurts, our sword that wounds our foes. LXXXV "Our courage hence, our hope, our valor springs, Not from the trust we have in shield or spear, Not from the succors France or Grecia brings, On such weak posts we list no buildings rear: He can defend us from the power of kings, From chance of war, that makes weak hearts to fear; He can these hungry troops with manna feed, And make the seas land, if we passage need. LXXXVI "But if our sins us of his help deprive, Of his high justice let no mercy fall; Yet should our deaths us some contentment give, To die, where Christ received his burial, So might we die, not envying them that live; So would we die, not unrevenged all: Nor Turks, nor Christians, if we perish such, Have cause to joy, or to complain too much. LXXXVII "Think not that wars we love, and strife affect, Or that we hate sweet peace, or rest denay, Think not your sovereign's friendship we reject, Because we list not in our conquests stay: But for it seems he would the Jews protect, Pray him from us that thought aside to lay, Nor us forbid this town and realm to gain, And he in peace, rest, joy, long more may reign." LXXXVIII This answer given, Argantes wild drew nar, Trembling for ire, and waxing pale for rage, Nor could he hold, his wrath increased so far, But thus inflamed bespake the captain sage: "Who scorneth peace shall have his fill of war, I thought my wisdom should thy fury 'suage, But well you show what joy you take in fight, Which makes you prize our love and friendship light." LXXXIX This said, he took his mantle's foremost part, And gan the same together fold and wrap; Then spake again with fell and spiteful heart, So lions roar enclosed in train or trap, "Thou proud despiser of inconstant mart, I bring thee war and peace closed in this lap, Take quickly one, thou hast no time to muse; If peace, we rest, we fight, if war thou choose." XC His semblance fierce and speechless proud, provoke The soldiers all, "War, war," at once to cry, Nor could they tarry till their chieftain spoke, But for the knight was more inflamed hereby, His lap he opened and spread forth his cloak: "To mortal wars," he says, "I you defy;" And this he uttered with fell rage and hate, And seemed of Janus' church to undo the gate. XCI It seemed fury, discord, madness fell Flew from his lap, when he unfolds the same; His glaring eyes with anger's venom swell, And like the brand of foul Alecto flame, He looked like huge Tiphoius loosed from hell Again to shake heaven's everlasting frame, Or him that built the tower of Shinaar, Which threat'neth battle 'gainst the morning star. XCII Godfredo then: "Depart, and bid your king Haste hitherward, or else within short while, -- For gladly we accept the war you bring, -- Let him expect us on the banks of Nile." He entertained them then with banqueting, And gifts presented to those Pagans vile; Aletes had a helmet, rich and gay, Late found at Nice among the conquered prey. XCIII Argant a sword, whereof the web was steel, Pommel, rich stone; hilt gold; approved by touch With rarest workmanship all forged weel, The curious art excelled the substance much: Thus fair, rich, sharp, to see, to have, to feel, Glad was the Paynim to enjoy it such, And said, "How I this gift can use and wield, Soon shall you see, when first we meet in field." XCIV Thus took they congee, and the angry knight Thus to his fellow parleyed on the way, "Go thou by day, but let me walk by night, Go thou to Egypt, I at Sion stay, The answer given thou canst unfold aright, No need of me, what I can do or say, Among these arms I will go wreak my spite; Let Paris court it, Hector loved to fight." XCV Thus he who late arrived a messenger Departs a foe, in act, in word, in thought, The law of nations or the lore of war, If he transgresses or no, he recketh naught, Thus parted they, and ere he wandered far The friendly star-light to the walls him brought: Yet his fell heart thought long that little way, Grieved with each stop, tormented with each stay. XCVI Now spread the night her spangled canopy, And summoned every restless eye to sleep; On beds of tender grass the beasts down lie, The fishes slumbered in the silent deep, Unheard were serpent's hiss and dragon's cry, Birds left to sing, and Philomen to weep, Only that noise heaven's rolling circles kest, Sung lullaby to bring the world to rest. XCVII Yet neither sleep, nor ease, nor shadows dark, Could make the faithful camp or captain rest, They longed to see the day, to hear the lark Record her hymns and chant her carols blest, They yearned to view the walls, the wished mark To which their journeys long they had addressed; Each heart attends, each longing eye beholds What beam the eastern window first unfolds.
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