Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #13
THE ARGUMENT. The camp at great Jerusalem arrives: Clorinda gives them battle, in the breast Of fair Erminia Tancred's love revives, He jousts with her unknown whom he loved best; Argant th' adventurers of their guide deprives, With stately pomp they lay their Lord in chest: Godfrey commands to cut the forest down, And make strong engines to assault the town. I The purple morning left her crimson bed, And donned her robes of pure vermilion hue, Her amber locks she crowned with roses red, In Eden's flowery gardens gathered new. When through the camp a murmur shrill was spread, Arm, arm, they cried; arm, arm, the trumpets blew, Their merry noise prevents the joyful blast, So hum small bees, before their swarms they cast. II Their captain rules their courage, guides their heat, Their forwardness he stayed with gentle rein; And yet more easy, haply, were the feat To stop the current near Charybdis main, Or calm the blustering winds on mountains great, Than fierce desires of warlike hearts restrain; He rules them yet, and ranks them in their haste, For well he knows disordered speed makes waste. III Feathered their thoughts, their feet in wings were dight, Swiftly they marched, yet were not tired thereby, For willing minds make heaviest burdens light. But when the gliding sun was mounted high, Jerusalem, behold, appeared in sight, Jerusalem they view, they see, they spy, Jerusalem with merry noise they greet, With joyful shouts, and acclamations sweet. IV As when a troop of jolly sailors row Some new-found land and country to descry, Through dangerous seas and under stars unknowe, Thrall to the faithless waves, and trothless sky, If once the wished shore begun to show, They all salute it with a joyful cry, And each to other show the land in haste, Forgetting quite their pains and perils past. V To that delight which their first sight did breed, That pleased so the secret of their thought A deep repentance did forthwith succeed That reverend fear and trembling with it brought, Scantly they durst their feeble eyes dispreed Upon that town where Christ was sold and bought, Where for our sins he faultless suffered pain, There where he died and where he lived again. VI Soft words, low speech, deep sobs, sweet sighs, salt tears Rose from their hearts, with joy and pleasure mixed; For thus fares he the Lord aright that fears, Fear on devotion, joy on faith is fixed: Such noise their passions make, as when one hears The hoarse sea waves roar, hollow rocks betwixt; Or as the wind in holts and shady greaves, A murmur makes among the boughs and leaves. VII Their naked feet trod on the dusty way, Following the ensample of their zealous guide, Their scarfs, their crests, their plumes and feathers gay, They quickly doffed, and willing laid aside, Their molten hearts their wonted pride allay, Along their watery cheeks warm tears down slide, And then such secret speech as this, they used, While to himself each one himself accused. VIII "Flower of goodness, root of lasting bliss, Thou well of life, whose streams were purple blood That flowed here, to cleanse the soul amiss Of sinful men, behold this brutish flood, That from my melting heart distilled is, Receive in gree these tears, O Lord so good, For never wretch with sin so overgone Had fitter time or greater cause to moan." IX This while the wary watchman looked over, From tops of Sion's towers, the hills and dales, And saw the dust the fields and pastures cover, As when thick mists arise from moory vales. At last the sun-bright shields he gan discover, And glistering helms for violence none that fails, The metal shone like lightning bright in skies, And man and horse amid the dust descries. X Then loud he cries, "O what a dust ariseth! O how it shines with shields and targets clear! Up, up, to arms, for valiant heart despiseth The threatened storm of death and danger near. Behold your foes;" then further thus deviseth, "Haste, haste, for vain delay increaseth fear, These horrid clouds of dust that yonder fly, Your coming foes does hide, and hide the sky." XI The tender children, and the fathers old, The aged matrons, and the virgin chaste, That durst not shake the spear, nor target hold, Themselves devoutly in their temples placed; The rest, of members strong and courage bold, On hardy breasts their harness donned in haste, Some to the walls, some to the gates them dight, Their king meanwhile directs them all aright. XII All things well ordered, he withdrew with speed Up to a turret high, two ports between, That so he might be near at every need, And overlook the lands and furrows green. Thither he did the sweet Erminia lead, That in his court had entertained been Since Christians Antioch did to bondage bring, And slew her father, who thereof was king. XIII Against their foes Clorinda sallied out, And many a baron bold was by her side, Within the postern stood Argantes stout To rescue her, if ill mote her betide: With speeches brave she cheered her warlike rout, And with bold words them heartened as they ride, "Let us by some brave act," quoth she, "this day Of Asia's hopes the groundwork found and lay." XIV While to her folk thus spake the virgin brave, Thereby behold forth passed a Christian band Toward the camp, that herds of cattle drave, For they that morn had forayed all the land; The fierce virago would that booty save, Whom their commander singled hand for hand, A mighty man at arms, who Guardo hight, But far too weak to match with her in fight. XV They met, and low in dust was Guardo laid, 'Twixt either army, from his sell down kest, The Pagans shout for joy, and hopeful said, Those good beginnings would have endings blest: Against the rest on went the noble maid, She broke the helm, and pierced the armed breast, Her men the paths rode through made by her sword, They pass the stream where she had found the ford. XVI Soon was the prey out of their hands recovered, By step and step the Frenchmen gan retire, Till on a little hill at last they hovered, Whose strength preserved them from Clorinda's ire: When, as a tempest that hath long been covered In watery clouds breaks out with sparkling fire, With his strong squadron Lord Tancredi came, His heart with rage, his eyes with courage flame. XVII Mast great the spear was which the gallant bore That in his warlike pride he made to shake, As winds tall cedars toss on mountains hoar: The king, that wondered at his bravery, spake To her, that near him seated was before, Who felt her heart with love's hot fever quake, "Well shouldst thou know," quoth he, "each Christian knight, By long acquaintance, though in armor dight. XVIII "Say, who is he shows so great worthiness, That rides so rank, and bends his lance so fell?" To this the princess said nor more nor less, Her heart with sighs, her eyes with tears, did swell; But sighs and tears she wisely could suppress, Her love and passion she dissembled well, And strove her love and hot desire to cover, Till heart with sighs, and eyes with tears ran over: XIX At last she spoke, and with a crafty sleight Her secret love disguised in clothes of hate: "Alas, too well," she says, "I know that knight, I saw his force and courage proved late, Too late I viewed him, when his power and might Shook down the pillar of Cassanoe's state; Alas what wounds he gives! how fierce, how fell! No physic helps them cure, nor magic's spell. XX "Tancred he hight, O Macon, would he wear My thrall, ere fates him of this life deprive, For to his hateful head such spite I bear, I would him reave his cruel heart on live." Thus said she, they that her complainings hear In other sense her wishes credit give. She sighed withal, they construed all amiss, And thought she wished to kill, who longed to kiss. XXI This while forth pricked Clorinda from the throng And 'gainst Tancredi set her spear in rest, Upon their helms they cracked their lances long, And from her head her gilden casque he kest, For every lace he broke and every thong, And in the dust threw down her plumed crest, About her shoulders shone her golden locks, Like sunny beams, on alabaster rocks. XXII Her looks with fire, her eyes with lightning blaze, Sweet was her wrath, what then would be her smile? Tancred, whereon think'st thou? what dost thou gaze? Hast thou forgot her in so short a while? The same is she, the shape of whose sweet face The God of Love did in thy heart compile, The same that left thee by the cooling stream, Safe from sun's heat, but scorched with beauty's beam. XXIII The prince well knew her, though her painted shield And golden helm he had not marked before, She saved her head, and with her axe well steeled Assailed the knight; but her the knight forbore, 'Gainst other foes he proved him through the field, Yet she for that refrained ne'er the more, But following, "Turn thee," cried, in ireful wise; And so at once she threats to kill him twice. XXIV Not once the baron lifts his armed hand To strike the maid, but gazing on her eyes, Where lordly Cupid seemed in arms to stand, No way to ward or shun her blows he tries; But softly says, "No stroke of thy strong hand Can vanquish Tancred, but thy conquest lies In those fair eyes, which fiery weapons dart, That find no lighting place except this heart." XXV At last resolved, although he hoped small grace, Yet ere he did to tell how much he loved, For pleasing words in women's ears find place, And gentle hearts with humble suits are moved: "O thou," quoth he, "withhold thy wrath a space, For if thou long to see my valor proved, Were it not better from this warlike rout Withdrawn, somewhere, alone to fight it out? XXVI "So singled, may we both our courage try:" Clorinda to that motion yielded glad, And helmless to the forestward gan hie, Whither the prince right pensive wend and sad, And there the virgin gan him soon defy. One blow she strucken, and he warded had, When he cried, "Hold, and ere we prove our might, First hear thou some conditions of the fight." XXVII She stayed, and desperate love had made him bold; "Since from the fight thou wilt no respite give, The covenants be," he said, "that thou unfold This wretched bosom, and my heart out rive, Given thee long since, and if thou, cruel, would I should be dead, let me no longer live, But pierce this breast, that all the world may say, The eagle made the turtle-dove her prey. XXVIII "Save with thy grace, or let thine anger kill, Love hath disarmed my life of all defence; An easy labor harmless blood to spill, Strike then, and punish where is none offence." This said the prince, and more perchance had will To have declared, to move her cruel sense. But in ill time of Pagans thither came A troop, and Christians that pursued the same. XXIX The Pagans fled before their valiant foes, For dread or craft, it skills not that we know, A soldier wild, careless to win or lose, Saw where her locks about the damsel flew, And at her back he proffereth as he goes To strike where her he did disarmed view: But Tancred cried, "Oh stay thy cursed hand," And for to ward the blow lift up his brand. XXX But yet the cutting steel arrived there, Where her fair neck adjoined her noble head, Light was the wound, but through her amber hair The purple drops down railed bloody red, So rubies set in flaming gold appear: But Lord Tancredi, pale with rage as lead, Flew on the villain, who to flight him bound; The smart was his, though she received the wound. XXXI The villain flies, he, full of rage and ire, Pursues, she stood and wondered on them both, But yet to follow them showed no desire, To stray so far she would perchance be loth, But quickly turned her, fierce as flaming fire, And on her foes wreaked her anger wroth, On every side she kills them down amain, And now she flies, and now she turns again. XXXII As the swift ure by Volga's rolling flood Chased through the plains the mastiff curs toforn, Flies to the succor of some neighbor wood, And often turns again his dreadful horn Against the dogs imbrued in sweat and blood, That bite not, till the beast to flight return; Or as the Moors at their strange tennice run, Defenced, the flying balls unhurt to shun: XXXIII So ran Clorinda, so her foes pursued, Until they both approached the city's wall, When lo! the Pagans their fierce wrath renewed, Cast in a ring about they wheeled all, And 'gainst the Christians' backs and sides they showed Their courage fierce, and to new combat fall, When down the hill Argantes came to fight, Like angry Mars to aid the Trojan knight. XXXIV Furious, tofore the foremost of his rank, In sturdy steel forth stept the warrior bold, The first he smote down from his saddle sank, The next under his steel lay on the mould, Under the Saracen's spear the worthies shrank, No breastplate could that cursed tree outhold, When that was broke his precious sword he drew, And whom he hit, he felled, hurt, or slew. XXXV Clorinda slew Ardelio; aged knight, Whose graver years would for no labor yield, His age was full of puissance and might Two sons he had to guard his noble eild, The first, far from his father's care and sight, Called Alicandro wounded lay in field, And Poliphern the younger, by his side, Had he not nobly fought had surely died. XXXVI Tancred by this, that strove to overtake The villain that had hurt his only dear, From vain pursuit at last returned back, And his brave troop discomfit saw well near, Thither he spurred, and gan huge slaughter make, His shock no steed, his blow no knight could bear, For dead he strikes him whom he lights upon, So thunders break high trees on Lebanon. XXXVII Dudon his squadron of adventurers brings, To aid the worthy and his tired crew, Before the residue young Rinaldo flings As swift as fiery lightning kindled new, His argent eagle with her silver wings In field of azure, fair Erminia knew, "See there, sir King," she says, "a knight as bold And brave, as was the son of Peleus old. XXXVIII "He wins the prize in joust and tournament, His acts are numberless, though few his years, If Europe six likes him to war had sent Among these thousand strong of Christian peers, Syria were lost, lost were the Orient, And all the lands the Southern Ocean wears, Conquered were all hot Afric's tawny kings, And all that dwells by Nilus' unknown springs. XXXIX "Rinaldo is his name, his armed fist Breaks down stone walls, when rams and engines fail, But turn your eyes because I would you wist What lord that is in green and golden mail, Dudon he hight who guideth as him list The adventurers' troop whose prowess seld doth fail, High birth, grave years, and practise long in war, And fearless heart, make him renowned far. XL "See that big man that all in brown is bound, Gernando called, the King of Norway's son, A prouder knight treads not on grass or ground, His pride hath lost the praise his prowess won; And that kind pair in white all armed round, Is Edward and Gildippes, who begun Through love the hazard of fierce war to prove, Famous for arms, but famous more for love." XLI While thus they tell their foemen's worthiness, The slaughter rageth in the plain at large. Tancred and young Rinaldo break the press, They bruise the helm, and press the sevenfold targe; The troop by Dudon led performed no less, But in they come and give a furious charge: Argantes' self fell at one single blow, Inglorious, bleeding lay, on earth full low: XLII Nor had the boaster ever risen more, But that Rinaldo's horse e'en then down fell, And with the fall his leg opprest so sore, That for a space there must be algates dwell. Meanwhile the Pagan troops were nigh forlore, Swiftly they fled, glad they escaped so well, Argantes and with him Clorinda stout, For bank and bulwark served to save the rout. XLIII These fled the last, and with their force sustained The Christians' rage, that followed them so near; Their scattered troops to safety well they trained, And while the residue fled, the brunt these bear; Dudon pursued the victory he gained, And on Tigranes nobly broke his spear, Then with his sword headless to ground him cast, So gardeners branches lop that spring too fast. XLIV Algazar's breastplate, of fine temper made, Nor Corban's helmet, forged by magic art, Could save their owners, for Lord Dudon's blade Cleft Corban's head, and pierced Algazar's heart, And their proud souls down to the infernal shade, From Amurath and Mahomet depart; Not strong Argantes thought his life was sure, He could not safely fly, nor fight secure. XLV The angry Pagan bit his lips for teen, He ran, he stayed, he fled, he turned again, Until at last unmarked, unviewed, unseen, When Dudon had Almansor newly slain, Within his side he sheathed his weapon keen, Down fell the worthy on the dusty plain, And lifted up his feeble eyes uneath, Opprest with leaden sleep, of iron death. XLVI Three times he strove to view Heaven's golden ray, And raised him on his feeble elbow thrice, And thrice he tumbled on the lowly lay, And three times closed again his dying eyes, He speaks no word, yet makes his signs to pray; He sighs, he faints, he groans, and then he dies; Argantes proud to spoil the corpse disdained, But shook his sword with blood of Dudon stained. XLVII And turning to the Christian knights, he cried: "Lordlings, behold, this bloody reeking blade Last night was given me by your noble guide, Tell him what proof thereof this day is made, Needs must this please him well that is betide, That I so well can use this martial trade, To whom so rare a gift he did present, Tell him the workman fits the instrument. XLVIII "If further proof thereof he long to see, Say it still thirsts, and would his heart-blood drink; And if he haste not to encounter me, Say I will find him when he least doth think." The Christians at his words enraged be, But he to shun their ire doth safely shrink Under the shelter of the neighbor wall, Well guarded with his troops and soldiers all. XLIX Like storms of hail the stones fell down from high, Cast from their bulwarks, flankers, ports and towers, The shafts and quarries from their engines fly, As thick as falling drops in April showers: The French withdrew, they list not press too nigh, The Saracens escaped all the powers, But now Rinaldo from the earth upleapt, Where by the leg his steed had long him kept; L He came and breathed vengeance from his breast 'Gainst him that noble Dudon late had slain; And being come thus spoke he to the rest, "Warriors, why stand you gazing here in vain? Pale death our valiant leader had opprest, Come wreak his loss, whom bootless you complain. Those walls are weak, they keep but cowards out No rampier can withstand a courage stout. LI "Of double iron, brass or adamant, Or if this wall were built of flaming fire, Yet should the Pagan vile a fortress want To shroud his coward head safe from mine ire; Come follow then, and bid base fear avaunt, The harder work deserves the greater hire;" And with that word close to the walls he starts, Nor fears he arrows, quarries, stones or darts. LII Above the waves as Neptune lift his eyes To chide the winds, that Trojan ships opprest, And with his countenance calmed seas, winds and skies; So looked Rinaldo, when he shook his crest Before those walls, each Pagan fears and flies His dreadful sight, or trembling stayed at least: Such dread his awful visage on them cast. So seem poor doves at goshawks' sight aghast. LIII The herald Ligiere now from Godfrey came, To will them stay and calm their courage hot; "Retire," quoth he, "Godfrey commands the same; To wreak your ire this season fitteth not;" Though loth, Rinaldo stayed, and stopped the flame, That boiled in his hardy stomach hot; His bridled fury grew thereby more fell, So rivers, stopped, above their banks do swell. LIV The hands retire, not dangered by their foes In their retreat, so wise were they and wary, To murdered Dudon each lamenting goes, From wonted use of ruth they list not vary. Upon their friendly arms they soft impose The noble burden of his corpse to carry: Meanwhile Godfredo from a mountain great Beheld the sacred city and her seat. LV Hierusalem is seated on two hills Of height unlike, and turned side to side, The space between, a gentle valley fills, From mount to mount expansed fair and wide. Three sides are sure imbarred with crags and hills, The rest is easy, scant to rise espied: But mighty bulwarks fence that plainer part, So art helps nature, nature strengtheneth art. LVI The town is stored of troughs and cisterns, made To keep fresh water, but the country seems Devoid of grass, unfit for ploughmen's trade, Not fertile, moist with rivers, wells and streams; There grow few trees to make the summer's shade, To shield the parched land from scorching beams, Save that a wood stands six miles from the town,' With aged cedars dark, and shadows brown. LVII By east, among the dusty valleys, glide The silver streams of Jordan's crystal flood; By west, the Midland Sea, with bounders tied Of sandy shores, where Joppa whilom stood; By north Samaria stands, and on that side The golden calf was reared in Bethel wood; Bethlem by south, where Christ incarnate was, A pearl in steel, a diamond set in brass. LVIII While thus the Duke on every side descried The city's strength, the walls and gates about, And saw where least the same was fortified, Where weakest seemed the walls to keep him out; Ermina as he armed rode, him spied, And thus bespake the heathen tyrant stout, "See Godfrey there, in purple clad and gold, His stately port, and princely look behold. LIX "Well seems he born to be with honor crowned, So well the lore he knows of regiment, Peerless in fight, in counsel grave and sound, The double gift of glory excellent, Among these armies is no warrior found Graver in speech, bolder in tournament. Raymond pardie in counsel match him might; Tancred and young Rinaldo like in fight." LX To whom the king: "He likes me well therefore, I knew him whilom in the court of France When I from Egypt went ambassador, I saw him there break many a sturdy lance, And yet his chin no sign of manhood bore; His youth was forward, but with governance, His words, his actions, and his portance brave, Of future virtue, timely tokens gave. LXI "Presages, ah too true:" with that a space He sighed for grief, then said, "Fain would I know The man in red, with such a knightly grace, A worthy lord he seemeth by his show, How like to Godfrey looks he in the face, How like in person! but some-deal more low." "Baldwin," quoth she, "that noble baron hight, By birth his brother, and his match in might. LXII "Next look on him that seems for counsel fit, Whose silver locks betray his store of days, Raymond he hight, a man of wondrous wit, Of Toulouse lord, his wisdom is his praise; What he forethinks doth, as he looks for, hit, His stratagems have good success always: With gilded helm beyond him rides the mild And good Prince William, England's king's dear child. LXIII "With him is Guelpho, as his noble mate, In birth, in acts, in arms alike the rest, I know him well, since I beheld him late, By his broad shoulders and his squared breast: But my proud foe that quite hath ruinate My high estate, and Antioch opprest, I see not, Boemond, that to death did bring Mine aged lord, my father, and my king." LXIV Thus talked they; meanwhile Godfredo went Down to the troops that in the valley stayed, And for in vain he thought the labor spent, To assail those parts that to the mountains laid, Against the northern gate his force he bent, Gainst it he camped, gainst it his engines played; All felt the fury of his angry power, That from those gates lies to the corner tower. LXV The town's third part was this, or little less, Fore which the duke his glorious ensigns spread, For so great compass had that forteress, That round it could not be environed With narrow siege -- nor Babel's king I guess That whilom took it, such an army led -- But all the ways he kept, by which his foe Might to or from the city come or go. LXVI His care was next to cast the trenches deep, So to preserve his resting camp by night, Lest from the city while his soldiers sleep They might assail them with untimely flight. This done he went where lords and princes weep With dire complaints about the murdered knight, Where Dudon dead lay slaughtered on the ground. And all the soldiers sat lamenting round. LXVII His wailing friends adorned the mournful bier With woful pomp, whereon his corpse they laid, And when they saw the Bulloigne prince draw near, All felt new grief, and each new sorrow made; But he, withouten show or change of cheer, His springing tears within their fountains stayed, His rueful looks upon the corpse he cast Awhile, and thus bespake the same at last; LXVIII "We need not mourn for thee, here laid to rest, Earth is thy bed, and not the grave the skies Are for thy soul the cradle and the nest, There live, for here thy glory never dies: For like a Christian knight and champion blest Thou didst both live and die: now feed thine eyes With thy Redeemer's sight, where crowned with bliss Thy faith, zeal, merit, well-deserving is. LXIX "Our loss, not thine, provokes these plaints and tears: For when we lost thee, then our ship her mast, Our chariot lost her wheels, their points our spears, The bird of conquest her chief feather cast: But though thy death far from our army hears Her chiefest earthly aid, in heaven yet placed Thou wilt procure its help Divine, so reaps He that sows godly sorrow, joy by heaps. LXX "For if our God the Lord Armipotent Those armed angels in our aid down send That were at Dothan to his prophet sent, Thou wilt come down with them, and well defend Our host, and with thy sacred weapons bent Gainst Sion's fort, these gates and bulwarks rend, That so by hand may win this hold, and we May in these temples praise our Christ for thee." LXXI Thus he complained; but now the sable shade Ycleped night, had thick enveloped The sun in veil of double darkness made; Sleep, eased care; rest, brought complaint to bed: All night the wary duke devising laid How that high wall should best be battered, How his strong engines he might aptly frame, And whence get timber fit to build the same. LXXII Up with the lark the sorrowful duke arose, A mourner chief at Dudon's burial, Of cypress sad a pile his friends compose Under a hill o'ergrown with cedars tall, Beside the hearse a fruitful palm-tree grows, Ennobled since by this great funeral, Where Dudon's corpse they softly laid in ground, The priest sung hymns, the soldiers wept around. LXXIII Among the boughs, they here and there bestow Ensigns and arms, as witness of his praise, Which he from Pagan lords, that did them owe, Had won in prosperous fights and happy frays: His shield they fixed on the hole below, And there this distich under-writ, which says, "This palm with stretched arms, doth overspread The champion Dudon's glorious carcase dead." LXXIV This work performed with advisement good, Godfrey his carpenters, and men of skill In all the camp, sent to an aged wood, With convoy meet to guard them safe from ill. Within a valley deep this forest stood, To Christian eyes unseen, unknown, until A Syrian told the duke, who thither sent Those chosen workmen that for timber went. LXXV And now the axe raged in the forest wild, The echo sighed in the groves unseen, The weeping nymphs fled from their bowers exiled, Down fell the shady tops of shaking treen, Down came the sacred palms, the ashes wild, The funeral cypress, holly ever green, The weeping fir, thick beech, and sailing pine, The married elm fell with his fruitful vine. LXXVI The shooter grew, the broad-leaved sycamore, The barren plantain, and the walnut sound, The myrrh, that her foul sin doth still deplore, The alder owner of all waterish ground, Sweet juniper, whose shadow hurteth sore, Proud cedar, oak, the king of forests crowned; Thus fell the trees, with noise the deserts roar; The beasts, their caves, the birds, their nests forlore.
Go to the Fourth Book.