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It happen'd once, that, slumbering as he lay,
Book II. He dream'd (his dream began at break of day) That Hermes o'er his head in air appear'd, While Arcite lives in bliss, the story turns And with soft words his drooping spirits cheerd: Where hopeless Palamon in prison mourns. His hat, adornd with wings, disclos'd the god, For six long years immur'd, the captiv'd knight And in his hand he bore the sleep-compelling rod : Had dragg'd his chains, and scarcely seen the light Such as he seem'd, when, at his sire's command, Lost liberty, and love, at once he bore : On Argus' head he laid the snaky wand.
His prison pain'd him much, his passion more: “ Arise,” he said, " to conquering Athens go, Nor dares he hope his fetters to remove, There Fate appoints an end to all thy woe.” Nor ever wishes to be free from love. The fright awaken'd Arcite with a start, | But when the sixth revolving year was run, Against his bosom bounc'd his heaving heart; And May within the Twins receiv'd the Sun, But soon he said, with scarce recover'd breath, Were it by Chance, or forceful Destiny, “And thither will I go, to meet my death, Which forms in causes first whate'er shall be, Sure to be slain, but death is my desire,
Assisted by a friend, one moonless night, Since in Emilia's sight I shall expire."
This Palamon from prison took his flight:
Of wine and honey, mix'd with added store
And snor'd secure till morn, his senses bound
Short was the night, and careful Palamon The world may search in vain with all their eyes, Sought the next covert ere the rising Sun. But never penetrate through this disguise.
A thick-spread forest near the city lay, Thanks to the change which grief and sickness To this with lengthen'd strides he took his way, give,
(For far he could not fly, and fear'd the day). In low estate I may securely live,
Safe from pursuit, he meant to shun the light, And see unknown my mistress day by day." Till the brown shadows of the friendly night He said ; and cloth'd himself in coarse array: To Thebes might favor his intended flight. A laboring hind in show, then forth he went, When to his country come, his next design And to th' Athenian towers his journey bent: Was all the Theban race in arms to join, One squire attended in the same disguise,
And war on Theseus, till he lost his life Made conscious of his master's enterprise.
Or won the beauteous Emily to wife. Arriv'd at Athens, soon he came to court,
Thus while his thoughts the lingering day beguile, Unknown, unquestion'd, in that thick resort : To gentle Arcite let us turn our style; Proffering for hire his service at the gate,
Who little dreamt how nigh he was to care, To drudge, draw water, and to run or wait. Till treacherous Fortune caught him in the snare. So fair befell him, that for little gain
The morning-lark, the messenger of Day, He serv'd at first Emilia's chamberlain :
Saluted in her song the morning grey ; And, watchful all advantages to spy,
And soon the Sun arose with beams so bright, Was still at hand, and in his master's eye:
That all th' horizon laugh'd to see the joyous sight; And as his bones were big, and sinews strong He with his tepid rays the rose renews, Refus'd no toil, that could to slaves belong; And licks the drooping leaves, and dries the dews, But from deep wells with engines water drew, When Arcite left his bed, resolv'd to pay And us'd his noble hands the wood to hew. Observance to the month of merry May : He pass'd a year at least attending thus
Forth on his fiery steed betimes he rode, On Emily, and callid Philostratus.
That scarcely prints the turf on which he trod : But never was there man of his degree
At ease he seem'd, and, prancing o'er the plains, So much esteem'd, so well belov'd, as he. Turn'd only to the grove his horse's reins, So gentle of condition was he known,
The grove I nam'd before ; and, lighted there, That through the court his courtesy was blown. A woodbine garland sought to crown his hair ; All think him worthy of a greater place,
Then turn'd his face against the rising day, And recommend him to the royal grace,
And rais'd his voice to welcome in the May. [wear, That, exercis'd within a higher sphere,
“For thee, sweet month, the groves green liveries His virtues more conspicuous might appear. If not the first, the fairest of the year: Thus by the general voice was Arcite prais'd, For thee the Graces lead the dancing Hours, And by great Theseus to high favor rais'd: And Nature's ready pencil paints the flowers : Among his menial servants first enroll'd,
When thy short reign is past, the feverish Sun And largely entertain'd with sums of gold : The sultry tropic fears, and moves more slowly on Besides what secretly from Thebes was sent, So may thy tender blossoms fear no blight, Of his own income, and his annual rent:
Nor goats with venom'd teeth thy tendrils bite, This well employ'd, he purchas'd friends and As thou shalt guide my wandering feet to find fame,
The fragrant greens I seek, my brows to bind." But cautiously conceal'd from whence it came. His vows addressid, within the grove he stray'd Thus for three years he liv'd with large increase, Till Fate, or Fortune, near the place convey'd In arms of honor, and esteem in peace;
His steps where secret Palamon was laid. To Theseus' person he was ever near;
Full little thought of him the gentle knight, And Theseus for his virtues held him deai Who, flying death, had there conceald his flight,
In brakes and brambles hid, and shunning mortal For, though unarm'd I am, and (freed by chance) sight:
Am here without my sword, or pointed lance ; And less he knew him for his hated foe,
Hope not, base man, unquestion'd hence to go, But fear'd him as a man he did not know.
For I am Palamon, thy mortal foe.” But as it has been said of ancient years,
Arcite, who heard his tale, and knew the man, That fields are full of eyes, and woods have ears; His sword unsheath'd, and fiercely thus began : For this the wise are ever on their guard,
“ Now by the gods who govern Heaven above, For, unforeseen, they say, is unprepar'd.
Wert thou not weak with hunger, mad with love, Uncautious Arcite thought himself alone,
That word had been thy last, or in this grove And less than all suspected Palamon, [grove, This hand should force thee to renounce thy love. Who, listening, heard him, while he search'd the The surety which I gave thee, I defy : And loudly sung his roundelay of love :
Fool, not to know, that love endures no tie, But on the sudden stopp'd, and silent stood, And Jove but laughs at lovers' perjury. As lovers often muse, and change their mood; Know I will serve the fair in thy despite; Now high as Heaven, and then as low as Hell; But since thou art my kinsman, and a knight, Now up, now down, as buckets in a well:
Here, have my faith, to-morrow in this grove For Venus, like her day, will change her cheer, Our arms shall plead the titles of our love : And seldom shall we see a Friday clear.
And Heaven so help my right, as I alone [known; Thus Arcite, having sung, with alter'd hue Will come, and keep the cause and quarrel both unSunk on the ground, and from his bosom drew With arms of proof both for myself and thee; A desperate sigh, accusing Heaven and Fate, Choose thou the best, and leave the worst to me. And angry Juno's unrelenting hate.
And, that a better ease thou may’st abide, “Curs'd be the day when first I did appear; Bedding and clothes I will this night provide, Let it be blotted from the calendar,
And needful sustenance, that thou may'st be Lest it pollute the month, and poison all the year. A conquest better won, and worthy me." Still will the jealous queen pursue our race? His promise Palamon accepts; but pray'd, Cadmus is dead, the Theban city was:
To keep it better than the first he made. Yet ceases not her hate : for all who come
Thus fair they parted till the morrow's dawn, From Cadmus are involv'd in Cadmus' doom. For each had laid his plighted faith to pawn. I suffer for my blood : unjust decree!
O Love! thou sternly dost thy power maintain, That punishes another's crime on me.
And wilt not bear a rival in thy reign, In mean estate I serve my mortal foe,
Tyrants and thou all fellowship disdain.
Both in despair, yet each would love alone.
His foe with bedding and with food supplied : That side of Heaven is all my enemy :
Then, ere the day, two suits of armor sought, Mars ruin'd Thebes: his mother ruin'd me. Which borne before him on his steed he brought : Of all the royal race remains but one
Both were of shining steel, and wrought so pure, Besides myself, the unhappy Palamon,
As might the strokes of two such arms endure. Whom Theseus holds in bonds, and will not free; Now, at the time, and in th'appointed place, Without a crime, except his kin to me.
The challenger and challeng'd face to face Yet these, and all the rest, I could endure; Approach ; each other from afar they knew, But love's a malady without a cure;
And from afar their hatred chang'd their hue. Fierce Love has pierc'd me with his fiery dart, So stands the Thracian herdsman with his spear, He fires within, and hisses at my heart.
Full in the gap, and hopes the hunted bear, Your eyes, fair Emily, my fate pursue ;
And hears him rustling in the wood, and sees I suffer for the rest, I die for you.
His course at distance by the bending trees,
And thinks, here comes my mortal enemy,
This while he thinks, he lifts aloft his dart;
The veins pour back the blood, and fortify the heart His ears ring inward, and his senses fail'd.
Thus pale they meet; their eyes with fury burn; No word miss'd Palamon of all he spoke,
None greets; for none the greeting will return: But soon to deadly pale he chang'd his look : But in dumb surliness, each arm'd with care He trembled every limb, and felt a smart, His foe profest, as brother of the war: As if cold steel had glided through his heart: Then both, no moment lost, at once advance No longer staid, but starting from his place, Against each other, arm’d with sword and lance : Discover'd stood, and show'd his hostile face: They lash, they foin, they pass, they strive to bore - False traitor Arcite, traitor to thy blood,
Their corslets, and the thinnest parts explore. Bound by thy sacred oath to seek my good, Thus two long hours in equal arms they stood, Now art thou found forsworn, for Emily;
And wounded, wound; till both were bath'd in And darst attempt her love, for whom I die.
blood; So hast thou cheated Theseus with a wile, And not a foot of ground had either got, Against thy vow, returning to beguile
As if the world depended on the spot. Under a borrow'd name : as false to me,
Fell Arcite like an angry tiger far'd, So false thou art to him who set thee free: And like a lion Palamon appear'd: But rest assur'd, that either thou shalt die,
Or as two boars whom love to battle draws, Or else renounce thy claim in Emily:
With rising bristles, and with frothy jaws,
Their adverse breasts with tusks oblique they wound, But first contracted, that if ever found
Aspiring to the bed of beauteous Emily.
Nor promis'd I thy prisoner to remain :
The love of liberty with life is given,
Thus without crime I fled; but farther know, This gentle knight, inspir'd by jolly May,
I with this Arcite am thy mortal foe : Forsook his easy couch at early day,
Then give me death, since I thy life pursue ; And to the wood and wilds pursued his way. For safeguard of thyself, death is my due. Beside him rode Hippolita the queen,
More wouldst thou know? I love bright Emily, And Emily attir'd in lively green,
And for her sake and in her sight will die : With horns, and hounds, and all the tuneful cry, But kill my rival too; for he no less To hunt a royal hart within the covert nigh: Deserves; and I thy righteous doom will bless, And as he follow'd Mars before, so now
Assur'd that what I lose, he never shall possess." He serves the goddess of the silver bow.
To this replied the stern Athenian prince, The way that Theseus took was to the wood And sourly smil'd: “In owning your offence, Where the two knights in cruel battle stood : You judge yourself; and I but keep record The lawn on which they fought, th'appointed place in place of law, while you pronounce the word. In which th' uncoupled hounds began the chase. Take your desert, the death you have decreed; Thither forth-right he rode to rouse the prey, I seal your doom, and ratify the deed : That, shaded by the fern, in harbor lay;
By Mars, the patron of my arms, you die." And, thence dislodg'd, was wont to leave the wood, He said ; dumb Sorrow seiz'd the standers-by. For open fields, and cross the crystal flood. The queen above the rest, by nature good, Approach'd, and looking underneath the Sun, |(The pattern form’d of perfect womanhood) He saw proud Arcite, and fierce Palamon, For tender pity wept: when she began, In mortal battle doubling blow on blow,
Through the bright quire th' infectious virtue rari Like lightning flam'd their falchions to and fro, | All dropt their tears, ev'n the contended maid, And shot a dreadful gleam: so strong they strook, And thus among themselves they softly said : There seem'd less force requir'd to fell an oak: “What eyes can suffer this unworthy sight! He gaz'd with wonder on their equal might, Two youths of royal blood, renown’d in fight, Look'd eager on, but knew not either knight: The mastership of Heaven in face and mind, Resolv'd to learn, he spurr'd his fiery steed And lovers, far beyond their faithless kind : With goring rowels to provoke his speed.
See their wide streaming wounds; they neither came The minute ended that began the race,
For pride of empire, nor desire of fame; So soon he was betwixt them on the place; Kings for kingdoms, madmen for applause; And with his sword unsheath'd, on pain of life But love for love alone ; that crowns the lover: Commands both combatants to cease their strife :
cause." Then with imperious tone pursues his threat: This thought, which ever bribes the beauteous kind “What are you? why in arms together met? Such pity wrought in every lady's mind, How dares your pride presume against my laws, They left their steeds, and prostrate on the place, As in a listed field to fight your cause?
From the fierce king implor'd th' offenders grace. Unask'd the royal grant; no marshal by,
He paus'd awhile, stood silent in his mood
Then reasons with himself; and first he finds
cause ? Let neither find thy grace, for grace is cruelty. The prisoner freed himself by Nature's laws: Me first, o kill me first ; and cure my woe; Born free, he sought his right: the man he freed Then sheathe the sword of Justice on my foe : Was perjur’d, but his love excus'd the deed." Or kill him first; for when his name is heard, Thus pondering, he look'd under with his eyes, He foremost will receive his due reward.
And saw the women's tears, and heard their cries Arcite of Thebes is he; thy mortal foe :
Which moy'd compassion more; he shook his head On whom thy grace did liberty bestow;
| And, softly sighing, to himself he said
“ Curse on th' unpardoning prince, whom tears And grace his arms so far in equal fight, can draw
From out the bars to force his opposite, To no remorse ; who rules by lions' law;
Or kill, or make him recreant on the plain, And deaf to prayers, by no submission bow'd, The prize of valor and of love shall gain ; Rends all alike; the penitent, and proud."
The vanquish'd party shall their claim release, At this, with look serene, he rais'd his head ; And the long jars conclude in lasting peace. Reason resum'd her place, and Passion fled : The charge be mine t'adorn the chosen ground, Then thus aloud he spoke : “ The power of Love, The theatre of war, for champions so renown'd; In Earth, and seas, and air, and Heaven above, And take the patron's place of either knight, Rules, unresisted, with an awful nod ;
With eyes impartial to behold the fight; By daily miracles declar'd a god :
And Heaven of me so judge, as I shall judge aright. He blinds the wise, gives eye-sight to the blind; If both are satisfied with this accord, And moulds and stamps anew the lover's mind. Swear by the laws of knighthood on my sword." Behold that Arcite, and this Palamon,
Who now but Palamon exults with joy? Freed from my fetters, and in safety gone,
And ravish'd Arcite seems to touch the sky: What hinder'd either in their native soil
The whole assembled troop was pleas'd as well, At ease to reap the harvest of their toil;
Extol th'award, and on their knees they fell But Love, their lord, did otherwise ordain, To bless the gracious king. The knights, with leave And brought them in their own despite again, Departing from the place, his last commands receive; To suffer death deserv'd; for well they know, On Emily with equal ardor look, "Tis in my power, and I their deadly foe;
And from her eyes their inspiration took : The proverb holds, that to be wise and love, From thence to Thebes' old walls pursue their way Is hardly granted to the gods above.
Each to provide his champions for the day.
If he forgot the vast magnificence
He first inclos'd for lists a level ground,
Height was allow'd for him above to see.
Eastward was built a gate of marble white; And all are fools and lovers, first or last:
The like adorn'd the western opposite. This both by others and myself I know,
A nobler object than this fabric was, For I have serv'd their sovereign long ago; |Rome never saw: nor of so vast a space : Oft have been caught within the winding train For, rich with spoils of many a conquer'd land, Of female snares, and felt the lover's pain, (strain. All arts and artists Theseus could command : And learn'd how far the god can human hearts con- Who sold for hire, or wrought for better fame, To this remembrance, and the prayers of those The master-painters, and the carvers, came. Who for th' offending warriors interpose,
So rose within the compass of the year
An age's work, a glorious theatre.
A temple, sacred to the queen of love;
An altar stood below: on either hand This freely sworn, the knights their grace obtain'd. A priest with roses crown'd, who held a myrtle wand Then thus the king his secret thoughts resplain'd: | The dome of Mars was on the gate oppos'd, “ If wealth, or honor, or a royal race,
And on the north a turret was inclos'd Or each, or all, may win a lady's grace,
Within the wall, of alabaster white, Then either of you knights may well deserve And crimson coral, for the queen of night, A princess born ; and such is she you serve: Who takes in sylvan sports her chaste delight. For Emily is sister to the crown,
Within these oratories might you see And but too well to both her beauty known : Rich carvings, portraitures, and imagery : But should you combat till you both were dead, Where every figure to the life express'd Two lovers cannot share a single bed :
The godhead's power to whom it was address'd. As therefore both are equal in degree,
In Venus' temple on the sides were seen The lot of both be left to Destiny.
The broken slumbers of enamour'd men,
That, made in lust, conclude in perjuries. And then the knight, whom Fate or happy Chance Beauty, and Youth, and Wealth, and Luxury, Shall with his friends to victory advance, | And sprightly Hope, and short-enduring Joy;
And sorceries to raise th’infernal powers,
Thence issued such a blast, and hollow roar, And sigils, fram'd in planetary hours :
As threatend from the hinge to heave the door ; Expense, and Afterthought, and idle Care,
In through that door, a northern light there shone ; And Doubts of motley hue, and dark Despair; "Twas all it had, for windows there were none; Suspicions, and fantastical Surmise,
The gate was adamant, eternal frame! And Jealousy suffus'd, with jaundice in her eyes, Which, hew'd by Mars himself, from Indian quarries Discoloring all she view'd, in tawny dressid,
came, Down-look'd, and with a cuckoo on her fist. The labor of a god; and all along Opposid to her, on t'other side advance
Tough iron plates were clench'd to make it strong. The costly feast, the carol, and the dance,
A tun about was every pillar there; Minstrels, and music, poetry, and play,
A polish'd mirror shone not half so clear. And balls by nights, and tournaments by day.
There saw I how the secret felon wrought,
Soft smiling, and demurely looking down,
But hid the dagger underneath the gown: And loose array, sat portress Idleness :
Th'assassinating wife, the household fiend, There, by the fount, Narcissus pin'd alone : And, far the blackest there, the traitor-friend. There Samson was; with wiser Solomon,
On t'other side there stood Destruction bare, And all the mighty names by love undone.
Unpunish'd Rapine, and a waste of war. Medea's charms were there, Circean feasts, Contest, with sharpen'd knives, in cloisters drawn, With bowls that turn'd enamour'd youth to beasts. And all with blood bespread the holy lawn. Here might be seen, that beauty, wealth, and wit, Loud menaces were heard, and foul Disgrace, And prowese, to the power of love submit: And bawling Infamy, in language base : (place. The spreading snare for all mankind is laid; Till sense was lost in sound, and Silence fled the And lovers all betray, and are betray'd.
The slayer of himself yet saw I there, The goddess' self some noble hand had wrought; The gore congeal'd was clotted in his hair: Smiling she seem'd, and full of pleasing thought: With eyes half clos'd, and gaping mouth, he lay, From ocean as she first began to rise,
And grim, as when he breath'd his sudden soul And smooth'd the ruffled seas and clear'd the skies,
And arm'd Complaint on Theft; and cries of Blood Her turtles fann'd the buxom air above;
There was the murder'd corpse, in covert laid, And, by his mother, stood an infant Love,
And violent Death in thousand shapes display'd; With wings unfledg'd; his eyes were banded The city to the soldiers' rage resign'd; o'er;
Successless wars, and Poverty behind ; His hands a bow, his back a quiver bore,
Ships burnt in fight, or forc'd on rocky shores, Supplied with arrows bright and keen, a deadly store. And the rash hunter strangled by the boars : But in the dome of mighty Mars the red
The new-born babe by nurses overlaid; With different figures all the sides were spread; And the cook caught within the raging fire he made This temple, less in form, with equal grace, All ills of Mars's nature, fame and steel; Was imitative of the first in Thrace :
The gasping charioteer, beneath the wheel For that cold region was the lov'd abode
Of his own car; the ruin'd house, that falls And sovereign mansion of the warrior god. And intercepts her lord betwixt the walls : The landscape was a forest wide and bare,
The whole division, that to Mars pertains, Where neither beast, nor human kind repair; All trades of death, that deal in steel for gains, The fowl, that scent afar, the borders fly,
Were there : the butcher, armorer, and smith,
Sustain'd but by a slender twine of thread.
These, and a thousand more, the fane adorn;
of the red star, in his revolving course. The temple stood of Mars armipotent:
The form of Mars high on a chariot stood, The frame of burnis'i'd steel, that cast a glare All sheath'd in arms, and gruffly look'd the god : From far, and seem'd to thaw the freezing air. Two geomantic figures were display'd A straight long entry to the temple led,
Above his head, a warrior and a maid ; Blind with high walls, and Horror over-head: One when direct, and one when retrograde.