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Tir'd with deformities of death, I haste
There breathes not scarce a man on British ground To the third temple of Diana chaste.
(An isle for love and arms of old renown'd) A sylvan scene with various greens was drawn, But would have sold his life to purchase fame,
se on the sides, and on the midst a lawn: To Palamon or Arcite sent his name: The silver Cynthia, with her nymphs around, And had the land selected of the best, Pursued the flying deer, the woods with horns re- Half had come hence, and let the world provide the sound :
rest. Calisto there stood manifest of shame,
A hundred knights with Palamon there came, And, turn'd a bear, the northern star became : Approv'd in fight, and men of mighty name; Her son was next, and, by peculiar grace,
Their arms were several, as their nations were, In the cold circle held the second place:
But furnish'd all alike with sword and spear. The stag Acteon in the stream had spied
Some wore coat armor, imitating scale: The naked huntress, and, for seeing, died :
And next their skins were stubborn shirts of mail. His hounds, unknowing of his change, pursue Some wore a breast-plate and a light juppon, The chase, and their mistaken master slew. Their horses cloth'd with rich caparison : Peneian Daphne too was there to see,
Some for defence would leathern bucklers use, Apollo's love before, and now his tree:
Of folded hides; and others shields of pruce. Th' adjoining fane th' assembled Greeks express'd, One hung a pole-ax at his saddle-bow, And hunting of the Caledonian beast.
And one a heavy mace to shun the foe. Oenides' valor, and his envied prize;
One for his legs and knees provided well, The fatal power of Atalanta's eyes;
With jambeaux arm'd, and double plates of steel. Diana's vengeance on the victor shown,
This on his helmet wore a lady's glove, The murderess mother, and consuming son; And that a sleeve embroider'd by his love. The Volscian queen extended on the plain; With Palamon, above the rest in place, The treason punish'd, and the traitor slain. Lycurgus came, the surly king of Thrace: The rest were various huntings, well design'd, Black was his beard, and manly was his face ; And savage beasts destroy'd, of every kind. The balls of his broad eyes roll'd in his head, The graceful goddess was array'd in green; And glar'd betwixt a yellow and a red : About her feet were little beagles seen,
He look'd a lion with a gloomy stare, That watch'd with upward eyes the motions of their And o'er his eyebrows hung his matted hair: queen.
Big-bon'd, and large of limbs, with sinews strong, Her legs were buskin'd, and the left before; Broad-shoulder'd, and his arms were round and long. In act to shoot, a silver bow she bore,
Four milk-white bulls (the Thracian use of old) And at her back a painted quiver wore.
Were yok'd to draw his car of burnish'd gold. She trod a wexing moon, that soon would wane, Upright he stood, and bore aloft his shield, And drinking borrow'd light, be filled again;
Conspicuous from afar, and overlook'd the field. With downcast eyes, as seeming to survey
His surcoat was a bear-skin on his back; The dark dominions, her alternate sway.
His hair hung long behind, and glossy raven black. Before her stood a woman in her throes,
His ample forehead bore a coronet, And callid Lucina's aid, her burden to disclose. With sparkling diamonds and with rubies set: All these the painter drew with such command, Ten brace, and more, of greyhounds, snowy fair, That Nature snatch'd the pencil from his hand, And tall as stags, ran loose, and cours'd around his Asham'd and angry that his art could feign
chair, And mend the tortures of a mother's pain. A match for pards in flight, in grappling for the bear: Theseus beheld the fanes of every god,
With golden muzzles all their mouths were bound, And thought his mighty cost was well bestow'd. And collars of the same their necks surround. So princes now their poets should regard ;
Thus through the fields Lycurgus took his way: But few can write, and fewer can reward. His hundred knights attend in pomp and proud
The theatre thus rais'd, the lists inclos'd, And all with vast magnificence dispos'd,
To match this monarch, with strong Arcite came We leave the monarch pleas'd, and haste to bring | Emetrius, king of Inde, a mighty name, The knights to combat; and their arms to sing. On a bay courser, goodly to behold,
The trappings of his horse adorn'd with barbarous Book III.
Not Mars bestrode a steed with greater grace; THE day approach'd when Fortune should decide His surcoat o'er his arms was cloth of Thrace, Th' important enterprise, and give the bride; Adorn'd with pearls, all orient, round, and great; For now, the rivals round the world had sought, His saddle was of gold, with emeralds set. And each his rival, well appointed, brought. His shoulders large, a mantle did attire, The nations, far and near, contend in choice, With rubies thick, and sparkling as the fire : And send the flower of war by public voice; His amber-color'd locks in ringlets run, That after, or before, were never known
With graceful negligence, and shone against the Sun. Such chiefs, as each an army seem'd alone : His nose was aquiline, his eyes were blue, Beside the champions, all of high degree,
Ruddy his lips, and fresh and fair his hue : Who knighthood lov'd, and deeds of chivalry, Some sprinkled freckles on his face were seen, Throng'd to the lists, and envied to behold Whose dusk set off the whiteness of the skin : The names of others, not their own, enroll'd. His awful presence did the crowd surprise, Nor seems it strange; for every noble knight Nor durst the rash spectator meet his eyes, Who loves the fair, and is endu'd with might, Eyes that confess'd him born for kingly sway, In sui h a quarrel would be proud to fight. So fierce, they flash'd intolerable day
His age in Nature's youthful prime appear'd, Alas! I have not words to tell my grief;
We groan, but cannot speak, in greater pain.
So grant my suit, as I enforce my might,
In love to be thy champion, and thy knight;
A servant to thy sex, a slave to thee,
In my divine Emilia make me blest,
On whom he favors to confer the prize ;
The Fates but only spin the coarser clue,
The rest among the rubbish may they sweep, The town was all a jubilee of feasts ;
Or add it to the yarn of some old miser's heap. So Theseus will’d, in honor of his guests ; But, if you this ambitious prayer deny, Himself with open arms the king embrac'd, (A wish, I grant, beyond mortality) Then all the rest in their degrees were grac'd. Then let me sink beneath proud Arcite's arms, No harbinger was needful for a night,
And, I once dead, let him possess her charms." For every house was proud to lodge a knight. Thus ended he; then, with observance due, I pass the royal treat, nor must relate
The sacred incense on her altar threw : The gifts bestow'd, nor how the champions sate; The curling smoke mounts heavy from the fires ; Who first, or last, or how the knights address'd At length it catches flame, and in a blaze expires; Their vows, or who was fairest at the feast; At once the gracious goddess gave the sign, Whose voice, whose graceful dance, did most sur. Her statue shook, and trembled all the shrine: prise;
Pleas'd Palamon the tardy omen took: Soft amorous sighs, and silent love of eyes. For, since the flames pursu'd the trailing smoke, The rivals call my Muse another way,
He knew his boon was granted ; but the day To sing their vigils for th' ensuing day.
To distance driven, and joy adjourn'd with lusse "Twas ebbing darkness, past the noon of night,
delay. And Phospher, on the confines of the light, Now Morn with rosy light had streak'd the sky, Promis'd the Sun, ere day began to spring; Up rose the Sun, and up rose Emily ; The tuneful lark already stretch'd her wing, (sing : Address'd her early steps to Cynthia's fane, And, flickering on her nest, made short essays to In state attended by her maiden train, When wakeful Palamon, preventing day,
Who bore the vests that holy rites require, Took, to the royal lists, his early way,
Incense, and odorous gums, and cover'd fire. To Venus at her fane, in her own house, to pray. The plenteous horns with pleasant mead they crown, There, falling on his knees before her shrine, Nor wanted aught besides in honor of the Moon. He thus implor'd with prayers her power divine. Now while the temple smok'd with hallow'd steam “Creator Venus, genial power of love,
They wash the virgin in a living stream: The bliss of men below, and gods above!
The secret ceremonies I conceal, Beneath the sliding Sun thou runn'st thy race, Uncouth, perhaps unlawful, to reveal: Dost fairest shine, and best become thy place. But such they were as pagan use requir'd, For thee the winds their eastern blasts forbear. Perform'd by women when the men retir'd, Thy month reveals the spring, and opens all the year. Whose eyes profane their chaste mysterious rites Thee, Goddess, thee the storms of winter fly, Might turn to scandal, or obscene delights. Earth smiles with flowers renewing, laughs the sky, Well-meaners think no harm; but for the rest, And birds to lays of love their tuneful notes apply. Things sacred they pervert, and silence is the best. For thee the lion lothes the taste of blood, Her shining hair, uncomb'd, was loosely spread, And roaring hunts his female through the wood: A crown of mastless oak adorn'd her head : For thee the bulls rebellow through the groves, When to the shrine approach'd, the spotless maid And tempt the stream, and snuff their absent loves. Had kindling fires on either altar laid, "Tis thine, whate'er is pleasant, good, or fair: (The rites were such as were observ'd of old, All nature is thy province, life thy care;
By Statius in his Theban story told.) Thou mad'st the world, and dost the world repair. Then kneeling with her hands across her breast, Thou gladder of the mount of Cytheron,
Thus lowly she preferr'd her chaste request. Increase of Jove, companion of the Sun;
"O goddess, haunter of the woodland green, If e'er Adonis touch'd thy tender heart,
To whom both Heaven and Earth and seas are scen; lave pity, goddess, for thou know'st the smart. Queen of the nether skies, where half the vear
Thy silver beams descend, and light the gloomy sphere; Then sighing she return'd: but smil'd betwixt,
|T" adore with pagan rites the power omnipotent: Nor know the name of mother or of wife.
| Then prostraie, low before his altar lay, Thy votress from my tender years I am,
And rais'd his manly voice, and thus began to pray And love, like thee, the woods and sylvan game. · Strong god of arms, whose iron sceptre sways Like death, thou know'st, I lothe the nuptial state, The freezing north, and Hyperborean seas, And man, the tyrant of our sex, I hate,
And Scythian colds, and Thracia's winter coast, A lowly servant, but a lofty mate:
Where stand thy steeds, and thou art honor'd most
Terror is thine, and wild amazement, flung
And force is added to the fainting crew.
If aught I have achiev'd deserve thy care: Or, if my frowning stars have so decreed,
If to my utmost power with sword and shield That one must be rejected, one succeed,
I dar'd the death, unknowing how to yield, Make him my lord, within whose faithful breast And, falling in my rank, still kept the field : Is fix'd my image, and who loves me best.
Then let my arms prevail, by thee sustain'd, But oh! ev'n that avert! I choose it not,
That Emily by conquest may be gain'd. But take it as the least unhappy lot.
Have pity on my pains ; nor those unknown A maid I am, and of thy virgin train ;
To Mars, which, when a lover, were his own Oh, let me stiil that spotless name retain!
Venus, the public care of all above,
Thy stubborn heart has soften'd into love:
When yielded she lay curling in thy arms,
When every god that saw thee wish'd thy place!
And make me conquer in my patron's right:
The fool of love, unpractis'd to persuade:
But, caught myself, lie struggling in the snare :
Then shook the sacred shrine, and sudden light Endued by force I gain the victory; Sprung through the vaulted roof, and made the Then for the fire which warm'd thy gen'rous heart, temple bright.
Pity thy subject's pains, and equal smart. The power, behold! the power in glory shone, So be the morrow's sweat and labor mine, By her bent bow and her keen arrows known; The palm and honor of the conquest thine : The rest, a huntress issuing from the wood,
Then shall the war, and stern debate, and strife Reclining on her cornel spear she stood.
Immortal, be the business of my life; Then gracious thus began: " Dismiss thy fear, And in thy fane, the dusty spoils among, And Heaven's unchang'd decrees attentive hear: High on the burnish'd roof, my banner shall be More powerful gods have torn thee from my side,
hung, Unwilling to resign, and doom'd a bride :
Rank'd with my champion's bucklers, and below, The two contending knights are weigh'd above; With arms revers'd, th' achievements of my foe: One Mars protects, and one the queen of love : And while these limbs the vital spirit feeds, But which the man, is in the Thunderer's breast; While day to night, and night to day succeeds, This he pronounc'd, 'tis he who loves thee best. Thy smoking altar shall be fat with food The fire, that once extinct reviv'd again,
Of incense, and the grateful steam of blood;
Burnt-offerings morn and evening shall be thine:
Which from my birth inviolate I bear,
So may my arms with victory be blest, Nor aruite abandon your once favor'd maid." I ask no more ; let Fate dispose the rest."
The champion ceas'd ; there follow'd in the close In Athens all was pleasure, mirth, and play, A hollow groan : a murmuring wind arose ; All proper to the spring, and sprightly May, The rings of iron, that on the doors were hung Which every soul inspir'd with such delight, Sent out a jarring sound, and harshly rung; 'Twas jesting all the day, and love at night. The bolted gates flew open at the blast,
Heaven smil'd, and gladded was the heart of man; The storm rush'd in, and Arcite, stood aghast : And Venus had the world as when it first began. The flames were blown aside, yet shone they bright, At length in sleep their bodies they compose, Fann'd by the wind, and gave a ruffled light. And dreamt the future fight, and early rose. Then from the ground a scent began to rise,
Now scarce the dawning day began to spring, Sweet-smelling as accepted sacrifice:
As at a signal given, the streets with clamors ring : This omen pleas'd, and as the flames aspire At once the crowd arose ; confus'd and high With odorous incense Arcite heaps the fire : Ev'n from the Heaven was heard a shouting cry, Nor wanted hymns to Mars, or heathen charms : For Mars was early up, and rous'd the sky. At length the nodding statue clash'd his arms, The gods came downward to behold the wars, And with a sullen sound and feeble cry,
Sharpening their sights, and leaning from their stars Half sunk, and half pronounc'd, the word of victory. The neighing of the generous horse was heard, For this, with soul devout, he thank'd the god, For battle by the busy groom prepard, And, of success secure, return'd to his abode. Rustling of harness, rattling of the shield,
These vows thus granted, raised a strife above, Clattering of armor, furbish'd for the field. Betwixt the god of war, and queen of love. Crowds to the castle mounted up the street, She granting first, had right of time to plead : Battering the pavement with their coursers' feet: But he had granted too, nor would recede.
The greedy sight might there devour the gold Jove was for Venus; but he fear'd his wife, Of glittering arms, too dazzling to behold: And seem'd unwilling to decide the strife :
And polish'd steel that cast the view aside, Till Saturn from his leaden throne arose,
And crested morions, with their plumy pride. And found a way the difference to compose: Knights, with a long retinue of their squires, Though sparing of his grace, to mischief bent, In gaudy liveries march, and quaint attires. He seldom does a good with good intent.
One lac'd the helm, another held the lance, Wayward, but wise ; by long experience taught A third the shining buckler did advance. To please both parties, for ill ends, he sought; The courser paw'd the ground with restless feet, For this advantage age from youth has won, And snorting foam'd, and champ'd the golden bit. As not to be outridden, though outrun.
The smiths and armorers on palfreys ride, By fortune he was now to Venus trin'd,
Files in their hands, and hammers at their side, And with stern Mars in Capricorn was join'd: And nails for loosen'd spears, and thongs for shields Of him disposing in his own abode,
provide. He sooth'd the goddess while he gull'd the god : The yeomen guard the streets, in seemly bands, “Cease, daughter, to complain, and stint the strife; And clowns come crowding on, with cudgels ir Thy Palamon shall have his promis'd wife:
their hands. And Mars, the lord of conquest, in the fight
The trumpets, next the gate, in order plac'd, With palm and laurel shall adorn his knight. Attend the sign to sound the martial blast; Wide is my course, nor turn I to my place
The palace-yard is filled with floating tides, Till length of time, and move with tardy pace. And the last comers bear the former to the sides. Man feels me, when I press th' ethereal plains, The throng is in the midst; the common crew My hand is heavy, and the wound remains.
Shut out, the hall admits the better few; Mine is the shipwreck, in a watery sign;
In knots they stand, or in a rank they walk, And in an earthy, the dark dungeon mine.
Serious in aspect, earnest in their talk; Cold shivering agues, melancholy care,
Factious, and favoring this or t'other side, And bitter blasting winds, and poison'd air,
As their strong fancy or weak reason guide: Are mine, and wilful death, resulting from despair. Their wagers back their wishes; numbers hold The throttling quinsy 'tis my star appoints, With the fair freckled king, and beard of gold : And rheumatisms ascend to rack the joints : So vigorous are his eyes, such rays they cast, When churls rebel against their native prince, So prominent his eagle's beak is plac'd. ( arm their hands, and furnish the pretence; But most their looks on the black monarch bend, And, housing in the lion's hateful sign,
His rising muscles and his brawn commend ;, Bought senates and deserting troops are mine. His double-biting ax and beaming spear, Mine is the privy poisoning ; I command
Each asking a gigantic force to rear. Unkindly seasons, and ungrateful land.
All spoke as partial favor mov'd the mind : By me kings' palaces are push'd to ground,
And, safe themselves, at others' cost divin'd. And miners crush'd beneath their mines are found. Wak'd by the cries, th' Athenian chief arose, "Twas I slew Samson, when the pillar'd hall | The knightly forms of combat to dispose ; Fell down, and crush'd the many with the fall. And passing through th'obsequious guards, he sate My looking is the fire of pestilence,
Conspicuous on a throne, sublime in state ; That sweeps at once the people and the prince. There, for the two contending knights he sent: Now weep no more, but trust thy grandsire's art. Arm'd cap-a-piè, with reverence low they bent ; Mars shall be pleas'd, and thou perform thy part. He smil'd on both, and with superior look 'Tis ill, though different your complexions are, Alike their offer'd adoration took. The family of Heaven for men should war." The people press on every side, to see Th' expedient pleas'd, where neither lost his right; Their awful prince, and hear his high decree. Mars had the day, and Venus had the night. Then signing to their heralds with his hand, The management they left to Chronos' care; They gave his orders from their lofty stand. How turn we to th' effect, and sing the war. Silence is thrice enjoin'd; then thus aloud
The king at arms bespeaks the knights and listening From east to west, look all the world around, crowd.
Two troops so match'd were never to be found; * Our sovereign lord has ponder'd in his mind Such bodies built for strength, of equal age, The means to spare the blood of gentle kind; In stature siz'd; so proud an equipage : And of his grace and inborn clemency,
The nicest eye could no distinction make, He modifies his first severe decree,
Where lay th' advantage, or what side to take. The keener edge of battle to rebate,
Thus rang'd, the herald for the last proclaims The troops for honor fighting, not for hate.
A silence, while they answer'd to their names :
And chief to chief, and troop to troop oppos’d.
At this, the challenger with fierce defy
With clangor rings the field, resounds the vaulted Of the tough ash, with the sharp grinded spear,
sky. But knights unhors'd may rise from off the plain, Their vizors closed, their lances in the rest, And fight on foot their honor to regain;
Or at the helmet pointed, or the crest; Nor, if at mischief taken, on the ground
They vanish from the barrier, speed the race,
And spurring see decrease the middle space.
And all at once the combatants are lost :
Darkling they join adverse, and shock unseen, Or yielded to his foe, concludes the strife.
Coursers with coursers justling, men with men : Thus dooms the lord: now valiant knights and young As laboring in eclipse, awhile they stay, Fight each his fill with swords and maces long." Till the next blast of wind restores the day.
The herald ends: the vaulted firmament They look anew: the beauteous form of fight With loud acclaims and vast applause is rent: Is chang'd, and war appears a grisly sight. “ Heaven guard a prince' so gracious and so good, Two troops in fair array one moment show'd, So just, and yet so provident of blood !"
The next, a field with fallen bodies strow'd : This was the general cry. The trumpets sound, Not half the number in their seats are found, And warlike symphony is heard around.
But men and steeds lie groveling in the ground. The marching troops through Athens take their way, The points of spears are stuck within the shield, The great earl-marshal orders their array.
The steeds without their riders scour the field. The fair from high the passing pomp behold; The knights unhors'd, on foot renew the fight; A rain of flowers is from the windows rollid. The glittering falchions cast a gleaming light : The casements are with golden tissue spread, Hauberks and helms are hew'd with many a wound And horses' hoofs, for earth, on silken tapestry tread; Out spins the streaming blood, and dyes the ground. The king goes midmost, and the rivals ride
The mighty maces with such haste descend, In equal rank, and close his either side.
They break the bones, and make the solid armor bend Next after these, there rode the royal wise,
This thrusts amid the throng with furious force; With Emily, the cause and the reward of strife. | Down goes, at once, the horseman and the horse : The following cavalcade, by three and three, That courser stumbles on the fallen steed, Proceed by titles marshall'd in degree.
And, floundering, throws the rider o'er his head. Thus through the southern gate they take their way, One rolls along, a foot-ball to his foes; And at the list arriv'd ere prime of day.
One with a broken truncheon deals his blows. There, parting from the king, the chiefs divide, This halting, this disabled with his wound, And, wheeling east and west, before their many ride. In triumph led, is to the pillar bound, Th' Athenian monarch mounts his throne on high, Where by the king's award he must abide : And after him the queen and Emily :
There goes a captive led on t'other side. Next these the kindred of the crown are grac'd By fits they cease; and, leaning on the lance, With nearer seats, and lords by ladies plac'd : Take breath awhile, and to new fight advance. Scarce were they seated, when, with clamors loud, Full oft the rivals met, and neither spar'd In rushed at once a rude promiscuous crowd ; His utmost force, and each forgot to ward. The guards and then each other overbear,
The head of this was to the saddle bent, And in a moment throng the spacious theatre. The other backward to the crupper sent: Now chang'd the jarring noise to whispers low, Both were by turns unhors'd; the jealous blows As winds forsaking seas more softly blow;
Fall thick and heavy, when on foot they close. When at the western gate, on which the car So deep their falchions bite, that every stroke Is plac'd aloft, that bears the god of war,
Pierc'd to the quick; and equal wounds they gave Proud Arcite entering arm'd before his train,
and took. Stops at the barrier, and divides the plain.
Borne far asunder by the tides of men, Red was his banner, and display'd abroad,
Like adamant and steel they meet again. The bloody colors of his patron god.
So when a tiger sucks the bullock's blood, At that self moment enters Palamon
A famish'd lion, issuing from the wood, The gate of Venus, and the rising-sun;
Roars lordly fierce, and challenges the food. Way'd by the wanton winds, his banner flies, Each claims possession, neither will obey, All maider white, and shares the people's eyes. But both their paws are fasten'd on the prey.