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It happen'd once, that, slumbering as he lay,
Lost liberty, and love, at once he bore : “ Arise,” he said, “ to conquering Athens go, His prison pain'd him much, his passion more : There Fate appoints an end to all thy woe.'
Nor dares he hope his fetters to remove, The fright awaken'd Arcite with a start,
Nor ever wishes to be free from love. Against his bosom bounced his heaving heart; But when the sixth revolving year was run, But soon he said, with scarce recover'd breath, And May within the Twins receiv'd the Sun, “ And thither will I go, to meet my death, Were it by Chance, or forceful Destiny, Sure to be slain, but death is my desire,
Which forms in causes first whate'er shall be, Since in Emilia's sight I shall expire.”
Assisted by a friend, one moonless night,
A pleasant beverage he prepar'd before
1 A sudden thought then starting in his mind, And snor'd secure till morn, his senses bound “ Since I in Arcite cannot Arcite find,
In slumber, and in long oblivion drown'd. The world may search in vain with all their eyes, Short was the night, and careful Palamon But never penetrate through this disguise.
Sought the next covert ere the rising Sun. Thanks to the change which grief and sickness A thick spread forest near the city lay, give,
To this with lengtben'd strides he took his way In low estate I may securely live,
(For far he could not fly, and fear'd the day And see unknown my mistress day by day." Safe from pursuit, he meant to shun the light, He said ; and cloth'd himself in coarse array : Till the brown shadows of the friendly night A labouring hind in show, then forth he went, To Thebes might favour his intended flight. And to th’ Athenian towers his journey bent: When to his country come, his next design One squire attended in the same disguise,
Was all the Theban race in arms to join, Made conscious of his master's enterprise.
And war on Theseus, till he lost his life Arriv'd at Athens, soon he came to court,
Or won the beauteous Emily to wife.
To gentle Arcite let us turn our style;
Till treacherous Fortune caught him in the share He serv'd at first Emilia's chamberlain :
The morning-lark, the messenger of Day, And, watchful all advantages to spy,
Saluted in her song the morning gray ; Was still at hand, and in his master's eye:
And soon the Sun arose with beams so bright, And as his bones were big, and sinews strong, That all th' horizon laugh’d to see the joyous sight Refus'd no toil, that could to slaves belong; He with his tepid rays the rose renews, But from deep wells with engines water drew, And licks the drooping leaves, and dries the des; And us'd his noble hands the wood to hew.
When Arcite left his bed, resolv'd to pay He pass'd a year at least attending thus
Observance to the month of merry May: On Emily, and call's Philostratus.
Forth on his fiery steed betimes he rode, But never was there man of his degree
That scarcely prints the turf on which he trod: So much esteem'd, so well belov'd as he.
At ease he seem'd, and, prancing o'er the plains So gentle of condition was he known,
Turn'd only to the grove his horse's reins, That through the court his courtesy was blown : The grove I nam’d before; and, lighted there, All think him worthy of a greater place,
A woodbine garland sought to crown his hair; And recommend him to the royal grace,
Then turn'd his face against the rising day, That, exercis'd within a higher sphere,
And rais’d his voice to welcome in the May. (wer His virtues more conspicuous might appear.
“ For thee, sweet month, the groves græn liverio Thus by the general voice was Arcite prais'd, If not the first, the fairest of the year : And by great Theseus to high favour rais'd: For thee the Graces lead the dancing Hours, Among his menial servants first enrollid,
And Nature's ready pencil paints the flowers: And largely entertain'd with sums of gold :
When thy short reign is past, the feverish Sun Besides what secretly from Thebes was sent, The sultry tropic fears, and moves more slowlyos Of his own income, and his annual rent:
So may thy tender blossoms fear no blight, This well employ'd, he purchas'd friends and Nor goats with venom'd teeth thy tendrils bite, fame,
As thou shalt guide my wandering feet to find But cautiously conceal'd from whence it came. The fragrant greens I seek, my brows to bind." Thus for three years he liv'd with large increase, His vows address’d, within the grove he stray'! In arms of honour, and esteem in peace;
Till Fate, or Fortune, near the place convey'd To Theseus' person he was ever near ;
His steps where secret Palamon was laid.
Full little thought of him the gentle knight,
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 cars; 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 arins 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.
i 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 mayst be Lest it pollute the month, and poison all the year. A conquest better won, and worthy me.” Sull 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. 1 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. The man who caus'd my country's overthrow. This was in Arcite prov'd, and Palamon ; This is not all; for Juno, to my shame,
Both in despair, yet each would love alone. Has forc'd me to forsake my former name;
Arcite return'd, and, as in honour ty'd, Arcite I was, Philostratus I am.
His foe with bedding and with food supply'd : That side of Heaven is all my enemy :
Then, ere the day, two suits of armour 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 foresworn, for Emily;
And wounded, wound; till both were bath'd in And dar’st 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
For this is he, who, with a borrow'd name
Aspiring to the bed of beauteous Emily.
My part remains; from Thebes my birth I own, One moment can retard th' appointed hour. And call myself th' unhappy Palamon. And some one day, some wondrous chance appears, Think me not like that man ; since no disgrace Which happen'd not in centuries of years :
Can force me to renounce the honour of my race. For sure, whate'er we mortals hate, or love, Know me for what I am : I broke my chain, Or hope, or fear, depends on powers above; Nor promis'd I thy prisoner to remain : They move our appetites to good or ill,
The love of liberty with life is given, And by foresight necessitate the will.
And life itself th' inferior gift of Heaven. In Theseus this appears ; whose youthful joy Thus without crime I fed; but farther know, Was beasts of chase in forests to destroy.
I with this Arcite am thy mortal foe : This gentle knight, inspir'd by jolly May,
Then give me death, since I thy life pursue ; Forsook his easy couch at early day,
For safeguard of thyself, death is my due. And to the wood and wilds pursued his way. More wouldst thou know? I love bright Emily, Beside him rode Hippolita the queen,
And for her sake and in her sight will die : And Emily attir'd in lively green,
But kill my rival too; for he no less With horns, and hounds, and all the tuneful cry, Deserves ; and I thy righteous doom will bless, To hunt a royal hart within the covert nigh: Assur'd that what I lose, he never shall possess." And as he follow'd Mars before, so now
To this reply'd the stern Athenian prince, He serves the goddess of the silver bow.
And sourly smild: “In owning your offence, The way that Theseus took was to the wood You judge yourself; and I but keep record Where the two knights in cruel battle stood : In place of law, while you pronounce the word. The lawn on which they fought, th' appointed place Take your desert, the death you have decreed; In which th' uncoupled hounds began the chase. I seal your doom, and ratify the deed : Thither forth-right he rode to rouse the prey, By Mars, the patron of my arms, you die." That, shaded by the fern, in harbour lay;
He said ; dumb Sorrow seiz'd the standers-by. And, thence dislodg'd, was wont to leave the wood, The queen above the rest, by nature good, For open fields, and cross the crystal flood. (The pattern form’d of perfect womanhood) Approach'd, and looking underneath the Sun, For tender pity wept : when she began, He saw proud Arcite, and fierce Palamon, Through the bright quire th' infectious virtue ran. In mortal battle doubling blow on blow,
All dropt their tears, ev'n the contended maid, Like lightning flam'd their faulchions to and fro, And thus among themselves they softly said : And shot a dreadful gleam : so strong they strook, “ What eyes can suffer this unworthy sight! There seem'd less force requir'd to fell an oak: Two youths of royal blood, renown'd in fight, He gaz'd with wonder on their equal might, The mastership of Heaven in face and mind, Look'd eager on, but knew not either knight : And lovers, far beyond their faithless kind : Resolv'd to learn, he spurr’d his fiery steed See their wide streaming wounds; they neither came With goring rowels to provoke his speed.
For pride of empire, nor desire of fame : The minute ended that began the race,
Kings for kingdoms, madmen for applause ; So soon he was betwixt them on the place ;
But love for love alone; that crowns the lover's And with his sword unsheath'd, on pain of life
cause. Commands both combatants to cease their strife : This thought, which ever bribes the beauteous kind, Then with imperious tone pursues his threat : Such pity wrought in every lady's mind, “ What are you? why in arms together met ? They left their steeds, and prostrate on the place, How dares your pride presume against my laws, From the fierce king, implor'd th' offenders grace. As in a listed field to fight your cause?
He paus'd awhile, stood silent in his mood Unask'd the royal grant; no marshal by,
(For yet his rage was boiling in his blood); As knightly rites require; nor judge to try?" But soon his tender mind th' impression felt, Then Palamon, with scarce recover'd breath, (As softest metals are not slow to melt Thus hasty spoke : “ We both deserve the death, And pity soonest runs in softest minds): And both would die , for look the world around, Then reasons with himself; and first he finds A pair so wretched is not to be found :
His passion cast a mist before his sense, Our life's a load; eneumber'd with the charge, And either made, or magnify'd th' offence. We long to set th' imprison'd soul at large. “ Offence! of what? to whom ? who judg'd the Now, as thou art a sovereign judge, decree
cause? The rightful doom of death to him and me, The prisoner freed himself by Nature's laws : Let neither find thy grace, for grace is cruelty. Born free, he sought his right : the man he freed Me first, o kill me first ; and cure my woe; Was perjur'd, but his love excus'd the deed." Then sheath the sword of Justice on iny foe : Thus pondering, he look'd under with his eyes, Or kill him first; for when his name is heard, And saw the women's tears, and heard their cries, He foremost will receive his due reward.
Which mov'd compassion more; he shook his head, Arcite of Thebes is he; thy mortal foe:
And softly sighing to himself he said : On whom thy grace did liberty bestow;
“ 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, e And deaf to prayers, by no submission bow'd, The prize of valour and of love shall gain ;
Rends all alike; the penitent, and proud." The vanquish'd party shall their claim release,
With eyes impartial to behold the fight;
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 ardour 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 bis champions for the day.
If he forgot the vast magnificence
He first enclos'd for lists a level ground,
The forin was circular; and all without
A trench was sunk, to moat the place about.
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,
All arts and artists Theseus could command : And learn'd how far the god can human hearts Who sold for hire, or wrought for better fame, constrain.
The master-painters, and the carvers, came.
An age's work, a glorious theatre.
Then o'er its eastern gate was rais'd, above, To do me homage as their sovereign lord;
A temple, sacred to the queen of love; And as my vassals, to their utmost might,
An altar stood below; on either hand Assist my person, and assert my right.'
A priest with roses crown'd, who held a myrtle wand. This freely sworn, the knights their grace obtain'd. The dome of Mars was on the gate opposid, Then thus the king his secret thoughts explain'd: And on the north a turret was enclos'd, “ If wealth, or honour, or a royal race,
Within the wall, of alabaster white, Or cach, or all, may win a lady's grace,
And crimson coral, for the queen of night, Then either of you knights may well deserve Who takes in sylvan sports her chaste delight. A princess born; and such is she you serve :
Within these oratories might you see For Emily is sister to the crown,
Rich carvings, portraitures, and imagery: And but too well to both her beauty known: Where every figure to the life express'd But should you combat till you both were dead, The godhead's power to whom it was address'd. Two lovers cannot share a single bed :
In Venus' temple on the sides were seen As therefore both are equal in degree,
The broken slumbers of enamour'd men, The lot of both be left to Destiny.
Prayers, that even spoke, and pity seem'd to call, Now hear th' award, and happy may it prove And issuing sighs, that smok'd along the wall, To her, and him who best deserves her love! Complaints, and hot desires, the lover's Hell, Depart from hence in peace, and free as air, And scalding tears, that wore a channel where they Search the wide world, and where you please repair ;
fell: But on the day when this returning Sun
And all around were nuptial bonds, the tics,
Beauty, and Youth, and Wealth, and Luxury, And then the knight, whom Fate or happy Chance And sprightly Hope, and short-enduring Jog; Shall with his friends to yictory advance.
And sorceries to raise th' infernal powers,
Thence issued such a blast, and hollow roar, And sigils, fram'd in planetary hours :
As threaten'd 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 quarties Discolouring all she view'd, in tawny dress'd,
came, Down-look'd, and with a cuckoo on her fist. The labour of a god; and all along Oppos’d 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.
But hid the dagger underneath the gown:
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. Unpunished 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 prowess, 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 fied 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,
away. She trod the brine, all bare below the breast, In midst of all the dome, Misfortune sate, And the green waves but ill conceal'd the rest; And gloomy Discontent, and fell Debate, A lute she held; and on her head was seen And Madness laughing in his ireful mood; A wreath of roses red, and myrtles green; 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, Supply'd 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, flame 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 per tains, 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, armourer, and smith, And shun the bitter blast, and wheel about the sky. Who forges sharpen'd faulchions, or the scythe. A cake of scurf lies baking on the ground, The scarlet Conquest on a tower was plac'd, And prickly stubs, instead of trees, are found; With shouts, and soldiers' acclamations grae'd: Or woods with knots and knares deform’d and old; A pointed sword hung threatening o'er his head, Headless the most, and hideous to behold :
Sustain'd but by a slender twine of thread.
These, and a thousand more, the fane adorn;
The form of Mars high on a chariot stood, The frame of burnish'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 Horrour over head : One when direct, and one when retrograde.