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To whom replied the stern Athenian prince:
“Proud knight, since defiant thou ownest thy offence,
Take your desert, the death you have decreed;
I seal your doom, and ratify the deed."
But when he saw the Queen's tears, heard her sighs,
Then said : “ To the power of love I give these forfeit lives.
Depart from hence in peace, and each in a year bring
A hundred knights in royal lists to fight before the King.
And the knight who shall the victory gain,
The prize of valor and of love shall sure obtain.”
Palamon and Arcite to Thebes' walls pursued their way,
Each to provide himself his champions for the fray.
The day approached when fortune should decide
The important enterprise and give the bride.
With Palamon, above the rest in place,
Lycurgus came, the surly King of Thrace.
To match this monarch with strong Arcite came
Emetrius, King of Ind, a mighty name !
Now, or ere the dawn of day began to spring,
As at a signal given, the streets with clamors ring.
Two troops in fair array one moment showed,
The next, a field with fallen bodies strowed.
At length Palamon was forced to the ground,
Unyielding as he was, and to the pillar bound.
Now round the royal lists the heralds cried,
“ Arcite of Thebes has won the beauteous bride."
The victor chief then laid aside his helm and low he bowed,
And bareheaded paid the salutations of the crowd.
Then spurring at full speed ran headlong on,
Where Theseus sat upon his imperial throne.
Just then, from earth upsprung a flashing fire
By Pluto sent, at Saturn's fierce desire.
The startled steed was seized with sudden fright,
And, bounding, o'er the pommel cast the knight.
Help was at hand; they raised him from the ground,
And from his cumbrous armor his limbs unbound;
Then lanced a vein and watched returning breath ;
It came, but clogged with symptoms of stern death.
At length he waked, and with a feeble cry
The word he first pronounced was —“Emily ! ”
Arcite is doomed to die in all his pride,
Must leave his youth and beauteous bride.
When hope was past he sent for her and Palamon,
And on his pillow raised, he thus begun:
“No language can express in smallest part,
The deep love for
heart. Ah! my sweet bride! for you, for you alone, I broke my faith with Palamon. This earth holds not a knight of nobler blood; For valor, truth, honor, all comprised in good. So help me Heaven, in all the world is none So worthy to be loved as virtuous Palamon. He loves you, too, with such a holy fire As will not, cannot, but with life expire. If e'er you plight your vows when I am gone, Have pity on faithful, valiant Palamon." Then speechless for a little space the hero lay, Then grasped the hand he held and sighed his soul away.
The face of things is changed, and Athens now,
That laughed so late, becomes a scene of woe.
The year was fully mourned when, by general consent,
At Athens Theseus held his parliament.
The monarch mounts his throne on high,
Commands into the court the beauteous Emily:
Thus he spake: “Since Arcite is with honor dead,
Why should we mourn that he so soon is freed ?
What then remains but, after past annoy,
To take the good vicissitude of joy ?
Now I propose that Palamon shall be
Ι In marriage joined with the fair Emily. Long love to her has borne the faithful knight, And well deserved, had fortune done him right; 'Tis time to mend her fault, since Emily By Arcite's death from former vows is free. 'Tis no dishonor for you, our sister, to confer your grace On one descended from a royal race.” And turning to the Theban, thus he said: “Small arguments are needful to persuade Your temper to comply with my command;” And speaking thus, he gave Emilia’s hand. Thus Heaven beyond the compass of his thought, Sent Palamon the blessing he so dearly bought.
[From "Jerusalem Delivered.")
SMENO before the King presents himself, alone
Ismeno, who can startle Pluto on his throne;
Who sends his demons forth on errands ill
As slaves, and binds and looses them at will.
Once Christian, to Mohammed now he prays;
And from the cave in which he spends his days
Comes to his lord, thus menaced by the war
To impious King more impious counsellor.
He said: “The dreaded army comes, O sire,
Thy zeal as king and leader I admire;
If thus all else fulfil the tasks they owe,
This land will soon entomb thy every foe.
“I, for my part, am come as thy ally;
I promise all old age's wisdom can supply;
In danger and in toil companion true,
The angels I will constrain to share thy labor, too.
“ Within the Christian's temple before a certain shrine,
Always a lighted torch is made to shine
Upon the image, while near, in lengthened ranks, one sees
The rows, brought by believing devotees.
“ This almost breathing form, snatched thence by force,
I wish to place within thy mosque, there to stay thro' time's course;
For while it remaineth safe in thine own land,
This empire, too, secure from harm shall stand.'
So spake he. The King, impatient, hurries to the house of God,
To bear the chaste image to that temple where the avenging rod
Oft falls on the adorers who vain rites bring
As penance due their false god, worshipping.
But when the new-born dawn appears in Heaven,
He unto whose care the sacred shrine was given
Saw not the image, and seeking found no trace.
To the King he sped, who sternly bade, “Search every place!"
And declared that whosoever took the statue,
Should be denounced by Heaven-his righteous due.
Anon, the King's servant sought each fane,
But found not the precious thing; search was in vain.
The King, finding the author of the crime he cannot learn,
With hate and quick revenge his heart begins to burn.
“My rage,” he said, “shall not be in vain ; ʼmid all
This slaughtered sect the unknown one shall fall.
“So that the guilty 'scape not, I command that e’en the just
With the guilty perish. Not e'en one man may we trust.
Up! up! my faithful ones, to do my will !
Away! take flame and iron ! Burn and kill !”
Thus spake he to the crowd. None offered plea or prayer,
All were plungèd deep in dire despair;
But none essayed excuse, till, wav'ring and dismayed,
At last they found the needed aid.
Among them was a maid of lofty beauty, regal mind,
And a youth, an Argus now, anon as Cupid blind-
Sophronia, she, Olindo, he, by name;
One city and one faith they, as birthright, claim.
In the meantime, news of disaster dire was brought;
And she, who was generous as pure and kind, sought
How she might save them in the direful case
That with fell destruction threatened all their race.
Through crowds she takes her way with gentle sigh,
Observing none till she saw the King draw nigh ;
Then spake: “O sire, I come to yield the culprit, sought in vain,
Whom so offending thee may not thy mercy gain.”
The King reined in his ire and meekly bowed
To charms thus holy, then he spake aloud:
“ Tell me, then, all I ” he cried. “My faith I plight
Thy people shall be safe.” “The culprit, sire, is in thy sight,”
Soft she replied. “'Twas this hand of mine
The image from the temple took. Thine
Is the power to punish, O King! I am she
Whom thou seekest; vent thy wrath on me.”
The tyrant stern demanded : “Tell me, and take heed,
thee counsel and who shared the deed ? "
“O sire, only in myself did I confide;
I was sole contriver- there was none beside."
“ Where hast thou the image hidden ?” he demands.
“I hid it not, but gave it to the burning brands.
Sire, if the culprit thou desirest, look on me,
For the treasure stolen thou wilt never see.”