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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, Shades 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.
And one a heavy mace to shun the foe.
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 fillid 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 call'd 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 look 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,
array. 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 such 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, Upon his fist he bore, for his delight,
In love to be thy champion, and thy knight; An eagle well reclaim'd, and lily white,
A servant to thy sex, a slave to thee, His hundred knights attend him to the war, A foe profest to barren chastity. All arm'd for battle ; save their heads were bare. Nor ask I fame nor honor of the field, Words and devices blaz'd on every shield, Nor choose I more to vanquish than to yield : And pleasing was the terror of the field.
In my divine Emilia make me blest, For kings, and dukes, and barons you might see, Let Fate, or partial Chance, dispose the rest ; Like sparkling stars, though different in degree, Find thou the manner, and the means prepare; All for th' increase of arms, and love of chivalry. Possession, more than conquest, is my care. Before the king tame leopards led the way, Mars is the warrior's god ; in him it lies, And troops of lions innocently play.
On whom he favors to confer the prize ; So Bacchus through the conquer'd Indies rode, With smiling aspect you serenely move And beasts in gambols frisk'd before the honest god. In your fifth orb, and rule the realm of love. In this array the war of either side
The Fates but only spin the courser clue, Through Athens pass'd with military pride. The finest of the wool is left for you. At prime, they enter'd on the Sunday morn; Spare me but one small portion of the twine, Rich tapestry spread the streets, and flowers the And let the sisters cut below your line : posts adorn.
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 arins, 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 be; 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 stalue 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 long '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 requird, 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 seen; Have pity, goddess, for thou know'st the smart. Queen of the nether skies, where half the year
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:
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 : Where love is duty on the female side, (pride. There most, but everywhere thy power is known, On theirs mere sensual gust, and sought with surly The fortune of the fight is all thy own: Now by thy triple shape, as thou art seen Terror is thine, and wild amazement, flung In Heaven, Earth, Hell, and everywhere a queen, From out thy chariot, withers ev'n the strong : Grant this my first desire : let discord cease, And disarray and shameful rout ensue, And make betwixt the rivals lasting peace : And force is added to the fainting crew. Quench their hot fire, or far from me remove Acknowledg'd as thou art, accept my prayer, The flame, and turn it on some other love: 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 tir'd my image, and who loves me best. Then let my arms prevail, by thee sustain'd, But oh! evin 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 still that spotless name retain!
Venus, the public care of all above, Frequent the forests, thy chaste will obey, Thy stubborn heart has soften'd into love: And only make the beasts of chase my prey!" Now by her blandishments and powerful charms, The flames ascend on either altar clear,
When yielded she lay curling in thy arms, While thus the blameless maid address'd her prayer. Ev’n by thy shame, if shame it may be call’d, When lo! the burning fire that shone so bright, When Vulcan had thee in his net enthralld: Flew off, all sudden, with extinguish'd light, O envied ignominy, sweet disgrace, And left one altar dark, a little space,
When every god that saw thee wish'd thy place! Which turnd self-kindled, and renew'd the blaze; By those dear pleasures, aid my arms in fight, The other victor-flame a moment stood,
And make me conquer in my patron's right:
The fool of love, unpractis'd to persuade: Forsook the blackening coals, and sunk to night: And want the soothing arts that catch the fair, At either end it whistled as it flew,
But, caught myself, lie struggling in the snare:
Then shook the sacred shrine, and sudden light Endued by force I gain the victory;
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, l'nwilling 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 ; Foreshows the love allotted to remain :
Burnt-offerings morn and evening shall be thine; Farewell!” she said, and vanish'd from the place; And fires eternal in thy temple shine. The sheaf of arrows shook, and rattled in the case. The bush of yellow beard, this length of hair, Aghast at this, the royal virgin stood
Which from my birth in violate I bear, Disclaim'd, and now no more a sister of the wood : Guiltless of steel, and from the razor free, But to the parting goddess thus she pray'd ; Shall fall a plenteous crop, reserv'd for thee. Propitious still be present to my aid,
So may my arms with victory be blest, Jor quite 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 : Ti 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 hymus 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,
In knots they stand, or in a rank they walk,
Factions, and favoring this or t'other side,
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 smild 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. Now 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 : He wills, not death should terminate their strife ; For so the king decreed, to shun the care, And wounds, if wounds ensue, be short of life : The fraud of musters false, the common bane of war. But issues, ere the fight, his dread command, The tale was just, and then the gates were clos'd; That slings afar, and poniards hand to hand, And chief to chief, and troop to troop oppos'd. Be banish'd from the field ; that none shall dare The heralds last retired, and loudly cried, With shorten'd sword to stab in closer war; The fortune of the field be fairly tried. But in fair combat fight with manly strength, At this, the challenger with fierce defy Nor push with biting point, but strike at length. His trumpet sounds; the challeng'd makes reply: The tourney is allow'd but one career,
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,
The herald ends: the vaulted firmament They look anew : the beauteous form of fight
The next, a field with fallen bodies strow'd :
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 wife, 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.
One with a broken truncheon deals his blows.
There goes a captive led on t'other side.
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. Wav'd by the wanton winds, his banner flies, Each claims possession, neither will obey, All maiden white, and shares the people's eyes. But both their paws are fastend on the prey ;