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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 35

The dreary trumpet blew a dreadful blast,
And rumbled through the lands and kingdoms under,
Through wasteness wide it roared, and hollows vast,
And filled the deep with horror, fear and wonder,
Not half so dreadful noise the tempests cast,
That fall from skies with storms of hail and thunder,
Not half so loud the whistling winds do sing,
Broke from the earthen prisons of their King.

The peers of Pluto's realm assembled been
Amid the palace of their angry King,
In hideous forms and shapes, tofore unseen,
That fear, death, terror and amazement bring,
With ugly paws some trample on the green,
Some gnaw the snakes that on their shoulders hing,
And some their forked tails stretch forth on high,
And tear the twinkling stars from trembling sky.

There were Silenus' foul and loathsome route,
There Sphinxes, Centaurs, there were Gorgons fell,
There howling Scillas, yawling round about,
There serpents hiss, there seven-mouthed Hydras yell,
Chimera there spues fire and brimstone out,
And Polyphemus blind supporteth hell,
Besides ten thousand monsters therein dwells
Misshaped, unlike themselves, and like naught else.

About their princes each took his wonted seat
On thrones red-hot, ybuilt of burning brass,
Pluto in middest heaved his trident great,
Of ty iron huge that forged was,
The rocks on which the salt sea billows beat,
And Atlas' tops, the clouds in height that pass,
Compared to his huge person mole-hills be,
So his rough front, his horns so lifted he.

The tyrant proud frowned from his lofty cell,
And with his looks made all his monsters tremble,
His eyes, that full of rage and venom swell,
Two beacons seem, that men to arms assemble,
His feltered locks, that on his bosom fell,
On rugged mountains briars and thorns resemble,
His yawning mouth, that foamed clotted blood,
Gaped like a whirlpool wide in Stygian flood.

And as Mount Etna vomits sulphur out,
With cliffs of burning crags, and fire and smoke,
So from his mouth flew kindled coals about,
Hot sparks and smells that man and beast would choke,
The gnarring porter durst not whine for doubt;
Still were the Furies, while their sovereign spoke,
And swift Cocytus stayed his murmur shrill,
While thus the murderer thundered out his will:

"Ye powers infernal, worthier far to sit
About the sun, whence you your offspring take,
With me that whilom, through the welkin flit,
Down tumbled headlong to this empty lake;
Our former glory still remember it,
Our bold attempts and war we once did make
Gainst him, that rules above the starry sphere,
For which like traitors we lie damned here.

"And now instead of clear and gladsome sky,
Of Titan's brightness, that so glorious is,
In this deep darkness lo we helpless lie,
Hopeless again to joy our former bliss,
And more, which makes my griefs to multiply,
That sinful creature man, elected is;
And in our place the heavens possess he must,
Vile man, begot of clay, and born of dust.

"Nor this sufficed, but that he also gave
His only Son, his darling to be slain,
To conquer so, hell, death, sin and the grave,

* * *

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