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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 41

To aid his mistress, banished from her right.
His words of comfort, fear to exile drive,
The dread of death, made lesser dangers light:
So we concluded, when the shadows dim
Obscured the earth I should depart with him.

"Of close escapes the aged patroness,
Blacker than erst, her sable mantle spread,
When with two tty maids, in great distress,
Both from mine uncle and my realm I fled;
Oft looked I back, but hardly could suppress
Those streams of tears, mine eyes uncessant shed,
For when I looked on my kingdom lost,
It was a grief, a death, an hell almost.

"My steeds drew on the burden of my limbs,
But still my locks, my thoughts, drew back as fast,
So fare the men, that from the heaven's brims,
Far out to sea, by sudden storm are cast;
Swift o'er the grass the rolling chariot swims,
Through ways unknown, all night, all day we haste,
At last, nigh tired, a castle strong we fand,
The utmost border of my native land.

"The fort Arontes was, for so the knight
Was called, that my deliverance thus had wrought,
But when the tyrant saw, by mature flight
I had escaped the treasons of his thought,
The rage increased in the cursed wight
Gainst me, and him, that me to safety brought,
And us accused, we would have poisoned
Him, but descried, to save our lives we fled.

"And that in lieu of his approved truth,
To poison him I hired had my guide,
That he despatched, mine unbridled youth
Might rage at will, in no subjection tied,
And that each night I slept -- O foul untruth! --
Mine honor lost, by this Arontes' side:
But Heaven I pray send down revenging fire,
When so base love shall change my chaste desire.

"Not that he sitteth on my regal throne,
Nor that he thirst to drink my lukewarm blood,
So grieveth me, as this despite alone,
That my renown, which ever blameless stood,
Hath lost the light wherewith it always shone:
With forged lies he makes his tale so good,
And holds my subjects' hearts in such suspense,
That none take armor for their queen's defence.

"And though he do my regal throne possess,
Clothed in purple, crowned with burnished gold;
Yet is his hate, his rancor, ne'er the less,
Since naught assuageth malice when 'tis old:
He threats to burn Arontes' forteress,
And murder him unless he yield the hold,
And me and mine threats not with war, but death,
Thus causeless hatred, endless is uneath.

"And so he tts to wash away the stain,
And hide his shameful fact with mine offence,
And saith he will restore the throne again
To his late honor and due excellence,
And therefore would I should be algates slain,
For while I live, his right is in suspense,
This is the cause my guiltless life is sought,
For on my ruin is his safety wrought.

"And let the tyrant have his heart's desire,
Let him perform the cruelty he meant,
My guiltless blood must quench the ceaseless fire
On which my endless tears were bootless spent,
Unless thou help; to thee, renowned Sire,
I fly, a virgin, orphan, innocent,

* * *

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