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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 44

In your first purpose, yet vouchsafe to frame
Your thoughts to ours, and lend this virgin aid:
Thanks are half lost when good turns are delayed.

"And think not that Eustace's talk assays
To turn these forces from this present war,
Or that I wish you should your armies raise
From Sion's walls, my speech tends not so far:
But we that venture all for fame and praise,
That to no charge nor service bounden are,
Forth of our troop may ten well spared be
To succor her, which naught can weaken thee.

"And know, they shall in God's high service fight,
That virgins innocent save and defend:
Dear will the spoils be in the Heaven's sight,
That from a tyrant's hateful head we rend:
Nor seemed I forward in this lady's right,
With hope of gain or profit in the end;
But for I know he arms unworthy bears,
To help a maiden's cause that shuns or fears.

"Ah! be it not pardie declared in France,
Or elsewhere told where courtesy is in prize,
That we forsook so fair a chevisance,
For doubt or fear that might from fight arise;
Else, here surrender I both sword and lance,
And swear no more to use this martial guise;
For ill deserves he to be termed a knight,
That bears a blunt sword in a lady's right."

Thus parleyed he, and with confused sound,
The rest approved what the gallant said,
Their general their knights encompassed round,
With humble grace, and earnest suit they prayed:
"I yield," quoth he, "and it be happy found,
What I have granted, let her have your aid:
Yours be the thanks, for yours the danger is,
If aught succeed, as much I fear, amiss.

"But if with you my words may credit find,
Oh temper then this heat misguides you so!"
Thus much he said, but they with fancy blind,
Accept his grant, and let his counsel go.
What works not beauty, man's relenting mind
Is eath to move with plaints and shows of woe:
Her lips cast forth a chain of sugared words,
That captive led most of the Christian lords.

Eustace recalled her, and bespake her thus:
"Beauty's chief darling, let those sorrows be,
For such assistance shall you find in us
As with your need, or will, may best agree:"
With that she cheered her forehead dolorous,
And smiled for joy, that Phoebus blushed to see,
And had she deigned her veil for to remove,
The God himself once more had fallen in love.

With that she broke the silence once again,
And gave the knight great thanks in little speech,
She said she would his handmaid poor remain,
So far as honor's laws received no breach.
Her humble gestures made the residue plain,
Dumb eloquence, persuading more than speech:
Thus women know, and thus they use the guise,
To enchant the valiant, and beguile the wise.

And when she saw her enterprise had got
Some wished mean of quick and good proceeding,
She thought to strike the iron that was hot,
For every action hath his hour of speeding:
Medea or false Circe changed not
So far the shapes of men, as her eyes spreading
Altered their hearts, and with her syren's sound
In lust, their minds, their hearts, in love she drowned.

* * *

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