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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 49


To every vein his poisoned heart to reach,
It swelled his scornful heart, and forth it ran
At his proud looks, and too audacious speech;
All that he thought blameworthy in the man,
To his disgrace that would be each where preach;
He termed him proud and vain, his worth in fight
He called fool-hardise, rashness, madness right.

XXIV
All that in him was rare or excellent,
All that was good, all that was princely found,
With such sharp words as malice could invent,
He blamed, such power has wicked tongue to wound.
The youth, for everywhere those rumors went,
Of these reproaches heard sometimes the sound;
Nor did for that his tongue the fault amend,
Until it brought him to his woful end.

XXV
The cursed fiend that set his tongue at large,
Still bred more fancies in his idle brain,
His heart with slanders new did overcharge,
And soothed him still in his angry vein;
Amid the camp a place was broad and large,
Where one fair regiment might easily train;
And there in tilt and harmless tournament
Their days of rest the youths and gallants spent.

XXVI
There, as his fortune would it should betide,
Amid the press Gernando gan retire,
To vomit out his venom unespied,
Wherewith foul envy did his heart inspire.
Rinaldo heard him as he stood beside,
And as he could not bridle wrath and ire,
"Thou liest," cried he loud, and with that word
About his head he tossed his flaming sword.

XXVII
Thunder his voice, and lightning seemed his brand,
So fell his look, and furious was his cheer,
Gernando trembled, for he saw at hand
Pale death, and neither help nor comfort near,
Yet for the soldiers all to witness stand
He made proud sign, as though he naught did fear,
But bravely drew his little-helping blade,
And valiant show of strong resistance made.

XXVIII
With that a thousand blades of burnished steel
Glistered on heaps like flames of fire in sight,
Hundreds, that knew not yet the quarrel weel,
Ran thither, some to gaze and some to fight:
The empty air a sound confused did feel
Of murmurs low, and outcries loud on height,
Like rolling waves and Boreas' angry blasts
When roaring seas against the rocks he casts.

XXIX
But not for this the wronged warrior stayed
His just displeasure and incensed ire,
He cared not what the vulgar did or said,
To vengeance did his courage fierce aspire:
Among the thickest weapons way he made,
His thundering sword made all on heaps retire,
So that of near a thousand stayed not one,
But Prince Gernando bore the brunt alone.

XXX
His hand, too quick to execute his wrath,
Performed all, as pleased his eye and heart,
At head and breast oft times he strucken hath,
Now at the right, now at the other part:
On every side thus did he harm and scath,
And oft beguile his sight with nimble art,
That no defence the prince of wounds acquits,
Where least he thinks, or fears, there most he hits.

XXXI
Nor ceased be, till in Gernando's breast
He sheathed once or twice his furious blade;
Down fell the hapless prince with death oppressed,
A double way to his weak soul was made;
His bloody sword the victor wiped and dressed,

* * *

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