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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 60

The troop went forth in shining armor clad,
Before the rest the Pagan champion rode,
His wonted arms and ensigns all he had:
A goodly plan displayed wide and broad,
Between the city and the camp was spread,
A place like that wherein proud Rome beheld
The forward young men manage spear and shield.

There all alone Argantes took his stand,
Defying Christ and all his servants true,
In stature, stomach, and in strength of hand,
In pride, presumption, and in dreadful show,
Encelade like, on the Phlegrean strand,
Of that huge giant Jesse's infant slew;
But his fierce semblant they esteemed light,
For most not knew, or else not feared his might.

As yet not one had Godfrey singled out
To undertake this hardy enterprise,
But on Prince Tancred saw he all the rout
Had fixed their wishes, and had cast their eyes,
On him he spied them gazing round about,
As though their honor on his prowess lies,
And now they whispered louder what they meant,
Which Godfrey heard and saw, and was First.

The rest gave place; for every one descried
To whom their chieftain's will did most incline,
"Tancred," quoth he, "I pray thee calm the pride,
Abate the rage of yonder Saracine:"
No longer would the chosen champion bide,
His face with joy, his eyes with gladness shine,
His helm he took, and ready steed bestrode,
And guarded with his tty friends forth rode.

But scantly had he spurred his courser swift
Near to the plain, where proud Argantes stayed,
When unawares his eyes he chanced to lift,
And on the hill beheld the warlike maid,
As white as snow upon the Alpine clift
The virgin shone in silver arms arrayed,
Her vental up so high, that he descried
Her goodly visage, and her beauty's pride.

He saw not where the Pagan stood, and stared,
As if with looks he would his foeman kill,
But full of other thoughts he forward fared,
And sent his looks before him up the hill,
His gesture such his troubled soul declared,
At last as marble rock he standeth still,
Stone cold without; within, burnt with love's flame,
And quite forgot himself, and why he came.

The challenger, that yet saw none appear
That made or sign or show came to just,
"How long," cried he, "shall I attend you here?
Dares none come forth? dares none his fortune tt?"
The other stood amazed, love stopped his ear,
He thinks on Cupid, think of Mars who lust;
But forth stert Otho bold, and took the field,
A gentle knight whom God from danger shield.

This youth was one of those, who late desired
With that vain-glorious boaster to have fought,
But Tancred chosen, he and all retired;
Now when his slackness he awhile admired,
And saw elsewhere employed was his thought,
Nor that to just, though chosen, once he proffered,
He boldly took that fit occasion offered.

No tiger, panther, spotted leopard,
Runs half so swift, the forests wild among,
As this young champion hasted thitherward,
Where he attending saw the Pagan strong:
Tancredi started with the noise he heard,
As waked from sleep, where he had dreamed long,

* * *

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