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Sitting one day upon her heavy thought,
Devising by what means, what sleight, what art,
Her close departure should be safest wrought,
Assembled in her unresolved heart
An hundred passions strove and ceaseless fought;
At last she saw high hanging on the wall
Clorinda's silver arms, and sighed withal:
And sighing, softly to herself she said,
"How blessed is this virgin in her might?
How I envy the glory of the maid,
Yet envy not her shape, or beauty's light;
Her steps are not with trailing garments stayed,
Nor chambers hide her valor shining bright;
But armed she rides, and breaketh sword and spear,
Nor is her strength restrained by shame or fear.
"Alas, why did not Heaven these members frail
With lively force and vigor strengthen so
That I this silken gown and slender veil
Might for a breastplate and an helm forego?
Then should not heat, nor cold, nor rain, nor hail,
Nor storms that fall, nor blustering winds that blow
Withhold me, but I would both day and night,
In pitched field, or private combat fight.
"Nor haddest thou, Argantes, first begun
With my dear lord that fierce and cruel fight,
But I to that encounter would have run,
And haply ta'en him captive by my might;
Yet should he find, our furious combat done,
His thraldom easy, and his bondage light;
For fetters, mine embracements should he prove;
For diet, kisses sweet; for keeper, love.
"Or else my tender bosom opened wide,
And heart though pierced with his cruel blade,
The bloody weapon in my wounded side
Might cure the wound which love before had made;
Then should my soul in rest and quiet slide
Down to the valleys of the Elysian shade,
And my mishap the knight perchance would move,
To shed some tears upon his murdered love.
"Alas! impossible are all these things,
Such wishes vain afflict my woful sprite,
Why yield I thus to plaints and sorrowings,
As if all hope and help were perished quite?
My heart dares much, it soars with Cupid's wings,
Why use I not for once these armors bright?
I may sustain awhile this shield aloft,
Though I be tender, feeble, weak and soft.
"Love, strong, bold, mighty never-tired love,
Supplieth force to all his servants true;
The fearful stags he doth to battle move,
Till each his horns in others' blood imbrue;
Yet mean not I the haps of war to prove,
A stratagem I have devised new,
Clorinda-like in this fair harness dight,
I will escape out of the town this night.
"I know the men that have the gate to ward,
If she command are not her will deny,
In what sort else could I beguile the guard?
This way is only left, this will I try:
O gentle love, in this adventure hard
Thine handmaid guide, assist and fortify!
The time, the hour now fitteth best the thing,
While stout Clorinda talketh with the king."
Resolved thus, without delay she went,
As her strong passion did her rashly guide,
And those bright arms, down from the rafter hent,
Within her closet did she closely hide;
That might she do unseen, for she had sent
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