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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 71

Among those sandy fields and valleys green,
To seek his love, he galloped fast unseen.

Seventh Book

A shepherd fair Erminia entertains,
Whom whilst Tancredi seeks in vain to find,
He is entrapped in Armida's trains:
Raymond with strong Argantes is assigned
To fight, an angel to his aid he gains:
Satan that sees the Pagan's fury blind,
And hasty wrath turn to his loss and harm,
Doth raise new tempest, uproar and alarm.

Erminia's steed this while his mistress bore
Through forests thick among the shady treen,
Her feeble hand the bridle reins forlore,
Half in a swoon she was, for fear I ween;
But her fleet courser spared ne'er the more,
To bear her through the desert woods unseen
Of her strong foes, that chased her through the plain,
And still pursued, but still pursued in vain.

Like as the weary hounds at last retire,
Windless, displeased, from the fruitless chase,
When the sly beast tapished in bush and brier,
No art nor pains can rouse out of his place:
The Christian knights so full of shame and ire
Returned back, with faint and weary pace:
Yet still the fearful dame fled swift as wind,
Nor ever stayed, nor ever looked behind.

Through thick and thin, all night, all day, she drived,
Withouten comfort, company, or guide,
Her plaints and tears with every thought revived,
She heard and saw her griefs, but naught beside:
But when the sun his burning chariot dived
In Thetis' wave, and weary team untied,
On Jordan's sandy banks her course she stayed
At last, there down she light, and down she laid.

Her tears, her drink; her food, her sorrowings,
This was her diet that unhappy night:
But sleep, that sweet repose and quiet brings,
To ease the griefs of disFirsted wight,
Spread forth his tender, soft, and nimble wings,
In his dull arms folding the virgin bright;
And Love, his mother, and the Graces kept
Strong watch and ward, while this fair lady slept.

The birds awoke her with their morning song,
Their warbling music pierced her tender ear,
The murmuring brooks and whistling winds among
The rattling boughs and leaves, their parts did bear;
Her eyes unclosed beheld the groves along
Of swains and shepherd grooms that dwellings were;
And that sweet noise, birds, winds and waters sent,
Provoked again the virgin to lament.

Her plaints were interrupted with a sound,
That seemed from thickest bushes to proceed,
Some jolly shepherd sung a lusty round,
And to his voice he tuned his oaten reed;
Thither she went, an old man there she found,
At whose right hand his little flock did feed,
Sat making baskets, his three sons among,
That learned their father's art, and learned his song.

"But, father, since this land, these towns and towers
Destroyed are with sword, with fire and spoil,
How many it be unhurt that you and yours
In safety thus apply your harmless toil?"
"My son," quoth he, "this poor estate of ours

* * *

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