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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 74

Throughout a rocky channel ghastly roar;
Here Tancred stayed, and called, yet answered none,
Save babbling echo, from the crooked shore;
And there the weary knight at last espies
The springing daylight red and white arise.

He sighed sore, and guiltless heaven gan blame,
That wished success to his desire denied,
And sharp revenge protested for the same,
If aught but good his mistress fair betide;
Then wished he to return the way he came,
Although he wist not by what path to ride,
And time drew near when he again must fight
With proud Argantes, that vain-glorious knight.

His stalwart steed the champion stout bestrode
And pricked fast to find the way he lost,
But through a valley as he musing rode,
He saw a man that seemed for haste a post,
His horn was hung between his shoulders broad,
As is the guise with us: Tancredi crossed
His way, and gently prayed the man to say,
To Godfrey's camp how he should find the way.

"Sir," in the Italian language answered he,
"I ride where noble Boemond hath me sent:"
The prince thought this his uncle's man should be,
And after him his course with speed he bent,
A fortress stately built at last they see,
Bout which a muddy stinking lake there went,
There they arrived when Titan went to rest
His weary limbs in night's untroubled nest.

The courier gave the fort a warning blast;
The drawbridge was let down by them within:
"If thou a Christian be," quoth he, "thou mayest
Till Phoebus shine again, here take thine inn,
The County of Cosenza, three days past,
This castle from the Turks did nobly win."
The prince beheld the piece, which site and art
Impregnable had made on every part.

He feared within a pile so fortified
Some secret treason or enchantment lay,
But had he known even there he should have died,
Yet should his looks no sign of fear betray;
For wheresoever will or chance him guide,
His strong victorious hand still made him way:
Yet for the combat he must shortly make,
No new adventures list he undertake.

Before the castle, in a meadow plain
Beside the bridge's end, he stayed and stood,
Nor was entreated by the speeches vain
Of his false guide, to pass beyond the flood.
Upon the bridge appeared a warlike swain,
From top to toe all clad in armor good,
Who brandishing a broad and cutting sword,
Thus threatened death with many an idle word.

"O thou, whom chance or will brings to the soil,
Where fair Armida doth the sceptre guide,
Thou canst not fly, of arms thyself despoil,
And let thy hands with iron chains be tied;
Enter and rest thee from thy weary toil.
Within this dungeon shalt thou safe abide,
And never hope again to see the day,
Or that thy hair for age shall turn to gray;

"Except thou swear her valiant knights to aid
Against those traitors of the Christian crew."
Tancred at this discourse a little stayed,
His arms, his gesture, and his voice he knew:
It was Rambaldo, who for that false maid
Forsook his country and religion true,

* * *

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