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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 76

So great that loudly rung the sounding steel;
Yet pierced he not the helmet with the blow,
Although the owner twice or thrice did reel.
The prince, whose looks disdainful anger show,
Now meant to use his puissance every deal,
He shaked his head and crashed his teeth for ire,
His lips breathed wrath, eyes sparkled shining fire.

The Pagan wretch no longer could sustain
The dreadful terror of his fierce aspect,
Against the threatened blow he saw right plain
No tempered armor could his life protect,
He leapt aside, the stroke fell down in vain,
Against a pillar near a bridge erect.
Thence flaming fire and thousand sparks outstart,
And kill with fear the coward Pagan's heart.

Toward the bridge the fearful Paynim fled,
And in swift flight, his hope of life reposed;
Himself fast after Lord Tancredi sped,
And now in equal pace almost they closed,
When all the burning lamps extinguished
The shining fort his goodly splendor losed,
And all those stars on heaven's blue face that shone
With Cynthia's self, dispeared were and gone.

Amid those witchcrafts and that ugly shade,
No further could the prince pursue the chase,
Nothing he saw, yet forward still he made,
With doubtful steps, and ill assured pace;
At last his foot upon a threshold trad,
And ere he wist, he entered had the place;
With ghastly noise the door-leaves shut behind,
And closed him fast in prison dark and blind.

As in our seas in the Commachian Bay,
A silly fish, with streams enclosed, striveth,
To shun the fury and avoid the sway
Wherewith the current in that whirlpool driveth,
Yet seeketh all in vain, but finds no way
Out of that watery prison, where she diveth:
For with such force there be the tides in brought,
There entereth all that will, thence issueth naught:

This prison so entrapped that valiant knight;
Of which the gate was framed by subtle train,
To close without the help of human wight,
So sure none could undo the leaves again;
Against the doors he bended all his might,
But all his forces were employed in vain,
At last a voice gan to him loudly call,
"Yield thee," quoth it, "thou art Armida's thrall."

"Within this dungeon buried shalt thou spend
The res'due of thy woful days and years;"
The champions list not more with words contend,
But in his heart kept close his griefs and fears,
He blamed love, chance gan he reprehend,
And gainst enchantment huge complaints he rears.
"It were small loss," softly he thus begun,
"To lose the brightness of the shining sun;

"But I. alas, the golden beam forego
Of my far brighter sun; nor can I say
If these poor eyes shall e'er be blessed so,
As once again to view that shining ray:"
Then thought he on his proud Circassian foe,
And said, "Ah! how shall I perform that fray?
He, and the world with him, will Tancred blame,
This is my grief, my fault, mine endless shame."

While those high spirits of this champion good,
With love and honor's care are thus oppressed,
While he torments himself, Argantes wood,
Waxed weary of his bed and of his rest,
Such hate of peace, and such desire of blood,

* * *

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