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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 81

But saw an uncouth foe at last appear,
Raymond rode on, and what he asked him, told,
Better by chance, "Tancred is now elsewhere,
Yet glory not of that, myself behold
Am come prepared, and bid thee battle here,
And in his place, or for myself to fight,
Lo, here I am, who scorn thy heathenish might."

The Pagan cast a scornful smile and said,
"But where is Tancred, is he still in bed?
His looks late seemed to make high heaven afraid;
But now for dread he is or dead or fled;
But whe'er earth's centre or the deep sea made
His lurking hole, it should not save his head."
"Thou liest," he says, "to say so brave a knight
Is fled from thee, who thee exceeds in might."

The angry Pagan said, "I have not spilt
My labor then, if thou his place supply,
Go take the field, and let's see how thou wilt
Maintain thy foolish words and that brave lie;"
Thus parleyed they to meet in equal tilt,
Each took his aim at other's helm on high,
Even in the fight his foe good Raymond hit,
But shaked him not, he did so firmly sit.

The fierce Circassian missed of his blow,
A thing which seld befell the man before,
The angel, by unseen, his force did know,
And far awry the poignant weapon bore,
He burst his lance against the sand below,
And bit his lips for rage, and cursed and swore,
Against his foe returned he swift as wind,
Half mad in arms a second match to find.

Like to a ram that butts with horned head,
So spurred he forth his horse with desperate race:
Raymond at his right hand let slide his steed,
And as he passed struck at the Pagan's face;
He turned again, the earl was nothing dread,
Yet stept aside, and to his rage gave place,
And on his helm with all his strength gan smite,
Which was so hard his courtlax could not bite.

The Saracen employed his art and force
To grip his foe within his mighty arms,
But he avoided nimbly with his horse,
He was no prentice in those fierce alarms,
About him made he many a winding course,
No strength, nor sleight the subtle warrior harms,
His nimble steed obeyed his ready hand,
And where he stept no print left in the sand.

As when a captain doth besiege some hold,
Set in a marsh or high up on a hill,
And trieth ways and wiles a thousandfold,
To bring the piece subjected to his will;
So fared the County with the Pagan bold;
And when he did his head and breast none ill,
His weaker parts he wisely gan assail,
And entrance searched oft 'twixt mail and mail.

At last he hit him on a place or twain,
That on his arms the red blood trickled down,
And yet himself untouched did remain,
No nail was broke, no plume cut from his crown;
Argantes raging spent his strength in vain,
Waste were his strokes, his thts were idle thrown,
Yet pressed he on, and doubled still his blows,
And where he hits he neither cares nor knows.

Among a thousand blows the Saracine
At last struck one, when Raymond was so near,
That not the swiftness of his Aquiline
Could his dear lord from that huge danger bear:
But lo, at hand unseen was help divine,

* * *

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