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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 82

Which saves when worldly comforts none appear,
The angel on his targe received that stroke,
And on that shield Argantes' sword was broke.

The sword was broke, therein no wonder lies
If earthly tempered metal could not hold
Against that target forged above the skies,
Down fell the blade in pieces on the mould;
The proud Circassian scant believed his eyes,
Though naught were left him but the hilts of gold,
And full of thoughts amazed awhile he stood,
Wondering the Christian's armor was so good.

The brittle web of that rich sword he thought,
Was broke through hardness of the County's shield;
And so thought Raymond, who discovered naught
What succor Heaven did for his safety yield:
But when he saw the man gainst whom he fought
Unweaponed, still stood he in the field;
His noble heart esteemed the glory light,
At such advantage if he slew the knight.

"Go fetch," he would have said, "another blade,"
When in his heart a better thought arose,
How for Christ's glory he was champion made,
How Godfrey had him to this combat chose,
The army's honor on his shoulder laid
To hazards new he list not that expose;
While thus his thoughts debated on the case,
The hilts Argantes hurled at his face.

And forward spurred his mounture fierce withal,
Within his arms longing his foe to strain,
Upon whose helm the heavy blow did fall,
And bent well-nigh the metal to his brain:
But he, whose courage was heroical,
Leapt by, and makes the Pagan's onset vain,
And wounds his hand, which he outstretched saw,
Fiercer than eagles' talon, lions' paw.

Now here, now there, on every side he rode,
With nimble speed, and spurred now out, now in,
And as he went and came still laid on load
Where Lord Argantes' arms were weak and thin;
All that huge force which in his arms abode,
His wrath, his ire, his great desire to win,
Against his foe together all he bent,
And heaven and fortune furthered his intent.

But he, whose courage for no peril fails,
Well armed, and better hearted, scorns his power.
Like a tall ship when spent are all her sails,
Which still resists the rage of storm and shower,
Whose mighty ribs fast bound with bands and nails,
Withstands fierce Neptune's wrath, for many an hour,
And yields not up her bruised keel to winds,
In whose stern blast no ruth nor grace she finds:

Argantes such thy present danger was,
When Satan stirred to aid thee at thy need,
In human shape he forged an airy mass,
And made the shade a body seem indeed;
Well might the spirit of Clorinda pass,
Like her it was, in armor and in weed,
In stature, beauty, countenance and face,
In looks, in speech, in gesture, and in pace.

And for the spirit should seem the same indeed,
From where she was whose show and shape it had,
Toward the wall it rode with feigned speed,
Where stood the people all dismayed and sad,
To see their knight of help have so great need,
And yet the law of arms all help forbad.
There in a turret sat a soldier stout
To watch, and at a loop-hole peeped out;

* * *

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