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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 98

The Soldan fierce, through all this horror, went
Toward the camp of his redoubted foes,
The night was more than half consumed and spent;
Now headlong down the western hill she goes,
When distant scant a mile from Godfrey's tent
He let his people there awhile repose,
And victualled them, and then he boldly spoke
These words which rage and courage might provoke:

"See there a camp, full stuffed of spoils and preys,
Not half so strong as false report recordeth;
See there the storehouse, where their captain lays
Our treasures stolen, where Asia's wealth he hoardeth;
Now chance the ball unto our racket plays,
Take then the vantage which good luck affordeth;
For all their arms, their horses, gold and treasure
Are ours, ours without loss, harm or displeasure.

"Nor is this camp that great victorious host
That slew the Persian lords, and Nice hath won:
For those in this long war are spent and lost,
These are the dregs, the wine is all outrun,
And these few left, are drowned and dead almost
In heavy sleep, the labor half is done
To send them headlong to Avernus deep,
For little differs death and heavy sleep.

"Come, come, this sword the passage open shall
Into their camp, and on their bodies slain
We will pass o'er their rampire and their wall;
This blade, as scythes cut down the fields of grain,
Shall cut them so, Christ's kingdom now shall fall,
Asia her freedom, you shall praise obtain."
Thus he inflamed his soldiers to the fight,
And led them on through silence of the night.

The sentinel by starlight, lo, descried
This mighty Soldan and his host draw near,
Who found not as he hoped the Christians' guide
Unware, ne yet unready was his gear:
The scouts, when this huge army they descried,
Ran back, and gan with shouts the 'larum rear;
The watch stert up and drew their weapons bright,
And busked them bold to battle and to fight.

The Arabians wist they could not come unseen,
And therefore loud their jarring trumpets sound,
Their yelling cries to heaven upheaved been,
The horses thundered on the solid ground,
The mountains roared, and the valley green,
The echoes sighed from the caves around,
Alecto with her brand, kindled in hell,
Tokened to them in David's tower that dwell.

Before the rest forth pricked the Soldan fast,
Against the watch, not yet in order just,
As swift as hideous Boreas' hasty blast
From hollow rocks when first his storms outburst,
The raging floods, that trees and rocks down cast,
Thunders, that towns and towers drive to dust:
Earthquakes, to tear the world in twain that threat,
Are naught, compared to his fury great.

He struck no blow, but that his foe he hit;
And never hit, but made a grievous wound:
And never wounded, but death followed it;
And yet no peril, hurt or harm he found,
No weapon on his hardened helmet bit,
No puissant stroke his senses once astound,
Yet like a bell his tinkling helmet rung,
And thence flew flames of fire and sparks among.

Himself well nigh had put the watch to flight,
A jolly troop of Frenchmen strong and stout,
When his Arabians came by heaps to fight,

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