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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 112

So creeps a camel through a needle's eye,
And through the ways as black as darkest night
He followed him that did him rule and guie;
Strait was the way at first, withouten light,
But further in, did further amplify;
So that upright walked at ease the men
Ere they had passed half that secret den,

A privy door Ismen unlocked at last,
And up they clomb a little-used stair,
Thereat the day a feeble beam in cast,
Dim was the light, and nothing clear the air;
Out of the hollow cave at length they passed
Into a goodly hall, high, broad and fair,
Where crowned with gold, and all in purple clad
Sate the sad king, among his nobles sad.

The Turk, close in his hollow cloud imbarred,
Unseen, at will did all the prease behold,
These heavy speeches of the king he heard,
Who thus from lofty siege his pleasure told;
"My lords, last day our state was much impaired,
Our friends were slain, killed were our soldiers bold,
Great helps and greater hopes are us bereft,
Nor aught but aid from Egypt land is left:

"And well you see far distant is that aid,
Upon our heels our danger treadeth still,
For your advice was this assembly made,
Each what he thinketh speak, and what he will."
A whisper soft arose when this was said,
As gentle winds the groves with murmur fill,
But with bold face, high looks and merry cheer,
Argantes rose, the rest their talk forbear.

"0 worthy sovereign," thus began to say
The hardy young man to the tyrant wise,
"What words be these? what fears do you dismay?
Who knows not this, you need not our advice!
But on your hand your hope of conquest lay,
And, for no loss true virtue damnifies,
Make her our shield, pray her us succors give,
And without her let us not wish to live.

"Nor say I this for that I aught misdeem
That Egypt's promised succors fail us might,
Doubtful of my great master's words to seem
To me were neither lawful, just, nor right!
I speak these words, for spurs I them esteem
To waken up each dull and fearful sprite,
And make our hearts resolved to all assays,
To win with honor, or to die with praise."

Thus much Argantes said, and said no more,
As if the case were clear of which he spoke.
Orcano rose, of princely stem ybore,
Whose presence 'mongst them bore a mighty stroke,
A man esteemed well in arms of yore,
But now was coupled new in marriage yoke;
Young babes he had, to fight which made him loth,
He was a husband and a father both.

"My lord," quoth he, "I will not reprehend
The earnest zeal of this audacious speech,
From courage sprung, which seld is close ypend
In swelling stomach without violent breach:
And though to you our good Circassian friend
In terms too bold and fervent oft doth preach,
Yet hold I that for good, in warlike feat
For his great deeds respond his speeches great.

"But if it you beseem, whom graver age
And long experience hath made wise and sly,
To rule the heat of youth and hardy rage,
Which somewhat have misled this knight awry,
In equal balance ponder then and gauge

* * *

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