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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 113

Your hopes far distant, with your perils nigh;
This town's old walls and rampires new compare
With Godfrey's forces and his engines rare.

"But, if I may say what I think unblamed,
This town is strong, by nature, site and art,
But engines huge and instruments are framed
Gainst these defences by our adverse part,
Who thinks him most secure is eathest shamed;
I hope the best, yet fear unconstant mart,
And with this siege if we be long up pent,
Famine I doubt, our store will all be spent.

"For all that store of cattle and of grain
Which yesterday within these walls you brought,
While your proud foes triumphant through the plain
On naught but shedding blood, and conquest thought,
Too little is this city to sustain,
To raise the siege unless some means be sought;
And it must last till the prefixed hour
That it be raised by Egypt's aid and power.

"But what if that appointed day they miss?
Or else, ere we expect, what if they came?
The victory yet is not ours for this,
Oh save this town from ruin, us from shame!
With that same Godfrey still our warfare is,
These armies, soldiers, captains are the same
Who have so oft amid the dusty plain
Turks, Persians, Syrians and Arabians slain.

"And thou Argantes wotest what they be;
Oft hast thou fled from that victorious host,
Thy shoulders often hast thou let them see,
And in thy feet hath been thy safeguard most;
Clorinda bright and I fled eke with thee,
None than his fellows had more cause to boast,
Nor blame I any; for in every fight
We showed courage, valor, strength and might.

"And though this hardy knight the certain threat
Of near-approaching death to hear disdain;
Yet to this state of loss and danger great,
From this strong foe I see the tokens plain;
No fort how strong soe'er by art or seat,
Can hinder Godfrey why he should not reign:
This makes me say, -- to witness heaven I bring,
Zeal to this state, love to my lord and king --

"The king of Tripoli was well advised
To purchase peace, and so preserve his crown:
But Solyman, who Godfrey's love despised,
Is either dead or deep in prison thrown;
Else fearful is he run away disguised,
And scant his life is left him for his own,
And yet with gifts, with tribute, and with gold,
He might in peace his empire still have hold."

Thus spake Orcanes, and some inkling gave
In doubtful words of that he would have said;
To sue for peace or yield himself a slave
He durst not openly his king persuade:
But at those words the Soldan gan to rave,
And gainst his will wrapt in the cloud he stayed,
Whom Ismen thus bespake, "How can you bear
These words, my lord? or these reproaches hear?"

"Oh, let me speak," quoth he, "with ire and scorn
I burn, and gains, my will thus hid I stay!"
This said. the smoky cloud was cleft and torn,
Which like a veil upon them stretched lay,
And up to open heaven forthwith was borne,
And left the prince in view of lightsome day,
With princely look amid the press he shined,
And on a sudden, thus declared his mind.

* * *

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