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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 123

Thus shot the maid: the duke with hard assay
And sharp assault, meanwhile the town oppressed,
Against that part which to his campward lay
An engine huge and wondrous he addressed,
A tower of wood built for the town's decay
As high as were the walls and bulwarks best,
A turret full of men and weapons pent,
And yet on wheels it rolled, moved, and went.

This rolling fort his nigh approaches made,
And darts and arrows spit against his foes,
As ships are wont in fight, so it assayed
With the strong wall to grapple and to close,
The Pagans on each side the piece invade,
And all their force against this mass oppose,
Sometimes the wheels, sometimes the battlement
With timber, logs and stones, they broke and rent,

So thick flew stones and darts, that no man sees
The azure heavens, the sun his brightness lost,
The clouds of weapons, like to swarms of bees,
Move the air, and there each other crossed:
And look how falling leaves drop down from trees,
When the moist sap is nipped with timely frost,
Or apples in strong winds from branches fall;
The Saracens so tumbled from the wall.

For on their part the greatest slaughter light,
They had no shelter gainst so sharp a shower,
Some left on live betook themselves to flight,
So feared they this deadly thundering tower:
But Solyman stayed like a valiant knight,
And some with him, that tted in his power,
Argantes with a long beech tree in hand,
Ran thither, this huge engine to withstand:

With this he pushed the tower, and back it drives
The length of all his tree, a wondrous way,
The hardy virgin by his side arrives,
To help Argantes in this hard assay:
The band that used the ram, this season strives
To cut the cords, wherein the woolpacks lay,
Which done, the sacks down in the trenches fall,
And to the battery naked left the wall.

The tower above, the ram beneath doth thunder,
What lime and stone such puissance could abide?
The wall began, new bruised and ched asunder,
Her wounded lap to open broad and wide,
Godfrey himself and his brought safely under
The shattered wall, where greatest breach he spied,
Himself he saves behind his mighty targe,
A shield not used but in some desperate charge.

From hence he sees where Solyman descends,
Down to the threshold of the gaping breach,
And there it seems the mighty prince intends
Godfredo's hoped entrance to impeach:
Argantes, and with him the maid, defends
The walls above, to which the tower doth reach,
His noble heart, when Godfrey this beheld,
With courage new with wrath and valor swelled.

He turned about and to good Sigiere spake,
Who bare his greatest shield and mighty bow,
"That sure and tty target let me take,
Impenetrable is that shield I know,
Over these ruins will I passage make,
And enter first, the way is eath and low,
And time requires that by some noble feat
I should make known my strength and puissance great."

He scant had spoken, scant received the charge,
When on his leg a sudden shaft him hit,
And through that part a hole made wide and large,

* * *

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