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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 128


She fights, and falls through pierced with his brand:
Christened she dies; with sighs, with plaints and tears.
He wails her death; Argant revengement swears.


I
Now in dark night was all the world embarred;
But yet the tired armies took no rest,
The careful French kept heedful watch and ward,
While their high tower the workmen newly dressed,
The Pagan crew to reinforce prepared
The weakened bulwarks, late to earth down kest,
Their rampiers broke and bruised walls to mend,
Lastly their hurts the wounded knights attend.

II
Their wounds were dressed, part of the work was brought
To wished end, part left to other days,
A dull desire to rest deep midnight wrought,
His heavy rod sleep on their eyelids lays:
Yet rested not Clorinda's working thought,
Which thirsted still for fame and warlike praise,
Argantes eke accompanied the maid
From place to place, which to herself thus said:

III
"This day Argantes strong, and Solyman,
Strange things have done, and purchased great renown,
Among our foes out of the walls they ran,
Their rams they broke and rent their engines down:
I used my bow, of naught else boast I can,
My self stood safe meanwhile within this town,
And happy was my shot, and prosperous too,
But that was all a woman's hand could do.

IV
"On birds and beasts in forests wild that feed
It were more fit mine arrows to bestow,
Than for a feeble maid in warlike deed
With strong and hardy knights herself to show.
Why take I not again my virgin's weed,
And spend my days in secret cell unknow?"
Thus thought, thus mused, thus devised the maid,
And turning to the knight, at last thus said:

V
"My thoughts are full, my lord, of strange desire
Some high attempt of war to undertake,
Whether high God my mind therewith inspire
Or of his will his God mankind doth make,
Among our foes behold the light and fire,
I will among them wend, and burn or break
The tower, God grant therein I have my will
And that performed, betide me good or ill.

VI
"But if it fortune such my chance should be,
That to this town I never turn again,
Mine eunuch, whom I dearly love, with thee
I leave my faithful maids, and all my train,
To Egypt then conducted safely see
Those woful damsels and that aged swain,
Help them, my lord, in that distressed case,
Their feeble sex, his age, deserveth grace."

VII
Argantes wondering stood, and felt the effect
Of true renown pierce through his glorious mind,
"And wilt thou go," quoth he, "and me neglect,
Disgraced, despised, leave in this fort behind?
Shall I while these strong walls my life protect
Behold thy flames and fires tossed in the wind,
No, no, thy fellow have I been in arms,
And will be still, in praise, in death, in harms.

VIII
"This heart of mine death's bitter stroke despiseth,
For praise this life, for glory take this breath."
"My soul and more," quoth she, "thy friendship prizeth,
For this thy proffered aid required uneath,
I but a woman am, no loss ariseth
To this besieged city by my death,
But if, as God forbid, this night thou fall,
Ah! who shall then, who can, defend this wall!"

* * *

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