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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 138

Ran thither, and the duty would discharge
Of friendship true, and with sweet words the rage
Of bitter grief and woe they would assuage.

But as a mortal wound the more doth smart
The more it searched is, handled or sought;
So their sweet words to his afflicted heart
More grief, more anguish, pain and torment brought
But reverend Peter that would set apart
Care of his sheep, as a good shepherd ought,
His vanity with grave advice reproved
And told what mourning Christian knights behoved:

"O Tancred, Tancred, how far different
From thy beginnings good these follies be?
What makes thee deaf? what hath thy eyesight blent?
What mist, what cloud thus overshadeth thee?
This is a warning good from heaven down sent,
Yet His advice thou canst not hear nor see
Who calleth and conducts thee to the way
From which thou willing dost and witting stray:

"To worthy actions and achievements fit
For Christian knights He would thee home recall;
But thou hast left that course and changed it,
To make thyself a heathen damsel's thrall;
But see, thy grief and sorrow's painful fit
Is made the rod to scourge thy sins withal,
Of thine own good thyself the means He makes,
But thou His mercy, goodness, grace forsakes.

"Thou dost refuse of heaven the proffered
And gainst it still rebel with sinful ire,
Oh wretch! Oh whither doth thy rage thee chase?
Refrain thy grief, bridle thy fond desire,
At hell's wide gate vain sorrow doth thee place,
Sorrow, misfortune's son, despair's foul fire:
Oh see thine evil, thy plaint and woe refrain,
The guides to death, to hell, and endless pain."

This said, his will to die the patient
Abandoned, that second death he feared,
These words of comfort to his heart down went,
And that dark night of sorrow somewhat cleared;
Yet now and then his grief deep sighs forth sent,
His voice shrill plaints and sad laments oft reared,
Now to himself, now to his murdered love,
He spoke, who heard perchance from heaven above.

Till Phoebus' rising from his evening fall
To her, for her, he mourns, he calls, he cries;
The nightingale so when her children small
Some churl takes before their parents' eyes,
Alone, dismayed, quite bare of comforts all,
Tires with complaints the seas, the shores, the skies,
Till in sweet sleep against the morning bright
She fall at last; so mourned, so slept the knight.

And clad in starry veil, amid his dream,
For whose sweet sake he mourned, appeared the maid,
Fairer than erst, yet with that heavenly beam.
Not out of knowledge was her lovely shade,
With looks of ruth her eyes celestial seem
To pity his sad plight, and thus she said,
"Behold how fair, how glad thy love appears,
And for my sake, my dear, forbear these tears.

"Thine be the thanks, my soul thou madest flit
At unawares out of her earthly nest,
Thine be the thanks, thou hast advanced it
In Abraham's dear bosom long to rest,
There still I love thee, there for Tancred fit
A seat prepared is among the blest;
There in eternal joy, eternal light,
Thou shalt thy love enjoy, and she her knight;

* * *

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