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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 140

His heart was hardened with his too much care,
His silver locks with dust he foul besprent,
He knocked his breast, his face he rent and tare,
And while the press flocked to the eunuch old,
Thus to the people spake Argantes bold:

"I would, when first I knew the hardy maid
Excluded was among her Christian foes,
Have followed her to give her timely aid,
Or by her side this breath and life to lose,
What did I not, or what left I unsaid
To make the king the gates again unclose?
But he denied, his power did aye restrain
My will, my suit was waste, my speech was vain:

"Ah, had I gone, I would from danger free
Have brought to Sion that sweet nymph again,
Or in the bloody fight, where killed was she,
In her defence there nobly have been slain:
But what could I do more? the counsels be
Of God and man gainst my designments plain,
Dead is Clorinda fair, laid in cold grave,
Let me revenge her whom I could not save.

"Jerusalem, hear what Argantes saith,
Hear Heaven, and if he break his oath and word,
Upon this head cast thunder in thy wrath:
I will destroy and kill that Christian lord
Who this fair dame by night thus murdered hath,
Nor from my side I will ungird this sword
Till Tancred's heart it cleave, and shed his blood,
And leave his corpse to wolves and crows for food."

This said, the people with a joyful shout
Applaud his speeches and his words approve,
And calmed their grief in hope the boaster stout
Would kill the prince, who late had slain his love.
O promise vain! it otherwise fell out:
Men purpose, but high gods dispose above,
For underneath his sword this boaster died
Whom thus he scorned and threatened in his pride.

Thirteenth Book

Ismeno sets to guard the forest old
The wicked sprites, whose ugly shapes affray
And put to flight the men, whose labor would
To their dark shades let in heaven's golden ray:
Thither goes Tancred hardy, faithful, bold,
But foolish pity lets him not assay
His strength and courage: heat the Christian power
Annoys, whom to refresh God sends a shower.

But scant, dissolved into ashes cold,
The smoking tower fell on the scorched grass,
When new device found out the enchanter old
By which the town besieged secured was,
Of timber fit his foes deprive he would,
Such terror bred that late consumed mass:
So that the strength of Sion's walls to shake,
They should no turrets, rams, nor engines make.

From Godfrey's camp a grove a little way
Amid the valleys deep grows out of sight,
Thick with old trees whose horrid arms display
An ugly shade, like everlasting night;
There when the sun spreads forth his clearest ray,
Dim, thick, uncertain, gloomy seems the light;
As when in evening, day and darkness strive
Which should his foe from our horizon drive.

But when the sun his chair in seas doth steep,
Night, horror, darkness thick the place invade,

* * *

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