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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 141

Which veil the mortal eyes with blindness deep
And with sad terror make weak hearts afraid,
Thither no groom drives forth his tender sheep
To browse, or ease their faint in cooling shade,
Nor traveller nor pilgrim there to enter,
So awful seems that forest old, dare venture.

United there the ghosts and goblins meet
To frolic with their mates in silent night,
With dragons' wings some cleave the welkin fleet,
Some nimbly run o'er hills and valleys light,
A wicked troop, that with allurements sweet
Draws sinful man from that is good and right,
And there with hellish pomp their banquets brought
They solemnize, thus the vain Parians thought.

No twist, no twig, no bough nor branch, therefore,
The Saracens cut from that sacred spring;
But yet the Christians spared ne'er the more
The trees to earth with cutting steel to bring:
Thither went Ismen old with tresses hoar,
When night on all this earth spread forth her wing,
And there in silence deaf and mirksome shade
His characters and circles vain he made:

He in the circle set one foot unshod,
And whispered dreadful charms in ghastly wise,
Three times, for witchcraft loveth numbers odd,
Toward the east he gaped, westward thrice,
He struck the earth thrice with his charmed rod
Wherewith dead bones he makes from grave to rise,
And thrice the ground with naked foot he smote,
And thus he cried loud, with thundering note:

"Hear, hear, you spirits all that whilom fell,
Cast down from heaven with dint of roaring thunder;
Hear, you amid the empty air that dwell
And storms and showers pour on these kingdoms under;
Hear, all you devils that lie in deepest hell
And rend with torments damned ghosts asunder,
And of those lands of death, of pain and fear,
Thou monarch great, great Dis, great Pluto, hear!

"Keep you this forest well, keep every tree,
Numbered I give you them and truly told;
As souls of men in bodies clothed be
So every plant a sprite shall hide and hold,
With trembling fear make all the Christians flee,
When they presume to cut these cedars old:"
This said, his charms he gan again repeat,
Which none can say but they that use like feat.

At those strange speeches, still night's splendent fires
Quenched their lights, and shrunk away for doubt,
The feeble moon her silver beams retires,
And wrapt her horns with folding clouds about,
Ismen his sprites to come with speed requires,
"Why come you not, you ever damned rout?
Why tarry you so long? pardie you stay
Till stronger charms and greater words I say.

"I have not yet forgot for want of use,
What dreadful terms belong this sacred feat,
My tongue, if still your stubborn hearts refuse,
That so much dreaded name can well repeat,
Which heard, great Dis cannot himself excuse,
But hither run from his eternal seat,
O great and fearful!" -- More he would have said,
But that he saw the sturdy sprites obeyed.

Legions of devils by thousands thither come,
Such as in sparsed air their biding make,
And thousands also which by Heavenly doom
Condemned lie in deep Avernus lake,
But slow they came, displeased all and some
Because those woods they should in keeping take,

* * *

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