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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 144

As lions do whom jolly hunters chase;
Yet fled the man and with sad fear withdrew,
Though fear till then he never felt nor knew.

That he had fled long time he never wist,
But when far run he had discoverd it,
Himself for wonder with his hand he blist,
A bitter sorrow by the heart him bit,
Amazed, ashamed, disgraced, sad, silent, trist,
Alone he would all day in darkness sit,
Nor durst he look on man of worth or fame,
His pride late great, now greater made his shame.

Godfredo called him, but he found delays
And causes why he should his cabin keep,
At length perforce he comes, but naught he says,
Or talks like those that babble in their sleep.
His shamefacedness to Godfrey plain bewrays
His flight, so does his sighs and sadness deep:
Whereat amazed, "What chance is this ?" quoth he.
"These witchcrafts strange or nature's wonders be.

"But if his courage any champion move
To try the hazard of this dreadful spring,
I give him leave the adventure great to prove,
Some news he may report us of the thing:"
This said, his lords attempt the charmed grove,
Yet nothing back but fear and flight they bring,
For them inforced with trembling to retire,
The sight, the sound, the monsters and the fire.

This happed when woful Tancred left his bed
To lay in marble cold his mistress dear,
The lively color from his cheek was fled,
His limbs were weak his helm or targe to bear;
Nathless when need to high attempts him led,
No labor would he shun, no danger fear,
His valor, boldness, heart and courage brave,
To his faint body strength and vigor gave.

To this exploit forth went the venturous knight,
Fearless, yet heedful; silent, well advised,
The terrors of that forest's dreadful sight,
Storms, earthquakes, thunders, cries, he all despised:
He feared nothing, yet a motion light,
That quickly vanished, in his heart arised
When lo, between him and the charmed wood,
A fiery city high as heaven up stood.

The knight stepped back and took a sudden pause,
And to himself, "What help these arms?" quoth he,
"If in this fire, or monster's gaping jaws
I headlong cast myself, what boots it me?
For common profit, or my country's cause,
To hazard life before me none should be:
But this exploit of no such weight I hold,
For it to lose a prince or champion bold.

But if I fly, what will the Pagans say?
If I retire, who shall cut down this spring?
Godfredo will attempt it every day.
What if some other knight perform the thing?
These flames uprisen to forestall my way
Perchance more terror far than danger bring.
But hap what shall;" this said, he forward stepped,
And through the fire, oh wondrous boldness, leapt!

He bolted through, but neither warmth nor heat!
He felt, nor sign of fire or scorching flame;
Yet wist he not in his dismayed conceit,
If that were fire or no through which he came;
For at first touch vanished those monsters great,
And in their stead the clouds black night did frame
And hideous storms and showers of hail and rain;
Yet storms and tempests vanished straight again.

* * *

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