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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 149

To ope the springs of grace and ease this drought,
Out of his looks shone zeal, devotion, faith,
His hands and eyes to heaven he heaves, and saith:

"Father and Lord, if in the deserts waste
Thou hadst compassion on thy children dear,
The craggy rock when Moses cleft and brast,
And drew forth flowing streams of waters clear,
Like mercy, Lord, like grace on us down cast;
And though our merits less than theirs appear,
Thy grace supply that want, for though they be
Thy first-born son, thy children yet are we."

These prayers just, from humble hearts forth sent,
Were nothing slow to climb the starry sky,
But swift as winged bird themselves present
Before the Father of the heavens high:
The Lord accepted them, and gently bent
Upon the faithful host His gracious eye,
And in what pain and what distress it laid,
He saw, and grieved to see, and thus He said:

"Mine armies dear till now have suffered woe,
Distress and danger, hell's infernal power
Their enemy hath been, the world their foe,
But happy be their actions from this hour:
What they begin to blessed end shall go,
I will refresh them with a gentle shower;
Rinaldo shall return, the Egyptian crew
They shall encounter, conquer, and subdue."

At these high words great heaven began to shake,
The fixed stars, the planets wandering still,
Trembled the air, the earth and ocean quake,
Spring, fountain, river, forest, dale and hill;
From north to east, a lightning flash outbrake,
And coming drops presaged with thunders shrill:
With joyful shouts the soldiers on the plain,
These tokens bless of long-desired rain.

A sudden cloud, as when Helias prayed,
Not from dry earth exhaled by Phoebus' beams,
Arose, moist heaven his windows open laid,
Whence clouds by heaps out h, and watery streams,
The world o'erspread was with a gloomy shade,
That like a dark mirksome even it seems;
The crashing rain from molten skies down fell,
And o'er their banks the brooks and fountains swell.

In summer season, when the cloudy sky
Upon the parched ground doth rain down send,
As duck and mallard in the furrows dry
With merry noise the promised showers attend,
And spreading broad their wings displayed lie
To keep the drops that on their plumes descend,
And where the streams swell to a gathered lake,
Therein they dive, and sweet refreshing take:

So they the streaming showers with shouts and cries
Salute, which heaven shed on the thirsty lands,
The falling liquor from the dropping skies
He catcheth in his lap, he barehead stands,
And his bright helm to drink therein unties,
In the fresh streams he dives his sweaty hands,
Their faces some, and some their temples wet,
And some to keep the drops large vessels set.

Nor man alone to ease his burning sore,
Herein doth dive and wash, and hereof drinks,
But earth itself weak, feeble, faint before,
Whose solid limbs were cleft with rifts and chinks,
Received the falling showers and gathered store
Of liquor sweet, that through her veins down sinks,
And moisture new infused largely was
In trees, in plants, in herbs, in flowers, in grass.

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