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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 160

The far-sought isle they find; Armida's charms
They scorn, they shun her sleights, despise her arms.

The rosy-fingered morn with gladsome ray
Rose to her task from old Tithonus' lap
When their grave host came where the warriors lay,
And with him brought the shield, the rod, the map.
"Arise," quoth he, "ere lately broken day,
In his bright arms the round world fold or wrap,
All what I promised, here I have them brought,
Enough to bring Armida's charms to naught."

They started up, and every tender limb
In sturdy steel and stubborn plate they dight,
Before the old man stalked, they followed him
Through gloomy shades of sad and sable night,
Through vaults obscure again and entries dim,
The way they came their steps remeasured right;
But at the flood arrived, "Farewell," quoth he,
"Good luck your aid, your guide good fortune be."
The flood received them in his bottom low
And lilt them up above his billows thin;
The waters so east up a branch or bough,
By violence first plunged and dived therein:
But when upon the shore the waves them throw,
The knights for their fair guide to look begin,
And gazing round a little bark they spied,
Wherein a damsel sate the stern to guide.

Upon her front her locks were curled new,
Her eyes were courteous, full of peace and love;
In look a saint, an angel bright in show,
So in her visage grace and virtue strove;
Her robe seemed sometimes red and sometimes blue,
And changed still as she did stir or move;
That look how oft man's eye beheld the same
So oft the colors changed, went and came.

The feathers so, that tender, soft, and plain,
About the dove's smooth neck close couched been,
Do in one color never long remain,
But change their hue gainst glimpse of Phoebus' sheen;
And now of rubies bright a vermeil chain,
Now make a carknet rich of emeralds green;
Now mingle both, now alter, turn and change
To thousand colors, rich, pure, fair, and strange.

"Enter this boat, you happy men," she says,
"Wherein through raging waves secure I ride,
To which all tempest, storm, and wind obeys,
All burdens light, benign is stream and tide:
My lord, that rules your journeys and your ways,
Hath sent me here, your servant and your guide."
This said, her shallop drove she gainst the sand,
And anchor cast amid the steadfast land.

They entered in, her anchors she upwound,
And launched forth to sea her pinnace flit,
Spread to the wind her sails she broad unbound,
And at the helm sat down to govern it,
Swelled the flood that all his banks he drowned
To bear the greatest ship of burthen fit;
Yet was her fatigue little, swift and light,
That at his lowest ebb bear it he might.

Swifter than thought the friendly wind forth bore
The sliding boat upon the rolling wave,
With curded foam and froth the billows hoar
About the cable murmur roar and rave;
At last they came where all his watery store
The flood in one deep channel did engrave,
And forth to greedy seas his streams he sent,
And so his waves, his name, himself he spent.

The wondrous boat scant touched the troubled main
But all the sea still, hushed and quiet was,

* * *

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