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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 162


Next Ptolemais, and that sacred wood
Whence spring the silent streams of Lethe flood.

XVIII
The greater Syrte, that sailors often cast
In peril great of death and loss extreme,
They compassed round about, and safely passed,
The Cape Judeca and flood Magra's stream;
Then Tripoli, gainst which is Malta placed,
That low and hid, to lurk in seas doth seem:
The little Syrte then, and Alzerhes isle,
Where dwelt the folk that Lotos ate erewhile.

XIX
Next Tunis on the crooked shore they spied,
Whose bay a rock on either side defends,
Tunis all towns in beauty, wealth and pride
Above, as far as Libya's bounds extends;
Gainst which, from fair Sicilia's fertile side,
His rugged front great Lilybaeum bends.
The dame there pointed out where sometime stood
Rome's stately rival whilom, Carthage proud;

XX
Great Carthage low in ashes cold doth lie,
Her ruins poor the herbs in height scant pass,
So cities fall, so perish kingdoms high,
Their pride and pomp lies hid in sand and grass:
Then why should mortal man repine to die,
Whose life, is air; breath, wind; and body, glass?
From thence the seas next Bisert's walls they cleft,
And far Sardinia on their right hand left.

XXI
Numidia's mighty plains they coasted then,
Where wandering shepherds used their flocks to feed,
Then Bugia and Argier, the infamous den
Of pirates false, Oran they left with speed,
All Tingitan they swiftly overren,
Where elephants and angry lions breed,
Where now the realms of Fez and Maroc be,
Gainst which Granada's shores and coasts they see.

XXII
Now are they there, where first the sea brake in
By great Alcides' help, as stories feign,
True may it be that where those floods begin
It whilom was a firm and solid main
Before the sea there through did passage win
And parted Afric from the land of Spain,
Abila hence, thence Calpe great upsprings,
Such power hath time to change the face of things.

XXIII
Four times the sun had spread his morning ray
Since first the dame launched forth her wondrous barge
And never yet took port in creek or bay,
But fairly forward bore the knights her charge;
Now through the strait her jolly ship made way,
And boldly sailed upon the ocean large;
But if the sea in midst of earth was great,
Oh what was this, wherein earth hath her seat?

XXIV
Now deep engulphed in the mighty flood
They saw not Gades, nor the mountains near,
Fled was the land, and towns on land that stood,
Heaven covered sea, sea seemed the heavens to bear.
"At last, fair lady," quoth Ubaldo good,
"That in this endless main dost guide us here,
If ever man before here sailed tell,
Or other lands here be wherein men dwell."

XXV
"Great Hercules," quoth she, "when he had quailed
The monsters fierce in Afric and in Spain,
And all along your coasts and countries sailed,
Yet durst he not assay the ocean main,
Within his pillars would he have impaled
The overdaring wit of mankind vain,
Till Lord Ulysses did those bounders pass,
To see and know he so desirous was.

XXVI
"He passed those pillars, and in open wave

* * *

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