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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 167

And all that might weak eyes subdue and take,
Her lower beauties veiled the gentle lake.

As when the morning star, escaped and fled
From greedy waves, with dewy beams up flies,
Or as the Queen of Love, new born and bred
Of the Ocean's fruitful froth, did first arise:
So vented she her golden locks forth shed
Round pearls and crystal moist therein which lies:
But when her eyes upon the knights she cast,
She start, and feigned her of their sight aghast.

And her fair locks, that in a knot were tied
High on her crown, she 'gan at large unfold;
Which falling long and thick and spreading wide,
The ivory soft and white mantled in gold:
Thus her fair skin the dame would clothe and hide,
And that which hid it no less fair was hold;
Thus clad in waves and locks, her eyes divine,
From them ashamed did she turn and twine.

Withal she smiled and she blushed withal,
Her blush, her smilings, smiles her blushing graced:
Over her face her amber tresses fall,
Whereunder Love himself in ambush placed:
At last she warbled forth a treble small,
And with sweet looks her sweet songs interlaced;
"Oh happy men I that have the grace," quoth she,
"This bliss, this heaven, this paradise to see.

"This is the place wherein you may assuage
Your sorrows past, here is that joy and bliss
That flourished in the antique golden age,
Here needs no law, here none doth aught amiss:
Put off those arms and fear not Mars his rage,
Your sword, your shield, your helmet needless is;
Then consecrate them here to endless rest,
You shall love's champions be, and soldiers blest.

"The fields for combat here are beds of down,
Or heaped lilies under shady brakes;
But come and see our queen with golden crown,
That all her servants blest and happy makes,
She will admit you gently for her own,
Numbered with those that of her joy partakes:
But first within this lake your dust and sweat
Wash off, and at that table sit and eat."

While thus she sung, her sister lured them nigh
With many a gesture kind and loving show,
To music's sound as dames in court apply
Their cunning feet, and dance now swift now slow:
But still the knights unmoved passed by,
These vain delights for wicked charms they know,
Nor could their heavenly voice or angel's look,
Surprise their hearts, if eye or ear they took.

For if that sweetness once but touched their hearts,
And proffered there to kindle Cupid's fire,
Straight armed Reason to his charge up starts,
And quencheth Lust, and killeth fond Desire;
Thus scorned were the dames, their wiles and arts
And to the palace gates the knights retire,
While in their stream the damsels dived sad,
Ashamed, disgraced, for that repulse they had.

Sixteenth Book

The searchers pass through all the palace bright
Where in sweet prison lies Rinaldo pent,
And do so much, that full of rage and spite,
With them he goes sad, shamed, disFirst:
With plaints and prayers to retain her knight
Armida strives; he hears, but thence he went,

* * *

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