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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 168

And she forlorn her palace great and fair
Destroys for grief, and flies thence through the air.
The palace great is builded rich and round,
And in the centre of the inmost hold
There lies a garden sweet, on fertile ground,
Fairer than that where grew the trees of gold:
The cunning sprites had buildings reared around
With doors and entries false a thousandfold,
A labyrinth they made that fortress brave,
Like Daedal's prison, or Porsenna's grave.

The knights passed through the castle's largest gate,
Though round about an hundred ports there shine,
The door-leaves framed of carved silver-plate,
Upon their golden hinges turn and twine.
They stayed to view this work of wit and state.
The workmanship excelled the substance fine,
For all the shapes in that rich metal wrought,
Save speech, of living bodies wanted naught.

Alcides there sat telling tales, and spun
Among the feeble troops of damsels mild,
He that the fiery gates of hell had won
And heaven upheld; false Love stood by and smiled:
Armed with his club fair Iole forth run,
His club with blood of monsters foul defiled,
And on her back his lion's skin had she,
Too rough a bark for such a tender tree.

Beyond was made a sea, whose azure flood
The hoary froth ched from the surges blue,
Wherein two navies great well ranged stood
Of warlike ships, fire from their arms outflew,
The waters burned about their vessels good,
Such flames the gold therein enchased threw,
Caesar his Romans hence, the Asian kings
Thence Antony and Indian princes brings.

The Cyclades seemed to swim amid the main,
And hill gainst hill, and mount gainst mountain smote,
With such great fury met those armies twain;
Here burnt a ship, there sunk a bark or boat,
Here darts and wild-fire flew, there drowned or slain
Of princes dead the bodies fleet and float;
Here Caesar wins, and yonder conquered been
The Eastern ships, there fled the Egyptian queen:

Antonius eke himself to flight betook,
The empire lost to which he would aspire,
Yet fled not he nor fight for fear forsook,
But followed her, drawn on by fond desire:
Well might you see within his troubled look,
Strive and contend, love, courage, shame and ire;
Oft looked he back, oft gazed he on the fight,
But oftener on his mistress and her flight.

Then in the secret creeks of fruitful Nile,
Cast in her lap, he would sad death await,
And in the pleasure of her lovely smile
Sweeten the bitter stroke of cursed fate:
All this did art with curious hand compile
In the rich metal of that princely gate.
The knights these stories viewed first and last,
Which seen, they forward pressed, and in they passed:

As through his channel crooked Meander glides
With turns and twines, and rolls now to, now fro,
Whose streams run forth there to the salt sea sides
Here back return and to their springward go:
Such crooked paths, such ways this palace hides;
Yet all the maze their map described so,
That through the labyrinth they got in fine,
As Theseus did by Ariadne's line.

When they had passed all those troubled ways,

* * *

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