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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 172

Whence worthy anger shone, displeasure flamed,
His nice attire in scorn he rent and tore,
For of his bondage vile that witness bore;

That done, he hasted from the charmed fort,
And through the maze passed with his searchers twain.
Armida of her mount and chiefest port
Wondered to find the furious keeper slain,
Awhile she feared, but she knew in short,
That her dear lord was fled, then saw she plain,
Ah, woful sight! how from her gates the man
In haste, in fear, in wrath, in anger ran.

"Whither, O cruel! leavest thou me alone?"
She would have cried, her grief her speeches stayed,
So that her woful words are backward gone,
And in her heart a bitter echo made;
Poor soul, of greater skill than she was one
Whose knowledge from her thus her joy conveyed,
This wist she well, yet had desire to prove
If art could keep, if charms recall her love.

All what the witches of Thessalia land,
With lips unpure yet ever said or spake,
Words that could make heaven's rolling circles stand,
And draw the damned ghosts from Limbo lake,
All well she knew, but yet no time she fand
To use her knowledge or her charms to make,
But left her arts, and forth she ran to prove
If single beauty were best charm for love.

She ran, nor of her honor took regard,
Oh where be all her vaunts and triumphs now?
Love's empire great of late she made or marred,
To her his subjects humbly bend and bow,
And with her pride mixed was a scorn so hard,
That to be loved she loved, yet whilst they woo
Her lovers all she hates; that pleased her will
To conquer men, and conquered so, to kill.

But now herself disdained, abandoned,
Ran after him; that from her fled in scorn,
And her despised beauty labored
With humble plaints and prayers to adorn:
She ran and hasted after him that fled,
Through frost and snow, through brier, bush and thorn,
And sent her cries on message her before,
That reached not him till he had reached the shore.

"Oh thou that leav'st but half behind," quoth she,
"Of my poor heart, and half with thee dost carry,
Oh take this part, or render that to me,
Else kill them both at once, ah tarry, tarry:
Hear my last words, no parting kiss of thee
I crave, for some more fit with thee to marry
Keep them, unkind; what fear'st thou if thou stay?
Thou may'st deny, as well as run away."

At this Rinaldo stopped, stood still, and stayed,
She came, sad, breathless, weary, faint and weak,
So woe-begone was never nymph or maid
And yet her beauty's pride grief could not break,
On him she looked, she gazed, but naught she said,
She would not, could not, or she durst not speak,
At her he looked not, glanced not, if he did,
Those glances shamefaced were, close, secret, hid.

As cunning singers, ere they strain on high,
In loud melodious tunes, their gentle voice,
Prepare the hearers' ears to harmony
With feignings sweet, low notes and warbles choice:
So she, not having yet forgot pardie
Her wonted shifts and sleights in Cupid's toys,
A sequence first of sighs and sobs forthcast,
To breed compassion dear, then spake at last:

* * *

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