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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 175

But in a swoon on earth outstretched she lies,
Stiff were her frozen limbs, closed were her eyes.

Thou closed thine eyes, Armida, heaven envied
Ease to thy grief, or comfort to thy woe;
Ah, open then again, see tears down slide
From his kind eyes, whom thou esteem'st thy foe,
If thou hadst heard, his sighs had mollified
Thine anger, hard he sighed and mourned so;
And as he could with sad and rueful look
His leave of thee and last farewell he took.

What should he do? leave on the naked sand
This woful lady half alive, half dead?
Kindness forbade, pity did that withstand;
But hard constraint, alas! did thence him lead;
Away he went, the west wind blew from land
Mongst the rich tresses of their pilot's head,
And with that golden sail the waves she cleft,
To land he looked, till land unseen he left.

Waked from her trance, foresaken, speechless, sad,
Armida wildly stared and gazed about,
"And is he gone," quoth she, "nor pity had
To leave me thus twixt life and death in doubt?
Could he not stay? could not the traitor-lad
From this last trance help or recall me out?
And do I love him still, and on this sand
Still unrevenged, still mourn, still weeping stand?

"Fie no! complaints farewell! with arms and art
I will pursue to death this spiteful knight,
Not earth's low centre, nor sea's deepest part,
Not heaven, nor hell, can shield him from my might,
I will o'ertake him, take him, cleave his heart,
Such vengeance fits a wronged lover's spite,
In cruelty that cruel knight surpass
I will, but what avail vain words, alas?

"O fool! thou shouldest have been cruel than,
For then this cruel well deserved thine ire,
When thou in prison hadst entrapped the man,
Now dead with cold, too late thou askest fire;
But though my wit, my cunning nothing can,
Some other means shall work my heart's desire,
To thee, my beauty, thine be all these wrongs,
Vengeance to thee, to thee revenge belongs.

"Thou shalt be his reward, with murdering brand
That dare this traitor of his head deprive,
O you my lovers, on this rock doth stand
The castle of her love for whom you strive,
I, the sole heir of all Damascus land,
For this revenge myself and kingdom give,
If by this price my will I cannot gain,
Nature gives beauty; fortune, wealth in vain.

"But thee, vain gift, vain beauty, thee I scorn,
I hate the kingdom which I have to give,
I hate myself, and rue that I was born,
Only in hope of sweet revenge I live."
Thus raging with fell ire she gan return
From that bare shore in haste, and homeward drive,
And as true witness of her frantic ire,
Her locks waved loose, face shone, eyes sparkled fire.

When she came home, she called with outcries shrill,
A thousand devils in Limbo deep that won,
Black clouds the skies with horrid darkness fill,
And pale for dread became the eclipsed sun,
The whirlwind blustered big on every hill,
And hell to roar under her feet begun,
You might have heard how through the palace wide,
Some spirits howled, some barked, some hissed, some cried.

A shadow, blacker than the mirkest night,

* * *

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