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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 183

And 'twixt the angry knights his sceptre cast:
Then to Armida said, "Fair Queen, I see
Thy heart is stout, thy thoughts courageous be;

"Thou worthy art that their disdain and ire
At thy commands these knights should both appease,
That gainst thy foe their courage hot as fire
Thou may'st employ, both when and where you please,
There all their power and force, and what desire
They have to serve thee, may they show at ease."
The monarch held his peace when this was said,
And they new proffer of their service made.

Nor they alone, but all that famous were
In feats of arms boast that he shall be dead,
All offer her their aid, all say and swear,
To take revenge on his condemned head:
So many arms moved she against her dear,
And swore her darling under foot to tread,
But he, since first the enchanted isle he left,
Safe in his barge the roaring waves still cleft.

By the same way returned the well-taught boat
By which it came, and made like haste, like speed;
The friendly wind, upon her sail that smote,
So turned as to return her ship had need:
The youth sometimes the Pole or Bear did note,
Or wandering stars which dearest nights forthspread:
Sometimes the floods, the hills, or mountains steep,
Whose woody fronts o'ershade the silent deep.

Now of the camp the man the state inquires,
Now asks the customs strange of sundry lands;
And sailed, till clad in beams and bright attires
The fourth day's sun on the eastern threshold stands:
But when the western seas had quenched those fires,
Their frigate struck against the shore and sands;
Then spoke their guide, "The land of Palestine
This is, here must your journey end and mine."

The knights she set upon the shore all three,
And vanished thence in twinkling of an eye,
Uprose the night in whose deep blackness be
All colors hid of things in earth or sky,
Nor could they house, or hold, or harbor see,
Or in that desert sign of dwelling spy,
Nor track of man or horse, or aught that might
Inform them of some path or passage right.

When they had mused what way they travel should,
From the west shore their steps at last they twined,
And lo, far off at last their eyes behold
Something, they wist not what, that clearly shined
With rays of silver and with beams of gold
Which the dark folds of night's black mantle lined.
Forward they went and marched against the light,
To see and find the thing that shone so bright.

High on a tree they saw an armor new,
That glistered bright gainst Cynthia's silver ray,
Therein, like stars in skies, the diamonds show
Fret in the gilden helm and hauberk gay,
The mighty shield all scored full they view
Of pictures fair, ranged in meet array;
To keep them sate an aged man beside,
Who to salute them rose, when them he spied.

The twain who first were sent in this pursuit
Of their wise friend well knew the aged face:
But when the wizard sage their first salute
Received and quitted had with kind embrace,
To the young prince, that silent stood and mute,
He turned his speech, "In this unused place
For you alone I wait, my lord," quoth he,
"My chiefest care your state and welfare be.

* * *

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