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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 187

Where Godfrey you awaits, and many a knight,
There may we well arrive ere night doth end,
And through this darkness can I guide you right."
This said, up to his coach they all ascend,
On his swift wheels forth rolled the chariot light,
He gave his coursers fleet the rod and rein,
And galloped forth and eastward drove amain;

While silent so through night's dark shade they fly,
The hermit thus bespake the young man stout:
"Of thy great house, thy race, thine offspring high,
Here hast thou seen the branch, the bole, the root,
And as these worthies born to chivalry
And deeds of arms it hath tofore brought out,
So is it, so it shall be fertile still,
Nor time shall end, nor age that seed shall kill.

"Would God, as drawn from the forgetful lap
Of antique time, I have thine elders shown;
That so I could the catalogue unwrap
Of thy great nephews yet unborn, unknown,
That ere this light they view, their fate and hap
I might foretell, and how their chance is thrown,
That like thine elders so thou mightst behold
Thy children, many, famous, stout and bold.

"But not by art or skill, of things future
Can the plain truth revealed be and told,
Although some knowledge doubtful, dark, obscure
We have of coming haps in clouds uprolled;
Nor all which in this cause I know for sure
Dare I foretell: for of that father old,
The hermit Peter, learned I much, and he
Withouten veil heaven's secrets great doth see.

"But this, to him revealed by grace divine,
By him to me declared, to thee I say,
Was never race Greek, barbarous, or Latine,
Great in times past, or famous at this day,
Richer in hardy knights than this of thine;
Such blessings Heaven shall on thy children lay
That they in fame shall pass, in praise o'ercome,
The worthies old of Sparta, Carthage, Rome.

"But mongst the rest I chose Alphonsus bold,
In virtue first, second in place and name,
He shall be born when this frail world grows old,
Corrupted, poor, and bare of men of fame,
Better than he none shall, none can, or could,
The sword or sceptre use or guide the same,
To rule in peace or to command in fight,
Thine offspring's glory and thy house's light.

"His younger age foretokens true shall yield
Of future valor, puissance, force and might,
From him no rock the savage beast shall shield;
At tilt or tourney match him shall no knight:
After, he conquer shall in pitched field
Great armies and win spoils in single fight,
And on his locks, rewards for knightly praise,
Shall garlands wear of grass, of oak, of bays.

"His graver age, as well that eild it fits,
Shall happy peace preserve and quiet blest,
And from his neighbors strong mongst whom he sits
Shall keep his cities safe in wealth and rest,
Shall nourish arts and cherish pregnant wits,
Make triumphs great, and feast his subjects best,
Reward the good, the evil with pains torment,
Shall dangers all foresee, and seen, prevent.

"But if it hap against those wicked bands
That sea and earth invest with blood and war,
And in these wretched times to noble lands
Give laws of peace false and unjust that are,
That he be sent, to drive their guilty hands

* * *

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