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All the large desert in his bosom held,
And through the grove one channel passage found;
That in the wood; in that, the forest dwelled:
Trees clad the streams; streams green those trees aye made
And so exchanged their moisture and their shade.
The knight some way sought out the flood to pass,
And as he sought, a wondrous bridge appeared,
A bridge of gold, a huge and weighty mass,
On arches great of that rich metal reared;
When through that golden way he entered was,
Down fell the bridge, swelled the stream, and weared
The work away, nor sign left where it stood,
And of a river calm became a flood.
He turned, amazed to see it troubled so,
Like sudden brooks increased with molten snow,
The billows fierce that tossed to and fro,
The whirlpools sucked down to their bosoms low;
But on he went to search for wonders mo,
Through the thick trees there high and broad which grow,
And in that forest huge and desert wide,
The more he sought, more wonders still he spied.
Whereso he stepped, it seemed the joyful ground
Renewed the verdure of her flowery weed,
A fountain here, a wellspring there he found;
Here bud the roses, there the lilies spread
The aged wood o'er and about him round
Flourished with blossoms new, new leaves, new seed,
And on the boughs and branches of those treen,
The bark was softened, and renewed the green.
The manna on each leaf did pearled lie,
The honey stilled from the tender rind;
Again he heard that wondrous harmony,
Of songs and sweet complaints of lovers kind,
The human voices sung a triple high,
To which respond the birds, the streams, the wind,
But yet unseen those nymphs, those singers were,
Unseen the lutes, harps, viols which they bear.
He looked, he listened, yet his thoughts denied
To think that true which he both heard and see,
A myrtle in an ample plain he spied,
And thither by a beaten path went he:
The myrtle spread her mighty branches wide,
Higher than pine or palm or cypress tree:
And far above all other plants was seen
That forest's lady and that desert's queen.
Upon the trees his eyes Rinaldo bent,.
And there a marvel great and strange began;
An aged oak beside him cleft and rent,
And from his fertile hollow womb forth ran,
Clad in rare weeds and strange habiliment,
A nymph, for age able to go to man,
An hundred plants beside, even in his sight,
Childed an hundred nymphs, so great, so dight.
Such as on stages play, such as we see
The Dryads painted whom wild Satyrs love,
Whose arms half-naked, locks untsed be,
With buskins laced on their legs above,
And silken robes tucked short above their knee;
Such seemed the sylvan daughters of this grove,
Save that instead of shafts and boughs of tree,
She bore a lute, a harp, or cittern she.
And wantonly they cast them in a ring,
And sung and danced to move his weaker sense,
Rinaldo round about environing,
As centres are with their circumference;
The tree they compassed eke, and gan to sing,
That woods and streams admired their excellence;
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