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"Welcome, dear lord, welcome to this sweet grove,
Welcome our lady's hope, welcome her love.
"Thou com'st to cure our princess, faint and sick
For love, for love of thee, faint, sick, distressed;
Late black, late dreadful was this forest thick,
Fit dwelling for sad folk with grief oppressed,
See with thy coming how the branches quick
Revived are, and in new blosoms dressed:"
This was their song, and after, from it went
First a sweet sound, and then the myrtle rent.
If antique times admired Silenus old
That oft appeared set on his lazy ass,
How would they wonder if they had behold
Such sights as from the myrtle high did pass?
Thence came a lady fair with locks of gold,
That like in shape, in face and beauty was
To sweet Armide; Rinaldo thinks he spies
Her gestures, smiles, and glances of her eyes.
On him a sad and smiling look she cast,
Which twenty passions strange at once bewrays:
"And art thou come," quoth she, "returned at last
To her from whom but late thou ran'st thy ways?
Com'st thou to comfort me for sorrows past?
To ease my widow nights and careful days?
Or comest thou to work me grief and harm?
Why nilt thou speak? -- why not thy face disarm?
"Com'st thou a friend or foe? I did not frame
That golden bridge to entertain my foe,
Nor opened flowers and fountains as you came,
To welcome him with joy that brings me woe:
Put off thy helm, rejoice me with the flame
Of thy bright eyes, whence first my fires did grow.
Kiss me, embrace me, if you further venture,
Love keeps the gate, the fort is eath to enter."
Thus as she woos she rolls her rueful eyes
With piteous look, and changeth oft her cheer,
An hundred sighs from her false heart upflies,
She sobs, she mourns, it is great ruth to hear;
The hardest breast sweet pity mollifies,
What stony heart resists a woman's tear?
But yet the knight, wise, wary, not unkind,
Drew forth his sword and from her careless twined.
Toward the tree he marched, she thither start,
Before him stepped, embraced the plant and cried,
"Ah, never do me such a spiteful part,
To cut my tree, this forest's joy and pride,
Put up thy sword, else pierce therewith the heart
Of thy forsaken and despised Armide;
For through this breast, and through this heart unkind
To this fair tree thy sword shall passage find."
He lift his brand, nor cared though oft she prayed,
And she her form to other shape did change;
Such monsters huge when men in dreams are laid
Oft in their idle fancies roam and range:
Her body swelled, her face obscure was made,
Vanished her garments, her face and vestures strange,
A giantess before him high she stands,
Like Briareus armed with an hundred hands.
With fifty swords, and fifty targets bright,
She threatened death, she roared, cried and fought,
Each other nymph in armor likewise dight,
A Cyclops great became: he feared them naught,
But on the myrtle smote with all his might,
That groaned like living souls to death nigh brought,
The sky seemed Pluto's court, the air seemed hell,
Therein such monsters roar, such spirits yell.
Lightened the heavens above, the earth below
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