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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 197

And oft with arrows, shafts, and stones that fly,
Give bitter answer to a sharp reply.

This while the fierce assailants never cease,
But sternly still maintain a threefold charge,
And gainst the clouds of shafts draw nigh at ease,
Under a pentise made of many a targe,
The armed towers close to the bulwarks press,
And strive to grapple with the battled marge,
And launch their bridges out, meanwhile below
With iron fronts the rams the walls down throw.

Yet still Rinaldo unresolved went,
And far unworthy him this service thought,
If mongst the common sort his pains he spent;
Renown so got the prince esteemed naught:
His angry looks on every side he bent,
And where most harm, most danger was, he fought,
And where the wall high, strong and surest was,
That part would he assault, and that way pass.

And turning to the worthies him behind,
All hardy knights, whom Dudon late did guide,
"Oh shame," quoth he, "this wall no war doth find,
When battered is elsewhere each part, each side;
All pain is safety to a valiant mind,
Each way is eath to him that dares abide,
Come let us scale this wall, though strong and high,
And with your shields keep off the darts that fly."

With him united all while thus he spake,
Their targets hard above their heads they threw,
Which joined in one an iron pentise make
That from the dreadful storm preserved the crew.
Defended thus their speedy course they take,
And to the wall without resistance drew,
For that strong penticle protected well
The knights, from all that flew and all that fell.

Against the fort Rinaldo gan uprear
A ladder huge, an hundred steps of height,
And in his arm the same did easily bear
And move as winds do reeds or hes light,
Sometimes a tree, a rock, a dart or spear,
Fell from above, yet forward clomb the knight,
And upward fearless pierced, careless still,
Though Mount Olympus fell, or Ossa hill:

A mount of ruins, and of shafts a wood
Upon his shoulders and his shield he bore,
One hand the ladder held whereon he stood,
The other bare his targe his face before;
His hardy troop, by his example good
Provoked, with him the place assaulted sore,
And ladders long against the wall they clap,
Unlike in courage yet, unlike in hap:

One died, another fell; he forward went,
And these he comforts, and he threateneth those,
Now with his hand outstretched the battlement
Well-nigh he reached, when all his armed foes
Ran thither, and their force and fury bent
To throw him headlong down, yet up he goes,
A wondrous thing, one knight whole armed bands
Alone, and hanging in the air, withstands:

Withstands, and forceth his great strength so far,
That like a palm whereon huge weight doth rest,
His forces so resisted stronger are,
His virtues higher rise the more oppressed,
Till all that would his entrance bold debar,
He backward drove, upleaped and possessed
The wall, and safe and easy with his blade,
To all that after came, the passage made.

There killing such as durst and did withstand,

* * *

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