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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 198


To noble Eustace that was like to fall
He reached forth his friendly conquering hand,
And next himself helped him to mount the wall.
This while Godfredo and his people land
Their lives to greater harms and dangers thrall,
For there not man with man, nor knight with knight
Contend, but engines there with engines fight.

LXXX
For in that place the Paynims reared a post,
Which late had served some gallant ship for mast,
And over it another beam they crossed,
Pointed with iron sharp, to it made fast
With ropes which as men would the dormant tossed,
Now out, now in, now back, now forward cast.
In his swift pulleys oft the men withdrew
The tree, and oft the riding-balk forth threw:

LXXXI
The mighty beam redoubted oft his blows,
And with such force the engine smote and hit,
That her broad side the tower wide open throws,
Her joints were broke, her rafters cleft and split;
But yet gainst every hap whence mischief grows,
Prepared the piece, gainst such extremes made fit,
Launch forth two scythes, sharp, cutting, long and broad
And cut the ropes whereon the engine rode:

LXXXII
As an old rock, which age or stormy wind
Tears from some craggy hill or mountain steep,
Doth break, doth bruise, and into dust doth grind
Woods, houses, hamlets, herds, and folds of sheep,
So fell the beam, and down with it all kind
Of arms, of weapons, and of men did sweep,
Wherewith the towers once or twice did shake,
Trembled the walls, the hills and mountains quake.

LXXXIII
Victorious Godfrey boldly forward came,
And had great hope even then the place to win;
But lo, a fire, with stench, with smoke and flame
Withstood his passage, stopped his entrance in:
Such burning Aetna yet could never frame,
When from her entrails hot her fires begin,
Nor yet in summer on the Indian plain,
Such vapors warm from scorching air down rain.

LXXXIV
There balls of wildfire, there fly burning spears,
This flame was black, that blue, this red as blood;
Stench well-nigh choked them, noise deafs their ears,
Smoke blinds their eyes, fire kindleth on the wood;
Nor those raw hides which for defence it wears
Could save the tower, in such distress it stood;
For now they wrinkle, now it sweats and fries,
Now burns, unless some help come down from skies.

LXXXV
The hardy duke before his folk abides,
Nor changed he color, countenance or place,
But comforts those that from the scaldered hides
With water strove the approaching flames to chase:
In these extremes the prince and those he guides
Half roasted stood before fierce Vulcan's face,
When lo, a sudden and unlooked-for blast
The flames against the kindlers backward cast:

LXXXVI
The winds drove back the fire, where heaped lie
The Pagans' weapons, where their engines were,
Which kindling quickly in that substance dry,
Burnt all their store and all their warlike gear:
O glorious captain! whom the Lord from high
Defends, whom God preserves, and holds so dear;
For thee heaven fights, to thee the winds, from far,
Called with thy trumpet's blast, obedient are!

LXXXVII
But wicked Ismen to his harm that saw
How the fierce blast drove back the fire and flame,
By art would nature change, and thence withdraw
Those noisome winds, else calm and still the same;
'Twixt two false wizards without fear or awe

* * *

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