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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 200

"But higher lift thy happy eyes, and view
Where all the sacred hosts of Heaven appear."
He looked, and saw where winged armies flew,
Innumerable, pure, divine and clear;
A battle round of squadrons three they show
And all by threes those squadrons ranged were,
Which spreading wide in rings still wider go,
Moved with a stone calm water circleth so.

With that he winked, and vanished was and gone;
That wondrous vision when he looked again,
His worthies fighting viewed he one by one,
And on each side saw signs of conquest plain,
For with Rinaldo gainst his yielding lone,
His knights were entered and the Pagans slain,
This seen, the duke no longer stay could brook,
But from the bearer bold his ensign took:

And on the bridge he stepped, but there was stayed
By Solyman, who entrance all denied,
That narrow tree to virtue great was made,
The field as in few blows right soon was tried,
"Here will I give my life for Sion's aid,
Here will I end my days," the Soldan cried,
"Behind me cut or break this bridge, that I
May kill a thousand Christians first, then die."

But thither fierce Rinaldo threatening went,
And at his sight fled all the Soldan's train,
"What shall I do? If here my life be spent,
I spend and spill," quoth he, "my blood in vain!"
With that his steps from Godfrey back he bent,
And to him let the passage free remain,
Who threatening followed as the Soldan fled,
And on the walls the purple Cross dispread:

About his head he tossed, he turned, he cast,
That glorious ensign, with a thousand twines,
Thereon the wind breathes with his sweetest blast,
Thereon with golden rays glad Phoebus shines,
Earth laughs for joy, the streams forbear their haste,
Floods clap their hands, on mountains dance the pines,
And Sion's towers and sacred temples smile
For their deliverance from that bondage vile.

And now the armies reared the happy cry
Of victory, glad, joyful, loud, and shrill.
The hills resound, the echo showereth high,
And Tancred bold, that fights and combats still
With proud Argantes, brought his tower so nigh,
That on the wall, against the boaster's will,
In his despite, his bridge he also laid,
And won the place, and there the cross displayed.

But on the southern hill, where Raymond fought
Against the townsmen and their aged king,
His hardy Gascoigns gained small or naught;
Their engine to the walls they could not bring,
For thither all his strength the prince had brought,
For life and safety sternly combating,
And for the wall was feeblest on that coast,
There were his soldiers best, and engines most.

Besides, the tower upon that quarter found
Unsure, uneasy, and uneven the way,
Nor art could help, but that the rougher ground
The rolling mass did often stop and stay;
But now of victory the joyful sound
The king and Raymond heard amid their fray;
And by the shout they and their soldiers know,
The town was entered on the plain below.

Which heard, Raymondo thus bespake this crew,
"The town is won, my friends, and doth it yet
Resist? are we kept out still by these few?

* * *

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