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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 202

To deserts waste, or place frequented high,
For vantage none I will the fight forsake:"
Thus given and taken was the bold defy,
And through the press, agreed so, they brake,
Their hatred made them one, and as they went,
Each knight his foe did for despite defend:

Great was his thirst of praise, great the desire
That Tancred had the Pagan's blood to spill,
Nor could that quench his wrath or calm his ire
If other hand his foe should foil or kill.
He saved him with his shield, and cried "Retire!"
To all he met, "and do this knight none ill:"
And thus defending gainst his friends his foe,
Through thousand angry weapons safe they go.

They left the city, and they left behind
Godfredo's camp, and far beyond it passed,
And came where into creeks and bosoms blind
A winding hill his corners turned and cast,
A valley small and shady dale they find
Amid the mountains steep so laid and placed
As if some theatre or closed place
Had been for men to fight or beasts to chase.

There stayed the champions both with rueful eyes,
Argantes gan the fortress won to view;
Tancred his foe withouten shield espies,
And far away his target therefore threw,
And said, "Whereon doth thy sad heart devise?
Think'st thou this hour must end thy life untrue?
If this thou fear, and dost foresee thy fate,
Thy fear is vain, thy foresight comes too late."

"I think," quoth he, "on this distressed town,
The aged Queen of Judah's ancient land,
Now lost, now sacked, spoiled and trodden down,
Whose fall in vain I strived to withstand,
A small revenge for Sion's fort o'erthrown,
That head can be, cut off by my strong hand."
This said, together with great heed they flew,
For each his foe for bold and hardy knew.

Tancred of body active was and light,
Quick, nimble, ready both of hand and foot;
But higher by the head, the Pagan knight
Of limbs far greater was, of heart as stout:
Tancred laid low and traversed in his fight,
Now to his ward retired, now struck out,
Oft with his sword his foe's fierce blows he broke,
And rather chose to ward-than bear his stroke.

But bold and bolt upright Argantes fought,
Unlike in gesture, like in skill and art,
His sword outstretched before him far he brought,
Nor would his weapon touch, but pierce his heart,
To catch his point Prince Tancred strove and sought,
But at his breast or helm's unclosed part
He threatened death, and would with stretched-out brand
His entrance close, and fierce assaults withstand.

With a tall ship so doth a galley fight,
When the still winds stir not the unstable main;
Where this in nimbleness as that in might
Excels; that stands, this goes and comes again,
And shifts from prow to poop with turnings light;
Meanwhile the other doth unmoved remain,
And on her nimble foe approaching nigh,
Her weighty engines tumbleth down from high.

The Christian sought to enter on his foe,
Voiding his point, which at his breast was bent;
Argantes at his face a tht did throw,
Which while the Prince awards and doth prevent,
His ready hand the Pagan turned so,
That all defence his quickness far o'erwent,

* * *

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