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Life in his grace, and death lay in his hands,
Nor helm nor target strong his blows off bears,
Best armed there seemed he no arms that wears;
For gainst his armed foes he only bends
His force, and scorns the naked folk to wound;
Them whom no courage arms, no arms defends,
He chased with his looks and dreadful sound:
Oh, who can tell how far his force extends?
How these he scorns, threats those, lays them on ground?
How with unequal harm, with equal fear
Fled all, all that well armed or naked were:
Fast fled the people weak, and with the same
A squadron strong is to the temple gone
Which, burned and builded oft, still keeps the name
Of the first founder, wise King Solomon;
That prince this stately house did whilom frame
Of cedar trees, of gold and marble stone;
Now not so rich, yet strong and sure it was,
With turrets high, thick walls, and doors of brass.
The knight arrived where in warklike sort
The men that ample church had fortified.
And closed found each wicket, gate and port,
And on the top defences ready spied,
He left his frowning looks, and twice that fort
From his high top down to the groundwork eyed,
And entrance sought, and twice with his swift foot
The mighty place he measured about.
Like as a wolf about the closed fold
Rangeth by night his hoped prey to get,
Enraged with hunger and with malice old
Which kind 'twixt him and harmless sheep hath set:
So searched he high and low about that hold,
Where he might enter without stop or let,
In the great court he stayed, his foes above
Attend the assault, and would their fortune prove.
There lay by chance a posted tree thereby,
Kept for some needful use, whate'er it were,
The armed galleys not so thick nor high
Their tall and lofty masts at Genes uprear;
This beam the knight against the gates made fly
From his strong hands all weights which lift and bear,
Like a light lance that tree he shook and tossed,
And bruised the gate, the threshold and the post.
No marble stone, no metal strong outbore
The wondrous might of that redoubled blow,
The brazen hinges from the wall it tore,
It broke the locks, and laid the doors down low,
No iron ram, no engine could do more,
Nor cannons great that thunderbolts forth throw,
His people like a flowing stream inthrong,
And after them entered the victor strong;
The woful slaughter black and loathsome made
That house, sometime the sacred house of God,
O heavenly justice, if thou be delayed,
On wretched sinners sharper falls thy rod!
In them this place profaned which invade
Thou kindled ire, and mercy all forbode,
Until with their hearts' blood the Pagans vile
This temple washed which they did late defile.
But Solyman this while himself fast sped
Up to the fort which David's tower is named,
And with him all the soldiers left he led,
And gainst each entrance new defences framed:
The tyrant Aladine eke thither fled,
To whom the Soldan thus, far off, exclaimed,
"Come, come, renowned king, up to this rock,
Thyself, within this fortress safe uplock:
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