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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 209

Because the day of fight approacheth fast."
"They ready are," quoth he; then both forbare
From further talk, these speeches were the last.
Vafrine, these great things heard, with grief and care
Remained astound, and in his thoughts oft cast
What treason false this was, how feigned were
Those arms, but yet that doubt he could not clear.

From thence he parted, and broad waking lay
All that long night, nor slumbered once nor slept:
But when the camp by peep of springing day
Their banner spread, and knights on horseback leapt,
With them he marched forth in meet array,
And where they pitched lodged, and with them kept,
And then from tent to tent he stalked about,
To hear and see, and learn this secret out;

Searching about, on a rich throne he fand
Armida set with dames and knights around,
Sullen she sat, and sighed, it seemed she scanned
Some weighty matters in her thoughts profounds,
Her rosy cheek leaned on her lily hand,
Her eyes, love's twinkling stars, she bent to ground,
Weep she, or no, he knows not, yet appears
Her humid eyes even great with child with tears.

He saw before her set Adrastus grim,
That seemed scant to live, move, or respire,
So was he fixed on his mistress trim,
So gazed he, and fed his fond desire;
But Tisiphern beheld now her now him,
And quaked sometime for love, sometime for ire,
And in his cheeks the color went and came,
For there wrath's fire now burnt, now shone love's flame.

Then from the garland fair of virgins bright,
Mongst whom he lay enclosed, rose Altamore,
His hot desire he hid and kept from sight,
His looks were ruled by Cupid's crafty lore,
His left eye viewed her hand, her face, his right
Both watched her beauties hid and secret store,
And entrance found where her thin veil bewrayed
The milken-way between her breasts that laid.

Her eyes Armida lift from earth at last,
And cleared again her front and visage sad,
Midst clouds of woe her looks which overcast
She lightened forth a smile, sweet, pleasant, glad;
"My lord," quoth she, "your oath and promise passed,
Hath freed my heart of all the griefs it had,
That now in hope of sweet revenge it lives,
Such joy, such ease, desired vengeance gives."

"Cheer up thy looks," answered the Indian king,
"And for sweet beauty's sake, appease thy woe,
Cast at your feet ere you expect the thing,
I will present the head of thy strong foe;
Else shall this hand his person captive bring
And cast in prison deep;" he boasted so.
His rival heard him well, yet answered naught,
But bit his lips, and grieved in secret thought.

To Tisipherne the damsel turning right,
"And what say you, my noble lord ?" quoth she.
He taunting said, "I that am slow to fight
Will follow far behind, the worth to see
Of this your terrible and puissant knight,"
In scornful words this bitter scoff gave he.
"Good reason," quoth the king, "thou come behind,
Nor e'er compare thee with the Prince of Ind."

Lord Tisiphernes shook his head, and said,
"Oh, had my power free like my courage been,
Or had I liberty to use this blade,
Who slow, who weakest is, soon should be seen,
Nor thou, nor thy great vaunts make me afraid,

* * *

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