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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 214

Death wounds, but kills not love; yet if thou live,
Sweet soul, still in his breast, my follies bold
Ah, pardon love's desires, and stealths forgive;
Grant me from his pale mouth some kisses cold,
Since death doth love of just reward deprive;
And of thy spoils sad death afford me this,
Let me his mouth, pale, cold and bloodless, kiss;

"O gentle mouth! with speeches kind and sweet
Thou didst relieve my grief, my woe and pain,
Ere my weak soul from this frail body fleet,
Ah, comfort me with one dear kiss or twain!
Perchance if we alive had happed to meet,
They had been given which now are stolen, O vain,
O feeble life, betwixt his lips out fly,
Oh, let me kiss thee first, then let me die!

"Receive my yielding spirit, and with thine
Guide it to heaven, where all true love hath place:"
This said, she sighed, and tore her tresses fine,
And from her eyes two streams poured on his face,
The man revived, with those showers divine
Awaked, and opened his lips a space;
His lips were open; but fast shut his eyes,
And with her sighs, one sigh from him upflies.

The dame perceived that Tancred breathed and sighed,
Which calmed her grief somedeal and eased her fears:
"Unclose thine eyes," she says, "my lord and knight,
See my last services, my plaints and tears,
See her that dies to see thy woful plight,
That of thy pain her part and portion bears;
Once look on me, small is the gift I crave,
The last which thou canst give, or I can have."

Tancred looked up, and closed his eyes again,
Heavy and dim, and she renewed her woe.
Quoth Vafrine, "Cure him first, and then complain,
Medicine is life's chief friend; plaint her most foe:"
They plucked his armor off, and she each vein,
Each joint, and sinew felt, and handled so,
And searched so well each tht, each cut and wound,
That hope of life her love and skill soon found.

From weariness and loss of blood she spied
His greatest pains and anguish most proceed,
Naught but her veil amid those deserts wide
She had to bind his wounds, in so great need,
But love could other bands, though strange, provide,
And pity wept for joy to see that deed,
For with her amber locks cut off, each wound
She tied: O happy man, so cured so bound!

For why her veil was short and thin, those deep
And cruel hurts to fasten, roll and blind,
Nor salve nor simple had she, yet to keep
Her knight on live, strong charms of wondrous kind
She said, and from him drove that deadly sleep,
That now his eyes he lifted, turned and twined,
And saw his squire, and saw that courteous dame
In habit strange, and wondered whence she came.

He said, "O Vafrine, tell me, whence com'st thou?
And who this gentle surgeon is, disclose;"
She smiled, she sighed, she looked she wist not how,
She wept, rejoiced, she blushed as red as rose.
"You shall know all," she says, "your surgeon now
Commands you silence, rest and soft repose,
You shall be sound, prepare my guerdon meet,"
His head then laid she in her bosom sweet.

Vafrine devised this while how he might bear
His master home, ere night obscured the land,
When lo, a troop of soldiers did appear,
Whom he descried to be Tancredi's band,
With him when he and Argant met they were;

* * *

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