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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 217


THE ARGUMENT.
The Pagan host arrives, and cruel fight
Makes with the Christians and their faithful power;
The Soldan longs in field to prove his might,
With the old king quits the besieged tower;
Yet both are slain, and in eternal night
A famous hand gives each his fatal hour;
Rinald appeased Armida; first the field
The Christians win, then praise to God they yield.


I
The sun called up the world from idle sleep,
And of the day ten hours were gone and past
When the bold troop that had the tower to keep
Espied a sudden mist, that overcast
The earth with mirksome clouds and darkness deep,
And saw it was the Egyptian camp at last
Which raised the dust, for hills and valleys broad
That host did overspread and overload.

II
Therewith a merry shout and joyful cry
The Pagans reared from their besieged hold;
The cranes from Thrace with such a rumor fly,
His hoary frost and snow when Hyems old
Pours down, and fast to warmer regions hie,
From the sharp winds, fierce storms and tempests cold;
And quick, and ready this new hope and aid,
Their hands to shoot, their tongues to threaten made.

III
From whence their ire, their wrath and hardy threat
Proceeds, the French well knew, and plain espied,
For from the walls and ports the army great
They saw; her strength, her number, pomp, and pride,
Swelled their breasts with valor's noble heat;
Battle and fight they wished, "Arm, arm!" they cried;
The youth to give the sign of fight all prayed
Their Duke, and were displeased because delayed

IV
Till morning next, for he refused to fight;
Their haste and heat he bridled, but not brake,
Nor yet with sudden fray or skirmish light
Of these new foes would he vain trial make.
"After so many wars," he says, "good right
It is, that one day's rest at least you take,"
For thus in his vain foes he cherish would
The hope which in their strength they have and hold.

V
To see Aurora's gentle beam appear,
The soldiers armed, prest and ready lay,
The skies were never half so fair and clear
As in the breaking of that blessed day,
The merry morning smiled, and seemed to wear
Upon her silver crown sun's golden ray,
And without cloud heaven his redoubled light
Bent down to see this field, this fray, this fight.

VI
When first he saw the daybreak show and shine,
Godfrey his host in good array brought out,
And to besiege the tyrant Aladine
Raymond he left, and all the faithful rout
That from the towns was come of Palestine
To serve and succor their deliverer stout,
And with them left a hardy troop beside
Of Gascoigns strong, in arms well proved, oft tried.

VII
Such was Godfredo's countenance, such his cheer,
That from his eye sure conquest flames and streams,
Heaven's gracious favors in his looks appear,
And great and goodly more than erst he seems;
His face and forehead full of noblesse were,
And on his cheek smiled youth's purple beams,
And in his gait, his grace, his acts, his eyes,
Somewhat, far more than mortal, lives and lies.

VIII
He had not marched far ere he espied
Of his proud foes the mighty host draw nigh;

* * *

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