Previous First Next
"His prey out of this lion's paws go tear:"
To some before his thoughts the shape he lays,
And makes therein the image true appear,
How his sad country him entreats and prays,
His house, his loving wife, and children dear:
"Suppose," quoth he, "thy country doth beseech
And pray thee thus, suppose this is her speech.
"Defend my laws, uphold my temples brave,
My blood from washing of my streets withhold,
From ravishing my virgins keep, and save
Thine ancestors' dead bones and ashes cold!
To thee thy fathers dear and parents grave
Show their uncovered heads, white, hoary, old,
To thee thy wife -- her breasts with tears o'erspread --
Thy sons, their cradles, shows, thy marriage bed."
To all the rest, "You for her honor's sake
Whom Asia makes her champions, by your might
Upon these thieves, weak, feeble, few, must take
A sharp revenge, yet just, deserved and right."
Thus many words in several tongues he spake,
And all his sundry nations to sharp fight
Encouraged, but now the dukes had done
Their speeches all, the hosts together run.
It was a great, a strange and wondrous sight,
When front to front those noble armies met,
How every troop, how in each troop each knight
Stood prest to move, to fight, and praise to get,
Loose in the wind waved their ensigns light,
Trembled the plumes that on their crests were set;
Their arms, impresses, colors, gold and stone,
Against the sunbeams smiled, flamed, sparkled, shone.
Of dry topped oaks they seemed two forests thick,
So did each host with spears and pikes abound,
Bent were their bows, in rests their lances stick,
Their hands shook swords, their slings held cobbles round:
Each steed to run was ready, prest and quick,
At his commander's spur, his hand, his sound,
He chafes, he stamps, careers, and turns about,
He foams, snorts, neighs, and fire and smoke breathes out.
Horror itself in that fair fight seemed fair,
And pleasure flew amid sad dread and fear;
The trumpets shrill, that thundered in the air,
Were music mild and sweet to every ear:
The faithful camp, though less, yet seemed more rare
In that strange noise, more warlike, shrill and clear,
In notes more sweet, the Pagan trumpets jar,
These sung, their armors shined, these glistered far.
The Christian trumpets give the deadly call,
The Pagans answer, and the fight accept;
The godly Frenchmen on their knees down fall
To pray, and kissed the earth, and then up leapt
To fight, the land between was vanished all,
In combat close each host to other stepped;
For now the wings had skirmish hot begun,
And with their battles forth the footmen run.
But who was first of all the Christian train,
That gave the onset first, first won renown?
Gildippes thou wert she, for by thee slain
The King of Orms, Hircano, tumbled down,
The man's breastbone thou clov'st and rent in twain,
So Heaven with honor would thee bless and crown,
Pierced through he fell, and falling hard withal
His foe praised for her strength and for his fall.
Her lance thus broke, the hardy dame forth drew
With her strong hand a fine and trenchant blade,
And gainst the Persians fierce and bold she flew,
And in their troop wide streets and lanes she made,
Even in the girdling-stead divided new
Previous First Next
* * *