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Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
page 221

In pieces twain, Zopire on earth she laid;
And then Alarco's head she swept off clean,
Which like a football tumbled on the green.

A blow felled Artaxerxes, with a tht
Was Argeus slain, the first lay in a trance,
Ismael's left hand cut off fell in the dust,
For on his wrist her sword fell down by chance:
The hand let go the bridle where it lust,
The blow upon the courser's ears did glance,
Who felt the reins at large. and with the stroke
Half mad, the ranks disordered, troubled, broke.

All these, and many mo, by time forgot,
She slew and wounded, when against her came
The angry Persians all, cast on a knot,
For on her person would they purchase fame:
But her dear spouse and husband wanted not
In so great need, to aid the noble dame;
Thus joined, the haps of war unhurt they prove,
Their strength was double, double was their love.

The noble lovers use well might you see,
A wondrous guise, till then unseen, unheard,
To save themselves forgot both he and she,
Each other's life did keep, defend, and guard;
The strokes that gainst her lord discharged be,
The dame had care to bear, to break, to ward,
His shield kept off the blows bent on his dear,
Which, if need be, his naked head should bear.

So each saved other, each for other's wrong
Would vengeance take, but not revenge their own:
The valiant Soldan Artabano strong
Of Boecan Isle, by her was overthrown,
And by his hand, the bodies dead among,
Alvante, that durst his mistress wound, fell down,
And she between the eyes hit Arimont,
Who hurt her lord, and cleft in twain his front.

But Altamore who had that wing to lead
Far greater slaughter on the Christians made;
For where he turned his sword, or twined his steed,
He slew, or man and beast on earth down laid,
Happy was he that was at first struck dead,
That fell not down on live, for whom his blade
Had speared, the same cast in the dusty street
His horse tore with his teeth, bruised with his feet.

By this brave Persian's valor, killed and slain
Were strong Brunello and Ardonia great;
The first his head and helm had cleft in twain,
The last in stranger-wise he did intreat,
For through his heart he pierced, and his seat,
Where laughter hath his fountain and his seat,
So that, a dreadful thing, believed uneath,
He laughed for pain, and laughed himself to death.

Nor these alone with that accursed knife,
Of this sweet light and breath deprived lie;
But with that cruel weapon lost their life
Gentonio, Guascar, Rosimond, and Guy;
Who knows how many in that fatal strife
He slew? what knights his courser fierce made die?
The names and countries of the people slain
Who tells? their wounds and deaths who can explain?

With this fierce king encounter durst not one.
Not one durst combat him in equal field,
Gildippes undertook that task alone;
No doubt could make her shrink, no danger yield,
By Thermodont was never Amazone,
Who managed steeled axe, or carried shield,
That seemed so bold as she, so strong, so light,
When forth she run to meet that dreadful knight.

* * *

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