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All full of arms that cloven and shattered were;
Of swords, some to the body nail the shield,
Some cut men's throats, and some their bellies tear;
Of bodies, some upright, some grovelling lay,
And for themselves eat graves out of the clay.
Beside his lord slain lay the noble steed,
There friend with friend lay killed like lovers true,
There foe with foe, the live under the dead,
The victor under him whom late he slew:
A hoarse unperfect sound did eachwhere spread,
Whence neither silence, nor plain outcries flew:
There fury roars, ire threats, and woe complains,
One weeps, another cries, he sighs for pains.
The arms that late so fair and glorious seem,
Now soiled and slubbered, sad and sullen grow,
The steel his brightness lost, the gold his beam;
The colors had no pride nor beauty's show;
The plumes and feathers on their crests that stream,
Are strowed wide upon the earth below:
The hosts both clad in blood, in dust and mire,
Had changed their cheer, their pride, their rich attire.
But now the Moors, Arabians, Ethiops black,
Of the left wing that held the utmost marge,
Spread forth their troops, and purposed at the back
And side their heedless foes to assail and charge:
Slingers and archers were not slow nor slack
To shoot and cast, when with his battle large
Rinaldo came, whose fury, haste and ire,
Seemed earthquake, thunder, tempest, storm and fire.
The first he met was Asimire, his throne
That set in Meroe's hot sunburnt land,
He cut his neck in twain, flesh, skin and bone,
The sable head down tumbled on the sand;
But when by death of this black prince alone
The taste of blood and conquest once he fand,
Whole squadrons then, whole troops to earth he brought,
Things wondrous, strange, incredible he wrought.
He gave more deaths than strokes, and yet his blows
Upon his feeble foes fell oft and thick,
To move three tongues as a fierce serpent shows,
Which rolls the one she hath swift, speedy, quick,
So thinks each Pagan; each Arabian trows
He wields three swords, all in one hilt that stick;
His readiness their eyes so blinded hath,
Their dread that wonder bred, fear gave it faith.
The Afric tyrants and the negro kings
Fell down on heaps, drowned each in other's blood,
Upon their people ran the knights he brings,
Pricked forward by their guide's example good,
Killed were the Pagans, broke their bows and slings:
Some died, some fell; some yielded, none withstood:
A massacre was this, no fight; these put
Their foes to death, those hold their throats to cut.
Small while they stood, with heart and hardy face,
On their bold breasts deep wounds and hurts to bear,
But fled away, and troubled in the chase
Their ranks disordered be with too much fear:
Rinaldo followed them from place to place,
Till quite discomfit and dispersed they were.
That done, he stays, and all his knights recalls,
And scorns to strike his foe that flies or falls.
Like as the wind stopped by some wood or hill,
Grows strong and fierce, tears boughs and trees in twain,
But with mild blasts, more temperate, gentle, still,
Blows through the ample field or spacious plain;
Against the rocks as sea-waves murmur shrill,
But silent pass amid the open main:
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