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Of all the east, the strength, the pride, the flower,
Late called Immortal, now discomfited,
It lost that title proud, and lost all power;
To him that with the royal standard fled,
Thus Emireno said, with speeches sour,
"Art not thou he to whom to bear I gave
My king's great banner, and his standard brave?
"This ensign, Rimedon, I gave not thee
To be the witness of thy fear and flight,
Coward, dost thou thy lord and captain see
In battle strong, and runn'st thyself from fight?
What seek'st thou? safety? come, return with me,
The way to death is path to virtue right,
Here let him fight that would escape; for this
The way to honor, way to safety is."
The man returned and swelled with scorn and shame,
The duke with speeches grave exhorts the rest;
He threats, he strikes sometime, till back they came,
And rage gainst force, despair gainst death addressed.
Thus of his broken armies gan he frame
A battle now, some hope dwelt in his breast,
But Tisiphernes bold revived him most,
Who fought and seemed to win, when all was lost;
Wonders that day wrought noble Tisipherne,
The hardy Normans all he overthrew;
The Flemings fled before the champion stern,
Gernier, Rogero, Gerard bold he slew;
His glorious deeds to praise and fame etern
His life's short date prolonged, enlarged and drew,
And then, as he that set sweet life at nought,
The greatest peril, danger, most he sought.
He spied Rinaldo, and although his field
Of azure purple now and sanguine shows,
And though the silver bird amid his shield
Were armed gules; yet he the champion knows.
And says, "Here greatest peril is, heavens yield
Strength to my courage, fortune to my blows,
That fair Armida her revenge may see,
Help, Macon, for his arms I vow to thee."
Thus prayed he, but all his vows were vain,
Mahound was deaf, or slept in heavens above,
And as a lion strikes him with his train,
His native wrath to quicken and to move,
So he awaked his fury and disdain,
And sharped his courage on the whetstone love;
Himself he saved behind his mighty targe,
And forward spurred his steed and gave the charge.
The Christian saw the hardy warrior come,
And leaped forth to undertake the fight,
The people round about gave place and room,
And wondered on that fierce and cruel sight,
Some praised their strength, their skill and courage some,
Such and so desperate blows struck either knight,
That all that saw forgot both ire and strife,
Their wounds, their hurts, forgot both death and life.
One struck, the other did both strike and wound,
His arms were surer, and his strength was more;
From Tisipheme the blood streamed down around;
His shield was deft, his helm was rent and tore.
The dame, that saw his blood besmear the ground,
His armor broke, limbs weak, wounds deep and sore,
And all her guard dead, fled, and overthrown,
Thought, now her field lay waste, her hedge lay down:
Environed with so brave a troop but late,
Now stood she in her chariot all alone,
She feared bondage, and her life did hate,
All hope of conquest and revenge was gone,
Half mad and half amazed from where she sate,
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