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His age in Nature's youthful prime appeard, Alas! I have not words to tell my grief;
We groan, but cannot speak, in greater pain.
So grant my suit, as I enforce my might,
In love to be thy champion, and thy knight;
A servant to thy sex, a slave to thee,
In my divine Emilia make me blest,
On whom he favors to confer the prize ;
The Fates but only spin the coarser clue,
The rest among the rubbish may they sweep, The town was all a jubilee of feasts ;
Or add it to the yarn of some old miser's heap. So Theseus willid, in honor of his guests; But, if you this ambitious prayer deny, Himself with open arms the king embrac’d, (A wish, I grant, beyond mortality) Then all the rest in their degrees were grac'd. Then let me sink beneath proud Arcite's arms, No harbinger was needful for a night,
And, I once dead, let him possess her charms." For every house was proud to lodge a knight. Thus ended he; then, with observance due, I pass the royal treat, nor must relate
The sacred incense on her altar threw : The gifts bestow'd, nor how the champions sate; The curling smoke mounts heavy from the fires ; Who first, or last, or how the knights address'd At length it catches flame, and in a blaze expires ; Their vows, or who was fairest at the feast; At once the gracious goddess gave the sign, Whose voice, whose graceful dance, did most sur. Her statue shook, and trembled all the shrine : prise ;
Pleas'd Palamon the tardy omen took: Soft amorous sighs, and silent love of eyes. For, since the flames pursu'd the trailing smoke, The rivals call my Muse another way,
He knew his boon was granted ; but the day To sing their vigils for th' ensuing day.
To distance driven, and joy adjourn'd with long 'Twas ebbing darkness, past the noon of night,
delay. And Phospher, on the confines of the light,
Now Morn with rosy light had streak'd the sky, Prornis'd the Sun, ere day began to spring ; Up rose the Sun, and up rose Emily ; The tuneful lark already stretch'd her wing, (sing : Address'd her early steps to Cynthia's fane, And, flickering on her nest, made short essays to In state attended by her maiden train, When wakeful Palamon, preventing day,
Who bore the vests that holy rites require, Took, to the royal lists, his early way,
Incense, and odorous gums, and cover'd fire. To Venus at her fane, in her own house, to pray. The plenteous horns with pleasant mead they crown, There, falling on his knees before her shrine, Nor wanted aught besides in honor of the Moon. He thus implord with prayers her power divine. Now while the temple smok'd with hallow'd steam, “Creator Venus, genial power of love,
They wash the virgin in a living stream: The bliss of men below, and gods above ! The secret ceremonies I conceal, Beneath the sliding Sun thou runn'st thy race, Uncouth, perhaps unlawful, to reveal: Dost fairest shine, and best become thy place. But such they were as pagan use requir'd, For thee the winds their eastern blasts forbear, Perform'd by women when the men retir'd, Thy month reveals the spring, and opens all the year. Whose eyes profane their chaste mysterious rites Thee, Goddess, thee the storms of winter fly, Might turn to scandal, or obscene delights. Earth smiles with flowers renewing, laughs the sky, Well-meaners think no harm; but for the rest, And birds to lays of love their tuneful notes apply. Things sacred they pervert, and silence is the best. For thee the lion lothes the taste of blood, Her shining hair, uncomb’d, was loosely spread, And roaring hunts his female through the wood : A crown of mastless oak adorn'd her head : For thee the bulls rebeilow through the groves, When to the shrine approach'd, the spotless maid And tempt the stream, and snuff their absent loves. Had kindling fires on either altar laid, 'Tis thine, whale'er is pleasant, good, or fair: (The rites were such as were observ'd of old, All nature is thy province, life thy care ;
By Statius in his Theban story told,) Thou mad'st the world, and dost the world repair. Then kneeling with her hands across her breast, Thou gladder of the mount of Cytheron,
Thus lowly she preferr'd her chaste request. Increase of Jove, companion of the Sun;
“O goddess, haunter of the woodland green, If e'er Adonis touch'd thy tender heart,
To whom both Heaven and Earth and seas are seen; Have pity, goddess, for thou know'st the smart. Queen of the nether skies, where half the year
Thy silver beams descend, and light the gloomy sphere; Then sighing she return'd: but smil'd betwixt,
T'adore with pagan rites the power omnipotent :
And rais'd his manly voice, and thus began to pray .
And Scythian colds, and Thracia's winter coast,
Where stand thy steeds, and thou art honor'd most :
If aught I have achiev'd deserve thy care :
If to my utmost power with sword and shield
I dar'd the death, unknowing how to yield,
That Emily by conquest may be gain'd.
Have pity on my pains ; nor those unknown
To Mars, which, when a lover, were his own.
Venus, the public care of all above,
When yielded she lay curling in thy arms,
When every god ihat saw thee wish'd thy place!
And make me conquer in my patron's right:
The fool of love, unpractis'd to persuade :
But, caught myself, lie struggling in the snare :
Then shook the sacred shrine, and sudden light Endued by force I gain the victory ;
Pity thy subject's pains, and equal smart.
Immortal, be the business of my life;
Rank'd with my champion's bucklers, and below,
Of incense, and the grateful steam of blood ;
Burnt-offerings morn and evening shall be thine ;
Which from my birth inviolate I bear,
So may my arms with victory be blest,
The champion ceas'd ; there follow'd in the close In Athens, all was pleasure, mirth, and play, A hollow groan: a murmuring wind arose ; All proper to the spring, and sprightly May, The rings of iron, that on the doors were hung Which every soul inspir'd with such delight, Sent out a jarring sound, and harshly rung ; "Twas jesting all the day, and love at night. The bolted gates flew open at the blast,
Heaven smild, and gladded was the heart of man; The storm rush'd in, and Arcite stood aghast : And Venus had the world as when it first began. The flames were blown aside, yet shone they bright, At length in sleep their bodies they compose, Fann'd by the wind, and gave a ruffled light. And dreamt the future fight, and early rose. Then from the ground a scent began to rise,
Now scarce the dawning day began to spring, Sweet-smelling as accepted sacrifice :
As at a signal given, the streets with clamors ring : This omen pleas'd, and as the flames aspire
At once the crowd arose ; confus'd and high With odorous incense Arcite heaps the fire : Ev'n from the Heaven was heard a shouting cry, Nor wanted hymns to Mars, or heathen charms : For Mars was early up, and rous'd the sky, At length the nodding statue clash'd his arms, The gods came downward to behold the wars, And with a sullen sound and feeble cry,
Sharpening their sights, and leaning from their stars Half sunk, and half pronounc'd, the word of victory. The neighing of the generous horse was heard, For this, with soul devout, he thank'd the god, For battle by the busy groom prepard, And, of success secure, return'd to his abode. Rustling of harness, rattling of the shield,
These vows thus granted, raised a strife above, Clattering of armor, furbish'd for the field. Betwixt the god of war, and queen of love. Crowds to the castle mounted up the street, She granting first, had right of time to plead : Battering the pavement with their coursers' feet: But he had granted too, nor would recede. The greedy sight might there devour the gold Jove was for Venus; but he fear'd his wife, Of glittering arms, too dazzling to behold: And seem'd unwilling to decide the strife : And polish'd steel that cast the view aside, Till Saturn from his leaden throne arose,
And crested morions, with their plumy pride. And found a way the difference to compose: Knights, with a long retinue of their squires, Though sparing of his grace, to mischief bent, In gaudy liveries march, and quaint attires. He seldom does a good with good intent.
One lac'd the helm, another held the lance, Wayward, but wise; by long experience taught A third the shining buckler did advance. To please both parties, for ill ends, he sought; The courser paw'd the ground with restless feet, For this advantage age from youth has won, And snorting foam'd, and champ'd the golden bit. As not to be outridden, though outrun.
The smiths and armorers on palfreys ride, By fortune he was now to Venus trin'd,
Files in their hands, and hammers at their side, And with stern Mars in Capricorn was join'd: And nails for loosen'd spears, and thongs for shields Of him disposing in his own abode,
provide. He sooth'd the goddess while he gull’d the god : The yeomen guard the streets, in seemly bands,
Cease, daughter, to complain, and stint the strife ; And clowns come crowding on, with cudgels in Thy Palamon shall have his promis'd wife:
their hands. And Mars, the lord of conquest, in the fight
The trumpets, next the gate, in order plac'd, With palm and laurel shall adorn his knight. Attend the sign to sound the martial blast; Wide is my course, nor turn I to my place The palace-yard is filled with floating tides, Till length of time, and move with tardy pace. And the last comers bear the former to the sides. Man feels me, when I press th' ethereal plains, The throng is in the midst; the common crew My hand is heavy, and the wound remains. Shut out, the hall admits the better few; Mine is the shipwreck, in a watery sign;
In knots they stand, or in a rank they walk, And in an earthy, the dark dungeon mine. Serious in aspect, earnest in their talk; Cold shivering agues, melancholy care,
Factious, and favoring this or t' other side, And bitter blasting winds, and poison'd air,
As their strong fancy or weak reason guide: Are mine, and wilful death, resulting from despair. Their wagers back their wishes ; numbers hold The throttling quinsy 'tis my star appoints, With the fair freckled king, and beard of gold : And rheumatisms ascend to rack the joints : So vigorous are his eyes, such rays they cast, When churls rebel against their native prince, So prominent his eagle's beak is plac'd. I arm their hands, and furnish the pretence; But most their looks on the black monarch bend, And, housing in the lion's hateful sign,
His rising muscles and his brawn commend; Bought senates and deserting troops are mine. His double-biting ax and beaming spear, Mine is the privy poisoning ; I command
Each asking a gigantic force to rear. Unkindly seasons, and ungrateful land.
All spoke as partial favor mov'd the mind : By me kings' palaces are push'd to ground,
And, safe themselves, at others' cost divin'd. And miners crush'd beneath their mines are found. Wak'd by the cries, th’ Athenian chief arose, 'Twas I slew Samson, when the pillar'd hall The knightly forms of combat to dispose ; Fell down, and crush'd the many with the fall. And passing through th'obsequious guards, he sate My looking is the fire of pestilence,
Conspicuous on a throne, sublime in state; That sweeps at once the people and the prince. There, for the two contending knights he sent: Now weep no more, but trust thy grandsire's art. Arm'd cap-a-piè, with reverence low they bent ; Mars shall be pleas'd, and thou perform thy part. He smild on both, and with superior look 'Tis ill, though different your complexions are, Alike their offer'd adoration took. The family of Heaven for men should war." The people press on every side, to see Th’ expedient pleas'd, where neither lost his right; Their awful prince, and hear his high decree. Mars had the day, and Venus had the night. Then signing to their heralds with his hand, The management they left to Chronos' care; They gave his orders from their lofty stand. www turn we to th' effect, and sing the war. Silence is thrice enjoin'd; then thus aloud
The king at arms bespeaks the knights and listening From east to west, look all the world around, crowd.
Two troops so match'd were never to be found; “Our sovereign lord has ponder'd in his mind Such bodies built for strength, of equal age, The means to spare the blood of gentle kind ; In stature siz'd ; so proud an equipage: And of his grace and inborn clemency,
The nicest eye could no distinction make, He modifies his first severe decree,
Where lay th' advantage, or what side to take. The keener edge of battle to rebate,
Thus rang’d, the herald for the last proclaims The troops for honor fighting, not for hate.
A silence, while they answerd to their names : He wills, not death should terminate their strise ; For so the king decreed, to shun the care, And wounds, if wounds ensue, be short of life: The fraud of musters false, the common bane of war But issues, ere the fight, his dread command, The tale was just, and then the gates were clos'd; That slings afar, and poniards hand to hand, And chief to chief, and troop to troop oppos'd. Be banish'd from the field ; that none shall dare The heralds last retired, and loudly cried, With shorten'd sword to stab in closer war; The fortune of the field be fairly tried. But in fair combat fight with manly strength,
At this, the challenger with fierce defy Nor push with biting point, but strike at length. His trumpet sounds; the challeng'd makes reply: The tourney is allow'd but one career,
With clangor rings the field, resounds the vaulted Of the tough ash, with the sharp grinded spear,
sky. But knights unhors'd may rise from off the plain, Their vizors closed, their lances in the rest, And fight on foot their honor to regain;
Or at the helmet pointed, or the crest; Nor, if at mischief taken, on the ground
They vanish from the barrier, speed the race,
And spurring see decrease the middle space.
And all at once the combatants are lost:
Darkling they join adverse, and shock unseen, Or yielded to his foe, concludes the strife. Coursers with coursers justling, men with men: Thus dooms the lord: now valiant knights and young As laboring in eclipse, awhile they stay, Fight each his fill with swords and maces long." Till the next blast of wind restores the day.
The herald ends: the vaulted firmament They look anew: the beauteous form of fight
Heaven guard a prince so gracious and so good, Two troops in fair array one moment show'd,
The next, a field with fallen bodies strow'd :
But men and steeds lie groveling in the ground. The marching troops through Athens take their way, The points of spears are stuck within the shield, The great earl-marshal orders their array.
The steeds without their riders scour the field. The fair from high the passing pomp behold; The knights unhors’d, on foot renew the fight; A rain of flowers is from the windows roll'd. The glittering falchions cast a gleaming light : The casements are with golden tissue spread, Hauberks and helms are hew'd with many a wound And horses' hoofs, for earth, on silken tapestry tread; Out spins the streaming blood, and dyes the ground. The king goes midmost, and the rivals ride The mighiy maces with such haste descend, In equal rank, and close his either side.
They break the bones, and make the solid armor bend. Next after these, there rode the royal wife, This thrusts amid the throng with furious force ; With Emily, the cause and the reward of strife. Down goes, at once, the horseman and the horse : The following cavalcade, by three and three, That courser stumbles on the fallen steed, Proceed by titles marshall'd in degree.
And, floundering, throws the rider o'er his head.
One with a broken truncheon deals his blows.
There goes a captive led on t'other side.
Pierc'd to the quick; and equal wounds they gave Proud Arcite entering arm'd before his train,
and took. Stops at the barrier, and divides the plain.
Borne far asunder by the tides of men, Red was his banner, and Jisplay'd abroad, Like adamant and steel they meet again. The bloody colors of his patron god.
So when a tiger sucks the bullock's blood, At that self moment enters Palamon
A famish'd lion, issuing from the wood,
Roars lordly fierce, and challenges the food.
They bite, they tear; and while in vain they strive, Forward he flew, and, pitching on his head, The swains come arm'd between, and both to dis- He quiver'd with his feet, and lay for dead. tance drive.
Black was his count'nance in a little space, At length, as Fate foredoom'd, and all things tend For all the blood was gather'd in his face. By course of time to their appointed end;
Help was at hand: they rear'd him from the ground, So when the Sun to west was far declin'd,
And from his cumbrous arms his limbs unbound; And both afresh in mortal battle join'd,
Then lanc'd a vein, and watch'd returning breath; The strong Emetrius came in Arciie's aid,
It came, but clogg'd with symptoms of his death. "And Palamon with odds was overlaid :
The saddle-bow, the noble parts had prest, For, turning short, he struck with all his might All bruis'd and mortified his manly breast. Full on the helmet of th' unwary knight.
Him sull entranc'd, and in a litter laid, Deep was the wound; he stagger'd with the blow, They bore from field, and to his bed convey'd. And turn 'd him to his unexpected foe;
At length he wak’d, and, with a feeble cry, Whom with such force he struck, he fell’d him down, The word he first pronounc'd was Emily. And cleft the circle of his golden crown.
Meantime the king, though inwardly he mour'd, But Arcite's men, who now prevail'd in fight, In pomp triumphant to the town return'd, Twice ten at once surround the single knight: Attended by the chiefs who fought the field O'erpowerd, at length, they force him to the ground, (Now friendly mix’d, and in one troop compelld); Unyielded as he was, and to the pillar bound; Compos'd his looks to counterfeited cheer, And king Lycurgus, while he fought in vain And bade them not for Arcite's life to fear. llis friend to free, was lumbled on the plain. But that which gladded all the warrior-train,
Who now laments but Palamon, compellid Though most was sorely wounded, none were slain. No more to try the fortune of the field!
The surgeons soon despoild them of their arms, And, worse than death, to view with hateful eyes And some with salves they cure, and some with His rival's conquest, and renounce the prize!
charms; The royal judge, on his tribunal placu,
Foment the bruises, and the pains assuage, (of age.
Arcite of Thebes has won the beauteous bride." None was disgrac'd ; for falling is no shame;
But 'tis the fault of Fortune, not his own:
Unsham'd, though foil'd, he does the best he can. But Venus with dejected eyes appears,
Force is of brutes, but honor is of man.
For envy never dwells in noble hearts.
Well pleasd, and to their several homes retir'd. His buon is given; his knight has gain'd the day, Meanwhile the health of Arcite sull impair; But lost the prize, th' arrears are yet to pay. From bad proceeds to worse, and mocks the leeches' Thy hour is come, and mine the care shall be
cares; To please thy knight, and set thy promise free.” Swoln is his breast; his inward pains increase,
Now while the heralds run the lists around, All means are usd, and all without success.
Corrupts, and there remains in spite of art :
Nor breathing veins, nor cupping, will prevail ; The victor knight had laid his helm aside,
All outward remedies and inward fail : Part for his ease, the greater part for pride : The mould of Nature's fabric is destroy', Bare-headed, popularly low he bow'd,
ller vessels discompos'd, her virtue void : And paid the salutations of the crowd.
The belloss of his lungs begin to swell, Then, spurring at full speed, ran endlong on All out of frame is every secret cell, Where Theseus sale on his imperial throne; Nor can the good receive, nor bad expel. Furious he drove, and upward cast his eye, Those breathing organs, thus within opprest, Where next the queen was placed his Emily; With venom soon distend the sinews of his breast. Then passing to the saddle-bow he bent :
Nought profits him to save abandon'd life, A sweet regard the gracious virgin lent
Nor vomit's upward aid, nor downward laxative. (For women, to the brave an easy prey,
The midmost region batter'd and destroy'd, Still follow Fortune where she leads the way): When Nature cannot work, th' effect of Art is void Just then, from earth sprung out a flashing fire, For physic can but mend our crazy state, By Pluto sent, at Saturn's bad desire :
Patch an old building, not a new create. The startling steed was seiz'd with sudden fright, Arcite is doom'd to die in all his pride, And bounding, o'er the pummel cast the knight: Must leave his youth, and yield his beauteous bride,