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Thy silver beams descend, and light the gloomy sphere; Then sighing she return'd: but smil'd betwixt, Goddess of maids, and conscious of our hearts, With hopes and fears, and joys with sorrows mixt. So keep me from the vengeance of thy darts,
The next returning planetary hour Which Niobe's devoted issue felt, (were dealt, Of Mars, who shar'd the heptarchy of power, When hissing through the skies the feather'd deaths His steps bold Arcite to the temple bent, As I desire to live a virgin life,
T'' adore with pagan rites the power omnipotent: Nor know the name of inother or of wife.
Then prostrate, low before his altar lay, Thy votress from my tender years I am,
And rais'd his manly voice, and thus began to pray . And love, like thee, the woods and sylvan game. “Strong god of arms, whose iron sceptre sways Like death, thou know'st, I lothe the nuptial state, The freezing north, and Hyperborean seas, And man, the tyrant of our sex, I hate,
And Seythian colds, and Thracia's winter coast, A lowly servant, but a lofty mate :
Where stand thy steeds, and thou art honor'd most : Where love is duty on the female side, [pride. There most, but everywhere thy power is known, On theirs mere sensual gust, and sought with surly The fortune of the fight is all thy own: Now by thy triple shape, as thou art seen
Terror is thine, and wild amazement, flung In Heaven, Earth, Hell, and everywhere a queen, From out thy chariot, withers ev'n the strong: Grant this my first desire : let discord cease, And disarray and shameful rout ensue, And make betwixt the rivals lasting peace :
And force is added to the fainting crew. Quench their hot fire, or far from me remove Acknowledg'd as thou art, accept my prayer, The flame, and turn it on some other love:
If aught I have achiev'd deserve thy care : Or, if my frowning stars have so decreed,
If to my utmost power with sword and shield That one must be rejected, one succeed,
I dar'd the death, unknowing how to yield, Make him my lord, within whose faithful breast And, falling in my rank, still kept the field : Is fix'd my image, and who loves me best. Then let my arms prevail, by thee sustain’d, But oh! ev'n that avert! I choose it not,
That Emily by conquest may be gain'd. But take it as the least unhappy lot.
Have pity on my pains ; nor those unknown A maid I am, and of thy virgin train;
To Mars, which, when a lover, were his own. Oh, let me stiil that spotless name retain !
Venus, the public care of all above, Frequent the forests, thy chaste will obey, Thy stubborn heart has soften'd into love: And only make the beasts of chase my prey !" Now by her blandishments and powerful charms, The flames ascend on either altar clear,
When yielded she lay curling in thy arms, While thus the blameless maid address'd her prayer. Ev'n by thy shame, if shame it may be call’d, When lo! the burning fire that sho so bright, When Vulcan had thee in his net enthrall'd : Flew off, all sudden, with extinguish'd light, O envied ignominy, sweet disgrace, And left one altar dark, a little space,
When every god that saw thee wish'd thy place! Which turnd self-kindled, and renew'd the blaze ; By those dear pleasures, aid my arms in fight, The other victor-flame a moment stood,
And make me conquer in my patron's right:
The fool of love, unpractis'd to persuade : Forsook the blackening coals, and sunk to night: And want the soothing arts that catch the fair, At either end it whistled as it flew,
But, caught myself, lie struggling in the snare :
Then shook the sacred shrine, and sudden light Endued by force I gain the victory; Sprung through the vaulted roof, and made the Then for the fire which warm'd thy gen'rous heart, temple bright.
Pity thy subject's pains, and equal smart. The power, behold! the power in glory shone, So be the morrow's sweat and labor mine, By her bent bow and her keen arrows known; The palm and honor of the conquest thine: The rest, a huntress issuing from the wood, Then shall the war, and stern debate, and strife Reclining on her cornel spear she stood.
Immortal, be the business of my life; Then gracious thus began: " Dismiss thy fear, And in thy fane, the dusty spoils among, And Heaven's unchang'd deerees attentive hear: High on the burnish'd roof, my banner shall be More powerful gods have torn thee from my side,
hung, Unwilling to resign, and doom'd a bride :
Rank'd with my champion's bucklers, and below, The two contending knights are weigh'd above ; With arms revers'd, th' achievements of my foe : One Mars protects, and one the queen of love : And while these limbs the vital spirit feeds, But which the man, is in the Thunderer's breast; While day to night, and night to day succeeds, This he pronounc'd, 'tis he who loves thee best. Thy smoking altar shall be fat with food The fire, that once extinct reviv'd again,
Of incense, and the grateful steam of blood; Foreshows the love allotted to remain :
Burnt-offerings morn and evening shall be thine ; Farewell!" she said, and vanish'd from the place; And fires eternal in thy temple shine. The sheaf of arrows shook, and rattled in the case. The bush of yellow beard, this length of hair, Aghast at this, the royal virgin stood
Which from my birth inviolate I bear, Disclaim'd, and now no more a sister of the wood : Guiltless of steel, and from the razor free, But to tha parting goddess thus she pray'd; Shall fall a plenteous crop, reserv'd for thee. • Propitious still be present to my aid,
So may my arms with victory be blest, Nor quite abandon your once favor'd maid." I ask no more ; let Fate dispose the rest."
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 inspird with such delight, Sent out a jarring sound, and harshly rung; "Twas jesting all the day, and love at night. The bolted gates New 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, Fannd 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 feard his wife, Of glittering arms, 100 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 aruse,
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 gulld 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 ir Thy Palamon shall have his promis'd wise:
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 filld 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, carnest 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 throuling 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. ( 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 smil'd 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. toww 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 ponderd 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 answer'd to their names : He wills, not death should terminate their strife ; 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 unlors'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,
The herald ends: the vaulted firmament They look anew: the beauteous form of fight
The next, a field with fallen bodies sirow'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 rollid. 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 mighty 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.
Fall thick and heavy, when on foot they close. When at the western gate, on which the car So deep their falchions bite, that every stroke Is plac'd aloft, that bears the god of war,
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 display'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, The gate of Venus, and the rising-sun;
Roars lordly fierce, and challenges the food. Wav'd by the wanton winds, his banner flies, Each claims possession, neither will obey, All maiden white, and shares the people's eyes.
But both their paws are fasten'd on the prey ;
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 Arcite'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 still 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 mourn'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‘erpower'd, at length, they force him to the ground, (Now friendly mix'd, and in one troop compell’d); 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. His friend to free, was tumbled 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 plac'd,
Foment the bruises, and the pains assuage, [ef cage. Who had beheld the fight from first to last,
And heal their inward hurts with sovereign dra'ights Bad cease the war; pronouncing from on high, The king in person visits all around, Arcite of Thebes had won the beauteous Emily Comforts the sick, congratulates the sound; The sound of trumpets to the voice replied, Honors the princely chiefs, rewards the rest, And round the royal lists the heralds cried, And holds for thrice three days a royal feast. • Arcite of Thebes has won the beauteous bride." None was disgrac'd; for falling is no shame; The people rend the skies with vast applause; And cowardice alone is loss of fame. All own the chief, when Fortune owns the cause. The venturous knight is from the saddle thrown, Arcite is own'd ev'n by the gods above,
But 'tis the fault of Fortune, not his own: And conquering Mars insults the queen of love. If crowds and palms the conquering side adorn, So laugh'd he, when the rightful Titan failid, The victor under better stars was born : And Jove's usurping arms in Heaven prevailid: The brave man seeks not popular applause, Laugh'd all the powers who favor tyranny ; Nor, overpower'd with arms, deserts his cause ; And all the standing army of the sky.
Unsham'd, though foild, 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 pleas'd, and to their several homes retir'd. His boon is given; his knight has gain'd the day, Meanwhile the health of Arcite still impairs; 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'd, Bare-headed, popularly low he bow'd,
Her vessels discompos'd, her virtue void : And paid the salutations of the crowd.
The bellows of his lungs begin to swell, Then, spurring at full speed, ran endlong on All out of frame is every secret cell, Where Theseus sate 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,
Gain'd hardly, against right, and unenjoy'd. So, speechless, for a little space he lay; [away When 'twas declar'd all hope of life was past, Then grasp'd the hand he held, and sigh'd his soul Conscience (that of all physic works the last)
But whither went his soul, let such relate Caus'd him to send for Emily in haste.
Who search the secrets of the future state : With her, at his desire, came Palamon ;
Divines can say but what themselves believe ; Then on his pillow rais'd, he thus begun.
Strong proofs they have, but not demonstrative : “No language can express the smallest part For, were all plain, then all sides must agree, Of what I feel, and suffer in my heart,
And faith itself be lost in certainty. For you, whom best I love and value most ; To live uprightly then is sure the best, But to your service I bequeath my ghost; To save ourselves, and not to damn the rest. Which, from this mortal body when untied, The soul of Arcite went where heathens go, Unseen, unheard, shall hover at your side; Who better live than we, though less they know. Nor fright you waking, nor your sleep offend, In Palamon a manly grief appears ; But wait officious, and your steps attend :
Silent he wept, asham'd to show his tears : How I have lov’d, excuse my faltering longue, Emilia shriek'd but once, and then, oppress'd My spirit's feeble, and my pains are strong: With sorrow, sunk upon her lover's breast : This I may say, I only grieve to die
Till Theseus in his arms convey'd with care, Because I lose my charming Emily :
Far from so sad a sight, the swooning fair. To die, when Heaven had put you in my power,
"Twere loss of time her sorrow to relate ; Fate could not choose a more malicious hour! Ill bears the sex a youthful lover's fate, What greater curse could envious Fortune give, When just approaching to the nuptial state : Than just to die, when I began to live!
But, like a low-hung cloud, it rains so fast, Vain men, how vanishing a bliss we crave, That all at once it falls, and cannot last. Now warm in love, now withering in the grave!
The face of things is chang'd, and Athens now, Never, O never more to see the Sun!
That laugh'd so late, becomes the scene of woe: Still dark, in a damp vault, and still alone! Matrons and maids, both sexes, every state, This fate is common; but I lose my breath With tears lament the knight's untimely fate. Near bliss, and yet not bless'd before my death. Nor greater grief in falling Troy was seen Farewell; but take me dying in your arms, For Hector's death; but Hector was not then. "Tis all I can enjoy of all your charms :
Old men with dust deform'd their hoary hair, This hand I cannot but in death resign;
The women beat their breasts, their cheeks they tear. Ah! could I live! but while I live 'tis mine. “ Why wouldst thou go,” with one consent they cry, I feel my end approach, and, thus embrac'd, “ When thou hadst gold enough, and Emily ?” Am pleas'd to die ; but hear me speak my last. Theseus himself, who should have cheer'd the grief Ah! my sweet foe, for you, and you alone, of others, wanted now the same relief. I broke my faith with injur'd Palamon.
Old Egeus only could revive his son,
Good after ill, and after pain delight;
* Since every man who lives is born to die, With mortal hatred I pursu'd his life,
And none can boast sincere felicity, Nor he, nor you, were guilty of the strife : With equal mind what happens let us bear, (care. Nor I, but as I lov'd; yet all combin'd,
Nor joy nor grieve too much for things beyond our Your beauty, and my impotence of mind,
Like pilgrims to th’appointed place we tend : And his concurrent flame, that blew my fire ; The world's an inn, and death the journey's end. For still our kindred souls had one desire.
Ev'n kings but play; and when their part is done,
A fitting place for funeral pomps to find,
(As Love itself had mark'd the spot of ground) He loves you too, with such an holy fire,
That grove for ever green, that conscious land, As will not, cannot, but with life expire :
Where he with Palamon fought hand to hand : Our vow'd affections both have often tried, That where he fed his amorous desires Nor any love but yours could ours divide. With soft complaints, and felt his hottest fires, Then, by my love's inviolable band,
There other flames might waste his earthly part,
Sere-wood, and firs, and dodder'd oaks to find.
Fell, split, and lay the fuel on a row,
Vulcanian food : a bier is next prepar'd,
The corpse of Arcite, in like robes array’d.