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The bolted gates flew open at the blast,
The storm rushed in, and Arcite stood aghast:
The flames were blown aside, yet shone they bright,
Fann'd by the wind, and gave a ruffled light.
Then from the ground a scent began to rise,
Sweet-smelling as accepted sacrifice:
This omen pleas'd, and as the flames aspire
With odorous incense Arcite heaps the fire:
Nor wanted hymns to Mars, or heathen charms:
At length the nodding statue clash'd his arms,
And with a sullen sound and feeble cry,
Half sunk, and half pronounc'd, the word of victory.
For this, with soul devout, he thank'd the god,
And, of success secure, return'd to his abode.
These vows thus granted, raised a strife above,
Betwixt the god of war, and queen of love.
She granting first, had right of time to plead :
But he had granted too, nor would recede.
Jove was for Venus; but he fear'd his wife,
And seem'd unwilling to decide the strife:
Till Saturn from his leaden throne arose,
And found a way the difference to compose:
Though sparing of his grace, to mischief bent,
He seldom does a good with good intent.
Wayward, but wise; by long experience taught
To please both parties, for ill ends, he sought:
For this advantage age from youth has won,
As not to be outridden, though outrun.
By Fortune he was now to Venus trin'd,
And with stern Mars in Capricorn was join'd:
Of him disposing in his own abode,
He sooth'd the goddess while he gull'd the god:
“Cease, daughter, to complain, and stint the strife;
Thy Palamon shall have his promis'd wife:
And Mars, the lord of conquest, in the fight
With palm and laurel shall adorn his knight.
Wide is iny course, nor turn I to my place
Till length of time, and move with tardy pace.
Man feels me, when I press th' etherial plains,
My hand is heavy, and the wound remains.
Mine is the shipwreck, in a watery sign;
And in an earthy, the dark dungeon mine.
Cold shivering agues, melancholy care,
And bitter blasting winds, and poison'd air,
Are mine, and wilful death, resulting from despair.
The throtling quinsey'tis my star appoints,
And rheumatisms ascend to rack the joints:
When churls rebel against their native prince,
I arm their hands, and furnish the pretence;
And, housing in the lion's hateful sign,
Bought senates and deserting troops are mine.
Mine is the privy poisoning ; I command
Unkindly seasons, and ungrateful land.
By me kings' palaces are push'd to ground,
And miners crush'd beneath their mines are found.
'Twas I slew Samson, when the pillar'd hall
Fell down, and crush'd the many with the fall.
My looking is the fire of pestilence,
That sweeps at once the people and the prince.
Now weep no more, but trust thy grandsire's art.
Mars shall be pleas'd, and thou perform thy part.
'Tis ill, though different your complexions are,
The family of Heaven for men should war.”
Th’ expedient pleas'd, where neither lost his right;
Mars had the day, and Venus had the night.
The management they left to Chronos' care;
Now turn we to th' effect, and sing the war.
In Athens all was pleasure, mirth, and play,
All proper to the spring, and sprightly May,
Which every soul inspir'd with such delight,
'Twas jesting all the day, and love at night.
Heaven smil'd, and gladded was the heart of man;
And Venus had the world as when it first began.
At length in sleep their bodies they compose,
And dreamt the future fight, and early rose.
Now scarce the dawning day began to spring,
As at a signal given, the streets with clamours ring:
At once the crowd arose; confus'd and high
Ev’n from the Heaven was heard a shouting cry;
For Mars was early up, and rous’d the sky.
The gods came downward to behold the wars,
Sharpening their sights, and leaning from their stars.
The neighing of the generous horse was heard,
For battle by the busy groom prepar’d,
, Rustling of harness, rattling of the shield,
Clattering of armour, furbish'd for the field.
Crowds to the castle mounted up the street,
Battering the pavement with their coursers' feet:
The greedy sight might there devour the gold
Of glittering arms, too dazzling to behold:
And polish’d steel that cast the view aside,
And crested morions, with their plumy pride.
Knights, with a long retinue of their squires,
In gaudy liveries march, and quaint attires.
One lac'd the helm, another held the lance,
A third the shining buckler did advance.
The courser paw'd the ground with restless feet,
And snorting foam’d, and champ'd the golden bit.
The smiths and armourers on palfreys ride,
Files in their hands, and hammers at their side,
And nails for loosen'd spears, and thongs for shields
The yeomen guard the streets, in seemly bands,
And clowns come crowding on, with cudgels in
The trumpets, next the gate, in order plac'd,
Attend the sign to sound the martial blast;
The palace-yard is fill'd with floating tides,
And the last comers bear the former to the sides.
The throng is in the midst; the common crew
Shut out, the hall admits the better few ;
In knots they stand, or in a rank they walk,
Serious in aspect, earnest in their talk:
Factious, and favouring this or t' other side,
As their strong fancy or weak reason guide:
Their wagers back their wishes; numbers hold
With the fair freckled king, and beard of gold :
So vigorous are his eyes, such rays they cast,
So prominent his eagle's beak is plac'd.
But most their looks on the black monarch bend,
His rising muscles and his brawn commend;
His double-biting axe and beaming spear,
Each asking a gigantic force to rear.
All spoke as partial favour mov'd the mind: -
And, safe themselves, at others' cost divin'd.
Wak'd by the cries, th' Athenian chief arose,
The knightly forms of combat to dispose;
And passing through th' obsequious guards, he sate
Conspicuous on a throne, sublime in state;
There, for the two contending knights he sent:
Arm'd cap-a-pee, with reverence low they bent;
He smil'd on both, and with superior look
Alike their offer'd adoration took.
The people press on every side, to see
Their awful prince, and hear his high decree.
Then signing to their heralds with his hand,
They gave his orders from their lofty stand.
Silence is thrice enjoin'd; then thus aloud
The king at arms bespeaks the knights and listen-
ing crowd. “Our sovereign lord has ponder'd in his mind The means to spare the blood of gentle kind;
And of his grace, and inborn clemency,
He modifies his first severe decree,
The keener edge of battle to rebate,
The troops for honour fighting, not for hate.
He wills, not death should terminate their strife;
And wounds, if wounds ensue, be short of life:
Jut issues, ere the fight, his dread command,
That slings afar, and poinards hand to hand,
Be banish'd from the field; that none shall dare
With shortened sword to stab in closer war;
But in fair combat fight with manly strength,
Nor push with biting point, but strike at length.
The tourney is allow'd but one career,
Of the tough ash, with the sharp-grinded spear,
But knights unhors'd may rise from off the plain,
And fight on foot their honour to regain;
Nor, if at mischief taken, on the ground
Beslain, but prisoners to the pillar bound,
At either barrier plac'd; nor (captives made)
Be freed, or arm'd anew the fight invade.
The chief of either side, bereft of life,
0 yielded to his foe, concludes the strife. [young
Thus dooms the lord: now valiant knights and
Fight each his fill with swords and maces long.”
The herald ends: the vaulted firmament
With loud acclaims and vast applause is rent:
“Heaven guard a prince so gracious and so good,
So just, and yet so provident of blood I"
This was the general cry. The trumpets sound,
And warlike symphony is heard around.
The marching troops through Athens take their way,
The great earl-marshal orders their array.
The fair from high the passing pomp behold;
A rain of flowers is from the windows roll’d.
The casements are with golden tissue spread,
Andhorses' hoofs, for earth, on silken tapestry tread;
The king goes midinost, and the rivals ride
la equal rank, and close his either side.
Not after these, there rode the royal wife,
With Emily, the cause and the reward of strife.
The following cavalcade, by three and three,
Proceed by titles marshall'd in degree.
Thus through the southern gate they take their way,
And at the list arriv'd ere prime of day.
re, parting from the king, the chiefs divide,
And, wheeling east and west, before their many ride.
Th Athenian monarch mounts his throne on high,
And after him the queen and Emily:
Not these the kindred of the crown are grac'd
With nearer seats, and lords by ladies plac'd :
*ure were they seated, when, with clamours loud,
In rushed at once a rude promiscuous crowd;
The guards and then each other overbear,
And in a moment throng the spacious theatre.
Now chang'd the jarring noise to whispers low,
As winds forsaking seas more softly blow;
When at the western gate, on which the car
A plac'd aloft, that bears the god of war, -
"roud Arcite entering arm'd before his train,
** at the barrier, and divides the plain.
Rod was his banner, and display'd abroad, .
* bloody colours of his patron god.
At that self moment enters Palamon
* gate of Venus, and the rising-sun;
"*"d by the wanton winds, his banner flies,
*"maiden white, and shares the people's eyes.
on east to west, look all the world around,
Two troops so match'd were never to be found;
Such bodies built for strength, of equal age,
In stature siz'd; so proud an equipage:
The nicest eye could no distinction make,
Where lay th' advantage, or what side to take.
Thus rang'd, the herald for the last proclaims
A silence, while they answer'd to their names:
For so the king decreed, to shun the care,
The fraud of musters false, the common bane of war.
The tale was just, and then the gates were clos'd;
And chief to chief, and troop to troop oppos'd.
The heralds last retird, and loudly cry’d,
The fortune of the field be fairly try’d.
At this, the challenger with fierce defy
His trumpet sounds; the challeng'd makes reply:
With clangor rings the field, resounds the vaulted
Their vizors closed, their lances in the rest,
Or at the helmet pointed, or the crest;
They vanish from the barrier, speed the race,
And spurring see decrease the middle space.
A cloud of smoke envelops either host,
And all at once the combatants are lost:
Darkling they join adverse, and shock unseen,
Coursers with coursers justling, men with men:
As labouring in eclipse, awhile they stay,
Till the next blast of wind restores the day.
They look anew : the beauteous form of fight
Is chang'd, and war appears a grizly sight.
Two troops in fair array one moment show’d,
The next, a field with fallen bodies strow'd :
Not half the number in their seats are found;
But men and steeds lie groveling on the ground.
The points of spears are stuck within the shield,
The steeds without their riders scour the field.
The knights unhors'd, on foot renew the fight;
The glittering faulchions cast a gleaming light:
Hauberks and helms are hew’d with many a wound.
Out spins the streaming blood, and dyes the ground.
The mighty maces with such haste descend, [bend.
They break the bones, and make the solid armour
This thrusts amid the throng with furious force;
Down goes, at once, the horseman and the horse:
That courser stumbles on the fallen steed,
And, floundering, throws the rider o'er his head.
One rolls along, a foot-ball to his foes;
One with a broken truncheon deals his blows.
This halting, this disabled with his wound,
In triumph led, is to the pillar bound,
Where by the king's award he must abide:
There goes a captive led on t'other side.
By fits they cease; and, leaning on the lance,
Take breath awhile, and to new fight advance.
Full oft the rivals met, and neither spar'd
His utmost force, and each forgot to ward.
The head of this was to the saddle bent,
The other backward to the crupper sent:
Both were by turns unhors'd ; the jealous blows
Fall thick and heavy, when on foot they close.
So deep their faulchions bite, that every stroke
Pierc'd to the quick; and equal wounds they gave
Borne far asunder by the tides of men,
Like adamant and steel they meet again.
So when a tiger sucks the bullock's blood,
A famish'd lion, issuing from the wood,
Roars lordly fierce, and challenges the food.
Each claims possession, neither will obey,
But both their paws are fasten’d on the prey;
They bite, they tear; and while in vain they strive,
The swains come arm'd between, and both to dis-
At length, as Fate forcdoorn'd, and all things tend
By course of time to their appointed end;
So when the Sun to west was far declin'd,
And both afresh in mortal battle join'd,
The strong Emetrius came in Arcite's aid,
And Palamon with odds was overlaid:
For, turning short, he struck with all his might
Full on the helmet of th' unwary knight.
Deep was the wound; he stagger'd with the blow,
And turn'd him to his unexpected foe;
Whom with such force he struck, he fell'd him down,
And cleft the circle of his golden crown.
But Arcite's men, who now prevail'd in fight,
Twice ten at once surround the single knight:
O'erpower'd, at length, they force him to the ground,
Unyielded as he was, and to the pillar bound;
And king Lycurgus, while he fought in vain
His friend to free, was tumbled on the plain.
Who now laments but Palamon, compell'd
No more to try the fortune of the field
And, worse than death, to view with hateful eyes
His rival's conquest, and renounce the prize!
The royal judge, on his tribunal plac'd,
Who had beheld the fight from first to last,
Bad cease the war; pronouncing from on high,
Arcite of Thebes had won the beauteous Emily.
The sound of trumpets to the voice reply'd,
And round the royal lists the heralds cry'd,
“Arcite of Thebes has won the beauteous bride.”
The people rend the skies with vast applause;
All own the chief, when Fortune owns the cause.
Arcite is own'd ev'n by the gods above,
And conquering Mars insults the queen of love.
So laugh’d he, when the rightful Titan fail'd,
And Jove's usurping arms in Heaven prevail'd :
Laugh'd all the powers who favour tyranny;
And all the standing army of the sky.
But Venus with dejected eyes appears,
And, weeping, on the lists distill'd her tears;
Her will refus'd, which grieves a woman most,
And, in her champion foil'd, the cause of Love is
Till Saturn said, “Fair daughter, now be still,
The blustering fool has satisfy'd his will ;
His boon is given; his knight has gain'd the day,
But lost the prize, th’ arrears are yet to pay.
Thy hour is come, and mine the care shall be
To please thy knight, and set thy promise free.”
Now while the heralds run the lists around,
And Arcite, Arcite, Heaven and Earth resound;
A miracle (nor less it could be call'd)
Their joy with unexpected sorrow pall'd.
The victor knight had laid his helm aside,
Part for his ease, the greater part for pride:
Bare-headed, popularly low he bow'd,
And paid the salutations of the crowd.
Then, spurring at full speed, ran endlong on
Where Theseus sate on his imperial throne;
Furious he drove, and upward cast his eye,
Where next the queen was plac'd his Emily;
Then passing to the saddle-bow he bent:
A sweet regard the gracious virgin lent
For women, to the brave an easy prey,
ill follow Fortune where she leads the way):
Just then, from earth sprung out a flashing fire,
By Pluto sent, at Saturn's bad desire:
The startling steed was seiz'd with sudden fright,
And bounding, o'er the pummel cast the knight:
Forward he flew, and, pitching on his head,
He quiver'd with his feet, and lay for dead.
Black was his count'nance in a little space,
For all the blood was gather'd in his face.
Help was at hand: they rear'd him from the ground,
And from his cumbrous arms his limbs unbound;
Then lanc'd a vein, and watch'd returning breath;
It came, but clogg'd with symptoms of his death.
The saddle-bow, the noble parts had prest,
All bruis'd and mortify'd his manly breast.
Him still entranc'd, and in a litter laid,
They bore from field, and to his bed convey'd.
At length he wak'd, and, with a feeble cry,
The word he first pronounc'd was Emily.
Meantime the king, though inwardly he mourn'd,
In pomp triumphant to the town return'd.
Attended by the chiefs who fought the field
(Now friendly mix'd, and in one troop compell'd).
Compos'd his looks to counterfeited cheer,
And bade them not for Arcite's life to fear.
But that which gladded all the warrior-train,
Though most were sorely wounded, none were slain.
The surgeons soon despoil'd them of their arms,
And some with salves they cure, and some with
Foment the bruises, and the pains assuage, [of sage.
And heal their inward hurts with sovereign draughts
The king in person visits all around,
Comforts the sick, congratulates the sound;
Honours the princely chiefs, rewards the rest,
And holds for thrice three days a royal feast.
None was disgrac'd; for falling is no shame;
And cowardice alone is loss of fame.
The venturous knight is from the saddle thrown;
But 'tis the fault of Fortune, not his own :
If crowds and palms the conquering side adorn,
The victor under better stars was born :
The brave man seeks not popular applause,
Nor, overpower'd with arms, deserts his cause;
Unsham'd, though foil'd, he does the best he can;
Force is of brutes, but honour is of man.
Thus Theseus smil'd on all with equal grace;
And each was set according to his place.
With ease were reconcil'd the differing parts,
For envy never dwells in noble hearts.
At length they took their leave, the time expir’d,
Well pleas'd, and to their several homes retir’d.
Meanwhile the health of Arcite still impairs;
From bad proceeds to worse, and mocks the leeches'
Swoln is his breast; his inward pains increase,
All means are us'd, and all without success.
The clotted blood lies heavy on his heart,
Corrupts, and there remains in spite of art:
Nor breathing veins, nor cupping, will prevail;
All outward remedies and inward fail:
The mold of Nature's fabric is destroy'd,
Her vessels discompos'd, her virtue void :
The bellows of his lungs begin to swell,
All out of frame is every secret cell,
Nor can the good receive, nor bad expel.
Those breathing organs, thus within opprest,
With venom soon distend the sinews of his breast.
Nought profits him to save abandon'd life,
Nor vomit's upward aid, nor downward laxative.
The midmost region batter'd and destroy'd,
When Nature cannot work, th’ effect of Art is void.
For physic can but mend our crazy state,
Patch an old building, not a new create.
Arcite is doom'd to die in all his pride,
Must leave his youth, and yield his beauteous bride,
Gain'd hardly, against right, and unenjoy'd.
When 'twas declar'd all hope of life was past,
Conscience (that of all physic works the last)
Caus'd him to send for Emily in haste.
With her, at his desire, eame Palamon;
Then on his pillow rais'd, he thus begun.
“No language can express the smallest part
Of what I feel, and suffer in my heart,
For you, whom best I love and value most;
But to your service I bequeath my ghost;
Which, from this mortal body when unty'd,
Unseen, unheard, shall hover at your side;
Nor fright you waking, nor your sleep offend,
But wait officious, and your steps attend:
How I have lov'd, excuse my faultering tongue,
My spirits feeble, and my pains are strong:
This I may say, I only grieve to die
Because I lose my charming Emily:
To die, when Heaven had put you in my power,
Fate could not choose a more malicious hour !
What greater curse could envious Fortune give,
Than just to die, when I began to live!
Vain men, how vanishing a bliss we crave,
Now warm in love, now withering in the grave!
Never, O never more to see the Sun
Still dark, in a damp vault, and still alone!
This fate is common; but I lose my breath
Near bliss, and yet not bless'd before my death.
Farewell; but take me dying in your arms,
'Tis all I can enjoy of all your charms:
This hand I cannot but in death resign;
Ah! could I live! but while I live ’tis mine.
I feel my end approach, and, thus embrac'd,
Am pleas'd to die; but hear me speak my last.
Ah! my sweet foe, for you, and you alone,
I broke my faith with injur’d Palamon.
But Love the sense of right and wrong confounds,
Strong Love and proud Ambition have no bounds.
And much I doubt, should Heaven my life prolong,
I should return to justify my wrong:
For, while my former flames remain within,
Repentance is...but want of power to sin.
With mortal hatred I pursu'd his life,
Nor he, nor you, were guilty of the strife:
Nor I, but as I lov’d; yet all combin'd,
Your beauty, and my impotence of mind,
And his concurrent flame, that blew my fire;
For still our kindred souls had one desire.
He had a moment's right in point of time;
Had I seen first, then his had been the crime.
Fate made it mine, and justify’d his right;
Nor holds this Earth a more deserving knight,
For virtue, valour, and for noble blood, -
Truth, honour, all that is compriz'd in good;
So help me Heaven, in all the world is none
So worthy to be lov'd as Palamon.
He loves you too, with such an holy fire,
As will not, cannot, but with life expire:
Our vow’d affections both have often try’d,
Nor any love but yours could ours divide.
Then, by my love's inviolable band,
By my long suffering, and my short command,
If e'er you plight your vows when I am gone,
Have pity on the faithful Palamon.”
This was his last; for Death came on amain,
And exercis'd below his iron reign;
Then upward to the seat of life he goes:
Sense fled before him, what he touch'd he froze:
Yet could he not his closing eyes withdraw,
Though less and less of Emily he saw ;
So, speechless, for a little space he lay; [away.
Then grasp'd the hand he held, and sigh’d his soul
But whither went his soul, let such relate
Who search the secrets of the future state:
Divines can say but what themselves believe;
Strong proofs they have, but not demonstrative: For, were all plain, then all sides must agree, And faith itself be lost in certainty. To live uprightly then is sure the best, To save ourselves, and not to damn the rest. The soul of Arcite went where heathens go, Who better live than we, though less they know. In Palamon a manly grief appears; Silent he wept, asham'd to show his tears: Emilia shriek'd but once, and then, oppress'd With sorrow, sunk upon her lover's breast: Till Theseus in his arms convey'd with care, Far from so sad a sight, the swooning fair. 'Twere loss of time her sorrow to relate; Ill bears the sex a youthful lover's fate, When just approaching to the nuptial state: But, like a low-hung cloud, it rains so fast, That all at once it falls, and cannot last. The face of things is chang'd, and Athens now, That laugh’d so late, becomes the scene of woe: Matrons and maids, both sexes, every state, With tears lament the knight's untimely fate. Nor greater grief in falling Troy was seen For Hector's death; but Hector was not then. Old men with dust deform'd their hoary hair, The women beat their breasts, their cheeks they tare. “Why would'st thou go,” with one consent they cry, “When thou had'st gold enough, and Emily #" Theseus himself, who should have cheer'd the grief Of others, wanted now the same relief. Old Egeus only could revive his son, Who various changes of the world had known, And strange vicissitudes of human fate, Still altering, never in a steady state; Good after ill, and after pain delight; Alternate like the scenes of day and night: “Since every man who lives is born to die, And none can boast sincere felicity, With equal mind what happens let us bear, [care. Nor joy nor grieve too much for things beyond our Like pilgrims to th’ appointed place we tend ; The world's an inn, and death the journey's end. Ev’n kings but play; and when their part is done, Some other, worse or better, mount the throne.” With words like these the crowd was satisfy'd, And so they would have been had Theseus dy’d. But he, their king, was labouring in his mind, A fitting place for funeral pomps to find, Which were in honour of the dead design'd. And, after long debate, at last he found (As Love itself had mark'd the spot of ground) That grove for ever green, that conscious land, Where he with Palamon fought hand to hand: That where he fed his amorous desires With soft complaints, and felt his hottest fires, There other flames might waste his earthly part, And burn his limbs, where love had burn'd his heart. This once resolv'd, the peasants were enjoin'd Sere-wood, and firs, and dodder'd oaks to find. With sounding axes to the grove they go, Fell, split, and lay the fuel on a row, Vulcanian food: a bier is next prepar'd, On which the lifeless body should be rear'd, Cover'd with cloth of gold, on which was laid The corpse of Arcite, in like robes array'd. White gloves were on his hands, and on his head A wreath of laurel, mix’d with myrtle spread. A sword keen-edg'd within his right he held, The warlike emblem of the conquer'd field:
Bare was his manly visage on the bier:
Menac'd his countenance; ev’n in death severe.
Then to the palace-hall they bore the knight,
To lie in solemn state, a public sight.
Groans, cries, and howlings, fill the crowded place,
And unaffected sorrow sat on every face.
Sad Palamon above the rest appears,
In sable garments, dew'd with gushing tears:
His auburn locks on either shoulder flow'd,
Which to the funeral of his friend he vow'd :
But Emily, as chief, was next his side,
A virgin-widow, and a mourning bride.
And, that the princely obsequies might be
Perform'd according to his high degree,
The steed, that bore him living to the fight,
Was trapp'd with polish'd steel, all shining bright,
And cover'd with th' achievements of the knight.
The riders rode abreast, and one his shield,
His lance of cornel-wood another held;
The third his bow, and, glorious to behold,
The costly quiver, all of burnish'd gold.
The noblest of the Grecians next appear,
And, weeping, on their shoulders bore the bier;
With sober pace they march'd, and often staid,
And through the master-street the corpse convey'd.
The houses to their tops with black were spread,
And ev'n the pavements were with mourning hid.
The right side of the pall old Egeus kept,
And on the left the royal Theseus wept;
Each bore a golden bowl, of work divine, [wine.
With honey fill'd, and milk, and mix’d with ruddy
Then Palamon, the kinsman of the slain,
And after him appear'd the illustrious train.
To grace the pomp, came Emily the oright
With cover'd fire, the funeral pile to light.
With high devotion was the service made,
And all the rites of pagan-honour paid :
So lofty was the pile, a Parthian bow,
With vigour drawn, must send the shaft below.
The bottom was full twenty fathom broad,
With crackling straw beneath in due proportion
The fabric seem’d a wood of rising green,
With sulphur and bitumen cast between,
To feed the flames: the trees were unctuous fir,
And mountain ash, the mother of the spear;
The mourner yew and builder oak were there:
The beech, the swimming alder, and the plane,
Hard box, and linden of a softer grain, [ordain.
And laurels, which the gods for conquering chiefs
How they were rank'd, shall rest untold by me,
With nameless nymphs that liv'd in every tree;
Nor how the Dryads, or the woodland train,
Disherited, ran howling o'er the plain:
Nor how the birds to foreign seats repair'd,
Or beasts, that bolted out, and saw the forest bar'd:
Nor how the ground, now clear'd, with ghastly fright
Beheld the sudden Sun, a stranger to the light.
The straw, as first I said, was laid below:
Of chips and sere-wood was the second row;
The third of greens, and timber newly fell'd;
The fourth high stage the fragrant odours held,
And pearls, and precious stones, and rich array,
In midst of which, embalm’d, the body lay.
The service sung, the maid with mourning eyes
The stubble fir’d; the smouldering flames arise:
This office done, she sunk upon the ground;
But what she spoke, recover'd from her swoon,
I want the wit in moving words to dress;
But by themselves the tender sex may guess.
While the devouring fire was burning fast,
Rich jewels in the flame the wealthy cast;
And some their shields, and some their lances threw,
And gave their warrior's ghost, a warrior's due.
Full bowls of wine, of honey, milk, and blood,
Were pour'd upon the pile of burning wood,
And hissing flames receive, and hungry lick the food.
Then thrice the mounted squadrons ride around
The fire, and Arcite's name they thrice resound;
Hail, and farewell, they shouted thrice amain,
Thrice facing to the left, and thrice they turn'd again:
Still as they turn'd, they beat their clattering shields;
The women mix their cries; and Clamour fills the
The warlike wakes continued all the night, [light.
And funeral games were play'd at new returning
Who, naked, wrestled best, besmear'd with oil,
Or who with gauntlets gave or took the foil,
I will not tell you, nor would you attend;
But briefly haste to my long story's end.
I pass the rest; the year was fully mourn'd,
And Palamon long since to Thebes return'd :
When, by the Grecians' general consent,
At Athens Theseus held his parliament:
Among the laws that pass'd, it was decreed,
That conquer'd Thebes from bondage should be
Reserving homage to th' Athenian throne,
To which the sovereign summon'd Palamon.
Unknowing of the cause, he took his way,
Mournful in mind, and still in black array, [high,
The monarch mounts the throne, and, plac'd on
Commands into the court the beauteous Emily:
So call’d, she came; the senate rose, and paid
Becoming reverence to the royal maid.
And first soft whispers through th' assembly went:
With silent wonder then they watch'd th' event:
All hush'd, the king arose with awful grace, [face.
Deep thought was in his breast, and counsel in his
At length he sigh'd; and, having first prepar'd
Th’ attentive audience, thus his will declar'd.
“The Cause and Spring of Motion, from above.
Hung down on Earth the golden chain of love:
Great was th' effect, and high was his intent,
When peace among the jarring seeds he sent,
Fire, flood, and earth, and air, by this were bound,
And love, the common link, the new creation
The chain still holds; for, though the forms decay,
Eternal matter never wears away :
The same first Mover certain bounds has plac'd,
How long those perishable forms shall last:
Nor can they last beyond the time assign'd
By that all-seeing and all-making Mind:
Shorten their hours they may ; for will is free;
But never pass th' appointed destiny.
So men oppress'd, when weary of their breath,
Throw off the burthen, and suborn their death.
Then, since those forms begin, and have their end,
On some unalter'd cause they sure depend:
Parts of the whole are we; but God the whole;
Who gives us life and animating soul :
For Nature cannot from a part derive
That being, which the whole can only give :
He perfect, stable; but imperfect we,
Subject to change, and different in degree;
Plants, beasts, and man; and, as our organs are,
We more or less of his perfection share.
But by a long descent, th' etherial fire
Corrupts; and forms, the mortal part, expire