« AnteriorContinuar »
The bolted gates flew open at the blast,
Heaven smil'd, and gladded was the heart of man; The storm rushed in, and Arcite stoud 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 clamours 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 prepar'd, 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 armour, 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, Til 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 armourers 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' 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 iny course, nor turn I to my place
The palace-yard is fill’d with floating tides,
In knots they stand, or in a rank they walk,
Factious, and favouring 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 throtling quinsey '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, bousing in the lion's hateful sign,
His rising muscles and his brawn commend; Bought senates and deserting troops are mine. His double-biting axe 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 favour mov'd the mind : By me kings' palaces are push'd to ground, And, safe themselves, at others' cost divin'd. And niners 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-pee, with reverence low they bent ; Mars shall be pleas'd, and thou perforin 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 leis hand, The management they left to Chronos' care; They gave his orders from their lofty stand. Now turn we to th' effect, and sing the war. Silence is thrice enjoin'd; then thus aloud
In Athens all was pleasure, mirth, and play, The king at arms bespeaks the knights and listenAll proper to the spring, and sprightly May,
ing crowd. Which every soul inspir'd with such delight,
“ Our sovereign lord has ponderd in his mind 'Twas jesting all the day, and love at night. The means to spare the blood of gentle kind;
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 bonour 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 poinards 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 retir'd, and loudly cry'd, With shortened sword to stab in closer war; The fortune of the field be fairly try’d. 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 honour 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, Be slain, but prisoners to the pillar bound,
And spurring see decrease the middle space. At either barrier plac'd; nor (captives made)
A cloud of sinoke envelops either host, Be freed, or arm’d anew the fight invade.
And all at once the coinbatants are lost: The chief of either side, bereft of life,
Darkling they join adverse, and shock unseen, Or yielded to his foe, concludes the strife. [young Coursers with coursers justling, men with men: Thus dooms the lord: now valiant knights and As labouring 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 With loud acclaims and vast applause is rent: Is chang'd, and war appears a grizly sight. “ Heaven guard a prince so gracious and so good, Two troops in fair array one moment show'd, So just, and yet so provident of blood !"
The next, a field with fallen bodies strow'd : This was the general cry:
The trumpets sound, Not half the number in their seats are found; And warlike symphony is heard around.
But men and steeds lie groveling on the ground. The marching iroops 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 faulchions 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, (bend. In equal rank, and close his either side.
They break the bones, and make the solid armour 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.
The head of this was to the saddle bent, And in a moment throng the spacious theatre. The other backward to the crupper sent: Now chang'd the jarring noise to whispers low, Both were by turns unhors'd; the jealous blows As winds forsaking seas more softly blow ;
Fall thick and heavy, when on foot they close. When at the western gate, on which the car
So deep their faulchions 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 colours 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.
But both their paws are fasten'd on the prey;
tance drive. In stature siz'd; so proud an equipage :
At length, as Fate foredoorn'), and all things tend By course of time to their appointed end;
So when the Sun to west was far declin'd,
Help was at hand: they rear'd him from the ground, And both afresh in mortal battle join'd,
And from his cumbrous arms his limbs unbound; The strong Emetrius came in Arcite's aid, Then lanc'd a vein, and watch'd returning breath; And Palamon with odds was overlaid :
It came, but clogg'd with symptoms of his death. For, turning short, he struck with all his might The saddle-bow, the noble parts had prest, Full on the helmet of th' unwary knight.
All bruis’d and mortify'd his manly breast. Deep was the wound; he stagger'd with the blow, Him still entranc'd, and in a litter laid, And turn'd him to his unexpected foe;
They bore from field, and to his bed convey'd. Whom with such force he struck, he felld him down, At length he wak’d, and, with a feeble cry, And cleft the circle of his golden crown.
The word he first pronounc'd was Emily. But Arcite's men, who now prevail'd in fight, Meantime the king, though inwardly he mourn'd, Twice ten at once surround the single knight : In pomp triumphant to the town return'd. O’erpower'd, at length, they force him to the ground, Attended by the chiefs who fought the field Unyielded as he was, and to the pillar bound; (Now friendly mix'd, and in one troop compellid). And king Lycurgus, while he fought in vain Compos'd his looks to counterfeited cheer, His friend to free, was tumbled on the plain. And bade them not for Arcite's life to fear.
Who now laments but Palamon, compellid But that which gladded all the warrior-train, No more to try the fortune of the field !
Though most were sorely wounded, none were slain. And, worse than death, to view with hateful eyes The surgeons soon despoil'd them of their arms, His rival's conquest, and renounce the prize ! And some with salves they cure, and some with The royal judge, on his tribunal plac’d,
charms; Who had beheld the fight from first to last, Foment the bruises, and the pains assuage, (of sage. Bad cease the war; pronouncing from on high, And heal their inward hurts with sovereign draughts Arcite of Thebes had won the beauteous Emily. The king in person visits all around, The sound of trumpets to the voice reply'd, Comforts the sick, congratulates the sound; And round the royal lists the heralds cry'd, Honours the princely chiefs, rewards the rest, “ Arcite of Thebes has won the beauteous bride.” And holds for thrice three days a royal feast.
The people rend the skies with vast applause ; None was disgrac'd; for falling is no shame;
The venturous knight is from the saddle thrown;
Nor, overpower'd with arms, deserts his cause; But Venus with dejected eyes appears,
Unsham'd, though foil'd, he does the best he can;
With ease were reconcil'd the differing parts,
At length they took their leave, the time expir'd, His boon is given; his knight has gain’d the day, Well pleas'd, and to their several homes retir'd. But lost the prize, th' arrears are yet to pay.
Meanwhile the health of Arcite still impairs ; Thy hour is come, and mine the care shall be From bad proceeds to worse, and mocks the leeches' To please thy knight, and set thy promise free.”
cares; Now while the heralds run the lists around, Swoln is his breast ; his inward pains increase, And Arcite, Arcite, Heaven and Earth resound; All means are us’d, and all without success. A miracle (nor less it could be call’d)
The clotted blood lies heavy on his heart, Their joy with unexpected sorrow pallid.
Corrupts, and there remains in spite of art: The victor knight had laid his helm aside,
Nor breathing veins, nor cupping, will prevail ; Part for his ease, the greater part for pride:
All outward remedies and inward fail : Bare-headed, popularly low he bow'd,
The mold of Nature's fabric is destroy'd,
Her vessels discompos'd, her virtue void :
With venom soon distend the sinews of his breast. A sweet regard the gracious virgin lent
Nought profits him to save abandon'd life, (For women, to the brave an easy prey,
Nor vomit's upward aid, nor downward laxative. Still follow Fortune where she leads the way): The midmost region batter'd and destroy'd, Just then, from earth sprung out a flashing fire, When Nature cannot work, th' effect of Art is void. By Pluto sent, at Saturn's bad desire :
For physic can but mend our crazy state,
Conscience (that of all physic works the last)
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 unty'd, 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 faultering tongue,
Emilia shriek'd but once, and then, oppress'd My spirits 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: Soll 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 tare. Ah could I live! but while I live 'tis mine. “Why would'st thou go,” with one consent they cry, I feel my end approach, and, thus embrac'd, “ When thou had'st 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, But Love the sense of right and wrong confounds, Who various changes of the world had known, Strong Love and proud Ambition have no bounds. And strange vicissitudes of human fate, And much I doubt, should Heaven my life prolong, Still altering, never in a steady state; I should return to justify my wrong:
Good after ill, and after pain delight; Por, while my former flames remain within,
Alternate like the scenes of day and night: Repentance is, but want of power to sin.
“ 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 kinys but play; and when their part is done, He had a moment's right in point of time;
Some other, worse or better, mount the throne.” Had I seen first, then his had been the crime. With words like these the crowd was satisfy'd, Fate made it mine, and justify'1 his right;
And so they would have been had Theseus dy'd. Nor holds this Earth a more deserving knight, But he, their king, was labouring in his mind, For virtue, valour, and for noble blood,
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 row'd affections both bave often try'd,
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, By my long suffering, and my short command, And burn his limbs, where love had burn'd his heart. If e'er you plight your vows when I am gone, This once resolv'd, the peasants were enjoin'd Have pity on the faithful Palamon.”
Sere-wood, and firs, and dodder'd oaks to find. This was his last; for Death came on amain, With sounding axes to the grove they go, And exercis'd below his iron reign;
Fell, split, and lay the fuel on a row, Then upward to the seat of life he goes :
Vulcanian food : a bier is next prepar’d, Sense fled before him, what he touch'd he froze : On which the lifeless body should be rear'd, Yet could he not his closing eyes withdraw, Cover'd with cloth of gold, on which was laid Though less and less of Emily he saw ;
The corpse of Arcite, in like robes array'd. So, speechless, for a little space he lay ; [away. White gloves were on his hands, and on his head Then grasp'd the hand he held, and sigh'd his soul | A wreath of laurel, mix'd with inyrtle spread.
But whither went his soul, let such relate A sword keen-edg'd within his right be held, Who search the secrets of the future state :
The warlike emblem of the conquer'd field :.
Bare was his manly visage on the bier :
While the devouring fire was burning fast, Menac'd his countenance ; ev'n in death severe. Rich jewels in the fame the wealthy cast ; Then to the palace-hall they bore the knight, And some their shields, and some their lances threw, To lie in solemn state, a public sight.
And gave their warrior's ghost, a warrior's due. Groans, cries, and howlings, fill the crowded place, Full bowls of wine, of honey, milk, and blood, And unaffected sorrow sat on every face.
Were pour'd upon the pile of burning wood, Sad Palamon above the rest appears,
And hissing flames receive, and hungry lick the food. In sable garments, dew'd with gushing tears : Then thrice the mounted squadrons ride around His auburn locks on either shoulder flow'd, The fire, and Arcite's name they thrice resound; Which to the funeral of his friend he vow'd : Hail, and farewell, they shouted thrice amain, But Emily, as chief, was next his side,
Thrice facing to the left, and thrice they turn'd again: A virgin-widow, and a mourning bride.
Still as they turn'd, they beat their clattering shields; And, that the princely obsequies might be
The women mix their cries; and Clamour fills the Perform'd according to his high degree,
fields. The steed, that bore him living to the fight, The warlike wakes continued all the night, flight Was trapp'd with polish'd steel, all shining bright, And funeral games were play'd at new returning And cover'd with th' achievements of the knight. Who, naked, wrestled best, besmear'd with oil, The riders rode abreast, and one his shield, Or who with gauntlets gave or took the foil, His lance of cornel-wood another held;
I will not tell you, nor would you attend; The third his bow, and, glorious to behold, But briefly haste to my long story's end. The costly quiver, all of burnish'd gold.
I pass the rest; the year was fully mourn'd, The noblest of the Grecians next appear,
And Palamon long since to Thebes return'd: And, weeping, on their shoulders bore the bier ; When, by the Grecians' general consent, With sober pace they march’d, and often staid, At Athens Theseus held his parliament: And through the master-street the corpse convey'd. Among the laws that pass'd, it was decreed, The houses to their tops with black were spread, That conquer'd Thebes from bondage should be And ev’n the pavements were with mourning hid.
freed; The right side of the pall old Egeus kept,
Reserving homage to th' Athenian throne, And on the left the royal Theseus wept;
To which the sovereign summon'd Palamon. Each bore a golden bowl, of work divine, (wine. Unknowing of the cause, he took his way, With honey fillid, and milk, and mix'd with ruddy Mournful in mind, and still in black array. (high, Then Palamon, the kinsman of the slain,
The monarch mounts the throne, and, plac'd on And after him appear'd the illustrious train. Commands into the court the beauteous Emily: To grace the pomp, came Emily the bright So call’d, she came; the senate rose, and paid With cover'd fire, the funeral pile to light.
Becoming reverence to the royal maid. With high devotion was the service made,
And first soft whispers through th' assembly went : And all the rites of pagan-honour paid :
With silent wonder then they watch'd th' event : So lofty was the pile, a Parthian bow,
All hush'd, the king arose with awful grace, (face. With vigour drawn, must send the shaft below. Deep thought was in his breast, and counsel in his The bottom was full twenty fathom broad,
At length he sigh'd; and, having first prepar'd With crackling straw beneath in due proportion Th' attentive audience, thus his will declar'd. strow'd.
“ The Cause and Spring of Motion, from above. The fabric seem'd a wood of rising green,
Hung down on Earth the golden chain of love: With sulphur and bitumen cast between,
Great was th' effect, and high was his intent, To feed the flames : the trees were unctuous fir, When peace among the jarring seeds he sent, And mountain ash, the mother of the spear; Fire, flood, and earth, and air, by this were bound, The mourner yew and builder oak were there : And love, the common link, the new creation The beech, the swimming alder, and the plane,
crown'd. Hard box, and linden of a softer grain, [ordain. The chain still holds ; for, though the forms decay, And laurels, which the gods for conquering chiefs Eternal matter never wears away : How they were rank'd, shall rest untold by me, The same first Mover certain bounds has plac'd, With nameless nymphs that liv'd in every tree; How long those perishable forms shall last : Nor how the Dryads, or the woodland train, Nor can they last beyond the time assign'd Disherited, ran howling o'er the plain :
By that all-seeing and all-making Mind : Nor how the birds to foreign seats repair'd, Shorten their hours they may; for will is free; Or beasts, that bolted out, and saw the forest bar'd: But never pass th' appointed destiny. Nor how the ground, now clear'd, with ghastly frighe So men oppress'd, when weary of their breath, Beheld the sudden Sun, a stranger to the light. Throw off the burthen, and suborn their death.
The straw, as first I said, was laid below: Then, since those forms begin, and have their end, Of chips and sere-wood was the second row; On some unalter'd cause they sure depend : The third of greens, and timber newly fellid; Parts of the whole are we; but God the whole ; The fourth high stage the fragrant odours held, Who gives us life and animating soul : And pearls, and precious stones, and rich array, For Nature cannot from a part derive In midst of which, embalm’d, the body lay. That being, which the whole can only give : The service sung, the maid with mourning eyes He perfect, stable ; but imperfect we, The stubble fir'd; the smouldering flames arise : Subject to change, and different in degree; This office done, she sunk upon the ground; Plants, beasts, and man; and, as our organs are, But what she spoke, recover'd from her swoon, We more or less of his perfection share. I want the wit in moving words to dress ;
But by a long descent, th' etherial fire But by themselves the tender sex may guess.
Corrupts; and forms, the mortal part, expire