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The town besieg'd, and how much blood it cost No friend has leave to bear away the dead,
But with their lifeless limbs his hounds are fed." The spousals of Hippolita, the queen ;
At this she shriek'd aloud; the mournful train What tilts and turneys at the feast were seen; Echo'd her grief, and, groveling on the plain, The storm at their return, the ladies' fear: With groans, and hands upheld, to move his mind, But these and other things, 1 must forbear. Besought his pity to their helpless kind ! The field is spacious I design to sow,
The prince was touch'd, his tears began to flow, With oven far unfit to draw the plow :
And, as his tender heart would break in two, The remnant of my tale is of a length
He sigh'd, and could not but their fate deplore, To tire your patience, and to waste my strength; So wretched now, so fortunate before, And trivial accidents shall be forborn,
Then lightly from his lofty steed he flew, That others may have time to take their turn; And raising, one by one, the suppliant crew, As was at first enjoin'd us by mine host,
To comfort each, full solemnly he swore, That he whose tale is best, and pleases most, That by the faith which knights to knighthood Should win his supper at our common cost.
And whate'er else to chivalry belongs, [bore, And therefore where I left, I will pursue
He would not cease, till he reveng'd their wrongs: This ancient story, whether false or true,
That Greece should see perforin'd what he de. In hope it may be mended with a new.
And cruel Creon find his just reward. [clar'd; The prince I mentioned, full of high renown, He said no more, but, shunning all delay, In this array drew near th’ Athenian town; Rode on; nor enter'd Athens on his way: When, in his pomp and utmost of his pridė, But left his sister and his queen behind, Marching, he cbanc'd to cast his eye aside, And wav'd his royal banner in the wind : And saw a choir of mourning dames, who lay Where in an argent field the god of war By two and two across the common way:
Was drawn triumphant on his iron car; At his approach they rais'd a rueful cry, [high, Red was his sword, and shield, and whole attire, And beat their breasts, and held their bands on And all the godhead seem'd to glow with fire; Creeping and crying, till they seiz'd at last Ev'n the ground glitter'd where the standard few, His courser's bridle, and his feet embrac'd. And the green grass was dy'd to sanguine hue, * Tell me," said Theseus, “what and whence High on his pointed lance his pennon bore you are,
His Cretan fight, the conquer'd Minotaur : And why this funeral pageant you prepare?
The soldiers shout around with generous rage, Is this the welcome of my worthy deeds,
And in that victory their own presage. To meet my triumph in ill-omen'd weeds? He prais'd their ardour; inly pleas'd to see Or envy you my praise, and would destroy His host the flower of Grecian chivalry. With grief my pleasures, and pollute my joy? All day he march'd; and all th' ensuing night; Or are you injur'd, and demand reljef?
And saw the city with returning light. Name your request, and I will ease your grief.” The process of the war I need not tell,
The most in years of all the mourning train How Theseus conquer'd, and how Creon fell : Legan (but swooned first away for pain);
Or after, how by storm the walls were won, Then scarce recover'd spoke : “ Nor envy we
Or how the victor sack'd and burn'd the town : Thy great renown, nor grudge thy victory; How to the ladies he restor'd again 'Tis thine, O king, th’afflicted to redress,
The bodies of their lords in battle slain : And Fame has fill'd the world with thy success: And with what ancient rites they were interr'd; We, wretched women, sue for that alone,
All these to fitter times shall be deferr'd : Which of thy goodness is refus'd to none;
I spare the widows tears, their woefulcries, Let fall some drops of pity on our grief,
And howling at their husband's obsequies ; If what we beg be just, and we deserve relief: How Theseus at these funerals did assist, For none of us, who now thy grace implore, And with what gifts the mourning dames dismiss'd. But held the rank of sovereign queen before;
Thus when the victor chief had Creon slain, Till, thanks to giddy Chance, which never bears, And conquer'd Thebes, he pitch'd upon the plain That mortal bliss should last for length of years, His mighty camp, and, when the day return'd, She cast us head!ong from our high estate, The country wasted, and the hamlets burn'd, And here in hope of thy return we wait:
And left the pillagers, to rapine bred, And long have waited in the temple nigh,
Without control to strip and spoil the dead. Built to the gracious goddess Cleinency. (bears, There, in a heap of slain, among the rest But reverence thou the power whose name it | Two youthful knights they found beneath a load Relieve th' oppress'd, and wipe the widow's tears. oppress'd I, wretched I, have other fortune seen,
Of slaughter'd foes, whom first to death they sent, The wife of Capaneus, and once a queen :
The trophies of their strength, a bloody moAt Thebes he fell, curst be the fatal day!
nument. And all the rest thou seest in this array
Both fair, and both of royal blood they seemd, To make their moan, their lords in battlelost Whom kinsmen to the crown the heralds deem'd; Before that town, besieg'd by our confederate That day in equal arms they fought for fame; host:
Their swords, their shields, their surcoats, were But Creon, old and impious, who commands
the same. The Theban city, and usurps the lands,
Close by each other laid, they press'd the ground, Denies the rites of funeral fires to those
Their manly bosoms pierc'd with many a griesly Whose breathless bodies yet he calls his foes.
wound; Unburn'd, unbury'd, on a heap they lie;
Nor well alive, nor wholly dead they were, Such is their fate, and such his tyranny;
But some faint signs of feeble life appear:
'The wandering breath was on the wing to part, The garden, which before he had not seen,
between. From these their costly arms the spoilers rent, This view'd, but not enjoy'd, with arms across And softly. both convey'd to Theseus' tent: He stood, reflecting on his country's loss; Whom, known of Creon's line, and curd with Himself an object of the public scorn, care,
And often wish'd he never had been born. He to his city sent as prisoners of the war,
At last, for so bis destiny requird, Hopeless of ransom, and condemn'd to lie
With walking giddy, and with thinking tird, In durance, doom'd a lingering death to die. He through a little window cast his sight, This done, he march'd away with warlike sound, Though thick of bars, that gave a scanty light : And to his Athens turn'd with laurels crown'd, But ev'n that glimmering serv'd him to descry Where happy long he liv’d, mucb lov'd, and Th’ inevitable charms of Emily. (smart, more renown'd.
Scarce had he seen, but, seiz'd with sudden But in a tower, and never to be loos'd,
Stung to the quick, he felt it at bis heart; The woeful captive kinsmen are enclos'd.
Struck blind with over-powering light he stood, Thus year by year they pass, and day by day, Then started back amaz'd, and cry'd aloud. Till once, 'twas on the morn of cheerful May, Young Arcite heard; and up he ran with haste, The young Emilia, fairer to be seen
To help his friend, and in his arms embracd; Than the tair lily on the flowery green,
And ask'd him why he look'd so deadly wan, More fresh than May herself in blossoms new, And whence and how his change of cheer began, For with the rosy colour strove her hue,
Or who had done th’offence? “But if,” said he, Wak’d, as her custom was, before the day, “ Your grief alone is hard captivity, To do th'observance due to sprightly May: For love of Heaven, with patience undergo For sprightly May commands our youth to keep A cureless ill, since Fate will have it so: The vigils of her night, and breaks their sluggard So stood our horoscope in chajns to lie, sleep;
And Saturn in the dungeon of the sky, Each gentle breast with kindly warmth she moves; Orother baleful aspect, rul'd our birth, Inspires new flames, revives extinguish'd loves. When all the friendly stars were under Earth : In this remembrance Emily, ere day,
Whate'er betides, by Destiny 'tis done; (shun.” A rose, and dress'd herself in rich array ;
And better bear like men, than vainly seek to Fresh as the month, and as the morning fair; “ Nor of my bonds,” said Palamon again, Adown her shoulders fell her length of hair: Nor of unhappy planets I complain; A ribband did the braided tresses bind,
But when my mortal anguish caus'd me cry, The rest was loose, and wanton'd in the wind : That moment I was hurt through either eye; Aurora had but newly chas'd the night,
Pierc'd with a random shaft, I faint away,
Whom, like Acteon, unaware I found.
Not Juno moves with more majestic grace;
Then be thy wrath appeas'd with our disgrace, And learn'd from her to welcome-in the Spring. And show compassion to the Theban race, The tower, of which before was mention made, Oppress'd by tyrant power!” While yet he Within whose keep the captive knights were laid, Arcite on Emily had fix'd his look; [spoke, Built of a large extent, and strong withal,
The fatal dart a ready passage found, Was one partition of the palace wall:
And deep within his heart infix'd the wound: The garden was enclos'd within the square, So that if Palamou were wounded sore, Where young Emilia took the morning air. Arcite was hurt as much as he, or more:
It happen'd Palamon, the prisoner knight, Then from his inmost soul he sigh'd, and said, Restless for woe, arose before the light,
“ The beauty I behold has struck me dead: And with his jailor's leare desir'd to breathe Unknowingly she strikes, and kills by chance; An air more wholesome than the damps beneath : Poison is in her eyes, and death in every glance. This granted, to the tower he took his way,
0, I must ask, nor ask alone, but move Cheard with the promise of a glorious day: Her mind to mercy, or must die for love." Then cast a languishing regard around,
Thus Arcite : and thus Palamon replies, And saw with hateful eyes the temples crown'd (Eager his tone, and ardent were his eyes.) With golden spires, and all the hostile ground. Speak'st thou in earnest, or in jesting vein ?" He sigh'd, and turn'd his eyes, because he knew “ Jesting,” said Arcite, “ suits but ill with pain.” 'Twas but a larger gaol he had in view :
“ It suits far worse” (said Palamon again, (weigh, Then look'd below, and, from the castle's height, And bent his brows) “ with men who honour Beheld a nearer and more pleasing sight,
Their faith to break, their friendship to betray ;
But worst with thee, of noble lineage born, And glar'd like angry lions as they passid,
Itchane'd at length, Pirithous came t'attend
And rose as childhood ripen’d into man:
But to pursue my tale: to welcome home
But on these hard conditions I recite: Thy bad pretence; I told thee first my pain : That if hereafter Arcite should be found For first my love began ere thine was born; Within the compass of Athenian ground, Thou, as iny council, and my brother sworn, By day or night, or on whate'er pretence, Art bound i' assist my eldership of right,
His head should pay the forfeit of th' offence. Or justly to be deem'd a perjur'd knight.”
To this Pirithous for his friend agreed,
Unpleas'd and pensive hence he takes his way,
Finds his dear purchase, and repents too late? With strong desires, I lov'd the lady first. “ What have I gain’d,” he said, “ in prison pent, Canst thou pretend desire, whom zeal inflam'd If I but change my bonds for banishment? To worship, and a power celestial nam'd ?
And banish'd from her sight, 1 suffer more Thine was devotion to the blest above,
In freedom, than I felt in bonds before; I saw the woman, and desir'd her love;
Forc'd from her presence, and condemn'd to live : First owo'd my passion, and to thee commend Unwelcome freedom, and unthank'd reprieve: Th’important secret, as my chosen friend. Heaven is not, but where Emily abides; Suppose (which yet I grant not) thy desire , And where she's absent, all is Hell besides. A moment elder than my rival fire;
Next to my day of birth, was that accurst, Can chance of seeing first thy title prove ? Which bound my friendship to Pirithous first: And know'st thou not, no law is made for love; Had I not known that prince, I still had been Law is to things, which to free choice relate; la bondage, and had still Emilia seen: Love is not in our choice, but in our fate ; For, though I never can her grace deserve, Laws are but positive; love's power, we see, 'Tis recompense enough to see and serve. Is Nature's sanction, and her first decree.
O Palamon, my kinsman and my friend, Each day we break the bond of huinan laws How much more happy fates thy love attend ! For love, and vindicate the common cause. Thine is th’adventure; thine the victory : Laws for defence of civil rights are plac'd,
Well has.thy fortune turn’d the dice for thee : Love throws the fences down, and makes a general | Thou on that angel's face may'st feed thine eyes, waste :
In prison, no; but blissful Paradise !
And who can tell but since thou hast her sight, And both are mad alike, since neither can And art a comely, young, and valiant knight, possess.
Fortune (a various power) may cease to frown, Both hopeless to be ransom’d, never more
And by some ways unknown thy wishes crown? To see the Sun, but as he passes o'er.”
But I, the most forlorn of human kind, Like Esop's hounds contending for the bone, Nor help can hope, nor remedy can find; Fach pleaded right and would be lord aione : But, doom'd to drag my loathsome life in care, 'The fruitless fight continued all the day ;
Por my reward, must end it in despair. A cur came by, and snatch'd the prize away. Fire, water, air, and earth, and force of fates “ As courtiers therefore justle for a grant, (want, That governs all, and Heaven that all creates, And, when they break their friendship, plead their Nor art, nor Nature's hand can ease my grief; So thou, if Fortune will thy suit advance,
Nothing but death, the wretch's last relief: Lore on, nor envy me my equal chance :
Then farewel youth, and all the joys that dwell, For I must love, and ain resolv'd to try
With youth and life, and life itself farewel. My fate, or, failing in th’adventure, die."
But why, alas! do mortal men in vain Great was their strife, which hourly was re- Of Fortune, Fate, or Providence complain? new'd,
God gives us what he knows our wants require, Till each with mortal hate his rival view'd : And better things than those which we desire : Now friends no more, nor walking hand in hand; Some pray for riches; riches they obtain ; But when they met, they made a surly stand; But, watch'd by robbers, for their wealth are slain;
Some pray from prison to be freed; and come, A serpent shoots his sting at unaware;
One gains the thickets, and one thrids the brake,
My pangs of jealousy for Arcite's love." Thus all seek happiness; but few can find,
Let Palamon, oppress'd in bondage, mourn, For far the greater part of men are blind.
While to his exil'd rival we return.
The day had shorten’d, to prolong the night :
For Palamon in endless prison mourns, His sufferings, Palamon yet suffers more.
And Arcite forfeits life if he returns: For when he knew his rival freed and gone,
The banish'd never hopes his love to see, He swells with wrath; he makes outrageous | Nor hopes the captive lord his liberty :
'Tis hard to say who suffers greater pains: He frets, he fumes, he stares, he stamps the One sees his love, but cannot break his chains: ground;
Ove free, and all his motions uncontrol'd, The bollow tower with clamours rings around: Beholds whate'er he would, but what he would With briny tears he bath'd his fetter'd feet,
behold. And dropt all o'er with agony of sweat.
Judge as you please, for I will haste to tell “ Alas!” he cry'd, “ I wretch in prison pine, What fortune to the banish'd knight befell. Too happy rival, while the fruit is thine:
When Arcite was to Thebes return'd again, Thou liv'st at large, thou draw'st thy native air, The loss of her he lov'd renew'd his pain; Pleas'd with thy freedom, proud of my despair: What could be worse, than never more to see Thou mayst, since thou hast youth and courage His life, his soul, his charming Emily ? join'd,
He rav'd with all the madness of despair, A sweet behaviour, and a solid mind,
He roard, he beat his breast, he tore his hair. Assemble ours, and all the Theban race,
Dry sorrow in his stupid eyes appears, To vindicate on Athens thy disgrace;
For, wanting nourishment, he wanted tears : And after, by some treaty made, possess
His eye-balls in their hollow sockets sink: Fair Emily, the pledge of lasting peace.
Bereft of sleep, he loaths his meat and drink : So thine shall be the beauteous prize, while I He withers at his heart, and looks as wan Must languish in despair, in prison die.
As the pale spectre of a murder'd man: Thus all th' advantage of the strife is thine, Tiat pale turns yellow, and his face receives Thy portion double joys, and double sorrows The faded hue of sapless boxen leaves : mine.”
In solitary groves he makes his moan, The rage of Jealousy then fir'd his soul,
Walks early out, and ever is alone : And his face kindled like a burning coal:
Nor, mix'd in mirth, in youthful pleasures Now cold Despair, succeeding in her stead,
shares, To livid paleness turns the glowing red.
But sighs when songs and instruments he hears: His blood, scarce liquid, creeps within his veins, His spirits are so low, his voice is drown'd, Like water which the freezing wind constrains. He hears as from afar, or in a swoon, Then thus he said: “ Eternal deities,
Like the deaf murmurs of a distant sound: Who rule the world with absolute decrees,
Uncomb'd his locks, and squalid his attire, And write whatever time shall bring to pass, Unlike the trim of Love and gay Desire: With pens of adamant, on plates of brass ; But full of museful mopings, which presage What, is the race of human kind your care The loss of reason, and conclude in rage. Beyond what all his fellow-creatures are ?
This when he had endur'd a year and more, He with the rest is liable to pain,
Now wholly chang'd from what he was before, And like the sheep, his brother-beast, is slain. It happend once, that, slumbering as he lay, Cold, hunger, prisons, ills without a cure,
He dream'd (bis dream began at break of day) All these he inust, and, guiltless, oft endure; That Hermes o'er his head in air appear'd, Or does your justice, power, or prescience fail, And with soft words his drooping spirits cheard: When the good suffer, and the bad prevail ? His hat, adorn'd with wings, disclos'd the god, What worse to wretched Virtue could befall, And in his hand he bere the sleep compelling If Pate or giddy Fortune govern'd all ? Nay, worse than other beasts is our estate; Such as he seem'd, when, at his sire's command, Them, to pursue their pleasures, you create ; On Argus' head he laid the snaky wand. We, bound by harder laws, must curb our will, “ Arise,” he said, “ to conquering Athens go, And your commands, not our desires, fulfil; There Fate appoints an end to all thy woe.” Then when the creature is anjnstly slain,
The fright awaken'd Arcite with a start, Yet after death at least he feels no pain;
Against his bosom bounc'd his heaving heart; But inan, in life surcharg'd with woe before, But soon he said, with scarce recover'd breath, Not freed when dead, is doom'd to suffer more. “ And thither will I go, to meet my death,
Sure to be slain, but death is my desire,
Lost liberty, and love, at once he bore : Since in Emilia's sight I shall expire."
His prison pain'd nim much, his passion more : By chance he spy'd a mirror while he spoke, Nor dares he hope his fetters to remove, And gazing there beheld his alter'd look;
Nor ever wishes to be free from love. Wondering, he saw his features and his hue
But when the sixth revolving year was run, So much were chang'd, that scarce himself he And May within the Twins receiv'd the Sun, knew.
Were it by Chance, or forceful Destiny, A sndden thou then starting in his mind, Which forms in causes first whate'er shall be, “ Since I in Arcite cannot Arcite find,
Assisted by a friend, one moonless night, The worid may search in vain with all their eyes, This Palamon from prison took his flight: But never penetrate through this disguise.
A pleasant beverage be prepar'd before Thanks to the change which grief and sickness Of wine and honey, mix'd with added store give,
Of opium; to his keeper this he brought, In low estate I may securely live,
Who swallow'd unaware the sleepy draught, And see unknown my mistress day by day.” And snor'd secure till morn, his senses bound He said ; and cloth'd himself in coarse array: In slumber, and in long oblivion drown'd. A labouring hind in show, then forth he went, Short was the night, and careful Palainon And to th’ Athenian towers his journey bent : Sought the next covert ere the rising Sun. One squire attended in the same disguise,
A thick spread forest near the city lay, Made conscious of bis master's enterprise.
To this with lengthen'd strides he took his way Arrivd at Athens, soon he came to court,
(For far he could not fly, and feard the day). Unknown, unquestion'd, in that thick resort : Safe from pursuit, he meant to shun the light, Proffering for hire his service at the gate,
Till the brown shadows of the friendly night To drudge, draw water, and to run or wait. To Thebes might favour his intended fight. So fair befell him, that for little gain
When to his country come, his next design He serv'd at first Emilia's chamberlain;
Was all the Theban race in arms to join, And, watchful all advantages to spy,
And war on Theseus, till he lost his life, Was still at hand, and in his master's eye; Or won the beauteous Emily to wife. And as his bones were big, and sinews strong, Thus while his thoughts the lingering day be. Refus'd no toil, that could to slaves belong;
guile, Bat from deep wells with engines water drew, To gentle Arcite let us turn our style ; And us'd his noble hands the wood to bew.
Who little dreamt how nigh he was to care, He pass'd a year at least attending thus
Till treacherous Fortune caught him in the snare. On Emily, and calld Philostratus.
The morning-lark, the messenger of Day, But never was there man of his degree
Saluted in her song the morning gray; So much esteemid, so well belov'd as he.
And soon the Sun arose with beams so bright, So gentle of condition was he known,
That all th' horizon laugh'd to see the joyous That through the court his courtesy was blown:
sight; All think him worthy of a greater place,
He with his tepid rays the rose renews, And recommend him to the royal grace,
And licks the drooping leaves, and dries the That, exercis'd within a higher sphere,
dews; His virtues more conspicuous might appear.
When Arcite left his bed, resolv'd to pay Thus by the general voice was Areite prais’d, Observance to the month of merry May : And by great Theseus to high favour rais'd: Forth on his fiery steed betimes he rode, Among his menial servants first enrolld,
That scarcely prints the turf on which he trod: And largely entertaind with sums of gold : At ease he seem'd, and, prancing o'er the plains, Besides what secretly from Thebes was sent, Turn'd only to the grove his horse's reins, Of his own income, and his annual rent:
The grove I nam'd before ; and, lighted there, This well employd, he purchas'd friends and A woodbine garland sought to crown his hair; fame,
Then turn'd his face against the rising day, But cautiously conceal'd from whence it came. And rais'd his voice to welcome in the May. Thus for three years he liv'd with large increase, “ For thee, sweet month, the groves green In arms of honour, and esteem in peace;
liveries wear, To Theseus' person he was ever near;
If not the first, the fairest of the year:
For thee the Graces lead the dancing Hours,
So may thy tender blossoms fear no blight,
Nor goats with venom'd teeth thy tendrils bite,
As thou shalt gu'de my wandering feet to find OR THE KNIGHT'S TALE.
The fragrant greens I seek, my brows to bind.”
His vows address'd, within the grove he BOOK II.
Till Fate, or Fortune, near the place convey'd While Arcite lives in bliss, the story turns His steps where secret Palamon was laid, Where hopeless Palamon in prison mourns. Full little thought of him the gentle knight, For six long years inmurd, the captive knight Who, flying death, had there conceal'd his flight, Had dragz'd nis chains, and scarcely seen the In brakes and brambles bid, and shunning mortal, light: