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They bire, 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 quiverd with his feet, and lay for dead. tance drive.
Black was his count'nance m 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,
Him still entranc'd, and in a litter laid,
At length he wak’d, and, with a feeble cry,
Meantime the king, though inwardly he moumd But Arcite's men, who now prevail'd in fight, In pomp triumphant to the town return'd, Twice ten át 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 iroop compellid); 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, (cf nage. Who had beheld the fight from first to last, And heal their inward hurts with sovereign dranghis Bad cease the war; pronouncing from on high, The king in person visiis 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 adom, 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 us'd, 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 sale on his imperial throne ; Nor can the good receive, nor bad expel. Furious he drove, and upward cast his eye, Those breathing organs, thus within opprest, Where next the queen was placed his Emily; With venom soon distend the sinews of his breast. Then passing to the saddle-bow he bent:
Nought profits him to save abandon'd life, A sweet regard the gracious virgin lent
Nor vomii'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.
To save ourselves, and not to damn the rest.
Silent he wept, asham'd to show his tears : How I have lov'd, excuse my faltering tongue, 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 stale : 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, 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 satisfied, Fate made it mine, and justified his right;
And so they would have been had Theseus died
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 fames 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 Ancite, in like robes array'd.
White gloves were on his hands, and on his head This office done, she sunk upon the ground;
While the devouring fire was burning fast,
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 Clamor fills the fields. Perform'd according to his high degree.
The warlike wakes continued all the night, The steed, that bore him living to the fight, And funeral games were play'd at new returning light. Was trapp'd with polish'd steel, all shining bright, Who, naked, wrestled best, besmear'd with oil, And cover'd with the achievements of the knight. Or who with gauntlets gave or took the foil, The riders rode abreast, and one his shield, I will not tell you, nor would you attend ; His lance of cornel-wood another held;
But briefly haste to my long story's end. The third his bow, and, glorious to behold,
I pass the rest ; the year was fully mourn'd, The costly quiver, all of burnish'd gold.
And Palamon long since to Thebes return'd: The noblest of the Grecians next appear,
When, by the Grecians' general consent, And, weeping, on their shoulders bore the bier ; At Athens Theseus held his parliament: With sober pace they march'd, and often staid, Among the laws that pass'd, it was decreed, And through the master-street the corpse convey'd. That conquer'd Thebes from bondage should be freed; The houses to their tops with black were spread, Reserving homage to th’ Athenian throne, And ev'n the pavements were with mourning hid. To which the sovereign summond Palamon. The right side of the pall'old Egeus kept,
Unknowing of the cause, he took his way, And on the left the royal Theseus wept;
Mournful in mind, and still in black array. [high, Each bore a golden bowl, of work divine, (wine. The monarch mounts the throne, and, plac'd on With honey fillid, and milk, and mix'd with ruddy Commands into the court the beauteous Emily: Then Palamon, the kinsman of the slain,
So callid, she came; the senate rose, and paid And after him appear'd the illustrious train. Becoming reverence to the royal maid. To grace the pomp, came Emily the bright And first soft whispers through th' assembly went: With cover'd fire, the funeral pile to light.
With silent wonder then they watch'd th' event: With high devotion was the service made, All hush'd, the king arose with awful grace, And all the rites of pagan-honor paid :
Deep thought was in his breast, and counsel in his So lofty was the pile, a Parthian bow,
face. With vigor drawn, must send the shaft below. At length he sigh'd : and, having first prepar'd The bottom was full twenty fathom broad, Th'attentive audience, thus his will declar'd. With crackling straw beneath in due proportion “ The Cause and Spring of Motion, from above, strow'd.
Hung down on Earth the golden chain of love : The fabric seem'd a wood of rising green,
Great was th' effect, and high was his intent, With sulphur and bitumen cast between,
When peace among the jarring seeds he sent, To feed the flames: the trees were unctuous fir, Fire, flood, and earth, and air, by this were bound, And mountain ash, the mother of the spear; And love, the common link, the new creation crown'd The mourner yew and builder oak were there : The chain still holds ; for, though the fortis decay, The beech, the swimming alder, and the plane, Eternal matter never wears away: Hard box, and linden of a softer grain, [ordain. The same first Mover certain bounda has placd, And laurels, which the gods for conquering chiefs How long those perishable forms chall last : How they were rank’d, shall rest untold by me, Nor can they last beyond the time assign'd With nameless nymphs that liv'd in every tree; By that all-seeing and all-making Mind : Nor how the Dryads, or the woodland train, Shorten their hours they may; for will is freo; Disherited, ran howling o'er the plain :
But never pass the appointed destiny. Nor how the birds to foreign seats repair'd, So men oppress'd, whun weary of their breath, Or beasts, that bolted out, and saw the forest bard: Throw off the burthen, and suborn their death. Nor how the ground, now clear'd, with ghastly fright Then, since tho'o furtw begin, and have their i: Beheld the sudden Sun, a stranger to the light. On some unalter'd cause they sure depend :
The straw, as first I said, was laid below : Parts of the whole are we; but God the whole: Of chips and sere-wood was the second row; Who gives us life and animating soul : The third of greens, and timber newly felld ; For Nature cannot from a part derive The fourth high stage the fragrant odors held, That being, which the whole can only give : And pearls, and precious stones, and rich array, He perfect, stable ; but imperfect we, In midst of which, embalm'd, the body lay. Subject to change, and different in degree; The service sung, the maid with mourning eyes Plants, beasts, and man; and, as our organs are The stubble fir'd; the smouldering flames arise : We more or less of his perfection share.
But by a long descent, th' ethereal fire
For which already I have gain'd th' assent
Long love to her has borne the faithful knight, And the same matter makes another mass :
And well deserv’d, had Fortune done him right: This law the Omniscient Power was pleas'd to give, "Tis time to mend her fault; since Emily That every kind should by succession live! By Arcite's death from former vows is free: That individuals die, his will ordains,
If you, fair sister, ratify th'accord, The propagated species still remains.
And take him for your husband and your lord,
Pity is Heaven's and yours; nor can she find
[dry. He said ; she blush'd ; and, as o'eraw'd by might, Forsaken of their springs; and leave their channels Seem'd to give Theseus what she gave the knight So man, at first a drop, dilates with heat,
Then turning to the Theban thus he said ; Then, form'd, the little heart begins to beat; “ Small arguments are needful to persuade Secret he feeds, unknowing in the cell ;
Your temper to comply with my command ; At length, for hatching ripe, he breaks the shell, And speaking thus, he gave Emilia's hand. And struggles into breath, and cries for aid; Smild Venus, to behold her own true knight Then, helpless, in his mother's lap is laid.
Obtain the conquest, though he lost the fight; He creeps, he walks, and, issuing into man, And bless'd with nuptial bliss the sweet laborious Grudges their life, from whence his own began:
night. Reckless of laws, affects to rule alone,
Eros, and Anteros, on either side, Anxious to reign, and restless on the throne : One fir'd the bridegroom, and one warm'd the bride ; First vegetive, then feels, and reasons last ; And long-attending Hymen, from above, Rich of three souls, and lives all three to waste. Shower'd on the bed the whole Idalian grove. Some thus; but thousands more in flower of age : All of a tenor was their after-life, For few arrive to run the latter stage.
No day discolor'd with domestic strife ; Sunk in the first, in battle some are slain,
No jealousy, but mutual truth believ'd, And others whelm'd beneath the stormy main. Secure repose, and kindness undeceiv'd. What makes all this, but Jupiter the king, Thus Heaven, beyond the compass of his thought, At whose command we perish, and we spring ? Sent him the blessing he so dearly bought. Then 'tis our best, since thus ordain'd to die,
So may the queen of love long duty bless, To make a virtue of necessity.
And all true lovers find the same success. Take what he gives, since to rebel is vain ; l'he bad grows better, which we well sustain ; And could we choose the time, and choose aright, "Tis best to die, our honor at the height.
THE WIFE OF BATH, When we have done our ancestors no shame, But serv'd our friends, and well secured our fame; Then should we wish our happy life to close, In days of old, when Arthur fill'd the throne, And leave no more for Fortune to dispose : Whose acts and fame to foreign lands were blown, So should we make our death a glad relief The king of elfs and little fairy queen From future shame, from sickness, and from grief: Gambol'd on heaths, and danc'd on every green; Enjoying wbile we live the present hour,
And where the jolly troop had left the round, And dying in our excellence and flower,
The grass unbidden rose, and mark'd the ground: Then round our death-bed every friend should run, Nor darkling did they glance, the silver light And joyous of our conquest early won :
of Phæbe serv'd to guide their steps aright, While the malicious world with envious tears And, with their tripping pleas'd, prolong the night. Should grudge our happy end, and wish it theirs. Her beams they follow'd, where at full she play'd, Since then our Arcite is with honor dead, Nor longer than she shed her horns they stay'd, Why should we mourn, that he so soon is freed, From thence with airy flight to foreign lands convey'd. Or call untimely what the gods decreed ?
Above the rest our Britain held they dear, With grief as just, a friend may be deplor'd, More solemnly they kept their sabbaths here, [year From a foul prison to free air restor’d.
And made more spacious rings, and revel'd half the Ought he to thank his kinsman or his wife,
I speak of ancient times, for now the swain Could tears recall him into wretched life?
Returning late may pass the woods in vain, Their sorrow hurts themselves; on him is lost ; And never hope to see the nightly train : And, worse than both, offends his happy ghost. In vain the dairy now with mint is dress’d, What then remains, but, after past annoy,
The dairy-maid expects no fairy guest To take the good vicissitude of joy?
To skim the bowls, and after pay the feast. To thank the gracious gods for what they give, She sighs, and shakes her empty shoes in vain, Possess our souls, and, while we live, to live? No silver penny to reward her pain: Ordain we then two sorrows to combine,
For priests with prayers, and other goodly gear, And in one point th' extremes of grief to join ; Have made the merry goblins disappear : That thence resulting joy may be renew'd, And where they play'd their merry pranks before, As jarring notes in harmony conclude.
Have sprinkled holy water on the floor: Then I propose that Palamon shall be
And friars that through the wealthy regions run, In marriage join'd with beauteous Emily; Thick as the motes that twinkle in the sun
Resort to farmers rich, and bless their halls, Yet (lest, surpris'd, unknowing what to say,
Good sureties will we have for thy return;
Woe was the knight at this severe command :
He put in bail for his return again,
The best, with Heaven's assistance, he could find For by some haycock, or some shady thorn,
His leave thus taken, on his way he went
Misdoubting much, and fearful of th' event.
Thus on he went; still anxious more and more, In russet robes to market took her way :
Ask'd all he met, and knock'd al every door ; Soon on the girl he cast an amorous eye,
Inquir'd of men; but made his chief request So straight she walk'd, and on her pasterns high : To learn from women what they lov'd the best. If seeing her behind he lik'd her pace,
They answer'd each according to her mind Now turning short, he better likes her face. To please herself, not all the female kind. He lights in haste, and, full of youthful fire, One was for wealth, another was for place : By force accomplish'd his obscene desire :
Crones, old and ugly, wishid a better face. This done, away he rode, not unespied,
The widow's wish was oftentimes to wed; For swarming at his back the country cried : The wanton maids were all for sport a-bed. And once in view they never lost the sight, Some said the sex were pleas'd with handsome lies, But seiz'd, and pinion'd, brought to court the knight. And some gross flattery lov'd without disguise :
Then courts of kings were held in high renown, " Truth is," says one," he seldom fails to win Ere made the common brothels of the town; Who flatters well; for that's our darling sin : There, virgins honorable vows receiv'd,
But long attendance, and a duteous mind, But chaste as maids in monasteries liv'd :
Will work ev'n with the wisest of the kind." The king himself to nuptial ties a slave,
One thought the sex's prime felicity No bad example to his poets gave :
Was from the bonds of wedlock to be free: And they, not bad, but in a vicious age,
Their pleasures, hours, and actions, all their own, Had not, to please the prince, debauch'd the stage. And uncontrol'd to give account to none. Now what should Arthur do? He lov'd the Some wish a husband-fool ; but such are curst, knight,
For fools perverse of husbands are the worst: But sovereign monarchs are the source of right: All women would be counted chaste and wise, Mov'd by the damsel's tears, and common cry, Nor should our spouses see, but with our eyes ; He doom'd the brutal ravisher to die.
For fools will prate ; and though they want the wit But fair Geneura rose in his defence,
To find close faults, yet open blots will hit: And pray'd so hard for mercy from the prince, Though better for their ease to hold their tongue, That to his queen the king th' offender gave, For woman-kind was never in the wrong. And left it in her power to kill or save :
So noise ensues, and quarrels last for life; This gracious act the ladies all approve,
The wife abhors the fool, the fool the wife. Who thought it much a man should die for love ; And some men say that great delight have we, And with their mistress join'd in close debate To be for truth extollid, and secrecy : (Covering their kindness with dissembled hate) And constant in one purpose still to dwell ; If not to free him, to prolong his fate.
And not our husbands' counsels to reveal. At last agreed they call'd him by consent
But that's a fable: for our sex is frail,
Inventing rather than not tell a lale.
* Sir knight, though I have ask'd thy life, yet still Midas the king, as in his book appears, 'Thy destiny depends upon my will:
By Phæbus was endow'd with ass's ears, Nor hast thou other surety than the grace
Which under his long locks he well concealid, Not due to thee from our offended race.
As monarchs' vices must not be reveald, But as our kind is of a softer mould,
For fear the people have them in the wind, And cannot blood without a sigh behold,
Who long ago were neither dumb nor blind : I grant thee life : reserving still the power Nor apt to think from Heaven their title springs To take the forfeit when I see my hour :
Since Jove and Mars left off begetting kings. Unless thy answer to my next demand
This Midas knew; and durst communicate Shall set thee free from our avenging hand. To none but to his wife his ears of state : The question, whose solution I require,
One must be trusted, and he thought her fit, Is, What the sex of women most desire ?
As passing prudent, and a parlous wit. In this dispute thy judges are at strife ;
To this sagacious confessor he went, Beware ; for on thy wit depends thy life. | And told her what a gift the gods had sent :