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Which every foul inspir'd with such delight,
'Twas jesting all the day, and love at night.
Heaven finild, and gladded was the heart of man;
And Venus had the world as when it first began.
At length in fleep 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 fights, 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 fight might there devour the gold
Of gliitering arms, too dazzling to behold :
And polith'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,
Aud fnorting foam'd, and champ'd the golden bit.
The smiths and armourers on palfreys ride,
Files in their hands, and hammers at their fide,
And nails for loosen'd spears, and thongs for shields
provide. The yeomen guard the streets, in seemly bands; And clowns come crowding on, with cudgels in their
The trumpets, next the gate, in order plac'd,
Attend the sign to found 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 beamy spear,
Each alking 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 pafling through th' obfequious guards, he fate
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 smild 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 arins bespeaks the knights and listening
Our fovereign 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 :
But iffues, ere the fight, his dread command,
That flings afar, and poniards hand to hand,
Be banish'd from the field ; that none Mall dare
With shortned 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 alh, with the sharp-grindled spear,
But knights unhors'd inay
rise from off the plain, And fight on foot their honour to regain; Nor, if at mischief taken, on the ground Be Nain, 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 fide, bereft of life, Or yielded to his foe, concludes the strife. Thus dooins the lord: now valiant knights and young 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 ! This was the general cry. The trumpets found, 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, And horses hoofs, for earth, on filken tapestry treav; The king goes midmost, and the rivals ride In equal rank, and close his either side. Next after these, there rode the royal wife, With Emily, the cause and the reward of strife. The following cavalcade, by three and three, Proceed hy titles marshal'd in degree. Thus through the southern gate they take their way, And at the list arriv'd ere prime of day. 1.3
There, 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 :
Next these the kindred of the crown are grac'd
With nearer seats, and lords by ladies plac'd.
Scarce were they feated, when with clamours loud
In rush'd 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 foftly blow;
When at the western gate, on which the car
Is plac'd aloft, that bears the God of war,
Proud Arcite entering arm'd before his train,
Stops at the barrier, and divides the plain.
Red was liis banner, and display'd abroad
The bloody colours of his patron God.
At that felf moment enters Palamon
of Venus, and the rising-fun;
Wav'd by the wanton winds, his banner flies,
All maiden white, and Mares the people's eyes..
From 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 :