Page images
PDF
EPUB

For fo the king decreed, to fhun the care,
The fraud of musters falle, the common bane of war.
The tale was jus, and then the gates were clos’d;
And chief to chief, and troop to troop oppos'il.
The heralds last retir'd, 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 sky,
Their vizors clos'd, their lances in the rest,
Or at the helmet pointed, or the creft;
They vanish from the barrier, speed the race,
And spurring see decrease the middle space.
A cloud of smoke envelops either hof,
And all at once the combatants are loft :
Darkling they join adverse, and shock unseen,
Coursers with coursers juftling, men with men:
As labouring in eclipse, a while 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 fight.
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 field,
The steeds without their riders scour the field.
The knights unhors’d, on foot renew the fight;
The glittering faulchions cast a gleaming light:

I 4

Hauberks

Hauberks and helms are hew'd with many a wourd :
Out spins the streaming blood, and dies the ground.
The mighty maces with such hafte descend,
They break the bones, and make the solid armour bend.
This thrufts amid the throng with furious force;
Down goes, at once, the horseman and the horse :
That courser frumbles 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 ccafe; and, leaning on the lance,
Take breath a while, and to new fight advance..

Full oft the rivals met, and neither spar'd
His utinost 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 andi

took.
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

}

Each claims poļession, neither will obey,
But both their paws are fastend on

the

prey; They bite, they tear; and while in vain they strive, The swains come arm'd between, and both to distance

drive.
At length, as fate foredoom’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 Palainon with odds was overlaid :
For, turning fort, 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, compellid
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

Bad cease the war; pronouncing from on high,
Arcite of Thebes had won the 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 ikies 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 ail 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 lost,
Till Saturn faid, Fair daughter, now be still,
The blustering fool has fatisfy'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 pallid.
The victor knight had laid his helm aside,
Part for his ease, the greater part for pride :

Bare

Bare-headed, popularly low he bow'd, And paid the falutations of the crowd. Then spurring at full speed, ran endlong on Where Theseus fate 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, Still follow Fortune where she leads the way): Just then, from earth sprung out a falhing fire, By Pluto sent, at Saturn's bad desire : The startling íteed was seiz’d with sudulen fright, And, bounding, o'er the pommel cast the knight: Forward he flew, and, pitching on his head, He quiver'd with his feet, and lay for dead. Black was his countenance in a little füzce, 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 mortity'd his manly breast. Him ftill 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.

Mean tiine the king, though inwardly he mourn’d, In 'pomp triumphant to the town return'd.

Attended

« PreviousContinue »