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Till round my arbour a new ring they made,
And footed it about the secret shade.
O’erjoy'd to see the jolly troop so near,
But somewhat aw'd, I shook with holy fear;
Yet not so much, but that I noted well
Who did the most in song or dance excel.
Not long I had observ’d, when from afar
I heard a sudden symphony of war;
The neighing coursers, and the soldiers cry,
And founding trumps that seem'd to tear the sky :
I saw soon after this, behind the grove
From whence the ladies did in order move,
Come issuing out in arms a warrior train,
That like a deluge pour'd upon the plain :
On barbed steeds they rode in proud array,
Thick as the college of the bees in May,
When swarming o'er the dusky fields they fly,
New to the flowers, and intercept the sky.
So fierce they drove, their coursers were so fleet,
That the turf trembled underneath their feet.
To tell their costly furniture were long,
The summer's day would end before the song:
To purchase but the tenth of all their store,
Would make the mighty Persian monarch poor.
Yet what I can, I will ; before the rest
The trumpets issued in white mantles dress’d :
A numerous troop, and all their heads around
With chaplets green of cerrial-oak were crown'd.
And at each truinpet was a banner bound;
Which waving in the wind display'd at large
Their master's coat of arms, and knightly charge.
Broad were the banners, and of fnowy hue,
web the filk -worm never drew.
The chief about their necks the scutcheons wore,
With orient pearls and jewels powder'd o'er :
Broad were their collars too, and every one
Was set about with many a costly stone.
Next the!e of kings at arnis a goodly train
In proud array came prancing o'er the plain :
Their cloaks were cloth of silver mix'd with gold,
And garlands green around their temples rollid :
Rich crowns were on their royal scutcheons plac’d,
With sapphires, diamonds, and with rubies grac’d:
And as the trumpets their appearance made,
So these in habits were alike array'd;
But with a pace more sober, and more slow;
And twenty, rank in rank, they rode a row.
The pursuivants came next, in number more ;
And like the heralds each his fcutcheon bore :
Clad in white velvet all their troop they led,
With each an oaken chaplet on his head.
Nine royal knights in equal rank succeed,
Each warrior mounted on a fiery steed :
In golden armour glorious to behold;
The rivets of their arms were nail'd with gold.
Their surcoats of white ermin fur were made,
With cloth of geld between, tirai caít a glittering shade;
The trappings of their teeds were of the fame;
The golden fringe ev’n set the ground on flame,
And drew a precious trail : a crown divine
Of laurel did about their temples twine.
Three henchmen were for every knight affign'dy
All in rich livery clad, and of a kind :
White velvet, but unfhorn, for cloaks they wore,
And each within his hand a truncheon bore :
The foremost held a helm of rare device;
A prince's ransom would not pay the price.
The second hore the buckler of his knight,
The third of cornel-wood a spear upright,
Headed with piercing steel, and polith'd bright.
Like to their lords their equipage was seen,
And all their foreheads crown’d with garlands green.
And after these came, arm’d with spear and shield, An host so great, as cover'd all the field, And all their foreheads, like the knights before, With laurels ever-green were fhaded o’er, Or oak, or other leaves of lasting kind, Tenacious of the stem, and firm against the wind. Some in their hands, beside the lance and shield, The boughs of woodbine or of hawthorn held, Or branches for their nystic emblems took, Of palm, of laurel, or of cerrial oak. Thus marching to the trumpet's lofty sound, Drawn in two lines adverse they wheeld around, And in the middle meadlow took their ground. Among themselves the turney they divide, In equal squadrons rangid on either side. Then turn’d their horses beads, and man to man, And steed to steed oppos'd, the justs began.
They lightly set their lances in the rest,
And, at the sign, against each other press’d:
They inet. I fitting at my ease beheld
The mix'd events, and fortunes of the field.
Some broke their spears, fome tumbled horse and man,
And round the field the lighten'd coursers ran.
An hour and more, like tides, in equal fway
They rush'd, and won by turns, and lost the day :
At length the nine (who still together held)
Their fainting foes to shameful fight compeld,
And with resistlers force o'er-ran the field.
Thus, to their fame, when finish'd was the fight,
The victors from their lofty steeds alight :
Like them dismounted all the warlike train,
And two by two proceeded o'er the plain :
Till to the fair assembly they advanc’d,
Who near the secret arbour sung and danc'd.
The ladies left their measures at the sight,
To meet the chiefs returning from the fight,
And each with open arms embrac’d her chofen knight.
Amid the plain a spreading laurel stood,
The grace and ornament of all the wood :
That pleasing shade they fought, a soft retreat
From sudden April showers, a shelter from the heat :
Her leafy arms with such extent were spread,
So near the clouds was her aspiring head,
That hosts of birds, that wing the liquid air,
Perch'd in the boughs, had nightly lodging there :
And flocks of theep beneath the shade from far
Might hear the rattling hail, and wintery war ;
From Heaven's inclemency here found retreat,
Enjoy'd the cool, and funn’d the scorching heat :
A hundred knights might there at ease abide ;
And every knight a lady by his fide :
The trunk itself such odours did bequeath,
That a Moluccan breeze to these was common breath.
The lords and ladies here, approaching, paid
Their homage, with a low obeisance made ;
And seem'd to venerate the sacred shade.
These rites perform'd, their pleasures they pursue,
With song of love, and mix with pleasures new ;
Around the holy tree their dance they frame,
And every champion leads his chosen dame.
I cast my fight upon the farther field,
And a fresh object of delight beheld :
For from the region of the West I heard
New music found, and a new troop appeard ;
Of knights, and ladies mix’d, a jolly band,
But all on foot they march'd, and hand in hand.
The ladies dress’d in rich symars were seen
Of Florence fattin, flower'd with white and green,
And for a shade betwixt the bloomy gridelin.
The borders of their petticoats below
Were guarded thick with rubies on a row;
every damsel wore upon her head
Of flowers a garland blended white and red.
Attir'd in mantles all the knights were seen,
That gratify'd the view with chearful green:
Their chaplets of their ladies colours were,
Compos'd of white and red, to shade their shining hair.