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Thine was devotion to the blest above,
I saw the woman, and desir'd her love ;
First own’d my passion, and to thee commend
Th’important secret, as my chosen friend.
Suppose (which yet I grant not) thy desire
A moment elder than my rival fire;
Can chance of seeing first thy title prove ?
And know'st thou not, no law is made for love;
Law is to things which to free choice relate;
Love is not in our choice, but in our fate
Laws are but positive ; love's power, we fee,
Is Nature's sanction, and her first decree.
Each day we break the bond of human laws
For love, and vindicate the common cause.
Laws for defence of civil rights are plac'd,
Love throws the fences down, and makes a general waste:
Maids, widows, wives, without distinction fall;
The sweeping deluge, love, comes on, and covers all.
If then the laws of friendship I transgress,
I keep the greater, while I break the less;
And both are mad alike, since neither can possess.
Both liopeless to be ransom'd, never more
To fce the sun, but as he passes o’er.
Like flop's hounds contending for the bone,
Each pleaded right, and would be lord alone :
The fruitless fight continued all the day;
A cur came by, and snatch'd the prize away.
As courtiers therefore justle for a grant,
And when they break their friendship plead their want,
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or on whate’er pretence,
pay the forfeit of th' offence.
us courtiers therefore justle for a gran and when they break their friendihip
So thou, if fortune will thy suit advance,
Love on, nor envy me my equal chance :
For I must love, and am refolv'd to try
My fate, or failing in th’adventure die.
Great was their strife, which hourly was renew'd,
Till each with mortal hate his rival view'd :
Now friends no more, nor walking hand in hand;
But when they met, they made a surly stand;
And glar'd like angry lions as they pass’d,
And wish'd that every look might be their laft.
It chanc'd at length, Pirithous came t'attend
This worthy Thefeus, his familiar friend ;
Their love in early infancy began,
And rose as childhood ripen'd into man.
Companions of the war; and lov'd so well,
That when one dy'd, as ancient stories tell,
His fellow to redeem im went to hell.
But to pursue my tale; to welcome home
His warlike brother is Pirithous coine :
Arcite of Thebes was known in arms long since,
And honour'd by this young Thessalian prince.
Theseus, to gratify his friend and guest,
Who made our Arcite's freedom his request,
Restor'd to liberty the captive knight,
But on these hard conditions I'recite :
That if hereafter Arcite should be found
Within the compass of Athenian ground,
By day or night, or on whate’er pretence,
His head should pay the forfeit of th’offence.
To this Pirithous for his friend agreed,
And on his promise was the prisoner freed.
Unpleas’d and pensive hence he takes his way,
At his own peril; for his life must pay.
Who now but Arcite mourns his bitter fate,
Finds his dear purchase, and repents too late ?
What have I gain’d, he said, in prison pent,
If I but change my bonds for banishment?
And banish'd from her sight, I suffer more
In freedom, than I felt in bonds before ;
Forc'd from her presence, and condemn’d to live;
Unwelcome freedom, and unthank'd reprieve:
Heave is not, but where Emily abides ;
And where she's absent, all is hell besides.
Next to my day of birth, was that accurst,
Which bound iny friendship to Pirithous first :
Had I not known that prince, I still had been
In bondage, and had still Emilia seen :
For though I never can her
deserve, 'Tis recompence enough to see and serve. Palamon, my kinsman and
How much more happy fates thy love attend !
Thine is th’adventure ; thine the victory :
Well has thy fortune turn’d the dice for thee :
Thou on that angel's face may'it feed thine eyes,
In prison, no; but blissful paradise !
Thou daily feelt that sun of beauty shine,
And lov'lt at least in love's extremelt line.