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I mourn in absence, love's eternal night;
And who can tell but since thou hast her sight,
And art a comely, young, and valiant knight,
Fortune (a various power) may cease to frown,
And by some ways unknown thy wishes crown?
But I, the most forlorn of human kind,
Nor help can hope, nor remedy can find;
But, doom'd to drag my loathsome life in care,
my reward, must end it in despair.
Fire, water, air, and earth, and force of fates
That governs all, and heaven that all creates,
Nor art, nor nature's hand can ease my grief;
Nothing but death, the wretch's last relief:
Then farewel youth, and all the joys that dwell,
With youth and life, and life itself farewel.
But why, alas ! do mortal men in vain
Of fortune, fate, or Providence complain ?
God gives us what he knows our wants require,
And better things than those which we desire :
for riches; riches they obtain ; But, watch'd by robbers, for their wealth are fain ; Some
pray from prison to be freed; and come,
When guilty of their vows, to fall at home ;
Murder'd by those they truited with their life,
A favour'd servant, or a bosom wife.
Such dear-bought blessings happen every day,
Because we know not for what things to pray.
Like drunken fots about the street we roam :
Well knows the sot he has a certain home;
Yet knows not how to find th' uncertain place,
And blunders on, and staggers every pace.
Thus all seek happiness; but few can find,
For far the greater part of men are blind.
This is my case, who thought our utmost good
Was in one word of freedoin understood :
The fatal blessing came : from prison free,
I starve abroad, and lose the sight of Emily.
Thus Arcite; but if Arcite thus deplore
His sufferings, -Palamon yet suffers more.
For when he knew his rival freed and gone,
He swells with wrath; he makes outrageous moan:
He frets, he fumes, he stares, he stamps the ground;
The hollow tower with clamours rings around :
With briny tears he bath'd his fetter'd feet,
And dropt all o’er with agony of sweat.
Alas! he cry'd! I wretch in prison pinc,
Too happy rival, while the fruit is thine :
Thou liv'it at large, thou draw'st thy native air,
Pleas'd with thy freedom, proud of my despair :
'Thou mayst, since thou hast youth and courage join’d,
A sweet behaviour and a solid mind,
Affeinble ours, and all the Theban race,
To vindicate on Athens thy disgrace ;
And after, by some treaty made, possess
Fair Emily, the pledge of lasting peace.
So thine shall be the beauteous prize, while I
Must languish in despair, in prison die.
Thus all th’advantage of the strife is thine,
Thy portion double joys, and double sorrows mine.
The rage of Jealousy then fir'd his soul, And his face kindled like a burning coal : Now cold Despair, succeeding in her stead, To livid paleness turns the glowing red. His blood, scarce liquid, creeps within his veins, Like water which the freezing wind constrains. Then thus he said : Eternal Deities, Who rule the world with abfolute decrees, And write whatever time shall bring to pass, With pens of adamant, on plates of brass ; What, is the race of human kind your care Beyond what all his fellow-creatures are ? He with the rest is liable to pain, And like the sheep, his brother-beast, is slain. Cold, hunger, prisons, ills without a cure, All these he must, and guiltless oft endure ; Or does your justice, power, or prescience fail, When the good suffer, and the bad prevail ? What vorse to wretched virtue could befal, If fate or giddy fortune govern'd all ? Nay, worse than other beasts is our estate; Them, to pursue their pleasures, you create ; We, bound by harder laws, must curb our will, And your commands, not our desires, fulfil; Then when the creature is unjustly lain, Yet after death at least he feels no pain; But man in life furcharg’d with woe before, Not freed when dead, is dcom'd to fuffer more. A serpent shoots his sting at unaware ; An ambush'd thief forelays a traveller :
The man lies murder'd, while the thief and snake,
One gains the thickets, and one thrids the brake.
This let divines decide ; but well I know,
Just or unjust, I have my Mare of woe,
Through Saturn seated in a luckless place,
And Juno's wrath, that persecutes my race;
Or Mars and Venus, in a quartil, move
My pangs of jealousy for Arcito's love.
Let Palamon oppress’d in bondage mourn,
While to his exil'd rival we return.
By this, the sun, declining from his height,
The day had shorten'd, to prolong the night :
The lengthen'd night gave length of misery
Both to the captive lover and the free;
For Palamon in endless prison mourns,
And Arcite forfeits life if he returns :
The banilh'd never hopes his love to see,
Nor hopes the captive lord his liberty :
"Tis hard to say who suffers greater pains :
One fees his love, but cannot break his chains :
One free, and all his motions uncontrol'd,
Beholds whate'er he would, but what he would behold.
Judge as you please, for I will haste to tell
What fortune to the banish'd knight befel.
When Arcite was to Thebes return'd again,
The loss of her he lov'd renew'd his pain ;
What could be worse, than never more to see
His life, his soul, his charming Emily?
He rav'd with all the madness of despair,
Ile roar'd, he beat his breast, he tore his hair.
Dry forrow in his stupid eyes appears,
For, wanting nourishment, he wanted tears :
His eye-halls in their hollow sockets fink.
Bereft of fleep, he loaths his meat and drink.
He withers at his heart, and looks as wan
As the pale spectre of a murder'd man:
That pale turns yellow, and his face receives
The faded hue of fapless boxen leaves :
In solitary groves he makes his moan,
Walks early out, and ever is alone :
Nor, mix'd in mirth, in youthful pleasures shares,
But sighs when songs and instruments he hears.
His spirits are so low, his voice is drown'd,
He hears as from afar, or in a swoon,
Like the deaf murmurs of a distant found :
Uncomb'd his locks, and squalid his attire,
Unlike the trim of love and gay desire :
But full of museful mopings, which presage
The loss of reason, and conclude in rage.
This when he had endur'd a
Now wholly chang’d from what he was before,
It happend once, that, slumbering as he lay,
He dream'd (his dream began at break of day)
That Hermes o'er his head in air appear’d,
And with soft words his drooping spirits chear'd :
His hat, adorn’d with wings, disclos'd the God,
And in his hand he bore the fleep-coinpelling rod :
Such as he seem’d, when, at his fire's command,
On Argus' head he laid the snaky wand.