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HE day approach'd when Fortune should decide
Th'important enterprize, and give the bride;
For now, the rivals round the world had fought,
And each his rival, well appointed, brought.
The nations, far and near, contend in choice,
And send the flower of war by public voice;
That after, or before, were never known
Such chiefs, as each an army seem'd alone :
Beside the champions : all of high degree,
Who knighthood lov'd, and deeds of chivalry,
Throng'd to the lists, and envy'd to behold
The names of others, not their own, enroll'd.
Nor seems it strange ; for every noble knight
Who loves the fair, and is endued with miglt,
In such a quarrel would be proud to fight.
There breathes not scarce a man on British ground
(An isle for love and arms of old renown'd)
But would have sold his life to purchase fame,
To Palamon or Arcite sent his name :
And had the land selected of the best,
Half had come hence, and let the world provide the rest.
A hundred knights with Palamon there came,
Approv'd in fight, and men of mighty name;
Their arms were several, as their nations were,
But furnish'd all alike with sword and spear.
Some wore coat armour, imitating scale ;
And next their ikins were stubborn shirts of mail.
Some wore a breait-plate and a light juppon,
Their hories cloth'd with rich caparisor :
Some for defence would leathern bucklers use,
Of folded hides; and others Thields of pruce.
One hung a pole-axe at his saddle-bow,
And ohe a heavy mace to fhan the foe;
One for his legs and knees provided well,
With jambeux arm’d, and double plates of steel :
This on his helmet 'wore a lady's glove,
And that a sleeve embroider'd by his love.
With Palamon above the rest in place,
Lycurgus came, the surly king of Thrace;
Black was his beard, and manly was his face ;
The balls of his broad eyes roll'd in his head,
And glar'd betwixt a yellow and a red :-
He look'd a lion with a gloomy stare,
And o'er his eye-brows hung his matted hair :
Big-bon'd, and large of limbs, with finews strong,
Broad-shoulder’d, and his arms were round and long-
Four milk-white bulls (the Thracian use of old)
Were yok?d to draw his car of burnih'd gold.
Upright he stood, and bore aloft his Thield,
Conspicuous from afar, and overlook'd the field.
His surcoat was a bear-skin on his back;
His hair hung long behind, and glossy raven black.
His ample forehead bore a coronet
With sparkling diamonds and with rubies fet :
Ten brace, and more, of greyhounds, snowy fair,
And tall as stags, ran loose, and cours’d around his
A match for pards in flight, in grappling for the bear:
With golden muzzles all their mouths were bound,
And collars of the fame their necks surround.
Thus through the fields Lycurgus took his way ;
His hundred knights attend in pomp and proud array..
To match this monarch, with strong Arcite came
Emetrius king of Inde, a mighty name,
On a bay courser, goodly to behold
The trappings of his horse adornod with barbarous golda
Not Mars bestrode a steed with greater grace ;
His surcoat o'er his arms was cloth of Thrace,
Adorn’d with pearls, all orient, round, and great ;
His saddle vias of gold, with eineralds seta
His shoulders large a mantle did attire,
With rubies thick, and sparkling as the fire :
His amber-colour'd locks in ringlets run,
With graceful negligence, and thone against the sun.
His nose was aquiline, his eyes were blue,
Ruddy his lips, and fresh and fair his hue :
Some sprinkled freckles on his face were seen,
Whose dusk fet off the whiteness of the skin
His awful presence did the croud surprize,
Nor durft the rash spectator meet his eyes,
Eyes that confess'd him born for kingly sway,
So fierce, they flash'd intolerable day.
His age in nature's youthful prime appear'ds.
And just began to blooin his yellow beard.
Whene'er he spoke, his voice was heard around;
Loud as a trumpet, with a silver sound,
A Jaurel wreath'd his temples, fresh and green;
And myrtle sprigs, the marks of love, were mix'd!
Upon his fist he bore, for his delight,
An eagle well reclaim'd, and lily white.
His hundred knights attend him to the war, All arm'd for battle; fave their heads were bare. Words and devices blaz’d on every shield, And pleasing was the terror of the field. For kings, and dukes, and barons, you might see, Like sparkling stars, though different in degrée, All th' increase of arms, and love of chivalry. Before the king tame leopards led the way, And troops of lions innocently play. So Bacchus through the conquer'd Indies rode, And beasts in gambols frisk'd before the honest god..
In this array the war of either side
Through Athens pass’d with military pride.
At prime, they enter'd on the Sunday morn ;
Rich tapestry spread the streets, and flowers the posts
The town was all a jubilee of feasts;
So Theseris will'd, in honour of his guests ;
Himself with open arms the king embrac’d,
Then all the rest in their degrees were grac'd..
No harbinger was needful for a night,
For every house was proud to lodge a knight.
I pass the royal treat, nor must relate
The gifts bestow'd, nor how the champions sate :
Who first, or last, or how the knights address'd
Their vows, or who was faireft at the feast;
Whose voice, whose graceful dance did most surprize ;
Soft amorous fighs, and silent love of
The rivals call"
Muse another way,
To fing their vigils for th' ensuing day.
'Twas ebbing darkness, past the noon of night :
And Phospher, on the confines of the light,
Promis'd the sun, ere day began to spring ;
The tuneful lark already stretch'd her wing,
And, flickering on her neft, made short essays to sing.
When wakeful Palamon, preventing day,
Took, tò the royal lists, his early way,
To Venus at her fane, in her own house, to pray.
There, falling on his knees before her fhrine,
He thus implor'd with prayers her power
Creator Venus, genial power of love,
The bảíss of men below, and Gods above !
Beneath the Niding sun thou runn'st thy race,
Dost fairest shine, and best become thy place.
For thee the winds their eastern blasts forbear,
Thy month reveals the spring, and opens
'Thee, Goddess, thee the storms of winter fly,
Earth smiles with flowers renewing, laughs the sky,
And birds to lays of love their tuneful notes apply.