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Tir'd with deformities of death, I haste To the third temple of Diana chaste.
A sylvan scene with various greens was drawn, Shades on the sides, and on the midst a lawn: The silver Cynthia, with her nymphs around,
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,
Pursued the flying deer, the woods with horns re- Half had come hence, and let the world provide the
Calisto there stood manifest of shame,
And, turn'd a bear, the northern star became :
Her son was next, and, by peculiar grace,
In the cold circle held the second place:
The stag Acteon in the stream had spied
The naked huntress, and, for seeing, died:
His hounds, unknowing of his change, pursue
The chase, and their mistaken master slew.
Peneian Daphne too was there to see,
Apollo's love before, and now his tree:
Th' adjoining fane th' assembled Greeks express'd,
And hunting of the Caledonian beast.
Denides' valor, and his envied prize;
The fatal power of Atalanta's eyes;
Diana's vengeance on the victor shown,
The murderess mother, and consuming son;
The Volscian queen extended on the plain;
The treason punish'd, and the traitor slain.
The rest were various huntings, well design'd,
And savage beasts destroy'd, of every kind.
The graceful goddess was array'd in green;
About her feet were little beagles seen,
That watch'd with upward eyes the motions of their queen.
Her legs were buskin'd, and the left before;
In act to shoot, a silver bow she bore,
And at her back a painted quiver wore.
She trod a wexing moon, that soon would wane,
And drinking borrow'd light, be fill'd again;
With downcast eyes, as seeming to survey
The dark dominions, her alternate sway.
Before her stood a woman in her throes,
And call'd Lucina's aid, her burden to disclose.
All these the painter drew with such command,
That Nature snatch'd the pencil from his hand,
Asham'd and angry that his art could feign
And mend the tortures of a mother's pain.
Theseus beheld the fanes of every god,
And thought his mighty cost was well bestow'd.
So princes now their, poets should regard;
But few can write, and fewer can reward.
The theatre thus rais'd, the lists inclos'd,
And all with vast magnificence dispos'd,
We leave the monarch pleas'd, and haste to bring
The knights to combat; and their arms to sing.
THE day approach'd when Fortune should decide
Th' important enterprise, and give the bride;
For now, the rivals round the world had sought,
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 envied 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 endu'd with might,
In such a quarrel would be proud to fight.
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 armor, imitating scale';
And next their skins were stubborn shirts of mail.
Some wore a breast-plate and a light juppon,
Their horses cloth'd with rich caparison:
Some for defence would leathern bucklers use,
Of folded hides; and others shields of pruce.
One hung a pole-ax at his saddle-bow,
And one a heavy mace to shun the foe.
One for his legs and knees provided well,
With jambeaux 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 eyebrows hung his matted hair:
Big-bon'd, and large of limbs, with sinews 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 burnish'd gold.
Upright he stood, and bore aloft his shield,
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 set:
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 same their necks surround. Thus through the fields Lycurgus took his way : His hundred knights attend in pomp and proud
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 adorn'd with barbarous gold.
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 was of gold, with emeralds set.
His shoulders large, a mantle did attire,
With rubies thick, and sparkling as the fire:
His amber-color'd locks in ringlets run,
With graceful negligence, and shone 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 set off the whiteness of the skin :
His awful presence did the crowd surprise,
Nor durst 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'd,
And just began to bloom his yellow beard.
Whene'er he spoke, his voice was heard around,
Loud as a trumpet, with a silver sound:
A laurel 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; save 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 degree,
All for 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
The town was all a jubilee of feasts;
So Theseus will'd, in honor 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 fairest at the feast;
Alas! I have not words to tell my grief;
To vent my sorrow, would be some relief;
Light sufferings give us leisure to complain;
We groan, but cannot speak, in greater pain.
O goddess, tell thyself what I would say,
Thou know'st it, and I feel too much to pray.
So grant my suit, as I enforce my might,
In love to be thy champion, and thy knight;
A servant to thy sex, a slave to thee,
A foe profest to barren chastity.
Nor ask I fame nor honor of the field,
Nor choose I more to vanquish than to yield:
In my divine Emilia make me blest,
Let Fate, or partial Chance, dispose the rest;
Find thou the manner, and the means prepare ;
Possession, more than conquest, is my care.
Mars is the warrior's god; in him it lies,
On whom he favors to confer the prize;
With smiling aspect you serenely move
In your fifth orb, and rule the realm of love.
The Fates but only spin the coarser clue,
The finest of the wool is left for you.
Spare me but one small portion of the twine,
And let the sisters cut below your line:
The rest among the rubbish may they sweep,
Or add it to the yarn of some old miser's heap.
But, if you this ambitious prayer deny,
(A wish, I grant, beyond mortality)
Then let me sink beneath proud Arcite's arms,
And, I once dead, let him possess her charms."
Thus ended he; then, with observance due,
The sacred incense on her altar threw :
The curling smoke mounts heavy from the fires;
At length it catches flame, and in a blaze expires;
At once the gracious goddess gave the sign,
Whose voice, whose graceful dance, did most sur- Her statue shook, and trembled all the shrine:
Soft amorous sighs, and silent love of eyes.
The rivals call my Muse another way,
To sing 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, [sing:
And, flickering on her nest, made short essays to
When wakeful Palamon, preventing day,
Took, to the royal lists, his early way,
To Venus at her fane, in her own house, to pray.
There, falling on his knees before her shrine,
He thus implor'd with prayers her power divine.
"Creator Venus, genial power of love,
The bliss of men below, and gods above!
Beneath the sliding 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 all the year.
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.
For thee the lion lothes the taste of blood,
And roaring hunts his female through the wood :
For thee the bulls rebellow through the groves,
And tempt the stream, and snuff their absent loves.
"Tis thine, whate'er is pleasant, good, or fair:
All nature is thy province, life thy care;
Thou mad'st the world, and dost the world repair.
Thou gladder of the mount of Cytheron,
Increase of Jove, companion of the Sun;
If e'er Adonis touch'd thy tender heart,
Have pity, goddess, for thou know'st the smart.
Pleas'd Palamon the tardy omen took :
For, since the flames pursu'd the trailing smoke,
He knew his boon was granted; but the day
To distance driven, and joy adjourn'd with long
Now Morn with rosy light had streak'd the sky,
Up rose the Sun, and up rose Emily;
Address'd her early steps to Cynthia's fane,
In state attended by her maiden train,
Who bore the vests that holy rites require,
Incense, and odorous gums, and cover'd fire.
The plenteous horns with pleasant mead they crown,
Nor wanted aught besides in honor of the Moon.
Now while the temple smok'd with hallow'd steam,
They wash the virgin in a living stream:
The secret ceremonies I conceal,
Uncouth, perhaps unlawful, to reveal:
But such they were as pagan use requir'd,
Perform'd by women when the men retir'd,
Whose eyes profane their chaste mysterious rites
Might turn to scandal, or obscene delights.
Well-meaners think no harm; but for the rest,
Things sacred they pervert, and silence is the best.
Her shining hair, uncomb'd, was loosely spread,
A crown of mastless oak adorn'd her head:
When to the shrine approach'd, the spotless maid
Had kindling fires on either altar laid,
(The rites were such as were observ'd of old,
By Statius in his Theban story told,)
Then kneeling with her hands across her breast,
Thus lowly she preferr'd her chaste request.
"O goddess, haunter of the woodland green,
To whom both Heaven and Earth and seas are seen;
Queen of the nether skies, where half the vear
Nor know the name of mother or of wife.
Thy votress from my tender years I am,
And love, like thee, the woods and sylvan game.
Like death, thou know'st, I lothe the nuptial state,
And man, the tyrant of our sex, I hate,
A lowly servant, but a lofty mate:
Where love is duty on the female side,
On theirs mere sensual gust, and sought with surly
Now by thy triple shape, as thou art seen
In Heaven, Earth, Hell, and everywhere a queen,
Grant this my first desire: let discord cease,
And make betwixt the rivals lasting peace:
Quench their hot fire, or far from me remove
The flame, and turn it on some other love:
Or, if my frowning stars have so decreed,
That one must be rejected, one succeed,
Make him my lord, within whose faithful breast
Is fix'd my image, and who loves me best.
But oh! ev'n that avert! I choose it not,
But take it as the least unhappy lot.
A maid I am, and of thy virgin train;
Oh, let me still that spotless name retain!
Frequent the forests, thy chaste will obey,
And only make the beasts of chase my prey!"
The flames ascend on either altar clear,
While thus the blameless maid address'd her prayer.
When lo! the burning fire that shone so bright,
Flew off, all sudden, with extinguish'd light,
And left one altar dark, a little space,
Which turn'd self-kindled, and renew'd the blaze;
The other victor-fame a moment stood,
Then fell, and lifeless left th' extinguish'd wood;
For ever lost, th' irrevocable light
Forsook the blackening coals, and sunk to night:
At either end it whistled as it flew,
And as the brands were green, so dropp'd the dew,
Infected as it fell with sweat of sanguine hue.
The maid from that ill omen turn'd her eyes,
And with loud shrieks and clamors rent the skies,
Nor knew what signified the boding sign, (divine.
But found the powers displeas'd, and fear'd the wrath
Then shook the sacred shrine, and sudden light
Sprung through the vaulted roof, and made the
The power, behold! the power in glory shone, By her bent bow and her keen arrows known; The rest, a huntress issuing from the wood, Reclining on her cornel spear she stood. Then gracious thus began: "Dismiss thy fear, And Heaven's unchang'd decrees attentive hear: More powerful gods have torn thee from my side, Unwilling to resign, and doom'd a bride: The two contending knights are weigh'd above; One Mars protects, and one the queen of love : But which the man, is in the Thunderer's breast; This he pronounc'd. 'tis he who loves thee best. The fire, that once extinct reviv'd again, Foreshows the love allotted to remain: Farewell!" she said, and vanish'd from the place; The sheaf of arrows shook, and rattled in the case. Aghast at this, the royal virgin stood Disclaim'd, and now no more a sister of the wood: But to the parting goddess thus she pray'd; • Propicious still be present to my aid,
Nor quite abandon your once favor'd maid."
Then sighing she return'd: but smil'd betwixt,
With hopes and fears, and joys with sorrows mixt.
The next returning planetary hour
Of Mars, who shar'd the heptarchy of power,
His steps bold Arcite to the temple bent,
T'adore with pagan rites the power omnipotent:
Then prostrate, low before his altar lay,
And rais'd his manly voice, and thus began to pray.
"Strong god of arms, whose iron sceptre sways
The freezing north, and Hyperborean seas,
And Scythian colds, and Thracia's winter coast,
Where stand thy steeds, and thou art honor'd most:
There most, but everywhere thy power is known,
The fortune of the fight is all thy own:
Terror is thine, and wild amazement, flung
From out thy chariot, withers ev'n the strong:
And disarray and shameful rout ensue,
And force is added to the fainting crew.
Acknowledg'd as thou art, accept my prayer,
If aught I have achiev'd deserve thy care:
If to my utmost power with sword and shield
I dar'd the death, unknowing how to yield,
And, falling in my rank; still kept the field:
Then let my arms prevail, by thee sustain'd,
That Emily by conquest may be gain'd.
Have pity on my pains; nor those unknown
To Mars, which, when a lover, were his own.
Venus, the public care of all above,
Thy stubborn heart has soften'd into love:
Now by her blandishments and powerful charms,
When yielded she lay curling in thy arros,
Ev'n by thy shame, if shame it may be call'd,
When Vulcan had thee in his net enthrall'd:
O envied ignominy, sweet disgrace,
When every god that saw thee wish'd thy place!
By those dear pleasures, aid my arms in fight,
And make me conquer in my patron's right:
For I am young, a novice in the trade,
The fool of love, unpractis'd to persuade :
And want the soothing arts that catch the fair,
But, caught myself, lie struggling in the snare:
And she I love, or laughs at all my pain,
Or knows her worth too well; and pays me with dis-
For sure I am, unless I win in arms,
To stand excluded from Emilia's charms:
Nor can my strength avail, unless by thee
Endued by force I gain the victory;
Then for the fire which warm'd thy gen'rous heart,
Pity thy subject's pains, and equal smart.
So be the morrow's sweat and labor mine,
The palm and honor of the conquest thine:
Then shall the war, and stern debate, and strife
Immortal, be the business of my life;
And in thy fane, the dusty spoils among,
High on the burnish'd roof, my banner shall be
Rank'd with my champion's bucklers, and below,
With arms revers'd, th' achievements of my foe:
And while these limbs the vital spirit feeds,
While day to night, and night to day succeeds,
Thy smoking altar shall be fat with food
Of incense, and the grateful steam of blood;
Burnt-offerings morn and evening shall be thine;
And fires eternal in thy temple shine.
The bush of yellow beard, this length of hair,
Which from my birth inviolate I bear,
Guiltless of steel, and from the razor free,
Shall fall a plenteous crop, reserv'd for thee.
So may my arms with victory be blest,
I ask no more; let Fate dispose the rest."
The champion ceas'd; there follow'd in the close A hollow groan: a murmuring wind arose; The rings of iron, that on the doors were hung Sent out a jarring sound, and harshly rung; The bolted gates flew open at the blast, The storm rush'd in, and Arcite stood aghast : The flames were blown aside, yet shone they bright, Fann'd by the wind, and gave a ruffled light. Then from the ground a scent began to rise, Sweet-smelling as accepted sacrifice : This omen pleas'd, and as the flames aspire With odorous incense Arcite heaps the fire: Nor wanted hymns to Mars, or heathen charms : At length the nodding statue clash'd his arms, And with a sullen sound and feeble cry, Half sunk, and half pronounc'd, the word of victory. For this, with soul devout, he thank'd the god, And, of success secure, return'd to his abode.
These vows thus granted, raised a strife above,
Betwixt the god of war, and queen of love.
She granting first, had right of time to plead :
But he had granted too, nor would recede.
Jove was for Venus; but he fear'd his wife,
And seem'd unwilling to decide the strife:
Till Saturn from his leaden throne arose,
And found a way the difference to compose:
Though sparing of his grace, to mischief bent,
He seldom does a good with good intent.
Wayward, but wise; by long experience taught
To please both parties, for ill ends, he sought;
For this advantage age from youth has won,
As not to be outridden, though outrun.
By fortune he was now to Venus trin'd,
And with stern Mars in Capricorn was join'd:
Of him disposing in his own abode,
He sooth'd the goddess while he gull'd the god :
Cease, daughter, to complain, and stint the strife;
Thy Palamon shall have his promis'd wife :
And Mars, the lord of conquest, in the fight
With palm and laurel shall adorn his knight.
Wide is my course, nor turn I to my place
Till length of time, and move with tardy pace.
Man feels me, when I press th' ethereal plains,
My hand is heavy, and the wound remains.
Mine is the shipwreck, in a watery sign;
And in an earthy, the dark dungeon mine.
Cold shivering agues, melancholy care,
And bitter blasting winds, and poison'd air,
Are mine, and wilful death, resulting from despair.
The throttling quinsy 'tis my star appoints,
And rheumatisms ascend to rack the joints:
When churls rebel against their native prince,
I arm their hands, and furnish the pretence;
And, housing in the lion's hateful sign,
Bought senates and deserting troops are mine.
Mine is the privy poisoning; I command
Unkindly seasons, and ungrateful land.
By me kings' palaces are push'd to ground,
And miners crush'd beneath their mines are found.
"Twas I slew Samson, when the pillar'd hall
Fell down, and crush'd the many with the fall.
My looking is the fire of pestilence,
That sweeps at once the people and the prince.
Now weep no more, but trust thy grandsire's art.
Mars shall be pleas'd, and thou perform thy part.
"Tis ill, though different your complexions are,
The family of Heaven for men should war."
Th' expedient pleas'd, where neither lost his right;
Mars had the day, and Venus had the night.
The management they left to Chronos' care;
vw turn we to th' effect, and sing the war.
In Athens all was pleasure, mirth, and play, All proper to the spring, and sprightly May, Which every soul inspir'd with such delight, "Twas jesting all the day, and love at night. Heaven smil'd, and gladded was the heart of man; And Venus had the world as when it first began. At length in sleep their bodies they compose, And dreamt the future fight, and early rose.
Now scarce the dawning day began to spring, As at a signal given, the streets with clamors ring: At once the crowd arose; confus'd and high Ev'n from the Heaven was heard a shouting cry, For Mars was early up, and rous'd the sky. The gods came downward to behold the wars, Sharpening their sights, and leaning from their stars The neighing of the generous horse was heard, For battle by the busy groom prepar'd, Rustling of harness, rattling of the shield, Clattering of armor, furbish'd for the field. Crowds to the castle mounted up the street, Battering the pavement with their coursers' feet: The greedy sight might there devour the gold Of glittering arms, too dazzling to behold: And polish'd steel that cast the view aside, And crested morions, with their plumy pride. Knights, with a long retinue of their squires, In gaudy liveries march, and quaint attires. One lac'd the helm, another held the lance, A third the shining buckler did advance. The courser paw'd the ground with restless feet, And snorting foam'd, and champ'd the golden bit. The smiths and armorers on palfreys ride, Files in their hands, and hammers at their side, And nails for loosen'd spears, and thongs for shields provide.
The yeomen guard the streets, in seemly bands, And clowns come crowding on, with cudgels ir their hands.
The trumpets, next the gate, in order plac'd, Attend the sign to sound the martial blast; The palace-yard is fill'd with floating tides, And the last comers bear the former to the sides. The throng is in the midst; the common crew Shut out, the hall admits the better few; In knots they stand, or in a rank they walk, Serious in aspect, earnest in their talk; Factious, and favoring this or t' other side, As their strong fancy or weak reason guide: Their wagers back their wishes; numbers hold With the fair freckled king, and beard of gold: So vigorous are his eyes, such rays they cast, So prominent his eagle's beak is plac'd. But most their looks on the black monarch bend, His rising muscles and his brawn commend; His double-biting ax and beaming spear, Each asking a gigantic force to rear. All spoke as partial favor mov'd the mind: And, safe themselves, at others' cost divin'd.
Wak'd by the cries, th' Athenian chief arose, The knightly forms of combat to dispose; And passing through th' obsequious guards, he sate Conspicuous on a throne, sublime in state; There, for the two contending knights he sent : Arm'd cap-a-piè, with reverence low they bent; He smil'd on both, and with superior look Alike their offer'd adoration took. The people press on every side, to see Their awful prince, and hear his high decree. Then signing to their heralds with his hand, They gave his orders from their lofty stand. Silence is thrice enjoin'd; then thus aloud
The king at arms bespeaks the knights and listening From east to west, look all the world around,
Our sovereign lord has ponder'd in his mind
The means to spare the blood of gentle kind;
And of his grace and inborn clemency,
He modifies his first severe decree,
The keener edge of battle to rebate,
The troops for honor fighting, not for hate.
He wills, not death should terminate their strife;
And wounds, if wounds ensue, be short of life:
But issues, ere the fight, his dread command,
That slings afar, and poniards hand to hand,
Be banish'd from the field; that none shall dare
With shorten'd sword to stab in closer war;
But in fair combat fight with manly strength,
Nor push with biting point, but strike at length.
The tourney is allow'd but one career,
Of the tough ash, with the sharp grinded spear,
But knights unhors'd may rise from off the plain,
And fight on foot their honor to regain;
Nor, if at mischief taken, on the ground
Be slain, but prisoners to the pillar bound,
At either barrier plac'd; nor (captives made)
Be freed, or arm'd anew the fight invade.
The chief of either side, bereft of life,
Or yielded to his foe, concludes the strife.
Thus dooms the lord: now valiant knights and young
Fight each his fill with swords and maces long."
The herald ends: the vaulted firmament
With loud acclaims and vast applause is rent:
"Heaven guard a prince so gracious and so good,
So just, and yet so provident of blood!"
This was the general cry. The trumpets sound,
And warlike symphony is heard around.
The marching troops through Athens take their way,
The great earl-marshal orders their array.
The fair from high the passing pomp behold;
A rain of flowers is from the windows roll'd.
The casements are with golden tissue spread,
And horses' hoofs, for earth, on silken tapestry tread;
The king goes midmost, and the rivals ride
In equal rank, and close his either side.
Next after these, there rode the royal wife,
With Emily, the cause and the reward of strife.
The following cavalcade, by three and three,
Proceed by titles marshall'd in degree.
Two troops so match'd were never to be found;
Such bodies built for strength, of equal age,
In stature siz'd; so proud an equipage :-
The nicest eye could no distinction make,
Where lay th' advantage, or what side to take.
Thus rang'd, the herald for the last proclaims
A silence, while they answer'd to their names:
For so the king decreed, to shun the care,
The fraud of musters false, the common bane of war
The tale was just, and then the gates were clos'd;
And chief to chief, and troop to troop oppos'd.
The heralds last retired, and loudly cried,
The fortune of the field be fairly tried.
At this, the challenger with fierce defy
His trumpet sounds; the challeng'd makes reply:
With clangor rings the field, resounds the vaulted
Their vizors closed, their lances in the rest,
Or at the helmet pointed, or the crest;
They vanish from the barrier, speed the race,
And spurring see decrease the middle space.
A cloud of smoke envelops either host,
And all at once the combatants are lost:
Darkling they join adverse, and shock unseen,
Coursers with coursers justling, men with men :
As laboring in eclipse, awhile 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 grisly sight.
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 in the ground.
The points of spears are stuck within the shield,
The steeds without their riders scour the field.
The knights unhors'd, on foot renew the fight;
The glittering falchions cast a gleaming light :
Hauberks and helms are hew'd with many a wound
Out spins the streaming blood, and dyes the ground.
The mighty maces with such haste descend,
They break the bones, and make the solid armor bend
This thrusts amid the throng with furious force;
Down goes, at once, the horseman and the horse:
That courser stumbles on the fallen steed,
And, floundering, throws the rider o'er his head.
Thus through the southern gate they take their way, One rolls along, a foot-ball to his foes;
And at the list arriv'd ere prime of day.
There, parting from the king, the chiefs divide,
And, wheeling east and west, before their many ride.
Th' Athenian monarch mounts his throne on high,
And after him the queen and Emily:
Next these the kindred of the crown are grac'd
With nearer seats, and lords by ladies plac'd:
Scarce were they seated, when, with clamors loud,
In rushed at once a rude promiscuous crowd;
The guards and then each other overbear,
And in a moment throng the spacious theatre.
Now chang'd the jarring noise to whispers low,
As winds forsaking seas more softly blow;
When at the western gate, on which the car
Is plac'd aloft, that bears the god of war,
Proud Arcite entering arm'd before his train,
Stops at the barrier, and divides the plain.
Red was his banner, and display'd
The bloody colors of his patron god.
At that self moment enters Palamon
The gate of Venus, and the rising-sun;
Wav'd by the wanton winds, his banner flies,
All maiden white, and shares the people's eyes.
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 cease; and, leaning on the lance,
Take breath awhile, and to new fight advance.
Full oft the rivals met, and neither spar'd
His utmost 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 falchions bite, that every stroke
Pierc'd to the quick; and equal wounds they gave
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 claims possession, neither will obey,
But both their paws are fasten'd on the prey;