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His age in Nature's youthful prime appeard, Alas! I have not words to tell my grief;
We groan, but cannot speak, in greater pain.
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,
In my divine Emilia make me blest,
On whom he favors to confer the prize ;
The Fates but only spin the coarser clue,
The rest among the rubbish may they sweep, The town was all a jubilee of feasts ;
Or add it to the yarn of some old miser's heap. So Theseus willid, in honor of his guests; But, if you this ambitious prayer deny, Himself with open arms the king embrac’d, (A wish, I grant, beyond mortality) Then all the rest in their degrees were grac'd. Then let me sink beneath proud Arcite's arms, No harbinger was needful for a night,
And, I once dead, let him possess her charms." For every house was proud to lodge a knight. Thus ended he; then, with observance due, I pass the royal treat, nor must relate
The sacred incense on her altar threw : The gifts bestow'd, nor how the champions sate; The curling smoke mounts heavy from the fires ; Who first, or last, or how the knights address'd At length it catches flame, and in a blaze expires ; Their vows, or who was fairest at the feast; At once the gracious goddess gave the sign, Whose voice, whose graceful dance, did most sur. Her statue shook, and trembled all the shrine : prise ;
Pleas'd Palamon the tardy omen took: Soft amorous sighs, and silent love of eyes. For, since the flames pursu'd the trailing smoke, The rivals call my Muse another way,
He knew his boon was granted ; but the day To sing their vigils for th' ensuing day.
To distance driven, and joy adjourn'd with long 'Twas ebbing darkness, past the noon of night,
delay. And Phospher, on the confines of the light,
Now Morn with rosy light had streak'd the sky, Prornis'd the Sun, ere day began to spring ; Up rose the Sun, and up rose Emily ; The tuneful lark already stretch'd her wing, (sing : Address'd her early steps to Cynthia's fane, And, flickering on her nest, made short essays to In state attended by her maiden train, When wakeful Palamon, preventing day,
Who bore the vests that holy rites require, Took, to the royal lists, his early way,
Incense, and odorous gums, and cover'd fire. To Venus at her fane, in her own house, to pray. The plenteous horns with pleasant mead they crown, There, falling on his knees before her shrine, Nor wanted aught besides in honor of the Moon. He thus implord with prayers her power divine. Now while the temple smok'd with hallow'd steam, “Creator Venus, genial power of love,
They wash the virgin in a living stream: The bliss of men below, and gods above ! The secret ceremonies I conceal, Beneath the sliding Sun thou runn'st thy race, Uncouth, perhaps unlawful, to reveal: Dost fairest shine, and best become thy place. But such they were as pagan use requir'd, For thee the winds their eastern blasts forbear, Perform'd by women when the men retir'd, Thy month reveals the spring, and opens all the year. Whose eyes profane their chaste mysterious rites Thee, Goddess, thee the storms of winter fly, Might turn to scandal, or obscene delights. Earth smiles with flowers renewing, laughs the sky, Well-meaners think no harm; but for the rest, And birds to lays of love their tuneful notes apply. Things sacred they pervert, and silence is the best. For thee the lion lothes the taste of blood, Her shining hair, uncomb’d, was loosely spread, And roaring hunts his female through the wood : A crown of mastless oak adorn'd her head : For thee the bulls rebeilow through the groves, When to the shrine approach'd, the spotless maid And tempt the stream, and snuff their absent loves. Had kindling fires on either altar laid, 'Tis thine, whale'er is pleasant, good, or fair: (The rites were such as were observ'd of old, All nature is thy province, life thy care ;
By Statius in his Theban story told,) Thou mad'st the world, and dost the world repair. Then kneeling with her hands across her breast, Thou gladder of the mount of Cytheron,
Thus lowly she preferr'd her chaste request. Increase of Jove, companion of the Sun;
“O goddess, haunter of the woodland green, If e'er Adonis touch'd thy tender heart,
To whom both Heaven and Earth and seas are seen; Have pity, goddess, for thou know'st the smart. Queen of the nether skies, where half the year
Thy silver beams descend, and light the gloomy sphere;
Nor know the name of mother or of wife.
Thy votress from my tender years I am,
A lowly servant, but a lofty mate: Where love is duty on the female side,
On theirs mere sensual gust, and sought with surly
A maid I am, and of thy virgin train;
Which turn'd self-kindled, and renew'd the blaze;
Forsook the blackening coals, and sunk to night:
The maid from that ill omen turn'd her eyes,
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 deerees 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; • Propitious still be present to my aid, Nor quite abandon your once favor'd maid."
Then sighing she return'd: but smil'd betwixt,
And Scythian colds, and Thracia's winter coast,
When every god that saw thee wish'd thy place!
Or knows her worth too well; and pays me with dis
Then for the fire which warm'd thy gen'rous heart,
Rank'd with my champion's bucklers, and below,
I ask no more; let Fate dispose the rest."
The champion ceas'd ; there follow'd in the close In Athens, all was pleasure, mirth, and play, A hollow groan: a murmuring wind arose ; All proper to the spring, and sprightly May, The rings of iron, that on the doors were hung Which every soul inspir'd with such delight, Sent out a jarring sound, and harshly rung ; "Twas jesting all the day, and love at night. The bolted gates flew open at the blast,
Heaven smild, and gladded was the heart of man; The storm rush'd in, and Arcite stood aghast : And Venus had the world as when it first began. The flames were blown aside, yet shone they bright, At length in sleep their bodies they compose, Fann'd by the wind, and gave a ruffled light. And dreamt the future fight, and early rose. Then from the ground a scent began to rise,
Now scarce the dawning day began to spring, Sweet-smelling as accepted sacrifice :
As at a signal given, the streets with clamors ring : This omen pleas'd, and as the flames aspire
At once the crowd arose ; confus'd and high With odorous incense Arcite heaps the fire : Ev'n from the Heaven was heard a shouting cry, Nor wanted hymns to Mars, or heathen charms : For Mars was early up, and rous'd the sky, At length the nodding statue clash'd his arms, The gods came downward to behold the wars, And with a sullen sound and feeble cry,
Sharpening their sights, and leaning from their stars Half sunk, and half pronounc'd, the word of victory. The neighing of the generous horse was heard, For this, with soul devout, he thank'd the god, For battle by the busy groom prepard, And, of success secure, return'd to his abode. Rustling of harness, rattling of the shield,
These vows thus granted, raised a strife above, Clattering of armor, furbish'd for the field. Betwixt the god of war, and queen of love. Crowds to the castle mounted up the street, She granting first, had right of time to plead : Battering the pavement with their coursers' feet: But he had granted too, nor would recede. The greedy sight might there devour the gold Jove was for Venus; but he fear'd his wife, Of glittering arms, too dazzling to behold: And seem'd unwilling to decide the strife : And polish'd steel that cast the view aside, Till Saturn from his leaden throne arose,
And crested morions, with their plumy pride. And found a way the difference to compose: Knights, with a long retinue of their squires, Though sparing of his grace, to mischief bent, In gaudy liveries march, and quaint attires. He seldom does a good with good intent.
One lac'd the helm, another held the lance, Wayward, but wise; by long experience taught A third the shining buckler did advance. To please both parties, for ill ends, he sought; The courser paw'd the ground with restless feet, For this advantage age from youth has won, And snorting foam'd, and champ'd the golden bit. As not to be outridden, though outrun.
The smiths and armorers on palfreys ride, By fortune he was now to Venus trin'd,
Files in their hands, and hammers at their side, And with stern Mars in Capricorn was join'd: And nails for loosen'd spears, and thongs for shields Of him disposing in his own abode,
provide. He sooth'd the goddess while he gull’d the god : The yeomen guard the streets, in seemly bands,
Cease, daughter, to complain, and stint the strife ; And clowns come crowding on, with cudgels in Thy Palamon shall have his promis'd wife:
their hands. And Mars, the lord of conquest, in the fight
The trumpets, next the gate, in order plac'd, With palm and laurel shall adorn his knight. Attend the sign to sound the martial blast; Wide is my course, nor turn I to my place The palace-yard is filled with floating tides, Till length of time, and move with tardy pace. And the last comers bear the former to the sides. Man feels me, when I press th' ethereal plains, The throng is in the midst; the common crew My hand is heavy, and the wound remains. Shut out, the hall admits the better few; Mine is the shipwreck, in a watery sign;
In knots they stand, or in a rank they walk, And in an earthy, the dark dungeon mine. Serious in aspect, earnest in their talk; Cold shivering agues, melancholy care,
Factious, and favoring this or t' other side, And bitter blasting winds, and poison'd air,
As their strong fancy or weak reason guide: Are mine, and wilful death, resulting from despair. Their wagers back their wishes ; numbers hold The throttling quinsy 'tis my star appoints, With the fair freckled king, and beard of gold : And rheumatisms ascend to rack the joints : So vigorous are his eyes, such rays they cast, When churls rebel against their native prince, So prominent his eagle's beak is plac'd. I arm their hands, and furnish the pretence; But most their looks on the black monarch bend, And, housing in the lion's hateful sign,
His rising muscles and his brawn commend; Bought senates and deserting troops are mine. His double-biting ax and beaming spear, Mine is the privy poisoning ; I command
Each asking a gigantic force to rear. Unkindly seasons, and ungrateful land.
All spoke as partial favor mov'd the mind : By me kings' palaces are push'd to ground,
And, safe themselves, at others' cost divin'd. And miners crush'd beneath their mines are found. Wak'd by the cries, th’ Athenian chief arose, 'Twas I slew Samson, when the pillar'd hall The knightly forms of combat to dispose ; Fell down, and crush'd the many with the fall. And passing through th'obsequious guards, he sate My looking is the fire of pestilence,
Conspicuous on a throne, sublime in state; That sweeps at once the people and the prince. There, for the two contending knights he sent: Now weep no more, but trust thy grandsire's art. Arm'd cap-a-piè, with reverence low they bent ; Mars shall be pleas'd, and thou perform thy part. He smild on both, and with superior look 'Tis ill, though different your complexions are, Alike their offer'd adoration took. The family of Heaven for men should war." The people press on every side, to see Th’ expedient pleas'd, where neither lost his right; Their awful prince, and hear his high decree. Mars had the day, and Venus had the night. Then signing to their heralds with his hand, The management they left to Chronos' care; They gave his orders from their lofty stand. www turn we to th' effect, and sing the war. 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
Two troops so match'd were never to be found;
Thus rang'd, the herald for the last proclaims
The keener edge of battle to rebate,
Their vizors closed, their lances in the rest,
This was the general cry. The trumpets sound,
The marching troops through Athens take their way, The points of spears are stuck within the shield,
The steeds without their riders scour the field.
Thus through the southern gate they take their way, One rolls along, a foot-ball to his foes;
One with a broken truncheon deals his blows.
Full oft the rivals met, and neither spar'd
There, parting from the king, the chiefs divide,
Next these the kindred of the crown are grac'd
At that self moment enters Palamon
At this, the challenger with fierce defy
Borne far asunder by the tides of men,
So when a tiger sucks the bullock's blood,
They bite, they tear; and while in vain they strive, Forward he flew, and, pitching on his head,
Help was at hand: they rear'd him from the ground,
The strong Emetrius came in Arcite's aid,
Whom with such force he struck, he fell'd him down, The word he first pronounc'd was Emily.
Who now laments but Palamon, compell'd
The royal judge, on his tribunal plac'd,
Meantime the king, though inwardly he mourn'd,
Foment the bruises, and the pains assuage, [of age.
But Venus with dejected eyes appears,
And, weeping, on the lists distill'd her tears;
The venturous knight is from the saddle thrown,
And, in her champion foil'd, the cause of Love is With ease were reconcil'd the differing parts,
For envy never dwells in noble hearts.
Till Saturn said, “Fair daughter, now be still,
At length they took their leave, the time expir'd,
Meanwhile the health of Arcite still impairs ;
Swoln is his breast; his inward pains increase,
Must leave his youth, and yield his beauteous bride,