Page images

Thy silver beams descend, and light the gloomy sphere;
Goddess of maids, and conscious of our hearts,
So keep me from the vengeance of thy darts,
Which Niobe's devoted issue felt,

[were dealt, When hissing through the skies the feather'd deaths As I desire to live a virgin life,

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-flame 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 temple bright.

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,
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

[ocr errors]

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 arms,
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 disdain.

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;
ww 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, carnest 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 sce
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.
Thus through the southern gate they take their way,
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 abroad,
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.

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.
One rolls along, a foot-ball to his foes;
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.
and took.

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;

They bite, they tear; and while in vain they strive,
The swains come arm'd between, and both to dis-
tance drive.

At length, as Fate foredoom'd, and all things tend
By course of time to their appointed end;
So when the Sun to west was far declin'd,
And both afresh in mortal battle join'd,
The strong Emetrius came in Arcite's aid,
And Palamon with odds was overlaid:

For, turning short, he struck with all his might
Full on the helmet of th' unwary knight.

Deep was the wound; he stagger'd with the blow,
And turn'd him to his unexpected foe;

Forward he flew, and, pitching on his head,
He quiver'd with his feet, and lay for dead.
Black was his count'nance in a little space,
For all the blood was gather'd in his face.
Help was at hand: they rear'd him from the ground.
And from his cumbrous arms his limbs unbound;
Then lanc'd a vein, and watch'd returning breath;
It came, but clogg'd with symptoms of his death.
The saddle-bow, the noble parts had prest,
All bruis'd and mortified his manly breast.
Him still entranc'd, and in a litter laid,
They bore from field, and to his bed convey'd.
At length he wak'd, and, with a feeble cry,

Whom with such force he struck, he fell'd him down, The word he first pronounc'd was Emily.
And cleft the circle of his golden crown.
But Arcite's men, who now prevail'd in fight,
Twice ten at once surround the single knight:
O'erpower'd, at length, they force him to the ground,
Unyielded as he was, and to the pillar bound;
And king Lycurgus, while he fought in vain
His friend to free, was tumbled on the plain.
Who now laments but Palamon, compell'd
No more to try the fortune of the field!
And, worse than death, to view with hateful eyes
His rival's conquest, and renounce the prize!

The royal judge, on his tribunal plac'd,
Who had beheld the fight from first to last,
Bad cease the war; pronouncing from on high,
Arcite of Thebes had won the beauteous Emily
The sound of trumpets to the voice replied,
And round the royal lists the heralds cried,
"Arcite of Thebes has won the beauteous bride."
The people rend the skies with vast applause;
All own the chief, when Fortune owns the cause.
Arcite is own'd ev'n by the gods above,
And conquering Mars insults the queen of love.
So laugh'd he, when the rightful Titan fail'd,
And Jove's usurping arms in Heaven prevail'd:
Laugh'd all the powers who favor tyranny;
And all the standing army of the sky.
But Venus with dejected eyes appears,

And, weeping, on the lists distill'd her tears;

Her will refus'd, which grieves a woman most,

Meantime the king, though inwardly he mourn'd,
In pomp triumphant to the town return'd,
Attended by the chiefs who fought the field
(Now friendly mix'd, and in one troop compell'd);
Compos'd his looks to counterfeited cheer,
And bade them not for Arcite's life to fear.
But that which gladded all the warrior-train,
Though most was sorely wounded, none were slain.
The surgeons soon despoil'd them of their arms,
And some with salves they cure, and some with

Foment the bruises, and the pains assuage, [cf age.
And heal their inward hurts with sovereign draughts
The king in person visits all around,
Comforts the sick, congratulates the sound;
Honors the princely chiefs, rewards the rest,
And holds for thrice three days a royal feast.
None was disgrac'd; for falling is no shame;
And cowardice alone is loss of fame.
The venturous knight is from the saddle thrown,
But 'tis the fault of Fortune, not his own:
If crowds and palms the conquering side adorn,
The victor under better stars was born:
The brave man seeks not popular applause,
Nor, overpower'd with arms, deserts his cause;
Unsham'd, though foil'd, he does the best he can,
Force is of brutes, but honor is of man.
Thus Theseus smil'd on all with equal grace;
And each was set according to his place.

And, in her champion foil'd, the cause of Love is With ease were reconcil'd the differing parts,

Till Saturn said, “Fair daughter, now be still,
The blustering fool has satisfied his will;
His boon is given; his knight has gain'd the day,
But lost the prize, th' arrears are yet to pay.
Thy hour is come, and mine the care shall be
To please thy knight, and set thy promise free."
Now while the heralds run the lists around,
And Arcite, Arcite, Heaven and Earth resound;
A miracle (nor less it could be call'd)
Their joy with unexpected sorrow pall'd.
The victor knight had laid his helm aside,
Part for his ease, the greater part for pride:
Bare-headed, popularly low he bow'd,
And paid the salutations of the crowd.
Then, spurring at full speed, ran endlong on
Where Theseus sate on his imperial throne;
Furious he drove, and upward cast his eye,
Where next the queen was placed his Emily;
Then passing to the saddle-bow he bent:
A sweet regard the gracious virgin lent
(For women, to the brave an easy prey,
Still follow Fortune where she leads the way):
Just then, from earth sprung out a flashing fire,
By Pluto sent, at Saturn's bad desire:
The startling steed was seiz'd with sudden fright,
And bounding, o'er the pummel cast the knight:

For envy never dwells in noble hearts.

At length they took their leave, the time expir'd,
Well pleas'd, and to their several homes retir'd.

Meanwhile the health of Arcite still impairs;
From bad proceeds to worse, and mocks the leeches


Swoln is his breast; his inward pains increase,
All means are us'd, and all without success.
The clotted blood lies heavy on his heart,
Corrupts, and there remains in spite of art:
Nor breathing veins, nor cupping, will prevail;
All outward remedies and inward fail:
The mould of Nature's fabric is destroy'd,
Her vessels discompos'd, her virtue void:
The bellows of his lungs begin to swell,
All out of frame is every secret cell,
Nor can the good receive, nor bad expel.
Those breathing organs, thus within opprest,
With venom soon distend the sinews of his breast.
Nought profits him to save abandon'd life,
Nor vomit's upward aid, nor downward laxative.
The midmost region batter'd and destroy'd,
When Nature cannot work, th' effect of Art is void
For physic can but mend our crazy state,
Patch an old building, not a new create.
Arcite is doom'd to die in all his pride,
Must leave his youth, and yield his beauteous bride,

So, speechless, for a little space he lay;

Gain'd hardly, against right, and unenjoy'd.
When 'twas declar'd all hope of life was past,
Conscience (that of all physic works the last)
Caus'd him to send for Emily in haste.
With her, at his desire, came Palamon;
Then on his pillow rais'd; he thus begun.
No language can express the smallest part
Of what I feel, and suffer in my heart,
For you, whom best I love and value most;
But to your service I bequeath my ghost;
Which, from this mortal body when untied,
Unseen, unheard, shall hover at your side;
Nor fright you waking, nor your sleep offend,
But wait officious, and your steps attend :
How I have lov'd, excuse my faltering tongue,
My spirit's feeble, and my pains are strong:
This I may say, I only grieve to die
Because I lose my charming Emily:

To die, when Heaven had put you in my power,
Fate could not choose a more malicious hour!
What greater curse could envious Fortune give,
Than just to die, when I began to live!
Vain men, how vanishing a bliss we crave,
Now warm in love, now withering in the grave!
Never, O never more to see the Sun!
Still dark, in a damp vault, and still alone!
This fate is common; but I lose my breath
Near bliss, and yet not bless'd before my death.
Farewell; but take me dying in your arms,
"Tis all I can enjoy of all your charms:
This hand I cannot but in death resign;
Ah! could I live! but while I live 'tis mine.
I feel my end approach, and, thus embrac'd,
Am pleas'd to die; but hear me speak my last.
Ah! my sweet foe, for you, and you alone,
I broke my faith with injur'd Palamon.

But Love the sense of right and wrong confounds,
Strong Love and proud Ambition have no bounds.
And much I doubt, should Heaven my life prolong,
I should return to justify my wrong:
For, while my former flames remain within,
Repentance is but want of power to sin.
With mortal hatred I pursu'd his life,
Nor he, nor you, were guilty of the strife:
Nor I, but as I lov'd; yet all combin'd,
Your beauty, and my impotence of mind,
And his concurrent flame, that blew my fire;
For still our kindred souls had one desire.
He had a moment's right in point of time;
Had I seen first, then his had been the crime.
Fate made it mine, and justified his right;
Nor holds this Earth a more deserving knight,
For virtue, valor, and for noble blood,
Truth, honor, all that is compris'd in good;
So help me Heaven, in all the world is none
So worthy to be lov'd as Palamon.
He loves you too, with such an holy fire,
As will not, cannot, but with life expire:
Our vow'd affections both have often tried,
Nor any love but yours could ours divide.
Then, by my love's inviolable band,
By my long suffering, and my short command,
If e'er you plight your vows when I am gone,
Have pity on the faithful Palamon."

This was his last; for Death came on amain,
And exercis'd below his iron reign;
Then upward to the seat of life he goes:
Sense fled before him, what he touch'd he froze :
Yet could he not his closing eyes withdraw,
Though less and less of Emily he saw;


Then grasp'd the hand he held, and sigh'd his soul

But whither went his soul, let such relate
Who search the secrets of the future state:
Divines can say but what themselves believe;
Strong proofs they have, but not demonstrative:
For, were all plain, then all sides must agree,
And faith itself be lost in certainty.

To live uprightly then is sure the best,
To save ourselves, and not to damn the rest.
The soul of Arcite went where heathens go,
Who better live than we, though less they know.
In Palamon a manly grief appears;
Silent he wept, asham'd to show his tears:
Emilia shriek'd but once, and then, oppress'd
With sorrow, sunk upon her lover's breast:
Till Theseus in his arms convey'd with care,
Far from so sad a sight, the swooning fair.
"Twere loss of time her sorrow to relate;
Ill bears the sex a youthful lover's fate,
When just approaching to the nuptial state:
But, like a low-hung cloud, it rains so fast,
That all at once it falls, and cannot last.
The face of things is chang'd, and Athens now,
That laugh'd so late, becomes the scene of woe:
Matrons and maids, both sexes, every state,
With tears lament the knight's untimely fate.
Nor greater grief in falling Troy was seen
For Hector's death; but Hector was not then.
Old men with dust deform'd their hoary hair,
The women beat their breasts, their cheeks they tear.
"Why wouldst thou go," with one consent they cry,
"When thou hadst gold enough, and Emily?"

[ocr errors]


Theseus himself, who should have cheer'd the grief Of others, wanted now the same relief. Old Egeus only could revive his son, Who various changes of the world had known, And strange vicissitudes of human fate, Still altering, never in a steady state; Good after ill, and after pain delight; Alternate like the scenes of day and night: Since every man who lives is born to die, And none can boast sincere felicity, With equal mind what happens let us bear, Nor joy nor grieve too much for things beyond our Like pilgrims to th' appointed place we tend : The world's an inn, and death the journey's end. Ev'n kings but play; and when their part is done, Some other, worse or better, mount the throne." With words like these the crowd was satisfied, And so they would have been had Theseus died. But he, their king, was laboring in his mind, A fitting place for funeral pomps to find, Which were in honor of the dead design'd: And, after long debate, at last he found (As Love itself had mark'd the spot of ground) That grove for ever green, that conscious land, Where he with Palamon fought hand to hand : That where he fed his amorous desires With soft complaints, and felt his hottest fires, There other flames might waste his earthly part, And burn his limbs, where love had burn'd his heart. This once resolv'd, the peasants were enjoin'd Sere-wood, and firs, and dodder'd oaks to find. With sounding axes to the grove they go, Fell, split, and lay the fuel on a row, Vulcanian food: a bier is next prepar'd, On which the lifeless body should be rear'd, Cover'd with cloth of gold, on which was laid The corpse of Arcite, in like robes array'd.

« PreviousContinue »