« IndietroContinua »
So when the Sun to west was far declin'd,
Help was at hand: they rear'd him from the ground, And both afresh in mortal battle join'd,
And from his cumbrous arms his limbs unbound; The strong Emetrius came in Arcite's aid, Then lanc'd a vein, and watch'd returning breath; And Palamon with odds was overlaid :
It came, but clogg'd with symptoms of his death. For, turning short, he struck with all his might The saddle-bow, the noble parts had prest, Full on the helmet of th’unwary knight.
All bruis'd and mortify'd his manly breast. Deep was the wound; he stagger'd with the blow, Him still entranc'd, and in a litter laid, And turn'd him to his unexpected foe;
They bore from field, and to his bed convey’d. Whom with such force he struck, he felld him down, At length he wak’d, and, with a feeble cry, And cleft the circle of his golden crown.
The word he first pronounc'd was Emily. But Arcite's men, who now prevail'd in fight, Meantime the king, though inwardly he mourn'd, Twice ten at once surround the single knight : In pomp triumphant to the town return'd. O'erpower'd, at length, they force him to the ground, Attended by the chiefs who fought the field Unyielded as he was, and to the pillar bound; (Now friendly mix’d, and in one troop compell’d). And king Lycurgus, while he fought in vain Compos'd his looks to counterfeited cheer, His friend to free, was tumbled on the plain. And bade them not for Areite's life to fear.
Who now laments but Palamon, compellid But that which gladded all the warrior-train, No more to try the fortune of the field !
Though most were sorely wounded, none were slain And, worse than death, to view with hateful eyes The surgeons soon despoil'd them of their arms, His rival's conquest, and renounce the prize! And some with salves they cure, and some with The royal judge, on his tribunal plac'd,
charms; Who had beheld the fight from first to last, Foment the bruises, and the pains assuage, (of sage. Bad cease the war; pronouncing from on high, And heal their inward hurts with sovereign draughts Arcite of Thebes had won the beauteous Emily. The king in person visits all around, The sound of trumpets to the voice reply'd, Comforts the sick, congratulates the sound; And round the royal lists the heralds cry'd, Honours the princely chiefs, rewards the rest, “ Arcite of Thebes has won the beauteous bride." And holds for thrice three days a royal feast.
The people rend the skies with vast applause ; None was disgrac'd; for falling is no shame; All own the chief, when Fortune owns the cause. And cowardice alone is loss of fame. Arcite is own'd ev'n by the gods above,
The venturous knight is from the saddle thrown; And conquering Mars insults the queen of love. But 'tis the fault of Fortune, not his own : So laugh'd he, when the rightful Titan failid, If crowds and palms the conquering side adorn, And Jove's usurping arms in Heaven prevail'd : The victor under better stars was born : Laugh'd all the powers who favour tyranny; The brave man seeks not popular applause, And all the standing army of the sky.
Nor, overpower'd with arms, deserts his cause; But Venus with dejected eyes appears,
Unsham'd, though foil'd, he does the best he can; And, weeping, on the lists distill'd her tears; Force is of brutes, but honour is of man. Her will refus’d, which grieves a woman most, Thus Theseus smild on all with equal grace; And, in her champion foil'd, the cause of Love is And each was set according to his place. lost.
With ease were reconcil'd the differing parts, Till Saturn said, “ Fair daughter, now be still, For envy never dwells in noble hearts. The blustering fool has satisfy'd his will ;
At length they took their leave, the time expir’d, His boon is given; his knight has gain'd the day, Well pleas'd, and to their several homes retir'd. But lost the prize, th' arrears are yet to pay.
Meanwhile the health of Arcite still impairs ; Thy hour is come, and mine the care shall be From bad proceeds to worse, and mocks the leeches To please thy knight, and set thy promise free."
cares; Now while the heralds run the lists around, Swoln is his breast ; his inward pains increase, And Arcite, Arcite, Heaven and Earth resound; All means are us'd, and all without success. A miracle (nor less it could be call’d)
The clotted blood lies heavy on his heart, Their joy with unexpected sorrow palld.
Corrupts, and there remains in spite of art: The victor knight had laid his helm aside,
Nor breathing veins, nor cupping, will prevail ; Part for his ease, the greater part for pride: All outward remedies and inward fail: Bare-headed, popularly low he bow'd,
The mold of Nature's fabric is destroy'd,
Her vessels discompos'd, her virtue void :
With venom soon distend the sinews of his breast. A sweet regard the gracious virgin lent
Nought profits him to save abandon'd life, (For women, to the brave an easy prey,
Nor vomit's upward aid, nor downward laxative. Still follow Fortune where she leads the way): The midmost region batter'd and destroy'd, Just then, from earth sprung out a flashing fire, When Nature cannot work, th' effect of Art is vaid By Pluto sent, at Saturn's bad desire :
For physic can but mend our crazy state, The startling steed was seiz'd with sudden fright, Patch an old building, not a new create. And bounding, o'er the pummel cast the knight : Arcite is doom'd to die in all his pride, Forward he few, and, pitching on his head, Must leave his youth, and yield his beauteous brid, He quiver'd with his feet, and lay for dead. Gain'd hardly, against right, and unenjoy 'd. Black was his count'nance in a little space,
When 'twas declar'd all hope of life was past, For all the blood was gather'd in his face.
Conscience (that of all hvsic works the last)
With her, at his desire, came Palamon ;
| Divines can say but what themselves believe; Then on his pillow rais’d, he thus begun.
Strong proofs they have, but not demonstrative : * No language can express the smallest part
For, were all plain, then all sides inust agree, Of what I feel, and suffer in my heart,
And faith itself be lost in certainty. for you, whom best I love and value most ; To live uprightly then is sure the best, But to your service I bequeath my ghost;
To save ourselves, and not to damn the rest. Which, from this mortal body when unty'd, The soul of Arcite went where heathens go, Unseen, unheard, shall hover at your side ;
Who better live than we, though less they know. Nor fright you waking, nor your sleep offend,
In Palamon a manly grief appears; But wait officious, and your steps attend :
Silent he wept, asham'd to show his tears : low I have lov'd, excuse my faultering tongue,
Emilia shriek'd but once, and then, oppressid My spirits feeble, and my pains are strong : With sorrow, sunk upon her lover's breast : this I may say, I only grieve to die
Till Theseus in his arms convey'd with care, Because I lose my charming Emily:
Far from so sad a sight, the swooning fair. Co die, when Heaven had put you in my power,
'Twere loss of time her sorrow to relate; 'ate could not choose a more malicious hour ! Ill bears the sex a youthful lover's fate, What greater curse could envious Fortune give, When just approaching to the nuptial state : Chan just to die, when I began to live!
But, like a low-hung cloud, it rains so fast, lain men, how vanishing a bliss we crave,
That all at once it falls, and cannot last. Now warm in love, now withering in the grave ! The face of things is chang'd, and Athens now, Never, I never more to see the Sun !
That laugh'd so late, becomes the scene of woe: itill dark, in a damp vault, and still alone! Matrons and maids, both sexes, every state, This fate is common; but I lose my breath With tears lament the knight's untimely fate. Near bliss, and yet not bless'd before my death. Nor greater grief in falling Troy was seen Farewell; but take me dying in your arms,
For Hector's death; but Hector was not then. Tis all I can enjoy of all your charms:
Old men with dust deform'd their hoary hair, Chis hand I cannot but in death resign;
The women beat their breasts, their cheeks they tare. Ah ! could I live! but while I live 'tis mine. “Why would'st thou go," with one consent they cry,
feel my end approach, and, thus embrac'd, “ When thou had'st gold enough, and Emily ?” Im pleas'd to die ; but hear me speak my last. Theseus himself, who should have cheer'd the grief th! my sweet foe, for you, and you alone,
Of others, wanted now the same relief. broke my faith with injur'd Palamon.
Old Egeus only could revive his son, -But Love the sense of right and wrong confounds, Who various changes of the world had known, îtrong Love and proud Ambition have no bounds. And strange vicissitudes of human fate, And much I doubt, should Heaven my life prolong, Still altering, never in a steady state; should return to justify my wrong:
Good after ill, and after pain delight;
“ Since every man who lives is born to die, With mortal hatred I pursu'd his life,
And none can boast sincere felicity, Nor he, nor you, were guilty of the strife : With equal mind what happens let us bear, (care. Nor I, but as I lov’d; yet all combin'd,
Nor joy nor grieve too much for things beyond our Your beauty, and my impotence of mind,
Like pilgrims to th' appointed place we tend; And his concurrent flame, that blew my fire;
The world's an inn, and death the journey's end. For still our kindred souls had one desire.
Ev'n kings but play ; and when their part is done, le had a moment's right in point of time; Some other, worse or better, mount the throne.” lad I seen first, then his had been the crime. With words like these the crowd was satisfy'd, Fate made it mine, and justify'1 his right;
And so they would have been had Theseus dy'd. Nor holds this Earth a more deserving knight, But he, their king, was labouring in his mind, For virtue, valour, and for noble blood,
A fitting place for funeral pomps to find,
(As Love itself had mark'd the spot of ground) He loves you too, with such an holy fire,
That grove for ever green, that conscious land, As will not, cannot, but with life expire :
Where he with Palamnon fought hand to hand : Our vow'd affections both bave often try'd,
That where he fed his amorous desires Nor any love but yours could ours divide.
With soft complaints, and felt his hottest fires, Then, by my love's inviolable band,
There other fames might waste his earthly part, By my long suffering, and my short command, And burn his limbs, where love had burn'd his heart. If e'er you plight your vows when I am gone, This once resolv'd, the peasants were enjoin'd Have pity on the faithful Palamon.”
Sere-wood, and firs, and dodder'd oaks to find. This was his last ; for Death came on amain, With sounding axes to the grove they go, And exercis'd below his iron reign;
Fell, split, and lay the fuel on a row, Then upward to the seat of life he goes :
Vulcanian food : a bier is next prepar'd, Sense filed before him, what he touch'd he froze : On which the lifeless body should be rear'd, Yet could he not his closing eyes withdraw, Cover'd with cloth of gold, on which was laid Though less and less of Emily he saw;
The corpse of Arcite, in like robes array'd. So, speechless, for a little space he lay; [away. White gloves were on his hands, and on his head Then grasp'd the hand he held, and sigh’d his soul A wreath of laurel, mix'd with myrtle spread.
But whither went his soul, let such relate A sword keen-edg'd within his right he held, Who search the secrets of the future state.
The warlika amblem
Bare was his manly visage on the bier :
While the devouring fire was burning fast, Menac'd his countenance ; ev’n in death severe. Rich jewels in the flame the wealthy cast ; Then to the palace-hall they bore the knight, And some their shields, and some their lances threr, To lie in solemn state, a public sight.
And gave their warrior's ghost, a warrior's due. Groans, cries, and howlings, fill the crowded place, Full bowls of wine, of honey, milk, and blood, And unaffected sorrow sat on every face.
Were pour'd upon the pile of burning wood, Sad Palamon above the rest appears,
And hissing flames receive, and hungry lick the food. In sable garments, dew'd with gushing tears : Then thrice the mounted squadrons ride around His auburn locks on either shoulder flow'd,
The fire, and Arcite's name they thrice resound; Which to the funeral of his friend he vow'd : Hail, and farewell, they shouted thrice amain, But Emily, as chief, was next his side,
Thrice facing to the left, and thrice they turn'd again: A virgin-widow, and a mourning bride.
Still as they turn'd, they beat their clattering shields; And, that the princely obsequies might be
The women mix their cries ; and Clamour fills the Perform'd according to his high degree,
fields. The steed, that bore him living to the fight, The warlike wakes continued all the night, (light. Was trapp'd with polish'd steel, all shining bright, And funeral games were play'd at new returning And cover'd with th' achievements of the knight. Who, naked, wrestled best, besmear'd with oil, The riders rode abreast, and one his shield, Or who with gauntlets gave or took the foil, His lance of cornel-wood another held;
I will not tell you, nor would you attend; The third his bow, and, glorious to behold,
But briefly haste to my long story's end. The costly quiver, all of burnish'd gold.
I pass the rest; the year was fully mourn'd, The noblest of the Grecians next appear,
And Palamon long since to Thebes return’d: And, weeping, on their shoulders bore the bier ; When, by the Grecians' general consent, With sober pace they march'd, and often staid, At Athens Theseus held his parliament: And through the inaster-street the corpse convey'd. Among the laws that pass'd, it was decreed, The houses to their tops with black were spread, That conquer'd Thebes from bondage should be And ev'n the pavements were with mourning hid.
freed; The right side of the pall old Egeus kept,
Reserving homage to th' Athenian throne, And on the left the royal Theseus wept;
To which the sovereign summon’d Palamon. Each bore a golden bowl, of work divine, (wine. Unknowing of the cause, he took his way, With honey fill'd, and milk, and mix'd with ruddy Mournful in mind, and still in black array. (high, Then Palamon, the kinsman of the slain,
The monarch mounts the throne, and, plac'd on And after him appear'd the illustrious train. Commands into the court the beauteous Emily: To grace the pomp, came Emily the bright So call’d, she came; the senate rose, and paid With cover'd fire, the funeral pile to light.
Becoming reverence to the royal maid. With high devotion was the service made,
And first soft whispers through th' assembly went: And all the rites of pagan-honour paid :
With silent wonder then they watch'd th' event: So lofty was the pile, a Parthian bow,
All hush'd, the king arose with awful grace, (face With vigour drawn, must send the shaft below. Deep thought was in his breast, and counsel in las The bottom was full twenty fathom broad,
At length he sigh'd; and, having first prepar'd With crackling straw beneath in due proportion Th’ attentive audience, thus his will declar'd. strow'd.
“ The Cause and Spring of Motion, from abore. The fabric seem'd a wood of rising green,
Hung down on Earth the golden chain of love; With sulphur and bitumen cast between,
Great was th' effect, and high was his intent, To feed the flames : the trees were unctuous fir, When peace among the jarring seeds he sent, And mountain ash, the mother of the spear; Fire, flood, and earth, and air, by this were bound, The mourner yew and builder oak were there : And love, the common link, the new creation The beech, the swimming alder, and the plane,
crown'd. Hard box, and linden of a softer grain, [ordain. The chain still holds ; for, though the forms decas, And laurels, which the gods for conquering chiefs Eternal matter never wears away : How they were rank’d, shall rest untold by me, The same first Mover certain bounds has plac'd, With nameless nymphs that liv'd in every tree; How long those perishable forms shall last : Nor how the Dryads, or the woodland train, Nor can they last beyond the time assign'd Disherited, ran howling o'er the plain :
By that all-seeing and all-inaking Mind : Nor how the birds to foreign seats repair'd, Shorten their hours they may; for will is free; Or beasts, that bolted out, and saw the forest bar'd: But never pass th' appointed destiny. Nor how the ground, now clear'd, with ghastly fright So men oppress’d, when weary of their breath, Beheld the sudden Sun, a stranger to the light. Throw off the burthen, and suborn their death.
The straw, as first I said, was laid below : Then, since those forms begin, and have their end, Of chips and sere-wood was the second row ; On some unalter'd cause they sure depend : The third of greens, and timber newly fell’d; Parts of the whole are we; but God the whole; The fourth high stage the fragrant odours held, Who gives us life and animating soul : And pearls, and precious stones, and rich array, For Nature cannot from a part derive In midst of which, embalm'd, the body lay. That being, which the whole can only give: The service sung, the maid with mourning eyes He perfect, stable ; but imperfect we, The stubble fir’d; the smouldering flames arise : Subject to change, and different in degree ; This office done, she sunk upon the ground; Plants, beasts, and man; and, as our organs are, But what she spoke, recover'd from her swoon, We more or less of his perfection share. I want the wit in moving words to dress;
But by a long descent, th' etherial fire But by themselves the tender sex may guess.
Corrupts; and forms, the mortal part, expire
As he withdraws his virtue, so they pass,
Long love to her has borne the faithful knight, And the same matter makes another mass : And well deserv'd, had Fortune done him right : This law th' Omniscient Power was pleas'd to give, 'Tis time to mend her fault; since Emily That every kind should by succession live! By Arcite's death from former vows is free : That individuals die, his will ordains,
If you, fair sister, ratify th' accord, The propagated species still remains.
And take him for your husband and your lord, The monarch oak, the patriarch of the trees,
'Tis no dishonour to confer your grace
Pity is Heaven's and yours; nor can she find
Then turning to the Theban thus he said ; Then, form'd, the little heart begins to beat ; “ Small arguments are needful to persuade Secret he feeds, unknowing in the cell ;
Your temper to comply with my command;" At length, for hatching ripe, he breaks the shell, And speaking thus, he gave Emilia's hand. And struggles into breath, and cries for aid; Smil'd Venus, to behold her own true knight Then, helpless, in his mother's lap is laid.
Obtain the conquest, though he lost the fight; He creeps, he walks, and, issuing into man, And bless'd with nuptial bliss the sweet laborious Grudges their life, from whence his own began :
night. Reckless of laws, affects to rule alone,
Eros, and Anteros, on either side, Anxious to reign, and restless on the throne : One fir'd the bridegroom, and one warm'd the bride; First vegetive, then feels, and reasons last; And long-attending Hymen, from above, Rich of three souls, and lives all three to waste. Shower'd on the bed the whole Idalian grove. Some thus ; but thousands more in flower of age : All of a tenour was their after-life, For few arrive to run the latter stage.
No day discolour'd with domestic strife; Sunk in the first, in battle some are slain,
No jealousy, but mutual truth believ'd, And others whelm'd beneath the stormy main. Secure repose, and kindness undeceiv'á. What makes all this, but Jupiter the king,
Thus Heaven, beyond the compass of his thought, At whose command we perish, and we spring ? Sent him the blessing he so dearly bought. Then 'tis our best, since thus ordain'd to die,
So may the queen of love long duty bless,
And all true lovers find the same success.
THE WIFE OF BATH.
Gambold on heaths, and danc'd on every green; And dying in our excellence and flower,
And where the jolly troop had led the round, Then round our death-bed every friend should run, The grass unbidden rose, and mark'd the ground : And joyous of our conquest early won:
Nor darkling did they glance, the silver light While the malicious world with envious tears Of Phæbe servd to guide their steps aright, should grudge our happy end, and wish it theirs. And, with their tripping pleas'd, prolong the night. since then our Arcite is with honour dead,
Her beams they follow'd, where at full she play'd, Why should we mourn, that he so soon is freed, Nor longer than she shed her horns they stay'd, Or call untimely what the gods decreed?.
From thence with airy flight to foreign lands convey'd. With grief as just, a friend may be deplor'd, Above the rest our Britain held they dear, From a foul prison to free air restor'd.
More solemnly they kept their sabbaths here, (year. Ought he to thank his kinsman or his wife,
And made more spacious rings, and revel'd half the Could tears recall him into wretched life?
I speak of ancient times, for now the swain Their sorrow hurts themselves; on him is lost; Returning late may pass the woods in vain, And, worse than both, offends his happy ghost. And never hope to see the nightly train: What then remains, but, after past annoy,
In vain the dairy now with mint is dress'd, To take the good vicissitude of joy?
The dairy-maid expects no fairy guest To thank the gracious gods for what they give,
To skim the bowls, and after pay the feast. Possess our souls, and, while we live, to live? She sighs, and shakes her empty shoes in vain, Ordain we then two sorrows to combine,
No silver penny to reward her pain: And in one point th' extremes of grief to join ; For priests with prayers and other goodly geer, That thence resulting joy may be renew'd,
Have made the merry goblins disappear : As jarring notes in harmony conclude.
And where they play'd their merry pranks before, Then I propose that Palamon shall be
Have sprinkled holy water on the floor : In marriage join'd with beauteous Emily;
And friars that through the wealthy regions run,
Resort to farmers rich, and bless their halls, Yet (lest, surpris'd, unknowing what to say,
Good sureties will we have for thy return;
Woe was the knight at this severe command:
He put in bail for his return again,
The best, with Heaven's assistance, he could find. For by some haycock, or some shady thorn,
His leave thus taken, on his way he went
Misdoubting much, and fearful of th’ event.
Thus on he went ; still anxious more and more, In russet robes to market took her way :
Ask'd all he met, and knock'd at every door ; Soon on the girl he cast an amorous eye,
Enquir'd of men ; but made his chief request So straight she walk’d, and on her pasterns high: To learn from women what they lov'd the best. If seeing her behind he lik'd her pace,
They answer'd each according to her mind Now turning short, he better likes her face. To please herself, not all the female kind. He lights in haste, and, full of youthful fire, One was for wealth, another was for place : By force accomplish'd his obscene desire :
Crones, old and ugly, wish'd a better face. This done, away he rode, not unespy'd,
The widow's wish was oftentimes to wed; For swarming at his back the country cry'd: The wanton maids were all for sport a-bed. And once in view they never lost the sight, Some said the sex were pleas'd with handsome lies But seiz’d, and pinion'd, brought to court the knight. And some gross flattery lov'd without disguise :
Then courts of kings were held in high renown, “Truth is,” says one, “ he seldom fails to win Ere made the common brothels of the town : Who flatters well; for that's our darling sin : There, virgins honourable vows receiv’d,
But long attendance, and a duteous mind, But chaste as maids in monasteries liv'd :
Will work ev'n with the wisest of the kind." The king himself, to nuptial ties a slave,
One thought the sex's prime felicity No bad example to his poets gave:
Was from the bonds of wedlock to be free: And they, not bad, but in a vicious agc,
Their pleasures, hours, and actions, all their own, Had not, to please the prince, debauch'd the stage. And uncontrol'd to give account to none. Now what should Arthur do? He lov'd the Some wish a husband-fool; but such are curst, knight,
For fools perverse of husbands are the worst : But sovereign monarchs are the source of right : All women would be counted chaste and wise, Mov'd by the damsel's tears and common cry,
Nor should our spouses see, but with our eyes; He doom'd the brutal ravisher to die.
For fools will prate ; and though they want the wit But fair Geneura rose in his defence,
To find close faults, yet open blots will hit : And pray'd so hard for mercy from the prince, Though better for their ease to hold their tongue, That to his queen the king th' offender gave,
For woman-kind was never in the wrong. And left it in her power to kill or save :
So noise ensues, and quarrels last for life; This gracious act the ladies all approve,
The wife abhors the fool, the fool the wife. Who thought it much a man should die for love; And some men say that great delight have we, And with their mistress join’d in close debate To be for truth extoll’d, and secrecy : (Covering their kindness with dissembled hate) And constant in one purpose still to dwell; If not to free him, to prolong his fate.
And not our husbands' counsels to reveal. At last agreed they callid him by consent
But that's a fable : for our sex is frail, Before the queen and female parliament.
Inventing rather than not tell a tale. And the fair speaker rising from the chair,
Like leaky sieves no secrets we can hold: Did thus the judgment of the house declare. Witness the famous tale that Ovid told.
“ Sir knight, though I have ask'd thy life, yet still Midas the king, as in his book appears, Thy destiny depends upon my will :
By Phæbus was endow'd with ass's ears, Nor hast thou other surety than the grace
Which under his long locks he well conceal'd, Not due to thee from our offended race.
As monarchs' vices must not be reveal'd, But as our kind is of a softer mold,
For fear the people have them in the wind, And cannot blood without a sigh behold,
Who long ago were neither dumb nor blind : I grant thee life: reserving still the power Nor apt to think from Heaven their title springs, To take the forfeit when I see my hour:
Since Jove and Mars left off' begetting kings. Unless thy answer to my next demand
This Midas knew : and durst communicate Shall set thee free from our avenging hand. To none but to his wife his ears of state : The question, whose solution I require,
One must be trusted, and he thought her fit, Is, What the sex of women most desire ?
As passing prudent, and a parlous wit.