Imagens das páginas
PDF

Then be thy wrath appeas'd with our disgrace, If then the laws of friendship I transgress,
And show compassion to the Theban race,

I keep the greater, while I break the less; Oppress'd by tyrant power !” While yet he spoke, And both are mad alike, since neither can possess. Arcite on Emily had fix'd his look ;

Both hopeless to be ransom'd, never more The fatal dart a ready passage found,

To see the Sun, but as he passes o'er." And deep within his heart infix'd the wound:

Like Æsop's hounds contending for the bone, So that if Palamon were wounded sore,

Each pleaded right, and would be lord alone : Arcite was hurt as much as he, or more :

The fruitless fight continued all the day : Then from his inmost soul he sigh'd, and said, | A cur came by, and snatch'd the prize away. “ The beauty I behold has struck me dead : “ As courtiers therefore justle for a grant, (want, Unknowingly she strikes, and kills by chance ; And, when they break their friendship, plead their Poison is in her eyes, and death in every glance.

So, thou, if Fortune will thy suit advance, O, I must ask, nor ask alone, but move

Love on, nor envy me my equal chance : Her mind to mercy, or must die for love."

For I must love, and am resolv'd to try Thus Arcite : and thus Palamon replies, My fate, or failing in th' adventure, die.” (Eager his tone, and ardent were his eyes.)

Great was their strife, which hourly was renew'd, .. Speak'st thou in earnest, or in jesting vein ?" Till each with mortal hate his rival view'd : “Jesting,” said Arcite, “ suits but ill with pain." Now friends no more, nor walking hand in hand; “ It suits far worse" (said Palamon again,

But when they met, they made a surly stand ; And bent his brows) " with men who honour weigh, And glar'd like angry lions as they pass'd, Their faith to break, their friendship to betray;

And wish'd that every look might be their last. But worst with thee, of noble lineage born,

It chanc'd at length, Pirithous came t' attend
My kinsman, and in arms my brother sworn. This worthy Theseus, his familiar friend;
Have we not plighted each our holy oath,

Their love in early infancy began,
That one should be the common good of both; And rose as childhood ripen'd into man :
One soul should both inspire, and neither prove Companions of the war, and lov'd so well,
His fellow's hindrance in pursuit of love ?

That when one dy'd, as ancient stories tell,
To this before the Gods we gave our hands, His fellow to redeem him went to Hell.
And nothing but our death can break the bands. But to pursue my tale : to welcome home
This binds thee, then, to further my design: His warlike brother is Pirithous come :
As I am bound by vow to further thine :

Arcite of Thebes was known in arms long since,
Nor canst, nor dar'st thou, traitor, on the plain And honour'd by this young Thessalian prince.
Appeach my honour, or thine own maintain, Theseus, to gratify his friend and guest,
Since thou art of my council, and the friend Who made our Arcite's freedom his request,
Whose faith I trust, and on whose care depend : Restor'd to liberty the captive knight,
And would'st thou court my lady's love, which I But on these hard conditions I recite :
Much rather than release would choose to die? That if hereafter Arcite should be found
But thou, false Arcite, never shalt obtain

Within the compass of Athenian ground,
Thy bad pretence; I told thee first my pain : By day or night, or on whate'er pretence,
For first my love began ere thine was born; His head should pay the forfeit of th' offence.
Thou, as my council, and my brother sworn, To this Pirithous for his friend agreed,
Art bound t' assist my eldership of right,

And on his promise was the prisoner freed.
Or justly to be deem'd a perjur'd knight."

Unpleas'd and pensive hence he takes his way, Thus Palamon : but Arcite, with disdain, At his own peril; for his life must pay. In haughty language, thus reply'd again :

Who now but Arcite mourns his bitter fate, “ Forsworn thyself : the traitor's odious name Finds his dear purchase, and repents too late ? I first return, and then disprove thy claim.

“ What have I gain'd,” he said, “ in prison pont, If love be passion, and that passion nurst

If I but change my bonds for banishment ?
With strong desires, I lov'd the lady first.

And banish'd from her sight, I suffer more
Canst thou pretend desire, whom zeal inflam'd In freedom, than I felt in bonds before :
To worship, and a power celestial nam'd ?

Forc'd from her presence, and condemn'd to live : Thine was devotion to the blest above,

Unwelcome freedom, and unthank'd reprieve : I saw the woman, and desir'd her love;

Heaven is not, but where Emily abides; First own'd my passion, and to thee commend And where she's absent, all is Hell besides. Th' important secret, as my chosen friend.

Next to my day of birth, was that accurst, Suppose (which yet I grant not) thy desire

Which bound my friendship to Pirithous first: A moment elder than my rival fire;

Had I not known that prince, I still had been Can chance of seeing first thy title prove ?

In bondage, and had still Emilia seen : And know'st thou not, no law is made for love; For, though I never can her grace deserve, Law is to things, which to free choice relate; 'Tis recompense enough to see and serve. Love is not in our choice, but in our fate;

O Palamon, my kinsman and my friend, Laws are but positive ; love's power, we see, How much more happy fates thy love attend ! Is Nature's sanction, and her first decree.

Thine is th' adventure; thine the victory : Each day we break the bond of human laws Well has thy fortune turn'd the dice for thee : For love, and vindicate the common cause.

Thou on that angel's face may'st feed thine eyes, Laws for defence of civil rights are plac'd,

In prison, no ; but blissful Paradise ! Love throws the fences down, and makes a general | Thou daily seest that sun of beauty shine, waste :

And lov'st at least in love's extremest line. Maids, widows, wives, without distinction fall; I mourn in absence, love's eternal night ; The sweeping deluge, love, comes on, and covers And who can tell but since thou hast her sight. - all.

| And art a comely, young, and valiant knight,

Fortune (a various power) may cease to frown, He with the rest is liable to pain,
And by some ways unknown thy wishes crown? And like the sleep, his brother-beast, is slain.
But I, the most forlorn of human kind,

Cold, hunger, prisons, ills without a cure,
Nor help can hope, nor remedy can find;

All these he must, and, guiltless, oft endure; But, doom'd to drag my loathsome life in care, Or does your justice, power, or prescience fail, For my reward, must end it in despair.

When the good suffer, and the bad prevail ? Fire, water, air, and earth, and force of fates • What worse to wretched Virtue could befall, That governs all, and Heaven that all creates, If Fate or giddy Fortune govern'd all ? Nor art, nor Nature's hand can ease my grief; Nay, worse than other beasts is our estate; Nothing but death, the wretch's last relief :

Them, to pursue their pleasures, you create ; Then farewell youth, and all the joys that dwell, We, bound by harder laws, must curb our will, With youth and life, and life itself farewell.

And your commands, not our desires, fulfil; But why, alas ! do mortal men in vain

Then when the creature is unjustly slain, Of Fortune, Fate, or Providence complain? Yet after death at least he feels no pain; God gives us what he knows our wants require, But man, in life surcharg'd with woe before, And better things than those which we desire : Not freed when dead, is doom'd to suffer more. Some pray for riches; riches they obtain;

A serpent shoots his sting at unaware ; But, watch'd by robbers, for their wealth are slain ; | An ambush'd thief forelays a traveller : Some pray from prison to be freed; and come, The man lies murder'd, while the thief and snake, When guilty of their vows, to fall at home;

One gains the thickets, and one thrids the brake. Murder'd by those they trusted with their life, This let divines decide; but well I know, A favour'd servant, or a hosom wife.

Just or unjust, I have my share of woe, Such dear-bought blessings happen every day, Through Saturn seated in a luckless place, Because we know not for what things to pray. And Juno's wrath, that persecutes my race ; Like drunken sots about the street we roam : Or Mars and Venus, in a quartile, move Well knows the sot he has a certain home;

My pangs of jealousy for Arcite's love." Yet knows not how to find th' uncertain place, Let Palamon, oppress'd in bondage, mourn, And blunders on, and staggers every pace.

While to his exil'd rival we return. Thus all seek happiness; but few can find,

By this, the Sun, declining from his height, For far the greater part of men are blind.

The day had shorten'd, to prolong the night : This is my case, who thought our utinost good The lengthened night gave length of misery Was in one word of freedom understood :

Both to the captive lover and the free ; The fatal blessing came : from prison free,

For Palamon in endless prison mourns, I starve abroad, and lose the sight of Emily." And Arcite forfeits life if he returns : Thus Arcite: but if Arcite thus deplore

The banish'd never hopes his love to see, His sufferings, Palamon yet suffers more.

Nor hopes the captive lord his liberty : For when he knew his rival freed and gone, 'Tis hard to say who suffers greater pains : He swells with wrath; he makes outrageous moan : One sees his love, but cannot break his chains : He frets, he furnes, he stares, he stamps the ground; One free, and all his motions uncontrol'd, The hollow tower with clamours rings around : Beholds whate'er he would, but what he would be With briny tears he bath'd his fetter'd feet,

hold. And dropt all o'er with agony of sweat.

Judge as you please, for I will haste to tell * Alas !** he cry'd, “ I wretch in prison pine, | What fortune to the banish'd knight befell. Too happy rival, while the fruit is thine :

When Arcite was to Thebes return'd again, Thou liv'st at large, thou draw'st thy native air, The loss of her he lov'd renew'd his pain; Pleas'd with thy freedom, proud of my despair : What could be worse, than never more to see Thou magst, since thou hast youth and courage His life, his soul, his charming Emily? join'd,

He rav'd with all the madness of despair, A sweet behaviour, and a solid mind,

He roar'd, he beat his breast, he tore his hair. Assemble ours, and all the Theban race,

Dry sorrow in his stupid eyes appears, To sindicate on Athens thy disgrace ;

For, wanting nourishment, he wanted tears : And after, by some treaty made, possess

His eye-balls in their hollow sockets sink : Fair Emnily, the pledge of lasting peace.

Bereft of sleep, he loaths his meat and drink: So thine shall be the beauteous prize, while I He withers at his heart, and looks as wan Must languish in despair, in prison die.

As the pale spectre of a murder'd man : Thas all th' advantage of the strife is thine,

That pale turns yellow, and his face receives Thy portion double joys, and double sorrows | The faded hue of sapless boxen leaves : mine."

In solitary groves he makes his moan, The rage of jealousy then fir'd his soul,

Walks early out, and ever is alone : And his face kindled like a burning coal:

Nor, mix'd in mirth, in youthful pleasures shares, Non cold Despair, succeeding in her stead,

But sighs when songs and instruments be hears : To livid paleness turns the glowing red.

His spirits are so low, his voice is drown'd,
His blood, scarce liquid, creeps within his veins, He hears as from afar, or in a swoon,
Lite water which the freezing wind constrains. Like the deaf murmurs of a distant sound:
Then thus he said : “ Eternal deities,

Uncomb'd his lochs, and squalid his attire,
Who rale the world with absolute decrees,

Unlike the trim of Love and gay Desire : And write whatever time shall bring to pass, | But full of museful mopings, which presage With pens of adamant, on plates of brass;

The loss of reason, and conclude in rage. What, is the race of human kind your carc,

This when he had endur'd a year and more, Begood shat all his fellow.creatures are ?

Now wholly changed from what he was before',

It happend once, that, slumbering as he lay,
He dream'd (his dream began at break of day)

Boox II.
That Hermes o'er his head in air appear'd,
And with soft words his drooping spirits cheer'd; WHILE Arcite lives in bliss, the story turns
His hat, adorn'd with wings, disclos'd the god, Where hopeless Palamon in prison mourns.
And in his hand he bore the sleep-compelling rod : For six long years immur'd, the captiv'd knight
Such as he seem'd, when, at his sire's command, Had dragg'd his chains, and scarcely seen the light:
On Argus' head he laid the snaky wand.

Lost liberty, and love, at once he bore :
« Arise,” he said, “ to conquering Athens go, His prison pain'd him much, his passion more :
There Fate appoints an end to all thy woe." Nor dares he hope his fetters to remove,
The fright awaken'd Arcite with a start,

Nor ever wishes to be free from love.
Against his bosom bounced his heaving heart ; But when the sixth revolving year was run,
But soon he said, with scarce recover'd breath, And May within the Twins receiv'd the Sun,
« And thither will I go, to meet my death,

Were it by Chance, or forceful Destiny,
Sure to be slain, but death is my desire,

Which forms in causes first whate'er shall be, Since in Emilia's sight I shall expire."

Assisted by a friend, one moonless night, By chance he spy'd a mirror while he spoke, This Palamon from prison took his fight : And gazing there beheld his alter'd look ;

A pleasant beverage he prepar'd before Wondering, he saw his features and his hue Of wine and honey, mix'd with added store So much were chang'd, that scarce himself he Of opium ; to his keeper this he brought, knew.

Who swallow'd unaware the sleepy draught, A sudden thought then starting in his mind, And snor'd secure till morn, his senses bound “ Since I in Arcite cannot Arcite find,

In slumber, and in long oblivion drown'd. The world may search in vain with all their eyes, Short was the night, and careful Palamon But never penetrate through this disguise.

Sought the next covert ere the rising Sun. Thanks to the change which grief and sickness A thick spread forest near the city lay, give,

To this with lengthen'd strides be took his way
In low estate I may securely live,

(For far he could not fly, and fear'd the day).
And see unknown my mistress day by day." Safe from pursuit, he meant to shun the light,
He said; and cloth'd himself in coarse array : ' Till the brown shadows of the friendly night
A labouring hind in show, then forth he went, To Thebes might favour his intended flight.
And to th' Athenian towers his journey bent: When to his country come, his next design
One squire attended in the same disguise,

Was all the Theban race in arms to join,
Made conscious of his master's enterprise.

And war on Theseus, till he lost his life Arriv'd at Athens, soon he came to court,

Or won the beauteous Emily to wife.
Unknown, unquestion'd, in that thick resort : Thus while his thoughts the lingering day beguile,
Proffering for hire his service at the gate,

To gentle Arcite let us turn our style;
To drudge, draw water, and to run or wait. Who little dreamt how nigh he was to care,
So fair befell him, that for little gain

Till treacherous Fortune caught him in the snare. He serv'd at first Emilia's chamberlain :

The morning-lark, the messenger of Day, And, watchful all advantages to spy,

Saluted in her song the morning gray; Was still at hand, and in his master's eye:

And soon the Sun arose with beams so bright, And as his bones were big, and sinews strong, That all th' horizon laugh'd to see the joyous sight; Refus'd no toil, that could to slaves belong; He with his tepid rays the rose renews, But from deep wells with engines water drew, And licks the drooping leaves, and dries the dews; And us'd his noble hands the wood to hew. When Arcite left his bed, resolv'd to pay He pass'd a year at least attending thus

Observance to the month of merry May : On Emily, and call's Philostratus.

Forth on his fiery steed betimes he rode, But never was there man of his degree

That scarcely prints the turf on which he trod : So much esteem'd, so well belor'd as he.

At ease he seem'd, and, prancing o'er the plains, So gentle of condition was he known,

Turn'd only to the grove his horse's reins, . That through the court his courtesy was blown : The grove I nam'd before; and, lighted there, All think him worthy of a greater place,

A woodbine garland sought to crown his hair; And recommend him to the royal grace,

Then turn'd his face against the rising day, That, exercis'd within a higher sphere,

And rais'd his voice to welcome in the May. [wear, His virtues more conspicuous might appear.

“ For thee, sweet month, the groves green liveries Thus by the general voice was Arcite prais'd, If not the first, the fairest of the year : And by great Theseus to high favour rais'd: For thee the Graces lead the dancing Hours, Among his menial servants first enroll’d,

And Nature's ready pencil paints the flowers : And largely entertain’d with sums of gold : When thy short reign is past, the feverish Sun Besides what secretly from Thebes was sent, The sultry tropic fears, and moves more slowly on. Of his own income, and his annual rent:

So may thy tender blossoms fear no blight, This well employ'd, he purchas'd friends and Nor goats with venom'd teeth thy tendrils bite, fame,

As thou shalt guide my wandering feet to find But cautiously conceal'd from whence it came. The fragrant greens I seek, my brows to bind.” Thus for three years he liv'd with large increase, His vows address'd, within the grove he stray'd, In arms of honour, and esteem in peace;

Till Fate, or Fortune, near the place convey'd To Theseus' person be was ever near;

His steps where secret Palamon was laid. And Theseus for his virtues held him dear. Full little thought of him the gentle knight,

| Who, flying death, had there conceal'd his flight,

In brakes and brambles hid, and shunning mortal | For, though unarm'd I am, and (freed by chance) sight :

| Am here without my sword, or pointed lance : And less he knew him for his hated foe,

Hope not, base man, unquestion'd hence to go, But fear'd him as a man he did not know.

For I am Palamon, thy mortal foe.” But as it has been said of ancient years,

Arcite, who heard his tale, and knew the man, That fields are full of eyes, and woods have ears; His sword unsheath'd, and fiercely thus began : For this the wise are ever on their guard,

“ Now by the gods who govern Heaven above, For, unforeseen, they say, is unprepar'd.

Wert thou not weak with hunger, mad with love, Uncautious Arcite thought himself alone,

That word had been thy last, or in this grove And less than all suspected Palamon, (grove, This hand should force thee to renounce thy love. Who, listening, heard him, while he search'd the The surety which I gave thee, I defy : And loudly sung his roundelay of love :

Fool, not to know, that love endures no tie, But on the sudden stopp'd, and silent stood, And Jove but laughs at lovers' perjury. As lovers often muse, and change their mood; Know I will serve the fair in thy despite; Now high as Heaven, and then as low as Hell; But since thou art my kinsman, and a knight, Now up, now down, as buckets in a well :

Here, have my faith, to-morrow in this grove For Venus, like her day, will change her cheer, Our arms shall plead the titles of our love : And seldom shall we see a Friday clear.

And Heaven so help my right, as I alone (known; Thus Arcite, having sung, with alter'd hue Will come, and keep the cause and quarrel both unSunk on the ground, and from his bosom drew With arms of proof both for myself and thee; A desperate sigh, accusing Heaven and Fate, Choose thou the best, and leave the worst to me. And angry Juno's unrelenting hate.

| And, that a better ease thou may'st abide, * Curs'd be the day when first I did appear ; Bedding and clothes I will this night provide, Let it be blotted from the calendar,

And needful sustenance, that thou mayst be Lest it pollute the month, and poison all the year. A conquest better won, and worthy me.” Still will the jealous queen pursue our race? His promise Palamon accepts; but pray'd, Cadmus is dead, the Theban city was :

To keep it better than the first he made. Yet ceases not her hate : for all who come

Thus fair they parted till the morrow's dawn, From Cadmus are involv'd in Cadmus' doom. For each had laid his plighted faith to pawn. I suffer for my blood : unjust decree !

O Love ! thou sternly dost thy power maintain, That punishes another's crime on me.

And wilt not bear a rival in thy reign, In mean estate I serve my mortal foe,

Tyrants and thou all fellowship disdain. The man who caus'd my country's overthrow, This was in Arcite prov'd, and Palamon; This is not all; for Juno, to my shame,

Both in despair, yet each would love alone. Has forc'd me to forsake my former name;

Arcite return'd, and, as in honour ty'd, Arcite I was, Philostratus I am.

His foe with bedding and with food supply'd : That side of Heaven is all my enemy:

Then, ere the day, two suits of armour sought, Mars ruin's Thebes : his mother ruin'd me. Which borne before him on his steed he brought: Of all the royal race remains but one

Both were of shining steel, and wrought so pure, Besides myself, the unhappy Palamon,

As might the strokes of two such arms endure. Whom Theseus holds in bonds, and will not free; Now, at the time, and in th' appointed place, Without a crime, except his kin to me.

The challenger and challeng'd, face to face, Yet these, and all the rest, I could endure;

Approach; each other from afar they knew, But love's a malady without a cure;

And from afar their hatred chang'd their hue. Fierce Love has pierc'd me with his fiery dart, So stands the Thracian herdsman with his spear, He fires within, and hisses at my heart.

Full in the gap, and hopes the hunted bear, Your eyes, fair Emily, my fate pursue;

And hears him rustling in the wood, and sees I suffer for the rest, Í die for you.

His course at distance by the bending trees,
Of such a goddess no time leaves record,

And thinks, here comes my mortal enemy,
Who burn'd the temple where she was ador'd: And either he must fall in fight, or I:
And let it burn, I never will complain,

This while he thinks, he lifts aloft his dart;
Pleas'd with my sufferings, if you knew my pain. A generous chillness seizes every part;
At this a sickly qualm his heart assail'd,

The veins pour back the blood, and fortify the heart. His ears ring inward, and his senses fail'd.

Thus pale they meet; their eyes with fury burn; No word miss'd Palamon of all he spoke,

None greets ; for none the greeting will return: But soon to deadly pale he chang'd his look : But in dumb surliness, each arm'd with care He trembled every limb, and felt a smart,

His foe profest, as brother of the war : As if cold steel had glided through his heart : Then both, no moment lost, at once advance No longer staid, but starting from his place, Against each other, arm'd with sword and lance : Discover'd stood, and show'd his hostile face : They lash, they foin, they pass, they strive to bore * False traitor Arcite, traitor to thy blood,

Their corslets, and the thinnest parts explore. Bound by thy sacred oath to seek my good, Thus two long hours in equal arms they stood, Now art thou found foresworn; for Emily; And wounded, wound; till both were bath'd in And dar'st attempt her love, for whom I die.

blood; So bast thou cheated Theseus with a wile,

And not a foot of ground had either got, Against thy vow, returning to beguile

As if the world depended on the spot. Under a borrow'd name : as false to me,

Fell Arcite like an angry tiger far'd, So false thou art to him who set thee free:

And like a lion Palamon appear'd : But rest assur'd, that either thou shalt die,

Or as two boars whom love to battle draws, Or else renounce thy claim in Emily:

With rising bristles, and with frothy jaws,

Their adverse breasts with tusks oblique they wound, But first contracted, that if ever found
With grunts and groans the forest rings around : By day or night upon th’ Athenian ground,
So fought the knights, and fighting must abide, | His head should pay the forfeit; see return'd
Till Fate an umpire sends their difference to decide. The perjur'd knight, his oath and honour scorn'd.
The power that ministers to God's decrees,

For this is he, who, with a borrow'd name
And executes on Earth what Heaven foresees, | And proffer'd service, to thy palace came,
Callid Providence, or Chance, or Fatal Sway, Now call’d Philostratus : retain'd by thee,
Comes with resistless force, and finds or makes her | A traitor trusted, and in high degree,
way.

Aspiring to the bed of beauteous Emily.
Nor kings, nor nations, nor united power, My part remains; from Thebes my birth I own,
One moment can retard th' appointed hour. And call myself th' unhappy Palamon.
And some one day, some wondrous chance appears, Think me not like that man; since no disgrace
Which happen'd not in centuries of years :

Can force me to renounce the honour of my race. For sure, whate'er we mortals hate, or love, Know me for what I am : I broke my chain, Or hope, or fear, depends on powers above; Nor promis'd I thy prisoner to remain : They move our appetites to good or ill,

The love of liberty with life is given,
And by foresight necessitate the will.

And life itself th' inferior gift of Heaven.
In Theseus this appears; whose youthful joy Thus without crime I fled, but farther know,
Was beasts of chase in forests to destroy.

I with this Arcite am thy mortal foe :
This gentle knight, inspir'd by jolly May,

Then give me death, since I thy life pursue ; Forsook his easy couch at early day,

| For safeguard of thyself, death is my due. And to the wood and wilds pursued his way. More wouldst thou know? I love bright Emily, Beside him rode Hippolita the queen,

And for her sake and in her sight will die : And Emily attir'd in lively green,

But kill my rival too; for he no less With horns, and hounds, and all the tuneful cry, Deserves ; and I thy righteous doom will bless, To hunt a royal hart within the covert nigh: Assur'd that what I lose, he never shall possess." And as he follow'd Mars before, so now

To this reply'd the stern Athenian prince, He seryes the goddess of the silver bow.

And sourly smil'd: “In owning your offence,
The way that 'Theseus took was to the wood You judge yourself; and I but keep record
Where the two knights in cruel battle stood : In place of law, while you pronounce the word.
The lawn on which they fought, th' appointed place Take your desert, the death you have decreed ;
In which th' uncoupled hounds began the chase. | I seal your doom, and ratify the deed :
Thither forth-right he rode to rouse the prey, By Mars, the patron of my arms, you die."
That, shaded by the fern, in harbour lay;

He said ; dumb Sorrow seiz'd the standers-by.
And, thence dislodg'd, was wont to leave the wood, The queen above the rest, by nature good,
For open fields, and cross the crystal flood.

(The pattern form’d of perfect womanhood)
Approach'd, and looking underneath the Sun, For tender pity wept : when she began,
He saw proud Arcite, and fierce Palamon, | Through the bright quire th' infectious virtue ran.
In mortal battle doubling blow on blow,

All dropt their tears, ev'n the contended maid, Like lightning flam'd their faulchions to and fro, And thus among themselves they softly said : And shot a dreadful gleam : so strong they strook, “ What eyes can suffer this unworthy sight! There seemn'd less force requir'd to feil an oak: Two youths of royal blood, renown'd in fight, He gaz'd with wonder on their equal might, The mastership of Heaven in face and mind, Look'd eager on, but knew not either knight : And lovers, far beyond their faithless kind : Resolv'd to learn, he spurr'd his fiery steed See their wide streaming wounds; they neither came With goring rowels to provoke his speed.

For pride of empire, nor desire of fame : The minute ended that began the race,

Kings for kingdoms, madmen for applause; So soon he was betwixt them on the place; ' But love for love alone; that crowns the lover's And with his sword unsheath'd, on pain of life

cause." Commands both combatants to cease their strife : This thought, which ever bribes the beauteous kind, Then with imperious tone pursues his threat: Such pity wrought in every lady's mind, “ What are you? why in arms together met ? They left their steeds, and prostrate on the place, How dares your pride presume against my laws, From the fierce king, implor'd th' offenders grace. As in a listed field to fight your cause ?

He paus'd awhile, stood silent in his mood
Unask'd the royal grant; no marshal by,

(For yet his rage was boiling in his blood);
As knightly rites require ; nor judge to try?" But soon his tender mind th impression felt,
Then Palamon, with scarce recover'd breath, (As softest metals are not slow to melt
Thus hasty spoke : “ We both deserve the death, And pity soonest runs in softest minds):
And both would die ; for look the world around, Then reasons with himself; and first he finds
A pair so wretched is not to be found :

His passion cast a mist before his sense.
Our life's a load; encumber'd with the charge, And either made, or magnify'd th' offence.
We long to set th' imprison'd soul at large. “ Offence! of what? to whom? who judg'd the
Now, as thou art a sovereign judge, decree

cause ? The rightful doom of death to him and me,

The prisoner freed hïnself by Nature's laws : Let neither find thy grace, for grace is cruelty. Born free, he sought his right : the man be freed Me first, o kill me first; and cure my woe; Was perjur'd, but his love excus'd the deed."

Then sheath the sword of Justice on iny foe : | Thus pondering, he look'd under with his eyes, Or kill him first; for when his name is heard, And saw the women's tears, and heard their cries, He foremost will receive his due reward.

Which mov'd compassion more; be shook his head, Arcite of Thebes is he; thy mortal foe:

And softly sighing to himself he said : On whom thy grace did liberty bestow;

« AnteriorContinuar »