by Torquato Tasso
"Three times the shape of my dear mother came,
Pale, sad, dismayed, to warn me in my,
Alas, how far from the same
Whose eyes shone erst like Titan's glorious beam:
`Daughter,' she says, `fly, fly, behold thy dame
Foreshows the treasons of thy wretched eame,
Who poison gainst thy harmless life provides:'
This said, to shapeless air unseen she glides.
"But what avail high walls or bulwarks strong,
Where fainting cowards have the piece to guard?
My sex too weak, mine age was all to young,
To undertake a work so hard,
To wander wild the desert woods among,
A banished maid, of wonted ease debarred,
So grievous seemed, that liefer were my death,
And there to expire where first I drew my breath.
"I deadly evil if long I stayed,
And yet to fly had neither will nor power,
Nor durst my heart declare it waxed afraid,
Lest so I hasten might my dying hour:
Thus restless waited I, maid,
What hand should first pluck up my springing flower,
Even as the wretch condemned to lose his life
Awaits the falling of the murdering knife.
"In these extremes, for so my fortune would
Perchance preserve me to my further ill,
One of my father's servants old,
That for his bore his child will,
With store of tears this treason gan unfold,
And said; my guardian would his pupil kill,
And that, if promise made be kept,
Should give me poison dire ere next I slept.
"And further told me, if I wished to live,
I must convey by secret flight,
And offered then all succours he could give
To aid his mistress, banished from her right.
His words of, to exile drive,
The dread of death, made lesser dangers light:
So we concluded, when the shadows dim
Obscured the earth I should depart with him.
"Of close escapes the aged patroness,
Blacker than erst, her sable mantle spread,
When with two trusty maids, in great distress,
Both from mine uncle and my realm I fled;
Oft looked I back, but hardly could suppress
Those streams of tears, mine eyes uncessant shed,
For when I looked on my kingdom lost,
It was a grief, a death, an hell almost.
"My steeds drew on the burden of my limbs,
But still my locks, my, drew back as fast,
So fare the men, that from the heaven's brims,
Far out to sea, by sudden storm are cast;
Swift o'er the grass the rolling chariot swims,
Through ways unknown, all night, all day we haste,
At last, nigh tired, a castle strong we fand,
The utmost border of my native land.
"The fort Arontes was, for so the knight
Was called, that my deliverance thus had wrought,
But when the tyrant, by mature flight
I had escaped the treasons of his ,
The rage increased in the cursed wight
Gainst me, and him, that me to safety brought,
And us accused, we would have poisoned
Him, but descried, to save our lives we fled.
"And that in lieu of his approved,
To poison him I hired had my guide,
That he despatched, mine unbridled youth
Might rage at will, in no subjection tied,
And that each night I slept - O foul untruth! -
Mine honor lost, by this Arontes' side:
But Heaven I pray send down revenging fire,
When so base love shall change my chaste.
"Not that he sitteth on my regal throne,
Nor that he thirst to drink my lukewarm blood,
So grieveth me, as this despite,
That my renown, which ever blameless stood,
Hath lost the light wherewith it always shone:
With forged lies he makes his tale so,
And holds my subjects' hearts in such suspense,
That none take armor for their queen's defence.
"And though he do my regal throne possess,
Clothed in purple, crowned with burnished gold;
Yet is his , his rancor, ne'er the less,
Since naught assuageth malice when 'tis old:
He threats to burn Arontes' forteress,
And murder him unless he yield the hold,
And me and mine threats not with war, but death,
Thus causeless , endless is uneath.
"And so he trusts to wash away the stain,
And hide his shameful fact with mine offence,
And saith he will restore the throne again
To his late honor and due excellence,
And therefore would I should be algates slain,
For while I live, his right is in suspense,
This is the cause my guiltless life is sought,
For on my ruin is his safety wrought.
"And let the tyrant have his heart's,
Let him perform the cruelty he meant,
My guiltless blood must quench the ceaseless fire
On which my endless tears were bootless spent,
Unless thou ; to thee, renowned Sire,
I fly, a virgin, orphan, innocent,
And let these tears that on thy feet distil,
Redeem the drops of blood, he thirsts to spill.
"By these thy glorious feet, that tread secure
On necks of tyrants, by thy conquests brave,
By that right hand, and by those temples pure
Thou seek'st to free from Macon's lore, I crave
for this sickness none but thou canst cure,
My life and kingdom let thy save
From death and ruin: but in vain I prove thee,
If right, if , if justice cannot move thee.
"Thou who dost all thou wishest, at thy will,
And never willest aught but what is right,
Preserve this guiltless blood they seek to spill;
Thine be my kingdom, save it with thy might:
Among these captains, lords, and knights of skill,
Appoint me ten, approved most in fight,
Who with assistance of my friends and kin,
May serve my kingdom lost again to win.
Last updated January 14, 2019