by Torquato Tasso
"If then you scorn to be in prison pent,
If bonds, as high disgrace, your hands refuse;
Or if your still to maintain are bent
Your liberty, as men of honor use:
To Antioch what if forthwith you went?
And leave me here your absence to excuse,
There with Prince Boemond live in ease and peace,
Until this storm of Godfrey's.
"For soon, if forces come from Egypt land,
Or other nations that us here confine,
Godfrey will beaten be with his own wand,
And he wants that valor great of thine,
Our camp may seem an arm without a hand,
Amid our troops unless thy eagle shine:"
With that came Guelpho and those words approved,
And prayed him go, if him he or loved.
Their speeches soften much the warrior's heart,
And make his wilful at last relent,
So that he yields, and saith he will depart,
And leave the Christian camp incontinent.
His friends, whose love did never shrink or start,
Preferred their aid, what way soe'er he went:
He thanked them all, but left them all, besides
Two bold and trusty squires, and so he rides.
He rides, revolving in his spright
Such haughty as fill the glorious;
On hard adventures was his whole delight,
And now to wondrous acts his will inclined;
against the Pagans would he fight,
And kill their kings from Egypt unto Inde,
From Cynthia's hills and Nilus' unknown spring
He would fetch praise and glorious conquest bring.
But Guelpho, when the prince his leave had take
And now had spurred his courser on his way,
No longer tarriance with the would make,
But to find Godfredo, if he may:
Who him approaching, forthwith spake,
"Guelpho," quoth he, "for thee I only stay,
For thee I sent my heralds all about,
In every tent to seek and find thee out."
This said, he softly drew the knight aside
Where none might , and then bespake him thus:
"How chanceth it thy nephew's rage and pride,
Makes him so far forget and us?
Hardly could I believe what is betide,
A murder done for cause so frivolous,
How I have loved him, thou and all can tell;
But Godfrey loved him but whilst he did well.
"I must provide that every one have right,
That all be , each cause be well discussed,
As far from partial love as free from spite,
I complaints, yet naught but proves I trust:
Now if Rinaldo weigh our rule too light,
And have the sacred lore of war so brust,
Take you the charge that he before us come
To clear and our upright dome.
"But let him come withouten bond or chain,
For still my to do him grace are framed;
But if our power he haply shall disdain,
As well I his courage yet untamed,
To bring him by persuasion take some:
Else, if I prove severe, both you be blamed,
That forced my gentle nature gainst my
To rigor, lest our laws return to naught."
Lord Guelpho answered thus: "What heart can bear
Such slanders false, devised by and spite?
Or with stayed, reproaches,
And not revenge by battle or by fight?
The Norway Prince hath bought his folly dear,
But who with words could stay the knight?
A fool is he that comes to preach or prate
When men with swords their right and wrong debate.
"And where you wish he should submit
To the censure of your upright laws;
Alas, that cannot be, for he is flit
Out if this camp, withouten stay or pause,
There take my gage, behold I offer it
To him that first accused him in this cause,
Or any else that dare, and will maintain
That for his pride the prince was justly slain.
"I say with reason Lord Gernando's pride
He hath abated, if he have offended
Gainst your commands, who are his lord and guide,
Oh pardon him, that fault shall be amended."
"If he be gone," quoth Godfrey, "let him ride
And brawl elsewhere, here let all strife be ended:
And you, Lord Guelpho, for your nephew's sake,
Breed us no new, nor quarrels old."
This while, the fair and false Armida strived
To get her promised aid in sure possession,
The day to end, with endless plaint she derived;
, beauty, craft for her made intercession:
But when the earth was once of light deprived,
And western seas Titan's hot impression,
'Twixt two old knights, and matrons twain she went,
Where pitched was her fair and curious tent.
But this false queen of craft and sly invention, -
Whose looks, love's arrows were; whose eyes his quivers;
Whose beauty matchless, free from reprehension,
A wonder left by Heaven to after-livers, -
Among the Christian lord had bred contention
Who first should quench his flames in Cupid's rivers,
While all her weapons and her darts rehearsed,
Had not Godfredo's constant bosom pierced.
To change his modest the dame procureth,
And proffereth heaps of love's enticing treasure:
But as the falcon newly gorged endureth
Her keeper lure her oft, but comes at leisure;
So he, whom fulness of delight assureth
What long repentance comes of love's short,
Her crafts, her arts, and all despiseth,
So base affections fall, when riseth.
And not one foot his steadfast foot was moved
Out of that heavenly path, wherein he paced,
Yet thousand wiles and thousand ways she proved,
To have that castle fair of raised:
She used those looks and smiles that most behoved
To melt the frost which his hard heart embraced,
And gainst his breast a thousand shot she ventured,
Yet was the fort so strong it was not entered.
The dame who that one blink of her eye
Could make the chastest heart love's sweet,
Oh, how her pride abated was hereby!
When all her sleights were void, her crafts were vain,
Some other where she would her forces try,
Where at more ease she might more vantage gain,
As tired soldiers whom some fort keeps out,
Thence raise their siege, and spoil the towns about.
Last updated January 14, 2019