by Torquato Tasso
"Love hath Eustatio chosen, Fortune thee,
In thy conceit which is the best election?"
"Nay, then, these shifts are vain," replied he,
"These titles false serve thee for no protection,
Thou canst not here for this admitted be
Our fellow-servant, in this sweet subjection."
"And who," quoth Eustace, , "dares deny
My fellowship?" Rambaldo answered, "I."
And with that word his cutting sword he drew,
That glittered bright, and sparkled flaming fire;
Upon his foe the other champion flew,
With equal courage, and with equal ire.
The gentle princess, who the danger ,
Between them stepped, and prayed them both retire.
"Rambald," quoth she, "why should you grudge or plain,
If I a champion, you an gain?
"If me you love, why wish you me deprived
In so great need of such a puissant knight?
But welcome Eustace, in time arrived,
Defender of my , my life, my right.
I wish my hapless no longer lived,
When I esteem such assistance light."
Thus talked they on, and travelled on their way
Their fellowship increasing every day.
From every side they come, yet there none
Of others coming or of others' ,
She welcomes all, and telleth every one,
What her in his arrival find.
But when Duke Godfrey his knights were gone,
Within his breast his divined
Some hard mishap upon his friends should light,
For which he sighed all day, and wept all night.
A messenger, while thus he mused, drew near,
All soiled with dust and sweat, quite out of breath,
It seemed the man did heavy tidings bear,
Upon his looks news of loss and death:
"My lord," quoth he, "so many ships appear
At sea, that Neptune bears the load uneath,
From Egypt come they all, this lets thee weet
William Lord Admiral of the Genoa fleet,
"Besides a convoy coming from the shore
With victual for this camp of thine
Surprised was, and lost is all that store,
Mules, horses, camels laden, corn and wine;
Thy servants fought till they could fight no more,
For all were slain or captives made in fine:
The Arabian outlaws them assailed by night,
When least they , and least they looked for fight.
"Their frantic boldness doth presume so far,
That many Christians have they falsely slain,
And like a raging flood they spared are,
And overflow each country, field and plain;
Send therefore some strong troops of men of war,
To force them hence, and drive them home again,
And keep the ways between these tents of thine
And those broad seas, the seas of Palestine."
From mouth to mouth the heavy rumor spread
Of these misfortunes, which dispersed wide
Among the soldiers, great amazement bred;
Famine they , and new come foes beside:
The duke, that their wonted courage fled,
And in the place thereof weak espied,
With merry looks these cheerful words he spake,
To make them heart again and courage take.
"You champions bold, with me that 'scaped have
So many dangers, and such hard assays,
Whom still your God did keep, defend and save
In all your battles, combats, fights and frays,
You that subdued the Turks and Persians brave,
That thirst and hunger held in scorn always,
And vanquished hills, and seas, with heat and cold,
Shall vain reports appal your courage bold?
"That Lord who you out at every need,
When aught befell this glorious camp amiss,
Shall fortune all your actions well to speed,
On whom his large extended is;
Tofore his tomb, when conquering hands you spreed,
With what delight will you this?
Be strong therefore, and keep your valors high
To honor, conquest, fame and victory."
Their hopes half dead and courage well-nigh lost,
Revived with these brave speeches of their guide;
But in his breast a thousand cares he tost,
Although his he could hide;
He studied how to feed that mighty host,
In so great scarceness, and what force provide
He should against the Egyptian warriors sly,
And how subdue those thieves of Araby.
Last updated January 14, 2019