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How Theseus at these funerals did assist,
And with what gifts the mourning dames dismiss'd.
Thus when the victor chief had Creon slain,
And conquer'd Thebes, he pitch'd upon the plain
His mighty camp, and, when the day return'd,
The country wasted, and the hamlets burn'd,
And left the pillagers, to rapine bred,
Without control to strip and spoil the dead.
There, in a heap of slain, among the rest
Two youthful knights they found beneath a load
Of slaughter'd foes, whom first to death they sent,
The trophies of their strength, a bloody monument.
Both fair, and both of royal blood they seem'd,
Whom kinsmen to the crown the heralds deem'd;
That day in equal arms they fought for fame;
Their swords, their shields, their surcoats, were the
Close by each other laid, they press'd the ground, Their manly bosoms pierc'd with many a grisly wound ;
Ev'n wondering Philomel forgot to sing,
And learn'd from her to welcome in the Spring.
The tower, of which before was mention made,
Within whose keep the captive knights were laid,
Built of a large extent, and strong withal,
Was one partition of the palace wall:
The garden was inclos'd within the square,
Where young Emilia took the morning air.
It happen'd Palamon, the prisoner knight,
Restless for woe, arose before the light,
And with his gaoler's leave desir'd to breathe
An air more wholesome than the damps beneath :
This granted, to the tower he took his way,
Cheer'd with the promise of a glorious day:
Then cast a languishing regard around,
And saw with hateful eyes the temples crown'd
With golden spires, and all the hostile ground.
He sigh'd, and turn'd his eyes, because he knew
'Twas but a larger gaol he had in view:
Then look'd below, and, from the castle's height
Beheld a nearer and more pleasing sight,
The garden, which before he had not seen,
In Spring's new livery clad of white and green,
Fresh flowers in wide parterres, and shady walks
Nor well alive, nor wholly dead, they were,
But some faint signs of feeble life appear:
The wandering breath was on the wing to part,
Weak was the pulse, and hardly heav'd the heart.
These two were sisters' sons; and Arcite one,
Much fam'd in fields, with valiant Palamon.
From these their costly arms the spoilers rent,
And softly both convey'd to Theseus' tent:
Whom, known of Creon's line, and cur'd with care, At last, for so his destiny requir'd,
He to his city sent as prisoners of the war,
Hopeless of ransom, and condemn'd to lie
In durance, doom'd a lingering death to die.
This done, he march'd away with warlike sound,
And to his Athens turn'd with laurels crown'd,
Where happy long he liv'd, much lov'd, and more
But in a tower, and never to be loos'd,
The woful captive kinsmen are inclos'd.
Thus year by year they pass, and day by day,
Till once, 'twas on the morn of cheerful May,
The young Emilia, fairer to be seen
Than the fair lily on the flowery green,
More fresh than May herself in blossoms new,
For with the rosy color strove her hue,
Wak'd, as her custom was, before the day,
To do th' observance due to sprightly May:
For sprightly May commands our youth to keep
The vigils of hernight, and breaks their sluggard sleep;
Each gentle breath with kindly warmth she moves;
Inspires new flames, revives extinguish'd loves.
In this remembrance Emily, ere day,
Arose, and dress'd herself in rich array;
Fresh as the month, and as the morning fair;
Adown her shoulders fell her length of hair:
A ribband did the braided tresses bind,
The rest was loose, and wanton'd in the wind.
Aurora had but newly chas'd the night,
And purpled o'er the sky with blushing light,
When to the garden walk she took her way,
To sport and trip along in cool of day,
And offer maiden vows in honor of the May.
At every turn, she made a little stand,
And thrust among the thorns her lily hand
To draw the rose; and every rose she drew,
She shook the stalk, and brush'd away the dew:
Then party-color'd flowers of white and red
She wove, to make a garland for her head:
This done, she sung and caroll'd out so clear,
That men and angels might rejoice to hear:
This view'd, but not enjoy'd, with arms across
He stood, reflecting on his country's loss;
Himself an object of the public scorn,
And often wish'd he never had been born.
With walking giddy, and with thinking tir'd,
He through a little window cast his sight,
Though thick of bars, that gave a scanty light:
But ev'n that glimmering serv'd him to descry
Th' inevitable charms of Emily.
Scarce had he seen, but, seiz'd with sudden smart,
Stung to the quick, he felt it at his heart;
Struck blind with overpowering light, he stood,
Then started back amaz'd, and cried aloud.
Young Arcite heard; and up he ran with haste,
To help his friend, and in his arms embrac'd;
And ask'd him why he look'd so deadly wan,
And whence and how his change of cheer began,
Or who had done th' offence? But if," said he,
Your grief alone is hard captivity,
For love of Heaven, with patience undergo
A cureless ill, since Fate will have it so:
So stood our horoscope in chains to lie,
And Saturn in the dungeon of the sky,
Or other baleful aspect, rul'd our birth,
When all the friendly stars were under Earth:
Whate'er betides, by Destiny 'tis done;
And better bear like men, than vainly seek to shun."
"Nor of my bonds," said Palamon again,
"Nor of unhappy planets I complain;
But when my mortal anguish caus'd me cry,
That moment I was hurt through either eye;
Pierc'd with a random shaft, I faint away,
And perish with insensible decay:
A glance of some new goddess gave the wound,
Whom, like Acteon, unaware I found.
Look how she walks along yon shady space,
Not Juno moves with more majestic grace;
And all the Cyprian queen is in her face.
If thou art Venus (for thy charms confess
That face was form'd in Heaven, nor art thou less;
Disguis'd in habit, undisguis'd in shape)
O help us captives from our chains t'escape;
But if our doom be past, in bonds to lie
For life, and in a lothesome dungeon die,
Then be thy wrath appeas'd with our disgrace,
And show compassion to the Theban race,
Oppress'd by tyrant power!" While yet he spoke,
Arcite on Emily had fix'd his look;
The fatal dart a ready passage found,
And deep within his heart infix'd the wound:
So that if Palamon were wounded sore,
Arcite was hurt as much as he, or more:
Then from his inmost soul he sigh'd, and said,
"The beauty I behold has struck me dead:
Unknowingly she strikes, and kills by chance;
Poison is in her eyes, and death in every glance.
O, I must ask, nor ask alone, but move
Her mind to mercy, or must die for love."
Thus Arcite and thus Palamon replies,
(Eager his tone, and ardent were his eyes :)
"Speak'st thou in earnest, or in jesting vein ?"
"Jesting," said Arcite, “suits but ill with pain."
"It suits far worse" (said Palamon again,
And bent his brows) "with men who honor weigh,
Their faith to break, their friendship to betray;
But worst with thee, of noble lineage born,
My kinsman, and in arms my brother sworn.
Have we not plighted each our holy oath,
That one should be the common good of both;
One soul should both inspire, and neither prove
His fellow's hindrance in pursuit of love?
To this before the Gods we gave our hands,
And nothing but our death can break the bands.
This binds thee, then, to further my design;
As I am bound by vow to further thine:
Nor canst, nor dar'st thou, traitor, on the plain
Appeach my honor, or thine own maintain,
Since thou art of my council, and the friend
Whose faith I trust, and on whose care depend:
And wouldst thou court my lady's love, which I
Much rather than release would choose to die?
But thou, false Arcite, never shalt obtain
Thy bad pretence; I told thee first my pain:
For first my love began ere thine was born;
Thou, as my council, and my brother sworn,
Art bound t' assist my eldership of right,
Or justly to be deem'd a perjur'd knight."
Thus Palamon: but Arcite, with disdain, In haughty language, thus replied again: "Forsworn thyself: the traitor's odious name I first return, and then disprove thy claim. If love be passion, and that passion nurst With strong desires, I lov'd the lady first. Canst thou pretend desire, whom zeal inflam'd To worship, and a power celestial nam'd? Thine was devotion to the blest above, I saw the woman, and desir'd her love; First own'd my passion, and to thee commend Th' important secret, as my chosen friend. Suppose (which yet I grant not) thy desire A moment elder than my rival fire; Can chance of seeing first thy title prove? And know'st thou not, no law is made for love? Law is to things, which to free choice relate; Love is not in our choice, but in our fate; Laws are but positive; love's power, we see, Is Nature's sanction, and her first decree. Each day we break the bond of human laws For love, and vindicate the common cause. Laws for defence of civil rights are plac'd, Love throws the fences down, and makes a general
Maids, widows, wives, without distinction fall; The sweeping deluge, love, comes on, and covers all.
If then the laws of friendship I transgress,
I keep the greater, while I break the less;
And both are mad alike, since neither can possess,
Both hopeless to be ransom'd, never more
To see the Sun, but as he passes o'er."
Like Æsop's hounds contending for the bone,
Each pleaded right, and would be lord alone :
The fruitless fight continued all the day:
A cur came by, and snatch'd the prize away.
"As courtiers therefore justle for a grant,
And, when they break their friendship, plead their
So, thou, if Fortune will thy suit advance,
Love on, nor envy me my equal chance:
For I must love, and am resolv'd to try
My fate, or failing in th' adventure, die."
Great was their strife, which hourly was renew'd,
Till each with mortal hate his rival view'd:
Now friends no more, nor walking hand in hand;
But when they met, they made a surly stand;
And glar'd like angry lions as they pass'd,
And wish'd that every look might be their last.
It chanc'd at length, Pirithous came t'attend
This worthy Theseus, his familiar friend ;
Their love in early infancy began,
And rose as childhood ripen'd into man:
Companions of the war, and lov'd so well,
That when one died, as ancient stories tell,
His fellow to redeem him went to Hell.
But to pursue my tale: to welcome home His warlike brother is Pirithous come: Arcite of Thebes was known in arms long since, And honor'd by this young Thessalian prince. Theseus, to gratify his friend and guest, Who made our Arcite's freedom his request, Restor'd to liberty the captive knight, But on these hard conditions I recite: That if hereafter Arcite should be found Within the compass of Athenian ground, By day or night, or on whate'er pretence, His head should pay the forfeit of th' offence. To this Pirithous for his friend agreed, And on his promise was the prisoner freed. Unpleas'd and pensive hence he takes his way, At his own peril; for his life must pay. Who now but Arcite mourns his bitter fate, Finds his dear purchase, and repents too late! "What have I gain'd," he said, "in prison pent, If I but change my bonds for banishment? And banish'd from her sight, I suffer more In freedom, than I felt in bonds before: Forc'd from her presence, and condemn'd to live: Unwelcome freedom, and unthank'd reprieve: Heaven is not, but where Emily abides; And where she's absent, all is Hell besides. Next to my day of birth, was that accurst, Which bound my friendship to Pirithous first: Had I not known that prince, I still had been In bondage, and had still Emilia seen: For, though I never can her grace deserve, 'Tis recompense enough to see and serve. O Palamon, my kinsman and my friend, How much more happy fates thy love attend! Thine is th' adventure; thine the victory: Well has thy fortune turn'd the dice for thee: Thou on that angel's face may'st feed thine eyes, In prison, no; but blissful Paradise! Thou daily seest that sun of beauty shine, And lov'st at least in love's extremest line. I mourn in absence, love's eternal night;
And who can tell but since thou hast her sight,
And art a comely, young, and valiant knight,
Fortune (a various power) may cease to frown,
And by some ways unknown thy wishes crown?
But I, the most forlorn of human-kind,
Nor help can hope, nor remedy can find;
But, doom'd to drag my lothesome life in care,
For my reward, must end it in despair.
Fire, water, air, and earth, and force of fates
That governs all, and Heaven that all creates,
Nor art, nor Nature's hand can ease my grief;
Nothing but death, the wretch's last relief:
Then farewell youth, and all the joys that dwell,
With youth and life, and life itself farewell.
But why, alas! do mortal men in vain
Of Fortune, Fate, or Providence complain?
God gives us what he knows our wants require,
And better things than those which we desire:
Some pray for riches; riches they obtain;
But, watch'd by robbers, for their wealth are slain;
Some pray from prison to be freed; and come,
When guilty of their vows, to fall at home;
Murder'd by those they trusted with their life,
A favor'd servant, or a bosom wife.
Such dear-bought blessings happen every day,
Because we know not for what things to pray.
Like drunken sots about the street we roam :
Well knows the sot he has a certain home;
Yet knows not how to find th' uncertain place,
And blunders on, and staggers every pace.
Thus all seek happiness; but few can find,
For far the greater part of men are blind.
This is my case, who thought our utmost good
Was in one word of freedom understood:
The fatal blessing came: from prison free,
I starve abroad, and lose the sight of Emily."
Thus Arcite: but if Arcite thus deplore
His sufferings, Palamon yet suffers more.
For when he knew his rival freed and gone,
He swells with wrath; he makes outrageous moan:
He frets, he fumes, he stares, he stamps the ground;|
The hollow tower with clamors rings around:
With briny tears he bath'd his fetter'd feet,
And dropt all o'er with agony of sweat.
"Alas!" he cried, "I wretch in prison pine,
Too happy rival, while the fruit is thine:
Thou liv'st at large, thou draw'st thy native air,
Pleas'd with thy freedom, proud of my despair:
Thou mayst, since thou hast youth and courage join'd,
A sweet behavior, and a solid mind,
Assemble ours, and all the Theban race,
To vindicate on Athens thy disgrace;
And after, by some treaty made, possess
Fair Emily, the pledge of lasting peace.
So thine shall be the beauteous prize, while I
Must languish in despair, in prison die.
Thus all th' advantage of the strife is thine,
Thy portion double joys, and double sorrows mine."
The rage of jealousy then fir'd his soul,
And his face kindled like a burning coal:
Now cold Despair, succeeding in her stead,
To livid paleness turns the glowing red.
His blood, scarce liquid, creeps within his veins,
Like water which the freezing wind constrains.
Then thus he said: "Eternal deities,
Who rule the world with absolute decrees,
And write whatever time shall bring to pass,
With pens of adamant, on plates of brass;
What, is the race of human-kind your care,
Beyond what all his fellow-creatures are?
He with the rest is liable to pain,
And like the sheep, his brother-beast, is slain.
Cold, hunger, prisons, ills without a cure,
All these he must, and, guiltless, oft endure;
Or does your justice, power, or prescience fail,
When the good suffer, and the bad prevail?
What worse to wretched Virtue could befall,
If Fate or giddy Fortune govern'd all?
Nay, worse than other beasts is our estate;
Them, to pursue their pleasures, you create;
We, bound by harder laws, must curb our will,
And your commands, not our desires, fulfil;
Then when the creature is unjustly slain,
Yet after death at least he feels no pain;
But man, in life surcharg'd with woe before,
Not freed when dead, is doom'd to suffer more.
A serpent shoots his sting at unaware;
An ambush'd thief forelays a traveller:
The man lies murder'd, while the thief and snake,
One gains the thickets, and one thrids the brake.
This let divines decide; but well I know,
Just or unjust, I have my share of woe,
Through Saturn seated in a luckless place,
And Juno's wrath, that persecutes my race;
Or Mars and Venus, in a quartile, move
My pangs of jealousy for Arcite's love."
Let Palamon, oppress'd in bondage, mourn,
While to his exil'd rival we return.
By this, the Sun, declining from his height,
The day had shorten'd, to prolong the night:
The lengthened night gave length of misery
Both to the captive lover and the free;
For Palamon in endless prison mourns,
And Arcite forfeits life if he returns:
The banish'd never hopes his love to see,
Nor hopes the captive lord his liberty:
'Tis hard to say who suffers greater pains:
One sees his love, but cannot break his chains :
One free, and all his motions uncontroll'd,
Beholds whate'er he would, but what he would be-
Judge as you please, for I will haste to tell
What fortune to the banish'd knight befell.
When Arcite was to Thebes return'd again,
The loss of her he lov'd renew'd his pain;
What could be worse, than never more to see
His life, his soul, his charming Emily?
He rav'd with all the madness of despair,
He roar'd, he beat his breast, he tore his hair.
Dry sorrow in his stupid eyes appears,
For, wanting nourishment, he wanted tears:
His eyeballs in their hollow sockets sink:
Bereft of sleep, he lothes his meat and drink:
He withers at his heart, and looks as wan
As the pale spectre of a murder'd man:
That pale turns yellow, and his face receives
The faded hue of sapless boxen leaves:
In solitary groves he makes his moan,
Walks early out, and ever is alone:
Nor, mix'd in mirth, in youthful pleasures shares,
But sighs when songs and instruments he hears :
His spirits are so low, his voice is drown'd,
He hears as from afar, or in a swoon,
Like the deaf murmurs of a distant sound:
Uncomb'd his locks, and squalid his attire,
Unlike the trim of Love and gay Desire:
But full of museful mopings, which presage
The loss of reason, and conclude in rage.
This when he had endur'd a year and more,
Now wholly chang'd from what he was before,
It happen'd once, that, slumbering as he lay,
He dream'd (his dream began at break of day)
That Hermes o'er his head in air appear'd,
And with soft words his drooping spirits cheer'd:
His hat, adorn'd with wings, disclos'd the god,
And in his hand he bore the sleep-compelling rod:
Such as he seem'd, when, at his sire's command,
On Argus' head he laid the snaky wand.
"Arise," he said, "to conquering Athens go,
There Fate appoints an end to all thy woe."
The fright awaken'd Arcite with a start,
Against his bosom bounc'd his heaving heart;
But soon he said, with scarce recover'd breath,
"And thither will I go, to meet my death,
Sure to be slain, but death is my desire,
Since in Emilia's sight I shall expire."
By chance he spied a mirror while he spoke,
And gazing there beheld his alter'd look;
Wondering, he saw his features and his hue
WHILE Arcite lives in bliss, the story turns
Where hopeless Palamon in prison mourns.
For six long years immur'd, the captiv'd knight
Had dragg'd his chains, and scarcely seen the light:
Lost liberty, and love, at once he bore:
His prison pain'd him much, his passion more:
Nor dares he hope his fetters to remove,
Nor ever wishes to be free from love.
But when the sixth revolving year was run,
And May within the Twins receiv'd the Sun,
Were it by Chance, or forceful Destiny,
Which forms in causes first whate'er shall be,
Assisted by a friend, one moonless night,
This Palamon from prison took his flight:
A pleasant beverage he prepar'd before
Of wine and honey, mix'd with added store
Of opium; to his keeper this he brought,
So much were chang'd, that scarce himself he Who swallow'd unaware the sleepy draught,
The world may search in vain with all their eyes, Sought the next covert ere the rising Sun.
But never penetrate through this disguise.
Thanks to the change which grief and sickness
In low estate I may securely live,
And see unknown my mistress day by day."
He said; and cloth'd himself in coarse array:
A laboring hind in show, then forth he went,
And to th' Athenian towers his journey bent:
One squire attended in the same disguise,
Made conscious of his master's enterprise.
Arriv'd at Athens, soon he came to court,
Unknown, unquestion'd, in that thick resort:
Proffering for hire his service at the gate,
To drudge, draw water, and to run or wait.
So fair befell him, that for little gain
He serv'd at first Emilia's chamberlain :
And, watchful all advantages to spy,
Was still at hand, and in his master's eye:
And as his bones were big, and sinews strong,
Refus'd no toil, that could to slaves belong;
But from deep wells with engines water drew,
And us'd his noble hands the wood to hew.
He pass'd a year at least attending thus
On Emily, and call'd Philostratus.
But never was there man of his degree
So much esteem'd, so well belov'd, as he.
So gentle of condition was he known,
That through the court his courtesy was blown :
All think him worthy of a greater place,
And recommend him to the royal grace,
That, exercis'd within a higher sphere,
His virtues more conspicuous might appear.
Thus by the general voice was Arcite prais'd,
And by great Theseus to high favor rais'd:
Among his menial servants first enroll'd,
And largely entertain'd with sums of gold:
Besides what secretly from Thebes was sent,
Of his own income, and his annual rent:
This well employ'd, he purchas'd friends
A thick-spread forest near the city lay,
To this with lengthen'd strides he took his way,
(For far he could not fly, and fear'd the day).
Safe from pursuit, he meant to shun the light,
Till the brown shadows of the friendly night
To Thebes might favor his intended flight.
When to his country come, his next design
Was all the Theban race in arms to join,
And war on Theseus, till he lost his life
Or won the beauteous Emily to wife.
Thus while his thoughts the lingering day beguile,
To gentle Arcite let us turn our style;
Who little dreamt how nigh he was to care,
Till treacherous Fortune caught him in the snare.
The morning-lark, the messenger of Day,
Saluted in her song the morning grey;
And soon the Sun arose with beams so bright,
That all th' horizon laugh'd to see the joyous sight,
He with his tepid rays the rose renews,
And licks the drooping leaves, and dries the dews;
When Arcite left his bed, resolv'd to pay
Observance to the month of merry May:
Forth on his fiery steed betimes he rode,
That scarcely prints the turf on which he trod:
At ease he seem'd, and, prancing o'er the plains,
Turn'd only to the grove his horse's reins,
The grove I nam'd before; and, lighted there,
A woodbine garland sought to crown his hair;
Then turn'd his face against the rising day,
And rais'd his voice to welcome in the May. [wear,
"For thee, sweet month, the groves green liveries
If not the first, the fairest of the year:
For thee the Graces lead the dancing Hours,
And Nature's ready pencil paints the flowers:
When thy short reign is past, the feverish Sun
The sultry tropic fears, and moves more slowly on
So may thy tender blossoms fear no blight,
Nor goats with venom'd teeth thy tendrils bite,
and As thou shalt guide my wandering feet to find
The fragrant greens I seek, my brows to bind."
But cautiously conceal'd from whence it came.
Thus for three years he liv'd with large increase,
In arms of honor, and esteem in peace;
To Theseus' person he was ever near;
And Theseus for his virtues held him dear.
His vows address'd, within the grove he stray'd
Till Fate, or Fortune, near the place convey'd
His steps where secret Palamon was laid.
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)
And less he knew him for his hated foe,
But fear'd him as a man he did not know.
But as it has been said of ancient years,
Am here without my sword, or pointed lance;
Hope not, base man, unquestion'd hence to go,
For I am Palamon, thy mortal foe."
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,
For, unforeseen, they say, is unprepar'd.
Uncautious Arcite thought himself alone,
And less than all suspected Palamon,
Who, listening, heard him, while he search'd the
And loudly sung his roundelay of love:
But on the sudden stopp'd, and silent stood,
As lovers often muse, and change their mood;
Now high as Heaven, and then as low as Hell;
Now up, now down, as buckets in a well:
For Venus, like her day, will change her cheer,
And seldom shall we see a Friday clear.
Thus Arcite, having sung, with alter'd hue
Sunk on the ground, and from his bosom drew
A desperate sigh, accusing Heaven and Fate,
And angry Juno's unrelenting hate.
"Curs'd be the day when first I did appear;
Let it be blotted from the calendar,
Lest it pollute the month, and poison all the year.
Sull will the jealous queen pursue our race?
Cadmus is dead, the Theban city was:
Yet ceases not her hate: for all who come
From Cadmus are involv'd in Cadmus' doom.
I suffer for my blood: unjust decree!
That punishes another's crime on me.
In mean estate I serve my mortal foe,
The man who caus'd my country's overthrow.
This is not all; for Juno, to my shame,
Has forc'd me to forsake my former name;
Arcite I was, Philostratus I am.
That side of Heaven is all my enemy:
Mars ruin'd Thebes: his mother ruin'd me.
Of all the royal race remains but one
Besides myself, the unhappy Palamon,
"Now by the gods who govern Heaven above,
Wert thou not weak with hunger, mad with love,
That word had been thy last, or in this grove
This hand should force thee to renounce thy love.
The surety which I gave thee, I defy :
Fool, not to know, that love endures no tie,
And Jove but laughs at lovers' perjury.
Know I will serve the fair in thy despite;
But since thou art my kinsman, and a knight,
Here, have my faith, to-morrow in this grove
Our arms shall plead the titles of our love:
And Heaven so help my right, as I alone [known;
Will come, and keep the cause and quarrel both un-
With arms of proof both for myself and thee;
Choose thou the best, and leave the worst to me.
And, that a better ease thou may'st abide,
Bedding and clothes I will this night provide,
And needful sustenance, that thou may'st be
A conquest better won, and worthy me."
His promise Palamon accepts; but pray'd,
To keep it better than the first he made.
Thus fair they parted till the morrow's dawn,
For each had laid his plighted faith to pawn.
O Love! thou sternly dost thy power maintain,
And wilt not bear a rival in thy reign,
Tyrants and thou all fellowship disdain.
This was in Arcite prov'd, and Palamon;
Both in despair, yet each would love alone.
Arcite return'd, and, as in honor tied,
His foe with bedding and with food supplied:
Then, ere the day, two suits of armor sought,
Which borne before him on his steed he brought:
Both were of shining steel, and wrought so pure,
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.
Yet these, and all the rest, I could endure;
But love's a malady without a cure;
Fierce Love has pierc'd me with his fiery dart,
He fires within, and hisses at my heart.
Your eyes, fair Emily, my fate pursue;
I suffer for the rest, I die for you.
Of such a goddess no time leaves record,
Who burn'd the temple where she was ador'd:
And let it burn, I never will complain,
Pleas'd with my sufferings, if you knew my pain."
At this a sickly qualm his heart assail'd,
His ears ring inward, and his senses fail'd.
No word miss'd Palamon of all he spoke,
But soon to deadly pale he chang'd his look:
He trembled every limb, and felt a smart,
As if cold steel had glided through his heart:
No longer staid, but starting from his place,
Discover'd stood, and show'd his hostile face:
"False traitor Arcite, traitor to thy blood,
Bound by thy sacred oath to seek my good,
Now art thou found forsworn, for Emily;
And dar'st attempt her love, for whom I die.
So hast thou cheated Theseus with a wile,
Against thy vow, returning to beguile
Under a borrow'd name: as false to me,
So false thou art to him who set thee free:
But rest assur'd, that either thou shalt die,
Or else renounce thy claim in Emily:
The challenger and challeng'd face to face
Approach; each other from afar they knew,
And from afar their hatred chang'd their hue.
So stands the Thracian herdsman with his spear,
Full in the gap, and hopes the hunted bear,
And hears him rustling in the wood, and sees
His course at distance by the bending trees,
And thinks, here comes my mortal enemy,
And either he must fall in fight, or I:
This while he thinks, he lifts aloft his dart;
A generous chillness seizes every part;
The veins pour back the blood, and fortify the heart.
Thus pale they meet; their eyes with fury burn;
None greets; for none the greeting will return:
But in dumb surliness, each arm'd with care
His foe profest, as brother of the war:
Then both, no moment lost, at once advance
Against each other, arm'd with sword and lance:
They lash, they foin, they pass, they strive to bore
Their corslets, and the thinnest parts explore.
Thus two long hours in equal arms they stood,
And wounded, wound; till both were bath'd in
And not a foot of ground had either got,
As if the world depended on the spot.
Fell Arcite like an angry tiger far'd,
And like a lion Palamon appear'd:
Or as two boars whom love to battle draws,
With rising bristles, and with frothy jaws,