Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PALAMON AND ARCITE, OR THE KNIGHT'S TALE: BOOK 2, by GEOFFREY CHAUCER



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PALAMON AND ARCITE, OR THE KNIGHT'S TALE: BOOK 2, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: While arcite lives in bliss, the story turns
Last Line: The knights to combate; and their arms to sing.
Subject(s): Courts & Courtiers; Death; Fables; Knights & Knighthood; Love; Mythology; Royal Court Life; Royalty; Kings; Queens; Dead, The; Allegories


WHILE Arcite lives in Bliss, the Story turns
Where hopeless Palamon in Prison mourns.
For six long Years immur'd, the captive 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 received 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,
Who swallow'd unaware the sleepy Draught,
And snor'd secure till Morn, his Senses bound
In Slumber, and in long Oblivion drown'd.
Short was the Night, and careful Palamon
Sought the next Covert e'er the rising Sun.
A thick spread Forest near the City lay,
To this with lengthened Strides he took his Way,
(For far he cou'd 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 favour 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 lingring 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 gray;
And soon the Sun arose with Beamsso bright,
That all th' Horizon laugh'd to see the joyous Sight;
He with his tepid Rays the Rose renews,
And licks the dropping 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 pransing o'er the Plains,
Turn'd only to the Grove his Horse's Reins,
The Grove I nam'd before; and lighting there,
A Woodbind Garland sought to crown his Hair;
Then turned his Face against the rising Day,
And rais'd his Voice to welcom in the May.
For thee, sweet Month, the Groves green Liv' ries wear:
If not the first, the fairest of the Year:
For thee the Graces lead the dancing Hours,
And Nature's ready Pencil paints the Flow'rs:
When thy short Reign is past, the Fev'rish Sun
The sultry Tropick fears, and moves more slowly on.
So may thy tender Blossoms fear no Blite,
Nor Goats with venom'd Teeth thy Tendrils bite,
As thou shalt guide my wandring Feet to find
The fragrant Greens I seek, my Brows to bind.
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 Sight;
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,
That Fields are full of Eyes, and Woods have Ears;
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, listning, heard him, while he search'd the Grove,
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 Heav'n, 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 desp' rate Sigh, accusing Heav'n 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.
Still 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 Countrys 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 Heav'n is all my Enemy:
Mars ruin'd Thebes; his Mother ruin'd me.
Of all the Royal Race remains but one
Beside my self, th' unhappy Palamon,
Whom Theseus holds in Bonds, and will not free;
Without a Crime, except his Kin to me.
Yet these, and all the rest I cou'd endure;
But Love's a Malady without a Cure:
Fierce Love has pierc'd me with his fiery Dart,
He fries 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 Suff'rings, 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 changed his Look:
He trembl'd ev'ry Limb, and felt a Smart,
As if cold Steel had glided through his Heart;
Nor longer staid, but starting from his Place,
Discover'd stood, and shew'd his hostile Face:
False Traytor, Arcite, Traytor 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:
For though unarm'd I am, and (freed by Chance)
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,
His sword unsheath'd, and fiercely thus began:
Now, by the Gods who govern Heav'n 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 defie;
Fool, not to know that Love endures no Tie,
And Jove but laughs at Lovers Perjury.
Know, I will serve the fair in thy despight;
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
Will come, and keep the Cause and Quarrel both unknown;
With Arms of Proof both for myself and thee;
Chuse thou the best, and leave the worst to me.
And, that at better Ease thou maist abide,
Bedding and Clothes I will this Night provide,
And needful Sustenance, that thou maist 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 Morrows Dawn;
For each had laid his plighted Faith to Pawn.
Oh Love! Thou sternly dost thy Pow'r 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 Honour ty'd,
His Foe with Bedding, and with Food supply'd;
Then, e'er the Day, two Suits of Armour sought,
Which born 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.
Now, at the Time, and in th' appointed Place,
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 Heardsman 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 gen'rous Chillness seizes ev'ry Part;
The Veins pour back the Blood, and fortifie 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 Blood;
And not a Foot of Ground had either got,
As if the World depended on the Spot.
Fell Arcite like an angry Tyger far'd,
And like a Lion Palamon appear'd:
Or as two Boars whom Love to Battel draws,
With rising Bristles and with froathy Jaws,
Their adverse Breasts with Tusks oblique they wound;
With Grunts and Groans the Forest rings around.
So fought the Knights, and fighting must abide,
Till Fate an Umpire sends their Diff'rence to decide.
The Pow'r that ministers to God's Decrees,
And executes on Earth what Heav'n foresees,
Called Providence, or Chance, or Fatal Sway,
Comes with resistless Force, and finds or makes her Way.
Nor Kings, nor Nations, nor united Pow'r
One Moment can retard th' appointed Hour.
And some one Day, some wondrous Chance appears,
Which happen'd not in Centuries of Years:
For sure, whate'er we Mortals hate or love,
Or hope, or fear, depends on Pow'rs above:
They move our Appetites to Good or Ill,
And by Foresight necessitate the Will.
In Theseus this appears; whose youthful Joy
Was Beasts of Chase in Forests to destroy;
This gentle Knight, inspir'd by jolly May,
Forsook his easie Couch at early Day,
And to the Wood and Wilds pursu'd his Way.
Beside him rode Hippolita the Queen,
And Emily attir'd in lively Green,
With Horns, and Hounds, and all the tuneful Cry,
To hunt a Royal Hart within the Covert nigh:
And, as he follow'd Mars before, so now
He serves the Goddess of the Silver Bow.
The way that Theseus took was to the Wood,
Where the two Knights in cruel Battel stood:
The Laund on which they fought, th' appointed Place
In which th' unccupl'd Hounds began the Chace.
Thither forth-right he rode to rowse the Prey,
That shaded by the Fern in Harbour lay;
And thence dislodg'd, was wont to leave the Wood
For open Fields, and cross the Crystal Flood.
Approach'd, and looking underneath the Sun,
He saw proud Arcite, and fierce Palamon,
In mortal Battel doubling Blow on Blow.
Like Lightning flam'd their Fauchions to and fro,
And shot a dreadful Gleam; so strong they strook,
There seem'd less Force requir'd to fell an Oak:
He gaz'd with Wonder on their equal Might,
Look'd eager on, but knew not either Knight:
Resolv'd to learn, he spurr'd his fiery Steed
With goring Rowels, to provoke his Speed.
The Minute ended that began the Race,
So soon he was betwixt 'em on the Place;
And with his Sword unsheath'd, on Pain of Life
Commands both Combatants to cease their Strife:
Then withimperious Tonepursues his Threat;
What are you? Why in Arms together met?
How dares your Pride presume against my Laws,
As in a listed Field to fight your Cause?
Unask'd the Royal Grant; no Marshal by,
As Knightly Rites require; nor Judge to try?
Then Palamon, with scarce recover'd Breath,
Thus hasty spoke; We both deserve the Death,
And both wou'd die; for look the World around,
A Pair so wretched is not to be found.
Our Life's a Load; encumber'd with the Charge,
We long to set th' imprison'd Soul at large.
Now, as thou art a Sovereign Judge, decree
The rightful Doom of Death to him and me,
Let neither find thy Grace, for Grace is Cruelty.
Me first, O kill me first, and cure my Woe;
Then sheath the Sword of Justice on my Foe:
Or kill him first, for when his Name is heard,
He foremost will receive his due Reward.
Arcite of Thebes is he; thy mortal Foe,
On whom thy Grace did Liberty bestow,
But first contracted, that, if ever found
By Day or Night upon th' Athenian Ground,
His Head should pay the Forfeit: See return'd
The perjur'd Knight, his Oath and Honour scorn'd.
For this is he, who, with a borrow'd Name
And profer'd Service, to thy Palace came,
Now call'd Philostratus: retain'd by thee,
A Traytor trusted, and in high Degree,
Aspiring to the Bed of beauteous Emily.
My Part remains, from Thebes my Birth I own,
And call myself th' unhappy Palamon.
Think me not like that Man; since no Disgrace
Can force me to renounce the Honour of my Race.
Know me for what I am: I broke thy Chain,
Nor promis'd I thy Pris'ner to remain:
The Love of Liberty with Life is giv'n,
And Life it self th' inferiour Gift of Heaven.
Thus without Crime I fled; but farther know,
I with this Arcite am thy mortal Foe:
Then give me Death, since I thy Life pursue;
For Safeguard of thy self, Death is my Due.
More would'st thou know? I love bright Emily,
And for her sake and in her Sight will die:
But kill my Rival too; for he no less
Deserves; and I thy righteous Doom will bless,
Assur'd that what I lose, he never shall possess.
To this reply'd the stern Athenian Prince,
And sow'rly smild, In owning your Offence
You judge your self, and I but keep record
In place of Law, while you pronounce the Word.
Take your Desert, the Death you have decreed;
I seal your Doom, and ratifie the Deed.
By Mars, the Patron of my Arms, you die.
He said; dumb Sorrow seiz'd the Standers by.
The Queen, above the rest, by Nature Good,
(The Pattern form'd of perfect Womanhood)
For tender Pity wept: When she began,
Through the bright Quire th' infectious Vertue ran.
All dropt their Tears, ev'n the contended Maid;
And thus among themselves they softly said:
What Eyes can suffer this unworthy Sight!
Two Youths of Royal Blood, renown'd in Fight,
The Mastership of Heav'n in Face and Mind,
And Lovers, far beyond their faithless Kind:
See their wide streaming Wounds; they neither came
From Pride of Empire, nor desire of Fame:
Kings fight for Kingdoms, Madmen for Applause;
But Love for Love alone; that crowns the Lover's Cause.
This Thought, which ever bribes the beauteous Kind,
Such Pity wrought in ev'ry Ladies Mind,
They left their Steeds, and prostrate on the Place,
From the fierce King, implor'd th' Offenders Grace.
He paus'd a while, stood silent in his Mood,
(For yet his Rage was boiling in his Blood)
But soon his tender Mind th' Impression felt.
(As softest Metals are not slow to melt
And Pity soonest runs in gentle Minds:)
Then reasons with himself; and first he finds
His Passion cast a Mist before his Sense,
And either made, or magnifi'd th' Offence.
Offence! of what? to whom? Who judg'd the Cause?
The Pris'ner freed himself by Natures Laws;
Born free, he sought his Right: The Man he freed
Was perjur'd, but his Love excus'd the Deed:
Thus pond'ring, he look'd under with his Eyes,
And saw the Womens Tears, and heard their Cries;
Which mov'd Compassion more: He shook his Head,
And softly sighing to himself, he said,
Curse on th' unpard'ning Prince, whom Tears can draw
To no Remorse; who rules by Lions Law;
And deaf to Pray'rs, by no Submission bow'd,
Rends all alike; the Penitent, and Proud:
At this with look serene he rais'd his Head;
Reason resum'd her Place, and Passion fled:
Then thus aloud he spoke: The Pow'r of Love,
In Earth, and Seas, and Air, and Heav'n above,
Rules, unresisted, with an awful Nod;
By daily Miracles declar'd a God:
He blinds the Wise, gives Eye-sight to the Blind;
And moulds and stamps anew the Lover's Mind.
Behold that Arcite, and this Palamon,
Freed from my Fetters, and in Safety gone,
What hinder'd either in their Native Soil
At ease to reap the Harvest of their Toil?
But Love, their Lord, did otherwise ordain,
And brought 'em, in their own Despite again,
To suffer Death deserv'd; for well they know
'Tis in my Pow'r, and I their deadly Foe.
The Proverb holds, That to be wise and love,
Is hardly granted to the Gods above.
See howthe Madmen bleed: Behold the Gains
With which their Master, Love, rewards their Pains:
For sev'n long Years, on Duty ev'ry Day,
Lo their Obedience, and their Monarch's Pay:
Yet, as in Duty bound, they serve him on,
And ask the Fools, they think it wisely done:
Nor Ease nor Wealth nor Life it self regard,
For 'tis their Maxim, Love is Love's Reward.
This is not all; the Fair, for whom they strove
Nor knew before, nor could suspect their Love,
Nor thought, when she beheld the Fight from far,
Her Beauty was th' Occasion of the War.
But sure a gen'ral Doom on Man is past,
And all are Fools and Lovers, first or last:
This both by others and my self I know,
For I have serv'd their Sovereign, long ago;
Oft have been caught within the winding Train
Of Female Snares, and felt the Lover's Pain,
And learn'd how far the God can Humane Hearts constrain.
To this Remembrance, and the Pray'rs of those
Who for th' offending Warriors interpose,
I give their forfeit Lives; on this accord,
To do me Homage as their Sov'reign Lord;
And as my Vassals, to their utmost Might,
Assist my Person, and assert my Right.
This freely sworn, the Knights their Grace obtain'd;
Then thus the King his secret Thoughts explain'd:
If Wealth, or Honour, or a Royal Race,
Or each, or all, may win a Ladies Grace,
Then either of you Knights may well deserve
A Princess born; and such is she you serve:
For Emily is Sister to the Crown,
And but too well to both her Beauty known:
But shou'd you combat till you both were dead,
Two Lovers cannot share a single Bed:
As, therefore, both are equal in Degree,
The Lot of both be left to Destiny.
Now hear th' Award, and happy may it prove
To her, and him who best deserves her Love.
Depart from hence in peace, and free as Air,
Search the wide World, and where you please repair;
But on the Day when this returning Sun
To the same Point through ev' rysign has run,
Then each of you his Hundred Knights shall bring
In Royal Lists, to fight before the King;
And then, the Knight, whom Fate or happy Chance
Shall with his Friends to Victory advance,
And grace his Arms so far in equal Fight,
From out the Bars to force his Opposite,
Or kill, or make him Recreant on the Plain,
The Prize of Valour and of Love shall gain;
The vanquish'd Party shall their Claim release,
And the long Jars conclude in lasting Peace.
The Charge be mine t' adorn the chosen Ground,
The Theatre of War, for Champions so renown d;
And take the Patrons Place of either Knight,
With Eyes impartial to behold the Fight;
And Heav'n of me so judge, as I shall judge aright.
If both are satisfi'd with this Accord,
Swear by the Laws of Knighthood on my Sword.
Who now but Palamon exults with joy?
And ravish'd Arcite seems to touch the Sky:
The whole assembl'd Troop was pleas'd as well,
Extol'd the Award, and on their Knees they fell
To bless the gracious King. The Knights with Leave
Departing from the Place, his last Commands receive;
On Emily with equal Ardour look,
And from her Eyes their Inspiration took:
From thence to Thebes old Walls pursue their Way,
Each to provide his Champions for the Day.
It might be deem'd, on our Historian's Part,
Or too much Negligence, or Want of Art,
If he forgot the vast Magnificence
Of Royal Theseus, and his large Expence.
He first enclos'd for Lists a level Ground,
The whole Circumference a Mile around:
The Form was Circular; and all without
A Trench was sunk, to Moat the Place about.
Within, an Amphitheatre appear'd,
Rais'd in Degrees; to sixty Paces rear'd:
That when a Man was plac'd in one Degree,
Height was allow'd for him above to see.
Eastward was built a Gate of Marble white;
The like adorn'd the Western opposite.
A nobler Object than this Fabrick was,
Rome never saw; nor of so vast a Space.
For, rich with Spoils of many a conquer'd Land,
All Arts and Artists Theseus could command;
Who sold for Hire, or wrought for better Fame:
The Master-Painters, and the Carvers came.
So rose within the Compass of the Year
An Ages Work, a glorious Theatre.
Then, o'er its Eastern Gate was rais'd above
A Temple, sacred to the Queen of Love;
An Altar stood below: On either Hand
A Priest with Roses crown'd, who held a Myrtle Wand.
The Dome of Mars was on the Gate oppos'd,
And on the North a Turret was enclos'd,
Within the Wall, of Alabaster white,
And crimson Coral, for the Queen of Night,
Who takes in Sylvan Sports her chaste Delight.
Within these Oratories might you see
Rich Carvings, Pourtraitures, and Imagery:
Where ev'ry Figure to the Life express'd
The Godhead's Pow'r to whom it was address'd.
In Venus Temple on the Sides were seen
the broken Slumbers of inamour'd Men;
Pray'rs that ev'n spoke and Pity seemed to call,
And issuing Sighs that smoak'd along the Wall;
Complaints and hot Desires, the Lover's Hell,
And scalding Tears, that wore a Channel where they fell;
And all around were Nuptial Bonds, the Ties
Of Loves Assurance, and a Train of Lies,
That, made in Lust, conclude in Perjuries.
Beauty, and Youth, and Wealth, and Luxury,
And spritely Hope, and short-enduring Joy;
And Sorceries, to raise th' Infernal Pow'rs,
And Sigils fram'd in Planetary Hours;
Expense, and After-thought, and idle Care,
And Doubts of motley Hue, and dark De spair;
Suspicions, and Fantastical Surmise,
And Jealousie suffus'd, with Jaundice in her Eyes;
Discolouring all she view'd, in Tawney dress'd;
Down-look'd, and with a Cuckow on her Fist.
Oppos'd to her, on t' other side advance
The costly Feast, the Carol, and the Dance,
Minstrels, and Musick, Poetry, and Play,
And Balls by night, and Turnaments by Day.
All these were painted on the Wall, and more;
With Acts, and Monuments of Times before;
And others added by Prophetick Doom,
And Lovers yet unborn, and Loves to come:
For there th' Idalian mount, and Citheron,
The Court of Venus, was in Colours drawn:
Before the Palace-gate, in careless Dress,
And loose Array, sat Portress Idleness;
There, by the Fount, Narcissus pin'd alone;
There Samson was; with wiser Solomon,
And all the mighty Names by Love undone:
Medea's Charms were there; Circean Feasts,
With Bowls that turn'd inamoured Youth to Beasts.
Here might be seen, that Beauty, Wealth, and Wit,
And Prowess, to the Pow'r of Love submit;
The spreading Snare for all Mankind is laid;
And Lovers all betray, and are betray'd.
The Goddess self, some noble Hand had wrought;
Smiling she seem'd, and full of pleasing Thought:
From Ocean as she first began to rise,
And smooth'd the ruffl'd Seas, and clear'd the Skies;
She trode the Brine, all bare below the Breast,
And the green Waves but ill conceal'd the Rest;
A Lute she held; and on her Head was seen
A Wreath of Roses red and Myrtles green;
Her Turtles fann'd the buxom Air above;
And, by his Mother, stood an Infant-Love:
With Wings unfledg'd; his Eyes were banded o'er;
His Hands a Bow, his Back a Quiver bore,
Supply'd with Arrows bright and keen, a deadly Store.
But in the Dome of mighty Mars the Red
With diff'rent Figures all the Sides were spread:
This Temple, less in Form, with equal Grace
Was imitative of the first in Thrace:
For that cold Region was the lov'd Abode,
And Sovereign Mansion of the Warriour-God.
The Landscape was a Forest wide and bare;
Where neither Beast nor Humane Kind repair;
The Fowl, that scent afar, the Borders fly,
And shun the bitter Blast, and wheel about the Sky.
A Cake of Scurf lies baking on the Ground,
And prickly Stubs, instead of Trees, are found;
Or Woods with Knots, and Knares deform'd and old,
Headless the most, and hideous to behold:
A ratling Tempest through the Branches went,
That stripp'd 'em bare, and one sole way they bent.
Heav'n froze above, severe, the Clouds congeal,
And through the Crystal Vault appear'd the standing Hail.
Such was the Face without, a Mountain stood
Threatning from high, and overlook'd the Wood:
Beneath the lowring Brow, and on a Bent,
The Temple stood of Mars Armipotent;
The Frame of burnish'd Steel, that cast a glare
From far, and seem'd to thaw the freezing Air.
A streight, long Entry to the Temple led,
Blind with high Walls; and Horrour over Head:
Thence issu'd such a Blast, and hollow Rore,
As threaten'd from the Hinge, to heave the Door;
In, through that Door, a Northern Light there shone;
'Twas all it had, for Windows there were none.
The Gate was Adamant; Eternal Frame!
Which, hew'd by Mars himself, from Indian Quarries came,
The Labour of a God; and all along
Tough Iron Plates were clench'd to make it strong.
A Tun about was ev'ry Pillar there;
A polish'd Mirrour shone not half so clear.
There saw I how the secret Fellon wrought,
And Treason lab'ring in the Traytor's Thought;
And Midwife Time the ripen'd Plot to Murder brought.
There, the Red Anger dar'd the Pallid Fear;
Next stood Hypocrisie, with holy Lear:
Soft, smiling, and demurely looking down,
But hid the Dagger underneath the Gown:
Th' assassinating Wife, the Houshold Fiend;
And far the blackest there, the Traytor-Friend.
On t' other side there stood Destruction bare;
Unpunish'd Rapine, and a Waste of War,
Contest, with sharpen'd Knives in Cloysters drawn,
And all with Blood bespread the holy Lawn.
Loud Menaces were heard, and foul Disgrace,
And bawling Infamy, in Language base;
Till Sense was lost in Sound, and Silence fled the Place.
The Slayer of Himself yet saw I there,
The Gore congeal'd was clotter'd in his Hair:
With Eyes half clos'd, and gaping Mouth he lay,
And grim, as when he breath'd his sullen Soul away.
In midst of all the Dome, Misfortune sat,
And gloomy Discontent, and fell Debate,
And Madness laughing in his ireful Mood;
And arm'd Complaint on Theft; and Cries of Blood.
There was the murder'd Corps, in Covert laid,
And Violent Death in thousand Shapes display'd:
The City to the Soldier's Rage resign'd:
Successless Wars, and Poverty behind:
Ships burnt in Fight, or forc'd on Rocky Shores,
And the rash Hunter strangled by the Boars:
The new-born Babe by Nurses overlaid;
And the Cook caught within the raging Fire he made.
All ills of Mars his Nature, Flame and Steel:
The gasping Charioteer, beneath the Wheel
Of his own Car; the ruin'd House that falls
And intercepts her Lord betwixt the Walls:
The whole Division that to Mars pertains.
All Trades of Death that deal in Steel for Gains,
Were there: The Butcher, Armourer, and Smith,
Who forges sharpen'd Fauchions, or the Scythe.
The scarlet Conquest on a Tow'r was plac'd,
With Shouts, and Soldiers Acclamations grac'd:
A pointed Sword hung threatning o'er his Head,
Sustain'd but by a slender Twine of Thred.
There saw I Mars his Ides, the Capitol,
The Seer in vain foretelling Caesar's Fall;
The last Triumvirs, and the Wars they move,
And Antony, who lost the World for Love.
These, and a thousand more, the Fane adorn;
Their Fates were painted e'er the Men were born,
All copied from the Heav'ns, and ruling Force
Of the Red Star, in his revolving Course.
The Form of Mars high on a Chariot stood,
All sheath'd in Arms, and gruffly look'd the God:
Two Geomantick Figures were display'd
Above his Head, a Warriour and a Maid,
One when Direct, and one when Retrograde.
Tir'd with Deformities of Death, I haste
To the third Temple of Diana chaste;
A Sylvan Scene with various Greens was drawn,
Shades on the Sides, and on the midst a Lawn:
The Silver Cynthia, with her Nymphs around,
Pursu'd the flying Deer, the Woods with Horns resound:
Calistho there stood manifest of Shame,
And, turn'd a Bear, the Northern Star became:
Her Son was next, and, by peculiar Grace
In the cold Circle held the second Place:
The Stag Acteon in the Stream had spy'd
The naked Huntress, and, for seeing, dy'd;
His Hounds, unknowing of his Change, pursue
The Chace, and their mistaken Master slew.
Peneian Daphne too was there to see,
Apollo's Love before, and now his Tree:
Th' adjoining Fane th' assembl'd Greeks express'd,
And hunting of the Caledonian beast.
Oenides Valour, and his envy'd Prize;
The fatal Pow'r of Atalanta's Eyes;
Diana's Vengeance on the Victor shown,
The Murdress Mother, and consuming Son;
The Volscian Queen extended on the Plain;
The Treason punish'd, and the Traytor slain.
The rest were various Huntings, well design'd,
And Salvage Beasts destroy'd, of ev'ry Kind:
The graceful Goddess was array'd in Green;
About her Feet were little Beagles seen,
That watch'd with up ward Eyes the Motions of their Queen.
Her Legs were Buskin'd, and the Left before,
In act to shoot, a Silver Bow she bore,
And at her Back a painted Quiver wore.
She trod a wexing Moon, that soon wou'd wane,
And drinking borrowed Light, be fill'd again;
With down-cast Eyes, as seeming to survey
The dark Dominions, her alternate Sway.
Before her stood a Woman in her Throws,
And call'd Lucina's Aid, her Burden to disclose.
All these the Painter drew with such Command,
That Nature snatch'd the Pencil from his Hand,
Asham'd and angry that his Art could feign
And mend the Tortures of a Mothers Pain.
Theseus beheld the Fanes of ev'ry God,
And thought his mighty Cost was well bestow'd:
So Princes now their Poets should regard;
But few can write, and fewer can reward.
The Theater thus rais'd, the Lists enclos'd,
And all with vast Magnificence dispos'd,
We leave the Monarch pleased, and haste to bring
The Knights to combate; and their Arms to sing.





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