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All these the painter drew with such command,
That Nature snatch'd the pencil from his hand;
Ashamed and angry, that his art could feign
And mend the tortures of a mother's pain.
Theseus beheld the fanes of every 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 theatre thus raised, the lists enclosed,
And all with vast magnificence disposed,
We leave the monarch pleased; and haste to bring
The knights to combat; and their arms to sing.
THE day approach'd when fortune should decide
The' important enterprise, and give the bride;
For now, the rivals round the world had sought,
And each his number, well appointed, brought.
The nations far and near contend in choice,
And send the flower of war by public voice;
That after, or before, were never known
Such chiefs; as each an army seem'd alone.
Beside the champions, all of high degree,
Who knighthood loved, and deeds of chivalry,
Throng'd to the lists, and envied to behold
The names of others, not their own enroll'd.
Nor seems it strange; for every noble knight,
Who loves the fair, and is endued with might,
In such a quarrel would be proud to fight.
There breathes not scarce a man on British ground
(An isle for love and arms of old renown'd)
But would have sold his life to purchase fame, To Palamon or Arcite sent his name:
And had the land selected of the best,
Half had come hence, and let the world provide the rest.
A hundred knights with Palamon there came,
Approved in fight, and men of mighty name;
Their arms were several, as their nations were,
But furnish'd all alike with sword and spear.
Some wore coat-armour, imitating scale;
And next their skins were stubborn shirts of mail,
Some wore a breast-plate and a light juppon,
Their horses cloth'd with rich caparison:
Some for defence would leathern bucklers use,
Of folded hides; and others, shields of Pruce 2.
One hung a poleaxe at his saddle-bow,
And one a heavy mace, to stun the foe:
One for his legs and knees provided well,
With jambeux arm'd, and double plates of steel:
This on his helmet wore a lady's glove,
And that, a sleeve embroider'd by his love.
With Palamon, above the rest in place,
Lycurgus came, the surly king of Thrace;
Black was his beard, and manly was his face:
The balls of his broad eyes roll'd in his head,
And glared betwixt a yellow and a red :
He look'd a lion with a gloomy stare,
And o'er his eyebrows hung his matted hair:
Big-boned, and large of limbs, with sinews strong,
Broad-shoulder'd, and his arms were round and
Four milk-white bulls (the Thracian use of old) Were yoked to draw his car of burnish'd gold.
Upright he stood, and bore aloft his shield, Conspicuous from afar, and overlook'd the field. His surcoat was a bear-skin on his back;
His hair hung long behind, and glossy raven-black. His ample forehead bore a coronet,
With sparkling diamonds and with rubies set: Ten brace, and more, of greyhounds, snowy fair, And tall as stags, ran loose, and coursed around his chair; [bear:
A match for pards in flight, in grappling for the With golden muzzles all their mouths were bound, And collars of the same their necks surround. Thus through the fields Lycurgus took his way; His hundred knights attend in pomp and proud
To match this monarch, with strong Arcite came Emetrius, king of Ind, (a mighty name!) On a bay courser, goodly to behold, [gold. The trappings of his horse emboss'd with barbarous Not Mars bestrode a steed with greater grace; His surcoat o'er his arms was cloth of Thrace, Adorn'd with pearls, all orient, round, and great; His saddle was of gold, with emeralds set. His shoulders large a mantle did attire, With rubies thick, and sparkling as the fire : His amber-colour'd locks in ringlets run With graceful negligence, and shone against the sun. His nose was aquiline, his eyes were blue, Ruddy his lips, and fresh and fair his hue : Some sprinkled freckles on his face were seen, Whose dusk set off the whiteness of the skin. His awful presence did the crowd surprise, Nor durst the rash spectator meet his eyes; Eyes, that confess'd him born for kingly sway, So herce, they flash'd intolerable day.
His age in nature's youthful prime appear'd,
And just began to bloom his yellow beard;
Whene'er he spoke, his voice was heard around,
Loud as a trumpet, with a silver sound;
A laurel wreath his temples, fresh and green,
And myrtle sprigs, the marks of love, were mix'd
Upon his fist he bore, for his delight,
An eagle well reclaim'd, and lily-white.
His hundred knights attend him to the war,
All arm'd for battle, save their heads were bare.
Words and devices blazed on every shield,
And pleasing was the terror of the field.
For kings, and dukes, and barons you might see,
Like sparkling stars, though different in degree,
All for the' increase of arms, and love of chivalry.
Before the king tame leopards led the way,
And troops of lions innocently play:
So Bacchus through the conquer'd Indies rode,
And beasts in gambols frisk'd before their honest
In this array the war of either side
[god! Through Athens pass'd with military pride. At prime they enter'd, on the Sunday morn; Rich tapestry spread the streets, and flowers the posts adorn.
The town was all a jubilee of feasts:
So Theseus will'd, in honour of his guests.
Himself with open arms the king embraced;
Then all the rest in their degrees were graced.
No harbinger was needful for the night,
For every house was proud to lodge a knight.
pass the royal treat, nor must relate
The gifts bestow'd, nor how the champions sate; Who first, who last, or how the knights address'd Their vows, or who was fairest at the feast;
Whose voice, whose graceful dance, did most
Soft amorous sighs, and silent love of eyes.
The rivals call my Muse another way,
To sing their vigils for the' ensuing day.
"Twas ebbing darkness, past the noon of night,
And Phosphor, on the confines of the light,
Promised the sun, ere day began to spring;
The tuneful lark already stretch'd her wing,
And, flickering on her nest, make short essays to
When wakeful Palamon, preventing day, [sing:
Took to the royal lists his early way,
To Venus at her fane, in her own house to pray.
There falling on his knees before her shrine,
He thus implored with prayers her power divine:-
'Creator Venus! genial power of love!
The bliss of men below and gods above!
Beneath the sliding sun thou run'st thy race,
Dost fairest shine and best become thy place:
For thee the winds their eastern blasts forbear;
Thy month reveals the spring, and opens all the year.
Thee, goddess! thee the storms of winter fly;
Earth smiles with flowers renewing; laughs the sky;
And birds to lays of love their tuneful notes apply.
For thee the lion loathes the taste of blood,
And, roaring, hunts his female through the wood:
For thee the bulls rebellow through the groves,
And tempt the streams, and snuff their absent loves.
'Tis thine whate'er is pleasant, good, or fair;
All nature is thy province, life thy care:
Thou madest the world, and dost the world repair.
Thou gladder of the mount of Cytheron,
Increase of Jove, companion of the sun!