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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 2"
“Jesting,” said Arcite, “suits but ill with pain.”
“It suits far worse” (said Palamon again,
And bent his brows) “with men who honour 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 honour, or thine own maintain,
Since thou art of my council, and the friend
Whose faith I trust, and on whose care depend:
And would'st 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 reply'd 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
waste :
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 AEsop'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, [want,
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 dy'd, 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 coine:
Arcite of Thebes was known in arms long since,
And honour'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 2
“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'dtolive:
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 loathsome 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 favour'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 clamours rings around : With briny tears he bath'd his fetter'd feet, And dropt all o'er with agony of sweat. “Alas!” he cry’d, “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 tour. 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 2

| 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 2
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 uncontrol'd,
Beholds whate'er he would, but what he would be-
hold.
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 eye-balls in their hollow sockets sink:
Bereft of sleep, he loaths 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 changed from what he was besore,

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 bounced 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 spy'd a mirror while he spoke,
And gazing there beheld his alter'd look;
Wondering, he saw his features and his hue
So much were chang'd, that scarce himself he
knew.
A sudden thought then starting in his mind,
“Since I in Arcite cannot Arcite find,
The world may search in vain with all their eyes,
But never penetrate through this disguise.
Thanks to the change which grief and sickness
ve,
In low o I may securely live,
And see unknown my mistress day by day.”
He said; and cloth'd himself in coarse array:
A labouring 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 favour 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 and
fame,
But cautiously conceal’d from whence it came.
Thus for three years he liv'd with large increase,
In arms of honour, and esteem in peace;
To Theseus' person he was ever near;
And Theseus for his virtues held him dear.

Book II.

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,
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 covertere the rising Sun.
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 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 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 gray;
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,
As thou shalt guide my wandering 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.
'ull 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, [grove, 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. Still will the jealous queen pursue our race? Cadmus is dead, the Theban city was: Yet ceases nother 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, Whom Theseus holds in bonds, and will not free; Without a crime, except hiskin 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 foresworn, for Emily; And dar'st attempt her love, for w 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 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 unWith 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 mayst 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 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 honour ty'd, His foe with bedding and with food supply'd : Then, ere the day, two suits of armour 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.
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 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

blood;
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, ** frothy jaws,
4

Their adversebreasts 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 difference to decide.
The power that ministers to God's decrees,
And executes on Earth what Heaven foresees,
Call'd Providence, or Chance, or Fatal Sway,
Comes with resistless force, and finds or makes her
way.
Nor kings, nor nations, nor united power,
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 powers 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 easy couch at early day,
And to the wood and wilds pursued 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 battle stood:
The lawn on which they fought, th' appointed place
In which th' uncoupled hounds began the chase.
Thither forth-right he rode to rouse 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 battle doubling blow on blow,
Like lightning flam'd their faulchions 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 them on the place;
And with his sword unsheath'd, on pain of life
Commands both combatants to cease their strife :
Then with imperious tone pursues 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 2
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 would 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 Iny 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 proffer'd service, to thy palace came,
Now call'd Philostratus: retain’d by thee,
A traitor 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 my chain,
Nor promis'd I thy prisoner to remain:
The love of liberty with life is given,
And life itself th’ inferior 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 thyself, death is my due.
More wouldst 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 sourly smil'd : “In owning your offence,
You judge yourself; 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 ratify 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,
o pattern form'd of perfect womanhood)
or tender pity wept: when she began,
Through the bright quire th' infectious virtue 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 Heaven in face and mind,
And lovers, far beyond their faithless kind:
See their wide streaming wounds; they neither came
For pride of empire, nor desire of fame:
Kings 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 every lady's mind,
They left their steeds, and prostrate on the place,
From the fierce king, implor'd th' offenders grace.
He paus'd awhile, 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 softest minds):
Then reasons with himself; and first he finds
His passion cast a mist before his sense.
And either made, or magnify'd th' offence.
“Offence! of what? to whom? who judg'd the
cause ?
The prisoner freed himself by Nature's laws:
Born free, he sought his right: the man be freed
Was perjurd, but his love excus’d the deed.”
Thus pondering, he look'd under with his eyes,
And saw the women's tears, and heard their crics,
Which mov’d compassion more; he shook his head,
And softly sighing to himself he said:

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