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The whirlpools suck'd down to their bosoms low;
But on he went to search for wonders mo,
Through the thick trees, there high and broad which
And in that forest huge, and desert wide,
The more he sought, more wonders still he spied :
12 Where'er he stepp'd, it seem'd the joyful ground
Renew'd the verdure of her flowery weed;
A fountain here, a well-spring there he found;
Here bud the roses, there the lilies spread:
The aged wood o'er and about him round
Flourish'd with blossoms new, new leaves, new seed;
And on the boughs and branches of those treen
The bark was soften'd, and renew'd the green.
13 The manna on each leaf did pearled lie;
The honey stilled2 from the tender rind:
Again he heard that wonderful harmony
Of songs and sweet complaints of lovers kind;
The human voices sung a treble high,
To which respond the birds, the streams, the wind;
But yet unseen those nymphs, those singers were,
Unseen the lutes, harps, viols which they bear.
14 He look’d, he listen'd, yet his thoughts denied
To think that true which he did hear and see:
A myrtle in an ample plain he spied,
And thither by a beaten path went he;
The myrtle spread her mighty branches wide,
Higher than pine, or palm, or cypress tree,
And far above all other plants was seen
That forest's lady, and that desert's queen.
15 Upon the tree his eyes Rinaldo bent,
And there a marvel great and strange began;
An aged oak beside him cleft and rent,
And from his fertile, hollow womb, forth ran,
Clad in rare weeds and strange habiliment,
A nymph, for age able to go to man;
An hundred plants beside, even in his sight,
Childed an hundred nymphs, so great, so dight."
16 Such as on stages play, such as we see
The dryads painted, whom wild satyrs love,
Whose arms half naked, locks untrussed be,
With buskins laced on their legs above,
And silken robes tuck'd short above their knee,
Such seem'd the sylvan daughters of this grove;
Save, that instead of shafts and bows of tree,
She bore a lute, a harp or cittern she;
17 And wantonly they cast them in a ring,
and danced to move his weaker sense,
Rinaldo round about environing,
As does its centre the circumference;
The tree they compass'd eke, and 'gan to sing,
That woods and streams admired their excellence
Welcome, dear Lord, welcome to this sweet grove,
Welcome, our lady's hope, welcome, her love!
18 • Thou com’st to cure our princess, faint and sick
For love, for love of thee, faint, sick, distress'd;
Late black, late dreadful was this forest thick,
Fit dwelling for sad folk, with grief oppress’d;
See, with thy coming how the branches quick
Revived are, and in new blossoms dress'd!'
1 Dight:' apparelled.
This was their song; and after from it went
First a sweet sound, and then the myrtle rent.
19 If antique times admired Silenus old,
Who oft appear'd set on his lazy ass,
How would they wonder, if they had behold
Such sights, as from the myrtle high did pass!
Thence came a lady fair with locks of gold,
That like in shape, in face, and beauty was
To fair Armida; Rinald thinks he spies
Her gestures, smiles, and glances of her eyes:
20 On him a sad and smiling look she cast,
Which twenty passions strange at once bewrays;
' And art thou come,' quoth she, 'return'd at last
To her, from whom but late thou ran’st thy ways?
Com'st thou to comfort me for sorrows past,
To ease my widow nights, and careful days?
Or comest thou to work me grief and harm?
Why nilt thou speak, why not thy face disarm?
21 Com'st thou a friend or foe? I did not frame
That golden bridge to entertain my foe;
Nor open'd flowers and fountains, as you came,
To welcome him with joy who brings me woe:
Put off thy helm: rejoice me with the flame
Of thy bright eyes, whence first my fires did grow;
Kiss me, embrace me; if you further venture,
Love keeps the gate, the fort is eath? to enter.'
22 Thus as she woos, she rolls her rueful
eyes With piteous look, and changeth oft her chere,2 An hundred sighs from her false heart up-flies;
She sobs, she mourns, it is great ruth to hear:
The hardest breast sweet pity mollifies ;
What stony heart resists a woman's tear?
But yet the knight, wise, wary, not unkind,
Drew forth his sword, and from her careless
23 Towards the tree he march'd; she thither start,
Before him stepp'd, embraced the plant, and cried
• Ah! never do me such a spiteful part,
To cut my tree, this forest's joy and pride;
Put up thy sword, else pierce therewith the heart
Of thy forsaken and despised Armide;
For through this breast, and through this heart, un-
kind, To this fair tree thy sword shall passage find.' 4 He lift his brand, nor cared, though oft she pray'd,
And she her form to other shape did change;
Such monsters huge, when men in dreams are laid,
Oft in their idle fancies roam and range: :
Her body swell’d, her face obscure was made;
Vanish'd her garments rich, and vestures strange;
A giantess before him high she stands,
Arm’d, like Briareus, with an hundred hands.
25 With fifty swords, and fifty targets bright,
She threaten'd death, she roar'd, she cried and fought;
Each other nymph, in armour likewise dight,
A Cyclops great became; he fear’d them nought,
But on the myrtle smote with all his might,
Which groan'd, like living souls, to death nigh brought;
The sky seem'd Pluto's court, the air seem'd hell,
Therein such monsters roar, such spirits yell:
1 Twined :' separated.
26 Lighten'd the heaven above, the earth below
Roared aloud; that thunder'd, and this shook:
Bluster'd the tempests strong; the whirlwinds blow;
The bitter storm drove hailstones in his look;
But yet his arm grew neither weak nor slow,
Nor of that fury heed or care he took,
Till low to earth the wounded tree down bended;
Then fled the spirits all, the charms all ended. 27 The heavens grew clear, the air wax'd calm and still,
The wood returned to its wonted state,
Of witchcrafts free, quite void of spirits ill,
Of horror full, but horror there innate:
He further tried, if ought withstood his will
To cut those trees, as did the charms of late,
And finding nought to stop him, smiled and said,
O shadows vain! O fools, of shades afraid !' 28 From thence home to the camp-ward turn’d the knight;
The hermit cried, upstarting from his seat,
“Now of the wood the charms have lost their might;
The sprites are conquer'd, ended is the feat;
See where he comes!—Array'd in glittering white
Appear’d the man, bold, stately, high, and great;
His eagle's silver wings to shine begun
With wondrous splendour 'gainst the golden sun. 29 The camp received him with a joyful cry,
A cry, the hills and dales about that filld;
Then Godfrey welcomed him with honours high ;
His glory quench'd all spite, all envy kill'd:
* To yonder dreadful grove,' quoth he, 'went I,
And from the fearful wood, as me you will’d,
Have driven the sprites away; thither let be
Your people sent, the way is safe and free.'