Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
Fables Ancient and Modern
Palamon and Arcite: or the Knight’s Tale.
From Chaucer: Book III
THE DAY approach’d when Fortune shou’d decide
Th’ important Enterprize, 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,        5
And send the Flow’r of War by Publick 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 lov’d, and Deeds of Chivalry,        10
Throng’d to the Lists, and envy’d to behold,
The Names of others, not their own, inroll’d.
Nor seems it strange; for ev’ry Noble Knight
Who loves the Fair, and is endu’d with Might,
In such a Quarrel wou’d be proud to fight.        15
There breaths 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,        20
Half had come hence, and let the World provide the rest.
  A hundred Knights with Palamon there came,
Approv’d in Fight, and Men of Mighty Name;
Their Arms were sev’ral, as their Nations were,
But furnish’d all alike with Sword and Spear.        25
Some wore Coat-armour, imitating Scale;
And next their Skins were stubborn Shirts of Mail.
Some wore a Breastplate and a light Juppon,
Their Horses cloth’d with rich Caparison;
Some for Defence would Leathern Bucklers use,        30
Of folded Hides; and others Shields of Pruce.
One hung a Poleax 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:        35
This on his Helmet wore a Ladies 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:        40
The Balls of his broad Eyes roll’d in his head,
And glar’d betwixt a Yellow and a Red;
He look’d a Lion with a gloomy Stare,
And o’er his Eye-brows hung his matted Hair;
Big-bon’d and large of Limbs, with Sinews strong,        45
Broad-shoulder’d, and his Arms were round and long.
Four Milk-white Bulls (the Thracian Use of old)
Were yok’d to draw his Car of burnish’d Gold.
Upright he stood, and bore aloft his Shield,
Conspicuous from afar, and over-look’d the Field        50
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,        55
And tall as Stags, ran loose, and cours’d around his Chair,
A Match for Pards in Flight, in grappling for the Bear;
With Golden Muzzles all their Mouths were bound,
And Collars of the same their Necks surround.
Thus thro’ the Fields Lycurgus took his way;        60
His hundred Knights attend in Pomp and proud Array.
  To match this Monarch, with strong Arcite came
Emelrius, king of Inde, a mighty Name,
On a Bay Courser, goodly to behold,
The Trappings of his Horse emboss’d with barb’rous Gold.        65
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,        70
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:        75
Some sprinkled Freckles on his Face were seen,
Whose dusk set off the Whiteness of the Skin:
His awful Presence did the Crowd surprize,
Nor durst the rash Spectator meet his Eyes,
Eyes that confess’d him born for Kingly Sway,        80
So fierce, they flash’d intolerable Day.
His Age in Nature’s youthful Prime appeared,
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.        85
A Laurel wreath’d his Temples, fresh, and green,
And Myrtle-sprigs, the Marks of Love, were mix’d between.
Upon his Fist he bore, for his Delight,
An Eagle well reclaim’d, and Lilly-white.
  His hundred Knights attend him to the War,        90
All arm’d for Battel; save their Heads were bare.
Words, and Devices blaz’d on ev’ry Shield,
And pleasing was the Terrour of the Field.
For Kings, and Dukes, and Barons you might see,
Like sparkling Stars, though diff’rent in Degree,        95
All for th’ 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 God.        100
  In this Array the War of either side
Through Athens pass’d with Military Pride.
At Prime, they entered on the Sunday Morn;
Rich Tap’stry spread the Streets, and Flowers the Posts 1 adorn.
The Town was all a Jubilee of Feasts;        105
So Theseus will’d, in Honour of his Guests;
Himself with open Arms the Kings embrac’d,
Then all the rest in their Degrees were grac’d.
No Harbinger was needful for the Night,
For ev’ry House was proud to lodge a Knight.        110
  I 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 surprise,        115
Soft am’rous Sighs, and silent Love of Eyes.
The Rivals call my Muse another Way,
To sing their Vigils for th’ ensuing Day.
’Twas ebbing Darkness, past the Noon of Night:
And Prospher on the Confines of the Light,        120
Promis’d the Sun; ere Day began to spring,]
The tuneful Lark already stretch’d her Wing,
And flick’ring on her Nest, made short Essays to sing.
  When wakeful Palamon, preventing Day,
Took, to the Royal Lists, his early way,        125
To Venus at her Fane, in her own House, to pray.
There, falling on his Knees before her Shrine,
He thus implor’d with Pray’rs her Pow’r divine.
Creator Venus, genial Pow’r of Love,
The Bliss of Men below, and Gods above,        130
Beneath the sliding Sun thou runn’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,        135
Earth smiles with Flow’rs renewing; laughs the Sky,
And Birds to Lays of Love their tuneful Notes apply.
For thee the Lion loaths the Taste of Blood,
And roaring hunts his Female through the Wood;
For thee the Bulls rebellow through the Groves,        140
And tempt the Stream, and snuff their absent Loves.
’Tis thine, whate’er is pleasant, good, or fair;
All Nature is thy Province, Life thy Care;
Thou mad’st the World, and dost the World repair.
Thou gladder of the mount of Cytheron,        145
Increase of Jove, Companion of the Sun,
If e’er Adonis touch’d thy tender Heart,
Have pity, Goddess, for thou know’st the Smart:
Alas! I have not Words to tell my Grief;
To vent my Sorrow wou’d be some Relief:        150
Light Suff’rings give us Leisure to complain;
We groan, but cannot speak, in greater Pain.
O Goddess, tell thy self what I would say,
Thou know’st it, and I feel too much to pray.
So grant my Suit, as I enforce my Might,        155
In Love to be thy Champion, and thy Knight,
A Servant to thy Sex, a Slave to thee,
A foe profess’d to barren Chastity.
Nor ask I Fame or Honour of the Field,
Nor chuse I more to vanquish, than to yield:        160
In my Divine Emilia make me blest,
Let Fate, or partial Chance, dispose the rest:
Find thou the Manner, and the Means prepare;
Possession, more than Conquest, is my Care.
Mars is the Warriour’s God; in him it lies        165
On whom he favours, to confer the Prize;
With smiling Aspect you serenely move
In your fifth Orb, and rule the Realm of Love.
The Fates but only spin the courser 2 Clue,
The finest of the Wooll is left for you.        170
Spare me but one small portion of the Twine,
And let the Sisters cut below your Line:
The rest among the Rubbish may they sweep,
Or add it to the Yarn of some old Miser’s Heap.
But if you this ambitious Pray’r deny,        175
(A Wish, I grant, beyond Mortality,)
Then let me sink beneath proud Arcite’s Arms,
And I once dead, let him possess her Charms.
  Thus ended he; then, with Observance due,
The sacred Incence on her Altar threw:        180
The curling Smoke mounts heavy from the Fires;
At length it catches Flame, and in a Blaze expires;
At once the gracious Goddess gave the Sign,
Her Statue shook, and trembl’d all the Shrine:
Pleas’d Palamon the tardy Omen took;        185
For, since the Flames pursued the trailing Smoke,
He knew his Boon was granted; but the Day
To distance driv’n, and Joy adjourn’d with long Delay.
  Now Morn with Rosie Light had streak’d the Sky,
Up rose the Sun, and up rose Emily        190
Address’d her early Steps to Cynthia’s Fane,
In State attended by her Maiden Train,
Who bore the Vests that Holy Rites require,
Incence, and od’rous Gums, and cover’d Fire.
The plenteous Horns with pleasant Mead they crown,        195
Nor wanted aught besides in Honour of the Moon.
Now while the Temple smoak’d with hallow’d Steam,
They wash the Virgin in a living Stream;
The secret Ceremonies I conceal:
Uncouth; perhaps unlawful to reveal:        200
But such they were as Pagan Use requir’d,
Performed by Women when the Men retir’d,
Whose Eyes profane their chast mysterious Rites
Might turn to Scandal, or obscene Delights.
Well-meaners think no Harm; but for the rest,        205
Things sacred they pervert, and Silence is the best.
Her shining Hair, uncomb’d, was loosly spread,
A Crown of Mastless Oak adorn’d her Head
When to the Shrine approach’d, the spotless Maid
Had kindling Fires on either Altar laid:        210
(The Rites were such as were observ’d of old,
By Statius in his Theban Story told.)
Then kneeling with her Hands across her Breast,
Thus lowly she preferr’d her chast Request.
O Goddess, Haunter of the Woodland Green,        215
To whom both Heav’n and Earth and Seas are seen;
Queen of the nether Skies, where half the Year
Thy Silver Beams descend, and light the gloomy Sphere;
Goddess of Maids, and conscious of our Hearts,
So keep me from the Vengeance of thy Darts,        220
Which Niobe’s devoted Issue felt,
When hissing through the Skies the feather’d Deaths were dealt:
As I desire to live a Virgin-life,
Nor know the Name of Mother or of Wife.
Thy Votress from my tender Years I am,        225
And love, like thee, the Woods and Sylvan Game.
Like Death, thou know’st, I loath the Nuptial State,
And Man, the Tyrant of our Sex, I hate,
A lowly Servant, but a lofty Mate.
Where Love is Duty on the Female Side,        230
On theirs mere sensual Gust, and sought with surly Pride.
Now by thy triple Shape, as thou art seen
In Heav’n, Earth, Hell, and ev’ry where a Queen,
Grant this my first Desire; let Discord cease,
And make betwixt the Rivals lasting Peace:        235
Quench their hot Fire, or far from me remove
The Flame, and turn it on some other Love.
Or if my frowning Stars have so decreed,
That one must be rejected, one succeed,
Make him my Lord, within whose faithful Breast        240
Is fix’d my Image, and who loves me best.
But oh! ev’n that avert! I chuse it not,
But take it as the least unhappy Lot.
A Maid I am, and of thy Virgin-Train;
Oh, let me still that spotless Name retain!        245
Frequent the Forests, thy chast Will obey,
And only make the Beasts of Chace my Prey!
The Flames ascend on either Altar clear,
While thus the blameless Maid address’d her Pray’r.
When lo! the burning Fire that shone so bright        250
Flew off, all sudden, with extinguish’d Light,
And left one Altar dark, a little space;
Which turn’d self-kindl’d, and renew’d the Blaze:
That 3 other Victour-Flame a Moment stood
Then fell, and lifeless left th’ extinguish’d Wood;        255
For ever lost, th’ irrevocable Light
Forsook the blackning Coals, and sunk to Night:
At either End it whistled as it flew,
And as the Brands were green, so dropp’d the Dew;
Infected as it fell with Sweat of Sanguin Hue.        260
  The Maid from that ill Omen turned her Eyes,
And with loud Shrieks and Clamours rent the Skies,
Nor knew what signifi’d the boding Sign,
But found the Pow’rs displeas’d, and fear’d the Wrath Divine.
  Then shook the Sacred Shrine, and sudden Light        265
Sprung through the vaulted Roof, and made the Temple bright.
The Pow’r, behold! the Power in Glory shone,
By her bent Bow and her keen Arrows known;
The rest, a Huntress issuing from the Wood,
Reclining on her Cornel Spear she stood.        270
Then gracious thus began; Dismiss thy Fear,
And Heav’ns unchang’d Decrees attentive hear:
More pow’rful Gods have torn thee from my Side,
Unwilling to resign, and doom’d a Bride:
The two contending Knights are weigh’d above;        275
One Mars protects, and one the Queen of Love:
But which the Man is in the Thund’rer’s Breast,
This he pronoun’d, ’tis he who loves thee best.
The Fire that once extinct, reviv’d again
Foreshews the Love allotted to remain.        280
Farewell! she said, and vanish’d from the Place;
The Sheaf of Arrows shook, and rattl’d in the Case.
Agast at this, the Royal Virgin stood,
Disclaim’d, and now no more a Sister of the Wood:
But to the parting Goddess thus she pray’d:        285
Propitious still, be present to my Aid,
Nor quite abandon your once favour’d Maid.
Then sighing she return’d; but smil’d betwixt,
With Hopes, and Fears, and Joys with Sorrows mixt.
  The next returning Planetary Hour        290
Of Mars, who shar’d the Heptarchy of Pow’r,
His Steps bold Arcite to the Temple bent,
T’ adore 4 with Pagan Rites the Pow’r Armipotent:
Then prostrate, low before his Altar lay,
And rais’d his manly Voice, and thus began to pray.        295
Strong God of Arms, whose Iron Scepter sways
The freezing North, and Hyperborean seas,
And Scythian Colds, and Thracia’s Wintry Coast,
Where stand thy Steeds, and thou art honour’d most:
There most, but ev’ry where thy Pow’r is known,        300
The Fortune of the Fight is all thy own:
Terrour is thine, and wild Amazement flung
From out thy Chariot, withers ev’n the Strong:
And Disarray and shameful Rout ensue,
And Force is added to the fainting Crew.        305
Acknowledg’d as thou art, accept my Prayer,
If ought I have atchiev’d deserve thy Care:
If to my utmost Pow’r with Sword and Shield
I dar’d the Death, unknowing how to yield,
And falling in my Rank, still kept the Field:        310
Then let my Arms prevail, by thee sustain’d,
That Emily by Conquest may be gain’d.
Have pity on my Pains; nor those unknown
To Mars, which, when a Lover, were his own.
Venus, the Publick Care of all above,        315
Thy stubborn Heart has softned into Love:
Now by her Blandishments and pow’rful Charms,
When yielded, she lay curling in thy Arms,
Ev’n by thy Shame, if Shame it may be call’d,
When Vulcan had thee in his net inthrall’d;        320
O envy’d Ignominy, sweet Disgrace,
When ev’ry god that saw thee, wish’d thy Place!
By those dear Pleasures, aid my Arms in Fight,
And make me conquer in my Patron’s Right:
For I am young, a Novice in the Trade,        325
The Fool of Love, unpractis’d to persuade;
And want the soothing Arts that catch the Fair,
But, caught my self, lie strugling in the Snare;
And she I love, or laughs at all my Pain
Or knows her Worth too well; and pays me with Disdain.        330
For sure I am, unless I win in Arms,
To stand excluded from Emilia’s Charms:
Nor can my Strength avail, unless by thee
Endu’d with force I gain the Victory:
Then for the Fire which warm’d thy gen’rous Heart,        335
Pity thy Subject’s Pains and equal Smart
So be the Morrows Sweat and Labour mine,
The Palm and Honour of the Conquest thine:
Then shall the War, and stern Debate, and Strife
Immortal, be the Bus’ness of my Life;        340
And in thy Fane, the dusty Spoils among.
High on the burnish’d Roof, my Banner shall be hung;
Rank’d with my Champions Bucklers, and below,
With Arms revers’d, th’ Atchievements of my Foe:
And while these Limbs the vital Spirit feeds,        345
While Day to Night, and Night to Day succeeds,
Thy smoaking Altar shall be fat with Food
Of Incence and the grateful Steam of Blood;
Burnt Off’rings Morn and Ev’ning shall be thine,
And Fires eternal in thy Temple shine.        350
This 5 Bush of yellow Beard, this Length of Hair,
Which from my Birth inviolate I bear,
Guiltless of Steel, and from the Razour free,
Shall fall a plenteous Crop, reserv’d for thee.
So may my Arms with Victory be blest,        355
I ask no more; let Fate dispose the rest.
  The Champion ceas’d; there follow’d in the Close
A hollow Groan; a murm’ring Wind arose,
The Rings of Ir’n, that on the Doors were hung,
Sent out a jarring Sound, and harshly rung        360
The bolted Gates flew open at the Blast,
The Storm rush’d in; and Arcite stood agast:
The Flames were blown aside, yet shone they bright,
Fann’d by the Wind, and gave a ruffl’d Light.
  Then from the Ground a Scent began to rise,        365
Sweet-smelling as accepted Sacrifice:
This Omen pleas’d, and as the Flames aspire,
With od’rous Incence Arcite heaps the Fire
Nor wanted Hymns to Mars or Heathen Charms:
At length the nodding Statue clash’d his Arms,        370
And with a sullen Sound, and feeble Cry,
Half sunk, and half pronounc’d the Word of Victory.
For this, with Soul devout, he thank’d the God,
And, of Success secure, return’d to his Abode.
  These Vows thus granted, rais’d a Strife above,        375
Betwixt the God of War, and Queen of Love.
She granting first, had Right of Time to plead;
But he had granted too, nor would recede.
Jove was for Venus: but he fear’d his Wife,
And seem’d unwilling to decide the Strife;        380
Till Saturn from his Leaden Throne arose,
And found a Way the Diff’rence to compose:
Though sparing of his Grace, to Mischief bent,
He seldom does a Good with good Intent.
Wayward, but wise; by long Experience taught,        385
To please both Parties, for ill Ends, he sought:
For this Advantage Age from Youth has won,
As not to be outridden, though outrun.
By Fortune he was now to Venus Trin’d,
And with stern Mars in Capricorn was join’d:        390
Of him disposing in his own Abode,
He sooth’d the Goddess, while he gull’d the God:
Cease, Daughter, to complain; and stint the Strife;
Thy Palamon shall have his promis’d Wife:
And Mars, the Lord of Conquest, in the Fight        395
With Palmand Laurel shall adorn his Knight.
Wide is my Course, nor turn I to my Place
Till Length of Time, and move with tardy Pace.
Man feels me, when I press th’ Etherial Plains;
My Hand is heavy, and the Wound remains.        400
Mine is the Shipwreck in a Watry Sign;
And in an Earthy, the dark Dungeon mine.
Cold shivering Agues, melancholy Care,
And bitter blasting Winds, and poison’d Air,
Are mine, and wilful Death, resulting from Despair.        405
The throtling Quinsey ’tis my Star appoints,
And Rheumatisms I send 6 to rack the Joints:
When Churls rebel against their Native Prince,
I arm their Hands, and furnish the Pretence;
And housing in the Lion’s hateful Sign,        410
Bought Senates, and deserting Troops are mine.
Mine is the privy Pois’ning; I command
Unkindly Seasons, and ungrateful Land.
By me Kings Palaces are push’d to Ground,
And Miners, crush’d beneath their Mines are found.        415
’Twas I slew Samson, when the Pillar’d Hall
Fell down, and crush’d the Many with the Fall.
My Looking is the Sire of Pestilence,
That sweeps at once the People and the Prince.
Now weep no more, but trust thy Grandsire’s Art;        420
Mars shall be pleas’d, and thou perform thy Part.
’Tis ill, though diff’rent your Complexions are,
The Family of Heav’n for Men should war.
Th’ Expedient pleas’d, where neither lost his Right:
Mars had the Day, and Venus had the Night.        425
The Management they left to Chronos 7 Care.
Now turn we to th’ Effect, and sing the War.
  In Athens all was Pleasure, Mirth, and Play,
All proper to the Spring, and spritely May:
Which every Soul inspir’d with such Delight,        430
’Twas Justing all the Day, and Love at Night.
Heav’n smil’d, and gladded was the Heart of Man;
And Venus had the World, as when it first began.
At length in Sleep their Bodies they compose,
And dreamt the future Fight, and early rose.        435
  Now scarce the dawning Day began to spring,
As at a Signal giv’n, the Streets with Clamours ring:
At once the Crowd arose; confus’d and high,
Even from the Heav’n was heard a shouting Cry;
For Mars was early up, and rowz’d the Sky.        440
The Gods came downward to behold the Wars,
Sharpning their Sights, and leaning from their Stars.
The Neighing of the gen’rous Horse was heard,
For Battel by the busie Groom prepar’d:
Rustling of Harness, ratling of the Shield,        445
Clatt’ring of Armour, furbish’d for the Field.
Crowds to the Castle mounted up the Street;
Batt’ring the Pavement with their Coursers Feet:
The greedy Sight might there devour the Gold
Of glittring Arms, too dazling to behold:        450
And polish’d Steel that cast the View aside,
And Crested Morions, with their Plumy Pride.
Knights, with a long Retinue of their Squires,
In gawdy Liv’ries march, and quaint Attires.
One lac’d the Helm, another held the Lance:        455
A third the shining Buckler did advance.
The Courser paw’d the Ground with restless Feet,
And snorting foam’d, and champ’d the Golden Bit.
The Smiths and Armourers on Palfreys ride.
Files in their Hands, and Hammers at their Side,        460
And nails for loosen’d Spears, and Thongs for Shields provide.
The Yeomen guard the Streets, in seemly Bands;
And Clowns come crowding on, with Cudgels in their Hands.
  The Trumpets, next the Gate, in order plac’d,
Attend the Sign to sound the Martial Blast:        465
The Palace-yard is fill’d with floating Tides,
And the last Comers bear the former to the Sides.
The Throng is in the midst: The common Crew
Shut out, the Hall admits the better Few.
In Knots they stand, or in a Rank they walk,        470
Serious in Aspect, earnest in their Talk:
Factious, and fav’ring this or t’other Side,
As their strong Fancies, and weak Reason guide;
Their Wagers back their Wishes: Numbers hold
With the fair freckl’d King, and Beard of Gold:        475
So vig’rous are his Eyes, such Rays they cast,
So prominent his Eagles Beak is plac’d.
But most their Looks on the black Monarch bend,
His rising Muscles, and his Brawn commend;
His double-biting Ax, and beamy Spear,        480
Each asking a Gygantick Force to rear.
All spoke as partial Favour mov’d the mind;
And safe themselves, at others Cost divin’d.
  Wak’d by the Cries, th’ Athenian Chief arose.
The Knightly Forms of Combate to dispose;        485
And passing through th’ obsequious Guards, he sate
Conspicuous on a Throne, sublime in State;
There, for the two contending Knights he sent:
Arm’d Cap-a-pe, with Rev’rence low they bent;
He smil’d on both, and with superiour Look        490
Alike their offer’d Adoration took.
The People press on ev’ry Side to see
Their awful Prince, and hear his high Decree.
Then signing to their Heralds with his Hand,
They gave his Orders from their lofty Stand.        495
Silence is thrice enjoin’d; then thus aloud
The King at Arms bespeaks the Knights and listning Crowd.
  Our Sovereign Lord has ponder’d in his Mind
The Means to spare the Blood of gentle Kind;
And of his Grace and in-born Clemency        500
He modifies his first severe Decree;
The keener Edge of Battel to rebate,
The Troops for Honour fighting, not for Hate.
He wills, not Death shou’d terminate their Strife,
And Wounds, if Wounds ensue, be short of Life;        505
But issues, e’er the Fight, his dread Command,
That Slings afar, and Ponyards Hand to Hand,
Be banish’d from the Field; that none shall dare
With shortned Sword to stab in closer War;
But in fair Combate fight with manly Strength        510
Nor push with biting Point, but strike at length.
The Turney is allow’d but one Career,
Of the tough Ash, with the sharp-grinded Spear.
But Knights unhors’d may rise from off the Plain,
And fight on Foot, their Honour to regain.        515
Nor, if at Mischief taken, on the Ground
Be slain, but Pris’ners to the Pillar bound,
At either Barrier placed; nor (Captives made,)
Be freed, or arm’d anew the Fight invade:
The Chief of either side, bereft of Life,        520
Or yielded to his Foe, concludes the Strife.
Thus dooms the Lord: Now valiant Knights and young,
Fight each his fill with Swords and Maces long.
  The Herald ends: The vaulted Firmament
With loud Acclaims, and vast Applause is rent:        525
Heav’n guard a Prince so gracious and so good,
So just, and yet so provident of Blood!
This was the gen’ral Cry. The Trumpets sound,
And Warlike Symphony is heard around.
The marching Troops through Athens take their Way,        530
The great Earl-Marshal orders their Array.
The Fair from high the passing Pomp behold;
A Rain of Flow’rs is from the Windows roll’d.
The Casements are with Golden Tissue spread,
And Horses Hoofs, for Earth, on silken Tap’stry tread.        535
The King goes midmost, and the Rivals ride
In equal Rank, and close his either Side.
Next after these, there rode the Royal Wife,
With Emily, the Cause, and the Reward of Strife.
The following Cavalcade, by Three and Three,        540
Proceed by Titles marshall’d in Degree.
Thus through the Southern Gate they take their Way,
And at the Lists arriv’d e’er Prime of Day.
There, parting from the King, the Chiefs divide,
And wheeling East and West, before their Many ride.        545
Th’ Athenian Monarch mounts his Throne on high,
And after him the Queen, and Emily:
Next these, the Kindred of the Crown are grac’d
With nearer Seats, and Lords by Ladies plac’d.
Scarce were they seated, when with Clamours loud        550
In rush’d at once a rude promiscuous Crowd,
The Guards, and then each other overbare,
And in a Moment throng the spacious Theatre.
Now chang’d the jarring Noise to Whispers low,
As Winds forsaking Seas more softly blow;        555
When at the Western Gate, on which the Car
Is plac’d aloft, that bears the God of War,
Proud Arcite entring arm’d before his Train
Stops at the Barrier, and divides the Plain.
Red was his Banner, and display’d abroad        560
The bloody Colours of his Patron God.
At that self-moment enters Palamon
The Gate of Venus, and the Rising Sun;
Wav’d by the wanton Winds, his Banner flies,
All maiden White, and shares the peoples Eyes.        565
From East to West, look all the World around,
Two Troops so match’d were never to be found:
Such Bodies built for Strength, of equal Age,
In Stature siz’d; so proud an Equipage:
The nicest Eye cou’d no Distinction make,        570
Where lay th’ Advantage, or what Side to take.
  Thus rang’d, the Herald for the last proclaims
A Silence, while they answer’d to their Names:
For so the King decreed, to shun with Care
The Fraud of Musters false, the common Bane of War.        575
The Tale was just, and then the Gates were clos’d;
And Chief to Chief, and Troop to Troop oppos’d.
The Heralds last retir’d, and loudly cry’d,
The Fortune of the Field be fairly try’d.
At this the Challenger, with fierce Defie        580
His Trumpet sounds; the Challeng’d makes Reply:
With Clangour rings the Field, resounds the vaulted Sky.
Their Vizors closed, their Lances in the Rest,
Or at the Helmet pointed, or the Crest;
They vanish from the Barrier, speed the Race,        585
And spurring see decrease the middle Space.
A Cloud of Smoke envellops either Host,
And all at once the Combatants are lost:
Darkling they join adverse, and shock unseen,
Coursers with Coursers justling, Men with Men:        590
As lab’ring in Eclipse, a while they stay,
Till the next Blast of Wind restores the Day.
They look anew: The beauteous Form of Fight
Is chang’d, and War appears a grizly Sight.
Two Troops in fair Array one moment show’d,        595
The next, a Field with fallen Bodies strow’d:
Not half the Number in their Seats are found,
But Men and Steeds lie grov’ling on the Ground.
The points of Spears are stuck within the Shield,
The Steeds without their Riders scour the Field.        600
The Knights unhors’d, on Foot renew the Fight;
The glitt’ring Fauchions cast a gleaming Light;
Hauberks and Helms are hew’d with many a Wound;
Out spins the streaming Blood, and dies the Ground.
The mighty Maces with such Haste descend,        605
They break the Bones, and make the solid Armour bend.
This thrusts amid the Throng with furious Force;
Down goes, at once, the Horseman and the Horse:
That Courser stumbles on the fallen Steed,
And floundring, throws the Rider o’er his Head.        610
One rolls along, a Foot-ball to his Foes;
One with a broken Truncheon deals his Blows.
This halting, this disabl’d with his Wound,
In Triumph led, is to the Pillar bound,
Where by the King’s Award he must abide:        615
There goes a Captive led on t’other Side.
By Fits they cease; and leaning on the Lance,
Take Breath a while, and to new Fight advance.
Full oft the Rivals met, and neither spar’d
His utmost Force, and each forgot to ward.        620
The Head of this was to the Saddle bent,
That 8 other backward to the Crupper sent:
Both were by Turns unhors’d; the jealous Blows
Fall thick and heavy, when on Foot they close.
So deep their Fauchions bite, that ev’ry Stroke        625
Pierc’d to the Quick; and equal Wounds they gave and took.
Born far asunder by the Tides of men,
Like Adamant and Steel they met agen.
  So when a Tyger sucks the Bullock’s Blood,
A famish’d Lion issuing from the Wood        630
Roars Lordly fierce, and challenges the Food.
Each claims Possession, neither will obey,
But both their Paws are fasten’d on the Prey;
They bite, they tear; and while in vain they strive,
The Swains come arm’d between, and both to Distance drive.        635
  At length, as Fate foredoom’d, and all things tend
By Course of Time to their appointed End;
So when the Sun to West was far declin’d,
And both afresh in mortal Battel join’d,
The strong Emetrius came in Arcite’s Aid,        640
And Palamon with Odds was overlaid:
For turning short, he struck with all his Might
Full on the Helmet of th’ unwary Knight.
Deep was the Wound; he stagger’d with the Blow,
And turn’d him to his unexpected Foe;        645
Whom with such Force he struck, he fell’d him down,
And cleft the Circle of his Golden Crown.
But Arcite’s Men, who now prevail’d in Fight,
Twice Ten at once surround the single Knight:
O’erpower’d at length, they force him to the Ground,        650
Unyielded as he was, and to the Pillar bound;
And king Lycurgus, while he fought in Vain
His Friend to free, was tumbl’d on the Plain.
  Who now laments but Palamon, compell’d
No more to try the Fortune of the Field!        655
And worse than Death, to view with hateful Eyes
His Rival’s Conquest, and renounce the Prize!
  The Royal Judge on his Tribunal plac’d,
Who had beheld the Fight from first to last,
Bad cease the War; pronouncing from on high        660
Arcite of Thebes had won the beauteous Emily.
The Sound of Trumpets to the Voice reply’d,
And round the Royal Lists the Heralds cry’d,
Arcite of Thebes has won the beauteous Bride.
  The People rend the Skies with vast Applause;        665
All own the Chief, when Fortune owns the Cause.
Arcite is own’d ev’n by the Gods above,
And conqu’ring Mars insults the Queen of Love.
So laugh’d he when the rightful Titan fail’d,
And Jove’s usurping Arms in Heav’n prevail’d.        670
Laugh’d all the Pow’rs who favour Tyranny;
And all the Standing Army of the Sky.
But Venus with dejected Eyes appears,
And weeping, on the Lists, distill’d her Tears;
Her Will refus’d, which grieves a Woman most,        675
And, in her Champion foil’d, the Cause of Love is lost.
Till Saturn said, Fair Daughter, now be still,
The blustring Fool has satisfi’d his Will;
His Boon is given; his Knight has gain’d the Day,
But lost the Prize, th’ Arrears are yet to pay.        680
Thy Hour is come, and mine the Care shall be
To please thy Knight, and set thy Promise free.
  Now while the Heralds run the Lists around,
And Arcite, Arcite, Heav’n and Earth resound,
A Miracle (nor less it could be call’d)        685
Their Joy with unexpected Sorrow pall’d.
The Victor Knight had laid his Helm aside,
Part for his Ease, the greater part for Pride:
Bare-headed, popularly low he bow’d,
And paid the Salutations of the Crowd;        690
Then spurring, at full speed, ran endlong on
Where Theseus sat on his Imperial Throne;
Furious he drove, and upward cast his Eye,
Where next the Queen was plac’d his Emily;
Then passing, to the Saddle-bow he bent,        695
A sweet Regard the gracious Virgin lent:
(For Women to the Brave an easie Prey,
Still follow Fortune, where she leads the Way:)
Just then, from Earth sprung out a flashing Fire,
By Pluto sent, at Saturn’s bad Desire:        700
The startling Steed was seiz’d with sudden Fright,
And, bounding, o’er the Pummel cast the Knight:
Forward he flew, and pitching on his Head,
He quiver’d with his Feet, and lay for Dead.
Black was his Count’nance in a little Space,        705
For all the Blood was gather’d in his Face.
Help was at Hand; they rear’d him from the Ground,
And from his cumbrous Arms his Limbs unbound;
Then lanc’d a Vein, and watch’d returning Breath;
It came, but clogg’d with Symptoms of his Death.        710
The Saddle-bow the Noble Parts had prest,
All bruis’d and mortifi’d his Manly Breast.
Him still entrancd, and in a Litter laid,
They bore from Field, and to his Bed convey’d.
At length he wak’d; and, with a feeble Cry,        715
The Word he first pronounc’d was Emily.
  Mean time the King, though inwardly he mourn’d,
In Pomp triumphant to the Town return’d,
Attended by the Chiefs who fought the Field,
(Now friendly mix’d, and in one Troop compell’d;)        720
Compos’d his Looks to counterfeited Cheer,
And bade them not for Arcite’s Life to fear.
But that which gladded all the Warriour Train,
Though most were sorely wounded, none were slain.
The Surgeons soon despoil’d ’em of their Arms,        725
And some with Salves they cure, and some with Charms;
Foment the Bruises, and the Pains asswage
And heal their inward Hurts with Sov’reign Draughts of Sage.
The King in Person visits all around,
Comforts the Sick, congratulates the Sound;        730
Honours the Princely Chiefs, rewards the rest,
And holds for thrice three Days a Royal Feast.
None was disgrac’d; for Falling is no Shame;
And Cowardice alone is Loss of Fame.
The vent’rous Knight is from the Saddle thrown,        735
But ’tis the Fault of Fortune, not his own.
If Crowds and Palms the conqu’ring Side adorn,
The Victor under better Stars was born:
The brave Man seeks not popular Applause,
Nor overpower’d with Arms, deserts his Cause;        740
Unsham’d, though foil’d, he does the best he can;
Force is of Brutes, but Honour is of Man.
  Thus Theseus smil’d on all with equal Grace,
And each was set according to his Place.
With Ease were reconcil’d the diff’ring Parts,        745
For Envy never dwells in Noble Hearts.
At length they took their Leave, the Time expir’d;
Well pleas’d; and to their sev’ral Homes retir’d.
  Mean while, the Health of Arcite still impairs;
From Bad proceeds to Worse, and mocks the Leeches Cares:        750
Swoln is his Breast, his inward Pains increase;
All Means are us’d, and all without Success.
The clotted 9 Blood lies heavy on his Heart,
Corrupts, and there remains in spite of Art:
Nor breathing Veins nor Cupping will prevail;        755
All outward Remedies and inward fail:
The Mold of Natures Fabrick is destroy’d,
Her Vessels discompos’d, her Vertue void:
The Bellows of his Lungs begins to swell:
All out of frame is ev’ry secret Cell,        760
Nor can the Good receive, nor Bad expel.
Those breathing Organs thus within opprest,
With Venom soon distend the Sinews of his Breast.
Nought profits him to save abandon’d Life,
Nor Vomits upward Aid, nor downward Laxatife.        765
The midmost Region better’d, and destroy’d,
When Nature cannot work, th’ Effect of Art is void.
For Physick can but mend our crazie State,
Patch an old Building, not a new create.
Arcite is Doom’d to die in all his Pride,        770
Must leave his Youth, and yield his beauteous Bride,
Gain’d hardly, against Right, and unenjoy’d.
When ’twas declar’d, all Hope of Life was past,
Conscience, that of all Physick works the last,
Causd him to send for Emily in haste.        775
With her, at his Desire, came Palamon;
Then, on his Pillow rais’d, he thus begun.
No Language can express the smallest part
Of what I feel, and suffer in my Heart,
For you, whom best I love and value most;        780
But to your Service I bequeath my Ghost;
Which, from this mortal Body when unty’d,
Unseen, unheard, shall hover at your Side;
Nor fright you waking, nor your Sleep offend,
But wait officious, and your Steps attend.        785
How I have lov’d, excuse my faltring Tongue;
My Spirit’s feeble, and my Pains are strong:
This I may say, I only grieve to die,
Because I lose my charming Emily.
To die, when Heav’n had put you in my Pow’r;        790
Fate could not chuse a more malicious Hour!
What greater Curse cou’d envious Fortune give,
Than just to die when I began to live!
Vain Men, how vanishing a Bliss we crave,
Now warm in Love, now with’ring in the Grave!        795
Never, O never more to see the Sun!
Still dark, in a damp Vault, and still alone!
This Fate is common; but I lose my Breath
Near Bliss, and yet not bless’d before my Death.
Farewell; but take me dying in your Arms,        800
’Tis all I can enjoy of all your Charms:
This Hand I cannot but in Death resign;
Ah, could I live! But while I live ’tis mine.
I feel my End approach, and thus embrac’d
Am pleas’d to die; but hear me speak my last.        805
Ah! my sweet Foe, for you, and you alone,
I broke my Faith with injur’d Palamon.
But Love the Sense of Right and Wrong confounds;
Strong Love and proud Ambition have no Bounds.
And much I doubt, shou’d Heav’n my Life prolong,        810
I shou’d return to justifie my Wrong;
For while my former Flames remain within,
Repentance is but want of Pow’r to Sin.
With mortal Hatred I pursu’d his Life,
Nor he nor you were guilty of the Strife;        815
Nor I, but as I lov’d; Yet all combin’d,
Your Beauty, and my Impotence of Mind,
And his concurrent Flame, that blew my Fire;
For still our Kindred Souls had one Desire.
He had a Moments Right in point of Time;        820
Had I seen first, then his had been the Crime.
Fate made it mine, and justified his Right;
Nor holds this Earth a more deserving Knight
For Vertue, Valour, and for Noble Blood,
Truth, Honour, all that is compriz’d in Good;        825
So help me Heav’n, in all the World is none
So worthy to be lov’d as Palamon.
He loves you too; with such a holy Fire,
As will not, cannot but with Life expire:
Our vow’d Affections both have often try’d,        830
Nor any Love but yours could ours divide,
Then by my Loves inviolable Band,
By my long Suff’ring, and my short Command,
If e’er you plight your Vows when I am gone,
Have pity on the faithful Palamon.        835
  This was his last; for Death came on amain,
And exercis’d below his Iron Reign;
Then upward, to the Seat of Life he goes;
Sense fled before him, what he touch’d he froze:
Yet cou’d he not his closing Eyes withdraw,        840
Though less and less of Emily he saw:
So, speechless, for a little space he lay;
Then grasp’d the Hand he held, and sigh’d his Soul away.
  But whither went his Soul, 10 let such relate
Who search the Secrets of the future State:        845
Divines can say but what themselves believe;
Strong Proofs they have, but not demonstrative:
For, were all plain, then all Sides must agree,
And Faith it self be lost in Certainty.
To live uprightly then is sure the best;        850
To save our selves, and not to damn the rest.
The soul of Arcite went, where Heathens go,
Who better live than we, though less they know.
  In Palamon a manly Grief appears;
Silent, he wept, asham’d to show his Tears.        855
Emilia shriek’d but once; and then, oppress’d
With Sorrow, sunk upon her Lovers Breast:
Till Theseus in his Arms convey’d with Care
Far from so sad a Sight, the swooning Fair.
’Twere Loss of Time her Sorrow to relate;        860
Ill bears the Sex a youthful Lover’s Fate,
When just approaching to the Nuptial State:
But like a low-hung Cloud, it rains so fast,
That all at once it falls, and cannot last.
The Face of Things is chang’d, and Athens now.        865
That laugh’d so late, becomes the Scene of Woe:
Matrons and Maids, both Sexes, ev’ry State,
With Tears lament the Knight’s untimely Fate.
Not 11 greater Grief in falling Troy was seen
For Hector’s Death; but Hector was not then.        870
Old Men with Dust deform’d their hoary Hair,
The Women beat their Breasts, their Cheeks they tear.
Why would’st thou go, with one consent they cry,
When thou hadst Gold enough, and Emily!
  Theseus himself, who shou’d have cheer’d the Grief        875
Of others, wanted now the same Relief.
Old Egeus only could revive his Son,
Who various Changes of the World had known,
And strange Vicissitudes of Humane Fate,
Still alt’ring, never in a steady State:        880
Good after Ill and after Pain, Delight,
Alternate, like the Scenes of Day and Night.
Since ev’ry Man who lives is born to die,
And none can boast sincere Felicity,
With equal Mind, what happens, let us bear,        885
Nor joy, nor grieve too much for Things beyond our Care.
Like Pilgrims to th’ appointed Place we tend;
The World’s an Inn, and Death the Journeys End.
Ev’n Kings but play; and when their Part is done,
Some other, worse or better, mount the Throne.        890
With words like these the Crowd was satisfi’d;
And so they would have been, had Theseus dy’d.
But he, their King, was lab’ring in his Mind,
A fitting Place for Fun’ral Pomps to find,
Which were in Honour of the Dead design’d.        895
And, after long Debate, at last he found
(As Love it self had mark’d the Spot of Ground)
That Grove for ever green, that conscious Lawnd,
Where he with Palamon fought Hand to Hand:
That where he fed his amorous Desires        900
With soft Complaints, and felt his hottest Fires,
There other Flames might waste his Earthly Part,
And burn his Limbs, where Love had burn’d his Heart.
  This once resolv’d, the Peasants were enjoin’d
Sere Wood, and Firs, and dodder’d Oaks to find.        905
With sounding Axes to the Grove they go,
Fell, split, and lay the Fewel on 12 a Row,
Vulcanian Food: A Bier is next prepar’d,
On which the lifeless Body should be rear’d,
Cover’d with Cloth of Gold, on which was laid        910
The Corps of Arcite, in like Robes array’d.
White Gloves were on his Hands, and on his Head
A Wreath of Laurel, mix’d with Myrtle, spread.
A Sword keen-edg’d within his Right he held,
The warlike Emblem of the conquer’d Field:        915
Bare was his manly Visage on the Bier;
Menac’d his Countenance; ev’n in Death severe.
Then to the Palace-Hall they bore the Knight,
To lie in solemn State, a Publick Sight.
Groans, Cries, and Howlings fill the Crowded Place,        920
And unaffected Sorrow sat on ev’ry Face.
Sad Palamon above the rest appears,
In Sable Garments, dew’d with gushing Tears:
His Aubourn Locks on either Shoulder flow’d,
Which to the Fun’ral of his Friend he vow’d:        925
But Emily, as Chief, was next his Side,
A Virgin-Widow and a Mourning Bride.
And that the Princely Obsequies might be
Perform’d according to his high Degree,
The Steed, that bore him living to the Fight,        930
Was trapp’d with polish’d Steel, all shining bright,
And cover’d with th’ Atchievements of the Knight.
The Riders rode abreast, and one his Shield,
His Lance of Cornel-wood another held;
The third his Bow, and, glorious to behold,        935
The costly Quiver, all of burnish’d Gold.
The Noblest of the Grecians next appear,
And weeping, on their Shoulders bore the Bier;
With sober Pace they march’d, and often staid,
And through the Master-Street the Corps convey’d.        940
The Houses to their Tops with Black were spread,
And ev’n the Pavements were with Mourning hid.
The Right-side of the Pall old Egeus kept,
And on the Left the Royal Theseus wept;
Each bore a Golden Bowl of Work Divine,        945
With Honey fill’d, and Milk, and mix’d with ruddy Wine.
Then Palamon, the Kinsman of the Slain,
And after him appear’d th’ Illustrious Train:
To grace the Pomp came Emily the Bright,
With cover’d Fire, the Fun’ral Pile to light.        950
With high Devotion was the Service made
And all the Rites of Pagan-Honour paid:
So lofty was the Pile, a Parthian Bow,
With Vigour drawn, must send the Shaft below.
The Bottom was full twenty Fathom broad,        955
With crackling Straw beneath in due Proportion strow’d.
The Fabrick seem’d a Wood of rising Green,
With Sulphur and Bitumen cast between,
To feed the Flames: The Trees were unctuous Fir,
And Mountain-Ash, the Mother of the Spear;        960
The Mourner Eugh 13 and Builder Oak were there:
The Beech, the swimming Alder, and the Plane,
Hard Box, and Linden of a softer Grain,
And Laurels, which the Gods for Conqu’ring Chiefs ordain.
How they were rank’d shall rest untold by me,        965
With nameless Nymphs that lived in ev’ry Tree;
Nor how the Dryads and the Woodland Train,
Disherited, ran howling o’er the Plain:
Nor how the Birds to Foreign Seats repair’d,
Or Beasts that bolted out, and saw the Forest bar’d:        970
Nor how the Ground now clear’d with gastly Fright
Beheld the sudden Sun, a Stranger to the Light.
  The Straw, as first I said, was laid below:
Of Chips and Sere-wood was the second Row;
The third of Greens, and Timber newly fell’d;        975
The Fourth high Stage the fragrant Odours held,
And Pearls, and precious Stones, and rich Array:
In midst of which, embalm’d, the Body lay.
The Service sung, the Maid with mourning Eyes
The Stubble fir’d; the smouldring Flames arise:        980
This Office done, she sunk upon the Ground;
But what she spoke, recover’d from her Swoond,
I want the Wit in moving Words to dress;
But by themselves the tender Sex may guess.
While the devouring Fire was burning fast,        985
Rich Jewels in the Flame the Wealthy cast;
And some their Shields, and some their Lances threw,
And gave the 14 Warriour’s Ghost a Warriour’s Due.
Full Bowls of Wine, of Honey, Milk and Blood
Were pour’d upon the Pile of burning Wood,        990
And hissing Flames receive, and hungry lick the Food.
Then thrice the mounted Squadrons ride around
The Fire, and Arcite’s Name they thrice resound:
Hail, and Farewell, they shouted thrice amain,
Thrice facing to the Left, and thrice they turn’d again:        995
Still, as they turn’d, they beat their clatt’ring Shields;
The Women mix their Cries; and Clamour fills the Fields.
The warlike Wakes continu’d all the Night,
And Fun’ral Games were played at new-returning Light:
Who naked wrestl’d best, besmear’d with Oil,        1000
Or who with Gantlets gave or took the Foil,
I will not tell you, nor wou’d you attend;
But briefly haste to my long Stories End.
  I pass the rest; the Year was fully mourn’d,
And Palamon long since to Thebes return’d:        1005
When, by the Grecians general Consent,
At Athens Theseus held his Parliament;
Among the Laws that pass’d, it was decreed,
That conquer’d Thebes from Bondage shou’d be freed;
Reserving Homage to th’ Athenian throne,        1010
To which the Sov’reign summon’d Palamon.
Unknowing of the Cause, he took his Way,
Mournful in Mind, and still in Black Array,
  The Monarch mounts the Throne, and, plac’d on high,
Commands into the Court the beauteous Emily:        1015
So call’d, she came; the Senate rose, and paid
Becoming Rev’rence to the Royal Maid.
And first, soft Whispers through th’ Assembly went;
With silent Wonder then they watch’d th’ Event;
All hush’d, the King arose with awful Grace;        1020
Deep Thought was in his Breast, and Counsel in his Face.
At length he sigh’d; and having first prepar’d
Th’ attentive Audience, thus his Will declar’d.
  The Cause and Spring of Motion, from above
Hung down on Earth the Golden Chain of Love:        1025
Great was th’ Effect, and high was his Intent,
When Peace among the jarring Seeds he sent;
Fire, Flood, and Earth, and Air by this were bound,
And Love, the common Link, the new Creation crown’d.
The Chain still holds; for though the Forms decay,        1030
Eternal Matter never wears away:
The same First Mover certain Bounds has plac’d,
How long those perishable Forms shall last;
Nor can they last beyond the Time assign’d
By that All-seeing and All-making Mind:        1035
Shorten their Hours they may; for Will is free,
But never pass th’ appointed Destiny.
So Men oppress’d, when weary of their Breath,
Throw off the Burden, and subborn their Death.
Then, since those Forms begin, and have their End,        1040
On some unalter’d Cause they sure depend:
Parts of the Whole are we, but God the Whole,
Who gives us Life, and animating Soul.
For Nature cannot from a Part derive
That Being, which the Whole can only give:        1045
He perfect, stable; but imperfect We,
Subject to Change, and diff’rent in Degree;
Plants, Beasts, and Man; and, as our Organs are,
We more or less of his Perfection share.
But, by a long Descent, th’ Etherial Fire        1050
Corrupts; and Forms, the mortal Part, expire.
As he withdraws his Vertue, so they pass,
And the same Matter makes another Mass:
This Law th’ Omniscient Pow’r was pleas’d to give,
That ev’ry Kind should by Succession live;        1055
That Individuals die, his Will ordains;
The propagated Species still remains.
The Monarch Oak, the Patriarch of the Trees,
Shoots rising up, and spreads by slow Degrees;
Three Centuries he grows, and three he stays,        1060
Supreme in State; and in three more decays:
So wears the paving Pebble in the Street,
And Towns and Tow’rs their fatal Period meet:
So Rivers, rapid once, now naked lie,
Forsaken of their Springs; and leave their Channels dry.        1065
So Man, at first a Drop, dilates with Heat,
Then form’d, the little Heart begins to beat;
Secret he feeds, unknowing in the Cell;
At length, for Hatching ripe, he breaks the Shell,
And struggles into Breath, and cries for Aid;        1070
Then, helpless, in his Mother’s Lap is laid.
He creeps, he walks, and, issuing into Man,
Grudges their Life from whence his own began:
Retchless of Laws, affects to rule alone,
Anxious to reign, and restless on the Throne;        1075
First vegetive, then feels, and reasons last;
Rich of Three Souls, and lives all three to waste.
Some thus; but thousands more in Flow’r of Age:
For few arrive to run the latter Stage.
Sunk in the first, in Battel some are slain,        1080
And others whelm’d beneath the stormy Main.
What makes all this, but Jupiter the King,
At whose Command we perish, and we spring?
Then’ tis our best, since thus ordain’d to die,
To make a Vertue of Necessity.        1085
Take what he gives, since to rebel is vain;
The Bad grows better, which we well sustain:
And cou’d we chuse the Time, and chuse aright,
Tis best to die, our Honour at the height.
When we have done our Ancestors no Shame,        1090
But serv’d our Friends, and well secur’d our Fame;
Then should we wish our happy Life to close,
And leave no more for Fortune to dispose:
So should we make our Death a glad Relief
From future Shame, from Sickness, and from Grief:        1095
Enjoying while we live the present Hour,
And dying in our Excellence, and Flow’r.
Then round our Death-bed every Friend shou’d run,
And joy us 15 of our Conquest, early won;
While the malicious World, with envious Tears,        1100
Shou’d grudge our happy End, and wish it Theirs.
Since then our Arcite is with Honour dead,
Why shou’d we mourn, that he so soon is freed,
Or call untimely, what the Gods decreed?
With Grief as just a Friend may be deplor’d,        1105
From a foul Prison to free Air restor’d.
Ought he to thank his Kinsman, or his Wife,
Cou’d Tears recall him into wretched Life!
Their Sorrow hurts themselves; on him is lost;
And worse than both, offends his happy Ghost.        1110
What then remains, but after past Annoy
To take the good Vicissitude of Joy?
To thank the gracious Gods for what they give,
Possess our Souls, and, while we live, to live?
Ordain we then two Sorrows to combine,        1115
And in one Point th’ Extremes of Grief to join;
That thence resulting Joy may be renewed,
As jarring Notes in Harmony conclude.
Then I propose that Palamon shall be
In Marriage join’d with beauteous Emily;        1120
For which already I have gained the Assent
Of my free People in full Parliament.
Long Love to her has borne the faithful Knight,
And well deserv’d, had Fortune done him Right:
’Tis Time to mend her Fault; since Emily        1125
By Arcite’s Death from former Vows is free:
If you, Fair Sister, ratifie the Accord,
And take him for your Husband, and your Lord. 16
’Tis no Dishonour to confer your Grace
On one descended from a Royal Race:        1130
And were he less, yet Years of Service past
From grateful Souls exact Reward at last:
Pity is Heav’n’s and yours; Nor can she find
A Throne so soft as in a Womans Mind.
He said; she blush’d; and as o’eraw’d by Might,        1135
Seem’d to give Theseus what she gave the Knight.
Then turning to the Theban, thus he said:
Small Arguments are needful to persuade
Your Temper to comply with my Command;
And speaking thus, he gave Emilia’s Hand.        1140
Smil’d Venus, to behold her own true Knight
Obtain the Conquest, though he lost the Fight,
And bless’d with Nuptial Bliss the sweet laborious Night.
Eros, and Anteros, on either Side,
One fir’d the Bridegroom, and one warm’d the Bride;        1145
And long-attending Hymen from above
Showr’d on the Bed the whole Idalian Grove.
All of a Tenour was their After-Life,
No Day discolour’d with Domestick Strife;
No Jealousie, but mutual Truth believ’d,        1150
Secure Repose, and Kindness undeceiv’d.
Thus Heavn, beyond the Compass of his Thought,
Sent him the Blessing he so dearly bought.
  So may the Queen of Love long Duty bless,
And all true Lovers find the same Success.

The End of the Third Book.
Note 1. Posts] Pots 1700. Dr. Saintsbury prefers this misprint, but cf. Cymon and Iph. 561.
            ‘the Streets were throng’d around,
The Palace open’d, and the Posts were crown’d’.
Note 2. courser] i.e. coarser. [back]
Note 3. That] Derrick wrongly gives The. [back]
Note 4. adore] Christie wrongly gives adorn. [back]
Note 5. This] Christie wrongly gives The. [back]
Note 6. I send] Warton and others absurdly give ascend. [back]
Note 7. Chronos] Chrono’s 1700. [back]
Note 8. That] Derrick, Christie, and others wrongly give The. [back]
Note 9. clotted] Edd. give clottered. [back]
Note 10. Soul,] Christie and others wrongly give Soul? [back]
Note 11. Not] Warton and others wrongly give Nor. [back]
Note 12. on] Christie wrongly gives in. [back]
Note 13. Eugh] The editors print Yew Dryden’s was a Westminster spelling, probably Busby’s; of. Oxford Historical Society, vol. xxxii, p. 294. [back]
Note 14. the] Derrick and Warton wrongly give their. [back]
Note 15. joy us] Warton and others absurdly give joyous. [back]
Note 16. Lord.] Some editors print Lord, The full stop of the original seems right. [back]

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