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How Theseus at these funerals did assist,
Ev'n wondering Philomel forgot to sing, And with what gifts the mourning dames dismiss'd. And learn'd from her to welcome in the Spring.
Thus when the victor chief had Creon.slain, The tower, of which before was mention made, And conquer'd Thebes, he pitch'd upon the plain Within whose keep the captive knights were laid, His mighty camp, and, when the day return'd, Built of a large extent, and strong withal, Che country wasted, and the hamlets burn'd, Was one partition of the palace wall : And left the pillagers, to rapine bred,
The garden was inclos'd within the square, Without control to strip and spoil the dead. Where young Emilia took the morning air. There, in a heap of slain, among the rest
It happen'd Palamon, the prisoner knight, Two youthful knights they found beneath a load Restless for woe, arose before the light, oppress'd
And with his gaoler's leave desir'd to breathe of slaughter'd foes, whom first to death they sent, An air more wholesome than the damps beneath : The trophies of their strength, a bloody monument. This granted, to the tower he took his way, Both fair, and both of royal blood they seem'd, Cheer'd with the promise of a glorious day : Whom kinsmen to the crown the heralds deem'd; Then cast a languishing regard around, That day in equal arms they fought for fame; And saw with hateful eyes the temples crown'd Their swords, their shields, their surcoats, were the With golden spires, and all the hostile ground.
He sigh'd, and turn'd his eyes, because he knew Close by each other laid, they press'd the ground, 'Twas but a larger gaol he had in view : Their manly bosoms pierc'd with many a grisly Then look'd below, and, from the castle's height wound;
Beheld a nearer and more pleasing sight, Nor well alive, nor wholly dead, they were, The garden, which before he had not seen, But some faint signs of feeble life appear: In Spring's new livery clad of white and green, The wandering breath was on the wing to part, Fresh flowers in wide parterres, and shady walks Weak was the pulse, and hardly heav'd the heart.
between. These two were sisters' sons; and Arcite one, This view'd, but not enjoy'd, with arms across Much fam'd in fields, with valiant Palamon. He stood, reflecting on his country's loss ; From these their costly arms the spoilers rent, Himself an object of the public scorn, And softly both convey'd to Theseus' tent: And often wish'd he never had been born. Whom, known of Creon's line, and cur'd with care, At last, for so his destiny requirid, He to his city sent as prisoners of the war, With walking giddy, and with thinking tir’d, Hopeless of ransom, and condemn'd to lie
He through a little window cast his sight, In durance, doom'd a lingering death to die. Though thick of bars, that gave a scanty light: This done, he march'd away with warlike sound, But ev'n that glimmering serv'd him to descry And to his Athens turn’d with laurels crown'd, Th’inevitable charms of Emily. Where happy long he liv'd, much lov'd, and more Scarce had he seen, but, seiz'd with sudden smart, renown'd.
Stung to the quick, he felt it at his heart; But in a tower, and never to be loos’d,
Struck blind with overpowering light, he stood, The woful captive kinsmen are inclos'd.
Then started back amaz'd, and cried aloud. Thus year by year they pass, and day by day, Young Arcite heard ; and up he ran with haste, Till once, 'twas on the morn of cheerful May, To help his friend, and in his arms embrac'd; The young Emilia, fairer to be seen
And ask'd him why he look'd so deadly wan, Than the fair lily on the flowery green,
And whence and how his change of cheer began, More fresh than May herself in blossoms new, Or who had done th' offence? “But if," said he, For with the rosy color strove her hue,
" Your grief alone is hard captivity, Wak'd, as her custom was, before the day, For love of Heaven, with patience undergo To do th'observance due to sprightly May: A cureless ill, since Fate will have it so: For sprightly May commands our youth to keep So stood our horoscope in chains to lie, The vigilsof her night, and breaks theirsluggard sleep; And Saturn in the dungeon of the sky, Each gentle breath with kindly warmth she moves; Or other baleful aspect, rul’d our birth, Inspires new flames, revives extinguish'd loves. When all the friendly stars were under Earth : In this remembrance Emily, ere day,
Whate'er betides, by Destiny 'tis done ; Arose, and dress'd herself in rich array ;
And better bear like men, than vainly seek to shun." Fresh as the month, and as the morning fair; "Nor of my bonds," said Palamon again, Adown her shoulders fell her length of hair: “ Nor of unhappy planets I complain; A ribband did the braided tresses bind,
But when my mortal anguish caus'd me cry, The rest was loose, and wanton'd in the wind. That moment I was hurt through either eye ; Aurora had but newly chas'd the night,
Pierc'd with a random shaft, I faint away,
Whom, like Acteon, unaware I found.
Not Juno moves with more majestic grace ;
Then be thy wrath appeas'd with our disgrace, If then the laws of friendship I transgress,
Both hopeless to be ransom'd, never more
To see the Sun, but as he passes o'er." And deep within his heart infix'd the wound : Like Æsop's hounds contending for the bone, So that if Palamon were wounded sore,
Each pleaded right, and would be lord alone : Arcite was hurt as much as he, or more :
The fruitless fight continued all the day : Then from his inmost soul he sigh'd, and said, A cur came by, and snatch'd the prize away. “ The beauty I behold has struck me dead : “ As courtiers therefore justle for a grant, Unknowingly she strikes, and kills by chance; And, when they break their friendship, plead their Poison is in her eyes, and death in every glance.
want, 0, I must ask, nor ask alone, but move
So, thou, if Fortune will thy suit advance, Her mind to mercy, or must die for love." Love on, nor envy me my equal chance :
Thus Arcite : and thus Palamon replies, For I must love, and am resolv'd to try (Eager his tone, and ardent were his eyes :) My fate, or failing in th’adventure, die." “Speak'st thou in earnest, or in jesting vein ?" Great was their strife, which hourly was renew'd, “ Jesting,” said Arcite, “suits but ill with pain." Till each with mortal hate his rival view'd. “ It suits far worse" (said Palamon again,
Now friends no more, nor walking hand in hand; And bent his brows) “ with men who honor weigh, But when they met, they made a surly stand; Their faith to break, their friendship to betray; And glar'd like angry lions as they passid, But worst with thee, of noble lineage born, And wish'd that every look might be their last. My kinsman, and in arms my brother sworn. It chanc'd at length, Pirithous came t'attend Have we not plighted each our holy oath, This worthy Theseus, his familiar friend ; That one should be the common good of both; Their love in early infancy began, One soul should both inspire, and neither prove And rose as childhood ripen'd into man: His fellow's hindrance in pursuit of love ? Companions of the war, and lov'd so well, To this before the Gods we gave our hands, That when one died, as ancient stories tell, And nothing but our death can break the bands. His fellow to redeem him went to Hell. This binds thee, then, to further my design;
But to pursue my tale: to welcome home As I am bound by vow to further thine :
His warlike brother is Pirithous come: Nor eanst, nor dar'st thou, traitor, on the plain Arcite of Thebes was known in arms long since, Appeach my honor, or thine own maintain, And honor'd by this young Thessalian prince. Since thou art of my council, and the friend Theseus, to gratify his friend and guest, Whose faith I trust, and on whose care depend : Who made our Arcite's freedom his request, And wouldst thou court my lady's love, which I Restor'd to liberty the captive knight, Much rather than release would choose to die? But on these hard conditions I recite: But thou, false Arcite, never shalt obtain
That if hereafter Arcite should be found
To this Pirithous for his friend agreed,
Unpleas'd and pensive hence he takes his way, In haughty language, thus replied again :
At his own peril; for his life must pay. "Forsworn thyself: the traitor's odious name Who now but Arcite mourns his bitter fate, I first return, and then disprove thy claim. Finds his dear purchase, and repents too late? If love be passion, and that passion nurst
“What have I gain'd,” he said, “in prison pent, With strong desires, I lov'd the lady first.
If I but change my bonds for banishment ? Canst thou pretend desire, whom zeal inflam'd And banish'd from her sight, I suffer more To worship, and a power celestial nam'd ? In freedom, than I felt in bonds before : Thine was devotion to the blest above,
Forc'd from her presence, and condemn'd to live : I saw the woman, and desir'd her love;
Unwelcome freedom, and unthank'd reprieve : First own'd my passion, and to thee commend Heaven is not, but where Emily abides ; Th’important secret, as my chosen friend.
And where she's absent, all is Hell besides, Suppose (which yet I grant not) thy desire Next to my day of birth, was that accurst, A moment elder than my rival fire;
Which bound my friendship to Pirithous first: Can chance of seeing first thy title prove ? Had I not known that prince, I still had been And know'st thou not, no law is made for love? In bondage, and had still Emilia seen: Law is to things, which to free choice relate ; For, though I never can her grace deserve, Love is not in our choice, but in our fate; "Tis recompense enough to see and serve. Laws are but positive; love's power, we see, O Palamon, my kinsman and my friend, Is Nature's sanction, and her first decree.
How much more happy sates thy love attend ! Each day we break the bond of human laws Thine is th' adventure; thine the victory : For love, and vindicate the common cause. Well has thy fortune turn'd the dice for thee: Laws for defence of civil rights are plac'd, Thou on that angel's face may'st feed thine eyes, Love throws the fences down, and makes a general In prison, no; but blissful Paradise ! waste :
Thou daily seest that sun of beauty shine, Maids, widows, wives, without distinction fall; And lov'st at least in love's extremest line. The sweeping deluge, love, comes on, and covers all. I mourn in absence, love's eternal night;
And who can tell but since thou hast her sight, He with the rest is liable to pain,
Or does your justice, power, or prescience fail, Nor help can hope, nor remedy can find ;
When the good suffer, and the bad prevail ? But, doom'd to drag my lothesome life in care, What worse to wretched Virtue could befall, For my reward, must end it in despair.
If Fate or giddy Fortune govern'd all ? Fire, water, air, and earth, and force of fates Nay, worse than other beasts is our estate ; That governs all, and Heaven that all creates, Them, to pursue their pleasures, you create; Nor art, nor Nature's hand can ease my grief; We, bound by harder laws, must curb our will, Nothing but death, the wretch's last relief: And your commands, not our desires, fulfil; Then farewell youth, and all the joys that dwell, Then when the creature is unjustly slain, With youth and life, and life itself farewell. Yet after death at least he feels no pain; But why, alas! do mortal men in vain
But man, in life surcharg'd with woe before, Of Fortune, Fate, or Providence complain? Not freed when dead, is doom'd to suffer more. God gives us what he knows our wants require, A serpent shoots his sting at unaware ; And better things than those which we desire : An ambush'd thief forelays a traveller: Some pray for riches; riches they obtain;
The man lies murder'd, while the thief and snake But, watch'd by robbers, for their wealth are slain; One gains the thickets, and one thrids the brake. Some pray from prison to be freed; and come,
This let divines decide ; but well I know, When guilty of their vows, to fall at home ; Just or unjust, I have my share of woe, Murder'd by those they trusted with their life, Through Saturn seated in a luckless place, A favor'd servant, or a bosom wife.
And Juno's wrath, that persecutes my race; Such dear-bought blessings happen every day,
Or Mars and Venus, in a quartile, move Because we know not for what things to pray. My pangs of jealousy for Arcile's love." Like drunken sots about the street we roam :
Let Palamon, oppress'd in bondage, mourn, Well knows the sot he has a certain home;
While to his exil'd rival we return.
The day had shorten'd, to prolong the night :
Both to the captive lover and the free; This is my case, who thought our utmost good
For Palamon in endless prison mourns,
And Arcite forfeits life if he returns :
Thus Arcile : but if Arcite thus deplore 'Tis hard to say who suffers greater pains :
One sees his love, but cannot break his chains : For when he knew his rival freed and gone,
One free, and all his motions uncontroll'd,
When Arcite was to Thebes return'd again, “ Alas!" he cried, “I wretch in prison pine, The loss of her he lov'd renew'd his pain; Too happy rival, while the fruit is thine:
What could be worse, than never more to see Thou liv'st at large, thou draw'st thy native air, His life, his soul, his charming Emily? Pleas'd with thy freedom, proud of my despair : He rav'd with all the madness of despair, Thou mayst, since thou hast youth and courage join'd, He roar’d, he beat his breast, he tore his hair. A sweet behavior, and a solid mind,
Dry sorrow in his stupid eyes appears, Assemble ours, and all the Theban race,
For, wanting nourishment, he wanted tears : To vindicate on Athens thy disgrace;
His eyeballs in their hollow sockets sink: And after, by some treaty made, possess
Bereft of sleep, he lothes his meat and drink : Fair Emily, the pledge of lasting peace.
He withers at his heart, and looks as wan So thine shall be the beauteous prize, while I As the pale spectre of a murder'd man: Must languish in despair, in prison die.
That pale turns yellow, and his face receives Thus all th’advantage of the strife is thine, The faded hue of sapless boxen leaves : Thy portion double joys, and double sorrows mine." In solitary groves he makes his moan,
The rage of jealousy then fir'd his soul, Walks early out, and ever is alone :
His spirits are so low, his voice is drown'd,
Uncomb'd his locks, and squalid his attire,
This when he had endur'd a year and more, Beyond what all his fellow-creatures are ? Now wholly chang'd from what he was before,
It happend once, that, slumbering as he lay,
His prison pain’d him much, his passion more :
But when the sixth revolving year was run,
Which forms in causes first whate'er shall be,
Assisted by a friend, one moonless night, Since in Emilia's sight I shall expire.”
This Palamon from prison took his flight:
Of wine and honey, mix'd with added store
And snor'd secure till morn, his senses bound
Short was the night, and careful Palamon
(For far he could not fly, and fear'd the day). In low estate I may securely live,
Safe from pursuit, he meant to shun the light,
And war on Theseus, till he lost his life
Thus while his thoughts the lingering day beguile,
Who little dreamt how nigh he was to care,
The morning-lark, the messenger of Day,
Saluted in her song the morning grey ;
And soon the Sun arose with beams so bright,
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,
The grove I nam'd before ; and, lighted there,
Then turn'd his face against the rising day, And recommend him to the royal grace,
And rais'd his voice to welcome in the May. (wear, That, exercis'd within a higher sphere,
“For thee, sweet month, the groves green liveries His virtues more conspicuous might appear.
If not the first, the fairest of the year:
When thy short reign is past, the feverish Sun
Nor goals with venom'd teeth thy tendrils bite, This well employ'd, he purchas'd friends and as thou shalt guide my wandering feet to find fame,
The fragrant greens I seek, my brows to bind."
His steps where secret Palamon was laid.
Full little thought of him the gentle knight,
In brakes and brambles hid, and shunning mortal For, though unarm'd I am, and (freed by chance) sight:
Am here without my sword, or pointed lance ; And less he knew him for his hated foe,
Hope not, base man, unquestion d hence to go, But fear'd him as a man he did not know. For I am Palamon, thy mortal foe.” But as it has been said of ancient years,
Arcite, who heard his tale, and knew the man, That fields are full of eyes, and woods have ears; His sword unsheath'd, and fiercely thus began : For this the wise are ever on their guard,
“ Now by the gods who govern Heaven above, For, unforeseen, they say, is unprepar'd.
Wert thou not weak with hunger, mad with love, Uncautious Arcite thought himself alone,
That word had been thy last, or in this grove And less than all suspected Palamon, [grove, This hand should force thee to renounce thy love. Who, listening, heard him, while he search'd the The surety which I gave thee, I defy : And loudly sung his roundelay of love :
Fool, not to know, that love endures no tie, But on the sudden stopp'd, and silent stood, And Jove but laughs at lovers' perjury. As lovers often muse, and change their mood; Know I will serve the fair in thy despite; Now high as Heaven, and then as low as Hell; But since thon art my kinsman, and a knight, Now up, now down, as buckets in a well: Here, have my faith, to-morrow in this grove For Venus, like her day, will change her cheer, Our arms shall plead the titles of our love : And seldom shall we see a Friday clear.
And Heaven so help my right, as I alone (known; Thus Arcite, having sung, with alter'd hue Will come, and keep the cause and quarrel both unSunk on the ground, and from his bosom drew With arms of proof both for myself and thee; A desperate sigh, accusing Heaven and Fate, Choose thou the best, and leave the worst to me. And angry Juno's unrelenting hate.
And, that a better ease thou may'st abide, “Curs'd be the day when first I did appear; Bedding and clothes I will this night provide, Let it be blotted from the calendar,
And needful sustenance, that thou may'st be Lest it pollute the month, and poison all the year. A conquest better won, and worthy me." Still will the jealous queen pursue our race ? His promise Palamon accepts; but pray'd, Cadmus is dead, the Theban city was :
To keep it better than the first he made. Yet ceases not her hate : for all who come Thus fair they parted till the morrow's dawn, From Cadmus are involv'd in Cadmus' doom. For each had laid his plighted faith to pawn. I suffer for my blood : unjust decree!
O Love! thou sternly dost thy power maintain, That punishes another's crime on me.
And wilt not bear a rival in thy reign, In mean estate I serve my mortal foe,
Tyrants and thou all fellowship disdain.
Both in despair, yet each would love alone.
His foe with bedding and with food supplied : That side of Heaven is all my enemy:
Then, ere the day, two suits of armor sought, Mars ruin'd Thebes : his mother ruin'd me. Which borne before him on his steed he brought : Of all the royal race remains but one
Both were of shining steel, and wrought so pure, Besides myself, the unhappy Palamon,
As might the strokes of two such arms endure. Whom Theseus holds in bonds, and will not free; Now, at the time, and in th’appointed place, Without a crime, except his kin to me.
The challenger and challeng'd face to face Yet these, and all the rest, I could endure; Approach ; each other from afar they knew, But love's a malady without a cure;
And from afar their hatred chang'd their hue. Fierce Love has pierc'd me with his fiery dart, So stands the Thracian herdsman with his spear, He fires within, and hisses at my heart.
Full in the gap, and hopes the hunted bear, Your eyes, fair Emily, my fate pursue ;
And hears him rustling in the wood, and sees I suffer for the rest, I die for you.
His course at distance by the bending trees,
This while he thinks, he lifts aloft his dart;
At this a sickly qualm his heart assail'd, The veins pour back the blood, and fortify the heart. His ears ring inward, and his senses fail'd.
Thus pale they meet; their eyes with fury burn; No word miss'd Palamon of all he spoke,
None greets ; for none the greeting will return: But soon to deadly pale he chang'd his look : But in dumb surliness, each arm'd with care He trembled every limb, and felt a smart, His foe profest, as brother of the war: As if cold steel had glided through his heart: Then both, no moment lost, at once advance No longer staid, but starting from his place, Against each other, arm'd with sword and lance : Discover'd stood, and show'd his hostile face : They lash, they foin, they pass, they strive to bore False traitor Arcite, traitor to thy blood,
Their corslets, and the thinnest parts explore. Bound by thy sacred oath to seek my good, Thus two long hours in equal arms they stood.” Now art thou found forsworn, for Emily;
And wounded, wound; till both were bath'd in And dar'st attempt her love, for whom I die.
blood; So hast thou cheated Theseus with a wile,
And not a foot of ground had either got, Against thy vow, returning to beguile
As if the world depended on the spot.
Fell Arcite like an angry tiger far'd,
With rising bristles, and with frothy jawe,