Jerusalem Delivered - Book 05 - part 02

Torquato Tasso

 Next Poem          


This barbarous prince, who only vainly
That in wealth and kingly power doth lie,
And in respect esteemed all naught
Unless it were adorned with titles high,
Could not endure, that to the place he sought
A simple knight should dare to press so nigh;
And in his breast so boiled fell despite,
That ire and wrath exiled reason quite.


The hidden devil, that lies in close await
To win the fort of unbelieving man,
Found entry there, where ire undid the gate,
And in his bosom unperceived ran;
It filled his heart with malice, strife and ,
It made him rage, blaspheme, swear, curse and ban,
Invisible it still attends him near,
And thus each minute whispereth in his ear.


What, shall Rinaldo match thee? dares he tell
Those idle names of his vain pedigree?
Then let him say, if thee he would excel,
What lands, what realms his tributaries be:
If his forefathers in the graves that dwell,
Were honored like thine that live, let :
Oh how dares one so mean aspire so high,
Born in that servile country Italy?


Now, if he win, or if he lose the day,
Yet is his praise and glory hence derived,
For that the world will, to his credit, say,
Lo, this is he that with Gernando strived.
The charge some deal thee haply honor may,
That Dudon had while here he lived;
But laid on him he would the office shame,
Let it suffice, he durst the same.


If when this breath from man's frail body flies
The take keep, or the things done here,
Oh, how looks Dudon from the glorious skies?
What wrath, what in his face appear,
On this proud youngling while he bends his eyes,
Marking how high he doth his feathers rear?
his rash attempt, how soon he dare,
Though but a boy, with his great worth compare.


He dares not only, but he strives and proves,
Where chastisement were fit there wins he praise:
One counsels him, his speech him forward moves;
Another fool approveth all he says:
If Godfrey favor him more than behoves,
Why then he wrongeth thee an hundred ways;
Nor let thy so far disgraced be,
Now what thou art and canst, let Godfrey.


With such false words the kindled fire began
To every vein his poisoned heart to reach,
It swelled his scornful heart, and forth it ran
At his proud looks, and too audacious speech;
All that he blameworthy in the man,
To his disgrace that would be each where preach;
He termed him proud and vain, his worth in fight
He called fool-hardise, rashness, madness right.


All that in him was rare or excellent,
All that was , all that was princely found,
With such sharp words as malice could invent,
He blamed, such power has wicked tongue to wound.
The youth, for everywhere those rumors went,
Of these reproaches sometimes the sound;
Nor did for that his tongue the fault amend,
Until it brought him to his woeful end.


The cursed fiend that set his tongue at large,
Still bred more fancies in his idle brain,
His heart with slanders new did overcharge,
And soothed him still in his vein;
Amid the camp a place was broad and large,
Where one fair regiment might easily train;
And there in tilt and harmless tournament
Their days of the youths and gallants spent.


There, as his fortune would it should betide,
Amid the press Gernando gan retire,
To vomit out his venom unespied,
Wherewith foul envy did his heart inspire.
Rinaldo him as he stood beside,
And as he could not bridle wrath and ire,
"Thou liest," cried he loud, and with that word
About his head he tossed his flaming sword.


Thunder his voice, and lightning seemed his brand,
So fell his look, and furious was his cheer,
Gernando trembled, for he at hand
Pale death, and neither nor near,
Yet for the soldiers all to witness stand
He made proud sign, as though he naught did ,
But bravely drew his little-helping blade,
And valiant show of strong resistance made.


With that a thousand blades of burnished steel
Glistered on heaps like flames of fire in ,
Hundreds, that not yet the quarrel weel,
Ran thither, some to gaze and some to fight:
The empty air a sound did
Of murmurs low, and outcries loud on height,
Like rolling waves and Boreas' blasts
When roaring seas against the rocks he casts.


But not for this the wronged warrior stayed
His just displeasure and incensed ire,
He cared not what the vulgar did or said,
To vengeance did his courage fierce aspire:
Among the thickest weapons way he made,
His thundering sword made all on heaps retire,
So that of near a thousand stayed not one,
But Prince Gernando bore the brunt.


His hand, too quick to execute his wrath,
Performed all, as his eye and heart,
At head and breast oft times he strucken hath,
Now at the right, now at the other part:
On every side thus did he harm and scath,
And oft beguile his with nimble art,
That no defence the prince of wounds acquits,
Where least he , or , there most he hits.


Nor be, till in Gernando's breast
He sheathed once or twice his furious blade;
Down fell the hapless prince with death oppressed,
A double way to his weak was made;
His bloody sword the victor wiped and dressed,
Nor longer by the slaughtered body stayed,
But sped him thence, and soon appeased hath
His , his ire, his rancor and his wrath.


Called by the tumult, Godfrey drew him near,
And there beheld a sad and rueful,
The signs of death upon his face appear,
With dust and blood his locks were loathly dight,
Sighs and complaints on each side might he,
Made for the sudden death of that great knight:
Amazed, he asked who durst and did so much;
For yet he not whom the fault would.

Next Poem 

 Back to Torquato Tasso

To be able to leave a comment here you must be registered. Log in or Sign up.