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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 bounc'd 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 spied a mirror while he spoke,
And gazing there beheld his alter'd look;
Wondering, he saw his features and his hue
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,
So much were chang'd, that scarce himself he Who swallow'd unaware the sleepy draught,
The world may search in vain with all their eyes, Sought the next covert ere the rising Sun.
But never penetrate through this disguise.
Thanks to the change which grief and sickness
In low estate I may securely live,
And see unknown my mistress day by day."
He said; and cloth'd himself in coarse array:
A laboring 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 favor 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
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 favor 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 grey;
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,
and As thou shalt guide my wandering feet to find
The fragrant greens I seek, my brows to bind."
But cautiously conceal'd from whence it canie.
Thus for three years he liv'd with large increase,
In arms of honor, and esteem in peace;
To Theseus' person he was ever near;
And Theseus for his virtues held him dea.
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.
Full little thought of him the gentle knight,
Who, flying death, had there conceal'd his flight,
In brakes and brambles hid, and shunning mortal For, though unarm'd I am, and (freed by chance)
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,
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,
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,
For, unforeseen, they say, is unprepar'd.
Uncautious Arcite thought himself alone,
And less than all suspected Palamon,
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 not her 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,
"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 un-
With 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 may'st 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 parted 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 honor tied,
His foe with bedding and with food supplied:
Then, ere the day, two suits of armor 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.
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.
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 forsworn, for Emily;
And dar'st attempt her love, for whom 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:
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
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, and with frothy jaws,
Their adverse breasts with tusks oblique they wound,
With grunts and groans the forest rings around:
So fought the knights, and fighting must abide,
ill 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, [way.
Comes with resistless force, and finds or makes her
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 harbor 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 falchions 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?
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 sheathe the sword of Justice on my 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 honor 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 honor 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 replied 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,
(The pattern form'd of perfect womanhood)
For 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':
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 magnified th' offence.
Offence! of what? to whom? who judg'd the
The prisoner freed himself by Nature's laws:
Born free, he sought his right: the man he freed
Was perjur'd, 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 cries
Which mov'd compassion more; he shook his head
And, softly sighing, to himself he said
"Curse on th' unpardoning prince, whom tears And grace his arms so far in equal fight,
To no remorse; who rules by lions' law;
And deaf to prayers, by no submission bow'd,
Rends all alike; the penitent, and proud."
At this, with look serene, he rais'd his head;
Reason resum'd her place, and Passion fled :
Then thus aloud he spoke: "The power of Love,
In Earth, and seas, and air, and Heaven above,
Rules, unresisted, with an awful nod;
By daily miracles declar'd a god:
He blinds the wise, gives eye-sight to the blind;
And moulds and stamps anew the lover's mind.
Behold that Arcite, and this Palamon,
Freed from my fetters, and in safety gone,
What hinder'd either in their native soil
At ease to reap the harvest of their toil;
But Love, their lord, did otherwise ordain,
And brought them in their own despite again,
To suffer death deserv'd; for well they know,
"Tis in my power, and I their deadly foe;
The proverb holds, that to be wise and love,
Is hardly granted to the gods above.
See how the madmen bleed; behold the gains
With which their master, Love, rewards their pains;
For seven long years, on duty every day,
Lo their obedience, and their monarch's pay:
Yet, as in duty bound, they serve him on ;
And, ask the fools, they think it wisely done;
Nor ease, nor wealth, nor life itself regard,
For 'tis their maxim, love is love's reward.
This is not all; the fair for whom they strove
Nor knew before, nor could suspect their love,
Nor thought, when she beheld the fight from far,
Her beauty was th' occasion of the war.
But sure a general doom on man is past,
And all are fools and lovers, first or last:
This both by others and myself I know,
For I have serv'd their sovereign long ago;
Oft have been caught within the winding train
Of female snares, and felt the lover's pain, [strain.
And learn'd how far the god can human hearts con-
To this remembrance, and the prayers of those
Who for th' offending warriors interpose,
I give their forfeit lives; on this accord,
To do me homage as their sovereign lord;
And as my vassals, to their utmost might,
Assist my person, and assert my right."
This freely sworn, the kaights their grace obtain'd.
Then thus the king his secret thoughts explain'd:
If wealth, or honor, or a royal race,
Or each, or all, may win a lady's grace,
Then either of you knights may well deserve
A princess born; and such is she you serve:
For Emily is sister to the crown,
And but too well to both her beauty known:
But should you combat till you both were dead,
Two lovers cannot share a single bed:
As therefore both are equal in degree,
The lot of both be left to Destiny.
Now hear th' award, and happy may it prove
To her, and him who best deserves her love!
Depart from hence in peace, and free as air,
Search the wide world, and where you please repair;
But on the day when this returning Sun
To the same point through every sign has run,
Then each of you his hundred knights shall bring,
In royal lists, to fight before the king;
And then the knight, whom Fate or happy Chance
Shall with his friends to victory advance,
From out the bars to force his opposite,
Or kill, or make him recreant on the plain,
The prize of valor and of love shall gain;
The vanquish'd party shall their claim release,
And the long jars conclude in lasting peace.
The charge be mine t' adorn the chosen ground,
The theatre of war, for champions so renown'd;
And take the patron's place of either knight,
With eyes impartial to behold the fight;
And Heaven of me so judge, as I shall judge aright.
If both are satisfied with this accord,
Swear by the laws of knighthood on my sword."
Who now but Palamon exults with joy?
And ravish'd Arcite seems to touch the sky:
The whole assembled troop was pleas'd as well,
Extol th' award, and on their knees they fell
To bless the gracious king. The knights, with leave
Departing from the place, his last commands receive;
On Emily with equal ardor look,
And from her eyes their inspiration took :
From thence to Thebes' old walls pursue their way
Each to provide his champions for the day.
It might be deem'd, on our historian's part,
Or too much negligence or want of art,
If he forgot the vast magnificence
Of royal Theseus, and his large expense.
He first inclos'd for lists a level ground,
The whole circumference a mile around;
The form was circular; and all without
A trench was sunk, to moat the place about.
Within, an amphitheatre appear'd,
Rais'd in degrees, to sixty paces rear'd;
That when a man was plac'd in one degree,
Height was allow'd for him above to see.
Eastward was built a gate of marble white;
The like adorn'd the western opposite.
A nobler object than this fabric was,
Rome never saw: nor of so vast a space :
For, rich with spoils of many a conquer'd land,
All arts and artists Theseus could command:
Who sold for hire, or wrought for better fame,
The master-painters, and the carvers, came.
So rose within the compass of the year
An age's work, a glorious theatre.
Then o'er its eastern gate was rais'd, above,
A temple, sacred to the queen of love;
An altar stood below; on either hand
A priest with roses crown'd, who held a myrtle wand
The dome of Mars was on the gate oppos'd,
And on the north a turret was inclos'd
Within the wall, of alabaster white,
And crimson coral, for the queen of night,
Who takes in sylvan sports her chaste delight.
Within these oratories might you see
Rich carvings, portraitures, and imagery:
Where every figure to the life express'd
The godhead's power to whom it was address'd.
In Venus' temple on the sides were seen
The broken slumbers of enamour'd men,
Prayers, that even spoke, and pity seem'd to call,
And issuing sighs, that smok'd along the wall,
Complaints, and hot desires, the lover's Hell,
And scalding tears, that wore a channel where they
And all around were nuptial bonds, the ties
Of love's assurance, and a train of lies;
That, made in lust, conclude in perjuries.
Beauty, and Youth, and Wealth, and Luxury,
And sprightly Hope, and short-enduring Joy;
And sorceries to raise th' infernal powers,
And sigils, fram'd in planetary hours:
Expense, and Afterthought, and idle Care,
And Doubts of motley hue, and dark Despair;
Suspicions, and fantastical Surmise,
And Jealousy suffus'd, with jaundice in her eyes,
Discoloring all she view'd, in tawny dress'd,
Down-look'd, and with a cuckoo on her fist.
Oppos'd to her, on t'other side advance
The costly feast, the carol, and the dance,
Minstrels, and music, poetry, and play,
And balls by nights, and tournaments by day.
All these were painted on the wall, and more:
With acts and monuments of times before:
And others added by prophetic doom,
And lovers yet unborn, and loves to come:
For there th' Idalian mount, and Citheron,
The court of Venus was in colors drawn:
Before the palace-gate, in careless dress
And loose array, sat portress Idleness:
There, by the fount, Narcissus pin'd alone:
There Samson was; with wiser Solomon,
And all the mighty names by love undone.
Medea's charms were there, Circean feasts,
With bowls that turn'd enamour'd youth to beasts.
Here might be seen, that beauty, wealth, and wit,
And prowess, to the power of love submit:
The spreading snare for all mankind is laid;
And lovers all betray, and are betray'd.
The goddess' self some noble hand had wrought;
Smiling she seem'd, and full of pleasing thought:
From ocean as she first began to rise,
And smooth'd the ruffled seas and clear'd the skies,
She trod the brine, all bare below the breast,
And the green waves but ill conceal'd the rest;
A lute she held; and on her head was seen
A wreath of roses red, and myrtles green;
Her turtles fann'd the buxom air above;
And, by his mother, stood an infant Love,
With wings unfledg'd; his eyes were banded
His hands a bow, his back a quiver bore,
Thence issued such a blast, and hollow roar,
As threaten'd from the hinge to heave the door;
In through that door, a northern light there shone ;
"Twas all it had, for windows there were none;
The gate was adamant, eternal frame!
Which, hew'd by Mars himself, from Indian quarries
The labor of a god; and all along
Tough iron plates were clench'd to make it strong.
A tun about was every pillar there;
A polish'd mirror shone not half so clear.
There saw I how the secret felon wrought,
And Treason laboring in the traitor's thought:
And midwife Time the ripen'd plot to murder
There the red Anger dar'd the pallid Fear;
Next stood Hypocrisy, with holy leer,
Soft smiling, and demurely looking down,
But hid the dagger underneath the gown:
Th' assassinating wife, the household fiend,
And, far the blackest there, the traitor-friend.
On t' other side there stood Destruction bare,
Unpunish'd Rapine, and a waste of war.
Contest, with sharpen'd knives, in cloisters drawn,
And all with blood bespread the holy lawn.
And bawling Infamy, in language base :
Loud menaces were heard, and foul Disgrace,
Till sense was lost in sound, and Silence fled the
The slayer of himself yet saw I there,
The gore congeal'd was clotted in his hair:
And grim, as when he breath'd his sudden soul
With eyes half clos'd, and gaping mouth, he lay,
In midst of all the dome, Misfortune sate,
And gloomy Discontent, and fell Debate,
And Madness laughing in his ireful mood;
And arm'd Complaint on Theft; and cries of Blood
There was the murder'd corpse, in covert laid,
And violent Death in thousand shapes display'd;
Successless wars, and Poverty behind;
The city to the soldiers' rage resign'd;
Ships burnt in fight, or forc'd on rocky shores,
Supplied with arrows bright and keen, a deadly store. And the rash hunter strangled by the boars:
But in the dome of mighty Mars the red
With different figures all the sides were spread ;
This temple, less in form, with equal grace,
Was imitative of the first in Thrace:
For that cold region was the lov'd abode
And sovereign mansion of the warrior god.
The landscape was a forest wide and bare,
Where neither beast, nor human kind repair;
The fowl, that scent afar, the borders fly,
The new-born babe by nurses overlaid;
And the cook caught within the raging fire he made
All ills of Mars's nature, flame and steel;
The gasping charioteer, beneath the wheel
Of his own car; the ruin'd house, that falls
And intercepts her lord betwixt the walls:
The whole division, that to Mars pertains,
All trades of death, that deal in steel for gains,
Were there: the butcher, armorer, and smith,
And shun the bitter blast, and wheel about the sky. Who forges sharpen'd falchions, or the scythe.
A cake of scurf lies baking on the ground,
And prickly stubs, instead of trees, are found;
Or woods with knots and knares deform'd and old;
Headless the most, and hideous to behold:
A rattling tempest through the branches went,
That stripp'd them bare, and one sole way they bent.
Heaven froze above, severe, the clouds congeal,
And through the crystal vault appear'd the standing
Such was the face without; a mountain stood
Threatening from high, and overlook'd the wood:
Beneath the lowering brow, and on a bent,
The temple stood of Mars armipotent:
The frame of burnis''d steel, that cast a glare
From far, and seem'd to thaw the freezing air.
A straight long entry to the temple led,
Blind with high walls, and Horror over-head:
The scarlet Conquest on a tower was plac'd,
With shouts, and soldiers' acclamations grac'd:
Sustain'd but by a slender twine of thread.
A pointed sword hung threatening o'er his head,
There saw I Mars's ides, the Capitol,
The last triumvirs, and the wars they move,
The seer in vain foretelling Cæsar's fall;
These, and a thousand more, the fane adorn;
And Antony, who lost the world for love.
Their fates were painted, ere the men were born,
All copied from the Heavens, and ruling force
Of the red star, in his revolving course.
The form of Mars high on a chariot stood,
All sheath'd in arms, and gruffly look'd the god :
Two geomantic figures were display'd
Above his head, a warrior and a maid;
One when direct, and one when retrograde.