To His Mistress In Absence – Torquato Tasso

FAR from thy dearest self, the scope
Of all my aims,
I waste in secret flames;
And only live because I hope.

O when will Fate restore
The joys, in whose bright fire
My expectation shall expire,
That I may live because I hope no more! 

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Jerusalem Delivered – Book 05 – Part 05 – Torquato Tasso

LXV

But yet all ways the wily witch could find
Could not Tancredi’s heart to loveward move,
His sails were filled with another wind,
He list no blast of new affection prove;
For, as one poison doth exclude by kind
Another’s force, so love excludeth love:
These two nor more nor less the dame
Could win, the all burnt in her sweet flame.

LXVI

The princess, though her purpose would not frame,
As late she hoped, and as still she would,
Yet, for the lords and knights of greatest name
Became her prey, as erst you it told,
She , ere truth-revealing time or frame
Bewrayed her act, to lead them to some hold,
Where chains and band she meant to make them prove,
Composed by Vulcan not by gentle love.

LXVII

The time prefixed at length was come and past,
Which Godfrey had set down to lend her aid,
When at his feet to earth she cast,
‘The hour is come, my Lord,’ she humbly said,
‘And if the tyrant haply at last,
His banished niece hath your assistance prayed,
He will in arms to save his kingdom rise,
So shall we harder make this enterprise.

LXVIII

‘Before report can bring the tyrant news,
Or his espials certify their king,
Oh let thy these few champions choose,
That to her kingdom should thy handmaid bring;
Who, except Heaven to aid the right refuse,
Recover shall her crown, from whence shall spring
Thy profit; for betide thee peace or war,
Thine all her cities, all her subjects are.’

LXIX

The captain the damsel fair assured,
His word was passed and should not be recanted,
And she with sweet and humble grace endured
To let him point those ten, which late he granted:
But to be one, each one fought and procured,
No suit, no entreaty, intercession wanted;
There envy each at others’ love exceeded,
And all importunate made, more than needed.

LXX

She that well the secret of their hearts,
And how best to warm them in their blood,
Against them threw the cursed poisoned darts
Of , and grief at others’,
For love she was weak without those arts,
And slow; for is Cupid’s food;
For the swift steed runs not so fast ,
As when some strain, some strive him to outgone.

LXXI

Her words in such alluring sort she framed,
Her looks enticing, and her wooing smiles,
That every one his fellows’ favors blamed,
That of their mistress he received erewhiles:
This foolish crew of lovers unashamed,
Mad with the poison of her secret wiles,
Ran forward still, in this disordered sort,
Nor could Godfredo’s bridle rein them short.

LXXII

He that would each,
Withouten partial love, of every knight,
Although he swelled with shame, with grief and ire
To these fellows and these fashions light;
Yet since by no advice they would retire,
Another way he sought to set them right:
‘Write all your names,’ quoth he, ‘and whom chance
Of lot, to this exploit will first advance.’

LXXIII

Their names were writ, and in an helmet shaken,
While each did fortune’s grace and aid implore;
At last they drew them, and the foremost taken
The Earl of Pembroke was, Artemidore,
Doubtless the county his bread well baken;
Next Gerrard followed, then with tresses hoar
Old Wenceslaus, that Cupid’s rage
Now in his doating and his dying age.

LXXIV

Oh how contentment in their foreheads shined!
Their looks with; swelled with secret,
These three it seemed success designed
To make the lords of love and beauty’s treasure:
Their fellows at their hap repined,
And with small wait Fortune’s leisure,
Upon his lips that read the scrolls attending,
As if their lives were on his words depending.

LXXV

Guasco the fourth, Ridolpho him succeeds,
Then Ulderick whom love list so advance,
Lord William of Ronciglion next he reads,
Then Eberard, and Henry born in France,
Rambaldo last, whom wicked lust so leads
That he forsook his Saviour with mischance;
This wretch the tenth was who was thus deluded,
The to their huge grief were all excluded.

LXXVI

O’ercome with envy, wrath and,
The blind Fortune curse, and all her laws,
And mad with love, yet out on love they cry,
That in his kingdom let her judge their cause:
And for man’s is such, that oft we try
Things most forbidden, without stay or pause,
In spite of fortune purposed many a knight
To follow fair Armida when ’twas night.

LXXVII

To follow her, by night or else by day,
And in her quarrel venture life and limb.
With sighs and tears she gan them softly pray
To keep that promise, when the skies were dim,
To this and that knight did she plain and say,
What grief she to part withouten him:
Meanwhile the ten had donned their armor best,
And taken leave of Godfrey and the.

LXXVIII

The duke advised them every one apart,
How light, how trustless was the Pagan’s,
And told what policy, what, what art,
Avoids , which heedless men betray’th;
His speeches pierce their ear, but not their heart,
Love calls it folly, whatso saith:
Thus warned he leaves them to their wanton guide,
Who parts that night; such haste had she to ride.

LXXIX

The conqueress departs, and with her led
These prisoners, whom love would captive keep,
The hearts of those she left behind her bled,
With point of sorrow’s arrow pierced deep.
But when the night her drowsy mantle spread,
And filled the earth with silence, shade and sleep,
In secret sort then each forsook his tent,
And as blind Cupid led them blind they went.

LXXX

Eustatio first, who scantly could,
Till friendly night might hide his haste and shame,
He rode in post, and let his breast him bear
As his blind fancy would his journey frame,
All night he wandered and he not where;
But with the morning he espied the dame,
That with her guard up from a village rode
Where she and they that night had made abode.

LXXXI

Thither he galloped fast, and drawing near
Rambaldo the knight, and loudly cried,
‘Whence comes young Eustace, and what seeks he here?’
‘I come,’ quoth he, ‘to serve the Queen Armide,
If she me, would we all were there
Where my good-will and might best be tried.’
‘Who,’ quoth the other, ‘choseth thee to prove
This high exploit of hers?’ He answered, ‘Love.’ 

What Weeping, Or What Dewfall – Torquato Tasso

What weeping, or what dewfall,
Whose then were those tears, 
Flung from night’s cloak, I saw,
And the white face of the stars?
Why was the white moon sowing
A pure cloud’s crystal mass
In the lap of fresh new grass?
Why were the winds heard, blowing,
Through the dark air, round and round,
Till dawn, with mournful sound?
Were they perhaps the strife 
Of your going, life of my life? 

Life Of My Life, You Seem To Me – Torquato Tasso

Life of my life, you seem to me
Like some pallid olive tree
Or the faded rose I see:
Nor do you lack beauty,
But pleasing in every way to me,
In shyness or in flattery,
Whether you follow me or flee,
Consume, destroy me softly. 

Jerusalem – Book 01 – Part 03 – Torquato Tasso

XXVI
“Turks, Persians conquered, Antiochia won,
Be glorious acts, and full of glorious praise,
By Heaven’s mere grace, not by our prowess done:
Those conquests were achieved by wondrous ways,
If now from that directed course we run
The God of Battles thus before us lays,
His loving kindness shall we lose, I doubt,
And be a byword to the lands about.

XXVII
“Let not these blessings then sent from above
Abused be, or split in profane wise,
But let the issue correspondent prove
To good beginnings of each enterprise;
The gentle season might our courage move,
Now every passage plain and open lies:
What lets us then the great Jerusalem
With valiant squadrons round about to hem?

XXVIII
“Lords, I protest, and hearken all to it,
Ye times and ages, future, present, past,
Hear all ye blessed in the heavens that sit,
The time for this achievement hasteneth fast:
The longer rest worse will the season fit,
Our sureties shall with doubt be overcast.
If we forslow the siege I well foresee
From Egypt will the Pagans succored be.”

XXIX
This said, the hermit Peter rose and spake,
Who sate in counsel those great Lords among:
“At my request this war was undertake,
In private cell, who erst lived closed long,
What Godfrey wills, of that no question make,
There cast no doubts where truth is plain and strong,
Your acts, I trust, will correspond his speech,
Yet one thing more I would you gladly teach.

XXX
“These strifes, unless I far mistake the thing,
And discords raised oft in disordered sort,
Your disobedience and ill managing
Of actions lost, for want of due support,
Refer I justly to a further spring,
Spring of sedition, strife, oppression, tort,
I mean commanding power to sundry given,
In thought, opinion, worth, estate, uneven.

XXXI
“Where divers Lords divided empire hold,
Where causes be by gifts, not justice tried,
Where offices be falsely bought and sold,
Needs must the lordship there from virtue slide.
Of friendly parts one body then uphold,
Create one head, the rest to rule and guide:
To one the regal power and sceptre give,
That henceforth may your King and Sovereign live.”

XXXII
And therewith stayed his speech. O gracious Muse,
What kindling motions in their breasts do fry?
With grace divine the hermit’s talk infuse,
That in their hearts his words may fructify;
By this a virtuous concord they did choose,
And all contentions then began to die;
The Princes with the multitude agree,
That Godfrey ruler of those wars should be.

XXXIII
This power they gave him, by his princely right,
All to command, to judge all, good and ill,
Laws to impose to lands subdued by might,
To maken war both when and where he will,
To hold in due subjection every wight,
Their valors to be guided by his skill;
This done, Report displays her tell-tale wings,
And to each ear the news and tidings brings.

XXXIV
She told the soldiers, who allowed him meet
And well deserving of that sovereign place.
Their first salutes and acclamations sweet
Received he, with love and gentle grace;
After their reverence done with kind regreet
Requited was, with mild and cheerful face,
He bids his armies should the following day
On those fair plains their standards proud display.

XXXV
The golden sun rose from the silver wave,
And with his beams enamelled every green,
When up arose each warrior bold and brave,
Glistering in filed steel and armor sheen,
With jolly plumes their crests adorned they have,
And all tofore their chieftain mustered been:
He from a mountain cast his curious sight
On every footman and on every knight.

XXXVI
My mind, Time’s enemy, Oblivion’s foe,
Disposer true of each noteworthy thing,
Oh, let thy virtuous might avail me so,
That I each troop and captain great may sing,
That in this glorious war did famous grow,
Forgot till now by Time’s evil handling:
This work, derived from my treasures dear,
Let all times hearken, never age outwear.
XXXVII
The French came foremost battailous and bold,
Late led by Hugo, brother to their King,
From France the isle that rivers four infold
With rolling streams descending from their spring,
But Hugo dead, the lily fair of gold,
Their wonted ensign they tofore them bring,
Under Clotharius great, a captain good,
And hardy knight ysprong of princes’ blood.

XXXVIII
A thousand were they in strong armors clad,
Next whom there marched forth another band,
That number, nature, and instruction had,
Like them to fight far off or charge at hand,
All valiant Normans by Lord Robert lad,
The native Duke of that renowned land,
Two bishops next their standards proud upbare,
Called Reverend William, and Good Ademare.

XXXIX
Their jolly notes they chanted loud and clear
On merry mornings at the mass divine,
And horrid helms high on their heads they bear
When their fierce courage they to war incline:
The first four hundred horsemen gathered near
To Orange town, and lands that it confine:
But Ademare the Poggian youth brought out,
In number like, in hard assays as stout.

XL
Baldwin, his ensign fair, did next dispread
Among his Bulloigners of noble fame,
His brother gave him all his troops to lead,
When he commander of the field became;
The Count Carinto did him straight succeed,
Grave in advice, well skilled in Mars his game,
Four hundred brought he, but so many thrice
Led Baldwin, clad in gilden arms of price. 

Poem – Jerusalem Delivered – Book 01 – Part 02

XI
Thus when the Lord discovered had, and seen
The hidden secrets of each worthy’s breast,
Out of the hierarchies of angels sheen
The gentle Gabriel called he from the rest,
‘Twixt God and souls of men that righteous been
Ambassador is he, forever blest,
The just commands of Heaven’s Eternal King,
‘Twixt skies and earth, he up and down doth bring.

XII
To whom the Lord thus spake: “Godfredo find,
And in my name ask him, why doth he rest?
Why be his arms to ease and peace resigned?
Why frees he not Jerusalem distrest?
His peers to counsel call, each baser mind
Let him stir up; for, chieftain of the rest
I choose him here, the earth shall him allow,
His fellows late shall be his subjects now.”

XIII
This said, the angel swift himself prepared
To execute the charge imposed aright,
In form of airy members fair imbared,
His spirits pure were subject to our sight,
Like to a man in show and shape he fared,
But full of heavenly majesty and might,
A stripling seemed he thrive five winters old,
And radiant beams adorned his locks of gold.

XIV
Of silver wings he took a shining pair,
Fringed with gold, unwearied, nimble, swift;
With these he parts the winds, the clouds, the air,
And over seas and earth himself doth lift,
Thus clad he cut the spheres and circles fair,
And the pure skies with sacred feathers clift;
On Libanon at first his foot he set,
And shook his wings with rory May dews wet.

XV
Then to Tortosa’s confines swiftly sped
The sacred messenger, with headlong flight;
Above the eastern wave appeared red
The rising sun, yet scantly half in sight;
Godfrey e’en then his morn-devotions said,
As was his custom, when with Titan bright
Appeared the angel in his shape divine,
Whose glory far obscured Phoebus’ shine.

XVI
“Godfrey,” quoth he, “behold the season fit
To war, for which thou waited hast so long,
Now serves the time, if thou o’erslip not it,
To free Jerusalem from thrall and wrong:
Thou with thy Lords in council quickly sit;
Comfort the feeble, and confirm the strong,
The Lord of Hosts their general doth make thee,
And for their chieftain they shall gladly take thee.

XVII
“I, messenger from everlasting Jove,
In his great name thus his behests do tell;
Oh, what sure hope of conquest ought thee move,
What zeal, what love should in thy bosom dwell!”
This said, he vanished to those seats above,
In height and clearness which the rest excel,
Down fell the Duke, his joints dissolved asunder,
Blind with the light, and strucken dead with wonder.

XVIII
But when recovered, he considered more,
The man, his manner, and his message said;
If erst he wished, now he longed sore
To end that war, whereof he Lord was made;
Nor swelled his breast with uncouth pride therefore,
That Heaven on him above this charge had laid,
But, for his great Creator would the same,
His will increased: so fire augmenteth flame.

XIX
The captains called forthwith from every tent,
Unto the rendezvous he them invites;
Letter on letter, post on post he sent,
Entreatance fair with counsel he unites,
All, what a noble courage could augment,
The sleeping spark of valor what incites,
He used, that all their thoughts to honor raised,
Some praised, some paid, some counselled, all pleased.

XX
The captains, soldiers, all, save Boemond, came,
And pitched their tents, some in the fields without,
Some of green boughs their slender cabins frame,
Some lodged were Tortosa’s streets about,
Of all the host the chief of worth and name
Assembled been, a senate grave and stout;
Then Godfrey, after silence kept a space,
Lift up his voice, and spake with princely grace:

XXI
“Warriors, whom God himself elected hath
His worship true in Sion to restore,
And still preserved from danger, harm and scath,
By many a sea and many an unknown shore,
You have subjected lately to his faith
Some provinces rebellious long before:
And after conquests great, have in the same
Erected trophies to his cross and name.

XXII
“But not for this our homes we first forsook,
And from our native soil have marched so far:
Nor us to dangerous seas have we betook,
Exposed to hazard of so far sought war,
Of glory vain to gain an idle smook,
And lands possess that wild and barbarous are:
That for our conquests were too mean a prey,
To shed our bloods, to work our souls’ decay.

XXIII
“But this the scope was of our former thought, —
Of Sion’s fort to scale the noble wall,
The Christian folk from bondage to have brought,
Wherein, alas, they long have lived thrall,
In Palestine an empire to have wrought,
Where godliness might reign perpetual,
And none be left, that pilgrims might denay
To see Christ’s tomb, and promised vows to pay.

XXIV
“What to this hour successively is done
Was full of peril, to our honor small,
Naught to our first designment, if we shun
The purposed end, or here lie fixed all.
What boots it us there wares to have begun,
Or Europe raised to make proud Asia thrall,
If our beginnings have this ending known,
Not kingdoms raised, but armies overthrown?

XXV
“Not as we list erect we empires new
On frail foundations laid in earthly mould,
Where of our faith and country be but few
Among the thousands stout of Pagans bold,
Where naught behoves us trust to Greece untrue,
And Western aid we far removed behold:
Who buildeth thus, methinks, so buildeth he,
As if his work should his sepulchre be.