Jerusalem Delivered – Book 05 – Part 01 By Torquato Tasso

Jerusalem Delivered – Book 05 – Part 01

THE ARGUMENT.

Gernando scorns Rinaldo should aspire
To rule that charge for which he seeks and strives,
And slanders him so far, that in his ire
The wronged knight his foe of life deprives:
Far from the camp the slayer doth retire,
Nor lets be bound in chains or gyves:
Armide departs content, and from the seas
Godfrey news which him and his displease.

I

While thus Armida false the knights misled
In wandering errors of love,
And , besides the champions promised,
The other lordlings in her aid to move,
In Godfrey’s a strong contention bred
Who fittest were this hazard great to prove;
For all the worthies of the adventures’ band
Were like in birth, in power, in strength of hand.

II

But first the prince, by grave advice, decreed
They should some knight choose at their own election,
That in his charge Lord Dudon might succeed,
And of that glorious troop should take protection;
So none should grieve, displeased with the deed,
Nor blame the causer of their new subjection:
Besides, Godfredo showed by this device,
How much he held that regiment in price.

III

He called the worthies then, and spake them so:
‘Lordlings, you I yielded to your will,
And gave you license with this dame to go,
To win her kingdom and that tyrant kill:
But now again I let you further ,
In following her it may betide yon ill;
Refrain therefore, and change this forward
For death unsent for, danger comes unsought.

IV

‘But if to shun these perils, sought so far,
May seem disgraceful to the place yon hold;
If grave advice and counsel are
Esteemed detractors from your courage bold;
Then , I none against his will debar,
Nor what I granted erst I now withhold;
But he mine empire, as it ought of right,
Sweet, easy, , gentle, meek and light.

V

‘Go then or tarry, each as likes him best,
Free power I grant you on this enterprise;
But first in Dudon’s place, now laid in chest,
Choose you some other captain stout and ;
Then ten appoint among the worthiest,
But let no more attempt this hard emprise,
In this my will content you that I have,
For power constrained is but a glorious slave.’

VI

Thus Godfrey said, and thus his brother spake,
And answered for and all his peers:
‘My lord, as well it fitteth thee to make
These delays and cast these and ,
So ’tis our part at first to undertake;
Courage and haste beseems our might and years;
And this proceeding with so grave advice,
, in you, in us were cowardice.

VII

‘Since then the feat is easy, danger none,
All set in battle and in hardy fight,
Do thou permit the chosen ten to gone
And aid the damsel:’ thus devised the knight,
To make men the sun of honor shone
There where the lamp of Cupid gave the light:
The his guile, and it approve,
And call that knighthood which was childish love.

VIII

But loving Eustace, that with eye
Beheld the worth of Sophia’s child,
And his fair shape did secretly envy,
Besides the in his breast compiled,
And, for in love he would no company,
He stored his mouth with speeches smoothly filed,
Drawing his rival to attend his word;
Thus with fair sleight he laid the knight abord:

IX

‘Of great Bertoldo thou far greater heir,
Thou star of knighthood, flower of chivalry,
Tell me, who now shall lead this squadron fair,
Since our late guide in marble cold doth lie?
I, that with famous Dudon might compare
In all, but years, hoar locks, and gravity,
To whom should I, Duke Godfrey’s brother, yield,
Unless to thee, the Christian army’s shield?

X

‘Thee whom high birth makes equal with the best
Thine acts prefer both me and all beforn;
Nor that in fight thou both surpass the ,
And Godfrey’s worthy , I hold in scorn;
Thee to obey then am I only pressed;
Before these worthies be thine eagle borne;
This honor haply thou esteemest light,
Whose day of glory never yet found night.

XI

‘Yet mayest thou further by this means display
The spreading wings of thy immortal fame;
I will procure it, if thou sayest not nay,
And all their wills to thine election frame:
But for I scantly am resolved which way
To bend my force, or where employ the same,
Leave me, I pray, at my discretion free
To Armida, or serve here with thee.’

XII

This last request, for love is evil to hide,
Empurpled both his cheeks with scarlet red;
Rinaldo soon his passions had descried,
And gently smiling turned aside his head,
And, for weak Cupid was too feeble eyed
To strike him sure, the fire in him was dead;
So that of rivals was he naught afraid,
Nor cared he for the journey or the maid.

XIII

But in his revolved he oft
Dudon’s high prowess, death and burial,
And how Argantes bore his plumes aloft,
Praising his fortunes for that worthy’s fall;
Besides, the knight’s sweet words and praises soft
To his due honor did him fitly call,
And made his heart rejoice, for well he,
Though much he praised him, all his words were.

XIV

‘Degrees,’ quoth he, ‘of honors high to hold,
I would them first deserve, and the;
And were my valor such as you have told,
Would I for that to higher place aspire:
But if to honors due raise me you would,
I will not of my works refuse the hire;
And much it glads me, that my power and might
Ypraised is by such a valiant knight.

XV

‘I neither seek it nor refuse the place,
Which if I get, the praise and thanks be thine.’
Eustace, this spoken, hied thence apace
To which way his fellows’ hearts incline:
But Prince Gernando coveted the place,
Whom though Armida sought to undermine,
Gainst him yet vain did all her engines prove,
His pride was such, there was no place for love.

XVI

Gernando was the King of Norway’s son,
That many a realm and region had to guide,
And for his elders lands and crowns had won.
His heart was puffed up with endless pride:
The other boasts more what had done
Than all his ancestors’ great acts beside;
Yet his forefathers old before him were
Famous in war and peace five hundred years.

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