Canto V

  1. Now, scarce three paces measured from the mound,
  2. We stumbled on a stationary voice,
  3. And 'Stand, who goes?' 'Two from the palace,' I.
  4. 'The second two: they wait,' he said, 'pass on;
  5. His Highness wakes:' and one, that clash'd in arms,
  6. By glimmering lanes and walls of canvas, led
  7. Threading the soldier-city, till we heard
  8. The drowsy folds of our great ensign shake
  9. From blazon'd lions o'er the imperial tent
  10. Whispers of war.
    Entering, the sudden light
  11. Dazed me half-blind: I stood and seem'd to hear,
  12. As in a poplar grove when a light wind wakes
  13. A lisping of the innumerous leaf and dies,
  14. Each hissing in his neighbour's ear; and then
  15. A strangled titter, out of which there brake
  16. On all sides, clamouring etiquette to death
  17. Unmeasured mirth; while now the two old kings
  18. Began to wag their baldness up and down,
  19. The fresh young captains flash'd their glittering teeth,
  20. The huge bush-bearded Barons heaved and blew,
  21. And slain with laughter roll'd the gilded Squire.

  22.  At length my Sire, his rough cheek wet with tears,
  23. Panted from weary sides 'King, you are free!
  24. We did but keep you surety for our son,
  25. If this be he, --or a draggled mawkin, thou,
  26. That tends her bristled grunters in the sludge:'
  27. For I was drench'd with ooze, and torn with briers,
  28. More crumpled than a poppy from the sheath,
  29. And all one rag, disprinced from head to heel.
  30. Then some one sent beneath his vaulted palm
  31. A whisper'd jest to some one near him, 'Look,
  32. He has been among his shadows.' 'Satan take
  33. The old women and their shadows!'(thus the King
  34. Roar'd) 'make yourself a man to fight with men.
  35. Go: Cyril told us all.'
    As boys that slink
  36. From ferule and the trespass-chiding eye,
  37. Away we stole, and transient in a trice
  38. From what was left of faded woman-slough
  39. To sheathing splendours and the golden scale
  40. Of harness, issued in the sun, that now
  41. Leapt from the dewy shoulders of the Earth,
  42. And hit the Northern hills. Here Cyril met us,
  43. A little shy at first, but by and by
  44. We twain, with mutual pardon ask'd and given
  45. For stroke and song, resolder'd peace, whereon
  46. Follow'd his tale. Amazed he fled away
  47. Thro' the dark land, and later in the night
  48. Had come on Psyche weeping: 'then we fell
  49. Into your father's hand, and there she lies,
  50. But will not speak, nor stir.'
    He show'd a tent
  51. A stone-shot off: we enter'd in, and there
  52. Among piled arms and rough accoutrements,
  53. Pitiful sight, wrapp'd in a soldier's cloak,
  54. Like some sweet sculpture draped from head to foot,
  55. And push'd by rude hands from its pedestal,
  56. All her fair length upon the ground she lay:
  57. And at her head a follower of the camp,
  58. A charr'd and wrinkled piece of womanhood,
  59. Sat watching like a watcher by the dead.

  60.  Then Florian knelt, and 'Come,' he whisper'd to her,
  61. 'Lift up your head, sweet sister: lie not thus.
  62. What have you done but right? you could not slay
  63. Me, nor your prince: look up: be comforted:
  64. Sweet is it to have done the thing one ought,
  65. When fall'n in darker ways.' And likewise!
  66. 'Be comforted: have I not lost her too,
  67. In whose least act abides the nameless charm
  68. That none has else for me?' She heard, she moved,
  69. She moan'd, a folded voice; and up she sat,
  70. And raised the cloak from brows as pale and smooth
  71. As those that mourn half-shrouded over death
  72. In deathless marble. 'Her,' she said, 'my friend--
  73. Parted from her--betray'd her cause and mine--
  74. Where shall I breathe? why kept ye not your faith?
  75. O base and bad! what comfort? none for me!'
  76. To whom remorseful Cyril, 'Yet I pray
  77. Take comfort: live, dear lady, for your child!'
  78. At which she lifted up her voice and cried.

  79.  'Ah me, my babe, my blossom, ah my child,
  80. My one sweet child, whom I shall see no more!
  81. For now will cruel Ida keep her back;
  82. And either she will die from want of care,
  83. Or sicken with ill-usage, when they say
  84. The child is hers--for every little fault,
  85. The child is hers; and they will beat my girl
  86. Remembering her mother: O my flower!
  87. Or they will take her, they will make her hard,
  88. And she will pass me by in after-life
  89. With some cold reverence worse than were she dead.
  90. Ill mother that I was to leave her there,
  91. To lag behind, scared by the cry they made,
  92. The horror of the shame among them all:
  93. But I will go and sit beside the doors,
  94. And make a wild petition night and day,
  95. Until they hate to hear me like a wind
  96. Wailing for ever, till they open to me,
  97. And lay my little blossom at my feet,
  98. My babe, my sweet Aglaï a, my one child:
  99. And I will take her up and go my way,
  100. And satisfy my soul with kissing her:
  101. Ah! what might that man not deserve of me
  102. Who gave me back my child?' 'Be comforted,'
  103. Said Cyril, 'you shall have it:' but again
  104. She veil'd her brows, and prone she sank, and so
  105. Like tender things that being caught feign death,
  106. Spoke not, nor stirr'd.
    By this a murmur ran
  107. Thro' all the camp, and inward raced the scouts,
  108. With rumour of Prince Arac hard at hand.
  109. We left her by the woman, and without
  110. Found the grey kings at parle: and 'Look you,' cried
  111. My father, 'that our compact be fulfill'd:
  112. You have spoilt this child; she laughs at you and man:
  113. She wrongs herself, her sex, and me, and him:
  114. But red-faced war has rods of steel and fire
  115. She yields, or war.'
    Then Gama turn'd to me:
  116. 'We fear, indeed, you spent a stormy time
  117. With our strange girl: and yet they say that still
  118. You love her. Give us, then, your mind at large:
  119. How say you, war or not?'
    'Not war, if possible,
  120. O king,' I said, 'lest from the abuse of war,
  121. The desecrated shrine, the trampled year,
  122. The smouldering homestead, and the household flower
  123. Torn from the lintel--all the common wrong--
  124. A smoke go up thro' which I loom to her
  125. Three times a monster: now she lightens scorn
  126. At him that mars her plan, but then would hate
  127. (And every voice she talk'd with ratify it,
  128. And every face she look'd on justify it)
  129. The general foe. More soluble is this knot,
  130. By gentleness than war. I want her love.
  131. What were I nigher this altho' we dash'd
  132. Your cities into shards with catapults,
  133. She would not love; --or brought her chain'd, a slave,
  134. The lifting of whose eyelash is my lord,
  135. Not ever would she love; but brooding turn
  136. The book of scorn, till all my flitting chance
  137. Were caught within the record of her wrongs,
  138. And crush'd to death: and rather, Sire, than this
  139. I would the old God of war himself were dead,
  140. Forgotten, rusting on his iron hills,
  141. Rotting on some wild shore with ribs of wreck,
  142. Or like an old-world mammoth bulk'd in ice,
  143. Not to be molten out.'
    And roughly spake
  144. My father, 'Tut, you know them not, the girls.
  145. Boy, when I hear you prate I almost think
  146. That idiot legend credible. Look you, Sir!
  147. Man is the hunter; woman is his game:
  148. The sleek and shining creatures of the chase,
  149. We hunt them for the beauty of their skins;
  150. They love us for it, and we ride them down.
  151. Wheedling and siding with them! Out! for shame!
  152. Boy, there's no rose that's half so dear to them
  153. As he that does the thing they dare not do,
  154. Breathing and sounding beauteous battle, comes
  155. With the air of the trumpet round him, and leaps in
  156. Among the women, snares them by the score
  157. Flatter'd and fluster'd, wins, tho' dash'd with death
  158. He reddens what he kisses: thus I won
  159. Your mother, a good mother, a good wife,
  160. Worth winning; but this firebrand--gentleness
  161. To such as her! if Cyril spake her true,
  162. To catch a dragon in a cherry net,
  163. To trip a tigress with a gossamer,
  164. Were wisdom to it.'
    'Yea, but Sire,' I cried,
  165. 'Wild natures need wise curbs. The soldier? No:
  166. What dares not Ida do that she should prize
  167. The soldier? I beheld her, when she rose
  168. The yesternight, and storming in extremes
  169. Stood for her cause, and flung defiance down
  170. Gagelike to man, and had not shunn'd the death
  171. No, not the soldier's: yet I hold her, king,
  172. True woman: but you clash them all in one,
  173. That have as many differences as we.
  174. The violet varies from the lily as far
  175. As oak from elm: one loves the soldier, one
  176. The silken priest of peace, one this, one that,
  177. And some unworthily; their sinless faith,
  178. A maiden moon that sparkles on a sty,
  179. Glorifying clown and satyr; whence they need
  180. More breadth of culture: is not Ida right?
  181. They worth it? truer to the law within?
  182. Severer in the logic of a life?
  183. Twice as magnetic to sweet influences
  184. Of earth and heaven? and she of whom you speak,
  185. My mother, looks as whole as some serene
  186. Creation minted in the golden moods
  187. Of sovereign artists; not a thought, a touch,
  188. But pure as lines of green that streak the white
  189. Of the first snowdrop's inner leaves; I say,
  190. Not like the piebald miscellany, man,
  191. Bursts of great heart and slips in sensual mire,
  192. But whole and one: and take them all-in-all,
  193. Were we ourselves but half as good, as kind,
  194. As truthful, much that Ida claims as right
  195. Had ne'er been mooted, but as frankly theirs
  196. As dues of Nature. To our point: not war:
  197. Lest I lose all.'
    'Nay, nay, you spake but sense,'
  198. Said Gama. 'We remember love ourself
  199. In our sweet youth; we did not rate him then
  200. This red-hot iron to be shaped with blows.
  201. You talk almost like Ida: she can talk;
  202. And there is something in it as you say:
  203. But you talk kindlier: we esteem you for it. --
  204. He seems a gracious and a gallant Prince,
  205. I would he had our daughter: for the rest,
  206. Our own detention, why, the causes weigh'd,
  207. Fatherly fears--you used us courteously--
  208. We would do much to gratify your Prince--
  209. We pardon it; and for your ingress here
  210. Upon the skirt and fringe of our fair land,
  211. You did but come as goblins in the night,
  212. Nor in the furrow broke the ploughman's' head,
  213. Nor burnt the grange, nor buss'd the milking-maid,
  214. Nor robb'd the farmer of his bowl of cream:
  215. But let your Prince (our royal word upon it,
  216. He comes back safe) ride with us to our lines,
  217. And speak with Arac: Arac's word is thrice
  218. As ours with Ida: something may be done--
  219. I know not what--and ours shall see us friends.
  220. You, likewise, our late guests, if so you will,
  221. Follow us: who knows? we four may build some plan
  222. Foursquare to opposition.'
    Here he reach'd
  223. White hands of farewell to my sire, who growl'd
  224. An answer which, half-muffled in his beard,
  225. Let so much out as gave us leave to go.

  226.  Then rode we with the old king across the lawns
  227. Beneath huge trees, a thousand rings of Spring
  228. In every bole, a song on every spray
  229. Of birds that piped their Valentines, and woke
  230. Desire in me to infuse my tale of love
  231. In the old king's ears, who promised help, and oozed
  232. All o'er with honey'd answer as we rode;
  233. And blossom-fragrant slipt the heavy dews
  234. Gather'd by night and peace, with each light air
  235. On our mail'd heads: but other thoughts than Peace
  236. Burnt in us, when we saw the embattled squares,
  237. And squadrons of the Prince, trampling the flowers
  238. With clamour: for among them rose a cry
  239. As if to greet the king; they made a halt;
  240. The horses yell'd; they clash'd their arms; the drum
  241. Beat; merrily-blowing shrill'd the martial fife;
  242. And in the blast and bray of the long horn
  243. And serpent-throated bugle, undulated
  244. The banner: anon to meet us lightly pranced
  245. Three captains out; nor ever had I seen
  246. Such thews of men: the midmost and the highest
  247. Was Arac: all about his motion clung
  248. The shadow of his sister, as the beam
  249. Of the East, that play'd upon them, made them glance
  250. Like those three stars of the airy Giant's zone,
  251. That glitter burnish'd by the frosty dark;
  252. And as the fiery Sirius alters hue,
  253. And bickers into red and emerald, shone
  254. Their morions, wash'd with morning, as they came.

  255.  And I that prated peace, when first I heard
  256. War-music, felt the blind wild-beast of force,
  257. Whose home is in the sinews of a man,
  258. Stir in me as to strike: then took the king
  259. His three broad sons; with now a wandering hand
  260. And now a pointed finger, told them all:
  261. A common light of smiles at our disguise
  262. Broke from their lips, and, ere the windy jest
  263. Had labour'd down within his ample lungs,
  264. The genial giant, Arac, roll'd himself
  265. Thrice in the saddle, then burst out in words.

  266.  'Our land invaded, 'sdeath! and he himself
  267. Your captive, yet my father wills not war
  268. And, 'sdeath! myself, what care I, war or no?
  269. But then this question of your troth remains:
  270. And there's a downright honest meaning in her;
  271. She flies too high, she flies too high! and yet
  272. She ask'd but space and fairplay for her scheme;
  273. She prest and prest it on me--I myself,
  274. What know I of these things? but, life and soul!
  275. I thought her half-right talking of. her wrongs;
  276. I say she flies too high, 'sdeath! what of that?
  277. I take her for the flower of womankind,
  278. And so I often told her, right or wrong,
  279. And, Prince, she can be sweet to those she loves,
  280. And, right or wrong, I care not: this is all,
  281. I stand upon her side: she made me swear it--
  282. 'Sdeath--and with solemn rites by candle-light--
  283. Swear by St. something--I forget her name--
  284. Her that talk'd down the fifty wisest men;
  285. She was a princess too; and so I swore.
  286. Come, this is all; she will not: waive your claim;
  287. If not, the foughten field, what else, at once
  288. Decides it, 'sdeath! against my father's will.'

  289.  I lagg'd in answer, loth to render up
  290. My precontract, and loth by brainless war
  291. To cleave the rift of difference deeper yet;
  292. Till one of those two brothers, half aside
  293. And fingering at the hair about his lip,
  294. To prick us on to combat, 'Like to like!
  295. The woman's garment hid the woman's heart.'
  296. A taunt that clench'd his purpose like a blow!
  297. For fiery-short was Cyril's counter-scoff,
  298. And sharp I answer'd, touch'd upon the point
  299. Where idle boys are cowards to their shame,
  300. 'Decide it here: why not? we are three to three.'

  301.  Then spake the third, 'But three to three? no more?
  302. No more, and in our noble sister's cause?
  303. More, more, for honour: every captain waits
  304. Hungry for honour, angry for his king.
  305. More, more, some fifty on a side, that each
  306. May breathe himself, and quick! by overthrow
  307. Of these or those, the question settled die.'

  308.  'Yea,' answer'd I, 'for this wild wreath of air,
  309. This flake of rainbow flying on the highest
  310. Foam of men's deeds-this honour, if ye will.
  311. It needs must be for honour if at all:
  312. Since, what decision? if we fail, we fail,
  313. And if we win, we fail: she would not keep
  314. Her compact.' ''Sdeath! but we will send to her,'
  315. Said Arac, 'worthy reasons why she should
  316. Bide by this issue: let our missive thro',
  317. And you shall have her answer by the word.'

  318.  'Boys!' shriek'd the old king, but vainlier than a hen
  319. To her false daughters in the pool; for none
  320. Regarded; neither seem'd there more to say:
  321. Back rode we to my father's camp, and found
  322. He thrice had sent a herald to the gates,
  323. To learn if Ida yet would cede our claim,
  324. Or by denial flush her babbling wells
  325. With her own people's life: three times he went:
  326. The first, he blew and blew, but none appear'd:
  327. He batter'd at the doors; none came: the next,
  328. An awful voice within had warn'd him thence:
  329. The third, and those eight daughters of the plough
  330. Came sallying thro' the gates, and caught his hair,
  331. And so belabour'd him on rib and cheek
  332. They made him wild: not less one glance he caught
  333. Thro' open doors of Ida station'd there
  334. Unshaken, clinging to her purpose, firm
  335. Tho' compass'd by two armies and the noise
  336. Of arms; and standing like a stately Pine
  337. Set in a cataract on an island-crag,
  338. When storm is on the heights, and right and left
  339. Suck'd from the dark heart of the long hills roll
  340. The torrents, dash'd to the vale: and yet her will
  341. Bred will in me to overcome it or fall.

  342.  But when I told the king that I was pledged
  343. To fight in tourney for my bride, he clash'd
  344. His iron palms together with a cry;
  345. Himself would tilt it out among the lads:
  346. But overborne by all his bearded lords
  347. With reasons drawn from age and state, perforce
  348. He yielded, wroth and red, with fierce demur:
  349. And many a bold knight started up in heat,
  350. And sware to combat for my claim till death.

  351.  All on this side the palace ran the field
  352. Flat to the garden-wall: and likewise here,
  353. Above the garden's glowing blossom-belts,
  354. A column'd entry shone and marble stairs,
  355. And great bronze valves, emboss'd with Tomyris
  356. And what she did to Cyrus after fight,
  357. But now fast barr'd: so here upon the flat
  358. All that long morn the lists were hammer'd up,
  359. And all that morn the heralds to and fro,
  360. With message and defiance, went and came;
  361. Last, Ida's answer, in a royal hand,
  362. But shaken here and there, and rolling words
  363. Oration-like. I kiss'd it and I read.

  364.  'O brother, you have known the pangs we felt,
  365. What heats of indignation when we heard
  366. Of those that iron-cramp'd their women's feet:
  367. Of lands in which at the altar the poor bride
  368. Gives her harsh groom for bridal-gift a scourge;
  369. Of living hearts that crack within the fire
  370. Where smoulder their dead despots: and of those, --
  371. Mothers, --that, all prophetic pity, fling
  372. Their pretty maids in the running flood, and swoops
  373. The vulture, beak and talon, at the heart
  374. Made for all noble motion: and I saw
  375. That equal baseness lived in sleeker times
  376. With smoother men: the old leaven leaven'd all:
  377. Millions of throats would bawl for civil rights,
  378. No woman named: therefore I set my face
  379. Against all men, and lived but for mine own.
  380. Far off from men I built a fold for them:
  381. I stored it full of rich memorial:
  382. I fenced it round with gallant institutes,
  383. And biting laws to scare the beasts of prey,
  384. And prosper'd; till a rout of saucy boys
  385. Brake on us at our books, and marr'd our peace,
  386. Mask'd like our maids, blustering I know not what
  387. Of insolence and love, some pretext held
  388. Of baby troth, invalid, since my will
  389. Seal'd not the bond--the striplings! for their sport! --
  390. I tamed my leopards: shall I not tame these?
  391. Or you? or I? for since you think me touch'd
  392. In honour--what, I would not aught of false--
  393. Is not our cause pure? and whereas I know
  394. Your prowess, Arac, and what mother's blood
  395. You draw from, fight; you failing, I abide
  396. What end soever: fail you will not. Still
  397. Take not his life: he risk'd it for my own;
  398. His mother lives: yet whatsoe'er you do,
  399. Fight and fight well; strike and strike home. O dear
  400. Brothers, the woman's Angel guards you, you
  401. The sole men to be mingled with our cause,
  402. The sole men we shall prize in the after-time,
  403. Your very armour hallow'd, and your statues
  404. Rear'd, sung to, when this gad-fly brush'd aside,
  405. We plant a solid foot into the Time,
  406. And mould a generation strong to move
  407. With claim on claim from right to right, till she
  408. Whose name is yoked with children's, know herself;
  409. And Knowledge in our own land make her free,
  410. And, ever following those two crowned twins,
  411. Commerce and conquest, shower the fiery grain
  412. Of freedom broadcast over all that orbs
  413. Between the Northern and the Southern morn.'

  414.  Then came a postscript dash'd across the rest.
  415. 'See that there be no traitors in your camp:
  416. We seem a nest of traitors--none to trust
  417. Since our arms fail'd--this Egypt-plague of men!
  418. Almost our maids were better at their homes,
  419. Than thus man-girdled here: indeed I think
  420. Our chiefest comfort is the little child
  421. Of one unworthy mother; which she left:
  422. She shall not have it back: the child shall grow
  423. To prize the authentic mother of her mind.
  424. I took it for an hour in mine own bed
  425. This morning: there the tender orphan hands
  426. Felt at my heart, and seem'd to charm from thence
  427. The wrath I nursed against the world: farewell.'

  428.  I ceased; he said: 'Stubborn, but she may sit
  429. Upon a king's right hand in thunder-storms,
  430. And breed up warriors! See now, tho' yourself
  431. Be dazzled by the wildfire Love to sloughs
  432. That swallow common sense, the spindling king,
  433. This Gama swamp'd in lazy tolerance.
  434. When the man wants weight, the woman takes it up,
  435. And topples down the scales; but this is fixt
  436. As are the roots of earth and base of all;
  437. Man for the field and woman for the hearth:
  438. Man for the sword and for the needle she:
  439. Man with the head and woman with the heart:
  440. Man to command and woman to obey;
  441. All else confusion. Look you! the grey mare
  442. Is ill to live with, when her whinny shrills
  443. From tile to scullery, and her small goodman
  444. Shrinks in his arm-chair while the fires of Hell
  445. Mix with his hearth: but you--she's yet a colt--
  446. Take, break her: strongly groom'd and straitly curb'd
  447. She might not rank with those detestable
  448. That let the bantling scald at home, and brawl
  449. Their rights or wrongs like potherbs in the street.
  450. They say she's comely; there's the fairer chance:
  451. I like her none the less for rating at her!
  452. Besides, the woman wed is not as we,
  453. But suffers change of frame. A lusty brace
  454. Of twins may weed her of her folly. Boy,
  455. The bearing and the training of a child
  456. Is woman's wisdom.'
    Thus the hard old king:
  457. I took my leave, for it was nearly noon:
  458. I pored upon her letter which I held,
  459. And on the little clause 'take not his life:'
  460. I mused on that wild morning in the woods,
  461. And on the 'Follow, follow, thou shalt win'
  462. I thought on all the wrathful king had said,
  463. And how the strange betrothment was to end:
  464. Then I remember'd that burnt sorcerer's curse
  465. That one should fight with shadows and should fall;
  466. And like a flash the weird affection came:
  467. King, camp and college turn'd to hollow shows;
  468. I seem'd to move in old memorial tilts,
  469. And doing battle with forgotten ghosts,
  470. To dream myself the shadow of a dream:
  471. And ere I woke it was the point of noon,
  472. The lists were ready. Empanoplied and plumed
  473. We enter'd in, and waited, fifty there
  474. Opposed to fifty, till the trumpet blared
  475. At the barrier like a wild horn in a land
  476. Of echoes, and a moment, and once more
  477. The trumpet, and again: at which the storm
  478. Of galloping hoofs bare on the ridge of spears
  479. And riders front to front, until they closed
  480. In conflict with the crash of shivering points,
  481. And thunder. Yet it seem'd a dream; I dream'd
  482. Of fighting. On his haunches rose the steed,
  483. And into fiery splinters leapt the lance,
  484. And out of stricken helmets sprang the fire.
  485. Part sat like rocks: part reel'd but kept their seats:
  486. Part roll'd on the earth and rose again and drew:
  487. Part stumbled mixt with floundering horses. Down
  488. From those two bulks at Arac's side, and down
  489. From Arac's arm, as from a giant's flail,
  490. The large blows rain'd, as here and everywhere
  491. He rode the mellay, lord of the ringing lists,
  492. And all the plain, --brand, mace, and shaft, and shield--
  493. Shock'd, like an iron-clanging anvil bang'd
  494. With hammers; till I thought, can this be he
  495. From Gama's dwarfish loins? if this be so,
  496. The mother makes us most--and in my dream
  497. I glanced aside, and saw the palace-front
  498. Alive with fluttering scarfs and ladies' eyes,
  499. And highest, among the statues, statue-like,
  500. Between a cymbal'd Miriam and a Jael,
  501. With Psyche's babe, was Ida watching us,
  502. A single band of gold about her hair,
  503. Like a Saint's glory up in heaven: but she
  504. No saint--inexorable--no tenderness--
  505. Too hard, too cruel: yet she sees me fight,
  506. Yea, let her see me fall! with that I drave
  507. Among the thickest and bore down a Prince,
  508. And Cyril, one. Yea, let me make my dream
  509. All that I would. But that large-moulded man,
  510. His visage all agrin as at a wake,
  511. Made at me thro' the press, and, staggering back
  512. With stroke on stroke the horse and horseman, came
  513. As comes a pillar of electric cloud,
  514. Flaying the roofs and sucking up the drains,
  515. And shadowing down the champaign till it strikes
  516. On a wood, and takes, and breaks, and cracks, and splits,
  517. And twists the grain with such a roar that Earth
  518. Reels, and the herdsmen cry; for everything
  519. Gave way before him: only Florian, he
  520. That loved me closer than his own right eye,
  521. Thrust in between; but Arac rode him down:
  522. And Cyril seeing it, push'd against the Prince,
  523. With Psyche's colour round his helmet, tough,
  524. Strong, supple, sinew-corded, apt at arms;
  525. But tougher, heavier, stronger, he that smote
  526. And threw him: last I spurr'd; I felt my veins
  527. Stretch with fierce heat; a moment hand to hand,
  528. And sword to sword, and horse to horse we hung,
  529. Till I struck out and shouted; the blade glanced;
  530. I did but shear a feather, and dream and truth
  531. Flow'd from me; darkness closed me; and I fell.

Canto IV | Introduction | Canto VI

Last updated October 24, 1997