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O'erjoy'd to see the jolly troop so near,
But somewhat aw'd, I shook with holy fear;
Yet not so much, but that I noted well
Who did the most in song, or dance excel.
Not long I had observ'd, when from afar
I heard a sudden fymphony of war;
The neighing coursers, and the soldiers cry,
And founding trumps that seem'd to tear the sky
I saw foon after this, behind the grove
From whence the ladies did in order move,
Come issuing out in arms a warrior train,
That like a deluge pour'd upon the plain :
On barbed steeds they rode in proud array,
Thick as the college of the bees in May,
When swarming o'er the dusky fields they fly,
New to the flow'rs, and intercept the sky.
So fierce they drove, their coursers were so fleet,
That the turf trembled underneath their feet.
To tell their costly furniture were long,
The summer's day wou'd end before the song:
To purchase but the tenth of all their store,
Would make the mighty Persian monarch
Yet what I can, I will; before the reft
iffu'd in white mantles dress’d:
A numerous troop, and all their heads around
With chaplets green of cerrial-oak were crown'd,
And at each trumpet was a banner bound;
Which waving in the wind display'd at large
Their master's coat of arms, and knightly charge.
Broad were the banners, and of snowy hue,
web the silk-worm never drew.
'The chief about their necks the scutcheons wore,
With orient pearls and jewels pow'der'd o'er:
Broad were their collars too, and every one
Was set about with many a costly stone.
Next these of kings at arms a goodly train
In proud array came prancing o'er the plain :
Their cloaks were cloth of filver mix'd with gold, And garlands green around their temples roli'd: Rich crowns were on their royal scutcheons plac'd, With fapphires, diamonds, and with rubies grac'd: And as the trumpets
So these in habits were alike array'd;
But with a pace more sober, and more flow;
And twenty, rank in rank, they rode a row.
The pursuivants came next, in number more;
And like the heralds each his scutcheon bore: .
Clad in white velvet all their troop they led,
With each an oaken chaplet on his head.
Nine royal knights in equal rank succeed,
Each warrior mounted on a fiery steed:
In golden armour glorious to behold;
The rivets of their arms were naild with gold.
Their surcoats of white ermin fur were made ;
With cloth of gold between, that cast a glitt'ring fhade,
The trappings of their steeds were of the fame;
The golden fringe ev'n set the ground on flame,
And drew a precious trail: a crown divine
Of laurel did about their temples twine.
Three henchmen were for ev'ry knight affign'd,
All in rich livery clad, and of a kind;
White velvet, but unfhorn, for cloaks they wore,
And each within his hand a truncheon bore:
The foremost held a helm of rare device;
A prince's ransom would not pay the price.
- The second bore the buckler of his knight,
The third of cornel-wood a spear upright,
Headed with piercing feel, and polish'd bright.
Like to their lords their equipage was seen,
And all their foreheads crown'd with garlands green.
And after these came arm'd with spear and shield
An host so great, as cover'd all the field:
And all their foreheads, like the knights before,
With laurels ever-green were fhaded o’er,
Or oak, or other leaves of lasting kind,
Tenacious of the item, and firm against the wind.
Some in their hands, beside the lance and fhield,
The boughs of woodbine or of hawthorn held,
Or branches for their mystic emblems took,
Of palm, of laurel, or of Cerrial oak.
Thus marching to the trumpet's lofty found,
Drawn in two lines adverse they wheeld around,
And in the middle meadow took their ground.
Among themselves the turney they divide,
In equal squadrons rang'd on either side.
Then turn'd their horses heads, and man to man,
And steed to iteed oppos’d, the justs began.
They lightly set their lances in the rest,
And, at the sign, against each other press’d:
They met. I fitting at my ease beheld
The mix'd events, and fortunes of the field.
Some broke their fpears, fome tumbled horse and man,
And round the field the lighten'd coursers ran.
An hour and more, like tides, in equal sway
They rulh'd, and won by turns, and lost the day:
At length the nine (who still together held)
Their fainting foes to shameful fight compeild,
And with refiftlefs force o'er-ran the field.
Thus, to their fame, when finish'd was the fight,
The victors from their lofty steeds alight:
Like them dismounted all the warlike train,
And two by two proceeded o’er the plain:
Till to the fair assembly they advanc'd,
Who near the secret arbour sung and danc'd.
The ladies left their measures at the fight,
To meet the chiefs returning from the fight,
And each with open arms embrac'd her chosen knight.
Amid the plain a spreading laurel stood,
grace and ornament of all the wood: That pleasing shade they fought, a soft retreat From sudden April showers, a helter from the heat:
Her leafy arms with such extent were spread,
So near the clouds was her aspiring head,
That hofts of birds, that wing the liquid air,
Perch'd in the boughs, had nightly lodging there :
And Hocks of sheep beneath the shade from far
Might hear the rattling hail, and wintry war;
From Heav'n's inclemency here found retreat,
Enjoy'd the cool, and shunn'd the scorching heat:
A hundred knights might there at ease abide;
And ev'ry knight a lady by his fide:
The trunk itself such odours did bequeath,
That a Moluccaa breeze to these was common breath.
The lords and ladies here, approaching, paid
Their homage, with a low obeisance made;
And seem'd to venerate the sacred shade.
These rites perform’d, their pleasures they pursue,
With song of love, and mix with pleasures new;
Around the holy tree their dance they frame,
And ev'ry champion leads his chosen dame.
I cast my sight upon the farther field,
And a fresh object of delight beheld:
For from the region of the West I heard
New music found, and a new troop appear'd;
Of knights, and ladies mix'd a jolly band,
But all on foot they march’d, and hand in hand
The ladies dress’d in rich fymars were seen
Of Florence fattin, flower'd with white and green,
And for a shade betwixt the bloomy gridelin.
The borders of their petticoats below
Were guarded thick with rubies on a row;
And ev'ry damsel wore upon her head
Of flow'rs a garland blended white and red.
Attir'd in mantles all the knights were seen,
That gratify'd the view with chearful green:
Their chaplets of their ladies colours were,
Compos’d of white and red, to fade their shining hair.
Before the merry troop the minstrels play'd ;
All in their master's liv'ries were array'd,
And clad in green, and on their temples wore
The chaplets white and red their ladies bore.
Their inftruments were various in their kind,
Some for the bow, and some for breathing wind:
The fawtry, pipe, and haatboy's noity band,
And the foft lute trembling beneath the touching hand.
A tuft of dailies on a flow'ry lay
They faw, and thitherward they bent their way;
To this both knights and dames their homage made,
And due obeisance to the daisy paid.
And then the band of Autes began to play,
To which a lady sung a virelay :
And still at ev'ry close she would repeat
The burden of the song, The daisy is so sweet,
The daisy is so sweet, when the begun,
The troop of knights and dames continu'd on.
The confort and the voice so charm’d my ear,
And sooth'd my soul, that it was heav'n to hear.
But soon their pleasure pafs'd : at noon of day,
The sun with sultry beams began to play :
Not Sirius shoots a fiercer flame from high,
When with his pois'nous breath he blasts the sky:
Then droop'd the fading flow'rs (their beauty tied)
And clos’d their fickly eyes, and hung the head;
And rivelld up with heat, lay dying in their bed.
The ladies gasp'd, and scarcely could respire;
The breath they drew, no longer air but fire;
The fainty knights were scorch’d; and knew not where
To run for shelter, for no fhade was near ;
And after this the gathering clouds amain
Pour'd down a storm of rattling hail and rain :
And lightning flash'd betwixt: the field, and flow'rs,
Burnt up before, were buried in the show'rs.