« EdellinenJatka »
That way, the tyrant had reserved to fly
Pursuing hate, now served to bring two lovers nigh.
The dame, who long in vain had kept the key,
Bold by desire, explored the secret way;
Now tried the stairs, and wading through the night,
Search'd all the deep recess, and issued into light.
All this her letter had so well explainid,
Theinstructed youth might compass what remaind;
The cavern mouth alone was hard to find,
Because the path, disused, was out of mind :
But in what quarter of the copse it lay,
His eye by certain level could survey :
Yet (for the wood perplex'd with thorns he knew)
A frock of leather o'er his limbs he drew :*
And, thus provided, search'd the brake around,
Till the choked entry of the cave he found.
Thus, all prepared, the promised hour arrived,
So long expected, and so well contrived :
With love to friend, the impatient lover went,
Fenced from the thorns, and trod the deep descent.
The conscious priest, who was suborn’d before,
Stood ready posted at the postern door;
The maids in distant rooms were sent to rest,
And nothing wanted but the invited guest.
He came, and, knocking thrice without delay,
The longing lady heard, and turn’d the key;
At once invaded him with all her charms,
And the first step he made was in her arms :
The leathern outside, boisterous as it was,
Gave way, and bent beneath her strict embrace :
* This minute circumstance, which is mentioned by Boccacio, seems to argue, that the story had a real, at least a traditional foundation ; for there is no other reason why it should have been
On either side the kisses flew so thick,
That neither he nor she had breath to speak,
The holy man, amazed at what he saw,
Made haste to sanctify the bliss by law;
And muttered fast the matrimony o'er,
For fear committed sin should get before.
His work perform’d, he left the pair alone,
Because he knew he could not go too soon;
His presence odious, whon his task was done.
What thoughts he had beseems me not to say ;
Though some surmise he went to fast and
pray, And needed both to drive the tempting thoughts
away. The foe once gone, they took their full delight: 'Twas restless rage, and tempests all the night; For greedy love each moment would employ, And grudged the shortest pauses of their joy.
Thus were their loves auspiciously begun,
And thus with secret care were carried on.
The stealth itself did appetite restore,
And looked so like a sin, it pleased the more,
The cave was now become a common way ;
The wicket, often open'd, knew the key :
Love rioted secure, and, long enjoy'd,
Was ever eager, and was never cloy'd.
But as extremes are short, of ill and good,
And tides at highest mark regorge the flood;
So fate, that could no more improve their joy,
Took a malicious pleasure to destroy.
Tancred, who fondly loved, and whose delight Was placed in his fair daughter's daily sight, Of custom, when his state affairs were done, Would pass his pleasing hours with her alone; And, as a father's privilege allow'd, Without attendance of the officious crowd.
It happen'd once, that when in heat of day He tried to sleep, as was his usual way,
The balmy slumber fled his wakeful eyes,
And forced him, in his own despite, to rise :
Of sleep forsaken, to relieve his care,
He sought the conversation of the fair ;
But with her train of damsels she was gone,
In shady walks the scorching heat to shun:
He would not violate that sweet recess,
And found besides a welcome heaviness,
That seized his eyes; and slumber, which forgot
When call'd before to come, now came unsought.
From light retired, behind his daughter's bed,
He for approaching sleep composed his head;
A chair was ready, for that use design'd,
So quilted, that he lay at ease reclined ;
The curtains closely drawn, the light to skreen,
As if he had contrived to lie unseen :
Thus cover'd with an artificial night,
Sleep did his office soon, and seald his sight.
With heaven averse to this ill-omen'd hour,
Was Guiscard summond to the secret bower,
And the fair nymph, with expectation fired,
From her attending damsels was retired :
For, true to love, she measured time so right,
As not to miss one moment of delight.
The garden, seated on the level floor,
She left behind, and locking every door,
Thought all secure; but little did she know,
Blind to her fate, she had inclosed her foe.
Attending Guiscard, in his leathern frock,
Stood ready with his thrice-repeated ock:
Thrice with a doleful sound the jarring grate
Rung deaf and hollow, and presaged their fate.
The door unlock'd, to known delight they haste,
And, panting in each other's arms, embraced ;
Rush to the conscious bed, a mutual freight,
And heedless press it with their wonted weight.
The sudden bound awaked the sleeping sire, And shew'd a sight no parent can desire ; His opening eyes at once with odious view The love discover'd, and the lover knew : He would have cried; but hoping that he dreamt, Amazementtied his tongue,and stopp'd theattempt. The ensuing moment all the truth declared, But now he stood collected and prepared ; For malice and revenge had put him on his guard. So like a lion that unheeded lay, Dissembling sleep, and watchful to betray, With inward rage he meditates his prey. The thoughtless pair, indulging their desires, Alternate kindled, and then quench'd their fires ; Nor thinking in the shades of death they play’d, Full of themselves, themselves alone surveyd, And, too secure, were by themselves betray'd. Long time dissolv'd in pleasure thus they lay, Till nature could no more suffice their play ; Then rose the youth, and, through the cave again Return'd, the princess mingled with her train.
Resolved his unripe vengeance to defer, The royal spy, when now the coast was clear, Sought not the garden, but retired unseen, To brood in secret on his gather'd spleen, And methodize revenge: to death he grieved; And, but he saw the crime, had scarce believed. The appointment for the ensuing night he heard, And therefore in the cavern had prepared Two brawny yeomen of his trusty guard.
Scarce had unwary Guiscard set his foot Within the foremost entrance of the grot, When these in secret ambush ready lay, And rushing on the sudden seiz’d the prey : Encumbered with his frock, without defence, An easy prize, they led the prisoner thence, And, as commanded, brought before the prince.
The gloomy sire, too sensible of wrong,
To vent his rage in words, restrain’d his tongue,
And only said,—Thus servants are preferr’d,
And, trusted, thus their sovereigns they reward.
Had I not seen, had not these eyes received
Too clear a proof, I could not have believed.
He paused, and choked the rest. The youth,
His forfeit life abandon’d to the law,
The judge the accuser, and the offence to him
Who had both power and will to avenge the crime,
No vain defence prepared ; but thus replied:
The faults of love by love are justified :
With unresisted might the monarch reigns,
He levels mountains, and he raises plains ;
And not regarding difference of degree,
Abased your daughter, and exalted me.
This bold return with seeming patience heard,
The prisoner was remitted to the guard.
The sullen tyrant slept not all the night,
But lonely walking by a winking light,
Sobb’d, wept, and groan'd, and beat his wither'd
But would not violate his daughter's rest;
Who long expecting lay, for bliss prepared,
for noise, and grieved that none she heard;
Oft rose, and oft in vain employ'd the key,
And oft accused her lover of delay,
And pass’d the tedious hours in anxious thoughts
away. The morrow came : and at his usual hour Old Tancred visited his daughter's bower; Her cheek (for such his custom was) he kiss'd, Then bless'd her kneeling, and her maids dismiss'd. The royal dignity thus far maintain'd, Now left in private, he no longer feign'd;