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Under a borrow'd name: as false to me,
So false thou art to him who set thee free:
But rest assur'd, that either thou shalt die,
Or else renounce thy claim in Emily:
For, though unarm'd I am, and (freed by chance)
Ain here without my sword, or pointed lance :
Hope not, base man, unquestion'd hence to go,
For I am Palamon, thy mortal foe."

Arcite, who heard his tale, and knew the man,
His sword unsheath'd, and fiercely thus began:
"Now by the gods who govern Heaven above,
Wert thou not weak with hunger, mad with love,
That word had been thy last, or in this grove
This hand should force thee to renounce thy love.
The surety which I gave thee, I defy :
Fool, not to know, that love endures no tie,
And Jove but laughs at lovers' perjury.
Know I will serve the fair in thy despite;
But since thou art my kinsman, and a knight,
Here, have my faith, to-morrow in this grove
Our arms shall plead the titles of our love :
And Heaven so help my right, as I alone [known;
Will come, and keep the cause and quarrel both un-
With arms of proof both for myself and thee;
Choose thou the best, and leave the worst to me.
And, that a better ease thou may'st abide,
Bedding and clothes I will this night provide,
And needful sustenance, that thou mayst be
A conquest better won, and worthy me.
His promise Palamon accepts; but pray'd
To keep it better than the first he made.
Thus fair they parted till the morrow's dawn,
For each had laid his plighted faith to pawn.


O Love! thou sternly dost thy power maintain,
And wilt not bear a rival in thy reign,
Tyrants and thou all fellowship disdain.
This was in Arcite prov'd, and Palamon;
Both in despair, yet each would love alone.
Arcite return'd, and, as in honour ty'd,
His foe with bedding and with food supply'd:
Then, ere the day, two suits of armour sought,
Which borne before him on his steed he brought:
Both were of shining steel, and wrought so pure,
As might the strokes of two such arms endure.
Now, at the time, and in th' appointed place,
The challenger and challeng'd, face to face,
Approach; each other from afar they knew,
And from afar their hatred chang'd their hue.
So stands the Thracian herdsman with his spear,
Full in the gap, and hopes the hunted bear,
And hears him rustling in the wood, and sees
His course at distance by the bending trees,
And thinks, here comes my mortal enemy,
And either he must fall in fight, or I:
This while he thinks, he lifts aloft his dart;
A generous chillness seizes every part;

The veins pour back the blood, and fortify the heart.

Thus pale they meet; their eyes with fury burn. None greets; for none the greeting will return: But in dumb surliness, each arm'd with care His foe profest, as brother of the war : Then both, no moment lost, at once advance Against each other, arm'd with sword and lance : They lash, they foin, they pass, they strive to bore Their corslets, and the thinnest parts explore.

Thus two long hours in equal arms they stood,
And wounded, wound; till both were bath'd in


And not a foot of ground had either got,
As if the world depended on the spot.
Fell Arcite like an angry tiger far'd,
And like a lion Palamon appear'd:
Or as two boars whom love to battle draws,
With rising bristles, and with frothy jaws,
Their adverse breasts with tusks oblique they wound,
With grunts and groans the forest rings around:
So fought the knights, and fighting must abide,
Till Fate an umpire sends their difference to decide.
The power that ministers to God's decrees,

And executes on Earth what Heaven foresees,
Call'd Providence, or Chance, or Fatal Sway,
Comes with resistless force, and finds or makes her

Nor kings, nor nations, nor united power,
One moment can retard th' appointed hour.
And some one day, some wondrous chance appears,
Which happen'd not in centuries of years:
For sure, whate'er we mortals hate, or love,
Or hope, or fear, depends on powers above;
They move our appetites to good or ill,
And by foresight necessitate the

In Theseus this appears; whose youthful joy
Was beasts of chase in forests to destroy.
This gentle knight, inspir'd by jolly May,
Forsook his easy couch at early day,
And to the wood and wilds pursued his way.
Beside him rode Hippolita the queen,
And Emily attir'd in lively green,

With horns, and hounds, and all the tuneful cry,
To hunt a royal hart within the covert nigh:
And as he follow'd Mars before, so now
He serves the goddess of the silver bow.
The way that Theseus took was to the wood
Where the two knights in cruel battle stood:
The lawn on which they fought, th' appointed place
In which th' uncoupled hounds began the chase.
Thither forth-right he rode to rouse the prey,
That, shaded by the fern, in harbour lay;
And, thence dislodg'd, was wont to leave the wood,
For open fields, and cross the crystal flood.
Approach'd, and looking underneath the Sun,
He saw proud Arcite, and fierce Palamon,
In mortal battle doubling blow on blow,
Like lightning flam'd their faulchions to and fro,
And shot a dreadful gleam: so strong they strook,
There seem'd less force requir'd to fell an oak:
He gaz'd with wonder on their equal might,
Look'd eager on, but knew not either knight:
Resolv'd to learn, he spurr'd his fiery steed
With goring rowels to provoke his speed.
The minute ended that began the race,
So soon he was betwixt them on the place;
And with his sword unsheath'd, on pain of life
Commands both combatants to cease their strife:
Then with imperious tone pursues his threat:
"What are you? why in arms together met?
How dares your pride presume against my laws,
As in a listed field to fight your cause?
Unask'd the royal grant; no marshal by,
As knightly rites require; nor judge to try?"

Then Palamon, with scarce recover'd breath,
Thus hasty spoke: "We both deserve the death,
And both would die; for look the world around,
A pair so wretched is not to be found:
Our life's a load; encumber'd with the charge,
We long to set th' imprison'd soul at large.
Now, as thou art a sovereign judge, decree
The rightful doom of death to him and me,
Let neither find thy grace, for grace is cruelty.
Me first, O kill me first; and cure my woe;
Then sheath the sword of Justice on my foe:
Or kill him first; for when his name is heard,
He foremost will receive his due reward.
Arcite of Thebes is he; thy mortal foe:
On whom thy grace did liberty bestow;
But first contracted, that if ever found
By day or night upon th' Athenian ground,
His head should pay the forfeit; see return'd
The perjur'd knight, his oath and honour scorn'd.
For this is he, who, with a borrow'd name
And proffer'd service, to thy palace came,
Now call'd Philostratus: retain'd by thee,
A traitor trusted, and in high degree,
Aspiring to the bed of beauteous Emily.
My part remains; from Thebes my birth I own,
And call myself th' unhappy Palamon.
Think me not like that man; since no disgrace
Can force me to renounce the honour of my race.
Know me for what I am : I broke my chain,
Nor promis'd I thy prisoner to remain:

The love of liberty with life is given,
And life itself th' inferior gift of Heaven.

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