Jerusalem Delivered – Selections from Book I

“THE ARGUMENTstrange tasso
Godfrey unites the Christian Peers and Knights;
And all the Lords and Princes of renown
Choose him their Duke, to rule the wares and fights.
He mustereth all his host, whose number known,
He sends them to the fort that Sion hights;
The aged tyrant Juda’s land that guides,
In fear and trouble, to resist provides.”

III
Thither thou know’st the world is best inclined
Where luring Parnass most his sweet imparts,
And truth conveyed in verse of gentle kind
To read perhaps will move the dullest hearts:
So we, if children young diseased we find,
Anoint with sweets the vessel’s foremost parts
To make them taste the potions sharp we give;
They drink deceived, and so deceived, they live.”

XXV
Not as we list erect we empires new
On frail foundations laid in earthly mould,
Where of our faith and country be but few
Among the thousands stout of Pagans bold,
Where naught behoves us trust to Greece untrue,
And Western aid we far removed behold:
Who buildeth thus, methinks, so buildeth he,
As if his work should his sepulchre be.”

XXXI
Where divers Lords divided empires hold,
Where causes be by gifts, not justice tried,
Where offices be falsely bought and sold,
Needs must the lordship there from virtue slide.
Of friendly parts one body then uphold,
Create one head the rest to rule and guide:
To one the regal power and sceptre give,
That henceforth may your King and Sovereign live.”

“XXXVI
My mind, Time’s enemy, Oblivion’s foe,
Disposer true of each noteworthy thing,
Oh, let the virtuous might avail me so,
That I each troop and captain great may sing,
That in this glorious war did famous grow,
Forgot till now by Time’s evil handling:
This work, derived from my treasures dear,
Let all times hearken, never age outwear.”

LVIII
But these and all, Rinaldo far exceeds,
Star of his sphere, the diamond of this ring,
The next where courage with sweet mercy breeds:
A comet worthy each eye’s wondering.
His years are fewer than his noble deeds,
His fruit is ripe soon as his blossoms spring,
Armed, a Mars, might coyest Venus move,
And if disarmed, then God himself of Love.”

Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered

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