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A sudden thought then starting in his mind, -
Since I in Arcite cannot Arcite find,
The world may search in vain with all their eyes,
But never penetrate through this disguise.
Thanks to the change which grief and sickness give,
In low estate I may securely live,
And see, unknown, my mistress day by day,
He said, and clothed himself in coarse array;
A labouring hind in shew: then forth he went,
And to the Athenian towers his journey bent:
One squire attended in the same disguise,
Made conscious of his master's enterprize.
Arrived at Athens, soon he came to court,
Unknown, unquestioned in that thick resort;
Proffering for hire his service at the gate,
To drudge, draw water, and to run or wait.
So fair befel him, that for little gain
He served at first Emilia’s chamberlain;
And, watchful all advantages to spy,
Was still at hand, and in his master's eye;
And, as his bones were big, and sinews strong,
Refused no toil that could to slaves belong;
But from deep wells with engines water drew,
And used his noble hands the wood to hew.
He passed a year at least attending thus
On Emily, and called Philostratus.
But never was there man of his degree
So much esteemed, so well beloved as he,
So gentle of condition was he known,
That through the court his courtesy was blown:
All think him worthy of a greater place,
And recommend him to the royal grace;
That, exercised within a higher sphere,
His virtues more conspicuous might appear.
Thus by the general voice was Arcite praised,
And by great Theseus to high favour raised;
Among his menial servants first enrolled,
And largely entertained with sums of gold;
Besides what secretly from Thebes was sent,
Of his own income, and his annual rent.
This well einployed, he purchased friends and fame,
But cautiously concealed from whence it came.
Thus for three years he lived with large increase,
In arms of honour, and esteem in peace;
To Theseus' person he was ever near,
And Theseus for his virtues held him dear.
While Arcite lives in bliss, the story turns
Where hopeless Palamon in prison mourns.
For six long years immured, the captive knight
Had dragged his chains, and scarcely seen the light:
Lost liberty and love at once he bore;
His prison pained him much, his passion more;
Nor dares he hope his fetters to remove,
Nor ever wishes to be free from love.
But when the sixth revolving year was run,
And May, within the Twins, received the sun,
Were it by chance, or forceful destiny,
Which forms in causes first whate'er shall be,
Assisted by a friend, one moonless night,
This Palamon from prison took his flight,
A pleasant beverage he prepared before
Of wine and honey, mixed with added store
Of opium; to his keeper this he brought,
Who swallowed, unaware, the sleepy draught,
And snored secure till morn, his senses bound
In slumber, and in long oblivion drowned.
Short was the night, and careful Palamon
Sought the next covert ere the rising sun.
A thick-spread forest near the city lay,
To this, with lengthened strides, he took his way,
(For far he could
not fly, and feared the day.)
Safe from pursuit, he meant to shun the light,
Till the brown shadows of the friendly night
To Thebes might favour his intended flight.
When to his country come, his next design
Was all the Theban race in arms to join,
And war on Theseus, till he lost his life,
Or won the beauteous Emily to wife.
Thus while his thoughts the lingering day beguile,
To gentle Arcite let us turn our style;
Who little dreamt how nigh he was to care,
Till treacherous fortune caught him in the snare.
The morning lark, the messenger of day,
Saluted, in her song, the morning gray ;
And soon the sun arose with beams so bright,
That all the horizon laughed to see the joyous sight.
He, with his tepid rays, the rose renews,
And licks the drooping leaves, and dries the dews;
When Arcite left his bed, resolved to pay
Observance to the month of merry May:
Forth, on his fiery steed, betimes he rode,
That scarcely prints the turf on which he trode :
At ease he seemed, and, prancing o'er the plains,
Turned only to the grove his horse's reins,
(The grove I named before,) and lighting there,
A woodbine garland sought to crown his hair;
Then turned his face against the rising day,
And raised his voice to welcome in the May:
For thee, sweet month, the groves green liveries
If not the first, the fairest, of the year:
For thee the Graces lead the dancing hours,
And Nature's ready pencil paints the flowers :
When thy short reign is past, the feverish sun
The sultry tropic fears, and moves more slowly on.
So may thy tender blossoms fear no blight,
Nor goats, with venomed teeth, thy tendrils bite;
As thou shalt guide my wandering feet to find
The fragrant greens I seek, my brows to bind.
His vows addressed, within the grove he strayed, Till Fate, or Fortune, near the place con
conveyed His steps where secret Palamon was laid. Full little thought of him the gentle knight, Who, flying death, had there concealed his flight, In brakes and brambles hid, and shunning mortal
And less he knew him for his hated foe,
But feared him as a man he did not know.
But as it has been said of ancient years,
That fields are full of eyes, and woods have ears, ,
For this the wise are ever on their guard,
For, unforeseen, they say, is unprepared.
Uncautious Arcite thought himself alone,
And less than all suspected Palamon,
Who, listening, heard him, while he searched the
And loudly sung his roundelay of love.
But on the sudden stopped, and silent stood,
As lovers often muse, and change their mood;
Now high as heaven, and then as low as hell,
Now up, now down, as buckets in a well :
For Venus, like her day, will change her cheer,
And seldom shall we see a Friday clear: