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"But that this mirror, and the mystic ring "I bear, alike commission'd from the king, "Another mark of his regard, be kept,
"He prays that Canace will these accept.
"This ring interprets, with the truth of words, "Each meaning latent in the tones of birds; "And, to their sense enlarged, conveys again "Adapted language from the mouths of men. "Whether the hand wear this, or purse contain, "To such as rankling wounds oppress with pain, "It points what aid the stores of Nature yield, "And shews each useful simple of the field.
"This naked sword, that glitters at my side,
"To all were dreadful who its powers defied; "And irresistibly would pierce its stroke
Through mail, whose thickness match'd the
"Vain all attempts to heal the wound it made,
you shall o'er it gently draw the blade. "While yet the gifts by you possess'd remain, "Such various virtues shall they still retain."
Thus having spoke, the knight directs his steed
Back through the assembly, and alights with speed. The steed, reflecting the refulgent beams,
Stands in the court, and without motion seems:
The knight is led to a refreshing meal,
Eased of the incumbrance of his coat of steel.
Pursuant to his will, what presents may
Are duly borne, and without toil, away:
The sword and mirror to a lofty tower;
To Canace her ring, of equal power.
She, sitting at the feast, receives the gift;
But none may hope the brazen horse to lift.
No strength can, equal to the load, be found,
Nor crane, nor pulley, force it from the ground.
They wait, as they must needs, the knight's return,
From him the secret, you shall hear, to learn.
Now mighty throngs, attracted by report,
To see the wondrous beast o'erspread the court,
Intently gazing, and discoursing much:
Such is his size, and his proportions such!
So well his height is suited to his length!
He seems with nags of Lombardy in strength
To vie, in briskness with the Apulian breed.
For 'tis, by each spectator near, agreed,
Nor Art, nor Nature can increase its store
Of excellence, nor add one beauty more.
But their conceptions far it did surpass
How it could move, and yet be made of brass.
That 'twas a fairy work to some it seem'd;
But different some its origin esteem'd.
The notions, bandied in discourse by these,
Sounded like murmurs from a swarm of bees.
They love the tales they read of to rehearse,
And talk of Pegasus, described, in verse,
Like him to spurn the ground, and cleave the air:
Or 'twas the horse of Sinon, they declare,
By wicked demons to this day preserved,
To make them feel the fortune Troy deserved.
Some on the wondrous things their comments made,
Shewn by that mirror, to the tower convey'd;
Surmising, all its virtue was derived
From angles and reflections well contrived.
Some speak their wonder of that sword, at large, Which arm'd the champion for so fierce a charge.
They call to mind the memorable gash
Of royal Telephus, and spear of ash
His foe Achilles hurl'd; though when its rust
Was scraped, it heal'd him with the scatter'd dust.
The nature of the weapons seem'd allied.
Now dwelt their thoughts on every method tried
To temper steel, and harden best its edge;
The time and art that its success would pledge.
These are unknown, be it confess'd, to me.
They notice next the ring of Canace;
Framed by such new, inexplicable art.
Thus talk the gather'd crowds, ere they depart.
'Twas yet agreed on, by another class,
Our skill produced, from simple ashes, glass;
But glass and ashes were unlike, in all;
Hence rash Surmise might into error fall.
For, till the cause of floods we can explore,
Of tides alternate, or the ocean's roar,
Or nature's works, in gossamer and mist,
Much on its strangeness do we still insist.
Thus they indulged in various talk, nor ceased,
Till the king, rising, left the finish'd feast.
The sun his rapid course had downward bent,
The royal lion noticed in ascent,
When brave Cambuscan, from the exalted place
Where stood his table, moved, with stately pace,
Descending to the pavement, from its floor
Whence, through the hall, the minstrels march'd
Thus to his presence-room the guests retire,
While music speaks the full-resounding quire.
Unnumber'd instruments their powers unite,
And with the raptures of the bless'd delight.
Now gladdest summons to the dance obeys
Each votary gay of Venus, who surveys,
On high from Pisces,* her congenial sign,
Courtiers and dames, the adorers of her shrine.
With beating breasts the signal they await.
The king o'erlooks them from his chair of state.
There, as he sits to view the sprightly ball,
The knight's returning steps his thought recall,
In the old astrology, Venus was supposed to exert its strongest influence in this sign of the zodiac.