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Then Father Ocean thus : “ You see them here, Celestial Powers, what troops, what camps appear. Learn now the sev'ral orders of the fray, For ev’n these arms their stated laws obey. To lead the fight, the Kings from all their bands Choose whom they please to bear their great com
Should a black hero first to battle go,
Instant a white one guards against the blow;
But only one at once can charge or shun the foe.
Their gen’ral purpose on one scheme is bent,
So to besiege the King within the tent,
That there remains no place by subtle flight
From danger free; and that decides the fight.
Meanwhile, howe'er, the sooner to destroy
Th' imperial prince, remorseless they employ
Their swords in blood; and whosoever dare
Oppose their vengeance, in the ruin share.
Fate thins their camp; the parti-coloured field
Widens apace, as they o'ercome or yield :
But the proud victor takes the captive's post,
There fronts the fury of th' avenging host
One single shock, and (should he ward the blow,)
May then retire at pleasure from the foe.
The Foot alone (so their harsh laws ordain)
When they proceed can ne'er return again.
But neither all rush on alike to prove
The terror of their arms: the Foot must move
Directly on, and but a single square ;
Yet may these heroes, when they first prepare
To mix in combat on the bloody mead,
Double their sally, and two steps proceed;
But when they wound, their swords they subtly
With aim oblique, and slanting pierce his side.
But the great Indian beasts, whose backs sustain
Vast turrets arm’d, when on the redd'ning plain
They join in all the terror of the fight,
Forward or backward, to the left or right,
Run furious, and impatient of confine
Scour through the field, and threat the farthest line.
Yet must they ne'er obliquely aim their blows;
That only manner is allow'd to those
Whom Mars has favour'd most, who bend the
stubborn bows. These glancing sidewards in a straight career, Yet each confined to their respective sphere, Or white or black, can send th’ unerring dart Wing'd with swift death to pierce through ev'ry
part. The fiery steed, regardless of the reins, Comes prancing on; but sullenly disdains The path direct, and boldly wheeling round, Leaps o'er a double space at ev'ry bound, And shifts from white or black to diff'rent colour'd
ground. But the fierce Queen, whom dangers ne'er dismay, The strength and terror of the bloody day, In a straight line spreads her destruction wide, To left or right, before, behind, aside.
Yet may she never with a circling course
Sweep to the battle like the fretful Horse;
But unconfined may at her pleasure stray,
If neither friend nor foe block up the way:
For to o’erleap a warrior, 'tis decreed
Those only dare who curb the snorting steed.
With greater caution and majestic state
The warlike Monarchs in the scene of fate
Direct their motions, since for these appear
Zealous each hope, and anxious ev'ry fear.
While the King's safe, with resolution stern
They clasp their arms; but should a sudden turn
Make him a captive, instantly they yield,
Resolved to share his fortune in the field.
He moves on slow; with reverence profound
His faithful troops encompass him around,
And oft, to break some instant fatal scheme,
Rush to their fates, their sov'reign to redeem:
While he, unanxious where to wound the foe,
Need only shift and guard against a blow.
But none, however, can presume ť appear
Within his reach, but must his vengeance fear;
For he on ev'ry side his terror throws;
But when he changes from his first repose,
Moves but one step, most awfully sedate,
Or idly roving, or intent on fate.
These are the sev'ral and establish'd laws:
Now see how each maintains his bloody cause."
Here paused the God, but (since whene'er they
War here on earth the Gods themselves engage
In mutual battle as they hate or love,
And the most stubborn war is oft above,)
Almighty Jove commands the circling train
Of Gods from fav’ring either to abstain,
And let the fight be silently survey'd;
And added solemn threats if disobey'd.
Then call'd he Phæbus from among the Powers
And subtle Hermes, whom in softer hours
Fair Maia bore: youth wanton'd in their face; i
Both in life's bloom, both shone with equal grace.
Hermes as yet bad never wing’d his feet;
As yet Apollo in his radiant seat
Had never driv'n his chariot through the air,
Known by his bow alone and golden hair.
These Jove commission'd to attempt the fray,
And rule the sportive military day;
Bid them agree which party each maintains,
And promised a reward that's worth their pains.
The greater took their seats; on either hand
Respectful the less Gods in order stand,
But careful not to interrupt their play,
By hinting when t advance or run away..
Then they examine, who shall first proceed
To try their courage, and their army lead.
Chance gave it for the White, that he should go
First with a brave defiance to the foe.
Awhile he ponder'd which of all his train
Should bear his first commission o'er the plain;
And then determined to begin the scene
With him that stood before to guard the Queen.
He took a double step: with instant care
Does the black Monarch in his turn prepare
The adverse champion, and with stern command
Bid him repel the charge with equal hand.
There front to front, the midst of all the field,
With furious threats their shining arms they wield;
Yet vain the conflict; neither can prevail
While in one path each other they assail.
On ev'ry side to their assistance fly
Their fellow soldiers, and with strong supply
Crowd to the battle, but no bloody stain
Tinctures their armour; sportive in the plain
Mars plays awhile, and in excursion slight
Harmless they sally forth, or wait the fight.
But now the swarthy Foot, that first appear'd
To front the foe, his pond'rous jav'lin rear'd
Leftward aslant, and a pale warrior slays,
Spurns him aside, and boldly takes his place.
Unhappy youth, his danger not to spy !
Instant he fell, and triumph'd but to die.
At this the sable King with prudent care
Removed his station from the middle square,
And slow retiring to the farthest ground,
There safely lurk’d, with troops entrench'd around.
Then from each quarter to the war advance
The furious Knights, and poise the trembling lance:
By turns they rush, by turns the victors yield ;
Heaps of dead Foot choke up the crimson field: -
They fall unable to retreat ; around
The clang of arms and iron hoofs resound.