While the knights were gone away,
Theseus, to accommodate
Their combat, paid uncommon wages
To his most accomplished masons,
Who patiently went on to make
A theatre so strong and great,
With marble carvings on the gate,
That all who looked upon the place,
Did so with an astonished face,
So much that structure shone with grace,
As did the Duke, whose honoured state
Demanded that he dominate.
Now, on the long awaited day
That they’d agreed upon in May,
Arcite and Palamon did make
Their somber way there to exonerate
Their honour and confront their fate.
Early Palamon did wake that day,
And went to pray and pay respects at
The statue of Venus they’d erected,
Standing in a temple decked with
Likenesses of all the reckless
Souls who love had misdirected.
Here's Palamon’s prayer to Venus:
“Venus, I’ve come to ask if we
Might declare war on chastity!
My love is near capacity,
And Emilye just laughs at me.
Let me posses her passively,
Or let me die disastrously!”
And at these fervent words he
Was assured that she had heard his plea,
For currently he was unnerved to see
The statue of her stir to re-
Assure him he deserved to be
Unburdened, free of urgency,
And as her faithful servant he
Inferred from these occurrences he
Was meant to be the first to see
His Emilye no virgin be.
Palamon returned with glee,
So sure was he that worthy Venus
Had averted the emergency.
Emilye then went to see
Diane and prayed, and gave some words to
Try and save her maiden virtue.
Here's Emilye’s prayer to Diana the goddess of chastity:
“Diane, you know that I am wild;
I have no wish to be defiled
By the hand of man, or got with child,
Therefore, I pray, be mild;
Don’t let my honour be beguiled!”
The altar fires burning, in plain English,
At her pious yearning were extinguished.
Emilye, unsinged, just stared with dread,
As Diane reached out her hand, and there she bled
Upon her servant’s weary head;
The blood of virgins, cherry-red.
“Let it now be clearly said,
You will soon see your marriage bed!”
In response to this rejection,
Emilye asked a simple question:
“Well then what good is your protection,
If I fall prey to some erection?”
This was indeed a harsh defeat
For Emilye, both stark and bleak,
But rather let me start to speak
Of the brave-hearted Arcite,
Who laid himself so artfully
To pray for help at Mars’ feet.
Here's Arcite’s prayer to Mars:
“Strong God, in this degree,
I know you know the mysteries
Of love, and my sad history.
In spite of all my misery,
My love no pity gives to me;
Therefore, if I am fit to be
Your knight, grant me this victory!”
At this, the statue ripped free
From its foundations viciously,
And said: “Since you give to me
Such devotion, it’s agreed,
Soon I shall grant this to thee!”
Now the gods, who must be honest,
Had in their wisdom justly promised
Arcite, here perhaps the strongest,
Triumph in the fight, along with
Palamon, no doubt the fondest,
True love, as we see in sonnets.
I now shall tell you straight how on this
Day in May it was accomplished.
Theseus, who was provider
Of the venue, and presider
Over it, was seated higher,
Where his Queen by all was seen,
With Emilye beside her.
Arcite, a worthy fighter,
Attacked his brother like a tiger,
And Palamon, alike a lion,
With equal fierceness did defy him.
The first, though not for lack of tryin’,
Could no fatal blow get by him.
But then, to Palamon’s poor luck,
Arcite’s knight behind him snuck,
And stuck a spear into his gut;
Though far from mortal was the cut,
It was enough; Arcite struck,
And Palamon, too hurt to duck,
Was knocked down, and dropped in shock
Onto the rocky ground.
Not a sound,
Nor any talk was found among the crowd,
‘Til Theseus declared aloud:
“Arcite is the victor proud,
And Emilye, as I avowed,
To thee shall now be well-endowed!”
Arcite’s happiness exploded
In him, and he rose and showed it,
As above his foe he gloated,
Crowed and boasted and show-boated,
‘Til the Gods were overloaded
With his pride, and so they smote it;
Arcite, with a blow demoted,
Fell onto his dome and broke it.
His sorrow overflowed there; dying,
He pronounced his woes, where crying
Showed he’d go with no denying
That his soul was slowly rising.
And he left, while still professing
Love, and gave them both his blessing,
While requesting Emilye to be accepting,
Since he would in death be resting,
Of Palamon, the next best thing.
Then back his broken head he laid,
And gave his final spoken praise:
The gentle maid then in the ways
Of Athens, set the corpse ablaze
And scorched away the source that makes
A mortal shape, and prayed his soul
Its course through heaven’s portal take.
In order to at least dispel
The sorrow which in Greece did swell
The moment that Arcite fell,
Theseus released his will:
“Why should his wife and cousin grieve?
Arcite is gone, yet doesn’t he
Deserve to see his love in thee,
Alive, from up above, in peace?
Thus Palamon and Emilye
shall wed, if they my judgement heed!”
And since his wishes carried weight
The two, with kisses, married straight
And Palamon, though very late,
Did wear his bliss with a merry face,
‘Cause he could barely wait
To take away her cherry state;
And Emilye took care she made
A loving wife, and rarely gave
Advice and, looking fair, obeyed;
And nothing more is there to say
About this strange affair, good day!