I am having a really hard time understanding the beginning of book 2 of Jerusalem Delivered (1581) by Torquato Tasso (in the English translation by Edward Fairfax, 1600).
Are there methods I need to follow to understand this poem?
Ismeno conjures, but his charms are vain:
Aladine will kill the Christians in his ire:
Sophronia and Olindo would be slain
To save the rest, the King grants their desire;
Clorinda hears their fact and fortunes plain.
Their pardon gets and keeps them from the fire:
Argantes, when Aletes' speeches are
Despised, defies the Duke to mortal war.
While thus the tyrant bends his thoughts to arms,
Ismeno gan tofore his sight appear,
Ismen dead bones laid in cold graves that warms
And makes them speak, smell, taste, touch, see, and hear;
Ismen with terror of his mighty charms.
That makes great Dis in deepest Hell to fear.
That binds and looses souls condemned to woe.
And sends the devils on errands to and fro.
A Christian once, Macon he now adores.
Nor could he quite his wonted faith forsake.
But in his wicked arts both oft implores
Help from the Lord, and aid from Pluto black;
He, from deep caves by Acheron's dark shores,
Where circles vain and spells he used to make.
To advise his king in these extremes is come,
Achitophel so counselled Absalom.