Orlando Furioso, by Lodovico Ariosto

Canto 13

Argument

The Count Orlando of the damsel bland

Who loves Zerbino, hears the piteous woes.

Next puts to death the felons with his hand

Who pent her there. Duke Aymon’s daughter goes,

Seeking Rogero, where so large a band

The old Atlantes’ magic walls enclose.

Her he impounds, deceived by fictions new.

Agramant ranks his army for review.

I

Those ancient cavaliers right happy were,

Born in an age, when, in the gloomy wood,

In valley, and in cave, wherein the bear,

Serpent, or lion, hid their savage brood,

They could find that, which now in palace rare

Is hardly found by judges proved and good;

Women, to wit, who in their freshest days

Of beauty worthily deserve the praise.

II

Above I told you how a gentle maid

Orlando had discovered under ground,

And asked, by whom she thither was conveyed?

Pursuing now my tale, I tell, how drowned

In grief (her speech by many a sob delayed),

The damsel fair, in sweet and softest sound,

Summing them with what brevity she might,

Her ills recounted to Anglantes’ knight.

III

“Though I am sure,” she said, “O cavalier,

To suffer punishment for what I say;

Because I know, to him who pens me here,

This woman quickly will the fact display;

I would not but thou shouldst the story hear.

— And let my wretched life the forfeit pay!

For what can wait me better than that he,

My gaoler, should one day my death decree?

IV

“Lo! I am Isabel, who once was styled

The daughter of Gallicia’s hapless king:

I said aright who was; but now the child

(No longer his) of care and suffering:

The fault of Love, by whom I was beguiled;

For against him alone this charge I bring.

Who sweetly, at the first, our wish applauds,

And weaves in secret but deceit and frauds.

V

“Whilom I lived, content in Fortune’s smile,

Rich, blameless, fair, and young; to sad reverse

Condemned, I now am wretched, poor, and vile,

And in worse case, if any yet be worse.

But it is fitting, I to thee this while

From their first root my troubles should rehearse.

And it will soothe me, though of thee I borrow

No help, that thou compassionate my sorrow.

VI

“My father in his city of Bayonne,

(To-day will be twelve months) a tourney dight;

Hence, led by spreading rumour to our town,

To joust, from different lands came many a knight;

Mid these (was it his manifest renown,

Or was it love which so deceived my sight)

Praise in my eyes alone Zerbino won,

Who was the mighty king of Scotland’s son.

VII

“When him I after in the field espied,

Performing wondrous feats of chivalry,

I was surprised by Love, ere I descried

That freedom in my Love, so rash a guide,

I lay this unction to my phantasy,

That no unseemly place my heart possest,

Fixed on the worthiest in the world and best.

VIII

“In beauty and in valour’s boast above

Those other lords the Scottish prince stood high.

He showed me, and, I think, be bore me love,

And left no less an ardent flame than I.

Nor lacked there one who did between us move,

To speak our common wishes frequently,

So could we still in heart and mind unite,

Although disjoined from one another’s sight.

IX

“Hence, when concluded was the festal show,

And to his home Zerbino was returned,

If thou know’st what is love, thou well may’st know

How night and day I for the warrior yearned;

And was assured, no less on him did prey

The flame, that in his constant bosom burned.

He, save a way to have me with him, nought

For solace of his restless passion sought.

X

“For different faith forbade him (on my side

I was a saracen, a Christian he)

To ask me of my father as a bride,

By stealth he purposed to elope with me.

Amid green fields, our wealthy town beside,

I had a garden, seated by the sea,

Upon the pleasant shore; from whence the eye

Might ocean and the hills about descry.

XI

“A fitting place to effect what different creed

And law forbade us, he esteemed this site,

And showed the order taken for the deed,

Which was to make our future life’s delight;

And how, near Santa Martha, for our need,

A bark was with arm’d men in ambush dight,

Under Sir Odoric of Biscay’s command;

A leader he, approved by sea and land!

XII

“Unable in his person this to do,

For by his father he was forced to wend

In succour of the king of France, in lieu

This Odoric for the purpose he would send;

Chosen, of all his faithful friends and true,

As his most faithful and his truest friend:

And such had been, if benefits could bind

And goodly deeds the friendship of mankind.

XIII

“At the time fixed to bear me thence away,

This chief would anchor on the destined ground.

— And thus it was arrived the wished for day,

Then I of them was in my garden found.

Sir Odoric, at night, with fair array

Of valiant men, by land and sea renowned,

In the near river from his bark descends,

And thence in silence to my garden wends.

XIV

“To the pitched bark with me his party sped,

Before the city knew what was at hand;

Some of the house, disarmed and naked, fled,

And some were slain; while of the helpless band,

With me, another part was captive led.

So was I severed from my native land,

Hoping in brief Zerbino to possess,

I cannot tell thee with what happiness.

XV

“Scarcely was Mongia by our galley doubled,

Ere a squall took us on the larboard side,

Which round about the clear horizon troubled,

And stirred and tost heaven-high the foaming tide.

Smote with a north-west wind, next, ocean bubbled,

Which on her other beam the vessel plied:

This evermore increases, with such force,

Starboard or larboard, boots not which our course.

XVI

“It steads not to strike sail, nor lash the mast,

Lowered on the gang-board, nor our castles fell;

The bark, in our despite, is hurried fast

Towards the pointed rocks about Rochelle:

Save He, above, assist us at the last,

The cruel storm will us ashore impel;

Driven thither by ill wind with mightier speed

Than ever bow-string gave to whistling reed.

XVII

“Our peril well does the Biscayan note,

And tries what often has an evil end;

Lowers down the galley’s skiff, and, when afloat,

Descends into it, and makes me descend:

Two follow, and a troop would throng the boat,

Did not the first prevent them, and defend

The entrance with their naked faulchions; we

Sever the rope forthwith, and put to sea.

XVIII

“Driven landward, on the shore we safely light

Who in the skiff embarked; while of our band

The rest in the split vessel sink outright;

Our goods sea-swallowed all. Upon the strand

To Eternal Love, To Goodness Infinite,

I offer up my thanks, with outstretched hand,

That I was doomed not ‘mid the watery roar

To perish, nor behold Zerbino more.

XIX

“Though I had left on shipboard matters rare,

And precious in their nature, gem and vest,

So I might hope Zerbino’s lot to share,

I was content the sea should have the rest.

No dwelling on the beach appears, nor there

Is any pathway seen, by footsteps pressed;

Only a hill, whose woody top is beat

By ceaseless winds, the waters bathe its feet.

XX

“Here the fell tyrant Love, aye prompt to range,

And faithless to his every promise still,

Who watches ever how he may derange

And mar our every reasonable will,

Converts, with woeful and disastrous change,

My comfort to despair, my good to ill:

For he, in whom Zerbino put his trust,

Cooled in his loyal faith, and burned with lust.

XXI

“Whether he his desire had nursed at sea,

And had not dared exhibit it before;

Or that it sprung from opportunity,

Suggested by that solitary shore;

Without more pause, in that lone desert, he

Would sate his greedy passion; but forbore

Till he of one could rid him, of the twain,

Who in the boat with us had scaped the main.

XXII

“A man of Scotland he, Almonio hight,

Who to Zerbino seemed great faith to bear;

And as a perfect warrior by the knight,

Praised, when to Odoric given, his trust to share:

To him (the Spaniard said) it were a slight

If I unto Rochelle afoot should fare;

And prayed, that he before would thither speed,

And forward thence some hackney, for my need.

XXIII

“Almonio, who in this suspects no ill,

Forthwith, before our party, wends his way

To the town, hidden by the wooded hill,

And which not more than six miles distant lay.

To the other finally his wicked will

Sir Odoric took courage to display;

As well because he could not rid him thence,

As that in him he had great confidence.

XXIV

“He that remained with us, of whom I said

Before, Corebo was of Bilbao hight,

Who with him under the same roof was bred

From infancy, and the ungrateful wight

Deemed that the thought he harboured in his head,

He could impart in safety to the knight,

Who would prefer, neglected of his trust,

The pleasure of his friend to what was just.

XXV

“Not without high disdain Corebo heard

(Who kind and courteous was) the Biscayneer,

And termed him traitor; and by deed and word

Withstood the purpose of his foul compeer.

This mighty wrath in either warrior stirred;

In sign whereof their naked brands they rear.

At sight of their drawn swords, in panic, I

Turn shortly through the gloomy wood to fly.

XXVI

“Sir Odoric in war well taught and bred,

Gained in few blows such vantage in the fray,

He left Corebo on the field for dead,

And, following in my steps, pursued my way.

Love lent to him (unless I am misled)

Pinions, that he might overtake his prey;

And many a prayer and glozing flattery taught,

Wherewith I to compliance might be wrought.

XXVII

“But all in vain, for I was fixed and bent,

Rather than sate his ill desire, to die.

When menace had by him been vainly spent,

And every prayer and every flattery,

He would by open force his will content;

Nor boots it aught that I entreaties try; —

Of his lord’s faith in him the wretch remind,

And how myself I to his hands resigned.

XXVIII

“When I perceived that fruitless was my prayer,

And that I could not hope for other aid;

For he assailed me like a famished bear,

With hands and feet I fierce resistance made,

As he more brutal waxed, and plucked his hair,

And with my teeth and nails his visage flayed:

This while I vent such lamentable cries,

The clamour echoes to the starry skies.

XXIX

“Were they by chance conducted, or my shriek,

Which might have well been heard a league around,

(Or, was it they were wont the shore to seek,

When any vessel split or ran aground)

I saw a crowd appear upon the peak,

Which, to the sea descending, towards us wound.

Them the Biscayan say, and at the sight

Abandoned his design, and turned to flight.

XXX

“This rabble, sir, against that treacherous man

Comes to my aid; but in such guise, that I

The homely saw, of falling from the pan

Into the fire beneath, but verify.

’Tis true so lost I was not, nor that clan

Accursed with minds of such iniquity,

That they to violate my person sought;

Though nothing good or virtuous on them wrought:

c13-030

XXXI

“But that they knew, for me preserved a maid,

As yet I am, they higher price might crave.

Eight months are past, the ninth arrived, since, stayed

By them, alive I languish in this grave.

All hope is lost of my Zerbino’s aid:

For from their speech I gather, as a slave,

I am bartered to a merchant for his gold;

By whom I to the sultan shall be sold.”

XXXII

The gentle damsel so her tale pursues,

While sobs and sighs oft interposing break

Her soft angelic voice, which might infuse

Compassion into asp, or venomed snake.

What time she so her piteous grief renews,

Or haply does her bitter anguish slake,

Some twenty men the gloomy cavern fill;

This armed with hunting-spear, and that with bill.

XXXIII

With squinting look and dark, and but one eye,

The leader of the troop, of brutish cheer

Was he, the foremost of the company;

By a blow blinded, which from nose to ear

Had cleft his jaw: when he did so descry

Seated beside the maid, that cavalier,

He turned about and said: “Lo! in the net

Another bird for whom it was not set!”

XXXIV

Then to the County cried: “I never knew

A man more opportune my wants to stead;

I know not whether any one to you

Perchance may have announced my pressing need

Of such fair arms, — or you conjectured true, —

As well as of that goodly sable weed.

You verily arrived in season are

My needs (pursued the losel) to repair.”

XXXV

With bitter smile, upstarting on his feet,

Orlando to the ruffian made reply:

“Thou at a price at which no chapman treat,

Unmarked in merchant’s books, these arms shalt buy.”

With that he snatched a brand, which, full of heat

And smoke, was smouldering in the chimney nigh,

Threw it, and smote by chance the knave half blind,

Where with the nose the meeting brows confined.

XXXVI

The brand discharged by him, hit either brow,

But most severely on the left did smite;

For that ill feature perished by the blow,

Which was the thief’s sole minister of light.

Nor is the stroke content to blind the foe;

Unsated, save it register his sprite

Among those damned souls, whom Charon keeps,

With their companions, plunged in boiling deeps.

XXXVII

A spacious table in mid cavern stood,

Two palms in thickness, in its figure square;

Propt on one huge, ill fashioned food and rude,

Which held the thief and all who harboured there.

Even with such freedom as his dart of wood

We mark the nimble Spaniard launch through air,

The heavy table Roland seized and threw,

Where, crowded close together, stood the crew.

XXXVIII

One had his belly crushed, and one his breast;

Another head or arm, or leg and thigh.

Whence some were slain outright, and maimed the rest,

While he who was least injured sought to fly.

’Tis so sometimes, with heavy stone oppressed,

A knot of slimy snakes is seen to lie,

With battered heads and loins where, winter done,

They lick their scales, rejoicing in the sun.

XXXIX

I could not say what mischiefs these offend;

One dies, and one departs without its tail;

Another crippled cannot move an-end,

And wriggling wreathes its length without avail:

While this, whom more propitious saints befriend,

Safe through the grass drags off its slimy trail.

Dire was the stroke; yet should no wonder breed,

Since good Orlando’s arm achieved the deed.

XL

Those whom the board had little maimed or nought,

(Turpin says there were seven) in craven wise,

Their safety in their feet, yet vainly, sought;

For to the cavern’s door Orlando hies.

And having them without resistance caught,

Fast with a rope their hands behind them ties;

A rope, which in the cavern on the ground,

Convenient for his purpose he had found.

XLI

He after drags them bound without the cave,

Where an old service-tree its shadow throws.

Orlando lops the branches with his glaive,

And hangs the thieves, a banquet for the crows:

Nor chain and crook for such a deed did crave:

For ready hooks the tree itself bestows,

To purge the world; where by the chin up-hung,

These, on the branches, bold Orlando strung.

XLII

The ancient woman, the assassin’s friend,

Escapes when she perceives that all are dead,

And, threading that green labyrinth without end,

Laments, and plucks the hair from off her head,

By fear impelled, through paths which sore offend

Her feet, till she, beside a river’s bed,

Encounters with a warrior: but to say

Who was the stranger champion I delay;

XLIII

And turn to her, who to the count applied,

Praying he would not leave her there alone,

And vowed to follow whither he would guide.

Orlando her consoles in courteous tone:

And thence, when, with a wreath of roses tied

About her brows, and robed in purple gown,

On wonted journey white Aurora starts,

The paladin with Isabel departs.

XLIV

Without encountering aught that might appear

Worthy of note, they wended many a day;

And finally the twain a cavalier,

As prisoner led, encountered by the way.

Who shall be told; but, tale to you as dear

Now calls me from the beaten path away;

— Of Aymon’s daughter, — whom I left above,

Languid and lost in all the pains of love.

XLV

The beauteous lady who desires in vain,

Rogero should not his return delay,

Lies in Marseilles, from whence the paynim train

She harasses, nigh each returning day;

(What time they robbing aye, by hill and plain,

Scower fruitful Languedoc and Provence gay)

And the true duty executes aright

Of a sage leader and a valiant knight.

XLVI

The time long past, she, lying in that place,

Had hoped that her Rogero would appear,

She, not beholding him in all that space,

Of many evil chances lived in fear.

One day, mid others that her woeful case

The lady wept alone, to her drew near

The dame, who with that healing ring made sound

The bosom rankling with Alcina’s wound.

XLVII

When her she saw, without her love returned,

(Such time elapsed, her mission incomplete),

Sore trembling, faint, and pale, her heart so yearned,

She scarce had strength to stand upon her feet.

But the enchantress kind, when she discerned

Her fear, advanced with smiles the maid to meet;

And to console her such glad visage wore

As messenger who joyful tidings bore.

XLVIII

“Fear not for thy Rogero: he is well

And safe (she cried), and ever worships thee,

As wonted; but thy foe, that wizard fell,

Him yet again deprives of liberty.

And it behoves thee now to climb the sell,

Would’st thou posses him, and to follow me;

For if thou wendest with me, I will lead

Whither, by thee Rogero shall be freed.”

XLIX

And next pursued, relating to her all

The frauds and magic of Atlantes hoar,

That wearing her fair face, who seemed the thrall

Of an ill giant, him had through the door

Of gold, enticed into the enchanted hall,

And after disappeared, the youth before;

And told how dames and cavaliers he cheats

Who thither make resort, with like deceits.

L

Seeing the sage, all think they see a squire,

Companion, lady-love, or absent friend;

Whatever is each several wight’s desire:

Since to our scope our wishes never tend.

Hence searching every where, themselves they tire

With labour sore, and frustrate of their end;

And cannot, (so Desire and Hope deceive),

Without the missing good, that palace leave.

LI

“As soon as thou (pursued the dame) art near

The place where he has built the magic seat,

Resembling thy Rogero in his cheer

And every look, Atlantes thee shall meet,

And make himself by his ill art appear

As suffering from some stronger arm defeat;

That thou may’st aid him in the peril feigned,

And thus among those others be detained.

LII

“To the end thou may’st escape his ambush, where

So many and so many, thus betrayed,

Have fallen; though he Rogero seem, beware

To lend him faith, who will demand thine aid:

Nor, when the sage presents himself, forbear

To take his worthless life with lifted blade.

Nor think to slay Rogero with the blow,

But him who works thee still such cruel woe.

LIII

“Hard will it seem to slay, full well I know,

The wight, in whom Rogero you descry:

But, for truth is not in the lying show,

Trust not to sight where magic blears the eye.

Fix, ere with me you to the forest go,

To change not when the traitorous foe is nigh:

For never shall with you Rogero wive,

If weakly you the wizard leave alive.”

LIV

The valorous maid with the intent to slay

The false enchanter, on her plan decides,

Snatches her arms, and follows on her way

Melissa sage, in whom she so confides,

And thus, by fruitful field or forest gray,

Her by forced journeys that enchantress guides;

And studies to beguile their weary course

Ever, as best she may, with sweet discourse:

LV

And as the fairest topic of all those

Which might be grateful to the damsel’s ear,

Her future offspring and Rogero’s chose

(A race of demigods) in prince and peer.

For as Melissa all the secrets knows

Of the eternal gods who rule our sphere,

The good enchantress can discover all

Which should in many ages hence befall.

LVI

“Oh! my best guide.” exclaimed the damsel bold

To the weird-woman that to aid her came,

“As thou hast many years before foretold

Men who shall glorify my race and name,

So now I pray thee, lady, to unfold

The praise and virtues of some noble dame,

If from my lineage any such shall rise.”

To whom Melissa courteously replies:

LVII

“Chaste dames of thee descended I survey,

Mothers of those who wear imperial crown,

And mighty kings; the column and the stay

Of glorious realms and houses of renown.

And as thy sons will shine in arms, so they

Will no less fame deserve in female gown,

With piety and sovereign prudence graced,

And noble hearts, incomparably chaste.

LVIII

“And if at length, I should relate to thee

The praise of all who from thy root ascend,

Too long my tale would hold, nor do I see

Whom I could pass, where all to fame pretend.

But from a thousand I some two or three

Will choose, because my tale may have an end.

Why was not in the cave thy wish made known,

Where I their shadows might as well have shown?

LIX

“To hear of one of thy famed race prepare,

Whom liberal studies and good works engage;

Of whom, I know not well, if she more fair

May be entitled, or more chaste and sage;

The noble-minded Isabel, who, where

It stands on Mincius’ bank, in other age

Shall gild the town, of Ocnus’ mother hight,

With her own glorious rays by day and night;

LX

“Where, with her worthiest consort she will strain,

In honoured and in splendid rivalry,

Which best shall prize the virtues’ goodly train,

And widest ope the gates to courtesy.

If he by Taro, and in Naples’ reign,

(’Tis said), from Gauls delivered Italy,

’Twill be replied. Penelope the chaste,

As such, was not beneath Ulysses placed.

LXI

“Great things and many thus I sum in few

Of this brave dame, and others leave behind:

Which when I from the vulgar herd withdrew,

Sage Merlin from the hollow stone divined.

For I should leave old Typhis out of view,

If on such sea I launched before the wind:

And with this finish my prophetic strain,

— All blessings on her head the skies will rain.

c13-Merlin

LXII

“With her shall be her sister Beatrice,

Whose fortunes well shall with her name accord;

Who, while she lives, not only shall not miss

What good the heavens to those below afford,

But make, with her, partaker of her bliss,

First among wealthy dukes, her cherished lord;

Who shall, when she from hence receives her call,

Into the lowest depth of misery fall.

LXIII

“Viscontis’ serpents will be held in dread,

And Moro and Sforza, while this dame shall be,

From Hyperborean snows to billows red;

From Ind to hills, which to a double sea

Afford a passage; and, the lady dead,

To the sore mischief of all Italy,

Will with the Insubri into slavery fall;

And men shall sovereign wisdom fortune call.

LXIV

“Other the same illustrious name will bear,

And who will flourish many years before.

Pannonia’s garland one of these shall wear.

Another matron on the Ausonian shore,

When she shall be released from earthly care,

Men will among the blessed saints adore;

With incense will approach the dame divine,

And hang with votive images her shrine.

LXV

“The others I shall pass in silence by,

For ’twere too much (as said before) to sound

Their fame: though each might well deserve, that high

Heroic trump should in her praise be wound.

Hence the Biancas and Lucretias I

And Constances and more reserve; who found,

Or else repair, upon Italian land,

Illustrious houses with supporting hand.

LXVI

“Thy race, which shall all else in this excel,

In the rare fortune of its women thrives;

Nor of its daughters’ honour more I tell

Than of the lofty virtue of its wives:

And that thou may’st take note of this as well,

Which Merlin said of thy descendents’ lives,

(Haply that I the story might narrate)

This I no little covet to relate.

LXVII

“Of good Richarda first shall be my strain,

Mirror of chastity and fortitude,

Who, young, remains a widow, in disdain

Of fortune: (that which oft awaits the good)

Exiles, and cheated of their father’s reign,

She shall behold the children of her blood

Wandering into the clutches of their foe;

Yet find at last a quittance for her woe.

LXVIII

“Nor sprung from the ancient root of Aragon,

I of the gorgeous queen will silent be;

Than whom more prudent or more chaste is none,

Renowned in Greek or Latin history;

Nor who so fortunate a course will run,

After that, by divine election, she

Shall with the goodly race of princes swell,

Alphonso, Hyppolite, and Isabel.

LXIX

“The prudent Eleanour is this: a spray

Which will be grafted on thy happy tree.

What of the fruitful stepchild shall I say,

Who in succession next to her I see,

Lucretia Borgia? who, from day to day,

Shall wax in beauty, virtue, chastity,

And fortune, that like youthful plant will shoot,

Which into yielding soil has struck its root.

LXX

“As tin by silver, brass by gold, as Corn-

Poppy beside the deeply-crimsoning rose,

Willow by laurel evergreen, as shorn

Of light, stained glass by gem that richly glows,

— So by this dame I honour yet unborn,

Each hitherto distinguished matron shows;

For beauty and for prudence claiming place,

And all praise-worthy excellence and grace.

LXXI

“And above every other noble praise,

Which shall distinguished her alive or dead,

Is that by her shall be, through kingly ways,

Her Hercules and other children led;

Who thus the seeds of worth in early days,

To bloom in council and in camp, will shed.

For long wine’s savour lingers in the wood

Of the new vessel, whether bad or good.

LXXII

“Nor the step-daughter of this noble dame,

Will I, Renata, hight of France, forget,

Of Louis born, twelfth monarch of his name,

And Bretagne’s pride; all virtues ever yet

Bestowed on woman, since the ruddy flame

Has warmed, or water had the power to wet,

Or overhead the circling heavens have rolled,

United in Renata I behold.

LXXIII

“ ’Twere long to tell of Alda de Sansogna,

Or of Celano’s countess in this string,

Or Blanche Maria, stiled of Catalonia;

Or her, the daughter of Sicilia’s king,

Or of the beauteous Lippa de Bologna,

Or more, with whose renown the world shall ring,

To speak whose separate praise with fitting lore,

Were to attempt a sea without a shore.”

LXXIV

When of the larger portion of her seed

The king enchantress at full ease had told,

And oft and oft rehearsed, amid the rede,

What arts Rogero to the wizard’s hold

Had drawn, Melissa halted near the mead

Where stood the mansion of Atlantes old,

Nor would approach the magic dome more nigh,

Lest her the false magician should espy.

LXXV

And yet again advised the martial maid,

(Counsel she had a thousand times bestowed)

Then left, Nor Bradamant through greenwood shade

More than two miles in narrow path had rode,

Before, by two fierce giants overlaid,

She saw a knight, who like Rogero showed,

So closely pressed, and labouring sore for breath,

That he appeared well nigh reduced to death.

LXXVI

When she beheld him in such perilous strait,

Who of Rogero all the tokens wore,

She quickly lost the faith she nourished late,

Quickly her every fair design forbore.

She weens Melissa bears Rogero hate,

For some new injury unheard before:

And with unheard of hate and wrong, her foe

Would by her hand destroy who loves him so.

LXXVII

She cried, “And is not this Rogero, who

Aye present to my heart, is now to sight?

If ’tis not him whom I agnize and view.

Whom e’er shall I agnize or view aright?

Why should I other’s judgment deem more true

Than the belief that’s warranted by sight?

Even without eyes, and by my heart alone,

If he were near or distant, would be shown.”

LXXVIII

While so the damsel thinks, a voice she hears,

Which, like Rogero’s, seems for aid to cry;

At the same time, the worsted knight appears

To slack the bridle and the rowels ply:

While at full speed the goaded courser clears

His ground, pursued by either enemy.

Nor paused the dame, in following them who sought

His life, till to the enchanted palace brought.

LXXIX

Of which no sooner has she past the door,

Than she is cheated by the common show.

Each crooked way or straight her feet explore

Within it and without, above, below;

Nor rests she night or day, so strong the lore

Of the enchanter, who has ordered so,

She (though they still encounter and confer)

Knows not Rogero, nor Rogero her.

LXXX

But leave we Bradamant, nor grieve, O ye

Who hear, that she is prisoned by the spell,

Since her in fitting time I shall set free,

And good Rogero, from the dome as well,

As taste is quickened by variety,

So it appears that, in the things I tell,

The wider here and there my story ranges,

It will be found less tedious for its changes.

LXXXI

Meseems that I have many threads to clear

In the great web I labour evermore;

And therefore be ye not displeased to hear

How, all dislodged, the squadrons of the Moor,

Threatening the golden lines loud, appear

In arms, the royal Agramant before:

Who bids for a review his army post,

Willing to know the numbers of his host.

LXXXII

For besides horse and foot, in the campaign

Sore thinned, whose numbers were to be supplied,

Had many captains, and those good, of Spain,

Of Libya, and of Aethiopia, died;

And thus the nations, and the various train,

Wandered without a ruler or a guide.

To give to each its head and order due,

The ample camp is mustered in review.

LXXXIII

To fill the squadrons ravaged by the sword,

In those fierce battles and those conflicts dread,

This to his Spain, to his Africa that lord,

Sent to recruit, where well their files they fed;

And next distributed the paynim horde

Under their proper captains, ranged and led.

I, with your leave, till other strain, delay

The order of the muster to display.

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Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 12:59