Orlando Furioso, by Lodovico Ariosto

Canto 23

Argument

Astolpho soars in air. Upon account

Of Pinnabel is prisoned Scotland’s heir:

By Roland freed, Frontino Rodomont

Takes from Hippalca, trusted to her care.

With Mandricardo strives Anglantes’ count:

Who, next, offended by his lady fair,

Into the fury falls, so strange and fell,

Which in the world has not a parallel.

I

Let each assist the other in his need;

Seldom good actions go without their due;

And if their just reward should not succeed,

At least, nor death, nor shame, nor loss ensue.

Who wrongs another, the remembered meed

As well shall have, and soon or later rue.

That mountains never meet, but that men may,

And oft encounter, is an ancient say.

II

Now mark what chanced to Pinnabel, the event

Of having borne himself so wickedly:

He at the last received due punishment,

Due and deserved by his iniquity.

And God, who for the most is ill content

To see the righteous suffer wrongfully,

Secured the maid from harm, and will secure

All who from every wickedness are pure.

III

Pinnabel deemed he to an end had brought,

And buried deep in earth, the martial maid;

Nor weening to behold her more, less thought

To her his treason’s forfeit to have paid.

Nor profits it the wily traitor ought

To be among the forts his father swayed.

For Altaripa here its summit rears,

Amid rude hills, confining on Poictiers.

IV

Anselm in Altaripa held command,

The count from whom was sprung this evil seed:

Who, to escape from angry Clermont’s hand,

Of friends and of assistance stood in need.

At a hill’s foot, with her avenging brand,

Bradamant made the worthless traitor bleed;

Who found no better succour in the strife

Than piteous cry and fruitless prayer for life.

V

When she has put to death the treacherous peer,

Who to put her to death had erst intent,

To seek Rogero she again would steer,

But that her cruel fate would not consent;

Which, where the wood was loneliest and most drear,

To wander by close path the lady sent,

Until the western sun withdrew his light,

Abandoning the world above to night.

VI

Nor knowing where for shelter she should rove,

Bradamant in that place resolves to stay,

Couched on the verdant herbage of the grove;

And, sleeping, now awaits the dawn of day,

Now watching Saturn, Venus, Mars, and Jove,

And the other wandering gods upon their way:

But, whether waking or to sleep resigned,

Has aye Rogero present to her mind.

VII

With sorrow and repentance oft assailed,

She from her inmost heart profoundly sighed,

That Anger over Love should have prevailed.

“Anger has torn me from my love,” (she cried,)

“Oh! had I made some note, which had availed,

Thither, whence I set out, my steps to guide,

When I departed on my ill emprize!

Sure I was lorn of memory and of eyes!”

VIII

These words and others she in mournful strain

Utters, and broods within her heart on more.

Meanwhile a wind of sighs, and plenteous rain

Of tears, are tokens of her anguish sore.

In the east, at last, expected long in vain,

The wished for twilight streaked the horizon o’er;

And she her courser took, which on the ley

Was feeding, and rode forth to meet the day.

IX

Nor far had rode, ere from the greenwood-trees

She issued, where the dome was erst displayed;

And many days her with such witcheries

The evil-minded wizard had delayed.

Here she Astolpho found, who at full ease

A bridle for the Hippogryph had made,

And here was standing, thoughtful and in pain

To whom he should deliver Rabicane.

X

By chance she found him, as the cavalier

Had from the helm uncased his head to view;

So that when of the dingy forest clear,

Fair Bradamant her gentle cousin knew.

Him from afar she hailed with joyful cheer,

And now more nigh, to embrace the warrior flew;

And named herself, and raised her vizor high,

And let him plainly who she was espy.

XI

None could Astolpho have found any where

With whom to leave his horse with more content,

As knowing she would guard the steed with care,

And to his lord on his return present;

And he believed that Heaven had, in its care,

Duke Aymon’s daughter for this pleasure sent.

Her was he wont with pleasure aye to see,

But now with more in his necessity.

XII

Embracing twice or thrice the cousins stand,

Fraternally, each other’s neck, and they

Had of each other’s welfare made demand

With much affection, ere the duke ‘gan say;

“Would I now see the winged people’s land,

Here upon earth I make too long delay.”

And opening to the dame the thought he brewed,

To her the flying horse Astolpho shewed.

XIII

But she scarce marvelled when above the plain

She saw the rising steed his wings unfold;

Since upon former time, with mastering rein.

On him had charged the dame that wizard old;

And made her eye and eyelid sorely strain,

So hard she gazed, his movements to behold;

The day that he bore off, with wonderous range,

Rogero on his journey, long and strange.

XIV

Astolpho says on her he will bestow

His Rabican; so passing swift of kind,

That, if the courser started when a bow

Was drawn, he left the feathered shaft behind;

And will as well his panoply forego,

That it may to Mount Alban be consigned:

And she for him preserve the martial weed;

Since of his arms he has no present need.

XV

Bent, since a course in air was to be flown,

That he, as best he can, will make him light.

Yet keeps the sword and horn; although alone

The horn from every risque might shield the knight:

But he the lance abandons, which the son

Of Galaphron was wont to bear in flight;

The lance, by which whoever in the course

Was touched, fell headlong hurtling from his horse.

XVI

Backed by Astolpho, and ascending slow,

The hippogryph through yielding aether flew;

And next the rider stirred the courser so,

That in a thought he vanished out of view.

Thus with his pilot does the patron go,

Fearing the gale and rock, till he is through

The reefs; then, having left the shore behind,

Hoists every sail, and shoots before the wind.

XVII

Bradamant, when departed was the peer,

Remained distressed in mind; since in what way

She knew not her good kinsman’s warlike gear

And courser to Mount Alban to convey.

For on her heart, which they inflame and tear,

The warm desire and greedy will yet prey

To see the Child; whom she to find once more

At Vallombrosa thought, if not before.

XVIII

Here standing in suspense, by chance she spied

A churl, that came towards her on the plain,

Who, at her best, Astolpho’s armour tied,

As best he might, and laid on Rabicane;

She next behind her bade the peasant guide

(One courser loaded and one loose) the twain.

Two were the steeds; for she had that before,

On which his horse from Pinnabel she bore.

XIX

To Vallombrosa to direct her way

She thought, in hopes to find Rogero there:

But, fearing evermore to go astray,

Knew not how thither she might best repair.

The churl had of the country small assay,

And, sure to be bewildered, wend the pair:

Yet at a venture thitherward she hies,

Where she believes the place of meeting lies.

XX

She here and there, as she her way pursued,

Turned, but found none to question of the road;

She saw at mid-day, issuing from the wood,

A fort, nor far removed was the abode,

Which on the summit of a mountain stood,

And to the lady like Mount Alban showed;

And was Mount Alban sure; in which repair

One of her brothers and her mother were.

XXI

She, when she recognized the place, became

Sadder at heart than I have power to say.

If she delays, discovered is the dame,

Nor thence will be allowed to wend her way:

If thence she wends not, of the amorous flame

Which so consumes her, she will be the prey,

Nor see Rogero more, nor compass aught

Which was at Vallombrosa to be wrought.

XXII

Some deal she doubted: then to turn her steed,

Resolved upon Mount Alban’s castle near;

And, for she thence her way could deftly read,

Her course anew towards the abbey steer.

But Fortune, good or evil, had decreed

The maid, before she of the vale was clear,

Of one of her good brethren should be spied,

Alardo named, ere she had time to hide.

XXIII

He came from billeting the bands which lay

Dispersed about that province, foot and horse;

For the surrounding district, to obey

King Charlemagne, had raised another force.

Embraces brotherly and friendly say,

Salutes and kindly cheer, ensue of course;

And next into Mount Alban, side by side,

They, communing of many matters, ride.

XXIV

Bradamant enters Montalbano’s seat,

Whom Beatrice had mourned, and vainly sought

Through spacious France: ’Tis here all welcome sweet,

The kiss and clasp of hand, she holds at nought,

While her a mother and a brother greet,

As the enamoured maid compares in thought

These with the loved Rogero’s fond embrace;

Which time will never from her mind efface.

XXV

Because she could not go, one in her stead

To send to Vallombrosa she devised,

Who thither in the damsel’s name should speed;

By whom should young Rogero be apprised

What kept her thence; and prayed, if prayer should need,

That there he for love would be baptised;

And next, as was concerned, would intend

What might their bridal bring to happy end.

XXVI

She purposed the same messenger should bear

As well to her Rogero his good steed;

Which he was ever wonted to hold dear,

Worthily dear; for sure so stout at need

And beauteous was no courser, far or near,

In land of Christian or of Paynim creed,

In occupation of the Gaul or Moor;

Except Baiardo good and Brigliador.

XXVII

Valiant Rogero, when too bold of sprite

He backed the hippogryph and soared in air,

Frontino left (Frontino he was hight),

Whom Bradamant then took into her care,

And to Mount Alban sent; and had him dight,

And nourished, at large cost, with plenteous fare;

Nor let be rode except at easy pace,

Hence was he ne’er so sleek or well in case.

XXVIII

Each damsel and each dame who her obeyed,

She tasked, together with herself, to sew,

With subtle toil; and with fine gold o’erlaid

A piece of silk of white and sable hue:

With this she trapt the horse; then chose a maid,

Old Callitrephia’s daughter, from the crew;

Whose mother whilom Bradamant had nursed;

A damsel she in all her secrets versed.

XXIX

How graven in her heart Rogero lies,

A thousand times to her she had confessed;

And had extolled above the deities

The manners, worth, and beauty be possessed.

“No better messenger could I devise,”

(She said, and called the damsel from the rest,)

“Nor have I one, Hippalca mine, more sage

And sure than three, to do my embassage.”

XXX

Hippalca was the attendant damsel hight.

“Go,” (says her lady, and describes the way)

And afterwards informs the maid aright

Of all which to Rogero she should say;

And why she at the abbey failed the knight,

Who must not to bad faith ascribe her stay,

But this to Fortune charge, that so decides,

Who, more than we ourselves, our conduct guides.

XXXI

She made the damsel mount upon a pad,

And put into her hand Frontino’s rein;

And, if she met with one so rude or mad,

Who to deprive her of the steed were fain,

Her to proclaim who was his owner, bade,

As that which might suffice to make him sane.

For she believed there was no cavalier,

But that Rogero’s name would make him fear.

XXXII

Of many and many things, whereof to treat

With good Rogero, in her stead, she showed;

Of which instructed well, her palfrey fleet

Hippalca stirred, nor longer there abode.

Through highway, field, and wood, a gloomy beat,

More than ten weary miles the damsel rode,

Ere any crossed her path on mischief bent,

Or even questioned witherward she went.

XXXIII

At noon of day, descending from a mount,

She in a streight and ill declivity,

Led by a dwarf, encountered Rodomont,

Who was afoot and harnessed cap-a-pee.

The Moor towards her raised his haughty front,

And straight blasphemed the eternal Hierarchy,

That horse, so richly trapped and passing fair,

He had not found in a knight-errant’s care.

XXXIV

On the first courser he should find, the knight

Had sworn a solemn oath his hands to lay:

This was the first, nor he on steed could light

Fairer or fitter; yet to take away

The charger from a maid were foul despite.

Doubtful he stands, but covets sore the prey;

Eyes and surveys him, and says often, “Why

Is not as well the courser’s master by?”

XXXV

“Ah! would be were!” to him the maid replied,

“For haply he would make thee change thy thought.

A better knight than thee the horse doth ride,

And vainly would his match on earth be sought.”

— “Who tramples thus on other’s fame?” — he cried;

And she — “Rogero” — said, as she was taught.

Then Rodomont — “The steed I may my own;

Since him a champion rides of such renown.

XXXVI

“If he, as you relate, be of such force,

That he surprises all beside in might,

I needs must pay the hire as well as horse;

And be this at the pleasure of the knight!

That I am Rodomont, to him discourse;

And, if indeed with me he lists to fight,

Me shall to find; in that I shine confest,

By my own light, in motion or at rest.

XXXVII

“I leave such vestige wheresoe’er I tread,

The volleyed thunder leaves not worse below.”

He had thrown back, over Frontino’s head,

The courser’s gilded reins, in saying so,

Backed him, and left Hippalca sore bested;

Who, bathed in tears, and goaded by her woe,

Cries shame on him, and threats the king with ill:

Rodomont hearkens not, and climbs the hill:

XXXVIII

Whither the dwarf conducts him on the trace

Of Doralice and Mandricardo bold.

Behind, Hippalca him in ceaseless chase,

Pursues with taunt and curses manifold.

What came of this is said in other place.

Turpin, by whom this history is told,

Here makes digression, and returns again

Thither, where faithless Pinnabel was slain.

XXXIX

Duke Aymon’s daughter scarce had turned away

From thence, who on her track in haste had gone,

Ere thither by another path, astray,

Zerbino came, with that deceitful crone,

And saw the bleeding body where it lay:

And, though the warrior was to him unknown,

As good and courteous, felt his bosom swell,

With pity at that cruel sight and fell.

XL

Dead lay Sir Pinnabel, and bathed in gore;

From whom such streams of blood profusely flow,

As were a cause for wonderment, had more

Swords than a hundred joined to lay him low.

A print of recent footsteps to explore

The cavalier of Scotland was not slow;

Who took the adventure, in the hope to read

Who was the doer of the murderous deed.

XLI

The hag to wait was ordered by the peer,

Who would return to her in little space.

She to the body of the count drew near,

And with fixt eye examined every place;

Who willed not aught, that in her sight was dear,

The body of the dead should vainly grace;

As one who, soiled with every other vice,

Surpassed all womankind in avarice.

XLII

If she in any manner could have thought,

Or hoped to have concealed the intended theft,

The bleeding warrior’s surcoat, richly wrought,

She would, together with his arms, have reft;

But at what might be safely hidden, caught,

And, grieved at heart, forewent the glorious weft.

Him of a beauteous girdle she undrest,

And this secured between a double vest.

XLIII

Zerbino after some short space came back,

Who vainly Bradamant had thence pursued

Through the green holt; because the beaten track

Was lost in many others in the wood;

And he (for daylight now began to lack)

Feared night should catch him ‘mid those mountains rude,

And with the impious woman thence, in quest

Of inn, from the disastrous valley prest.

XLIV

A spacious town, which Altaripa hight,

Journeying the twain, at two miles’ distance spy:

There stopt the pair, and halted for the night,

Which, at full soar, even now went up the sky:

Nor long had rested there ere, left and right,

They from the people heard a mournful cry;

And saw fast tears from every eyelid fall,

As if some cause of sorrow touched them all.

XLV

Zerbino asked the occasion, and ’twas said

Tidings had been to Count Anselmo brought,

That Pinnabel, his son, was lying dead

In a streight way between two mountains wrought.

Zerbino feigned surprise, and hung his head,

In fear lest he the assassin should be thought;

But well divined this was the wight he found

Upon his journey, lifeless on the ground.

XLVI

After some little time, the funeral bier

Arrives, ‘mid torch and flambeau, where the cries

Are yet more thick, and to the starry sphere

Lament and noise of smitten hands arise;

And faster and from fuller vein the tear

Waters all cheeks, descending from the eyes;

But in a cloud more dismal than the rest,

Is the unhappy father’s visage drest.

XLVII

While solemn preparation so was made

For the grand obsequies, with reverence due,

According to old use and honours paid,

In former age, corrupted by each new;

A proclamation of their lord allayed

Quickly the noise of the lamenting crew;

Promising any one a mighty gain

That should denounce by whom his son was slain.

XLVIII

From voice to voice, from one to other ear,

The loud proclaim they through the town declare;

Till this the wicked woman chanced to hear,

Who past in rage the tyger or the bear;

And hence the ruin of the Scottish peer,

Either in hatred, would the crone prepare,

Or were it she alone might boast to be,

In human form, without humanity;

XLIX

Or were it but to gain the promised prize; —

She to seek out the grieving county flew,

And, prefacing her tale in likely wise,

Said that Zerbino did the deed; and drew

The girdle forth, to witness to her lies;

Which straight the miserable father knew;

And on the woman’s tale and token built

A clear assurance of Zerbino’s guilt.

L

And, weeping, with raised hands, was heard to say,

He for his murdered son would have amends.

To block the hostel where Zerbino lay,

For all the town is risen, the father sends.

The prince, who deems his enemies away,

And no such injury as this attends,

In his first sleep is seized by Anselm’s throng,

Who thinks he has endured so foul a wrong.

LI

That night in prison, fettered with a pair

Of heavy letters, is Zerbino chained.

For before yet the skies illuminated are,

The wrongful execution is ordained;

And in the place will he be quartered, where

The deed was done for which he is arraigned.

No other inquest is on this received;

It is enough that so their lord believed.

LII

When, the next morn, Aurora stains with dye

Red, white, and yellow, the clear horizon,

The people rise, to punish (“Death!” their cry)

Zerbino for the crime he has not done:

They without order him accompany,

A lawless multitude, some ride, some run.

I’ the midst the Scottish prince, with drooping head,

Is, bound upon a little hackney, led.

LIII

But HE who with the innocent oft sides,

Nor those abandons who make him their stay,

For prince Zerbino such defence provides,

There is no fear that he will die today;

God thitherward renowned Orlando guides;

Whose coming for his safety paves the way:

Orlando sees beneath him on a plain

The youth to death conducted by the train.

LIV

With him was wended she, that in the cell,

Prisoned, Orlando found; that royal maid,

Child of Gallicia’s king, fair Isabel,

Whom chance into the ruffians’ power conveyed,

What time her ship she quitted, by the swell

Of the wild sea and tempest overlaid:

The damsel, who, yet nearer her heart-core

Than her own vital being, Zerbino wore.

LV

She had beneath Orlando’s convoy strayed,

Since rescued from the cave. When on the plain

The damsel saw the motley troop arrayed,

She asked Orlando what might be the train?

“I know not,” said the Count; and left the maid

Upon the height, and hurried towards the plain.

He marked Zerbino, and at the first sight

A baron of high worth esteemed the knight,

LVI

And asked him why and wherefore him they led

Thus captive, to Zerbino drawing near:

At this the doleful prince upraised his head,

And, having better heard the cavalier,

Rehearsed the truth; and this so well he said,

That he deserved the succour of the peer.

Well Sir Orlando him, by his reply,

Deemed innocent, and wrongly doomed to die.

LVII

And, after he had heard ’twas at the hest

Of Anselm, Count of Altaripa, done,

Was certain ’twas and outrage manifest,

Since nought but ill could spring from him; and one,

Moreover, was the other’s foe profest,

From ancient hate and enmity, which run

In Clermont and Maganza’s blood; a feud

With injuries, and death and shame pursued.

LVIII

Orlando to the rabble cried, “Untie

The cavalier, unless you would be slain.”

— “Who deals such mighty blows?” — one made reply,

That would be thought the truest of the train;

“Were he of fire who makes such bold defy,

We wax or straw, too haughty were the strain”:

And charged with that the paladin of France.

Orlando at the losel couched his lance.

LIX

The shining armour which the chief had rent

From young Zerbino but the night before,

And clothed himself withal, poor succour lent

Against Orlando in that combat sore.

Against the churl’s right cheek the weapon went:

It failed indeed his tempered helm to bore,

But such a shock he suffered in the strife,

As broke his neck, and stretched him void of life.

LX

All at one course, of other of the band,

With lance unmoved, he pierced the bosom through;

Left it; on Durindana laid his hand,

And broke into the thicket of the crew:

One head in twain he severed with the brand,

(While, from the shoulders lopt, another flew)

Of many pierced the throat; and in a breath

Above a hundred broke and put to death.

LXI

Above a third he killed, and chased the rest,

And smote, and pierced, and cleft, as he pursued.

Himself of helm or shield one dispossest;

One with spontoon or bill the champaign strewed

This one along the road, across it prest

A fourth; this squats in cavern or in wood.

Orlando, without pity, on that day

Lets none escape whom he has power to slay.

LXII

Of a hundred men and twenty, in that crew,

(So Turpin sums them) eighty died at least.

Thither Orlando finally withdrew,

Where, with a heart sore trembling in his breast,

Zerbino sat; how he at Roland’s view

Rejoiced, in verse can hardly be exprest:

Who, but that he was on the hackney bound,

Would at his feet have cast himself to ground.

LXIII

While Roland, after he had loosed the knight,

Helped him to don his shining arms again;

Stript from those serjeants’ captain, who had dight

Himself with the good harness, to his pain;

The prince on Isabella turned his sight,

Who had halted on the hill above the plain:

And, after she perceived the strife was o’er,

Nearer the field of fight her beauties bore.

LXIV

When young Zerbino at his side surveyed

The lady, who by him was held so dear;

The beauteous lady, whom false tongue had said

Was drowned, so often wept with many a tear,

As if ice at his heart-core had been laid,

Waxed cold, and some deal shook the cavalier;

But the chill quickly past, and he, instead,

Was flushed with amorous fire, from foot to head.

LXV

From quickly clipping her in his embrace,

Him reverence for Anglantes’ sovereign stayed;

Because he thought, and held for certain case,

That Roland was a lover of the maid;

So past from pain to pain; and little space

Endured the joy which he at first assayed.

And worse he bore she should another’s be,

Than hearing that the maid was drowned at sea.

LXVI

And worse he grieved, that she was with a knight

To whom he owed so much: because to wrest

The lady from his hand, was neither right,

Nor yet perhaps would prove an easy quest.

He, without quarrel, had no other wight

Suffered to part, of such a prize possest;

But would endure, Orlando (such his debt)

A foot upon his prostrate neck should set.

LXVII

The three in silence journey to a font,

Where they alight, and halt beside the well;

His helmet here undid the weary Count,

And made the prince too quit the iron shell.

The youth unhelmed, she sees her lover’s front,

And pale with sudden joy grows Isabel:

Then, changing, brightened like a humid flower,

When the warm sun succeeds to drenching shower.

LXVIII

And without more delay or scruple, prest

To cast her arms about her lover dear;

And not a word could draw-forth from her breast,

But bathed his neck and face with briny tear.

Orlando, who remarked the love exprest,

Needing no more to make the matter clear,

Could not but, by these certain tokens, see

The could no other but Zerbino be.

LXIX

When speech returned, ere yet the maiden well

Had dried her cheeks from the descending tear,

She only of the courtesy could tell

Late shown her by Anglantes’ cavalier.

The prince, who in one scale weighed Isabel,

Together with his life, esteemed as dear, —

Fell at Orlando’s feet and him adored,

As to two lives at once by him restored.

LXX

Proffers and thanks had followed, with a round

Of courtesies between the warlike pair,

Had they not heard the covered paths resound,

Which overgrown with gloomy foliage were.

Upon their heads the helmet, late unbound,

They quickly place, and to their steeds repair;

And, lo! a knight and maid arrive, ere well

The cavaliers are seated in the sell.

LXXI

This was the Tartar Mandricardo, who

In haste behind the paladin had sped,

To venge Alzirdo and Manilard, the two

Whom good Orlando’s valour had laid dead:

Though afterwards less eager to pursue,

Since he with him fair Doralice had led;

Whom from a hundred men, in plate and chain,

He, with a single staff of oak, had ta’en.

LXXII

Yet knew not that it was Anglantes’ peer

This while, of whom he had pursued the beat;

Though that he was a puissant cavalier

By certain signals was he taught to weet.

More than Zerbino him he eyed, and, near,

Perused the paladin from head to feet;

Then finding all the tokens coincide,

“Thou art the man I seek,” the paynim cried.

LXXIII

“ ’Tis now ten days,” to him the Tartar said,

“That thee I still have followed; so the fame

Had stung me, and in me such longing bred,

Which of thee to our camp of Paris came:

When, amid thousands by thy hand laid dead,

Scarce one alive fled thither, to proclaim

The mighty havoc made by thy good hand,

‘Mid Tremisena’s and Noritia’s band.

LXXIV

“I was not, as I knew, in following slow

Both to behold thee, and to prove thy might;

And by the surcoat o’er thine arms I know,

(Instructed of thy vest) thou art the knight:

And if such cognizance thou didst not show,

And, ‘mid a hundred, wert concealed from sight,

For what thou art thou plainly wouldst appear,

Thy worth conspicuous in thy haughty cheer.”

LXXV

“No one can say,” to him Orlando cried,

“But that a valiant cavalier thou art:

For such a brave desire can ill reside,

’Tis my assurance, in a humble heart.

Since thou wouldst see me, would that thou inside,

Couldst as without, behold me! I apart

Will lay me helm, that in all points thy will

And purpose of thy quest I may fulfil.

LXXVI

“But when thou well hast scanned me with thine eye,

To that thine other wish as well attend:

It yet remains for thee to satisfy

The want, which leads thee after me to wend;

That thou mayest mark if, in my valour, I

Agree with that bold cheer thou so commend.”

— “And now,” (exclaimed the Tartar), “for the rest!

For my first want is thoroughly redrest.”

LXXVII

Orlando, all this while, from head to feet,

Searches the paynim with inquiring eyes:

Both sides, and next the pommel of his seat

Surveys, yet neither mace nor tuck espies;

And asks how he the combat will repeat,

If his good lance at the encounter flies.

— “Take thou no care for that,” replied the peer;

“Thus into many have I stricken fear.

LXXVIII

“I have an oath in Heaven to gird no blade,

Till Durindana from the count be won.

Pursuing whom, I through each road here strayed,

With him to reckon for more posts than one.

If thou wilt please to hear, my oath I made

When on my head I placed this morion:

Which casque, with all the other arms I bear,

A thousand years ago great Hector’s were.

LXXIX

“To these good arms nought lacks beside the sword;

How it was stolen, to you I cannot say:

This now, it seems, is borne by Brava’s lord,

And hence is he so daring in affray.

Yet well I trust, if I the warrior board,

To make him render his ill-gotten prey.

Yet more; I seek the champion with desire

To avenge the famous Agrican, my sire.

LXXX

“Him this Orlando slew by treachery,

I wot, nor could have slain in other wise.”

The count could bear no more, and, “ ’Tis a lie!”

(Exclaims), “and whosoever says so, lies:

Him fairly did I slay; Orlando, I.

But what thou seekest Fortune here supplies;

And this the faulchion is, which thou has sought,

Which shall be thine if by thy valour bought.

LXXXI

“Although mine is the faulchion, rightfully,

Let us for it in courtesy contend;

Nor will I in this battle, that it be

More mine than thine, but to a tree suspend:

Bear off the weapon freely hence, if me

Thou kill or conquer.” As he made an end,

He Durindana from his belt unslung,

And in mid-field upon a sapling hung.

LXXXII

Already distant half the range of bow

Is from his opposite each puissant knight,

And pricks against the other, nothing slow

To slack the reins or ply the rowels bright.

Already dealt is either mighty blow,

Where the helm yields a passage to the sight.

As if of ice, the shattered lances fly,

Broke in a thousand pieces, to the sky.

LXXXIII

One and the other lance parforce must split,

In that the cavaliers refuse to bend;

The cavaliers, who in the saddle sit,

Returning with the staff’s unbroken end.

The warriors, who with steed had ever smit,

Now, as a pair of hinds in rage contend

For the mead’s boundary or river’s right,

Armed with two clubs, maintain a cruel fight.

LXXXIV

The truncheons which the valiant champions bear,

Fail in the combat, and few blows resist;

Both rage with mightier fury, here and there,

Left without other weapon than the fist;

With this the desperate foes engage, and, where

The hand can grapple, plate and mail untwist.

Let none desire, to guard himself from wrongs,

A heavier hammer or more holding tongs.

LXXXV

How can the Saracen conclude the fray

With honour, which he haughtily had sought?

’Twere forty to waste time in an assay

Where to himself more harm the smiter wrought

Than to the smitten: in conclusion, they

Closed, and the paynim king Orlando caught,

And strained against his bosom; what Jove’s son

Did by Antaeus, thinking to have done.

LXXXVI

Him griped athwart, he, in impetuous mood,

Would now push from him, now would closely strain;

And waxed so wroth that, in his heat of blood,

The Tartar little thought about his rein.

Firm in his stirrups self-collected stood

Roland, and watched his vantage to obtain;

He to the other courser’s forehead slipt

His wary hand, and thence the bridle stript.

LXXXVII

The Saracen assays with all his might

To choak, and from the sell his foeman tear:

With either knee Orlando grasps it tight,

Nor can the Tartar more him, here or there.

But with the straining of the paynim knight,

The girts which hold his saddle broken are.

Scarce conscious of his fall, Orlando lies,

With feet i’ the stirrups, tightening yet his thighs.

LXXXVIII

As falls a sack of armour, with such sound

Tumbled Orlando, when he prest the plain.

King Mandricardo’s courser, when he found

His head delivered from the guiding rein,

Made off with him, unheeding what the ground,

Stumbling through woodland, or by pathway plain,

Hither and tither, blinded by his fear;

And bore with him the Tartar cavalier.

LXXXIX

The beauteous Doralice, who sees her guide

So quit the field, — dismayed at his retreat,

And wonted in his succour to confide,

Her hackney drives behind his courser fleet:

The paynim rates the charger, in his pride,

And smites him oftentimes with hands and feet;

Threatening, as if he understood his lore;

And where he’d stop the courser, chafes him more.

XC

Not looking to his feet, by high or low,

The beast of craven kind, with headlong force

Three miles in rings had gone, and more would go,

But that into a fosse which stopt their course,

Not lined with featherbed or quilt below,

Tumble, reversed, the rider and his horse.

On the hard ground was Mandricardo thrown,

Yet neither spoiled himself, nor broke a bone:

XCI

Here stopt the horse; but him he could not guide,

Left without bit his motions to restrain.

Brimfull of rage and choler, at his side,

The Tartar held him, grappled by the mane.

“Put upon him” (to Mandricardo cried

His lady, Doralice) “my hackney’s rein,

Since for the bridle I have little use;

For gentle is my palfrey, reined or loose.”

XCII

The paynim deems it were discourtesy

To accept the proffer by the damsel made.

But his through other means a rein will be;

Since Fortune, who his wishes well appaid,

Made thitherward the false Gabrina flee,

After she young Zerbino had betrayed:

Who like a she-wolf fled, which, as she hies,

At distance hears the hounds and hunters’ cries.

XCIII

She had upon her back the gallant gear,

And the same youthful ornaments and vest,

Stript from the ill-taught damsel for her jeer,

That in her spoils the beldam might be drest,

And rode the horse that damsel backed whilere;

Who was among the choicest and the best.

Ere yet aware of her, the ancient dame

On Doralice and Mandricardo came.

XCIV

Stordilane’s daughter and the Tartar king

Laugh at the vest of youthful show and shape,

Upon that ancient woman, figuring

Like monkey, rather say, like grandam ape.

From her the Saracen designs to wring

The rein, and does the deed: upon the rape

Of the crone’s bridle, he, with angry cry,

Threatens and scares her horse, and makes him fly.

XCV

He flies and hurries through the forest gray

That ancient woman, almost dead with fear,

By hill and dale, by straight and crooked way,

By fosse and cliff, at hazard, there and here.

But it imports me not so much to say

Of her, that I should leave Anglantes’ peer;

Who, from annoyance of a foe released,

The broken saddle at his ease re-pieced.

XCVI

He mounts his horse, and watches long, before

Departing, if the foe will re-appear;

Nor seeing puissant Mandricardo more,

At last resolves in search of him to steer.

But, as one nurtured well in courtly lore,

From thence departed not the cavalier,

Till he with kind salutes, in friendly strain,

Fair leaves had taken of the loving twain.

XCVII

At his departure waxed Zerbino woe,

And Isabella wept for sorrow: they

Had wended with him, but the count, although

Their company was fair and good, said nay;

Urging for reason, nought so ill could show

In cavalier, as, when upon his way

To seek his foeman out, to take a friend,

Who him with arms might succour or defend.

XCVIII

Next, if they met the Saracen, before

They should encounter him, besought them say,

That he, Orlando, would for three days more.

Waiting him, in that territory stay:

But, after that, would seek the flags which bore

The golden lilies, and King Charles’ array.

That Mandricardo through their means might know,

If such his pleasure, where to find his foe.

XCIX

The lovers promised willingly to do

This, and whatever else he should command.

By different ways the cavaliers withdrew,

One on the right, and one on the left hand.

The count, ere other path he would pursue,

Took from the sapling, and replaced, his brand.

And, where he weened he might the paynim best

Encounter, thitherward his steed addrest.

C

The course in pathless woods, which, without rein,

The Tartar’s charger had pursued astray,

Made Roland for two days, with fruitless pain,

Follow him, without tidings of his way.

Orlando reached a rill of crystal vein,

On either bank of which a meadow lay;

Which, stained with native hues and rich, he sees,

And dotted o’er with fair and many trees.

c23-100

CI

The mid-day fervour made the shelter sweet

To hardy herd as well as naked swain;

So that Orlando, well beneath the heat

Some deal might wince, opprest with plate and chain.

He entered, for repose, the cool retreat,

And found it the abode of grief and pain;

And place of sojourn more accursed and fell,

On that unhappy day, than tongue can tell.

CII

Turning him round, he there, on many a tree,

Beheld engraved, upon the woody shore,

What as the writing of his deity

He knew, as soon as he had marked the lore.

This was a place of those described by me,

Whither ofttimes, attended by Medore,

From the near shepherd’s cot had wont to stray

The beauteous lady, sovereign of Catay.

CIII

In a hundred knots, amid those green abodes,

In a hundred parts, their cyphered names are dight;

Whose many letters are so many goads,

Which Love has in his bleeding hear-core pight.

He would discredit in a thousand modes,

That which he credits in his own despite;

And would parforce persuade himself, that rhind

Other Angelica than his had signed.

CIV

“And yet I know these characters,” he cried,

“Of which I have so many read and seen;

By her may this Medoro be belied,

And me, she, figured in the name, may mean.”

Feeding on such like phantasies, beside

The real truth, did sad Orlando lean

Upon the empty hope, though ill contented,

Which he by self-illusions had fomented.

CV

But stirred and aye rekindled it, the more

That he to quench the ill suspicion wrought,

Like the incautious bird, by fowler’s lore,

Hampered in net or line; which, in the thought

To free its tangled pinions and to soar,

By struggling, is but more securely caught.

Orlando passes thither, where a mountain

O’erhangs in guise of arch the crystal fountain.

CVI

Splay-footed ivy, with its mantling spray,

And gadding vine, the cavern’s entry case;

Where often in the hottest noon of day

The pair had rested, locked in fond embrace.

Within the grotto, and without it, they

Had oftener than in any other place

With charcoal or with chalk their names pourtrayed,

Or flourished with the knife’s indenting blade.

CVII

Here from his horse the sorrowing County lit,

And at the entrance of the grot surveyed

A cloud of words, which seemed but newly writ,

And which the young Medoro’s hand had made.

On the great pleasure he had known in it,

The sentence he in verses had arrayed;

Which in his tongue, I deem, might make pretence

To polished phrase; and such in ours the sense.

CVIII

“Gay plants, green herbage, rill of limpid vein,

And, grateful with cool shade, thou gloomy cave,

Where oft, by many wooed with fruitless pain,

Beauteous Angelica, the child of grave

King Galaphron, within my arms has lain;

For the convenient harbourage you gave,

I, poor Medoro, can but in my lays,

As recompence, for ever sing your praise.

CIX

“And any loving lord devoutly pray,

Damsel and cavalier, and every one,

Whom choice or fortune hither shall convey,

Stranger or native, — to this crystal run,

Shade, caverned rock, and grass, and plants, to say,

Benignant be to you the fostering sun

And moon, and may the choir of nymphs provide,

That never swain his flock may hither guide!”

CX

In Arabic was writ the blessing said,

Known to Orlando like the Latin tongue,

Who, versed in many languages, best read

Was in this speech; which oftentimes from wrong,

And injury, and shame, had saved his head,

What time he roved the Saracens among.

But let him boast not of its former boot,

O’erbalanced by the present bitter fruit.

CXI

Three times, and four, and six, the lines imprest

Upon the stone that wretch perused, in vain

Seeking another sense than was exprest,

And ever saw the thing more clear and plain;

And all the while, within his troubled breast,

He felt an icy hand his heart-core strain.

With mind and eyes close fastened on the block,

At length he stood, not differing from the rock.

CXII

Then well-nigh lost all feeling; so a prey

Wholly was he to that o’ermastering woe.

This is a pang, believe the experienced say

Of him who speaks, which does all griefs outgo.

His pride had from his forehead passed away,

His chin had fallen upon his breast below;

Nor found he, so grief barred each natural vent,

Moisture for tears, or utterance for lament.

CXIII

Stiffed within, the impetuous sorrow stays,

Which would too quickly issue; so to abide

Water is seen, imprisoned in the vase,

Whose neck is narrow and whose swell is wide;

What time, when one turns up the inverted base,

Towards the mouth, so hastes the hurrying tide,

And in the streight encounters such a stop,

It scarcely works a passage, drop by drop.

CXIV

He somewhat to himself returned, and thought

How possibly the thing might be untrue:

The some one (so he hoped, desired, and sought

To think) his lady would with shame pursue;

Or with such weight of jealously had wrought

To whelm his reason, as should him undo;

And that he, whosoe’er the thing had planned,

Had counterfeited passing well her hand.

CXV

With such vain hope he sought himself to cheat,

And manned some deal his spirits and awoke;

Then prest the faithful Brigliadoro’s seat,

As on the sun’s retreat his sister broke.

Nor far the warrior had pursued his beat,

Ere eddying from a roof he saw the smoke;

Heard noise of dog and kine, a farm espied,

And thitherward in quest of lodging hied.

CXVI

Languid, he lit, and left his Brigliador

To a discreet attendant: one undrest

His limbs, one doffed the golden spurs he wore,

And one bore off, to clean, his iron vest.

This was the homestead where the young Medore

Lay wounded, and was here supremely blest.

Orlando here, with other food unfed,

Having supt full of sorrow, sought his bed.

CXVII

The more the wretched sufferer seeks for ease,

He finds but so much more distress and pain;

Who every where the loathed hand-writing sees,

On wall, and door, and window: he would fain

Question his host of this, but holds his peace,

Because, in sooth, he dreads too clear, too plain

To make the thing, and this would rather shrowd,

That it may less offend him, with a cloud.

CXVIII

Little availed the count his self-deceit;

For there was one who spake of it unsought;

The sheperd-swain, who to allay the heat,

With which he saw his guest so troubled, thought:

The tale which he was wonted to repeat

— Of the two lovers — to each listener taught,

A history which many loved to hear,

He now, without reserve, ‘gan tell the peer.

CXIX

How at Angelica’s persuasive prayer,

He to his farm had carried young Medore,

Grievously wounded with an arrow; where,

In little space she healed the angry sore.

But while she exercised this pious care,

Love in her heart the lady wounded more,

And kindled from small spark so fierce a fire,

She burnt all over, restless with desire:

CXX

Nor thinking she of mightiest king was born,

Who ruled in the east, nor of her heritage,

Forced by too puissant love, had thought no scorn

To be the consort of a poor foot-page.

— His story done, to them in proof was borne

The gem, which, in reward for harbourage,

To her extended in that kind abode,

Angelica, at parting, had bestowed.

CXXI

A deadly axe was this unhappy close,

Which, at a single stroke, lopt off the head;

When, satiate with innumerable blows,

That cruel hangman Love his hate had fed.

Orlando studied to conceal his woes;

And yet the mischief gathered force and spread,

And would break out parforce in tears and sighs,

Would he, or would be not, from mouth and eyes.

CXXII

When he can give the rein to raging woe,

Alone, by other’s presence unreprest,

From his full eyes the tears descending flow,

In a wide stream, and flood his troubled breast.

‘Mid sob and groan, he tosses to and fro

About his weary bed, in search of rest;

And vainly shifting, harder than a rock

And sharper than a nettle found its flock.

CXXIII

Amid the pressure of such cruel pain,

It past into the wretched sufferer’s head,

That oft the ungrateful lady must have lain,

Together with her leman, on that bed:

Nor less he loathed the couch in his disdain,

Nor from the down upstarted with less dread,

Than churl, who, when about to close his eyes,

Springs from the turf, if he a serpent spies.

CXXIV

In him, forthwith, such deadly hatred breed

That bed, that house, that swain, he will not stay

Till the morn break, or till the dawn succeed,

Whose twilight goes before approaching day.

In haste, Orlando takes his arms and steed,

And to the deepest greenwood wends his way.

And, when assured that he is there alone,

Gives utterance to his grief in shriek and groan.

CXXV

Never from tears, never from sorrowing,

He paused; nor found he peace by night and day:

He fled from town, in forest harbouring,

And in the open air on hard earth lay.

He marvelled at himself, how such a spring

Of water from his eyes could stream away,

And breath was for so many sobs supplied;

And thus ofttimes, amid his mourning, cried.

CXXVI

“These are no longer real tears which rise,

And which I scatter from so full a vein.

Of tears my ceaseless sorrow lacked supplies;

They stopt when to mid-height scarce rose my pain.

The vital moisture rushing to my eyes,

Driven by the fire within me, now would gain

A vent; and it is this which I expend,

And which my sorrows and my life will end.

CXXVII

“No; these, which are the index of my woes,

These are not sighs, nor sighs are such; they fail

At times, and have their season of repose:

I feel, my breast can never less exhale

Its sorrow: Love, who with his pinions blows

The fire about my heart, creates this gale.

Love, by what miracle does thou contrive,

It wastes not in the fire thou keep’st alive?

CXXVIII

“I am not — am not what I seem to sight:

What Roland was is dead and under ground,

Slain by that most ungrateful lady’s spite,

Whose faithlessness inflicted such a wound.

Divided from the flesh, I am his sprite,

Which in this hell, tormented, walks its round,

To be, but in its shadow left above,

A warning to all such as thrust in love.”

CXXIX

All night about the forest roved the count,

And, at the break of daily light, was brought

By his unhappy fortune to the fount,

Where his inscription young Medoro wrought.

To see his wrongs inscribed upon that mount,

Inflamed his fury so, in him was nought

But turned to hatred, phrensy, rage, and spite;

Nor paused he more, but bared his faulchion bright;

CXXX

Cleft through the writing; and the solid block,

Into the sky, in tiny fragments sped.

Wo worth each sapling and the caverned rock,

Where Medore and Angelica were read!

So scathed, that they to shepherd or to flock

Thenceforth shall never furnish shade or bed.

And that sweet fountain, late so clear and pure,

From such tempestuous wrath was ill secure.

CXXXI

For he turf, stone, and trunk, and shoot, and lop,

Cast without cease into the beauteous source;

Till, turbid from the bottom to the top,

Never again was clear the troubled course.

At length, for lack of breath, compelled to stop,

(When he is bathed in sweat, and wasted force,

Serves not his fury more) he falls, and lies

Upon the mead, and, gazing upward, sighs.

CXXXII

Wearied and woe-begone, he fell to ground,

And turned his eyes toward heaven; nor spake he aught.

Nor ate, nor slept, till in his daily round

The golden sun had broken thrice, and sought

His rest anew; nor ever ceased his wound

To rankle, till it marred his sober thought.

At length, impelled by phrensy, the fourth day,

He from his limbs tore plate and mail away.

CXXXIII

Here was his helmet, there his shield bestowed;

His arms far off; and, farther than the rest,

His cuirass; through the greenwood wide was strowed

All his good gear, in fine; and next his vest

He rent; and, in his fury, naked showed

His shaggy paunch, and all his back and breast.

And ‘gan that phrensy act, so passing dread,

Of stranger folly never shall be said.

CXXXIV

So fierce his rage, so fierce his fury grew,

That all obscured remained the warrior’s sprite;

Nor, for forgetfulness, his sword he drew,

Or wonderous deeds, I trow, had wrought the knight:

But neither this, nor bill, nor axe to hew,

Was needed by Orlando’s peerless might.

He of his prowess gave high proofs and full,

Who a tall pine uprooted at a pull.

CXXXV

He many others, with as little let

As fennel, wall-wort-stem, or dill, up-tore;

And ilex, knotted oak, and fir upset,

And beech, and mountain-ash, and elm-tree hoar.

He did what fowler, ere he spreads his net,

Does, to prepare the champaigne for his lore,

By stubble, rush, and nettle-stalk; and broke,

Like these, old sturdy trees and stems of oak.

CXXXVI

The shepherd swains, who hear the tumult nigh,

Leaving their flocks beneath the greenwood tree,

Some here some there across the forest hie,

And hurry thither, all, the cause to see.

— But I have reached such point, my history,

If I o’erpass this bound, may irksome be;

And I my story will delay to end,

Rather than by my tediousness offend.

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