Orlando Furioso, by Lodovico Ariosto

Canto 26

Argument

Of mighty matters, sculptured in a font,

Does Malagigi to his comrades tell:

On them come Mandricardo and Rodomont,

And forthwith battle follows fierce and fell.

Discord goes scattering quarrel and affront

Amid the crew: but whither, forced by spell,

Fair Doralice upon her palfrey speeds,

The Tartar king, and Sarzan, turn their steeds.

I

In former ages courteous ladies were,

Who worshipt virtue, and not worldly gear.

Women in this degenerate age are rare,

To whom aught else but sordid gain is dear;

But they who real goodness make their care,

Nor with the avaricious many steer,

In this frail life are worthy to be blest,

— Held glorious and immortal when at rest.

II

Bradamant well would deathless praise inherit,

Who nor in wealth nor empire took delight;

But in Rogero’s worth, excelling spirit,

In his unbounded gentlesse; and aright

For this did good Duke Aymon’s daughter merit

To be beloved of such a valorous knight;

Who, what might be for miracles received,

In future ages, for her sake achieved.

III

He, with those two of Clermont, as whilere

To you I in the former canto said,

I say with Richardet and Aldigier,

Was gone, to give the prisoned brethren aid:

I told, as well how they a cavalier

Of haughty look approaching had surveyed,

Who bore that noble bird, by fiery birth

Renewed, and ever single upon earth.

IV

When those three of that warrior were espied,

Poised on the wing, as if about to smite,

He fain by proof their prowess would have tried,

And if their semblance tallied with their might.

“Is there, among you, one,” the stranger cried,

“Will prove upon me, which is best in fight,

With lance or sword, till one to ground be cast,

While in the sell his foe is seated fast?”

V

“ — I, at your choice,” said Aldigier, “were fain

To flourish faulchion, or to tilt with spear;

But this with feat, which, if you here remain,

Yourself may witness, so would interfere,

That for the present parley time with pain

Suffices, and yet less for the career.

Six hundred men, or more, we here attend,

With whom we must today in arms contend.

VI

“Two of our own to rescue from their foes,

And free from chains, us Love and Pity sway.”

He to that stranger next the reason shows

Why thus in steel their bodies they array.

“So just is the excuse which you oppose,”

— He answered — “that I ill should this gainsay,

And hold you surely for three cavaliers

That seldom upon earth will find their peers.

VII

“With you a lance or two I would have crost

To prove how great your prowess in the field;

But, since ’tis shown me at another’s cost,

Forego the joust, and to your reasons yield.

Warmly I pray your leave against that host,

To join with your good arms this helm and shield;

And hope, if suffered of your band to be,

No worthless comrade shall you find in me.”

VIII

Some one, meseems, may crave the stranger’s name,

Who thus the champions on their road delayed,

And so to partnership in arms laid claim

With those three warriors, for the strife arrayed:

SHE— style no more a man that martial dame —

Marphisa was; that on Zerbino laid

The task to bear about, against his will,

Ribald Gabrina, prone to every ill.

IX

The two of Clermont and their bold compeer

Gladly received her succour in their cause,

Whom certes they believed a cavalier,

And not a damsel, and not what she was.

A banner was espied by Aldigier

And shown the others, after little pause,

Which by the wavering wind was blown about,

And round about it ranged a numerous rout.

X

And when, now nearer, the advancing crew

Were better marked in Moorish habit stoled,

For Saracens the stranger band they knew;

And they upon two sorry jades behold,

I’ the middle of that troop, the prisoners, who

Were to the false Maganza to be sold.

Marphisa cries, “Why is the feast delayed,

When lo! the guests are here, for whom we stayed?”

XI

— “Not all,” Rogero said, “Of the array

Invited, lacks as yet a numerous part:

A solemn festival is held today,

And we. to grace it more, use every art:

Yet they can now but little more delay.”

While thus they parley, they from other part

Descry the treacherous Maganzese advance;

So all was ready to begin the dance.

XII

They of Maganza from one quarter steer,

And laden mules beneath their convoy go,

Bearing vest, gold, and other costly gear.

On the other side, mid faulchion, spear, and bow,

Approached the captive two with doleful cheer,

Who found themselves awaited by the foe;

And false and impious Bertolagi heard,

As with the Moorish captain he conferred.

XIII

Nor Buovo’s nor Duke Aymon’s valiant son

Can hold, when that false Maganzese they view;

Against him both with rested lances run:

He falls the victim of those furious two,

Through belly and through pummel pierced by one,

And by the other, in mid visage, through

His bleeding cheeks: may like disastrous fate

O’erwhelm all evil doers, soon or late!

XIV

Marphisa with Rogero moved her horse

At this, nor waited other trumpet-strain;

Nor broke her lance in her impetuous course,

Till in succession three had prest the plain.

A mark well worthy fierce Rogero’s force,

The paynim leader in a thought is slain;

And with him, pierced by the same weapon, go

Two others to the gloomy realms below.

XV

’Twas hence a foul mistake the assaulted made;

It caused their utter loss, and ruined all:

They of Maganza deemed themselves betrayed

By the infidels, upon their leader’s fall:

On the other side, so charged with hostile blade,

The Moors those Maganzese assassins call;

And, with fierce slaughter, either angry horde

‘Gan bend bow, and brandish lance and sword.

XVI

Rogero, charging this, or the other band,

Slays ten or twenty, shifting his career;

No fewer by the warlike damsel’s hand

Are slaughtered and extinguished, there and here:

As many men as feel the murderous brand

Are from the saddle seen to disappear:

Before it vanish cuirass, helms and shields,

As the dry wood to fire in forest yields.

XVII

If ever you remember to have viewed,

Or heard, — what time the wasps divided are,

And all the winged college is at feud,

Mustering their swarms for mischief in mid air, —

The greedy swallow swoop amid that brood,

To mangle and devour, and kill, and tear,

You must imagine so, on either part

The bold Rogero and Marphisa dart.

XVIII

Not so Sir Richardet and Aldigier,

Varied the dance between those squadrons twain;

For, heedless of the Moors, each cavalier

Had but an eye to false Maganza’s train.

The brother of Rinaldo, Charles’s peer,

Much courage added to much might and main;

And these were now redoubled by the spite,

Which against false Maganza warmed the knight.

XIX

This cause made him who in his fury shared,

Good Buovo’s bastard, seems a lion fell;

He, without pause, each trusty helmet pared

With his good blade, or crushed it like the shell

Of brittle egg: and who would not have dared —

Would not have shown a Hector’s worth as well,

Having two such companions in the stower,

Of warlike wights the very choice and flower?

XX

Marphisa, waging all the while the fight,

On her companions often turned to gaze,

And as she marked their rivalry in might,

Admiring, upon all bestowed her praise;

But when she on Rogero fixed her sight,

Deemed him unparalleled; and in amaze,

At times believed that Paladin was Mars,

Who left his heaven to mix in mortal wars.

XXI

She marvels at the champion’s horrid blows;

She marvels how in vain they never fell.

The iron, smit by Balisarda shows

Like paper, not like stubborn plate and shell.

To pieces helm and solid corslet goes,

And men are severed, even to the sell;

Whom into equal parts those strokes divide,

Half dropt on this, and half on the other side.

XXII

With the same downright stroke, he overbore

The horse and rider, bleeding in the dust;

The heads of others from their shoulders bore,

And parted from the hips the bleeding bust.

He often at a blow cleft five and more;

And — but I doubt who hears me might distrust

What of a seeming falsehood bears the impress —

I would say more; but I parforce say less.

XXIII

Good Turpin, he who knows that he tells true,

And leaves men to believe what they think right,

Says of Rogero wondrous things, which you

Hearing related, would as falsehoods slight.

Thus, with Marphisa matched, that hostile crew

Appears like ice, and she like burning light.

Nor her Rogero with less marvel eyes,

That she had marked his valour with surprise.

XXIV

As she had Mars in bold Rogero seen,

Perhaps Bellona he had deemed the maid,

If for a woman he had known that queen,

Who seemed the contrary, in arms arrayed;

And haply emulation had between

The pair ensued, by whom with cruel blade

Most deadly signs of prowess should be shown,

Mid that vile herd, on sinew, flesh and bone.

XXV

To rout each hostile squadron, filled with dread,

Sufficed the soul and valour of the four;

Nor better arms remained for them who fled

Than the sharp goads which on their heels they wore.

Happy was he with courser well bested!

By trot or amble they set little store;

And he who had no steed, here learned, dismayed,

How wretched is the poor foot-soldier’s trade.

XXVI

The conqueror’s prize remained both field and prey;

Nor was there footman left nor muleteer;

The Moor took this, Maganza took that way;

One leaves the prisoners, and one leaves the gear.

With visage glad, and yet with heart more gay,

The four united each captive cavalier;

Nor were less diligent to free from chains

The prisoned pages, and unload the wains.

XXVII

Besides good quantity of silver fine,

Wrought into different vessels, with a store

Of feminine array, of fair design,

Embroidered round about with choicest lore,

And suit of Flemish tapestry, framed to line

Royal apartments, wrought with silk and ore —

— They, ‘mid more costly things in plenty spread —

Discovered flasks of wine, and meat and bread.

XXVIII

When now the conquering troop their temples bare,

All see they have received a damsel’s aid,

Known by her curling locks of golden hair,

And delicate and beauteous face displayed:

Her the knights honoured much, and to declare

Her name, so well deserving glory, prayed;

Nor she, that ever was of courteous mood

Among her friends, their instances withstood.

XXIX

With viewing her they cannot sate their eyes,

Who in the battle such had her espied,

She speaks but with the Child, but him descries;

None prizes, values none, ‘twould seem, beside.

Meanwhile that ready spread a banquet lies,

To them is by the servants notified.

This they had served about a neighbouring fountain,

Screened from the sun by an o’ershadowing mountain.

XXX

This spring was one of those four fountains rare,

Of those in France produced by Merlin’s sleight;

Encompassed round about with marble fair,

Shining and polished, and then milk more white.

There in the stone choice figures chisseled were,

By that magician’s godlike labour dight;

Save voice was wanting, these you might have thought

Were living and with nerve and spirit fraught.

XXXI

Here, to appearance, from the forest prest

A cruel Beast and hideous to the eye,

With teeth of wolf, an ass’s head and crest,

A carcass with long famine lean and dry,

And lion’s claws; a fox in all the rest:

Which seemed to ravage France and Italy,

And Spain and England’s desolated strands,

Europe and Asia, and in fine all lands.

XXXII

The beast the low and those of proudest port

Had slain or maimed throughout this earthly ball;

Yea, fiercest seemed on those of noble sort,

Sovereign and satrap, prince and peer, to fall;

And made most havoc in the Roman court;

For it had slaughtered Pope and Cardinal:

Had filled St. Peter’s beauteous seat with scathe,

And brought foul scandal on the HOLY FAITH.

XXXIII

Whate’er she touches, wall or rampire steep,

Goes to the ground’ where’er the monster wends,

Each fortress opens; neither castle-keep,

Nor city from her rage its wealth defends.

Honours divine as well that Beast would reap,

It seems (while the besotted rabble bends)

And claim withal, as to its keeping given,

The sacred keys which open Hell and Heaven.

XXXIV

Approaching next, is seen a cavalier,

His temples circled with imperial bay;

Three youths with him in company appear,

With golden lilies wrought in their array:

A lion seems against that monster drear

To issue, with the same device as they:

The name of these are on the marble read,

Some on their skirt, some written overhead.

XXXV

Of those who so against Beast advance,

One to the hilt has in his life-blood dyed

His faulchion, Francis styled the first of France;

With Austrian Maximilian at his side:

In one, who gores his gullet with the lance,

The emperor Charles the fifth is signified:

Henry the eighth of England is he hight,

Who in the monster’s breast a dart has pight.

XXXVI

The TENTH, in writing, on his back displayed

The Lion, who that Beast is seen to hold

By both his ears, and him so well has bayed,

That thither troop assistants manifold.

‘Twould seem the world all fear aside has laid;

And, in amendment of their errors old,

Thitherward nobles troop, but these are few;

And so that hideous Beast those hunters slew.

XXXVII

In wonder stood long time that warlike train,

Desirous, as the storied work they traced,

To know by hands of whom that Beast was slain,

Which had so many smiling lands defaced,

The names unknown to them, though figured plain

Upon the marble which that fountain cased:

They one another prayed, if any guessed

That story, he would tell it to the rest.

XXXVIII

Vivian on Malagigi turned his eyes,

Who listening stood this while, yet spake he nought.

“With thee,” he cried, “to tell the meaning lies,

Who are they, by whose darts and lances dies

That shouldst by what I see in this be taught:

The hideous monster, that to bay is brought?”

— And Malagigi — “Hitherto their glory

No author has consigned to living story.

XXXIX

“The chiefs whose names are graved upon the stone,

Not yet have moved upon this worldly stage;

But will within seven hundred years be known,

To the great honour of a future age.

What time king Arthur filled the British throne,

This fountain Merlin made, enchanter sage;

Who things to come upon the marble fair

Made sculpture by a cunning artist’s care.

XL

“This Beast, when weights and measures first were found,

Came out of nether hell; when on the plain,

Common before, men fixed the landmark’s bound,

And fashioned written pacts with jealous pain;

Yet walked not every where, at first, her round:

Unvisited she left yet many a reign:

Through diverse places in our time she wends;

But the vile rabble and the crowd offends.

XLI

“From the beginning even to our day,

Aye has that monster grown, and aye will grow;

And till much time be past will grow alway:

Was never mightier, nor worse cause of woe.

That Python, oft the theme of ancient lay,

So passing wonderful and fierce in show,

Came not by half this loathsome monster nigh,

In all its foulness and deformity.

XLII

“Dread desolation shall it make; nor place

Will unpolluted or untainted be;

And you in the mysterious sculptured trace

But little of its foul iniquity.

The world, when weary of imploring grace,

Those worthy peers (whose names you sculptured see,

And which shall blazing carbuncle outshine),

To succour in its utmost need combine.

XLIII

“No one shall more that cruel beast molest

Than Francis, who the realm of France will steer,

Who justly shall be forward in this quest,

Whom none shall go beyond, whom few shall peer

Since he in splendour, as in all the rest,

Wanting in worth, will many make appear

Who whilom perfect seemed; so fade and yield

All lesser glories to the sun revealed.

XLIV

“In the first year of his successful reign,

The crown yet ill secure upon his front,

He threads the Alps, and makes their labour vain,

Who would against his arms maintain the Mount.

Impelled by generous and by just disdain,

The unavenged as yet is that affront,

Which a French army suffered from their rage,

Who poured from beast-cote, field, and pasturage:

XLV

“And thence shall into the rich Lombard plain

Descend, with all the flower of France, and so

Shall break the Switzer, that henceforth in vain

Would he uplift his horn against the foe.

To the sore scandal of the Church and Spain,

And to the Florentine’s much scathe and woe,

By him that famous castle shall be quelled,

Which inexpugnable whilere was held.

XLVI

“In quelling it his honoured faulchion, more

Than other arms, availing shall be found;

Which first that cruel Beast to death will gore,

The foul destroyer of each country round:

Parforce will every standard fly before

That conquering faulchion, or be cast to ground:

Nor, stormed by it, will rampart, fosse, or wall,

Secure the city, they surround, from fall.

XLVII

“Imbued with every generous quality,

Which can in great commander be combined,

— Prudence like his who won Thrasymenae

And Trebbia’s field, with Caesar’s daring mind,

And Alexander’s fortune, him I see;

Without which all designs are mist and wind;

Withal, so passing liberal, I in none

Mark his example or his parragon.”

XLVIII

So Malagigi to his comrades said,

And moved in them desire some name to hear

Of others, who had laid that monster dead,

Which to slay others had been used whilere.

Among the first Bernardo’s name was read,

Much vaunted in the writing of the Seer:

Who said, “Through him as known as Bibbiena

As her own neighbour Florence and Siena.

XLIX

“More forward in this chase shall no one show

Than Sigismond, than Lewis, and than John;

Each to that hideous beast a cruel foe;

One a Gonzaga, one of Arragon,

And one a Salviati: with them go

Francis Gonzaga and Frederick his son:

Brother and son-inlaw, their aid afford;

One chief Ferrara’s, one Urbino’s lord.

L

“Of one of these the son, Sir Guidobald,

Will not by sire, or other, distanced be:

With Ottobon de Flisco, Sinibald

Chases the Beast, both striving equally:

Lewis de Gazolo its neck has galled

With one of those keen darts, Apollo’s fee,

Given with his bow, what time as well his glaive,

The god of war, to gird that warrior, gave.

LI

“Two Hercules and two Hippolyti

Of Este, a Hercules and Hippolyte

Of the Gonzagas’ and the Medici,

Hunt and fatigue the monster in his flight:

Nor Julian lets his good son pass him by;

Nor bold Ferrant his brother; nor less wight

Is Andrew Doria; nor by any one

Is Francis Sforza in the chase outdone.

LII

“Of good Avalo’s glorious lineage bred,

Two chiefs that mountain for their bearing show,

Which, hiding him, from dragon-feet to head,

The wicked Typheus seems to keep below.

‘Mid those combined, to lay the monster dead,

Shall none more forward than this couple go:

Him Francis of Pescara names the text;

Alphonso, hight of Guasto, is the next.

LIII

“But where leave I Gonsalvo Ferrant, who

Is held in such esteem, the pride of Spain?

So praised by Malagigi, that him few

Equal among the worthies of that train.

William, surnamed of Monferrato, view

‘Mid those that have the hideous monster slain:

But these are few compared with numbers round,

Whom that despiteous Beast shall kill or wound.”

LIV

To converse gay the friends themselves addrest,

And seemly pastimes, when their meal was done,

Through the hot noontide, and fine carpets prest,

‘Mid shrubs, by which the limpid river run.

Vivian and Malagigi, that the rest

Might be more tranquil, watched with armour on;

When unaccompanied they saw a dame,

Who quickly towards their place of shelter came;

LV

Hippalca she; from whom was torn away

Frontino, that good horse, by Rodomont:

Him had she long pursued the former day,

And now with prayer, now followed with affront.

Which booting nought, she had retraced her way,

To seek Rogero out in Agrismont;

And, how I know not, heard upon her round,

He here with Richardetto would be found.

LVI

And, for to her well known was that repair,

Used by her often, she herself addrest

Towards the fount, and in that quarter fair

Found him, and in what manner, was exprest;

But like embassadress, who — wise and ware —

Better than was enjoined performs a hest,

When Richardetto she beheld, made show

As if she good Rogero did not know.

LVII

She turned her wholly to Sir Richardet,

As bound direct to him; and, on his side,

He who well knew her, straight uprose and met,

And asked that damsel whitherward she hied.

Hippalca, with her eyes yet red and wet

From her long weeping, sighing deeply, cried,

But cried aloud, that young Rogero, near

The warrior she addrest, her tale might hear:

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LVIII

“I from Mount Alban with a courser sped;

(So your good sister had commanded me)

A horse much loved by her, and highly bred;

Frontino is yclept that charger free;

And him I more than thirty miles had led

Towards Marseilles, where she designed to be

Within few days; by her enjoined to wend

Thither, and her arrival there attend.

LIX

“I in the sure belief pursued my course,

Was none so stout of heart, if I should say

How Sir Rinaldo’s sister owned the horse,

He would presume to take that steed away.

But vain was my design; for him parforce

A Saracen took from me yesterday:

Nor, when to him his master’s name I read,

Will that bold robber render back the steed.

LX

“Him I today and all the day before

Have prayed, and prayer and menace proving vain,

Aye cursing him and execrating sore,

Have left at little distance; where, with pain,

Both to his courser and himself, the Moor,

As best he can, a combat does maintain

Against a knight, who him so hard has prest,

I trust my injury shall be redrest.”

LXI

At this Rogero, leaping on his feet,

Who scarcely had endured the whole to hear,

To Richardetto turned; and, as a meet

Guerdon for his good deed, the cavalier

Did, with beseechings infinite, entreat

To let him singly with that damsel steer,

Until she showed the paynim, who by force

Had wrested from her hands that goodly horse.

LXII

Richardet (though it seems discourtesy

To yield to other champion that emprize,

Which by himself should terminated be)

Yet with Rogero’s earnest suit complies;

Who takes farewell of that good company,

And with the damsel on her journey hies.

And leaves those others, whom his feats confound,

Not merely lost in wonder, but astoud.

LXIII

To him Hippalca said, when she apart

Had drawn him to some distance from the rest,

She was dispatched by her that in her heart

Bore of his worth the image so imprest;

— And added, without using farther art,

All that her lady had to him addrest;

And if she told another tale whilere,

Of Richardetto she was then in fear.

LXIV

She added how the author of that deed

Had also said to her with mickle pride;

“Because I know Rogero owns the steed,

More willingly I take him from his guide.

If he would repossess the courser, read

To him what I have no desire to hide,

I am that Rodomont, whose martial worth

Scatters its splendour through this ample earth.”

LXV

Listening, the visage of the youthful knight

Showed with what rage his heart was in a flame,

As well as that the horse was his delight;

As well upon account of whence it came;

And also that ’twas reft in his despite;

He sees dishonour will ensue and blame,

Save he from Rodomont redeems the prey,

And with a due revenge that wrong repay.

LXVI

With him, without repose, the damsel rides,

Who with his foe would bring him front to front;

And thither journies where the road divides,

And one branch cuts the plain, one climbs the mount,

And either pathway to that valley guides,

Where she had newly left King Rodomont,

The mountain track was short, but trod with pain;

That other longer far, but smooth and plain.

LXVII

Hippalca’s ardour to retrieve the prey,

And upon Rodomont’s avenge the wrong,

Incites that maid the mountain to assay;

By which (as said) the journey was less long:

While Mandricardo, Rodomont, and they

Of whom I erst made mention in my song,

That easier track across the level hold;

And thus encounter not Rogero bold.

LXVIII

Until King Agramant shall succoured be,

Suspended is their quarrel (in what wise

You know), and in the champions’ company

Doralice, cause of all their discord, hies.

Now hear the upshot of this history!

Their way directly by that fountain lies,

Beside whose margin are in pastime met

Marphisa and Aldigier and Richardet.

LXIX

Marphisa had, at her companions’ prayer,

Cloathed her in female ornaments and vest,

Of those, which by Maganza’s traitour were

Late to Lanfusa, in full trust, addrest;

And, though the appearance of that maid was rare

Without her corslet, casque and all the rest,

— At their entreaty, these for once laid down —

She deigned to seem a maid and donned the gown.

LXX

As soon as Mandricardo saw her face,

In trust that, could he win her in affray,

He would that maid, in recompense and place

Of Doralice, to Rodomont convey;

As if Love trafficked in such contracts base,

And lover could his lady change away,

Nor yet with reason at the event be pained,

If he in losing one another gained.

LXXI

Hence with a damsel to provide the peer,

That he himself the other may retain;

Deeming her worthy any cavalier,

He would by force of arms the maid obtain;

And, as if he could suddenly hold dear

This maid as that, on him bestow the gain;

And all of those, whom he about her spied,

Forthwith to joust and single fight defied.

LXXII

Vivian and Malagigi (who were dight

In arms, as guard and surety for the rest,)

One and the other champion — prompt for fight,

Rose lightly from the herbage which they prest,

Deeming they had to joust with either knight;

But Rodomont, who came not on this quest,

No motion made as he a course would run;

So that they had to tourney but with one.

LXXIII

Sir Vivian is the first who moves his horse,

With mighty heart, and lays his weapon low;

And he, that Tartar king, renowned for force,

With greater puissance meets the coming foe.

His lance each warrior levels in the course

Where he bests trusts to plant the furious blow.

Vainly Sir Vivian’s spear the casque offends;

Nor throws that paynim knight, nor even bends.

LXXIV

That Tartar’s harder weapon makes the shield

Of Vivian, at their onset, fly like grass;

And, tumbling from his saddle on the field,

Extends the champion amid flowers and grass.

To run his chance Sir Malagigi, steeled,

Did to his brother’s succour quickly pass;

But (such that warrior’s hurry to be near)

Rather accompanied, than venged the peer.

LXXV

The other of those brethren armed before

His cousin, and had backed his courser wight;

And, having first defied, encountered sore,

Spurring with flowing rein, the stranger knight.

Against the tempered helm that pagan wore

Sounded the blow, an inch below the sight:

Heaven-high the truncheon flew, in fragments broke,

But the stout pagan winced not for the stroke.

LXXVI

Him on the left side smote that paynim peer,

And (for the blow was with huge force designed)

Little his shield, and less his iron gear,

Availed, which opened like the yielding rhind:

The weapon pierced his shoulder; Aldigier

Now right now left upon his horse inclined;

Then him, ‘mid grass and flowers, his comrades view,

With arms of crimson, face of pallid, hue.

LXXVII

Next Richardetto comes, and for the blow

Intended, levels such a mighty lance,

He showed himself, as he was wont to show,

Worthy to be a paladin of France;

And has stamped signs of this upon the foe.

If he had warred on him with equal chance;

But prostrate rolled, encumbered by his steed;

Nor fell the courser through his lord’s misdeed.

LXXVIII

When knight appeared not on the other side,

Who should in joust the paynim king affront,

He thought the damsel was his prize, and hied

Thither, where she was seated by the fount.

And — “Lady, you are mine,” the Tartar cried,

“Save other champion in your succour mount;

Nor can you make denial or excuse,

Since such the right of war and common use.”

LXXIX

Marphisa raised her face with haughty cheer,

And answered him: “Thy judgment wanders far;

I will concede thy sentence would be clear,

Concluding I am thine by right of war,

If either were my lord or cavalier

Of those, by thee unhorsed in bloody jar:

Nor theirs am I, nor other’s, but my own,

Who wins me, wins me from myself alone.

LXXX

“I too with lance and sword do doughty deed,

And more than one good knight on earth have laid.

— Give me,” she cried, “my armour and my steed.”

And readily her squires that hest obeyed:

Then in her waistcoat stood, of flowing weed

Despoiled, with well-knit from and charms displayed;

And in all points (such strength she shewed and grace)

Resembled heavenly Mars, except her face.

LXXXI

The damsel donned her sword, when armed all o’er,

And on her courser leapt with nimble spring;

And, right and left, she made him, thrice or more

Poised on his haunches, turn in narrow ring.

And, levelling the sturdy lance she bore,

Defied, and next assailed, the Tartar king.

So combating with Peleus’ son, of yore,

Penthesilaea warred on Trojan shore.

LXXXII

Like brittle crystal, in that proud career,

The weapons at the rest to pieces went;

Yet neither of those warriors, ‘twould appear,

Backwards one inch at their encounter bent.

Marphisa, who would willingly be clear

What of a closer fight would be the event,

For a new combat with the paynim lord,

Wheeled, to attack that warrior with the sword.

LXXXIII

That Tartar cursed the elements and sky,

When her he saw remaining in her sell;

And she, who thought to make his buckler fly,

Cursed heaven as loudly as that infidel.

Already were their faulchions raised on high,

Which on the enchanted arms like hammers fell:

Enchanted arms both combatants enclose,

Never more needed by those deadly foes.

LXXXIV

So perfect are the champions’ plate and chain,

They thrust or cut of spear or faulchion stay;

So that the two the battle might maintain,

Throughout this and throughout another day:

But Rodomont leaps in between the twain,

And taxes Mandricardo with delay;

Crying, “If battle here is to be done,

Finish we that which we today begun.

LXXXV

“We made a truce, thou knowest, upon pact

Of furnishing our baffled forces aid;

Nor foe in joust or fight can be attacked

By us with justice till this debt be paid.”

Then to Marphisa he in reverent act

Addressed himself, and of that courier said;

And next recounted to the martial dame,

How seeking aid for Agramant he came.

LXXXVI

Next prays not only with that Tartar knight

She will abandon or defer the fray;

But that, Troyano’s valiant son to right,

She will, together with them, wend her way;

By which her warlike fame a higher flight,

More easily may, even to heaven, assay,

Than in a quarrel of such paltry guise,

Which offers hindrance to such fair emprize.

LXXXVII

Marphisa, who had evermore in thought

To prove the paladins of Charles, and who

To France was over land and ocean brought,

From clime so distant, with no other view,

Than by her own experience to be taught

If their far-spread renown were false or true,

Resolved together with the troop to speed,

As soon as she had heard their monarch’s need.

LXXXVIII

Meanwhile Rogero, with that guiding may,

Had vainly by the rugged pathway sped;

Who that king Rodomont another way

Had taken, when he reached the mountain, read;

And thinking, that he was not far away,

And the road straight towards that fountain led,

Trotting in haste behind the Sarzan hied,

Where he new prints upon the path espied.

LXXXIX

Hippalca he to Mont Albano prayed,

To wend, which distant one day’s journey lies;

Because to seek anew that fountain-glade,

Would be to wander in too wide a guise.

And that she need not doubt withal, he said,

But that he would retrieve the ravished prize.

And, were she in Mount Alban — or where’er —

Vowed she the tidings speedily should hear,

XC

And gave the letter to that maid to bear,

Which, writ by him, he in his bosom wore,

And added many matters, with the prayer,

She would excuse him by her friendly lore.

Hippalca in her memory fixt, with care,

The whole; took leave, and turned her horse once more:

Nor ceased that faithful messenger to ride

Till she Mount Alban reached at evening-tide.

XCI

Rogero followed fast the paynim knight,

Tracked o’er the level by those footsteps new,

But overtook him not, till he got sight,

Beside the fount, of Mandricardo too.

Already either had his promise plight,

He nought unknown to his compeer would do,

Till they had succour to that host conveyed,

On which King Charles his yoke had nearly laid.

XCII

Arrived, Rogero knew Frontino gay,

And, through that courser, knew the knight astride;

And on his lance with bending shoulder lay,

And in fierce tone the African defied.

Job was outdone by Rodomont that day,

In that the king subdued his haughty pride,

And the fell fight which he had ever used

To seek with every instance, he refused.

XCII

The first day this and last, that e’er in fight

King Rodomont refused his part to bear!

But his desire appeared to him so right,

In succour of his sovereign to repair;

That if he had believed he clutched the knight

Faster than nimble leopard gripes the hare,

He not so far his purpose would forego,

As on his prey to waste a passing blow.

XCIV

Add, that he knows Rogero is the peer

Who him for good Frontino now assails;

— So famous, that no other cavalier

Like him such eminence of glory scales;

— The man, of whom he gladly would be clear,

By proof, how much in battle he avails:

Yet shuns the combat, proffered on his part;

So much his monarch’s siege has he at heart.

XCV

Three hundred miles, a thousand, would he ride,

— Were it not so — to purchase such affray;

But he, if him Achilles had defied,

Had done no otherwise than as I say;

So deeply did the covering ashes hide

That fire beneath, whose fury stifled lay:

He told why he refused the strife; and prayed,

As well Rogero the design to aid.

XCVI

Adding that he, in doing so, would do

What to his lord a faithful vassal owes;

Still, when the siege was raised, might they renew

And terminate their deadly strife by blows.

To him Rogero cried, “The fight with you

I freely will defer, till from his foes

King Agramant be rescued by the sword;

Provided first Frontino be restored.

XCVII

“Would you that I delay to prove by deed,

That you have acted in unworthy sort,

— Nor did, like valiant man, to take my steed

Thus from a woman — till we meet at court,

Render me my Frontino back, or read,

Upon no other ground, will I support

That battle shall not be between us two;

Nor will accord an hour of truce to you.”

XCVIII

While of that African he so demands

Frontino, or him threats with instant fray;

And either still the other’s claim withstands,

Nor this the steed will grant, nor that delay;

King Mandricardo stirs, on the other hand,

Another strife; who sees that ensign gay

Rogero on his shield was wont to wear,

The bird which reigns o’er other fowls of air.

XCIX

He bore on azure field that eagle white,

The beauteous ensign of the Trojan throng:

Such glorious bearing showed that youthful knight,

Because he drew his line from Hector strong.

But Mandricardo knew not of this right,

Nor would endure — and deemed a crying wrong,

That any other but himself should wield

Famed Hector’s argent eagle on his shield.

C

King Mandricardo is like blazon wore

The bird of Ide, which bore off Ganymede:

How in the castle perilous of yore,

He gained that noble ensign for his meed,

— That enterprize I ween, with matter more,

You bear in mind, and how, for his good deed,

The fairy gave it him with all the gear,

Erst given by Vulcan to the Trojan peer.

CI

The Tartar and Rogero had before

Engaged in battle, only on this quest,

Divided by what accident, my lore

Recites not, as already manifest:

Nor had till now those knights encountered more:

When Mandricardo sees that bird imprest

On the Child’s shield, he shouts with threatening cry

To young Rogero: “Take my proud defy!”

CII

“Audacious man, mine ensign do’st thou wear,

Nor this today for the first time, is said;

And think’st thou, madman, I will thee forbear,

Because for once to spare thee I was led?

But since nor menace nor yet counsel are

Of force to drive this folly from thy head,

It shall appear how much it had been best

For thee forthwith to have obeyed my hest.”

CIII

“As fire, whereon dry, heated wood is strown,

Roused by a little puff, at once ascends,

So burns Rogero’s wrath, to fury blown,

By the first word with which that king offends.

“Thou thinkest,” he exclaims, “to bear me down,

Because his knight as well with me contends:

But learn that I can win in fighting field

From him the horse, from thee good Hector’s shield.

CIV

“Yet once before — nor is it long ago —

Twixt us in battle was this question tried:

But I that day restrained the murderous blow,

Because thou hadst no faulchion at thy side.

These shall be deeds, that strife was but a show;

And ill this argent bird shall thee betide;

This is the ancient bearing of my line;

Tis thou usurpest what by right is mine.”

CV

— “Say rather, thou usurpest mine from me”;

Cried Mandricardo; and that faulchion drew,

Which lately, underneath the greenwood tree,

Orlando from his hand in fury threw.

The Child, who could not aught but courteous be,

(Such was his gentle nature) at the view

Of Mandricardo, with his faulchion drawn,

Let fall his ready lance upon the lawn;

CVI

And at the same time, strained his goodly sword;

And better braced the covering shield he wore:

But ‘twixt those combatants leapt Argier’s lord,

And quick Marphisa spurred the pair before;

And one this foe, the other that implored,

And both besought, that they would strive no more.

King Rodomont complains the Tartar knight

Has violated twice the compact plight.

CVII

First, in belief he should Marphisa gain,

He more than once had jousted for that fair;

Now to bear off Rogero’s ensign fain,

He for king Agramant shows little care.

— “If thus” (said Rodomont) “you faith maintain,

To finish our own combat better were,

A cause of strife more fitting and more due

Than either of the pleas maintained by you.

CVIII

“On this condition was the treaty plight,

And the accord between us now in force;

When I with thee shall have performed the fight,

I next shall answer him about the horse:

You then with him, if you survive, your right

Shall to the shield maintain in warlike course.

But I such work shall give you, I conceive,

As will small labour for Rogero leave.”

CIX

— “The bargain which thou hopest thou shalt not have,”

(King Mandricardo answered Rodomont)

“I will accord thee more than thou do’st crave,

And trust to make thee sweat from feet to front.

And to bestow on others, much shall save,

As water never fails in plenteous font;

And for Rogero and a thousand more,

And all the world beside reserve a store.”

CX

Their fury waxed, and angrier words ensued,

Now upon this and now upon that side.

With Rodomont and with the Child at feud,

Fierce Mandricardo both at once defied.

Rogero, not endowed with suffering mood,

Would hear no more of peace, but vengeance cried.

Now here Marphisa hurried, and now there,

But could not singly such an ill repair.

CXI

As peasant, when a river saps its mounds,

And seeking vent the oozing waters drop,

Hastening to shut the stream within its bounds,

And save his pastures and expected crop,

Dams right and left; yet him the stream confounds:

For, if he here the sinking ruin prop,

There he beholds the rotten dyke give out,

And from thick seams the restless water spout,

CXII

So, while the Tartar and Rogero rage,

And Rodomont, in hurly-burly fray,

For each of these would fiercest battle wage,

And would outgo his fears in that assay,

Marphisa seeks their fury to assuage,

And strives, and time and trouble throws away;

For as she makes one knight from strife retire,

She sees the others re-engage with ire.

CXIII

Marphisa, to appease the warriors bent,

Exclaimed, “Sirs, listen to my better lore;

A good remembrance ’tis, all argument

To leave until we Agramant restore.

If each is on his own design intent,

With Mandricardo will I strive once more;

And fain would see, according to his word,

If he can conquer me with spear and sword.

CXIV

“But if, to aid our sovereign, duty call,

Him let us aid, nor civil discord breed.”

— “To ground, through me, such project shall not fall,”

Rogero said, “so he restore my steed.

Let him resign that horse, or — once for all.

I say again — to his defence take heed.

I either here my parting breath will yield,

Or on my courser will return afield.”

CXV

— “Twere not so easy to obtain this quest

As ’twere that other,” Rodomont replied;

And thus pursued: “I unto thee protest,

If any evil shall our king betide,

Thine is the fault not mine; for I am prest

To do whate’er is fitting, on my side.”

Small heed to that protest Rogero paid,

And stung by fury, griped his trenchant blade.

CXVI

On Argier’s king he sprang, like savage boar,

Encountering him with shoulder and with shield;

And him disordered and distrest so sore,

That with one stirrup’s loss, the monarch reeled.

— “Rogero,” Mandricardo cried, “give o’er,

Or else with me divide the battle-field”;

And struck, this said, with worse than felon spite,

Upon the morion of that youthful knight.

CXVII

Even to his courser’s neck Rogero bends;

Nor, when he would, himself can rear;

Because the sword of Ulien’s son descends

As well upon the youthful cavalier;

And, but that adamant his face defends,

Across the cheeks his tempered helm would sheer.

The Child, in anguish, opens either hand;

And this the bridle drops and that the brand.

CXVIII

Him o’er the field his courser bears away;

On earth the faulchion lies, which he let go:

Marphisa (with Rogero’s through that day,

Comrade in arms) appeared like fire to glow,

Enraged, that two one knight should overlay;

And, as magnanimous and stout, for foe

Singled King Mandricardo out, and sped,

With all her might, stroke upon his head.

CXIX

Rodomont o’er the plain pursues his man.

— Another stroke, and he has lost the horse!

But Richardetto drives, and Vivian,

Between the Child and paynim in that course.

This warrior at the king of Argier ran,

And from Rogero severed him by force;

That (it was Vivian) in Rogero’s hand,

Now from the blow recovered, placed his brand.

CXX

As soon as to himself the Child returns,

And is by Vivian armed with sword again,

To venge the injury that stripling burns,

And runs at Rodomont with flowing rein,

Like lion, whom a bull upon his horns

Has lifted, though he feels this while no pain,

So him his heat of blood, disdain, and ire,

To venge that cruel outrage goad and fire.

CXXI

Rogero storms upon the paynim’s crest;

And, could that knight recover his own brand,

Which by foul felony (as erst exprest)

Was ravished from the youthful warrior’s hand,

I well believe that the descending pest

Rodomont’s iron casque will ill withstand;

That casque which Babel’s king bade forge, who sought

To war on Heaven in his presumptuous thought.

CXXII

Discord, believing nothing could ensue

But stir, and strife, and combat on that head;

And that there was no place, amid the crew,

For truce or treaty, to her sister said,

That she, her well-beloved monks to view,

Might now again with her securely tread.

Let them depart; and mark we where in front

Rogero has sore wounded Rodomont.

CXXIII

Rogero’s blow was levelled with such spite,

That this upon Frontino’s crupper made

The helmet and the shell of iron smite,

In which that Saracen his limbs arrayed;

And he, three times or four, to left and right,

— As if about to fall — head-foremost, swayed;

And would have lost withal his trusty brand,

But that the hilt was fastened to his hand.

CXXIV

Marphisa has king Mandricardo prest

Meanwhile, and makes him sweat breast, front, and face;

And he Marphisa has as sore distrest:

But such good plates each valiant bosom case,

Impassable is either iron vest;

And both have hitherto maintained their place.

But, at a turn her martial courser made,

Marphisa needed young Rogero’s aid.

CXXV

Marphisa’s martial steed, in turning short,

Where a firm footing that soft mead denied,

On the moist surface slipt, and in such sort,

That he fell, helpless, on his better side;

And, as he rose in haste and lacked support,

Athwart by furious Brigliador was plied;

On which the paynim, little courteous, came;

So that he fell anew beneath the dame.

CXXVI

Rogero, when Marphisa on the ground

He saw unhorsed, deferred no more his aid;

Who for that deed had leisure; since, astound,

Rodomont far away had been conveyed:

He smote the morion which that Tartar crowned;

And, cleft like stalk, his head on earth had laid,

Had he his trusty Balisarda born,

Or Mandricardo other helmet worn.

CXXVII

Rodomont, of his senses repossest,

Turned round this while, and Richardetto spied;

And recollecting how, when late distrest,

He to Rogero succour had supplied,

Quickly against that youthful warrior prest;

Who an ill guerdon would from him abide,

Did Malagigi not his malice thwart

With other magic and with mickle art.

CXXVIII

Sage Malagigi versed in every sleight

Which by the wisest wizard can be done;

Although his book he has not, by whose might,

He in his course can stop the passing sun;

The conjuration recollects and rite,

By which he tames the rebel fiends; and one

Bids enter into Doralice’s steed,

Whom he to fury stings and headlong speed.

CXXIX

Into that gentle palfrey’s form, who bore

The beauteous daughter of King Stordilane,

Sir Vivian’s brother, simply by his lore,

Made pass an angel of the dark domain;

And the good horse, who never moved before,

Except in due obedience to the rein,

Now took a leap, possest by that ill sprite,

Thirty feet long and sixteen feet in height.

CXXX

It was a mighty leap, yet not so wide

As to make any rider void the sell.

Seeing herself so high in air, loud cried,

(Yielding herself for dead) that bonnibel.

Her palfrey, with the Daemon for his guide,

After his leap, runs, goaded by the spell

(The maid still screaming) such a furious course,

An arrow had not reached the flying horse.

CXXXI

At the first hearing of that voice, the son

Of Ulien, on his part, the strife suspended;

And thither, where the furious palfrey run,

Swiftly in succour of the lady wended.

No less was by the Tartar monarch done;

Who neither Child nor damsel more offended;

But without craving time, or truce, or peace,

Pursued King Rodomont and Doralice.

CXXXII

Marphisa rose meanwhile, to fury stirred;

And, with disdain all over in a glow,

Thought to accomplish her revenge, and erred:

For at too great a distance was the foe.

Rogero, who beheld the war deferred,

Rather like lion roared than sighed: well know

Those two their coursers they should vainly gore,

Following Frontino and good Brigliador.

CXXXIII

Rogero will not halt till he renew

And end the unfinished combat for the horse;

Marphisa will not quit that Tartar, who

Will to her satisfaction prove his force.

To leave their quarrel in such guise the two

Esteem foul scandal; as their better course,

In chase of those offending knights to fare,

Is the conclusion of that valiant pair.

CXXXIV

They in the paynim camp will find each foe,

If them before they find not on their way;

Whom thither bound, to raise the siege they know,

Ere Charlemagne bring all beneath his sway.

So thitherward the twain directly go

Where these, they deem, will be their certain prey.

Yet not so rudely thence Rogero broke,

But that he first with his companion spoke.

CXXXV

Thither returns Rogero, where apart

Is he, the brother of his lady fair;

And vows himself his friend, with generous heart,

In good or evil fortune, everywhere.

Him he implores — and frames his speech with art —

He his salutes will to his sister bear;

And this so well, he moves by that request

No doubt in him, nor any of the rest.

CXXXVI

Of Malagigi he and Viviane

Next takes farewell and wounded Aldigier;

Their services no less that kindly twain

Proffer, as ever debtors to the peer.

Marphisa to seek Paris is so fain,

That parting she forgets her friends to cheer;

But Malagigi and Vivian, in pursuit,

Follow, and from afar that maid salute;

CXXXVII

And so Sir Richardet as well: but low

On earth lies Aldigier, and there must rest.

The two first champions towards Paris go,

And the two others next pursue that quest.

In other canto, Sir, I hope to show

Of wondrous and of superhuman gest,

Wrought to the damage of the Christian king,

By those two couples of whose worth I sing.

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