Orlando Furioso, by Lodovico Ariosto

Canto 30

Argument

Great feats achieve Orlando by the way.

The Tartar king is by Rogero slain:

For whom fair Bradamant, his spouse, does stay,

But Fate forbade, that he who wounded lay

To her his plighted promise should maintain.

He after boldly with the brethren made,

Their lord Rinaldo in his need to aid.

I

When Reason, giving way to heat of blood,

Herself from hasty choler ill defends,

And, hurried on by blind and furious mood,

We with the tongue or hand molest our friends,

Though the offence is, after, wept and rued,

The penance which we pay is poor amends.

Alas! I sorrow and lament in vain

For what I said in other angry strain.

II

But like sick man am I, who, sore bested,

Suffering with patience many and many a day,

When against pain he can no more make head,

Yields to his rage, and curses; pain give way,

And with it the impetuous wrath is fled,

Which moved his ready tongue such ill to say;

And he is left his willful rage to rue,

But cannot that which he has done undo.

III

Well hope I, from your sovereign courtesy,

Your pardon, since I crave it, ladies bright;

You will excuse, if moved by madness, I

Rave in my passion; let your censure light

On foe, who treats me so despiteously,

I could not be reduced to worser plight;

Who prompts what sore repents me: Heaven above

Knows how she wrongs me, knows how well I love.

IV

No less beside myself than Brava’s peer

And I, nor less my pardon should obtain;

He, who by mead or mountain, far or near,

Had scowered large portion of the land of Spain,

Dragging that jennet in his wild career,

Dead as she was, behind him by the rein;

But, where a river joined the sea, parforce

Abandoned on the bank her mangled corse.

V

And he, who could like any otter swim,

Leapt in and rose upon the further side.

Behold! a mounted shepherd at the brim

Arrived, his horse to water in the tide;

Nor when he saw Orlando coming, him

Eschewed, whom naked and alone he spied.

— “My jennet for thy hackney were I fain

To barter,” cried the madman to the swain:

VI

“Her will I show thee, if thou wilt; who dead

Upon the river’s other margin fell;

At leisure may’st thou have her cured,” (he said)

“And of no other fault have I to tell.

Give me thy hackney, with some boot instead:

Prythee, dismount thee, for he likes me well.”

The peasant, laughing, answered not a word,

But left the fool and pricked towards the ford.

VII

“Hearest thou not? hola! I want thy steed,”

(Cried Roland) and advanced with wrathful cheer.

A solid staff and knotted, for his need,

That shepherd had, wherewith he smote the peer;

Whose violence and ire all bounds exceed,

Who seems withal to wax more fierce than e’er:

A cuff he levels at that rustic’s head,

And splits the solid bone, and lays him dead.

VIII

Then leaping on his horse, by different way

The country scowers, to make more spoil and wrack:

That palfrey never more tastes corn or hay;

So that few days exhaust the famished hack.

But not afoot does fierce Orlando stray,

Who will not, while he lives, conveyance lack.

As many as he finds, so many steeds

— Their masters slain — he presses for his needs.

IX

He came at last to Malaga, and here

Did mightier scathe than he had done elsewhere;

For now — besides that the infuriate peer

Of all its people left the country bare,

Nor (such the ravage) could another year

The desperate havoc of the fool repair —

So many houses burnt he, or cast down,

Sacked was a third of that unhappy town.

X

Departing thence, insane Orlando flees

To Zizera, a seaward town, whose site

Is in Gibraltar’s bay, or (if you please)

Say Gibletar’s; for either way ’tis hight;

Here, loosening from the land, a boat he sees

Filled with a party, and for pleasure dight:

Which, for their solace, to the morning gale,

Upon that summer sea, had spread their sail.

XI

“Hoah! the boat! put back!” the count ‘gan cry,

Who was in mind to go aboard their barge:

But vainly on their ears his clamours die:

For of such freight none willingly take charge.

As swiftly as a swallow cleaves the sky,

Furrowing the foamy wave the boat goes large.

Orlando urges on, with straightening knee,

And whip and spur, his horse towards the sea.

XII

He plunged into the waves, at last, parforce;

For vainly would he shun the waters green.

Bathed are knees, paunch, and croup, till of that horse

Scarcely the head above the wave is seen:

Let him not hope to measure back his course,

While smitten with the whip his ears between.

Woe worth him! he must founder by the way,

Or into Africa his load convey.

XIII

Nor poops nor prows does Roland more descry,

For all have launched their shallops, which are wide

Of that dry shore; while from his level eye

Their hulls the tall and shifting surges hide.

He spurs his horse amid the billows high,

Wholly resolved to reach the farther side.

The courser ends his swim and life in fine,

Drained of his strength, and drenched brimfull of brine.

XIV

He sinks, and would with him draw down his load;

But that himself the madman’s arms upbear:

With sinewy arms and either palm he rowed,

And puffed and blew the brine before; the air

Breathed softly, and the water gently flowed;

And well was needed weather more than fair:

For if the waters yet a little rise,

Whelmed by the waxing tide Orlando dies.

XV

But Fortune, that of madmen is the guide,

Him from the water drew near Ceuta’s shore,

Upon that beach, and of those walls as wide

As twice an archer’s hand could shoot at score.

For many days along the bank he hied,

At hazard, ever westward hurrying sore,

Until he came where on the sea-beat strand

Encamped a host of blacks, a countless band.

XVI

Leave we the paladin at will to stray!

To speak of him occasion will come round.

— Sir, what befel the lady of Catay,

Who scaped, in time, from him of wit unsound,

And afterwards, upon her homeward way,

Was with good bark and better weather bound;

And how she made Medoro, India’s king;

Perchance some voice in happier verse may sing.

XVII

To say so many things I am intent,

I mean not to pursue the cavalier.

To Mandricardo my fair argument

It now behoves me, in his turn, to veer

He happily enjoyed, his rival spent,

The beauty, left in Europe without peer,

Since fair Angelica from hence had wended,

And virtuous Isabel to heaven ascended.

XVIII

King Mandricardo, proud that in his right

His lady had adjudged the amorous suit,

Enjoys not her award with full delight;

Since others with him other points dispute.

By young Rogero claimed, that eagle white

Of one disastrous quarrel is the root;

Another moves the king of Sericana

Against the Tartar king, for Durindana.

XIX

Agramant and Marsilius strive in vain,

With labour sore, this tangle to undo;

Nor only cannot they persuade the twain

In peace and concord to unite anew,

But cannot make the valiant Child refrain

From claiming Hector’s buckler as his due;

Nor yet Gradasso move the sword to lend,

‘Till this, or till that, quarrel have an end.

XX

Rogero brooks not that in other fight

His shield be braced, nor will Gradasso bear

That save against himself the Tartar knight

Should wield the sword Orlando used to wear

“See we, in fine, on whom the chance will light

(Cries Agramant) and further words forbear.

How Fortune rules the matter let us see,

And choose him that of her shall chosen be.

XXI

“And — would ye do what most would me delight,

And be an obligation evermore —

You shall by casting lots decide your right:

Premising, he whose lot is drawn before

The other, shall upon two quarrels fight:

So he who wins, on his companion’s score

Shall win as well as on his own; and who

Loses the battle lose alike for two.

XXII

“Between Rogero and Gradasso, we

Deem there is little difference, rather none;

And wot whichever shall elected be.

In arms will make his martial prowess known,

As for the rest, let doubtful victory

Descend on him whom Heaven is pleased to own!

Upon the vanquished knight no blame shall fall,

But we to Fortune will impute it all.”

XXIII

Rogero and Gradasso, at this say

Of Agramant, stood silent, and agreed,

That he whose lot first issued, the assay

Should undertake for both in listed mead.

Thus in two scrolls, inscribed in the same way,

Their names are writ as destined to succeed.

These afterwards are cast into an urn,

Which much they shake and topsy turvy turn.

XXIV

A seely boy then dipt his hand and drew

A billet from the vase, and if befel,

Thereon Rogero’s name the assistants knew;

— Gradasso’s left behind — I cannot tell

How joyed renowned Rogero at the view,

And can as little say what sorrow fell

Upon Gradasso, on the other side;

But he parforce his fortune must abide.

XXV

Gradasso every thought and every deed

Employs, Rogero to instruct and aid,

That in the strife his champion may succeed;

And teaches every sleight he has assaid:

— How best to manage sword and shield at need —

— What strokes are feints, and what with vantage made —

And when he should tempt Fortune, when eschew —

Reminds him, one by one, in long review.

XXVI

After the drawing lots and king’s award,

What of the day remained the champions spent

As wont, in giving tokens of regard,

To this or to that other warrior sent.

The people, greedy for the fight, toward

The field is gone, and many not content

With wending thither ere the dawn of light,

Upon the place of combat watch all night.

XXVII

The foolish rabble anxiously attends

Those goodly champions’ contest for the prize,

A crowd which neither sees nor comprehends

Other than that which is before its eyes.

But they who know what boots and what offends,

— Marsilius and Sobrino, and the wise —

Censure the fight, and monarch that affords

A field of combat to those martial lords.

XXVIII

Nor what a heavy loss he would sustain

(Cease they to royal Agramant to read)

Were Mandricardo or Rogero slain;

A thing by cruel Destiny decreed.

Since they, to combat against Charlemagne,

Of one of these alone have greater need

Than of ten thousand more, amid which crew

They scarce would find one champion good and true.

XXIX

Agramant recognized this truth; but thought

That ill his royal word could be repealed;

Yet Mandricardo and the Child besought

That they the right, conferred by him, would yield:

More; that the question was a thing of nought,

Nor worthy to be tried in martial field;

And prayed them — would they not obey his hest

At least somewhile, to let their quarrel rest.

XXX

Five or six months would they the strife delay,

Or more or less, till Charles defeated were,

And stript of mantle, crown, and royal sway.

But each, though he would willingly forbear,

And much desired his sovereign to obey,

Stood out against the Moorish monarch’s prayer:

Since either deemed he would be foully shent

Who to this treaty first should yield consent.

XXXI

But more than king, than all, who sought in vain

To soften Agrican’s infuriate son,

The beauteous daughter of King Stordilane

Lamented, besought him, woe-begone,

Besought him he would do what all would fain

Behold by the relenting warrior done;

— Lamenting her, as through the cavalier,

For ever kept in agony and fear.

XXXII

“Alas! and what (exclaims she) can I find

Which may avail to minister repose,

If aye, by this or that desire inclined,

You don your harness to affront new foes?

What boots it to restore my harassed mind

That I behold one fearful quarrel’s close,

Against one champion moved for love of me,

If one as fierce already kindled be?

XXXIII

“Woe worth me! I was proud, with little right,

So good a king, so stout a cavalier

For he should in the fierce and dangerous fight

Peril his life, who now, I see to clear,

Upon a ground of strife so passing light,

With the same risk prepares to couch the spear.

You, more than love for me, to strife impels

The natural rage, wherewith your bosom swells.

XXXIV

“But if the love you force yourself to show,

Be in good earnest, that which you profess,

By this I pray you, by that chastening woe

Which does my spirit, does my heart oppress,

Be not concerned, because the bird of snow

Rogero, pictured on his shield, possess.

I know not wherefore you should joy or grieve

That he the blazoned buckler bear or leave.

XXXV

“Much evil may ensue and little gain

Out of the battle you to wage prepare;

Small guerdon will be bought with mickle pain

If from Rogero you his eagle bear;

But if your fortune shifts on listed plain,

She whom you hold not captive by her hair,

You cause an evil with such mischief fraught,

My heart is broken at the simple thought.

XXXVI

“If of small value life to you appear,

And you esteem a painted bird more high,

At least for my life’s sake esteem yours dear;

For one without the other shall not die.

With you to die excites in me no fear;

With you, prepared for life or death am I:

Yet would I fain not die so ill content,

As I should die if you before me went.”

XXXVII

Accompanying words with tears and sighs,

In such, or such like speech she him did pray,

Throughout that livelong night, in piteous wise,

Hoping her lover’s anger to allay;

And Mandricardo, sucking from her eyes

Those sweet tears, glittering in their humid ray,

And that sweet moan, from lips more deeply dyed

Than crimson rose, himself in tears, replied.

XXXVIII

“Alack! my dearest life! take thou no dread,

Alack! for love of Heaven! of thing so light:

For if (to my sole harm) with banners spread,

Their following of the Frank or paynim rite

King Agramant and Charles united led,

This need not cause you matter for affright.

What poor account you make of me is clear

If this one, sole, Rogero breeds such fear.

XXXIX

“And yet should you remember how alone

(Nor had I scimetar or sword in hand)

Of knights, with a spear’s truncheon overthrown,

I singly cleared the field, an armed band.

Though to his shame and sorrow this he own,

Gradasso tells to them who make demand,

He was my prisoner in the Syrian tower:

Yet other than Rogero’s is his power.

XL

“Not King Gradasso will the truth deny:

Sacripant knows it and your Isolier:

I say King Sacripant of Circassy,

And Aquilant, and Gryphon, famous peer;

With hundreds — yea and more — from far and nigh

Made prisoners at that fearful pass whilere,

Baptized or Infidel; and all by me

From prison on the selfsame day set free.

XLI

“And even yet they marvel evermore

At the great feat which I performed that day;

Greater than if the squadrons of the Moor

And Frank united I had held at bay;

And shall Rogero, new to martial lore,

Me, onto to one, with scathe or scorn appay?

And me shall now this young Rogero scare,

When Hector’s sword and Hector’s arms I wear?

XLII

“Ah! as I might have won you from my foe,

Why did I not for you in arms contend?

I so had them my valour shown, I know,

You would have well foreseen Rogero’s end.

For heaven’s sake dry your tears, nor by such woe

— An evil omen for my arms — offend;

And learn, ’tis Honour pricks me to the field,

And not an argent bird and blazoned shield.”

XLIII

So said he; and with reasons passing good

To him that dame replied, with saddest face;

Nor only would have changed his sullen mood,

But would have moved a pillar from its place.

She would the champion quickly have subdued,

Though she was gowned, he locked in iron case;

And make him satisfy the Moorish lord,

If Agramant spake further of accord;

XLIV

And had; but that Aurora — on his way

Ushering aye the sun — no sooner stirred,

Than young Rogero, anxious to display

That rightfully he bore Jove’s beauteous bird,

To cut the quarrel short, and lest delay

Be further interposed, in act or word,

Where round the palisade the people close,

Appears in armour and his bugle blows.

XLV

When that loud sound is by the Tartar heard,

Which the proud warrior to the strife defies,

No more of treaty will he hear a word:

From bed upspringing, “Arms,” the monarch cries,

And shows a visage with such fury stirred,

Doralice dares no longer peace advise,

Nor speak of treaty or of truce anew;

And now parforce the battle must ensue.

XLVI

The Tartar arms himself in haste; with pain

The wonted service of his squires he tarries:

This done, he springs upon the steed amain,

Erewhile the champion’s who defended Paris;

And him with speed towards the listed plain,

Fixt for that fierce assay, the courser carries.

Even then the king and barons thither made,

So that the strife was little time delaid.

XLVII

Put on and laced the shining helmets were,

And given to either champion was the spear:

Quickly the trumpet’s blast was heard in air,

Whose signal blanched a thousand cheeks with fear.

Levelled those cavaliers their lances bear,

Spurring their warlike steeds to the career,

And, in mid champaign, meet with such a shock,

That Earth appears to rive and Heaven to rock.

XLVIII

From this side and from that, the eagle flew,

Which Jove in air was wonted to sustain;

So hurtled, but with plumes of different hue,

Those others often on Thessalian plain.

The beamy lances, rested by the two,

Well warranted the warriors’ might and main,

And worse than that encounter had withstood:

So towers resist the wind, so rocks the flood.

XLIX

As Turpin truly writes, into the sky

Upwent the splinters, broke in the career;

For two or three fell flaming from on high,

Which had ascended to the starry sphere.

The knights unsheathed their faulchions from the thigh,

And, like those who were little moved by fear,

For new encounter wheeled, and, man to man,

Pointing at one another’s vizor ran.

L

They, pointing at the vizors’ sight, attacked,

Nor with their faulchions at the steeds took aim,

Each other to unhorse, unseemly act!

Since in that quarrel they are nought to blame.

Those err, nor know the usage, why by pact

Deem they were bound their horses not to maim:

Without pact made, ’twas reckoned a misdeed,

And an eternal blot to smite a steed.

LI

They level at the vizor, which is double,

And yet resists such mighty blows with pain.

The champions evermore their strokes redouble

Faster than pattering hail, which mars the grain,

And bruises branch and leaf, and stalk and stubble,

And cheats the hopes of the expecting swain.

To you is known the force of either brand,

And known the force of either warrior’s hand.

LII

But yet no stroke well worthy of their might

Those peers have dealt, so cautious are the twain.

The Tartar’s faulchion was the first to bite,

By which was good Rogero well nigh slain.

By one of those fell blows which either knight

So well could plant, his shield was cleft in twain;

Beneath, his cuirass opened to the stroke,

And to the quick the cruel weapon broke.

LIII

The assistants’ hearts were frozen at the blow,

So did Rogero’s danger them appal,

On whom the many’s favor, well they know,

And wishes rest, if not of one and all.

And then (had Fortune ordered matters so,

As the most part desired they should befall)

Taken had been the Tartar king or slain;

So had that blow offended all the train.

LIV

I think that blow was by some angel stayed,

To save Rogero from the mischief near:

Yet at the king (nor answer he delayed)

He dealt a stroke more terrible than e’er.

As Mandricardo’s head he aims his blade,

But such the fury of the cavalier,

And such his haste, he less my blame deserves,

If slanting from the mark his faulchion swerves.

LV

Had Balisarda smote him full, though crowned

With Hector’s helm, the enchantment had been vain.

So reels the Tartar, by that stroke astound,

He from the bristle-hand lets go the rein:

Thrice with his head he threats to smite the ground,

While his unguided courser scowers the plain;

That Brigliadoro, whom by name you know,

Yet, for his change of master, full of woe.

LVI

Never raged trampled serpent, never so

Raged wounded lion, as in fell despite

Raged Mandricardo, rallying from that blow,

Which had deprived of sense the astonied knight;

And as his pride and fury waxes, grow

As much, yea more, his valour and his might.

He at Rogero makes his courser vault,

With sword uplifted high for the assault.

LVII

Poised in his stirrups stood the Tartar lord,

And aiming at his foeman’s casque, believed

He with the stroke of his descending sword

Rogero to the bosom should have cleaved;

But from that youth, yet quicker in his ward,

A wound beneath his arm the king received,

Which made wide daylight in the stubborn mail,

That clothed the better armpit with its scale.

LVIII

Rogero drawing Balisarda back,

Out sprang the tepid blood of crimson stain;

Hence Mandricardo’s arm did vigour lack,

And with less dint descended Durindane:

Yet on the croup the stripling tumbled back,

Closing his eyelids, through excess of pain;

And memorable aye had been that blow,

Had a worse helmet clothed the warrior’s brow.

LIX

For this he pauses not, but spurs amain,

And Mandricardo smites in the right side.

Here little boots the texture of the chain,

And the well wealded metal’s temper tried,

Against that sword, which never falls in vain,

Which was enchanted to no end beside,

But that against it nothing should avail,

Enchanted corselet or enchanted mail.

LX

Whate’er that sword takes-in it shears outright,

And in the Tartar’s side inflicts a wound:

He curses Heaven and raves in such despite,

Less horribly the boisterous billows sound.

He now prepares to put forth all his might:

The shield, with argent bird and azure ground,

He hurls, with rage transported, from his hand,

And grasps with right and left his trenchant brand.

LXI

“Marry,” (Rogero cried,) “it needs no more

To prove your title to that ensign vain,

Which now you cast away, and cleft before;

Nor can you more your right in it maintain.”

So saying, he parforce must prove how sore

The danger and the dint of Durindane;

Which smites his front, and with such weight withal,

A mountain lighter than that sword would fall.

LXII

If cleft his vizor through the midst; ’twas well

That from the sight diverged the trenchant blade,

Which on the saddle’s plated pommel fell;

Nor yet its double steel the faulchion stayed:

It reached his armour (like soft wax, the shell

Oped, and the skirts wherewith ’twas overlaid)

And trenched upon his thigh a grievous wound;

So that ’twas long ere he again waxed sound.

LXIII

The spouting blood of either cavalier

Their arms had crimsoned in a double drain:

Hence diversly the people guessed, which peer

Would have the better of the warlike twain:

But soon Rogero made the matter clear

With that keen sword, so many a champion’s bane:

With this he at that part in fury past

Whence Mandricardo had his buckler cast.

LXIV

He the left side of his good cuirass gored,

And found a passage to the heart below;

Which a full palm above the flank he bored;

So that parforce the Tartar must forego

His every title to the famous sword,

The blazoned buckler, and its bird of snow,

And yield, together with these seeds of strife,

— Dearer than sword and shield — his precious life.

LXV

Not unavenged the unhappy monarch dies;

For in the very moment he is smit,

The sword — for little period his — he plies,

And good Rogero’s vizor would have split.

But that he stopt the stroke in wary wise,

And broke its force and vigour ere it lit;

Its force and vigour broke: for he, below

The better arm, first smote his Tartar foe.

LXVI

Smit was the Child by Mandricardo’s hand,

At the same moment he that monarch slew:

He, albeit thick, divides an iron band

And good steel cap beneath it; inches two,

Lies buried in the head the trenchant brand,

The solid bone and sinew severed through.

Astound Rogero fell, on earth reversed,

And from his head a stream of life-blood burst.

LXVII

Rogero was the first who went to ground,

And so much longer did the king delay,

Nigh every one of those who waited round

Weened he the prize and vaunt had borne away.

So, erred his Doralice, that oft was drowned

In tears, and often clad in smiles that day:

She thanked her God, with hands to Heaven extended,

That in such wise the fearful fight had ended.

LXVIII

But when by tokens manifest appear

The live man living and the dead man slain,

The favourers of those knights, with change of cheer,

Some weep and some rejoice, an altered train.

King, lord, and every worthiest cavalier

Crowd round Rogero, who has risen with pain.

Him to embrace and gratulate they wend,

And do him grace and honour without end.

LXIX

Each with Rogero is rejoiced, and feels

That which he utters in his heart; among

The crowd the Sericane alone conceals

Other than what he vouches with his tongue.

He pleasure in his countenance reveals,

With envy at the conquest inly stung;

And — were his destiny or chance to blame —

Curses whiche’er produced Rogero’s name.

LXX

What of Rogero’s favour can be said?

What of caresses, many, true, and kind,

From Agramant? that not without his aid

Would have unrolled his ensigns the wind;

Who had to move from Africk been afraid,

Nor would have trusted in his host combined.

He, now King Mandricardo is no more,

Esteems him the united world before.

LXXI

Nor to Rogero lean the men alone;

To him incline as well the female train,

Who for the land of France had left their own,

Amid the troops of Africk or of Spain;

And Doralice, herself, although she moan,

And for her lover, cold and pale, complain,

Save by the griding curb of shame represt,

Her voice, perchance, had added to the rest.

LXXII

I say perchance, nor warrant it I dare,

Albeit the thing may easily be true;

For such his manners, such his merits are,

So beauteous is Rogero’s form to view,

She (from experience we are well aware)

So prone to follow whatsoe’er is new,

That not to play the widow’s lovelorn part,

She on Rogero well might set her heart.

LXXIII

Though he did well alive, what could be done

With Mandricardo, after he was dead?

’Tis fitting she provide herself with one

That her, by night or day, may bravely stead.

Meanwhile to young Rogero’s succour run

The king’s physician in his art best read;

Who, having seen the fruits of that fell strife,

Already has ensured Rogero’s life.

LXXIV

Agramant bids them diligently lay

The wounded warrior in his tent, and there

Is evermore beside him, night and day;

Him with such love he watches, with such care:

To his bed the Tartar’s arms and buckler gay,

So bade the Moorish king, suspended were;

Suspended all, save trenchant Durindana,

Relinquished to the King of Sericana.

LXXV

With Mandricardo’s arms, his other weed

Was to Rogero given, and given with these

Was warlike Brigliador, whom on the mead

Orlando left, distraught with his disease.

To Agramant Rogero gave the steed,

Well knowing how that goodly gift would please.

No more of this: parforce my strain returns

To her that vainly for Rogero burns.

LXXVI

Bradamant’s torment have I to recount,

While for the courier damsel she did stay:

With tidings of her love to Alban’s Mount,

To her Hippalca measured back her way:

She of Frontino first and Rodomont,

And next of good Rogero had to say;

How to the fount anew he had addrest

His way, with Richardetto and the rest;

LXXVII

And how the Child, in rescue of the steed,

Had gone with her to find the paynim rude;

And weened to have chastized his foul misdeed,

That from a woman took Frontino good.

And how the youth’s design did ill succeed,

Because the king had other way pursued.

The reason too why to Mount Alban’s hold

Rogero had not come, at full she told;

LXXVIII

And fully she to Bradamant exprest

What to excuse himself Rogero said:

She after drew the letter from her breast,

Wherewith entrusted she had thither sped:

With visage which more care than hope confest,

The paper Bradamant received and read;

Which, but that she expected to have seen

Rogero’s self, more welcome would have been.

LXXIX

To find herself with written scroll appaid

In good Rogero’s place, whom she attends,

Marred her fair visage; which such fear pourtrayed,

Despite and sorrow as her bosom rends.

Ten times the page she kisses, while the maid

As oft to him who writes her heart commends:

The tears alone which trickle from her eyes

Keep it from kindling at her burning sighs.

LXXX

Four times, nay six, she that epistle read,

And willed moreover that as many more

The message by that damsel should be said,

Who word and letter to Mount Alban bore.

This while unceasing tears the lady shed,

Nor, I believe, would ever have given o’er,

Save by the hope consoled, that she anew

Should briefly her beloved Rogero view.

LXXXI

Rogero’s word was pledged for his return

When fifteen days or twenty were gone by:

So had he after to Hippalca sworn,

Bidding her boldly on his faith rely.

“From accidents that chance at every turn”

(Cried Bradamant) “what warranty have I,

Alas! — and such are commonest in war —

That none the knight’s return for ever bar?

‘ LXXXII

“Alas! alas! Rogero, that above

Myself hast evermore been prized by me,

Who would have thought thou more than me could’st love

Any, and most thy mortal enemy?

And harm’st where thou should’st help; nor do I see

If thou as worthy praise or blame regard

Such tardiness to punish and reward.

LXXXIII

“I know not if thou knowest — the stones know —

How by Troyano was thy father slain;

And yet Troyano’s son, against his foe,

Thou would’st defend, and keep from harm or stain

Such vengeance upon him do’st thou bestow?

And do his vengers, as their meed obtain,

That I, descended of his stock, should be

The martyr of the mortal cruelty?”

LXXXIV

To her Rogero, in his absence, said

The lady these sad words, and more beside,

Lamenting aye; while her attendant maid

Nor once alone, but often, certified

The stripling would observe his faith, and prayed

Her — who could do no better — to abide

The Child’s arrival till the time came round

When he by promise to return was bound.

LXXXV

The comfort that Hippalca’s words convey,

And Hope, companion of the loving train,

Bradamant’s fear and sorrow so allay,

That she enjoys some respite from her pain:

This moves her in Mount Alban’s keep to stay;

Nor ever thence that lady stirred again

Until the day, that day the youthful knight

Had fixt, who ill observed his promise plight.

LXXXVI

But in that he his promise ill maintained,

No blame upon Rogero should be cast;

Him one or other cause so long detained,

The appointed time parforce he overpast:

On a sick bed, long time, he, sorely pained,

Was laid, wherein a month or more he past

In doubt of death; so deeply him had gored

Erewhile in fight the Tartar monarch’s sword.

LXXXVII

Him on the day prefixed the maid attended,

Nor other tidings of the youth had read,

But those he through Hippalca had commended,

And that which after Richardetto said;

Who told how him Rogero had defended,

And freed the captive pair to prison led.

The tidings, overjoyed, she hears repeat;

Yet blended with some bitter is the sweet.

LXXXVIII

For she had heard as well in that discourse,

For might and beauty voiced, Marphisa’s praise;

Heard, how Rogero thither bends his course,

Together with that lady, as he says,

Where in weak post and with unequal force

King Agramant the Christian army stays.

Such fair companionship the lady lauds,

But neither likes that union nor applauds.

LXXXIX

Nor light suspicion has she of that queen:

For, were Marphisa beauteous, as was said,

And they together till that time had been,

‘T were marvel but Rogero loved the maid:

Yet would she not believe; but hung between

Her hopes and fears, and in Mount Alban stayed;

And close and anxious there, until the day

Which was to bring her joy or sorrow, lay.

XC

This while Mount Alban’s prince and castellain,

Rinaldo, first of that fair brotherhood,

— I say in honour, not in age, for twain

In right of birth before the warrior stood,

Who — as the sun illumes the starry train —

Had by his deeds ennobled Aymon’s blood,

One day at noon, with none beside a page

To serve him, reached that famous fortilage.

XCI

Hither had good Rinaldo now repaired;

Because returning Paris ward again,

From Brava, (whither had he often fared,

As said, to seek Angelica in vain)

He of that pair those evil news had heard.

His Malagigi and his Viviane,

How they were to Maganza to be sent;

And hence to Agrismont his way had bent.

XCII

There, hearing of the safety of that pair,

And of their enemies’ defeat and fall;

And how Rogero and Marphisa were

The authors of their ruin; and how all

His valiant brethren and his cousins are

Returned, and harboured in Mount Alban’s hall,

Until he there embrace the friendly throng

Each hour appears to him a twelvemonth long.

XCIII

His course to Mont Albano had he ta’en;

And, there embracing wife and children dear,

Mother and brethren and the cousins twain,

(They who were captives to their foe whilere)

A parent swallow seems, amid that train,

Which, with full beak, its fasting youth doth cheer.

With them a day or more the warrior stayed,

Then issued forth and others thence conveyed.

XCIV

Guichard, Duke Aymon’s eldest born, and they,

Richard, Alardo, and Richardet’ combined,

Vivian and Malagigi, wend their way

In arms, the martial paladin behind.

Bradamant, waiting the appointed day,

Which she, in her desire, too slow opined,

Feigned herself ailing to the brethren true,

Nor would she join in arms the banded crew;

XCV

And, saying that she ailed, most truly said;

Yet ’twas not corporal pain or fever sore,

It was Desire that on her spirit preyed,

Diseased with Love’s disastrous fit: no more

Rinaldo in Mount Alban’s castle stayed:

With him his kinsman’s flower the warrior bore.

How he for Paris journeyed, and how well

He succoured Charles, shall other canto tell.

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