Orlando Furioso, by Lodovico Ariosto

Canto 31

Argument

Rinaldo and Dudon fight; then friendship make,

And to each other fitting honour pay.

Agramant’s host the united champions break,

And scatter it, like chaff, in disarray.

Brandimart wages war, for Roland’s sake,

With Rodomont, and loses in the fray.

This while, for good Baiardo, with more pain,

Contend Rinaldo and the Sericane.

I

What sweeter, gladder, state could be possest

Than falls to the enamoured bosom’s share?

What happier mode of life, what lot more blest,

Than evermore the chains of love to wear?

Were not the lover, ‘mid his joys, distrest

By that suspicious fear, that cruel care,

That martyrdom, which racks the suffering sprite,

That phrensied rage, which jealousy is hight.

II

For by all bitters else which interpose

Before enjoyment of this choicest sweet,

Love is augmented, to perfection grows,

And takes a finer edge; to drink and eat,

Hunger and thirst the palate so dispose,

And flavour more our beverage and our meat.

Feebly that wight can estimate the charms

Of peace, who never knew the pain of arms.

III

That which the heart aye sees, though undiscerned

Of human eye, we can support in peace.

To him long absent, to his love returned,

A longer absence is but joy’s increase.

Service may be endured, though nought is earned,

So that the hope of guerdon does not cease.

For worthy service in the end is paid,

Albeit its wages should be long delaid.

IV

Scorn, and repulse, and finally each pain

Of suffering love, his every martyrdom,

Through recollection, make us entertain

Delights with greater rapture, when they come.

But if weak mind be poisoned by that bane,

That filthy pest, conceived in Stygian home,

Though joy ensue, with all its festive pleasures,

The wretched lover ill his comfort measures.

V

This is that cruel and envenomed wound

Where neither salve nor portion soothes the smart;

Nor figure made by witch, nor murmured sound;

Nor star benign observed in friendly part;

Nor aught beside by Zoroaster found,

Inventor as he was of magic art.

Fell wound, which, more than every other woe,

Makes wretched man despair, and lays him low!

VI

O’ cruel wound! incapable of cure,

Inflicted with such ease on lover’s breast,

No less by false suspicion than by sure!

O wound! whose pangs so wofully molest,

They reason and our better wit obscure,

And from it natural bent our judgment wrest:

Wound, which against all reason didst destroy

The damsel of Dordona’s every joy!

VII

I speak not of what fatal mischief wrought

Hippalca’s and the brother’s bitter blow;

I speak of fell and cruel tidings brought

Some few days after; for the former woe,

Weighed with this other, was a thing of nought:

This after some digression will I show:

But first Rinaldo’s feats I must declare,

Who with his troop to Paris made repair.

VIII

The following day they met a cavalier,

Towards evening, with a lady by his side;

Sable his shield, and sable was his gear,

Whose ground a bar of silver did divide.

As foremost, and of seeming force, the peer,

Young Richardetto to the joust defend:

He, prompt for battle, wheeled his courser round,

And for the tourney took sufficient ground.

IX

Between those knights no further parley past:

Without more question, charged the martial two.

Rinaldo with the friendly troop stood fast,

And looked to see what issue would ensue.

“Him from his saddle will I quickly cast,

If firm the footing, and mine arm prove true”;

Within himself young Richardetto cries:

But that encounter ends in other wise.

X

Him underneath the vizor’s sight offends

The stranger champion, of the sable weed,

With force so fell, that he the youth extends

Above two lances’ length beyond his steed.

Quickly to venge the knight Alardo wends,

But falls himself astounded on the mead;

Sore handled, and unhorsed by such a stroke,

His buckler in the cruel shock is broke.

XI

His lance Guichardo levelled, when he spied

Outstretched upon the field, the brethren two;

Although “Halt, halt,” (renowned Rinaldo cried,)

“For this third course to me is justly due”:

But he as yet his helmet had not tied;

So that Guichardo to the combat flew.

He kept his seat no better than the twain;

Forthwith, like them, extended on the plain.

XII

All to be foremost in the joust contend,

Richardo, Malagigi, Viviane:

But to their strife Rinaldo puts an end;

He shows himself in arms before the train,

Saying, “ ’Tis time that we to Paris wend;

For us too long the tourney will detain,

If I expect till each his course has run,

And ye are all unseated, one by one.”

XIII

So spake the knight, yet spake not in a tone

To be o’erheard in what he inly said;

Who thus foul scorn would to the rest have done.

Both now had wheeled, and fierce encounter made.

In the career Rinaldo was not thrown,

Who all the banded kinsmen much outweighed;

Their spears like brittle glass to pieces went,

But not an inch the champions backward bent.

XIV

The chargers such a rough encounter made,

That on his crupper sank each staggering horse:

Rinaldo’s rose so quick, he might be said

Scarcely to interrupt his rapid course:

The stranger’s broke his spine and shoulder-blade;

That other shocked him with such desperate force.

When his lord sees him slain, he leaves his seat,

And in an instant springs upon his feet;

XV

And to his foe, that having wheeled anew,

Approached with hand unarmed, the warrior cried:

“Sir, to the goodly courser whom ye slew,

Because, whenas he lived, he was my pride,

I deem, I ill should render honour due,

If thus unvenged by my good arm he died;

And so fall on, and do as best ye may,

For we parforce must meet in new assay.”

XVI

To him Rinaldo, “If we for thy horse

Have to contend in fight, and nought beside,

Take comfort, for I ween that with no worse

Thou, in his place, by me shalt be supplied.”

— “Thou errest if thou deem’st his loss the source

Of my regret” (the stranger knight replied);

“But I, since thou divinest not my speech,

To thee my meaning will more plainly teach.

XVII

“I should esteem it were a foul misdeed,

Unless I proved thee also with the brand.

I, if thou in this other dance succeed

Better or worse than me, would understand:

Then, as it please, afoot or on thy steed,

Attack me, so it be with arms in hand.

I am content all vantage to afford;

Such my desire to try thee with the sword!”

XVIII

Not long Rinaldo paused: he cried, “I plight

My promise not to balk thee of the fray;

And, for I deem thou art a valiant knight,

And lest thou umbrage take at mine array,

These shall go on before, nor other wight,

Beside a page, to hold my horse, shall stay.”

So spake Mount Alban’s lord; and to his band,

To wend their way the warrior gave command.

XIX

To that king paladin with praise replied

The stranger peer; alighting on the plain,

Rinaldo to the valet, at his side,

Consigned the goodly steed Baiardo’s rein,

And when his banner he no longer spied,

Now widely distant with the warrior’s train,

His buckler braced, his biting faulchion drew,

And to the field defied the knight anew.

XX

And now each other they in fight assail:

Was never seen a feller strife in show.

Neither believes his foeman can avail,

Long, in that fierce debate, against his blow:

But when they knew, well neighed in doubtful scale,

That they were fitly matched, for weal or woe,

They laid their fury and their pride apart,

And for their vantage practised every art.

XXI

Their cruel and despiteous blows resound,

Re-echoing wide, what time the valiant twain

With cantlets of their shields now strew the ground,

Now with their faulchions sever plate and chain.

Yet more behoves to parry than to wound,

If either knight his footing would maintain;

For the first fault in fence, by either made,

Will with eternal mischief be appaid.

XXII

One hour and more than half another, stood

The knights in battle; and the golden sun

Already was beneath the tumbling flood,

And the horizon veiled with darkness dun:

Nor yet had they reposed, nor interlude

Had been, since that despiteous fight begun,

‘Twixt these, whom neither ire nor rancour warms,

But simple thirst of fame excites to arms.

XXIII

Rinaldo in himself revolving weighed

Who was the stranger knight, so passing stout;

That not alone him bravely had gainsaid,

But oft endangered in that deadly bout;

And has so harassed with his furious blade,

He of its final issue stands in doubt.

— He that the strife was ended would be fain,

So that his knightly honour took no stain.

XXIV

The stranger knight, upon the other side,

As little of his valiant foeman knew;

Nor in that lord Mount Alban’s chief descried,

In warfare so renowned all countries through.

And upon whom, with such small cause defied,

His faulchion he in deadly combat drew.

He was assured he could not have in fight

Experience of a more redoubted wight.

XXV

He gladly would be quit of the emprize

He undertook to venge his courser’s fall;

And, could he, without blame, a mean devise,

Would fain withdraw from that disastrous brawl.

So overcast already were the skies,

Their cruel strokes well nigh fell harmless all.

Both blindly strike; more blindly yet those lords

Parry the stroke, who scarce discern their swords.

XXVI

He of Mount Alban is the first to say,

They should not combat darkling, on the plain;

But should their duel till such time delay

As slow Arcturus should have turned his wain.

(And adds,) as safely as himself might stay

The foe in his pavilion, of his train

As duly tended, honoured, and well seen,

As he in any place had ever been.

XXVII

To pray him has Rinaldo little need:

He courteously accepts him for his host;

And thither the united warriors speed,

Where lies Mount Alban’s troop in chosen post.

From his attendant squire a goodly steed,

With sumptuous housings gorgeously embossed,

Rinaldo takes, with tempered sword and spear,

And these bestows upon the cavalier.

XXVIII

For Montalbano’s lord the stranger guest,

The baron recognised, with whom he came;

Because, before they reached their place of rest,

The paladin had chanced himself to name;

And (for they brethren were) with love opprest,

His tenderness him wholly overcame;

And touched with kind affection, at his heart,

From his full eyes the tears of pleasure start.

XXIX

Guido the savage was that cavalier,

Who, with Marphisa leagued, the martial maid,

Sansonet, and the sons of Olivier,

Long sailed the sea, as I erewhile have said;

From earlier meeting with his kindred dear

By Pinnabel, the felon knight, delaid;

Seized by that traitor, and by him detained,

To enforce the wicked law he had ordained.

XXX

Sir Guido, when he knew his host to be

Rinaldo, famed above each famous knight,

Whom he had burned with more desire to see

Than ever blindman covets the lost light,

In rapture cries, “What fortune tempted me

With you, my lord, to strive in deadly fight,

Whom long I have beloved, and love, whose worth

I prize above all dwellers’ upon earth?

XXXI

“Me on the distant bank of Euxine’s flood

(I Guido am yclept) Constantia bare,

Conceived of the illustrious seed and good

Of generous Aymon, as ye likewise are.

To visit you and my bold brotherhood

Is the occasion, hither I repair;

And, where to honour you I had in thought,

I see my coming has but mischief wrought.

XXXII

“But that I neither ye nor the others knew,

Must for so foul a fault be my excuse;

And, if I can amend it, bid me do

Whate’er thou wilt, nor ought will I refuse.”

When, on this part and that, between the two,

Of interchanged embraces there was truce,

“Take you no farther thought upon your side

The battle to excuse,” Rinaldo cried.

XXXIII

“For in complete assurance that you are

A real offset of our ancient tree,

You could no better testimony bear

Than the tried valour which in you we see;

If your demeanour more pacific were,

We ill should have believed your ancestry:

Since neither lion from the doe proceeds,

Nor fearful pigeon, hawk or eagle breeds.”

XXXIV

While neither they through talk their journey stay,

Neither through speed abate their talk, those two

Reached the pavilions where the kinsmen lay:

There good Rinaldo, crying to his crew

That this was Guido, whom so many a day

They had impatiently desired to view,

Much pleased the friendly troop; and, at his sight

All like his father deemed the stranger knight.

XXXV

I will not tell what welcome to the peer

Made Richardet, Alardo, and those twain;

What Malagigi, what Sir Aldigier,

And gallant Vivian, of that kindred train;

What every captain, every cavalier;

What Guido spake, what they replied again:

I for conclusion of my tale will say,

He was well greeted of the whole array.

XXXVI

Ever, I deem, good Guido would have been

Dear to his brethren bold; but welcomed more

Was now the valiant knight, and better seen

That at another time, as needed sore.

When the sun, garlanded with radiance sheen,

Upraised his visage from the watery floor,

Sir Guido and his kinsmen, in a band,

Beneath Rinaldo’s banner took their stand.

XXXVI

So one day and another prick the train,

That they to Paris’ leaguered gates are nigh,

Scarce ten miles distant, on the banks of Seine;

When, as good Fortune wills it, they descry

Gryphon and Aquilant, the two that stain

Their virtuous armour with a different dye;

Sable was Aquilant’s, white Gryphon’s, weed;

Good Olivier’s and Sigismonda’s seed.

XXXVIII

In parley were they by a damsel stayed,

Nor she of mean condition to behold;

That in a snowy samyte was arraid,

The vesture edged about with list of gold:

Graceful and fair; although she was dismaid,

And down her visage tears of sorrow rolled;

Who with such mien and act her speech enforced,

It seemed of some high matter she discoursed.

XXXIX

As Guido them, they gallant Guido knew.

He with the pair had been few days before;

And to Rinaldo: “Behold those! whom few

In valour and in prowess go before,

And if they join your banner, against you

Feebly will stand the squadrons of the Moor.”

Rinaldo vouched what valiant Guido told,

How either champion was a warrior bold.

XL

Nor them he less had recognized at sight;

Because (such was the usage of the pair)

One by a vest all black, and one all white,

He knows, and by the ornaments they wear.

The brethren know as well Mount Alban’s knight,

And give the warlike kinsmen welcome fair:

They both embrace Rinaldo as a friend,

And of their ancient quarrel make an end.

XLI

They — erst at feud and with sore hate possest,

Through Truffaldino — (which were long to say)

Each other with fraternal love carest,

Now putting all their enmity away.

Rinaldo next Sir Sansonet addrest,

Who somewhat later joined that fair array;

And (knowing well his force and mighty thew)

Received the cavalier with honour due.

XLII

When she, that gentle damsel, now more near,

Beholds renowned Rinaldo, him she knows,

Acquainted with each paladin and peer.

She news which sorely grieve the warrior shows;

And thus begin: “My lord, your cousin dear,

To whom its safety Church and Empire owes,

Roland, erewhile so honoured and so sage,

Now roves the world, possest with frantic rage.

XLIII

“Whence woe, so direful and so strange, ensued

Cannot by me to you be signified:

I saw on earth his sword and armour strewed,

Doffed by that peer, and scattered far and wide;

And I a pious knight and courteous viewed

Those arms collecting upon every side,

Who, in the guise of trophy, to a tree

Fastened that fair and pompous panoply.

XLIV

“But from the trophied stem the sword withdrew

The son of Agrican that very day.

Thou mayst conceive what mischief may ensue

To Charles and to the christened host’s array,

From loss of Durindana, if anew

The infidels that goodly blade should sway.

Good Brigliador as well, who roved, forsaken,

About those arms, was by the paynim taken.

XLV

“Few days are past, since I in shameful wise

Saw Roland, running naked in his mood,

Sending forth piteous shrieks and fearful cries.

In fine, that he is frantic I conclude;

Nor this had I believed, save with these eyes

That strange and cruel wonder I had viewed.”

She added next, how from the bridge’s top,

Embraced by Rodomont, she saw him drop.

XLVI

“To whosoe’er I deem not Roland’s foe

I tell my tale,” (pursued the dame again,)

“That, of the crowd who hear this cruel woe

Some one, in pity to his cruel pain,

May strive the peer in Paris to bestow,

Or other friendly place, to purge his brain.

Well wot I, if such tidings he receive,

Nought unattempted Brandimart will leave.”

XLVII

Fair Flordelice was she, the stranger dame;

That his own self to Brandimart more dear:

Who in pursuit of him to Paris came.

That damsel, after, tells the cavalier,

How hate and strife were blown into a flame

Between Gradasso and the Tartar peer,

For Roland’s faulchion; fierce Gradasso’s prey,

When slain in combat Mandricardo lay.

XLVIII

By accident, so strange and sad, distrust,

Rinaldo is distraught with ceaseless woe:

He feels his heart dissolve within his breast,

As in the sun dissolves the flake of snow;

And, with unchanged resolve, upon the quest

Of good Orlando, every where will go;

In hopes, if he discover him, to find

Some means of cure for his distempered mind.

XLIV

But since his band already had he dight,

(Did him the hand of Heaven or Fortune sway)

He first to put the Saracens to flight,

And raise the siege of Paris, will assay.

But (for it promised vantage) he till night

The assault of their cantonments will delay,

Till the third watch or fourth, when heavy sleep

Their senses shall in Lethe’s water steep.

L

His squadron in the wood he placed, and there,

Ambushed, he made them lie the daylight through;

But when the sun, leaving this nether air

In darkness, to his ancient nurse withdrew;

And fangless serpent now, and goat, and bear,

With other beasts, adorned the heavens anew,

Which by the greater blaze had been concealed,

Rinaldo moved his silent troop afield.

LI

A mile an-end with Aquilant he prest,

Gryphon, Alardo, and Vivian of his race,

Guido and Sansonetto, and the rest,

Without word spoken, and with stealthy pace.

The Moorish guard they find with sleep opprest:

They slaughter all, nor grant one paynim grace;

And, ere they were by others seen or heard,

Into their midmost camp the squadron spurred.

LII

At the first charge on that unchristened band,

Their guard and sentries, taken by surprise,

So broken are by good Rinaldo’s brand,

No wight is left, save he who slaughtered lies.

Their first post forced, the paynims understand

No laughing matter is the lord’s emprize;

For. sleeping and dismaid, their naked swarms

Make small resistance to such warriors’ arms.

LIII

To strike more dread into the Moorish foe,

Mount Alban’s champion, leading the assault,

Bade beat his drums and bade his bugles blow,

And with loud echoing cries his name exalt.

He spurs Baiardo, that is nothing slow;

He clears the lofty barriers at a vault,

Trampling down foot, o’erturning cavalier,

And scatters booth and tent in his career.

LIV

Is none so bold of all that paynimry

But what his stiffened hair stands up on end,

Hearing Mount Alban’s and Rinaldo’s cry

From earth into the starry vault ascend.

Him the twin hosts of Spain and Afric fly,

Nor time in loading baggage idly spend;

Who will not wait that deadly fury more,

Which to have proved so deeply irks them sore.

LV

Guido succeeds; no less their foe pursue,

The valiant sons of warlike Olivier,

Alardo, Richardet, and the other two;

Sansonet’s sword and horse a pathway clear;

And well is proved upon that paynim crew

The force of Vivian and of Aldigier.

Thus each bestirs himself like valorous knight,

Who follows Clermont’s banner to the fight.

LVI

Seven hundred men with good Rinaldo speed,

Drawn from Mount Alban and the townships nigh

— No fiercer erst obeyed Achilles’ lead —

Enured to summer and to winter sky:

So stout each warrior is, so good at need,

A hundred would not from a thousand fly;

And, better than some famous cavaliers,

Many amid that squadron couch their spears.

LVII

If good Rinaldo gathers small supplies

From rents or cities, which his rule obey,

So these he bound by words and courtesies,

And sharing what he had with his array,

Is none that ever from his service buys

Deserter by the bribe of better pay.

Of Montalbano these are left in care,

Save pressing need demands their aid elsewhere.

LVIII

Them now in succour of King Charles he stirred,

And left with little guard his citadel.

Among the Africans that squadron spurred,

That squadron, of whose doughty feats I tell,

Doing by them what wolf on woolly herd

Does where Galesus’ limpid waters well,

Or lion by the bearded goat and rank,

That feeds on Cinyphus’s barbarous bank.

LIX

Tidings to Charles Rinaldo had conveyed,

That he for Paris with his squadron steers,

To assail, by night, the paynims ill purveyed;

And ready and in arms the king appears.

He, when his help is needed, comes in aid,

With all his peerage, and, beside his peers,

Brings Monodantes’ son, amid that crew,

Of Flordelice the lover chaste and true;

LX

Whom by such long and by such tedious way

She sought throughout the realm of France in vain;

Here by the cognizance, his old display,

Afar, by her distinguished from the train.

At the first sight of her he quits the fray,

And wears a semblance loving and humane.

He clipt her round with many a fond caress,

And kissed a thousand times, or little less.

LXI

To dame and damsel in that ancient age

They trusted much, that, in their wandering vein,

Roved, unescorted, many a weary stage,

Through foreign countries and by hill and plain;

Whom they returning hold for fair and sage,

Nor of their faith suspicion entertain.

Here Brandimart by Flordelice was taught

How Roland wandered, of his wits distraught.

LXII

Had he such strange and evil tidings heard

From other lips, he scarce had these believed:

But credited fair Flordelice’s word,

From whom more wondrous things he had received,

Nor this, as told by other, she averred;

This had she seen, and ill could be deceived;

For well as any she Orlando knows;

And both the when and where that damsel shows.

LXIII

She tells him how the perilous bridge’s floor

From cavaliers king Rodomont defends;

Where, on a pompous sepulchre, the Moor

His prisoners’ ravished arms and vest suspends;

Tells how she saw Orlando, raging sore,

Do fearful deeds, and her relation ends,

Describing how the paynim fell reversed,

To his great peril, in the stream immersed.

LXIV

Brandimart, who the Country loves as dear

As man can love a brother, friend, or son,

Disposed to seek Orlando, far and near,

Nor pain nor peril in the adventure shun,

Till something for the comfort of that peer

By wizard’s or by leech’s art be done,

Armed as he is, leaps lightly on his steed,

And takes his way beneath the lady’s lead.

LXV

Thitherward were Orlando she had spied,

In company the knight and lady made.

They daily post till to that bridge they ride,

Which Argier’s king maintained, in arms arraid,

To him the guard their coming signified;

Courser and arms his squires as well conveyed;

And Brandimart no sooner is at hand

Than Rodomont is armed and at his stand.

LXVI

With lofty voice the sovereign of Argier,

Assorting with his moody rage, ‘gan say:

“ — Whoe’er thou art, sir knight, and whencesoe’er —

Brought by mistake of purpose or of way,

Light from thine horse and doff thy warlike gear,

To deck this sepulchre, ere thee I slay,

An offering to its lovely tenant’s spirit;

And thou in thy forced homage have no merit.”

LXVII

Brandimart, at the paynim’s proud discourse,

His weapon in the rest, for answer, layed;

He good Batoldo spurred, his gentle horse,

And at the champion with such fury made,

As showed that he, for courage and for force,

With any warrior in the world had weighed.

King Rodomont as well, with rested spear,

Thundered along the bridge, in fierce career.

LXVIII

The paynim’s courser, ever used to go

Upon that bridge’s fearful pass, where one

Fell prone parforce into the stream below,

Securely to the fierce encounter run:

While, trembling, and irresolute in show,

That other to the unwonted course is gone.

Quivers the bridge beneath, as it would sink:

Narrow that passage is, unfenced the brink!

LXIX

With heavy spears, the growth of forest hoar,

Saplings rough-hewn, those masters of the just,

Upon the perilous bridge encountering sore,

Exchange, on either side, no gentle thrust.

Nor much their mighty strength or manege-lore

Avails the steeds; for, prostrate in the dust,

Crumbles each knight and charger in mid-course;

Whelmed in one fate, the rider and his horse.

LXX

When either steed would nimbly spring from ground,

As the spur galled and gored his bleeding flank,

He on that little bridge no footing found;

For all to narrow was the scanty plank.

Hence both fall headlong, and the deafening sound

Re-echo vaulted skies and grassy bank.

So rang our stream, when from the heavenly sphere

Was hurled the sun’s ill-fated charioteer.

LXXI

With all their weight, down hurtled from the steep,

Coursers and cavaliers, who sate them well;

And dived into the river’s darksome deep,

To search for beauteous nymph in secret cell.

Nor this the first nor yet the second leap

Which from the bridge had made that infidel!

Who, often floundering in its oozy bed,

Well in the soundings of that stream was read.

LXXII

He where ’tis hand and where ’tis softer knows,

Where shallow is the water, where profound:

With breast and flanks above the waves he rose,

And Brandimart assailed on safer ground.

Brandimart, whirling with the current, goes,

While his steed’s feet the faithless bottom pound.

He, with his lord, stands rooted in the mud,

With risk to both of drowning in the flood.

LXXIII

Whelming them upside-down, the waters flow,

And plunge them in the river’s deepest bed;

The horse is uppermost, the knight below.

From the bridge looks his lady, sore bested,

And tear employs, and prayer, and suppliant vow:

— “Ah, Rodomont! for love of her, whom dead

Ye worship, do not deed of such despite!

Permit not, sir, the death of such a knight.

LXXIV

“Ah! courteous lord! if e’er you loved withal,

Have pity upon me who love this peer;

Let it suffice that he become thy thrall!

For if thou on this stone suspend his gear,

Amid whatever spoils adorn the wall,

The best and worthiest will his spoils appear.”

She ended, and her prayer so well addrest,

It touched, though hard to move, the paynim’s breast.

LXXV

Moved by her words, he lent her lover aid,

So by his courser in the stream immersed;

And largely drank, albeit with little thirst.

But Rodomont a while his help delayed,

And seized the warrior’s sword and helmet first.

Him half exhausted from the stream he drew,

And prisoned with that other captive crew.

LXXVI

All happiness was in that damsel spent,

When taken she her Brandimart espied,

Although to see him captive more content,

Than to behold him perish in the tide.

None but herself she blames for the event,

Who thitherward had been the champion’s guide,

She having to that faithful warrior shown,

How at the bridge Orlando she had known.

LXXVII

She parts, and has anew already planned

Thither with good Rinaldo to resort;

With Guido, Sansonet of doughty hand,

Or other cavalier of Pepin’s court;

Some warrior good by water and by land,

That with the Saracen will well assort.

Who, if no stronger than her baffled knight,

With better fortune may maintain the fight.

LXXVIII

For many days the damsel vainly strayed,

Ere she encountered any one who bore

Semblance of knight, that might afford her aid,

And free her prisoned lover from the Moor;

After she long and fruitless search had made,

At length a warrior crost her way, that wore

A richly ornamented vest, whose ground

With trunks of cypresses was broidered round.

LXXIX

Who was that champion, shall be said elsewhere;

For I to Paris must return, and show

How Malagigi and Rinaldo are

Victorious o’er the routed Moorish foe.

To count the flyers were a useless care,

Or many drowned in Stygian streams below.

The darkness rendered Turpin’s labour vain,

Who tasked himself to tell the pagans slain.

LXXX

King Agramant in his pavilion lies,

From his first sleep awakened by a knight:

He that the king will be a prisoner cries,

Save he with speed betake himself to flight,

The monarch looks about him and espies

His paynim bands dispersed in panic fright.

Naked, they far and near desert the field;

Nay, never halt to snatch the covering shield.

LXXXI

Uncounselled and confused, the king arrayed

His naked limbs in knightly plate and chain,

When thither Falsiron, the Spaniard, made

Grandonio, Balugantes, and their train:

They to the Moorish king the risk displayed

Of being taken in that press, or slain;

And vouched if thence he should in safety fare,

He well might thank propitious Fortune’s care.

LXXXII

Marsilius so, Sobrino so, their fear

Express; so, one and all, the friendly band;

They warn him that Destruction is as near

As swift Mount Alban’s lord is nigh at hand.

And if against so fierce a cavalier,

And such a troop, he seeks to make a stand,

He and his friends in that disastrous strife

Will surely forfeit liberty or life.

LXXXIII

But he to Arles and Narbonne may retreat,

With such few squadrons as his rule obey:

Since either is well fortified, and meet

The warfare to maintain above one day;

And having saved his person, the defeat

May venge upon the foe, by this delay:

His troops may rally quickly in that post,

And rout in fine King Charles’ conquering host.

LXXXIV

Agramant to those lords’ opinion bent,

Though that hard counsel he could ill endure;

As if supplied with wings, towards Arles he went,

By roads which offered passage most secure.

Beside safe guides, much favoured his intent

His setting out, when all things were obscure.

Scaping the toils by good Rinaldo spread,

Some twenty thousand of the paynims fled.

LXXXV

Those whom Rinaldo, whom his brethren slew,

Whom Oliviero’s sons, the valiant twain,

Those who were slaughtered by Mount Alban’s crew,

— The fierce seven hundred, good Rinaldo’s train —

Those whom the valiant Sansonet o’erthrew,

And those that in their flight were drowned in Seine,

He who would count, might count as well what flowers

Zephyr and Flora shed, mid April-showers.

LXXXVI

Here one conjectures Malagigi bore

A part in the alarum of that night:

Not that he stained the mead with paynim gore,

Nor splintered heads; but that the wizard wight,

Infernal angels, by his magic lore,

Called from Tartarean caverns into light;

Whose many spears and banners waving wide

Two kingdoms such as France had scarce supplied.

LXXXVII

And with them such sonorous metal brayed,

So many drums and martial noises sounded;

So many steeds in that encounter neighed;

So many cries — with rush of foot confounded —

Rose all about, that hill, dale, wood, and glade,

From distant parts, the deafening din rebounded;

And struck into the Moors such sudden dread,

They turned and from the field in panic fled.

LXXXVIII

Their king forgets no, how Rogero lay

Sore wounded, and as yet in evil case.

Him, with what care they could, he made convey

From that dread field, on horse of easy pace.

Borne to the sea by the securest way,

They in a bark the suffering warrior place,

And thence commodiously to Arles transport;

Whither their wasted squadrons make resort.

LXXXIX

Chased by Rinaldo and King Charlemagne,

A hundred thousand, or well nigh, I ween,

By wood, by mountain, valley, and by plain,

Flying the fury of the Franks are seen;

More find the passage blocked, and widely stain

With crimson what before was white and green.

Not so Gradasso’s puissant troops was spent,

Who farther from the field had pitched his tent.

XC

Nay; when he hears it is Mount Alban’s knight

By whom assailed the paynim quarters are,

He in his heart exults, with such delight,

That he, for very joy, leaps here and there.

He thanks and lauds his God, who him that night

Blest with so high a fortune and so rare;

Hoping to win the horse without a peer,

Baiardo, from the Christian cavalier.

XCI

Gradasso had desired long time before

(I think you will have read the tale elsewhere)

To back that courser, which Rinaldo bore,

And Durindana by his side to wear:

He with a hundred thousand men and more

To France, with this design, had made repair;

And had erewhile to bloody fight defied,

Even for that good steed, Mount Alban’s pride.

XCII

Hence had that king repaired to the sea-shore,

The place assigned to end their discord fell:

But all was marred by Malagigi’s lore;

Who, cheating good Rinaldo with a spell,

To sea the champion in a pinnace bore.

Too tedious were the tale at length to tell.

Hence evermore Gradasso had opined,

The gentle baron was of craven kind.

XCIII

Now that Gradasso learns Mount Alban’s peer

Is he, that storms the camp, in huge delight,

Armed, on Alfana leaps the cavalier,

And through the pitchy darkness seeks the knight,

O’erturning all who cross his fierce career,

He leaves afflicted and in piteous plight

The broken bands of Afric and of France.

All, food alike for his wide-wasting lance.

XCIV

He seeks the paladin, now here now there,

Echoing his name as loud as he can shout;

And thitherward inclines his courser, where

The bodies are most thickly strown about.

At length encounter, sword to sword, the pair,

For broken are alike their lances stout;

Which shivering in their hands, had flown upright.

And smote the starry chariot of the Night.

XCV

When King Gradasso recognized the foe,

Not by the blazoned bearing of his shield,

But by Baiardo — by that horrid blow,

Which made him seem sole champion of the field,

He to reproach the knight was nothing slow,

And of unworthy action him appealed;

In that he had not kept his ground and day,

Erewhile appointed for the fierce assay.

XCVI

“Belike thou hoped,” (said he of Sericane,)

“If for that time my vengeance thou couldst fly,

We should not meet in this wide world again:

But we are met, thou seest, anew; and I,

Be sure, though thou shouldst seek the Stygian reign,

Or be from earth translated to the sky,

Will hunt thee, save that courser thou forego,

Be it through heaven above or hell below.

XCVII

“Dost thou, as matched with me mistrust thy force,

(And that thou wert ill paired was seen whilere,)

And more esteemest life than fame, a course

Remains, which thee may from thy peril clear.

And thou, if thou in peace resign the horse,

May’st live, if life be deemed so passing dear;

But live afoot, unmeriting a steed,

That dost by chivalry such foul misdeed.”

XCVIII

Guido the savage, as he spake, was nigh

With Richardetto; and the warlike twain

Brandished alike their trenchant swords on high,

To teach more wit to him of Sericane:

But them Rinaldo stopt with sudden cry,

Nor brooked that he should injury sustain.

“Am I too weak,” (he cried,) “without your aid,

To answer him that dares my deeds upbraid?”

XCIX

Then to the pagan thus: “Gradasso hear,

And wilt thou listen, thou shalt understand,

And I will prove it manifest and clear,

I came to seek thee out upon the strand;

And afterwards on thee will made appear

The truth of all I say with arms in hand;

Know then thou liest, if e’er with slanderous speech

Thou taxest me with aught in knighthood’s breach.

C

“But warmly I beseech thee, that before

The battle be, thou fully comprehend

My just excuses, that thou may’st no more

Me for my failure wrongly reprehend:

Next for Baiardo, as agreed of yore,

’Tis my desire that we afoot contend;

Even as ordained by thee, in desert place,

Alone in knightly duel, face to face.”

CI

Courteous was Sericana’s cavalier,

(For generous bosoms aye such practise use)

And is content to listen to the peer,

How he his breach of promise will excuse.

With him he seeks the river side, and here

In simple words what chanced Rinaldo shews;

Form the true history removes the veil,

And cites all Heaven to witness to his tale.

CII

Next calls upon the son of Buovo, who

Is of that history informed aright;

And now, from point to point, relates anew

(Nor more nor less rehearsed) the magic sleight.

When thus Rinaldo: “What I warrant true

By witness, I with arms in single fight,

For better proof, will vouch upon thy crest,

Both now and ever, as it likes thee best.”

CIII

The king of Sericane, as loath to leave

The second quarrel for the former breach,

Though doubtful how that tale he should receive,

Takes in good part the bold Rinaldo’s speech.

Not, as upon the former battle’s eve,

They choose their ground on Barcellona’s beach:

But on the morn ensuing, and, fast by

A neighbouring fountain, will the question try.

CIV

Thither Rinaldo will the steed convey,

There to be placed in common, ‘twixt the two.

If good Gradasso take his foe or slay,

He wins Baiardo without more ado.

But if Gradasso fails in that affray,

— Should he be slain, or else for mercy sue,

A prisoner to Mount Alban’s valiant lord,

Rinaldo shall possess the virtuous sword.

CV

With mighty marvel and with greater pain,

The paladin from Flordelice (as shown)

Had heard how troubled was his cousin’s brain.

And from the damsel’s lips as well had known

How he his arms had scattered on the plain;

And heard the quarrel which from thence had grown;

In fine, how King Gradasso had the brand,

Which won such thousand palms in Roland’s hand.

CVI

When they so agreed, Gradasso made

Thither where, camped apart, his servants lay,

Albeit warmly by Rinaldo prayed,

He would with him in his pavillion stay.

The paynim king in armour was arrayed,

And so the paladin, by break of day;

And to the destined fount came either lord,

The field of combat for the horse and sword.

CVII

It seemed Rinaldo’s friends were all in fear,

And dreaded much, before it was begun,

The issue of the fight their cavalier

Should wage against Gradasso, one to one.

Much force, much daring, and much skill appear

In that fierce king; and since of Milo’s son

The goodly sword was to his girdle tied,

All cheeks looked pale upon Rinaldo’s side;

CVIII

And Malagigi, more than all the rest,

Sore doubted the event which would ensue,

He willingly himself would have addrest

To disappoint the destined fight anew;

But fears if he that deadly strife arrest,

Rinaldo’s utter enmity to rue,

Yet wroth with him upon that other score,

When he conveyed the warrior from the shore.

CIX

Let others nourish idle grief and fears!

Rinaldo wends afield secure and gay,

Hoping that shame, which to the knight appears

Too foul to be endured, to wipe away:

So that of Altafoglia and Poictiers,

He may for ever silence the mis-say.

Boldly, and in his heart secure to win

That battle’s honour, wends the paladin.

CX

When now from either side those warriors meet,

Nigh at the same time at the fountain-side,

So in all points the pair each other greet,

With countenance, so kind, so satisfied,

‘Twould seem by kindred and by friendship sweet

Rinaldo and Gradasso were allied.

But how they after closed in fierce affray,

I till another season shall delay.

c30-tail

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au//data/web/ebooks/canto31.html

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