Orlando Furioso, by Lodovico Ariosto

Canto 8

Argument

Rogero flies; Astolpho with the rest,

To their true shape Melissa does restore;

Rinaldo levies knights and squadrons, pressed

In aid of Charles assaulted by the Moor:

Angelica, by ruffians found at rest,

Is offered to a monster on the shore.

Orlando, warned in visions of his ill,

Departs from Paris sore against his will.

I

How many enchantresses among us! oh,

How many enchanters are there, though unknown!

Who for their love make man or woman glow,

Changing them into figures not their own.

Nor this by help of spirits from below,

Nor observation of the stars is done:

But these on hearts with fraud and falsehood plot,

Binding them with indissoluble knot.

II

Who with Angelica’s, or rather who

Were fortified with Reason’s ring, would see

Each countenance, exposed to open view,

Unchanged by art or by hypocrisy.

This now seems fair and good, whose borrowed hue

Removed, would haply foul and evil be.

Well was it for Rogero that he wore

The virtuous ring which served the truth to explore!

III

Rogero, still dissembling, as I said,

Armed, to the gate on Rabican did ride;

Found the guard unprepared, not let his blade,

Amid that crowd, hang idle at his side:

He passed the bridge, and broke the palisade,

Some slain, some maimed; then t’wards the forest hied;

But on that road small space had measured yet,

When he a servant of the fairy met.

IV

He on his fist a ravening falcon bore,

Which he made fly for pastime every day;

Now on the champaign, now upon the shore

Of neighbouring pool, which teemed with certain prey;

And rode a hack which simple housings wore,

His faithful dog, companion of his way.

He, marking well the haste with which he hies,

Conjectures truly what Rogero flies.

V

Towards him came the knave, with semblance haught,

Demanding whither in such haste he sped:

To him the good Rogero answers naught.

He hence assured more clearly that he fled,

Within himself to stop the warrior thought,

And thus, with his left arm extended, said:

“What, if I suddenly thy purpose balk,

And thou find no defence against this hawk?”

VI

Then flies his bird, who works so well his wing,

Rabican cannot distance him in flight:

The falconer from his back to ground did spring,

And freed him from the bit which held him tight;

Who seemed an arrow parted from the string,

And terrible to foe, with kick and bite;

While with such haste behind the servant came,

He sped as moved by wind, or rather flame.

VII

Nor will the falconer’s dog appear more slow;

But hunts Rogero’s courser, as in chace

Of timid hare the pard is wont to go.

Not to stand fast the warrior deems disgrace,

And turns towards the swiftly-footed foe,

Whom he sees wield a riding-wand, place

Of other arms, to make his dog obey.

Rogero scorns his faulchion to display.

VIII

The servant made at him, and smote him sore;

The dog his left foot worried; while untied

From rein, the lightened horse three times and more

Lashed from the croup, nor missed his better side.

The hawk, oft wheeling, with her talons tore

The stripling, and his horse so terrified,

The courser, by the whizzing sound dismayed,

Little the guiding hand or spur obeyed.

IX

Constrained at length, his sword Rogero drew

To clear the rabble, who his course delay;

And in the animals’ or villain’s view

Did now its point, and now its edge display.

But with more hinderance and vexatious crew

Swarm here and there, and wholly block the way;

And that dishonour will ensue and loss,

Rogero sees, if him they longer cross.

X

He knew each little that he longer stayed,

Would bring the fay and followers on the trail;

Already drums were beat, and trumpets brayed,

And larum-bells rang loud in every vale.

An act too foul it seemed to use his blade

On dog, and knave unfenced with arms or mail:

A better and shorter way it were

The buckler, old Atlantes’ work, to bare.

XI

He raised the crimson cloth in which he wore

The wondrous shield, enclosed for many a day;

Its beams, as proved a thousand times before,

Work as they wont, when on the sight they play;

Senseless the falconer tumbles on the moor;

Drop dog and hackney; drop the pinions gay,

Which poised in air the bird no longer keep:

Then glad Rogero leaves a prey to sleep.

XII

In the mean time, Alcina, who had heard

How he had forced the gate, and, in the press,

Slaughtered a mighty number of her guard,

Remained nigh dead, o’erwhelmed with her distress;

She tore her vesture, and her visage marred,

And cursed her want of wit and wariness.

Then made forthwith her meiny sound to arms,

And round herself arrayed her martial swarms.

XIII

Divided next, one squadron by the way

Rogero took, she sent; the bands were two:

She at the port embarked the next array,

And straight to sea dispatched the warlike crew.

With this good squadron went the desperate fay,

And darked by loosened sails the billows grew;

For so desire upon her bosom preyed,

Of troops she left her city unpurveyed.

XIV

Without a guard she left her palace there,

Which to Melissa, prompt her time to seize,

To loose her vassals that in misery were,

Afforded all convenience and full ease;

— To range, at leisure, through the palace fair,

And so examine all her witcheries;

To raze the seal, burn images, and loose

Or cancel hag-knot, rhomb, or magic noose.

XV

Thence, through the fields, fast hurrying from that dome,

The former lovers changed, a mighty train,

Some into rock or tree, to fountain some,

Or beast, she made assume their shapes again:

And these, when they anew are free to roam,

Follow Rogero’s footsteps to the reign

Of Logistilla’s sage; and from that bourn

To Scythia, Persia, Greece, and Ind return.

XVI

They to their several homes dispatched, repair,

Bound by a debt which never can be paid:

The English duke, above the rest her care,

Of these, was first in human form arrayed:

For much his kindred and the courteous prayer

Of good Rogero with Melissa weighed.

Beside his prayers, the ring Rogero gave;

That him she by its aid might better save.

XVII

Thus by Rogero’s suit the enchantress won,

To his first shape transformed the youthful peer;

But good Melissa deemed that nought was done

Save she restored his armour, and that spear

Of gold, which whensoe’er at tilt he run,

At the first touch unseated cavalier;

Once Argalia’s, next Astolpho’s lance,

And source of mighty fame to both in France.

XVIII

The sage Melissa found this spear of gold,

Which now Alcina’s magic palace graced,

And other armour of the warrior bold,

Of which he was in that ill dome uncased.

She climbed the courser of the wizard old,

And on the croup, at ease, Astolpho placed:

And thus, an hour before Rogero came,

Repaired to Logistilla, knight and dame.

XIX

Meantime, through rugged rocks, and shagged with thorn,

Rogero wends, to seek the sober fay;

From cliff to cliff, from path to path forlorn,

A rugged, lone, inhospitable way:

Till he, with labour huge oppressed and worn,

Issued at noon upon a beach, that lay

‘Twixt sea and mountain, open to the south,

Deserted, barren, bare, and parched with drouth.

XX

The sunbeams on the neighbouring mountain beat

And glare, reflected from the glowing mass

So fiercely, sand and air both boil with heat,

In mode that might have more than melted glass.

The birds are silent in their dim retreat,

Nor any note is heard in wood or grass,

Save the bough perched Cicala’s wearying cry,

Which deafens hill and dale, and sea and sky.

XXI

The heat and thirst and labour which he bore

By that drear sandy way beside the sea,

Along the unhabited and sunny shore,

Were to Rogero grievous company:

Bur for I may not still pursue this lore,

Nor should you busied with one matter be,

Rogero I abandon in this heat,

For Scotland; to pursue Rinaldo’s beat.

XXII

By king, by daughter, and by all degrees,

To Sir Rinaldo was large welcome paid;

And next the warrior, at his better ease,

The occasion of his embassy displayed:

That he from thence and England, subsidies

Of men was seeking, for his monarch’s aid,

In Charles’s name; and added, in his care,

The justest reasons to support his prayer.

XXIII

The king made answer, that ‘without delay,

Taxed to the utmost of his powers and might,

His means at Charlemagne’s disposal lay,

For the honour of the empire and the right.

And that, within few days, he in array

Such horsemen, as he had in arms, would dight;

And, save that he was now waxed old, would lead

The expedition he was prayed to speed.

XXIV

‘Nor like consideration would appear

Worthy to stop him, but that he possessed

A son, and for such charge that cavalier,

Measured by wit and force, was worthiest.

Though not within the kingdom was the peer,

It was his hope (as he assured his guest)

He would, while yet preparing was the band,

Return, and find it mustered to his hand.’

XXV

So sent through all his realm, with expedition,

His treasures, to levy men and steeds;

And ships prepared, and warlike ammunition,

And money, stores and victual for their needs.

Meantime the good Rinaldo on his mission,

Leaving the courteous king, to England speeds;

He brought him on his way to Berwick’s town,

And was observed to weep when he was gone.

XXVI

The wind sat in the poop; Rinaldo good

Embarked and bade farewell to all; the sheet

Still loosening to the breeze, the skipper stood,

Till where Thames’ waters, waxing bitter, meet

Salt ocean: wafted thence by tide of flood,

Through a sure channel to fair London’s seat,

Safely the mariners their course explore,

Making their way, with aid of sail and oar.

XXVII

The Emperor Charles, and he, King Otho grave,

Who was with Charles, by siege in Paris pressed,

A broad commission to Rinaldo brave,

With letters to the Prince of Wales addressed,

And countersigns had given, dispatched to crave

What foot and horse were by the land possessed.

The whole to be to Calais’ port conveyed;

That it to France and Charles might furnish aid.

XXVIII

The prince I speak of, who on Otho’s throne

Sate in his stead, the vacant helm to guide,

Such honor did to Aymon’s valiant son,

He not with such his king had gratified.

Next, all to good Rinaldo’s wish, was done:

Since for his martial bands on every side,

In Britain, or the isles which round her lay,

To assemble near the sea he fixed a day.

XXIX

But here, sir, it behoves me shift my ground,

Like him that makes the sprightly viol ring,

Who often changes chord and varies sound,

And now a graver strikes, now sharper string:

Thus I:— who did to good Rinaldo bound

My tale, Angelica remembering;

Late left, where saved from him by hasty flight,

She had encountered with an anchorite.

XXX

Awhile I will pursue her story: I

Told how the maid of him with earnest care,

Enquired, how she towards the shore might fly:

Who of the loathed Rinaldo has such fear,

She dreads, unless she pass the sea, to die,

As insecure in Europe, far or near,

But she was by the hermit kept in play,

Because he pleasure took with her to stay.

XXXI

His heart with love of that rare beauty glowed,

And to his frozen marrow pierced the heat;

Who, after, when he saw that she bestowed

Small care on him, and thought but of retreat,

His sluggish courser stung with many a goad;

But with no better speed he plied his feet.

Ill was his walk, and worse his trot; nor spur

Could that dull beast to quicker motion stir:

XXXII

And for the flying maid was far before,

And he would soon have ceased to track her steed,

To the dark cave recurred the hermit hoar,

And conjured up of fiends a grisly breed:

One he selected out of many more,

And first informed the demon of his need;

Then in the palfrey bade him play his part,

Who with the lady bore away his heart:

XXXIII

And as sagacious dog on mountain tried

Before, accustomed fox and hare to chase,

If he behold the quarry choose one side,

The other takes, and seems to slight the trace:

But at the turn arriving, is espied,

Already tearing what he crossed to face;

So her the hermit by a different road

Will meet, wherever she her palfrey goad.

XXXIV

What was the friar’s design I well surmise;

And you shall know; but in another page.

Angelica now slow, now faster, flies,

Nought fearing this: while conjured by the sage,

The demon covered in the courser lies;

As fire sometimes will hide its smothered rage:

Then blazes with devouring flame and heat,

Unquenchable, and scarce allows retreat.

XXXV

After the flying maid had shaped her course

By the great sea which laves the Gascon shore,

Still keeping to the rippling waves her horse,

Where best the moistened sand the palfrey bore,

Him, plunged into the brine, the fiend perforce

Dragged, till he swam amid the watery roar.

Nor what to do the timid damsel knew,

Save that she closer to her saddle grew.

XXXVI

She cannot, howsoe’er the rein she ply,

Govern the horse, who swims the surge to meet:

Her raiment she collects and holds it high;

And, not to wet them, gathers up her feet.

Her tresses, which the breeze still wantonly

Assaults, dishevelled on her shoulders beat.

The louder winds are hushed, perchance in duty,

Intent, like ocean, on such sovereign beauty.

XXXVII

Landward in vain her eyes the damsel bright

Directs, which water face and breast with tears,

And ever sees, decreasing to her sight,

The beach she left, which less and less appears.

The courser, who was swimming to the right,

After a mighty sweep, the lady bears

To shore, where rock and cavern shag the brink,

As night upon the land begins to sink.

XXXVIII

When in that desert, which but to descry

Bred fear in the beholder, stood the maid

Alone, as Phoebus, plunged in ocean, sky

And nether earth had left obscured in shade;

She paused in guise, which in uncertainty

Might leave whoever had the form surveyed,

If she were real woman, or some mock

Resemblance, coloured in the living rock.

XXXIX

She, fixed and stupid in her wretchedness,

Stood on the shifting sand, with ruffled hair:

Her hands were joined, her lips were motionless,

Her languid eyes upturned, as in despair,

Accusing Him on high, that to distress

And whelm her, all the fates united were.

Astound she stood awhile; when grief found vent

Through eyes and tongue, in tears and in lament.

XL

“Fortune what more remains, that thou on me

Shouldst not now satiate thy revengeful thirst?

What more (she said) can I bestow on thee

Than, what thou seekest not, this life accurst?

Thou wast in haste to snatch me from the sea,

Where I had ended its sad days, immersed;

Because to torture me with further ill

Before I die, is yet thy cruel will.

XLI

“But what worse torment yet remains in store

Beyond, I am unable to descry:

By thee from my fair throne, which nevermore

I hope to repossess, compelled to fly;

I, what is worse, my honour lost deplore;

For if I sinned not in effect, yet I

Give matter by my wanderings to be stung

For wantonness of every carping tongue.

XLII

“What other good is left to woman, who

Has lost her honour, in this earthly ball?

What profits it that, whether false or true,

I am deemed beauteous, and am young withal?

No thanks to heaven for such a gift are due,

Whence on my head does every mischief fall.

For this my brother Argalia died;

To whom small help enchanted arms supplied:

XLIII

“For this the Tartar king, Sir Agrican,

Subdued my sire, who Galaphron was hight,

And of Catay in India was great khan;

’Tis hence I am reduced to such a plight,

That wandering evermore, I cannot scan

At morn, where I shall lay my head at night.

If thou hast ravished what thou couldst, wealth, friends,

And honour; say what more thy wrath intends.

XLIV

“If death by drowning in the foaming sea

Was not enough thy wrath to satiate,

Send, if thou wilt, some beast to swallow me,

So that he keep me not in pain! Thy hate

Cannot devise a torment, so it be

My death, but I shall thank thee for my fate!”

Thus, with loud sobs, the weeping lady cried,

When she beheld the hermit at her side.

XLV

From the extremest height the hermit hoar

Of that high rock above her, had surveyed

Angelica, arrived upon the shore,

Beneath the cliff, afflicted and dismayed.

He to that place had come six days before;

For him by path untrod had fiend conveyed:

And he approached her, feigning such a call

As e’er Hilarion might have had, or Paul.

XLVI

When him, yet unagnized, she saw appear,

The lady took some comfort, and laid by,

Emboldened by degrees, her former fear:

Though still her visage was of death-like dye.

“Misericord! father,” when the friar was near

(She said), “for brought to evil pass am I.”

And told, still broke by sobs, in doleful tone,

The story, to her hearer not unknown.

XLVII

To comfort her, some reasons full of grace,

Sage and devout the approaching hermit cites:

And, now his hand upon her moistened face,

In speaking, now upon her bosom lights:

As her, securer, next he would embrace:

Him, kindling into pretty scorn, she smites

With one hand on his breast, and backward throws,

Then flushed with honest red, all over glows.

XLVIII

A pocket at the ancient’s side was dight,

Where he a cruise of virtuous liquor wore;

And at those puissant eyes, whence flashed the light

Of the most radiant torch Love ever bore,

Threw from the flask a little drop, of might

To make her sleep: upon the sandy shore

Already the recumbent damsel lay,

The greedy elder’s unresisting prey.

XLIX

(Stanza XLIX untranslated by Rose)

L

(Lines 1-2 untranslated by Rose)

Hopeless, at length upon the beach he lies,

And by the maid, exhausted, falls asleep.

When to torment him new misfortunes rise:

Fortune does seldom any measure keep;

Unused to cut her cruel pastime short,

If she with mortal man is pleased to sport.

LI

It here behoves me, from the path I pressed,

To turn awhile, ere I this case relate:

In the great northern sea, towards the west,

Green Ireland past, an isle is situate.

Ebuda is its name, whose shores infest,

(Its people wasted through the Godhead’s hate)

The hideous orc, and Proteus’ other herd,

By him against that race in vengeance stirred.

LII

Old stories, speak they falsely or aright,

Tell how a puissant king this country swayed;

Who had a daughter fair, so passing bright

And lovely, ’twas no wonder if the maid,

When on the beach she stood in Proteus’ sight,

Left him to burn amid the waves: surveyed,

One day alone, upon that shore inisled,

Her he compressed, and quitted great with child.

LIII

This was sore torment to the sire, severe

And impious more than all mankind; nor he,

Such is the force of wrath, was moved to spare

The maid, for reason or for piety.

Nor, though he saw her pregnant, would forbear

To execute his sentence suddenly;

But bade together with the mother kill,

Ere born, his grandchild, who had done no ill.

LIV

Sea-Proteus to his flocks’ wide charge preferred

By Neptune, of all ocean’s rule possessed,

Inflamed with ire, his lady’s torment heard,

And, against law and usage, to molest

The land (no sluggard in his anger) stirred

His monsters, orc and sea-calf, with the rest;

Who waste not only herds, but human haunts,

Farm-house and town, with their inhabitants:

LV

And girding them on every side, the rout

Will often siege to walled cities lay;

Where in long weariness and fearful doubt,

The townsmen keep their watch by night and day.

The fields they have abandoned all about,

And for a remedy, their last assay,

To the oracle, demanding counsel, fly,

Which to the suppliant’s prayer made this reply:

LVI

‘That it behoved them find a damsel, who

A form as beauteous as that other wore,

To be to Proteus offered up, in lieu

Of the fair lady, slain upon the shore:

He, if he deems her an atonement due,

Will keep the damsel, not disturb them more:

If not, another they must still present,

And so, till they the deity content.’

LVII

And this it was the cruel usage bred;

That of the damsels held most fair of face,

To Proteus every day should one be led.

Till one should in the Godhead’s sight find grace.

The first and all those others slain, who fed,

All a devouring orc, that kept his place

Beside the port, what time into the main

The remnant of the herd retired again.

LVIII

Were the old tale of Proteus’ false or true,

(For this, in sooth, I know not who can read)

With such a clause was kept by that foul crew

The savage, ancient statute, which decreed

That woman’s flesh the ravening monster, who

For this came every day to land, should feed.

Though to be woman is a crying ill

In every place, ’tis here a greater still.

LIX

O wretched maids! whom ‘mid that barbarous rout

Ill-fortune on that wretched shore has tost!

Who for the stranger damsel prowl about,

Of her to make an impious holocaust;

In that the more they slaughter from without,

They less the number of their own exhaust.

But since not always wind and waves convey

Like plunder, upon every strand they prey.

LX

With frigate and with galley wont to roam,

And other sort of barks they range the sea,

And, as a solace to their martyrdom,

From far, or from their isle’s vicinity,

Bear women off; with open rapine some,

These bought by gold, and those by flattery:

And, plundered from the different lands they scower,

Crowd with their captives dungeon-cell and tower.

LXI

Keeping that region close aboard, to explore

The island’s lonely bank, a gallery creeps;

Where, amid stubs upon the grassy shore,

Angelica, unhappy damsel, sleeps.

To wood and water there the sailor’s moor,

And from the bark, for this, a party leaps;

And there that matchless flower of earthly charms

Discovers in the holy father’s arms.

LXII

Oh! prize too dear, oh! too illustrious prey!

To glut so barbarous and so base a foe!

Oh! cruel Fortune! who believed thy sway

Was of such passing power in things below?

That thou shouldst make a hideous monster’s prey

The beauty, for which Agrican did glow,

Brought with half Scythia’s people from the gates

Of Caucasus, in Ind, to find their fates.

LXIII

The beauty, by Circassian Sacripant

Preferred before his honour and his crown,

The beauty which made Roland, Brava’s vaunt,

Sully his wholesome judgment and renown,

The beauty which had moved the wide Levant,

And awed, and turned its kingdom upside down,

Now has not (thus deserted and unheard)

One to assist it even with a word.

LXIV

Oppressed with heavy sleep upon the shore,

The lovely virgin, ere awake, they chain:

With her, the enchanter friar the pirates bore

On board their ship, a sad, afflicted train.

This done, they hoisted up their sail once more,

And the bark made the fatal isle again,

Where, till the lot shall of their prey dispose,

Her prisoned in a castle they enclose.

LXV

But such her matchless beauty’s power, the maid

Was able that fierce crew to mollify,

Who many days her cruel death delayed,

Preserved until their last necessity;

And while they damsels from without purveyed,

Spared such angelic beauty: finally,

The damsel to the monstrous orc they bring,

The people all behind her sorrowing.

LXVI

Who shall relate the anguish, the lament

And outcry which against the welkin knock?

I marvel that the sea-shore was not rent,

When she was placed upon the rugged block,

Where, chained and void of help, the punishment

Of loathsome death awaits her on the rock.

This will not I, so sorrow moves me, say,

Which makes me turn my rhymes another way;

LXVII

To find a verse of less lugubrious strain,

Till I my wearied spirit shall restore:

For not the squalid snake of mottled stain,

Nor wild and whelpless tiger, angered more,

Nor what of venomous, on burning plain,

Creeps ‘twixt the Red and the Atlantic shore,

Could see the grisly sight, and choose but moan

The damsel bound upon the naked stone.

LXVIII

Oh! if this chance to her Orlando, who

Was gone to Paris-town to seek the maid,

Had been reported! or those other two,

Duped by a post, dispatched from Stygian shade,

They would have tracked her heavenly footsteps through

A thousand deaths, to bear the damsel aid.

But had the warriors of her peril known.

So far removed, for what would that have done?

LXIX

This while round Paris-walls the leaguer lay

Of famed Troyano’s son’s besieging band,

Reduced to such extremity one day,

That it nigh fell into the foeman’s hand;

And, but that vows had virtue to allay

The wrath of Heaven, whose waters drenched the land,

That day had perished by the Moorish lance

The holy empire and great name of France.

LXX

To the just plaint of aged Charlemagne

The great Creator turned his eyes, and stayed

The conflagration with a sudden rain,

Which haply human art had not allayed.

Wise whosoever seeketh, not in vain,

His help, than whose there is no better aid!

Well the religious king, to whom ’twas given,

Knew that the saving succour was from Heaven.

LXXI

All night long counsel of his weary bed,

Vexed with a ceaseless care, Orlando sought;

Now here, now there, the restless fancy sped,

Now turned, now seized, but never held the thought:

As when, from sun or nightly planet shed,

Clear water has the quivering radiance caught,

The flashes through the spacious mansion fly,

With reaching leap, right, left, and low, and high.

LXXII

To memory now returned his lady gay,

She rather ne’er was banished from his breast;

And fanned the secret fire, which through the day

(Now kindled into flame) had seemed at rest;

That in his escort even from Catay

Or farthest Ind, had journeyed to the west;

There lost: Of whom he had discerned no token

Since Charles’s power near Bordeaux-town was broken.

LXXIII

This in Orlando moved great grief, and he

Lay thinking on his folly past in vain:

“My heart,” he said, “oh! how unworthily

I bore myself! and out, alas! what pain,

(When night and day I might have dwelt with thee,

Since this thou didst not in thy grace disdain.)

To have let them place thee in old Namus’ hand!

Witless a wrong so crying to withstand.

LXXIV

“Might I not have excused myself? — The king

Had not perchance gainsaid my better right —

Of if he had gainsaid my reasoning,

Who would have taken thee in my despite?

Why not have armed, and rather let them wring

My heart out of my breast? But not the might

Of Charles or all his host, had they been tried,

Could have availed to tear thee from my side.

LXXV

“Oh! had he placed her but in strong repair,

Guarded in some good fort, or Paris-town!

— Since he would trust her to Duke Namus’ care,

That he should lose her in this way, alone

Sorts with my wish. — Who would have kept the fair

Like me, that would for her to death have gone?

Have kept her better than my heart or sight:

Who should and could, yet did not what I might.

LXXVI

“Without me, my sweet life, beshrew me, where

Art thou bestowed, so beautiful and young!

As some lost lamb, what time the daylight fair

Shuts in, remains the wildering woods among,

And goes about lamenting here and there,

Hoping to warn the shepherd with her tongue;

Till the wolf hear from far the mournful strain,

And the sad shepherd weep for her in vain.

LXXVII

“My hope, where are thou, where? In doleful wise

Dost thou, perchance, yet rove thy lonely round?

Art thou, indeed, to ravening wolf a prize,

Without thy faithful Roland’s succour found?

And is the flower, which, with the deities,

Me, in mid heaven had placed, which, not to wound,

(So reverent was my love) thy feelings chaste,

I kept untouched, alas! now plucked and waste?

LXXVIII

“If this fair flower be plucked, oh, misery! oh,

Despair! what more is left me but to die?

Almighty God, with every other woe

Rather than this, thy wretched suppliant try.

If this be true, these hands the fatal blow

Shall deal, and doom me to eternity.”

Mixing his plaint with bitter tears and sighs,

So to himself the grieved Orlando cries.

LXXIX

Already every where, with due repose,

Creatures restored their weary spirits; laid

These upon stones and upon feathers those,

Or greensward, in the beech or myrtle’s shade:

But scarcely did thine eyes, Orlando close,

So on thy mind tormenting fancies preyed.

Nor would the vexing thoughts which bred annoy,

Let thee in peace that fleeting sleep enjoy.

LXXX

To good Orlando it appeared as he,

Mid odorous flowers, upon a grassy bed,

Were gazing on that beauteous ivory,

Which Love’s own hand had tinged with native red;

And those two stars of pure transparency,

With which he in Love’s toils his fancy fed:

Of those bright eyes, and that bright face, I say,

Which from his breast had torn his heart away.

LXXXI

He with the fullest pleasure overflows,

That ever happy lover did content:

But, lo! this time a mighty tempest rose,

And wasted flowers, and trees uptore and rent.

Not with the rage with which this whirlwind blows,

Joust warring winds, north, south, and east, unpent.

It seemed, as if in search of covering shade,

He, vainly wandering, through a desert strayed.

LXXXII

Meanwhile the unhappy lover lost the dame

In that dim air, nor how he lost her, weets;

And, roving far and near, her beauteous name

Through every sounding wood and plain repeats.

And while, “Oh wretched me!” is his exclaim,

“Who has to poison changed my promised sweets?”

He of his sovereign lady who with tears

Demands his aid, the lamentation hears.

LXXXIII

Thither, whence comes the sound, he swiftly hies,

And toils, now here, now there, with labour sore:

Oh! what tormenting grief, to think his eyes

Cannot again the lovely rays explore!

— Lo! other voice from other quarter cries —

“Hope not on earth to enjoy the blessing more.”

At that alarming cry he woke, and found

Himself in tears of bitter sorrow drowned.

LXXXIV

Not thinking that like images are vain,

When fear, or when desire disturbs our rest,

The thought of her, exposed to shame and pain,

In such a mode upon his fancy pressed,

He, thundering, leaped from bed, and with what chain

And plate behoved, his limbs all over dressed;

Took Brigliadoro from the stall he filled,

Nor any squire attendant’s service willed.

LXXXV

And to pass every where, yet not expose

By this his dignity to stain or slight,

The old and honoured ensign he foregoes,

His ancient bearing, quartered red and white.

And in its place a sable ensign shows,

Perhaps as suited to his mournful plight,

That erst he from an Amostantes bore,

Whom he had slain in fight some time before.

LXXXVI

At midnight he departed silently,

Not to his uncle spake, not to his true

And faithful comrade Brandimart, whom he

So dearly cherished, even bade adieu;

But when, with golden tresses streaming-free,

The sun from rich Tithonus’ inn withdrew,

And chased the shades, and cleared the humid air,

The king perceived Orlando was not there.

LXXXVII

To Charles, to his displeasure, were conveyed

News that his nephew had withdrawn at night,

When most he lacked his presence and his aid;

Nor could he curb his choler at the flight,

But that with foul reproach he overlaid,

And sorely threatened the departed knight,

By him so foul a fault should be repented,

Save he, returning home, his wrath prevented.

LXXXVIII

Nor would Orlando’s faithful Brandimart,

Who loved him as himself, behind him stay;

Whether to bring him back he in his heart

Hoped, or of him ill brooked injurious say:

And scarce, in his impatience to depart,

Till fall of eve his sally would delay.

Lest she should hinder his design, of this

He nought imparted to his Flordelis:

LXXXIX

To him this was a lady passing dear,

And from whose side he unwont to stray;

Endowed with manners, grace, and beauteous cheer,

Wisdom and wit: if now he went away

And took no leave, it was because the peer

Hoped to revisit her that very day.

But that befel him after, as he strayed,

Which him beyond his own intent delayed.

XC

She when she has expected him in vain

Well nigh a month, and nought of him discerns,

Sallies without a guide or faithful train,

So with desire of him her bosom yearns:

And many a country seeks for him in vain;

To whom the story in due place returns.

No more I now shall tell you of these two,

More bent Anglantes’ champion to pursue;

XCI

Who having old Almontes’ blazonry

So changed, drew nigh the gate; and there the peer

Approached a captain of the guard, when he;

“I am the County,” whispered in his ear,

And (the bridge quickly lowered, and passage free

At his commandment) by the way most near

Went straight towards the foe: but what befell

Him next, the canto which ensues shall tell.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au//data/web/ebooks/canto8.html

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