Orlando Furioso, by Lodovico Ariosto

Canto 9

Argument

So far Orlando wends, he comes to where

He of old Proteus’ hears the cruel use

But feels such pity for Olympia fair,

Wronged by Cymosco, who in prison mews

Her plighted spouse, that ere he makes repair

Further, he gives her hope to venge the abuse:

He does so, and departs; and with his spouse

Departs Bireno, to repeat his vows.

I

What cannot, when he has a heart possess’d

This false and cruel traitor Love? since he

Can banish from Orlando’s faithful breast

Such tried allegiance and due loyalty?

Wise, full of all regards, and of the blest

And glorious church the champion wont to be,

Now, little for himself or uncle, driven

By a vain love, he cares, and less for heaven.

II

But I excuse him well, rejoiced to know

I have like partner in my vice: for still

To seek my good I too am faint and slow,

But sound and nimble in pursuit of ill.

The count departs, disguised in sable show,

Nor for so many friends, with froward will,

Deserted cares; and comes where on the plain

Are camped the hosts of Afric and of Spain;

III

Rather uncamped: for, in less troops or more,

Rains under shed and tree had driven the band.

Here ten, there twenty, seven or eight, or four,

Near or further off, Orlando scanned.

Each sleeps, oppressed with toil and wearied sore;

This stretched on earth, that propped upon his hand:

They sleep, and many might the count have slain,

Yet never bared his puissant Durindane.

IV

So generous is Orlando’s heart, he base

Esteems it were to smite a sleeping foe.

Now this he seeks, and now that other place;

Yet cannot track his lady, high or low.

If he finds any one in waking case,

Sighing, to him he paints her form and show;

Then prays him that for courtesy, he where

The damsel is, will reach him to repair.

V

And when the day its shining light displayed,

He wholly searched the Moorish army through.

In that the gentle warrior was arrayed

In Arab weeds, he this might safely do;

And of his purpose came alike in aid

That other tongues beside the French he knew;

And in the African so well was read,

He seemed in Tripoly one born and bred:

VI

He sojourns there three days, the camp to see;

Still seeking nought beside: next up and down,

Within, without, both burgh and city he

Spies; nor surveys the realm of France alone;

But fair Auvergne, and even Gascony

Revisits, to its farthest little town.

Roves from Provence to Brittany’s domain,

And from the Picards to the bounds of Spain.

VII

Between October and November’s moon,

In that dull season when the leafy vest

Is stript from trembling plant, whose limbs are shown

Of all their mantling foliage dispossess’d

And in close flights the swarming birds are flown,

Orlando enters on his amorous quest:

This he pursues the livelong winter through,

Nor quits when gladsome spring returns anew.

VIII

As (such his wont) from land to land he goes,

A river’s side he reaches on a day;

Which to the neighbouring sea in quiet flows.

Bretons and Normans parting on its way:

But, swoln with mountain rain and melted snows,

Then thundered, white with foam and flashing-spray:

And with impetuous stream had overtopt

Its brim, and burst the bridge, and passage stopt.

IX

The paladin this bank and the other eyed,

Along the river’s channel, to explore,

Since neither fish nor fowl, if from his side

He could gain footing on the adverse shore;

When, with a damsel in the poop, he spied

A ready pinnace that towards him bore:

She steered, as if she would approach the strand;

But would not let her shallop make the land.

X

Steered not to land; as haply with suspicion

To take a lading, in her own despite.

To her the good Orlando made petition

To put him o’er the stream; and she: “No knight

Passes this ferry, but upon condition

He shall his faith and promise duly plight,

That he will do a battle, at my prayer,

Upon the justest quarrel and most fair.

XI

“So that if thou on that other shore to land

Dost by my aid, Sir cavalier, desire,

Promise me, ere the month which is at hand”

(The damsel so pursued her speech) “expire,

That thou wilt join the Hibernian monarch’s hand,

Who forms a fair armada, in his ire,

To sack Ebuda’s isle; of all compress’d

By ocean’s circling waves, the cruellest.

XII

“Know, beyond Ireland, in the briny flood,

An island, amid many others, lies;

Ebuda is its name; whose people rude

(Such is their law), in search of plunder hies;

And all the women that it takes, for food

To a voracious animal supplies;

Which every day to shore for this does speed,

And finds new wife or maid whereon to feed:

XIII

“For of these merchant still and Corsair sell

A large supply, and most of those most fair.

Reckoning one slain a-day, you thus may well

Compute what wives and maids have perished there.

But if compassion in your bosom dwell,

Nor you to Love an utter rebel are,

Be you contented with this band to wend,

United for such profitable end.”

XIV

To hear the whole Orlando scarce could bear,

Ere to be first in that emprize he swore,

As one who evil deed misliked to hear,

And with impatience like relation bore:

Hence first induced to think, and next to fear,

Angelica is captive on that shore:

Since he so long the missing maid pursues,

Nor of the damsel yet can gather news.

XV

Breaking his every scheme, this phantasy

The troubled cavalier did so confound,

That will all speed to that fell island he

Resolved to navigate; nor yet the round

Of a new sun was buried in the sea,

Ere he a vessel at St. Malo’s found;

In which, embarking on his quest, the count

Put forth, and cleared that night St. Michael’s Mount.

XVI

Breac and Landriglier past on the left hand,

Orlando’s vessel skims the Breton shore;

Then shapes her course towards the chalky strand,

Whence England’s isle the name of Albion bore:

But the south wind, which had her canvas fanned,

Shifts to north-west, and freshening, blows so sore,

The mariners are fain to strike all sail,

And wear and scud before the boisterous gale.

XVII

A distance traversed in four days, in one

Backwards the ceaseless wind the frigate bore;

The helmsman kept the sea, lest she should run

Aground, and break like glass upon the shore.

The wind upon the fifth day changed its tune,

So loud and furious through the other four;

And let, without more strife, the vessel gain

A port, where Antwerp’s river met the main.

XVIII

As soon as harboured there in shattered plight,

The weary mariners their frigate moor,

Out of a city, seated on the right

Of that fair stream, descends upon the shore,

As his gray hairs may warrant him, a wight

Stricken in years; who, full of courteous lore,

Turns to the county, after greetings due,

Reputing him the leader of that crew.

XIX

And prays him, on a damsel’s part, ‘that he

To her would think not irksome to repair;

Whom of unequalled affability

And sweetness, he would find, as well as fair;

Or otherwise would be content, that she

Should to his bark resort, to seek him there,

Nor prove less pliant than had been before

All the knights errant, who had sought that shore:

XX

For hitherto, by land or sea conveyed,

No cavalier had journeyed to that place

That had refused to parlay with the maid,

And give her counsel in a cruel case.’

Orlando, hearing this, no more delayed,

But issued from the bark with hurried pace,

And, in all kind and courteous usage bred,

His way directed where the ancient led.

XXI

With him did Roland to the city go,

And at the bottom of a palace-stair,

Conducted by that elder, full of woe

A lady found, if face may grief declare,

And sable cloth, with which (a mournful show)

Chamber, and hall, and gallery, furnished were;

Who, after honourable welcome paid,

Seated the paladin, and sadly said:

XXII

“The daughter of the Count of Holland,” (cried

The Lady) “know in me, Sir cavalier.

Though not his only offspring (for beside

Myself two brothers were) to him so dear,

That, for whatever favour I applied,

I never met refusal from the peer.

I living glady in this happy sort,

A duke by chance was guested at our court;

XXIII

“The Duke of Zealand, meaning for Biscay;

With purpose there to war upon the Moor;

His youth and beauty, then in manhood’s May,

And force of love, unfelt by me before,

Made me, with little strife, his easy prey:

Persuaded by his outward cheer yet more,

I thought, and think, and still shall think, the peer

Loved me, and loves me yet with heart sincere.

XXIV

“Those days, whenas the wind was contrary,

(Which fair for me, if foul for others blew)

To others forty seemed, an hour to me;

So upon speedy wings the moments flew.

This while, we oftentimes held colloquy,

When, to be given with solemn right and due,

I promised him, and he to me, his hand,

On his return, in wedlock’s holy band.

XXV

“Bireno hardly from our court was gone,

For such the name my faithful lover bore,

When Friesland’s king, whose realm is from our own

No further than this stream from Ocean’s shore,

Designing to bestow me on his son,

Arbantes hight (the monarch had no more),

To Holland sent the worthiest of his land,

Me of the count, my father, to demand.

XXVI

“I without power to falsify that vow,

Which to my gentle lover I had plight;

Nor though I had the power, would Love allow

Me so to play the ingrate, if I might,

(The treaty, well on foot, to overthrow,

And nigh concluded) with afflicted sprite,

Cried to my father, I would rather shed

My very life-blood, than in Friesland wed.

XXVII

“My gracious father, he who took but pleasure

In what pleased me, nor would my will constrain;

Marking my grief, broke off the intended measure,

To give me comfort and relieve my pain.

At this proud Friesland’s sovereign such displeasure

Conceived, and entertained such high disdain,

He entered Holland, and the war began,

In which my kin were slaughtered to a man.

XXVIII

“Besides, that both his puissance and his might

Are such, as in our age are matched of few,

Such is in evil deeds his cunning sleight,

He laughs to scorn what wit and force can do.

Strange arms he bears, unknown to any wight,

Save him, of the ancient nations or the new:

A hollow iron, two yards long, whose small

Channel he loads with powder and a ball

XXIX

“He, where ’tis closed behind, in the iron round,

Touches with fire a vent, discerned with pain;

In guise that skilful surgeon tries his ground,

Where need requires that he should breathe a vein.

Whence flies the bullet with such deafening sound,

That bolt and lightening from the hollow cane

Appear to dart, and like the passing thunder,

Burn what they smite, beat-down or rend asunder.

XXX

“Twice broken, he our armies overthrew

With this device, my gentle brethren slain;

The first the shot in our first battle slew,

Reaching his heart, through broken plate and chain;

The other in the other onset, who

Was flying from the fatal field in vain.

The ball his shoulder from a distance tore

Behind, and issued from his breast before.

XXXI

“My father next, defending on a day

The only fortress which he still possessed,

The others taken which about it lay,

Was sent alike to his eternal rest:

Who going and returning, to purvey

What lacked, as this or that occasion pressed,

Was aimed at from afar, in privy wise,

And by the traytour struck between the eyes.

XXXII

“And I remaining, sire and brethren dead,

The isle of Holland’s only heir, the king

Of Friesland, who by the desire was led

Of better there his power establishing,

To me, and also to my people said,

I peace and quiet to my state might bring,

Would I (when I before would not accord)

Now take his son Arbantes for my lord.

XXXIII

“I, not so much for deadly hate I bear

To him and all his kindred, by whose spite

My sire and both my brothers slaughtered were,

My country sacked and waste, as that the knight

I would not wrong, to whom I fealty sware,

And had my solemn word already plight

That me to wedlock man should woo in vain,

Till he to Holland should return from Spain.

XXXIV

“For one ill-born, a hundred yet behind,

Will bear (replied) to hazard all content,

— Slain, burnt alive, to let them to the wind

Scatter my ashes, rather than consent. —

My people seek to move my stedfast mind,

By prayer and by protest, from this intent;

And threat to yield my city up and me,

Lest all be lost through my obduracy.

XXXV

“When in my fixt and firm resolve they read,

That prayer and protest are alike in vain;

My town and me, with Friesland’s king agreed,

Surrendered, as they vowed, my vassal train.

Not doing by me any shameful deed,

Me he assured of life and of domain,

So I would soften my obdurate mood,

And be to wed with his Arbantes wooed.

XXXVI

“I who would have consented to forego

My life to scape from him, reflection made,

That, save I first avenged myself, all woe

Endured, would be by this regret outweighed.

— Long time I muse, and to my misery know,

’Tis only simulation which can aid.

Not simple willingness, I feign desire,

To win his grace, and have him for my sire.

XXXVII

“ Mid many in my father’s service, I

Select two brothers fitted for my view,

Of valiant heart and great ability

But more approved for truth, as followers, who

Bred in my father’s court, from infancy

Had with myself grown up; the brothers two

So wholly bound to me, they would have thought

My safety with their lives was cheaply bought.

XXXVIII

“To them I tell my project, and the pair

Of brethren promise me their faithful aid:

To Flanders this, a pinnace to prepare,

I sent, and that with me in Holland stayed.

Now, while both foreigners and natives were,

Of Friesland’s kingdom, to our nuptials prayed,

Bireno in Biscay (the tidings went)

For Holland had equipt an armament.

XXXIX

“Since on the issue of the earliest fray,

When in the rout one hapless brother fell,

I had dispatched a courier to Biscay,

Who the sad news should to Bireno tell:

While he toils sore his squadron to array,

Proud Friesland’s arms our wretched remnant quell.

Bireno, who knew nought of this, had weighed,

And with his barks put forth to bring us aid.

XL

“These tidings told to Friesland’s monarch, he

Confiding to his son the wedding’s care,

To meet Bireno’s squadron puts to sea,

And (so chance willed) burns, sinks, or routs them there,

Leading him off into captivity; —

But none to us as yet the tidings bear.

This while I to the amorous youth am wed,

Who, when the sun sought his, would seek my bed.

XLI

“Behind the curtains, I had hid the tried

And faithful follower, of whom I said,

Who moved not till the bridegroom he descried,

Yet waited not till he in bed was laid:

But raised a hatchet, and so well applied

Behind the stripling’s head the ponderous blade,

Of speech and life it reft him; I, who note

The deed, leap lightly up and cut his throat.

XLII

“As falls the bullock upon shamble-sill,

Thus fell the ill-starred stripling, in despite

Of king Cymosco, worst among the ill;

So was the impious king of Friesland hight

Who did my brothers and my father kill,

And, in my state to found a better right;

In wedlock wished to join me with his son,

Haply to slay me when his end was won.

XLIII

“Ere new disturbance interrupt the deed,

Taking what costliest was and lightest weighed,

Me my companion by a chord, with speed,

Drops from a window, where with boat purveyed

In Flanders (as related) for my need,

His brother, watchful of our motions, stayed:

We dip the oar, we loose the sail, and driven

By both, escape, as was the will of Heaven.

XLIV

“The daring feat achieved, I cannot say

If Friesland’s king more sorrowed for his son,

Or raged at me: he there arrived, the day

Ensuing, where the dreadful deed was done,

Proud he returned, both he and his array,

Of the duke taken, and the victory won:

And thought to feast and nuptials he was bound,

But in his home all grief and darkness found.

XLV

“His pity for his son, the hate he fed

Towards me, torment the father day and night;

But as lamenting will not raise the dead,

And vengeance is a vent for smothered spite;

That portion of his thoughts, which should have led

The king, to ease by sighs his troubled sprite,

Now willingly takes counsel with his hate,

To seize me, and his vengeance satiate.

XLVI

“All known or said to by my friends, or who

Were friends of those that, chosen from my train,

Had aided me the deadly deed to do,

Their goods and chattels burnt, were doomed or slain:

And he had killed Bireno, since he knew

No other trouble could inflict such pain;

But that he, saving him in malice, thought

He had a net wherewith I might be caught.

XLVII

“Yet him a cruel proposition made,

Granting a year his purpose to complete;

Condemned to privy death, till then delayed,

Save in that time, through force or through deceit,

He by his friends’ and kindred’s utmost aid,

Doing or plotting, me from my retreat

Conveyed into his prisons; so that he

Can only saved by my destruction be.

XLVIII

“What for his safety could be done, behold,

Short of my own destruction, had been tried.

Six towns I had in Flanders: these I sold,

And (great or small the produce set aside)

A part of it, to wily persons told,

That it to tempt his guards might be applied;

The rest of it dispensed to move and arm

Germans or English, to the miscreant’s harm.

XLIX

“My agents, whether they their trust betrayed,

Or that they could in truth perform no more,

Me with vain words instead of help have paid,

And scorn me, having drained my scanty store:

And now the term is nigh expired, when aid,

Whether of open force or treasured ore,

No longer will arrive in time to save

My cherished spouse from torture and the grave.

L

“Through him, from me was my dominion rent;

Through him, my father and my brethren slain;

Through him, the little treasure left me, spent

(What served alone existence to sustain)

To rescue him, in cruel durance pent;

Nor other means to succour him remain;

Save I, to liberate him from prison, go

And yield myself to such a cruel foe.

LI

“If nothing more be left me then to try,

Nor other way for his escape appear,

Than his with this my wretched life to buy,

This life I gladly will lay down: one fear

Alone molests me; and it is that I

Can never my conditions make so clear,

As to assure me, that with new deceit,

Me, when his prey, the tyrant will not cheat.

LII

“I fear, when I shall be in captive plight,

And he has put all tortures upon me,

He may not loose Bireno, and the knight

Have not to thank me for his liberty:

Like perjured king, and full of foul despite,

Who with my murder will not satiate be;

But by Bireno neither less nor more

Will do, than he had done by me before.

LIII

“The occasion now that I confer with you,

And tell my case to all who seek the land,

Both lords and knights, is with the single view,

That taking counsel of so large a band,

Some one may indicate assurance due,

That when before the cruel king I stand,

No longer he Bireno shall detain;

Nor, after I am killed, the duke be slain.

LIV

“Warrior to went with me, I in my need,

When I shall be to Friesland given, have prayed;

But so he promise, that the exchange agreed

Shall be between us in such manner made,

That from his bonds Bireno shall be freed

When I am to the monarch’s hands conveyed:

Thus I, when I am slain, shall die content,

Who to my spouse shall life by death have lent.

LV

“Not to this day have chanced upon a wight

Who on his faith will give me warranty,

That if the king refuse to loose the knight,

When I am offered, from captivity,

He will not suffer that in my despite

(So feared those weapons!) I shall taken be.

So feared those weapons, upon every hand!

Which, howsoever thick, no plates withstand.

LVI

“Now, if as strong Herculean port and bold

Appear to vouch, such worth to you belong;

And you believe to give me or withhold

Is in your power, should he intend me wrong;

Be with me, when committed to his hold,

Since I shall fear not, in your convoy strong,

When you are with me, that my lord, though I

Be after slain, shall by his order die.”

LVII

Here her discourse, wherewith were interposed

Loud sobs, the lady ceased, and silent stood:

Orlando, when her lips the damsel closed,

Whose ready will ne’er halts in doing good,

Briefly to her replies, as indisposed

To idle speeches of his natural mood:

But plights his solemn word, that better aid

She should from him receive than that she prayed.

LVIII

’Tis not his scheme to place her in the hand

Of her foul foe, to have Bireno freed;

He will save both the lovers, if his brand

And wonted valour fail him not at need.

Embarked that very day, they put from land

With a clear sky and prosperous wind to speed.

The county hastes in his impatient heat,

Eager to reach that isle, the monster’s seat.

LIX

Through the still deeps, on this or the other side,

The skipper veered his canvas to the wind:

This isle, and that of Zealand, they descried,

One seen before, and one shut in behind.

The third day, from the harboured vessel’s side,

In Holland, Roland disembarks, not joined

By the complaining dame; whom to descend

He will not till she hear that tyrant’s end.

LX

Armed at all points, the county passed ashore,

Borne on a horse ‘twixt brown and black, the breed

Of Denmark, but in Flanders nurtured, more

Esteemed for weight and puissance than for speed:

For when the paladin embarked before,

In Brittany he left the gallant steed,

His Brigliador; so nimble and so fair,

That but Bayardo could with him compare.

LXI

Orlando fares to Dordrecht, where he views

A numerous squadron, which the gate maintain;

As well, because suspicion still ensues

On the foundation of a new domain;

As that before they had received the news,

That out of Zealand, backed with armed train,

Was coming with a fleet of many sail,

A cousin of the lord here pent in jail.

LXII

One, good Orlando to the monarch’s ear

Bade bear a message, ‘that an errant knight

Oh him would prove himself, with sword and spear;

But would lay down this pact before the fight:—

That if the king unhorsed the cavalier,

Her who Arbantes slew, he, as his right,

Should have, that, at the cavalier’s command,

Was ready for delivery to his hand;

LXIII

‘And willed the king should on his side agree,

If him the knight in combat overbore,

Forthwith released from his captivity,

Bireno to full freedom to restore.’

To him the footman does his embassy;

But he, who knightly worth or courteous lore

Had never known, directs his whole intent

The count by treacherous fraud to circumvent.

LXIV

He hopes as well, if he the warrior slay,

To have the dame, whom, so aggrieved, he hates,

If in the knight’s disposal, and the say

Of that strange knight, the footman well relates.

Hence thirty men dispatched by other way

Than to the portal led, where Roland waits;

Who with a long and privy circuit wind,

And come upon the paladin behind.

LXV

He all this while had made his guard delay

The knight with words, till horse and foot he spied

Arrived, where he this ambuscade did lay;

When from the gate he with as many hied:

As is the practised hunter’s wonted way,

To circle wood and beasts on every side:

As nigh Volana, with his sweeping nets,

The wary fisher fish and pool besets.

LXVI

’Tis thus the king bars every path which lies

Free for the warrior’s flight, with armed train:

He him alive, and in no other guise,

Would have, and lightly hopes his end to gain;

Nor for the earthly thunderbolt applies,

That had so many and so many slain:

Which here he deems would serve his purpose ill,

Where he desires to take and not to kill.

LXVII

As wary fowler, bent on greater prey,

Wisely preserves alive the game first caught,

That by the call-bird and his cheating play,

More may within the circling net be brought;

Such cunning art Cymosco would assay:

But Roland would not be so lightly bought;

Like them by the first toil that springs betrayed;

And quickly forced the circle which was made.

LXVIII

Where he perceives the assailants thickest stand,

He rests his lance, and sticks in his career

First one and afterwards another, and

Another, and another, who appear

Of paste; till six he of the circling band

Of foes impales upon a single spear;

A seventh left out, who by the push is slain,

Since the clogged weapon can no more contain.

LXIX

No otherwise, upon the further shore

Of fosse or of canal, the frogs we spy,

By cautious archer, practised in his lore,

Smote and transfixed the one the other nigh;

Upon the shaft, until it hold no more,

From barb to feathers full, allowed to lie.

The heavy lance Orlando from him flung,

And to close combat with his faulchion sprung.

LXX

The lance now broke, his sword the warrior drew,

That sword which never yet was drawn in vain,

And still with cut or thrust some soldier slew;

Now horse, now footman of the tyrant’s train.

And, ever where he dealt a stroke, changed blue,

Yellow, green, white and black, to crimson stain.

Cymosco grieves, when most his need require,

Not to have now his hollow cane and fire;

LXXI

And with loud voice and menacing command

Bids these be brought, but ill his followers hear;

For those who have found safety of his band,

To issue from the city are in fear.

He, when he sees them fly on either hand,

Would fly as well from that dread cavalier;

Makes for the gate, and would the drawbridge lift,

But the pursuing county is too swift.

LXXII

The monarch turns his back, and leaves the knight

Lord of the drawbridge and of either gate.

Thanks to his swifter steed, the rest in flight

He passes: good Orlando will not wait

(Intent the felon, not his band, to smite)

Upon the vulgar herd to wreck his hate.

But his slow horse seems restive; while the king’s,

More nimble, flies as if equipt with wings.

LXXIII

From street to street, before the count he made;

And vanished clean; but after little stay,

Came with new arms, with tube and fire purveyed;

Which, at his hest, this while his men convey.

And posted at a corner, he waylaid:

His foe, as hunter watches for his prey,

In forest, with armed dogs and spear, attending

The boar in fury from the hill descending,

LXXIV

Who rends the branch and overthrows the stone;

And wheresoe’er he turns his haughty front,

Appears (so loud the deafening crash and groan)

As if he were uprending wood and mount,

Intent to make him his bold deed atone,

Cymosco at the pass expects the count;

As soon as he appears, with ready light

Touches the hole, and fires upon the knight.

LXXV

Behind, the weapon flames in lightning’s guise,

And vents the thunder from before; the ground

Shakes under foot and city wall; the skies

The fearful echo all about rebound.

The burning bolt with sudden fury flies,

Not sparing aught which in its course is found.

Hissing and whizzing through the skies it went;

But smote not, to the assassin’s foul intent.

LXXVI

Whether it was his great desire to kill

That baron, or his hurry made him fail,

Or trembling heart, like leaf which flutters still,

Made hand and arm together flinch and quail;

Or that it was not the Creator’s will

The church so soon her champion should bewail;

The glancing stroke his courser’s belly tore,

Outstretched on earth, from thence to rise no more.

LXXVII

To earth fall horse and rider: this the knight

Scarce touched; the other thundering pressed the plain:

For the first rose so ready and so light,

He from the fall seemed breath and force to gain.

As African Anteus, in the fight,

Rose from the sand with prouder might and main;

So when Orlando touched the ground, to view

He rose with doubled force and vigour new.

LXXVIII

He who has seen the thunder, from on high,

Discharged by Jove with such a horrid sound,

Descend where nitre, coal, and sulphur lie,

Stored up for use in magazine profound,

Which scarce has reached — but touched it, ere the sky

Is in a flame, as well as burning ground,

Firm walls are split, and solid marbles riven,

And flying stones cast up as high as heaven;

LXXIX

Let him imagine, when from earth he sprung,

Such was the semblance of the cavalier;

Who moved in mode to frighten Mars among

The Gods, so fierce and horrid was his cheer.

At this dismay’d, the King of Friesland stung

His horse, and turned his rein, to fly the peer:

But fierce Orlando was upon his foe

Faster than arrow flies from bended bow:

LXXX

And, what before he could not, when possest

Of his good courser, now afoot will do.

His speed outgoes all thought in every breast,

Exceeds all credence, save in those who view.

The tyrant shortly joined, he on the crest

Smote at his head so well, he cleft it through;

And to the neck divided by the blow,

Sent it, to shake its last on earth below.

LXXXI

Lo! in the frighted city other sound

Was heard to rise, and other crash of brands,

From troop, who, thither in his guidance bound,

Followed Bireno’s cousin from his lands:

Who, since the unguarded gates he open found,

Into the city’s heart had poured his bands;

Where the bold paladin had struck such fear,

He without let might scour it far and near.

LXXXII

In rout the people fly, who cannot guess

Who these may be, or what the foes demand:

But, when this man and that by speech and dress

As Zealand-men distinguishes the band,

Carte blanche they proffer, and the chief address,

Bidding him range them under his command;

Against the Frieslanders to lend him aid,

Who have their duke in loathsome prison stayed.

LXXXIII

To Friesland’s king that people hatred bore

With all his following: who their ancient lord

Had put to death, and who by them yet more,

As evil and rapacious, was abhorred.

Orlando interposed with kindly lore,

As friend of both, the parties to accord:

By whom, so joined, no Frieslander was left

But was of life or liberty bereft.

LXXXIV

They would not wait to seek the dungeon-key,

But breaking-down the gate, their entrance made;

Bireno to the count with courtesy

And grateful thanks the service done repaid.

Thence they, together with large company,

Went where Olympia in her vessel stayed:

For so was the expecting lady hight,

To whom that island’s crown belonged of right.

LXXXV

She who had thither good Orlando brought,

Not hoping that he would have thriven so well;

— Enough for her, if by her misery bought,

Her spouse were rescued from the tyrant’s cell! —

Her, full of love and loyal homage, sought

The people one and all: Twere long to tell

How she caressed Bireno, he the maid, —

What thanks both lovers to the county paid.

LXXXVI

The people, throned in her paternal reign,

Replace the injured dame, and fealty swear:

She on the duke, to whom in solid chain

Love with eternal knot had linked the fair,

The empire of herself and her domain

Conferred: He, called away by other care,

Left in the cousin’s guardian care this while

His fortresses, and all the subject isle.

LXXXVII

Since he to visit Zealand’s duchy planned,

His faithful consort in his company;

And thence, upon the king of Friesland’s land,

Would try his fortune (as he said), for he

A pledge, he rated highly, had in hand,

Which seemed of fair success the warranty,

The daughter of the king: who here forsaken,

With many others had been prisoner taken.

LXXXVIII

To a younger brother, her, the duke pretends,

To be conjoined in wedlock, he conveyed.

The Roman senator thence parting wends

Upon the very day Bireno weighed;

But he to nothing else his hand extends

Of all the many, many prized made,

Save to that engine, found amid the plunder,

Which in all points I said resembled thunder.

LXXXIX

Not with intent, in his defence to bear

What he had taken, of the prize possest;

For he still held it an ungenerous care

To go with vantage on whatever quest:

But with design to cast the weapon where

It never more should living wight molest;

And, what was appertaining to it, all

Bore off as well, the powder and the ball.

XC

And thus, when of the tidesway he was clear,

And in the deepest sea his bark descried,

So that no longer distant signs appear

Of either shore on this or the other side,

He seized the tube, and said: “That cavalier

May never vail through thee his knightly pride,

Nor base be rated with a better foe,

Down with thee to the darkest deep below!

XCI

“O loathed, O cursed piece of enginery,

Cast in Tartarean bottom, by the hand

Of Beelzebub, whose foul malignity

The ruin of this world through thee has planned!

To hell, from whence thou came, I render thee.”

So said, he cast away the weapon: fanned

Meanwhile, with flowing sheet, his frigate goes,

By wind, which for the cruel island blows.

XCII

Such was the paladin’s desire to explore

If in the place his missing lady were;

Whom he prefers the united world before,

Nor can an hour of life without her bear.

He fears, if he set foot on Ireland’s shore,

Some other chance may interrupt him there:

So that he after have in vain to say,

“Why hasted I no faster on my way?”

XCIII

Nor he in England nor in Ireland port

Will make, nor on the coast that’s opposite.

But let him go, the naked archer’s sport,

Sore smitten in the heart! — ere I indite

Yet more of him, to Holland I resort,

And you to hear me company invite.

For well I wot that you as well as me

‘Twould grieve that bridal should without us be.

XCIV

Sumptuous and fair the bridal there is made;

But neither yet so sumptuous nor so fair

As it will be in Zealand, it is said:

But ’tis not my design you should repair

Thither; since by new accidents delayed

The feast will be, of which be it my care,

In other strain, the tidings to report;

If you to hear that other strain resort.

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