Orlando Furioso
[“Orlando Enraged”]


Lodovico Ariosto
Translated by William Stewart Rose

Illustrated by Gustave Doré

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Canto:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46

frontispiece

Introduction

This work is a continuation of the “Orlando Innamorato” of Matteo Maria Boiardo, which was left unfinished upon the author’s death in 1494. It begins more or less at the point where Boiardo left it.

This is a brief synopsis of Boiardo’s work, omitting most of the numerous digressions and incidental episodes associated with these events:

To the court of King Charlemagne comes Angelica (daughter to the king of Cathay, or India) and her brother Argalia. Angelica is the most beautiful woman any of the Peers have ever seen, and all want her. However, in order to take her as wife they must first defeat Argalia in combat. The two most stricken by her are Orlando and Ranaldo (“Rinaldo” in Rose).

When Argalia falls to the heathen knight Ferrau, Angelica flees — with Orlando and Ranaldo in hot pursuit. Along the way, both Angelica and Ranaldo drink magic waters — Angelica is filled with a burning love for Ranaldo, but Ranaldo is now indifferent.

Eventually, Orlando and Ranaldo arrive at Angelica’s castle. Others also gather at Angelica’s castle, including Agricane, King of Tartary; Sacripant, King of Circassia; Agramante, King of Africa and Marfisa (“Marphisa” in Rose), an Asian warrior-Queen. Except for Orlando and Ranaldo, all are heathen.

Meanwhile, France is threatened by heathen invaders. Led by King Gradasso of Sericana (whose principal reason for going to war is to obtain Orlando’s sword, Durindana) and King Rodomonte of Sarzia, a Holy War between Pagans and Christians ensues.

Ranaldo leaves Angelica’s castle, and Angelica and a very love-sick (but very chaste and proper) Orlando, set out for France in search of him. Again the same waters as before are drunk from, but this time in reverse — Ranaldo now burns for Angelica, but Angelica is now indifferent. Ranaldo and Orlando now begin to fight over her, but King Charlemagne (fearing the consequences if his two best knights kill each other in combat) intervenes and promises Angelica to whichever of the two fights the best against the heathen; he leaves her in the care of Duke Namus. Orlando and Ranaldo arrive in Paris just in time to repulse an attack by Agramante.

Namus’ camp is overrun by the heathen. Angelica escapes, with Ranaldo in pursuit. Also in pursuit is Ferrau, who (because he had defeated Argalia) considers Angelica his. It is at this point that the poem breaks off.

While the Orlando-Ranaldo-Angelica triangle is going on, the stories of other knights and their loves are mixed in. Most important of these is that of the female knight Bradamante (sister of Ranaldo), who falls in love with a very noble heathen knight named Ruggiero (“Rogero” in Rose). Ruggiero, who is said to be a descendent of Alexander the Great and Hector, also falls in love with Bradamante, but because they are fighting on opposite sides it is felt that their love is hopeless. Nevertheless, it is prophecised that they shall wed and found the famous Este line, who shall rise to become one of the major families of Medieval and Renaissance Italy (it is worth noting that the Estes where the patrons of both Boiardo and Ariosto). Opposed to this prophecy is Atlantes, an African wizard who seeks to derail fate and keep Ruggiero from becoming a Christian. By the end of the poem, Ruggiero is imprisoned in Atlantes’ castle. However, Bradamante (who has decided to follow her heart) is in pursuit of her love, and is not too far away. It is the Bradamante-Ruggiero story that eventually takes center stage in Ariosto’s work.

Other characters of importance: Astolfo, a Peer and friend of Orlando, who is kidnaped by the evil witch Morgana and her sister Alcina; Mandricardo, a fierce but hot-headed heathen; and a young knight named Brandimarte, who falls in love with (and wins the heart of) the beautiful Fiordelisa (“Flordelice” in Rose). All play major or semi-major roles in the events of Ariosto’s poem.

— DBK

Canto 1

Argument

Angelica, whom pressing danger frights,

Flies in disorder through the greenwood shade.

Rinaldo’s horse escapes: he, following, fights

Ferrau, the Spaniard, in a forest glade.

A second oath the haughty paynim plights,

And keeps it better than the first he made.

King Sacripant regains his long-lost treasure;

But good Rinaldo mars his promised pleasure.

I

OF LOVES and LADIES, KNIGHTS and ARMS, I sing,

Of COURTESIES, and many a DARING FEAT;

And from those ancient days my story bring,

When Moors from Afric passed in hostile fleet,

And ravaged France, with Agramant their king,

Flushed with his youthful rage and furious heat,

Who on king Charles’, the Roman emperor’s head

Had vowed due vengeance for Troyano dead.

II

In the same strain of Roland will I tell

Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme,

On whom strange madness and rank fury fell,

A man esteemed so wise in former time;

If she, who to like cruel pass has well

Nigh brought my feeble wit which fain would climb

And hourly wastes my sense, concede me skill

And strength my daring promise to fulfil.

III

Good seed of Hercules, give ear and deign,

Thou that this age’s grace and splendour art,

Hippolitus, to smile upon his pain

Who tenders what he has with humble heart.

For though all hope to quit the score were vain,

My pen and pages may pay the debt in part;

Then, with no jealous eye my offering scan,

Nor scorn my gifts who give thee all I can.

IV

And me, amid the worthiest shalt thou hear,

Whom I with fitting praise prepare to grace,

Record the good Rogero, valiant peer,

The ancient root of thine illustrious race.

Of him, if thou wilt lend a willing ear,

The worth and warlike feats I shall retrace;

So thou thy graver cares some little time

Postponing, lend thy leisure to my rhyme.

V

Roland, who long the lady of Catay,

Angelica, had loved, and with his brand

Raised countless trophies to that damsel gay,

In India, Median, and Tartarian land,

Westward with her had measured back his way;

Where, nigh the Pyrenees, with many a band

Of Germany and France, King Charlemagne

Had camped his faithful host upon the plain.

VI

To make King Agramant, for penance, smite

His cheek, and rash Marsilius rue the hour;

This, when all trained with lance and sword to fight,

He led from Africa to swell his power;

That other when he pushed, in fell despite,

Against the realm of France Spain’s martial flower.

’Twas thus Orlando came where Charles was tented

In evil hour, and soon the deed repented.

VII

For here was seized his dame of peerless charms,

(How often human judgment wanders wide)!

Whom in long warfare he had kept from harms,

From western climes to eastern shores her guide

In his own land, ‘mid friends and kindred arms,

Now without contest severed from his side.

Fearing the mischief kindled by her eyes,

From him the prudent emperor reft the prize.

VIII

For bold Orlando and his cousin, free

Rinaldo, late contended for the maid,

Enamored of that beauty rare; since she

Alike the glowing breast of either swayed.

But Charles, who little liked such rivalry,

And drew an omen thence of feebler aid,

To abate the cause of quarrel, seized the fair,

And placed her in Bavarian Namus’ care.

IX

Vowing with her the warrior to content,

Who in that conflict, on that fatal day,

With his good hand most gainful succour lent,

And slew most paynims in the martial fray.

But counter to his hopes the battle went,

And his thinned squadrons fled in disarray;

Namus, with other Christian captains taken,

And his pavilion in the rout forsaken.

X

There, lodged by Charles, that gentle bonnibel,

Ordained to be the valiant victor’s meed,

Before the event had sprung into her sell,

And from the combat turned in time of need;

Presaging wisely Fortune would rebel

That fatal day against the Christian creed:

And, entering a thick wood, discovered near,

In a close path, a horseless cavalier.

XI

With shield upon his arm, in knightly wise,

Belted and mailed, his helmet on his head;

The knight more lightly through the forest hies

Than half-clothed churl to win the cloth of red.

But not from cruel snake more swiftly flies

The timid shepherdess, with startled tread,

Than poor Angelica the bridle turns

When she the approaching knight on foot discerns.

XII

This was that Paladin, good Aymon’s seed,

Who Mount Albano had in his command;

And late Baiardo lost, his gallant steed,

Escaped by strange adventure from his hand.

As soon as seen, the maid who rode at speed

The warrior knew, and, while yet distant, scanned

The angelic features and the gentle air

Which long had held him fast in Cupid’s snare.

XIII

The affrighted damsel turns her palfrey round,

And shakes the floating bridle in the wind;

Nor in her panic seeks to choose her ground,

Nor open grove prefers to thicket blind.

But reckless, pale and trembling, and astound,

Leaves to her horse the devious way to find.

He up and down the forest bore the dame,

Till to a sylvan river’s bank he came.

XIV

Here stood the fierce Ferrau in grisly plight,

Begrimed with dust, and bathed with sweat and blood

Who lately had withdrawn him from the fight,

To rest and drink at that refreshing flood:

But there had tarried in his own despite,

Since bending from the bank, in hasty mood,

He dropped his helmet in the crystal tide,

And vainly to regain the treasure tried.

XV

Thither at speed she drives, and evermore

In her wild panic utters fearful cries;

And at the voice, upleaping on the shore,

The Saracen her lovely visage spies.

And, pale as is her cheek, and troubled sore,

Arriving, quickly to the warrior’s eyes

(Though many days no news of her had shown)

The beautiful Angelica is known.

XVI

Courteous, and haply gifted with a breast

As warm as either of the cousins two;

As bold, as if his brows in steel were dressed,

The succour which she sought he lent, and drew

His faulchion, and against Rinaldo pressed,

Who saw with little fear the champion true.

Not only each to each was known by sight,

But each had proved in arms his foeman’s might.

XVII

Thus, as they are, on foot the warriors vie

In cruel strife, and blade to blade oppose;

No marvel plate or brittle mail should fly,

When anvils had not stood the deafening blows.

It now behoves the palfrey swift to ply

His feet; for while the knights in combat close,

Him vexed to utmost speed, with goading spurs,

By waste or wood the frighted damsel stirs.

XVIII

After the two had struggled long to throw

Each other in the strife, and vainly still;

Since neither valiant warrior was below

His opposite in force and knightly skill:

The first to parley with his Spanish foe

Was the good master of Albano’s hill

(As one within whose raging breast was pent

A reckless fire which struggled for a vent).

XIX

“Thou think’st,” he said, “to injure me alone,

But know thou wilt thyself as much molest:

For if we fight because yon rising sun

This raging heat has kindled in thy breast.

What were thy gain, and what the guerdon won,

Though I should yield my life, or stoop my crest;

If she shall never be thy glorious meed,

Who flies, while vainly we in battle bleed?

XX

“Then how much better, since our stake’s the same,

Thou, loving like myself, should’st mount and stay

To wait this battle’s end, the lovely dame,

Before she fly yet further on her way.

The lady taken, we repeat our claim

With naked faulchion to that peerless prey:

Else by long toil I see not what we gain

But simple loss and unrequited pain.”

XXI

The peer’s proposal pleased the paynim well.

And so their hot contention was foregone;

And such fair truce replaced that discord fell,

So mutual wrongs forgot and mischief done;

That for departure seated in his sell,

On foot the Spaniard left not Aymon’s son;

But him to mount his courser’s crupper prayed;

And both united chased the royal maid.

XXII

Oh! goodly truth in cavaliers of old!

Rivals they were, to different faith were bred.

Not yet the weary warriors’ wounds were cold —

Still smarting from those strokes so fell and dread.

Yet they together ride by waste and wold,

And, unsuspecting, devious dingle thread.

Them, while four spurs infest his foaming sides,

Their courser brings to where the way divides.

XXIII

And now the warlike pair at fault, for they

Knew not by which she might her palfrey goad,

(Since both, without distinction, there survey

The recent print of hoofs on either road),

Commit the chase to fortune. By this way

The paynim pricked, by that Rinaldo strode.

But fierce Ferrau, bewildered in the wood,

Found himself once again where late he stood.

XXIV

Beside the water, where he stoop’d to drink,

And dropt the knightly helmet, — to his cost,

Sunk in the stream; and since he could not think

Her to retrieve, who late his hopes had crossed.

He, where the treasure fell, descends the brink

Of that swift stream, and seeks the morion lost.

But the casque lies so bedded in the sands,

’Twill ask no light endeavour at his hands.

XXV

A bough he severs from a neighbouring tree,

And shreds and shapes the branch into a pole:

With this he sounds the stream, and anxiously

Fathoms, and rakes, and ransacks shelf and hole.

While angered sore at heart, and restless, he

So lingered, where the troubled waters roll,

Breast-high, from the mid river rose upright,

The apparition of an angry knight.

XXVI

Armed at all points he was, except his head,

And in his better hand a helmet bore:

The very casque, which in the river’s bed

Ferrau sought vainly, toiling long and sore.

Upon the Spanish knight he frowned, and said:

“Thou traitor to thy word, thou perjured Moor,

Why grieve the goodly helmet to resign,

Which, due to me long since, is justly mine?

XXVII

“Remember, pagan, when thine arm laid low

The brother of Angelica. That knight

Am I; — thy word was plighted then to throw

After my other arms his helmet bright.

If Fortune now compel thee to forego

The prize, and do my will in thy despite,

Grieve not at this, but rather grieve that thou

Art found a perjured traitor to thy vow.

XXVIII

“But if thou seek’st a helmet, be thy task

To win and wear it more to thy renown.

A noble prize were good Orlando’s casque;

Rinaldo’s such, or yet a fairer crown;

Almontes’, or Mambrino’s iron masque:

Make one of these, by force of arms, thine own.

And this good helm will fitly be bestowed

Where (such thy promise) it has long been owed.”

XXIX

Bristled the paynim’s every hair at view

Of that grim shade, uprising from the tide,

And vanished was his fresh and healthful hue,

While on his lips the half-formed accents died.

Next hearing Argalia, whom he slew,

(So was the warrior hight) that stream beside,

Thus his unknightly breach of promise blame,

He burned all over, flushed with rage and shame.

XXX

Nor having time his falsehood to excuse,

And knowing well how true the phantom’s lore,

Stood speechless; such remorse the words infuse.

Then by Lanfusa’s life the warrior swore,

Never in fight, or foray would he use

Helmet but that which good Orlando bore

From Aspramont, where bold Almontes paid

His life a forfeit to the Christian blade.

XXXI

And this new vow discharged more faithfully

Than the vain promise which was whilom plight;

And from the stream departing heavily,

Was many days sore vexed and grieved in sprite;

And still intent to seek Orlando, he

Roved wheresoe’er he hoped to find the knight.

A different lot befel Rinaldo; who

Had chanced another pathway to pursue.

XXXII

For far the warrior fared not, ere he spied,

Bounding across the path, his gallant steed,

And, “Stay, Bayardo mine,” Rinaldo cried,

“Too cruel care the loss of thee does breed.”

The horse for this returned not to his side,

Deaf to his prayer, but flew with better speed.

Furious, in chase of him, Rinaldo hies.

But follow we Angelica, who flies.

XXXIII

Through dreary woods and dark the damsel fled,

By rude unharboured heath and savage height,

While every leaf or spray that rustled, bred

(Of oak, or elm, or beech), such new affright,

She here and there her foaming palfrey sped

By strange and crooked paths with furious flight;

And at each shadow, seen in valley blind,

Or mountain, feared Rinaldo was behind.

XXXIV

As a young roe or fawn of fallow deer,

Who, mid the shelter of its native glade,

Has seen a hungry pard or tiger tear

The bosom of its bleeding dam, dismayed,

Bounds, through the forest green in ceaseless fear

Of the destroying beast, from shade to shade,

And at each sapling touched, amid its pangs,

Believes itself between the monster’s fangs,

XXXV

One day and night, and half the following day,

The damsel wanders wide, nor whither knows;

Then enters a deep wood, whose branches play,

Moved lightly by the freshening breeze which blows.

Through this two clear and murmuring rivers stray:

Upon their banks a fresher herbage grows;

While the twin streams their passage slowly clear,

Make music with the stones, and please the ear.

XXXVI

Weening removed the way by which she wends,

A thousand miles from loathed Rinaldo’s beat,

To rest herself a while the maid intends,

Wearied with that long flight and summer’s heat.

She from her saddle ‘mid spring flowers descends

And takes the bridle from her courser fleet.

And loose along the river lets him pass,

Roving the banks in search of lusty grass.

XXXVII

Behold! at hand a thicket she surveys

Gay with the flowering thorn and vermeil rose:

The tuft reflected in the stream which strays

Beside it, overshadowing oaks enclose.

Hollow within, and safe from vulgar gaze,

It seemed a place constructed for repose;

With bows so interwoven, that the light

Pierced not the tangled screen, far less the sight.

XXXVIII

Within soft moss and herbage form a bed;

And to delay and rest the traveller woo.

’Twas there her limbs the weary damsel spread,

Her eye-balls bathed in slumber’s balmy dew.

But little time had eased her drooping head,

Ere, as she weened, a courser’s tramp she knew.

Softly she rises, and the river near,

Armed cap-a-pie, beholds a cavalier.

XXXIX

If friend or foe, she nothing comprehends,

(So hope and fear her doubting bosom tear)

And that adventure’s issue mute attends,

Nor even with a sigh disturbs the air.

The cavalier upon the bank descends;

And sits so motionless, so lost in care,

(His visage propt upon his arm) to sight

Changed into senseless stone appeared the knight.

c01-039

XL

Pensive, above an hour, with drooping head,

He rested mute, ere he began his moan;

And then his piteous tale of sorrow said,

Lamenting in so soft and sweet a tone,

He in a tiger’s breast had pity bred,

Or with his mournful wailings rent a stone.

And so he sighed and wept; like rivers flowed

His tears, his bosom like an Aetna glowed.

XLI

“Thought which now makes me burn, now freeze with hate,

Which gnaws my heart and rankles at its root!

What’s left to me,” he said, “arrived too late,

While one more favoured bears away the fruit?

Bare words and looks scarce cheered my hopeless state,

And the prime spoils reward another’s suit.

Then since for me nor fruit nor blossom hangs,

Why should I longer pine in hopeless pangs?

XLII

“The virgin has her image in the rose

Sheltered in garden on its native stock,

Which there in solitude and safe repose,

Blooms unapproached by sheperd or by flock.

For this earth teems, and freshening water flows,

And breeze and dewy dawn their sweets unlock:

With such the wistful youth his bosom dresses.

With such the enamored damsel braids her tresses.

XLIII

“But wanton hands no sooner this displace

From the maternal stem, where it was grown,

Than all is withered; whatsoever grace

It found with man or heaven; bloom, beauty, gone.

The damsel who should hold in higher place

Than light or life the flower which is her own,

Suffering the spoiler’s hand to crop the prize,

Forfeits her worth in every other’s eyes.

XLIV

“And be she cheap with all except the wight

On whom she did so large a boon bestow.

Ah! false and cruel Fortune! foul despite!

While others triumph, I am drown’d in woe.

And can it be that I such treasure slight?

And can I then my very life forego?

No! let me die; ’twere happiness above

A longer life, if I must cease to love.”

XLV

If any ask who made this sorrowing,

And pour’d into the stream so many tears,

I answer, it was fair Circassia’s king,

That Sacripant, oppressed with amorous cares.

Love is the source from which his troubles spring,

The sole occasion of his pains and fears;

And he to her a lover’s service paid,

Now well remembered by the royal maid.

XLVI

He for her sake from Orient’s farthest reign

Roved thither, where the sun descends to rest;

For he was told in India, to his pain,

That she Orlando followed to the west.

He after learned in France that Charlemagne

Secluded from that champion and the rest,

As a fit guerdon, mewed her for the knight

Who should protect the lilies best in fight.

XLVII

The warrior in the field had been, and viewed,

Short time before, king Charlemagne’s disgrace;

And vainly had Angelica pursued,

Nor of the damsel’s footsteps found a trace.

And this is what the weeping monarch rued,

And this he so bewailed in doleful case:

Hence, into words his lamentations run,

Which might for pity stop the passing sun.

XLVIII

While Sacripant laments him in this plight,

And makes a tepid fountain of his eyes;

And, what I deem not needful to recite,

Pours forth yet other plaints and piteous cries;

Propitious Fortune will his lady bright

Should hear the youth lament him in such wise:

And thus a moment compassed what, without

Such chance, long ages had not brought about.

XLIX

With deep attention, while the warrior weeps,

She marks the fashion of the grief and tears

And words of him, whose passion never sleeps;

Nor this the first confession which she hears.

But with his plaint her heart no measure keeps,

Cold as the column which the builder rears.

Like haughty maid, who holds herself above

The world, and deems none worthy of her love.

L

But her from harm amid those woods to keep,

The damsel weened she might his guidance need;

For the poor drowning caitiff, who, chin-deep,

Implores not help, is obstinate indeed.

Nor will she, if she let the occasion sleep,

Find escort that will stand her in such stead:

For she that king by long experience knew

Above all other lovers, kind and true.

LI

But not the more for this the maid intends

To heal the mischief which her charms had wrought,

And for past ills to furnish glad amends

In that full bliss by pining lover sought.

To keep the king in play are all her ends,

His help by some device or fiction bought,

And having to her purpose taxed his daring,

To reassume as wont her haughty bearing.

LII

An apparition bright and unforeseen,

She stood like Venus or Diana fair,

In solemn pageant, issuing on the scene

From out of shadowy wood or murky lair.

And “Peace be with you,” cried the youthful queen,

“And God preserve my honour in his care,

Nor suffer that you blindly entertain

Opinion of my fame so false and vain!”

LIII

Not with such wonderment a mother eyes,

With such excessive bliss the son she mourned

As dead, lamented still with tears and sighs,

Since the thinned files without her boy returned.

— Not such her rapture as the king’s surprise

And ecstasy of joy when he discerned

The lofty presence, cheeks of heavenly hue,

And lovely form which broke upon his view.

LIV

He, full of fond and eager passion, pressed

Towards his Lady, his Divinity;

And she now clasped the warrior to her breast,

Who in Catay had haply been less free.

And now again the maid her thoughts addressed

Towards her native land and empery:

And feels, with hope revived, her bosom beat

Shortly to repossess her sumptuous seat.

LV

Her chances all to him the damsel said,

Since he was eastward sent to Sericane

By her to seek the martial monarch’s aid,

Who swayed the sceptre of that fair domain;

And told how oft Orlando’s friendly blade

Had saved her from dishonour, death, and pain;

And how she so preserved her virgin flower

Pure as it blossomed in her natal hour.

LVI

Haply the tale was true; yet will not seem

Likely to one of sober sense possessed:

But Sacripant, who waked from worser dream,

In all without a cavil acquiesced:

Since love, who sees without one guiding gleam,

Spies in broad day but that which likes him best:

For one sign of the afflicted man’s disease

Is to give ready faith to things which please.

LVII

“If good Anglante’s lord the prize forbore,

Nor seized the fair occasion when he might,

The loss be his, if Fortune never more

Him to enjoy so fair a prize invite.

To imitate that lord of little lore

I think not,” said, apart, Circassa’s knight.

“To quit such proffered good, and, to my shame,

Have but myself on after-thought to blame.

LVIII

“No! I will pluck the fresh and morning rose,

Which, should I tarry, may be overblown.

To woman, (this my own experience shows),

No deed more sweet or welcome can be done.

Then, whatsoever scorn the damsel shows,

Though she awhile may weep and make her moan,

I will, unchecked by anger, false or true,

Or sharp repulse, my bold design pursue.”

LIX

This said, he for the soft assault prepares,

When a loud noise within the greenwood shade

Beside him, rang in his astounded ears,

And sore against his will the monarch stayed.

He donned his helm (his other arms he wears),

Aye wont to rove in steel, with belted blade,

Replaced the bridle on his courser fleet,

Grappled his lance, and sprang into his seat.

LX

With the bold semblance of a valiant knight,

Behold a warrior threads the forest hoar.

The stranger’s mantle was of snowy white,

And white alike the waving plume he wore.

Balked of his bliss, and full of fell despite,

The monarch ill the interruption bore,

And spurred his horse to meet him in mid space,

With hate and fury glowing in his face.

LXI

Him he defies to fight, approaching nigh,

And weens to make him stoop his haughty crest:

The other knight, whose worth I rate as high,

His warlike prowess puts to present test;

Cuts short his haughty threats and angry cry,

And spurs, and lays his levelled lance in rest.

In tempest wheels Circassia’s valiant peer,

And at his foeman’s head each aims his spear.

LXII

Not brindled bulls or tawny lions spring

To forest warfare with such deadly will

As those two knights, the stranger and the king.

Their spears alike the opposing bucklers thrill:

The solid ground, at their encountering,

Trembles from fruitful vale to naked hill:

And well it was the mail in which they dressed

Their bodies was of proof, and saved the breast.

LXIII

Nor swerved the chargers from their destined course;

Who met like rams, and butted head to head.

The warlike Saracen’s ill-fated horse,

Well valued while alive, dropt short and dead:

The stranger’s, too, fell senseless; but perforce

Was roused by rowel from his grassy bed.

That of the paynim king, extended straight,

Lay on his battered lord with all his weight.

LXIV

Upright upon his steed, the knight unknown,

Who at the encounter horse and rider threw,

Deeming enough was in the conflict done,

Cares not the worthless warfare to renew;

But endlong by the readiest path is gone,

And measures, pricking frith and forest through,

A mile, or little less, in furious heat,

Ere the foiled Saracen regains his feet.

LXV

As the bewildered and astonished clown

Who held the plough (the thunder storm o’erpast)

There, where the deafening bolt had beat him down,

Nigh his death-stricken cattle, wakes aghast,

And sees the distant pine without its crown,

Which he saw clad in leafy honours last;

So rose the paynim knight with troubled face,

The maid spectatress of the cruel case.

LXVI

He sighs and groans, yet not for mischief sore

Endured in wounded arm or foot which bled;

But for mere shame, and never such before

Or after, dyed his cheek so deep a red,

And if he rued his fall, it grieved him more

His dame should lift him from his courser dead.

He speechless had remained, I ween, if she

Had not his prisoned tongue and voice set free.

LXVII

“Grieve not,” she said, “sir monarch, for thy fall;

But let the blame upon thy courser be!

To whom more welcome had been forage, stall,

And rest, than further joust and jeopardy;

And well thy foe the loser may I call,

(Who shall no glory gain) for such is he

Who is the first to quit his ground, if aught

Angelica of fighting fields be taught.”

LXVIII

While she so seeks the Saracen to cheer,

Behold a messenger with pouch and horn,

On panting hackney! — man and horse appear

With the long journey, weary and forlorn.

He questions Sacripant, approaching near,

Had he seen warrior pass, by whom were borne

A shield and crest of white; in search of whom

Through the wide forest pricked the weary groom.

LXIX

King Sacripant made answer, “As you see,

He threw me here, and went but now his way:

Then tell the warrior’s name, that I may be

Informed whose valour foiled me in the fray.”

To him the groom, — “That which you ask of me

I shall relate to you without delay:

Know that you were in combat prostrate laid

By the tried valour of a gentle maid.

LXX

“Bold is the maid; but fairer yet than bold,

Nor the redoubted virgin’s name I veil:

’Twas Bradamant who marred what praise of old

Your prowess ever won with sword and mail.”

This said, he spurred again, his story told,

And left him little gladdened by the tale.

He recks not what he says or does, for shame,

And his flushed visage kindles into flame.

LXXI

After the woeful warrior long had thought

Upon his cruel case, and still in vain,

And found a woman his defeat had wrought,

For thinking but increased the monarch’s pain,

He climbed the other horse, nor spake he aught;

But silently uplifted from the plain,

Upon the croup bestowed that damsel sweet,

Reserved to gladder use in safer seat.

LXXII

Two miles they had not rode before they hear

The sweeping woods which spread about them, sound

With such loud crash and trample, far and near,

The forest seemed to tremble all around;

And shortly after see a steed appear,

With housings wrought in gold and richly bound;

Who clears the bush and stream, with furious force

And whatsoever else impedes his course.

LXXIII

“Unless the misty air,” the damsel cries,

“And boughs deceive my sight, yon noble steed

Is, sure, Bayardo, who before us flies,

And parts the wood with such impetuous speed.

— Yes, ’tis Bayardo’s self I recognize.

How well the courser understands our need!

Two riders ill a foundered jade would bear,

But hither speeds the horse to end that care.”

LXXIV

The bold Circassian lighted, and applied

His hand to seize him by the flowing rein,

Who, swiftly turning, with his heels replied,

For he like lightning wheeled upon the plain.

Woe to the king! but that he leaps aside,

For should he smite, he would not lash in vain.

Such are his bone and sinew, that the shock

Of his good heels had split a metal rock.

LXXV

Then to the maid he goes submissively,

With gentle blandishment and humble mood;

As the dog greets his lord with frolic glee,

Whom, some short season past, he had not viewed.

For good Bayardo had in memory

Albracca, where her hands prepared his food,

What time the damsel loved Rinaldo bold;

Rinaldo, then ungrateful, stern, and cold.

LXXVI

With her left hand she takes him by the bit,

And with the other pats his sides and chest:

While the good steed (so marvellous his wit),

Lamb-like, obeyed the damsel and caressed.

Meantime the king, who sees the moment fit,

Leapt up, and with his knees the courser pressed.

While on the palfrey, eased of half his weight,

The lady left the croup, and gained the seat.

LXXVII

Then, as at hazard, she directs her sight,

Sounding in arms a man on foot espies,

And glows with sudden anger and despite;

For she in him the son of Aymon eyes.

Her more than life esteems the youthful knight,

While she from him, like crane from falcon, flies.

Time was the lady sighed, her passion slighted;

’Tis now Rinaldo loves, as ill requited.

LXXVIII

And this effect two different fountains wrought,

Whose wonderous waters different moods inspire.

Both spring in Arden, with rare virtue fraught:

This fills the heart with amorous desire:

Who taste that other fountain are untaught

Their love, and change for ice their former fire.

Rinaldo drank the first, and vainly sighs;

Angelica the last, and hates and flies.

LXXIX

Mixed with such secret bane the waters glide,

Which amorous care convert to sudden hate;

The maid no sooner had Rinaldo spied,

Than on her laughing eyes deep darkness sate:

And with sad mien and trembling voice she cried

To Sacripant, and prayed him not to wait

The near approach of the detested knight,

But through the wood with her pursue his flight.

LXXX

To her the Saracen, with anger hot:

“Is knightly worship sunk so low in me,

That thou should’st hold my valour cheap, and not

Sufficient to make yonder champion flee?

Already are Albracca’s fights forgot,

And that dread night I singly stood for thee?

That night when I, though naked, was thy shield

Against King Agrican and all his field?”

LXXXI

She answers not, and knows not in her fear

What ’tis she does; Rinaldo is too nigh:

And from afar that furious cavalier

Threats the bold Saracen with angry cry,

As soon as the known steed and damsel dear,

Whose charms such flame had kindled, meet his eye.

But what ensued between the haughty pair

I in another canto shall declare.

Canto 2

Argument

A hermit parts, by means of hollow sprite,

The two redoubted rivals’ dangerous play;

Rinaldo goes where Love and Hope invite,

But is dispatched by Charles another way;

Bradamont, seeking her devoted knight,

The good Rogero, nigh becomes the prey

Of Pinabel, who drops the damsel brave

Into the dungeon of a living grave.

I

Injurious love, why still to mar accord

Between desires has been thy favourite feat?

Why does it please thee so, perfidious lord,

Two hearts should with a different measure beat?

Thou wilt not let me take the certain ford,

Dragging me where the stream is deep and fleet.

Her I abandon who my love desires,

While she who hates, respect and love inspires.

II

Thou to Rinaldo show’st the damsel fair,

While he seems hideous to that gentle dame;

And he, who when the lady’s pride and care,

Paid back with deepest hate her amorous flame,

Now pines, himself, the victim of despair,

Scorned in his turn, and his reward the same.

By the changed damsel in such sort abhorred,

She would choose death before that hated lord.

III

He to the Pagan cries: “Forego thy theft,

And down, false felon, from that pilfer’d steed;

I am not wont to let my own be reft.

And he who seeks it dearly pays the deed.

More — I shall take from thee yon lovely weft;

To leave thee such a prize were foul misdeed;

And horse and maid, whose worth outstrips belief,

Were ill, methinks, relinquished to a thief.”

IV

“Thou liest,” the haughty Saracen retorts,

As proud, and burning with as fierce a flame,

“A thief thyself, if Fame the truth reports:

But let good deeds decide our dubious claim,

With whom the steed or damsel fair assorts:

Best proved by valiant deeds: though, for the dame,

That nothing is so precious, I with thee

(Search the wide world throughout) may well agree.”

V

As two fierce dogs will somtimes stand at gaze,

Whom hate or other springs of strife inspire,

And grind their teeth, while each his foe surveys

With sidelong glance and eyes more red than fire,

Then either falls to bites, and hoarsely bays,

While their stiff bristles stand on end with ire:

So from reproach and menace to the sword

Pass Sacripant and Clermont’s angry lord.

VI

Thus kindling into wrath the knights engage:

One is on foot, the other on his horse:

Small gain to this; for inexperienced page

Would better rein his charger in the course.

For such Baiardo’s sense, he will not wage

War with his master, or put out his force.

For voice, nor hand, nor manage, will he stir,

Rebellious to the rein or goading spur.

VII

He, when the king would urge him, takes the rest,

Or, when he curbs him, runs in giddy rings;

And drops his head beneath his spreading chest,

And plays his spine, and runs an-end and flings.

And now the furious Saracen distressed,

Sees ’tis no time to tame the beast, and springs,

With one hand on the pummel, to the ground;

Clear of the restless courser at a bound.

VIII

As soon as Sacripant, with well-timed leap,

Is from the fury of Bayardo freed,

You may believe the battle does not sleep

Between those champions, matched in heart and deed.

Their sounding blades such changeful measure keep,

The hammer-strokes of Vulcan with less speed

Descend in that dim cavern, where he heats,

And Jove’s red thunders on his anvil beats.

IX

Sometimes they lunge, then feign the thrust and parry:

Deep masters of the desperate game they play;

Or rise upon the furious stroke, and carry

Their swords aloft, or stoop and stand at bay.

Again they close, again exhausted tarry;

Now hide, now show themselves, and now give way,

And where one knight an inch of ground has granted,

His foeman’s foot upon that inch is planted.

X

When, lo! Rinaldo, now impatient grown,

Strikes full at Sacripant with lifted blade;

And he puts forth his buckler made of bone,

And well with strong and stubborn steel inlaid:

Though passing thick, Fusberta cleaves it: groan

Greenwood, and covert close, and sunny glade.

The paynim’s arm rings senseless with the blow,

And steel and bone, like ice, in shivers go.

XI

When the fair damsel saw, with timid eye,

Such ruin follow from the faulchion’s sway,

She, like the criminal, whose doom is nigh,

Changed her fair countenance through sore dismay,

And deemed that little time was left to fly

If she would not be that Rinaldo’s prey,

Rinaldo loathed by her as much, as he

Doats on the scornful damsel miserably.

XII

So turned her horse into the gloomy chase,

And drove him through rough path and tangled ally

And oftentimes bent back her bloodless face,

And saw Rinaldo from each thicket sally.

Nor flying long had urged the frantic race,

Before she met a hermit in a valley.

Devotion in his aspect was expressed,

And his long beard descended on his breast.

XIII

Wasted he was as much by fasts as age,

And on an ass was mounted, slow and sure;

His visage warranted that never sage

Had conscience more precise or passing pure.

Though in his arteries time had stilled the rage

Of blood, and spake him feeble and demure,

At sight of the delighted damsel, he

Was inly stirred for very charity.

XIV

The lady prayed that kindly friar, that he

Would straight conduct her to some haven near,

For that she from the land of France might flee,

And never more of loathed Rinaldo hear.

The hermit, who was skilled in sorcery,

Ceased not to soothe the gentle damsel’s fear.

And with the promise of deliverance, shook

His pocket, and drew forth a secret book.

XV

This opened, quick and mighty marvel wrought;

For not a leaf is finished by the sage,

Before a spirit, by his bidding brought,

Waits his command in likeness of a page:

He, by the magic writ constrained and taught,

Hastes where the warriors face to face engage,

In the cool shade — but not in cool disport —

And steps between, and stops their battle short.

XVI

“In courtesy,” he cried, “let either show

What his foe’s death to either can avail,

And what the guerdon conquest will bestow

On him who in the battle shall prevail,

If Roland, though he has not struck a blow,

Or snapt in fight a single link of mail,

To Paris-town conveys the damsel gay,

Who has engaged you in this bitter fray.

XVII

“Within an easy mile I saw the peer

Pricking to Paris with that lady bright;

Riding, in merry mood, with laugh and jeer,

And mocking at your fierce and fruitless fight.

Sure it were better, while they yet are near,

To follow peer and damsel in their flight:

For should he once in Paris place his prize

The lady never more shall meet your eyes.”

XVIII

You might have seen those angry cavaliers

Change at the demon’s tale for rage and shame;

And curse themselves as wanting eyes and ears,

To let their rival cheat them of the dame.

Towards his horse the good Rinaldo steers,

Breathing forth piteous sighs which seem of flame;

And, if he joins Orlando — ere they part —

Swears in his fury he will have his heart.

XIX

So, passing where the prompt Bayardo stood,

Leaps on his back, and leaves, as swift as wind,

Without farewell, his rival in the wood;

Much less invites him to a seat behind.

The goaded charger, in his heat of blood,

Forces whate’er his eager course confined,

Ditch, river, tangled thorn, or marble block;

He swims the river, and he clears the rock.

XX

Let it not, sir, sound strangely in your ear

Rinaldo took the steed thus readily,

So long and vainly followed far and near;

For he, endued with reasoning faculty,

Had not in vice lured on the following peer,

But fled before his cherished lord, that he

Might guide him whither went the gentle dame,

For whom, as he had heard, he nursed a flame.

XXI

For when Angelica, in random dread,

From the pavilion winged her rapid flight,

Bayardo marked the damsel as she fled,

His saddle lightened of Mount Alban’s knight;

Who then on foot an equal combat sped,

Matched with a baron of no meaner might;

And chased the maid by woods, and floods, and strands,

In hopes to place her in the warrior’s hands.

XXII

And, with desire to bring him to the maid,

Gallopped before him still with rampant play;

But would not let his master mount, afraid

That he might make him take another way.

So luring on Rinaldo through the shade,

Twice brought him to his unexpected prey;

Twice foiled in his endeavour: once by bold

Ferrau; then Sacripant, as lately told.

XXIII

Now good Bayardo had believed the tiding

Of that fair damsel, which produced the accord;

And in the devil’s cunning tale confiding,

Renewed his wonted service to his lord.

Behold Rinaldo then in fury riding,

And pushing still his courser Paris-ward!

Though he fly fast, the champion’s wishes go

Faster; and wind itself had seemed too slow.

XXIV

At night Rinaldo rests his steed, with pain

To meet Anglante’s lord he burned so sore;

And lent such credit to the tidings vain

Of the false courier of that wizard hoar:

And that day and the next, with flowing rein,

Rode, till the royal city rose before

His eyes; where Charlemagne had taken post,

With the sad remnant of his broken host.

XXV

He, for he fears the Afric king’s pursuit,

And sap and siege, upon his vassals calls

To gather in fresh victual, and recruit

And cleanse their ditches, and repair their walls.

And what may best annoy the foes, and suit

For safety, without more delay forestalls;

And plans an embassy to England, thence

To gather fresher forces for defence.

XXVI

For he is bent again to try the fate

Of arms in tented field, though lately shamed;

And send Rinaldo to the neighbouring state

Of Britain, which was after England named.

Ill liked the Paladin to cross the strait;

Not that the people or the land he blamed,

But that King Charles was sudden; nor a day

Would grant the valiant envoy for delay.

XXVII

Rinaldo never executed thing

Less willingly, prevented in his quest

Of that fair visage he was following,

Whose charms his heart had ravished from his breast.

Yet, in obediance to the christian king,

Prepared himself to do the royal hest.

To Calais the good envoy wends with speed,

And the same day embarks himself and steed.

XXVIII

And there, in scorn of cautious pilot’s skill

(Such his impatience to regain his home),

Launched on the doubtful sea, which boded ill,

And rolled its heavy billows, white with foam.

The wind, enraged that he opposed his will,

Stirred up the waves; and, ‘mid the gathering gloom,

So the loud storm and tempest’s fury grew,

That topmast-high the flashing waters flew.

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XXIX

The watchful mariners, in wary sort,

Haul down the mainsail, and attempt to wear;

And would put back in panic to the port,

Whence, in ill hour, they loosed with little care.

— “Not so,” exclaims the wind, and stops them short,

“So poor a penance will not pay the dare.”

And when they fain would veer, with fiercer roar

Pelts back their reeling prow and blusters more.

XXX

Starboard and larboard bears the fitful gale,

And never for a thought its ire assuages;

While the strained vessel drives with humble sail

Before the billows, as the tempest rages.

But I, who still pursue a varying tale,

Must leave awhile the Paladin, who wages

A weary warfare with the wind and flood;

To follow a fair virgin of his blood.

XXXI

I speak of that famed damsel, by whose spear

O’erthrown, King Sacripant on earth was flung;

The worthy sister of the valiant peer,

From Beatrix and good Duke Aymon sprung.

By daring deeds and puissance no less dear

To Charlemagne and France: Since proved among

The first, her prowess, tried by many a test,

Equal to good Rinaldo’s shone confessed.

XXXII

A cavalier was suitor to the dame,

Who out of Afric passed with Agramant;

Rogero was his valiant father’s name,

His mother was the child of Agolant.

And she, who not of bear or lion came,

Disdained not on the Child her love to plant,

Though cruel Fortune, ill their wishes meeting,

Had granted to the pair a single greeting.

XXXIII

Alone thenceforth she sought her lover (he

Was named of him to whom he owed his birth),

And roved as safe as if in company

Of thousands, trusting in her single worth.

She having made the king of Circassy

Salute the visage of old mother earth,

Traversed a wood, and that wood past, a mountain;

And stopt at length beside a lovely fountain.

XXXIV

Through a delicious mead the fountain-rill,

By ancient trees o’ershaded, glides away;

And him whose ear its pleasing murmurs fill,

Invites to drink, and on its banks to stay;

On the left side a cultivated hill

Excludes the fervors of the middle day.

As first the damsel thither turns her eyes,

A youthful cavalier she seated spies;

XXXV

A cavalier, who underneath the shade,

Seems lost, as in a melancholy dream;

And on the bank, which gaudy flowers displayed,

Reposing, overhangs the crystal stream.

His horse beneath a spreading beech is laid,

And from a bough the shield and helmet gleam.

While his moist eyes, and sad and downcast air,

Speak him the broken victim of despair.

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XXXVI

Urged by the passion lodged in every breast,

A restless curiosity to know

Of others’ cares, the gentle maid addressed

The knight, and sought the occasion of his woe.

And he to her his secret grief confessed,

Won by her gentle speech and courteous show,

And by that gallant bearing, which at sight,

Prepared who saw her for nimble knight.

XXXVII

“Fair sir, a band of horse and foot,” he said,

“I brought to Charlemagne; and thither pressed,

Where he an ambush for Marsilius spread,

Descending from the Pyrenean crest;

And in my company a damsel led,

Whose charms with fervid love had fired my breast.

When, as we journey by Rhone’s current, I

A rider on a winged courser spy.

XXXVIII

“The robber, whether he were man or shade,

Or goblin damned to everlasting woe,

As soon as he beheld my dear-loved maid,

Like falcon, who, descending, aims its blow,

Sank in a thought and rose; and soaring, laid

Hands on his prize, and snatched her from below.

So quick the rape, that all appeared a dream,

Until I heard in air the damsel’s scream.

XXXIX

“The ravening kite so swoops and plunders, when

Hovering above the shelterd yard, she spies

A helpless chicken near unwatchful hen,

Who vainly dins the thief with after cries.

I cannot reach the mountain-robber’s den,

Compassed with cliffs, or follow one who flies.

Besides, way-foundered is my weary steed,

Who ‘mid these rocks has wasted wind and speed.

XL

“But I, like one who from his bleeding side

Would liefer far have seen his heart out-torn,

Left my good squadrons masterless, to ride

Along the cliffs, and passes least forlorn;

And took the way (love served me for a guide)

Where it appeared the ruthless thief had born,

Ascending to his den, the lovely prey,

What time he snatched my hope and peace away.

XLI

“Six days I rode, from morn to setting sun,

By horrid cliff, by bottom dark and drear;

And giddy precipice, where path was none,

Nor sign, nor vestiges of man were near.

At last a dark and barren vale I won,

Where caverned mountains and rude cliffs appear;

Where in the middle rose a rugged block,

With a fair castle planted on the rock.

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XLII

“From far it shone like flame, and seemed not dight

Of marble or of brick; and in my eye

More wonderful the work, more fair to sight

The walls appeared, as I approached more nigh.

I, after, learned that it was built by sprite

Whom potent fumes had raised and sorcery:

Who on this rock its towers of steel did fix,

Case-hardened in the stream and fire of Styx.

XLIII

“Each polished turret shines with such a ray

That it defies the mouldering rust and rain:

The robber scours the country night and day,

And after harbours in this sure domain.

Nothing is safe which he would bear away;

Pursued with curses and with threats in vain.

There (fruitless every hope to foil his art)

The felon keeps my love, oh! say my heart.

XLIV

“Alas! what more is left me but to eye

Her prison on that cliff’s aerial crest?

Like the she-fox, who hears her offspring cry,

Standing beneath the ravening eagle’s nest;

And since she has not wings to rise and fly,

Runs round the rugged rock with hopeless quest.

So inaccessible the wild dominion

To whatsoever has not plume and pinion.

XLV

“While I so lingered where those rocks aspire,

I saw a dwarf guide two of goodly strain;

Whose coming added hope to my desire

(Alas! desire and hope alike were vain)

Both barons bold, and fearful in their ire:

The one Gradasso, King of Sericane,

The next, of youthful vigour, was a knight,

Prized in the Moorish court, Rogero hight.

XLVI

“The dwarf exclaimed, ‘These champions will assay

Their force with him who dwells on yonder steep,

And by such strange and unattempted way

Spurs the winged courser from his mountain-keep.’

And I to the approaching warriors say,

‘Pity, fair sirs, the cruel loss I weep,

And, as I trust, yon daring spoiler slain,

Give my lost lady to my arms again.’

XLVII

“Then how my love was ravished I make known,

Vouching with bitter tears my deep distress.

They proffer aid, and down the path of stone

Which winds about the craggy mountain, press.

While I, upon the summit left alone,

Look on, and pray to God for their success.

Beneath the wily wizard’s castle strong

Extends a little plain, two bow-shots long.

XLVIII

“Arrived beneath the craggy keep, the two

Contend which warrior shall begin the fight.

When, whether the first lot Gradasso drew,

Or young Rogero held the honor light,

The King of Sericane his bugle blew,

And the rock rang and fortress on the height;

And, lo! apparelled for the fearful course,

The cavalier upon his winged horse!

XLIX

“Upwards, by little and by little, springs

The winged courser, as the pilgrim crane

Finds not at first his balance and his wings,

Running and scarcely rising from the plain;

But when the flock is launched and scattered, flings

His pinions to the wind, and soars amain.

So straight the necromancer’s upward flight,

The eagle scarce attempts so bold a height.

L

“When it seems fit, he wheels his courser round,

Who shuts his wings, and falling from the sky,

Shoots like a well trained falcon to the ground,

Who sees the quarry, duck or pigeon, fly:

So, through the parting air, with whizzing sound,

With rested lance, he darted from on high;

And while Gradasso scarcely marks the foe

He hears him swooping near, and feels the blow.

LI

“The wizard on Gradasso breaks his spear,

He wounds the empty air, with fury vain.

This in the feathered monster breeds no fear;

Who to a distance shifts, and swoops again.

While that encounter made the Alfana rear,

Thrown back upon her haunches, on the plain.

The Alfana that the Indian monarch rode,

The fairest was that ever man bestrode.

LII

“Up to the starry sphere with swift ascent

The wizard soars, then pounces from the sky,

And strikes the young Rogero, who, intent

Upon Gradasso, deems no danger nigh.

Beneath the wizard’s blow the warrior bent,

Which made some deal his generous courser ply;

And when to smite the shifting foe he turned,

Him in the sky, and out of reach discerned.

LIII

“His blows Rogero, now Gradasso, bruise

On forehead, bosom, back, or flanks, between;

While he the warrior’s empty blows eschews,

Shifting so quickly that he scarce is seen.

Now this, now that, the wizard seems to choose,

The monster makes such spacious rings and clean,

While the enchanter so deceives the knights,

They view him not, and know not whence he smites.

LIV

“Between the two on earth and him o’ the sky,

Until that hour the warfare lasted there,

Which, spreading wide its veil of dusky dye,

Throughout the world, discolours all things fair.

What I beheld, I say; I add not, I,

A tittle to the tale; yet scarcely dare

To tell to other what I stood and saw;

So strange it seems, so passing Nature’s law.

LV

“Well covered in a goodly silken case,

He, the celestial warrior, bore his shield;

But why delayed the mantle to displace

I know not, and its lucid orb concealed.

Since this no sooner blazes in his face,

Than his foe tumbles dazzled on the field;

And while he, like a lifeless body, lies,

Becomes the necromancer’s helpless prize.

LVI

“LIke carbuncle, the magic buckler blazed,

No glare was ever seen which shone so bright:

Nor could the warriors choose but fall, amazed

And blinded by the clear and dazzling light.

I, too, that from a distant mountain gazed,

Fell senseless; and when I regained my sight,

After long time, saw neither knights nor page,

Nor aught beside a dark and empty stage.

LVII

“This while the fell enchanter, I supposed,

Dragged both the warriors to his prison-cell;

And by strange virtue of the shield disclosed,

I from my hope and they from freedom fell:

And thus I to the turrets, which enclosed

My heart, departing, bade a last farewell.

Now sum my griefs, and say if love combine

Other distress or grief to match with mine.”

LVIII

The knight relapsed into his first disease,

After his melancholy tale was done.

This was Count Pinabel, the Maganzese,

Anselmo d’Altaripa’s faithless son.

He, where the blood ran foul through all degrees,

Disdained to be the only virtuous one;

Nor played a simple part among the base,

Passing in vice the villains of his race.

LIX

With aspect changing still, the beauteous dame

Hears what the mournful Maganzese narrates;

And, at first mention of Rogero’s name,

Her radiant face with eager joy dilates.

But, full of pity, kindles into flame

As Pinabel his cruel durance states.

Nor finds she, though twice told, the story stale;

But makes him oft repeat and piece his tale.

LX

And, after, when she deemed that all was clear,

Cried to the knight, “Repose upon my say.

To thee may my arrival well be dear,

And thou as fortunate account this day.

Straight wend me to the keep, sir cavalier,

Which holds a jewel of so rich a ray:

Nor shalt thou grudge thy labour and thy care,

If envious Fortune do but play me fair.”

LXI

The knight replied, “Then nought to me remains

But that I yonder mountain-passes show;

And sure ’tis little loss to lose my pains,

Where every thing is lost I prize below.

But you would climb yon cliffs, and for your gains

Will find a prison-house, and be it so!

Whate’er betide you, blame yourself alone;

You go forewarned to meet a fate foreshown.”

LXII

So said, the cavalier remounts his horse,

And serves the gallant damsel as a guide;

Who is prepared Rogero’s gaol to force,

Or to be slain, or in his prison stied.

When lo! a messenger, in furious course,

Called to the dame to stay, and rode and cried.

This was the post who told Circassa’s lord

What valiant hand had stretched him on the sward.

LXIII

The courier, who so plied his restless heel,

News of Narbonne and of Montpelier bore:

How both had raised the standard of Castile,

All Acquamorta siding with the Moor;

And how Marseilles’ disheartened men appeal

To her, who should protect her straightened shore;

And how, through him, her citizens demand

Counsel and comfort at their captain’s hand.

LXIV

This goodly town, with many miles of plain,

Which lie ‘twixt Var and Rhone, upon the sea,

To her was given by royal Charlemagne:

Such trust he placed in her fidelity.

Still wont with wonder on the tented plain

The prowess of that valiant maid to see.

And now the panting courier, as I said,

Rode from Marseilles to ask the lady’s aid.

LXV

Whether or not she should the call obey,

The youthful damsel doubts some little space;

Strong in one balance Fame and Duty weigh,

But softer thoughts both Fame and Duty chase:

And she, at length, resolved the emprize to assay,

And free Rogero from the enchanted place:

Or, should her valour in the adventure fail,

Would with the cherished lover share his jail.

LXVI

And did with such excuse that post appay,

He was contented on her will to wait:

Then turned the bridle to resume her way

With Pinabel, who seemed no whit elate.

Since of that line he knows the damsel gay,

Held in such open and such secret hate;

And future trouble to himself foresees,

Were he detected as a Maganzese.

LXVII

For ‘twixt Maganza’s and old Clermont’s line

There was an ancient and a deadly feud:

And oft to blows the rival houses came,

And oft in civil blood their hands embrued.

And hence some treason to this gentle dame

In his foul heart, the wicked County brewed;

Or, as the first occasion served, would stray

Out of the road, and leave her by the way.

LXVIII

And so the traitor’s troubled fancy rack

Fear, doubt, and his own native, rancorous mood,

That unawares he issued from the track,

And found himself within a gloomy wood:

Where a rough mountain reared its shaggy back,

Whose stony peak above the forest stood;

The daughter of Dodona’s duke behind,

Dogging his footsteps through the thicket blind.

LXIX

He, when he saw himself within the brake,

Thought to abandon his unweeting foe;

And to the dame — “ ’Twere better that we make

For shelter ere the gathering darkness grow;

And, yonder mountain past, (save I mistake)

A tower is seated in the vale below.

Do you expect me then, while from the peak

I measure the remembered place I seek.”

LXX

So said, he pushed his courser up the height

Of that lone mountain; in his evil mind

Revolving, as he went, some scheme or sleight

To rid him of the gentle dame behind.

When lo! a rocky cavern met his sight,

Amid those precipices dark and blind:

Its sides descended thirty yards and more,

Worked smooth, and at the bottom was a door.

LXXI

A void was at the bottom, where a wide

Portal conducted to an inner room:

From thence a light shone out on every side,

As of a torch illumining the gloom.

Fair Bradamant pursued her faithless guide,

Suspended there, and pondering on her doom:

And came upon the felon where he stood,

Fearing lest she might lose him in the wood.

LXXII

When her approach the County’s first intent

Made vain, the wily traitor sought to mend

His toils, and some new stratagem invent

To rid her thence, or bring her to her end.

And so to meet the approaching lady went,

And showed the cave, and prayed her to ascend;

And said that in its bottom he had seen

A gentle damsel of bewitching mien.

LXXIII

Who, by her lovely semblance and rich vest,

Appeared a lady of no mean degree;

But melancholy, weeping, and distressed,

As one who pined there in captivity:

And that when he towards the entrance pressed,

To learn who that unhappy maid might be,

One on the melancholy damsel flew,

And her within that inner cavern drew.

LXXIV

The beauteous Bradamant, who was more bold

Than wary, gave a ready ear; and, bent

To help the maid, imprisoned in that hold,

Sought but the means to try the deep descent.

Then, looking round, descried an elm-tree old,

Which furnished present means for her intent:

And from the tree, with boughs and foliage stored,

Lopt a long branch, and shaped it with her sword.

LXXV

The severed end she to the count commended,

Then, grasping it, hung down that entrance steep.

With her feet foremost, by her arms suspended:

When asking if she had the skill to leap,

The traitor, with a laugh, his hands extended.

And plunged his helpless prey into the deep.

“And thus,” exclaimed the ruffian, “might I speed

With thee each sucker of thy cursed seed!”

LXXVI

But not, as was the will of Pinabel,

Such cruel lot fair Bradamant assayed;

For striking on the bottom of the cell,

The stout elm-bough so long her weight upstayed,

That, though it split and splintered where it fell,

It broked her fall, and saved the gentle maid.

Some while astounded there the lady lay,

As the ensuing canto will display.

Canto 3

Argument

Restored to sense, the beauteous Bradamant

Finds sage Melissa in the vaulted tomb,

And hears from her of many a famous plant

And warrior, who shall issue from her womb.

Next, to release Rogero from the haunt

Of old Atlantes, learns how from the groom,

Brunello hight, his virtuous ring to take;

And thus the knight’s and others’ fetters break.

I

Who will vouchsafe me voice that shall ascend

As high as I would raise my noble theme?

Who will afford befitting words, and lend

Wings to my verse, to soar the pitch I scheme?

Since fiercer fire for such illustrious end,

Than what was wont, may well my song beseem.

For this fair portion to my lord is due

Which sings the sires from whom his lineage grew.

II

Than whose fair line, ‘mid those by heavenly grace

Chosen to minister this earth below,

You see not, Phoebus, in your daily race,

One that in peace or war doth fairer show;

Nor lineage that hath longer kept its place;

And still shall keep it, if the lights which glow

Within me, but aright inspire my soul,

While the blue heaven shall turn about the pole.

III

But should I seek at full its worth to blaze,

Not mine were needful, but that noble lyre

Which sounded at your touch the thunderer’s praise,

What time the giants sank in penal fire.

Yet should you instruments, more fit to raise

The votive work, bestow, as I desire,

All labour and all thought will I combine,

To shape and shadow forth the great design.

IV

Till when, this chisel may suffice to scale

The stone, and give my lines a right direction;

And haply future study may avail,

To bring the stubborn labour to perfection.

Return we now to him, to whom the mail

Of hawberk, shield, and helm, were small protection:

I speak of Pinabel the Maganzeze,

Who hopes the damsel’s death, whose fall he sees.

V

The wily traitor thought that damsel sweet

Had perished on the darksome cavern’s floor,

And with pale visages hurried his retreat

From that, through him contaminated door.

And, thence returning, clomb into his seat:

Then, like one who a wicked spirit bore,

To add another sin to evil deed,

Bore off with him the warlike virgin’s steed.

VI

Leave we sometime the wretch who, while he layed

Snares for another, wrought his proper doom;

And turn we to the damsel he betrayed,

Who had nigh found at once her death and tomb.

She, after rising from the rock, dismayed

At her shrewd fall, and gazing through the gloom,

Beheld and passed that inner door, which gave

Entrance to other and more spacious cave.

VII

For the first cavern in a second ended,

Fashioned in form of church, and large and square;

With roof by cunning architect extended

On shafts of alabaster rich and rare.

The flame of a clear-burning lamp ascended

Before the central altar; and the glare,

Illuminating all the space about,

Shone through the gate, and lit the cave without.

VIII

Touched with the sanctifying thoughts which wait

On worthy spirit in a holy place,

She prays with eager lips, and heart elate,

To the Disposer of all earthly grace:

And, kneeling, hears a secret wicket grate

In the opposing wall; whence, face to face,

A woman issuing forth, the maid addresses,

Barefoot, ungirt, and with dishevelled tresses.

IX

“O generous Bradamant,” the matron cried,

“Know thine arrival in this hallowed hold

Was not unauthorized of heavenly guide:

And the prophetic ghost of Merlin told,

Thou to this cave shouldst come by path untried,

Which covers the renowned magician’s mould.

And here have I long time awaited thee,

To tell what is the heavens’ pronounced decree.

X

“This is the ancient memorable cave

Which Merlin, that enchanter sage, did make:

Thou may’st have heard how that magician brave

Was cheated by the Lady of the Lake.

Below, beneath the cavern, is the grave

Which holds his bones; where, for that lady’s sake,

His limbs (for such her will) the wizard spread.

Living he laid him there, and lies there dead.

XI

“Yet lives the spirit of immortal strain;

Lodged in the enchanter’s corpse, till to the skies

The trumpet call it, or to endless pain,

As it with dove or raven’s wing shall rise.

Yet lives the voice, and thou shalt hear how plain

From its sepulchral case of marble cries:

Since this has still the past and future taught

To every wight that has its counsel sought.

XII

“Long days have passed since I from distant land

My course did to this cemetery steer,

That in the solemn mysteries I scanned,

Merlin to me the truth should better clear;

And having compassed the design I planned,

A month beyond, for thee, have tarried here;

Since Merlin, still with certain knowledge summing

Events, prefixed this moment for thy coming.”

XIII

The daughter of Duke Aymon stood aghast,

And silent listened to the speech; while she

Knew not, sore marvelling at all that passed,

If ’twere a dream or a reality.

At length, with modest brow, and eyes down cast,

Replied (like one that was all modesty),

“And is this wrought for me? and have I merit

Worthy the workings of prophetic spirit?”

XIV

And full of joy the adventure strange pursues,

Moving with ready haste behind the dame,

Who brings her to the sepulchre which mews

The bones and spirit, erst of Merlin’s name.

The tomb, of hardest stone which masons use,

Shone smooth and lucid, and as red as flame.

So that although no sun-beam pierced the gloom,

Its splendour lit the subterraneous room.

XV

Whether it be the native operation

O certain stones, to shine like torch i’ the dark,

Or whether force of spell or fumigation,

(A guess that seems to come more near the mark)

Or sign made under mystic constellation,

The blaze that came from the sepulchral ark

Discovered sculpture, colour, gems, and gilding,

And whatsoever else adorned the building.

XVI

Scarcely had Bradamant above the sill

Lifter her foot, and trod the secret cave,

When the live spirit, in clear tones that thrill,

Addressed the martial virgin from the grave;

“May Fortune, chaste and noble maid, fulfil

Thine every wish!” exclaimed the wizard brave.

“Since from thy womb a princely race shall spring,

Whose name through Italy and earth shall ring.

XVII

“The noble blood derived from ancient Troy,

Mingling in thee its two most glorious streams,

Shall be the ornament, and flower, and joy

Of every lineage on which Phoebus beams,

Where genial stars lend warmth, or cold annoy,

Where Indus, Tagus, Nile, or Danube gleams;

And in thy progeny and long drawn line

Shall marquises, counts, dukes and Caesers shine.

XVIII

“Captains and cavaliers shall spring from thee,

Who both by knightly lance and prudent lore,

Shall once again to widowed Italy

Her ancient praise and fame in arms restore;

And in her realms just lords shall seated be,

(Such Numa and Augustus were of yore),

Who with their government, benign and sage,

Shall re-create on earth the golden age.

XIX

“Then, that the will of Heaven be duly brought

To a fair end through thee, in fitting date,

Which from the first to bless thy love has wrought,

And destined young Rogero for thy mate,

Let nothing interpose to break that thought,

But boldly tread the path perscribed by fate;

Nor let aught stay thee till the thief be thrown

By thy good lance, who keeps thee from thine own.”

XX

Here Merlin ceased, that for the solemn feat

Melissa might prepare with fitting spell,

To show bold Bradamant, in aspect meet,

The heirs who her illustrious race should swell.

Hence many sprites she chose; but from what seat

Evoked, I know not, or if called from hell;

And gathered in one place (so bade the dame),

In various garb and guise the shadows came.

XXI

This done, into the church she called the maid,

Where she had drawn a magic ring, as wide

As might contain the damsel, prostrate laid;

With the full measure of a palm beside.

And on her head, lest spirit should invade,

A pentacle for more assurance tied.

So bade her hold her peace, and stand and look,

Then read, and schooled the demons from her book.

XXII

Lo! forth of that first cave what countless swarm

Presses upon the circle’s sacred round,

But, when they would the magic rampart storm,

Finds the way barred as if by fosse or mound;

Then back the rabble turns of various form;

And when it thrice with bending march has wound

About the circle, troops into the cave,

Where stands that beauteous urn, the wizard’s grave.

XXIII

“To tell at large the puissant acts and worth,

And name of each who, figured in a sprite,

Is present to our eyes before his birth,”

Said sage Melissa to the damsel bright;

“To tell the deeds which they shall act on earth,

Were labour not to finish with the night.

Hence I shall call few worthies of thy line,

As time and fair occasion shall combine.

XXIV

“See yonder first-born of thy noble breed,

Who well reflects thy fair and joyous face;

He, first of thine and of Rogero’s seed,

Shall plant in Italy thy generous race.

In him behold who shall distain the mead,

And his good sword with blood of Pontier base;

The mighty wrong chastised, and traitor’s guilt,

By whom his princely father’s blood was spilt.

XXV

“By him King Desiderius shall be pressed,

The valiant leader of the Lombard horde:

And of the fiefs of Calaon and Este;

For this imperial Charles shall make him lord.

Hubert, thy grandson, comes behind; the best

Of Italy, with arms and belted sword:

Who shall defend the church from barbarous foes,

And more than once assure her safe repose.

XXVI

“Alberto next, unconquered captain, see,

Whose trophies shall so many fanes array.

Hugh, the bold son, is with the sire, and he

Shall conquer Milan, and the snakes display.

Azo, that next approaching form shall be,

And, his good brother dead, the Insubri sway.

Lo! Albertazo! by whose rede undone,

See Berengarius banished, and his son.

XXVII

“With him shall the imperial Otho join

In wedlock worthily his daughter fair.

And lo! another Hugh! O noble line!

O! sire succeeded by an equal heir!

He, thwarting with just cause their ill design,

Shall thrash the Romans’ pride who overbear;

Shall from their hands the sovereign pontiff take,

With the third Otho, and their leaguer break.

XXVIII

“See Fulke, who to his brother will convey

All his Italian birth-right, and command

To take a mighty dukedom far away

From his fair home, in Almayn’s northern land.

There he the house of Saxony shall stay,

And prop the ruin with his saving hand;

This in his mother’s right he shall possess,

And with his progeny maintain and bless.

XXIX

“More famed for courtesy than warlike deed,

Azo the second, he who next repairs!

Bertoldo and Albertazo are his seed:

And, lo! the father walkes between his heirs.

By Parma’s walls I see the Germans bleed,

Their second Henry quelled; such trophy bears

The one renowned in story’s future page:

The next shall wed Matilda, chaste and sage.

XXX

“His virtues shall deserve so fair a flower,

(And in his age, I wot, no common grace)

To hold the half of Italy in dower,

With that descendent of first Henry’s race.

Rinaldo shall succeed him in his power,

Pledge of Bertoldo’s wedded love, and chase

Fierce Frederick Barbarossa’s hireling bands,

Saving the church from his rapacious hands.

XXXI

“Another Azo rules Verona’s town,

With its fair fields; and two great chiefs this while

(One wears the papal, one the imperial crown),

The baron, Marquis of Ancona style.

But to show all who rear the gonfalon

Of the consistory, amid that file,

Were task too long; as long to tell each deed

Achieved for Rome by thy devoted seed.

XXXII

“See Fulke and Obyson, more Azos, Hughs!

Both Henrys! — mark the father and his boy.

Two Guelphs: the first fair Umbria’s land subdues,

And shall Spoleto’s ducal crown enjoy.

Behold the princely phantom that ensues,

Shall turn fair Italy’s long grief to joy;

I speak of the fifth Azo of thy strain,

By whom shall Ezelin be quelled and slain.

XXXIII

“Fierce Ezelin, that most inhuman lord,

Who shall be deemed by men a child of hell.

And work such evil, thinning with the sword

Who in Ausonia’s wasted cities dwell;

Rome shall no more her Anthony record,

Her Marius, Sylla, Nero, Cajus fell.

And this fifth Azo shall to scathe and shame

Put Frederick, second Caeser of the name.

XXXIV

“He, with his better sceptre well contented,

Shall rule the city, seated by the streams,

Where Phoebus to his plaintive lyre lamented

The son, ill-trusted with the father’s beams;

Where Cygnus spread his pinions, and the scented

Amber was wept, as fabling poet dreams.

To him such honour shall the church decree;

Fit guerdon of his works, and valour’s fee.

XXXV

“But does no laurel for his brother twine,

Aldobrandino, who will carry cheer

To Rome (when Otho, with the Ghibelline,

Into the troubled capital strikes fear),

And make the Umbri and Piceni sign

Their shame, and sack the cities far and near;

Then hopeless to relieve the sacred hold,

Sue to the neighbouring Florentine for gold:

XXXVI

“And trust a noble brother to his hands,

Boasting no dearer pledge, the pact to bind:

And next, victorious o’er the German bands,

Give his triumphant ensigns to the wind:

To the afflicted church restore her lands,

And take due vengeance of Celano’s kind.

Then die, cut off in manhood’s early flower,

Beneath the banners of the Papal power?

XXXVII

“He, dying, leaves his brother Azo heir

Of Pesaro and fair Ancona’s reign,

And all the cities which ‘twixt Tronto are,

And green Isauro’s stream, from mount to main;

With other heritage, more rich and rare,

Greatness of mind, and faith without a strain.

All else is Fortune’s in this mortal state;

But Virtue soars beyond her love and hate.

XXXVIII

“In good Rinaldo equal worth shall shine,

(Such is the promise of his early fire)

If such a hope of thine exalted line.

Dark Fate and Fortune wreck not in their ire.

Alas! from Naples in this distant shrine,

Naples, where he is hostage for his sire,

His dirge is heard: A stripling of thy race,

Young Obyson, shall fill his grandsire’s place.

XXXIX

“This lord to his dominion shall unite

Gay Reggio, joined to Modena’s bold land.

And his redoubted valour lend such light,

The willing people call him to command.

Sixth of the name, his Azo rears upright

The church’s banner in his noble hand:

Fair Adria’s fief to him in dower shall bring

The child of second Charles, Sicilia’s king.

XL

“Behold in yonder friendly group agreed.

Many fair princes of illustrious name;

Obyson, Albert famed for pious deed,

Aldobrandino, Nicholas the lame.

But we may pass them by, for better speed,

Faenza conquered, and their feats and fame;

With Adria (better held and surer gain)

Which gives her title to the neighbouring main:

XLI

“And that fair town, whose produce is the rose,

The rose which gives it name in Grecian speech:

That, too, which fishy marshes round enclose,

And Po’s two currents threat with double breach;

Whose townsmen loath the lazy calm’s repose,

And pray that stormy waves may lash the beach.

I pass, mid towns and towers, a countless store,

Argenta, Lugo, and a thousand more.

XLII

“See Nicholas, whom in his tender age,

The willing people shall elect their lord;

He who shall laugh to scorn the civil rage

Of the rebellious Tideus and his horde;

Whose infantine delight shall be to wage

The mimic fight, and sweat with spear and sword:

And through the discipline such nurture yields,

Shall flourish as the flower of martial fields.

XLIII

“By him rebellious plans are overthrown,

And turned upon the rash contriver’s head;

And so each stratagem of warfare blown,

That vainly shall the cunning toils be spread.

To the third Otho this too late is known,

Of Parma and the pleasant Reggio dread;

Who shall by him be spoiled in sudden strife,

Of his possessions and his wretched life.

XLIV

“And still the fair dominion shall increase,

And without wrong its spreading bounds augment;

Nor its glad subjects violate the peace,

Unless provoked some outrage to resent,

And hence its wealth and welfare shall not cease;

And the Divine Disposer be content

To let it flourish (such his heavenly love!)

While the celestial spheres revolve above.

XLV

“Lo! Lionel! lo! Borse great and kind!

First duke of thy fair race, his realm’s delight;

Who reigns secure, and shall more triumphs find

In peace, than warlike princes win in fight.

Who struggling Fury’s hands shall tie behind

Her back, and prison Mars, removed from sight.

His fair endeavours bent to bless and stay

The people, that his sovereign rule obey.

XLVI

“Lo! Hercules, who may reproach his neighbour,

With foot half burnt, and halting gait and slow,

That at Budrio, with protecting sabre,

He saved his troops from fatal overthrow;

Not that, for guerdon of his glorious labour,

He should distress and vex him as a foe;

Chased into Barco. It were hard to say,

If most he shine in peace or martial fray.

XLVII

“Lucania, Puglia, and Calabria’s strand,

Shall with the rumour of his prowess ring:

Where he shall strive in duel, hand to hand,

And gain the praise of Catalonia’s king.

Him, with the wisest captains of the land

His worth shall class; such fame his actions bring;

And he the fief shall win like valiant knight,

Which thirty years before was his of right.

XLVIII

“To him his grateful city owes a debt,

The greatest subjects to their lord can owe;

Not that he moves her from a marsh, to set

Her stones, where Ceres’ fruitful treasures grow.

Nor that he shall enlarge her bounds, nor yet

That he shall fence her walls against the foe;

Nor that he theatre and dome repairs,

And beautifies her streets and goodly squares;

XLIX

“Not that he keeps his lordship well defended

From the winged lions’ claws and fierce attacks;

Nor that, when Gallic ravage is extended,

And the invader all Italia sacks,

His happy state alone is unoffended;

Unharassed, and ungalled by toll or tax.

Not for these blessings I recount, and more

His grateful realm shall Hercules adore;

L

“So much as that from him shall spring a pair

Of brothers, leagued no less by love than blood;

Who shall be all that Leda’s children were;

The just Alphonso, Hippolite the good.

And as each twin resigned the vital air

His fellow to redeem from Stygian flood,

So each of these would gladly spend his breath,

And for his brother brave perpetual death.

LI

“In these two princes’ excellent affection,

Their happy lieges more assurance feel,

Than if their noble town, for its protection,

Were girded twice by Vulcan’s works of steel.

And so Alphonso in his good direction,

Justice, with knowledge and with love, shall deal,

Astrea shall appear returned from heaven,

To this low earth to varying seasons given.

LII

“Well is it that his wisdom shines as bright

As his good sire’s, nor is his valour less;

Since here usurping Venice arms for fight,

And her full troops his scanty numbers press,

There she (I know not if more justly hight

Mother or stepmother) brings new distress;

But, if a mother, scarce to him more mild

Than Progue or Medea to her child.

LIII

“This chief, what time soever he shall go

Forth with his faithful crew, by night or day,

By water or by land, will shame the foe,

With memorable rout and disarray;

And this too late Romagna’s sons shall know.

Led against former friends in bloody fray,

Who shall bedew the campaign with their blood,

By Santern, Po, and Zaniolus’ flood.

LIV

“This shall the Spaniard know, to his dismay,

‘Mid the same bounds, whom papal gold shall gain,

Who shall from him Bastia win and slay,

With cruel rage, her hapless Castellain,

The city taken; but shall dearly pay;

His crime, the town retrieved, and victor slain:

Since in the rescued city not a groom

Is left alive, to bear the news to Rome.

LV

“ ’Tis he, who with his counsel and his lance,

Shall win the honours of Romagna’s plain,

And open to the chivalry of France

The victory over Julius, leagued with Spain.

Paunch-deep in human blood shall steeds advance

In that fierce strife, and struggle through the slain,

‘Mid crowded fields, which scarce a grace supply,

Where Greek, Italian, Frank, and Spaniard die.

LVI

“Lo! who in priestly vesture clad, is crowned

With purple hat, conferred in hallowed dome!

’Tis he, the wise, the liberal, the renowned

Hippolitus, great cardinal of Rome;

Whose actions shall in every region sound,

Where’er the honoured muse shall find a home:

To whose glad era, by indulgent heaven,

As to Augustus’ is a Maro given.

LVII

“His deeds adorn his race, as from his car

The glorious sun illumes the subject earth

More than the silver moon or lesser star;

So far all others he transcends in worth.

I see this captain, ill bested for war,

Go forth afflicted, and return in mirth:

Backed by few foot, and fewer cavaliers,

He homeward barks, and fifteen gallies steers.

LVIII

“Two Sigismonds, the first, the second, see;

To these Alphonso’s five good sons succeed;

Whose glories spread o’er seas and land shall be.

The first shall wed a maid of France’s seed.

This is the second Hercules; and he,

(That you may know their every name and deed),

Hippolitus; who with the light shall shine,

Of his wise uncle, gilding all his line.

LIX

“Francis the third comes next; the other two

Alphonsos both; — but yet again I say,

Thy line through all its branches to pursue,

Fair virgin, would too long protract thy stay;

And Phoebus, many times, to mortal view,

Would quench and light again the lamp of day.

Then, with thy leave, ’tis time the pageant cease,

And I dismiss the shades and hold my peace.”

LX

So with the lady’s leave the volume closed,

Whose precepts to her will the spirits bent.

And they, where Merlin’s ancient bones reposed,

From the first cavern disappearing, went.

Then Bradamant her eager lips unclosed,

Since the divine enchantress gave consent;

“And who,” she cried, “that pair of sorrowing mien,

Alphonso and Hippolitus between?

LXI

“Sighing, those youths advanced amid the show,

Their brows with shame and sorrow overcast,

With downward look, and gait subdued and slow:

I saw the brothers shun them as they passed.”

Melissa heard the dame with signs of woe,

And thus, with streaming eyes, exclaim’d at last:

“Ah! luckless youths, with vain illusions fed,

Whither by wicked men’s bad counsel led!

LXII

“O, worthy seed of Hercules the good,

Let not their guilt beyond thy love prevail;

Alas! the wretched pair are of thy blood,

So many prevailing pity turn the scale!”

And in a sad and softer tone pursued,

“I will not further press the painful tale.

Chew on fair fancy’s food: Nor deem unmeet

I will not with a bitter chase the sweet.

LXIII

“Soon as tomorrow’s sun shall gild the skies

With his first light, myself the way will show

To where the wizard knight Rogero sties;

And built with polished steel the ramparts glow:

So long as through deep woods thy journey lies,

Till, at the sea arrived, I shall bestow

Such new instructions for the future way,

That thou no more shalt need Melissa’s stay.”

LXIV

All night the maid reposes in the cave,

And the best part in talk with Merlin spends;

While with persuasive voice the wizard grave

To her Rogero’s honest love commends;

Till from the vault goes forth that virgin brave,

As through the sky the rising sun ascends,

By path, long space obscure on either side,

The weird woman still her faithful guide.

LXV

They gain a hidden glen, which heights inclose,

And mountains inaccessible to man:

And they all day toil on, without repose,

Where precipices frowned and torrents ran.

And (what may some diversion interpose)

Sweet subjects of discourse together scan,

In conference, which best might make appear

The rugged road less dismal and severe.

LXVI

Of these the greater portion served to guide

(Such the wise woman’s scope) the warlike dame;

And teach by what device might be untied

Rogero’s gyves, if stedfast were her flame.

“If thou wert Mars himself, or Pallas,” cried

The sage Melissa, “though with thee there came

More than King Charles or Agramant command,

Against the wizard foe thou could’st not stand.

LXVII

“Besides that it is walled about with steel,

And inexpugnable his tower, and high;

Besides that his swift horse is taught to wheel,

And caracol and gallop in mid sky,

He bears a mortal shield of power to seal,

As soon as ’tis exposed, the dazzled eye;

And so invades each sense, the splendour shed,

That he who sees the blaze remains as dead.

LXVIII

“And lest to shut thine eyes, thou should’st suppose

Might serve, contending with the wizard knight;

How would’st thou know, when both in combat close,

When he strikes home, or when eschews the fight?

But to escape the blaze which blinds his foes,

And render vain each necromantic sleight,

Have here a speedy mean which cannot miss;

Nor can the world afford a way but this.

LXIX

“King Agramant of Africa a ring.

Thieved from an Indian queen by subtle guiles,

Has to a baron of his following

Consigned, who now precedes us by few miles;

Brunello he. Who wears the gift shall bring

To nought all sorceries and magic wiles.

In thefts and cheats Brunello is as well

Instructed, as the sage in charm and spell.

LXX

“Brunello, he so practised and so sly

As now I tell thee, by his king is sent,

That he with aid of mother wit may try,

And of this ring, well proved in like event,

To take Rogero from the castle high;

So has he boasted, by the wizard pent:

And to his lord such promise did impart,

Who has Rogero’s presence most at heart.

LXXI

“That his escape to thee alone may owe,

Not to the king, the youthful cavalier,

How to release Rogero from his foe

And his enchanted cage, prepare to hear.

Three days along the shingle shalt thou go,

Beside the sea, whose waves will soon appear;

Thee the third day shall to a hostel bring,

Where he shall come who bears the virtuous ring.

LXXII

“That thou may’st recognise the man, in height

Less than six palms, observe one at this inn

Of black and curly hair, the dwarfish wight!

Beard overgrown about the cheek and chin;

With shaggy brow, swoln eyes, and cloudy sight,

A nose close flattened, and a sallow skin;

To this, that I may make my sketch complete,

Succinctly clad, like courier, goes the cheat.

LXXIII

“Thy conversation with this man shall turn

Upon enchantment, spell, and mystic pact;

And thou shalt, in thy talk, appear to yearn

To prove the wizard’s strength, as is the fact.

But, lady, let him not thy knowledge learn

Of his good ring, which mars all magic act:

He shall propose to bring thee as a guide

To the tall castle, whither thou would’st ride.

LXXIV

“Follow him close, and viewing (for a sign),

Now near, the fortress of the enchanter hoar;

Let no false pity there thy mind incline

To stay the execution of my lore.

Give him his death; but let him not divine

Thy thought, nor grant him respite; for before

Thine eyes, concealed by it, the caitiff slips

If once he place the ring between his lips.”

LXXV

Discoursing thus, they came upon the sea

Where Garonne near fair Bordeaux meets the tide;

Here, fellow travellers no more to be,

Some natural tears they drop and then divide.

Duke Aymon’s child, who slumbers not till she

Release her knight, holds on till even-tide:

’Twas then the damsel at a hostel rested,

Where Sir Brunello was already guested.

LXXVI

The maid Brunello knows as soon as found

(So was his image on her mind impressed),

And asks him whence he came, and whither bound;

And he replies and lies, as he is pressed.

The dame, who is forewarned, and knows her ground,

Feigns too as well as he, and lies her best:

And changes sex and sect, and name and land,

And her quick eye oft glances at his hand;

LXXVII

Oft glances at his resless hand, in fear

That he might undetected make some prize;

Nor ever lets the knave approach too near,

Well knowing his condition: In this guise

The couple stand together, when they hear

A sudden sound: but what that sound implies

I, sir, shall tell hereafter with its cause;

But first shall break my song with fitting pause.

Canto 4

Argument

The old Atlantes suffers fatal wreck,

Foiled by the ring, and young Rogero freed,

Who soars in air till he appears a speck,

Mounted upon the wizard’s winged steed.

Obediant to the royal Charles’s beck,

He who had followed Love’s imperious lead,

Rinaldo, disembarks on British land,

And saves Genevra, doomed to stake and brand.

I

Though an ill mind appear in simulation,

And, for the most, such quality offends;

’Tis plain that this in many a situation

Is found to further beneficial ends,

And save from blame, and danger, and vexation;

Since we converse not always with our friends,

In this, less clear than clouded, mortal life,

Beset with snares, and full of envious strife.

II

If after painful proof we scarcely find

A real friend, through various chances sought,

To whom we may communicate our mind,

Keeping no watch upon our wandering thought;

What should the young Rogero’s lady kind

Do with Brunello, not sincere, but fraught

With treasons manifold, and false and tainted,

As by the good enchantress truly painted?

III

She feigns as well with that deceitful scout;

(Fitting with him the father of all lies)

Watches his thievish hands in fear and doubt;

And follows every motion with her eyes.

When lo! a mighty noise is heard without!

“O mighty mother! king of heaven!” she cries,

“What thing is this I hear?” and quickly springs

Towards the place from whence the larum rings,

IV

And sees the host and all his family,

Where, one to door, and one to window slips,

With eyes upturned and gazing at the sky,

As if to witness comet or eclipse.

And there the lady views, with wondering eye,

What she had scarce believed from other’s lips,

A feathered courser, sailing through the rack,

Who bore an armed knight upon his back.

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V

Broad were his pinions, and of various hue;

Seated between, a knight the saddle pressed,

Clad in steel arms, which wide their radiance threw,

His wonderous course directed to the west:

There dropt among the mountains lost to view.

And this was, as that host informed his guest,

(And true the tale) a sorcerer, who made

Now farther, now more near, his frequent raid.

VI

“He, sometimes towering, soars into the skies;

Then seems, descending, but to skim the ground:

And of all beauteous women makes a prize,

Who, to their mischief, in these parts are found.

Hence, whether in their own or other’s eyes,

Esteemed as fair, the wretched damsels round,

(And all in fact the felon plunders) hine;

As fearing of the sun to be descried.

VII

“A castle on the Pyrenean height

The necromancer keeps, the work of spell.”

(The host relates) “of steel, so fair and bright,

All nature cannot match the wonderous shell.

There many cavaliers, to prove their might,

Have gone, but none returned the tale to tell.

So that I doubt, fair sir, the thief enthralls

Or slays whoever in the encounter falls.”

VIII

The watchful maid attends to every thing,

Glad at her heart, and trusting to complete

(What she shall compass by the virtuous ring)

The downfall of the enchanter and his seat.

Then to the host — “A guide I pray thee bring,

Who better knows than me the thief’s retreat.

So burns my heart. (nor can I choose but go)

To strive in battle with this wizard foe.”

IX

“It shall not need,” exclaimed the dwarfish Moor,

“For I, myself, will serve you as a guide;

Who have the road set down, with other lore,

So that you shall rejoice with me to ride.”

He meant the ring, but further hint forbore;

Lest dearly he the avowed should abide.

And she to him — “Your guidance gives me pleasure.”

Meaning by this she hoped to win his treasure.

X

What useful was to say, she said, and what

Might hurt her with the Saracen, concealed.

Well suited to her ends, the host had got

A palfrey, fitting for the road or field.

She bought the steed, and as Aurora shot

Her rosy rays, rode forth with spear and shield:

And maid and courier through a valley wind,

Brunello now before and now behind.

XI

From wood to wood, from mount to mountain hoar,

They clomb a summit, which in cloudless sky

Discovers France and Spain, and either shore.

As from a peak of Apennine the eye

May Tuscan and Sclavonian sea explore,

There, whence we journey to Camaldoli.

Then through a rugged path and painful wended,

Which thence into a lowly vale descended.

XII

A rock from that deep valley’s centre springs;

Bright walls of steel about its summit go:

And this as high that airy summit flings,

As it leaves all the neighbouring cliffs below.

He may not scale the height who has not wings,

And vainly would each painful toil bestow.

“Lo! where his prisoners!” Sir Brunello cries,

“Ladies and cavaliers, the enchanter sties.”

XIII

Scarped smooth upon four parts, the mountain bare

Seemed fashioned with the plumb, by builder’s skill

Nor upon any side was path or stair,

Which furnished man the means to climb the hill.

The castle seemed the very nest and lair

Of animal, supplied with plume and quill.

And here the damsel knows ’tis time to slay

The wily dwarf, and take the ring away.

XIV

But deems it foul, with blood of man to stain

Unarmed and of so base a sort, her brand;

For well, without his death, she may obtain

The costly ring; and so suspends her hand.

Brunello, off his guard, with little pain,

She seized, and strongly bound with girding band:

Then to a lofty fir made fast the string;

But from his finger first withdrew the ring.

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XV

Neither by tears, nor groans, nor sound of woe,

To move the stedfast maid the dwarf had power:

She down the rugged hill descended slow,

Until she reached the plain beneath the tower.

Then gave her bugle breath, the keep below,

To call the castled wizard to the stower:

And when the sound was finished, threatening cried,

And called him to the combat and defied.

XVI

Not long within his gate the enchanter stayed,

After he heard the voice and bugle ring.

Against the foe, who seemed a man, arrayed

In arms, with him the horse is on the wing.

But his appearance well consoled the maid,

Who, with small cause for fear, beheld him bring

Nor mace, nor rested lance, nor bitting sword,

Wherewith the corselet might be bruised or gored.

XVII

On his left arm alone his shield he took,

Covered all o’er with silk of crimson hue;

In his right-hand he held an open book,

Whence, as the enchanter read, strange wonder grew:

For often times, to sight, the lance he shook;

And flinching eyelids could not hide the view;

With tuck or mace he seemed to smite the foe:

But sate aloof and had not struck a blow.

XVIII

No empty fiction wrought by magic lore,

But natural was the steed the wizard pressed;

For him a filly to griffin bore;

Hight hippogryph. In wings and beak and crest,

Formed like his sire, as in the feet before;

But like the mare, his dam, in all the rest.

Such on Riphaean hills, though rarely found,

Are bred, beyond the frozen ocean’s bound.

XIX

Drawn by enchantment from his distant lair,

The wizard thought but how to tame the foal;

And, in a month, instructed him to bear

Saddle and bit, and gallop to the goal;

And execute on earth or in mid air,

All shifts of manege, course and caracole;

He with such labour wrought. This only real,

Where all the rest was hollow and ideal.

XX

This truth by him with fictions was combined,

Whose sleight passed red for yellow, black for white:

But all his vain enchantments could not blind

The maid, whose virtuous ring assured her sight:

Yet she her blows discharges at the wind;

And spurring here and there prolongs the fight.

So drove or wheeled her steed, and smote at nought,

And practised all she had before been taught.

XXI

When she sometime had fought upon her horse,

She from the courser on her feet descends:

To compass and more freely put in force,

As by the enchantress schooled, her wily ends.

The wizard, to display his last resource,

Unweeting the defence, towards her wends.

He bares the shield, secure to blind his foe,

And by the magic light, astonished, throw.

XXII

The shield might have been shown at first, nor he

Needed to keep the cavaliers at bay;

But that he loved some master-stroke to see,

Achieved by lance or sword in single fray.

As with the captive mouse, in sportive glee,

The wily cat is sometimes seen to play;

Till waxing wroth, or weary of her prize,

She bites, and at a snap the prisoner dies.

XXIII

To cat and mouse, in battles fought before,

I liken the magician and his foes;

But the comparison holds good no more:

For, with the ring, the maid against him goes;

Firm and attentive still, and watching sore,

Lest upon her the wizard should impose:

And as she sees him bare the wondrous shield,

Closes her eyes and falls upon the field.

XXIV

Not that the shining metal could offend,

As wont those others, from its cover freed;

But so the damsel did, to make descend

The vain enchanter from his wondrous steed.

Nor was in ought defeated of her end;

For she no sooner on the grassy mead

Had laid her head, than wheeling widely round,

The flying courser pitched upon the ground.

XXV

Already cased again, the shield was hung,

By the magician, at his sadle bow.

He lights and seeks her, who like wolf among

The bushes, couched in thicket, waits the roe;

She without more delay from ambush sprung,

As he drew near, and grappled fast the foe.

That wretched man, the volume by whose aid

He all his battles fought, on earth had laid:

XXVI

And ran to bind her with a chain, which he,

Girt round about him for such a purpose, wore;

Because he deemed she was no less to be

Mastered and bound than those subdued before.

Him hath the dame already flung; by me

Excused with reason, if he strove not more.

For fearful were the odds between that bold

And puissant maid, and warrior weak and old!

XXVII

Intending to behead the fallen foe,

She lifts her conquering hand; but in mid space,

When she beholds his visage, stops the blow,

As if disdaining a revenge so base.

She sees in him, her prowess has laid low,

A venerable sire, with sorrowing face;

Whose hair and wrinkles speak him, to her guess,

Of years six score and ten, or little less.

XXVIII

“Kill me, for love of God!” (afflicted sore,

The old enchanter full of wrath did cry).

But the victorious damsel was not more

Averse to kill, than he was bent to die.

To know who was the necromancer hoar

The gentle lady had desire, and why

The tower he in that savage place designed,

Doing such outrage foul to all mankind.

XXIX

“Nor I, by malice moved, alas! poor wight,”

(The weeping necromancer answer made,)

“Built the fair castle on the rocky height,

Nor yet for rapine ply the robber’s trade;

But only to redeem a gentle knight

From danger sore and death, by love was swayed;

Who, as the skies foreshow, in little season,

Is doomed to die a Christian, and by treason.

XXX

“The sun beholds not ‘twixt the poles, a Child

So excellent as him, and passing fair;

Who from his infancy, Rogero styled,

(Atlantes I) was tutored by my care.

By love of fame and evil stars beguiled,

He follows into France Troyano’s heir.

Him, in my eyes, than son esteemed more dear,

I seek to snatch from France and peril near.

XXXI

“I only built the beauteous keep to be

Rogero’s dungeon, safely harboured there;

Who whilom was subdued in fight by me,

As I today had hoped thyself to snare,

And dames and knights, and more of high degree,

Have to this tower conveyed, his lot to share,

That with such partners of his prison pent,

He might the loss of freedom less lament.

XXXII

“Save they should seek to break their dungeon’s bound,

I grant my inmates every other pleasure.

For whatsoever in the world is found,

Search its four quarters, in this keep I treasure;

(Whatever heart can wish or tongue can sound)

Cates, brave attire, game, sport, or mirthful measure.

My field well sown, I well had reaped my grain.

But that thy coming makes my labour vain.

XXXIII

“Ah! then unless thy heart less beauteous be

Than thy sweet face, mar not my pious care;

Take my steel buckler, this I give to thee,

And take that horse, which flies so fast in air,

Nor meddle with my castle more; or free

One or two captive friends, the rest forbear —

Or (for I crave but this) release them all,

So that Rogero but remain my thrall.

XXXIV

“Or if disposed to take him from my sight,

Before the youth be into France conveyed,

Be pleased to free my miserable sprite

From its now rotted bark, long decayed.”

“Prate as thou wilt, I shall restore the knight

To liberty,” replied the martial maid,

“Nor offer shield and courser to resign,

Which are not in thy gift, — already mine.

XXXV

“Nor were they thine to take or to bestow,

Would it appear that such exchange were wise;

Thou sayest to save him from what stars foreshow,

And cheat an evil influence of the skies

Rogero is confined. Thou canst not know,

Or knowing, canst not change his destinies:

For, if unknown an ill so near to thee,

Far less mayest thou another’s fate foresee.

XXXVI

“Seek not thy death from me; for the petition

Is made in vain; but if for death thou sigh,

Though the whole world refused the requisition,

A soul resolved would find the means to die.

But ope thy gates to give thy guests dismission

Before thine hand the knot of life untie.”

So spake the scornful dame with angry mock,

Speeding her captive still towards the rock.

XXXVII

Round by the conqueror with the chain he bore,

Atlantes walked, the damsel following nigh,

Who trusted not to the magician hoar,

Although he seemed subdued in port and eye.

Nor many paces went the pair, before

They at the mountain’s foot the cleft espy,

With steps by which the rugged hill to round;

And climb, till to the castle-gate they wound:

XXXVIII

Atlantes from the threshold, graved by skill,

With characters and wondrous signs, upturned

A virtuous stone, where, underneath the sill,

Pots, with perpetual fire and secret, burned.

The enchanter breaks them; and at once the hill

To an inhospitable rock is turned.

Nor wall nor tower on any side is seen,

As if no castle there had ever been.

XXXIX

Then from the lady’s toils the wizard clears

His limbs, as thrush escapes the fowler’s snare;

With him as well his castle disappears,

And leaves the prisoned troop in open air;

From their gay lodgings, dames and cavaliers,

Unhoused upon that desert, bleak and bare.

And many at the freedom felt annoy,

Which dispossessed them of such life of joy.

XL

There is Gradasso, there is Sacripant,

There is Prasildo, noble cavalier,

Who with Rinaldo came from the Levant;

Iroldo, too, Prasildo’s friend sincere.

And there, at last, the lovely Bradamant

Discerns Rogero, long desired and dear;

Who, when assured it was that lady, flew

With joyful cheer to greet the damsel true;

XLI

As her he prized before his eyes, his heart,

His life; from that day cherished when she stood

Uncasqued for him, and from the fight apart;

And hence an arrow drank her virgin blood.

’Twere long to tell who launched the cruel dart,

And how the lovers wandered in the wood;

Now guided by the sun, and now benighted,

Here first since that encounter reunited.

XLII

Now that the stripling sees her here, and knows

Alone she freed him from the wizard’s nest,

He deems, his bosom with such joy overflows,

That he is singly fortunate and blest.

Thither, where late the damsel conquered, goes

The band, descending from the mountain’s crest;

And finds the hippogryph, who bore the shield,

But in its case of crimson silk concealed.

XLIII

To take him by the rein the lady there

Approached, and he stood fast till she was nigh,

Then spread his pinions to the liquid air,

And at short distance lit, half-mountain high:

And, as she follows him with fruitless care,

Not longer flight nor shorter will he try.

’Tis thus the raven, on some sandy beach,

Lures on the dog, and flits beyond his reach.

XLIV

Gradasso, Sacripant, Rogero, who

With all those other knights below were met,

Where’er, they hope he may return, pursue

The beast, and up and down, each pass beset.

He having led those others, as he flew,

Often to rocky height, and bottom wet,

Among the rocks of the moist valley dropt,

And at short distance from Rogero stopt.

XLV

This was Atlantes the enchanter’s deed,

Whose pious wishes still directed were,

To see Rogero from his peril freed:

This was his only thought, his only care;

Who for such end dispatched the winged steed,

Him out of Europe by this sleight to bear.

Rogero took his bridle, but in vain;

For he was restive to the guiding rein.

XLVI

Now the bold youth from his Frontino flings

(Frontino was his gentle courser hight)

Then leaps on him who towers in air, and stings

And goads his haughty heart with rowels bright.

He runs a short career; then upward springs.

And through mid ether soars a fairer flight

Than hawk, from which the falconer plucks away

In time the blinding hood, and points her prey.

XLVII

When her Rogero the fair dame discerned,

In fearful peril, soar so high a strain,

She stood long space amazed, ere she returned

To her right judgement, and sound wits again:

And what she erst of Ganymede had learned,

Snatched up to heaven from his paternal reign,

Feared might befall the stripling, born through air,

As gentle as young Ganymede and fair.

XLVIII

She on Rogero looks with stedfast eyes

As long as feeble sight can serve her use;

And in her mind next tracks him through the skies,

When sight in vain the cherished youth pursues.

And still renewing tears, and groans, and sighs,

Will not afford her sorrow peace or truce.

After the knight had vanished from her view,

Her eyes she on the good Frontino threw.

XLIX

And lest the courser should become the prey

Of the first traveller, who passed the glen,

Him will not leave; but thence to bear away

Resolves, in trust to see his lord again.

The griffin soars, nor can Rogero stay

The flying courser; while, beneath his ken,

Each peak and promontory sinks in guise,

That he discerns not flat from mountain-rise.

L

After the hippogryph has won such height,

That he is lessened to a point, he bends

His course for where the sun, with sinking light,

When he goes round the heavenly crab, descends;

And shoots through air, like well-greased bark and light,

Which through the sea a wind propitious sends.

Him leave we on his way, who well shall speed,

And turn we to Rinaldo in his need.

LI

Day after day the good Rinaldo fares,

Forced by the wind, the spacious ocean through;

Now westward borne, and now toward the Bears;

For night and day the ceaseless tempest blew.

Scotland at last her dusky coast uprears,

And gives the Caledonian wood to view;

Which, through its shadowy groves of ancient oak,

Oft echoes to the champion’s sturdy stroke.

LII

Through this roves many a famous cavalier,

Renowned for feat in arms, of British strain;

And throng from distant land, or country near,

French, Norse, of German knights, a numerous train.

Let none, save he be valiant, venture here,

Where, seeking glory, death may be his gain.

Here Arthur, Galahalt, and Gauvaine fought,

And well Sir Launcelot and Tristram wrought.

LIII

And other worthies of the table round;

(Of either table, whether old or new)

Whose trophies yet remain upon the ground;

Proof of their valiant feats, Rinaldo true

Forthwith his armour and Bayardo found,

And landed on the woody coast: The crew

He bade, with all the haste they might, repair

To Berwick’s neighbouring port, and wait him there.

LIV

Without a guide or company he went

Through that wide forest; choosing now this way,

Now that, now other, as it might present

Hope of adventurous quest or hard assay:

And, ere the first day’s circling sun is spent,

The peer is guested in an abbey gray:

Which spends much wealth in harbouring those who claim

Its shelter, warlike knight or wandering dame.

LV

The monks and abbot to Mount Alban’s peer

A goodly welcome in their house accord;

Who asked, but not before with savoury cheer

He amply had his wearied strength restored,

If in that tract, by errant cavalier,

Often adventurous quest might be explored,

In which a man might prove, by dangerous deed,

If blame or glory were his fitting meed.

LVI

They answered, in those woods he might be sure

Many and strange adventures would be found;

But deeds, there wrought, were, like the place, obscure,

And, for the greater part, not bruited round.

“Then seek (they said) a worthier quest, secure

Your works will not be buried underground.

So that the glorious act achieved, as due,

Fame may your peril and your pain pursue.

LVII

“And if you would your warlike worth assay,

Prepare the worthiest enterprize to hear,

That, e’er in times of old or present day,

Was undertaken by a cavalier.

Our monarch’s daughter needs some friendly stay,

Now sore bested, against a puissant peer:

Lurcanio is the doughty baron’s name,

Who would bereave her both of life and fame.

LVIII

“Her he before her father does pursue,

Perchance yet more for hatred than for right;

And vouches, to a gallery she updrew

A lover, seen by him, at dead of night.

Hence death by fire will be the damsel’s due,

Such is our law, unless some champion fight

On her behalf, and, ere a month go by,

(Nigh spent) upon the accuser prove the lie.

LIX

“Our impious Scottish law, severe and dread,

Wills, that a woman, whether low or high

Her state, who takes a man into her bed,

Except her husband, for the offence shall die.

Nor is there hope of ransom for her head,

Unless to her defence some warrior hie;

And as her champion true, with spear and shield,

Maintain her guiltless in the listed field.

LX

“The king, sore grieving for Geneura bright,

For such is his unhappy daughter’s name,

Proclaims by town and city, that the knight

Who shall deliver her from death and shame,

He to the royal damsel will unite,

With dower, well suited to a royal dame;

So that the valiant warrior who has stood

In her defence, be come of gentle blood.

LXI

“But if within a month no knight appear,

Or coming, conquer not, the damsel dies.

A like emrpize were worthier of your spear

Than wandering through these woods in lowly guise.

Besides, the eternal trophy you shall rear,

You by the deed shall gain a glorious prize,

The sweetest flower of all the ladies fair

That betwixt Ind and Atlas’ pillars are.

LXII

“And you with wealth and state shall guerdoned be,

So that you evermore may live content,

And the king’s grace, if through your means he see

His honour raised anew, now well-nigh spent.

Besides, you by the laws of chivalry

Are bound to venge the damsel foully shent.

For she, whose life is by such treason sought,

Is chaste and spotless in the common thought.”

LXIII

Rinaldo mused awhile, and then replied,

“And must a gentle damsel die by fire,

Because she with a lover’s wish complied,

And quenched within her arms his fond desire?

Cursed be the law by which the dame is tried!

Cursed he who would permit a doom so dire!

Perish (such fate were just!) who cruel proves!

Not she that life bestows on him who loves.

LXIV

“Or true or false Geneura’s tale of shame;

If she her lover blessed I little heed:

For this my praise the lady well might claim,

If manifest were not that gentle deed.

My every thought is turned to aid the dame.

Grant me but one to guide my steps, and lead

Quickly to where the foul accuser stands,

I trust in God to loose Geneura’s bands.

LXV

“I will not vouch her guiltless in my thought,

In fear to warrant what is false; but I

Boldly maintain, in such an act is nought

For which the damsel should deserve to die;

And ween unjust, or else of wit distraught,

Who statutes framed of such severity;

Which, as iniquitous, should be effaced,

And with a new and better code replaced.

LXVI

“If like desire, and if an equal flame

Move one and the other sex, who warmly press

To that soft end of love (their goal the same)

Which to the witless crowd seems rank excess;

Say why shall woman — merit scathe or blame,

Though lovers, one or more, she may caress;

While man to sin with whom he will is free,

And meets with praise, not mere impunity?

LXVII

“By this injurious law, unequal still,

On woman is inflicted open wrong;

And to demonstrate it a grievous ill,

I trust in God, which has been borne too long.”

To good Rinaldo’s sentence, with one will,

Deeming their sires unjust, assents the throng,

Their sires who such outrageous statute penned,

And king, who might, but does not, this amend.

LXVIII

When the new dawn, with streaks of red and white,

Broke in the east, and cleared the hemisphere,

Rinaldo took his steed and armour bright:

A squire that abbey furnished to the peer.

With him, for many leagues and miles, the knight

Pricked through the dismal forest dark and drear;

While they towards the Scottish city ride,

Where the poor damsel’s cause is to be tried.

LXIX

Seeking their way to shorten as they wound,

They to the wider track a path preferred;

When echoing through the gloomy forest round,

Loud lamentations nigh the road were heard.

Towards a neighbouring vale, whence came the sound,

This his Bayardo, that his hackney spurred;

And viewed, between two grisly ruffians there,

A girl, who seemed at distance passing fair.

LXX

But woe begone and weeping was the maid

As ever damsel dame, or wight was seen:

Hard by the barbarous twain prepared the blade,

To deluge with that damsel’s blood the green.

She to delay her death awhile essayed,

Until she pity moved with mournful mien.

This when Rinaldo near approaching eyes,

He thither drives with threats and furious cries.

LXXI

The ruffians turn their backs and take to flight

As soon as they the distant succour view,

And squat within a valley out of sight:

Nor cares the good Rinaldo to pursue.

To her approaching, sues Mount Alban’s knight,

To say what on her head such evil drew;

And, to save time, commands his squire to stoop,

And take the damsel on his horse’s croup.

LXXII

And as the lady nearer he surveyed,

Her wise behaviour marked and beauty’s bloom;

Though her fait countenance was all dismayed,

And by the fear of death o’erspread with gloom.

Again to know, the gentle knight essayed,

Who had prepared for her so fell a doom;

And she began to tell in humble tone

What to another canto I postpone.

Canto 5

Argument

Lurcanio, by a false report abused,

Deemed by Geneura’s fault his brother dead,

Weening the faithless duke, whom she refused,

Was taken by the damsel to her bed;

And her before the king and peers accused:

But to the session Ariodantes led,

Strives with his brother in disguise. In season

Rinaldo comes to venge the secret treason.

I

Among all other animals who prey

On earth, or who unite in friendly wise,

Whether they mix in peace or moody fray,

No male offends his mate. In safety hies

The she bear, matched with hers, through forest gray:

The lioness beside the lion lies:

Wolves, male and female, live in loving cheer;

Nor gentle heifer dreads the wilful steer.

II

What Fury, what abominable Pest

Such poison in the human heart has shed,

That still ‘twixt man and wife, with rage possessed,

Injurious words and foul reproach are said?

And blows and outrage hase their peace molest,

And bitter tears still wash the genial bed;

Not only watered by the tearful flood,

But often bathed by senseless ire with blood?

III

Not simply a rank sinner, he appears

To outrage nature, and his God to dare,

Who his foul hand against a woman rears,

Or of her head would harm a single hair.

But who what drug the burning entrail sears,

Or who for her would knife or noose prepare,

No man appears to me, though such to sight

He seem, but rather some infernal sprite.

IV

Such, and no other were those ruffians two,

Whom good Rinaldo from the damsel scared,

Conducted to these valleys out of view,

That none might wot of her so foully snared.

I ended where the damsel, fair of hue,

To tell the occasion of her scathe prepared,

To the good Paladin, who brought release;

And in conclusion thus my story piece.

V

“Of direr deed than ever yet was done,”

The gentle dame began, “Sir cavalier,

In Thebes, Mycene, Argos, or upon

Other more savage soil, prepare to hear;

And I believe, that if the circling sun

To these our Scottish shores approach less near

Than other land, ’tis that he would eschew

A foul ferocious race that shocks his view.

VI

“All times have shown that man has still pursued

With hair, in every clime, his natural foe;

But to deal death to those who seek our good

Does from too ill and foul a nature flow.

Now, that the truth be better understood,

I shall from first to last the occasion show,

Why in my tender years, against all right,

Those caitiffs would have dome me foul despite.

VII

“ ’Tis fitting you should know, that in the spring

Of life, I to the palace made resort;

There served long time the daughter of the king,

And grew with her in growth, well placed in court.

When cruel love, my fortune envying,

Willed I should be his follower and his sport;

And made, beyond each Scottish lord and knight,

Albany’s duke find favour in my sight.

VIII

“And for he seemed to cherish me above

All mean; his love a love as ardent bred.

We hear, indeed, and see, but do not prove

Man’s faith, nor is his bosom’s purpose read.

Believing still, and yielding to my love,

I ceased not till I took him to my bed;

Nor, of all chambers, in that evil hour,

Marked I was in Geneura’s priviest bower.

IX

“Where, hoarded, she with careful privacy

Preserved whatever she esteemed most rare;

There many times she slept. A gallery

From thence projected into the open air.

Here oft I made my lover climb to me,

And (what he was to mount) a hempen stair,

When him I to my longing arms would call,

From the projecting balcony let fall.

X

“For here my passion I as often fed

As good Geneura’s absence made me bold;

Who with the varying season changed her bed,

To shun the burning heat or pinching cold,

And Albany, unseen and safely sped;

For, fronting a dismantled street, and old,

Was built that portion of the palace bright;

Nor any went that way by day or night.

XI

“So was for many days and months maintained

By us, in secrecy, the amorous game;

Still grew by love, and such new vigour gained,

I in my inmost bosom felt the flame;

And that he little loved, and deeply feigned

Weened not, so was I blinded to my shame:

Though, in a thousand certain signs betrayed,

The faithless knight his base deceit bewrayed.

XII

“After some days, of fair Geneura he

A suitor showed himself; I cannot say

If this began before he sighed for me,

Or, after, of this love he made assay:

But judge, alas! with what supremacy

He ruled my heart, how absolute his sway!

Since this he owned, and thought no shame to move

Me to assist him in his second love.

XIII

“Unlike what he bore me, he said, indeed,

That was not true which he for her displayed;

But so pretending love, he hoped to speed,

And celebrate due spousals with the maid.

He with her royal sire might well succeed,

Were she consenting to the boon he prayed;

For after our good king, for wealth and birth

In all the realm, was none of equal worth.

XIV

“Me he persuades, if through my ministry

He the king’s son-inlaw elected were,

For I must know he next the king would be

Advanced as high, as subject could repair,

The merit should be mine, and ever he

So great a benefit in mind would bear;

And he would cherish me above his bride,

And more than every other dame beside.

XV

“I, who to please him was entirely bent,

Who never could or would gainsay his will,

Upon those days alone enjoy content,

When I find means his wishes to fulfil:

And snatch at all occasions which present

A mode, his praise and merits to instil:

And for my lover with all labour strain,

And industry, Geneura’s love to gain.

XVI

“With all my heart, in furtherance of his suit,

I wrought what could be done, God truly knows;

But with Geneura this produced no friut,

Nor her to grace my duke could I dispose.

For that another love had taken root

In her, whose every fond affection flows

Towards a gentle knight of courteous lore,

Who sought our Scotland from a distant shore:

XVII

“And with a brother, then right young, to stay

In our king’s court, came out of Italy:

And there of knightly arms made such assay,

Was none in Britain more approved than he;

Prized by the king, who (no ignoble pay),

Rewarding him like his nobility,

Bestowed upon the youth, with liberal hand,

Burghs, baronies, and castles, woods and land.

XVIII

“Dear to the monarch, to the daughter still

This lord was dearer, Ariodantes hight.

Her with affection might his valour fill;

But knowledge of his love brought more delight.

Nor old Vesuvius, nor Sicilia’s hill,

Nor Troy-town, ever, with a blaze so bright,

Flamed, as with all his heart, the damsel learned,

For love of her young Ariodantes burned.

XIX

“The passion which she bore the lord, preferred

And loved with perfect truth and all her heart,

Was the occassion I was still unheard;

Nor hopeful answer would she e’er impart:

And still the more my lover’s suit I stirred,

And to obtain his guerdon strove with art,

Him she would censure still, and ever more

Was strengthened in the hate she nursed before.

XX

“My wayward lover often I excite

So vain and bootless an emprize to quit;

Nor idly hope to turn her stedfast sprite,

Too deeply with another passion smit;

And make apparent to the Scottish knight,

Ariodantes such a flame had lit

In the young damsel’s breast, that seas in flood

Would not have cooled one whit her boiling blood.

XXI

“This Polinesso many times had heard

From me (for such the Scottish baron’s name)

Well warranted by sight as well as word,

How ill his love was cherished by the dame.

To see another to himself preferred

Not only quenched the haughty warrior’s flame,

But the fond love, which in his bosom burned

Into despiteful rage and hatred turned.

XXII

“Between Geneura and her faithful knight

Such discord and ill will he schemed to shed,

And put betwixt the pair such foul despite.

No time should heal the quarrel he had bred;

Bringing such scandal on that damsel bright,

The stain should cleave to her, alive or dead:

Nor, bent to wreck her on this fatal shelf,

Counselled with me, or other but himself.

XXIII

“ ‘Dalinda mine,’ he said, his project brewed,

(Dalinda is my name) ‘you needs must know,

That from the root although the trunk be hewed,

Successive suckers many times will grow.

Thus my unhappy passion is renewed,

Tenacious still of life, and buds; although

Cut off by ill success, with new increase:

Nor, till I compass my desire, will cease.

XXIV

“ ‘Nor hope of pleasure this so much has wrought,

As that to compass my design would please;

And, if not in effect, at least in thought

To thrive, would interpose some little ease.

Then every time your bower by me is sought,

When in her bed Geneura slumbers, seize

What she puts off, and be it still your care

To dress yourself in all her daily wear.

XXV

“ ‘Dispose your locks and deck yourself as she

Goes decked; and, as you can, with cunning heed,

Imitate her; then to the gallery

You, furnished with the corded stair, shall speed:

I shall ascend it in the phantasy

That you are she, of whom you wear the weed:

And hope, that putting on myself this cheat,

I in short time shall quench my amorous heat.’

XXVI

“So said the knight; and I, who was distraught,

And all beside myself, was not aware

That the design, in which he help besought,

Was manifestly but too foul a snare;

And in Geneura’s clothes disguised, as taught,

Let down (so oft I used) the corded stair.

Nor I the traitor’s foul deceit perceived,

Until the deadly mischief was achieved.

XXVII

“The duke, this while, to Ariodantes’ ears

Had these, or other words like these, addressed;

(For leagued in friendship were the cavaliers,

Till, rivals, they pursued this common quest)

“I marvel, since you are of all my peers

He, whom I must have honoured and caressed,

And held in high regard, and cherished still,

You should my benefits repay so ill.

XXVIII

“ ‘I am assured you comprehend and know

Mine and Geneura’s love, and old accord;

And, in legitimate espousal, how

I am about to claim her from my lord:

Then why disturb my suit, and why bestow

Your heart on her who offers no reward?

By Heaven, I should respect your claim and place,

Were your condition mine, and mine your case.’

XXIX

“ ‘And I,’ cried Ariodantes, ‘marvel more’

(In answer to the Scottish lord) ‘at you,

Since I of her enamoured was, before

That gentle damsel ever met your view;

And know, you are assured how evermore

We two have loved; — was never love more true —

Are certain she alone would share my lot;

And are as well assured she loves you not.

XXX

“ ‘Why have not I from you the same respect,

To which, for friendship past, you would pretend

From me; and I should bear you in effect,

If your hope stood more fair to gain its end?

No less than you, to wed her I expect;

And if your fortunes here my wealth transcend,

As favoured of the king, as you, above

You, am I happy in his daughter’s love.’

XXXI

“ ‘Of what a strange mistake,’ (to him replied

The duke) ‘your foolish passion is the root!

You think yourself beloved; I, on my side,

Believe the same; this try we by the fruit.

You of your own proceeding nothing hide,

And I will tell the secrets of my suit:

And let the man who proves least favoured, yield,

Provide himself elsewhere, and quit the field.

XXXII

“ ‘I am prepared, if such your wish, to swear

Nothing of what is told me to reveal;

And will that you assure me, for your share,

You shall what I recount as well conceal.’

Uniting in the pact, the rival pair

Their solemn vows upon the Bible seal:

And when they had the mutual promise plighted,

Ariodantes first his tale recited.

XXXIII

“Then plainly, and by simple facts averred,

How with Geneura stood his suit, avows;

And how, engaged by writing and by word,

She swore she would not be another’s spouse.

How, if to him the Scottish king demurred,

Virgin austerity she ever vows;

And other bridal bond for aye eschewed,

To pass her days in barren solitude.

XXXIV

“Then added, how he hoped by worth, which he

Had more than once avouched, with knightly brand,

And yet might vouch, to the prosperity

And honour of the king, and of his land,

To please so well that monarch, as to be

By him accounted worthy of the hand

Of his fair child, espoused with his consent:

Since he in this her wishes would content.

XXXV

“Then so concludes — ‘I stand upon this ground,

Nor I intruder fear, encroaching nigh;

Nor seek I more; ’tis here my hopes I bound;

Nor, striving for Geneura’s love, would I

Seek surer sign of it than what is found,

By God allowed, in wedlock’s lawful tie;

And other suit were hopeless, am I sure,

So excellent she is, and passing pure.’

XXXVI

“When Ariodantes had, with honest mind,

Told what reward he hoped should quit his pain,

False Polinesso, who before designed

To make Geneura hateful to her swain,

Began — ‘Alas! you yet are far behind

My hopes, and shall confess your own are vain;

And say, as I the root shall manifest

Of my good fortune, I alone am blest.

XXXVII

“ ‘With you Geneura feigns, nor pays nor prizes

Your passion, which with hopes and words is fed;

And, more than this, your foolish love despises:

And this to me the damsel oft has said,

Of hers I am assured; of no surmises,

Vain, worthless words, or idle promise bred.

And I to you the fact in trust reveal,

Though this I should in better faith conceal.

XXXVIII

“ ‘There passes not a month, but in that space

Three nights, four, six, and often ten, the fair

Receives me with that joy in her embrace,

Which seems to second so the warmth we share.

This you may witness, and shall judge the case;

If empty hopes can with my bliss compare.

Then since my happier fortune is above

Your wishes, yield, and seek another love.’

XXXIX

“ ‘This will I not believe,’ in answer cried

Ariodantes, ‘well assured you lie,

And that you have this string of falsehoods tied,

To scare me from the dear emprize I try.

But charge, so passing foul, you shall abide,

And vouch what you have said in arms; for I

Not only on your tale place no reliance;

But as a traitor hurl you my defiance.’

XL

“To him rejoined the duke, ‘I ween ’twere ill

To take the battle upon either part,

Since surer mean our purpose may fulfill;

And if it please, my proof I can impart.’

Ariodantes trembled, and a chill

Went through his inmost bones; and sick at heart,

Had he in full believed his rival’s boast,

Would on the spot have yielded up the ghost.

XLI

“With wounded heart, and faltering voice, pale face,

And mouth of gall, he answered, ‘When I see

Proofs of thy rare adventure, and the grace

With which the fair Geneura honours thee,

I promise to forego the fruitless chase

Of one, to thee so kind, so cold to me.

But think not that thy story shall avail,

Unless my very eyes confirm the tale.’

XLII

“ ‘To warn in due time shall be my care.’

(Said Polinesso) and so went his way.

Two nights were scarecly passed, ere his repair

To the known bower was fixed for the assay.

And, ready now to spring his secret snare,

He sought his rival on the appointed day,

And him to hide, the night ensuing, prayed

I’ the street, which none their habitation made.

XLIII

“And to the youth a station over-right

The balcony, to which he clambered, shows.

Ariodantes weened, this while, the knight

Would him to seek that hidden place dispose,

As one well suited to his fell despite,

And, bent to take his life, this ambush chose,

Under the false pretence to make him see

What seemed a sheer impossibility.

XLIV

“To go the peer resolved, but in such guise,

He should not be with vantage overlaid;

And should he be assaulted by surprise,

He need not be by fear of death dismay’d.

He had a noble brother, bold and wise,

First of the court in arms; and on his aid,

Lurcanio hight, relied with better heart

Than if ten others fought upon his part.

XLV

“He called him to his side, and willed him take

His arms; and to the place at evening led:

Yet not his secret purpose would be break;

Nor this to him, or other would have read:

Him a stone’s throw removed he placed, and spake:

‘ — Come if thou hearest he cry,’ the warrior said;

‘But as thou lovest me (whatsoe’er befall)

Come not and move not, brother, till I call.’

XLVI

“ ‘Doubt not’ (the valiant brother said) ‘but go’;

And thither went that baron silently,

And hid within the lonely house, and low,

Over against my secret gallery.

On the other side approached the fraudful foe,

So pleased to work Geneura’s infamy;

And, while I nothing of the cheat divine,

Beneath my bower renews the wonted sign.

XLVII

“And I in costly robe, in which were set

Fair stripes of gold upon a snowy ground,

My tresses gathered in a golden net,

Shaded with tassels of vermillion round,

Mimicking fashions, which were only met

In fair Geneura, at the accustomed sound,

The gallery mount, constructed in such mode,

As upon every side my person showed.

XLVIII

“This while Lurcanio, either with a view

To snares which might beset his brother’s feet,

Or with the common passion to pursue,

And play the spy on other, where the street

Was darkest, and its deepest shadows threw,

Followed him softly to his dim retreat:

And not ten paces from the knight aloof,

Bestowed himself beneath the self same roof.

XLIX

“Suspecting nought, I seek the balcony,

In the same habits which I mentioned, dressed;

As more than once or twice (still happily)

I did before; meanwhile the goodly vest

Was in the moonlight clearly seen, and I,

In aspect not unlike her, in the rest

Resembling much Geneura’s shape and cheer,

One visage well another might appear.

L

“So much the more, that there was ample space

Between the palace and the ruined row:

Hence the two brothers, posted in that place,

Were lightly cheated by the lying show.

Now put yourself in his unhappy case,

And figure what the wretched lover’s woe,

When Polinesso climbed the stair, which I

Cast down to him, and scaled the gallery.

LI

“Arrived, my arms about his neck I throw,

Weening that we unseen of others meet,

And kiss his lips and face with loving show,

As him I hitherto was wont to greet;

And he assayed, with more than wonted glow,

Me to caress, to mask his hollow cheat.

Led to the shameful spectacle, aghast,

That other, from afar, viewed all that passed,

LII

“And fell into such fit of deep despair,

He there resolved to die; and, to that end,

Planted the pommel of his falchion bare

I’ the ground, its point against his breast to bend.

Lurcanio, who with marvel by that stair,

Saw Polinesso to my bower ascend,

But knew not who the wight, with ready speed

Sprang forward, when he saw his brother’s deed.

LIII

“And hindered him in that fell agony

From turning his own hand against his breast.

Had the good youth been later, or less nigh,

To his assistance he had vainly pressed.

Then, ‘Wretched brother, what insanity.’

(He cried) ‘your better sense has dispossessed?

Die for a woman! rather let her kind

Be scattered like the mist before the wind!

LIV

“ ‘Compass her death! ’tis well deserved; your own

Reserve, as due to more illustrious fate.

’Twas well to love, before her fraud was shown,

But she, once loved, now more deserves your hate:

Since, witnessed by your eyes, to you is known

A wanton of what sort you worshipped late.

Her fault before the Scottish king to attest,

Reserve those arms you turn against your breast.’

LV

“Ariodantes, so surprised, forewent,

Joined by his brother, the design in show;

But resolute to die, in his intent

Was little shaken: Rising thence to go,

He bears away a heart not simply rent,

But dead and withered with excess of woe:

Yet better comfort to Lurcanio feigns,

As if the rage were spent which fired his veins.

LVI

“The morn ensuing, without further say

To his good brother, or to man beside,

He from the city took his reckless way

With deadly desperation for his guide;

Nor, save the duke and knight, for many a day

Was there who knew what moved the youth to ride:

And in the palace, touching this event,

And in the realm, was various sentiment.

LVII

“But eight days past or more, to Scotland’s court

A traveller came, and to Geneura he

Related tidings of disastrous sort;

That Ariodantes perished in the sea:

Drowned of his own free will was the report,

No wind to blame for the calamity!

Since from a rock, which over ocean hung,

Into the raging waves he headlong sprung;

LVIII

“ ‘Who said, before he reached that frowning crest,

To me, whom he encountered by the way,

Come with me, that your tongue may manifest,

And what betides me to Geneura say;

And tell her, too, the occasion of the rest,

Which you shall witness without more delay;

In having seen too much, the occasion lies;

Happy had I been born without these eyes!”

LIX

“ ‘By chance, upon a promontory we

Were standing, overright the Irish shore;

When, speaking thus on that high headland, he

Plunged from a rock amid the watery roar.

I saw him leap, and left him in the sea;

And, hurrying thence, to you the tidings bore.’

Geneura stood amazed, her colour fled,

And, at the fearful tale, remained half dead.

LX

“O God! what said, what did she, when alone,

She on her faithful pillow layed her head!

She beat her bosom, and she tore her gown,

And in despite her golden tresses shed;

Repeating often, in bewildered tone,

The last sad words which Ariodantes said; —

That the sole source of such despair, and such

Disaster, was that he had seen too much.

LXI

“Wide was the rumour scattered that the peer

Had slain himself for grief; nor was the cry

By courtly dame, or courtly cavalier,

Or by the monarch, heard with tearless eye.

But, above all the rest, his brother dear

Was whelmed with sorrow of so deep a dye,

That, bent to follow him, he well nigh turned

His hand against himself, like him he mourned.

LXII

“And many times repeating in his thought,

It was Geneura who his brother slew,

Who was to self-destruction moved by nought

But her ill deed, which he was doomed to view,

So on his mind the thirst of vengeance wrought,

And so his grief his season overthrew;

That he thought little, graced of each estate,

To encounter king and people’s common hate;

LXIII

“And, when the throng was fullest in the hall,

Stood up before the Scottish king, and said,

‘Of having marred my brother’s wits withal,

Sir king, and him to his destruction led,

Your daughter only can I guilty call:

For in his inmost soul such sorrow bred

The having seen her little chastity,

He loathed existence, and preferred to die.

LXIV

“ ‘He was her lover; and for his intent

Was honest, this I seek not, I, to veil;

And to deserve her by his valour meant

Of thee, if faithful service might avail;

But while he stood aloof, and dared but scent

The blossoms, he beheld another scale,

Scale the forbidden tree with happier boot,

And bear away from him the wished-for fruit.’

LXV

“Then added, how into the gallery came

Geneura, and how dropped the corded stair;

And how into the chamber of the dame

Had climbed a leman of that lady fair;

Who, for disguise (he knew not hence his name),

Had changed his habits, and concealed his hair;

And, in conclusion, vowed that every word

So said, he would avouch with lance and sword.

LXVI

“You may divine how grieves the sire, distraught

With woe, when he the accusation hears:

As well that what he never could have thought,

He of his daughter learns with wondering ears,

As that he knows, if succour be not brought

By cavalier, that in her cause appears,

Who may upon Lurcanio prove the lie,

He cannot choose, but doom the maid to die.

LXVII

“I do not think our Scottish law to you

Is yet unknown, which sentences to fire

The miserable dame, or damsel, who

Grants other than her wedded lord’s desire.

She dies, unless a champion, good and true,

Arm on her side before a month expire;

And her against the accuser base maintain

Unmeriting such death, and free from stain.

LXVIII

“The king has made proclaim by town and tower,

(For he believes her wronged, his child to free)

Her he shall have to wife, with ample dower,

Who saves the royal maid from infamy.

But each to the other looks, and to this hour

No champion yet, ’tis said, appears: for he,

Lurcanio, is esteemed so fierce in fight,

It seems as he were feared of every knight.

“And evil Fate has willed her brother dear,

Zerbino, is not here the foe to face;

Since many months has roved the cavalier,

Proving his matchless worth with spear and mace;

For if the valiant champion were more near,

(Such is his courage) or in any place,

Whither in time the news might be conveyed,

He would not fail to bear his sister aid.

LXX

“The king, mean time, who would the quest pursue,

And by more certain proof than combat, try

If the accuser’s tale be false or true,

And she deserve, or merit not, to die,

Arrests some ladies of her retinue,

That, as he weens, the fact can verify.

Whence I foresaw, that if I taken were,

Too certain risque the duke and I must share.

LXXI

“That very night I from the palace flee,

And to the duke repair, escaped from court;

And, were I taken, make him plainly see

How much it either’s safety would import:

He praised, and bade me of good courage be,

And, for his comfort, prayed me to resort

To a strong castle which he held hard by;

And gave me two to bear me company.

LXXII

“With what full proofs, sir stranger, you have heard,

I of my love assured the Scottish peer;

And clearly can discern, if so preferred,

That lord was justly bound to hold me dear.

Mark, in conclusion, what was my reward;

The glorious meed of my great merit hear!

And say if woman can expect to earn,

However well she love, her love’s return.

LXXIII

“For this perfidious, foul, ungrateful man,

At length suspicious of my faith and zeal,

And apprehending that his wily plan,

In course of time, I haply might reveal,

Feigned that meanwhile the monarch’s anger ran

Too high, he would withdraw me, and conceal

Within a fortress of his own, where I

(Such was his real end) was doomed to die.

LXXIV

“For secretly the duke enjoined the guide,

Who with me through the gloomy forest went,

The worthy guerdon of a faith so tried,

To slay me; and had compassed his intent,

But for your ready succour, when I cried.

Behold! what wages love’s poor slaves content.”

Thus to Rinaldo did Dalinda say,

As they together still pursued their way.

LXXV

Above all other fortune, to the knight

Was welcome to have found the gentle maid,

Who the whole story of Geneura bright,

And her unblemished innocence displayed;

And, if he hoped, although accused with right,

To furnish the afflicted damsel aid,

Persuaded of the calumny’s disproof,

He with more courage warred in her behoof.

LXXVI

And for St. Andrew’s town, with eager speed,

Where was the king with all his family,

And where the single fight, in listed mead,

Upon his daughter’s quarrel, was to be,

The good Rinaldo pricked, nor spared his steed,

Until, within an easy distance, he

Now near the city, met a squire who brought

More recent tidings than the damsel taught:

LXXVII

That thither had repaired a stranger knight,

To combat in Geneura’s quarrel bent,

With ensigns strange, not known of living wight,

Since ever close concealed the warrior went;

Not, since he had been there, had bared to sight

His visage, aye within his helmet pent:

And that the very squire who with him came,

Swore that he knew not what the stranger’s name.

LXXVIII

Not far they ride before the walls appear,

And now before the gate their coursers stand.

To advance the sad Dalinda was in fear,

Yet followed, trusting in Rinaldo’s brand.

The gate was shut, and to the porter near,

What this implies Rinaldo makes demand:

To him was said, the people, one and all,

Were trooped to see a fight without the wall:

LXXIX

Beyond the city, fought upon accord,

Between Lurcanio and a stranger knight;

Where, on a spacious meadow’s level sward,

The pair already had begun the fight.

The porter opened to Mount Alban’s lord,

And straight behind the peer the portal hight.

Rinaldo through the empty city rode,

But in a hostel first the dame bestowed:

LXXX

And will that she (he will not long delay

To seek her there) till his return repose;

And quickly to the lists pursued his way,

Where the two made that fell exchange of blows,

And strove and struggled yet in bloody fray.

Lurcanio’s heart with vengeful hatred glows

Against Geneura; while that other knight

As well maintains the quarrel for her right.

LXXXI

Six knights on foot within the palisade

Stand covered with the corslet’s iron case;

Beneath the Duke of Albany arrayed,

Borne on a puissant steed of noble race:

Who there, as lord high-constable obeyed,

Was keeper of the field and of the place,

And joyed Geneura’s peril to espy

With swelling bosom and exulting eye.

LXXXII

Rinaldo pierces through the parted swarm,

(So wide is felt the good Bayardo’s sway,)

And he who hears the courser come in storm,

Halts not, in his desire to make him way:

Above is seen Rinaldo’s lofty form,

The flower of those who mix in martial fray.

He stops his horse before the monarch’s chair,

While all to hear the paladin repair.

LXXXIII

“Dread sir,” to him the good Rinaldo said,

“Let not the pair this combat longer ply;

Since whichsoever of the two falls dead,

Know, that you let him perish wrongfully:

This thinks that he is right, and is misled,

Vouches the false, and knows not ’tis a lie:

Since that which brought his brother to his end,

Moves him in causeless battle contend.

LXXXIV

“That, in pure gentleness, with little care

If what he here maintains be wrong or right,

Because he would preserve a maid so fair,

Perils his person in the furious fight.

To injured innocence I safety bear,

And to the evil man its opposite.

But first, for love of God, the battle stay;

Then list, sir king, to what I shall display.”

LXXXV

So moved the king the grave authority

Of one who seemed so worthy, by his cheer,

That he made sign the battle should not be

Further continued then with sword or spear:

To whom, together with his chivalry,

And barons of the realm and others near

Rinaldo all the treacherous plot displayed,

Which Polinesso for Geneura layed.

LXXXVI

Next that he there in arms would testify

The truth of what he vouched, the warrior cried.

False Polinesso, called, with troubled eye,

Stood forth, but daringly the tale denied.

To him the good Rinaldo in reply;

“By deeds be now the doubtful quarrel tried.”

The field was cleared, and, ready armed, the foes,

Without more let, in deadly duel close.

LXXXVII

How was the hope to king and people dear,

The proof might show Geneura innocent!

All trust that God will make the treason clear,

And show she was accused with foul intent:

For Polinesso, greedy and severe,

And proud was held, and false and fraudulent.

So that none there, of all assembled, deemed

It marvel, if the knight such fraud had schemed.

LXXXVIII

False Polinesso, with a mien distressed,

A pallid cheek, and heart which thickly beat,

At the third trumpet, laid his lance in rest;

As well Rinaldo spurred the knight to meet,

And levelled at his evil foeman’s breast,

Eager to finish at a single heat.

Nor counter to his wish was the event;

Since through the warrior half his weapon went.

LXXXIX

Him, through his breast, impaled upon the spear,

More than six yards beyond his horse he bore.

With speed alighted Mount Albano’s peer,

And, ere he rose, unlaced the helm he wore:

But he for mercy prayed with humble cheer,

Unfit to strive in joust or warfare more:

And, before king and court, with faltering breath,

Confessed the fraud which brought him to his death.

XC

He brings not his confession to a close,

And pangs of death the failing accents drown:

The prince, who ended saw his daughter’s woes,

Redeemed from death and scorn, her virtue shown,

With more delight and rapture overflows,

Than if he, having lost his kingly crown,

Then saw it first upon his head replaced;

So that he good Rinaldo singly graced.

XCI

And when, through his uplifted casque displaid,

Features, well known before, the king descried,

His thanks to God with lifted hands he paid,

That he had deigned such succour to provide.

That other cavalier, who bared his blade,

Unknown of all, upon Geneura’s side,

And thither came from far, his aid to impart,

Looked upon all that passed, and stood apart.

XCII

Him the good king entreated to declare

His name, or, at the least, his visage shew;

That he might grace him with such guerdon fair,

As to his good intent was justly due.

The stranger, after long and earnest prayer,

Lifted to covering casque, and bared to view

What in the ensuing canto will appear,

If you are fain the history to hear.

Canto 6

Argument

Ariodantes has, a worthy meed,

With his loved bride, the fief of Albany.

Meantime Rogero, on the flying steed,

Arrives in false Alcina’s empery:

There from a myrtle-tree her every deed,

A human myrtle hears, and treachery,

And thence would go; but they who first withdrew

Him from one strife, engage him in a new.

I

Wretched that evil man who lives in trust

His secret sin is safe in his possession!

Since, if nought else, the air, the very dust

In which the crime is buried, makes confession,

And oftentimes his guilt compels the unjust,

Though sometime unarraigned in worldly session,

To be his own accuser, and bewray,

So God has willed, deeds hidden from the day.

II

The unhappy Polinesso hopes had nursed,

Wholly his secret treason to conceal.

By taking off Dalinda, who was versed

In this, and only could the fact reveal;

And adding thus a second to his first

Offence, but hurried on the dread appeal,

Which haply he had stunned, at least deferred;

But he to self-destruction blindly spurred.

III

And forfeited estate, and life, and love

Of friends at once, and honour, which was more.

The cavalier unknown, I said above,

Long of the king and court entreated sore,

At length the covering helmet did remove,

And showed a visage often seen before,

The cherished face of Ariodantes true,

Of late lamented weeping Scotland through;

IV

Ariodantes, whom with tearful eye

His brother and Geneura wept as dead,

And king, and people, and nobility:

Such light his goodness and his valour shed.

The pilgrim therefore might appear to lie

In what he of the missing warrior said.

Yet was it true that from a headland, he

Had seen him plunge into the foaming sea.

V

But, as it oft befalls despairing wight,

Who grisly Death desires till he appear;

But loathes what he had sought, on nearer sight;

So painful seems the cruel pass and drear.

Thus, in the sea engulphed, the wretched knight,

Repentant of his deed, was touched with fear;

And, matchless both for spirit and for hand,

Beat back the billows, and returned to land.

VI

And, now despising, as of folly bred,

The fond desire which did to death impell,

Thence, soaked and dripping wet, his way did tread,

And halted at a hermit’s humble cell:

And housed within the holy father’s shed,

There secretly awhile designed to dwell;

Till to his ears by rumour should be voiced,

If his Geneura sorrowed or rejoiced.

VII

At first he heard that, through excess of woe,

The miserable damsel well-nigh died:

For so abroad the doleful tidings go,

’Twas talked of in the island, far and wide:

Far other proof than that deceitful show,

Which to his cruel grief he thought he spied!

And next against the fair Geneura heard

Lurcanio to her sire his charge preferred:

VIII

Nor for his brother felt less enmity

Than was the love he lately bore the maid;

For he too foul, and full of cruelty,

Esteemed the deed, although for him essayed;

And, hearing after, in her jeopardy,

That none appeared to lend the damsel aid,

Because so puissant was Lurcanio’s might,

All dreaded an encounter with the knight,

IX

And that who well the youthful champion knew,

Believed he was so wary and discreet,

That, had what he related been untrue,

He never would have risqued so rash a feat,

— For this the greater part the fight eschew,

Fearing in wrongful cause the knight to meet —

Ariodantes (long his doubts are weighed)

Will meet his brother in Geneura’s aid.

X

“Alas! (he said) I cannot bear to see

Thus by my cause the royal damsel die;

My death too bitter and too dread would be,

Did I, before my own, her death descry;

For still my lady, my divinity

She is; — the light and comfort of my eye.

Her, right or wrong, I cannot choose but shield,

And for her safety perish in the field.

XI

“I know I choose the wrong, and be it so!

And in the cause shall die: nor this would move;

But that, alas! my death, as well I know,

Will such a lovely dame’s destruction prove,

To death I with one only comfort go,

That, if her Polinesso bears her love,

To her will manifestly be displayed,

That hitherto he moves not in her aid.

XII

“And me, so wronged by her, the maid shall view

Encounter death in her defence; and he,

My brother, who such flames of discord blew,

Shall pay the debt of vengeance due to me.

For well I ween to make Lurcanio rue

(Informed of the event) his cruelty,

Who will have thought to venge me with his brand,

And will have slain me with his very hand.”

XIII

He, having this concluded in his thought,

Made new provision of arms, steed, and shield;

Black was the vest and buckler which he bought,

Where green and yellow striped the sable field:

By hazard found, with him a squire he brought,

A stranger in that country; and, concealed

(As is already told) the unhappy knight,

Against his brother came, prepared for fight.

XV

And yielding to his natural inclination,

And at the suit of all his court beside,

And mostly at Rinaldo’s instigation,

Assigned the youth the damsel as his bride.

Albany’s duchy, now in sequestration,

Late Polinesso’s, who in duel died,

Could not be forfeited in happier hour;

Since this the monarch made his daughter’s dower.

XVI

Rinaldo for Dalinda mercy won;

Who from her fault’s due punishment went free.

She, satiate of the world, (and this to shun,

The damsel so had vowed) to God will flee:

And hence, in Denmark’s land, to live a nun,

Straight from her native Scotland sailed the sea.

But it is time Rogero to pursue,

Who on his courser posts the welkin through.

XVII

Although Rogero is of constant mind,

Not from his cheek the wonted hues depart.

I ween that faster than a leaf i’ the wind

Fluttered within his breast the stripling’s heart.

All Europe’s region he had left behind

In his swift course; and, issuing in that part,

Passed by a mighty space, the southern sound

Where great Alcides fixed the sailor’s bound.

XVIII

That hippogryph, huge fowl, and strange to sight,

Bears off the warrior with such rapid wing,

He would have distanced, in his airy flight,

The thunder bearing bird of Aether’s king:

Nor other living creature soars such height,

Him in his mighty swiftness equalling.

I scarce believe that bolt, or lightning flies,

Or darts more swiftly from the parted skies.

XIX

When the huge bird his pinions long had plied,

In a straight line, without one stoop or bend,

He, tired of air, with sweeping wheel and wide,

Began upon an island to descend;

Like that fair region, whither, long unspied

Of him, her wayward mood did long offend,

Whilom in vain, through strange and secret sluice,

Passed under sea the Virgin Arethuse.

XX

A more delightful place, wherever hurled

Through the whole air, Rogero had not found:

And, had he ranged the universal world,

Would not have seen a lovelier in his round,

Than that, where, wheeling wide, the courser furled

His spreading wings, and lighted on the ground,

‘Mid cultivated plain, delicious hill,

Moist meadow, shady bank, and crystal rill.

XXI

Small thickets, with the scented laurel gay,

Cedar, and orange, full of fruit and flower,

Myrtle and palm, with interwoven spray,

Pleached in mixed modes, all lovely, form a bower;

And, breaking with their shade the scorching ray,

Make a cool shelter from the noontide hour.

And nightingales among those branches wing

Their flight, and safely amorous descants sing.

XXII

Amid red roses and white lilies there,

Which the soft breezes freshen as they fly,

Secure the cony haunts, and timid hare,

And stag, with branching forehead broad and high.

These, fearless of the hunter’s dart or snare,

Feed at their ease, or ruminating lie:

While, swarming in those wilds, from tuft or steep

Dun deer or nimble goat, disporting, leap.

XXIII

When the hyppogryph above the island hung,

And had approached so nigh that landscape fair,

That, if his rider from the saddle sprung,

He might the leap with little danger dare,

Rogero lit the grass and flowers among,

But held him, lest he should remount the air:

And to a myrtle, nigh the rolling brine,

Made fast, between a bay-tree and a pine.

XXIV

And there, close-by where rose a bubbling fount,

Begirt the fertile palm and cedar-tree,

He drops the shield, the helmet from his front

Uplifts, and, either hand from gauntlet free,

Now turning to the beach, and now the mount,

Catches the gales which blow from hill or sea,

And, with a joyous murmur, lightly stir

The lofty top of beech, or feathery fir:

XXV

And, now, to bathe his burning lips he strains;

Now dabbles in the crystal wave, to chase

The scorching heat which rages in his veins,

Caught from the heavy corslet’s burning case.

Nor is it marvel if the burden pains;

No ramble his in square or market-place!

Three thousand miles, without repose, he went,

And still, at speed, in ponderous armour pent.

XXVI

Meanwhile the courser by the myrtle’s side,

Whom he left stabled in the cool retreat,

Started at something in the wood descried,

Scared by I know not what; and in his heat

So made the myrtle shake where he was tied,

He brought a shower of leaves about his feet;

He made the myrtle shake and foliage fall,

But, struggling, could not loose himself withal.

XXVII

As in a stick to feed the chimney rent,

Where scanty pith ill fills the narrow sheath,

The vapour, in its little channel pent,

Struggles, tormented by the fire beneath;

And, till its prisoned fury find a vent,

Is heard to hiss and bubble, sing and seethe:

So the offended myrtle inly pined,

Groaned, murmured, and at last unclosed its rind:

XXVIII

And hence a clear, intelligible speech

Thus issued, with a melancholy sound;

“If, as thy cheer and gentle presence teach,

Thou courteous art and good, his reign unbound,

Release me from this monster, I beseech:

Griefs of my own inflict sufficient wound:

Nor need I, compassed with such ills about,

Other new pain to plague me from without.”

XXIX

At the first sound, Rogero turns to see

Whence came the voice, and, in unused surprise,

Stands, when he finds it issues from the tree;

And swiftly to remove the courser hies.

Then, with a face suffused with crimson, he

In answer to the groaning myrtle, cries;

“Pardon! and, whatsoe’er thou art, be good,

Spirit of man, or goddess of the wood!

XXX

“Unweeting of the wonderous prodigy

Of spirit, pent beneath the knotty rind,

To your fair leaf and living body I

Have done this scathe and outrage undesigned.

But not the less for that, to me reply,

What art thou, who, in rugged case confined,

Dost live and speak? And so may never hail

From angry heaven your gentle boughs assail!

XXXI

“And if I now or ever the despite

I did thee can repair, or aid impart,

I, by that lady dear, my promise plight,

Who in her keeping has my better part,

To strive with word and deed, till thou requite

The service done with praise and grateful heart.”

Rogero said; and, as he closed his suit,

That gentle myrtle shook from top to root.

XXXII

Next drops were seen to stand upon the bark,

As juice is sweated by the sapling-spray,

New-severed, when it yields to flame and spark,

Sometime in vain kept back and held at bay.

And next the voice began: “My story dark,

Forced by thy courteous deed, I shall display; —

What once I was — by whom, through magic lore,

Changed to a myrtle on the pleasant shore.

XXXIII

“A peer of France, Astolpho was my name,

Whilom a paladin, sore feared in fight;

Cousin I was to two of boundless fame,

Orlando and Rinaldo. I by right

Looked to all England’s crown; my lawful claim

After my royal father, Otho hight.

More dames than one my beauty served to warm,

And in conclusion wrought my single harm.

XXXIV

“Returning from those isles, whose eastern side

The billows of the Indian ocean beat,

Where good Rinaldo and more knights beside

With me were pent in dark and hollow seat,

Thence, rescued by illustrious Brava’s pride,

Whose prowess freed us from that dark retreat,

Westward I fared along the sandy shores,

On which the stormy north his fury pours.

XXXV

“Pursuing thus our rugged journey, we

Came (such our evil doom) upon the strand,

Where stood a mansion seated by the sea:

Puissant Alcina owned the house and land.

We found her, where, without her dwelling, she

Had taken on the beach her lonely stand;

And though nor hook nor sweeping net she bore,

What fish she willed, at pleasure drew to shore.

XXXVI

“Thither swift dolphins gambol, inly stirred,

And open-mouthed the cumbrous tunnies leap;

Thither the seal or porpus’ wallowing herd

Troop at her bidding, roused from lazy sleep;

Raven-fish, salmon, salpouth, at her word,

And mullet hurry through the briny deep,

With monstrous backs above the water, sail

Ork, physeter, sea-serpent, shark, and whale.

XXXVII

“There we behold a mighty whale, of size

The hugest yet in any water seen:

More than eleven paces, to our eyes,

His back appears above the surface green:

And (for still firm and motionless he lies,

And such the distance his two ends between)

We all are cheated by the floating pile,

And idly take the monster for an isle.

XXXVIII

“Alcina made the ready fish obey

By simple words and by mere magic lore:

Born with Morgana — but I cannot say

If at one birth, or after or before.

As soon as seen, my aspect pleased the fay;

Who showed it in the countenance she wore:

Then wrought with art, and compassed her intent,

To part me from the friends with whom I went.

XXXIX

“She came towards us with a cheerful face,

With graceful gestures, and a courteous air,

And said: ‘So you my lodging please to grace,

Sir cavalier, and will with me repair,

You shall behold the wonders of my chace,

And note the different sorts of fish I snare;

Shaggy or smooth, or clad in scales of light,

And more in number than the stars of night:

XL

“ ‘And would you hear a mermaid sing so sweet,

That the rude sea grows civil at her song,

Wont at this hour her music to repeat,

(With that she showed the monster huge and long

— I said it seemed an island — as her seat)

Pass with me where she sings the shoals among.’

I, that was always wilful, at her wish,

I now lament my rashness, climb the fish.

XLI

“To Dudon and Rinaldo’s signal blind,

I go, who warn me to misdoubt the fay.

With laughing face Alcina mounts behind,

Leaving the other two beside the bay.

The obedient fish performs the task assigned,

And through the yielding water works his way.

Repentant of my deed, I curse the snare,

Too far from land my folly to repair.

XLII

“To aid me swam Mount Alban’s cavalier,

And was nigh drowned amid the waves that rise;

For a south-wind sprang up that, far and near,

Covered with sudden darkness seas and skies.

I know not after what befel the peer:

This while Alcina to console me tries,

And all that day, and night which followed, me

Detained upon that monster in mid-sea,

XLIII

“Till to this isle we drifted with the morn,

Of which Alcina keeps a mighty share;

By that usurper from a sister torn,

Who was her father’s universal heir:

For that she only was in wedlock born,

And for those other two false sisters were

(So well-instructed in the story, said

One who rehearsed the tale) in incest bred.

XLIV

“As these are practised in iniquity,

And full of every vice and evil art;

So she, who ever lives in chastity,

Wisely on better things has set her heart.

Hence, leagued against her, in conspiracy,

Those others are, to drive her from her part:

And more than once their armies have o’errun

Her realm, and towns above a hundred won.

XLV

“Nor at this hour a single span of ground

Would Logistilla (such her name) command,

But that a mountain here, and there a sound,

Protects the remnant from the invading band.

’Tis thus the mountain and the river bound

England, and part it from the Scottish land.

Yet will the sisters give their foe no rest,

Till of her scanty remnant dispossest.

XLVI

“Because in wickedness and vice were bred

The pair, as chaste and good they loath the dame.

But, to return to what I lately said,

And to relate how I a plant became;

Me, full of love, the kind Alcina fed

With full delights; nor I a weaker flame

For her, within my burning heart did bear,

Beholding her so courteous and so fair.

XLVII

“Clasped in her dainty limbs, and lapt in pleasure,

I weened that I each separate good had won,

Which to mankind is dealt in different measure,

Little or more to some, and much to none.

I evermore contemplated my treasure,

Nor France nor aught beside I thought upon:

In her my every fancy, every hope

Centered and ended as their common scope.

XLVIII

“By her I was as much beloved, or more;

Nor did Alcina now for other care;

She left her every lover; for before,

Others, in truth, the fairy’s love did share:

I was her close adviser evermore;

And served by her, where they commanded were.

With me she counselled, and to me referred;

Nor, night nor day, to other spake a word.

XLIX

“Why touch my wounds, to aggravate my ill,

And that, alas! without the hope of cure?

Why thus the good possessed remember still,

Amid the cruel penance I endure?

When kindest I believed Alcina’s will,

And fondly deemed my happiness secure,

From me the heart she gave, the fay withdrew,

And yielded all her soul to love more new.

L

“Late I discerned her light and fickle bent,

Still loving and unloving at a heat:

Two months, I reigned not more, no sooner spent,

Than a new paramour assumed my seat;

And me, with scorn, she doomed to banishment,

From her fair grace cast out. ’Tis then I weet

I share a thousand lovers’ fate, whom she

Had to like pass reduced, all wrongfully.

LI

“And these, because they should not scatter bruits,

Roaming the world, of her lascivious ways,

She, up and down the fruitful soil, transmutes

To olive, palm, or cedar, firs or bays.

These, as you see me changed, Alcina roots;

While this transformed into a monster strays;

Another melts into a liquid rill;

As suits that haughty fairy’s wanton will.

LII

“Thou, too, that to this fatal isle art led

By way unwonted and till now unknown,

That some possessor of the fairy’s bed,

May be for thee transformed to wave or stone,

Thou shalt, with more than mortal pleasures fed,

Have from Alcina seigniory and throne;

But shalt be sure to join the common flock,

Transformed to beast or fountain, plant or rock.

LIII

“I willingly to thee this truth impart,

Not that I hope with profit to advise:

Yet ’twill be better, that informed, in part,

Of her false ways, she harm not by surprise.

Perhaps, as faces differ, and in art

And wit of man an equal difference lies,

Thou may’st some remedy perchance apply

To the ill, which thousand others could not fly.”

LIV

The good Rogero, who from Fame had learned

That he was cousin to the dame he wooed,

Lamented much the sad Astolpho, turned

From his true form, to barren plant and rude:

And for her love, for whom so sore he burned,

Would gladly serve the stripling if he cou’d:

But, witless how to give the wished relief,

Might but console the unhappy warrior’s grief.

LV

As best he could, he strove to soothe his pain;

Then asked him, if to Logistil’s retreat

Were passage, whether over hill or plain;

That he might so eschew Alcina’s seat.

— ‘There was a way’, the myrtle said again,

— ‘But rough with stones, and rugged to the feet —

If he, some little further to the right,

Would scale the Alpine mountain’s very height:

LVI

‘But that he must not think he shall pursue

The intended journey far; since by the way

He will encounter with a frequent crew,

And fierce, who serve as rampart to the fay,

That block the road against the stranger, who

Would break her bounds, and the deserter stay.’

Rogero thanked the tree for all, and taught,

Departed thence with full instructions fraught.

LVII

The courser from the myrtle he untied,

And by the bridle led behind him still;

Nor would he, as before, the horse bestride,

Lest he should bear him off against his will:

He mused this while how safely he might find

A passage to the land of Logistil;

Firm in his purpose every nerve to strain,

Lest empire over him Alcina gain.

LVIII

He to remount the steed, and through the air

To spur him to a new career again

Now thought; but doubted next, in fear to fare

Worse on the courser, restive to the rein.

“No, I will win by force the mountain stair,”

Rogero said; (but the resolve was vain)

Nor by the beach two miles his way pursued,

Ere he Alcina’s lovely city viewed.

LIX

A lofty wall at distance meets his eye

Which girds a spacious town within its bound;

It seems as if its summit touched the sky,

And all appears like gold from top to ground.

Here some one says it is but alchemy

— And haply his opinion is unsound —

And haply he more wittily divines:

For me, I deem it gold because it shines.

LX

When he was nigh the city-walls, so bright,

The world has not their equal, he the straight

And spacious way deserts, the way which dight

Across the plain, conducted to the gate;

And by that safer road upon the right,

Strains now against the mountain; but, in wait,

Encounters soon the crowd of evil foes,

Who furiously the Child’s advance oppose.

LXI

Was never yet beheld a stranger band,

Of mien more hideous, or more monstrous shape.

Formed downwards from neck like men, he scanned

Some with the head of cat, and some of ape;

With hoof of goat that other stamped the sand;

While some seemed centaurs, quick in fight and rape;

Naked, or mantled in outlandish skin.

These doting sires, those striplings bold in sin.

LXII

This gallops on a horse without a bit;

This backs the sluggish ass, or bullock slow;

These mounted on the croup of centaur sit:

Those perched on eagle, crane, or estridge, go.

Some male, some female, some hermaphrodit,

These drain the cup and those the bungle blow.

One bore a corded ladder, one a book;

One a dull file, or bar of iron shook.

LXIII

The captain of this crew, which blocked the road,

Appeared, with monstrous paunch and bloated face;

Who a slow tortoise for a horse bestrode,

That passing sluggishly with him did pace:

Down looked, some here, some there, sustained the load,

For he was drunk, and kept him in his place.

Some wipe his brows and chin from sweat which ran,

And others with their vests his visage fan.

LXIV

One, with a human shape and feet, his crest,

Fashioned like hound, in neck and ears and head,

Bayed at the gallant Child with angry quest,

To turn him to the city whence he fled.

“That will I never, while of strength possessed

To brandish this,” the good Rogero said:

With that his trenchant faulchion he displayed,

And pointed at him full the naked blade.

LXV

That monster would have smote him with a spear,

But swiftly at his foe Rogero sprung,

Thrust at his paunch, and drove his faulchion sheer

Through his pierced back a palm; his buckler flung

Before him, and next sallied there and here:

But all too numerous was the wicked throng.

Now grappled from behind, now punched before,

He stands, and plies the crowd with warfare sore.

LXVI

One to the teeth, another to the breast,

Of that foul race he cleft; since no one steeled

In mail, his brows with covering helmet dressed,

Or fought, secured by corslet or by shield;

Yet is he so upon all quarters pressed,

That it would need the Child, to clear the field,

And to keep off the wicked crew which swarms,

More than Briareus’ hundred hands and arms.

LXVII

If he had thought the magic shield to show,

(I speak of that the necromancer bore,

Which dazed the sight of the astonished foe,

Left at his saddle by the wizard Moor)

That hideous band, in sudden overthrow,

Blinded by this, had sunk the knight before.

But haply he despised such mean as vile,

And would prevail by valour, not by guile.

LXVIII

This as it may: the Child would meet his fate,

Ere by so vile a band be prisoner led;

When, lo! forth issuing from the city’s gate,

Whose wall appeared like shining gold I said,

Two youthful dames, not born in low estate,

If measured by their mien and garb, nor bred

By swain, in early wants and troubles versed;

But amid princely joys in palace nursed!

LXIX

On unicorn was seated either fair,

A beast than spotless ermine yet more white;

So lovely were the damsels, and so rare

Their garb, and with such graceful fashion dight,

That he who closely viewed the youthful pair,

Would need a surer sense than mortal sight,

To judge between the two. With such a mien

Embodied Grace and Beauty would be seen.

LXX

Into the mead rode this and the other dame,

Where the foul crew opposed the Child’s retreat.

The rabble scattered as the ladies came,

Who with extended hand the warrior greet.

He, with a kindling visage, red with shame,

Thanked the two damsels for their gentle feat;

And was content upon their will to wait,

With them returning to that golden gate.

LXXI

Above, a cornice round the gateway goes,

Somedeal projecting from the colonnade,

In which is not a single part but glows,

With rarest gems of India overlaid.

Propp’d at four points, the portal did repose

On columns of one solid diamond made.

Whether what met the eye was false or true,

Was never sight more fair or glad to view.

LXXII

Upon the sill and through the columns there,

Ran young and wanton girls, in frolic sport;

Who haply yet would have appeared more fair,

Had they observed a woman’s fitting port.

All are arrayed in green, and garlands wear

Of the fresh leaf. Him these in courteous sort,

With many proffers and fair mien entice,

And welcome to this opening Paradise:

LXXIII

For so with reason I this place may call,

Where, it is my belief, that Love had birth;

Where life is spent in festive game and ball,

And still the passing moments fleet in mirth.

Here hoary-headed Thought ne’er comes at all,

Nor finds a place in any bosom. Dearth,

Nor yet Discomfort, never enter here,

Where Plenty fills her horn throughout the year.

LXXIV

Here, where with jovial and unclouded brow,

Glad April seems to wear a constant smile,

Troop boys and damsels: One, whose fountains flow,

On the green margin sings in dulcet style;

Others, the hill or tufted tree below,

In dance, or no mean sport the hours beguile.

While this, who shuns the revellers’ noisy cheer,

Tells his love sorrows in his comrade’s ear.

LXXV

Above the laurel and pine-tree’s height,

Through the tall beech and shaggy fir-tree’s spray,

Sport little loves, with desultory flight:

These, at their conquests made, rejoiced and gay:

These, with the well-directed shaft, take sight

At hearts, and those spread nets to catch their prey;

One wets his arrows in the brook which winds,

And one on whirling stone the weapon grinds.

LXXVI

To good Rogero here was brought a steed,

Puissant and nimble, all of sorel hue;

Who was caparisoned with costly weed,

Broidered with gold, and jewels bright to view.

That other winged horse, which, at his need,

Obedient to the Moorish wizard flew,

The friendly damsels to a youth consigned,

Who led him at a slower pace behind.

LXXVII

That kindly pair who, by the wicked band

Offended fate, had saved the youthful knight;

The wicked crew, that did the Child withstand,

When he the road had taken on his right,

Exclaimed, “Fair sir, your works already scanned

By us, who are instructed of your might,

Embolden us, in our behalf, to pray

You will the prowess of your arm assay.

LXXVIII

“We soon shall reach a bottom which divides

The plain into two parts: A cruel dame

A bridge maintains, which there a stream bestrides,

Eriphila the savage beldam’s name;

Who cheats, and robs, and scathes, whoever rides

To the other shore, a giantess in frame;

Who has long poisonous teeth her prey to tear,

And scratches with her talons like a bear.

LXXIX

“Besides that she infests the public way,

Which else were free; she often ranging through

All this fair garden, puts in disarray

This thing or that. Of the assassin crew,

That people who without the portal gay,

Lately with brutal rage assaulted you,

Many her sons, the whole her followers call,

As greedy and inhospitable all.”

LXXX

“For you not only her I would assail,

But do a hundred battles, well content:

Then of my person, where it may avail,

Dispose (Rogero said) to you intent.

Silver and land to conquer, plate or mail

I swear not, I, in warlike cuirass pent;

But to afford my aid to others due;

And, most of all, to beauteous dames like you.”

LXXXI

Their grateful thanks the ladies, worthily

Bestowed on such a valiant champion, paid:

They talking thus the bridge and river see,

And at her post the haughty dame arraid

(Sapphire and emerald decked the panoply)

In arms of gold: but I awhile delay

Till other strain the issue of the fray.

Canto 7

Argument

Rogero, as directed by the pair,

The giantess Eriphila o’erthrows.

That done, he to Alcina’s labyrinth, where

More than one knight is tied and prisoned, goes.

To him Melissa sage the secret snare,

And remedy for that grave evil shows.

Whence he, by her advised, with downcast eye,

And full of shame forthwith resolves to fly.

I

The traveller, he, whom sea or mountain sunder

From his own country, sees things strange and new;

That the misjudging vulgar, which lies under

The mist of ignorance, esteems untrue:

Rejecting whatsoever is a wonder,

Unless ’tis palpable and plain to view:

Hence inexperience, as I know full well,

Will yield small credence to the tale I tell.

II

But this be great or small, I know not why

The rabble’s silly judgement I should fear,

Convinced you will not think the tale a lie,

In whom the light of reason shines so clear.

And hence to you it is I only try

The fruit of my fatigues to render dear.

I ended where Eriphila in guard

Of bridge and stream was seen, the passage barred.

III

Of finest metal was her armour bright,

With gems of many colours overspread,

The tawny jacinth, yellow chyrsolite,

The emerald green of hue, and ruby red.

Mounted, but not on palfrey, for the fight:

In place of that, she on a wolf had sped,

Sped on a wolf towards the pass; and rode

On sell, that rich beyond all custom showed.

IV

No larger wolf, I ween, Apulia roams;

More huge than bull, unguided by her hand;

Although upon no bit the monster foams,

Docile, I know not why, to her command.

The accursed Plague, arrayed in surcoat, comes

Above her arms, in colour like the sand;

That, saving in its dye, was of the sort

Which bishops and which prelates wear at court.

V

The giantess’s crest and shield appear,

For ensign, decked with swoln and poisonous toad.

Her the two damsels to the cavalier

Before the bridge, prepared for battle, showed,

Threatening, as wont to some, with levelled spear,

To do the warrior scorn and bar the road.

Bidding him turn, she to Rogero cries;

A lance he takes, and threats her and defies.

VI

As quick and daring, the gigantic Pest

Spurred her wolf, seated well for that dread game:

In mid career she laid her lance in rest,

And made earth quake beneath her as she came;

Yet at the encounter fierce the champaign pressed;

For underneath the casque, with stedfast aim,

So hard Rogero smote her, that he bore

The beldam backward six good yards and more:

VII

And came already with his lifted blade,

Drawn for that end, to take her haughty head;

To him an easy task; for she was laid

Among the grass and flowers, like one that’s dead.

But, “ ’Tis enough that she is vanquished,” said

The pair, “No further press thy vengeance dread.

Sheathe, courteous cavalier, thy sword anew:

Pass we the river, and our way pursue.”

VIII

Along the path, which through a forest lay,

Roughish and somedeal ill to beat, they went.

Besides that strait and stony was the way,

This, nigh directly, scaled a hill’s ascent.

But, when arrived upon the summit, they

Issued upon a mead of vast extent;

And a more pleasant palace on that green

Beheld, and brighter than was ever seen.

IX

To meet the Child, Alcina, fair of hue,

Advanced some way beyond the outer gate;

And, girded by a gay and courtly crew,

Rogero there received in lordly state:

While all the rest to him such honour do,

And on the knight with such deep reverence wait,

They could not have displayed more zeal and love,

Had Jove descended from the choirs above.

X

Not so much does the palace, fair to see,

In riches other princely domes excel,

As that the gentlest, fairest, company

Which the whole world contains, within it dwell:

Of either sex, with small variety

Between, in youth and beauty matched as well:

The fay alone exceeds the rest as far

As the bright sun outshines each lesser star.

XI

Her shape is of such perfect symmetry,

As best to feign the industrious painter knows,

With long and knotted tresses; to the eye

Not yellow gold with brighter lustre glows.

Upon her tender cheek the mingled dye

Is scattered, of the lily and the rose.

Like ivory smooth, the forehead gay and round

Fills up the space, and forms a fitting bound.

XII

Two black and slender arches rise above

Two clear black eyes, say suns of radiant light,

Which ever softly beam and slowly move;

Round these appears to sport in frolic flight,

Hence scattering all his shafts, the little Love,

And seems to plunder hearts in open sight.

Thence, through mid visage, does the nose descend,

Where Envy finds not blemish to amend.

XIII

As if between two vales, which softly curl,

The mouth with vermeil tint is seen to glow:

Within are strung two rows of orient pearl,

Which her delicious lips shut up or show.

Of force to melt the heart of any churl,

However rude, hence courteous accents flow:

And here that gentle smile receives its birth,

Which opes at will a paradise on earth.

XIV

Like milk the bosom, and the neck of snow;

Round is the neck, and full and large the breast;

Where, fresh and firm, two ivory apples grow,

Which rise and fall, as, to the margin pressed

By pleasant breeze, the billows come and go.

Not prying Argus could discern the rest.

Yet might the observing eye of things concealed

Conjecture safely, from the charms revealed.

XV

To all her arms a just proportion bear,

And a white hand is oftentimes descried,

Which narrow is, and somedeal long; and where

No knot appears, nor vein is signified.

For finish of that stately shape and rare,

A foot, neat, short, and round, beneath is spied.

Angelic visions, creatures of the sky,

Concealed beneath no covering veil can lie.

XVI

A springe is planted in Rogero’s way,

On all sides did she speak, smile, sing, or move;

No wonder then the stripling was her prey,

Who in the fairy saw such show of love.

With him the guilt and falsehood little weigh,

Of which the offended myrtle told above.

Nor will he think that perfidy and guile

Can be united with so sweet a smile.

XVII

No! he could now believe, by magic art,

Astolpho well transformed upon the plain,

For punishment of foul ungrateful heart,

And haply meriting severer pain.

And, as for all he heard him late impart,

’Twas prompted by revenge, ’twas false and vain.

By hate and malice was the sufferer stung,

To blame and wound the fay with slanderous tongue.

XVIII

The beauteous lady whom he loved so well

Is newly banished from his altered breast;

For (such the magic of Alcina’s spell)

She every ancient passion dispossessed;

And in his bosom, there alone to dwell,

The image of her love, and self impressed.

So witched, Rogero sure some grace deserves,

If from his faith his frail affection swerves.

XIX

At board lyre, lute and harp of tuneful string,

And other sounds, in mixed diversity,

Made, round about, the joyous palace ring,

With glorious concert and sweet harmony.

Nor lacked there well-accorded voice to sing

Of love, its passion and its ecstasy;

Nor who, with rare inventions, choicely versed,

Delightful fiction to the guests rehearsed.

XX

What table, spread by whatsoever heir

Of Ninus, though triumphant were the board,

Or what more famous and more costly, where

Cleopatra feasted with the Latian lord,

Could with this banquet’s matchless joys compare,

By the fond fairy for Rogero stored?

I think not such a feast is spread above,

Where Ganymede presents the cup to Jove.

XXI

They form a ring, the board and festive cheer

Removed, and sitting, play a merry game:

Each asks, still whispering in a neighbour’s ear,

What secret pleases best; to knight and dame

A fair occasion, without let or fear,

Their love, unheard of any, to proclaim.

And in conclusion the two lovers plight

Their word, to meet together on that night.

XXII

Soon, and much sooner than their wont, was ended

The game at which the palace inmates play:

When pages on the troop with torches tended,

And with their radiance chased the night away.

To seek his bed the paladin ascended,

Girt with that goodly squadron, in a gay

And airy bower, appointed for his rest,

Mid all the others chosen as the best.

XXIII

And when of comfits and of cordial wine

A fitting proffer has been made anew,

The guests their bodies reverently incline,

And to their bowers depart the courtly crew.

He upon perfumed sheets, whose texture fine

Seemed of Arachne’s loom, his body threw:

Hearkening this while with still attentive ears,

If he the coming of the lady hears.

XXIV

At every movement heard on distant floor,

Hoping ’twas her, Rogero raised his head:

He thinks he hears; but it is heard no more,

Then sighs at his mistake: ofttimes from bed

He issued, and undid his chamber door,

And peeped abroad, but still no better sped;

And cursed a thousand times the hour that she

So long retarded his felicity.

XXV

“Yes, now she comes,” the stripling often said,

And reckoned up the paces, as he lay,

Which from her bower where haply to be made

To that where he was waiting for the fay.

These thoughts, and other thoughts as vain, he weighed

Before she came, and restless at her stay,

Often believed some hinderance, yet unscanned,

Might interpose between the fruit and hand.

XXVI

At length, when dropping sweets the costly fay

Had put some end to her perfumery,

The time now come she need no more delay,

Since all was hushed within the palace, she

Stole from her bower alone, through secret way,

And passed towards the chamber silently,

Where on his couch the youthful cavalier

Lay, with a heart long torn by Hope and Fear.

XXVII

When the successor of Astolpho spies

Those smiling stars above him, at the sight

A flame, like that of kindled sulphur, flies

Through his full veins, as ravished by delight

Out of himself; and now up to the eyes

Plunged in a sea of bliss, he swims outright.

He leaps from bed and folds her to his breast,

Nor waits until the lady he undressed;

XXVIII

Though but in a light sendal clad, that she

Wore in the place of farthingale or gown;

Which o’er a shift of finest quality,

And white, about her limbs the fay had thrown:

The mantle yielded at his touch, as he

Embraced her, and that veil remained alone,

Which upon every side the damsel shows,

More than clear glass the lily or the rose.

XXIX

The plant no closer does the ivy clip,

With whose green boughs its stem is interlaced.

Than those fond lovers, each from either’s lip

The balmy breath collecting, he embraced:

Rich perfume this, whose like no seed or slip

Bears in sweet Indian or Sabacan waste;

While so to speak their joys is either fixed,

That oftentimes those meeting lips are mixed.

XXX

These things were carried closely by the dame

And youth, or if surmised, were never bruited;

For silence seldom was a cause for blame,

But oftener as a virtue well reputed.

By those shrewd courtiers, conscious of his claim,

Rogero is with proffers fair saluted:

Worshipped of all those inmates, who fulfil

In this the enamoured far, Alcina’s will.

XXXI

No pleasure is omitted there; since they

Alike are prisoners in Love’s magic hall.

They change their raiment twice or thrice a day,

Now for this use, and now at other call.

’Tis often feast, and always holiday;

’Tis wrestling, tourney, pageant, bath, and ball.

Now underneath a hill by fountain cast,

They read the amorous lays of ages past:

XXXII

Now by glad hill, or through the shady dale,

They hunt the fearful hare, and now they flush

With busy dog, sagacious of the trail,

Wild pheasant from the stubble-field or bush.

Now where green junipers perfume the gale,

Suspend the snare, or lime the fluttering thrush:

And casting now for fish, with net or book,

Disturb their secret haunts in pleasant brook.

XXXIII

Rogero revels there, in like delight,

While Charles and Agramant are troubled sore.

But not for him their story will I slight,

Nor Bradamant forget: who evermore,

Mid toilsome pain and care, her cherished knight,

Ravished from her, did many a day deplore;

Whom by unwonted ways, transported through

Mid air, the damsel saw, nor whither knew.

XXXIV

Of her I speak before the royal pair,

Who many days pursued her search in vain;

By shadowy wood, or over champaign bare,

By farm and city, and by hill and plain;

But seeks her cherished friend with fruitless care,

Divided by such space of land and main:

Often she goes among the Paynim spears,

Yet never aught of her Rogero hears.

XXXV

Of hundreds questioned, upon every side,

Each day, no answer ever gives content.

She roams from post to post, and far and wide

Searches pavilion, lodging, booth, or rent,

And this, mid foot or horsemen, unespied,

May safely do, without impediment,

Thanks to the ring, whose more than mortal aid,

When in her mouth, conceals the vanished maid.

XXXVI

She cannot, will not, think that he is dead;

Because the wreck of such a noble knight

Would, from Hydaspes’ distant waves have spread,

To where the sun descends with westering light.

She knows not what to think, nor whither sped,

He roams in earth or air; yet, hapless wight,

Him ever seeks, and for attendant train

Has sobs and sighs, and every bitter pain.

XXXVII

At length to find the wondrous cave she thought,

Where the prophetic homes of Merlin lie,

And there lament herself until she wrought

Upon the pitying marble to reply;

For thence, if yet he lived would she be taught,

Of this glad life to hard necessity

Had yielded up; and, when she was possessed

Of the seer’s councils, would pursue the best.

XXXVIII

With this intention, Bradamant her way

Directed thither, where in Poictier’s wood

The vocal tomb, containing Merlin’s clay,

Concealed in Alpine place and savage, stood.

But that enchantress sage, who night and day

Thought of the damsel, watchful for her good,

She, I repeat, who taught her what should be

In that fair grotto her posterity;

XXXIX

She who preserved her with protecting care,

That same enchantress, still benign and wise,

Who, knowing she a matchless race should bear

Of men, or rather semi-deities,

Spies daily what her thoughts and actions are,

And lots for her each day, divining, tries; —

She all Rogero’s fortune knew, how freed;

Then borne to India by the griffin steed:

XL

Him on that courser plainly she had eyed,

Who would not the controlling rein obey;

When, severed by such interval, he hied,

Borne through the perilous, unwonted way:

And knew that he sport, dance, and banquet plied,

And lapt in idleness and pleasure lay;

Nor memory of his lord nor of the dame,

Once loved so well, preserved, not of his fame.

XLI

And thus such gentle knight ingloriously

Would have consumed his fairest years and best,

In long inaction, afterwards to be,

Body and soul, destroyed; and that, possessed

Alone by us in perpetuity.

That flower, whose sweets outlive the fragile rest

Which quickens man when he in earth is laid,

Would have been plucked or severed in the blade.

XLII

But that enchantress kind, who with more care

Than for himself he watched, still kept the knight,

Designed to drag him, by rough road and bare,

Towards true virtue, in his own despite;

As often cunning leech will burn and pare

The flesh, and poisonous drug employ aright:

Who, though at first his cruel art offend,

Is thanked, since he preserves us in the end.

XLIII

She, not like old Atlantes, rendered blind

By the great love she to the stripling bore,

Set not on gifting him with life her mind,

As was the scope of that enchanter hoar;

Who, reckless all of fame and praise declined,

Wished length of days to his Rogero more

Than that, to win a world’s applause, the peer

Should of his joyous life forego one year.

XLIV

By him he to Alcina’s isle had been

Dispatched, that in her palace he might dwell,

Forgetting arms; and, as enchanter seen

In magic and the use of every spell,

The heart had fastened of that fairy-queen,

Enamoured of the gentle youth, so well,

That she the knot would never disengage,

Though he should live to more than Nestor’s age.

XLV

Returning now to her that well foreknew

Whatever was to come to pass, I say

She thither did her journey straight pursue,

Where she met Aymon’s daughter by the way

Forlorn and wandering: Bradamant at view

Of her enchantress, erst to grief a prey,

Changes it all to hope: the other tells

That with Alcina her Rogero dwells.

XLVI

Nigh dead the maid remains, in piteous guise,

Hearing of him so far removed, and more

Grieves that she danger to her love descries,

Save this some strong and speedy cure restore.

But her the enchantress comforts, and applies

A salve where it was needed most, and swore

That few short days should pass before anew

Rogero should return to glad her view.

XLVII

“Since thou, an antidote to sorcery,

Lady (she said), the virtuous ring dost wear,

I have no doubt if to yon island I

This, where thine every good is hidden, hear,

To foil Alcina’s wiles and witchery,

And thence to bring thee back thy cherished care.

This evening, early, will I hence away,

And be in India by the break of day.”

XLVIII

And told to her, the tale continuing,

The mode which she was purposing to employ,

From that effeminate, soft realm to bring

Back into warlike France the cherished boy.

Bradamant from her finger slipt the ring,

Nor this alone would have bestowed with joy;

But heart and life would at her feet have laid,

If she had deemed they could Rogero aid.

XLIX

Giving the ring, her cause she recommends

To her, and recommends Rogero more.

Countless salutes by her the damsel sends,

Then of Provence, departing seeks the shore.

The enchantress to another quarter wends;

And, for the execution of her lore,

Conjures, that eve, a palfrey, by her art,

With one foot red, black every other part.

L

Some Farfarello, or Alchino he,

I think, whom in that form she raised from hell;

And with loose hair, dishevelled horribly,

Ungirt and barefoot, mounted in the sell.

But, with wise caution, from her finger she

Withdrew the ring, lest it should mar the spell:

And then by him was with such swiftness born,

She in Alcina’s isle arrived at morn.

LI

Herself she changed with wonderful disguise,

Adding a palm of stature to her height;

And made her limbs of a proportioned size;

And of the very measure seemed to sight,

As was she deemed, the necromancer wise,

Who with such care had reared the youthful knight.

With long-descending beard she clothed her chin,

And wrinkled o’er her front and other skin.

LII

To imitate his speech, and face, and cheer,

She knew so well, that, by the youth descried,

She might the sage Atlantes’ self appear;

Next hid, and watched so long, that she espied

Upon a day (rare chance) the cavalier

At length detached from his Alcina’s side:

For still, in motion or at rest, the fay

Ill bore the youth should be an hour away.

LIII

Alone she finds him, fitting well her will,

As he enjoys the pure and morning air

Beside a brook, which trickled from a hill,

Streaming towards a limpid lake and fair.

His fine, soft garments, wove with cunning skill,

All over, ease and wantonness declare;

These with her hand, such subtle toil well taught,

For him in silk and gold Alcina wrought.

LIV

About the stripling’s neck, a splendid string

Of gems, descending to mid-breast, is wound;

On each once manly arm, now glittering

With the bright hoop, a bracelet fair is bound.

Pierced with golden wire, in form of ring,

Is either ear; and from the yellow round

Depend two precious pearls; not such the coast

Of Araby or sumptuous India boast.

LV

Crisped into comely ringlets was his hair,

Wet with the costliest odours and the best;

And soft and amorous all his gestures were,

Like one who does Valentian lady’s hest.

In him, beside his name, was nothing fair,

And more than half corrupted all the rest.

So was Rogero found, within that dell,

Changed from his former self by potent spell.

LVI

Him in the figure of Atlantes sage

She fronts, who bore the enchanter’s borrowed cheer;

With that grave face, and reverend with age,

Which he was always wonted to revere;

And with that eye, which in his pupillage,

Beaming with wrath, he whilom so did fear.

And sternly cries, “Is this the fruit at last

Which pays my tedious pain and labour past?

LVII

“The marrow of the lion and the bear

Didst thou for this thine early banquet make,

And, trained by me, by cliff or cavern-lair,

Strangle with infant hands the crested snake;

Their claws from tiger and from panther tear,

And tusks from living boar in tangled brake,

That, bred in such a school, in thee should I

Alcina’s Atys or Adonis spy?

LVIII

“Is this the hope that stars, observed by me,

Signs in conjunction, sacred fibres, bred;

With what beside of dream or augury,

And all those lots I but too deeply read,

Which, while yet hanging at the breast, of thee,

When these thy years should be accomplished, said,

Thy fears should so be bruited far and near,

Thou justly should be deemed without a peer?

LIX

“This does, in truth, a fair beginning show;

A seed which, we may hope, will soon conceive

A Julius, Alexander, Scipio.

Who thee Alcina’s bondsman could believe;

And (for the world the shameful fact might know)

That all should, manifest to sight, perceive

Upon thy neck and arms the servile chains,

Wherewith she at her will her captive trains?

LX

“If thine own single honour move not thee,

And the high deeds which thou art called to do,

Wherefore defraud thy fair posterity

Of what, was oft predicted, should ensue?

Alas! why seal the womb God willed should be

Pregnant by thee with an illustrious crew,

That far renowned, and more than human line,

Destined the sun in glory to outshine?

LXI

“Forbid not of the noblest souls the birth,

Formed in the ideas of Eternal Mind,

Destined, from age to age, to visit earth,

Sprung from thy stock, and clothed in corporal rind;

The spring of thousand palms and festal mirth,

Through which, to Italy with losses pined

And wounds, thy good descendants shall restore

The fame and honours she enjoyed of yore.

LXII

“Not only should these many souls have weight

To bend thy purpose, holy souls, and bright,

Which from thy fruitful tree shall vegetate;

But, though alone, a single couple might

Suffice a nobler feeling to create,

Alphonso and his brother Hyppolite:

Whose like was seldom witnessed to this time,

Through all the paths whence men to virtue climb.

LXIII

“I was more wont to dwell upon this pair

Than all the rest, of whom I prophesied;

As well that these a greater part should bear

In lofty virtues, as that I descried

Thee, listening to my lore with closer care,

Than to the tale of all thy seed beside.

I saw thee joy that such a pair would shine

Amid the heroes of thy noble line.

LXIV

“Say, what has she, thou makest thy fancy’s queen,

More than what other courtezans possess?

Who of so many concubine has been;

How used her lovers in the end to bless,

Thou truly know’st: but that she may be seen

Without disguise, and in her real dress,

This ring, returning, on thy finger wear,

And thou shalt see the dame, and mark how fair.”

LXV

Abashed and mute, Rogero, listening,

In vain to her reproof an answer sought:

Who on his little finger put the ring,

Whose virtue to himself the warrior brought.

And such remorse and shame within him spring,

When on his altered sense the change is wrought,

A thousand fathoms deep he fain would lie

Buried in earth, unseen of any eye.

LXVI

So speaking, to the natural shape she wore

Before his eyes returned the magic dame;

Nor old Atlantes’ form was needed more,

The good effect obtained for which she came.

To tell you that which was not told before,

Melissa was the sage enchantress’ name:

Who to Rogero now her purpose said,

And told with what design she thither sped:

LXVII

Dispatched by her, who him in anxious pain

Desires, nor longer can without him be,

With the intent to loose him from the chain

Wherewith he was begirt by sorcery;

And had put on, more credence to obtain,

Atlantes de Carena’s form; but she,

Seeing his health restored, now willed the youth,

Through her should hear and see the very truth.

LXVIII

“That gentle lady who so loves thee, who

Were well deserving love upon thy part;

To whom (unless forgot, thou know’st how true

The tale) thou debtor for thy freedom art,

This ring, which can each magic spell undo,

Sends for thy succour, and would send her heart,

If with such virtue fraught, her heart could bring

Thee safely in thy perils, like the ring.”

LXIX

How Bradamant had loved, and loves, she says,

Continuing to Rogero her relation;

To this, her worth commends with fitting praise,

Tempering in truth and fondness her narration;

And still employs the choicest mode and phrase,

Which fits one skilful in negociation,

And on the false Alcina brings such hate,

As on things horrible is wont to wait;

LXX

Brings hate on that which he so loved before;

Nor let the tale astonish which you hear,

For since his love was forced by magic lore,

The ring the false enchantment served to clear.

This too unmasked the charms Alcina wore,

And made all false, from head to food, appear.

None of her own, but borrowed, all he sees,

And the once sparkling cup now drugged with lees.

LXXI

Like boy who somewhere his ripe fruit bestows,

And next forgets the place where it is laid,

Then, after many days, conducted goes

By chance, where he the rich deposit made,

And wonders that the hidden treasure shows,

Not what it is, but rotten and decayed;

And hates, and scorns, and loathes, with altered eyes,

And throws away what he was used to prize.

LXXII

Rogero thus, when by Melissa’s lore

Advised, he to behold the fay returned,

And that good ring of sovereign virtue wore,

Which, on the finger placed, all spells o’erturned;

For that fair damsel he had left before,

To his surprise, so foul a dame discerned,

That in this ample world, examined round,

A hag so old and hideous is not found.

LXXIII

Pale, lean, and wrinkled was the face, and white,

And thinly clothed with hair Alcina’s head;

Her stature reached not to six palms in height,

And every tooth was gone; for she had led

A longer life than ever mortal wight,

Than Hecuba or she in Cuma bred;

But thus by practice, to our age unknown,

Appeared with youth and beauty not her own.

LXXIV

By art she gave herself the lovely look,

Which had on many like Rogero wrought;

But now the ring interpreted the book,

Which secrets, hid for many ages, taught.

No wonder then that he the dame forsook,

And banished from his mind all further thought

Of love for false Alcina, found in guise

Which no new means of slippery fraud supplies.

LXXV

But, as Melissa counselled him, he wore

His wonted semblance for a time, till he

Was with his armour, many days before

Laid by, again accoutred cap-a-pee.

And, lest Alcina should his end explore,

Feigned to make proof of his agility;

Feigned to make proof if for his arms he were

Too gross, long time unwont the mail to bear.

LXXVI

Next Balisarda to his flank he tied

(For so Rogero’s trenchant sword was hight),

And took the wondrous buckler, which, espied,

Not only dazzled the beholder’s sight,

But seemed, when its silk veil was drawn aside,

As from the body if exhaled the sprite:

In its close cover of red sendal hung,

This at his neck the youthful warrior slung.

LXXVII

Provided thus, he to the stables came,

And bade with bridle and with saddle dight

A horse more black than pitch; for so the dame

Counselled, well-taught how swift the steed and light.

Him Rabicano those who know him name,

And he the courser was, that with the knight,

Who stands beside the sea, the breeze’s sport,

The whale of yore conducted to that port.

LXXVIII

The hippogryph he might have had at need,

Who next below good Rabican was tied,

But that the dame had cried to him, “Take heed,

Thou know’st how ill that courser is to ride”;

And said the following day the winged steed

’Twas her intention from that realm to guide,

Where he should be instructed at his leisure,

To rein and run him every where at pleasure:

LXXIX

Nor, if he took him not, would he suggest

Suspicion of the intended flight: The peer

This while performed Melissa’s every hest,

Who, still invisible, was at his ear.

So feigning, from the wanton dome possessed

By that old strumpet, rode the cavalier;

And pricking forth drew near unto a gate,

Whence the road led to Logistilla’s state.

LXXX

Assaulting suddenly the guardian crew,

He, sword in hand, the squadron set upon;

This one he wounded, and that other slew,

And, point by point made good, the drawbridge won:

And ere of his escape Alcina knew,

The gentle youth was far away and gone.

My next shall tell his route, and how he gained

At last the realm where Logistilla reigned.

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.

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.

Canto 10

Argument

Another love assails Bireno’s breast,

Who leaves one night Olympia on the shore.

To Logistilla’s holy realm addressed,

Rogero goes, nor heeds Alcina more:

Him, of that flying courser repossest,

The hippogryph on airy voyage bore:

Whence he the good Rinaldo’s levy sees,

And next Angelica beholds and frees.

I

Of all the loves, of all fidelity

Yet proved, of all the constant hearts and true,

Of all the lovers, in felicity

Or sorrow faithful found, a famous crew,

To Olympia I would give the first degree

Rather than second: if this be not due,

I well may say that hers no tale is told

Of truer love, in present times or old.

II

And this she by so many proofs and clear,

Had made apparent to the Zealand lord,

No woman’s faith more certain could appear

To man, though he her open heart explored:

And if fair truth such spirits should endear,

And they in mutual love deserve reward,

Bireno as himself, nay, he above

Himself, I say, should kind Olympia love.

III

Not only should he nevermore deceive

Her for another, were that woman she

Who so made Europe and wide Asia grieve,

Or fairer yet, if one more fair there be;

But rather that quit her the light should leave,

And what is sweet to taste, touch, hear, and see,

And life and fame, and all beside; if aught

More precious can in truth be styled, or thought.

IV

If her Bireno loved, as she had loved

Bireno, if her love he did repay

With faith like hers, and still with truth unmoved,

Veered not his shifting sail another way;

Or ingrate for such service — cruel proved

For such fair love and faith, I now will say;

And you with lips comprest and eye-brows bent,

Shall listen to the tale for wonderment;

V

And when you shall have heard the impiety,

Which of such passing goodness was the meed,

Woman take warning from this perfidy,

And let none make a lover’s word her creed.

Mindless that God does all things hear and see,

The lover, eager his desires to speed,

Heaps promises and vows, aye prompt to swear,

Which afterwards all winds disperse in air.

VI

The promises and empty vows dispersed

In air, by winds all dissipated go,

After these lovers have the greedy thirst

Appeased, with which their fevered palates glow.

In this example which I offer, versed,

Their prayers and tears to credit be more slow.

Cheaply, dear ladies mine, is wisdom bought

By those who wit at other’s cost are taught.

VII

Of those in the first flower of youth beware,

Whose visage is so soft and smooth to sight:

For past, as soon as bred, their fancies are;

Like a straw fire their every appetite.

So the keen hunter follows up the hare

In heat and cold, on shore, or mountain-height;

Nor, when ’tis taken, more esteems the prize;

And only hurries after that which flies.

VIII

Such is the practise of these striplings who,

What time you treat them with austerity,

Love and revere you, and such homage do,

As those who pay their service faithfully;

But vaunt no sooner victory, than you

From mistresses shall servants grieve to be;

And mourn to see the fickle love they owed,

From you diverted, and elsewhere bestowed.

IX

I not for this (for that were wrong) opine

That you should cease to love; for you, without

A lover, like uncultivated vine,

Would be, that has no prop to wind about.

But the first down I pray you to decline,

To fly the volatile, inconstant rout;

To make your choice the riper fruits among,

Nor yet to gather what too long has hung.

X

A daughter they have found (above was said)

Of the proud king who ruled the Friesland state;

That with Bireno’s brother was to wed,

As far as rumour tells; but to relate

The truth, a longing in Bireno bred

The sight of food so passing delicate;

And he to talk his palate deemed would be,

For other’s sake, a foolish courtesy.

XI

The gentle damsel had not past fourteen,

Was beautiful and fresh, and like a rose,

When this first opening from its bud is seen,

And with the vernal sun expands and grows.

To say Bireno loved the youthful queen

Were little; with less blaze lit tinder glows,

Or ripened corn, wherever envious hand

Of foe amid the grain has cast a brand,

XII

Than that which on Bireno’s bosom fed,

And to his marrow burned; when, weeping sore

The fate of her unhappy father dead,

He saw her bathed in ceaseless tears deplore:

And, as cold water, on the cauldron shed,

Shops short the bubbling wave, which boiled before;

So was the raging rife Olympia blew

Within his breast, extinguished by a new.

XIII

Nor feels Bireno mere satiety;

He loathes her so, he ill endures her sight;

And, if his hope he long deferred, will die:

For other such his fickle appetite!

Yet till the day prefixed to satisfy

His fond desire, so feigns the wary knight,

Olympia less to love than to adore

He seems, and but her pleasure to explore.

XIV

And if the other he too much caress,

Who cannot but caress her, there are none

See evil in the deed, but rather guess

It is in pity, is in goodness done:

Since to raise up and comfort in distress

Whom Fortune’s wheel beats down in changeful run,

Was never blamed; with glory oftener paid;

— So much the more, a young — a harmless maid.

XV

Almighty God! how fallible and vain

Is human judgment, dimmed by clouds obscure!

Bireno’s actions, impious and profane,

By others are reputed just and pure.

Already stooping to their oars, the train

Have loosed his vessel from the port secure,

And with the duke and his companions steer

For Zealand through the deep, with meery cheer.

XVI

Already Holland and its headlands all

Are left astern, and now descried no more;

Since to shun Friesland they to larboard hawl.

And keep their course more nigh the Scottish shore:

When they are overtaken by a squall,

And drive three days the open sea before:

Upon the third, when now, near eventide,

A barren and unpeopled isle is spied.

XVII

As soon as they were harboured in a hight,

Olympia landed and the board was spread;

She there contented, with the faithless knight,

Supt, unsuspecting any cause for dread.

Thence, with Bireno, where a tent was pight

In pleasant place, repaired, and went to bed.

The others of their train returned abroad,

And rested in their ship, in haven moored.

XVIII

The fear and late sea sorrow, which had weighed

So long upon the dame and broke her rest,

The finding herself safe in greenwood shade

Removed from noise, and, for her tranquil breast

(Knowing her lover was beside her laid)

No further thoughts, no further cares molest,

Olympia lap in slumber so profound,

No sheltered bear or dormouse sleeps more sound.

XIX

The lover false, who, hatching treason lies,

Stole from his bed in silence, when he knew

She slept: his clothes he in a bundle ties,

Nor other raiment on his body threw.

Then issuing forth from the pavilion hies,

As if on new-born wings, towards his crew;

Who, roused, unmoor without a cry, as he

Commands, and loosen thence and put to sea.

XX

Behind the land was left; and there to pine

Olympia, who yet slept the woods among;

Till from her gilded wheels the frosty rhine

Aurora upon earth beneath had flung;

And the old woe, beside the tumbling brine,

Lamenting, halcyons mournful descant sung;

When she, ‘twixt sleep and waking, made a strain

To reach her loved Bireno, but in vain.

XXI

She no one found: the dame her arm withdrew;

She tried again, yet no one found; she spread

Both arms, now here, now there, and sought anew;

Now either leg; but yet no better sped.

Fear banished sleep; she oped her eyes: in view

Was nothing: she no more her widowed bed

Would keep, but from the couch in fury sprung,

And headlong forth from the pavilion flung.

XXII

And seaward ran, her visage tearing sore,

Presaging, and now certain of her plight:

She beat her bosom, and her tresses tore,

And looked (the moon was shining) if she might

Discover any thing beside the shore;

Nor, save the shore, was any thing in sight.

She calls Bireno, and the caverns round,

Pitying her grief, Bireno’s name rebound.

XXIII

On the far shore there rose a rock; below

Scooped by the breaker’s beating frequently:

The cliff was hollowed underneath, in show

Of arch, and overhung the foaming sea.

Olympia (MIND such vigour did bestow)

Sprang up the frowning crest impetuously,

And, at a distance, stretched by favouring gale,

Thence saw her cruel lord’s departing sail.

XXIV

Saw it, or seemed to see: for ill her eyes,

Things through the air, yet dim and hazy, view.

She falls, all-trembling, on the ground, and lies

With face than snow more cold and white in hue:

But when she has again found strength to rise,

Guiding her voice towards the bark which flew,

Calling with all her might, the unhappy dame

Calls often on her cruel consort’s name.

XXV

Where unavailing was the feeble note,

She wept and clapt her hands in agony.

“Without its freight,” she cried, “thy ship does float.

— Where, cruel, dost thou fly so swiftly? — Me

Receive as well:— small hinderance to thy boat,

Which bears my spirit, would my body be.”

And she her raiment waving in her hand,

Signed to the frigate to return to land.

XXVI

But the loud wind which, sweeping ocean, bears

The faithless stripling’s sail across the deep,

Bears off as well the shriek, and moan, and prayers

Of sad Olympia, sorrowing on the steep.

Thrice, cruel to herself, the dame prepares

From the high rock amid the waves to leap.

But from the water lifts at length her sight,

And there returns where she had passed the night.

XXVII

Stretched on the bed, upon her face she lay,

Bathing it with her tears. “Last night in thee

Together two found shelter,” did she say;

“Alas! why two together are not we

At rising? False Bireno! cursed day

That I was born! What here remains to me

To do? What can be done? — Alone, betrayed —

Who will console me, who afford me aid?

XXVIII

“Nor man I see, nor see I work, which shows

That man inhabits in this isle; nor I

See ship, in which (a refuge from my woes),

Embarking, I from hence may hope to fly.

Here shall I starve; nor any one to close

My eyes, or give me sepulture, be by,

Save wolf perchance, who roves this wood, a tomb

Give me, alas! in his voracious womb.

XXIX

“I live in terror, and appear to see

Rough bear or lion issue even now,

Or tiger, from beneath the greenwood tree,

Or other beast with teeth and claws: but how

Can ever cruel beast inflict on me,

O cruel beast, a fouler death than thou?

Enough for them to slay me once! while I

Am made by thee a thousand deaths to die.

XXX

“But grant, e’en now, some skipper hither fare,

Who may for pity bear me hence away;

And that I so eschew wolf, lion, bear,

Torture, and dearth, and every horrid way

Of death; to Holland shall he take me, where

For thee is guarded fortilage and bay;

Or take me to the land where I was born,

If this thou hast from me by treachery torn?

XXXI

“Thou, with pretence, from me my state didst wrest

Of our connection and of amity;

And quickly of my land thy troops possest,

To assure the rule unto thyself. Shall I

Return to Flanders where I sold the rest,

Though little, upon which I lived, to buy

Thee needful succour and from prison bear?

Wretch, whither shall I go? — I know not where.

XXXII

“Can I to Friesland go, where I to reign

As queen was called, and this for thee forewent;

Where both my brethren and my sire were slain,

And every other good from me was rent? —

Thee would I not, thou ingrate, with my pain

Reproach, not therefore deal thee punishment:

As well as I, the story dost thou know;

Now, see the meed thou dost for this bestow!

XXXIII

“Oh! may I but escape the wild corsair,

Nor taken be, and after sold for slave!

Rather than this may lion, wolf, or bear,

Tiger, or other beast, if fiercer rave,

Me with his claws and rushes rend and tear,

And drag my bleeding body to his cave.”

So saying she her golden hair offends,

And lock by lock the scattered tresses rends.

XXXIV

She to the shore’s extremest verge anew,

Tossing her head, with hair dishevelled, run;

And seemed like maid beside herself, and who

Was by ten fiends possessed, instead of one;

Of like the frantic Hecuba, at view

Of murdered Polydore, her infant son;

Fixed on a stone she gazed upon the sea,

Nor less than real stone seemed stone to be.

XXXV

But let her grieve till my return. To show

Now of the Child I wish: his weary way

Rogero, in the noon’s intensest glow,

Takes by the shore: the burning sunbeams play

Upon the hill and thence rebound; below

Boils the white sand; while heated with the ray,

Little is wanting in that journey dire,

But that the arms he wears are all on fire.

XXXVI

While to the warrior thirst and labour sore,

Still toiling through that heavy sand, as he

Pursued his path along the sunny shore,

Were irksome and displeasing company,

Beneath the shadow of a turret hoar,

Which rose beside the beach, amid the sea,

He found three ladies of Alcina’s court,

As such distinguished by their dress and port.

XXXVII

Reclined on Alexandrian carpets rare

The ladies joyed the cool in great delight;

About them various wines in vessels were,

And every sort of comfit nicely dight;

Fast by, and sporting with the ripple there,

Lay, waiting on their needs, a pinnace light,

Until a breeze should fill her sail anew:

For then no breath upon the waters blew.

XXXVIII

They, who beheld along the shifting sand

Rogero wend, upon his way intent,

And saw thirst figured on his lips, and scanned

His troubled visage, all with sweat besprent,

Began to pray, ‘on what he had in hand

He would not show his heart so deeply bent,

But that he in the cool and grateful shade

Would rest his weary limbs, beside them laid.’

XXXIX

To hold the stirrup one approaching near,

Would aid him to alight: the other bore

A cup of chrystal to the cavalier,

With foaming wine, which raised his thirst the more;

But to the music of their speech no ear

He lent, who weened if he his way forbore

For anything, each lett would time supply

To Alcina to arrive, who now was nigh.

XL

Now so saltpetre fine and sulphur pure,

Touched with the fiery spark, blaze suddenly;

Not so loud ocean raves, when the obscure

Whirlwind descends and camps in middle sea,

As viewing thus the knight proceed secure

Upon his journey, and aware that he

Scorns them, who yet believe they beauteous are,

Kindled the third of those three damsels fair.

XLI

As loud as she could raise her voice, she said,

“Thou art not gentle, nor art thou a knight;

And hast from other arms and horse conveyed:

Which never could be thine by better right.

So be thy theft, if well I guess, appaid

By death, which this may worthily requite!

Foul thief, churl, haughty ingrate, may I thee

Burned, gibbeted, or cut in quarters see!”

XLII

Beside all these and more injurious cries,

Which the proud damsel at the warrior throws,

Though to her taunts Rogero nought replies,

Who weens small fame from such a contest flows;

She with her sisters to the frigate hies,

Which waits them, and aboard the tender goes;

And plying fast her oars, pursues the knight

Along the sandy beach, still kept in sight.

XLIII

On him with threat and curse she ever cried;

Whose tongue collected still fresh cause for blame.

Meanwhile, where to the lovelier fairy’s side

The passage lay across a straight, he came;

And there an ancient ferryman espied

Put from the other shore with punctual aim,

As if forewarned and well prepared, the seer

Waited the coming of the cavalier.

XLIV

The ferryman put forth the Child to meet,

To bear him to a better shore rejoicing: he

Appeared as all benign and all discreet,

If of the heart the face is warranty.

Giving God thanks, Rogero took his seat

Aboard the bark, and passed the quiet sea,

Discoursing with that ancient pilot, fraught

With wisdom, and by long experience taught.

XLV

He praised Rogero much, that he had fled

In time from false Alcina, and before

To him the dame had given the chalice dread,

Her lover’s final guerdon evermore.

Next that he had to Logistilla sped,

Where he should duly witness holy lore,

And beauty infinite and grace enjoy,

Which feed and nourish hearts they never cloy.

XLVI

“Her shall you, struck with wonderment, revere,”

(He said), “when first you shall behold the fay;

But better contemplate her lofty cheer,

And you no other treasure shall appay.

In this her love from other differs; fear

And hope in other on the bosom prey:

In hers Desire demands not aught beside,

And with the blessing seen is satisfied.

XLVII

“You shall in nobler studies be professed,

Tutored by her, than bath and costly fare,

Song, dance, and perfumes; as how fashioned best,

Your thoughts may tower more high than hawks in air;

And how some of the glory of the blest

You here may in the mortal body share.”

So speaking, and yet distant from the shore,

To the safe bank approached the pilot hoar.

XLVIII

When he beholds forth-issuing from the strand,

A fleet of ships, which all towards him steer.

With these came wronged Alcina, with a band

Of many vassals, gathered far and near;

To risk the ruin of herself and land,

Or repossess the thing she held so dear.

Love, no light cause, incites the dame aggrieved,

Nor less the bitter injury received.

XLIX

Such choler she had never felt before

As that which now upon her bosom fed:

And hence she made her followers ply the oar

Till the white foam on either bank was shed

The deafening noise and din o’er sea and shore,

By echo every where repeated, spread,

“Now — now, Rogero, bare the magic shield,

Or in the strife be slain, or basely yield”:

L

Thus Logistilla’s pilot; and beside,

So saying, seized the pouch, wherein was dight

The buckler, and the covering torn aside,

Exposed to open view the shining light.

The enchanted splendor, flashing far and wide,

So sore offends the adversaries’ sight,

They from their vessels drop amazed and blind,

Tumbling from prow before, and poop behind.

LI

One who stood sentry on the citadel

Descried the navy of the invading dame,

And backwards rang the castle larum-bell,

Whence speedy succours to the haven came.

The artillery rained like storm, whose fury fell

On all who would Rogero scathe and shame:

So that such aid was brought him in the strife,

As saved the warrior’s liberty and life.

LII

Four ladies are arrived upon the strand,

Thither by Logistilla sped in haste:

Leagued with the valiant Anrondica stand

Fronesia sage, Dicilla good, and chaste

Sofrosina, who, as she has in had

More than the others, ‘mid the foremost placed,

Conspicuous flames. Forth issues from the fort

A matchless host, and files towards the port.

LIII

Beneath the castle, safe from wind and swell,

Of many ships and stout, a squadron lay;

Which, in the harbour, at a sound from bell, —

A word, were fit for action, night or day;

And thus by land and sea was battle, fell

And furious, waged on part of either fay:

Whence was Alcina’s realm turned upside down,

Of which she had usurped her sister’s crown.

LIV

Oh! of how many battles the success

Is different from what was hoped before!

Not only failed the dame to repossess,

As thought, her lover flying from her shore,

But out of ships, even now so numberless,

That ample ocean scarce the navy bore,

From all her vessels, to the flames a prey,

But with one bark escaped the wretched fay.

LV

Alcina flies; and her sad troop around

Routed and taken, burnt or sunk, remains

To have lost Rogero, sorrow more profound

Wakes in her breast than all her other pains;

And she in bitter tears for ever drowned,

Of the Child’s loss by night and day complains;

And bent to end her woes, with many a sigh,

Often laments her that she cannot die.

LVI

No fairy dies, or can, while overhead

The sun shall burn, or heaven preserve their stile,

Or Clotho had been moved to cut her thread,

Touched by such grief; or, as on funeral pile

Fair Dido, she beneath the steel had bled;

Or, haply, like the gorgeous Queen of Nile,

In mortal slumber would have closed her eye:

But fairies cannot at their pleasure die.

LVII

Return we, where eternal fame is due,

Leaving Alcina in her trouble sore:

I speak of valorous Rogero, who

Had disembarked upon the safer shore.

He turned his back upon the waters blue,

Giving God thanks for all with pious lore;

And on dry ground now landed, made repair

Towards the lofty castle planted there.

c10-057

LVIII

Than this a stronger or more bright in show

Was never yet before of mortal sight,

Or after, viewed; with stones the ramparts glow

More rich than carbuncle or diamond bright.

We of like gems discourse not here below,

And he who would their nature read aright

Must thither speed: none such elsewhere, I ween,

Except perhaps in heaven above, are seen.

LIX

What gives to them superiority

O’er every other sort of gem, confessed,

Is, man in these his very soul may see;

His vices and his virtues see expressed.

Hence shall he after heed no flattery,

Nor yet by wrongful censure be depressed.

His form he in the lucid mirror eyes,

And by the knowledge of himself grows wise.

LX

Their rays, which imitate the sunshine, fill

All round about with such a flood of light,

That he who has them, Phoebus, may at will

Create himself a day, in thy despite.

Nor only marvellous the gems; the skill

Of the artificer and substance bright

So well contend for mastery, of the two,

’Tis hard to judge where preference is due.

LXI

On arches raised, whereon the firmament

Seemed to repose as props, so fair in show

Are lovely gardens, and of such extent,

As even would be hard to have below.

Clustering ‘twixt lucid tower or battlement,

Green odoriferous shrubs are seen to grow,

Which through the summer and the winter shoot,

And teem with beauteous blossom and ripe fruit.

LXII

Never in any place such goodly tree

Is grown, except within these gardens fine;

Or rose, or violet of like quality,

Lilies, or amaranth, or jessamine.

Elsewhere it seems as if foredoomed to be

Born with one sun, to live and to decline,

Upon its widowed stalk the blossom dies,

Subject to all the changes of the skies.

LXIII

But here the verdure still is permanent,

Still permanent the eternal blossoms are;

Not that kind nature, in her government,

So nicely tempers here the genial air,

But that, unneeding any influence lent

By planet, Logistilla’s zeal and care

Ever keep fast (what may appear a thing

Impossible) her own perpetual spring.

LXIV

That such a gentle lord had sought her rest,

Did much the prudent Logistilla please,

And she commanded he should be carest,

And all should seek to do him courtesies.

Sometime had Sir Astolpho been her guest,

Whom with a joyful heart Rogero sees.

There in few days resorted all the crew,

Changed by Melissa to their shapes anew.

LXV

When they a day or more their weariness

Had eased, Rogero sought the prudent fay;

With him the duke Astolpho, who no less

Desired to measure back his western way.

Melissa was for both embassadress,

And for the warlike pair, with humble say

To favour, warn and help them, prayed the dame;

So that they might return from whence they came.

LXVI

“I” (said the fay) “will think upon this need,

And in two days the pair will expedite.”

Then thought how good Rogero she should speed.

And afterwards how aid the English knight.

She wills the first shall, on the griffin steed,

To the Aquitanian shores direct his flight;

But first will fashion for the flying-horse

A bit, to guide him and restrain his course.

LXVII

She shows him what to do, if he on high

Would make him soar, or down to earth would bring,

And what, would he in circles make him fly,

Or swiftly speed, or pause upon the wing.

And all that skilful horsemen use to try

Upon plain ground, beneath her tutoring,

Rogero learned in air, and gained dominion

Over the griffin-steed of soaring pinion.

LXVIII

When at all points Rogero was prepared,

He bade farewell to the protecting fay,

For ever to the loving knight endeared,

And issued from her realm upon his way.

I first of him, who on his journey fared

In happy hour, and afterwards shall say

Of the English knight, who spent more time and pain

Seeking the friendly court of Charlemagne.

LXIX

Rogero thence departs; but as before

Takes not the way he took in his despite,

When him above the sea the courser bore,

And seldom was the land beneath in sight.

But taught to make him beat his wings and soar,

Here, there, as liked him best, with docile flight,

Returning, he another path pursued;

As Magi erst, who Herod’s snare eschewed.

LXX

Borne hither, good Rogero, leaving Spain,

Had sought, in level line, the Indian lands,

Where they are watered by the Eastern main;

Where the two fairies strove with hostile bands.

He now resolved to visit other reign

Than that where Aeolus his train commands;

And finish so the round he had begun,

Circling the world beneath him like the sun.

LXXI

Here the Catay, and there he Mangiane,

Passing the great Quinsay beheld; in air

Above Imavus turned, and Sericane

Left on the right; and thence did ever bear

From the north Scythians to the Hyrcanian main:

So reached Sarmatia’s distant land; and, where

Europe and Asia’s parted climes divide,

Russ, Prussian, he and Pomeranian spied.

LXXII

Although the Child by every wish was pressed

Quickly to seek his Bradamant, yet he

With taste of roving round the world possest,

Would not desist from it, till Hungary

He had seen; and Polacks, Germans, and the rest

Should in his wide extended circuit see,

Inhabiting that horrid, northern land;

And came at last to England’s farthest strand.

LXXIII

Yet think not, sir, that in so long a flight,

The warrior is for ever on the wing.

Who lodges, housed in tavern every night,

As best as can, through his capacious ring.

So nights and days he passes: such delight

Prospects to him of land and ocean bring.

Arrived one morn nigh London-town, he stopt;

And over Thames the flying courser dropt.

LXXIV

Where he in meadows to the city nigh

Saw troops of men at arms, and footmen spread;

Who, to the drum and trumpet marching by,

Divided into goodly bands, were led

Before Rinaldo, flower of chivalry;

He that (if you remember it) was said

To have been sent by Charlemagne, and made

His envoy to these parts in search of aid.

LXXV

Rogero came exactly as the show

Of that fair host was made without the town,

And of a knight the occasion sought to know;

But from the griffin-horse first lighted down:

And he who courteous was, informed him how

Of kingdoms holding of the British crown,

English, Scotch, Irish, and the Islands nigh,

Those many banners were, upreared on high:

LXXVI

And added, having ended this display

Of arms, the troops would file towards the strand,

Where vessels anchored in the harbour lay,

Waiting to bear them to another land.

“The French beseiged, rejoice in this array,

And hope (he said) deliverance through the band.

But that I may of all inform you well,

I of each troop shall separately tell.

LXXVII

“Lo! where yon mighty banner planted stands,

Which pards and flower-deluces does unfold,

That our great captain to the wind expands,

Under whose ensign are the rest enrolled:

The warrior’s name, renowned throughout these lands,

Is Leonetto, flower of all the bold;

Lancaster’s duke, and nephew to the king,

Valiant in war, and wise in counselling.

LXXVIII

“That next the royal gonfalon, which stirred

By fluttering wind, is borne towards the mount,

Which on green field, three pinions of a bird

Bears agent, speaks Sir Richard, Warwick’s count.

The Duke of Gloucester’s blazon is the third,

Two antlers of a stag, and demi-front;

The Duke of Clarence shows a torch, and he

Is Duke of York who bears that verdant tree.

LXXIX

“Upon the Duke of Norfolk’s gonfalon

You see a lance into three pieces broke;

The thunder on the Earl of Kent’s; upon

Pembroke’s a griffin; underneath a yoke;

In Essex’s, conjoined, two snakes are shown:

By yonder lifted balance is bespoke

The Duke of Suffolk; and Northumbria’s Earl

A garland does on azure field unfurl.

LXXX

“Arundel’s Earl is yonder cavalier,

Whose banner bears a foundering bark! In sight

The next, is Berkeley’s noble Marquis; near

Are March and Richmond’s Earls: the first on white

Shows a cleft mount; a palm the second peer;

A pine amid the waves the latter knight.

The next of Dorset and Southampton’s town,

Are earls; this bears a car, and that a crown.

LXXXI

“The valiant Raymond, Earl of Devon, bears

The hawk, which spreads her wings above her nest;

While or and sable he of Worcester wears:

Derby’s a dog, a bear is Oxford’s crest.

There, as his badge, a cross of chrystal rears

Bath’s wealthy prelate, camped among the rest.

The broken seat on dusky field, next scan,

Of Somerset’s good duke, Sir Ariman.

LXXXII

“Forty-two thousand muster in array,

The men at arms and mounted archers there.

By a hundred I misreckon not, or they,

The fighting footmen, twice as many are.

Those ensigns yellow, brown, and green, survey,

And that striped blue and black. The foot repair

Each to his separate flag where these are spread;

By Godfrey, Henry, Hermant, Edward, led.

LXXXIII

“The first is the Duke of Buckingham; and he,

The next, is Henry, Earl of Salisbury;

Old Hermant Aberga’nny hold in fee,

That Edward is the Earl of Shrewsbury.

In those who yonder lodge, the English see

Camped eastward; and now westward turn your eye,

Where you shall thirty thousand Scots, a crew

Led by their monarch’s son, Zerbino, view.

LXXXIV

“The lion ‘twixt two unicorns behold

Upon the standard of the Scottish king!

Which has a sword of silver in its hold.

There camps his son: of all his following

Is none so beauteous: nature broke the mould

In which she cast him, after fashioning

Her work: Is none in whom such chivalry

And valour shines. The Duke of Rothsay he!

LXXXV

“Behold the Earl of Huntley’s flag display

Upon an azure field a gilded bar:

In that a leopard in the toils survey,

The bearing of the noble Duke of Mar.

With many birds, and many colours gay,

See Alcabrun’s, a valiant man in war;

Who neither duke, nor count, nor marquis hight,

Is in his savage country first of right.

LXXXVI

“The Duke of Strathforth shows the bird, who strains

His daring eyes to keep the sun in view;

The Earl Lurcanio, that in Angus reigns,

A bull, whose flanks are torn by deerhounds two.

See there the Duke of Albany, who stains

His ensign’s field with colours white and blue.

The Earl of Buchan next his banner bears,

In which a dragon vert a vulture tears.

LXXXVII

“Herman, the lord of Forbes, conducts that band,

And stripes his gonfalon with black and white;

With Errol’s earl upon his better hand,

Who on a field of green displays a light.

Now see the Irish, next the level land,

Into two squadrons ordered for the fight.

Kildare’s redoubted earl commands the first;

Lord Desmond leads the next, in mountains nursed.

LXXXVIII

“A burning pine by Kildare is displayed;

By Desmond on white field a crimson bend.

Nor only England, Scotland, Ireland, aid

King Charlemagne; but to assist him wend

The Swede and Norse, and succours are conveyed

From Thule, and the farthest Iceland’s end.

All lands that round them lie, in fine, increase

His host, by nature enemies to peace.

LXXXIX

“Issued from cavern and from forest brown,

They sixteen thousand are, or little less;

Visage, legs, arms, and bosom overgrown

With hair, like beasts. Lo! yonder, where they press

About a standard white, the level down

Of lances seems a bristling wilderness.

Such Moray’s flag, the savage squadron’s head,

Who means with Moorish blood to paint it red.”

XC

What time Rogero sees the fair array,

Whose bands to succour ravaged France prepare,

And notes and talks of ensigns they display,

And names of British lords, to him repair

One and another, crowding to survey

His courser, single of its kind, or rare:

All thither hasten, wondering and astound,

And compassing the warrior, form a round.

XCI

So that to raise more wonder in the train.

And to make better sport, as him they eyed,

Rogero shook the flying courser’s rein,

And lightly with the rowels touched his side:

He towards heaven, uprising, soared amain,

And left behind each gazer stupefied.

Having from end to end the English force

So viewed, he next for Ireland shaped his course;

XCII

And saw fabulous Hibernia, where

The goodly, sainted elder made the cave,

In which men cleansed from all offences are;

Such mercy there, it seems, is found to save.

Thence o’er that sea he spurred, through yielding air,

Whose briny waves the lesser Britain lave;

And, looking down, Angelica descried

In passing, to the rock with fetters tied;

XCIII

Bound to the naked rock upon the strand,

In the isle of tears; for the isle of tears was hight,

That which was peopled by the inhuman band,

So passing fierce and full of foul despite;

Who (as I told above) on every hand

Cruized with their scattered fleet by day or night;

And every beauteous woman bore away,

Destined to be a monster’s evil prey:

XCIV

There but that morning bound in cruel wise;

Where (to devour a living damsel sped)

The orc, that measureless sea-monster, hies,

Which on abominable food is fed.

How on the beach the maid became the prize

Of the rapacious crew, above was said,

Who found her sleeping near the enchanter hoar,

Who her had thither brought by magic lore.

XCV

The cruel and inhospitable crew

To the voracious beast the dame expose

Upon the sea-beat shore, as bare to view

As nature did at first her work compose.

Not even a veil she had, to shade the hue

Of the white lily and vermillion rose,

Which mingled in her lovely members meet,

Proof to December-snow and July-heat.

XCVI

Her would Rogero have some statue deemed

Of alabaster made, or marble rare,

Which to the rugged rock so fastened seemed

By the industrious sculptor’s cunning care,

But that he saw distinct a tear which streamed

Amid fresh-opening rose and lily fair,

Stand on her budding paps beneath in dew,

And that her golden hair dishevelled flew.

XCVII

And as he fastened his on her fair eyes,

His Bradamant he called to mind again.

Pity and love within his bosom rise

At once, and ill he can from tears refrain:

And in soft tone he to the damsel cries,

(When he has checked his flying courser’s rein)

“O lady, worthy but that chain to wear,

With which Love’s faithful servants fettered are,

XCVIII

“And most unworthy this or other ill,

What wretch has had the cruelty to wound

And gall those snowy hands with livid stain,

Thus painfully with griding fetters bound?”

At this she cannot choose but show like grain,

Of crimson spreading on an ivory ground;

Knowing those secret beauties are espied,

Which, howsoever lovely, shame would hide;

XCIX

And gladly with her hands her face would hood,

Were they not fastened to the rugged stone:

But with her tears (for this at least she could)

Bedewed it, and essayed to hold it down.

Sobbing some while the lovely damsel stood;

Then loosed her tongue and spake in feeble tone;

But ended not; arrested in mid-word,

By a loud noise which in the sea was heard.

C

Lo! and behold! the unmeasured-beast appears,

Half surging and half hidden, in such sort

As sped by roaring wind long carack steers

From north or south, towards her destined port.

So the sea monster to his food repairs:

And now the interval between is short.

Half dead the lady is through fear endured,

Ill by that other’s comfort reassured.

CI

Rogero overhand, not in the rest

Carries his lance, and beats, with downright blow,

The monstrous orc. What this resembled best,

But a huge, writhing mass, I do not know;

Which wore no form of animal exprest,

Save in the head, with eyes and teeth of sow.

His forehead, ‘twixt the eyes, Rogero smites,

But as on steel or rock the weapon lights.

CII

When he perceives the first of no avail,

The knight returns to deal a better blow;

The orc, who sees the shifting shadow sail

Of those huge pinions on the sea below,

In furious heat, deserts his sure regale

On shore, to follow that deceitful show:

And rolls and reels behind it, as it fleets.

Rogero drops, and oft the stroke repeats.

CIII

As eagle, that amid her downward flight,

Surveys amid the grass a snake unrolled,

Or where she smoothes upon a sunny height,

Her ruffled plumage, and her scales of gold,

Assails it not where prompt with poisonous bite

To hiss and creep; but with securer hold

Gripes it behind, and either pinion clangs,

Lest it should turn and wound her with its fangs;

CIV

So the fell orc Rogero does not smite

With lance or faulchion where the tushes grow,

But aims that ‘twixt the ears his blow may light;

Now on the spine, or now on tail below.

And still in time descends or soars upright,

And shifts his course, to cheat the veering foe:

But as if beating on a jasper block,

Can never cleave the hard and rugged rock.

CV

With suchlike warfare is the mastiff vext

By the bold fly in August’s time of dust,

Or in the month before or in the next,

This full of yellow spikes and that of must;

For ever by the circling plague perplext,

Whose sting into his eyes or snout is thrust:

And oft the dog’s dry teeth are heard to fall;

But reaching once the foe, he pays for all.

CVI

With his huge tail the troubled waves so sore

The monster beats, that they ascend heaven-high;

And the knight knows not if he swim, or soar

Upon his feathered courser in mid sky;

And oft were fain to find himself ashore:

For, if long time the spray so thickly fly,

He fears it so will bathe his hippogryph,

That he shall vainly covet gourd or skiff.

CVII

He then new counsel took, and ’twas the best,

With other arms the monster to pursue;

And lifting from his shield the covering vest,

To dazzle with the light his blasted view.

Landward towards the rock-chained maid he pressed,

And on her little finger, lest a new

Mischance should follow, slipt the ring, which brought

The enchantment of the magic shield to nought.

CVIII

I say the ring, which Bradamant, to free

Rogero, from Brunello’s hand had rent,

And which, to snatch him from Alcina, she

Had next to India by Melissa sent.

Melissa (as before was said by me),

In aid of many used the instrument;

And to Rogero this again had born;

By whom ’twas ever on his finger worn.

CIX

He gave it now Angelica; for he

Feared lest the buckler’s light should be impaired,

And willed as well those beauteous eyes should be

Defended, which had him already snared.

Pressing beneath his paunch full half the sea,

Now to the shore the monstrous whale repaired:

Firm stood Rogero, and the veil undone,

Appeared to give the sky another sun.

CX

He in the monster’s eyes the radiance throws,

Which works as it was wont in other time.

As trout or grayling to the bottom goes

In stream, which mountaineer disturbs with lime;

So the enchanted buckler overthrows

The orc, reversed among the foam and slime.

Rogero here and there the beast astound

Still beats, but cannot find the way to wound.

CXI

This while the lady begs him not to bray

Longer the monster’s rugged scale in vain.

“For heaven’s sake turn and loose me” (did she say,

Still weeping) “ere the orc awake again.

Bear me with thee, and drown me in mid-way.

Let me not this foul monster’s food remain.”

By her just plaint Rogero moved, forebore,

Untied the maid, and raised her from the shore.

CXII

Upon the beach the courser plants his feet,

And goaded by the rowel, towers in air,

And gallops with Rogero in mid seat,

While on the croup behind him sate the fair;

Who of his banquet so the monster cheat;

For him too delicate and dainty fare.

Rogero turns and with thick kisses plies

The lady’s snowy breast and sparkling eyes.

CXIII

He kept no more the way, as he before

Proposed, for compassing the whole of Spain:

But stopt his courser on the neighbouring shore

Where lesser Britain runs into the main.

Upon the bank there rose an oakwood hoar,

Where Philomel for ever seemed to plain;

I’ the middle was a meadow with a fountain,

And, at each end, a solitary mountain.

CXIV

’Twas here the wishful knight first checked the rein,

And dropping in the meadow, made his steed

Furl, yet not shut so close, his wings again,

As he had spread them wide for better speed.

Down lights Rogero, and forbears with pain

From other leap; but this his arms impede:

His arms impede; a bar to his desire,

And he must doff them would he slake the fire.

CXV

Now here, now there, confused by different throng,

Rogero did his shining arms undo:

Never the task appeared to him so long;

For where he loosed one knot, he fastened two.

But, sir, too long continued is this song,

And haply may as well have wearied you;

So that I shall delay to other time,

When it may better please, my tedious rhyme.

Canto 11

Argument

Assisted by the magic ring she wears,

Angelica evanishes from view.

Next in a damsel, whom a giant bears

Beneath his arm, his bride Rogero true

Beholds. Orlando to the shore repairs,

Where the fell orc so many damsels slew;

Olympia frees, and spoils the beast of life:

Her afterwards Oberto takes to wife.

I

Although a feeble rein, in mid career,

Will oft suffice to stop courageous horse;

’Tis seldom Reason’s bit will serve to steer

Desire, or turn him from his furious course,

When pleasure is in reach: like headstrong bear,

Whom from the honeyed meal ’tis ill to force,

If once he scent the tempting mess, or sup

A drop, which hangs upon the luscious cup.

II

What reason then Rogero shall withhold

From taking with Angelica delight, —

That gentle maid, there naked in his hold,

In the lone forest, and secure from sight?

Of Bradamant he thinks not, who controlled

His bosom erst: and foolish were the knight,

If thinking of that damsel as before,

By this he had not set an equal store;

III

Warmed by whose youthful beauties, the severe

Xenocrates would not have been more chaste.

The impatient Child had dropt both shield and spear,

And hurrying now his other arms uncased;

When, casting down her eyes in shame and fear,

The virtuous ring upon her finger placed,

Angelica descried, and which of yore

From her Brunello in Albracca bore.

IV

This is the ring she carried into France,

When thither first the damsel took her way;

With her the brother, bearer of the lance,

After, the paladin, Astolpho’s prey.

With this she Malagigi’s spells and trance

Made vain by Merlin’s stair; and on a day

Orlando freed, with many knights and good,

From Dragontina’s cruel servitude:

V

With this passed viewless from the turret-cell,

Where her that bad old man had mewed; but why

Recount its different wonders, if as well

You know the virtues of the ring as I?

From her this even in her citadel,

His monarch Agramant to satisfy,

Brunello took: since where she had been crost

By Fortune, till her native realm was lost.

VI

Now that she this upon her hand surveys,

She is so full of pleasure and surprise,

She doubts it is a dream, and, in amaze,

Hardly believes her very hand and eyes.

Then softly to her mouth the hoop conveys,

And, quicker than the flash which cleaves the skies,

From bold Rogero’s sight her beauty shrowds,

As disappears the sun, concealed in clouds.

VII

Yet still Rogero gazed like wight distraught,

And hurried here and there with fruitless speed:

But when he had recalled the ring to thought,

Foiled and astounded, cursed his little heed.

And now the vanished lady, whom he sought,

Of that ungrateful and discourteous deed

Accusing stood, wherewith she had repaid,

(Unfitting recompense) his generous aid.

VIII

“Ungrateful damsel! and is this the pay

You render for the service done?” (said he)

“Why rather would you steal my ring away

Than have it as a welcome gift from me?

Not only this, (but use me as you may)

I, and my shield and courser, yours shall be;

So you no more conceal your beauteous cheer.

Cruel, though answering not, I know you hear.”

IX

So saying, like one blind, with bootless care,

Feeling his way about the fount he strayed.

How often he embraced the empty air,

Hoping in this to have embraced the maid!

Meanwhile, now far removed, the flying fair

Had halted not, till to a cave conveyed.

Formed in a mountain was that harbour rude;

Spacious, and for her need supplied with food.

X

’Twas here an aged herdsman, one who tended

A numerous troop of mares, had made his won:

These, seeking pasture, through the valley wended,

Where the green grass was fed by freshening run:

While stalls on either side the cave, defended

His charge from the oppressive noon-tide sun;

Angelica, within, that livelong day,

Unseen of prying eyes, prolonged her stay;

XI

And about evening, when refreshed with rest

And food, she deemed her course she might renew;

In certain rustic weeds her body dressed:

How different from those robes of red, or blue,

Green, yellow, purple, her accustomed vest,

So various in its fashion, shape, and hue!

Yet her not so that habit misbecame,

But that she looked the fair and noble dame.

XII

Then Phillis’ and Neaera’s praise forbear,

And ye who sing of Amaryllis cease,

Or flying Galataea, not so fair,

Tityrus and Melibaeus, with your peace!

’Twas here the beauteous lady took a mare,

Which liked her best, of all that herd’s increase.

Then, and then first conceived the thought, again

To seek in the Levant her antient reign.

XIII

This while Rogero, after he had passed

Long space in hope the maid might re-appear,

Awakened from his foolish dream at last,

And found she was not nigh, and did not hear.

Then to remount his griffin-courser cast,

In earth and air accustomed to career.

But, having slipt his bit, the winged horse

Had towered and soared in air a freer course.

XIV

To his first ill addition grave and sore

Was to have lost the bird of rapid wing,

Which he no better than the mockery bore

Put on him by the maid; but deeper sting

Than this or that, implants, and pains him more,

The thought of having lost the precious ring;

Not for its power so much, esteemed above

Its worth, as given him by his lady love.

XV

Afflicted beyond measure, he, with shield

Cast on his shoulder, and new-cased in mail,

Left the sea-side, and through a grassy field

Pursued his way, towards a spacious vale:

Where he beheld a path, by wood concealed,

The widest and most beaten in the dale.

Nor far had wound the closest shades within,

Ere on his right he heard a mighty din.

XVI

He heard a din, and fearful clashing sound

Of arms, and hurrying on with eager pace

‘Twixt tree and tree, two furious champions found,

Waging fierce fight in close and straightened place:

Who to each other (warring on what ground

I know not) neither showed regard nor grace.

The one a giant was of haughty cheer,

And one a bold and gallant cavalier.

XVII

Covered with shield and sword, one, leaping, sped

Now here now there, and thus himself defended,

Lest a two-handed mace upon his head

Should fall, with which the giant still offended:—

On the field lay his horse, already dead.

Rogero paused, and to the strife attended:

And straight his wishes leant towards the knight,

Whom he would fain see conqueror in the fight:

XVIII

Yet not for this would lend the champion aid,

But to behold the cruel strife stood nigh.

Lo! a two-handed stroke the giant made

Upon the lesser warrior’s casque, and by

The mighty blow the knight was overlaid:

The other, when astound he saw him lie,

To deal the foe his death, his helm untied,

So that the warrior’s face Rogero spied.

XIX

Of his sweet lady, of his passing fair,

And dearest Bradamant Rogero spies

The lovely visage of its helmet bare;

Towards whom, to deal her death, the giant hies:

So that, advancing with his sword in air,

To sudden battle him the Child defies,

But he, who will not wait for new alarm,

Takes the half-lifeless lady in his arm,

XX

And on his shoulder flings and bears away;

As sometimes wolf a little lamb will bear,

Or eagle in her crooked claws convey

Pigeon, or such-like bird, through liquid air.

Rogero runs with all the speed he may,

Who sees how needed is his succour there.

But with such strides the giant scours the plain,

Him with his eyes the knight pursues with pain.

XXI

This flying and that following, the two

Kept a close path which widened still, and they

Piercing that forest, issued forth to view

On a wide meadow, which without it lay.

— No more of this. Orlando I pursue,

That bore Cymosco’s thunder-bolt away;

And this had in the deepest bottom drowned,

That never more the mischief might be found.

XXII

But with small boot: for the impious enemy

Of human nature, taught the bolt to frame,

After the shaft, which darting from the sky

Pierces the cloud and comes to ground in flame,

Who, when he tempted Eve to eat and die

With the apple, hardly wrought more scathe and shame,

Some deal before, or in our grandsires’ day,

Guided a necromancer where it lay.

XXIII

More than a hundred fathom buried so,

Where hidden it had lain a mighty space,

The infernal tool by magic from below

Was fished and born amid the German race;

Who, by one proof and the other, taught to know

Its powers, and he who plots for our disgrace,

The demon, working on their weaker wit,

As last upon its fatal purpose hit.

XXIV

To Italy and France, on every hand

The cruel art among all people past:

And these the bronze in hollow mould expand,

First in the furnace melted by the blast:

Others the iron bore, and small or grand,

Fashion the various tube they pierce or cast.

And bombard, gun, according to its frame,

Or single cannon this, or double, name.

XXV

This saker, culverine, or falcon hight,

I hear (all names the inventor has bestowed);

Which splits or shivers steel and stone outright,

And, where the bullet passes, makes a road.

— Down to the sword, restore thy weapons bright,

Sad soldier, to the forge, a useless load;

And gun or carbine on thy shoulder lay,

Who without these, I wot, shalt touch no pay.

XXVI

How, foul and pestilent discovery,

Didst thou find place within the human heart?

Through thee is martial glory lost, through thee

The trade of arms became a worthless art:

And at such ebb are worth and chivalry,

That the base often plays the better part.

Through thee no more shall gallantry, no more

Shall valour prove their prowess as of yore.

XXVII

Through thee, alas! are dead, or have to die,

So many noble lords and cavaliers

Before this war shall end, which, Italy

Afflicting most, has drowned the world in tears,

That, if I said the word, I err not, I,

Saying he sure the cruellest appears

And worst, of nature’s impious and malign,

Who did this hateful engine first design:

XXVIII

And I shall think, in order to pursue

The sin for ever, God has doomed to hell

That cursed soul, amid the unhappy crew,

Beside the accursed Judas there to dwell.

But follow we the good Orlando, who

So burns to seek Ebuda’s island fell,

Whose foul inhabitants a monster sate

With flesh of women, fair and delicate.

XXIX

But no less slow than eager was the knight:

The winds appear, which still his course delay;

Who, whether blowing on the left or right,

Or poop, so faintly in his canvas play,

His bark makes little speed; and, spent outright,

The breeze which wafts her sometimes dies away,

Or blows so foul, that he is fain to steer

Another course, or to the leeward veer.

XXX

It was the will of Heaven that he, before

The King of Ireland, should not reach the land,

The he with greater ease upon that shore

Might act what shortly you shall understand.

“Make for the isle. Now” (said he) “may’st thou moor,”

(Thus issuing to the pilot his command),

“And give me for my need the skiff; for I

Will to the rock without more company.

XXXI

“The biggest cable that thou hast aboard,

And biggest anchor to my hands consign;

Thou shalt perceive why thus my boat is stored,

If I but meet that monster of the brine.”

He bade them lower the pinnace overboard,

With all things that befitted his design:

His arms he left behind, except his blade,

And singly for the rocky island made.

XXXII

Home to his breast the count pulls either oar,

With the island at his back, to which he wends,

In guise that, crawling up the sandy shore,

The crooked crab from sea or marsh ascends.

It was the hour Aurora gay before

The rising sun her yellow hair extends

(His orb as yet half-seen, half-hid from sight)

Not without stirring jealous Tithon’s spite.

XXXIII

Approaching to the naked rock as near

As vigorous hand might serve to cast a stone,

He knew not if he heard, or did not hear

A cry, so faint and feeble was the moan.

When, turning to the left, the cavalier,

His level sight along the water thrown,

Naked as born, bound to a stump, espied

A dame whose feet were wetted by the tide.

XXXIV

Because she distant is, and evermore

Holds down her face, he ill can her discern:

Both sculls he pulls amain, and nears the shore,

With keen desire more certain news to learn:

But now the winding beach is heard to roar,

And wood and cave the mighty noise return;

The billows swell, and, lo! the beast! who pressed,

And nigh concealed the sea beneath his breast.

XXXV

As cloud from humid vale is seen to rise,

Pregnant with rain and storm, which seems withal

To extinguished day, and charged with deeper dyes

Than night, to spread throughout this earthly ball,

So swims the beast, who so much occupies

Of sea, he may be said to keep it all.

Waves roar: collected in himself, the peer

Looks proudly on, unchanged in heart and cheer.

XXXVI

He, as one well resolved in his intent,

Moved quickly to perform the feat he planned;

And, for he would the damsel’s harm prevent,

And would with that assail the beast at hand,

Between her and the orc the boat he sent,

Leaving within the sheath his idle brand,

Anchor and cable next he takes in hold,

And waits the foe with constant heart and bold.

XXXVII

As soon as him the monster has descried,

And skiff at little interval, his throat

The fish, to swallow him, expands so wide,

That horse and horseman through his jaws might float.

Here Roland with the anchor, and beside

(Unless I am mistaken) with the boat

Plunged, and engulphed the parted teeth betwixt,

His anchor in the tongue and palate fixt;

XXXVIII

So that the monster could no longer drop

Or raise his horrid jaws, which this extends.

’Tis thus who digs the mine is wont to prop

The ground, and where he works the roof suspends,

Lest sudden ruin whelm him from atop,

While he incautiously his task intends.

Roland (so far apart was either hook)

But by a leap could reach the highest crook.

XXXIX

The prop so placed, Orlando now secure

That the fell beast his mouth no more can close,

Unsheathes his sword, and, in that cave obscure,

Deals here and there, now thrusts, now trenchant blows.

As well as citadel, whose walls immure

The assailants, can defend her from her foes,

The monster, harassed by the war within,

Defends himself against the Paladin.

XL

Now floats the monstrous beast, o’ercome with pain,

Whose scaly flanks upon the waves expand;

And now descends into the deepest main,

Scowers at the bottom, and stirs up the sand.

The rising flood ill able to sustain,

The cavalier swims forth, and makes for land.

He leaves the anchor fastened in his tongue,

And grasps the rope which from the anchor hung.

XLI

So swimming till the island is attained,

With this towards the rock Orlando speeds:

He hawls the anchor home (a footing gained),

Pricked by whose double fluke, the monster bleeds.

The labouring orc to follow is constrained,

Dragged by that force which every force exceeds;

Which at a single sally more achieves

Than at ten turns the circling windlass heaves.

XLII

As a wild bull, about whose horn is wound

The unexpected noose, leaps here and there,

When he has felt the cord, and turns him round,

And rolls and rises, yet slips not the snare;

So from his pleasant seat and ancient bound,

Dragged by that arm and rope he cannot tear,

With thousands of strange wheels and thousand slides,

The monster follows where the cable guides.

XLIII

This the red sea with reason would be hight

To-day, such streams of blood have changed its hue;

And where the monster lashed it in his spite,

The eye its bottom through the waves might view.

And now he splashed the sky, and dimmed the light

Of the clear sun, so high the water flew.

The noise re-echoing round, the distant shore

And wood and hill rebound the deafening roar.

XLIV

Forth from his grotto aged Proteus hies,

And mounts above the surface at the sound;

And having seen Orlando dive, and rise

From the orc, and drag the monstrous fish to ground,

His scattered flock forgot, o’er ocean flies;

While so the din increases, that, astound,

Neptune bids yoke his dolphins, and that day

For distant Aethiopia posts away.

XLV

With Melicerta on her shoulders, weeping

Ino, and Nereids with dishevelled hair,

The Glauci, Tritons, and their fellows, leaping

They know not whither, speed, some here, some there.

Orlando draws to land, the billows sweeping,

That horrid fish, but might his labour spare:

For, with the torment worn, and travel sore,

The brute, exhausted, died, ere dragged ashore.

XLVI

Of the islanders had trooped no petty throng,

To witness that strange fight, who by a vain

And miserable superstition stung,

Esteemed such holy deed a work profane;

And said that this would be another wrong

To Proteus, and provoke his ire again;

Make him his herds pour forth upon the strand,

And with the whole old warfare vex the land;

XLVII

And that it better were to sue for peace,

First from the injured god, lest worse ensue;

And Proteus from his cruel hate would cease,

If they into the sea the offender threw.

As torch to torch gives fire, and lights increase,

Until the flame is spread the country through,

Even so from heart to heart the fury spread,

Which in the waves would doom Orlando dead.

XLVIII

These, armed with sling or bow, upon the shore,

And these supplied with spear or sword descend;

And on each side, behind him and before,

Distant and near, as best they can, offend.

At such a brutal insult wonders sore

The peer, who sees that mischief they intend,

In vengeance for the cruel monster slain,

Whence he had glory hoped, and praise to gain.

XLIX

But as the usage is of surly bear,

By sturdy Russ or Lithuanian led,

Little to heed the dogs in crowded fair,

Nor even at their yelps to turn his head,

The clamour of the churls assembled there

Orlando witnessed with as little dread;

Who knew that he the rout which threatened death,

Had power to scatter at a single breath:

L

And speedily he made them yield him place,

When turned on them, he grasped his trenchant blade.

Misjudging of his worth, the foolish race

Deemed that he would have short resistance made;

Since him they saw no covering buckler brace,

Uncuirassed, nor in other arms arrayed;

But knew not that, from head to foot, a skin

More hard than diamond cased the Paladin.

LI

What by Orlando others cannot do,

The knight by others can; at half a score

Of blows in all he thirty killed; by few

He passed that measure, if the strokes were more:

And had already turned him to undo

The naked lady, having cleared the shore,

When other larum sounds, and other cries

From a new quarter of the island rise.

LII

While so the Paladin had kept in play

The barbarous islanders, upon that hand,

The men of Ireland, without let or fray,

Had poured from many quarters on the strand:

And now, without remorse or pity, slay

The inhabitants, through all the wasted land;

And, was it justice moved, or cruel rage,

Slaughter without regard to sex or age.

LIII

Little or no defender the island-crew

Attempt; in part as taken unaware,

In part that in the little place are few,

And that those few without a purpose are.

‘Mid sack and fire, the wasted country through,

The islanders are slain, and everwhere

The walls are upon earth in ruin spread,

Nor in the land is left a living head.

LIV

As if the mighty tumult which he hears,

And shriek and ruin had concerned him nought,

The naked rock the bold Orlando nears,

Where she was placed, to feed the monster brought.

He looks, and known to him the dame appears,

And more appears, when nigher her he sought:

Olympia she appears, and is indeed

Olympia, whose faith reaped so ill a meed.

LV

Wretched Olympia; whom, beside the scorn

Which Love put on her, Fortune too pursued,

Who sent the corsairs fell, which her had born

That very day to the island of Ebude.

She Roland recollects on his return

Landward; but, for the damsel naked stood,

Not only nought she to the warrior said,

But dared not raise her eyes, and dropt her head.

LVI

Orlando asks what evil destiny

Her to that cruel island had conveyed

From where she in as much felicity

Was with her consort left as could be said:

“I know not (cried the weeping dame) if I

Have thanks to render thee for death delayed,

Or should lament me that, through means of thee,

This day did not my woes concluded see.

LVII

“I have to thank thee that from death, too dread

And monstrous, thy good arm deliverance gave;

Which would have been too monstrous, had I fed

The beast, and in his belly found a grave:

But cannot thank thee that I am not dead,

Since death alone can me from misery save,

Well shall I thank thee for that wished relief,

Which can deliver me from every grief.”

LVIII

Next she related, with loud sobs and sighs,

How her false spouse betrayed her as she lay

Asleep, and how of pirates made the prize,

They bore her from the desert isle away.

And, as she spake, she turned her in the guise

Of Dian, framed by artists, who pourtray

Her carved or painted, as in liquid font

She threw the water in Actaeon’s front.

LIX

For, as she can, her waist she hides, and breast,

More liberal of flowing flank and reins.

Roland desires his ship, to find a vest

To cover her, delivered from her chains:

While he is all intent upon this quest,

Oberto comes; Oberto, he that reigns

O’er Ireland’s people, who had understood

How lifeless lay the monster of the flood;

LX

And, swimming, how, amid the watery roar,

A knight a weighty anchor in his throat

Had fix’d, and so had dragged him to the shore,

As men against the current track a boat.

This while Oberto comes; who, if his lore,

Who told the tale, were true, desires to note;

While his invading army, far and wide,

Ebuda burn and waste on every side.

LXI

Oberto, though the Paladin to sight

Was dripping, and with water foul and gore;

With gore, that from the orc, emerged to light,

Whom he had entered bodily, he bore,

He for the country knew the stranger knight

As he perused his face; so much the more,

That he had thought when told the tidings, none

Save Roland could such mighty fear have done;

LXII

Knew him, because a page of honour he

Had been in France, and for the crown, his right

Upon his father’s death, had crossed the sea

The year before. So often he the knight

Had seen, and had with him held colloquy,

Their times of meeting had been infinite.

He doffed his casque, with festive welcome pressed

Towards the count, and clasped him to the breast.

LXIII

Orlando is no less rejoined to see

The king, than is the king that champion true.

After with friendly cheer and equal glee

Had once or twice embraced the noble two,

To Oberto Roland told the treachery

Which had been done the youthful dame, and who

Had done it, — false Bireno — that among

All men should least have sought to do her wrong.

LXIV

To him he told the many proofs and clear

By which the dame’s affection had been tried;

And how she for Bireno kin and geer

Had lost, and would in fine for him have died.

And how he this could warrant, and appear

To vouch for much, as witness on her side.

While thus to him her griefs Orlando showed,

The lady’s shining eyes with tears o’erflowed.

LXV

Her face was such as sometimes in the spring

We see a doubtful sky, when on the plain

A shower descends, and the sun, opening

His cloudy veil, looks out amid the rain.

And as the nightingale then loves to sing

From branch of verdant stem her dulcet strain,

So in her beauteous tears his pinions bright

Love bathes, rejoicing in the chrystal light.

LXVI

The stripling heats his golden arrow’s head

At her bright eyes, then slacks the weapon’s glow

In streams, which falls between white flowers and red;

And, the shaft tempered, strongly draws his bow,

And roves at him, o’er whom no shield is spread,

Nor iron rind, nor double mail below;

Who, gazing on her tresses, eyes, and brow,

Feels that his heart is pierced, he knows not how.

LXVII

Olympia’s beauties are of those most rare,

Nor is the forehead’s beauteous curve alone

Excellent, and her eyes and cheeks and hair,

Mouth, nose, and throat, and shoulders; but, so down

Descending from the lady’s bosom fair,

Parts which are wont to be concealed by gown,

Are such, as haply should be placed before

Whate’er this ample world contains in store.

LXVIII

In whiteness they surpassed unsullied snow,

Smooth ivory to the touch: above were seen

Two rounding paps, like new-pressed milk in show,

Fresh-taken from its crate of rushes green;

The space betwixt was like the valley low,

Which oftentimes we see small hills between,

Sweet in its season, and now such as when

Winter with snows has newly filled the glen.

LXIX

The swelling hips and haunches’ symmetry,

The waist more clear than mirror’s polished grain,

And members seem of Phidias’ turnery,

Or work of better hand and nicer pain.

As well to you of other parts should I

Relate, which she to hide desired in vain.

To sum the beauteous whole, from head to feet,

In her all loveliness is found complete.

LXX

And had she in the Idaean glen unveiled

In ancient days before the Phrygian swain,

By how much heavenly Venus had prevailed

I know not, though her rivals strove in vain.

Nor haply had the youth for Sparta sailed,

To violate the hospitable reign;

But said: “With Menelaus let Helen rest!

No other prize I seek, of this possest”;

LXXI

Or in Crotona dwelt, where the divine

Zeuxis in days of old his work projected,

To be the ornament of Juno’s shrine,

And hence so many naked dames collected;

And in one form perfection to combine,

Some separate charm from this or that selected,

He from no other model need have wrought.

Since joined in her were all the charms he sought.

LXXII

I do not think Bireno ever viewed

Naked that beauteous form; for sure it were

He never could have been so stern of mood,

As to have left her on that desert lair.

That Ireland’s king was fired I well conclude,

Nor hid the flame that he within him bare.

He strives to comfort her, and hope instill,

That future good shall end her present ill.

LXXIII

And her to Holland promises to bear,

And vows till she is to her state restored,

And just and memorable vengeance there

Achieved upon her perjured, traitor lord,

He never will unceasing war forbear,

Waged with all means that Ireland can afford;

And this with all his speed. He, up and down,

Meantime bids seek for female vest and gown.

LXXIV

Now will it need to send in search of vest

Beyond the savage island’s narrow bound,

Since thither every day in such came dressed,

Some dame, to feed the beast, from countries round.

Nor long his followers there pursued the quest,

Ere many they of various fashions found.

So was Olympia clothed; while sad of mood

Was he, not so to clothe her as he wou’d.

LXXV

But never silk so choice or gold so fine

Did the industrious Florentine prepare,

Nor whosoever broiders gay design,

Though on his task be spent time, toil, and care,

Nor Lemnos’ god, nor Pallas’ art divine,

Form raiment worthy of those limbs so fair,

That King Oberto cannot choose but he

Recalls them at each turn to memory.

LXXVI

To see that love so kindled by the dame,

On many grounds Orlando was content;

Who not alone rejoiced that such a shame

Put upon her, Bireno should repent;

But, that in the design on which he came,

He should be freed from grave impediment.

Not for Olympia thither had he made,

But, were his lady there, to lend her aid.

LXXVII

To him, that there she was not, soon was clear,

But clear it was not if she had been there,

Or no; since of those islesmen, far and near,

One was not left the tidings to declare.

The following day they from the haven steer,

And all united in one squadron fare.

The Paladin with them to Ireland hies,

From whence to France the warrior’s passage lies.

LXXVIII

Scarcely a day in Ireland’s realm he spends:

And for no prayers his purposed end forbore:

Love, that in quest of his liege-lady sends

The knight upon this track, permits no more.

Departing, he Olympia recommends

To the Irish monarch, who to serve her swore:

Although this needed not; since he was bent

More than behoved, her wishes to content:

LXXIX

So levied in few days his warlike band,

And (league with England’s kind and Scotland’s made)

In Holland and in Friesland left no land

To the false duke, so rapid was the raid.

And to rebel against that lord’s command

His Zealand stirred; nor he the war delayed,

Until by him Bireno’s blood was spilt:

A punishment that ill atoned his guilt.

LXXX

Oberto takes to wife Olympia fair,

And her of countess makes a puissant queen.

But be the Paladin again our care,

Who furrows, night and day, the billows green,

And strikes his sails in the same harbour, where

They to the wind erewhile unfurled had been

All armed, he on his Brigliadoro leaps,

And leaves behind him winds and briny deeps.

LXXXI

The remnant of the winter, he with shield

And spear achieved things worthy to be shown,

I ween; but these were then so well concealed,

It is no fault of mine they are not blown;

For good Orlando was in fighting field,

Prompter to do, than make his prowess known.

Nor e’er was bruited action of the knight,

Save when some faithful witness was in sight.

LXXXII

That winter’s remnant he so passed that feat

Of his was known not to the public ear;

But when within that animal discreet

Which Phryxus bore, the sun illumed the sphere,

And Zephyrus returning glad and sweet,

Brought back with him again the blooming year,

The wondrous deeds Orlando did in stower,

Appeared with the new grass and dainty flower.

LXXXIII

From plain to hill, from champaign flat to shore,

Oppressed with grief and pain the County fares,

When a long cry, entering a forest hoar,

— A load lamenting smites upon his ears.

He grasps his brand and spurs his courser sore,

And swiftly pricks toward the sound he hears.

But I shall at another season say

What chanced, and may be heard in future lay.

Canto 12

Argument

Orlando, full of rage, pursues a knight

Who bears by force his lady-love away,

And comes where old Atlantes, by his sleight

Had raised a dome, Rogero there to stay.

Here too Rogero comes; where getting sight

Of his lost love, the County strives in fray

With fierce Ferrau, and, after slaughter fell

Amid the paynim host, finds Isabel.

I

Ceres, when from the Idaean dame in haste

Returning to the lonely valley, where

Enceladus the Aetnaean mountain placed

On his bolt-smitten flanks, is doomed to bear,

Her girl she found not, on that pathless waste,

By her late quitted, having rent her hair,

And marked cheeks, eyes, and breast, with livid signs,

At the end of her lament tore up two pines,

II

And lit at Vulcan’s fire the double brand,

And gave them virtue never to be spent;

And, afterwards, with one in either hand,

Drawn by two dragons, in her chariot went,

Searching the forest, hill, and level land,

Field, valley, running stream, or water pent,

The land and sea; and having searched the shell

Of earth above, descended into hell.

III

Had Roland of Eleusis’ deity

The sovereign power possessed no less than will,

He for Angelica had land and sea

Ransacked, and wood and field, and pool and rill,

Heaven, and Oblivion’s bottom: but since he

Had not, his pressing purpose to fulfil,

Her dragon and her car, the unwearied knight

Pursued the missing maid as best he might.

IV

Through France he sought her, and will seek her through

The realms of Italy and of Almayn,

And thence through the Castiles, both old and new,

So passing into Libya out of Spain.

While bold Orlando has this plan in view,

He hears, or thinks he hears, a voice complain:

He forward spurs, and sees on mighty steed

A warrior trot before him on the mead;

V

Who in his arms a captive damsel bears,

Sore grieving, and across the pommel laid;

She weeps and struggles, and the semblance wears

Of cruel woe, and ever calls for aid

Upon Anglantes’ prince; and now appears

To him, as he surveys the youthful maid,

She, for whom, night and day, with ceaseless pain,

Inside and out, he France had searched in vain.

VI

I say not is, but that she to the sight

Seems the Angelica he loves so dear.

He who is lady-love and goddess’ flight

Beholds, borne off in such afflicted cheer,

Impelled by fury foul, and angry spite,

Calls back with horrid voice the cavalier;

Calls back the cavalier, and threats in vain,

And Brigliadoro drives with flowing rein.

VII

That felon stops not, nor to him replies,

On his great gain intent, his glorious prey;

And with such swiftness through the greenwood hies,

Wind would not overtake him on his way.

The one pursues while him the other flies,

And with lament resounds the thicket gray.

They issue in a spacious mead, on which

Appears a lofty mansion, rare and rich.

VIII

Of various marbles, wrought with subtle care,

Is the proud palace. He who fast in hold

Bears off upon his arm the damsel fair,

Sore pricking, enters at a gate of gold.

Nor Brigliador is far behind the pair,

Backed by Orlando, angry knight and bold.

Entering, around Orlando turns his eyes,

Yet neither cavalier nor damsel spies.

IX

He suddenly dismounts, and thundering fares

Through the inmost palace, seeking still his foe,

And here and there in restless rage repairs,

Till he has seen each bower, each galleried row;

With the same purpose he ascends the stairs,

Having first vainly searched each room below.

Nor spends less labour, on his task intent,

Above, than he beneath had vainly spent.

X

Here beds are seen adorned with silk and gold;

Nor of partition aught is spied or wall:

For these, and floor beneath, throughout that hold,

Are hid by curtains and by carpets all.

Now here, now there, returns Orlando bold,

Nor yet can glad his eyes, in bower or hall,

With the appearance of the royal maid,

Or the foul thief by whom she was conveyed.

XI

This while, as here and there in fruitless pain

He moves, oppressed with thought and trouble sore,

Gradasso, Brandimart, and him of Spain,

Ferrau, he finds, with Sacripant and more;

Who ever toiling, like himself, in vain

Above, that building, and beneath explore,

And as they wander, curse with one accord

The malice of the castle’s viewless lord.

XII

All in pursuit of the offender speed,

And upon him some charge of robbery lay:

One knight complains that he has stolen his steed,

One that he has purloined his lady gay.

Other accuses him of other deed:

And thus within the enchanted cage they stay,

Nor can depart; while in the palace pent,

Many have weeks and months together spent.

XIII

Roland, when he round that strange dome had paced

Four times or six, still vainly seeking, said

Within himself, at last, “I here might waste

My time and trouble, still in vain delayed,

While haply her the robber whom I chased

Has far away, through other gate conveyed.”

So thinking, from the house he issued out

Into the mead which girt the dome about.

XIV

While Roland wanders round the sylvan Hall,

Still holding close his visage to the ground,

To see if recent print or trace withal

Can, right or left, upon the turf be found,

He from a neighbouring window hears a call,

And looks, and thinks he hears that voice’s sound,

And thinks he sees the visage by which he

Was so estranged from what he wont to be.

XV

He thinks he hears Angelica, and she

“Help, help!” entreating cries, and weeping sore,

“More than for life and soul, alas! of thee

Protection for my honour I implore.

Then shall it in my Roland’s presence be

Ravished by this foul robber? Oh! before

Me to such miserable fate you leave,

Let me from your own hand my death receive!”

XVI

These words repeated once, and yet again,

Made Roland through each chamber, far and near,

Return with passion, and with utmost pain;

But tempered with high hope. Sometimes the peer

Stopt in his search and heard a voice complain,

Which seemed to be Angelica’s: if here

The restless warrior stand, it sounds from there,

And calls for help he knows not whence nor where,

XVII

Returning to Rogero, left, I said,

When through a gloomy path, upon his steed,

Following the giant and the dame who fled,

He from the wood had issued on the mead;

I say that he arrived where Roland dread

Arrived before him, if I rightly read.

The giant through the golden portal passed,

Rogero close behind, who followed fast.

XVIII

As soon as he his foot has lifted o’er

The threshold, he through court and gallery spies;

Nor sees the giant or the lady more,

And vainly glances here and there his eyes.

He up and down returns with labour sore,

Yet not for that his longing satisfies;

Nor can imagine where the felon thief

Has hid himself and dame in space so brief.

XIX

After four times or five he so had wound

Above, below, through bower and gallery fair,

He yet returned, and, having nothing found,

Searched even to the space beneath the stair.

At length, in hope they in the woodlands round

Might be, he sallied; but the voice, which there

Roland recalled, did him no less recall,

And made as well return within the Hall.

XX

One voice, one shape, which to Anglantes’ peer

Seemed his Angelica, beseeching aid.

Seemed to Rogero Dordogne’s lady dear.

Who him a truant to himself had made:

If with Gradasso, or with other near

He spake, of those who through the palace strayed.

To all of them the vision, seen apart,

Seemed that which each had singly most at heart.

XXI

This was a new and unwonted spell,

Which the renowned Atlantes had composed,

That in this toil, this pleasing pain, might dwell

So long Rogero, by these walls enclosed,

From him should pass away the influence fell,

— Influence which him to early death exposed.

Though vain his magic tower of steel, and vain

Alcina’s art, Atlantes plots again.

XXII

Not only he, but others who stood high

For valour, and in France had greatest fame,

That by their hands Rogero might not die,

Brought here by old Atlantes’ magic came:

While these in the enchanted mansion lie,

That food be wanting not to knight or dame,

He has supplied the dome throughout so well,

That all the inmates there in plenty dwell.

XXIII

But to Angelica return we, who

Now of that ring so wondrous repossessed,

(Which, in her mouth, concealed the maid from view,

Preserved from spell when it the finger pressed,)

Was in the mountain-cavern guided to

Whatever needed, viands, mare, and vest,

And had conceived the project to pursue

Her way to her fair Indian realm anew.

XXIV

King Sacripant, or Roland, willingly

The damsel would have taken for her guide;

Not that, propitious to their wishes, she

(Averse from both) inclined to either side;

But, since her eastern journey was to be

Through town and city, scattered far and wide,

She needed company, and ill had found

More trusty guides than these for such a round.

XXV

Now this, now that she sought with fruitless care,

Before she lit on either warrior’s trace,

By city or by farm, now here, now there,

In forest now, and now in other place.

Fortune, at length, where caged with Roland are

Ferrau and Sacripant, directs her chase;

Rogero, with Gradasso fierce, and more,

Noosed with strange witcheries by Atlantes hoar.

XXVI

She enters, hidden from the enchanter’s eyes,

And by the ring concealed, examines all;

And Roland there, and Sacripant espies,

Intent to seek her vainly through the Hall;

And with her image cheating both, descries

Atlantes old. The damsel doubts withal

Which of the two to take, and long revolves

This in her doubtful thought, nor well resolves.

XXVII

She knows not which with her will best accord,

The Count Orlando or Circassia’s knight.

As of most powers, her would Rogero ward

In passage perilous, with better might.

But should she make the peer her guide, her lord,

She knew not if her champion she could slight,

If him she would depress with altered cheer,

Or into France send back the cavalier:

XXVIII

But Sacripant at pleasure could depose,

Though him she had uplifted to the sky.

Hence him alone she for her escort chose,

And feigned to trust in his fidelity.

The ring she from her mouth withdraws, and shows

Her face, unveiled to the Circassian’s eye:

She thought to him alone; but fierce Ferrau

And Roland came upon the maid, and saw.

XXIX

Ferrau and Roland came upon the maid;

For one and the other champion equally

Within the palace and without it strayed

In quest of her, who was their deity.

And now, no longer by the enchantment stayed,

Each ran alike towards the dame, for she

Had placed the ring upon her hand anew,

Which old Atlantes’ every scheme o’erthrew.

XXX

Helm on the head and corselet on the breast

Of both the knights, of whom I sing, was tied;

By night or day, since they into this rest

Had entered, never doffed and laid aside:

For such to wear were easy as a vest,

To these, so wont the burden to abide.

As well was armed, except with iron masque,

Ferrau, who wore not, nor would wear, a casque.

XXXI

Till he had that erst wrested by the peer,

Orlando, from the brother of Troyane;

For so had sworn the Spanish cavalier,

What time he Argalia’s helm in vain

Sought in the brook; yet though the count was near,

Has not stretched forth his hand the prize to gain.

For so it was, that neither of the pair

Could recognise the other knight while there.

XXXII

Upon the enchanted dome lay such a spell,

That they from one another were concealed;

They doffed not, night nor day, the corselet’s shell,

Not sword, nor even put aside the shield.

Saddled, with bridle hanging at the sell,

Their steeds were feeding, ready for the field,

Within a chamber, near the palace door,

With straw and barley heaped in plenteous store.

XXXIII

Nor might nor mean in old Atlantes lies

To stop the knights from mounting, who repair

To their good steeds, to chase the bright black eyes,

The fair vermillion cheeks and golden hair

Of the sweet damsel, who before them flies,

And goads to better speed her panting mare;

Ill pleased the three assembled to discern,

Though haply she had taken each in turn.

XXXIV

And when these from the magic palace she

Had ticed so far, that she no more supposed

The warriors to the wicked fallacy

Of the malign enchanter were exposed,

The ring, which more than once from misery

Had rescued her, she ‘twixt her lips enclosed,

Hence from their sight she vanished in a thought,

And left them wondering there, like men distraught.

XXXV

Although she first the scheme had entertained

Roland or Sacripant to have released,

To guide her thither, where her father reigned,

King Galaphron, who ruled i’ the farthest East,

The aid of both she suddenly disdained,

And in an instant from her project ceased;

And deemed, without more debt to count or king,

In place of either knight sufficed the ring.

XXXVI

In haste, they through the forest, here and there,

So scorned of her, still gaze with stupid face;

Like questing hound which loses sight of hare

Or fox, of whom he late pursued the trace,

Into close thicket, ditch, or narrow lair,

Escaping from the keen pursuer’s chase.

Meantime their ways the wanton Indian queen

Observes, and at their wonder laughs unseen.

XXXVII

In the mid wood, where they the maid did lose,

Was but a single pathway, left or right;

Which they believed the damsel could not choose

But follow, when she vanished from their sight.

Ferrau halts not, and Roland fast pursues,

Nor Sacripant less plies the rowels bright.

Angelica, this while, retrains her steed,

And follows the three warriors with less speed.

XXXVIII

When pricking thus they came to where the way

Was in the forest lost, with wood o’ergrown,

And had begun the herbage to survey

For print of recent footsteps, up and down,

The fierce Ferrau, who might have borne away

From all that ever proudest were, the crown,

With evil countenance, to the other two

Turned him about, and shouted “Whence are you?”

XXXIX

“Turn back or take another road, save here,

In truth, you covet to be slain by me.

Nor when I chase or woo my lady dear,

Let any think I bear with company.”

And — “What more could he say, sir cavalier,”

(Orlando cried to Sacripant) “if we

Were known for the two basest whores that pull

And reel from spindle-staff the matted wool?”

XL

Then turning to Ferrau,, “But that thine head,

Thou brutish sot, as I behold, is bare,

If thy late words were ill or wisely said,

Thou should’st perceive, before we further fare.”

To him Ferrau: “For that which breeds no dread

In me, why should’st thou take such sovereign care?

What I have said unhelmed will I prove true,

Here, single as I am, on both of you.”

XLI

“Oh!” (to Circassia’s king cried Roland dread)

“Thy morion for this man let me entreat,

Till I have driven such folly from his head;

For never with like madness did I meet.”

— “Who then would be most fool?” the monarch said;

“But if indeed you deem the suit discreet,

Lend him thine own; nor shall I be less fit

Haply than thee to school his lack of wit.”

XLII

— “Fools, both of you!” (the fierce Ferrau replied)

“As if, did I to wear a helm delight,

You would not be without your casques of pride,

Already reft by me in your despite;

But know thus much, that I by vow am tied

To wear no helm, and thus my promise quite;

Roaming without, till that fine casque I win

Worn by Orlando, Charles’s paladin.”

XLIII

— “Then” (smiling, to the Spaniard said the count)

“With naked head, thou thinkest to repeat

On Roland what he did in Aspramont,

By Agolant’s bold son: but shouldst thou meet

The warrior whom thou seekest, front to front,

I warrant thou wouldst quake from head to feet;

Nor only wouldst forego the casque, but give

The knight thine other arms to let thee live.”

XLIV

— “So oft have I had Roland on the hip,

And oft,” (exclaimed the boaster) “heretofore;

From him it had been easy task to strip

What other arms, beside his helm, he wore;

And if I still have let the occasion slip,

— We sometimes think of things unwished before:

Such wish I had not; I have now; and hope

To compass easily my present scope.”

XLV

The good Orlando could no more forbear,

And cried, “Foul miscreant, liar, marched with me,

Say, caitiff, in what country, when and where

Boast you to have obtained such victory?

That paladin am I, o’er whom you dare

To vaunt, and whom you distant deemed: now see

If you can take my helm, or I have might

To take your other arms in your despite.

XLVI

“Nor I o’er you the smallest vantage wou’d.”

He ended, and his temples disarrayed,

And to a beech hung up the helmet good,

And nigh as quickly bared his trenchant blade.

Ferrau stands close, and in such attitude,

(His courage not for what had chanced dismayed)

Covered with lifted shield and naked sword,

As might best shelter to his head afford.

XLVII

’Twas thus those warriors two, with faulchions bare,

Turning their ready steeds, began to wheel;

And where the armour thinnest was, and where

The meeting plates were joined, probed steel with steel;

Nor was there in the world another pair

More fitted to be matched in fierce appeal:

Equal their daring, equal was their might,

And safe alike from wound was either knight.

XLVIII

By you, fair sir, already, I presume,

That fierce Ferrau was charmed is understood,

Save where the child, enclosed within the womb

Of the full mother, takes its early food;

And hence he ever, till the squalid tomb

Covered his manly face, wore harness good

(Such was his wont) the doubtful part to guard,

Of seven good plates of metal, tempered hard.

XLIX

Alike a charmed life Orlando bore,

Safe every where, except a single part:

Unfenced beneath his feet, which evermore

By him were guarded with all care and art.

The rest than diamond dug from mountain hoar

More hard, unless report from truth depart;

And armed to battle either champion went,

Less for necessity than ornament.

L

Waxing more fierce and fell the combat rages,

Of fear and horror full, between the twain:

The fierce Ferrau such dreadful battle wages,

That stroke or thrust is never dealt in vain:

Each mighty blow from Roland disengages

And loosens, breaks, or shatters, plate and chain.

Angelica alone, secure from view,

Regards such fearful sight, and marks the two.

LI

For, during this, the king of Circassy,

Who deemed Angelica not far before,

When Ferrau and Orlando desperately

Closing in fight were seen, his horse did gore

Along the way by which he deemed that she

Had disappeared; and so that battle sore

Was witnessed ‘twixt the struggling foes, by none,

Beside the daughter of king Galaphron.

LII

After the damsel had sometime descried

This dread and direful combat, standing nigh;

And it appearing that on either side

With equal peril both the warriors vie,

She, fond of novelty, the helm untied

Designs to take; desirous to espy

What they would do when they perceived the wrong;

But, without thought to keep her plunder long.

LIII

To give it to Orlando was she bent,

But first she would upon the warrior play:

The helmet she took down with this intent

And in her bosom hid, and marked the fray:

Next thence, without a word to either went,

And from the scene of strife was far away

Ere either of the two had marked the feat;

So were they blinded by their angry heat.

LIV

But Ferrau, who first chanced the loss to see,

From Roland disengaged himself, and cried,

“How like unwary men and fools are we

Treated by him, who late with us did ride!

What meed, which worthiest of the strife might be,

If this be stolen, the victor shall abide?”

Roland draws back, looks upward, and with ire,

Missing the noble casque, is all on fire:

LV

And in opinion with Ferrau agreed,

That he the knight, who was with them before,

Had born away the prize: hence turned his steed.

And with the spur admonished Brigliador.

Ferrau, who from the field beheld him speed.

Followed him, and when Roland and the Moor

Arrived where tracks upon the herbage green

Of the Circassian and the maid were seen,

LVI

Towards a vale upon the left the count

Went off, pursuing the Circassian’s tread;

The Spaniard kept the path more nigh the mount,

By which the fair Angelica had fled.

Angelica, this while, has reached a fount,

Of pleasant site, and shaded overhead;

By whose inviting shades no traveller hasted,

Nor ever left the chrystal wave untasted.

LVII

Angelica, the sylvan spring beside,

Reposes, unsuspicious of surprise;

And thinking her the sacred ring will hide,

Fears not that evil accident can rise.

On her arrival at the fountain’s side,

She to a branch above the helmet ties;

Then seeks the fittest sapling for her need,

Where, fastened to its trunk, her mare may feed.

LVIII

The Spanish cavalier the stream beside

Arrived, who had pursued her traces there:

Angelica no sooner him espied,

Than she evanished clean, and spurred her mare:

The helm this while had dropt, but lay too wide

To be recovered of the flying fair.

As soon as sweet Angelica he saw,

Towards her full of rapture sprang Ferrau.

LIX

She disappeared, I say, as forms avaunt

At sleep’s departure: toiling long and sore

He seeks the damsel there, ‘twixt plant and plant,

Now can his wretched eyes behold her more.

Blaspheming his Mahound and Termagant,

And cursing every master of his lore,

Ferrau returned towards the sylvan fount,

Where lay on earth the helmet of the count.

LX

This he soon recognised, for here he read

Letters upon the margin, written fair,

Which how Orlando won the helmet said;

And from what champion took, and when and where.

With it the paynim armed his neck and head,

Who would not for his grief the prize forbear;

His grief for loss of her, conveyed from sight,

As disappear the phantoms of the night.

LXI

When in this goodly casque he was arrayed,

He deemed nought wanting to his full content,

But the discovery of the royal maid,

Who like a flash of lightning came and went:

For her he searches every greenwood shade,

And when all hope of finding her is spent,

He for the vain pursuit no longer tarries,

But to the Spanish camp returns near Paris;

LXII

Tempering the grief which glowed within his breast,

For such sore disappointment, with the thought

That he was with Orlando’s morion blest,

As sworn. By good Anglante’s count, when taught

That the false Saracen the prize possest,

Long time the Spanish knight was vainly sought;

Nor Roland took the helmet from his head,

Till he between two bridges laid him dead.

LXIII

Angelica thus, viewless and alone,

Speeds on her journey, but with troubled front;

Grieved for the helmet, in her haste foregone

On her departure from the grassy fount.

“Choosing to do what I should least have done,”

(She said) “I took his helmet from the count.

This for his first desert I well bestow;

A worthy recompense for all I owe!

LXIV

“With good intentions, as God knows, I wrought;

Though these an ill and different end produce;

I took the helmet only with the thought

To bring that deadly battle to a truce;

And not that this foul Spaniard what he sought

Should gain, or I to his intent conduce.”

So she, lamenting, took herself to task

For having robbed Orlando of his casque.

LXV

By what appeared to her the meetest way,

Moody and ill-content she eastward pressed;

Ofttimes concealed, sometimes in face of day,

As seemed most opportune and pleased her best.

After much country seen, a forest gray

She reached, where, sorely wounded in mid breast,

Between two dead companions on the ground,

The royal maid a bleeding stripling found.

LXVI

But of Angelica I now no more

Shall speak, who first have many things to say;

Nor shall to the Circassian or the Moor

Give for long space a rhyme; thence called away

By good Anglante’s prince, who wills, before

I of those others tell, I should display

The labours and the troubles he sustained,

Pursuing the great good he never gained.

LXVII

At the first city, whither he was brought

(Because to go concealed he had good care),

He a new helmet donned; but took no thought

What was the head-piece he designed to bear.

So safe is he in fairy spell, it nought

Imports, if hard or soft its temper were.

Orlando, covered thus, pursues the quest,

Nor him day, night, or rain, or sun arrest.

LXVIII

It was the hour that our of Ocean’s bed

Dan Phoebus drew his dripping steeds, and high

And low, still scattering yellow flowers and red,

Aurora stained the heavens with various dye,

And Stars had cast their veils about their head,

Departing from their revels in the sky;

When passing on a day fair Paris near,

Orlando made his mighty worth appear.

LXIX

Two squadrons he encountered; one an old

Saracen, Manilardo clept, obeyed;

King of Noritia, whilom fierce and bold.

But fitter now to counsel than to aid.

The next beneath the standard was enrolled

Or Tremisena’s monarch, who was said

‘Mid Africans to be a perfect knight;

Alzirdo he by those who knew him, hight:

LXX

These, with the other Saracen array,

Cantoned throughout the winter months had lain,

Some near the city, some more far away,

All lodged nigh town or hamlet on the plain.

For since King Agramant had many a day

Spent in attacking Paris’ walls in vain,

He (for no other means remained to try)

Would lastly with a siege the city ply;

LXXI

And to do this had people infinite:

Since he, beside the host that with him came,

And that of Spain which followed to the fight

The Spanish King Marsilius’ oriflame,

Many of France did in his pay unite:

For all from Paris he to Arles’s stream,

With part of Gascony, some straggling tower

Excepted, had reduced beneath his power.

LXXII

The quivering brook, as warmer breezes blew,

Beginning now from ice its waves to free,

And the fresh-springing grass and foliage new,

To cloathe again the field and greenwood tree,

All those King Agramant assembled, who

Had followed him in his prosperity;

To muster in review the armed swarm,

And give to his affairs a better form:

LXXIII

Hence did the King of Tremisen’ repair,

With him who had Noritia in command,

To be in time at that full muster, where

Each squadron, good or bad, was to be scanned

Orlando thus by chance encountered there,

As I have told you, this united hand;

Who, as his usage was, went seeking her,

By whom he had been made Love’s prisoner.

LXXIV

Alzirdo, as the approaching count he eyes,

Who in this world for valour has no peer,

With such a haughty front, and in such guise,

The God of war would less in arms appear,

The features known before astounded spies,

The fierce, disdainful glance and furious cheer;

And him esteems a knight of prowess high,

Which, fondly, he too sore desires to try.

LXXV

Arrogant, young, and of redoubted force,

Alzirdo was, and prized for dauntless mind;

Who bent to joust pricked forth his foaming horse,

Happier had he remained in line behind!

Met by Anglante’s prince in middle course,

Who pierced his heart as they encountering joined.

Frighted, the lightened courser scoured the plain,

Without a rider to direct the rein.

LXXVI

Rises a sudden and a horrid cry,

And air on every side repeats the scream;

As his scared band the falling youth descry,

And issuing from his wound so wide a stream:

Disordered, they the count in fury ply,

And, raised to cut or thrust, their weapons gleam.

Against that flower of knights, their feathered reeds,

A thicker squadron yet in tempest speeds.

LXXVII

With sound like that, with which from hill repair,

Or from the champaign’s flat the hurrying swine,

(If the Wolf, issue from his grot, or Bear,

Descending to the mountains’ lower line,

Some bristly youngling take away and tear,

Who with loud squeal and grunt is heard to pine)

Came driving at the count the barbarous rout;

“Upon him!” and “upon him!” still their shout.

LXXVIII

At once spears, shafts, and swords, his corslet bore

By thousands, and as many pierce his shield.

This threatens on one side, and that before,

And those the ponderous mace behind him wield.

But he esteems the craven rout no more.

He, who did never yet to terror yield,

Than hungry Wolf in twilight makes account

To what the number of the flock may mount.

LXXIX

He held unsheathed that thundering sword in hand,

Which with so many foes has heaped the plain,

That he who thinks to count the slaughtered band,

Has undertaken, hard emprize and vain.

The road ran red, ensanguined by his brand,

And scarce capacious of the many slain.

For neither targe nor head-piece good defends,

Where fatal Durindana’s blade descends.

LXXX

Nor safety cotton vest, nor cloths supply,

In thousand folds about the temples spread:

Nor only groan and lamentation fly

Through air, but shoulder, arm, and severed head,

Death roams the field in strange variety

Of horrid forms, and all inspiring dread;

And says, “For hundreds of my scythes may stand

His Durindana in Orlando’s hand.”

LXXXI

His ceaseless strokes scarce one the other wait:

Speedily all his foemen are in flight.

And when before they came at furious rate,

They hoped to swallow quick the single knight.

None is there who, in that unhappy straight,

Stops for his comrade, flying from the fight.

Here one man speeds afoot, one gallops there;

None stays to question if the road be fair.

LXXXII

His mirror Valour bore about, and here

Each blemish of the soul was seen confest:

None looked therein, except an aged peer,

Whose blood was chilled, but courage unreprest.

That death were better deems this cavalier

Than life in flight, and in disgrace possest:

I mean Noritia’s king, who lays his lance

In rest against the paladin of France;

LXXXIII

He broke it on the border of the shield

Of the intrepid count, with stedfast hand,

Who, by the stroke unshaken, nothing reeled:

And smote the king, in passing, with his brand.

Him Fortune saved; for as Orlando wheeled

The blade, it turned, descending, in his hand.

Although an-edge he guides not still the sword,

Stunned from his saddle reels the paynim lord.

LXXXIV

Astounded from his saddle reels the king,

Nor him Orlando turns about to see.

He cuts, and cleaves, and slays his following;

Who all believe him at their backs to be.

As through the spacious air, with troubled wing,

The starlings from the daring merlin flee;

So, of that broken squadron, scattered round,

Some fly, some dip, and some fall flat to ground.

LXXXV

He ceased not his ensanguined blade to sway

Till living wight remained not in his view.

Orlando doubted to resume his way,

Although the country all about he knew.

Does he the right or left-hand road assay,

His thoughts still rove from what his steps pursue,

And he to seek the damsel is in dread

Through other path than that by which she fled.

LXXXVI

Through wood and field his courser did he goad,

Often inquiring for the royal dame:

Beside himself, he strayed beside his road,

And to the foot of rising mountain came,

Whence (it was night-time) through a fissure glowed

The distant flicker of a quivering flame.

Orlando to the rock approached, to spy

If there Angelica concealed might lie.

LXXXVII

As where low junipers o’er shade her lair,

Or in the stubble of the open lay,

What time the hunters seek the fearful hare

Through traversed woods, and through uncertain way,

— Lest peradventure she be hidden there,

They every bramble, every bush assay;

Even so, where hope the toiling warrior leads,

Searching his lady-love, Orlando speeds.

LXXXVIII

Pricking in haste towards that ray, the count

Arrived where in the wood the light was shed,

Forth-streaming from a crevice in the mount,

Within whose womb a spacious grotto spread;

And there, like wall or bank, discerned in front,

Of thorns and underwood a bristly bed,

To hide the grotto’s inmates, and defend

From scathe or scorn, which others might intend.

LXXXIX

By day it had been hidden evermore;

But the clear flame betrayed the haunt by night.

Its use he guessed; but would the place explore,

And better certify himself by sight.

When he without had tied his Brigliador,

In silence to the grotto stole the knight;

Threading the shrubs; nor calling for a guide,

Entered the passage in the mountain’s side.

XC

By a long flight of steps was the descent

Into the cave; where, in the rocky tomb,

Buried were living folk. Of wide extent,

The grot was chiselled into vaulted room;

Nor was, although its entrance little lent,

All daylight wanting to disperse the gloom:

For much was furnished by a window dight,

Within a natural fissure on the right.

XCI

In the mid cave, beside a fire was seen

A gentle maid of pleasing look and guise;

Who seemed to Roland little past fifteen,

As far as at first sight he might surmise.

With that so fair she made the rugged scene

Seem in the warrior’s sight a paradise.

Although this while her eyes with tears o’erflow,

Clear tokens of a heart oppressed with woe.

XCII

An aged dame was with her, and the pair

Wrangled, as oftentimes is women’s way;

But when the County was descending there,

Concluded the dispute and wordy fray.

Orlando hastens to salute them fair

(As still is due to womankind) and they

To welcome him rise lightly form their seat,

And with benign return the warrior greet.

XCIII

’Tis true, that when that sudden voice they hear,

Somedeal confused in look they seem to be,

At the same time beholding thus appear

So fierce a wight, and harnessed cap-a-pee.

“What wight” (demands Anglantes’ cavalier)

So barbarous is, and void of courtesy,

That he keeps buried, in this rude repair,

A face so gentle and so passing fair?”

XCIV

With pain the virgin to the count replies,

As he inquires of her unhappy doom,

In sweet and broken accents, which by sighs

Impelled, through rows of pearl and coral come:

And between rose and lily, from her eyes

Tears fall so fast, she needs must swallow some.

In other canto, sir, be pleased to attend

The rest, for here ’tis time my strain should end.

Canto 13

Argument

The Count Orlando of the damsel bland

Who loves Zerbino, hears the piteous woes.

Next puts to death the felons with his hand

Who pent her there. Duke Aymon’s daughter goes,

Seeking Rogero, where so large a band

The old Atlantes’ magic walls enclose.

Her he impounds, deceived by fictions new.

Agramant ranks his army for review.

I

Those ancient cavaliers right happy were,

Born in an age, when, in the gloomy wood,

In valley, and in cave, wherein the bear,

Serpent, or lion, hid their savage brood,

They could find that, which now in palace rare

Is hardly found by judges proved and good;

Women, to wit, who in their freshest days

Of beauty worthily deserve the praise.

II

Above I told you how a gentle maid

Orlando had discovered under ground,

And asked, by whom she thither was conveyed?

Pursuing now my tale, I tell, how drowned

In grief (her speech by many a sob delayed),

The damsel fair, in sweet and softest sound,

Summing them with what brevity she might,

Her ills recounted to Anglantes’ knight.

III

“Though I am sure,” she said, “O cavalier,

To suffer punishment for what I say;

Because I know, to him who pens me here,

This woman quickly will the fact display;

I would not but thou shouldst the story hear.

— And let my wretched life the forfeit pay!

For what can wait me better than that he,

My gaoler, should one day my death decree?

IV

“Lo! I am Isabel, who once was styled

The daughter of Gallicia’s hapless king:

I said aright who was; but now the child

(No longer his) of care and suffering:

The fault of Love, by whom I was beguiled;

For against him alone this charge I bring.

Who sweetly, at the first, our wish applauds,

And weaves in secret but deceit and frauds.

V

“Whilom I lived, content in Fortune’s smile,

Rich, blameless, fair, and young; to sad reverse

Condemned, I now am wretched, poor, and vile,

And in worse case, if any yet be worse.

But it is fitting, I to thee this while

From their first root my troubles should rehearse.

And it will soothe me, though of thee I borrow

No help, that thou compassionate my sorrow.

VI

“My father in his city of Bayonne,

(To-day will be twelve months) a tourney dight;

Hence, led by spreading rumour to our town,

To joust, from different lands came many a knight;

Mid these (was it his manifest renown,

Or was it love which so deceived my sight)

Praise in my eyes alone Zerbino won,

Who was the mighty king of Scotland’s son.

VII

“When him I after in the field espied,

Performing wondrous feats of chivalry,

I was surprised by Love, ere I descried

That freedom in my Love, so rash a guide,

I lay this unction to my phantasy,

That no unseemly place my heart possest,

Fixed on the worthiest in the world and best.

VIII

“In beauty and in valour’s boast above

Those other lords the Scottish prince stood high.

He showed me, and, I think, be bore me love,

And left no less an ardent flame than I.

Nor lacked there one who did between us move,

To speak our common wishes frequently,

So could we still in heart and mind unite,

Although disjoined from one another’s sight.

IX

“Hence, when concluded was the festal show,

And to his home Zerbino was returned,

If thou know’st what is love, thou well may’st know

How night and day I for the warrior yearned;

And was assured, no less on him did prey

The flame, that in his constant bosom burned.

He, save a way to have me with him, nought

For solace of his restless passion sought.

X

“For different faith forbade him (on my side

I was a saracen, a Christian he)

To ask me of my father as a bride,

By stealth he purposed to elope with me.

Amid green fields, our wealthy town beside,

I had a garden, seated by the sea,

Upon the pleasant shore; from whence the eye

Might ocean and the hills about descry.

XI

“A fitting place to effect what different creed

And law forbade us, he esteemed this site,

And showed the order taken for the deed,

Which was to make our future life’s delight;

And how, near Santa Martha, for our need,

A bark was with arm’d men in ambush dight,

Under Sir Odoric of Biscay’s command;

A leader he, approved by sea and land!

XII

“Unable in his person this to do,

For by his father he was forced to wend

In succour of the king of France, in lieu

This Odoric for the purpose he would send;

Chosen, of all his faithful friends and true,

As his most faithful and his truest friend:

And such had been, if benefits could bind

And goodly deeds the friendship of mankind.

XIII

“At the time fixed to bear me thence away,

This chief would anchor on the destined ground.

— And thus it was arrived the wished for day,

Then I of them was in my garden found.

Sir Odoric, at night, with fair array

Of valiant men, by land and sea renowned,

In the near river from his bark descends,

And thence in silence to my garden wends.

XIV

“To the pitched bark with me his party sped,

Before the city knew what was at hand;

Some of the house, disarmed and naked, fled,

And some were slain; while of the helpless band,

With me, another part was captive led.

So was I severed from my native land,

Hoping in brief Zerbino to possess,

I cannot tell thee with what happiness.

XV

“Scarcely was Mongia by our galley doubled,

Ere a squall took us on the larboard side,

Which round about the clear horizon troubled,

And stirred and tost heaven-high the foaming tide.

Smote with a north-west wind, next, ocean bubbled,

Which on her other beam the vessel plied:

This evermore increases, with such force,

Starboard or larboard, boots not which our course.

XVI

“It steads not to strike sail, nor lash the mast,

Lowered on the gang-board, nor our castles fell;

The bark, in our despite, is hurried fast

Towards the pointed rocks about Rochelle:

Save He, above, assist us at the last,

The cruel storm will us ashore impel;

Driven thither by ill wind with mightier speed

Than ever bow-string gave to whistling reed.

XVII

“Our peril well does the Biscayan note,

And tries what often has an evil end;

Lowers down the galley’s skiff, and, when afloat,

Descends into it, and makes me descend:

Two follow, and a troop would throng the boat,

Did not the first prevent them, and defend

The entrance with their naked faulchions; we

Sever the rope forthwith, and put to sea.

XVIII

“Driven landward, on the shore we safely light

Who in the skiff embarked; while of our band

The rest in the split vessel sink outright;

Our goods sea-swallowed all. Upon the strand

To Eternal Love, To Goodness Infinite,

I offer up my thanks, with outstretched hand,

That I was doomed not ‘mid the watery roar

To perish, nor behold Zerbino more.

XIX

“Though I had left on shipboard matters rare,

And precious in their nature, gem and vest,

So I might hope Zerbino’s lot to share,

I was content the sea should have the rest.

No dwelling on the beach appears, nor there

Is any pathway seen, by footsteps pressed;

Only a hill, whose woody top is beat

By ceaseless winds, the waters bathe its feet.

XX

“Here the fell tyrant Love, aye prompt to range,

And faithless to his every promise still,

Who watches ever how he may derange

And mar our every reasonable will,

Converts, with woeful and disastrous change,

My comfort to despair, my good to ill:

For he, in whom Zerbino put his trust,

Cooled in his loyal faith, and burned with lust.

XXI

“Whether he his desire had nursed at sea,

And had not dared exhibit it before;

Or that it sprung from opportunity,

Suggested by that solitary shore;

Without more pause, in that lone desert, he

Would sate his greedy passion; but forbore

Till he of one could rid him, of the twain,

Who in the boat with us had scaped the main.

XXII

“A man of Scotland he, Almonio hight,

Who to Zerbino seemed great faith to bear;

And as a perfect warrior by the knight,

Praised, when to Odoric given, his trust to share:

To him (the Spaniard said) it were a slight

If I unto Rochelle afoot should fare;

And prayed, that he before would thither speed,

And forward thence some hackney, for my need.

XXIII

“Almonio, who in this suspects no ill,

Forthwith, before our party, wends his way

To the town, hidden by the wooded hill,

And which not more than six miles distant lay.

To the other finally his wicked will

Sir Odoric took courage to display;

As well because he could not rid him thence,

As that in him he had great confidence.

XXIV

“He that remained with us, of whom I said

Before, Corebo was of Bilbao hight,

Who with him under the same roof was bred

From infancy, and the ungrateful wight

Deemed that the thought he harboured in his head,

He could impart in safety to the knight,

Who would prefer, neglected of his trust,

The pleasure of his friend to what was just.

XXV

“Not without high disdain Corebo heard

(Who kind and courteous was) the Biscayneer,

And termed him traitor; and by deed and word

Withstood the purpose of his foul compeer.

This mighty wrath in either warrior stirred;

In sign whereof their naked brands they rear.

At sight of their drawn swords, in panic, I

Turn shortly through the gloomy wood to fly.

XXVI

“Sir Odoric in war well taught and bred,

Gained in few blows such vantage in the fray,

He left Corebo on the field for dead,

And, following in my steps, pursued my way.

Love lent to him (unless I am misled)

Pinions, that he might overtake his prey;

And many a prayer and glozing flattery taught,

Wherewith I to compliance might be wrought.

XXVII

“But all in vain, for I was fixed and bent,

Rather than sate his ill desire, to die.

When menace had by him been vainly spent,

And every prayer and every flattery,

He would by open force his will content;

Nor boots it aught that I entreaties try; —

Of his lord’s faith in him the wretch remind,

And how myself I to his hands resigned.

XXVIII

“When I perceived that fruitless was my prayer,

And that I could not hope for other aid;

For he assailed me like a famished bear,

With hands and feet I fierce resistance made,

As he more brutal waxed, and plucked his hair,

And with my teeth and nails his visage flayed:

This while I vent such lamentable cries,

The clamour echoes to the starry skies.

XXIX

“Were they by chance conducted, or my shriek,

Which might have well been heard a league around,

(Or, was it they were wont the shore to seek,

When any vessel split or ran aground)

I saw a crowd appear upon the peak,

Which, to the sea descending, towards us wound.

Them the Biscayan say, and at the sight

Abandoned his design, and turned to flight.

XXX

“This rabble, sir, against that treacherous man

Comes to my aid; but in such guise, that I

The homely saw, of falling from the pan

Into the fire beneath, but verify.

’Tis true so lost I was not, nor that clan

Accursed with minds of such iniquity,

That they to violate my person sought;

Though nothing good or virtuous on them wrought:

c13-030

XXXI

“But that they knew, for me preserved a maid,

As yet I am, they higher price might crave.

Eight months are past, the ninth arrived, since, stayed

By them, alive I languish in this grave.

All hope is lost of my Zerbino’s aid:

For from their speech I gather, as a slave,

I am bartered to a merchant for his gold;

By whom I to the sultan shall be sold.”

XXXII

The gentle damsel so her tale pursues,

While sobs and sighs oft interposing break

Her soft angelic voice, which might infuse

Compassion into asp, or venomed snake.

What time she so her piteous grief renews,

Or haply does her bitter anguish slake,

Some twenty men the gloomy cavern fill;

This armed with hunting-spear, and that with bill.

XXXIII

With squinting look and dark, and but one eye,

The leader of the troop, of brutish cheer

Was he, the foremost of the company;

By a blow blinded, which from nose to ear

Had cleft his jaw: when he did so descry

Seated beside the maid, that cavalier,

He turned about and said: “Lo! in the net

Another bird for whom it was not set!”

XXXIV

Then to the County cried: “I never knew

A man more opportune my wants to stead;

I know not whether any one to you

Perchance may have announced my pressing need

Of such fair arms, — or you conjectured true, —

As well as of that goodly sable weed.

You verily arrived in season are

My needs (pursued the losel) to repair.”

XXXV

With bitter smile, upstarting on his feet,

Orlando to the ruffian made reply:

“Thou at a price at which no chapman treat,

Unmarked in merchant’s books, these arms shalt buy.”

With that he snatched a brand, which, full of heat

And smoke, was smouldering in the chimney nigh,

Threw it, and smote by chance the knave half blind,

Where with the nose the meeting brows confined.

XXXVI

The brand discharged by him, hit either brow,

But most severely on the left did smite;

For that ill feature perished by the blow,

Which was the thief’s sole minister of light.

Nor is the stroke content to blind the foe;

Unsated, save it register his sprite

Among those damned souls, whom Charon keeps,

With their companions, plunged in boiling deeps.

XXXVII

A spacious table in mid cavern stood,

Two palms in thickness, in its figure square;

Propt on one huge, ill fashioned food and rude,

Which held the thief and all who harboured there.

Even with such freedom as his dart of wood

We mark the nimble Spaniard launch through air,

The heavy table Roland seized and threw,

Where, crowded close together, stood the crew.

XXXVIII

One had his belly crushed, and one his breast;

Another head or arm, or leg and thigh.

Whence some were slain outright, and maimed the rest,

While he who was least injured sought to fly.

’Tis so sometimes, with heavy stone oppressed,

A knot of slimy snakes is seen to lie,

With battered heads and loins where, winter done,

They lick their scales, rejoicing in the sun.

XXXIX

I could not say what mischiefs these offend;

One dies, and one departs without its tail;

Another crippled cannot move an-end,

And wriggling wreathes its length without avail:

While this, whom more propitious saints befriend,

Safe through the grass drags off its slimy trail.

Dire was the stroke; yet should no wonder breed,

Since good Orlando’s arm achieved the deed.

XL

Those whom the board had little maimed or nought,

(Turpin says there were seven) in craven wise,

Their safety in their feet, yet vainly, sought;

For to the cavern’s door Orlando hies.

And having them without resistance caught,

Fast with a rope their hands behind them ties;

A rope, which in the cavern on the ground,

Convenient for his purpose he had found.

XLI

He after drags them bound without the cave,

Where an old service-tree its shadow throws.

Orlando lops the branches with his glaive,

And hangs the thieves, a banquet for the crows:

Nor chain and crook for such a deed did crave:

For ready hooks the tree itself bestows,

To purge the world; where by the chin up-hung,

These, on the branches, bold Orlando strung.

XLII

The ancient woman, the assassin’s friend,

Escapes when she perceives that all are dead,

And, threading that green labyrinth without end,

Laments, and plucks the hair from off her head,

By fear impelled, through paths which sore offend

Her feet, till she, beside a river’s bed,

Encounters with a warrior: but to say

Who was the stranger champion I delay;

XLIII

And turn to her, who to the count applied,

Praying he would not leave her there alone,

And vowed to follow whither he would guide.

Orlando her consoles in courteous tone:

And thence, when, with a wreath of roses tied

About her brows, and robed in purple gown,

On wonted journey white Aurora starts,

The paladin with Isabel departs.

XLIV

Without encountering aught that might appear

Worthy of note, they wended many a day;

And finally the twain a cavalier,

As prisoner led, encountered by the way.

Who shall be told; but, tale to you as dear

Now calls me from the beaten path away;

— Of Aymon’s daughter, — whom I left above,

Languid and lost in all the pains of love.

XLV

The beauteous lady who desires in vain,

Rogero should not his return delay,

Lies in Marseilles, from whence the paynim train

She harasses, nigh each returning day;

(What time they robbing aye, by hill and plain,

Scower fruitful Languedoc and Provence gay)

And the true duty executes aright

Of a sage leader and a valiant knight.

XLVI

The time long past, she, lying in that place,

Had hoped that her Rogero would appear,

She, not beholding him in all that space,

Of many evil chances lived in fear.

One day, mid others that her woeful case

The lady wept alone, to her drew near

The dame, who with that healing ring made sound

The bosom rankling with Alcina’s wound.

XLVII

When her she saw, without her love returned,

(Such time elapsed, her mission incomplete),

Sore trembling, faint, and pale, her heart so yearned,

She scarce had strength to stand upon her feet.

But the enchantress kind, when she discerned

Her fear, advanced with smiles the maid to meet;

And to console her such glad visage wore

As messenger who joyful tidings bore.

XLVIII

“Fear not for thy Rogero: he is well

And safe (she cried), and ever worships thee,

As wonted; but thy foe, that wizard fell,

Him yet again deprives of liberty.

And it behoves thee now to climb the sell,

Would’st thou posses him, and to follow me;

For if thou wendest with me, I will lead

Whither, by thee Rogero shall be freed.”

XLIX

And next pursued, relating to her all

The frauds and magic of Atlantes hoar,

That wearing her fair face, who seemed the thrall

Of an ill giant, him had through the door

Of gold, enticed into the enchanted hall,

And after disappeared, the youth before;

And told how dames and cavaliers he cheats

Who thither make resort, with like deceits.

L

Seeing the sage, all think they see a squire,

Companion, lady-love, or absent friend;

Whatever is each several wight’s desire:

Since to our scope our wishes never tend.

Hence searching every where, themselves they tire

With labour sore, and frustrate of their end;

And cannot, (so Desire and Hope deceive),

Without the missing good, that palace leave.

LI

“As soon as thou (pursued the dame) art near

The place where he has built the magic seat,

Resembling thy Rogero in his cheer

And every look, Atlantes thee shall meet,

And make himself by his ill art appear

As suffering from some stronger arm defeat;

That thou may’st aid him in the peril feigned,

And thus among those others be detained.

LII

“To the end thou may’st escape his ambush, where

So many and so many, thus betrayed,

Have fallen; though he Rogero seem, beware

To lend him faith, who will demand thine aid:

Nor, when the sage presents himself, forbear

To take his worthless life with lifted blade.

Nor think to slay Rogero with the blow,

But him who works thee still such cruel woe.

LIII

“Hard will it seem to slay, full well I know,

The wight, in whom Rogero you descry:

But, for truth is not in the lying show,

Trust not to sight where magic blears the eye.

Fix, ere with me you to the forest go,

To change not when the traitorous foe is nigh:

For never shall with you Rogero wive,

If weakly you the wizard leave alive.”

LIV

The valorous maid with the intent to slay

The false enchanter, on her plan decides,

Snatches her arms, and follows on her way

Melissa sage, in whom she so confides,

And thus, by fruitful field or forest gray,

Her by forced journeys that enchantress guides;

And studies to beguile their weary course

Ever, as best she may, with sweet discourse:

LV

And as the fairest topic of all those

Which might be grateful to the damsel’s ear,

Her future offspring and Rogero’s chose

(A race of demigods) in prince and peer.

For as Melissa all the secrets knows

Of the eternal gods who rule our sphere,

The good enchantress can discover all

Which should in many ages hence befall.

LVI

“Oh! my best guide.” exclaimed the damsel bold

To the weird-woman that to aid her came,

“As thou hast many years before foretold

Men who shall glorify my race and name,

So now I pray thee, lady, to unfold

The praise and virtues of some noble dame,

If from my lineage any such shall rise.”

To whom Melissa courteously replies:

LVII

“Chaste dames of thee descended I survey,

Mothers of those who wear imperial crown,

And mighty kings; the column and the stay

Of glorious realms and houses of renown.

And as thy sons will shine in arms, so they

Will no less fame deserve in female gown,

With piety and sovereign prudence graced,

And noble hearts, incomparably chaste.

LVIII

“And if at length, I should relate to thee

The praise of all who from thy root ascend,

Too long my tale would hold, nor do I see

Whom I could pass, where all to fame pretend.

But from a thousand I some two or three

Will choose, because my tale may have an end.

Why was not in the cave thy wish made known,

Where I their shadows might as well have shown?

LIX

“To hear of one of thy famed race prepare,

Whom liberal studies and good works engage;

Of whom, I know not well, if she more fair

May be entitled, or more chaste and sage;

The noble-minded Isabel, who, where

It stands on Mincius’ bank, in other age

Shall gild the town, of Ocnus’ mother hight,

With her own glorious rays by day and night;

LX

“Where, with her worthiest consort she will strain,

In honoured and in splendid rivalry,

Which best shall prize the virtues’ goodly train,

And widest ope the gates to courtesy.

If he by Taro, and in Naples’ reign,

(’Tis said), from Gauls delivered Italy,

’Twill be replied. Penelope the chaste,

As such, was not beneath Ulysses placed.

LXI

“Great things and many thus I sum in few

Of this brave dame, and others leave behind:

Which when I from the vulgar herd withdrew,

Sage Merlin from the hollow stone divined.

For I should leave old Typhis out of view,

If on such sea I launched before the wind:

And with this finish my prophetic strain,

— All blessings on her head the skies will rain.

c13-Merlin

LXII

“With her shall be her sister Beatrice,

Whose fortunes well shall with her name accord;

Who, while she lives, not only shall not miss

What good the heavens to those below afford,

But make, with her, partaker of her bliss,

First among wealthy dukes, her cherished lord;

Who shall, when she from hence receives her call,

Into the lowest depth of misery fall.

LXIII

“Viscontis’ serpents will be held in dread,

And Moro and Sforza, while this dame shall be,

From Hyperborean snows to billows red;

From Ind to hills, which to a double sea

Afford a passage; and, the lady dead,

To the sore mischief of all Italy,

Will with the Insubri into slavery fall;

And men shall sovereign wisdom fortune call.

LXIV

“Other the same illustrious name will bear,

And who will flourish many years before.

Pannonia’s garland one of these shall wear.

Another matron on the Ausonian shore,

When she shall be released from earthly care,

Men will among the blessed saints adore;

With incense will approach the dame divine,

And hang with votive images her shrine.

LXV

“The others I shall pass in silence by,

For ’twere too much (as said before) to sound

Their fame: though each might well deserve, that high

Heroic trump should in her praise be wound.

Hence the Biancas and Lucretias I

And Constances and more reserve; who found,

Or else repair, upon Italian land,

Illustrious houses with supporting hand.

LXVI

“Thy race, which shall all else in this excel,

In the rare fortune of its women thrives;

Nor of its daughters’ honour more I tell

Than of the lofty virtue of its wives:

And that thou may’st take note of this as well,

Which Merlin said of thy descendents’ lives,

(Haply that I the story might narrate)

This I no little covet to relate.

LXVII

“Of good Richarda first shall be my strain,

Mirror of chastity and fortitude,

Who, young, remains a widow, in disdain

Of fortune: (that which oft awaits the good)

Exiles, and cheated of their father’s reign,

She shall behold the children of her blood

Wandering into the clutches of their foe;

Yet find at last a quittance for her woe.

LXVIII

“Nor sprung from the ancient root of Aragon,

I of the gorgeous queen will silent be;

Than whom more prudent or more chaste is none,

Renowned in Greek or Latin history;

Nor who so fortunate a course will run,

After that, by divine election, she

Shall with the goodly race of princes swell,

Alphonso, Hyppolite, and Isabel.

LXIX

“The prudent Eleanour is this: a spray

Which will be grafted on thy happy tree.

What of the fruitful stepchild shall I say,

Who in succession next to her I see,

Lucretia Borgia? who, from day to day,

Shall wax in beauty, virtue, chastity,

And fortune, that like youthful plant will shoot,

Which into yielding soil has struck its root.

LXX

“As tin by silver, brass by gold, as Corn-

Poppy beside the deeply-crimsoning rose,

Willow by laurel evergreen, as shorn

Of light, stained glass by gem that richly glows,

— So by this dame I honour yet unborn,

Each hitherto distinguished matron shows;

For beauty and for prudence claiming place,

And all praise-worthy excellence and grace.

LXXI

“And above every other noble praise,

Which shall distinguished her alive or dead,

Is that by her shall be, through kingly ways,

Her Hercules and other children led;

Who thus the seeds of worth in early days,

To bloom in council and in camp, will shed.

For long wine’s savour lingers in the wood

Of the new vessel, whether bad or good.

LXXII

“Nor the step-daughter of this noble dame,

Will I, Renata, hight of France, forget,

Of Louis born, twelfth monarch of his name,

And Bretagne’s pride; all virtues ever yet

Bestowed on woman, since the ruddy flame

Has warmed, or water had the power to wet,

Or overhead the circling heavens have rolled,

United in Renata I behold.

LXXIII

“ ’Twere long to tell of Alda de Sansogna,

Or of Celano’s countess in this string,

Or Blanche Maria, stiled of Catalonia;

Or her, the daughter of Sicilia’s king,

Or of the beauteous Lippa de Bologna,

Or more, with whose renown the world shall ring,

To speak whose separate praise with fitting lore,

Were to attempt a sea without a shore.”

LXXIV

When of the larger portion of her seed

The king enchantress at full ease had told,

And oft and oft rehearsed, amid the rede,

What arts Rogero to the wizard’s hold

Had drawn, Melissa halted near the mead

Where stood the mansion of Atlantes old,

Nor would approach the magic dome more nigh,

Lest her the false magician should espy.

LXXV

And yet again advised the martial maid,

(Counsel she had a thousand times bestowed)

Then left, Nor Bradamant through greenwood shade

More than two miles in narrow path had rode,

Before, by two fierce giants overlaid,

She saw a knight, who like Rogero showed,

So closely pressed, and labouring sore for breath,

That he appeared well nigh reduced to death.

LXXVI

When she beheld him in such perilous strait,

Who of Rogero all the tokens wore,

She quickly lost the faith she nourished late,

Quickly her every fair design forbore.

She weens Melissa bears Rogero hate,

For some new injury unheard before:

And with unheard of hate and wrong, her foe

Would by her hand destroy who loves him so.

LXXVII

She cried, “And is not this Rogero, who

Aye present to my heart, is now to sight?

If ’tis not him whom I agnize and view.

Whom e’er shall I agnize or view aright?

Why should I other’s judgment deem more true

Than the belief that’s warranted by sight?

Even without eyes, and by my heart alone,

If he were near or distant, would be shown.”

LXXVIII

While so the damsel thinks, a voice she hears,

Which, like Rogero’s, seems for aid to cry;

At the same time, the worsted knight appears

To slack the bridle and the rowels ply:

While at full speed the goaded courser clears

His ground, pursued by either enemy.

Nor paused the dame, in following them who sought

His life, till to the enchanted palace brought.

LXXIX

Of which no sooner has she past the door,

Than she is cheated by the common show.

Each crooked way or straight her feet explore

Within it and without, above, below;

Nor rests she night or day, so strong the lore

Of the enchanter, who has ordered so,

She (though they still encounter and confer)

Knows not Rogero, nor Rogero her.

LXXX

But leave we Bradamant, nor grieve, O ye

Who hear, that she is prisoned by the spell,

Since her in fitting time I shall set free,

And good Rogero, from the dome as well,

As taste is quickened by variety,

So it appears that, in the things I tell,

The wider here and there my story ranges,

It will be found less tedious for its changes.

LXXXI

Meseems that I have many threads to clear

In the great web I labour evermore;

And therefore be ye not displeased to hear

How, all dislodged, the squadrons of the Moor,

Threatening the golden lines loud, appear

In arms, the royal Agramant before:

Who bids for a review his army post,

Willing to know the numbers of his host.

LXXXII

For besides horse and foot, in the campaign

Sore thinned, whose numbers were to be supplied,

Had many captains, and those good, of Spain,

Of Libya, and of Aethiopia, died;

And thus the nations, and the various train,

Wandered without a ruler or a guide.

To give to each its head and order due,

The ample camp is mustered in review.

LXXXIII

To fill the squadrons ravaged by the sword,

In those fierce battles and those conflicts dread,

This to his Spain, to his Africa that lord,

Sent to recruit, where well their files they fed;

And next distributed the paynim horde

Under their proper captains, ranged and led.

I, with your leave, till other strain, delay

The order of the muster to display.

Canto 14

Argument

Two squadrons lack of those which muster under

King Agramant, by single Roland slain;

Hence furious Mandricardo, full of wonder

And envy, seeks the count by hill and plain:

Next joys himself with Doralice; such plunder,

Aided by heaven, his valiant arms obtain.

Rinaldo comes, with the angel-guide before,

To Paris, now assaulted by the Moor.

I

In many a fierce assault and conflict dread,

‘Twixt Spain and Afric and their Gallic foe,

Countless had been the slain, whose bodies fed

The ravening eagle, wolf, and greedy crow;

But though the Franks had worse in warfare sped,

Forced all the champaigne country to forego,

This had the paynims purchased at the cost

Of more good princes and bold barons lost.

II

So bloody was the price of victory,

Small ground was left them triumphs to prepare;

And if, unconquered Duke Alphonso, we

May modern things with ancient deeds compare,

The battle, whose illustrious palm may be

Well worthily assigned to you to wear,

At whose remembrance sad Ravenna trembles,

And aye shall weep her loss, this field resembles.

III

When the Calesians and the Picards yielding,

And troops of Normandy and Aquitaine,

You, with your valiant arms their squadrons shielding,

Stormed the almost victorious flags of Spain;

And those bold youths their trenchant weapons wielding,

Through parted squadrons, followed in your train;

Who on that day deserved you should accord,

For honoured gifts, the gilded spur and sword.

IV

You, with such glorious hearts, who were not slow

To follow, nor far off, the gorgeous oak

Seized, and shook down the golden acorns so,

And so the red and yellow truncheon broke,

That we to you our festive laurels owe,

And the fair lily, rescued from its stroke;

Another wreath may round your temples bloom,

In that Fabricius you preserved to Rome.

V

Rome’s mighty column, by your valiant hand

Taken and kept entire, more praise has shed

On you, than if the predatory band

Had routed by your single valour bled,

Of all who flocked to fat Ravenna’s land,

Or masterless, without a banner fled,

Of Arragon, Castile, or of Navarre;

When vain was lance or cannon’s thundering car.

VI

This dear-bought victory brought more relief

Than joy, by its event too much outweighed,

The loss of that French captain and our chief,

Whom dead we on the fatal field surveyed;

And swallowed in one storm, for further grief,

So many glorious princes, who, arrayed

For safeguard of their own, or neighbouring lands,

Had poured through, frozen Alps their friendly bands.

VII

Our present safety, and life held in fear,

We see assured us by this victory,

That saved us from the wintry tempest drear,

Which would have whelmed us from Jove’s angry sky.

But ill can we rejoice, while yet the tear

Is standing in full many a widow’s eye,

Who weeping and attired in sable, vents,

Throughout all grieving France, her loud laments.

VIII

’Tis meet King Lewis should find new supplies

Of chiefs by whom his troops may be arrayed,

Who for the lilies’ honour shall chastise

The hands which so rapaciously have preyed;

Who brethren, black and white, in shameful wise,

Have outraged, sister, mother, wife, and maid,

And cast on earth Christ’s sacrament divine,

With the intent to thieve his silver shrine.

IX

Hadst thou not made resistance to thy foe,

Better, Ravenna, had it been for thee,

And thou been warned by Brescia’s fate, than so

Thine should Faenza warn and Rimini.

O Lewis, bid good old Trivulzio go

With thine, and to thy bands example be,

And tell what ills such license still has bred,

Heaping our ample Italy with dead.

X

As the illustrious King of France has need

Of captains to supply his leaders lost,

So the two kings who Spain and Afric lead,

To give new order to the double host,

Resolve their bands should muster on the mead,

From winter lodgings moved and various post;

That they may furnish, as their wants demand,

A guide and government to every band.

XI

Marsilius first, and after Agramant,

Passing it troop by troop their army scan.

The Catalonians, who their captain vaunt

In Doriphoebus, muster in the van;

And next, without their monarch Fulvirant,

Erst killed by good Rinaldo, comes the clan

Of bold Navarre; whose guideless band to steer

The King of Spain appoints Sir Isolier.

XII

With Balugantes Leon’s race comes on,

The Algarbi governed by Grandonio wheel.

The brother of Marsilius, Falsiron,

Brings up with him the power of Less Castile.

They follow Madarasso’s gonfalon,

Who have left Malaga and fair Seville,

‘Twixt fruitful Cordova and Cadiz-bay,

Where through green banks the Betis winds its way.

XIII

Stordilane, Tessira, and Baricond,

After each other, next their forces stirred;

This in Grenada, that in Lisbon crowned;

Majorca was obedient to the third.

Larbino had Lisbon ruled, whose golden round

Was at his death on Tessira conferred;

His kinsman he: Gallicia came in guide

Or Serpentine, who Mericold supplied.

XIV

They of Toledo and of Calatrave,

Who erst with Sinnagon’s broad banner spread,

Marched, and the multitude who drink and lave

Their limbs in chrystal Guadiana’s bed,

Came thither, under Matalista brave;

Beneath Bianzardin, their common head,

Astorga, Salamanca, Placenza,

With Avila, Zamorra, and Palenza.

XV

The household-troops which guard Marsilius’ state,

And Saragossa’s men, Ferrau commands;

And in this force, well-sheathed in mail and plate,

Bold Malgarine and Balinverno stands;

Morgant and Malzarise, whom common fate

Had both condemned to dwell in foreign lands,

Who, when dethroned, had to Marsilius’ court

(There hospitably harboured) made resort.

XVI

Follicon, Kind Marsilius’ bastard, hies

With valiant Doricont; amid this horde,

Bavartes, Analard, and Argalise,

And Archidantes, the Saguntine lord.

Here, Malagur, in ready cunning wise,

And Ammirant and Langhiran the sword

Unsheath, and march; of whom I shall endite,

When it is time, their prowess to recite.

XVII

When so had filed the warlike host of Spain

In fair review before King Agramant,

Appeared King Oran with his martial train,

Who might almost a giant’s stature vaunt;

Next they who weep their Martasino, slain

By the avenging sword of Bradamant,

King of the Garamantes, and lament

That woman triumphs in their monarch spent.

XVIII

Marmonda’s men next past the royal Moor,

Who left Argosto dead on Gascon meads;

And this unguided band, like that before,

As well as the fourth troop, a captain needs.

Although King Agramant has little store

Of chiefs, he feigns a choice, and thinks; next speeds

Buraldo, Ormida, and Arganio tried,

Where needing, the unordered troops to guide.

XIX

He give Arganio charge of Libicane,

Who wept the sable Dudrinasso dead.

Brunello guides the men of Tingitane,

With cloudy countenance and drooping head;

Who since he in the wooded mountain-chain

(Nigh where Atlantes dwelt), to her he led,

Fair Bradamant, had lost the virtuous ring,

Had lived in the displeasure of his king;

XX

And but that Ferrau’s brother Isolier,

Who fastened to a stem had found him there,

Made to King Agramant the truth appear,

He from the gallows-tree had swung in air:

Already fastened was the noose, and near

The caitiff’s fate, when at the many’s prayer

The king bade loose him; but reprieving, swore,

For his first fault to hang, offending more.

XXI

Thus, not without a cause, Brunello pined,

And showed a mournful face, and hung his head.

Next Farurantes; to whose care consigned,

Maurina’s valiant horse and footmen tread.

The new-made king Libanio comes behind,

By whom are Constatina’s people led:

Since Agramant the crown and staff of gold,

Once Pinador’s, had given to him to hold.

XXII

Hesperia’s people come with Soridan,

With Dorilon the men of Setta ride;

The Nasamonians troop with Pulian,

And Agricaltes is Ammonia’s guide.

Malabupherso rules o’er Fezzan’s clan,

And Finaduro leads the band supplied

By the Canary Islands and Morocco:

Balastro fills the place of king Tardocco.

XXIII

Next Mulga and Arzilla’s legions two.

The first beneath their ancient captains wend;

The second troop without a leader, who

Are given to Corineus, the sovereign’s friend.

So (late Tanphirion’s) Almonsilla’s crew,

To a new monarch in Caichus bend.

Goetulia is bestowed on Rhimedont,

And Cosca comes in charge of Balinfront.

XXIV

Ruled by Clarindo, Bolga’s people go,

Who fills the valiant Mirabaldo’s post:

Him Baliverso, whom I’d have you know

For the worst ribald in that ample host,

Succeeded next. I think not, ‘mid that show,

The bannered camp a firmer troop could boast

Than that which followed in Sobrino’s care;

Nor Saracen than him more wise and ware.

XXV

Gualciotto dead, Bellamarina’s crew,

(His vassals) serve, the sovereign of Algiers,

King Rodomont, of Sarza; that anew

Brought up a band of foot and cavaliers:

Whom, when the cloudy sun his rays withdrew

Beneath the Centaur and the Goat, his spears

There to recruit, was sent to the Afric shore

By Agramant, returned three days before.

XXVI

There was no Saracen of bolder strain,

Of all the chiefs who Moorish squadrons led;

And Paris-town (nor is the terror vain)

More of the puissant warrior stands in dread

Than of King Agramant and all the train,

Which he, or the renowned Marsilius head;

And amid all that mighty muster, more

Than others, hatred to our faith he bore.

XXVII

Prusion is the Alvaracchia’s king: below

King Dardinello’s flag Zumara’s power

Is ranged. I wot not, I, if owl or crow,

Or other bird ill-omened, which from tower

Or tree croaks future evil, did foreshow

To one or to the other, that the hour

Was fixed in heaven, when on the following day

Either should perish in this deadly fray.

XXVIII

Noritia’s men and Tremisene’s alone

Were wanting to complete the paynim host;

But in the martial muster sign was none,

Nor tale, nor tiding of the squadrons lost;

To wondering Agramant alike unknown,

What kept the slothful warriors from their post,

When of King Tremisene’s a squire was brought

Before him, who at large the mischief taught;

XXIX

— Who taught how Manilardo was laid low,

Alzirdo, and many others, on the plain.

— “Sir,” said the bearer of the news, “the foe

Who slew our troop, would all thy camp have slain,

If thine assembled host had been more slow

Than me, who, as it was, escaped with pain.

This man slays horse and foot, as in the cote,

The wolf makes easy waste of sheep and goat.”

XXX

Where the bold Africans their standards plant,

A warrior had arrived some days before;

Nor was there in the west, or whole Levant,

A knight, with heart or prowess gifted more.

To him much grace was done by Agramant,

As successor of Agrican, who wore

The crown of Tartary, a warrior wight;

The son the famous Mandricardo hight.

XXXI

Renowned he was for many a glorious quest

Atchieved, and through the world his fame was blown.

But him had glorified above the rest

Worth in the Syrian fairy’s castle shown:

Where mail, which cased the Trojan Hector’s breast

A thousand years before, he made his own.

And finished that adventure, strange and fell;

A story which breeds terror but to tell.

XXXII

When the squire told his news amid that show

Of troops, was present Agrican’s bold son,

Who raised his daring face, resolved to go

And find the warrior who the deed had done;

But the design he hatched, forebore to show;

As making small account of any one,

Or fearing lest, should he reveal his thought,

The quest by other champion might be sought.

XXXIII

He of the squire demanded what the vest

And bearings, which the valiant stranger wore;

Who answered that he went without a crest,

And sable shield and sable surcoat bore.

— And, sir, ’twas true; for so was Roland drest;

The old device renounced he had before:

For as he mourned within, so he without,

The symbols of his grief would bear about.

XXXIV

Marsilius had to Mandricardo sped,

As gift, a courser of a chestnut stain,

Whose legs and mane were sable; he was bred

Between a Friesland mare and nag of Spain.

King Mandricardo, armed from foot to head,

Leapt on the steed and galloped o’er the plain,

And swore upon the camp to turn his back

Till he should find the champion clad in black.

XXXV

The king encounters many of the crew

Whom good Orlando’s arm had put to flight;

And some a son, and some a brother rue,

Who in the rout had perished in their sight;

And in the coward’s cheek of pallid hue

Is yet pourtrayed the sad and craven sprite:

— Yet, through the fear endured, they far and nigh,

Pallid, and silent, and insensate fly.

XXXVI

Nor he long was had rode, ere he descried

A passing-cruel spectacle and sore;

But which the wonderous feats well testified,

That were recounted Agramant before.

Now on this hand, now that, the dead he eyed,

Measured their wounds, and turned their bodies o’er;

Moved by strange envy of the knight whose hand

Had strown the champaign with the slaughtered band.

XXXVII

As wolf or mastiff-dog, who comes the last

Where the remains of slaughtered bullock lie,

And finds but horn and bones, where rich repast

Had fed the ravening hound and vulture night,

Glares vainly on the scull, unsmacked; so passed

The barbarous Tartar king those bodies by;

And grudged, lamenting, like the hungry beast,

To have come too late for such a sumptuous feast.

XXXVIII

That day, and half the next, in search he strayed

Of him who wore the sable vest and shield.

When lo! he saw a mead, o’ertopt with shade,

Where a deep river wound about the field,

With narrow space between the turns it made,

Where’er from side to side the water wheeled.

Even such a spot as this with circling waves

Below Otricoli the Tyber laves.

XXXIX

Where this deep stream was fordable, he scanned

A crowd of cavaliers that armour bore:

And these the paynim questioned who had manned,

With such a troop, and to what end, the shore?

To him replied the captain of the band,

Moved by his lordly air, and arms he wore,

Glittering with gold and jewels, — costly gear,

Which showed him an illustrious cavalier.

XL

“In charge” (he said) “we of the daughter go

Of him our king, who fills Granada’s throne,

Espoused by Rodomont of Sarza, though

To fame the tidings are as yet unknown.

And we, departing when the sun is low,

And the cicala hushed, which now alone

Is heard, shall bring her where her father keeps

I’ the Spanish camp; meanwhile the lady sleeps.”

XLI

He who for scorn had daffed the world aside,

Designs to see at once, how able were

Those horsemen to defend the royal bride,

Committed by their sovereign to their care.

“The maid, by what I hear, is fair” (he cried).

“Fain would I now be certified, how fair:

Then me to her, or her to me convey,

For I must quickly wend another way.”

XLII

“Thou needs art raving mad,” replied in few

The chief, — nor more. But with his lance in rest,

The Tartar monarch at the speaker flew,

And with the levelled spear transfixed his breast.

For the point pierced the yielding corslet through,

And lifeless he, perforce, the champaign prest.

The son of Agrican his lance regained,

Who weaponless without the spear remained.

XLIII

Now sword nor club the warlike Tartar bore,

Since, when the Trojan Hector’s plate and chain

He gained, because the faulchion lacked, he swore

(To this obliged), nor swore the king in vain,

That save he won the blade Orlando wore,

He would no other grasp, — that Durindane.

Held in high value by Almontes bold,

Which Roland bears, and Hector bore of old.

XLIV

Great is the Tartar monarch’s daring, those

At such a disadvantage to assay,

He pricks, with levelled lance, among his foes,

Shouting, in fury, — “Who shall bar my way?” —

Round and about him suddenly they close;

These draw the faulchion, and those others lay

The spear in rest: a multitude he slew,

Before his lance was broke upon the crew.

XLV

When this he saw was broke, the truncheon sound

And yet entire, he took, both hands between,

And with so many bodies strewed the ground,

That direr havoc never yet was seen:

And as with that jaw bone, by hazard found,

The Hebrew Samson slew the Philistine,

Crushed helm and shield; and often side by side,

Slain by the truncheon, horse and rider died.

XLVI

In running to their death the wretches vie,

Nor cease because their comrades perish near:

Yet bitterer in such a mode to die,

Than death itself, does to the troop appear.

They grudge to forfeit precious life, and lie

Crushed by the fragment of a broken spear;

And think foul scorn beneath the pounding stake

Strangely to die the death of frog or snake.

XLVII

But after they at their expense had read

That it was ill to die in any way,

And near two thirds were now already dead,

The rest began to fly in disarray.

As if with what was his the vanquished fled,

The cruel paynim, cheated of his prey,

Ill bore that any, from the murderous strife

Of that scared rabble, should escape with life.

XLVIII

As in the well-dried fen or stubble-land,

Short time the stalk endures, or stridulous reed,

Against the flames, which careful rustic’s hand

Scatters when Boreas blows the fires to feed;

What time they take, and by the north-wind fanned.

Crackle and snap, and through the furrow speed;

No otherwise, with little profit, those

King Mandricardo’s kindled wrath oppose.

XLIX

When afterwards he marks the entrance free,

Left ill-secured, and without sentinel.

He, following prints (which had been recently

Marked on the mead), proceeds, amid the swell

Of loud laments, Granada’s dame to see,

If she as beauteous were as what they tell.

He wound his way ‘mid corpses, where the wave,

Winding from side to side, a passage gave:

L

And in the middle of the mead surveyed

Doralice (such the gentle lady’s name),

Who, at the root of an old ash tree laid,

Bemoaned her: fast her lamentations came.

And tears, like plenteous vein of water, strayed

Into the beauteous bosom of the dame;

Who, (so it from her lovely face appeared,)

For others mourned, while for herself she feared.

LI

Her fear increased when she approaching spied

Him foul with blood, and marked his felon cheer;

And piercing shrieks the very sky divide

Raised by herself and followers, in their fear.

For over and above the troop who guide

The fair infanta, squire and cavalier,

Came ancient men and matrons in her train,

And maids, the fairest of Granada’s reign.

LII

When that fair face by him of Tartary

Is seen, which has no paragon in Spain,

Where amid tears (in laughter what were she?)

Is twisted Love’s inextricable chain.

He knows not if in heaven or earth he be;

Nor from his victory reaps other gain,

Than yielding up himself a thrall to her,

(He knows not why) who was his prisoner.

LIII

Yet not so far his courtesy he strained,

That he would lose his labour’s fruit, although

The royal damsel showed, who sorely plained,

Such grief as women in despair can show.

He, who the hope within him entertained

To turn to sovereign joy her present woe,

Would wholly bear her off; whom having placed

On a white jennet, he his way retraced.

LIV

He dames, maids, ancient men, and others, who

Had from Granada with the damsel fared,

Kindly dismissed, their journey to pursue;

Saying, “My care suffices; I of guard,

Of guide, of handmaid will the office do,

To serve her in her every need prepared.

Farewell!” and thus unable to withstand

The wrong, with tears and sighs withdrew the band,

LV

Saying, “How woe-begone will be her sire,

When he the miserable case shall hear!

What grief will be the bridegroom’s! what his ire!

How dread the vengeance of that cavalier!

When so the lady’s needs such help require.

Alas! and why is not the champion near,

To save the illustrious blood of Stordilane,

Ere the thief bears her farther hence, from stain?”

LVI

The Tartar, joying in the prize possest,

Which he by chance and valour won and wore;

To find the warrior of the sable vest

Seemed not to have the haste he had before,

And stopp’d and loitered, where he whilom prest;

And cast about and studied evermore

To find some fitting shelter; with desire,

In quiet to exhale such amorous fire.

LVII

Doralice he consoled this while, whose eyes

And cheek were wetted with the frequent tear,

And many matters feigned and flattering lies;

— How, known by fame, he long had held her dear,

And how his country and glad realm, whose size

Shamed others, praised for grandeur far and near,

He quitted, not for sight of France or Spain;

But to behold that cheek of lovely grain.

LVIII

“If a man merits love by loving, I

Yours by my love deserve; if it is won

By birth, — who boasts a genealogy

Like me, the puissant Agricano’s son?

By riches, — who with me in wealth can vie.

That in dominion yield to God alone?

By courage, — I today (I ween) have proved

That I for courage merit to be loved.”

LIX

These words, and many others on his part,

Love frames and dictates to the Tartar knight,

Which sweetly tend to cheer the afflicted heart

Of the unhappy maid, disturbed with fright.

By these fear first was laid, and next the smart

Sheathed of that woe, which had nigh pierced her sprite;

And with more patience thence the maid began

To hear, and her new lover’s reasons scan.

LX

Next much more affable, with courteous lore

Seasoning her answers to his suit, replies;

Nor looking at the king, sometimes forbore

To fix upon his face her pitying eyes.

The paynim thence, whom Love had smote before,

Not hopeful now, but certain, of his prize,

Deemed that the lovely damsel would not still,

As late, be found rebellious to his will.

LXI

Riding in her glad company a-field,

Which so rejoiced his soul, so satisfied;

And being near the time, when to their bield,

Warned by the chilly night, all creatures hied,

Seeing the sun now low and half concealed,

The warrior ‘gan in greater hurry ride;

Until he heard reed-pipe and whistle sound,

And next saw farm and cabin smoking round.

LXII

Pastoral lodgings were the dwellings near,

Less formed for show, than for conveniency;

And the young damsel and the cavalier

The herdsman welcomed with such courtesy,

That both were pleasured by his kindly cheer.

For not alone dwells Hospitality

In court and city; but ofttimes we find

In loft and cottage men of gentle kind.

LXIII

What afterwards was done at close of day

Between the damsel and the Tartar lord,

I will not take upon myself to say;

So leave to each, at pleasure, to award.

But as they rose the following morn more gay,

It would appear they were of fair accord:

And on the swain who them such honour showed,

Her thanks at parting Doralice bestowed.

LXIV

Thence from one place to the other wandering, they

Find themselves by a river, as they go.

Which to the sea in silence winds its way,

And ill could be pronounced to stand or flow,

So clear and limpid, that the cheerful day,

With nought to intercept it, pierced below.

Upon its bank, beneath a cooling shade,

They found two warriors and a damsel laid.

LXV

Now lofty Fancy, which one course to run

Permits not, calls me hence in sudden wise;

And thither I return, where paynims stun

Fair France with hosile din and angry cries,

About the tent, wherein Troyano’s son

They holy empire in his wrath defies,

And boastful Rodomont, with vengeful doom,

Gives Paris to the flames, and levels Rome.

LXVI

Tidings had reached the Moorish sovereign’s ear

That the English had already passed the sea;

And he bade Garbo’s aged king appear,

Marsilius, and his heads of chivalry:

Who all advised the monarch to prepare

For the assault of Paris. They may be

Assured they in the storm will never thrive,

Unless ’tis made before the aids arrive.

LXVII

Innumerable ladders for the scale

Had been collected upon every hand,

And plank and beam, and hurdle’s twisted mail,

For different uses, at the king’s command;

And bridge and boat; and, what might more avail

Than all the rest, a first and second band

For the assault (so bids the monarch) form;

Who will himself go forth with them that storm.

LXVIII

The emperor, on the vigil of the day

Of battle, within Paris, everywhere,

By priest and friar of orders black and gray,

And white, bade celebrate mass-rite and prayer;

And those who had confessed, a fair array,

And from the Stygian demons rescued were,

Communicated in such fashions, all,

As if they were the ensuing day to fall.

LXIX

At the high church, he, girt with paladine

And preachers of the word, and barons brave,

With much devotion at those acts divine

Assisted, and a fair example gave;

And there with folded hands and face supine,

Exclaimed, “O Lord! although my sins be grave,

Permit not, that, in this their utmost need,

Thy people suffer for their king’s misdeed!

LXX

“And if that they should suffer is thy will,

And that they should due penance undergo,

At least delay thy purpose to fulfil;

So that thine enemies deal not the blow.

For, when ’tis given him in his wrath to kill

Us who are deemed thy friends, the paynim foe,

That thou art without power to save, will cry,

Because thou lett’st thy faithful people die:

LXXI

“And, for one faithless found, against thy sway

A hundred shall throughout the world rebel;

So that false Babel’s law will have its way,

And thus thy blessed faith put down and quell.

Defend thy suffering people, who are they

That purged thy tomb from heathen hounds and fell.

And many times and oft, by foes offended,

Thy holy church and vicars have defended.

LXXII

“That our deserts unfitting are to place

I’ the scale against our mighty debt, I know;

Nor pardon can we hope, if we retrace

Our sinful lives; but if thou shouldst bestow

In aid, the gift of they redeeming grace,

The account is quit and balanced, that we owe;

Nor can we of thy succour, Lord, despair,

While we in mind thy saving mercy bear.”

LXXIII

So spake the holy emperor aloud,

In humbleness of heart and deep contrition;

And added other prayers withal, and vowed

What fitted his great needs and high condition.

Now was his supplication disallowed;

For his good genius hears the king’s petition,

Best of the seraphs he; who spreads his wings,

And to the Saviour’s feet this offering brings.

LXXIV

Infinite other prayers as well preferred,

Were, by like couriers, to the Godhead’s ear

So borne; which when the blessed spirits heard,

They all together gazed, with pitying cheer,

On their eternal, loving Lord, and, stirred

With one desire, besought that he would hear

The just petition, to his ears conveyed,

Of this his Christian people, seeking aid.

LXXV

And the ineffable Goodness, who in vain

Was never sought by faithful heart, an eye,

Full of compassion, raised; and from the train

Waved Michael, and to the arch-angel: “Hie,

To seek the Christian host that crost the main,

And lately furled their sails in Picardy:

These so conduct to Paris, that their tramp

And noise be heard not in the hostile camp.

LXXVI

“Find Silence first, and bid him, on my part,

On this emprize attend thee, at thy side:

Since he for such a quest, with happiest art

Will know what is most fitting to provide.

Next, where she sojourns, instantly impart

To Discord my command, that she, supplied

With steel and tinder, ‘mid the paynims go,

And fire and flame in their encampment blow;

LXXVII

“And throughout those among them, who are said

To be the mightiest, spread such strife, that they

Together may contend, and that some dead

Remain, some hurt, some taken in the fray;

And some to leave the camp, by wrath, be led;

So that they yield their sovereign little stay.”

Nothing the blessed winged-one replies,

But swoops descending from the starry skies.

LXXVIII

Where’er the angel Michael turns his wing,

The clouds are scattered and the sky turns bright;

About his person forms a golden ring,

As we see summer lightning gleam at night.

This while the courier of the heavenly king

Thinks, on his way, where he may best alight,

With the intent to find that foe to speech,

To whom he first his high behest would teach.

LXXIX

Upon the thought the posting angel brooded,

Where he, for whom he sought was used to dwell,

Who after thinking much, at last concluded

Him he should find in church or convent cell;

Where social speech is in such mode excluded,

That SILENCE, where the cloistered brethren swell

Their anthems, where they sleep, and where they sit

At meat; and everywhere in fine is writ.

LXXX

Weening that he shall find him here, he plies

With greater speed his plumes of gilded scale,

And deems as well that Peace, here guested, lies,

And Charity and Quiet, without fail.

But finds he is deceived in his surmise,

As soon as he has past the cloister’s pale.

Here Silence is not; nor (’tis said) is found

Longer, except in writing, on this ground.

LXXXI

Nor here he Love, nor here he Peace surveys,

Piety, Quiet, or Humility.

Here dwelt they once; but ’twas in ancient days;

Chased hence by Avarice, Anger, Gluttony,

Pride, Envy, Sloth, and Cruelty. In amaze

The angel mused upon such novelty:

He narrowly the hideous squadron eyed,

And Discord too amid the rest espied;

LXXXII

Even her, to whom the eternal Sire as well,

Having found Silence, bade him to repair.

He had believed he to Avernus’ cell,

Where she was harboured with the damned, must fare,

And now discerned her in this other hell

(Who would believe it?) amid mass and prayer.

Strange Michael thought to see her there enshrined,

Whom he believed he must go far to find.

LXXXIII

Her by her party-coloured vest he knew.

Unequal strips and many formed the gown,

Which, opening with her walk, or wind that blew,

Now showed, now hid her; for they were unsown.

Her hair appeared to be at strife; in hue

Like silver and like gold, and black and brown;

Part in a tress, in riband part comprest,

Some on her shoulders flowed, some on her breast.

LXXXIV

Examinations, summons, and a store

Of writs and letters of attorney, she,

And hearings, in her hands and bosom bore,

And consultation, and authority:

Weapons, from which the substance of the poor

Can never safe in walled city be.

Before, behind her, and about her, wait

Attorney, notary, and advocate.

LXXXV

Her Michael calls to him, and give command

That she among the strongest paynims go;

And find occasion whence amid the band

Warfare and memorable scathe may grow.

He next from her of Silence makes demand,

Who of his motions easily might know;

As one who from one land to the other hied,

Kindling and scattering fire on either side.

LXXXVI

“I recollect not ever to have viewed

Him anywhere,” quoth Discord in reply;

“But oft have heard him mentioned, and for shrewd

Greatly commended by the general cry:

But Fraud, who makes one of this multitude,

And who has sometimes kept him company,

I think, can furnish news of him to thee,

And” (pointing with her finger) “that is she.”

LXXXVII

With pleasing mien, grave walk, and decent vest,

Fraud rolled her eye-balls humbly in her head;

And such benign and modest speech possest,

She might a Gabriel seem who Ave said.

Foul was she and deformed, in all the rest;

But with a mantle long and widely spread,

Concealed her hideous parts; and evermore

Beneath the stole a poisoned dagger wore.

LXXXVIII

Of her the good archangel made demand

What way in search of Silence to pursue:

Who said; “He with the Virtues once was scanned

Nor dwelt elsewhere; aye guested by the crew

Of Benedict, or blest Elias’ band,

When abbeys and when convent-cells were new;

And whilom in the schools long time did pass,

With sage Archytas and Pythagorus.

LXXXIX

“But those philosophers and saints of yore

Extinguished, who had been his former stay,

From the good habits he had used before

He passed to evil ones; began to stray,

Changing his life, at night with lovers, bore

Thieves company, and sinned in every way:

He oftentimes consorts with Treason; further,

I even have beheld him leagued with Murther.

XC

“With coiners him you oftentimes may see

Harbour in some obscure and close repair.

So oft he changes home and company,

To light on him would be a fortune rare:

Yet have I hope to point him out to thee;

If to Sleep’s house thou wilt at midnight fare,

Him wilt thou surely find; for to repose

At night he ever to that harbour goes.”

XCI

Though Fraud was alway wont to deal in lies,

So like the simple truth appears her say,

The angel yields the tale belief; and flies

Forth from the monastery without delay,

Tempers his speed, and schemes withal in wise

To finish at the appointed time his way,

That at the house of Sleep (the mansion blind

Full well he knew) this Silence he may find.

XCII

In blest Arabia lies a pleasant vale,

Removed from village and from city’s reach.

By two fair hills o’ershadowed is the dale,

And full of ancient fir and sturdy beech.

Thither the circling sun without avail

Conveys the cheerful daylight: for no breach

The rays can make through boughs spread thickly round;

And it is here a cave runs under ground.

XCIII

Beneath the shadow of this forest deep,

Into the rock there runs a grotto wide.

Here widely wandering, ivy-suckers creep,

About the cavern’s entrance multiplied.

Harboured within this grot lies heavy Sleep,

Ease, corpulent and gross, upon this side,

Upon that, Sloth, on earth has made her seat;

Who cannot go, and hardly keeps her feet.

XCIV

Mindless Oblivion at the gate is found,

Who lets none enter, and agnizes none;

Nor message hears or bears, and from that ground

Without distinction chases every one;

While Silence plays the scout and walks his round,

Equipt with shoes of felt and mantle brown,

And motions from a distance all who meet

Him on his circuit, from the dim retreat.

XCV

The angel him approaches quietly,

And, “ ’Tis God’s bidding” (whispers in his ear)

“That thou Rinaldo and his company,

Brought in his sovereign’s aid, to Paris steer:

But that thou do the deed so silently,

That not a Saracen their cry shall hear;

So that their army come upon the foe,

Ere he from Fame of their arrival know.”

XCVI

Silence to him no otherwise replied

Than signing with his head that he obeyed:

(And took his post behind the heavenly guide)

Both at one flight to Picardy conveyed.

The angel moved those bands of valour tried,

And short to them a tedious distance made:

Whom he to Paris safe transports; while none

Is conscious that a miracle is done.

XCVII

Silence the advancing troop kept skirting round,

In front, and flank, and rear of the array;

Above the band he spread a mist profound,

And everywhere beside ’twas lightsome day;

Nor through the impeding fog the shrilling sound

Of horn was heard, without, or trumpet’s bray.

He next the hostile paynims went to find,

And with I know not what made deaf and blind.

XCVIII

While with such haste his band Rinaldo led,

That him an angel well might seem to guide,

And in such silence moved, that nought was said

Or heard of this upon the paynim side;

King Agramant his infantry had spread

Throughout fair Paris’ suburbs, and beside

The foss, and underneath the walls; that day

To make upon the place his worst assay.

XCIX

He who the Moorish monarch’s force would tell,

Which Charlemagne this day will have to meet,

In wooded Apennine might count as well

The trees upon its back, or waves that beat

(What time the troubled waters highest swell)

Against the Mauritanian Atlas’ feet;

Or watch at midnight with how many eyes

The furtive works of lovers Heaven espies.

C

The larum-bells, loud-sounding through the air,

Stricken with frequent blows, the town affray;

And in the crowded temples every where

Movement of lips and hands upraised to pray

Are seen: if treasure seemed to God so fair

As to our foolish thoughts, upon this day

The holy consistory had bid mould

Their every statue upon earth in gold.

CI

Lamenting may be heard the aged just,

In that they were reserved for such a woe;

Calling those happy that in sacred dust

Were buried many and many a year ago.

But the bold youths who, valiant and robust,

Small thought upon the approaching ills bestow,

Scorning their elders’ counsel, here and there

Hurrying, in fury, to the walls repair.

CII

Here might you paladin and baron ken,

King, duke, and marquis, count and chivalry,

And soldier, foreigner or citizen,

Ready for honour and for Christ to die;

Who, eager to assail the Saracen,

On Charlemagne to lower the bridges cry.

He witnesses with joy their martial beat,

But to permit their sally deems not meet.

CIII

And them he ordered in convenient post,

The advance of the barbarians to impede:

For this would ill suffice a numerous host,

To that he was content that few should speed.

Some worked at the machines, some wild-fire tost,

All ranged according to the separate need.

Charles, never in one place, with restless care

Provides defence and succour every where.

CIV

Paris is seated on a spacious plain,

I’ the midst — the heart of France, more justly say.

A stream flows into it, and forth again;

But first, the passing waters, as they stray,

An island form, and so secure the main

And better part, dividing on their way.

The other two (three separate quarters note).

Within the river girds, without the moat.

CV

The town, whose walls for miles in circuit run,

Might well have been attacked from many a side;

Yet, for he would assail it but on one,

Nor willingly his scattered troops divide,

Westward beyond the stream Troyano’s son

Retired, from thence the assailing bands to guide.

In that, he neither city had nor plain

Behind, but what was his, as far as Spain.

CVI

Where’er the walls of Paris wound about,

Large ammunition had king Charles purveyed;

Strengthening with dyke each quarter held in doubt;

And had within trench, drain, and casemate made:

And where the river entered and went out,

Had thickest chains across the channel laid.

But most of all, his prudent cares appear

Where there is greatest cause for present fear.

CVII

With eyes of Argus, Pepin’s valiant son,

Where Agramant was bent to storm foresaw,

And every thing forestalled, ere yet begun

By the bold followers of Mahound’s law.

With Isolier, Grandonio, Falsiron,

Serpentin, Balugantes, and Ferrau,

And what beside he out of Spain had led,

Marsilius was in arms, their valiant head.

CVIII

With old Sobrino, on the left of Seine,

Pulian and Dardinel d’Almontes meet,

With Oran’s giant king, to swell the train:

Six cubits is the prince, from head to feet.

But why move I my pen with greater pain

Than these men move their arms? for in his heat

King Rodomont exclaims, blaspheming sore,

Nor can contain his furious spirit more.

CIX

As swarming to assail the pastoral bowl,

With sound of stridulous wing, through summer sky,

Or relics of a feast, their luscious dole,

Repair the ready numbers of the fly;

As starlings to the vineyard’s crimsoning pole

With the ripe clusters charged, — heaven’s concave high

Filling, as they advanced, with noise and shout,

Fast hurried to the storm the Moorish rout.

CX

Upon their walls the Christians in array,

With lance, sword, axe, and wild-fire tost,

The assaulted city guard without dismay,

And little reck the proud barbarian’s boast:

Nor when death snatches this or that away,

Does any one in fear refuse his post.

Into the fosse below the paynim foes

Return, amid a storm of strokes and blows.

CXI

Nor in this was is iron plied alone,

But mighty masses and whole bulwarks fall,

And top of tower, huge piece of bastion,

And with much toil disrupted, solid wall;

While streams of boiling water pouring down,

Insufferably the advancing paynims gall:

An ill-resisted rain, which, in despite

Of helmet, makes its way, and blinds the sight.

CXII

And this than iron spear offended more:

Then how much more the mist of lime-dust fine!

Then how the emptied vessel, burning sore

With nitre, sulphur, pitch, and turpentine!

Nor idle lie the fiery hoops in store,

Which, wreathed about with flaming tresses, shine.

These at the foemen scaled, upon all hands,

Form cruel garlands for the paynim bands.

CXIII

Meanwhile, up to the walls the second crew

Fierce Sarza’s king was driven, accompanied

By bold Orlando and Buraldo, who

The Garamantes and Marmonda guide;

Clarindo and Loridano; nor from view,

It seems, will Setta’s valiant monarch hide:

Morocco’s king and he of Cosco go

With these, that men their martial worth may know.

CXIV

With crimson Rodomont his banner stains,

And in the vermeil field a lion shows;

Who, bitted by a maid, to curb and reins

His savage mouth disdains not to unclose.

Himself in the submissive lion feigns

The haughty Rodomont, and would suppose

In her who curbs him with the bit and string,

Doralice, daughter to Grenada’s king;

CXV

Whom Mandricardo took, as I before

Related, and from whom, and in what wise.

Even she it was, whom Sarza’s monarch more

Loved than his realm, — beyond his very eyes:

And valour showed for her and courteous lore,

Not knowing yet she was another’s prize.

If he had, — then, — then, first, — the story known,

Even what he did that day, he would have done.

CXVI

At once the foes a thousand ladders rear.

Against the wall by the assailants shored,

Two mannered each round; the second, in the rear,

Urged on by the first; the third the second gored.

One mounts the wall through valour, one through fear,

And all attempt perforce the dangerous ford;

For cruel Rodomont of Argier slays

Or smites the wretched laggard who delays.

CXVII

’Tis thus, ‘mid fire and ruin, all assay

To mount the wall; but others to assure

Themselves, some safer passage seek, where they

Will have least pain and peril to endure.

Rodomont only scorns by any way

To wend, except by what is least secure;

And in that desperate case, where others made

Their offerings, cursed the god to whom they prayed.

CXVIII

He in a cuirass, hard and strong, was drest;

A dragon-skin it was with scaly quilt,

Which erst secured the manly back and breast

Of his bold ancestor, that Babel built;

Who hoped the rule of heaven from God to wrest,

And him would from his golden dome have split.

Perfect, and for this end alone, were made

Helmet and shield as well as trenchant blade.

CXIX

Nor Rodomont to Nimrod yields in might,

Proud and untamed; and who would not forbear

To scale the lofty firmament till night,

Could he in this wide world descry the stair.

He stood not, he, to mark the bulwark’s plight

Nor if the fosse of certain bottom were.

He past, ran, — rather flew across the moat,

Plunging in filth and water to his throat.

CXX

Dripping and foul with water and with weeds,

‘Mid fire and stone, and arbalests, and bows,

On drives the chief; as through the marshy reeds,

The wild-swine of our own Mallea goes;

Who makes large day-light wheresoe’er he speeds,

Parting the sedge with breast and tusk and nose.

The paynim, safe in buckler lifted high,

Scorns not the wall alone, but braves the sky.

CXXI

Rodomont has no sooner gained the shore,

Than on the wooden bartizan he stands,

Within the city walls, a bridge that bore

(Roomy and large) king Charles’s Christian bands.

Here many a scull is riven, here men take more

Than monkish tonsure at the warrior’s hands:

Heads fly and arms; and to the ditch a flood

Runs streaming from the wall of crimson blood.

CXXII

He drops the shield; and with two-handed sway

Wielding his sword, duke Arnulph he offends.

Who came from whence, into the briny bay,

The water of the rapid Rhine descends.

No better than the sulphur keeps away

The advancing flame, the wretch his life defends.

He his last shudder gives, and tumbles dead;

Cleft downwards, a full palm from neck and head.

CXXIII

At one back-stroke sir Spineloccio true,

Anselmo, Prando, and Oldrado fell;

The narrow place and thickly-swarming crew

Make the wide-circling blow so fully tell.

The first half Flemings were, the residue

Are Normans, who the list of slaughter swell.

Orghetto of Maganza, he from brow

To breast divides, and thence to paunch below.

CXXIV

Down from the wall Andropono and Moschine

He cast into the ditch: a priest the first;

The second, but a worshipper of wine,

Drained, at a draught, whole runlets in his thirst;

Aye wonted simple water to decline,

Like viper’s blood or venom: now immersed

In this, he perishes amid that slaughter;

And, what breeds most affliction, dies by water.

CXXV

Lewis the Provencal is cleft in two;

Arnold of Thoulouse through the breast before;

Hubert of Tours, sir Dionysius, Hugh,

And Claud, pour forth their ghosts in reeking gore.

Odo, Ambaldo, Satallon ensue,

And Walter next; of Paris are the four —

With others, that by me unmentioned fall,

Who cannot tell the name and land of all.

CXXVI

The crowd, by Rodomont of Sarza led,

The ladders lift, and many places scale.

Here the Parisians make no further head,

Who find their first defense of small avail

Full well they know that danger more to dread

Within awaits the foemen who assail;

Because between the wall and second mound

A fosse descends, wide, horrid, and profound.

CXXVII

Besides, that ours, with those upon the height,

War from below, like valiant men and stout,

New files succeed to those who fall in fight,

Where, on the interior summit, stand the rout,

Who gall with lances, and a whistling flight

Of darts, the mighty multitude without;

Many of whom, I ween, that post would shun,

If it were not for royal Ulien’s son.

CXXVIII

But he still heartened some, and chid the rest,

And forced them forward to their sore alarm.

One paynim’s head he cleft, and other’s breast,

Who turned about to fly; and of the swarm

Some shoved and pushed and to the encounter prest,

Close-grappled by the collar, hair, or arm:

And downwards from the wall such numbers threw,

The ditch was all to narrow for the crew.

CXXIX

While so the foes descend, or rather fling

Themselves into the perilous profound;

And thence by many ladders try to spring

Upon the summit of the second mound,

King Rodomont, as if he had a wing

Upon his every member, from the ground

Upraised his weight, and vaulted clean across,

Loaded with all his arms, the yawning fosse.

CXXX

The moat of thirty feet, not less, he cleared,

As dexterously as leaps the greyhound fleet,

Nor at his lighting louder noise was heard

Than if he had worn felt beneath his feet.

He now of this, now that, the mantle sheared;

As though of pewter, not of iron beat,

Or rather of soft rind their arms had been:

So matchless was his force and sword so keen!

CXXXI

This while, not idle, those of ours had laid

Snares in the inner moat, a well-charged mine:

Where broom and thick fascines, all over paid

With swarthy pitch, in plenty intertwine.

Though they from bank to bank that hollow line,

Filling the bottom well-nigh to the brink;

And countless vessels the defenders sink.

CXXXII

Charged with salt-petre, oil, or sulphur pale,

One and the other, or with such like gear;

While ours, intent the paynims that assail

The town, should pay their daring folly dear,

(Who from the ditch on different parts would scale

The inner bulwark’s platform) when they hear

The appointed signal which their comrades raise,

Set, at fit points, the wildfire in a blaze.

CXXXIII

For that the moat was full from side to side,

The scattered flames united into one,

And mounted to such height, they well-nigh dried

The watery bosom of the moon; a dun

And dismal cloud above extending wide,

Dimmed every glimpse of light, and hid the sun:

A fearful crash, with a continued sound,

Like a long peal of thunder, shook the ground.

CXXXIV

A horrid concert, a rude harmony

Of deep lament, and yell and shriek, which came

From those poor wretches in extremity,

Perishing through their furious leader’s blame,

Was heard, as in strange concord, to agree

With the fierce crackling of the murderous flame.

No more of this, no more! — Here, sir, I close

My canto, hoarse, and needing short repose.

Canto 15

Argument

Round about Paris every where are spread

The assailing hosts of Africa and Spain.

Astolpho home by Logistilla sped,

Binds first Caligorantes with his chain;

Next from Orrilo’s trunk divides the head;

With whom Sir Aquilant had warred in vain,

And Gryphon bold: next Sansonet discerns,

Ill tidings of his lady Gryphon learns.

I

Though Conquest fruit of skill or fortune be,

To conquer always is a glorious thing.

’Tis true, indeed, a bloody victory

Is to a chief less honour wont to bring;

And that fair field is famed eternally,

And he who wins it merits worshipping,

Who, saving from all harm his own, without

Loss to his followers, puts the foe to rout.

II

You, sir, earned worthy praise, when you o’erbore

The lion of such might by sea, and so

Did by him, where he guarded either shore

From Francolino to the mouth of Po,

That I, though yet again I heard him roar,

If you were present, should my fear forego.

How fields are fitly won was then made plain;

For we were rescued, and your foemen slain.

III

This was the Paynim little skilled to do,

Who was but daring to his proper loss;

And to the moat impelled his meiny, who

One and all perished in the burning fosse.

The mighty gulf had not contained the crew,

But that, devouring those who sought to cross,

Them into dust the flame reduced, that room

Might be for all within the crowded tomb.

IV

Of twenty thousand warriors thither sent,

Died nineteen thousand in the fiery pit;

Who to the fosse descended, ill content;

But so their leader willed, of little wit:

Extinguished amid such a blaze, and spent

By the devouring flame the Christians lit.

And Rodomont, occasion of their woes,

Exempted from the mighty mischief goes:

V

For he to the inner bank, by foes possest,

Across the ditch had vaulted wonderously:

Had he within it been, among the rest,

It sure had been his last assault. His eye

He turns, and when the wild-fires, which infest

The infernal vale, he sees ascend so high,

And hears his people’s moan and dying screams,

With imprecations dread he Heaven blasphemes.

VI

This while a band King Agramant had brought,

To make a fierce assault upon a gate:

For while the cruel battle here was fought,

Wherein so many sufferers met their fate,

This haply unprovided had he thought

With fitting guard. Upon the monarch wait

King Bambirago, ‘mid his knights of price,

And Baliverso, sink of every vice.

VII

And Corineus of Mulga, Prusion,

The wealthy monarch of the blessed isles;

Malabuferzo, he who fills the throne

Of Fez, where a perpetual summer smiles;

And other noble lords, and many a one

Well-armed and tried; and others ‘mid their files,

Naked, and base, whose hearts in martial fields

Had found no shelter from a thousand shields.

VIII

But all things counter to the hopes ensue

Of Agramant upon his side; within,

In person, girded by a gallant crew,

Is Charlemagne, with many a paladin:

Ogier the Duke, King Salamon, the two

Guidos are seen, and either Angelin;

Bavaria’s duke, and Ganelon are here,

Avino, Avolio, Otho, and Berlinghier.

IX

And of inferior count withal, a horde

Of Lombards, French, and Germans, without end;

Who, every one, in presence of his lord,

To rank among the valiantest contend,

This will I in another place record;

Who here a mighty duke perforce attend,

Who signs to me from far, and prays that I

Will not omit him in my history.

X

’Tis time that I should measure back my way

Thither, where I Astolpho left of yore;

Who, in long exile, loathing more to stay,

Burnt with desire to tread his native shore;

As hopes to him had given the sober fay,

Who quelled Alcina by her better lore,

She with all care would send the warrior back

By the securest and the freest track.

XI

And thus by her a barque is fitted out;

— A better galley never ploughed the sea;

And Logistilla wills, for aye in doubt

Of hinderance from Alcina’s treachery,

That good Andronica, with squadron stout,

And chaste Sophrosina, with him shall be,

Till to the Arabian Sea, beneath their care,

Or to the Persian Gulf he safe repair.

XII

By Scyth and Indian she prefers the peer

Should coast, and by the Nabataean reign;

Content he, after such a round, should veer

For Persian gulf, or Erithraean main,

Rather than for that Boreal palace steer,

Where angry winds aye vex the rude domain:

So ill, at seasons, favoured by the sun,

That there, for months together, light is none.

XIII

Next, when she all in readiness espied,

Her license to depart the prudent fay

Accorded to the duke, first fortified

With counsel as to things too long to say;

And that he might no more by charms be stayed

In place from whence he could not wend his way,

Him with a useful book and fair purveyed,

And ever for her love to wear it prayed.

XIV

How man should guard himself from magic cheats

The book instructed, which the fay bestowed;

At the end or the beginning, where it treats

Of such, an index and appendix showed.

Another gift, which in its goodly feats

All other gifts excelled, to her he owed;

This was a horn, which made whatever wight

Should hear its clang betake himself to flight.

XV

I say, the horn is of such horrid sound,

That, wheresoe’er ’tis heard, all fly for fear;

Nor in the world is one of heart so sound

That would not fly, should he the bugle hear.

Wind, thunder, and the shock which rives the ground,

Come not, in aught, the hideous clangour near.

With thanks did the good Englishman receive

The gift, and of the fairy took his leave.

XVI

Quitting the port and smoother waves, they stand

To sea, with favouring wind which blows astern;

And (coasting) round the rich and populous land

Of odoriferous Ind the vessels turn,

Opening a thousand isles on either hand,

Scattered about that sea, till they discern

The land of Thomas; here the pilot veers

His ready tiller, and more northward steers.

XVII

Astolpho, furrowing that ocean hoar,

Marks, as he coasts, the wealthy land at ease.

Ganges amid the whitening waters roar,

Nigh skirting now the golden Chersonese;

Taprobana with Cori next, and sees

The frith which chafes against its double shore;

Makes distant Cochin, and with favouring wind

Issues beyond the boundaries of Ind.

XVIII

Scouring at large broad ocean, with a guide

So faithful and secure, the cavalier

Questions Andronica, if from that side

Named from the westering sun, of this our sphere,

Bark, which with oars or canvas stemmed the tide,

On eastern sea was wonted to appear;

— And could a wight, who loosed from Indian strand,

Reach France or Britain, without touching land.

XIX

Andronica to England’s duke replies:

“Know that this earth is girt about with seas,

And all to one another yield supplies,

Whether the circling waters boil or freeze:

But, since the Aethiops’ land before us lies,

Extending southward many long degrees.

Across his waters, some one has supposed

A barrier here to Neptune interposed.

XX

“Hence bark from this Levant of Ind is none

Which weighs, to shape her course for Europe’s shore;

Nor navigates from Europe any one,

Our Oriental regions to explore;

Fain to retrace alike the course begun

By the mid land, extending wide before:

Weening (its limits of such length appear)

That it must join another hemisphere.

XXI

“But in the course of circling years I view

From farthest lands which catch the western ray,

New Argonauts put forth, and Tiphys new

Opening, till now an undiscovered way.

Others I see coast Afric, and pursue

So far the negroes’ burning shore, that they

Pass the far sign, from whence, on his return,

The sun moves hither, leaving Capricorn;

XXII

“And find the limit of this length of land,

Which makes a single sea appear as two;

Who, scouring in their frigates every strand,

Pass Ind and Arab isles, or Persian through:

Others I see who leave, on either hand,

The banks, which stout Alcides cleft in two,

And in the manner of the circling sun,

To seek new lands and new creations run.

XXIII

“The imperial flags and holy cross I know,

Fixed on the verdant shore; see some upon

The shattered barks keep guard, and others go

A-field, by whom new countries will be won;

Ten chase a thousand of the flying foe,

Realms beyond Ind subdued by Arragon;

And see all, wheresoe’er the warriors wend,

To the fifth Charles’ triumphant captains bend.

XXIV

“That this way should be hidden was God’s will

Of old, and ere ’twas known long time should run;

Nor will he suffer its discovery, till

The sixth and seventh century be done.

And he delays his purpose to fulfil,

In that he would subject the world to one,

The justest and most fraught with prudent lore

Or emperors, since Augustus, or before.

XXV

“Of Arragon and Austria’s blood I see

On the left bank of Rhine a monarch bred;

No sovereign is so famed in history,

Of all whose goodly deeds are heard or read.

Astraea reinthroned by him will be, —

Rather restored to life, long seeming dead;

And Virtues with her into exile sent,

By him shall be recalled from banishment.

XXVI

“For such desert, Heaven’s bounty not alone

Designs he should the imperial garland bear, —

Augustus’, Trajan’s, Mark’s, Severus’, crown;

But that of every farthest land should wear,

Which here and there extends, as yet unknown,

Yielding no passage to the sun and year;

And wills that in his time Christ’s scattered sheep

Should be one flock, beneath one Shepherd’s keep.

XXVII

“And that this be accomplished with more ease,

Writ in the skies from all eternity,

Captains, invincible by lands and seas,

Shall heavenly Providence to him supply.

I mark Hernando Cortez bring, ‘mid these,

New cities under Caesar’s dynasty,

And kingdoms in the Orient so remote,

That we of these in India have no note.

XXVIII

“With Prospero Colonna, puissant peer,

A marquis of Pescara I behold; —

A youth of Guasto next, who render dear

Hesperia to the flower-deluce of gold;

I see prepared to enter the career

This third, who shall the laurel win and hold;

As a good horse before the rest will dart,

And first attain the goal, though last to start.

XXIX

“I see such faith, such valour in the deeds

Of young Alphonso (such his name) confest,

He in his unripe age, — nor he exceeds

His sixth and twentieth year, — at Caesar’s hest,

(A mighty trust) the imperial army leads:

Saving which, Caesar not alone the rest

Of his fair empire saves, but may the world

Reduce, with ensigns by this chief unfurled.

XXX

“As with these captains, where the way by land

Is free, he spreads the ancient empire’s sway,

So on the sea, which severs Europe’s strand

From Afric, open to the southern day,

When with good Doria linked in friendly band,

Victorious he shall prove in every fray.

This is that Andrew Doria who will sweep

From pirates, on all sides, your midland deep.

XXXI

“Pompey, though he chased rovers everywhere,

Was not his peer; for ill the thievish brood

Vanquished by him, in puissance, could compare

With the most mighty realm that ever stood.

But Doria singly will of the corsair

With his own forces purge the briny flood:

So that I see each continent and isle

Quake at his name, from Calpe to the Nile.

XXXII

“Beneath the faith, beneath the warrantry

Of the redoubted chief, of whom I say,

I see Charles enter fertile Italy,

To which this captain clears the monarch’s way;

But on his country, not himself, that fee

Shall he bestow, which is his labour’s pay;

And beg her freedom, where himself perchance

Another would to sovereign rule advance.

XXXIII

“The pious love he bears his native land

Honours him more than any battle’s gain

Which Julius ever won on Afric’s strand,

Or in thine isle, France, Thessaly, or Spain.

Nor great Octavius does more praise command,

Nor Anthony who jousted for the reign,

With equal arms: in that the wrong outweighs

— Done to their native land — their every praise.

XXXIV

“Let these, and every other wight who tries

To subject a free country, blush for shame,

Nor dare in face of man to lift his eyes,

Where he hears Andrew Doria’s honoured name!

To him I see Charles other meed supplies;

For he beside his leaders’ common claim,

Bestows upon the chief the sumptuous state,

Whence Norman bands their power in Puglia date.

XXXV

“Not only to this captain courtesy

Shall Charles display, still liberal of his store;

But to all those who for the empery

In his emprizes have not spared their gore.

Him to bestow a town, — a realm — I see,

Upon a faithful friend, rejoicing more,

And on all such as have good service done,

Than in new kingdom and new empire won.”

XXXVI

Thus of the victories, by land and main,

Which, when long course of years shall be complete,

Charles’ worthy captains for their lord will gain,

Andronica did with Astolpho treat.

This while, now loosening, tightening now, the rein

On the eastern winds, which blow upon their feet,

Making this serve or that, her comrade stands;

While the blasts rise or sink as she commands.

XXXVII

This while they saw, as for their port they made,

How wide the Persian sea extends to sight;

Whence in few days the squadron was conveyed

Nigh the famed gulf from ancient Magi hight;

Here they found harbourage; and here were stayed

Their wandering barks, which stern to shore were dight.

Secure from danger from Alcina’s wrath,

The duke by land continued hence his path.

XXXVIII

He pricks through many a field and forest blind,

By many a vale and many a mountain gray;

Where robbers, now before and now behind,

Oft threat the peer by night or open day;

Lion and dragon oft of poisonous kind,

And other savage monsters cross his way:

But he no sooner has his bugle wound,

Than these are scared and scattered by the sound.

XXXIX

Through Araby the blest he fares, where grow

Thickets of myrrh, and gums odorous ooze,

Where the sole phoenix makes her nest, although

The world is all before her where to choose;

And to the avenging sea which whelmed the foe

Of Israel, his way the duke pursues;

In which King Pharaoh and his host were lost:

From whence he to the land of heroes crost.

XL

Astolpho along Trajan’s channel goes,

Upon that horse which has no earthly peer,

And moves so lightly, that the soft sand shows

No token of the passing cavalier;

Who prints not grass, prints not the driven snows,

— Who dry-shod would the briny billows clear,

And strains so nimbly in the course, he wind

And thunderbolt and arrow leaves behind:—

XLI

Erst Argalia’s courser, which was born

From a close union of the wind and flame,

And, nourished not by hay or heartening corn,

Fed on pure air, and Rabican his name.

His way the bearer of the magic horn

Following, where Nile received that river, came;

But ere he at its outlet could arrive,

Towards him saw a pinnace swiftly drive.

XLII

A hermit in the poop the bark did guide

With snowy beard descending to mid breast;

Who when from far the Paladin be spied,

Him to ascend his ready pinnace prest.

“My son, unless thou loathest life, (he cried)

And wouldst that Death today thy course arrest,

Content thee in my bark to cross the water;

For yonder path conducts thee straight to slaughter.

XLIII

“Within six miles, no further, shalt thou light

(Pursued the hermit) on the bloody seat,

Where dwells a giant, horrible to sight,

Exceeding every stature by eight feet.

From him wayfaring man or errant knight

Would vainly hope with life to make retreat;

For some the felon quarters, some he flays,

And some he swallows quick, and some he slays.

XLIV

“He, ‘mid the cruel horrors he intends,

Takes pleasure in a net, by cunning hands

Contrived, which near his mansion he extends;

So well concealed beneath the crumbling sands,

That whoso uninstructed thither wends,

Nought of the subtle mischief understands;

And so the giant scares him with his cries,

That he within the toils in terror flies;

XLV

“Whom with loud laughter, to his seat hard by

He drags along, enveloped in his snare;

And knight and damsel views with equal eye,

And for his prisoners’ worth has little care.

Then, having sucked their brains and life-blood dry,

Casts forth their bones upon the desert lair;

And round about his griesly palace pins,

For horrid ornament, their bloody skins.

XLVI

“Take this, — my son, oh! take this other way,

Which thee will to the sea in safety guide.”

“I thank thee, holy father, for thy say,

(To him the fearless cavalier replied)

But cannot peril against honour weigh,

Far dearer than my life. To the other side

Me vainly dost thou move to pass the wave;

Rather for this I seek the giant’s cave.

XLVII

“I with dishonour life to flight may owe;

But worse than death loath thus to save my head.

The worst that can befall me if I go,

Is I my blood shall with the others shed:

But if on me such mercy God bestow,

That I remain alive, the giant dead,

Secure for thousands shall I make the ways;

So that the greater good the risque o’erpays.

XLVIII

“I peril but the single life of one

Against safety of the countless rest.”

— “Go then in peace,” (the other said). “my son,

And to thy succour, form among the blest,

May God dispatch the Archangel Michael down.”

— And him, with that, the simple hermit blest.

Astolpho pricks along Nile’s rosy strand,

More in his horn confiding than his brand.

XLIX

Between the mighty river and the fen,

A path upon the sandy shore doth lie,

Barred by the giant’s solitary den

Cut off from converse with humanity.

About it heads and naked limbs of men

Were fixed, the victims of his cruelty.

Window or battlements was not, whence strung

Might not be seen some wretched prisoner hung.

L

As in hill-farm or castle, fenced with moat,

The hunter, mindful what his dangers were,

Aye fastens on his door the shaggy coat

And horrid paws and monstrous head of bear;

So showed the giant those of greatest note,

Who, thither brought, had perished in his snare.

The bones of countless others wide were spread,

And every ditch with human blood was red.

LI

Caligorant was standing at the gate

(For so was the despiteous monster hight);

Who decked his house with corpses, as for state

Some theirs with cloth of gold and scarlet dight.

He scarce contained himself for joy, so great

His pleasure, when the duke appeared in sight;

For ’twas two months complete, a third was near,

Since by that road had past a cavalier.

LII

Towards the marish, where green rushes grow,

He hastes, intending from that covert blind

To double on his unsuspecting foe,

And issue on the cavalier behind:

For him to drive into the net, below

The sand, the griesly giant had designed;

As others trapt he had been wont to see,

Brought thither by their evil destiny.

LIII

When him the wary paladin espied,

He stopt his courser, not without great heed,

Lest he into the covert snare might tide,

Forewarned of this by the good hermit’s rede.

Here to his horn for succour he applied,

Nor failed its wonted virtue in this need:

It smote the giant’s heart with such affright,

That he turned back, and homeward fled outright.

LIV

Astolpho blew, still watchful of surprise,

Weening to see the engine sprung: fast flew

The giant, — as if heart as well as eyes

The thief had lost, — nor whitherward he knew:

Such is his fear, he kens not as he flies,

How is own covert mischief to eschew:

He runs into the net, which closing round,

Hampers the wretch, and drags him to the ground.

LV

Astolpho, who beholds his bulky prey

Fall bodily, drives thither at full speed,

Secure himself, and, bent — to make him pay

The price of slaughtered thousands — quits his steed.

Yet after, deems a helpless wight to slay

No valour were, but rather foul misdeed:

For him, arms, neck, and feet, so closely tied,

He could not shake himself, the warrior spied.

LVI

With subtle thread of steel had Vulcan wrought

The net of old, and with such cunning pain,

He, who to break its weakest mesh had sought,

Would have bestowed his time and toil in vain.

It was with this he Mars and Venus caught,

Who, hands and feet, were fettered by the chain:

Nor did the jealous husband weave the thread

For aught, but to surprise that pair in bed.

LVII

Mercury from the smith conveyed the prize,

Wanting to take young Chloris in the snare;

Sweet Chloris, who behind Aurora flies,

At rise of sun, through fields of liquid air,

And from her gathered garment, through the skies,

Scatters the violet, rose, and lily fair.

He for this nymph his toils so deftly set,

One day, in air he took her with the net.

LVIII

The nymph (it seems) was taken as she flew,

Where the great Aethiop river meets the brine:

The net was treasured in Canopus, through

Successive ages, in Anubis’ shrine.

After three thousand years, Caligorant drew

The sacred relict from the palace divine:

Whence with the net the impious thief returned,

Who robbed the temple and the city burned,

LIX

He fixed it here, beneath the sandy plain,

In mode, that all the travellers whom he chased

Ran into it, and the engine was with pain

Touched, ere it arms, and feet, and neck embraced.

From this the good Astolpho took a chain,

And with the gyve his hands behind him laced:

His arms and breast he swaddled in such guise,

He could not loose himself; then let him rise.

LX

After, his other knots unfastening,

(For he was turned more gentle than a maid)

Astolpho, as a show, the thief would bring,

By city, borough-town, and farm conveyed;

The net as well; than which no quainter thing

Was ever by the file and hammer made.

On him, like sumpter-nag he laid the load,

In triumph led, behind him, on his road.

LXI

Him helm and shield he gives alike to bear,

As to a valet; hence proceeds the peer,

Gladdening the fearful pilgrim every where,

Who joys to think, henceforth his way is clear.

So far an end does bold Astolpho fare,

He is to Memphis’ tombs already near, —

Memphis renowned for pyramids; in sight,

He marks the populous Cairo opposite.

c15-061

LXII

Ran all the people in tumultuous tide,

To see him drag the unmeasured wight along.

“How can it be,” (each to his fellow cried)

“That one so weak could master one so strong?”

Scarce can Astolpho put the press aside,

So close from every part their numbers throng;

While all admire him as a cavalier

Of mighty worth, and make him goodly cheer.

LXIII

Then Cairo was not such, as common cry

Pronounces in our age that costly seat;

— That eighteen thousand districts ill supply

Lodging to those who in her markets meet;

— And though the houses are three stories high,

Numbers are forced to sleep in the open street;

And that the soldan has a palace there

Of wonderous size, and passing rich and fair;

LXIV

And therein (Christian renegadoes all)

Keeps fifteen thousand vassals, for his needs,

Beneath one roof supplied with bower and stall,

Themselves, and wives, and families, and steeds.

The duke desired to see the river’s fall,

And how far Nile into the sea proceeds.

At Damietta; where wayfaring wight,

He heard, was prisoner made or slain outright.

LXV

For at Nile’s outlet there, beside his bed,

A sturdy thief was sheltered in a tower,

Alike the native’s and the stranger’s dread,

Wont even to Cairo’s gate the road to scower.

Him no one could resist, and, it was said,

That man to slay the felon had no power.

A hundred thousand wounds he had in strife

Received, yet none could ever take his life.

LXVI

To see if he could break the thread which tied

The felon’s life, upon his way the knight

Set forward, and to Damietta hied,

To find Orrilo, so the thief was hight;

Thence to the river’s outlet past, and spied

The sturdy castle on the margin dight;

Harboured in which the enchanted demon lay,

The fruit of a hobgoblin and a fay.

LXVII

He here Orrilo and two knights in mail

Found at fierce strife: the two ill held their own

Against him; so Orrilo did assail

The warlike pair, although himself alone;

And how much either might in arms avail,

Fame through the universal world had blown.

Of Oliviero’s seed was either plant;

Gryphon the white, and sable Aquilant.

LXVIII

The necromancer had this while (to say

The truth) with vantage on his side, begun

The fight, who brought a monster to the fray,

Found only in those parts, and wont to won

Ashore or under water, and to prey,

For food, on human bodies; feeding on

Poor mariners and travelling men, who fare,

Of the impending danger, unaware.

LXIX

The monster, slaughtered by the brethren two,

Upon the sand beside the haven lies;

And hence no wrong they to Orrilo do,

Assailing him together in this guise.

Him they dismembered often and not slew:

Now he, — because dismembered, — ever dies;

For he replaces leg or hand like wax,

Which the good faulchion from his body hacks.

LXX

Gryphon and Aquilant by turns divide,

Now to the teeth, now breast, the enchanted wight.

The fruitless blow Orrilo does deride,

While the two baffled warriors rage for spite.

Let him who falling silver has espied

(Which mercury by alchymists is hight)

Scatter, and reunite each broken member,

Hearing my tale, what he has seen remember.

LXXI

If the thief’s head be severed by the pair,

He lights and staggers till he finds it; now

Uptaken by the nose or by the hair,

And fastened to the neck, I know not how.

This sometimes Gryphon takes, and whirled through air,

Whelms in the stream; but bootless is the throw:

For like a fish can fierce Orrilo swim;

And safely, with the head, regains the brim.

LXXII

Two ladies, meetly clad in fair array,

One damsel was in black and one in white,

And who had been the occasion of that fray,

Stood by to gaze upon the cruel fight:

Either of these was a benignant fay,

Whose care had nourished one and the other knight,

Oliver’s children; when the babes forlorn

They from the claws of two huge birds had torn.

LXXIII

Since, from Gismonda they had these conveyed,

Borne to a distance from their native sky.

But more to say were needless, since displaid

To the whole world has been their history.

Though the author has the father’s name mis-said;

One for another (how I know not, I)

Mistaking. Now this fearful strife the pair

Of warriors waged at both the ladies’ prayer.

LXXIV

Though it was noon in the happy islands, day

Had vanished in this clime, displaced by night;

And, underneath the moon’s uncertain ray,

And ill-discerned, were all things hid from sight;

When to the fort Orrilo took his way.

Since both the sable sister and the white

Were pleased the furious battle to defer,

Till a new sun should in the horizon stir.

LXXV

The duke, who by their ensigns, and yet more

Had by the sight of many a vigorous blow,

Gryphon and Aquilant long time before

Agnized, to greet the brethren was not slow:

And they, who in the peer, victorious o’er

The giant, whom he led a captive, know

The BARON OF THE PARD, (so styled at court)

Him to salute, with no less love resort.

LXXVI

The ladies to repose the warriors led

To a fair palace near, their sumptuous seat:

Thence issuing courtly squire and damsel sped,

Them with lit torches in mid-way to meet.

Their goodly steeds they quit, there well bested,

Put off their arms, and in a garden sweet

Discern the ready supper duly laid

Fast by, where a refreshing fountain played.

LXXVII

Here they bid bind the giant on the green,

Fast-tethered by a strong and weighty chain

To a tough oak, whose ancient trunk they ween

May well be proof against a single strain;

With that, by ten good serjeants overseen,

Lest he by night get loose, and so the train

Assault and haply harm; while careless they

Without a guard and unsuspecting lay.

LXXVIII

At the abundant and most sumptuous board,

With costly viands (its least pleasure) fraught,

The longest topic for discourse afford

Orrilo’s prowess, and the marvel wrought;

For head or arm dissevered by the sword,

They (who upon the recent wonder thought)

Might think a dream to see him re-unite,

And but return more furious to the fight.

LXXIX

Astolpho in his book had found exprest

(That which prescribed a remedy for spell)

How he who of one hair deprived the pest

Only could him in battle hope to quell:

But this plucked out or sheared, he from his breast

Parforce the felon’s spirit would expell.

So says the volume; but instructs not where,

‘Mid locks so thickly set, to find the hair.

LXXX

The duke no less with hope of conquest glows

Than if the palm he has already won;

As he that hopes with small expense of blows

To pluck the hair, the wizard-wight undone.

Hence does he to the youthful pair propose

The burden of that enterprize upon

Himself to take: Orrilo will he slay,

If the two brethren nought the intent gainsay,

LXXXI

But willingly to him these yield the emprize,

Assured his toil will be bestowed in vain;

And now a new Aurora climbs the skies,

And from his walls Orrilo on the plain

Drops, — and the strife begins — Orrilo plies

The mace, the duke the sword; he ‘mid a rain

Of strokes would from the body at one blow

Divorce the spirit of the enchanted foe:

LXXXII

Together with the mace he lops the fist;

And now this arm, now the other falls to ground;

Sometimes he cleaves the corslet’s iron twist,

And piecemeal shares and maims the felon round.

Orrilo re-unites the portions missed,

Found on the champagne, and again is sound:

And, though into a hundred fragments hewed,

Astolpho sees him, in a thought, renewed.

LXXXIII

After a thousand blows, Astolpho sped

One stroke, above the shoulders and below

The chin, which lopt away both helm and head:

Nor lights the duke less swiftly than his foe.

Then grasps the hair defiled with gore and red,

Springs in a moment on his horse, and lo!

Up-stream with it along Nile’s margin hies,

So that the thief cannot retake the prize.

LXXXIV

That fool, who had not marked the warrior’s feat,

Was searching in the dust to find his head;

But when he heard the charger in retreat,

Who through the forest with the plunder fled,

Leapt quickly into his own courser’s seat,

And in pursuit of bold Astolpho sped.

Fain had Orrilo shouted “Hola! stay!”

But that the duke had borne his mouth away:

LXXXV

Yet pleased Astolpho had not in like guise

Borne off his heels, pursues with flowing rein.

Him Rabican, who marvellously flies,

Distances by a mighty length of plain.

This while the wizard’s head Astolpho eyes

From poll to front, above the eyebrows twain,

Searching, in haste, if he the hair can see

Which makes Orrilo’s immortality.

LXXXVI

Amid innumerable locks, no hair

Straiter or crisper than the rest was seen.

How then should good Astolpho, in his care

To slay the thief, so many choose between?

“To cut them all (he said) it better were.”

And since he scissors lacked and razor keen,

He wanting these, resorted to his glaive,

Which cut so well, it might be said to shave.

LXXXVII

And, holding, by the nose, the severed head,

Close-sheared it all, behind and eke before.

He found, among the rest, the fatal thread.

Then pale became the visage, changing sore,

Turned up its eyes, and signals sore and dread

Of the last agony of nature wore;

And the headless body seated in the sell,

Shuddered its last, and from the courser fell.

LXXXVIII

The duke returns where he the champions two

And dames had left, the trophy in his hand,

Which manifests of death the tokens true;

And shows the distant body on the sand.

I know not if they this with pleasure view,

Though him they welcome with demeanour bland:

For the intercepted victory might pain

Perchance inflict upon the envying twain.

LXXXIX

Nor do I think that either gentle fay

With pleasure could that battle’s issue see:

Since those kind dames, because they would delay

The doleful fate which shortly was to be

In France the brethren’s lot, had in that fray

With fierce Orrilo matched the warriors free;

And so to occupy the pair had cast,

Till the sad influence of the skies were past.

XC

When to the castellan was certified

In Damietta, that the thief was dead,

He loosed a carrier pigeon, having tied

Beneath her wing a letter by a thread.

She went to Cairo; and, to scatter wide

The news, another from that town was sped

(Such is the usage there); so, Egypt through,

In a few hours the joyful tidings flew.

XCI

As he had brought the adventure to an end,

The duke now sought the noble youths to stir,

(Though of themselves that way their wishes tend,

Nor they to whet that purpose need the spur)

That they the Church from outrage to defend,

And rights of Charles, the Roman Emperor,

Would cease to war upon that Eastern strand,

And would seek honour in their native land.

XCII

Gryphon and Aquilant thus bid adieu,

One and the other, to his lady fair;

Who, though it sorely troubled them, ill knew

How to resist the wishes of the pair.

The duke, together with the warlike two,

Turns to the right, resolved to worship, where

God erst incarnate dwelt, the holy places,

Ere he to cherished France his way retraces.

XCIII

The warriors to the left-hand might incline,

As plainer and more full of pleasant cheer,

Where still along the sea extends their line;

But take the right-hand path, abrupt and drear;

Since the chief city of all Palestine,

By six days’ journey, is, through this, more near.

Water there is along this rugged track,

And grass; all other needful matters lack.

XCIV

So that, before they enter on their road,

All that is needful they collect, and lay

Upon the giant’s back the bulky load,

Who could a tower upon his neck convey.

The Holy Land a mountain-summit showed,

At finishing their rough and salvage way;

Where HEAVENLY LOVE a willing offering stood,

And washed away our errors with his blood.

XCV

They, at the entrance of the city, view

A gentle stripling; and in him the three

Agnize Sir Sansonet of Mecca, who

Was, in youth’s flower, for sovereign chivalry,

For sovereign goodness, famed the country through,

And wise beyond his years: from paganry

Converted by Orlando to the truth,

Who had, with his own hands, baptized the youth.

XCVI

Designing there a fortilage, in front

Of Egypt’s caliph they the warrior found;

And with a wall two miles in length, the mount

Of Calvary intending to surround.

Received with such a countenance, as is wont

To be of inward love the surest ground,

Them he conducted to his royal home,

And, with all comfort, harboured in the dome.

XCVII

As deputy, the sainted land he swayed,

Conferred on him by Charlemagne, in trust,

To him the English duke a present made

Of that so sturdy and unmeasured beast,

That it ten draught horse burdens had conveyed;

So monstrous was the giant, and next gave

The net, in which he took the unwieldy slave.

XCVIII

In quittance, Sansonet, his sword to bear,

Gave a rich girdle to Astolpho bold,

And spurs for either heel, a costly pair,

With bucklers and with rowels made of gold;

Which (’twas believed) the warrior’s relicts were,

Who freed the damsel from that dragon old;

Spoils, which Sir Sansonet, with many more,

From Joppa, when he took the city, bore

XCIX

Cleansed of their errors in a monastery,

From whence the odour of good works upwent,

They of Christ’s passion every mystery

Contemplating, through all the churches went;

Which now, to our eternal infamy,

Foul Moor usurp; what time on strife intent,

All Europe rings with arms and martial deeds,

And war is everywhere but where it needs.

C

While grace the warlike three devoutly sought,

Intent on pardon and on pious lore,

A Grecian pilgrim, known to Gryphon, brought

Tidings, which ill the afflicted champion bore,

From his long-cherished vow and former thought,

Too foreign, too remote; and these so sore

Inflamed his troubled breast, and bred such care,

They wholly turned aside his mind from prayer.

CI

For his misfortune, one of lovely feature

Sir Gryphon worshipped, Origilla hight.

Of fairer visage and of better stature,

Not one among a thousand meets the sight:

But faithless, and of such an evil nature,

That thou mightst town and city search outright,

And continent and island, far and near,

Yet, never, as I think, wouldst find her peer.

CII

In Constantine’s imperial city, burned

With a fierce fever, he had left the fair;

And hoped to find her, to that place returned,

Lovelier than ever; and enjoy her there.

But she to Antioch (as the warrior learned)

Had with another leman made repair;

Thinking, while such fresh youth was yet her own,

’Twere not a thing to brook — to sleep alone.

CIII

Sir Gryphon, from the time he heard the news

Had evermore bemoaned him, day or night:

Whatever pleasure other wight pursues

Seems but the more to vex his troubled sprite.

Let each reflect, who to his mischief woos,

How keenly tempered are Love’s darts of might,

And, heavier than all ills, the torment fell,

In that he was ashamed his grief to tell.

CIV

This: for that Aquilant had oft before

Reproved him for the passion which he nursed,

And sought to banish her from his heart’s core;

— Her, who of all bad women is the worst,

He still had censured, in his wiser lore,

If by his brother Aquilant accurst,

Her Gryphon, in his partial love, excuses,

For mostly self-conceit our sense abuses.

CV

It therefore is his purpose, without say

To Aquilant, alone to take the quest

As far as Antioch, and bear her away,

Who had borne off his heart-core from his breast:

To find him, who had made the dame his prey,

And take such vengeance of him, ere he rest,

As shall for aye be told. My next will tell

How he effected this, and what befell.

Canto 16

Argument

Gryphon finds traitorous Origilla nigh

Damascus city, with Martano vile.

Slaughtered the Saracens and Christians lie

By thousands and by thousands heaped this while;

And if the Moor outside of Paris die,

Within the Sarzan so destroys each pile,

Such slaughter deals, that greater ill than this

Never before has been exprest, I wiss.

I

Love’s penalties are manifold and dread:

Of which I have endured the greater part,

And, to my cost, in these so well am read,

That I can speak of them as ’twere my art.

Hence if I say, or if I ever said,

(Did speech or living page my thoughts impart)

“One ill is grievous and another light.”

Yield me belief, and deem my judgment right.

II

I say, I said, and, while I live, will say,

“He, who is fettered by a worthy chain,

Though his desire his lady should gainsay,

And, every way averse, his suit disdain;

Though Love deprive him of all praised pay,

After long time and trouble spent in vain,

He, if his heart be placed well worthily,

Needs not lament though he should waste and die.”

III

Let him lament, who plays a slavish part,

Whom two bright eyes and lovely tresses please:

Beneath which beauties lurks a wanton heart

With little that is pure, and much of lees.

The wretch would fly; but bears in him a dart,

Like wounded stag, whichever way he flees;

Dares not confess, yet cannot quench, his flame,

And of himself and worthless love has shame.

IV

The youthful Gryphon finds him in this case,

Who sees the error which he cannot right;

He sees how vilely he his heart does place

On faithless Origille, his vain delight:

Yet evil use doth sovereign reason chase,

And free will is subdued by appetite.

Though a foul mind the lady’s actions speak,

Her, wheresoe’er she is, must Gryphon seek.

V

Resuming the fair history, I say,

Out of the city he in secret rode;

Nor to his brother would his plan bewray,

Who oft on him had vain reproof bestowed:

But to the left t’wards Ramah shaped his way,

By the most level and most easy road.

Him six days’ journey to Damascus brought,

Whence, setting out anew, he Antioch sought.

VI

He nigh Damascus met the lover, who

Perfidious Origilla’s heart possest,

And matched in evil customs were the two,

Like stalk and flower: for that in either’s breast

Was lodged a fickle heart; the dame untrue,

And he a traitor whom she loved the best.

While both the lovers hid their nature base,

To others’ cost, beneath a courteous face.

VII

As I relate to you, the cavalier

Came on huge courser, trapped with mickle pride;

With faithless Origille, in gorgeous gear,

With gold embroidered, and with azure dyed.

Two ready knaves, who serve the warrior, rear

The knightly helm and buckler at his side;

As one who with fair pomp and semblance went

Towards Damascus, to a tournament.

VIII

Damascus’ king a splendid festival

Had in these days bid solemnly proclaim;

And with what pomp they could, upon his call,

Thither, in shining arms, the champions came.

At Gryphon’s sight the harlot’s spirits fall,

Who fears that he will work her scathe and shame;

And knows her lover has not force and breath

To save her from Sir Gryphon, threatening death;

IX

But like most cunning and audacious quean,

Although she quakes from head to foot with fear,

Her voice so strengthens, and so shapes her mien,

That in her face no signs of dread appear,

Having already made her leman ween

The trick devised, she feigns a joyous cheer,

Towards Sir Gryphon goes, and for long space

Hangs on his neck, fast-locked in her embrace.

X

She, after suiting with much suavity

The action to the word, sore weeping, cried:

“Dear lord, is this the guerdon due to me,

For love and worship? that I should abide

Alone one live long year, deprived of thee,

— A second near — and, yet upon thy side

No grief? — and had I borne for thee to stay,

I know not if I should have seen that day.

XI

“When I from Nicosia thee expected

(When thou wast journeying to the plenar court)

To cheer me, — left with fever sore infected,

And in the dread of death, — I heard report

That thou wast gone to Syria; and dejected

By that ill tiding, suffered in such sort,

I, all unable to pursue thy quest,

Had nigh with this right hand transfixt my breast.

XII

“But fortune, by her double bounty, shows

She guards me more than thou: me to convey

She sent my brother here, who with me goes,

My honour safe in his protecting stay;

And this encounter with thee now bestows,

Which I above all other blessings weigh,

And in good time; for hadst thou longer stayed,

My lord, I should have died of hope delayed.”

XIII

The wicked woman, full of subtlety

(Worse than a fox in crafty hardihood)

Pursues, and so well shapes her history,

She wholly throws the blame on Gryphon good;

Makes him believe that other not to be

Her kin alone, but of her flesh and blood,

Got by one father; — and so puts upon

The knight, that he less credits Luke and John.

XIV

Nor he the fraud of her, more false than fair,

Only forbore with just reproach to pay;

Nor only did the threatened stranger spare,

Who was the lover of that lady gay;

But deemed to excuse himself sufficient were,

Turning some portion of the blame away;

And as the real brother she profest,

Unceasingly the lady’s knight carest;

XV

And to Damascus, with the cavalier

Returned, who to Sir Gryphon made report,

That Syria’s wealthy king, with sumptuous cheer,

Within that place would hold a splendid court;

And who, baptized or infidel, appear

There at his tourney (of whatever sort),

Within the city and without, assures

From wrong, for all the time the feast endures.

XVI

Yet I of Origilla’s treachery

Shall not so steadfastly pursue the lore,

Who, famed not for one single perfidy,

Thousands and thousands had betrayed before,

But that I will return again to see

Two hundred thousand wretched men or more

Burnt by the raging wild-fire, where they spread,

About the walls of Paris, scathe and dread.

XVII

I left you where king Agramant prepared

To storm a gate, and to the assault was gone:

This he had hoped to find without a guard;

And work elsewhere to bar the way was none.

For there, in person, Charles kept watch and ward

With many, practised warriors every one;

Two Angelines, two Guidos, Angelier,

Avino, Avolio, Otho, and Berlinghier.

XVIII

One and the other host its worth, before

Charles and king Agramant, desire to show,

Where praise, where riches are, they think, in store

For those that do their duty on the foe.

But such were not the atchievements of the Moor

As to repair the loss; for, to his woe,

Full many a Saracen the champaign prest;

Whose folly was a beacon to the rest.

XIX

The frequent darts a storm of hail appear,

Which from the city-wall the Christians fling;

The deafening clamours put the heavens in fear,

Which, from our part, and from that other, ring.

But Charles and Agramant must wait; for here

I of the Mars of Africa will sing,

King Rodomont, that fierce and fearful man,

That through the middle of the city ran.

XX

I know not, sir, if you the adventure dread

Of that so daring Moor to mind recall,

The leader, who had left his people dead,

Between the second work and outer wall;

Upon those limbs the ravening fire so fed,

Was never sight more sad! — I told withal,

How vaulting o’er that hindrance at a bound,

He cleared the moat which girt the city round.

XXI

When he was known the thickening crowd among,

By the strange arms he wore and scaly hide,

There, where the aged sires and feebler throng.

Listened to each new tale on every side;

Heaven-high groan, moan, and lamentation rung,

And loud they beat their lifted palms and cried:

While those who had the strength to fly aloof,

Sought safety not from house or temple’s roof.

XXII

But this the cruel sword concedes to few,

So brandished by that Saracen robust;

And here, with half a leg dissevered, flew

A foot, there head divided from the bust:

This cleft across, and that behold him hew,

From head to hips, so strong the blow and just.

While, of the thousands wounded by the Moor,

Is none that shows an honest scar before.

XXIII

What by weak herd, in fields of Hircany,

The tiger does, or Indian Ganges near,

Or wolf, by lamb or kid, on heights which lie

On Typheus’ back, the cruel cavalier

Now executes on those, I will not, I

Call phalanxes or squadrons, but a mere

Rabble, that I should term a race forlorn,

Who but deserved to die ere they were born.

XXIV

Of all he cuts, and thrusts, and maims, and bleeds,

There is not one who looks him in the face.

Throughout that street, which in a straight line leads

Up to St. Michael’s bridge, so thronged a space,

Rodomont, terrible and fearful, speeds,

Whirling his bloody brand, nor grants he grace,

In his career, to servant or to lord;

And saint and sinner feel alike the sword.

XXV

Religion cannot for the priest bespeak

Mercy, nor innocence avail the child:

Nor gently beaming eyes, nor vermeil cheek,

Protect the blooming dame or damsel mild.

Age smites its breast and flies: while bent to wreak

Vengeance, the Saracen, with gore defiled,

Shows not his valour more than cruel rage,

Heedless alike of order, sex, and age.

XXVI

Nor the impious king alone with human blood,

— Lord of the impious he — his hand distains,

But even on walls so sorely vents his mood,

He fires fair houses, and polluted fanes.

The houses almost all were made of wood,

Then (as ’tis told) and this, by what remains,

May be believed; for yet in Paris we

Six out of ten no better builded see.

XXVII

Though flames demolish all things far and wide,

This ill appears his furious hate to slake:

Where’er the paynim has his hands applied,

He tumbles down a roof at every shake.

My lord, believe, you never yet espied

Bombard in Padua, of so large a make,

That it could rend from wall of battered town

What, at a single pull, the king plucked down.

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XXVIII

While the accursed man, amid the rout,

So warred with fire and sword, if at his post,

King Agramant had prest it from without,

The ample city had that day been lost.

But he was hindered by the warrior stout,

Who came from England with the advancing host,

Composed of English and of Scotch allied,

With Silence and the Angel for their guide.

XXIX

It was God’s will, that while through town and tower

The furious Rodomont such ruin spread,

Thither arrived Rinaldo, Clermont’s flower.

Three leagues above, he o’er the river’s bed

Had cast a bridge; from whence his English power

To the left-hand by crooked ways he led;

That, meaning to assail the barbarous foes,

The stream no obstacle might interpose.

XXX

Rinaldo had, with Edward, sent a force,

Six thousand strong, of archer infantry,

And sped, with Ariman, two thousand horse

Of lightest sort; and foot and cavalry

Sought Paris by those roads, which have their course

Directly to, and from, the Picard sea;

That by St. Martin’s and St. Denys’ gate,

They might convey the aid the burghers wait.

XXXI

Rinaldo sent with these the baggage train

And carriages, with which his troops were stored;

And fetching, with the forces that remain,

A compass, he the upper way explored.

He bridge, and boat, and means to pass the Seine,

Had with him; for it here was ill to ford.

He past his army, broke the bridges down,

And rank’d in line the bands of either crown.

XXXII

But having first the peers and captains wheeled

About him in a ring, the cavalier

Mounted the bank which overtopt the field,

So much, that all might plainly see and hear;

And cried, “My lords, you should thanksgiving yield,

With lifted hands, to God, who brought you here;

Through whom, o’er every nation, you may gain

Eternal glory, bought with little pain.

XXXIII

“Two princes, by your means, will rescued be,

If you relieve those city gates from siege;

Him, your own king, whom you from slavery

And death to save, a subject’s vows oblige;

And a famed emperor, of more majesty

Than ever yet in court was served by liege,

And with them other kings, and dukes, and peers,

And lords of other lands, and cavaliers.

XXXIV

“So that one city saving, not alone

Will the Parisians bless your helping hand,

Who, sadder than for sorrows of their own,

Timid, afflicted, and disheartened stand;

And their unhappy wives and children moan,

Which share in the same peril, and the band

Or virgins, dedicate to heavenly spouse,

Lest this day frustrate see their holy vows;

XXXV

— “I say, this city saved from deadly wound,

Not only will Parisians hold you dear;

But habitants of all the countries round:

Nor speak I only of the nations near;

For city there is none on Christian ground.

But what has citizens beleaguered here;

So that to you, for vanquishing the foe,

More lands than France will obligation owe.

XXXVI

“If him the ancients with a crown endued,

Who saved one citizen by worthy deed,

For rescuing such a countless multitude,

What recompense shall be your worthy meed?

But if, from jealousy or sloth, so good

And holy, enterprise should ill succeed,

Believe me, only while these walls endure,

Is Italy or Almayn’s realm secure;

XXXVII

“Or any other part, where men adore

Him, who for us upon the cross was hung;

Nor think that distance saves you from the Moor,

Nor deem your island strong, the waves among.

For if, from far Gibraltar’s straits of yore,

And old Alcides’ pillars, sailed the throng,

To bear off plunder from your sea-girt strands,

What will they do when they possess our lands?

XXXVIII

“And, if in this fair enterprise arrayed,

No gain, no glory served you as a guide,

A common debt enjoins you mutual aid,

Militant here upon one Church’s side.

Moreover, let not any be afraid,

Our broken foemen will the assault abide;

Who seem to me ill-taught in warlike art,

A feeble rabble without arms or heart.”

XXXIX

Such reasons, and yet better for, that need

Might good Rinaldo in his speech infer;

And with quick phrase and voice, to valiant deed

The high-minded barons and bold army stir;

And this was but to goad a willing steed

(As the old proverb says) who lacks no spur.

He moved the squadrons, having closed his speech,

Softly, beneath their separate banners, each.

XL

He, without clamour, without any noise.

So moves his triple host, their flags below.

Zerbino, marching by the stream, enjoys

The honour first to assail the barbarous foe;

The paladin the Irishmen employs

More inland, with a wider wheel to go.

Thus England’s horse and foot, the two between,

Led by the Duke of Lancaster, are seen.

XLI

The paladin rode on, along the shore,

When he had put the warriors in their way,

And, passing by their squadrons, pricked before

Valiant Zerbino and his whole array,

Until he reached the quarters of the Moor,

Where Oran’s king, and king Sobrino lay;

Who, half-a-mile removed from those of Spain,

Posted upon that side, observed the plain.

XLII

With such a faithful escort fortified

And sure, the Christians who had thither wound,

With Silence and the Angel for their guide,

No longer could stand mute or keep their ground:

But hearing now the foe, with shouts defied

Their host, and made the shrilling trumpets sound;

And with loud clamours, which Heaven’s concave fill,

Sent through the paynim’s bones a deadly chill.

XLIII

Rinaldo spurs before the troops combined

His foaming courser, and his weapon rests;

And a full bow-shot leaves the Scots behind:

So all delay the impatient peer molests.

As oftentimes an eddying gust of winds

Issues, ere yet the horrid storm infests,

So sallying swiftly from the following herd,

Rinaldo forth upon Baiardo spurred.

XLIV

As the aspect of the paladin of France,

The wavering Moorish files betray their fear;

And, trembling in their hands, is seen the lance,

Their thighs and stirrups quivering, like the spear.

King Pulian only marks the knight’s advance,

Knowing Rinaldo not, unchanged in cheer;

Nor thinking such a cruel shock to meet,

Gallops against him on his courser fleet.

XLV

He stoops upon the weapon which he strains,

Whole and collected for the martial game:

Then to his horse abandoning the reins,

And goading with both spurs the courser, came.

Upon the other side no valour feigns,

But shows, by doings, what he is in name;

— With what rare grace and matchless art he wars,

The son of Aymon, rather son of Mars.

XLVI

Well-matched in skill, they aimed their cruel blows,

With lances at each other’s heads addrest;

Ill matched, in arms and valour, were the foes,

For this past on, and that the champaigne prest.

More certain proof of worth, when warriors close,

There needs than knightly lance, well placed in rest;

But Fortune even more than Valour needs,

Which ill, without her saving succour, speeds.

XLVII

With the good spear new levelled in his fist,

At Oran’s king behold Rinaldo dart.

Of bulk, and bone, and sinew, to resist

The monarch was, but ill supplied with heart.

And his might pass for a fair stroke in list,

Though planted in the buckler’s nether part.

Let those excuse it who refuse to admire,

Since the good paladin could reach no higher.

XLVIII

Nor did the buckler so the weapon stay,

Though made of palm within, and steel without,

But that it pierced the paunch, and made a way

To let that mean and ill matched spirit out.

The courser, who had deemed that all the day

He must so huge a burden bear about,

Thanked in his heart the warrior, who well met,

Had thus preserved him from so sore a sweat.

XLIX

Rinaldo, having broke his rested spear,

So wheels his horse, he seems equipt with wings;

Who, turning swiftly with the cavalier,

Amid the closest crowd, impetuous springs.

Composed of brittle glass the arms appear

Where Sir Rinaldo red Fusberta swings.

Nor tempered steel is there, nor corslet thick,

Which keeps the sword from biting to the quick.

L

Yet few the tempered plates or iron pins

With which encounters that descending brand;

But targets, some of oak and some of skins,

And quilted vest and turban’s twisted band.

Lightly such drapery good Rinaldo thins,

And cleaves, and bores, and shears, on either hand;

Nor better from his sword escapes the swarm,

Than grass from sweeping scythe, or grain from storm.

LI

The foremost squadron had been put to flight,

When thither the vanguard Zerbino led.

Forth pricking from the following crowd, in sight

Appeared, with levelled lance, their youthful head:

With no less fury those who trooped to fight

Beneath his banner, to the combat sped;

Like lions, like so many wolves, who leap

In fury to the assault of goat or sheep.

LII

Both spurred their coursers on, with rested lance,

When either warrior to his foe was near;

And that short interval, that small expanse,

Of plain, between, was seen to disappear.

Was never witnessed yet a stranger dance!

For the Scots only ply the murderous spear;

Only the scattered paynims slaughtered lie,

As if conducted thither but to die.

LIII

It seemed as if each coward paynim grew

More cold than ice, each Scot more fierce than flame.

The Moors believed that with Rinaldo’s thew

And muscle fortified, each Christian came.

Sobrino quickly moved his ordered crew,

Nor stayed till herald should his call proclaim:

Better were they than those which went before,

For captain, armour, and for martial lore.

LIV

Less worthless men of Africa were they,

Though ill had they been deemed of much avail.

Ill harnessed, and worse trained to martial fray,

Forthwith King Dardinel, the foe to assail,

Moved up his host, himself in helmet gay,

And sheathing all his limbs in plate and mail.

The fourth division I believe was best,

Which, under Isolier, to battle prest.

LV

Thraso, this while, the valiant Duke of Mar,

Glad in the tumult, for the cavaliers

Who muster in his train, uplifts the bar,

And to the lists of fame his following chears,

When Isolier, with horsemen of Navarre,

Entered in that fierce fray he sees and hears.

Next Ariodantes moved his chivalry,

Who was of late made Duke of Albany.

LVI

The deep sonorous trumpet’s bellowing,

And sound of drum, and barbarous instrument,

Combined with twang of bow, and whiz of sling,

Wheel and machine, and stone from engine sent,

And (what more loud than these appeared to ring)

Tumult, and shriek, and groan, and loud lament,

Composed a direr whole than what offends

The neighbouring tribes where deafening Nile descends.

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LVII

The arrows’ double shower the ample sky

With wide-extended shade is seen to shrowd;

Breath, smoke of sweat and dust ascend on high,

And seem to stamp in air a murky cloud.

By turns each host gives way, and you might spy,

Now chasing, now in flight, the self-same crowd;

And here some wight, beside his foeman slain,

Or little distant, prostrate on the plain.

LVIII

When, harassed with fatigue, a wearied crew

Withdraw, fresh files their fellows reinforce:

Men, here and there, the wasted ranks renew;

Here march supplies of foot, and there of horse:

Her mantle green for robe of crimson hue

Earth shifts, ensanguined where the warriors course:

And there were azure flowers and yellow sprung,

Now slaughtered men lie stretched their steeds among.

LIX

Zerbino was more wonders seen to do

Than ever stripling of his age, he strowed

The ground with heaps of dead, and overthrew

The paynim numbers which about him flowed.

The valiant Ariodantes to his new-

Entrusted squadron mighty prowess showed;

Filling with dread and wonder, near and far,

The squadrons of Castile and of Navarre.

LX

Chelindo and Mosco (bastards were the twain

Of Calabrun, late king of Arragon),

And one esteemed among the valiant train,

Calamidor, of Barcellona’s town,

Leaving their standards, in the hope to gain,

By young Zerbino’s death, a glorious force,

And wounded in his flanks the prince’s horse.

LXI

Pierced by three lances lay the courser strong,

But bold Zerbino quickly rose anew;

And, eager to avenge his charger’s wrong,

The assailants, where he sees them, will pursue.

Zerbino at Mosco first, that overhung

Him, in the hope to make him prisoner, flew,

And pierced him in the flank; who from his sell,

Pallid and cold, upon the champaign fell.

LXII

When him so killed, as ’twere by stealthy blow,

Chelindo viewed, to avenge his brother slain,

He charged, intent the prince to overthrow;

But he seized fast his courser by the rein,

And, thence to rise not, laid the charger low,

Destined no more to feed on hay or grain;

For at one stroke, so matchless was his force,

Zerbino cleft the rider and his horse.

LXIII

When that fell blow Calamidor espied,

He turned the bridle short to speed away,

But him with downright cut Zerbino plied

Behind, and cried withal, “Stay, traitor, stay.”

Nor from its aim the sword-stroke wandered wide,

Though from the mark it went somedeal astray;

The falchion missed the rider as he fled,

But reached the horse’s croup, and stretched him dead,

LXIV

He quits the horse, and thence for safety crawls;

But he with little boot escapes his foe;

For him Duke Thraso’s horse o’erturns and mawls,

Opprest the ponderous courser’s weight below.

Where the huge crowd upon Zerbino falls,

Ariodantes and Lurcanio go;

And with them many a cavalier and count,

Who do their best Zerbino to remount.

LXV

Then Artalico and Margano knew

The force of Ariodantes’ circling brand:

While Casimir and Enearco rue

More deeply yet the puissance of his hand.

Smote by the knight, escaped the former two;

The others were left dead upon the strand.

Lurcanio shows what are his force and breath;

Who charges, smites, o’erturns, and puts to death.

LXVI

Sir, think not that more inland on the plain

The warfare is less mortal than along

The stream, nor that the troops behind remain

Which to the duke of Lancaster belong.

He valiantly assailed the flags of Spain,

And long in even scale the battle hung.

For Horse and Foot, and Captains of those bands,

On either side, could deftly ply their hands.

LXVII

Forward Sir Oldrad pricks and Fieramont;

This Glocester’s duke, and York’s the other knight;

With them conjoined is Richard, Warwick’s count,

And the bold duke of Clarence, Henry hight.

These Follicon and Matalista front,

And Baricond, with all they lead to fight.

Almeria this, and that Granada guides,

And o’er Marjorca Baricond presides.

LXVIII

Well matched awhile the Christian and the Moor

Appeared, without advantage in the fray.

Not this, now that gave ground, like corn before

The light and fickle breeze which blows in May:

Or as the sea which ripples on the shore,

Still comes and goes, nor keeps one certain way,

When hollow Fortune thus had sported long,

She proved disastrous to the paynim throng.

LXIX

The duke of Glocester Matalista bold

Assailed this while, and hurtled from his sell;

Fieramont Follicon o’erturned and rolled,

In the right shoulder smit, on earth as well.

The advancing English either paynim hold,

And bear their prisoners off to dungeon cell.

This while, Sir Baricond is, in the strife,

By Clarence’s bold duke deprived of life.

LXX

Hence ’tis among the Moors amazement all,

While hence the Christians take such heart and pride,

The bands do nought but quit their ground and fall,

And break their order on the Paynim side,

What time the Christian troops come on, and gall

Their flying rants, which nowhere will abide:

And had not one arrived to aid their host.

The Paynim camp had on that side been lost.

LXXI

But Ferrau, who till this time ever nigh

Marsilius, scarce had quitted him that day,

When half destroyed he marked his chivalry,

And saw that baffled banner born away,

Pricked his good courser forth, in time to spy,

(Where mid those squadrons hottest waxed the fray)

With his head severed in a griesly wound,

Olympio de la Serra fall to ground:

LXXII

A stripling he, who such sweet musick vented,

Accorded to the horned lyre’s soft tone;

That at the dulcet melody relented

The hearer’s heart, though harder than a stone.

Happy! if, with such excellence contented,

He had pursued so fair a fame alone,

And loathed shield, quiver, helmet, sword and lance;

Destined by these to die a youth in France.

LXXIII

When bold French beheld his cruel plight,

For whom he love and much esteem profest,

He felt more pity at the doleful sight

Than, ‘mid those thousands slain, for all the rest.

And smote the foe who slew him with such might,

That he his helm divided from the crest;

Cut front, eyes, visage, and mid bosom through,

And cast him down amid the slaughtered crew.

LXXIV

Nor stops he here, nor leaves a corslet whole,

Nor helm unbroken, where his sword is plied,

Of this the front or cheek, of that the poll,

The arm of other foe his strokes divide;

And he, of these divorcing body and soul,

Restores the wavering battle on that side;

Whence the disheartened and ignoble throng

Are scattered wide, and broke, and driven along.

LXXV

Into the medley pricks King Agramant,

Desirous there his bloody course to run;

With him King Baliverzo, Farurant,

Soridan, Bambirago, Prusion;

And next so many more of little vaunt,

Whose blood will form a lake ere day be done,

That I could count each leaf with greater ease

When autumn of their mantle strips the trees.

LXXVI

Agramant from the wall a numerous band

Of horse and foot withdraws, and sends the array

Beneath the king of Fez, with a command

Behind the Moorish tents to make his way,

And those of Ireland in their march withstand,

Whom he sees hurrying with what haste they may,

And with wide wheel and spacious compass wind,

To fall upon the paynim camp behind.

LXXVII

The king of Fez upon this service prest;

For all delay might sore his work impede.

This while King Agramant unites the rest,

And parts the troops who to the battle speed.

He sought himself the river, where he guessed

The Moorish host might most his presence need;

And, from that quarter, had a courier prayed,

By King Sobrino sent, the monarch’s aid.

LXXVIII

He more than half his camp behind him led,

In one deep phalanx. At the mighty sound

Alone, the Scotsmen trembled, and in dread

Abandoned honour, order, and their ground:

Lurcanio, Ariodantes, and their head,

Zerbino, there alone the torrent bound;

And haply he, who was afoot, had died,

But that in time his need Rinaldo spied.

LXXIX

Elsewhere the paladin was making fly

A hundred banners: while the cavalier

So chased the quailing Saracens, the cry

Of young Zerbino’s peril smote the ear;

For, single and afoot, his chivalry

Amid the Africans had left the peer.

Rinaldo turned about and took his way

Where he beheld the Scots in disarray.

LXXX

He plants his courser, where their squadrons yield

To the fierce paynims, and exclaims: “Where go

Your bands, and why so basely quit the field,

Yielding so vilely to so vile a foe?

Behold the promised trophies, spear and shield,

Spoils which your loaded churches ought to show!

What praise! what glory! that alone, and reft

Of his good horse, your monarch’s son is left!

LXXXI

He from a squire receives a lance, and spies

King Prusion little distant, sovereign

Of the Alvaracchiae, and against him hies;

Whom he unhorses, dead upon the plain.

So Agricalt, so Bambirago dies;

And next sore wounded is Sir Soridane;

Who had been slain as well amid the throng,

If good Rinaldo’s lance had proved more strong.

LXXXII

That weapon broken, he Fusberta rears,

And smites Sir Serpentine, him of the star.

Though charmed from mischief are the cavalier’s

Good arms, he falls astounded by the jar,

And thus Rinaldo round Zerbino clears

The field so widely, where those champions war,

That without more dispute he takes a horse

Of those, who masterless, at random, course.

LXXXIII

That he in time remounted it was well,

Who haply would not, if he more delayed:

For Agramant at once, and Dardinel,

Sobrino, and Balastro thither made;

But he, who had in time regained the sell,

Wheeled, here and there his horse, with brandished blade,

Dispatching into hell the mixt array,

That how men live above their ghosts might say.

LXXXIV

The good Rinaldo, who to overthrow

The strongest of the foeman covets still,

At Agramant directs a deadly blow,

— Who seems too passing-proud, and greater ill

Works there, than thousand others of the foe —

And spurs his horse, the Moorish chief to spill.

He smote the monarch, broadside charged the steed,

And man and horse reversed upon the mead.

LXXXV

What time, without, in such destructive frays

Hate, Rage, and Fury, all offend by turns,

In Paris Rodomont the people slays,

And costly house, and holy temple burns:

While Charles elsewhere anther duty stays,

Who nothing hears of this, nor aught discerns.

He, in the town, receives the British band,

Which Edward and Sir Ariman command.

LXXXVI

To him a squire approached, who pale with dread,

Scarce drew his breath, and cried: “Oh, well away!

Alas! alas!” (and thus he often said,

Ere he could utter aught beside). “To-day,

To-day, sire, is the Roman empire sped,

And Christ to the heathen makes his flock a prey.

A fiend from air today has dropt, that none

Henceforth may in this city make their won.

LXXXVII

“Satan (in sooth, it can no other be)

Destroys and ruins the unhappy town.

Turn, and the curling wreaths of vapour see,

From the red flames which wander up and down;

List to those groans, and be they warrantry

Of the sad news thy servant now makes known!

One the fair city wastes with sword and fire,

Before whose vengeful fury all retire.”

LXXXVIII

Even such as he, who hears the tumult wide,

And clatter of church-bells, ere he espy

The raging fire, concealed from none beside

Himself, to him most dangerous, and most nigh;

Such was King Charles; who heard, and then descried

The new disaster with his very eye.

Hence he the choicest of his meiny steers

Thither, where he the cry and tumult hears.

LXXXIX

With many peers and chiefs, who worthiest are,

Summoned about him, Charlemagne is gone:

He bids direct his standards to the square

Whither the paynim had repaired; hears groan

And tumult, spies the horrid tokens there

Of cruelty, sees human members strown.

— No more — Let him return another time,

Who willingly will listen to this rhyme.

Canto 17

Argument

Charles goes, with his, against King Rodomont.

Gryphon in Norandino’s tournament

Does mighty deeds; Martano turns his front,

Showing how recreant is his natural bent;

And next, on Gryphon to bring down affront,

Stole from the knight the arms in which he went;

Hence by the kindly monarch much esteemed,

And Gryphon scorned, whom he Martano deemed.

I

God, outraged by our rank iniquity,

Whenever crimes have past remission’s bound,

That mercy may with justice mingled be,

Has monstrous and destructive tyrants crowned;

And gifted them with force and subtlety,

A sinful world to punish and confound.

Marius and Sylla to this end were nursed,

Rome with two Neros and a Caius cursed;

II

Domitian and the latter Antonine;

And, lifted from the lowest rabble’s lees,

To imperial place and puissance, Maximine:

Hence Thebes to cruel Creon bent her knees,

Mezentius ruled the subject Agiline,

Fattening his fields with blood. To pests like these

Our Italy was given in later day,

To Lombard, Goth, and Hun a bleeding prey.

III

What shall I of fierce Attila, what say

Of wicked Ezzeline, and hundreds more?

Whom, because men still trod the crooked way,

God sent them for their pain and torment sore.

Of this ourselves have made a clear assay,

As well as those who lived in days of yore;

Consigned to ravening wolves, ordained to keep

Us, his ill-nurturing and unuseful sheep;

IV

Who, as if having more than served to fill

Their hungry maw, invite from foreign wood

Beyond the mountain, wolves of greedier will,

With them to be partakers of their food.

The bones which Thrasymene and Trebbia fill,

And Cannae, seem but few to what are strewed

On fattened field and bank, where on their way

Adda and Mella, Ronco and Tarro stray.

V

Now God permits that we should feel the spite

Of people, who are haply worse than we,

For errors multiplied and infinite,

And foul and pestilent iniquity.

The time will come we may such ill requite

Upon their shores, if we shall better be,

And their transgressions ever prove above

The long endurance of AETERNAL LOVE.

VI

The Christian people then God’s placid front

Must have disturbed with their excesses sore;

Since them with slaughter, rape, and rapine hunt,

Through all their quarters, plundering Turk and Moor:

But the unsparing rage of Rodomont

Proves worse than all the ills endured before.

I said that Charlemagne had made repair

In search of him towards the city square.

VII

Charles, by the way, his people’s butchery

Beholds — burnt palaces and ruined fanes —

And sees large portion of the city lie

In unexampled wreck. — “Ye coward trains,

Whither in heartless panic would ye fly?

Will none his loss contemplate? what remains

To you, — what place of refuge, say, is left,

If this from you so shamefully be reft?

VIII

“Then shall one man alone, a prisoned foe,

Who cannot scale the walls which round him spread,

Unscathed, unquestioned, from your city go,

When all are by his vengeful arm laid dead?”

Thus Charlemagne, whose veins with anger glow,

And shame, too strong to brook, in fury said;

And to the spacious square made good his way,

Where he beheld the foe his people slay.

IX

Thither large portion of the populace,

Climbing the palace roof, had made resort;

For strongly walled, and furnished was the place

With ammunition, for their long support.

Rodomont, mad with pride, had, in his chace

Of the scared burghers, singly cleared the court,

He with one daring hand, which scorned the world,

Brandished the sword; — his other wildfire hurled;

X

And smote and thundered, ‘mid a fearful shower,

At the sublime and royal house’s gate.

To their life’s peril, crumbling roof and tower

Is tost by them that on the summit wait:

Nor any fears to ruin hall or bower;

But wood and stone endure one common fate,

And marbled column, slab, and gilded beam,

By sire and grandsire held in high esteem.

XI

Rodomont stands before the portal, bright

With steel, his head and bust secured in mail,

Like to a serpent, issued into light,

Having cast off his slough, diseased and stale:

Who more than ever joying in his might,

Renewed in youth, and proud of polished scale,

Darts his three tongues, fire flashing from his eyes;

While every frighted beast before him flies.

XII

Nor bulwark, stone, nor arbalest, nor bow,

Nor what upon the paynim smote beside,

Sufficed to arrest the sanguinary foe;

Who broke and hewed, and shook that portal wide,

And in his fury let such day-light through,

’Twas easy to espy — and might be spied —

In visages o’ercast in death-like sort,

That full of people was the palace court.

XIII

Through those fair chambers echoed shouts of dread,

And feminine lament from dame distrest;

And grieving, through the house, pale women fled,

Who wept, afflicted sore, and beat their breast.

And hugged the door-post and the genial bed,

Too soon to be by stranger lords possest.

The matter in this state of peril hung

When thither came the king, his peers among.

XIV

Charles turned him round to these, of vigorous hand,

Whom he had found in former peril true.

“Are you not those that erst with me did stand

‘Gainst Agolant in Aspramont? In you

Is vigour now so spent, (he said), the band,

Who him, Troyano, and Almontes slew,

With hundreds more, that you now fear to face

One of that very blood, that very race?

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XV

“Why should I now in contest with the foe

Less strength in you behold than them? Your might

Upon this hound (pursued the monarch) show;

This hound who preys on man. — A generous sprite

The thought of death — approach he fast or slow —

So that he dies but well, holds cheap and light.

But where you are, I doubt my fortune ill,

For by your succour, have I conquered still.”

XVI

This said, he spurred his courser, couched his spear,

And charged the paynim; nor of life less free,

Sir Ogier joined the king in his career;

Namus and Oliver; and, with the three,

Avino, Avolio, Otho, and Berlinghier:

(For one without the rest I never see)

And on the bosom, flanks, and on the front,

All smote together at King Rodomont.

XVII

But let us, sir, for love of Heaven, forego

Of anger and of death the noisome lore;

And be it deemed that I have said enow,

For this while, of that Saracen, not more

Cruel than strong; ’tis time in trace to go

Of Gryphon, left with Origille, before

Damascus’ gate, and him who with her came,

The adulterer, not the brother of the dame.

XVIII

Of all the cities under eastern skies,

Most wealthy, populous, and fairly dight,

’Tis said, Damascus is; which distant lies

From Salem seven days’ journey; its fair site,

A fertile plain, abundant fruits supplies,

Winter and summer, sojourn of delight.

Shading the city from the dawning day,

A mountain intercepts its early ray.

XIX

Two crystal streams the wealthy city scower;

Whose currents, parted into many a rill,

Infinite gardens, never bare of flower,

Or stript of leaf, with grateful murmur fill:

’Tis said the perfumed waters are of power

(So plenteously they swell) to turn a mill;

And that whoever wander through the streets,

Scent, issuing from each home, a cloud of sweets.

XX

Then the high-street gay signs of triumph wore,

Covered with showy cloths of different dye,

Which deck the walls, while sylvan leaves in store,

And scented herbs upon the pavement lie.

Adorned is every window, every door,

With carpeting and finest drapery;

But more with ladies fair, and richly drest,

In costly jewels and in gorgeous vest.

XXI

Within the city gates in frolic sport,

Many are seen to ply the festive dance;

And here the burghers of the better sort

Upon their gay and well-trapt coursers prance.

A fairer show remains; the sumptuous court

Of barons bold and vassals, who advance,

Garnished with what could be procured, of ore

And pearl, from Ind and Erythraean shore.

XXII

Forward Sir Gryphon pricked, with his array,

Surveying, here and there, the whole at ease;

When them a knight arrested by the way,

And (such his wont and natural courtesies)

Obliged beneath his palace-roof to stay;

Where he let nought be wanting which might please;

And chearfully the guests, with bath restored,

Next welcomed at his costly supper-board;

XXIII

And told how he, who, Norandino hight,

Damascus and all Syria’s kingdom swayed,

Native and foreigner had bade invite,

On whom the sword of knighthood had been laid,

To a fair joust, which at the morrow’s light,

Ensuing, in the square was to be made.

Where they might show, and without further faring,

If they had valour equal to their bearing.

XXIV

Gryphon, though he came not that joust to see,

Accepts the challenge of the cavalier;

For when occasion serves, it cannot be

An evil use to make our worth appear:

Then questioned more of that solemnity;

— If ’twere a wonted feast, held every year,

Or new emprise; by which, in martial course,

The monarch would assay his warriors’ force. —

XXV

“The gorgeous feast our monarch will display

Each fourth succeeding moon,” the baron said;

“This is the first that you will now survey;

None have been held beside. The cause which bred

The solemn usage is, that on such day

The king from sovereign peril saved his head,

After four months, consumed in doleful wise,

‘Mid tears and groans, with death before his eyes.

XXVI

“Our monarch, who is named king Norandine

(Fully to you the matter to recite),

Through many and many a year for her did pine,

Above all other damsels fair and bright,

The king of Cyprus’ daughter; whom, in fine,

Espoused, he, with his bride, and dame, and knight,

To wait upon her home, a fair array,

Towards his Syrian realm had shaped his way.

XXVII

“But as we scoured the fell Carpathian sea,

With flowing sheet, at distance from the shore,

A storm assailed us, of such cruelty,

The tempest even scared our pilot hoar.

Drifting three days and nights at random, we

Our devious course ‘mid threatening waves explore;

Then, wet and weary, land ‘mid verdant hills,

Between well-shaded and refreshing rills.

XXVIII

“We our pavilions pitch, and, ‘mid those groves,

Joyfully strain our awnings overhead;

And kitchens there construct, and rustic stoves,

And carpets for the intended banquet spread.

Meanwhile through neighbouring vale the monarch roves,

And secret wood, scarce pervious to the tread,

Seeking red deer, goat, fallow-buck, and doe;

And, following him, two servants bear his bow.

XXIX

“While, with much solace, seated in a round,

We from the chace expect our lord’s return,

Approaching us along the shore, astound,

The orc, that fearful monster, we discern.

God grant, fair sir, he never may confound

Your eyesight with his semblance foul and stern!

Better it is of him by fame to hear,

Than to behold him by approaching near.

XXX

“To calculate the griesly monster’s height,

(So measureless is he) exceeds all skill;

Of fungus-hue, in place of orbs of sight,

Their sockets two small bones like berries fill.

Towards us, as I say, he speeds outright

Along the shore, and seems a moving hill.

Tusks jutting out like savage swine he shows,

A breast with drivel foul, and pointed nose.

XXXI

“Running, the monster comes, and bears his snout

In guise of brach, who enters on the trail.

We who behold him fly (a helpless rout),

Wherever terror drives, with visage pale.

’Tis little comfort, that he is without

Eye-sight, who winds his plunder in the gale,

Better than aught possest of scent and sight:

And wing and plume were needed for our flight.

XXXII

“Some here, some there make off, but little gain

By flying him; for swifter is the pest

Than the south wind. Of forty, ten, with pain,

Swimming aboard the bark in safety rest.

Under his arm some wretches of our train

He packed, nor empty left his lap or breast:

And loaded a capacious scrip beside,

Which, like a shepherd’s, to his waist was tied.

XXXIII

“Us to his den the sightless monster carried,

Hollowed within a rock, upon the shore;

Of snowy marble was that cavern quarried,

As white as leaf, unstained by inky score.

With him within the cave a matron tarried,

Who marked by grief and pain a visage wore.

With her were wife and maid, a numerous court,

Both fair and foul, of every age and sort.

XXXIV

“Large as the other, and that grotto near,

Almost upon the summit of the rock,

Another cavern was contrived, to rear,

And from the weather fend his woolly flock,

Which he still herded through the changeful year;

So numerous, it were hard to count his stock:

Wont in due season these to pen or loose,

And play the shepherd more for sport than use.

XXXV

“The flesh of man he savoured more than sheep,

And this, before he reached the cave, was seen.

Three youths of ours, ere yet he climbed the steep,

He are alive, or rather swallowed clean;

Then moved the stone, which closed that cavern deep,

And lodged us there. With that, to pasture green

His flock he led, as wont, the meads among,

Sounding the pipe which at his neck was hung.

XXXVI

“Our lord, meanwhile, returning to the strand,

The loss which he had suffered comprehends;

For in deep silence, upon every hand,

Through empty tent and hut the monarch wends:

Nor who has robbed him can be understand;

And full of terror to the beach descends;

Whence he his sailors in the offing sees

Unmoor and spread their canvas to the breeze.

XXXVII

“As soon as Norandino was in view,

They launched and sent their pinnace to convey

The monarch thence: but he no sooner knew

Of the fell orc, and those he made his prey,

Then he, without more thought, would him pursue

And follow, wheresoe’er he bent his way.

To lose Lucina is such cruel pain,

That life is loathsome save he her regain.

XXXVIII

“When on the newly printed sand his eyes

Norandine fixt, he with the swiftness sped

With which the rage of love a man supplies,

Until he reached the cave of which I said,

Where we, enduring greater agonies

Than e’er were suffered, there await in dread

The orc, and deem at every sound we hear,

The famished brute about to re-appear.

XXXIX

“The monarch to the cave did Fortune guide,

When the orc’s wife alone was in the lair.

Seeing the king: ‘Fly! — Woe to thee!’ (she cried)

‘Should the orc take thee!’ — ‘Woeful every where

I cannot choose but be,’ (the king replied)

‘Whether be take or miss me, kill or spare.

Not hither I by chance have wandered, I

Come with desire beside my wife to die.’

XXX

“He afterwards the dame for tidings pressed

Of those the orc had taken on the shore;

And of Lucina above all the rest;

If slain or prisoner kept. With kindly lore,

She Norandino, in return, addressed;

And said Lucina lived, nor need he more

Have of her future safety any dread,

For the orc on flesh of woman never fed.

XLI

“ ‘Of this you may behold the proof in me,

And all these other dames who with me dwell;

Nor me, nor them the orc offends, so we

Depart not ever from this caverned cell.

But vainly who would from her prison flee,

Hopes peace or pardon from our tyrant fell:

Buried alive, or bound with griding band,

Of, in the sun, stript naked on the sand.

XLII

“ ‘When hither he today conveyed your crew,

The females from the males he severed not;

But, as he took them, in confusion threw

All he had captive made, into that grot.

He will scent out their sex; not tremble, you,

Lest he the women slay: the others’ lot

Is fixt; and, of four men or six a-day,

Be sure the greedy orc will make his prey.

XLIII

“ ‘I have no counsel for you how to free

The lady; but content thyself to hear,

She in no danger of her life will be,

Who will our lot, in good or evil, share.

But go, for love of Heaven, my son, lest thee

The monster smell, and on thy body fare;

For when arrived, he sniffs about the house,

And, such his subtle scent, can wind a mouse.’

XLIV

“To her the amorous monarch made reply,

That he the cave would not abandon, ere

He saw Lucina, and near her to die,

Than to live far from her, esteemed more dear.

— Seeing that she can nothing more supply

Fitted to shake the purpose of the peer,

Upon a new design the matron hits.

Pursued with all her pains, with all her wits.

XLV

“With slaughtered sheep and goat was evermore

The cavern filled, the numerous flock’s increase,

Which served her and her household as a store;

And from the ceiling dangled many a fleece.

The dame made Norandino from a hoar

And huge he-goat’s fat bowels take the grease,

And with the suet all his members pay,

Until he drove his natural scent away.

XLVI

“And when she thought he had imbibed the smell

Which the rank goat exhales, she took the hide,

And made him creep into the shaggy fell;

Who was well covered by that mantle wide.

Him in this strange disguise she from the cell

Crawling (for such was her command) did guide,

Where, prisoned by a stone, in her retreat,

Was hid his beauteous lady’s visage sweet.

XLVII

“Kin Norandine, as bid, took up his ground

Before the cavern, on the greensward laid,

That he might enter with the flock who wound

Homeward; and longing sore, till evening stayed.

At eve he hears the hollow elder’s sound,

Upon whose pipes the wonted tune was played,

Calling his sheep from pasture to their rock,

By the fell swain who stalked behind his flock.

XLVIII

“Think if his heart is trembling at its core,

When Norandino hears the approaching strains;

And now advancing to the cavern door,

The sight of that terrific face sustains!

But if fear shook him, pity moved him more:

You see if he loves well or only feigns!

The orc removed the stone, unbarred the cote,

And the king entered, amid sheep and goat.

XLIX

“His flock so housed, to us the orc descended,

But first had care the cavern door to close:

Then scented all about, and having ended

His quest, two wretches for his supper chose.

So is remembrance by this meal offended,

It makes me tremble yet: this done, he goes;

And being gone, the king his goatish vest

Casts off, and folds his lady to his breast.

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L

“Whereas she him with pleasure should descry,

She, seeing him, but suffers grief and pain.

She sees him thither but arrived to die,

Who cannot hinder her from being slain.

‘ ’Twas no small joy ’mid all the woes, that,’

To him exclaimed Lucina, ‘here sustain.

That thou wert not among us found today,

When hither I was brought, the monster’s prey.

LI

“ ‘For though to find myself about to leave

This life be bitter and afflict me sore,

Such is our common instinct, I should grieve

But for myself; but whether thee, before

Of after me, the orc of life bereave,

Assure thyself thy death will pain me more

Than mine.’ And thus the dame persists to moan

More Norandino’s danger than her own.

LII

“ ‘A hope conducts me here,’ the monarch said,

‘To save thee and thy followers every one;

And, if I cannot, I were better dead,

Than living without light of thee, my sun!

I trust to scape, as hither I have spied;

As ye shall all, if, as ourselves have done,

To compass our design, you do not shrink

To imbue your bodies with the loathsome stink.’

LIII

“The trick he told, wherewith the monster’s smell

To cheat, as first to him the wife had told:

In any case to cloathe us in the fell,

That he may feel is issueing from the fold.

As many men as women in the cell,

We slay (persuaded by the monarch bold)

As many goats as with our number square,

Of those which stink the most and oldest are.

LIV

“We smeared our bodies with the fruitful grease

Which round about the fat intestines lay,

And cloathed our bodies with the shaggy fleece:

This while from golden dwelling broke the day.

And now, his flock returning to release,

We viewed the shepherd, with the dawning ray;

Who, giving breath to the sonorous reeds,

Piped forth his prisoned flock to hill and meads.

LV

“He held his hand before the opened lair,

Lest with the herd we issued from the den,

And stopt us short; but feeling wool or hair

Upon our bodies, let us go again.

By such a strange device we rescued were,

Cloathed in our shaggy fleeces, dames and men:

Nor any issuing thence the monster kept,

Till thither, sore alarmed, Lucina crept.

LVI

“Lucina — whether she abhorred the scent,

And, like us others, loathed herself to smear,

— Or whether with a slower gait she went

Than might like the pretended beast’s appear,

— Or whether, when the orc her body hent,

Her dread so mastered her, she screamed for fear,

— Or that her hair escaped from neck or brow,

Was known; nor can I well inform you how.

LVII

“So were we all intent on our own case,

We for another’s danger had no eyes:

Him, turning at the scream. I saw uncase

Already her whom he had made his prize,

And force her to the cavern to retrace

Her steps: we, couching in our quaint disguise,

Wend with the flock, where us the shepherd leads,

Through verdant mountains, into pleasant meads.

LVIII

“There we awaited, till beneath the shade

Secure, we saw the beaked orc asleep;

When one along the shore of ocean made,

And one betook him to the mountain steep.

King Norandine his love alone delayed;

Who would return disguised among the sheep,

Nor from the place depart, while life remained,

Unless his faithful consort he regained.

LIX

“For when before, on the flock issuing out,

He saw her prisoned in the cave alone,

Into the orc’s wide throat he was about

To spring; so grief had reason overthrown,

And he advanced even to the monster’s snout,

And, but by little, scaped the grinding stone:

Yet him the hope detained amid the flock,

Trusting to bear Lucina from the rock.

LX

“The orc, at eve, when to the cave again

He brings the herd, nor finds us in the stall,

And knows that he must supperless remain,

Lucina guilty of the whole does call,

Condemned to stand, fast girded with a chain,

In open air, upon the summit tall.

The king who caused her woes, with pitying eye

Looks on, and pines, — and only cannot die.

LXI

“Morning and evening, her, lamenting sore,

Ever the unhappy lover might survey;

What time he grieving went afield before

The issuing flock, or homeward took his way.

She, with sad face, and suppliant evermore,

Signed that for love of Heaven he would not stay;

Since there he tarried at great risk of life.

Nor could in any thing assist his wife.

LXII

“So the orc’s wife, as well upon her side,

Implored him to depart, but moved him nought;

To go without Lucina he denied,

And but remained more constant in his thought.

In this sad servitude he long was tried,

By Love and Pity bound: till Fortune brought

A pair of warriors to the rocky won,

Gradasso, and Agrican’s redoubted son:

LXIII

“Where, with their arms so wrought the champions brave,

They freed Lucina from the chains she wore,

(Though he Wit less than Fortune served in save)

And running to the sea their burden bore:

Her to her father, who was there, they gave.

This was at morn, when in the cavern hoar,

Mixt with the goats, king Norandino stood,

Which ruminating, chewed their grassy food:

LXIV

“But when, at day-light, ’twas unbarred, and now

He was instructed that his wife was gone;

For the orc’s consort told the tale, and how,

In every point, the thing rehearsed was done;

He thanked his God, and begged, with promised vow,

That, since ’twas granted her such ill to shun,

He would direct his wife to some repair,

Whence he might free her, by arms, gold, or prayer.

LXV

“Together with the flat-nosed herd his way

He took, and for green meads rejoicing made.

He here expected, till the monster lay

Extended, underneath the gloomy shade:

Then journeyed all the night and all the day;

Till, of the cruel orc no more afraid,

He climbed a bark on Satalia’s strand,

And, three days past, arrived on Syrian land.

LXVI

“In Cyprus, and in Rhodes, by tower and town,

Which in near Egypt, Turkey, or Afric lay,

The king bade seek Lucina up and down,

Nor could hear news of her till the other day.

The other day, his father-inlaw made known

He had her safe with him. What caused her stay

In Nicosia was a cruel gale

Which had long time been adverse to her sail.

LXVII

“The king, for pleasure of the tidings true,

Prepares the costly feast in solemn state;

And will on each fourth moon that shall ensue

Make one, resembling this we celebrate.

Pleased of that time the memory to renew,

That he, in the orc’s cavern, had to wait,

— For four months and a day — which is tomorrow;

When he was rescued from such cruel sorrow.

LXVIII

“The things related I in part descried,

And from him, present at the whole, heard more;

From Norandine, through calend and through ide,

Pent, till he changed to smiles his anguish sore:

And if from other you hear aught beside,

Say, he is ill instructed in his lore.”

The Syrian gentleman did thus display

The occasion of that feast and fair array.

LXIX

Large portion of the night, in like discourse,

Was by those cavaliers together spent,

Who deemed that Love and Pity’s mickle force

Was proved in that so dread experiment;

Then rising, when the supper’s sumptuous course

Was cleared, to good and pleasant lodgings went;

And, as the ensuing morning fairly broke,

To sounds of triumph and rejoicing woke.

LXX

The circling drums’ and trumpets’ echoing strain

Assemble all the town within the square;

And now, when mixt with sound of horse and wain,

Loud outcries through the streets repeated are,

Sir Gryphon dons his glittering arms again,

A panoply of those esteemed most rare;

Whose mail, impassable by spear or brand,

She, the white fay, had tempered with her hand.

LXXI

The man of Antioch in his company,

Armed him (a recreant worse than he was none),

Provided by their landlord’s courtesy

With sturdy spears and good, the course to run;

Who with his kindred, a fair chivalry,

To bring the warriors to the square is gone;

With squires afoot and mounted upon steeds,

Whom he bestowed, as aptest for their needs.

LXXII

They in the square arrived and stood aside,

Nor of themselves awhile would make display;

Better to see the martial gallants ride

By twos and threes, or singly, to the fray.

One told, by colours cunningly allied,

His joy or sorrow to his lady gay;

One, with a painted Love on crest or shield,

If she were cruel or were kind, revealed.

LXXIII

It was the Syrians’ practise in that age

To arm them in this fashion of the west.

Haply this sprung out of their vicinage

And constant commerce with the Franks, possest

In those days of the sacred heritage,

That God incarnate with his presence blest;

Which now, to them abandoned by the train

Of wretched Christians, heathen hounds profane.

LXXIV

God’s worshippers, where they should couch the lance,

For furtherance of his holy faith and true,

Against each other’s breast the spear advance,

To the destruction of the faithful few.

You men of Spain, and you, ye men of France,

And Switzers, turn your steps elsewhere, and you,

Ye Germans, worthier empire to acquire;

For that is won for Christ, which you desire.

LXXV

If verily most Christian you would be,

— I speak to you, that catholic are hight —

Why slain by you Christ’s people do I see?

Wherefore are they despoiled of their right?

Why seek you not Jerusalem to free

From renegades? By Turkish Moslemite

Impure, why is Byzantium, with the best

And fairest portion of the world, possest?

LXXVI

Thou Spain, hast thou not fruitful Afric nigh?

And has she not in sooth offended more

Than Italy? yet her to scathe, that high,

And noble, enterprize wilt thou give o’er.

Alas! thou sleepest, drunken Italy,

Of every vice and crime the fetid sewer!

Nor grievest, as a hand-maid, to obey,

In turn, the nations that have owned thy sway.

LXXVII

If fear of famishing within thy cave,

Switzer, does thee to Lombardy convey,

And thou, among our people, dost but crave

A hand to give thee daily bread, or slay, —

The Turk has ready wealth; across the wave,

Drive him from Europe or from Greece away:

So shalt thou in those parts have wherewithal

To feed thy hunger, or more nobly fall.

LXXVIII

I to the German neighbour of thy lair

Say what I say to thee; the wealth o’ the west,

Which Constantine brought off from Rome, is there —

Brought off the choicest, gave away the rest —

There golden Hermus and Pactolus are,

Mygdonia and Lydia: nor that country blest,

Which many tales for many praises note,

If thou wouldst thither wend, is too remote.

LXXIX

Thou mighty Lion, that art charged to keep

The keys of Paradise, a weighty care,

Oh! let not Italy lie plunged in sleep,

If thy strong hand is planted in her hair.

To thee, his shepherd, God, to guide his sheep,

Has given that wand and furious name to bear;

That thou may’st roar, and wide thine arms extend,

And so from greedy wolves thy flock defend.

LXXX

But whither have I roved! who evermore

So from one topic to the other stray?

Yet think not I the road I kept before

To have missed so far, but I can find my way.

I said, the Syrians then observed the lore

Or arming like the Christians of that day.

So that Damascus’ crowded square was bright

With corslet, plate, and helm of belted knight.

LXXXI

The lovely ladies from their scaffolds throw

Upon the jousters yellow flowers and red;

While these, as loud the brazen trumpets blow,

Make their steeds leap and wheel and proudly tread.

Each, rode he well or ill, his art would show,

And with the goring spur his courser bled.

Hence this good cavalier earns fame and praise,

While others scornful hoots and laughter raise.

LXXXII

A suit of arms was prize of the assay,

Presented to the king some days before;

Which late a merchant found upon the way

Returning from Armenia; this the more

To grace, a vest, with noblest tissue gay,

The Syrian king subjoined, so powdered o’er

With jewels, gold, and pearls in rich device,

They made the meed a thing of passing price.

LXXXIII

If the good king had known the panoply,

This he had held above all others dear;

Nor this had given, as full of courtesy,

To be contented for with sword and spear.

’Twere long to tell who so unworthily

Had erst mistreated thus the goodly gear,

That lay the way the harness had been strowed,

A prey to whosoever past the road.

LXXXIV

Of this you more in other place shall hear.

Of Gryphon now I tell, who at the just

Arrived, saw broken many a knightly spear,

And more than one good stroke and one good thrust.

Eight were there who made league together, dear

To Norandine, and held in sovereign trust;

Youths quick in arms and practised in the shock:

All lords, or scions of illustrious stock.

LXXXV

At open barriers, one by one, the place

They kept against all comers for a day;

At first with lance, and next with sword or mace,

While them the king delighted to survey.

Ofttimes they pierce the corslet’s iron case,

And every thing in fine perform in play,

Which foemen do that deadly weapons measure,

Save that the king may part them at his pleasure.

LXXXVI

That witless Antiochite, who, worthily,

By name was cowardly Martano hight,

Thinking, because his comrade, he must be

Partaker of the noble Gryphon’s might,

Into the martial press rides valiantly,

Then stops; and the issue of a furious fight,

Which had begun between two cavaliers,

To wait, retiring from the strife, appears.

LXXXVII

Seleucia’s lord, of those companions one,

Combined in that emprize to keep the place,

Who then a course with bold Ombruno run,

Wounded the unhappy warrior in mid-face,

So that he slew him; mourned by every one,

Who as a worthy knight the warrior grace,

And over and above his worth, before

All others, hold him for his courteous lore.

LXXXVIII

When vile Martano from his place discerned

The fate which might be his with fearful eye,

Into his craven nature be returned,

And straight began to think how he might fly:

But him from flight the watchful Gryphon turned,

And, after much ado, with act and cry,

Urged him against a knight upon the ground,

As at the ravening wolf men slip the hound.

LXXXIX

Who will pursue the brindled beast for ten,

Or twenty yards, and, after, stop to bay;

When he beholds his flashing eyes, and when

He sees the griesly beast his teeth display.

’Twas thus, before those valiant gentlemen

And princes, present there in fair array,

Fearful Martano, seized with panic dread,

Turned to the right his courser’s rein and head.

XC

Yet he who would excuse the sudden wheel,

Upon his courser might the blame bestow:

But, after, he so ill his strokes did deal,

Demosthenes his cause might well forego.

With paper armed he seems, and not with steel,

So shrinks he at the wind of every blow:

At length he breaks the ordered champions through,

Amid loud laughter from the circling crew.

XCI

Clapping of hands, and cries, at every turn,

Were heard from all that rubble widely spread.

As a wolf sorely hunted makes return

To earth, to his retreat Martano fled.

Gryphon remained, and sullied with the scorn

Esteemed himself, which on his mate was shed;

And rather than be there, he, in his ire,

Would gladly find himself i’ the midst of fire.

XCII

With burning heart, and visage red with shame,

He thinks the knight’s disgrace is all his own,

Because by deeds like his with whom he came,

He weens the mob expects to see him known.

So that it now behoves his valour flame

More clear than light, or they, to censure prone,

— Errs he a finger’s breadth — an inch — will swell

His fault, and of that inch will make an ell.

XCIII

Already he the lance upon his thigh

Has rested, little used to miss the foe:

Then makes with flowing rein his courser fly,

And next, somedeal advanced, directs the blow;

And, smiting, puts to the last agony

Sidonia’s youthful lord, by him laid low.

O’ercome with wonder each assistant rises,

Whom sore the unexpected deed surprises.

XCIV

Gryphon returned, and did the weapon wield.

Whole and recovered, which he couched before,

And in three pieces broke it on the shield

Which bold Laodicea’s baron bore.

Thrice of four times about to press the field

He seemed, and lay along the crupper, sore

Astound; yet rose at length, unsheathed his blade,

Wheeled his good courser, and at Gryphon made.

XCV

Gryphon, who in his saddle sees the peer

Advancing towards him, nor unseated by

The encounter, says: “The failure of the spear

In a few strokes the sabre shall supply;”

And on his temples smote a stroke so shear,

It seemed that it descended from the sky;

And matched it with another, and again

Another, till he stretched him on the plain.

XCVI

Here two good brothers of Apamia were,

In tourney wont to have the upper hand:

Corimbo named and Thyrsis was the pair;

Both overturned by Gryphon on the land.

One at the encounter left his saddle bare,

On the other Gryphon used his trenchant brand:

This valiant knight, was, in the common trust,

Sure to obtain the honours of the just.

XCVII

Bold Salinterno, mid the warlike train,

Was in the lists, vizier and marshal hight,

Who had the government of all that reign,

And was, withal, a puissant man of might:

The tourney’s prize he sees, with much disdain,

About to be borne off by foreign knight.

A lance he snatches, and to Gryphon cries,

And him with many menaces defies.

XCVIII

But he makes answer with a massy spear,

Out of ten others chosen as the best;

And levelling at the buckler of the peer,

For greater surety, pierces plate and breast.

‘Twixt rib and rib, it bored the cavalier,

Issuing a palm behind. To all the rest,

The king excepted, welcome was the blow:

For each was greedy Salinterno’s foe.

c17-098

XCIX

Two of Damascus next Sir Gryphon sped,

Hermophilo and Carmondo. This, arraid

Under his flag, the king’s militia led;

That was as lord high admiral obeyed.

This lightly at the shock on earth was shed,

And that, reversed, upon the ground o’erlaid

By his weak horse, too feeble to withstand

Sir Gryphon’s mighty push and puissant hand.

C

Yet in the field remained Seleucia’s knight,

The best of all the other seven at need;

And one who well accompanied his might

With perfect armour and a gallant steed.

Both at the helmet, where it locks, take sight,

And with their spears to the encounter speed:

But Gryphon hardest smote, whose paynim foe

Lost his left stirrup, staggered by the blow.

CI

They cast the truncheons down, their coursers wheel,

And, full of daring, with drawn falchions close.

Sir Gryphon was the first a stroke to deal,

Which might have split an anvil; at the blow’s

Descent, the shield is splintered — bone and steel —

This had its lord mid thousand others chose;

And, but ’twas double, and the coat as well,

The sword had cleft the thigh on which it fell.

CII

He of Seleucia at Sir Gryphon’s casque,

At the same time, so fell a blow addrest,

It would have rent and torn the iron mask,

Had it not been enchanted like the rest.

The paynim’s labour is a fruitless task,

Of arms so hard Sir Gryphon is possest;

Who has the foe’s already cleft and broke

In many parts, nor thrown away a stroke.

CIII

Each one might see how much Seleucia’s lord

Was overmatched by Gryphon, and that day,

The worsted men had perished by the sword,

Had not the monarch quickly stopt the fray.

To his guard king Norandino spake the word,

And bade them enter, and the duel stay:

They part the knight, whom they asunder bear,

And much the king is lauded for his care.

CIV

The eight, who had to keep the field pretended

From all the world, nor yet their part had done

On a sole knight, — their quarrel ill defended, —

Had vanished from the tilt-yard one by one.

The others, who with them should have contended,

Stood idle; for to answer them was none.

Since Gryphon had forestalled, in the debate,

What they should all have done against those eight;

CV

And, for such little time endured the play,

Less than an hour sufficed to finish all.

But Norandine, the pastime to delay,

And to continue it till even-fall,

Descending from his place, bade clear the way;

And the huge squad divided, at his call,

Into two troops, whom, ranked by blood and might,

The monarch formed, and marched for other fight.

CVI

Sir Gryphon, during this, had made return

Homeward, with anger and with fury stung;

Less thinking of his honours that the scorn

Which on the vile Martano had been flung.

Hence, from himself the opprobrious shame to turn,

Martano now employs his lying tongue;

And she, the false and cunning courtezan,

Assists him in his scheme as best she can.

CVII

Whether the youth believed the tale or no,

He the excuse received, like one discreet;

And deemed it best for them at once to go,

And secretly and silently retreat,

For fear, that if the populace should know

Martano base, they him might ill entreat.

So, by short ways and close, they quit the abode,

And issue from the gates upon their road.

CVIII

Sir Gryphon, was he or his horse foredone

With toil, or was it sleep his eyes down weighed,

Ere yet the troop beyond two miles had gone,

At the first inn upon the highway stayed.

He doffed his armour all, and morion,

And had the steeds of trappings disarrayed;

And next alone he to a chamber sped,

Locked himself in, undrest, and went to bed.

CIX

No sooner he his head had rested there,

Than, with deep sleep opprest, he closed his eye:

So heavily, no badgers in their lair,

Or dormice, overcome with slumber, lie.

Martano and Origille, to take the air,

Entered this while a garden which was nigh;

And there the strangest fraud together bred,

Which ever entered into mortal head.

CX

Martano schemed to take away the steed

And gear, in which Sir Gryphon had been dight,

And stand before the monarch, in the weed

Of him who had in joust so proved his might.

As he had shaped in thought, he did the deed:

He took away the warrior’s horse, more white

Than milk, his buckler, surcoat, arms, and crest;

In all Sir Gryphon’s knightly ensigns drest.

CXI

He, who was clad in trappings not his own,

Like the ass mantled in the lion’s hide,

As he expected, to the king, unknown,

Was called in place of Gryphon: when descried

Or Norandine, he rising from his throne,

Embraced and kissed, and placed him by his side:

Nor deems enough to praise and hold him dear,

But wills that all around his praise should hear:

CXII

And bids them the sonorous metal blow,

Proclaiming him the conqueror of that day:

And round about loud voices, high and low,

The unworthy name throughout the lists convey.

He wills that, side by side, with him shall go

The knight, when homeward he shall take his way;

And him such favour shows, intent to please,

As might have honoured Mars or Hercules.

CXIII

Him lodgings fair he gave, wherein to dwell

At court; and she who with the peer did ride

Was honoured by the courteous king as well,

— False Origille, — with knight and page supplied.

But it is time that I of Gryphon tell;

Who unsuspecting, she, or wight beside,

Him would with treacherous stratagem deceive,

Had fallen asleep, nor ever waked till eve.

CXIV

When he how late it was, awaking, knew,

With speed he from the chamber did withdraw;

And hastened where he, with the other crew,

Left Origille and her false brother-inlaw:

And when, nor these, nor, upon better view,

His armour nor his wonted clothes he saw,

Suspicious waxed; and more suspicion bred

The ensigns of his comrade left instead.

CXV

The host, arriving, him at full possest

Of every thing, — and how, in white array,

That warrior, with the lady and the rest,

Had to the city measured back their way.

By little and by little, Gryphon guessed

What love from him had hidden till that day;

And knew, to his great sorrow, in the other

Origille’s paramour, and not her brother.

CXVI

Now he lamenting for his folly stood,

That having heard the truths the pilgrim said,

He should have let her story change his mood,

Who him before so often had betrayed.

He might have venged himself, nor did:— now wou’d,

Too late, inflict the punishment delaid;

Constrained (a crying error!) in his need

To take that wily treachour’s arms and steed.

CXVII

He better would have gone like naked man,

Than braced the unworthy cuirass on his breast;

Or hastened the detested shield to span,

Or place upon his helm the scorned crest.

But of the lover, and that courtezan,

He, passion mastering reason, took the quest:

And bending to Damascus’ gate his way,

Arrived an hour before the close of day.

CXVIII

On the left hand a castle richly dight

Stood nigh the gate, to which Sir Gryphon rode.

Besides, that it was strong and armed for fight,

Filled with rare chambers was the rich abode.

The first of Syria, king, and lord, and knight,

And lady, in a gentle group bestowed,

There in an open gallery fairly met,

Were at their glad and costly supper set.

CXIX

With the high tower the beauteous gallery, clear

Beyond the city-wall, projected out,

From whence might be discovered, far and near,

The spacious fields and different roads about.

When Gryphon now, in his opprobrious gear,

And arms, dishonoured by the rabble’s flout,

Makes, by ill fortune, to the gate resort,

He by the king is seen, and all his court;

CXX

And, taken for the man whose crest he wears,

In dame and knight moves laughter, through the ring.

The vile Martano, as a man who shares

The royal grace, sits next below the king;

And next, she, whom her love so fitly pairs;

Whom Norandino gaily questioning.

Demands of them, who is the coward knight,

That of his honour makes so passing light;

CXXI

Who, after feat so base and foul, anew

Approaches, with such front and shameless cheer,

— And cries, “It seems a thing unheard, that you,

An excellent and worthy cavalier,

Should take this man for your companion, who

Has not in all our wide Levant his peer.

Did you with him for contrast-sake combine,

That so your valour might more brightly shine?

CXXII

“— But did not love for you my will restrain,

By the eternal gods, I truly swear,

He should endure such ignominious stain,

As I am wont to make his fellows share:

Him would I make of my long-nursed disdain

Of cowardice perpetual record bear.

To you, by whom he hither was conveyed,

If now unpunished, let his thanks be paid.”

CXXIII

That vessel of all filthy vices, he,

Made answer: “Mighty sir, I cannot say

Who is the stranger, that fell in with me

Journeying from Antioch hither, by the way:

But him I worthy of my company

Deemed, by his warlike semblance led astray.

I nothing of his deeds have heard or seen,

Save what ill feats today have witnessed been;

CXXIV

“Which moved me so, it little lacked but I,

For punishment of his unworthy fear,

Had put him out of case again to ply,

In martial tournament, the sword or spear;

And, but in reverence to your majesty

And presence, I forbore by hand to rear,

Not for his sake:— nor by thy mercy showed

On him, as my companion on the road;

CXXV

“Whose former fellowship appears a stain;

And ever ’twill sit heavy at my heart,

If I, uninjured, see the wretch again

‘Scape, to the scandal of the warlike art.

’Twere better he from tower, a worthy pain,

Were gibbeted, than suffered to depart:

Hung as a beacon for the coward’s gaze.

Such were a princely deed, and worthy praise.”

CXXVI

A voucher he in Origilla had,

Who well, without a sign, his purpose read.

“I deem not,” cried the king, “his works so bad,

That they should cost the stranger knight his head:

Enough that he again the people glad,

For penance of his weighty sin.” This said,

He quickly called a baron of his crew,

And him enjoined the deed he was to do.

CXXVII

With many armed men that baron fares,

And to the city-gate descending, here

Collects his troop, and for the attempt prepares,

Waiting the coming of the cavalier;

And him surprises so at unawares,

He, softly, ‘twixt two bridges, takes the peer;

And him detains, with mockery and scorn,

In a dark chamber, till returning morn.

CXXVIII

The early sun had scarce his golden hair

Uplifted from his ancient nurse’s breast,

Beginning, upon Alpine regions bare,

To chase the shades and gild the mountain-crest,

When Martan’, fearing Gryphon might declare

His wrong, and to the king the truth attest,

Retorting upon him the slander cast,

Took leave, and thence upon his journey past.

CXXIX

His ready wit a fit excuse supplies

Why he stays not, to see the recreant shown.

He is with other gifts, beside the prize,

Rewarded for the victory, not his own,

And letters patent, drawn in ample wise,

Wherein his lofty honours wide are blown.

Let him depart; I promise he shall meet

A guerdon worthy of his treacherous feat.

CXXX

Gryphon is brought with shame into the square,

When it is fully thronged with gazing wight,

Whom they of cuirass and of helmet bare,

And leave in simple cassock, meanly dight;

And, as to slaughter he conducted were,

Place on a wain, conspicuous to the sight;

Harnessed to which two sluggish cows are seen,

Weary and weak, and with long hunger lean.

CXXXI

Thronging about the ignoble car, appear

Brazen-faced boy and girl of evil fame,

Who, each in turn, will play the charioteer,

And all assail the knight with bitter blame.

The boys might be a cause of greater fear,

For, joined to mocks and mows, and words of shame,

The warrior they with volleyed stones would slay,

But that the wiser few their fury stay.

CXXXII

That which of his disgrace had been the ground,

Though no true evidence of guilt, his mail

And plate, are dragged in due dishonour round,

Suspended at the shameful waggon’s tail.

The wain is stopt, and to the trumpet’s sound,

Heralds, in front of a tribunal’s pale,

His shame, before his eyes, amid the crowd,

(Another’s evil deed) proclaim aloud.

CXXXIII

They take their prisoner thence, and so repair

In front of temple, dwelling-house, and store;

Nor any cruel name of mockery spare,

Nor leave unsaid a word of filthy lore;

And him at last without the city bear:

The foolish rabble, trusting evermore

Their thrall to banish to the sound of blows,

Who passing little of its prisoner knows.

CXXXIV

The warrior’s gyves no sooner they undo,

And from their manacles free either hand,

Than Gryphon seizes shield and sword, and, through

The rabble, makes long furrows with his brand.

With pike and spear unfurnished was the crew,

Who without weapons came, a witless band.

The rest for other canto I suspend,

For, sir, ’tis time this song should have an end.

Canto 18

Argument

Gryphon is venged. Sir Mandricardo goes

In search of Argier’s king. Charles wins the fight.

Marphisa Norandino’s men o’erthrows.

Due pains Martano’s cowardice requite.

A favouring wind Marphisa’s gallery blows,

For France with Gryphon bound and many a knight.

The field Medoro and Cloridano tread,

And find their monarch Dardinello dead.

I

High minded lord! your actions evermore

I have with reason lauded, and still laud;

Though I with style inapt, and rustic lore,

You of large portion of your praise defraud:

But, of your many virtues, one before

All others I with heart and tongue applaud,

— That, if each man a gracious audience finds,

No easy faith your equal judgment blinds.

II

Often, to shield the absent one from blame,

I hear you this, or other, thing adduce;

Or him you let, at least, an audience claim,

Where still one ear is open to excuse:

And before dooming men to scaith and shame,

To see and hear them ever is your use;

And ere you judge another, many a day,

And month, and year, your sentence to delay.

III

Had Norandine been with your care endued,

What he by Gryphon did, he had not done.

Profit and fame have from your rule accrued:

A stain more black than pitch he cast upon

His name: through him, his people were pursued

And put to death by Olivero’s son;

Who at ten cuts or thrusts, in fury made,

Some thirty dead about the waggon laid.

IV

Whither fear drives, in rout, the others all,

Some scattered here, some there, on every side,

Fill road and field; to gain the city-wall

Some strive, and smothered in the mighty tide,

One on another, in the gateway fall.

Gryphon, all thought of pity laid aside,

Threats not nor speaks, but whirls his sword about,

Well venging on the crowd their every flout.

V

Of those who to the portal foremost fleed,

The readiest of the crowd their feet to ply,

Part, more intent upon their proper need

Than their friends’ peril, raise the draw-bridge high:

Part, weeping and with deathlike visage, speed,

Nor turn their eyes behind them as they fly:

While, through the ample city, outcry loud,

And noise, and tumult rises from the crowd.

VI

Two nimble Gryphon seizes, mid the train,

When to their woe the bridge is raised; of one,

Upon the field the warrior strews the brain,

Which he bears out on a hard grinding stone;

Seized by the breast, the other of the twain

Over the city-wall by him is thrown,

Fear chills the townsmen’s marrow, when they spy

The luckless wretch descending from the sky.

VII

Many there were who feared in their alarms,

Lest o’er the wall Sir Gryphon would have vaulted;

Nor greater panic seized upon those swarms,

Than if the soldan had the town assaulted.

The sound of running up and down, of arms,

Of cry of Muezzins, on high exalted;

Of drums and trumpets, heaven, ‘twould seem, rebounded,

And, that the world was by the noise confounded.

VIII

But I will to another time delay,

What chanced on this occasion, to recount.

’Tis meet I follow Charles upon his way,

Hurrying in search of furious Rodomont,

Who did the monarch’s suffering people slay.

I said, with him, the danger to affront,

Went Namus, Oliver, the Danish peer,

Avino, Avolio, Otho and Berlinghier.

IX

Eight lances’ shock, that eight such warriors guide,

Which all at once against the king they rest,

Endured the stout and scaly serpent’s hide,

In which the cruel Moor his limbs had drest.

As a barque rights itself, — the sheet untied,

Which held its sail, — by growing wind opprest;

So speedily Sir Rodomont arose,

Though a hill had been uprooted by the blows.

X

Rainier and Guido, Richard, Salomon,

Ivan, Ughetto, Turpin, and the twain —

Angiolin, Angelier — false Ganellon,

And Mark and Matthew from St. Michael’s plain,

With the eight of whom I spake, all set upon

The foe, with Edward and Sir Arimane;

Who leading succours from the English shore,

Had lodged them in the town short time before.

XI

Not so, well-keyed into the solid stone,

Groans upon Alpine height the castle good,

When by rude Boreas’ rage or Eurus’ strown,

Uptorn are ash and fir in mountain wood,

As groans Sir Rodomont, with pride o’erblown,

Inflamed with anger and with thirst of blood:

And, as the thunder and the lightning’s fire

Fly coupled, such his vengeance and his ire.

XII

He at his head took aim who stood most nigh;

Ughetto was the miserable wight,

Whom to the teeth he clove, and left to die;

Though of good temper was his helmet bright.

As well the others many strokes let fly

At him, himself; which all the warrior smite,

But harm (so hard the dragon’s hide) no more,

Than needle can the solid anvil score.

XIII

All the defences, round, abandoned are,

The unpeopled city is abandoned all;

For, where the danger is the greater, there

The many give their aid, at Charles’ call:

Through every street they hurry to the square,

Since flying nought avails, from work and wall.

Their bosoms so the monarch’s presence warms,

That each again takes courage, each takes arms.

XIV

As when within the closely-fastened cage

Of an old lioness, well used to fight,

An untamed bull is prisoned, to engage

The savage monster, for the mob’s delight;

The cubs, who see him cresting in his rage,

And round the den loud-bellowing, to the sight

Of the huge beast’s enormous horns unused,

Cower at a distance, timid and confused;

XV

But if the mother spring at him, and hang,

Fixing her cruel tusks into his ear,

Her whelps as well will blood their greedy fang,

And, bold in her defence, assail the steer:

One bites his paunch, and one his back: so sprang

That band upon the paynim cavalier.

From roof and window, and from place more nigh,

Poured in a ceaseless shower, the weapons fly.

XVI

Of cavaliers and footmen such the squeeze,

That hardly can the place the press contain:

They cluster there as thick as swarming bees,

Who thither from each passage troop amain.

So that, were they unarmed, and with more ease

Than stalks or turnips he could cleave the train,

Ill Rodomont in twenty days would clear

The gathering crowd, united far and near.

XVII

Unknowing how himself from thence to free,

The paynim by this game is angered sore,

Who little thins the gathering rabblery,

Staining the ground with thousands slain or more;

And all the while, in his extremity,

Finds that his breath comes thicker than before;

And sees he cannot pierce the hostile round,

Unless he thence escape while strong and sound.

XVIII

The monarch rolls about his horrid eyes,

And sees that foes all outlets barricade;

But, at the cost of countless enemies,

A path shall quickly by his hand be made.

Where Fury calls him, lo! the felon hies,

And brandishes on high his trenchant blade,

To assail the newly entered British band,

Which Edward and Sir Ariman command.

XIX

He who has seen the fence, in well-thonged square,

(Against whose stakes the eddying crowd is born)

By wild bull broken, that has had to bear,

Through the long day, dogs, blows, and ceaseless scorn;

Who hunts the scattered people here and there,

And this, or that, now hoists upon his horn;

Let him as such, or fiercer yet, account,

When he breaks forth, the cruel Rodomont.

XX

At one cross-blow fifteen or twenty foes

He hews, as many leaves without a bead,

At cross or downright-stroke; as if he rows

Trashes in vineyard or in willow-bed,

At last all smeared with blood the paynim goes,

Safe from the place, which he has heaped with dead;

And wheresoe’er he turns his steps, are left

Heads, arms, and other members, maimed and cleft.

XXI

He from the square retires in such a mode,

None can perceive that danger him appals;

But, during this, what were the safest road,

By which to sally, he to thought recals.

He comes at last to where the river flowed

Below the isle, and past without the walls.

In daring men at arms and mob increase,

Who press him sore, nor let him part in peace.

XXII

As the high-couraged beast, whom hunters start

In the wild Nomade or Massilian chace,

Who, even in flying, shows his noble heart,

And threatening seeks his lair with sluggish pace;

From that strange wood of sword, and spear, and dart,

Turns Rodomont, with action nothing base;

And still impeded by the galling foe,

Makes for the river with long steps and slow.

XXIII

He turned upon the rabble-rout who bayed

Behind him, thrice or more, by anger driven,

And stained anew his falchion, by whose blade

More than a hundred deadly wounds were given.

But reason, finally, his fury stayed

Before the bloody carnage stank to heaven;

And he, with better counsel, from the side

Cast himself down into Seine’s foaming tide.

XXIV

Athwart the current swam, with arms and all,

As if by corks upborn, the cavalier.

Though thou Antaeus bred’st, and Hannibal,

O Africa! thou never bred’st his peer! —

When now across the stream, without the wall,

He turned, and saw the royal town appear,

— To have traversed all the city moved his ire,

Leaving it undestroyed by sword or fire;

XXV

And him so sorely anger stung and pride,

Thither he thought a second time to go;

And from his inmost bosom groaned and sighed,

Nor would depart until he laid it low.

But he saw one along the river-side

Approach, who made him rage and hate forego;

Strait shall you hear who ’twas, approached the king,

But first I have to say of other thing.

XXVI

I have of haughty Discord now to say,

To whom the archangel Michael gave command,

To heat to enmity and fierce affray

The best of Agramant’s besieging band.

She went that evening from the abbey gray,

Her task committing to another’s hand;

— Left it to Fraud to feed, till her return,

The war, and make the fires she kindled burn;

XXVII

And she believed, that she with greater power

Should go, did Pride with her as well repair;

And she (for all were guested in one bower)

In search of her had little way to fare.

Pride went with her; but, that in hall or tower,

A vicar too her charge might duly bear,

She for those days she absent thought to be,

For her lieutenant left Hypocrisy.

XXVIII

The implacable Discord went, and with the dame,

(Companion of the enterprise, was Pride)

Upon her road; and found that, by the same,

Was journeying to the paynim camp, beside,

Comfortless Jealousy, with whom there came

A little dwarf, attending as a guide;

Who erst had been sent forward with advice

To Sarza’s king, by beauteous Doralice.

XXIX

When she fell into Mandricardo’s hand,

(I have before recounted when and where)

She had in secret given the dwarf command,

He to the king should with the tidings fare;

By whom she hoped not vainly would be scanned

The tale her messenger was charged to bear,

But wonderous deeds be done for her relief,

With sad and signal vengeance on the thief.

XXX

Jealousy had that little dwarf espied,

And kenned the reason of his mission too,

And joined him, journeying with him side by side,

Deeming that she therein a part might do.

Discord, with pleasure, Jealousy decried,

But with more joy, when she the occasion knew

Which thither brought the dame, who much (she wist)

Might in the task she had in hand assist.

XXXI

Of means to embroil the Sarzan and the son

Of Agrican, she deems herself possest.

A certain mode to enrage these two is won;

And other means may work upon the rest.

She thither with the dwarfish page is gone,

Where the fierce Pagan in his clutch had prest

Proud Paris, and they reached the river strand,

Exactly as the felon swam to land.

XXXII

As soon as the redoubted Rodomont

Knew in the dwarf the courier of his dame,

He all his rage extinguished, cleared his front,

And felt his courage brighten into flame.

All else he deems the courier may recount,

Save that a wight had wrought him scaith and shame,

And cries (encountering him with chearful brow)

“How fares our lady? wither sent art thou?”

XXXIII

“Nor mine nor thine that lady will I say,

Who is another’s thrall,” the dwarf replied.

“We, on our road, encountered yesterday

A knight, who seized and bore away the bride.”

Jealousy, upon this, took up the play,

And, cold as asp, embraced the king: her guide

Pursued his tale, relating how the train,

Their mistress taken, by one man were slain.

XXXIV

Her flint and steel, fell Discord, as he said,

Took forth, and somewhile hammered on the stone.

Pride, underneath, the ready tinder spread,

And the quick fire was in a moment blown:

This on the paynim’s soul so fiercely fed,

He could not find a resting place: ‘mid groan

And sob he storms, with horrid face and eye,

Which threat the elements and ample sky.

XXXV

As tiger rages, who in vain descends

Into her den, and finds herself alone,

And, circling all the cavern, comprehends,

At last, that her beloved young are gone;

To ire, to rage like hers his wrath extends:

Nor night the king regards, nor rock, nor stone,

Nor stream:— Nor length of way nor storm arrest

The speed with which he on the plunderer prest.

XXXVI

So raging, to the pigmy dwarf who bore

The news, exclaimed the king, “Now hence away!”

Nor horse he waits, nor carriage, nor, before

Departing, deigns to his a word to say.

He hurries with such speed, that not with more

The lizard darts at noon across the way.

Horse had he none, but be he whose he might,

Would make his own the first which came in sight.

XXXVII

Discord at this, who read his secret thought,

Exclaimed, as she looked smilingly on Pride,

Through her he to a courser should be brought,

By which new cause of strife should be supplied;

And, that by him no other might be caught,

She from his path would keep all steeds beside;

And knew already where the prize to seek.

— But her I leave, again of Charles to speak.

XXXVIII

When, on the Saracen’s departure, spent,

About King Charles, was the consuming flame,

He ranged his troops anew: some warriors went

To strengthen feeble posts which succours claim;

The rest against the Saracens are sent,

To give the foe checkmate and end the game;

And from St. German’s to Saint Victor’s gates,

He pours the host, which on his signal waits.

XXXIX

He these at Saint Marcellus’ gate, where lay,

Outstretched a large circumference of plain,

Bade one another wait, in one array,

To reunite against the paynim train.

Inflaming every one to smite and slay,

In guise, that for a record should remain,

He made the various troops fall in below

Their banners, and the battle-signal blow.

XL

Agramant has remounted in his sell,

While this is doing in his foe’s despite,

And with the stripling who loved Isabel,

Is waging perilous and fearful fight.

Lurcanio with Sobrino strives as well;

Rinaldo a troop encounters, whom the knight,

With Valour and with Fortune for his guide,

Charges, and breaks, and routs on every side.

XLI

While so the battle stands, king Charlemagne

Falls on the rear guard of the paynim foe,

Where bold Marsilius halts the flower of Spain,

And forms the host, his royal flag below.

On these king Charlemagne impels his train,

Who, foot with horse to flank, against them go.

While so the deafening drum and trumpet sounds,

‘Twould seem the spacious world the din rebounds.

XLII

The Saracenic squadrons had begun

To bend, and all the army of the Moor

Had turned, disordered, broken, and undone,

Never to be arrayed or rallied more,

But that Grandonio stood, and Falsiron,

Tried oftentimes in greater ill before,

With Serpentine and Balugantes proud,

And the renowned Ferrau, who cried aloud:

XLIII

“O valiant men,” he — “O companions,” cries,

“O brethren, stand, and yet your place maintain;

Like cobweb-threads our cruel enemies

Will find their works, if we our part sustain.

What this day Fortune offers to our eyes,

If now we conquer, see the praise, the gain! —

If conquered, see the utter loss and shame

Which will for ever wait upon your name!”

XLIV

He in this time a mighty lance had spanned,

And spurred at once against Sir Berlinghier,

Who Argaliffa guided with his hand,

And broke his helmet’s frontal with the spear,

Cast him on earth, and with the cruel brand

Unhorsed perhaps eight other warriors near.

His mighty strokes discharging, at each blow,

He ever laid at least one horseman low.

XLV

In other part, Rinaldo, in his mood,

Has slain more enemies than I can say,

Before the warlike knight no order stood;

You might have seen the ample camp give way.

No less Zerbino and Lurcanio good

Do deeds, which will be told in every day;

This, with a thrust, has bold Balastro slain,

That Finaduro’s helm has cleft in twain.

XLVI

The first was of the Alzerban army head,

Ruled by Tardocco some short time before;

The other one the valiant squadrons led

Of Saphi, and Morocco, and Zamor.

“Where, ‘mid the paynims,” might to me be said,

“Is knight whose sword can cleave or lance can gore?”

But step by step I go, and as I wind

My way, leave none who merits praise behind.

XLVII

Zumara’s king is not forgotten here,

Dardinel, who Sir Dulphin of the mount,

Claude of the wood, and Hubert, with the spear,

(Of Mirford he) and Elio did dismount,

And, with the faulchion, Stamford’s cavalier,

Sir Anselm, Raymond and Sir Pinnamont

From London-town; though valiant were the twain;

Two stunned, one wounded, the four others slain.

XLVIII

Yet will his squadron not so firmly stand,

Maugre the valour which his deeds display,

So firmly, as to wait the Christian band,

In number less, but steadier in array,

More used to joust and manage of the brand,

And all things appertaining to the gray.

Setta and Morocco turned, and, seized with dread,

Zumara and Canaries’ islesmen fled.

XLIX

But faster than the rest Alzerba flies,

Whom Dardinel opposed, and now with sore

Reproach, and now with prayer he moves, and tries

What best he deems their courage may restore.

“If good Almontes has deserved,” he cries,

“That you should by his memory set such store,

Now shall be seen — be seen, if you will me,

His son, abandon in such jeopardy.

L

“For sake of my green youth, I pray you stand,

That youth whereon your hopes were wont to feed,

And suffer not that, scattered by the brand,

To Africa be lost our noble seed.

Save you united go, be sure the land

Is shut against you, wheresoe’er you speed.

Too high a wall to climb is mountain-steep,

The yawning sea a ditch too wide to leap.

LI

“Far better ’tis to perish than to be

Torn by these dogs, or lie at their control.

Since vain is every other remedy,

Wait, friends, for love of Heaven, the advancing shoal:

They are not gifted with more lives than we;

Have but one pair of hands, have but one soul.”

So saying, the bold youth, amid the crew

Of enemies, the Earl of Huntley slew.

LII

Almontes’ memory, through the Moorish bands,

Makes every bosom with such ardour glow,

They deem ’tis better to use arms and hands

In fight, than turn their backs upon the foe.

Taller than all William of Burnwich stands,

An Englishman, whom Dardinel brings low,

And equals with the rest; then smites upon,

And cleaves, the head of Cornish Aramon.

LIII

Down fell this Aramon, and to afford

Him succour, thitherward his brother made;

But from the shoulder him Zumara’s lord

Cleft to the fork, with his descending blade;

Next Bogio de Vergalla’s belly gored,

And from his debt absolved (the forfeit paid)

Who to return within six months, if life

Were granted him, had promised to his wife.

LIV

Lurcanio next met Dardinello’s eye;

He upon earth Dorchino had laid low,

Pierced through the throat, and hapless Gardo nigh

Cleft to the teeth; at him, as all too slow,

He from Altheus vainly seeks to fly,

Whom as his heart Lurcanio loves, a blow

Upon his head behind the Scotchman speeds;

And. slaughtered by the stroke, the warrior bleeds.

LV

Dardinel, to avenge him, took a spear,

And, should he lay the fierce Lurcanio dead,

Vowed to his Mahomet, if he could hear,

The mosque should have his empty arms; this said,

Ranging the field in haste, that cavalier

He in the flank, with thrust so full and dread,

Encountered, that it went through either side:

And he to his to strip the baron cried.

LVI

From me it sure were needless to demand,

If Ariodantes, when his brother fell,

Was grieved; if he with his avenging hand

Among the damned would send Sir Dardinell;

But all access the circling troops withstand

And bar, no less baptized than infidel:

Yet would he venge himself, and with his blade,

Now here, now there, an open passage made.

LVII

He charges, chases, breaks, and overthrows

Whoever cross him on the crowded plain;

And Dardinello, who his object knows,

Would fain the wish content; but him the train

Impedes as well, which round about him flows,

And renders aye his every purpose vain.

If one on all sides thins the Moorish rank,

The other slays Scot, Englishman, and Frank.

LVIII

Fortune still blocked their path throughout the day,

So that they met not, ‘mid that chivalry,

And kept one as a mightier champion’s prey;

For rarely man escapes his destiny.

Behold the good Rinaldo turns that way!

That, for this one no refuge there might be.

Lo! good Rinaldo comes: him Fortune guides,

And for his sword King Dardinel provides.

LIX

But here enough for this one while is shown

Of their illustrious doings in the west;

’Tis time I seek Sir Gryphon, and make known

How he, with fury burning in his breast,

That rabble-rout had broke and overthrown,

Struck with more fear than ever men possest.

Thither speeds Norandine on that alarm,

And for his guard above a thousand arm.

LX

King Norandine, girt with peer and knight,

Seeing on every side the people fly,

Rides to the gates, with squadron duly dight,

And at his hest the portals open fly.

Meanwhile Sir Gryphon, having put to flight

The weak and worthless rabble far and nigh,

The scorned arms (to keep him from that train),

Such as they were, took up and donned again.

LXI

And nigh a temple strongly walled, and round

Whose base a moat for its protection goes,

Upon a little bridge takes up his ground,

That him his enemies may not enclose.

Lo! loudly shouting, and with threatening sound,

A mighty squadron through the gateway flows.

The valiant Gryphon changes not his place,

And shows how small his fear by act and face.

LXII

But when, approaching near, he saw the band,

He sallied forth to meet them by the way;

And wielding still his sword in either hand,

Made cruel havoc in the close array.

Then on the narrow bridge resumed his stand,

Nor there his hunters only held at bay:

Anew he sallied, and returned anew,

Aye leaving bloody signs when he withdrew.

LXIII

Fore-stroke and back he deals, and on the ground

Horsemen and foot o’erthrows on every side:

This while the ample mob the knight surround,

And more and more the warfare rages wide.

At length Sir Gryphon fears he shall be drowned,

(So waxed their numbers) in the increasing tide;

And hurt in the left shoulder, through his mail,

And thigh, his wind as well begins to fail.

LXIV

But Valour, who so oft befriends her own,

Makes him find grace in Norandino’s eyes;

Who, while alarmed, he hurries there, o’erthrown

So many men, such heaps of dead espies,

While he views wounds, which Hector’s hand alone

He weens could deal, — to him all testifies

That he had put an undeserved shame

Upon a cavalier of mighty name.

LXV

Next seeing him more near, whose falchion’s sweep

Had dealt such deaths amid his chivalry,

And raised about himself that horrid heap,

And stained the water with that bloody dye,

He thought that he beheld Horatius keep,

Singly, the bridge against all Tuscany;

And vext, and anxious to remove the stain,

Recalled his men, and that with little pain.

LXVI

And, lifting his bare hand, in sign affied,

From ancient times, of treaty and of truce,

Repenting him, he to Sir Gryphon cried,

“It grieves me sorely, and I cannot choose

But own my sin: let counsels which misguide,

And my own little wit, such fault excuse.

What by the vilest knight I thought to do,

I to the best on earth have done in you.

LXVII

“And though the bitter injuries and shame

That have to thee through ignorance been done,

Are equalled, and all cancelled by thy fame,

And merged, in truth, in glory thou hast won;

Whatever satisfaction thou canst claim,

Within my power or knowledge, count upon,

When I know how atonement may be made,

By city, castle, or by money paid.

LXVIII

“Demand of me this kingdom’s moiety,

And from this day thou its possessor art,

Since not alone thy worth deserves this fee,

But merits, I with this should give my heart;

Then, pledge of faith and lasting love, to me,

In the meanwhile, thy friendly hand impart.”

So saying, from his horse the king descended,

And towards Gryphon his right-hand extended.

LXIX

When he beheld the monarch’s altered cheer,

Who bent to clasp his neck, towards him paced,

His sword and rancour laid aside, the peer

Him humbly underneath the hips embraced.

King Norandine, who saw the sanguine smear

Of his two wounds, bade seek a leech in haste;

And bade them softly with the knight resort

Towards the town, and lodge him in his court.

LXX

Here, wounded, he remained some days before

He could bear arms: but him, in the design

Of seeking out Sir Aquilant once more,

And good Astolpho, left in Palestine,

I quit; they vainly did his path explore,

After Sir Gryphon left the holy shrine,

Through Solyma in every place of note,

And many, from the Holy Land remote.

LXXI

One and the other are alike to seek

In the inquiry where the knight may use;

But they encounter with the pilgrim-Greek,

Who of false Origilla gives them news;

Relating, as of her he haps to speak,

That towards Antioch she her way pursues,

By a new leman of that city charmed,

Who her with fierce and sudden flame had warmed.

LXXII

Aquilant asked him, if he had possest

Sir Gryphon of the news to them conveyed,

Who, hearing that he had, surmised the rest, —

Where he was gone, and by what motive swayed:

He followed Origille, was manifest,

And had in quest of her for Antioch made,

To take her from his rival, and with view

On him some memorable scathe to do.

LXXIII

Aquilant brooked not Gryphon such a feat,

Without him, and alone, should thus assay,

And took his armour and pursued his beat;

But first besought the duke he would delay

To visit France and his paternal seat,

Till he from Antioch measured back his way.

At Joppa he embarks, who deems by sea

The better and securer way to be.

LXXIV

From the south-east up-sprung so strong a breeze,

And which for Gryphon’s galley blew so right,

That the third day he Tyre’s famed city sees,

And lesser Joppa quick succeeds to sight.

By Zibellotto and Baruti flees,

(Cyprus to larboard left) the galley light;

From Tripoli to Tortosa shapes her way,

And so to Lizza and Lajazzo’s bay.

LXXV

From thence, towards the east the pilot veered

Her ready tiller, prompt his course to scan;

And straightway for the wide Orontes steered,

And watched his time, and for the harbour ran.

Aquilant, when his bark the margin neared,

Bade lower the bridge, and issued, horse and man,

It armour, and along the river wended,

Up-stream, till he his way at Antioch ended.

LXXVI

To inform himself of that Martano bent;

And heard that he to Antioch was addrest,

With Origilla, where a tournament

Was to be solemnized by royal hest.

To track whom Aquilant was so intent,

Assured that Gryphon had pursued his quest,

He Antioch left again that very day,

But not by sea again would take his way.

LXXVII

He towards Lidia and Larissa goes,

— At rich Aleppo makes a longer stay.

God, to make plain that he, even here, bestows

On evil and on good their fitting pay,

At a league’s distance from Mamuga, throws

Martano in the avenging brother’s way,

Martano travelling with the tourney’s prize,

Displayed before his horse in showy wise.

LXXVIII

Sir Aquilant believed, at the first show,

His brother he in vile Martano spied.

For arms and vest, more white than virgin snow,

The coward in the warrior’s sight belied,

And sprang towards him, with that joyful “Oh!”

By which delight is ever signified;

But changed his look and tone, when, nearer brought

He sees that he is not the wight he sought:

LXXIX

And through that evil woman’s treachery,

Deemed Gryphon murdered by the cavalier;

And, “Tell me,” he exclaimed, “thou, who must be

Traitor and thief — both written in thy cheer —

Whence are these arms? and wherefore do I thee

View on the courser of my brother dear?

Say is my brother slaughtered or alive?

How didst thou him of horse and arms deprive?”

LXXX

When Origille hears him, in affright

She turns her palfrey, and for flight prepares:

But Aquilant, more quick, in her despite,

Arrests the traitress, ere she further fares.

At the loud threats of that all furious knight,

By whom he so was taken unawares,

Martan’ turns pale and trembles like a leaf,

Nor how to act or answer knows the thief.

LXXXI

Aquilant thundered still, and, to his dread,

A falchion, pointed at his gullet, shewed,

And swore with angry menaces, the head

From him and Origille should be hewed,

Save in all points the very truth be said.

Awhile on this ill-starred Martano chewed,

Revolving still what pretext he might try

To lessen his grave fault, then made reply:

LXXXII

“Know, sir, you see my sister in this dame,

And one of good and virtuous parents born,

Though she has lately led a life of shame,

And been by Gryphon foully brought to scorn;

And, for I loathed such blot upon our name,

Yet weened that she could ill by force be torn

From such a puissant wight, I laid a scheme

Her by address and cunning to redeem.

LXXXIII

“With her I planned the means, who in her breast

Nursed the desire a better life to prove,

That she, when Gryphon was retired to rest,

In silence from the warrior should remove.

This done: lest he should follow on our quest,

And so undo the web we vainly wove,

Him we deprived of horse and arm, and we

Are hither come together, as you see.”

LXXXIV

His cunning might have proved of good avail,

For Aquilant believed him easily;

And, save in taking Gryphon’s horse and mail,

He to the knight had done no injury;

But that he wrought so high the specious tale,

As manifested plainly, ’twas a lie.

In all ’twas perfect, save that he the dame

Had for his sister vouched with whom he came.

LXXXV

Aquilant had in Antioch chanced to know

She was his concubine, — well certified

Of this by many, — and in furious glow

Exclaimed; “Thou falsest robber, thou hast lied!”

And dealt, with that, the recreant such a blow,

He drove two grinders down his throat; then tied

(Not sought Martano with his foe to cope)

The caitiff’s arms behind him with a rope.

LXXXVI

And, though she for excuse tried many wiles,

Did thus as well by Origille untrue;

And till he reached Damascus’ lofty piles,

Them by town, street, or farm, behind him drew:

And will a thousand times a thousand miles,

With sorrow and with suffering, drag the two,

Till he his brother find; who, at his pleasure,

May vengeance to the guilty couple measure.

LXXXVII

Sir Aquilant made squires and beasts as well

Return with him, and to Damascus came;

And heard Renown, throughout the city, swell,

Plying her ample wings, Sir Gryphon’s name.

Here, great and little — every one, could tell

’Twas he that in the tourney won such fame,

And had, by one that ill deserved his trust,

Been cheated of the honours of the just.

LXXXVIII

Pointing him out to one another’s sight,

The hostile people all Martano bayed;

“And is not this (they cried) that ribald wight

Who in another’s spoils himself arrayed,

And who the valour of a sleeping knight,

With his own shame and infamy o’erlaid?

And this the woman of ungrateful mood,

Who aids the wicked and betrays the good?”

LXXXIX

Others exclaimed, “How fittingly combined,

Marked with one stamp, and of one race are they!”

Some loudly cursed them, and some raved behind,

While others shouted, “Hang, burn, quarter, slay!”

The throng to view them prest, with fury blind,

And to the square before them made its way.

The monarch of the tidings was advised,

And these above another kingdom prized.

XC

Attended with few squires the Syrian king,

As then he chanced to be, came forth with speed,

And with Sir Aquilant encountering,

Who Gryphon had avenged with worthy deed,

Him honoured with fair cheer, and home would bring,

And in his palace lodged, as fitting meed;

Having the prisoned pair, with his consent,

First in the bottom of a turret pent.

XCI

Thither they go, where Gryphon from his bed

Has not as yet, since he was wounded, stirred;

Who at his brother’s coming waxes red,

Surmising well he of his case has heard:

And after Aquilant his say had said,

And him somedeal reproached, the three conferred

As to what penance to the wicked two,

So fallen into their hands, was justly due.

XCII

’Tis Aquilant’s, ’tis Norandino’s will

A thousand tortures shall their guerdon be:

But Gryphon, who the dame alone can ill

Excuse, entreats for both impunity;

And many matters urges with much skill.

But well is answered: and ’tis ruled, to flea

Martano’s body with the hangman’s scourge,

And only short of death his penance urge.

XCIII

Bound is the wretch, but not ‘mid grass and flower,

Whose limbs beneath the hangman’s lashes burn

All the next morn: they prison in the tower

Origille, till Lucina shall return;

To whom the counselling lords reserve the power

To speak the woman’s sentence, mild or stern.

Harboured, till Gryphon can bear arms, at court,

Aquilant fleets the time in fair disport.

XCIV

The valiant Norandino could not choose

(Made by such error temperate and wise),

But full of penitence and sorrow, muse,

With downcast spirit, and in mournful guise,

On having bid his men a knight misuse,

Whom all should worthily reward and prize;

So that he, night and morning, in his thought,

How to content the injured warrior sought.

XCV

And he determined, in the public sight

O’ the city, guilty of that injury,

With all such honour as to perfect knight

Could by a puissant monarch rendered be,

Him with the glorious guerdon to requite,

Which had been ravished by such treachery:

And hence, within a month, proclaimed the intent

To hold another solemn tournament.

XCVI

For which he made what stately preparation

Was possible to make by sceptered king.

Hence Fame divulged the royal proclamation

Throughout all Syria’s land, with nimble wing,

Phoenicia and Palestine; till the relation

Of this in good Astolpho’s ears did ring;

Who, with the lord who ruled that land in trust,

Resolved he would be present at the just.

XCVII

For a renowned and valiant cavalier

Has the true history vaunted, Sansonnet,

By Roland christened, Charles (I said), the peer

Over the Holy Land as ruler set:

He with the duke takes up his load, to steer

Thither, where Rumour speaks the champions met.

So that his ears, on all sides in the journey,

Are filled with tidings of Damascus’ tourney.

XCVIII

Thither the twain their way those countries through,

By easy stages and by slow, addrest,

That fresh upon the day of joust the two

Might in Damascus-town set up their rest.

When at the meeting of cross-ways they view

A person, who, in movement and in vest,

Appears to be a man, but is a maid;

And marvellously fierce, in martial raid.

XCIX

Marphisa was the warlike virgin’s name,

And such her worth, she oft with naked brand

Had pressed Orlando sore in martial game,

And him who had Mount Alban in command;

And ever, night and day, the armed dame

Scowered, here and there, by hill and plain, the land;

Hoping with errant cavalier to meet,

And win immortal fame by glorious feat.

C

When Sansonnetto and the English knight

She sees approaching her, in warlike weed,

Who seem two valiant warriors in her sight,

As of large bone, and nerved for doughty deed,

On them she fain would prove her martial might,

And to defy the pair has moved her steed.

When, eyeing the two warriors, now more near,

Marphisa recognized the duke and peer.

CI

His pleasing ways she did in mind retrace,

When arms in far Catay with her he bore

Called him by name, nor would in iron case;

Retain her hand, upraised the casque she wore,

And him, advanced, to meet with glad embrace,

Though, of all living dames and those of yore,

The proudest, she; nor with less courteous mien

The paladin salutes the martial queen.

CII

They questioned one another of their way;

And when the duke has said (who first replied)

That he Damascus seeks, where to assay

Their virtuous deeds, all knights of valour tried

The Syrian king invites, in martial play, —

The bold Marphisa, at his hearing cried,

(Ever to prove her warlike prowess bent)

“I will be with you at this tournament.”

CIII

To have such a comrade either cavalier

Is much rejoiced. They to Damascus go,

And in a suburb, of the city clear,

Are lodged, upon the day before the show;

And, till her aged lover, once so dear,

Aurora roused, their humble roof below,

In greater ease the weary warriors rested

Than had they been in costly palace guested.

CIV

And when the clear and lucid sun again

Its shining glories all abroad had spread,

The beauteous lady armed, and warriors twain,

Having first couriers to the city sped,

Who, when ’twas time, reported to the train,

That, to see truncheons split in contest dread,

King Norandine had come into the square

In which the cruel games appointed were.

CV

Straight to the city ride the martial band,

And, through the high-street, to the crowded place;

Where, waiting for the royal signal, stand,

Ranged here and there, the knights of gentle race.

The guerdons destined to the conqueror’s hand,

In that day’s tourney, were a tuck and mace

Richly adorned, and, with them, such a steed

As to the winning lord were fitting meed.

CVI

Norandine, sure that, in the martial game,

Both prizes destined for the conquering knight,

As well as one and the other tourney’s fame,

Must be obtained by Gryphon, named the white,

To give him all that valiant man could claim,

Nor could he give the warrior less, with right,

The armour, guerdon of this final course

Placed with the tuck and mace and noble horse.

CVII

The arms which in the former joust the due

Of valiant Gryphon were, who all had gained,

(With evil profit, by the wretch untrue,

Martan’ usurped, who Gryphon’s bearing feigned)

To be hung up on high in public view

With the rich-flourished tuck, the king ordained,

And fastened at the saddle of the steed

The mace, that Gryphon might win either meed.

CVIII

But from effecting what he had intended

He was prevented by the warlike maid;

Who late into the crowded square had wended,

With Sansonnet and England’s duke arrayed,

Seeing the arms of which I spoke suspended,

She straight agnized the harness she surveyed,

Once hers, and dear to her; as matters are

Esteemed by us as excellent and rare;

CIX

Though, as a hindrance, she upon the road

Had left the arms, when, to retrieve her sword,

She from her shoulders slipt the ponderous load,

And chased Brunello, worthy of the cord.

More to relate were labour ill bestowed,

I deem, nor further of the tale record.

Enough for me, by you ’tis understood,

How here she found anew her armour good.

CX

You shall take with you, when by manifest

And certain tokens they by her were known,

She, for no earthly thing, the iron vest

And weapons for a day would have foregone.

She thinks not if this mode or that be best

To have them, anxious to regain her own;

But t’wards the arms with hand extended hies,

And without more regard takes down the prize.

CXI

And throwing some on earth, it chanced that more

Than was her own she in her hurry took.

The Syrian king, who was offended sore,

Raised war against her with a single look.

For ill the wrong his angered people bore,

And, to avenge him, lance and falchion shook;

Remembering not, on other day, how dear

They paid for scathing errant cavalier.

CXII

No wishful child more joyfully, ‘mid all

The flowers of spring-tide, yellow, blue, and red,

Finds itself, nor at concert or at ball

Dame beauteous and adorned, than ‘mid the tread

Of warlike steeds, and din of arms, and fall

Of darts, and push of spears. — where blood is shed,

And death is dealt, in the tumultuous throng, —

SHE finds herself beyond all credence strong.

CXIII

She spurred her courser, and with lance in rest,

Imperious at the foolish rabble made,

And — through the neck impaled or through the breast, —

Some pierced, some prostrate at the encounter layed.

Next this or that she with the falchion prest;

The head from one she severed with the blade,

And from that other cleft: another sank,

Short of right arm or left, or pierced in flank.

CXIV

Bold Sansonnetto and Astolpho near,

Who had, with her, their limbs in harness dight,

Though they for other end in arms appear,

Seeing the maid and crowd engaged in fight,

First lower the helmet’s vizor, next the spear,

And with their lances charge the mob outright:

Then bare their falchions, and, amid the crew,

A passage with the trenchant weapons hew.

CXV

The errant cavaliers who to that stage,

To joust, from different lands had made resort,

Seeing them warfare with such fury wage,

And into mourning changed the expected sport,

Because all knew not what had moved the rage

Of the infuriate people in that sort,

Nor what the insult offered to the king,

Suspended stood in doubt and wondering.

CXVI

Of these, some will the crowded rabble’s band

(Too late repentant of the feat) befriend:

Those, favouring not the natives of the land

More than the foreigners, to part them wend.

Others more wary, with their reins in hand,

Sit watching how the mischief is to end.

Gryphon and Aquilant are of the throng

Which hurry forward to avenge the wrong.

CXVII

The pair of warlike brethren witnessing

The monarch’s drunken eyes with venom fraught,

And having heard from many in the ring

The occasion which the furious strife had wrought,

Himself no whit less injured than the king

Of Syria’s land, offended Gryphon thought.

Each knight, in haste, supplied himself with spear,

And thundering vengeance drove in full career.

CXVIII

On Rabican, pricked forth before his hand,

Valiant Astolpho, from the other bound,

With the enchanted lance of gold in hand,

Which at the first encounter bore to ground

What knights he smote with it; and on the sand

Laid Gryphon first; next Aquilant he found,

And scarcely touched the border of his shield,

Ere he reversed the warrior on the field.

CXIX

From lofty saddle Sansonnet o’erthrew,

Famous for price and prowess, many a knight.

To the outlet of the square the mob withdrew;

The monarch raged with anger and despite.

Meanwhile, of the first cuirass and the new

Possest, as well as either helmet bright,

Marphisa, when she all in flight discerned,

Conqueror towards her suburb-inn returned.

CXX

Sansonnet and Astolpho are not slow

In following t’wards the gate the martial maid,

(The mob dividing all to let them go)

And halt when they have reached the barricade.

Gryphon and Aquilant, who saw with woe

Themselves on earth at one encounter laid,

Their drooping heads, opprest with shame, decline,

Nor dare appear before King Norandine.

CXXI

Seizing their steeds and mounting, either son

Of Oliver to seek their foemen went:

With many of his vassals too is gone

The king; on death or vengeance all intent.

The foolish rabble cry, “Lay on, lay on.”

And stand at distance and await the event.

Gryphon arrived where the three friends had gained

A bridge, and facing round the post maintained.

CXXII

He, at the first approach, Astolpho knew,

For still the same device had been his wear,

Even from the day he charmed Orrilo slew,

His horse, his arms the same: him not with care

Sir Gryphon had remarked, nor stedfast view,

When late he jousted with him in the square:

He knows him here and greets; next prays him show

Who the companions are that with him go;

CXXIII

And why they had those arms, without the fear

Of Syria’s king, pulled down, and to his slight.

Of his champions England’s cavalier,

Sir Gryphon courteously informed aright.

But little of those arms, pursued the peer,

He knew, which were the occasion of the fight;

But (for he thither with Marphisa came

And Sansonnet) had armed to aid the dame.

CXXIV

While he and Gryphon stood in colloquy,

Aquilant came, and knew Astolpho good,

Whom he heard speaking with his brother nigh,

And, though of evil purpose, changed his mood.

Of Norandine’s trooped many, these to spy;

But came not nigh the warriors where they stood:

And seeing them in conference, stood clear,

Listening, in silence, and intent to hear.

CXXV

Some one who hears Marphisa hold is there,

Famed, through the world, for matchless bravery,

His courser turns, and bids the king have care,

Save he would lose his Syrian chivalry,

To snatch his court, before all slaughtered are,

From the hand of Death and of Tisiphone:

For that ’twas verily Marphisa, who

Had borne away the arms in public view.

CXXVI

As Norandine is told that name of dread,

Through the Levant so feared on every side,

Whose mention made the hair on many a head

Bristle, though she was often distant wide.

He fears the ill may happen which is said,

Unless against the mischief he provide;

And hence his meiny, who have changed their ire

Already into fear, he bids retire.

CXXVII

The sons of Oliver, on the other hand,

With Sansonnetto and the English knight,

So supplicate Marphisa, she her brand

Puts up, and terminates the cruel fight;

And to the monarch next, amid his brand,

Cries, proudly, “Sir, I know not by what right

Thou wouldst this armour, not thine own, present

To him who conquers in thy tournament.

CXXVIII

“Mine are these arms, which I, upon a day,

Left on the road which leads from Armeny,

Because, parforce a-foot, I sought to stay

A robber, who had sore offended me.

The truth of this my ensign may display.

Which here is seen, if it be known to thee.”

With that she on the plate which sheathed the breast

(Cleft in three places) showed a crown imprest.

CXXIX

“To me this an Armenian merchant gave,

’Tis true,” replied the king, “some days ago;

And had you raised your voice, the arms to crave,

You should have had them, whether yours or no.

For, notwithstanding I to Gryphon gave

The armour, I so well his nature know,

He freely would resign the gift he earned,

That it by me to you might be returned.

CXXX

“Your allegation needs not to persuade

These arms are yours — that they your impress bear;

Your word suffices me, by me more weighed

Than all that other witness could declare.

To grant them yours is but a tribute paid

To Virtue, worthy better prize to wear.

Now have the arms, and let us make accord;

And let some fairer gift the knight reward.”

CXXXI

Gryphon, who little had those arms at heart,

But much to satisfy the king was bent,

Replied: “You recompense enough impart,

Teaching me how your wishes to content.”

— “Here is my honour all at sake,” apart,

“Meseemeth,” said Marphisa, and forewent

Her claim for Gryphon’s sake, with courteous cheer;

And, as his gift, in fine received the gear.

CXXXII

To the city, their rejoicings to renew,

In love and peace they measured back their way.

Next came the joust, of which the honour due,

And prize was Sansonnet’s; since from the fray

Abstained Astolpho and the brethren two,

And bold Marphisa, best of that array,

Like faithful friends and good companions; fain

That Sansonnet the tourney’s meed should gain.

CXXXIII

Eight days or ten in joy and triumph dwell

The knights with Norandine; but with such strong

Desire of France the warriors’ bosoms swell,

Which will not let them thence be absent long,

They take their leave. Marphisa, who as well

Thither would go, departs the troop among.

Marphisa had long time, with sword and lance,

Desired to prove the paladins of France;

CXXXIV

And make experiment, if they indeed

Such worth as is by Rumour voiced display.

Sansonnet leaves another, in his stead,

The city of Jerusalem to sway,

And now these five, in chosen squadron speed,

Who have few peers in prowess, on their way.

Dismist by Norandine, to Tripoli

They wend, and to the neighbouring haven hie.

CXXXV

And there a carack find, about to steer

For western countries, taking in her store:

They, with the patron, for themselves and gear,

And horses, make accord; a seaman hoar

Of Luna he: the heavens, on all sides clear,

Vouch many days’ fair weather. From the shore

They loose, with sky serene, and every sail

Of the yare vessel stretched by favouring gale.

CXXXVI

The island of the amorous deity

Breathed upon them an air, in her first port,

Which not alone to man does injury,

But moulders iron, and here life is short;

— A marsh the cause, — and Nature certainly

Wrongs Famagosta, poisoning, in such sort,

That city with Constantia’s fen malign,

To all the rest of Cyprus so benign.

CXXXVII

The noxious scents that from the marish spring,

After short sojourn there, compel their flight.

The barque to a south-easter every wing

Extends, and circles Cyprus to the right,

Makes Paphos’ island next, and, anchoring,

The crew and warriors on the beach alight;

Those to ship merchandize, and these, at leisure,

To view the laughing land of Love and Pleasure.

CXXXVIII

Inland six miles or seven from thence, a way

Scales, with an easy rise, a pleasant hill;

Which myrtle, orange, cedar-tree, and bay,

And other perfumed plants by thousands fill;

Thyme, marjoram, crocus, rose, and lily gay

From odoriferous leaf such sweets distill,

That they who sail the sea the fragrance bland,

Scent in each genial gale which blows from land.

CXXXIX

A fruitful rill, by limpid fountain fed,

Waters, all round about, the fertile space.

The land of Venus truly may be said

That passing joyous and delightful place:

For every maid and wife, who there is bred,

Is through the world beside, unmatched in grace:

And Venus wills, till their last hour be tolled,

That Love should warm their bosoms, young and old.

CXL

’Twas here they heard the same which they before

Of the orc and of Lucina, erst had heard

In Syria; how she to return once more

In Nicosia, to her lord prepared.

Thence (a fair wind now blowing from the shore)

His bark for sea the ready Patron cleared,

Hawled up his anchor, westward turned the head

Of the good ship, and all his canvas spread.

CXLI

To the north wind, which blew upon their right,

Stretching to seaward, they their sails untie:

When lo! a south-south-wester, which seemed light,

In the beginning, while the sun was high,

And afterwards increased in force t’wards night,

Raised up the sea against them mountains high;

With such dread flashes, and loud peals of thunder,

As Heaven, to swallow all in fire, would sunder.

CXLII

The clouds their gloomy veil above them strain,

Nor suffer sun or star to cheer the view.

Above the welkin roared, beneath the main;

On every side the wind and tempest grew;

Which, with sharp piercing cold and blinding rain,

Afflicted sore the miserable crew.

While aye descending night, with deeper shade,

The vext and fearful billows overlayed.

CXLIII

The sailors, in this war of wind and flood,

Were prompt to manifest their vaunted art.

One blowing through the shrilling whistle stood,

And with the signal taught the rest their part.

One clears the best bower anchor: one is good

To lower, this other to hawl home or start

The braces; one from deck the lumber cast,

And this secured the tiller, that the mast.

CXLIV

The cruel wind increased throughout the night,

Which grew more dismal and more dark than hell.

The wary Patron stood to sea outright,

Where he believed less broken was the swell;

And turned his prow to meet, with ready sleight,

The buffets of the dreadful waves which fell;

Never without some hope, that at day-break

The storm might lull, or else its fury slake.

CXLV

It lulls not, nor its fury slakes, but grown

Wilder, shows worse by day, — if this be day,

Which but by reckoning of the hours is known,

And not by any cheering light or ray.

Now, with more fear (his weaker hope o’erthrown).

The sorrowing Patron to the wind gives way,

He veers his barque before the cruel gale,

And scowers the foaming sea with humble sail.

CXLVI

While Fortune on the sea annoys this crew,

She grants those others small repose by land,

Those left in France, who one another slew, —

The men of England and the paynim band.

These bold Rinaldo broke and overthrew;

Nor troops nor banners spread before him stand:

I speak of him, who his Baiardo fleet

Had spurred the gallant Dardinel to meet.

CXLVII

The shield, of which Almontes’ son was vain,

That of the quarters, good Rinaldo spied;

And deemed him bold, and of a valiant strain,

Who with Orlando’s ensign dared to ride.

Approaching nearer, this appeared more plain,

When heaps of slaughtered men he round him eyed.

“Better it were,” he cried, “to overthrow

This evil plant, before it shoot and grow.”

CXLVIII

Each to retreat betook him, where the peer

His face directed, and large passage made.

Nor less the Saracens than faithful, clear

The way, so reverenced is Fusberta’s blade.

Save Dardinel, Mount Alban’s cavalier,

Saw none, nor he to chase his prey delayed.

To whom, “He cast upon thee mickle care,

Poor child, who of that buckler left thee heir.

CXLIX

“I seek thee out to prove (if thou attend

My coming) how thou keep’st the red and white,

For thou, save this from me thou canst defend,

Canst ill defend it from Orlando’s might.”

To him the king: “Now clearly comprehend,

I what I bear, as well defend in fight;

And I more honour hope than trouble dread

From my paternal quartering, white and red.

CL

“Have thou no hope to make me fly, or yield

To thee my quarters, though a child I be;

My life shalt thou take from me, if my shield;

But I, in God, well hope the contrary.

— This as it may! — shall none, in fighting field,

Say that I ever shamed my ancestry.”

So said, and grasping in his hand the sword,

The youthful king assailed Mount Alban’s lord.

CLI

Upon all parts, a freezing fear goes through

The heart blood of each trembling paynim nigh,

When they amazed the fierce Rinaldo view;

Who charged the monarch with such enmity,

As might a lion, which a bullock, new

To stings of love, should in a meadow spy.

The Moor smote first, but fruitless was his task,

Who beat in vain upon Mambrino’s casque.

CLII

Rinaldo smiled, and said: “I’d have thee know

If I am better skilled to find the vein.”

He spurs, and lets with that the bridle go,

And a thrust pushes with such might and main,

— A thrust against the bosom of his foe,

That at his back the blade appears again.

Forth issued blood and soul, and from his sell

Lifeless and cold the reeling body fell.

CLIII

As languishes the flower of purple hue,

Which levelled by the passing ploughshare lies;

Or as the poppy, overcharged with dew,

In garden droops its head in piteous wise:

From life the leader of Zumara’s crew

So past, his visage losing all its dyes;

So passed from life; and perished with their king,

The heart and hope of all his following.

CLIV

As waters will sometime their course delay,

Stagnant, and penned in pool by human skill,

Which, when the opposing dyke is broke away,

Fall, and with mighty noise the country fill:

’Twas so the Africans, who had some stay,

While Dardinello valour did instil,

Fled here and there, dismayed on every side,

When they him hurtling form his sell descried.

CLV

Letting the flyers fly, of those who stand

Firm in their place, Rinaldo breaks the array;

Ariodantes kills on every hand;

Who ranks well nigh Rinaldo on that day.

These Leonetto’s, those Zerbino’s brand

O’erturns, all rivals in the glorious fray.

Well Charles and Oliver their parts have done,

Turpin and Ogier, Guido and Salomon.

CLVI

In peril were the Moors, that none again

Should visit Heatheness, that day opprest:

But that the wise and wary king of Spain,

Gathered, and from the field bore off the rest:

To sit down with his loss he better gain

Esteemed, that here to hazard purse and vest:

Better some remnant of the host to save,

Than bid whole squadrons stand and find a grave.

CLVII

He bids forthwith the Moorish ensigns be

Borne to the camp, which fosse and rampart span.

With the bold monarch of Andology,

The valiant Portuguese, and Stordilan.

He sends to pray the king of Barbary,

To endeavour to retire, as best be can;

Who will no little praise that day deserve,

If he his person and his place preserve.

CLVIII

That king, who deemed himself in desperate case,

Nor ever more Biserta hoped to see;

For, with so horrible and foul a face

He never Fortune had beheld, with glee

Heard that Marsilius had contrived to place

Part of his host in full security;

And faced about his banners and bade beat

Throughout his broken squadrons a retreat.

CLIX

But the best portion neither signal knew,

Nor listened to the drum or trumpet’s sound.

So scared, so crowded is the wretched crew,

That many in Seine’s neighbouring stream are drowned,

Agramant, who would form the band anew,

(With him Sobrino) scowers the squadrons round;

And with them every leader good combines

To bring the routed host within their lines.

CLX

But nought by sovereign or Sobrino done,

Who, toiling, them with prayer or menace stirred,

To march, where their ill-followed flags are gone.

Can bring (I say not all) not even a third.

Slaughtered or put to flight are two for one

Who ‘scapes, — nor he unharmed: among that herd,

Wounded is this behind, and that before,

And wearied, one and all, and harassed sore.

CLXI

And even within their lines, in panic sore,

They by the Christian bands are held in chase;

And of all needful matters little store

Was made there, for provisioning the place.

Charlemagne wisely by the lock before

Would grapple Fortune, when she turned her face,

But that dark night upon the field descended,

And hushed all earthly matters and suspended:

CLXII

By the Creator haply hastened, who

Was moved to pity for the works he made.

The blood in torrents ran the country through,

Flooding the roads: while on the champaign laid

Were eighty thousand of the paynim crew,

Cut off that day by the destroying blade:

Last trooped from caverns, at the midnight hour,

Villain and wolf to spoil them and devour.

CLXIII

King Charles returns no more within the town,

But camps without the city, opposite

The Moor’s cantonments, and bids up and down,

And round, high-piled and frequent watch-fires light.

The paynim fashions ditch and bastion,

Rampart and mine, and all things requisite;

Visits his outposts and his guards alarms,

Nor all the livelong night puts off his arms.

CLXIV

That livelong night the foes, throughout their tents,

As insecure and with their scathe deprest,

Poured tears, and uttered murmurs and laments;

But, as they could, their sounds of woe supprest.

One grief for slaughtered friends or kindred vents;

Some are by sorrows of their own distrest,

As wounded or as ill at ease; but more

Tremble at mischief which they deem in store.

CLXV

Two Moors amid the paynim army were,

From stock obscure in Ptolomita grown;

Of whom the story, an example rare

Of constant love, is worthy to be known:

Medoro and Cloridan were named the pair;

Who, whether Fortune pleased to smile or frown,

Served Dardinello with fidelity,

And late with him to France had crost the sea.

CLXVI

Of nimble frame and strong was Cloridane,

Throughout his life a follower of the chase.

A cheek of white, suffused with crimson grain,

Medoro had, in youth a pleasing grace.

Nor bound on that emprize, ‘mid all the train,

Was there a fairer or more jocund face.

Crisp hair he had of gold, and jet-black eyes:

And seemed an angel lighted from the skies.

CLXVII

These two were posted on a rampart’s height,

With more to guard the encampment from surprise,

When ‘mid the equal intervals, at night,

Medoro gazed on heaven with sleepy eyes.

In all his talk, the stripling, woful wight,

Here cannot choose, but of his lord devise,

The royal Dardinel; and evermore

Him, left unhonoured on the field, deplore.

CLXVIII

Then, turning to his mate, cries: “Cloridane,

I cannot tell thee what a cause of woe

It is to me, my lord upon the plain

Should lie, unworthy food for wolf or crow!

Thinking how still to me he was humane,

Meseems, if in his honour I forego

This life of mine, for favours so immense

I shall but make a feeble recompense.

CLXIX

“That he may lack not sepulture, will I

Go forth, and seek him out among the slain;

And haply God may will that none shall spy

Where Charles’s camp lies hushed. Do thou remain;

That, if my death be written in the sky,

Thou may’st the deed be able to explain.

So that if Fortune foil so fear a feat,

The world, through Fame, my loving heart may weet.”

CLXX

Amazed was Cloridan a child should show

Such heart, such love, and such fair loyalty;

And fain would make the youth his though forego,

Whom he held passing dear; but fruitlessly

Would move his stedfast purpose; for such woe

Will neither comforted nor altered be.

Medoro is disposed to meet his doom,

Or to enclose his master in the tomb.

CLXXI

Seeing that nought would bend him, nought would move,

“I too will go,” was Cloridan’s reply,

“In such a glorious act myself will prove;

As well such famous death I cover, I:

What other thing is left me, here above,

Deprived of thee, Medoro mine? To die

With thee in arms is better, on the plain,

Than afterwards of grief, should’st thou be slain.”

CLXXII

And thus resolved, disposing in their place

Their guard’s relief, depart the youthful pair,

Leave fosse and palisade, and, in small space,

Are among ours, who watch with little care:

Who, for they little fear the paynim race,

Slumber with fires extinguished everywhere.

‘Mid carriages and arms, they lie supine

Up to the eyes, immersed in sleep and wine.

CLXXIII

A moment Cloridano stopt and cried:

“Not to be lost are opportunities.

This troop, by whom my master’s blood was shed,

Medoro, ought not I to sacrifice?

Do thou, lest any one this way be led,

Watch everywhere about, with ears and eyes.

For a wide way, amid the hostile horde,

I offer here to make thee with my sword.”

CLXXIV

So said he, and his talk cut quickly short,

Coming where learned Alpheus slumbered nigh;

Who had the year before sought Charles’s court,

In medicine, magic, and astrology

Well versed; but now in art found small-support,

Or rather found that it was all a lie.

He had foreseen, that he his long-drawn life

Should finish in the bosom of his wife.

CLXXV

And now the Saracen with wary view

Has pierced his weasand with the pointed sword.

Four others he neat that Diviner, slew,

Nor gave the wretches time to say a word.

Sir Turpin in his story tells not who,

And Time had of their names effaced record.

Palidon of Moncalier next he speeds;

One who securely sleeps between two steeds.

CLXXVI

Next came the warrior where, with limbs outspread,

Pillowed on barrel, lay the wretched Gryll:

This he had drained, and undisturbed by dread,

Hoped to enjoy a peaceful sleep and still.

The daring Saracen lopt off his head,

Blood issues from the tap-hole, with a rill

Of wine; and he, well drenched with many a can,

Dreams that he drinks, dispatched by Cloridan.

CLXXVII

Next Gryll, Andropono and Conrad hight,

A Greek and German, at two thrusts he gored,

Who in the air had past large part of night

With dice and goblet; blest it at that board

They still had watched, till, clothed in amber light,

The radiant sun had traversed Indus’ ford!

But mortals Destiny would set at nought

If every wight futurity were taught.

CLXXVIII

As, in full fold, a lion long unfed,

Whom wasting famine had made lean and spare,

Devours and rends, and swallows, and lays dead

The feeble flock, which at his mercy are;

So, in their sleep, the cruel paynim bled

Our host, and made wide slaughter everywhere:

Nor blunted was the young Medoro’s sword,

But he disdained to smite the ignoble horde.

CLXXIX

He to Labretto’s duke, leaving those dead,

Had come, who slumbered with a gentle mate,

Each clasping each so closely in their bed,

That air between them could not penetrate.

From both Medoro cleanly lopt the head.

Oh! blessed way of death! oh! happy fate!

For ’tis my trust, that as their bodies, so

Their souls embracing to their bourne shall go.

CLXXX

Malindo, with Andalico, he slew,

His brother, sons to the earl of Flanders they:

To whom has bearings (each to arms was new)

Charles had the lilies given; because that day

The monarch had beheld the valiant two

With crimsoned staves, returning from the fray;

And them with lands in Flanders vowed to glad;

And would, but that Medoro this forbad.

CLXXXI

Rearing the insidious blade, the pair are near

The place, where round King Charles’ pavilion

Are tented warlike paladin and peer,

Guarding the side that each is camped upon.

When in good time the paynims backward steer,

And sheathe their swords, the impious slaughter done;

Deeming impossible, in such a number,

But they must light on one who does not slumber.

CLXXXII

And though they might escape well charged with prey,

To save themselves they think sufficient gain.

Thither by what he deems the safest way

(Medoro following him) went Cloridane

Where, in the field, ‘mid bow and falchion, lay,

And shield and spear, in pool of purple stain,

Wealthy and poor, the king and vassal’s corse,

And overthrown the rider and his horse.

CLXXXIII

The horrid mixture of the bodies there

Which heaped the plain where roved these comrades sworn,

Might well have rendered vain their faithful care

Amid the mighty piles, till break of morn,

Had not the moon, at young Medoro’s prayer,

Out of a gloomy cloud put forth her horn.

Medoro to the heavens upturns his eyes

Towards the moon, and thus devoutly cries:

CLXXXIV

“O holy goddess! whom our fathers well

Have styled as of a triple form, and who

Thy sovereign beauty dost in heaven, and hell,

And earth, in many forms reveal; and through

The greenwood holt, of beast and monster fell,

— A huntress bold — the flying steps pursue,

Show where my king, amid so many lies,

Who did, alive, thy holy studies prize.”

CLXXXV

At the youth’s prayer from parted cloud outshone

(Were it the work of faith or accident)

The moon, as fair, as when Endymion

She circled in her naked arms: with tent,

Christian or Saracen, was Paris-town

Seen in that gleam, and hill and plain’s extent.

With these Mount Martyr and Mount Levy’s height,

This on the left, and that upon the right.

CLXXXVI

The silvery splendor glistened yet more clear,

There where renowned Almontes’ son lay dead.

Faithful Medoro mourned his master dear,

Who well agnized the quartering white and red,

With visage bathed in many a bitter tear

(For he a rill from either eyelid shed),

And piteous act and moan, that might have whist

The winds, his melancholy plaint to list;

CLXXXVII

But with a voice supprest: not that he aught

Regards if any one the noise should hear,

Because he of his life takes any thought;

Of which loathed burden he would fain be clear;

But, lest his being heard should bring to nought

The pious purpose which has brought them here.

The youths the king upon their shoulders stowed;

And so between themselves divide the load.

CLXXXVIII

Hurrying their steps, they hastened, as they might,

Under the cherished burden they conveyed;

And now approaching was the lord of light,

To sweep from heaven the stars, from earth the shade.

When good Zerbino, he, whose valiant sprite

Was ne’er in time of need by sleep down-weighed,

From chasing Moors all night, his homeward way

Was taking to the camp at dawn of day.

CLXXXIX

He has with him some horsemen in his train,

That from afar the two companions spy.

Expecting thus some spoil or prize to gain,

They, every one, towards that quarter hie.

“Brother, behoves us,” cried young Cloridane,

“To cast away the load we bear, and fly:

For ’twere a foolish thought (might well be said)

To lose two living men, to save one dead:

CXC

And dropt the burden, weening his Medore

Had done the same by it, upon his side:

But that poor boy, who loved his master more,

His shoulders to the weight, alone, applied;

Cloridan hurrying with all haste before,

Deeming him close behind him or beside;

Who, did he know his danger, him to save

A thousand deaths, instead of one, would brave.

CXCI

Those horsemen, with intent to make the two

Yield themselves prisoners to their band, or die,

Some here, some there, disperse the champaign through,

And every pass and outlet occupy.

The captain, little distant from his crew,

Is keener than the rest the chase to ply;

And, when he sees them hurrying in such guise,

Is certain that the twain are enemies.

CXCII

Of old an ancient forest clothed that lair,

Of trees and underwood a tangled maze;

Of salvage beasts alone the wild repair,

And, like a labyrinth, full of narrow ways:

Here from the boughs such shelter hope the pair

As may conceal them well from hostile gaze.

But him I shall expect who loves the rhyme,

To listen to my tale some other time.

Canto 19

Argument

Medoro, by Angelica’s quaint hand,

Is healed, and weds, and bears her to Catay.

At length Marphisa, with the chosen band,

After long suffering, makes Laiazzi’s bay.

Guido the savage, bondsman in the land,

Which impious women rule with civil sway,

With Marphisa strives in single fight,

And lodges her and hers at full of night.

I

By whom he is beloved can no one know,

Who on the top of Fortune’s wheel is seated;

Since he, by true and faithless friends, with show

Of equal faith, in glad estate is greeted.

But, should felicity be changed to woe,

The flattering multitude is turned and fleeted!

While he who loves his master from his heart,

Even after death performs his faithful part.

II

Were the heart seen as is the outward cheer,

He who at court is held in sovereign grace,

And he that to his lord is little dear,

With parts reversed, would fill each other’s place;

The humble man the greater would appear,

And he, now first, be hindmost in the race.

But be Medoro’s faithful story said,

The youth who loved his lord, alive or dead.

III

The closest path, amid the forest gray,

To save himself, pursued the youth forlorn;

But all his schemes were marred by the delay

Of that sore weight upon his shoulders born.

The place he knew not, and mistook the way,

And hid himself again in sheltering thorn.

Secure and distant was his mate, that through

The greenwood shade with lighter shoulders flew.

IV

So far was Cloridan advanced before,

He heard the boy no longer in the wind;

But when he marked the absence of Medore,

It seemed as if his heart was left behind.

“Ah! how was I so negligent,” (the Moor

Exclaimed) “so far beside myself, and blind,

That I, Medoro, should without thee fare,

Nor know when I deserted thee or where?”

V

So saying, in the wood he disappears,

Plunging into the maze with hurried pace;

And thither, whence he lately issued, steers,

And, desperate, of death returns in trace.

Cries and the tread of steeds this while he hears,

And word and the tread of foemen, as in chase:

Lastly Medoro by his voice is known,

Disarmed, on foot, ‘mid many horse, alone.

VI

A hundred horsemen who the youth surround,

Zerbino leads, and bids his followers seize

The stripling: like a top, the boy turns round

And keeps him as he can: among the trees,

Behind oak, elm, beech, ash, he takes his ground,

Nor from the cherished load his shoulders frees.

Wearied, at length, the burden he bestowed

Upon the grass, and stalked about his load.

VII

As in her rocky cavern the she-bear,

With whom close warfare Alpine hunters wage,

Uncertain hangs about her shaggy care,

And growls in mingled sound of love and rage,

To unsheath her claws, and blood her tushes bare,

Would natural hate and wrath the beast engage;

Love softens her, and bids from strife retire,

And for her offspring watch, amid her ire.

VIII

Cloridan who to aid him knows not how,

And with Medoro willingly would die,

But who would not for death this being forego,

Until more foes than one should lifeless lie,

Ambushed, his sharpest arrow to his bow

Fits, and directs it with so true an eye,

The feathered weapon bores a Scotchman’s brain,

And lays the warrior dead upon the plain.

IX

Together, all the others of the band

Turned thither, whence was shot the murderous reed;

Meanwhile he launched another from his stand,

That a new foe might by the weapon bleed,

Whom (while he made of this and that demand,

And loudly questioned who had done the deed)

The arrow reached — transfixed the wretch’s throat,

And cut his question short in middle note.

X

Zerbino, captain of those horse, no more

Can at the piteous sight his wrath refrain;

In furious heat, he springs upon Medore,

Exclaiming, “Thou of this shalt bear the pain.”

One hand he in his locks of golden ore

Enwreaths, and drags him to himself amain;

But, as his eyes that beauteous face survey,

Takes pity on the boy, and does not slay.

XI

To him the stripling turns, with suppliant cry,

And, “By thy God, sir knight,” exclaims, “I pray,

Be not so passing cruel, nor deny

That I in earth my honoured king may lay:

No other grace I supplicate, nor I

This for the love of life, believe me, say.

So much, no longer, space of life I crave.

As may suffice to give my lord a grave.

XII

“And if you needs must feed the beast and bird,

Like Theban Creon, let their worst be done

Upon these limbs; so that by me interred

In earth be those of good Almontes’ son.”

Medoro thus his suit, with grace, preferred,

And words — to move a mountain, and so won

Upon Zerbino’s mood, to kindness turned,

With love and pity he all over burned.

XIII

This while, a churlish horseman of the band,

Who little deference for his lord confest,

His lance uplifting, wounded overhand

The unhappy suppliant in his dainty breast.

Zerbino, who the cruel action scanned,

Was deeply stirred, the rather that, opprest

And livid with the blow the churl had sped,

Medoro fell as he was wholly dead.

XIV

So grieved Zerbino, with such wrath was stung,

“Not unavenged shalt thou remain,” he cries;

Then full of evil will in fury sprung

Upon the author of the foul emprize.

But he his vantage marks, and, from among

The warriors, in a moment slips and flies.

Cloridan who beholds the deed, at sight

Of young Medoro’s fall, springs forth to fight;

XV

And casts away his bow, and, ‘mid the band

Of foemen, whirls his falchion, in desire

Rather of death, than hoping that his hand

May snatch a vengeance equal to his ire.

Amid so many blades, he views the sand

Tinged with his blood, and ready to expire,

And feeling he the sword no more can guide,

Lets himself drop by his Medoro’s side.

XVI

The Scots pursue their chief, who pricks before,

Through the deep wood, inspired by high disdain,

When he has left the one and the other Moor,

This dead, that scarce alive, upon the plain.

There for a mighty space lay young Medore,

Spouting his life-blood from so large a vein,

He would have perished, but that thither made

A stranger, as it chanced, who lent him aid.

XVII

By chance arrived a damsel at the place,

Who was (though mean and rustic was her wear)

Of royal presence and of beauteous face,

And lofty manners, sagely debonair:

Her have I left unsung so long a space,

That you will hardly recognise the fair.

Angelica, in her (if known not) scan,

The lofty daughter of Catay’s great khan.

XVIII

Angelica, when she had won again

The ring Brunello had from her conveyed,

So waxed in stubborn pride and haught disdain,

She seemed to scorn this ample world, and strayed

Alone, and held as cheap each living swain,

Although, amid the best, by Fame arrayed:

Nor brooked she to remember a galant

In Count Orlando or king Sacripant;

XIX

And above every other deed repented,

That good Rinaldo she had loved of yore;

And that to look so low she had consented,

(As by such choice dishonoured) grieved her sore.

Love, hearing this, such arrogance resented,

And would the damsel’s pride endure no more.

Where young Medoro lay he took his stand,

And waited her, with bow and shaft in hand.

XX

When fair Angelica the stripling spies,

Nigh hurt to death in that disastrous fray,

Who for his king, that there unsheltered lies,

More sad than for his own misfortune lay,

She feels new pity in her bosom rise,

Which makes its entry in unwonted way.

Touched was her haughty heart, once hard and curst,

And more when he his piteous tale rehearsed.

XXI

And calling back to memory her art,

For she in Ind had learned chirurgery,

(Since it appears such studies in that part

Worthy of praise and fame are held to be,

And, as an heir-loom, sires to sons impart,

With little aid of books, the mystery)

Disposed herself to work with simples’ juice,

Till she in him should healthier life produce;

XXII

And recollects a herb had caught her sight

In passing hither, on a pleasant plain,

What (whether dittany or pancy hight)

I know not; fraught with virtue to restrain

The crimson blood forth-welling, and of might

To sheathe each perilous and piercing pain,

She found it near, and having pulled the weed,

Returned to seek Medoro on the mead.

XXIII

Returning, she upon a swain did light,

Who was on horseback passing through the wood.

Strayed from the lowing herd, the rustic wight

A heifer, missing for two days, pursued.

Him she with her conducted, where the might

Of the faint youth was ebbing with his blood:

Which had the ground about so deeply dyed,

Life was nigh wasted with the gushing tide.

XXIV

Angelica alights upon the ground,

And he her rustic comrade, at her hest.

She hastened ‘twixt two stones the herb to pound,

Then took it, and the healing juice exprest:

With this did she foment the stripling’s wound,

And, even to the hips, his waist and breast;

And (with such virtue was the salve endued)

It stanched his life-blood, and his strength renewed;

XXV

And into him infused such force again,

That he could mount the horse the swain conveyed;

But good Medoro would not leave the plain

Till he in earth had seen his master laid.

He, with the monarch, buried Cloridane,

And after followed whither pleased the maid,

Who was to stay with him, by pity led,

Beneath the courteous shepherd’s humble shed.

XXVI

Nor would the damsel quit the lowly pile

(So she esteemed the youth) till he was sound;

Such pity first she felt, when him erewhile

She saw outstretched and bleeding on the ground.

Touched by his mien and manners next, a file

She felt corrode her heart with secret wound;

She felt corrode her heart, and with desire,

By little and by little warmed, took fire.

XXVII

The shepherd dwelt, between two mountains hoar,

In goodly cabin, in the greenwood shade,

With wife and children; and, short time before,

The brent-new shed had builded in the glade.

Here of his griesly wound the youthful Moor

Was briefly healed by the Catayan maid;

But who in briefer space, a sorer smart

Than young Medoro’s, suffered at her heart.

XXVIII

A wound far wider and which deeper lies,

Now in her heart she feels, from viewless bow;

Which from the boy’s fair hair and beauteous eyes

Had the winged archer dealt: a sudden glow

She feels, and still the flames increasing rise;

Yet less she heeds her own than other’s woe:

— Heeds not herself, and only to content

The author of her cruel ill is bent.

XXIX

Her ill but festered and increased the more

The stripling’s wounds were seen to heal and close:

The youth grew lusty, while she suffered sore,

And, with new fever parched, now burnt, now froze:

From day to day in beauty waxed Medore:

She miserably wasted; like the snow’s

Unseasonable flake, which melts away

Exposed, in sunny place, to scorching ray.

XXX

She, if of vain desire will not die,

Must help herself, nor yet delay the aid.

And she in truth, her will to satisfy,

Deemed ’twas no time to wait till she was prayed.

And next of shame renouncing every tye,

With tongue as bold as eyes, petition made,

And begged him, haply an unwitting foe,

To sheathe the suffering of that cruel blow.

XXXI

O Count Orlando, O king of Circassy,

Say what your valour has availed to you!

Say what your honour boots, what goodly fee

Remunerates ye both, for service true!

Sirs, show me but a single courtesy,

With which she ever graced ye, — old or new, —

As some poor recompense, desert, or guerdon,

For having born so long so sore a burden!

XXXII

Oh! couldst thou yet again to life return,

How hard would this appear, O Agricane!

In that she whilom thee was wont to spurn,

With sharp repulse and insolent disdain.

O Ferrau, O ye thousand more, forlorn,

Unsung, who wrought a thousand feats in vain

For this ungrateful fair, what pain ‘twould be

Could you within his arms the damsel see!

XXXIII

To pluck, as yet untouched, the virgin rose,

Angelica permits the young Medore.

Was none so blest as in that garden’s close

Yet to have set his venturous foot before.

They holy ceremonies interpose,

Somedeal to veil — to gild — the matter o’er.

Young Love was bridesman there the tie to bless,

And for brideswoman stood the shepherdess.

XXXIV

In the low shed, with all solemnities,

The couple made their wedding as they might;

And there above a month, in tranquil guise,

The happy lovers rested in delight.

Save for the youth the lady has no eyes,

Nor with his looks can satisfy her sight.

Nor yet of hanging on his neck can tire,

Of feel she can content her fond desire.

XXXV

The beauteous boy is with her night and day,

Does she untent herself, or keep the shed.

Morning or eve they to some meadow stray,

Now to this bank, and to that other led:

Haply, in cavern harboured, at mid-day,

Grateful as that to which Aeneas fled

With Dido, when the tempest raged above,

The faithful witness to their secret love.

XXXVI

Amid such pleasures, where, with tree o’ergrown,

Ran stream, or bubbling fountain’s wave did spin,

On bark or rock, if yielding were the stone,

The knife was straight at work or ready pin.

And there, without, in thousand places lone,

And in as many places graved, within,

MEDORO and ANGELICA were traced,

In divers cyphers quaintly interlaced.

XXXVII

When she believed they had prolonged their stay

More than enow, the damsel made design

In India to revisit her Catay,

And with its crown Medoro’s head entwine.

She had upon her wrist an armlet, gay

With costly gems, in witness and in sign

Of love to her by Count Orlando borne,

And which the damsel for long time had worn.

XXXVIII

On Ziliantes, hid beneath the wave,

This Morgue bestowed; and from captivity

The youth (restored to Monodantes grave,

His ancient sire, through Roland’s chivalry)

To Roland in return the bracelet gave:

Roland, a lover, deigned the gorgeous fee

To wear, with the intention to convey

The present to his queen, of whom I say.

XXXIX

No love which to the paladin she bears,

But that it costly is and wrought with care,

This to Angelica so much endears,

That never more esteemed was matter rare:

This she was suffered, in THE ISLE OF TEARS,

I know not by what privilege, to wear,

When, naked, to the whale exposed for food

By that inhospitable race and rude.

XL

She, not possessing wherewithal to pay

The kindly couple’s hospitality,

Served by them in their cabin, from the day

She there was lodged, with such fidelity,

Unfastened from her arm the bracelet gay,

And bade them keep it for her memory.

Departing hence the lovers climb the side

Of hills, which fertile France from Spain divide.

XLI

Within Valencia or Barcelona’s town

The couple thought a little to remain,

Until some goodly ship should make her boun

To loose for the Levant: as so the twain

Journey, beneath Gerona, — coming down

Those mountains — they behold the subject main;

And keeping on their left the beach below,

By beaten track to Barcelona go.

XLII

But, ere they there arrive, a crazed wight

They find, extended on the outer shore;

Who is bedaubed like swine, in filthy plight,

And smeared with mud, face, reins, and bosom o’er’

He comes upon them, as a dog in spite

Swiftly assails the stranger at the door;

And is about to do the lovers scorn,

But to the bold Marphisa I return —

XLIII

Marphisa, Astolpho, Gryphon, Aquilant.

Of these and of the others will I tell:

Who, death before their eyes, the vext Levant

Traverse, and ill resist the boisterous swell.

While aye more passing proud and arrogant,

Waxes in rage and threat the tempest fell.

And now three days the angry gale has blown,

Nor signal of abatement yet has shown.

XLIV

Waves lifted by the waxing tempest start

Castle and flooring, and, if yet there be

Aught standing left in any other part,

’Tis cut away and cast into the sea.

Here, pricking out their course upon the chart,

One by a lantern does his ministry,

Upon a sea-chest propt; another wight

Is busied in the well by torch’s light.

XLV

This one beneath the poop, beneath the prow

That other, stands to watch the ebbing sand;

And (each half-glass run out) returns to know

What way the ship has made, and towards what land.

Thence all to speak their different thoughts, below,

To midships make resort, with chart in hand;

There where the mariners, assembled all,

Are met in council, at the master’s call.

XLVI

One says: “Abreast of Limisso are we

Among the shoals” — and by his reckoning, nigh

The rocks of Tripoli and bark must be,

Where shipwrecked, for the most part, vessels lie.

Another: “We are lost on Sataly,

Whose coast makes many patrons weep and sigh.”

According to their judgment, all suggest

Their treasons, each with equal dread opprest.

XLVII

More spitefully the wind on the third day

Blows, and the sea more yeasty billows rears:

The fore-mast by the first is borne away,

The rudder by the last, with him who steers.

Better than steel that man will bide the assay,

— Of marble breast — who has not now his fears.

Marphisa, erst so confident ‘mid harms,

Denied not but that day she felt alarms.

XLVIII

A pilgrimage is vowed to Sinai,

To Cyprus and Gallicia, and to Rome,

Ettino, and other place of sanctity,

If such is named, and to the holy tomb.

Meanwhile, above the sea and near the sky,

The bark is tost, with shattered plank and boom;

From which the crew had cut, in her distress,

The mizenmast, to make her labour less.

XLIX

They bale and chest and all their heavy lumber

Cast overboard, from poop, and prow, and side;

And every birth and cabin disencumber

Of merchandize, to feed the greedy tide.

Water to water others of the number

Rendered, by whom the spouting pumps were plied.

This in the hold bestirs himself, where’er

Planks opened by the beating sea appear.

L

They in this trouble, in this woe, remained

For full four days; and helpless was their plight,

And a full victory the sea had gained,

If yet a little had endured its spite:

But them with hope of clearer sky sustained

The wished appearance of St. Elmo’s light,

Which (every spar was gone) descending glowed

Upon a boat, which in the prow was stowed.

LI

When, flaming, they the beauteous light surveyed,

All those aboard kneeled down in humble guise,

And Heaven for peace and for smooth water prayed,

With trembling voices and with watery eyes.

Nor longer waxed the storm, which had dismayed,

Till then enduring in such cruel wise.

North-wester or cross-wind no longer reigns;

But tyrant of the sea the south remains.

LII

This on the sea remained so passing strong,

And from its sable mouth so fiercely blew,

And bore with it so swift a stream and strong

Of the vext waters, that it hurried through

Their tumbling waves the shattered bark along,

Faster than gentle falcon ever flew;

And sore the patron feared, to the world’s brink

It would transport his bark, or wreck or sink.

LIII

For this the master finds a remedy,

Who bids them cast out spars, and veer away

A line which holds this float, and as they flee,

So, by two-thirds, their furious course delay.

This counsel boots, and more the augury

From him whose lights upon the gunwale play.

This saves the vessel, haply else undone;

And makes her through the sea securely run.

LIV

They, driven on Syria, in Laiazzo’s bay

A mighty city rise; so nigh at hand,

That they can from the vessel’s deck survey

Two castles, which the port within command.

Pale turns the patron’s visage with dismay,

When he perceives what is the neighbouring land,

Who will not to the port for shelter hie,

Nor yet can keep the open sea, nor fly.

LV

They cannot fly, nor yet can keep the sea;

For mast and yards are gone, and by the stroke

Of the huge billows beating frequently,

Loosened is plank, and beam and timber broke:

And certain death to make the port would be,

Or to be doomed to a perpetual yoke.

For each is made a slave, or sentenced dead,

Thither by evil Chance or Error led.

LVI

Sore dangerous ’twas to doubt; lest hostile band

Should sally from the puissant town in sight,

With armed barks, and upon theirs lay hand,

In evil case for sea, and worse for fight.

What time the patron knows not what command

To give, of him inquires the English knight

What kept his mind suspended in that sort,

And why at first he had not made the port.

LVII

To him relates the patron how a crew

Of murderous women tenanted that shore,

Which, by their ancient law, enslave or slew

All those whom Fortune to this kingdom bore;

And that he only could such for eschew

That in the lists ten champions overbore,

And having this achieved, the following night

In bed should with ten damsels take delight.

LVIII

And if he brings to end the former feat,

But afterwards the next unfinished leaves,

They kill him, and as slaves his following treat,

Condemned to delve their land or keep their beeves.

— If for the first and second labour meet —

He liberty for all his band achieves,

Not for himself; who there must stay and wed

Ten wives by him selected for his bed.

LIX

So strange a custom of the neighbouring strand

Without a laugh Astolpho cannot hear;

Sansonet and Marphisa, near at hand,

Next Aquilant, and he, his brother dear,

Arrive: to them the patron who from land

Aye keeps aloof, explains the cause of fear,

And cries: “I liefer in the sea would choke,

Than here of servitude endure the yoke.”

LX

The sailors by the patron’s rede abide,

And all the passengers affrighted sore;

Save that Marphisa took the other side

With hers, who deemed that safer was the shore

Than sea, which raging round them, far and wide,

Than a hundred thousand swords dismayed them more.

Them little this, or other place alarms,

So that they have but power to wield their arms.

LXI

The warriors are impatient all to land:

But boldest is of these the English peer;

Knowing how soon his horn will clear the strand,

When the scared foe its pealing sound shall hear.

To put into the neighbouring port this band

Desires, and are at strife with those who fear.

And they who are the strongest, in such sort

Compel the patron, that he makes the port.

LXII

Already when their bark was first espied

At sea, within the cruel city’s view,

They had observed a galley, well supplied

With practised mariners and numerous crew

(While them uncertain counsels did divide)

Make for their wretched ship, the billows through:

Her lofty prow to their short stern and low

These lash, and into port the vessel tow.

LXIII

They thitherward were worked with warp and oar,

Rather than with assistance of the sail;

Since to lay starboard course or larboard more,

No means were left them by the cruel gale.

Again their rugged rhind the champions wore,

Girding the faithful falchion with the mail,

And with unceasing hope of comfort fed

Master and mariners opprest with dread.

LXIV

Like a half-moon, projected from the beach,

More than four miles about, the city’s port;

Six hundred paces deep; and crowning each

Horn of the circling haven, was a fort;

On every side, secure from storm or breach,

(Save only from the south, a safe resort)

In guise of theatre the town extended

About it, and a hill behind ascended.

LXV

No sooner there the harboured ship was seen

(The news had spread already through the land)

Than thitherward, with martial garb and mien,

Six thousand women trooped, with bow in hand;

And, to remove all hope of flight, between

One castle and the other, drew a band;

And with strong chains and barks the port enclosed;

Which ever, for that use, they kept disposed.

LXVI

A dame, as the Cumean sybil gray,

Or Hector’s ancient mother of renown,

Made call the patron out, and bade him say,

If they their lives were willing to lay down;

Or were content beneath the yoke to stay,

According to the custom of the town,

— One of two evils they must choose, — be slain,

Or captives, one and all, must there remain.

LXVII

“ ’Tis true, if one so bold and of such might

Be found amid your crew,” (the matron said),

“That he ten men of ours engage in fight,

And can in cruel battle lay them dead,

And, after, with ten women, in one night,

Suffice to play the husband’s part in bed,

He shall remain our sovereign, and shall sway

The land, and you may homeward wend your way.

LXVIII

“And at your choice to stay shall also be,

Whether a part or all, but with this pact,

That he who here would stay and would be free,

Can with ten dames the husband’s part enact.

But if your chosen warrior fall or flee,

By his ten enemies at once attacked,

Or for the second function have not breath,

To slavery you we doom, and him to death.”

LXIX

At what she deemed the cavaliers would start,

The beldam found them bold; for to compete

With those they should engage, and play their part

The champions hoped alike in either feat.

Nor failed renowned Marphisa’s valiant heart,

Albeit for the second dance unmeet;

Secure, where nature had her aid denied,

The want should with the falchion be supplied.

LXX

The patron is commanded their reply

Resolved in common council to unfold;

The dames at pleasure may their prowess try,

And shall in lists and bed allow them bold.

The lashings from the vessels they untie,

The skipper heaves the warp, and bids lay hold,

And lowers the bridge; o’er which, in warlike weed,

The expectant cavaliers their coursers lead.

LXXI

These through the middle of the city go,

And see the damsels, as they forward fare,

Ride through the streets, succinct, in haughty show,

And arm, in guise of warriors, in the square.

Nor to gird sword, nor fasten spur below,

Is man allowed, nor any arm to wear;

Excepting, as I said, the ten; to follow

The ancient usage which those women hallow.

LXXII

All others of the manly sex they seat,

To ply the distaff, broider, card and sow,

In female gown descending to the feet,

Which renders them effeminate and slow;

Some chained, another labour to complete,

Are tasked, to keep their cattle, or to plough.

Few are the males; and scarce the warriors ken,

Amid a thousand dames, a hundred men.

LXXIII

The knights determining by lot to try

Who in their common cause on listed ground,

Should slay the ten, with whom they were to vie,

And in the other field ten others wound,

Designed to pass the bold Marphisa by,

Believing she unfitting would be found;

And would be, in the second joust at eve,

Ill-qualified the victory to achieve.

LXXIV

But with the others she, the martial maid,

Will run her risque; and ’tis her destiny.

“I will lay down this life,” the damsel said,

“Rather than you lay down your liberty.

But this” — with that she pointed to the blade

Which she had girt — “is your security,

I will all tangles in such manner loose,

As Alexander did the Gordian noose.

LXXV

“I will not henceforth stranger shall complain,

So long as the world lasts, of this repair.”

So said the maid, nor could the friendly train

Take from her what had fallen to her share.

Then, — either every thing to lose, or gain

Their liberty, — to her they leave the care.

With stubborn plate and mail all over steeled,

Ready for cruel fight, she takes the field.

LXXVI

High up the spacious city is place,

With steps, which serve as seats in rising rows;

Which for nought else is used, except the chase,

Tourney, or wrestling match, or such-like shows.

Four gates of solid bronze the rabble flows

In troubled tide; and to Marphisa bold,

That she may enter, afterwards is told.

LXXVII

On pieballed horse Marphisa entered, — spread

Were circles dappling all about his hair, —

Of a bold countenance and little head,

And beauteous points, and haughty gait and air.

Out of a thousand coursers which he fed,

Him, as the best, and biggest, and most rare,

King Norandino chose, and, decked with brave

And costly trappings, to Marphisa gave.

LXXVIII

Through the south gate, from the mid-day, the plain

Marphisa entered, nor expected long,

Before she heard approaching trumpet-strain

Peal through the lists in shrilling notes and strong;

And, looking next towards the northern wain,

Saw her ten opposites appear: among

These, as their leader, pricked a cavalier,

Excelling all the rest in goodly cheer.

LXXIX

On a large courser came the leading foe,

Which was, excepting the near foot behind

And forehead, darker than was ever crow:

His foot and forehead with some white were signed.

The horseman did his horse’s colours show

In his own dress; and hence might be divined,

He, as the mournful hue o’erpowered the clear,

Was less inclined to smile, than mournful tear.

LXXX

At once their spears in rest nine warriors laid,

When the trump sounded, in the hostile train,

But he in black no sign of jousting made,

As if he held such vantage in disdain:

Better he deemed the law were disobeyed,

Than that his courtesy should suffer stain.

The knight retires apart, and sits to view

What against nine one single lance can do.

LXXXI

Of smooth and balanced pace, the damsel’s horse

To the encounter her with swiftness bore;

Who poised a lance so massive in the course,

It would have been an overweight for four.

She, disembarking, as of greatest force,

The boom had chosen out of many more.

At her fierce semblance when in motion, quail

A thousand hearts, a thousand looks grow pale.

LXXXII

The bosom of the first she opens so,

As might surprise, if naked were the breast:

She pierced the cuirass and the mail below;

But first a buckler, solid and well prest,

A yard behind the shoulders of the foe

Was seen the steel, so well was it addrest.

Speared on her lance she left him on the plain,

And at the others drove with flowing rein;

LXXXIII

And so she shocked the second of the crew,

And dealt the third so terrible a blow,

From sell and life, with broken spine, the two

She drove at once. So fell the overthrow,

And with such weight she charged the warriors through!

So serried was the battle of the foe! —

I have seen bombard open in such mode

The squadrons, as that band Marphisa strowed.

LXXXIV

Many good spears were broken on the dame,

Who was as little moved as solid wall,

When revellers play the chace’s merry game,

Is ever moved by stroke of heavy ball.

So hard the temper of her corslet’s mail,

The strokes aye harmless on the breast-plate fall,

Whose steel was heated in the fires of hell,

And in Avernus’ water slaked by spell.

LXXXV

At the end of the career, she checked her steed,

Wheeled him about, and for a little stayed;

And then against the others drove at speed,

Broke them, and to the handle dyed her blade.

Here shorn of arms, and there of head, they bleed;

And other in such manner cleft the maid,

That breast, and head, and arms together fell,

Belly and legs remaining in the sell.

LXXXVI

With such just measure him she cleaves, I say,

Where the two haunches and the ribs confine:

And leaves him a half figure, in such way

As what we before images divine,

Of silver, oftener made of wax, survey;

Which supplicants from far and near enshrine,

In thanks for mercy shown, and to bestow

A pious quittance for accepted vow.

LXXXVII

Marphisa next made after one that flew,

And overtook the wretch, and cleft (before

He the mid square had won) his collar through,

So clean, no surgeon ever pieced it more.

One after other, all in fine she slew,

Or wounded every one she smote so sore,

She was secure, that never more would foe

Arise anew from earth, to work her woe.

LXXXVIII

The cavalier this while had stood aside,

Who had the ten conducted to the place,

Since, with so many against one to ride,

Had seemed to him advantage four and base;

Who, now he by a single hand espied

So speedily his whole array displaced,

Pricked forth against the martial maid, to show

’Twas courtesy, not fear, had made him slow.

LXXXIX

He, signing with his right hand, made appear

That he would speak ere their career was run,

Nor thinking that beneath such manly cheer

A gentle virgin was concealed, begun:

“I wot thou needs must be, sir cavalier,

Sore wearied with such mighty slaughter done;

And if I were disposed to weary thee

More than thou art, it were discourtesy.

XC

“To thee, to rest until tomorrow’s light,

Then to renew the battle, I concede.

No honour ’twere today to prove my might

On thee, whom weak and overwrought I read.”

— “Arms are not new to me, nor listed fight;

Nor does fatigue so short a toil succeed,”

Answered Marphisa, “and I, at my post,

Hope to prove this upon thee, to thy cost.

XCI

“I thank thee for thy offer of delay,

But need not what thy courtesy agrees;

And yet remains so large a space of day

’Twere very shame to spend it all in ease.”

— “Oh! were I (he replied) so sure to appay

My heart with everything which best would please,

As thine I shall appay in this! — but see,

That ere thou thinkest, daylight fail not thee.”

XCII

So said he, and obedient to his hest

Two spears, say rather heavy booms, they bear.

He to Marphisa bids consigns the best,

And the other takes himself: the martial pair

Already, with their lances in the rest,

Wait but till other blast the joust declare.

Lo! earth and air and sea the noise rebound,

As they prick forth, at the first trumpet’s sound!

XCIII

No mouth was opened and no eyelid fell,

Nor breath was drawn, amid the observant crew:

So sore intent was every one to spell

Which should be conqueror of the warlike two.

Marphisa the black champion from his sell,

So to o’erthrow he shall not rise anew,

Levels her lance; and the black champion, bent

To slay Marphisa, spurs with like intent.

XCIV

Both lances, made of willow thin and dry,

Rather than stout and stubborn oak, appeared;

So splintered even to the rest, they fly:

While with such force the encountering steeds careered,

It seemed, as with a scythe-blade equally

The hams of either courser had been sheared.

Alike both fall; but voiding quick the seat,

The nimble riders start upon their feet.

XCV

Marphisa in her life, with certain wound,

A thousand cavaliers on earth had laid;

And never had herself been borne to ground;

Yet quitted now the saddle, as was said.

Not only at the accident astound,

But nigh beside herself, remained the maid.

Strange to the sable cavalier withal,

Unwont to be unhorsed, appeared his fall.

XCVI

They scarcely touch the ground before they gain

Their feet, and now the fierce assault renew,

With cut and thrust; which now with shield the twain

Or blade ward off, and now by leaps eschew.

Whether the foes strike home, or smite in vain,

Blows ring, and echo parted aether through.

More force those shields, those helms, those breast-plates show

Than anvils underneath the sounding blow.

XCVII

If heavy falls the savage damsel’s blade,

That falls not lightly of her warlike foe.

Equal the measure one the other paid;

And both receive as much as they bestow.

He who would see two daring spirits weighed,

To seek two fiercer need no further go.

Nor to seek more dexterity or might;

For greater could not be in mortal wight.

XCVIII

The women who have sate long time, to view

The champions with such horrid strokes offend,

Nor sign of trouble in the warriors true

Behold, nor yet of weariness, commend

Them with just praises, as the worthiest two

That are, where’er the sea’s wide arms extend.

They deem these of mere toil and labour long

Must die, save they be strongest of the strong.

XCIX

Communing with herself, Marphisa said,

“That he moved not before was well for me!

Who risqued to have been numbered with the dead,

If he at first had joined his company.

Since, as it is, I hardly can make head

Against his deadly blows.” This colloquy

She with herself maintained, and while she spoke,

Ceased not to ply her sword with circling stroke.

C

“ ’Twas well for me,” the other cried again,

“That to repose I did not leave the knight.

I now from him defend myself with pain,

Who is o’erwearied with the former fight:

What had he been, renewed in might and main,

If he had rested till tomorrow’s light?

Right fortunate was I, as man could be,

That he refused my proffered courtesy!”

CI

Till eve they strove, nor did it yet appear

Which had the vantage of the doubtful fray:

Nor, without light, could either foe see clear

Now to avoid the furious blows; when day

Was done, again the courteous cavalier

To his illustrious opposite ‘gan say;

“What shall we do, since ill-timed shades descend,

While we with equal fortune thus contend?”

CII

“Meseems, at least, that till tomorrow’s morn

’Twere better thou prolonged thy life: no right

Have I thy doom, sir warrior, to adjourn

Beyond the limits of one little night.

Nor will I that by me the blame be born

That thou no longer shalt enjoy the light.

With reason to the sex’s charge, by whom

This place is governed, lay thy cruel doom.”

CIII

“If I lament thee and thy company,

HE knows, by whom all hidden things are spied.

Thou and thy comrades may repose with me,

For whom there is no safe abode beside:

Since leagued against you in conspiracy

Are all those husbands by thy hand have died.

For every valiant warrior of the men

Slain in the tourney, consort was of ten.

CIV

“The scathe they have today received from thee,

Would ninety women wreak with vengeful spite;

And, save thou take my hospitality,

Except by them to be assailed this night.”

— “I take thy proffer in security,”

(Replied Marphisa), “that the faith so plight,

And goodness of thy heart, will prove no less,

Than are thy corporal strength and hardiness.

CV

“But if, as having to kill me, thou grieve,

Thou well mayst grieve, for reasons opposite;

Nor hast thou cause to laugh, as I conceive,

Nor hitherto has found me worst in fight.

Whether thou wouldst defer the fray, or leave,

Or prosecute by this or other light,

Behold me prompt thy wishes to fulfil;

Where and whenever it shall be thy will!”

CVI

So by consent the combatants divided,

Till the dawn broke from Ganges’ stream anew;

And so remained the question undecided,

Which was the better champion of the two,

To both the brothers and the rest who sided

Upon that part, the liberal lord did sue

With courteous prayer, that till the coming day

They would be pleased beneath his roof to stay.

CVII

They unsuspecting with the prayer complied,

And by the cheerful blaze of torches white

A royal dome ascended, with their guide,

Divided into many bowers and bright.

The combatants remain as stupified,

On lifting up their vizors, at the sight

One of the other; for (by what appears)

The warrior hardly numbers eighteen years.

CVIII

Much marvels with herself the gentle dame,

That one so young so well should do and dare.

Much marvels he (his wonderment the same)

When he her sex agnizes by her hair.

Questioning one another of their name,

As speedily reply the youthful pair.

But how was hight the youthful cavalier,

Await till the ensuing strain to hear.

Canto 20

Argument

Guido and his from that foul haunt retire,

While all Astolpho chases with his horn,

Who to all quarters of the town sets fire,

Then roving singly round the world is borne.

Marphisa, for Gabrina’s cause, in ire

Puts upon young Zerbino scathe and scorn,

And makes him guardian of Gabrina fell,

From whom he first learns news of Isabel.

I

Great fears the women of antiquity

In arms and hallowed arts as well have done,

And of their worthy works the memory

And lustre through this ample world has shone.

Praised is Camilla, with Harpalice,

For the fair course which they in battle run.

Corinna and Sappho, famous for their lore,

Shine two illustrious light, to set no more.

II

Women have reached the pinnacle of glory,

In every art by them professed, well seen;

And whosoever turns the leaf of story,

Finds record of them, neither dim nor mean.

The evil influence will be transitory,

If long deprived of such the world had been;

And envious men, and those that never knew

Their worth, have haply hid their honours due.

III

To me it plainly seems, in this our age

Of women such is the celebrity,

That it may furnish matter to the page,

Whence this dispersed to future years shall be;

And you, ye evil tongues which foully rage,

Be tied to your eternal infamy,

And women’s praises so resplendent show,

They shall, by much, Marphisa’s worth outgo.

IV

To her returning yet again; the dame

To him who showed to her such courteous lore,

Refused not to disclose her martial name,

Since he agreed to tell the style be bore.

She quickly satisfied the warrior’s claim;

To learn his title she desired so sore.

“I am Marphisa,” the virago cried:

All else was known, as bruited far and wide.

V

The other, since ’twas his to speak, begun

With longer preamble: “Amid your train,

Sirs, it is my belief that there is none

But has heard mention of my race and strain.

Not Pontus, Aethiopia, Ind alone,

With all their neighbouring realms, but France and Spain

Wot well of Clermont, from whose loins the knight

Issued who killed Almontes bold in fight,

VI

“And Chiareillo and Mambrino slew,

And sacked the realm whose royal crown they wore.

Come of this blood, where Danube’s waters, through

Eight horns or ten to meet the Euxine pour,

Me to the far-renowned Duke Aymon, who

Thither a stranger roved, my mother bore.

And ’tis a twelvemonth now since her, in quest

Of my French kin, I left with grief opprest.

VII

“But reached not France, for southern tempest’s spite

Impelled me hither; lodged in royal bower

Ten months or more; for — miserable wight! —

I reckon every day and every hour.

Guido the Savage I by name am hight,

Ill known and scarcely proved in warlike stower.

Here Argilon of Meliboea I

Slew with ten warriors in his company.

VIII

“Conqueror as well in other field confessed,

Ten ladies are the partners of my bed:

Selected at my choice, who are the best

And fairest damsels in this kingdom bred:

These I command, as well as all the rest,

Who of their female band have made me head;

And so would make another who in fight,

Like me, ten opposites to death would smite.”

IX

Sir Guido is besought of them to say

Why there appear so few of the male race,

And to declare if women there bear sway

O’er men, as men o’er them in other place.

He: “Since my fortune has been here to stay,

I oftentimes have heard relate the case;

And now (according to the story told)

Will, since it pleases you, the cause unfold.

X

“When, after twenty years, the Grecian host

Returned from Troy (ten years hostility

The town endured, ten weary years were tost

The Greeks, detained by adverse winds at sea),

They found their women had, for comforts lost,

And pangs of absence, learned a remedy;

And, that they might not freeze alone in bed,

Chosen young lovers in their husbands’ stead.

XI

“With others’ children filled the Grecian crew

Their houses found, and by consent was past

A pardon to their women; for they knew

How ill they could endure so long a fast.

But the adulterous issue, as their due,

To seek their fortunes on the world were cast:

Because the husbands would not suffer more

The striplings should be nourished from their store.

XII

“Some are exposed, and others underhand

Their kindly mothers shelter and maintain:

While the adults, in many a various band,

Some here, some there dispersed, their living gain.

Arms are the trade of some, by some are scanned

Letters and arts; another tills the plain:

One serves in court, by other guided go

The herd as pleases her who rules below.

XIII

“A boy departed with they youthful peers,

Who was of cruel Clytemnestra born;

Like lily fresh (he numbered eighteen years)

Or blooming rose, new-gathered from the thorn.

He having armed a bark, his pinnace steers

In search of plunder, o’er the billows borne.

With him a hundred other youths engage,

Picked from all Greece, and of their leader’s age.

XIV

“The Cretans, who had banished in that day

Idomeneus the tyrant of their land,

And their new state to strengthen and upstay,

Were gathering arms and levying martial band,

Phalantus’ service by their goodly pay

Purchased (so hight the youth who sought that strand),

And all those others that his fortune run,

Who the Dictaean city garrison.

XV

“Amid the hundred cities of old Crete,

Was the Dictaean the most rich and bright;

Of fair and amorous dames the joyous seat,

Joyous with festive sports from morn to night:

And (as her townsmen aye were wont to greet

The stranger) with such hospitable rite

They welcomed these, it little lacked but they

Granted them o’er their households sovereign sway.

XVI

“Youthful and passing fair were all the crew,

The flower of Greece, who bold Phalantus led;

So that with those fair ladies at first view,

Stealing their hearts, full well the striplings sped.

Since, fair in deed as show, they good and true

Lovers evinced themselves and bold in bed.

And in few days to them so grateful proved,

Above all dearest things they were beloved.

XVII

“After the war was ended on accord,

For which were hired Phalantus and his train,

And pay withdrawn, nor longer by the sword

Was aught which the adventurous youth can gain,

And they, for this, anew would go aboard,

The unhappy Cretan women more complain,

And fuller tears on this occasion shed,

That if their fathers lay before them dead.

XVIII

“Long time and sorely all the striplings bold

Were, each apart, by them implored to stay:

Who since the fleeting youths they cannot hold,

Leave brother, sire, and son, with these to stray,

Of jewels and of weighty sums of gold

Spoiling their households ere they wend their way,

For so well was the plot concealed, no wight

Throughout all Crete was privy to their flight.

XIX

“So happy was the hour, so fair the wind,

When young Phalantus chose his time to flee,

They many miles had left the isle behind,

Ere Crete lamented her calamity.

Next, uninhabited by human kind,

This shore received them wandering o’er the sea.

’Twas here they settled, with the plunder reft,

And better weighed the issue of their theft.

XX

“With amorous pleasures teemed this place of rest,

For ten days, to that roving company:

But, as oft happens that in youthful breast

Abundance brings with it satiety,

To quit their women, with one wish possest,

The band resolved to win their liberty;

For never burden does so sore oppress

As woman, when her love breeds weariness.

XXI

“They, who are covetous of spoil and gain,

And ill-bested withal in stipend, know

That better means are wanted to maintain

So many paramours, than shaft and bow;

And leaving thus alone the wretched train,

Thence, with their riches charged the adventurers go

For Puglia’s pleasant land: there founded near

The sea, Tarentum’s city, as I hear.

XXII

“The women when they find themselves betrayed

Of lovers by whose faith they set most store,

For many days remain so sore dismayed,

That they seem lifeless statues on the shore.

But seeing lamentations nothing aid,

And fruitless are the many tears they pour,

Begin to meditate, amid their pains,

What remedy for such an ill remains.

XXIII

“Some laying their opinions now before

The others, deem that to return to Crete

Is in their sad estate the wiser lore,

Throwing themselves at sire and husband’s feet,

Than in those wilds, and on that desert shore,

To pine of want. Another troop repeat,

They should esteem it were a worthier notion

To cast themselves into the neighbouring ocean;

XXIV

“And lighter ill, if they as harlots went

About the world, — beggars or slaves to be,

Than offer up themselves for punishment,

Well merited by their iniquity.

Such and like schemes the unhappy dames present,

Each harder than the other. Finally,

One Orontea amid these upstood,

Who drew her origin from Minos’ blood.

XXV

“Youngest and fairest of the crew betrayed

She was, and wariest, and who least had erred,

Who to Phalantus’ arms had come a maid,

And left for him her father: she in word,

As well as in a kindling face, displayed

How much with generous wrath her heart was stirred;

Then, reprobating all advised before,

Spake; and adopted saw her better lore.

XXVI

“She would not leave the land they were upon,

Whose soil was fruitful, and whose air was sane,

Throughout which many limpid rivers ran,

Shaded with woods, and for the most part plain;

With creek and port, where stranger bark could shun

Foul wind or storm, which vexed the neighbouring main,

That might from Afric or from Egypt bring

Victual or other necessary thing.

XXVII

“For vengeance (she opined) they there should stay

Upon man’s sex, which had so sore offended.

She willed each bark and crew which to that bay

For shelter from the angry tempest wended,

They should, without remorse, burn, sack, and slay,

Nor mercy be to any one extended.

Such was the lady’s motion, such the course

Adopted; and the statute put in force.

XXVIII

“The women, when they see the changing heaven

Turbid with tempest, hurry to the strand,

With savage Orontea, by whom given

Was the fell law, the ruler of the land;

And of all barks into their haven driven

Make havoc dread with fire and murderous brand,

Leaving no man alive, who may diffuse

Upon this side or that the dismal news.

XXIX

“ ’Twas thus with the male sex at enmity,

Some years the lonely women lived forlorn:

Then found that hurtful to themselves would be

The scheme, save changed; for if from them were born

None to perpetuate their empery,

The idle law would soon be held in scorn,

And fail together with the fruitful reign,

Which they had hoped eternal should remain.

XXX

“So that some deal its rigour they allay,

And in four years, of all who made repair

Thither, by chance conducted to this bay,

Chose out ten vigorous cavaliers and fair;

That for endurance in the amorous play

Against those hundred dames good champions were:

A hundred they; and, of the chosen men,

A husband was assigned to every ten.

XXXI

“Ere this, too feeble to abide the test,

Many a one on scaffold lost his head.

Now these ten warriors so approved the best,

Were made partakers of their rule and bed;

First swearing at the sovereign ladies’ hest,

That they, if others to that port are led,

No mercy shall to any one afford,

But one and all will put them to the sword.

XXXII

“To swell, and next to child, and thence to fear

The women turned to teeming wives began

Lest they in time so many males should bear

As might invade the sovereignty they plan,

And that the government they hold so dear

Might finally from them revert to man.

And so, while these are children yet, take measure,

They never shall rebel against their pleasure.

XXXIII

“That the male sex may not usurp the sway,

It is enacted by the statute fell,

Each mother should one boy preserve, and slay

The others, or abroad exchange or sell.

For this, they these to various parts convey,

And to the bearers of the children tell,

To truck the girls for boys in foreign lands,

Or not, at least, return with empty hands.

XXXIV

“Nor by the women one preserved would be,

If they without them could the race maintain.

Such all their mercy, all the clemency

The law accords for theirs, not others’ gain.

The dames all others sentence equally;

And temper but in this their statute’s pain,

That, not as was their former practice, they

All in their rage promiscuously slay.

XXXV

“Did ten or twenty persons, or yet more,

Arrive, they were imprisoned and put by;

And every day one only from the store

Of victims was brought out by lot to die,

In fane by Orontea built, before

An altar raised to Vengeance; and to ply

As headsman, and dispatched the unhappy men,

One was by lot selected from the ten.

XXXVI

“To that foul murderous shore by chance did fare,

After long years elapsed, a youthful wight,

Whose fathers sprung from good Alcides were,

And he, of proof in arms, Elbanio hight;

There was he seized, of peril scarce aware,

As unsuspecting such a foul despite:

And, closely guarded, into prison flung,

Kept for like cruel use the rest among.

XXXVII

“Adorned with every fair accomplishment,

Of pleasing face and manners was the peer,

And of a speech so sweet and eloquent,

Him the deaf adder might have stopt to hear;

So that of him to Alexandria went

Tidings as of a precious thing and rare.

She was the daughter of that matron bold,

Queen Orontea, that yet lived, though old.

XXXVIII

“Yet Orontea lived, while of that shore

The other settlers all were dead and gone;

And now ten times as many such or more

Had into strength and greater credit grown.

Nor for ten forges, often closed, in store

Have the ill-furnished band more files than one;

And the ten champions have as well the care

To welcome shrewdly all who thither fare.

XXXIX

“Young Alexandria, who the blooming peer

Burned to behold so praised on every part,

The special pleasure him to see and hear,

Won from her mother; and, about to part

From him, discovers that the cavalier

Remains the master of her tortured heart;

Finds herself bound, and that ’tis vain to stir,

— A captive made by her own prisoner.

XL

“ ‘I pity,’ (said Elbanio) ‘lady fair,

Was in this cruel region known, as through

All other countries near or distant, where

The wandering sun sheds light and colouring hue,

I by your beauty’s kindly charms should dare

(Which make each gentle spirit bound to you)

To beg my life; which always, at your will,

Should I be ready for your love to spill.

XLI

“ ‘But since deprived of all humanity

Are human bosoms in this cruel land,

I shall not now request my life of thee,

(For fruitless would, I know, be the demand)

But, whether a good knight or bad I be,

Ask but like such to die with arms in hand,

And not as one condemned to penal pain;

Or like brute beast in sacrifice be slain.’

XLII

“The gentle maid, her eye bedimmed with tear,

In pity for the hapless youth, replied:

‘Though this land be more cruel and severe

Than any other country, far and wide,

Each woman is not a Medaea here

As thou wouldst make her; and, if all beside

Were of such evil kind, in me alone

Should an exception to the rest be known.

XLIII

“ ‘And though I, like so many here, of yore

Was full of evil deeds and cruelty,

I can well say, I never had before

A fitting subject for my clemency.

But fiercer were I than a tiger, more

Hard were my heart than diamonds, if in me

All hardness did not vanish and give place

Before your courage, gentleness, and grace.

XLIV

“ ‘Ah! were the cruel statute less severe

Against the stranger to these shores conveyed!

So should I not esteem my death too dear

A ransom for thy worthier life were paid.

But none is here so great, sir cavalier,

Nor of such puissance as to lend thee aid;

And what thou askest, though a scanty grace,

Were difficult to compass in this place.

XLV

“ ‘And yet will I endeavour to obtain

For thee, before thou perish, this content;

Though much, I fear, ’twill but augment thy pain.

And thee protracted death but more torment.’

‘So I the ten encounter,’ (said again

Elbanio), ‘I at heart, am confident

Myself to save, and enemies to slay;

Though made of iron were the whole array.’

XLVI

“To this the youthful Alexandria nought

Made answer, saving with a piteous sigh;

And from the conference a bosom brought,

Gored with deep wounds, beyond all remedy.

To Orontea she repaired, and wrought

On her to will the stripling should not die,

Should he display such courage and such skill

As with his single hand the ten to kill.

XLVII

“Queen Orontea straightway bade unite

Her council, and bespoke the assembled band:

‘It still behoves us place the prowest wight

Whom we can find, to guard our ports and strand.

And, to discover whom to take or slight,

’Tis fitting that we prove the warrior’s hand;

Lest, to our loss, the election made be wrong,

And we enthrone the weak and slay the strong.

XLVIII

“ ‘I deem it fit, if you the counsel shown

Deem fit as well, in future to ordain,

That each upon our coast by Fortune thrown,

Before he in the temple shall be slain,

Shall have the choice, instead of this, alone

Battle against ten others to maintain;

And if he conquer, shall the port defend

With other comrades, pardoned to that end.

XLIX

“ ‘I say this, since to strive against our ten,

It seems, that one imprisoned here will dare:

Who, if he stands against so many men,

By Heaven, deserves that we should hear his prayer;

But if he rashly boasts himself, again

As worthily due the punishment should bear.’

Here Orontea ceased; on the other side,

To her the oldest of the dames replied.

L

“ ‘The leading cause, for which to entertain

This intercourse with men we first agreed,

Was not because we, to defend this reign,

Of their assistance stood in any need;

For we have skill and courage to maintain

This of ourselves, and force, withal, to speed.

Would that we could in all as well avail

Without their succour, nor succession fail!

LI

“ ‘But since this may not be, we some have made

(These few) partakers of our company;

That, ten to one, we be not overlaid;

Nor they possess them of the sovereignty.

Not that we for protection need their aid,

But simply to increase and multiply.

Than be their powers to this sole fear addressed,

And be they sluggards, idle for the rest.

LII

“ ‘To keep among us such a puissant wight

Our first design would render wholly vain.

If one can singly slay ten men in fight,

How many women can he not restrain?

If our ten champions had possessed such might,

They the first day would have usurped the reign.

To arm a hand more powerful than your own

Is an ill method to maintain the throne.

LIII

“ ‘Reflect withal, that if your prisoner speed

So that he kill ten champions in the fray,

A hundred women’s cry, whose lords will bleed

Beneath his falchion, shall your ears dismay.

Let him not ‘scape by such a murderous deed;

But, if he would, propound some other way.

— Yet if he of those ten supply the place,

And please a hundred women, grant him grace.’

LIV

“This was severe Artemia’s sentiment,

(So was she named) and had her counsel weighed,

Elbanio to the temple had been sent,

To perish by the sacrificial blade.

But Orontea, willing to content

Her daughter, to the matron answer made;

And urged so many reasons, and so wrought,

The yielding senate granted what she ought.

LV

“Elbanio’s beauty (for so fair to view

Never was any cavalier beside)

So strongly works upon the youthful crew,

Which in that council sit the state to guide,

That the opinion of the older few

That like Artemia think, is set aside;

And little lacks but that the assembled race

Absolve Elbanio by especial grace.

LVI

“To pardon him in fine the dames agreed:

But, after slaying his half-score, and when

He in the next assault as well should speech,

Not with a hundred women, but with ten;

And, furnished to his wish with arms and steed,

Next day he was released from dungeon-den,

And singly with ten warriors matched in plain,

Who by his arm successively were slain.

LVII

“He to new proof was put the following night,

Against ten damsels naked and alone;

When so successful was the stripling’s might,

He took the ‘say of all the troop, and won

Such grace with Orontea, that the knight

Was by the dame adopted for her son;

And from her Alexandria had to wife,

With those whom he had proved in amorous strife.

LVIII

“And him she left with Alexandria, heir

To this famed city, which from her was hight,

So he and all who his successors were,

Should guard the law which willed, whatever wight,

Conducted hither by his cruel star,

Upon this miserable land did light,

Should have his choice to perish by the knife,

Or singly with ten foes contend to strife.

LIX

“And if he should dispatch the men by day,

At night should prove him with the female crew;

And if so fortunate that in this play

He proved again the conqueror, he, as due,

The female band, as prince and guide, should sway,

And his ten consorts at his choice renew:

And reign with them, till other should arrive

Of stouter hand, and him of life deprive.

LX

“They for two thousand years nigh past away

This usage have maintained, and yet maintain

The impious rite; and rarely passes day

But stranger wight is slaughtered in the fane.

If he, Elbanio-like, ten foes assay,

(And such sometimes is found) he oft is slain

In the first charge: nor, in a thousand, one

The other feat, of which I spake, has done,

LXI

“Yet some there are have done it, though so few,

They may be numbered on the fingers; one

Of the victorious cavaliers, but who

Reigned with his ten short time, was Argilon:

For, smote by me, whom ill wind hither blew,

The knight to his eternal rest is gone.

Would I with him that day had filled a grave,

Rather than in such scorn survive a slave!

LXII

“For amorous pleasures, laughter, game, and play,

Which evermore delight the youthful breast;

The gem, the purple garment, rich array,

And in his city place before the rest.

Little, by Heaven, the wretched man appay

Who of his liberty is dispossest:

And not to have the power to leave this shore

To me seems shameful servitude and sore.

LXIII

“To know I wear away life’s glorious spring

In such effeminate and slothful leisure

Is to my troubled heart a constant sting,

And takes away the taste of every pleasure.

Fame bears my kindred’s praise on outstretched wing,

Even to the skies; and haply equal measure

I of the glories of my blood might share

If I united with my brethren were.

LXIV

“Methinks my fate does such injurious deed

By me, condemned to servitude so base,

As he who turns to grass the generous steed

To run amid the herd of meaner race,

Because unfit for war or worthier meed,

Through blemish, or disease of sight or pace.

Nor hoping but by death, alas! to fly

So vile a service, I desire to die.”

LXV

Here Guido ceased to address the martial peers,

And cursed withal the day, in high disdain,

That he achieved o’er dames and cavaliers

The double victory which bestowed that reign.

Astolpho hides his name, and silent hears,

Until to him by many a sign is plain

That this Sir Guido is, as he had said,

The issue of his kinsman Aymon’s bed.

LXVI

Then cried: “The English duke, Astolpho, I

Thy cousin am,” and clipt him round the waist,

And in a kindly act of courtesy,

Not without weeping, kist him and embraced.

Then, “Kinsman dear, thy birth to certify

No better sign thy mother could have placed

About thy neck. Enough! that sword of thine,

And courage, vouch thee of our valiant line.”

LXVII

Guido, who gladly would in other place

So near a kin have welcomed, in dismay

Beholds him here and with a mournful face;

Knowing, if he himself survives the fray,

Astolpho will be doomed to slavery base,

His fate deferred but till the following day;

And he shall perish, if the duke is free:

So that one’s good the other’s ill shall be.

LXVIII

He grieves, as well, the other cavaliers

Should through his means for ever captive be;

Nor, that he should, if slain, those martial peers

Deliver by his death from slavery.

Since if Marphisa from one quicksand clears

The troop, yet these from other fails to free,

She will have won the victory in vain;

For they will be enslaved, and she be slain.

LXIX

On the other hand, the stripling’s age, in May

Of youth, with courtesy and valour fraught,

Upon the maid and comrades with such sway,

Touching their breasts with love and pity, wrought

That they of freedom, for which he must pay

The forfeit of his life, nigh loathed the thought;

And if Marphisa him perforce must kill,

She is resolved as well herself to spill.

LXX

“Join thou with us,” she to Sir Guido cried,

“And we from hence will sally.” — “From within

These walls to sally” — Guido on his side

Answered, “Ne’er hope: With me you lose or win.”

“— I fear not, I,” the martial maid replied,

“To execute whatever I begin;

Nor know what can securer path afford

Than that which I shall open with my sword.

LXXI

“Such proof of thy fair prowess have I made,

With thee I every enterprise would dare.

To-morrow when about the palisade

The crowds assembled in the circus are,

Let us on every side the mob invade,

Whether they fly or for defence prepare;

Then give the town to fire, and on their bed

Of earth to wolf and vulture leave the dead.”

LXXII

He: “Ready shalt thou find me in the strife

To follow thee or perish at thy side:

But let us hope not to escape with life.

Enough, is vengeance somedeal satisfied

Ere death; for oft ten thousand, maid and wife,

I in the place have witnessed; and, outside,

As many castle, wall and port, defend.

Nor know I certain way from hence to wend.”

LXXIII

“And were there more (Marphisa made reply)

Than Xerxes led, our squadrons to oppose,

More than those rebel spirits from the sky

Cast out to dwell amid perpetual woes,

All in one day should by this weapon die,

Wert thou with me, at least, not with my foes.”

To her again, “No project but must fail,

(Sir Guido said) I know, save this avail.”

LXXIV

“This only us can save, should it succeed;

This, which but now remembered I shall teach.

To dames alone our laws the right concede

To sally, or set foot upon the beach,

And hence to one of mine in this our need

Must I commit myself, and aid beseech;

Whose love for me, by perfect friendship tied,

Has oft by better proof than this been tried.

LXXV

“No less than me would she desire that I

Should ‘scape from slavery, so she went with me;

And that, without her rival’s company,

She of my lot should sole partaker be.

She bark or pinnace, in the harbour nigh,

Shall bid, while yet ’tis dark, prepare for sea;

Which shall await your sailors, rigged and yare

For sailing, when they thither shall repair.

LXXVI

“Behind me, in a solid band comprest,

Ye merchants, mariners and warriors, who,

Driven to this city, have set up your rest

Beneath this roof (for which my thanks are due)

— You have to force your way with stedfast breast,

If adversaries interrupt our crew.

’Tis thus I hope, by succour of the sword,

To clear a passage through the cruel horde.”

LXXVII

“Do as thou wilt,” Marphisa made reply,

“I of escape am confident withal:

And likelier ’twere that by my hand should die

The martial race, encompassed by this wall,

Than any one should ever see me fly,

Or guess by other sign that fears appall.

I would my passage force in open day,

And shameful in my sight were other way.

LXXVIII

“I wot if I were for a woman known,

Honour and place from women I might claim,

Here gladly entertained, and classed as one

Haply among their chiefs of highest fame:

But privilege or favour will I none

Unshared by those with whom I hither came.

Too base it were, did I depart or free

Remain, to leave the rest in slavery.”

LXXIX

These speeches by Marphisa made, and more,

Showed that what only had restrained her arm

Was the respect she to the safety bore

Of the companions whom her wrath might harm;

By this alone withheld form taking sore

And signal vengeance on the female swarm.

And hence she left in Guido’s care to shape

What seemed the fittest means for their escape.

LXXX

Sir Guido speaks that night with Alery

(So the most faithful of his wives was hight)

Nor needs long prayer to make the dame agree,

Disposed already to obey the knight.

She takes a ship and arms the bark for sea,

Stowed with her richest chattels for their flight;

Feigning design, as soon as dawn ensues,

To sail with her companions on a cruise.

LXXXI

She into Guido’s palace had before

Bid sword and spear and shield and cuirass bear;

With the intent to furnish from this store,

Merchants and sailors that half naked were.

Some watch, and some repose upon the floor,

And rest and guard among each other share;

Oft marking, still with harness on their backs,

If ruddy yet with light the orient wax.

LXXXII

Not yet from earth’s hard visage has the sun

Lifted her veil of dim and dingy dye;

Scarcely Lycaon’s child, her furrow done,

Has turned about her ploughshare in the sky;

When to the theatre the women run

Who would the fearful battle’s end espy,

As swarming bees upon their threshold cluster,

Who bent on change of realm in springtide muster.

LXXXIII

With warlike trumpet, drum, and sound of horn,

The people make the land and welkin roar;

Summoning thus their chieftain to return,

And end of unfinished warfare. Covered o’er

With arms stand Aquilant and Gryphon stern,

And the redoubted duke from England’s shore.

Marphisa, Dudo, Sansonet, and all

The knights or footmen harboured in that hall.

LXXXIV

Hence to descend towards the sea or port

The way across the place of combat lies;

Nor was there other passage, long or short.

Sir Guido so to his companions cries:

And having ceased his comrades to exhort,

To do their best set forth in silent wise,

And in the place appeared, amid the throng,

Head of a squad above a hundred strong.

LXXXV

Toward the other gate Sir Guido went,

Hurrying his band, but, gathered far and nigh

The mighty multitude, for aye intent

To smite, and clad in arms, when they descry

The comrades whom he leads, perceive his bent,

And truly deem he is about to fly.

All in a thought betake them to their bows,

And at the portal part the knight oppose.

LXXXVI

Sir Guido and the cavaliers who go

Beneath that champion’s guidance, and before

The others bold Marphisa, were not slow

To strike, and laboured hard to force the door.

But such a storm of darts from ready bow,

Dealing on all sides death or wounding sore,

Was rained in fury on the troop forlorn,

They feared at last to encounter skaith and scorn.

LXXXVII

Of proof the corslet was each warrior wore,

Who without this would have had worse to fear:

Sansonnet’s horse was slain, and that which bore

Marphisa: to himself the English peer

Exclaimed, “Why wait I longer? As if more

My horn could ever succour me than here.

Since the sword steads not, I will make assay

If with my bugle I can clear the way.”

LXXXVIII

As he was customed in extremity,

He to his mouth applied the bugle’s round;

The wide world seemed to tremble, earth and sky,

As he in air discharged the horrid sound.

Such terror smote the dames, that bent to fly,

When in their ears the deafening horn was wound,

Not only they the gate unguarded left,

But from the circus reeled, of wit bereft.

LXXXIX

As family, awaked in sudden wise,

Leaps from the windows and from lofty height,

Periling life and limb, when in surprise

They see, now near, the fire’s encircling light,

Which had, while slumber sealed their heavy eyes,

By little and by little waxed at night:

Reckless of life, thus each, impelled by dread,

At sound of that appalling bugle fled.

XC

Above, below, and here and there, the rout

Rise in confusion and attempt to fly.

At once, above a thousand swarm about

Each entrance, to each other’s lett, and lie

In heaps: from window these, or stage without,

Leap headlong; in the press these smothered die.

Broken is many an arm, and many a head;

And one lies crippled, and another dead.

XCI

Amid the mighty ruin which ensued,

Cries pierce the very heavens on every part.

Where’er the sound is heard, the multitude,

In panic at the deafening echo, start.

When you are told that without hardihood

Appear the rabble, and of feeble heart,

This need not more your marvel; for by nature

The hare is evermore a timid creature.

XCII

But of Marphisa what will be your thought,

And Guido late so furious? — of the two

Young sons of Olivier, that lately wrought

Such deeds in honour of their lineage? who

Lately a hundred thousand held as nought,

And now, deprived of courage, basely flew,

As ring-doves flutter and as coneys fly,

Who hear some mighty noise resounding nigh.

XCIII

For so to friend as stranger, noxious are

The powers that in the enchanted horn reside.

Sansonet, Guido, follow, with the pair

Or brethren bold, Marphisa terrified.

Nor flying, can they to such distance fare,

But that their ears are dinned. On every side

Astolpho, on his foaming courser borne,

Lends louder breath to his enchanted horn.

XCIV

One sought the sea, and one the mountain-top,

One fled the hide herself in forest hoar;

And this, who turned not once nor made a stop,

Not for ten days her headlong flight forbore:

These from the bridge in that dread moment drop,

Never to climb the river’s margin more.

So temple, house and square and street were drained,

That nigh unpeopled the wide town remained.

XCV

Marphisa, Guido, and the brethren two,

With Sansonetto, pale and trembling, hie

Towards the sea, and behind these the crew

Of frighted mariners and merchants fly;

And ‘twixt the forts, in bark, prepared with view

To their escape, discover Alery;

Who in sore haste receives the warriors pale,

And bids them ply their oars and make all sail.

XCVI

The duke within and out the town had bear

From the surrounding hills to the sea-side,

And of its people emptied every street.

All fly before the deafening sound, and hide:

Many in panic, seeking a retreat,

Lurk, in some place obscure and filthy stied;

Many, not knowing whither to repair,

Plunge in the neighbouring sea, and perish there.

XCVII

The duke arrives, seeking the friendly band,

Whom he had hoped to find upon the quay;

He turns and gazes round the desert strand,

And none is there — directs along the bay

His eyes, and now, far distant from the land,

Beholds the parting frigate under way.

So that the paladin, for his escape —

The vessel gone — must other project shape.

XCVIII

Let him depart! nor let it trouble you

That he so long a road must beat alone;

Where, never without fear, man journeys through

Wild paynim countries: danger is there none,

But what he with his bugle may eschew,

Whose dread effect the English duke has shown;

And let his late companions be our care,

Who trembling to the beach had made repair.

XCIX

They from that cruel and ensanguined ground

To seaward, under all their canvas, bore;

And having gained such offing, that the sound

Of that alarming horn was heard no more,

Unwonted shame inflicted such a wound,

That all a face of burning crimson wore.

One dares not eye the other, and they stand

With downcast looks, a mute and mournful band.

C

Fixed on his course, the pilot passes by

Cyprus and Rhodes, and ploughs the Aegean sea:

Beholds a hundred islands from him fly,

And Malea’s fearful headland; fanned by free

And constant wind, sees vanish from the eye

The Greek Morea; rounding Sicily,

Into the Tuscan sea his frigate veers,

And, coasting Italy’s fair region, steers:

CI

Last rises Luna, where his family

Is waiting his return, the patron hoar

Gives thanks to God at having passed the sea

Without more harm,