Astolpho soars in air. Upon account
Of Pinnabel is prisoned Scotland’s heir:
By Roland freed, Frontino Rodomont
Takes from Hippalca, trusted to her care.
With Mandricardo strives Anglantes’ count:
Who, next, offended by his lady fair,
Into the fury falls, so strange and fell,
Which in the world has not a parallel.
Let each assist the other in his need;
Seldom good actions go without their due;
And if their just reward should not succeed,
At least, nor death, nor shame, nor loss ensue.
Who wrongs another, the remembered meed
As well shall have, and soon or later rue.
That mountains never meet, but that men may,
And oft encounter, is an ancient say.
Now mark what chanced to Pinnabel, the event
Of having borne himself so wickedly:
He at the last received due punishment,
Due and deserved by his iniquity.
And God, who for the most is ill content
To see the righteous suffer wrongfully,
Secured the maid from harm, and will secure
All who from every wickedness are pure.
Pinnabel deemed he to an end had brought,
And buried deep in earth, the martial maid;
Nor weening to behold her more, less thought
To her his treason’s forfeit to have paid.
Nor profits it the wily traitor ought
To be among the forts his father swayed.
For Altaripa here its summit rears,
Amid rude hills, confining on Poictiers.
Anselm in Altaripa held command,
The count from whom was sprung this evil seed:
Who, to escape from angry Clermont’s hand,
Of friends and of assistance stood in need.
At a hill’s foot, with her avenging brand,
Bradamant made the worthless traitor bleed;
Who found no better succour in the strife
Than piteous cry and fruitless prayer for life.
When she has put to death the treacherous peer,
Who to put her to death had erst intent,
To seek Rogero she again would steer,
But that her cruel fate would not consent;
Which, where the wood was loneliest and most drear,
To wander by close path the lady sent,
Until the western sun withdrew his light,
Abandoning the world above to night.
Nor knowing where for shelter she should rove,
Bradamant in that place resolves to stay,
Couched on the verdant herbage of the grove;
And, sleeping, now awaits the dawn of day,
Now watching Saturn, Venus, Mars, and Jove,
And the other wandering gods upon their way:
But, whether waking or to sleep resigned,
Has aye Rogero present to her mind.
With sorrow and repentance oft assailed,
She from her inmost heart profoundly sighed,
That Anger over Love should have prevailed.
“Anger has torn me from my love,” (she cried,)
“Oh! had I made some note, which had availed,
Thither, whence I set out, my steps to guide,
When I departed on my ill emprize!
Sure I was lorn of memory and of eyes!”
These words and others she in mournful strain
Utters, and broods within her heart on more.
Meanwhile a wind of sighs, and plenteous rain
Of tears, are tokens of her anguish sore.
In the east, at last, expected long in vain,
The wished for twilight streaked the horizon o’er;
And she her courser took, which on the ley
Was feeding, and rode forth to meet the day.
Nor far had rode, ere from the greenwood-trees
She issued, where the dome was erst displayed;
And many days her with such witcheries
The evil-minded wizard had delayed.
Here she Astolpho found, who at full ease
A bridle for the Hippogryph had made,
And here was standing, thoughtful and in pain
To whom he should deliver Rabicane.
By chance she found him, as the cavalier
Had from the helm uncased his head to view;
So that when of the dingy forest clear,
Fair Bradamant her gentle cousin knew.
Him from afar she hailed with joyful cheer,
And now more nigh, to embrace the warrior flew;
And named herself, and raised her vizor high,
And let him plainly who she was espy.
None could Astolpho have found any where
With whom to leave his horse with more content,
As knowing she would guard the steed with care,
And to his lord on his return present;
And he believed that Heaven had, in its care,
Duke Aymon’s daughter for this pleasure sent.
Her was he wont with pleasure aye to see,
But now with more in his necessity.
Embracing twice or thrice the cousins stand,
Fraternally, each other’s neck, and they
Had of each other’s welfare made demand
With much affection, ere the duke ‘gan say;
“Would I now see the winged people’s land,
Here upon earth I make too long delay.”
And opening to the dame the thought he brewed,
To her the flying horse Astolpho shewed.
But she scarce marvelled when above the plain
She saw the rising steed his wings unfold;
Since upon former time, with mastering rein.
On him had charged the dame that wizard old;
And made her eye and eyelid sorely strain,
So hard she gazed, his movements to behold;
The day that he bore off, with wonderous range,
Rogero on his journey, long and strange.
Astolpho says on her he will bestow
His Rabican; so passing swift of kind,
That, if the courser started when a bow
Was drawn, he left the feathered shaft behind;
And will as well his panoply forego,
That it may to Mount Alban be consigned:
And she for him preserve the martial weed;
Since of his arms he has no present need.
Bent, since a course in air was to be flown,
That he, as best he can, will make him light.
Yet keeps the sword and horn; although alone
The horn from every risque might shield the knight:
But he the lance abandons, which the son
Of Galaphron was wont to bear in flight;
The lance, by which whoever in the course
Was touched, fell headlong hurtling from his horse.
Backed by Astolpho, and ascending slow,
The hippogryph through yielding aether flew;
And next the rider stirred the courser so,
That in a thought he vanished out of view.
Thus with his pilot does the patron go,
Fearing the gale and rock, till he is through
The reefs; then, having left the shore behind,
Hoists every sail, and shoots before the wind.
Bradamant, when departed was the peer,
Remained distressed in mind; since in what way
She knew not her good kinsman’s warlike gear
And courser to Mount Alban to convey.
For on her heart, which they inflame and tear,
The warm desire and greedy will yet prey
To see the Child; whom she to find once more
At Vallombrosa thought, if not before.
Here standing in suspense, by chance she spied
A churl, that came towards her on the plain,
Who, at her best, Astolpho’s armour tied,
As best he might, and laid on Rabicane;
She next behind her bade the peasant guide
(One courser loaded and one loose) the twain.
Two were the steeds; for she had that before,
On which his horse from Pinnabel she bore.
To Vallombrosa to direct her way
She thought, in hopes to find Rogero there:
But, fearing evermore to go astray,
Knew not how thither she might best repair.
The churl had of the country small assay,
And, sure to be bewildered, wend the pair:
Yet at a venture thitherward she hies,
Where she believes the place of meeting lies.
She here and there, as she her way pursued,
Turned, but found none to question of the road;
She saw at mid-day, issuing from the wood,
A fort, nor far removed was the abode,
Which on the summit of a mountain stood,
And to the lady like Mount Alban showed;
And was Mount Alban sure; in which repair
One of her brothers and her mother were.
She, when she recognized the place, became
Sadder at heart than I have power to say.
If she delays, discovered is the dame,
Nor thence will be allowed to wend her way:
If thence she wends not, of the amorous flame
Which so consumes her, she will be the prey,
Nor see Rogero more, nor compass aught
Which was at Vallombrosa to be wrought.
Some deal she doubted: then to turn her steed,
Resolved upon Mount Alban’s castle near;
And, for she thence her way could deftly read,
Her course anew towards the abbey steer.
But Fortune, good or evil, had decreed
The maid, before she of the vale was clear,
Of one of her good brethren should be spied,
Alardo named, ere she had time to hide.
He came from billeting the bands which lay
Dispersed about that province, foot and horse;
For the surrounding district, to obey
King Charlemagne, had raised another force.
Embraces brotherly and friendly say,
Salutes and kindly cheer, ensue of course;
And next into Mount Alban, side by side,
They, communing of many matters, ride.
Bradamant enters Montalbano’s seat,
Whom Beatrice had mourned, and vainly sought
Through spacious France: ’Tis here all welcome sweet,
The kiss and clasp of hand, she holds at nought,
While her a mother and a brother greet,
As the enamoured maid compares in thought
These with the loved Rogero’s fond embrace;
Which time will never from her mind efface.
Because she could not go, one in her stead
To send to Vallombrosa she devised,
Who thither in the damsel’s name should speed;
By whom should young Rogero be apprised
What kept her thence; and prayed, if prayer should need,
That there he for love would be baptised;
And next, as was concerned, would intend
What might their bridal bring to happy end.
She purposed the same messenger should bear
As well to her Rogero his good steed;
Which he was ever wonted to hold dear,
Worthily dear; for sure so stout at need
And beauteous was no courser, far or near,
In land of Christian or of Paynim creed,
In occupation of the Gaul or Moor;
Except Baiardo good and Brigliador.
Valiant Rogero, when too bold of sprite
He backed the hippogryph and soared in air,
Frontino left (Frontino he was hight),
Whom Bradamant then took into her care,
And to Mount Alban sent; and had him dight,
And nourished, at large cost, with plenteous fare;
Nor let be rode except at easy pace,
Hence was he ne’er so sleek or well in case.
Each damsel and each dame who her obeyed,
She tasked, together with herself, to sew,
With subtle toil; and with fine gold o’erlaid
A piece of silk of white and sable hue:
With this she trapt the horse; then chose a maid,
Old Callitrephia’s daughter, from the crew;
Whose mother whilom Bradamant had nursed;
A damsel she in all her secrets versed.
How graven in her heart Rogero lies,
A thousand times to her she had confessed;
And had extolled above the deities
The manners, worth, and beauty be possessed.
“No better messenger could I devise,”
(She said, and called the damsel from the rest,)
“Nor have I one, Hippalca mine, more sage
And sure than three, to do my embassage.”
Hippalca was the attendant damsel hight.
“Go,” (says her lady, and describes the way)
And afterwards informs the maid aright
Of all which to Rogero she should say;
And why she at the abbey failed the knight,
Who must not to bad faith ascribe her stay,
But this to Fortune charge, that so decides,
Who, more than we ourselves, our conduct guides.
She made the damsel mount upon a pad,
And put into her hand Frontino’s rein;
And, if she met with one so rude or mad,
Who to deprive her of the steed were fain,
Her to proclaim who was his owner, bade,
As that which might suffice to make him sane.
For she believed there was no cavalier,
But that Rogero’s name would make him fear.
Of many and many things, whereof to treat
With good Rogero, in her stead, she showed;
Of which instructed well, her palfrey fleet
Hippalca stirred, nor longer there abode.
Through highway, field, and wood, a gloomy beat,
More than ten weary miles the damsel rode,
Ere any crossed her path on mischief bent,
Or even questioned witherward she went.
At noon of day, descending from a mount,
She in a streight and ill declivity,
Led by a dwarf, encountered Rodomont,
Who was afoot and harnessed cap-a-pee.
The Moor towards her raised his haughty front,
And straight blasphemed the eternal Hierarchy,
That horse, so richly trapped and passing fair,
He had not found in a knight-errant’s care.
On the first courser he should find, the knight
Had sworn a solemn oath his hands to lay:
This was the first, nor he on steed could light
Fairer or fitter; yet to take away
The charger from a maid were foul despite.
Doubtful he stands, but covets sore the prey;
Eyes and surveys him, and says often, “Why
Is not as well the courser’s master by?”
“Ah! would be were!” to him the maid replied,
“For haply he would make thee change thy thought.
A better knight than thee the horse doth ride,
And vainly would his match on earth be sought.”
— “Who tramples thus on other’s fame?” — he cried;
And she — “Rogero” — said, as she was taught.
Then Rodomont — “The steed I may my own;
Since him a champion rides of such renown.
“If he, as you relate, be of such force,
That he surprises all beside in might,
I needs must pay the hire as well as horse;
And be this at the pleasure of the knight!
That I am Rodomont, to him discourse;
And, if indeed with me he lists to fight,
Me shall to find; in that I shine confest,
By my own light, in motion or at rest.
“I leave such vestige wheresoe’er I tread,
The volleyed thunder leaves not worse below.”
He had thrown back, over Frontino’s head,
The courser’s gilded reins, in saying so,
Backed him, and left Hippalca sore bested;
Who, bathed in tears, and goaded by her woe,
Cries shame on him, and threats the king with ill:
Rodomont hearkens not, and climbs the hill:
Whither the dwarf conducts him on the trace
Of Doralice and Mandricardo bold.
Behind, Hippalca him in ceaseless chase,
Pursues with taunt and curses manifold.
What came of this is said in other place.
Turpin, by whom this history is told,
Here makes digression, and returns again
Thither, where faithless Pinnabel was slain.
Duke Aymon’s daughter scarce had turned away
From thence, who on her track in haste had gone,
Ere thither by another path, astray,
Zerbino came, with that deceitful crone,
And saw the bleeding body where it lay:
And, though the warrior was to him unknown,
As good and courteous, felt his bosom swell,
With pity at that cruel sight and fell.
Dead lay Sir Pinnabel, and bathed in gore;
From whom such streams of blood profusely flow,
As were a cause for wonderment, had more
Swords than a hundred joined to lay him low.
A print of recent footsteps to explore
The cavalier of Scotland was not slow;
Who took the adventure, in the hope to read
Who was the doer of the murderous deed.
The hag to wait was ordered by the peer,
Who would return to her in little space.
She to the body of the count drew near,
And with fixt eye examined every place;
Who willed not aught, that in her sight was dear,
The body of the dead should vainly grace;
As one who, soiled with every other vice,
Surpassed all womankind in avarice.
If she in any manner could have thought,
Or hoped to have concealed the intended theft,
The bleeding warrior’s surcoat, richly wrought,
She would, together with his arms, have reft;
But at what might be safely hidden, caught,
And, grieved at heart, forewent the glorious weft.
Him of a beauteous girdle she undrest,
And this secured between a double vest.
Zerbino after some short space came back,
Who vainly Bradamant had thence pursued
Through the green holt; because the beaten track
Was lost in many others in the wood;
And he (for daylight now began to lack)
Feared night should catch him ‘mid those mountains rude,
And with the impious woman thence, in quest
Of inn, from the disastrous valley prest.
A spacious town, which Altaripa hight,
Journeying the twain, at two miles’ distance spy:
There stopt the pair, and halted for the night,
Which, at full soar, even now went up the sky:
Nor long had rested there ere, left and right,
They from the people heard a mournful cry;
And saw fast tears from every eyelid fall,
As if some cause of sorrow touched them all.
Zerbino asked the occasion, and ’twas said
Tidings had been to Count Anselmo brought,
That Pinnabel, his son, was lying dead
In a streight way between two mountains wrought.
Zerbino feigned surprise, and hung his head,
In fear lest he the assassin should be thought;
But well divined this was the wight he found
Upon his journey, lifeless on the ground.
After some little time, the funeral bier
Arrives, ‘mid torch and flambeau, where the cries
Are yet more thick, and to the starry sphere
Lament and noise of smitten hands arise;
And faster and from fuller vein the tear
Waters all cheeks, descending from the eyes;
But in a cloud more dismal than the rest,
Is the unhappy father’s visage drest.
While solemn preparation so was made
For the grand obsequies, with reverence due,
According to old use and honours paid,
In former age, corrupted by each new;
A proclamation of their lord allayed
Quickly the noise of the lamenting crew;
Promising any one a mighty gain
That should denounce by whom his son was slain.
From voice to voice, from one to other ear,
The loud proclaim they through the town declare;
Till this the wicked woman chanced to hear,
Who past in rage the tyger or the bear;
And hence the ruin of the Scottish peer,
Either in hatred, would the crone prepare,
Or were it she alone might boast to be,
In human form, without humanity;
Or were it but to gain the promised prize; —
She to seek out the grieving county flew,
And, prefacing her tale in likely wise,
Said that Zerbino did the deed; and drew
The girdle forth, to witness to her lies;
Which straight the miserable father knew;
And on the woman’s tale and token built
A clear assurance of Zerbino’s guilt.
And, weeping, with raised hands, was heard to say,
He for his murdered son would have amends.
To block the hostel where Zerbino lay,
For all the town is risen, the father sends.
The prince, who deems his enemies away,
And no such injury as this attends,
In his first sleep is seized by Anselm’s throng,
Who thinks he has endured so foul a wrong.
That night in prison, fettered with a pair
Of heavy letters, is Zerbino chained.
For before yet the skies illuminated are,
The wrongful execution is ordained;
And in the place will he be quartered, where
The deed was done for which he is arraigned.
No other inquest is on this received;
It is enough that so their lord believed.
When, the next morn, Aurora stains with dye
Red, white, and yellow, the clear horizon,
The people rise, to punish (“Death!” their cry)
Zerbino for the crime he has not done:
They without order him accompany,
A lawless multitude, some ride, some run.
I’ the midst the Scottish prince, with drooping head,
Is, bound upon a little hackney, led.
But HE who with the innocent oft sides,
Nor those abandons who make him their stay,
For prince Zerbino such defence provides,
There is no fear that he will die today;
God thitherward renowned Orlando guides;
Whose coming for his safety paves the way:
Orlando sees beneath him on a plain
The youth to death conducted by the train.
With him was wended she, that in the cell,
Prisoned, Orlando found; that royal maid,
Child of Gallicia’s king, fair Isabel,
Whom chance into the ruffians’ power conveyed,
What time her ship she quitted, by the swell
Of the wild sea and tempest overlaid:
The damsel, who, yet nearer her heart-core
Than her own vital being, Zerbino wore.
She had beneath Orlando’s convoy strayed,
Since rescued from the cave. When on the plain
The damsel saw the motley troop arrayed,
She asked Orlando what might be the train?
“I know not,” said the Count; and left the maid
Upon the height, and hurried towards the plain.
He marked Zerbino, and at the first sight
A baron of high worth esteemed the knight,
And asked him why and wherefore him they led
Thus captive, to Zerbino drawing near:
At this the doleful prince upraised his head,
And, having better heard the cavalier,
Rehearsed the truth; and this so well he said,
That he deserved the succour of the peer.
Well Sir Orlando him, by his reply,
Deemed innocent, and wrongly doomed to die.
And, after he had heard ’twas at the hest
Of Anselm, Count of Altaripa, done,
Was certain ’twas and outrage manifest,
Since nought but ill could spring from him; and one,
Moreover, was the other’s foe profest,
From ancient hate and enmity, which run
In Clermont and Maganza’s blood; a feud
With injuries, and death and shame pursued.
Orlando to the rabble cried, “Untie
The cavalier, unless you would be slain.”
— “Who deals such mighty blows?” — one made reply,
That would be thought the truest of the train;
“Were he of fire who makes such bold defy,
We wax or straw, too haughty were the strain”:
And charged with that the paladin of France.
Orlando at the losel couched his lance.
The shining armour which the chief had rent
From young Zerbino but the night before,
And clothed himself withal, poor succour lent
Against Orlando in that combat sore.
Against the churl’s right cheek the weapon went:
It failed indeed his tempered helm to bore,
But such a shock he suffered in the strife,
As broke his neck, and stretched him void of life.
All at one course, of other of the band,
With lance unmoved, he pierced the bosom through;
Left it; on Durindana laid his hand,
And broke into the thicket of the crew:
One head in twain he severed with the brand,
(While, from the shoulders lopt, another flew)
Of many pierced the throat; and in a breath
Above a hundred broke and put to death.
Above a third he killed, and chased the rest,
And smote, and pierced, and cleft, as he pursued.
Himself of helm or shield one dispossest;
One with spontoon or bill the champaign strewed
This one along the road, across it prest
A fourth; this squats in cavern or in wood.
Orlando, without pity, on that day
Lets none escape whom he has power to slay.
Of a hundred men and twenty, in that crew,
(So Turpin sums them) eighty died at least.
Thither Orlando finally withdrew,
Where, with a heart sore trembling in his breast,
Zerbino sat; how he at Roland’s view
Rejoiced, in verse can hardly be exprest:
Who, but that he was on the hackney bound,
Would at his feet have cast himself to ground.
While Roland, after he had loosed the knight,
Helped him to don his shining arms again;
Stript from those serjeants’ captain, who had dight
Himself with the good harness, to his pain;
The prince on Isabella turned his sight,
Who had halted on the hill above the plain:
And, after she perceived the strife was o’er,
Nearer the field of fight her beauties bore.
When young Zerbino at his side surveyed
The lady, who by him was held so dear;
The beauteous lady, whom false tongue had said
Was drowned, so often wept with many a tear,
As if ice at his heart-core had been laid,
Waxed cold, and some deal shook the cavalier;
But the chill quickly past, and he, instead,
Was flushed with amorous fire, from foot to head.
From quickly clipping her in his embrace,
Him reverence for Anglantes’ sovereign stayed;
Because he thought, and held for certain case,
That Roland was a lover of the maid;
So past from pain to pain; and little space
Endured the joy which he at first assayed.
And worse he bore she should another’s be,
Than hearing that the maid was drowned at sea.
And worse he grieved, that she was with a knight
To whom he owed so much: because to wrest
The lady from his hand, was neither right,
Nor yet perhaps would prove an easy quest.
He, without quarrel, had no other wight
Suffered to part, of such a prize possest;
But would endure, Orlando (such his debt)
A foot upon his prostrate neck should set.
The three in silence journey to a font,
Where they alight, and halt beside the well;
His helmet here undid the weary Count,
And made the prince too quit the iron shell.
The youth unhelmed, she sees her lover’s front,
And pale with sudden joy grows Isabel:
Then, changing, brightened like a humid flower,
When the warm sun succeeds to drenching shower.
And without more delay or scruple, prest
To cast her arms about her lover dear;
And not a word could draw-forth from her breast,
But bathed his neck and face with briny tear.
Orlando, who remarked the love exprest,
Needing no more to make the matter clear,
Could not but, by these certain tokens, see
The could no other but Zerbino be.
When speech returned, ere yet the maiden well
Had dried her cheeks from the descending tear,
She only of the courtesy could tell
Late shown her by Anglantes’ cavalier.
The prince, who in one scale weighed Isabel,
Together with his life, esteemed as dear, —
Fell at Orlando’s feet and him adored,
As to two lives at once by him restored.
Proffers and thanks had followed, with a round
Of courtesies between the warlike pair,
Had they not heard the covered paths resound,
Which overgrown with gloomy foliage were.
Upon their heads the helmet, late unbound,
They quickly place, and to their steeds repair;
And, lo! a knight and maid arrive, ere well
The cavaliers are seated in the sell.
This was the Tartar Mandricardo, who
In haste behind the paladin had sped,
To venge Alzirdo and Manilard, the two
Whom good Orlando’s valour had laid dead:
Though afterwards less eager to pursue,
Since he with him fair Doralice had led;
Whom from a hundred men, in plate and chain,
He, with a single staff of oak, had ta’en.
Yet knew not that it was Anglantes’ peer
This while, of whom he had pursued the beat;
Though that he was a puissant cavalier
By certain signals was he taught to weet.
More than Zerbino him he eyed, and, near,
Perused the paladin from head to feet;
Then finding all the tokens coincide,
“Thou art the man I seek,” the paynim cried.
“ ’Tis now ten days,” to him the Tartar said,
“That thee I still have followed; so the fame
Had stung me, and in me such longing bred,
Which of thee to our camp of Paris came:
When, amid thousands by thy hand laid dead,
Scarce one alive fled thither, to proclaim
The mighty havoc made by thy good hand,
‘Mid Tremisena’s and Noritia’s band.
“I was not, as I knew, in following slow
Both to behold thee, and to prove thy might;
And by the surcoat o’er thine arms I know,
(Instructed of thy vest) thou art the knight:
And if such cognizance thou didst not show,
And, ‘mid a hundred, wert concealed from sight,
For what thou art thou plainly wouldst appear,
Thy worth conspicuous in thy haughty cheer.”
“No one can say,” to him Orlando cried,
“But that a valiant cavalier thou art:
For such a brave desire can ill reside,
’Tis my assurance, in a humble heart.
Since thou wouldst see me, would that thou inside,
Couldst as without, behold me! I apart
Will lay me helm, that in all points thy will
And purpose of thy quest I may fulfil.
“But when thou well hast scanned me with thine eye,
To that thine other wish as well attend:
It yet remains for thee to satisfy
The want, which leads thee after me to wend;
That thou mayest mark if, in my valour, I
Agree with that bold cheer thou so commend.”
— “And now,” (exclaimed the Tartar), “for the rest!
For my first want is thoroughly redrest.”
Orlando, all this while, from head to feet,
Searches the paynim with inquiring eyes:
Both sides, and next the pommel of his seat
Surveys, yet neither mace nor tuck espies;
And asks how he the combat will repeat,
If his good lance at the encounter flies.
— “Take thou no care for that,” replied the peer;
“Thus into many have I stricken fear.
“I have an oath in Heaven to gird no blade,
Till Durindana from the count be won.
Pursuing whom, I through each road here strayed,
With him to reckon for more posts than one.
If thou wilt please to hear, my oath I made
When on my head I placed this morion:
Which casque, with all the other arms I bear,
A thousand years ago great Hector’s were.
“To these good arms nought lacks beside the sword;
How it was stolen, to you I cannot say:
This now, it seems, is borne by Brava’s lord,
And hence is he so daring in affray.
Yet well I trust, if I the warrior board,
To make him render his ill-gotten prey.
Yet more; I seek the champion with desire
To avenge the famous Agrican, my sire.
“Him this Orlando slew by treachery,
I wot, nor could have slain in other wise.”
The count could bear no more, and, “ ’Tis a lie!”
(Exclaims), “and whosoever says so, lies:
Him fairly did I slay; Orlando, I.
But what thou seekest Fortune here supplies;
And this the faulchion is, which thou has sought,
Which shall be thine if by thy valour bought.
“Although mine is the faulchion, rightfully,
Let us for it in courtesy contend;
Nor will I in this battle, that it be
More mine than thine, but to a tree suspend:
Bear off the weapon freely hence, if me
Thou kill or conquer.” As he made an end,
He Durindana from his belt unslung,
And in mid-field upon a sapling hung.
Already distant half the range of bow
Is from his opposite each puissant knight,
And pricks against the other, nothing slow
To slack the reins or ply the rowels bright.
Already dealt is either mighty blow,
Where the helm yields a passage to the sight.
As if of ice, the shattered lances fly,
Broke in a thousand pieces, to the sky.
One and the other lance parforce must split,
In that the cavaliers refuse to bend;
The cavaliers, who in the saddle sit,
Returning with the staff’s unbroken end.
The warriors, who with steed had ever smit,
Now, as a pair of hinds in rage contend
For the mead’s boundary or river’s right,
Armed with two clubs, maintain a cruel fight.
The truncheons which the valiant champions bear,
Fail in the combat, and few blows resist;
Both rage with mightier fury, here and there,
Left without other weapon than the fist;
With this the desperate foes engage, and, where
The hand can grapple, plate and mail untwist.
Let none desire, to guard himself from wrongs,
A heavier hammer or more holding tongs.
How can the Saracen conclude the fray
With honour, which he haughtily had sought?
’Twere forty to waste time in an assay
Where to himself more harm the smiter wrought
Than to the smitten: in conclusion, they
Closed, and the paynim king Orlando caught,
And strained against his bosom; what Jove’s son
Did by Antaeus, thinking to have done.
Him griped athwart, he, in impetuous mood,
Would now push from him, now would closely strain;
And waxed so wroth that, in his heat of blood,
The Tartar little thought about his rein.
Firm in his stirrups self-collected stood
Roland, and watched his vantage to obtain;
He to the other courser’s forehead slipt
His wary hand, and thence the bridle stript.
The Saracen assays with all his might
To choak, and from the sell his foeman tear:
With either knee Orlando grasps it tight,
Nor can the Tartar more him, here or there.
But with the straining of the paynim knight,
The girts which hold his saddle broken are.
Scarce conscious of his fall, Orlando lies,
With feet i’ the stirrups, tightening yet his thighs.
As falls a sack of armour, with such sound
Tumbled Orlando, when he prest the plain.
King Mandricardo’s courser, when he found
His head delivered from the guiding rein,
Made off with him, unheeding what the ground,
Stumbling through woodland, or by pathway plain,
Hither and tither, blinded by his fear;
And bore with him the Tartar cavalier.
The beauteous Doralice, who sees her guide
So quit the field, — dismayed at his retreat,
And wonted in his succour to confide,
Her hackney drives behind his courser fleet:
The paynim rates the charger, in his pride,
And smites him oftentimes with hands and feet;
Threatening, as if he understood his lore;
And where he’d stop the courser, chafes him more.
Not looking to his feet, by high or low,
The beast of craven kind, with headlong force
Three miles in rings had gone, and more would go,
But that into a fosse which stopt their course,
Not lined with featherbed or quilt below,
Tumble, reversed, the rider and his horse.
On the hard ground was Mandricardo thrown,
Yet neither spoiled himself, nor broke a bone:
Here stopt the horse; but him he could not guide,
Left without bit his motions to restrain.
Brimfull of rage and choler, at his side,
The Tartar held him, grappled by the mane.
“Put upon him” (to Mandricardo cried
His lady, Doralice) “my hackney’s rein,
Since for the bridle I have little use;
For gentle is my palfrey, reined or loose.”
The paynim deems it were discourtesy
To accept the proffer by the damsel made.
But his through other means a rein will be;
Since Fortune, who his wishes well appaid,
Made thitherward the false Gabrina flee,
After she young Zerbino had betrayed:
Who like a she-wolf fled, which, as she hies,
At distance hears the hounds and hunters’ cries.
She had upon her back the gallant gear,
And the same youthful ornaments and vest,
Stript from the ill-taught damsel for her jeer,
That in her spoils the beldam might be drest,
And rode the horse that damsel backed whilere;
Who was among the choicest and the best.
Ere yet aware of her, the ancient dame
On Doralice and Mandricardo came.
Stordilane’s daughter and the Tartar king
Laugh at the vest of youthful show and shape,
Upon that ancient woman, figuring
Like monkey, rather say, like grandam ape.
From her the Saracen designs to wring
The rein, and does the deed: upon the rape
Of the crone’s bridle, he, with angry cry,
Threatens and scares her horse, and makes him fly.
He flies and hurries through the forest gray
That ancient woman, almost dead with fear,
By hill and dale, by straight and crooked way,
By fosse and cliff, at hazard, there and here.
But it imports me not so much to say
Of her, that I should leave Anglantes’ peer;
Who, from annoyance of a foe released,
The broken saddle at his ease re-pieced.
He mounts his horse, and watches long, before
Departing, if the foe will re-appear;
Nor seeing puissant Mandricardo more,
At last resolves in search of him to steer.
But, as one nurtured well in courtly lore,
From thence departed not the cavalier,
Till he with kind salutes, in friendly strain,
Fair leaves had taken of the loving twain.
At his departure waxed Zerbino woe,
And Isabella wept for sorrow: they
Had wended with him, but the count, although
Their company was fair and good, said nay;
Urging for reason, nought so ill could show
In cavalier, as, when upon his way
To seek his foeman out, to take a friend,
Who him with arms might succour or defend.
Next, if they met the Saracen, before
They should encounter him, besought them say,
That he, Orlando, would for three days more.
Waiting him, in that territory stay:
But, after that, would seek the flags which bore
The golden lilies, and King Charles’ array.
That Mandricardo through their means might know,
If such his pleasure, where to find his foe.
The lovers promised willingly to do
This, and whatever else he should command.
By different ways the cavaliers withdrew,
One on the right, and one on the left hand.
The count, ere other path he would pursue,
Took from the sapling, and replaced, his brand.
And, where he weened he might the paynim best
Encounter, thitherward his steed addrest.
The course in pathless woods, which, without rein,
The Tartar’s charger had pursued astray,
Made Roland for two days, with fruitless pain,
Follow him, without tidings of his way.
Orlando reached a rill of crystal vein,
On either bank of which a meadow lay;
Which, stained with native hues and rich, he sees,
And dotted o’er with fair and many trees.
The mid-day fervour made the shelter sweet
To hardy herd as well as naked swain;
So that Orlando, well beneath the heat
Some deal might wince, opprest with plate and chain.
He entered, for repose, the cool retreat,
And found it the abode of grief and pain;
And place of sojourn more accursed and fell,
On that unhappy day, than tongue can tell.
Turning him round, he there, on many a tree,
Beheld engraved, upon the woody shore,
What as the writing of his deity
He knew, as soon as he had marked the lore.
This was a place of those described by me,
Whither ofttimes, attended by Medore,
From the near shepherd’s cot had wont to stray
The beauteous lady, sovereign of Catay.
In a hundred knots, amid those green abodes,
In a hundred parts, their cyphered names are dight;
Whose many letters are so many goads,
Which Love has in his bleeding hear-core pight.
He would discredit in a thousand modes,
That which he credits in his own despite;
And would parforce persuade himself, that rhind
Other Angelica than his had signed.
“And yet I know these characters,” he cried,
“Of which I have so many read and seen;
By her may this Medoro be belied,
And me, she, figured in the name, may mean.”
Feeding on such like phantasies, beside
The real truth, did sad Orlando lean
Upon the empty hope, though ill contented,
Which he by self-illusions had fomented.
But stirred and aye rekindled it, the more
That he to quench the ill suspicion wrought,
Like the incautious bird, by fowler’s lore,
Hampered in net or line; which, in the thought
To free its tangled pinions and to soar,
By struggling, is but more securely caught.
Orlando passes thither, where a mountain
O’erhangs in guise of arch the crystal fountain.
Splay-footed ivy, with its mantling spray,
And gadding vine, the cavern’s entry case;
Where often in the hottest noon of day
The pair had rested, locked in fond embrace.
Within the grotto, and without it, they
Had oftener than in any other place
With charcoal or with chalk their names pourtrayed,
Or flourished with the knife’s indenting blade.
Here from his horse the sorrowing County lit,
And at the entrance of the grot surveyed
A cloud of words, which seemed but newly writ,
And which the young Medoro’s hand had made.
On the great pleasure he had known in it,
The sentence he in verses had arrayed;
Which in his tongue, I deem, might make pretence
To polished phrase; and such in ours the sense.
“Gay plants, green herbage, rill of limpid vein,
And, grateful with cool shade, thou gloomy cave,
Where oft, by many wooed with fruitless pain,
Beauteous Angelica, the child of grave
King Galaphron, within my arms has lain;
For the convenient harbourage you gave,
I, poor Medoro, can but in my lays,
As recompence, for ever sing your praise.
“And any loving lord devoutly pray,
Damsel and cavalier, and every one,
Whom choice or fortune hither shall convey,
Stranger or native, — to this crystal run,
Shade, caverned rock, and grass, and plants, to say,
Benignant be to you the fostering sun
And moon, and may the choir of nymphs provide,
That never swain his flock may hither guide!”
In Arabic was writ the blessing said,
Known to Orlando like the Latin tongue,
Who, versed in many languages, best read
Was in this speech; which oftentimes from wrong,
And injury, and shame, had saved his head,
What time he roved the Saracens among.
But let him boast not of its former boot,
O’erbalanced by the present bitter fruit.
Three times, and four, and six, the lines imprest
Upon the stone that wretch perused, in vain
Seeking another sense than was exprest,
And ever saw the thing more clear and plain;
And all the while, within his troubled breast,
He felt an icy hand his heart-core strain.
With mind and eyes close fastened on the block,
At length he stood, not differing from the rock.
Then well-nigh lost all feeling; so a prey
Wholly was he to that o’ermastering woe.
This is a pang, believe the experienced say
Of him who speaks, which does all griefs outgo.
His pride had from his forehead passed away,
His chin had fallen upon his breast below;
Nor found he, so grief barred each natural vent,
Moisture for tears, or utterance for lament.
Stiffed within, the impetuous sorrow stays,
Which would too quickly issue; so to abide
Water is seen, imprisoned in the vase,
Whose neck is narrow and whose swell is wide;
What time, when one turns up the inverted base,
Towards the mouth, so hastes the hurrying tide,
And in the streight encounters such a stop,
It scarcely works a passage, drop by drop.
He somewhat to himself returned, and thought
How possibly the thing might be untrue:
The some one (so he hoped, desired, and sought
To think) his lady would with shame pursue;
Or with such weight of jealously had wrought
To whelm his reason, as should him undo;
And that he, whosoe’er the thing had planned,
Had counterfeited passing well her hand.
With such vain hope he sought himself to cheat,
And manned some deal his spirits and awoke;
Then prest the faithful Brigliadoro’s seat,
As on the sun’s retreat his sister broke.
Nor far the warrior had pursued his beat,
Ere eddying from a roof he saw the smoke;
Heard noise of dog and kine, a farm espied,
And thitherward in quest of lodging hied.
Languid, he lit, and left his Brigliador
To a discreet attendant: one undrest
His limbs, one doffed the golden spurs he wore,
And one bore off, to clean, his iron vest.
This was the homestead where the young Medore
Lay wounded, and was here supremely blest.
Orlando here, with other food unfed,
Having supt full of sorrow, sought his bed.
The more the wretched sufferer seeks for ease,
He finds but so much more distress and pain;
Who every where the loathed hand-writing sees,
On wall, and door, and window: he would fain
Question his host of this, but holds his peace,
Because, in sooth, he dreads too clear, too plain
To make the thing, and this would rather shrowd,
That it may less offend him, with a cloud.
Little availed the count his self-deceit;
For there was one who spake of it unsought;
The sheperd-swain, who to allay the heat,
With which he saw his guest so troubled, thought:
The tale which he was wonted to repeat
— Of the two lovers — to each listener taught,
A history which many loved to hear,
He now, without reserve, ‘gan tell the peer.
How at Angelica’s persuasive prayer,
He to his farm had carried young Medore,
Grievously wounded with an arrow; where,
In little space she healed the angry sore.
But while she exercised this pious care,
Love in her heart the lady wounded more,
And kindled from small spark so fierce a fire,
She burnt all over, restless with desire:
Nor thinking she of mightiest king was born,
Who ruled in the east, nor of her heritage,
Forced by too puissant love, had thought no scorn
To be the consort of a poor foot-page.
— His story done, to them in proof was borne
The gem, which, in reward for harbourage,
To her extended in that kind abode,
Angelica, at parting, had bestowed.
A deadly axe was this unhappy close,
Which, at a single stroke, lopt off the head;
When, satiate with innumerable blows,
That cruel hangman Love his hate had fed.
Orlando studied to conceal his woes;
And yet the mischief gathered force and spread,
And would break out parforce in tears and sighs,
Would he, or would be not, from mouth and eyes.
When he can give the rein to raging woe,
Alone, by other’s presence unreprest,
From his full eyes the tears descending flow,
In a wide stream, and flood his troubled breast.
‘Mid sob and groan, he tosses to and fro
About his weary bed, in search of rest;
And vainly shifting, harder than a rock
And sharper than a nettle found its flock.
Amid the pressure of such cruel pain,
It past into the wretched sufferer’s head,
That oft the ungrateful lady must have lain,
Together with her leman, on that bed:
Nor less he loathed the couch in his disdain,
Nor from the down upstarted with less dread,
Than churl, who, when about to close his eyes,
Springs from the turf, if he a serpent spies.
In him, forthwith, such deadly hatred breed
That bed, that house, that swain, he will not stay
Till the morn break, or till the dawn succeed,
Whose twilight goes before approaching day.
In haste, Orlando takes his arms and steed,
And to the deepest greenwood wends his way.
And, when assured that he is there alone,
Gives utterance to his grief in shriek and groan.
Never from tears, never from sorrowing,
He paused; nor found he peace by night and day:
He fled from town, in forest harbouring,
And in the open air on hard earth lay.
He marvelled at himself, how such a spring
Of water from his eyes could stream away,
And breath was for so many sobs supplied;
And thus ofttimes, amid his mourning, cried.
“These are no longer real tears which rise,
And which I scatter from so full a vein.
Of tears my ceaseless sorrow lacked supplies;
They stopt when to mid-height scarce rose my pain.
The vital moisture rushing to my eyes,
Driven by the fire within me, now would gain
A vent; and it is this which I expend,
And which my sorrows and my life will end.
“No; these, which are the index of my woes,
These are not sighs, nor sighs are such; they fail
At times, and have their season of repose:
I feel, my breast can never less exhale
Its sorrow: Love, who with his pinions blows
The fire about my heart, creates this gale.
Love, by what miracle does thou contrive,
It wastes not in the fire thou keep’st alive?
“I am not — am not what I seem to sight:
What Roland was is dead and under ground,
Slain by that most ungrateful lady’s spite,
Whose faithlessness inflicted such a wound.
Divided from the flesh, I am his sprite,
Which in this hell, tormented, walks its round,
To be, but in its shadow left above,
A warning to all such as thrust in love.”
All night about the forest roved the count,
And, at the break of daily light, was brought
By his unhappy fortune to the fount,
Where his inscription young Medoro wrought.
To see his wrongs inscribed upon that mount,
Inflamed his fury so, in him was nought
But turned to hatred, phrensy, rage, and spite;
Nor paused he more, but bared his faulchion bright;
Cleft through the writing; and the solid block,
Into the sky, in tiny fragments sped.
Wo worth each sapling and the caverned rock,
Where Medore and Angelica were read!
So scathed, that they to shepherd or to flock
Thenceforth shall never furnish shade or bed.
And that sweet fountain, late so clear and pure,
From such tempestuous wrath was ill secure.
For he turf, stone, and trunk, and shoot, and lop,
Cast without cease into the beauteous source;
Till, turbid from the bottom to the top,
Never again was clear the troubled course.
At length, for lack of breath, compelled to stop,
(When he is bathed in sweat, and wasted force,
Serves not his fury more) he falls, and lies
Upon the mead, and, gazing upward, sighs.
Wearied and woe-begone, he fell to ground,
And turned his eyes toward heaven; nor spake he aught.
Nor ate, nor slept, till in his daily round
The golden sun had broken thrice, and sought
His rest anew; nor ever ceased his wound
To rankle, till it marred his sober thought.
At length, impelled by phrensy, the fourth day,
He from his limbs tore plate and mail away.
Here was his helmet, there his shield bestowed;
His arms far off; and, farther than the rest,
His cuirass; through the greenwood wide was strowed
All his good gear, in fine; and next his vest
He rent; and, in his fury, naked showed
His shaggy paunch, and all his back and breast.
And ‘gan that phrensy act, so passing dread,
Of stranger folly never shall be said.
So fierce his rage, so fierce his fury grew,
That all obscured remained the warrior’s sprite;
Nor, for forgetfulness, his sword he drew,
Or wonderous deeds, I trow, had wrought the knight:
But neither this, nor bill, nor axe to hew,
Was needed by Orlando’s peerless might.
He of his prowess gave high proofs and full,
Who a tall pine uprooted at a pull.
He many others, with as little let
As fennel, wall-wort-stem, or dill, up-tore;
And ilex, knotted oak, and fir upset,
And beech, and mountain-ash, and elm-tree hoar.
He did what fowler, ere he spreads his net,
Does, to prepare the champaigne for his lore,
By stubble, rush, and nettle-stalk; and broke,
Like these, old sturdy trees and stems of oak.
The shepherd swains, who hear the tumult nigh,
Leaving their flocks beneath the greenwood tree,
Some here some there across the forest hie,
And hurry thither, all, the cause to see.
— But I have reached such point, my history,
If I o’erpass this bound, may irksome be;
And I my story will delay to end,
Rather than by my tediousness offend.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:50