Part 12 out of 25
This while had issued from the fortress near,
With many footmen girt, Sir Pinnabel,
All ready to despoil the cavalier,
Who in the warlike joust should void is sell.
At one another spurred in bold career
The knights, with their huge lances rested well.
Up to the points nigh equal was each stick,
Of stubborn native oak, and two palms thick.
Sansonet, of such staves, above five pair
Had made them sever from the living stock,
In neighboring wood, and bade his followers bear
Two of them hither, destined for that shock:
Such truncheons to withstand, well needed-were
A shield and cuirass of the diamond rock.
One he had made them give his foe, and one
He kept himself, the present course to run.
With these which might the solid anvil bore,
(So well their ends were pointed) there and here,
Each aiming at the shield his foeman wore,
The puissant warriors shocked in mid career.
That of Rogero, wrought with magic lore,
By fiends, had little from the stroke to fear:
I of the buckler speak Atlantes made,
Of whose rare virtues I whilere have said.
I have already said, the enchanted light
Strikes with such force on the beholder's eyes,
That, at the shield's discovery, every wight
Is blinded, or on earth half lifeless lies.
Wherefore, well mantled with a veil, the knight
Keeps it, unless some passing need surprise:
Impassive is the shield as well believed,
Since it no damage in the shock received.
The other by less skilful artist wrought,
Did not so well that weightless blow abide,
But, as if smit by thunder, in a thought,
Gave way before the steel, and opened wide;
Gave way before the griding steel, which sought
The arm beneath, by this ill fortified:
So that Sir Sansonet was smote, and reeled,
In his departure, unhorsed upon the field.
And this was the first comrade of the train
That of the tower maintained the usage fell,
Who there had failed another's spoil to gain,
And voided in the joust his knightly sell.
Who laughs, as well will sometimes have to plain,
And find that Fortune will by fits rebel.
Anew the warder on his larum beats,
And to the other knights the sign repeats.
This while Sir Pinnabello had drawn near
To Bradamant, and prayed that she would shew
What warrior had his knight in the career
Smith with such prowess. That the guerdon due
To his ill deeds might wait the cavalier,
God's justice that ill-doer thither drew
On the same courser, which before the Cheat
From Bradamant had taken by deceit.
'Twas now exactly the eighth month was ended,
Since, if you recollect, upon his way,
The faithless Maganzese, with whom she wended,
Cast into Merlin's tomb the martial may;
When her a bough, which fell with her, defended
From death, or her good Fortune, rather say;
And Pinnabel bore off her courser brave,
Deeming the damsel buried in the cave.
The courser, and, through him, the cavalier,
Bradamant knew to be the wicked Count,
And, having heard him, and perused him near,
With more attentive eye and front to front --
"This is the man," (the damsel said) " 'tis clear,
Who erst designed me outrage and affront.
Lo! him the traitor's sin doth hither speed,
Of all his treasons to receive the meed."
To threaten him with vengeance, and to lay
Hands on her sword and charge him now, was done
All in a thought; but first she barred the way
By which he might his fortilage have won.
To earth himself like fox, in his dismay,
Sir Pinnabel has every hope foregone.
He screaming loud, nor ever making head
Against the damsel, through the forest fled.
Pale and dismayed his spurs the caitiff plied
Whose last hope of escape in flight was found;
While with her ready sword, Dordona's pride
Was at his flank, and prest him in his round,
Hunting him close and ever fast beside:
Loud is the uproar, and the woods resound.
Nothing of this is at the castle kenned,
For only to Rogero all attend.
The other three, who from the fortress came,
This while had issued forth upon their way,
And brought with them the ill-accustomed dame,
Who made wayfarers that ill use obey.
In all (who rather than prolong with blame
Their life, would choose to perish in the fray),
The kindling visage burns, and heart is woe,
That to assail one man so many go.
The cruel courtezan by whom was made,
And by whose hest maintained, that evil rite,
Reminds the warriors that they are arrayed
By oath and pact, to avenge her in the fight.
"If with this lance alone thy foes are laid
On earth, why should I band with other knight?"
(Guido the savage said) "and, if I lie,
Off with my head, for I consent to die."
So Aquilant, so Gryphon. For the twain
Singly against a single foe would run;
And rather would be taken, rather slain,
Than he should be assailed by more than one.
To them exclaimed the woman: "Why in vain
Waste you so many words, where fruit is none?
I brought you here that champion's arms to take,
Not other laws and other pacts to make.
"You should have offered, when in prison-cell,
This your excuse; which now too late is made.
'Tis yours the law's observance to compel,
And not with lying tongue your oath evade."
" -- Behold! the arms; behold, with a new sell
And cloth, the goodly steed!" Rogero said,
"Behold with these, as well, the damsel's vest!
If these you covet, why your course arrest?"
She of the castle presses on this side,
On that Rogero rates, and calls them on;
Till they parforce, t'wards him, together hied:
But red with shame, are to the encounter gone.
Foremost appeared 'mid those three knights of pride,
Of Burgundy's good marquis either son.
But Guido, who was borne on heavier steed,
Came at some interval, with tardier speed.
With the same lance with which he overbore
Sir Sansonet, Rogero came to fight;
Well-covered with the shield which heretofore
Atlantes used on Pyrenean height;
I say the enchanted buckler, which, too sore
For human sufferance, dazed the astonished sight:
To which Rogero, as a last resource,
In the most pressing peril had recourse.
Although three times alone the Child was fain
(And, certes sore bested) this to display;
Twice when he from the wanton Fairy's reign
Was to that soberer region on his way!
Last, when the unsated Orc upon the main,
By this astounded, 'mid the sea-foam lay;
Which would have fed upon the naked maid,
So cruel to the Child who brought her aid.
Save these three times, he has preserved the shield
Beneath its veil, but covered in such wise
That it may quickly be to sight revealed,
If he in need of its good succour lies.
With this, as said before, he came a-field
As boldly, as if those three enemies,
Who were arrayed before him, had appeared
Yet less than little children to be feared.
Rogero shocked the valiant Gryphon, where
The border of the buckler joined the sight,
Who seemed as he would fall, now here, now there,
And, from his courser far, last fell outright.
He at the shield had aimed, but smote not fair
The mark; and (for Rogero's orb was bright
And smooth) the hissing weapon slipt, and wrought
Other effect than was in Gryphon's thought.
It rent and tore the veil which served to hide
The lightning's fearful and enchanted rays;
Which, without blinded eyes, can none abide
Upright, nor refuge is for them who gaze.
Aquilant, who was at his brother's side,
Tore off the rest, and made the buckler blaze:
The splendour struck the valiant brothers blind,
And Guido in their rear, who spurred behind.
These here, or there, to earth astonished reel;
Nor eyes alone are dazzled by the light,
But every sense astounds the flaming steel.
Unconscious of the issue of the fight,
Rogero turned his horse, and, in the wheel,
Handled his sword, so good to thrust and smite;
And none descried his fury to oppose;
For in the charge dismounted were his foes.
The knights, together with the footmen all,
And women, who had from the castle hied,
Nor less the coursers panting with their fall,
As if about to die, the warrior spied.
He wondered first, and next perceived the pall
Of silk was handing down on the left side;
I say the pall, in which he used to lap
His shield, the evil cause of that mishap.
He quickly turns, and, turning, rolls his eyes,
In hopes to view his well-loved martial maid;
And thitherward, without delay, he hies
Where, when the joust began, the damsel stayed.
Not finding her, it is the Child's surmise
That she is gone to bear the stripling aid;
Fearing he may be burnt, while they their journey
So long delay, retarded by that tourney.
He saw the damsel, stretched among the rest
Who him had thither guided: as she lay,
He took and placed her, yet with sleep opprest,
Before him, and, sore troubled, rode away.
He with a mantle, which above her vest
She wore, concealed the enchanted buckler's ray:
And to the maid restored, when 'twas concealed,
Her senses, which were ravished by the shield.
Away Rogero posted with the dame,
And did not date his crimsoned visage raise;
Since every one, it seemed to him, might blame
With right that victory, worthy little praise.
"By what amends can I of such a shame
(The blushing warrior said) the stain eraze?
For 'twill be bruited, all my deeds by sleight
Of magic have been done, and not by might."
As, thinking thus, he journeyed on his way,
Rogero stumbled upon what he sought;
For, in the middle of the track, there lay
A well, within the ground profoundly wrought:
Whither the thirsty herd, at noon of day,
Repaired, their paunches with green forage fraught.
Rogero said, " 'Tis now, must I provide,
I shame from thee, O shield, no more abide.
"Thee will I keep no more, and this shall be
Even the last shame which so on me is thrown:"
The Child, so ending his self-colloquy,
Dismounting, takes a large and heavy stone;
Which to the shield he ties, and bodily
Both to the bottom of the well are gone.
"Lie buried there for ever, from all eyes,
And with thee hidden be my shame!" he cries.
Filled to the brim with water was the well;
Heavy the stone, and heavy was the shield;
Nor stopt they till they to the bottom fell,
By the light, liquid element concealed.
Fame was not slow the noble act to swell,
But, wandering wide, the deed in brief revealed,
And voicing it abroad, with trumpet-sound,
Told France and Spain and all the countries round.
When that so strange adventure to the rest
Of the wide world, from mouth to mouth was blown,
Knights out of number undertook the quest,
From neighbouring parts and distant; but unknown
To all remained the forest which possessed
The spring wherein the virtuous shield was thrown:
For she who told the action, would not say
Where was the well, nor in what land it lay.
Upon Rogero's parting thence, where fell
The four good champions of that evil law,
Made by the castle's lord Sir Pinnabel,
By him discomfited like men of straw,
-- The shield withdrawn -- he had removed as well
The light, which quelled their sight and minds who saw;
And those, who, like dead men, on earth had lain,
Had risen, full of wonderment, again.
Nor any thing throughout that livelong day
They 'mid themselves but that strange case relate;
And how it was in that disastrous fray
Each by the horrid light was quelled, debate.
While these, discoursing, of the adventure say,
Tidings are brought of Pinnabello's fate.
That Pinnabel is dead the warriors hear,
But learn not who had slain the cavalier.
Bradamant in close pass, this while, had staid
The faithless Pinnabel, and sorely prest;
And many times had buried half her blade
Within bleeding flanks and heaving breast.
When of his crimes the forfeit had been paid
By him, the infected country's curse and pest,
She from the conscious forest turned away
With that good steed the thief had made his prey.
She would return where she had left the knight,
But never could make out the road anew;
And now by valley, now by mountain-height,
Wandered well-nigh the ample country through.
Yet could she never (such her fortune's spite)
Find out the way to join Rogero true.
Him in another canto I attend
Who loves the tale, to hear my story's end.
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 to-day;
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.
Odorico's and Gabrina's guilt repaid,
Youthful Zerbino sets at large the train;
He in defence of good Orlando's blade,
Is afterwards by Mandricardo slain.
Isabel weeps; by Rodomont is made
War on the Tartar king, and truce again,
To succour Agramant and his array;
Who to the lilies are well-nigh a prey.
Let him make haste his feet to disengage,
Nor lime his wings, whom Love has made a prize;
For love, in fine, is nought but phrensied rage,
By universal suffrage of the wise:
And albeit some may show themselves more sage
Than Roland, they but sin in other guise.
For, what proves folly more than on this shelf,
Thus, for another, to destroy oneself?
Various are love's effects; but from one source
All issue, though they lead a different way.
He is, as 'twere, a forest, where parforce
Who enter its recess go astray;
And here and there pursue their devious course:
In sum, to you I, for conclusion, say;
He who grows old in love, besides all pain
Which waits such passion, well deserves a chain.
One here may well reproach me: "Brother, thou
Seest not thy faults, while thou dost others fit."
-- I answer that I see mine plain enow,
In this my lucid interval of wit;
And strive and hope withal I shall forego
This dance of folly; but yet cannot quit,
As quickly as I would, the faults I own;
For my disease has reached the very bone.
I in the other canto said before,
Orlando, furious and insensate wight,
Having torn off the arms and vest he wore,
And cast away from him his faulchion bright,
And up-torn trees, and made the forest hoar
And hollow cave resound, and rocky height,
Towards the noise some shepherds, on that side,
Their heavy sins or evil planets guide.
Viewing the madman's wonderous feats more near,
The frighted band of rustics turned and fled;
But they, in their disorder, knew not where,
As happens oftentimes in sudden dread.
The madman in a thought is in their rear,
Seizes a shepherd, and plucks off his head;
And this as easily as one might take
Apple from tree, or blossom from the brake.
He by one leg the heavy trunk in air
Upheaved, and made a mace the rest to bray.
Astounded, upon earth he stretched one pair,
Who haply may awake at the last day.
The rest, who well awake at the last day.
The rest, who well advised and nimble are,
At once desert the field and scour away:
Nor had the madman their pursuit deferred,
Had he not turned already on their herd.
By such examples warned, the rustic crew
Abandoned in the fields pick, scythe, and plough,
And to the roof of house and temple flew,
(For ill secure was elm or willow's bough,)
From hence the maniac's horrid rage they view;
Who, dealing kick, and bite, and scratch, and blow,
Horses and oxen slew, his helpless prey;
And well the courser ran who 'scaped that day.
Already might'st thou hear how loudly ring
The hubbub and the din, from neighbouring farms,
Outcry and horn, and rustic trumpeting;
And faster sound of bells; with various arms
By thousands, with spontoon, bow, spit, and sling.
Lo! from the hills the rough militia swarms.
As many peasants from the vale below,
To make rude war upon the madman go,
As beats the wave upon the salt-sea shore,
Sportive at first, which southern wind has stirred,
When the next, bigger than what went before,
And bigger than the second, breaks the third;
And the vext water waxes evermore,
And louder on the beach the surf is heard:
The crowd, increasing so, the count assail,
And drop from mountain and ascend from dale.
Twice he ten peasants slaughtered in his mood,
Who, charging him in disarray, were slain;
And this experiment right clearly showed
To stand aloof was safest for the train.
Was none who from his body could draw blood;
For iron smote the impassive skin in vain.
So had heaven's King preserved the count from scathe,
To make him guardian of his holy faith.
He would have been in peril on that day,
Had he been made of vulnerable mould;
And might have learned was 'twas to cast away
His sword, and, weaponless, so play the bold.
The rustic troop retreated from the fray,
Seeing no stroke upon the madman told.
Since him no other enemy attends,
Orlando to a neighbouring township wends.
Since every one had left the place for dread,
No wight he found within it, small or great:
But here was homely food in plenty spread,
Victual, well sorting with the pastoral state.
Here, acorns undistinguishing from bread,
By tedious fast and fury driven to sate
His hunger, he employed his hand and jaw
On what he first discovered, cooked or raw.
Thence, repossest with the desire to rove,
He, through the land, did man and beast pursue;
And scowering, in his phrensy, wood and grove,
Took sometimes goat or doe of dappled hue:
Often with bear and with wild boar he strove,
And with his naked hand the brutes o'erthrew;
And gorging oftentimes the savage fare,
Swallowed the prey with all its skin and hair.
Now right, now left, he wandered, far and wide,
Throughout all France, and reached a bridge one day;
Beneath which ran an ample water's tide,
Of steep and broken banks: a turret gray
Was builded by the spacious river's side,
Discerned, from far and near, and every way.
What here he did I shall relate elsewhere,
Who first must make the Scottish prince my care.
When Roland had departed on his quest,
Zerbino paused some deal; then, in his rear,
Slowly his steed by the same path addrest,
Which had been taken by Anglantes' peer;
Nor two miles on his way, I think, had prest,
When he beheld a captive cavalier,
Upon a sorry, little, hackney tied,
And by armed horseman watched on either side.
Zerbino speedily the prisoner knew,
And Isabel, as soon, when nigh surveyed.
This was Sir Odoric, the Biscayan, who,
Like wolf, the guardian of a lamb was made:
To whom, of all his friends esteemed most true,
Zerbino Isabella had conveyed;
Hoping, one hitherto by him found just,
Would now, as ever, have approved his trust.
Even then how all had chanced, with punctual lore,
Was Isabel relating to the knight;
How in the pinnace she was saved, before
The broken vessel sank at sea outright;
Odoric's assault; and next, how bandits bore
Her to the cavern, in a mountain dight.
Nor Isabella yet her tale has told,
When bound the malefactor they behold.
The two that had Sir Odoric in their ward,
The royal damsel Isabella knew;
And deemed he was her lover and her lord,
That pricked beside the lady, fair of hue.
More; that the bearings on his shield record
The honours of the stem from which he grew;
And found, as better they observed his cheer,
They had judged rightly of the cavalier.
Lighting, with open arms and hurried pace,
They make towards Zerbino eagerly,
And, kneeling, with bare head, the prince embrace,
Where lord is clipt by one of less degree.
Zerbino, looking either in the face,
Knows one Corebo of Biscay to be,
And Sir Almonio, his co-mate; the pair
Charged, under Odoric, with the galley's care.
Almonio cried, "Since God is pleased in the end,
Grammercy! Isabel should be with you;
My lord, I very clearly comprehend
I should deliver tidings, nothing new,
If I should now inform you why I wend
With this offender, whom with me you view.
Since she, who at his hands has suffered worst,
The story of his crimes will have rehearsed.
"How me that traitour duped thou hast not to learn,
What time he rid himself of me, nor how
Corebo, who would have avenged the scorn,
Intended to the damsel, was laid low;
But that which followed, upon my return,
By her unseen or heard, she cannot know,
So as to thee the story to have told;
The sequel of it then will I unfold.
"I seaward from the city, with a store
Of nags, collected in a hurry, fare;
Aye watchful, if the trace I can explore
Of those left far behind me; I repair
Thitherward; I arrive upon the shore,
The place where they were left; look everywhere;
Nor sign of them perceive upon that strand,
Except some steps, new-printed on the sand.
"The steps I traced into the forest drear;
Nor far within the greenwood had I wound,
When guided by a noise which smote my ear,
I saw my comrade bleeding on the ground:
Of Isabel I asked the cavalier,
Of Odoric, and what hand had dealt his wound;
And thence departed, when the thing I knew,
Seeking the wretch these precipices through.
"Wide circling still I go, and through that day
I find no other sign of him that fled;
At length return to where Corebo lay,
Who had the ground about him dyed so red,
That he, had I made little more delay,
A grave would have required, and, more than bed
And succour of the leech, to make him sound,
Craved priest and friar to lay him in the ground.
"I had him to the neighbouring city brought,
And boarded with a friendly host; and there
Corebo's cure in little time was wrought,
Beneath an old chirurgeon's skilful care.
This finished, having arms and horses brought,
We thence together to the court repair
Of King Alphonso of Biscay; where I
Find out the traitor, and to fight defy.
"The monarch's justice, who fair field and free
Allowed us for the duel, and my right,
And Destiny to boot (for Destiny
Oftener makes conquest where she listeth, light)
So backed my arms, that felon was by me
Worsted, and made a prisoner in the fight.
Alphonso, having heard his guilt confessed,
Bade me dispose of him as liked me best.
"Him would I neither loose, nor yet have slain,
But, as thou seest, in bonds to thee convey:
That whether he should be condemned to pain,
Or death, it should be thine his doom to say.
I, hearing thou wert with King Charlemagne,
Thither, in hope to find thee, took my way.
I thank my God, that thee upon this ground,
Where I least hoped to meet thee, I have found.
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