Part 19 out of 25
As soon as reappears the dawning day,
Towards fair Provence, whither (as she hears)
King Charlemagne pursues, her way she steers.
She towards Provence, by the nearest road,
So journeying, met a maid of mournful air;
Who, though her cheeks with tears were overflowed,
Was yet of visage and of manners fair.
She was it, so transfixed with Love's keen goad,
Who sighed for Monodante's valiant heir,
Who at the bridge had left her lord a thrall,
When with King Rodomont he tried a fall.
She sought one of an otter's nimbleness,
By water and by land, a cavalier
So fierce, that she that champion -- to redress
Her wrongs -- might match against the paynim peer.
When good Rogero's lady, comfortless,
To that fair dame, as comfortless, drew near,
Her she saluted courteously, and next
Demanded by what sorrow she was vext.
Flordelice marked the maid, that, in her sight,
Appeared a warrior fitted for her needs;
And of the bridge and river 'gan recite,
Where Argier's mighty king the road impedes;
And how he had gone nigh to slay her knight;
Not that more doughty were the monarch's deeds;
But that the wily paynim vantage-ground
In that streight bridge and foaming river found.
"Are you (she said) so daring and so kind,
As kind and daring you appear in show,
Venge me of him that has my lord confined,
And makes me wander thus, opprest with woe,
For love of Heaven; or teach me where to find
At least a knight who can resist the foe,
And of such skill that little boot shall bring
His bridge and river to the pagan king.
"Besides that so you shall achieve an end,
Befitting courteous man and cavalier,
You will employ your valour to befriend
The faithfullest of lovers far and near.
His other virtues I should ill commend,
So many and so many, that whoe'er
Knoweth not these, may well be said to be
One without ears to hear or eyes to see."
The high-minded maid, to whom aye welcome are
All noble quests, by which she worthily
May hope a great and glorious name to bear,
Straight to the paynim's bridge resolves to hie;
And now so much the more -- as in despair --
Wends willingly, although it were to die:
In that she, ever with herself at strife,
Deeming Rogero lost, detested life.
"O loving damsel (she made answer), I
Offer mine aid, for such as 'tis, to do
The hard and dread adventure, passing by
Causes beside that move me, most that you
A matter of your lover testify,
Which I, in sooth, hear warranted of few;
That he is constant; for i'faith I swear,
I well believed all lovers perjured were."
With these last words a sigh that damsel drew,
A sigh which issued from her heart; then said:
"Go we"; and, with the following sun, those two
At the deep stream arrived and bridge of dread:
-- Seen of the guard, that on his bugle blew
A warning blast, when strangers thither sped --
The pagan arms him, girds his goodly brand,
And takes upon the bridge his wonted stand;
And as the maid appears in martial scale,
The moody monarch threatens her to slay,
Unless her goodly courser and her mail,
As an oblation to the tomb she pay.
Fair Bradamant who knew the piteous tale,
How murdered by him Isabella lay,
The story gentle Flordelice had taught;
Replied in answer to that paynim haught.
"Wherefore, O brutish man, for your misdeed
Should penance by the innocent be done?
'Tis fitting to appease her you should bleed;
You killed her, and to all the deed is known.
So that, of trophied armour or of weed
Of those so many, by your lance o'erthrown,
Your armour should the blest oblation be,
And you the choicest victim, slain by me;
"And dearer shall the gift be from my hand;
Since I a woman am, as she whilere;
Nor save to venge her have I sought this strand;
In this desire alone I hither steer:
But first, 'tis good some pact we understand,
Before we prove our prowess with the spear:
You shall do by me, if o'erthrown, what you
By other prisoners have been wont to do.
"But if, as I believe and trust, you fall,
I will your horse and armour have (she cried),
And taking down all others from the wall,
Hang on the tomb alone those arms of pride;
And will that you release each warlike thrall."
-- "The pact is just (King Rodomont replied),
But those, my prisoners, are not here confined,
And therefore cannot be to you consigned.
"These have I sent into mine Africk reign;
But this I promise thee, and pledge my fay;
If, by strange fortune, thou thy seat maintain,
And I shall be dismounted in the fray;
Delivered, all, shall be the captive train,
Within what time suffices to convey
An order thither, that they our of hand
'Should do what thou, if conqueror, may'st command.
"But art thou undermost, as fitter were,
And, as thou surely wilt be, I from thee
Not therefore will thy forfeit armour tear,
Nor shall thy name inscribed, as vanquished, be.
To thy bright face, bright eyes, and beauteous hair,
All breathing love and grace, the victory
Will I resign; let it suffice that thou
Then stoop to love me, as thou hatest now.
"To fall by me thou needest not disdain;
I with such strength, such nerve am fortified."
Somedeal she smiled; but smiled in bitter vein;
Savouring of anger more than aught beside.
She spake not to that haughty man again,
To the bridge-end returned the damsel, plied
Her courser with the rowels, couched her spear,
And rode to meet the furious cavalier.
King Rodomont prepares his course to run;
Comes on at speed; and with such mighty sound
Echoes that bridge, the thundering noise might stun
The ears of many distant from the ground.
The golden lance its wonted work has done;
For that fierce Moor, in tourney so renowned,
This from the saddle lifts, in air suspends,
Then headlong on the narrow bridge extends.
Scarce for her horse the martial damsel can
Find space to pass, when she has thrown her foe;
And little lacked, and mighty risque she ran
Of falling into that deep stream below:
But, born of wind and flame, good Rabican
So dextrous was, and could so lightly go,
He picked a path along the outer ledge,
And could have paced upon a faulchion's edge.
The damsel wheeled, towards the cavalier
Returned, and him bespoke in sportive way;
"Who is the loser now to thee is clear,
And who is undermost in this assay."
Silent remained the monarch of Argier,
Amazed, that woman him on earth should lay.
He cannot, or he will not speak; and lies
On earth, like one astound, in idiot guise.
Silent and sad, he raised himself from ground,
And when he some few paces thence had gone,
His shield unbraced and helm and mail unbound,
He flung against the tomb; and thence, alone,
Afoot the moody monarch left that ground:
Yet not till he had given command to one
(Of his four squires was he) to do his hest
Relating to those captives, as exprest.
He parts; and save that in a caverned cell
He dwelt, no further news of him were known:
Meanwhile the harness of that infidel
Bradamant hung upon the lofty stone;
And having thence removed all plate and shell
Wherewith (as by the writing it was shown)
The cavaliers of Charles their limbs had drest,
She moved not, nor let other move, the rest.
Besides the arms of Monodantes' heir
Were those of Sansonet and Olivier,
Who, bound in search of good Orlando, were
Thither conducted by the road most near.
The day before here taken was the pair,
And sent by that proud paynim to Argier:
These warriors' arms the martial maid bade lower
From that fair tomb, and stored them in the tower.
All others, taken from the paynim train,
Bradamant left suspended from the stone;
Mid these a king's, that idly and in vain,
Had thither, seeking Frontalatte, gone:
I say his arms, that ruled Circassia's reign;
Who, after wandering long, by date and down,
Here to his grief another courser left,
And lightly went his way, of arms bereft.
Stript of his armour and afoot, did part
That paynim monarch from the bridge of dread;
As Rodomont permitted to depart
Those other knights that in his faith were bred:
But to his camp to wend he had no heart,
For there he was ashamed to show his head:
Since, in such fashion, thither to return
After his boasts, had been too foul a scorn.
Yet still with new desire the warrior burned
To seek her, fixed alone in his heart's core;
And such the monarch's chance, he quickly learned
(I cannot tell you who the tidings bore)
She was towards her native land returned.
Hence, as Love spurs and goads him evermore,
He bowns him straight her footsteps to pursue:
But I to Bradamant return anew.
When she in other writing had displaid
How she had freed that passage from the foe,
To mournful Flordelice the martial maid,
She that still held her weeping visage low,
Turned her, and courteously that lady prayed
To tell her whither she designed to go.
To her afflicted Flordelice replied:
"To Arles, where camp the paynims, would I ride.
"Which bark (I hope) and fitting company,
To carry me to Africk may afford;
Nor will I halt upon my way, till I
Once more rejoin my husband and my lord;
All means and measures there resolved to try,
That may release him from his jailer's ward;
And should the Saracen deceitful prove,
Others, and others yet, I mean to move."
"My company (replied the martial fair)
For some part of the road, I offer thee,
Till we have sight of Arles; then to repair
Thither, will pray you, for the love of me,
To find King Agramant's Rogero there,
Whose glorious name is spread o'er land and sea,
And render to that knight this goodly horse,
Whence the proud Moor was flung in martial course.
"Say thus, from point to point, `A cavalier
That would in combat prove his chivalry,
And to the world at large would fain make clear
Thy breach of faith with him, that thou may'st be
Ready and well prepared for the career,
Gave me this horse, that I might give it thee.
He bids thee promptly mail and corslet dight,
And wait him, who with thee will wage the fight.'
"Say this and nought beside, and would he hear
My name, declare that 'tis to thee unknown."
With wonted kindness cried that dame, "I ne'er
In spending life itself, not words alone,
Should weary in your service; since whilere
You would in my behalf as much have done."
Her Aymon's daughter thanked in courteous strain,
And to her hand consigned Frontino's rein.
Through long days' journey, by that river-shore,
Together go the lovely pilgrim pair,
Till they see Arles, and hear the hollow roar.
Of billows breaking on the sea-beach bare.
Almost without the suburbs, and before
The furthest barrier, stops the martial fair;
To furnish Flordelice what time might need
For the conveyance of Rogero's steed.
She forward rode, within the enclosure sped,
And o'er the bridge and through the gateway wended,
And (furnished with a guide, who thither led)
To young Rogero's inn; and there descended.
She to the Child, as bid, her message said,
And gave the courser, to her care commended:
Then (for she waits not for an answer) speeds
In haste to execute her proper needs.
Rogero stands confused; he finds no end
To his perplexing thoughts, and cannot see
Who should defy him, who that message send,
To speak him ill, and do him courtesy.
Who thus as faithless him should reprehend,
Or any reprehend, whoe'er it be,
Nor knows he nor imagines; least of all
On Bradamant the knight's suspicions fall.
To think 'twas Rodomont the youthful peer
Was more inclined than any other wight;
And wherefore even from him he this should hear,
Muses, nor can the cause divine aright;
Save him, in all the world the cavalier
Knows not of one, that has him at despite.
Meanwhile Dordona's lady craved the field;
And loud that martial damsel's bugle pealed.
To Agramant and King Marsilius flew
The news, that one craved battle on the plain.
Serpentine stood by chance before the two,
And gained their leave to don his plate and chain,
And vowed to take that haughty man; the crew
Of people over wall and rampart strain;
Nor child nor elder was there, but he pressed
To see which champion should bestir him best.
In beauteous arms and costly surcoat drest,
Serpentine of the star to combat sped;
The ground he at the first encounter prest;
As if equipt with wings, his courser fled.
The damsel flew his charger to arrest,
And by the bride to that paynim led,
Exclaiming: "Mount, and bid your monarch send
A knight that better can with me contend."
The Moorish king, that on the rampart's height
Stood, with a mighty following, next the plain,
Marking the joust, much marvelled at the sight
Of the foe's courtesy to him of Spain.
"He takes him not, although he may of right,"
He cries i' the hearing of the paynim train.
Serpentine comes, and, as the maid commands,
A better warrior of that king demands.
Grandonio de Volterna, fierce of mood,
And in all Spain the proudest cavalier,
The second for that fell encounter stood,
Such favour had his suit obtained whilere.
"To thee thy courtesy shall do no good,"
He threats, "for if unhorsed in the career
A prisoner to my lord shalt thou be led:
But, if I fight as wonted, thou art dead."
She cries, "I would not thy discourtesy
Should make me so forget my courteous vein,
But that aforehand I should caution thee
Back to thy fortress to return again,
Ere on hard earth thy bones shall battered be.
Go tell thy king no champion of thy grain
I seek, but hither come to crave the fight
With warrior that is worthy of my might."
Bradamant's sharp and stinging answer stirred
The paynim's fury to a mighty flame;
So that, without the power to speak a word,
He wheeled his courser, filled with rage and shame;
Wheeling as well, at that proud paynim spurred
Her horse with levelled lance the warlike dame.
As the charmed weapon smites Grandonio's shield,
With heels in air, he tumbles on the field.
To him the high-minded damsel gave his horse,
And said, "Yet was this fate to thee foreshown,
Instead of craving thus the knightly course,
Better mine embassy wouldst thou have done.
Some other knight, that equals me in force,
I pray thee bid the Moorish king send down,
Nor weary me, by forcing me to meet
Champions like thee, untried in martial feat."
They on the walls, that know not who the peer
That in the joust so well maintains his seat,
Name many a warrior, famous in career,
That often make them shake in fiercest heat.
Brandimart many deem the cavalier;
More guesses in renowned Rinaldo meet;
Many would deem Orlando was the knight,
But that they knew his pitiable plight.
The third encounter craved Lanfusa's son,
And cried, "Not that I better hope to fare,
But that to warriors who this course have run,
My fall may furnish an excuse more fair."
Next, with all arms that martial jousters don,
Clothed him, and of a hundred steeds that were
Ready for service, kept in lordly stall,
For speed and action chose the best of all.
He bowned him for the tournay, on his side
But first saluted her and she the knight.
"If 'tis allowed to ask," (the lady cried,)
"Tell me in courtesy how ye are hight."
In this Ferrau the damsel satisfied,
Who rarely hid himself form living wight.
"Ye will I not refuse," (subjoined the dame)
"Albeit I to meet another came."
-- "And who?" the Spaniard said; -- the maid replied,
"Rogero"; and pronounced the word with pain.
And, in so saying, her fair face was dyed
All over with the rose's crimson grain.
She after added, "Hither have I hied,
To prove how justly famed his might and main.
No other care have I, no other call,
But with that gentle youth to try a fall."
She spoke the word in all simplicity,
Which some already may in malice wrest.
Ferrau replied, "Assured I first must be
Which of us two is schooled in warfare best,
If what has chanced to many, falls on me,
Hither, when I return, shall be addrest,
To mend my fault, that gentle cavalier,
With whom you so desire to break a spear."
Discoursing all this while, the martial maid
Spake with her beavor up, without disguise:
Ferrau, as that fair visage he surveyed,
Perceived he was half vanquished by its eyes.
And to himself, in under tone, he said,
"He seems an angel sent from Paradise;
And, though he should not harm me with his lance,
I am already quelled by that sweet glance."
They take their ground, and to the encounter ride,
And, like those others, Ferrau goes to ground;
His courser Bradamant retained, and cried,
"Return, and keep thy word with me as bound."
Shamed, he returned, and by his monarch's side,
Among his peers, the young Rogero found;
And let the stripling know the stranger knight,
Without the walls, defied him to the fight.
Rogero (for not yet that warrior knows
What champion him in duel would assail)
Nigh sure of victory, with transport glows,
And bids his followers bring his plate and mail;
Nor having seen beneath those heavy blows
The rest dismounted, makes his spirit quail.
But how he armed, how sallied, what befell
That knight, in other canto will I tell.
While with the fierce Marphisa at despite
Duke Aymon's daughter wages fierce affray,
One and the other host engage in fight.
With Bradamant Rogero wends his way.
With other war disturbs their great delight
Marphisa bold; but when that martial may
Has for her brother recognized the peer,
They end their every strife with joyous cheer.
Where'er they be, all hearts of gentle strain
Still cannot choose but courtesy pursue;
For they from nature and from habit gain
What they henceforth can never more undo.
Alike the heart that is of churlish vein,
Where'er it be, its evil kind will shew.
Nature inclines to ill, through all her range,
And use is second nature, hard to change.
Among the warriors of antiquity
Much gentleness and courtesy appear,
Virtues but seldom seen with us; while we
Of evil ways, on all sides, see and hear.
Hippolytus, when you, with ensignry
Won from the foe, and with his captive gear
Adorned our temples; and his galleys bore,
Laden with prey, to your paternal shore;
All the inhuman deeds which wrought by hand
Of Moor, or Turk, or Tartar ever were,
(Yet not by the Venetians' ill command,
That evermore the praise of justice bear,)
Were practised by that foul and evil band
Of soldiers, who their mercenaries are.
Of those so many fires not now I tell
Which on our farms and pleasant places fell.
Though a foul vengeance in that blow was meant
Mainly at you, who being at Caesar's side,
When Padua by his leaguering host was pent,
'Twas known, that oft, through you, was turned aside
More than one ravening flame, and oft was spent
The fire, in fane and village blazing wide:
What time the destined mischief ye withstood,
As to your inborn courtesy seemed good.
This will I pass, nor their so many more
Discourteous and despiteous doings tell,
Save one alone, whereat from rock-stone hoar
Whene'er the tale is told warm tears might well.
That day you sent your family before,
Thither, my lord, where, under omens fell,
Your foes into a well protected seat,
Abandoning their barks, had made retreat.
As Hector and Aeneas, mid the flood,
Fire to the banded fleet of Greece applied,
I Hercules and Alexander viewed,
Urged by too sovereign ardour, side by side,
Spurring before all others in their mood,
Even within the hostile ramparts ride;
And prick so far, the second 'scaped with pain,
And on the foremost closed the opposing train.
Feruffine 'scaped, the good Cantelmo left,
What counsel, Sora's duke, was thine, what heart,
When thy bold son thou saw'st, of helm bereft,
Amid a thousand swords, when -- dragged apart --
Thou saw'st his young head from his shoulders cleft,
A shipboard, on a plank? I, on my part,
Marvel, that seeing but the murder done,
Slew thee not, as the faulchion slew thy son.
Cruel Sclavonian! say, whence hast thou brought
Thy ways of warfare? By what Scythian rite
To slay the helpless prisoner is it taught,
Who yields his arms, nor fends himself in fight?
Was it a crime he for his country fought?
Ill upon thee the sun bestows his light.
Remorseless aera, which hast filled the page
With Atreus', Tantalus', Thyestes' rage!
Barbarian! thou madest shorter by the head
The boldest of his age, on whom did beam
The sun 'twixt pole and pole, 'twixt Indus' bed
And where he sinks in Ocean's western stream;
Whose years and beauty might have pity bred
In Anthropophagus, in Polypheme;
Not thee; that art in wickedness outdone
By any Cyclops, any Lestrigon.
I ween, mid warriors in the days of yore,
No such example was; they all, in field,
Were full of gentleness and courteous lore,
Nor against conquered foe their bosom steeled.
Not only gentle Bradamant forbore
To harm the knights whom, smitten on the shield,
Her lance unhorsed; but for the vanquished crew
Detained their steeds, that they might mount anew.
I of that lady fair, of mickle might,
Told you above, how she had overthrown
Serpentine of the Star in single fight,
Grandonio and Ferrau, and then upon
Their coursers had replaced each baffled knight.
I told moreover how the third was gone
Rogero to defy to the career,
Upon her call, who seemed a cavalier.
Rogero heard the call in joyous vein,
And bade his arms be brought; now while in view
Of Agramant he donned the plate and chain,
Those lords the former question moved anew;
Who was the knight, that on the martial plain
The manage of the lance so quaintly knew?
And of Ferrau, who spake with him whilere,
Craved, if to him was known that cavalier.
"Be ye assured," to them Ferrau replied,
"He is not one of those I hear you cite
To me (for I his open face descried).
Rinaldo's youthful brother seemed the knight.
But since his doughty valour I have tried,
And wot not such is Richardetto's might,
I ween it is his sister, who, I hear,
Resembles much in mien that martial peer.
"The damsel equals well, so Rumour tells,
Rinaldo, and every paladin in fray.
But brother she and cousin both excels,
Measured by that which I have seen to-day."
Hearing him, while upon her praise he dwells,
As the sky reddens with the morning ray,
Rogero's face is flushed with crimson hue,
And his heart throbs, nor knows he what to do.
Stung, at these tidings, by the amorous dart --
Within, new fire inflames the cavalier;
And strait, together with the burning smart,
Shoots through his bones a chill, produced by fear;
Fear, that new wrath had stifled in her heart
That mighty love, wherewith she burned whilere.
Confused he stands, irresolute and slow,
And undecided if to stay or go.
Now fierce Marphisa, who was there, and prest
By huge desire to meet the stranger wight,
And armed withal (for, save in iron vest,
Her seldom would you find by day or night).
Hearing Rogero is in armour drest,
Fearing to lose the honour of the fight,
If first that champion with the stranger vies;
Thinks to prevent the youth and win the prize.
She leapt upon her horse, and thither hied
Where Aymon's daughter on the listed plain,
With palpitating heart, upon her side,
Waited Rogero; whom the damsel fain
Would make her prisoner, and but schemed to guide
Her lance in mode the stripling least to pain.
Marphisa from the city portal fares,
And on her gallant helm a phoenix wears.
Whether the maid would publish, in her pride,
That she was single in the world, for might;
Or whether by that symbol signified,
That she would live, exempt from bridal rite.
Her closely Aymon's martial daughter eyed;
When seeing not those features, her delight,
She craves the damsel's name before they move,
And hears that it is she who joys her love:
Or rather she, that gentle lady thought,
Had joyed her love; and whom she hated so,
Her to Death's door her anger would have brought,
Unless she venged her sorrow on the foe.
She wheeled her courser round, with fury fraught,
Less with desire to lay her rival low,
Than with the lance to pierce her in mid breast,
And put her every jealousy at rest.
Parforce to ground must go the royal maid,
To prove it hard or soft the listed plain,
And be with such unwonted scorn appaid,
That she is nearly maddened by disdain.
Scarce was she thrown, before her trenchant blade
She bared, and hurried to avenge the stain.
Cried Aymon's daughter, no less proud of heart,
"What art thou doing? Thou my prisoner art."
"Though I have courtesy for others, none"
(She said) "from me, Marphisa, shalt thou find.
Since evermore I hear of thee, as one
To pride and every churlishness inclined."
Marphisa, at these words, was heard to groan,
As roars in some sea-rock the prisoned wind.
She screamed an answer; but its sense was drowned
(Such rage confused that damsel) in the sound.
She whirls this while her faulchion, and would fain
Wound horse or rider in the paunch or breast;
But Aymon's watchful daughter turns the rein;
And on one side her courser leaps; possest
With furious anger and with fierce disdain,
She at her opposite her lance addrest;
And hardly touched the damsel, ere, astound,
Marphisa fell, reversed upon the ground.
Scarce down, Marphisa started from the plain,
Intent fell mischief with her sword to do,
Bradamant couched her golden spear again,
And yet again the damsel overthrew.
Yet Bradamant, though blest with might and main,
Was not so much the stronger of the two
As to have flung the maid in every just,
But that such power was in the lance's thrust.
This while some knights (some knights upon our side,
I say) forth issuing from the city, go
Towards the field of strife, which did divide
The squadrons, here and there, of either foe
-- Not half a league of one another wide --
Seeing their knight such mighty prowess show;
Their knight, but whom no otherwise they knew
Than as a warrior of the Christian crew.
Troyano's generous son, who had espied
This band approaching to the city-wall,
For due defence would every means provide,
And every peril, every case forestall:
And orders many to take arms, who ride
Forth from the ramparts, at the monarch's call.
With them Rogero goes, in armour cased,
Balked of the battle by Marphisa's haste.
The enamoured youth, with beating heart, intent,
Stood by, the issue of the just to view.
For his dear cousin fearing the event,
In that he well Marphisa's valour knew;
-- At the beginning I would say -- when, bent
On mischief, fiercely closed the furious two:
But when that duel's turn the stripling eyes,
He stands amazed and stupid with surprize;
And when he saw unfinished was the fight,
At the first onset, like the justs whilere,
Misdoubting some strange accident, in sprite,
Sore vexed, this while remained the cavalier.
To either maid wished well that youthful knight;
For both were loved, but not alike were dear.
For this the stripling's love was fury, fire;
For that 'twas rather fondness than desire.
If so Rogero could with honour do,
He willingly the warriors would divide;
But his companions, in the fear to view
Victory with King Charles's knight abide,
Esteeming him the better of the two,
Break in between and turn their arms aside;
Upon the other part, the Christian foes
Advance, and both divisions come to blows.
On this side and that other, rings the alarm,
Which in those camps is sounded every day,
Bidding the unmounted mount, the unarmed arm,
And all their standards seek, without delay,
Where, under separate flags, the squadrons swarm,
More than one shrilling trump is heard to bray;
And as their rattling notes the riders call,
Rousing the foot, beat drum and ataball.
As fierce as thought could think, 'twixt either host
Kindled the fell and sanguinary fray.
The daring damsel, fair Dordona's boast,
Sore vexed and troubled, that in the affray
She cannot compass what she covets most,
-- Marphisa with avenging steel to slay, --
Now here, not there, amid the medley flies,
Hoping to see the youth for whom she sighs.
By the eagle argent on the shield of blue
She recognized Rogero, mid the rest.
With eyes and thought intent, she stops to view
The warrior's manly shoulders and his breast,
Fair face and movements full of graceful shew;
And then the maid, with mickle spite possest,
Thinking another joys the stripling's love,
Thus speaks, as sovereign rage and fury move.
"Shall then another kiss those lips so bright
And sweet, if those fair lips are lost to me?
Ah! never other shall in thee delight;
For it not mine, no other's shalt thou be.
Rather than die alone and of despite,
I with this hand will slay myself and thee,
That if I lose thee here, at least in hell
With thee I to eternity may dwell.
"If thou slay'st me, there is good reason, I
The comfort too of vengeance should obtain;
In that all edicts and all equity
The death of him that causes death ordain;
Nor, since you justly, I unjustly, die,
Deem I that thine is equal to my pain.
I him who seeks my life, alas! shall spill,
Thou her that loves and worships thee wouldst kill.
"My hand, why hast thou not the hardiment
To rive with steel the bosom of my foe,
That me so many times to death has shent,
Under the faith of love, in peaceful show;
Him, who to take my life can now consent,
Nor even have pity of my cruel woe?
Dare, valiant heart, this impious man to slay,
And let his death my thousand deaths appay!"
So said, she spurred at him amid the throng;
But, first -- "Defend thee, false Rogero!" -- cried.
"No more, if I have power, in spoil and wrong,
Done to a virgin heart, shalt thou take pride."
Hearing that voice the hostile ranks among,
He deems -- and truly deems -- he hears his bride;
Whose voice the youth remembers in such wise,
That mid a thousand would he recognize.
Her further meaning well did he divine,
Weening that him she in that speech would blame,
For having broke their pact; and -- with design,
The occasion of his failure to proclaim, --
Of his desire for parley made a sign:
But she, with vizor closed, already came,
Raging and grieved, intent, with vengeful hand,
To fling the youth; nor haply upon sand.
Rogero, when he saw her so offended,
Fixed himself firmly in his arms and seat,
He rests his lance, but holds the stave suspended,
So that it shall not harm her when they meet,
She that to smite and pierce the Child intended,
Pitiless, and inflamed with furious heat,
Has not the courage, when she sees him near,
To fling, or do him outrage with the spear.
Void of effect, 'tis thus their lances go;
And it is well; since Love with burning dart,
Tilting this while at one and the other foe,
Has lanced the enamoured warriors in mid-heart.
Unable at the Child to aim her blow,
The lady spent her rage in other part,
And mighty deeds achieved, which fame will earn,
While overhead the circling heavens shall turn.
Above three hundred men in that affray
In little space by her dismounted lie,
Alone that warlike damsel wins the day;
From her alone the Moorish people fly.
To her Rogero, circling, threads his way,
And says: "Unless I speak with you I die.
Hear me, for love of heaven! -- what done I done,
Alas! that ever mine approach ye shun?"
As when soft southern breezes are unpent,
Which with a tepid breath from seaward blow,
The snows dissolve, and torrents find a vent,
And ice, so hard erewhile, is seen to flow;
At those entreaties, at that brief lament,
Rinaldo's sister's heart is softened so;
Forthwith compassionate and pious grown;
Which anger fain had made more hard than stone.
Would she not, could she not, she nought replied,
But spurred aslant the ready Rabicane,
And, signing to Rogero, rode as wide
As she could wend from that embattled train;
Then to a sheltered valley turned aside,
Wherein embosomed was a little plain.
In the mid lawn a wood of cypress grew,
Whose saplings of one stamp appeared to view.
Within that thicket, of white marble wrought,
Is a proud monument, and newly made;
And he that makes enquiry, here is taught
In few brief verses who therein is laid.
But of those lines, methinks, took little thought,
Fair Bradamant, arriving in that glade.
Rogero spurred his courser, and pursued
And overtook that damsel in the wood.
But turn we to Marphisa, that anew
During this space was seated on her steed,
And sought again the valiant champion, who
At the first onset cast her on the mead;
And saw, how from the mingling host withdrew
Rogero, after that strange knight to speed;
Nor deemed the youth pursued in love; she thought
He but to end their strife and quarrel sought.
She pricks her horse behind the two, and gains,
Well nigh as soon as they, that valley; how
Her coming thither either lover pains,
Who lives and loves, untaught by me, may know:
But sorest vext sad Bradamant remains;
Beholding her whence all her sorrows flow.
Who shall persuade the damsel but that love
For young Rogero brings her to that grove?
And him perfidious she anew did name.
-- "Perfidious, was it not enough (she said)
That I should know thy perfidy from fame,
But must the witness of thy guilt be made?
I wot, to drive me from thee is thine aim;
And I, that thy desires may be appaid,
Will die; but strive, in yielding up my breath,
She too shall die, the occasion of my death."
Angrier than venomed viper, with a bound,
So saying, she upon Marphisa flies;
And plants so well the spear, that she, astound,
Fell backward on the champaigne in such guise,
Nigh half her helm was buried in the ground:
Nor was the damsel taken by surprise:
Nay, did her best the encounter to withstand;
Yet with her helmed head she smote the sand.
Bradamant who will die, or in that just
Will put to death Marphisa, rages so,
She has no mind again with lance to thrust,
Again that martial maid to overthrow:
But thinks her head to sever from the bust,
Where it half buried lies, with murderous blow:
Away the enchanted lance that damsel flings,
Unsheathes the sword, and from her courser springs.
But is too slow withal; for on her feet
She finds Marphisa, with such fierce disdain
Inflamed, at being in that second heat
So easily reversed upon the plain,
She hears in vain exclaim, in vain entreat,
Rogero, who beholds their strife with pain.
So blinded are the pair with spite and rage,
That they with desperate fury battle wage.
At half-sword's engage the struggling foes;
And -- such their stubborn mood -- with shortened brand
They still approach, and now so fiercely close,
They cannot choose but grapple, hand to hand.
Her sword, no longer needful, each foregoes;
And either now new means of mischief planned.
Rogero both implores with earnest suit:
But supplicates the twain with little fruit.
When he entreaties unavailing found,
The youth prepared by force to part the two;
Their poniards snatched away, and on the ground,
Beneath a cypress-tree, the daggers threw.
When they no weapons have wherewith to wound,
With prayer and threat, he interferes anew:
But vainly; for, since better weapons lack,
Each other they with fists and feet attack.
Rogero ceased not from his task; he caught,
By hand or arm, the fiercely struggling pair,
Till to the utmost pitch of fury wrought
The fell Marphisa's angry passions were.
She, that this ample world esteemed at nought,
Of the Child's friendship had no further care.
Plucked from the foe, she ran to seize her sword,
And fastened next upon that youthful lord.
"Like a discourteous man and churl ye do,
Rogero, to disturb another's fight;
A deed (she cried) this hand shall make ye rue,
Which I intend, shall vanquished both." The knight
Sought fierce Marphisa's fury to subdue
With gentle speech; but full of such despite
He found her, and inflamed with such disdain,
All parley was a waste of time and pain.
At last his faulchion young Rogero drew;
For ire as well had flushed that cavalier:
Nor is it my belief, that ever shew
Athens or Rome, or city whatsoe'er
Witnessed, which ever so rejoiced the view,
As this rejoices, as this sight is dear
To Bradamant, when, through their strife displaced,
Every suspicion from her breast is chased.
Bradamant took her sword, and to descry
The duel of those champions stood apart.
The god of war, descended from the sky,
She deemed Rogero, for his strength and art:
If he seemed Mars, Marphisa to the eye
Seemed an infernal Fury, on her part.
'Tis true, that for a while the youthful knight
Against that damsel put not forth his might.
He knew the virtues of that weapon well,
Such proof thereof the knight erewhile had made.
Where'er it falls parforce is every spell
Annulled, or by its stronger virtue stayed.
Hence so Rogero smote, it never fell
Upon its edge or point, but still the blade
Descended flat: he long this rule observes;
Yet once he from his patient purpose swerves.
In that, a mighty stroke Marphisa sped,
Meaning to cleave the brainpan of her foe:
He raised the buckler to defend his head,
And the sword smote upon its bird of snow,
Nor broke nor bruised the shield, by spell bested;
But his arm rang astounded by the blow;
Nor aught but Hector's mail the sword had stopt,
Whose furious blow would his left arm have lopt;
And had upon his head descended shear,
Whereat designed to strike the savage fair.
Scarce his left arm can good Rogero rear;
Can scarce the shield and blazoned bird upbear.
All pity he casts off, and 'twould appear
As in his eyes a lighted torch did glare.
As hard as he can smite, he smites; and woe
To thee, Marphisa, if he plants the blow!
I cannot tell you truly in what wise,
That faulchion swerves against a cypress-stock,
In such close-serried ranks the saplings rise,
Buried above a palm within the block.
As this the mountain and the plain that lies
Beneath it, with a furious earthquake rock;
And from that marble monument proceeds
A voice, that every mortal voice exceeds.
The horrid voice exclaims, "Your quarrel leave;
For 'twere a deed unjust and inhumane,
That brother should of life his sister reave,
Or sister by her brother's hand be slain.
Rogero and Marphisa mine, believe!
The tale which I deliver is not vain.
Seed of one father, on one womb ye lay;
And first together saw the light of day.
"Galaciella's children are ye, whom
She to Rogero, hight the second, bare.
Whose brothers, having, by unrighteous doom,
Of your unhappy sire deprived that fair,
Not heeding that she carried in her womb
Ye, who yet suckers of their lineage are,
Her in a rotten carcase of a boat,
To founder in mid ocean, set afloat.
"But Fortune, that had destined you whilere,
And yet unborn, to many a fair emprize,
Your mother to that lonely shore did steer,
Which overright the sandy Syrtes lies.
Where, having given you birth, that spirit dear
Forthwith ascended into Paradise.
A witness of the piteous case was I,
So Heaven had willed, and such your destiny!
"I to the dame as descent burial gave
As could be given upon that desert sand.
Ye, well enveloped in my vest, I save,
And bear to Mount Carena from the strand;
And make a lioness leave whelps and cave,
And issue from the wood, with semblance bland.
Ye, twice ten months, with mickle fondness bred,
And from her paps the milky mother fed.
"Needing to quit my home upon a day,
And journey through the country, (as you can
Haply remember by an Arab clan.
Those robbers thee, Marphisa, bore away:
While young Rogero 'scaped, who better ran.
Bereaved of thee, they woful loss I wept,
And with more watchful care thy brother kept.
"Rogero, if Atlantes watched thee well,
While yet he was alive, thou best dost know.
I the fixed stars had heard of thee foretell,
That thou shouldst perish by a treacherous foe
In Christian land; and still their influence fell
Was ended, laboured to avert the blow;
Nor having power in fine thy will to guide,
I sickened sore, and of my sorrow died.
"But here, before my death, for in this glade
I knew thou should'st with bold Marphisa fight,
I with huge stones, amassed by hellish aid,
Had this fair monument of marble dight;
And I to Charon with loud outcries said;
I would not he should hence convey my sprite,
Till here, prepared in deadly fray to strive,
Rogero and his sister should arrive.
"Thus has my spirit for this many a day
Waited thy coming in these beauteous groves;
So be no more to jealous fears a prey,
O Bradamant, because Rogero loves.
But me to quit the cheerful realms of day,
And seek the darksome cloisters it behoves."
Here ceased the voice; which in the Child amazed
And those two damsels mighty marvel raised.
Gladly a sister in the martial queen
Rogero, she in him a brother knows;
Who now embrace, nor move her jealous spleen,
That with the love of young Rogero glows;
And citing what, and when, and where had been
Their childish deeds, as they to memory rose,
In summing up past times, more sure they hold
The things whereof the wizard's spirit told.
Rogero from Marphisa does not hide,
How Bradamant to him at heart is dear;
And by what obligations he is tied
In moving words relates the cavalier;
Nor ceases till he has, on either side,
Turned to firm love the hate they bore whilere.
When, as a sign of peace, and discord chased,
They, at his bidding, tenderly embraced.
Marphisa to Rogero makes request
To say what sire was theirs, and what their strain;
And how he died; by banded foes opprest,
Or at close barriers, was the warrior slain?
And who it was had issued the behest
To drown their mother in the stormy main?
For of the tale, if ever heard before,
Little or nothing she in memory bore.
"Of Trojan ancestors are we the seed,
Through famous Hector's line," (Rogero said,)
"For after young Astyanax was freed,
From fierce Ulysses and the toils he spread,
Leaving another stripling in his stead,
Of his own age, he out of Phrygia fled.
Who, after long and wide sea-wandering, gained
Sicily's shore, and in Messina reigned.
"Part of Calabria within Faro held
The warrior's heirs, who after a long run
Of successors, departed thence and dwelled
In Mars' imperial city: more than one
Famed king and emperor, who that list have swelled,
In Rome and other part has filled the throne;
And from Constantius and good Constantine,
Stretched to the son of Pepin, is their line.
"Rogero, Gambaron, Buovo hence succeed;
And that Rogero, second of the name,
Who filled our fruitful mother with his seed;
As thou Atlantes may'st have heard proclaim.
Of our fair lineage many a noble deed
Shalt thou hear blazed abroad by sounding Fame."
Of Agolant's inroad next the stripling told,
With Agramant and with Almontes bold;
And how a lovely daughter, who excelled
In feats of arms, that king accompanied;
So stout she many paladins had quelled;
And how, in fine, she for Rogero sighed;
And for his love against her sire rebelled;
And was baptized, and was Rogero's bride;
And how a traitor loved (him Bertram name)
His brother's wife with an incestuous flame;
And country, sire, and brethren two betrayed,
Hoping he so the lady should have won;
How Risa open to the foe he laid,
By whom all scathe was on those kinsmen done;
How Agolant's two furious sons conveyed
Their mother, great with child, and six months gone,
Aboard a helmless boat, and with its charge,
In wildest winter, turned adrift the barge.
Valiant Marphisa, with a tranquil face,
Heard young Rogero thus his tale pursue,
And joyed to be descended of a race
Which from so fair a font its waters drew:
Whence Clermont, whence renowned Mongrana trace
Their noble line, the martial damsel knew;
Blazoned through years and centuries by Fame,
Unrivalled, both, in arms of mighty name.
When afterwards she from her brother knew
Agramant's uncle, sire, and grandsire fell,
In treacherous wise, the first Rogero slew
And brought to cruel pass Galacielle,
Marphisa could not hear the story through:
To him she cries, "With pardon, what you tell,
Brother, convicts you of too foul a wrong,
In leaving thus our sire unvenged so long.
"Could'st thou not in Almontes and Troyane,
As dead whilere, your thirsty faulchion plant,
By you those monarch's children might be slain.
Are you alive, and lives King Agramant?
Never will you efface the shameful stain,
That ye, so often wronged, not only grant
Life to that king, but as your lord obey;
Lodge in his court, and serve him for his pay?
"Here heartily in face of Heaven I vow,
That Christ my father worshipped, to adore;
And till I venge my parents on the foe
To wear this armour, and I will deplore
Your deed, Rogero, and deplore even now,
That you should swell the squadrons of the Moor,
Or other follower of the Moslem faith,
Save sword in hand, and to the paynim's scathe."
Ah! how fair Bradamant uplifts again
Her visage at that speech, rejoiced in sprite!
Rogero she exhorts in earnest vein
To do as his Marphisa counsels right;
And bids him seek the camp of Charlemagne,
And have himself acknowledged in his sight,
Who so reveres and lauds his father's worth,
He even deems him one unmatched on earth.
In the beginning so he should have done,
(Warily young Rogero answer made,)
But, for the tale was not so fully known,
As since, the deed had been too long delaid.
Now, seeing it was fierce Troyano's son
That had begirt him with the knightly blade,
He, as a traitor, well might be abhorred,
If he slew one, accepted as his lord.
But, as to Bradamant whilere, he cries,
He will all measures and all means assay,
Whereby some fair occasion may arise
To leave the king; and had there been delay,
And he whilere had done in otherwise,
She on the Tartar king the fault must lay:
How sorely handled that redoubted foe
Had left him in their battle, she must know;
And she, that every day had sought his bed,
Must of this truth the fittest witness be.
Much upon this was answered, much was said,
Between those damsels, who at last agree;
And as their last resolve, last counsel read,
He should rejoin the paynim's ensignry,
Till he found fair occasion to resort
From Agramant's to Charles's royal court.
To Bradamant the bold Marphisa cries:
"Let him begone, nor doubt am I, before
Many days pass, will manage in such wise,
That Agramant shall be his lord no more."
So says the martial damsel, nor implies
The secret purpose which she has in store.
Making his congees to the friendly twain,
To join his king Rogero turns the rein.
When a complaint is heard from valley near:
All now stand listening, to the noise attent;
And to that plaintive voice incline their ear,
A woman's (as 'twould seem) that makes lament.
But I this strain would gladly finish here,
And, that I finish it, be ye content:
For better things I promise to report,
If ye to hear another strain resort.
Lament and outcry loud of some that mourn,
Attract Rogero and the damsels two.
They find Ulania, with her mantle shorn
By Marganor, amid her moaning crew.
Upon that felon knight, for his foul scorn,
A fierce revenge Marphisa takes: a new
Statute that maid does in the town obtain,
And Marganor is by Ulania slain.
If, as in seeking other gift to gain,
(For Nature, without study, yieldeth nought)
With mighty diligence, and mickle pain,
Illustrious women day and night have wrought;
And if with good success the female train
To a fair end no homely task have brought,
So -- did they for such other studies wake --
As mortal attributes immortal make;
And, if they of themselves sufficient were
Their praises to posterity to show,
Nor borrowed authors' aid, whose bosoms are
With envy and with hate corroded so,
That oft they hide the good they might declare,
And tell in every place what ill they know,
To such a pitch would mount the female name,
As haply ne'er was reached by manly fame.
To furnish mutual aid is not enow,
For many who would lend each other light.
Men do their best, that womankind should show
Whatever faults they have in open sight;
Would hinder them of rising from below,
And sink them to the bottom, if they might;
I say the ancients; as if glory, won
By woman, dimmed their own, as mist the sun.
But hands or tongue ne'er had, nor has, the skill,
Does voice or lettered page the thought impart,
Though each, with all its power, increase the ill,
Diminishing the good with all its art,
So female fame to stifle, but that still
The honour of the sex survives in part:
Yet reacheth not its pitch, nor such its flight,
But that 'tis far below its natural height.
Not only Thomyris and Harpalice,
And who brought Hector, who brought Turnus aid,
And who, to build in Lybia crost the sea,
By Tyrian and Sidonian band obeyed;
Not only famed Zenobia, only she
Who Persian, Indian, and Assyrian frayed;
Not only these and some few others merit
Their glory, that eternal fame inherit:
Faithful, chaste, and bold, the world hath seen
In Greece and Rome not only, but where'er
The Sun unfolds his flowing locks, between
The Hesperides and Indian hemisphere;
Whose gifts and praise have so extinguished been,
We scarce of one amid a thousand hear;
And this because they in their days have had
For chroniclers, men envious, false, and bad.
But ye that prosper in the exercise
Of goodly labours, aye your way pursue;
Nor halt, O women, in your high emprise,
For fear of not receiving honour due:
For, as nought good endures beneath the skies,
So ill endures no more; if hitherto
Unfriendly by the poet's pen and page,
They now befriend you in our better age.
Erewhile Marullo and Pontante for you
Declared, and -- sire and son -- the Strozzi twain;
Capello, Bembo, and that writer, who
Has fashioned like himself the courtier train;
With Lewis Alamanni, and those two,
Beloved of Mars and Muses, of their strain
Descended, who the mighty city rule,
Which Mincius parts, and moats with marshy pool.
One of this pair (besides that, of his will,
He honours you, and does you courtesies;
And makes Parnassus and high Cynthus' hill
Resound your praise, and lift it to the skies)
The love, the faith, and mind, unconquered still,
Mid threats of ruin, which in stedfast wise
To him his constant Isabel hath shown,
Render yet more your champion than his own.
So that he never more will wearied be
With quickening in his verse your high renown;
And, if another censures you, than he
Prompter to arm in your defence is none;
Nor knight, in this wide world, more willingly
Life in the cause of virtue would lay down:
Matter as well for other's pen he gives,
As in his own another's glory lives;
And well he merits, that a dame so blest,
(Blest with all worth, which in this earthly round
Is seen in them who don the female vest,)
To him hath evermore been faithful found;
Of a sure pillar of pure truth possest
In her, despising Fortune's every wound.
Worthy of one another are the twain;
Nor better ere were paired in wedlock's chain.
New trophies he on Oglio's bank has shown;
For he, mid bark and car, amid the gleam
Of fire and sword, such goodly rhymes hath strown,
As may with envy swell the neighbouring stream.
By Hercules Bentivoglio next is blown
The noble strain, your honour's noble theme;
Reynet Trivulzio and Guidetti mine,
And Molza, called of Phoebus and the Nine.
There's Hercules of the Carnuti, son
Of my own duke, who spreads his every plume
Soaring and singing, like harmonious swan,
And even to heaven uplifts your name; with whom
There is my lord of Guasto, not alone
A theme for many an Athens, many a Rome;
In his high strain he promises as well,
Your praise to all posterity to tell.
And beside these and others of our day,
Who gave you once, or give you now renown,
This for yourselves ye may yourselves purvey:
For many, laying silk and sampler down,
With the melodious Muses, to allay
Their thirst at Aganippe's well, have gone,
And still are going; who so fairly speed,
That we more theirs than they our labour need.
If I of these would separately tell,
And render good account and honour due,
More than one page I with their praise should swell,
Nor ought beside would this day's canto shew;
And if on five or six alone I dwell,
I may offend and anger all the crew.
What then shall I resolve? to pass all by?
Or choose but one from such a company?
One will I choose, and such will choose, that she
All envy shall so well have overthrown,
No other woman can offend be,
If, passing others, her I praise alone:
Nor joys this one but immortality,
Through her sweet style (and better know I none):
But who is honoured in her speech and page,
Shall burst the tomb, and live through every age.
As Phoebus to his silvery sister shows
His visage more, and lends her brighter fires,
Than Venus, Maja, or to star that glows
Alone, or circles with the heavenly quires;
So he with sweeter eloquence than flows
From other lips, that gentle dame inspires;
And gives her word such force, a second sun
Seems in our days its glorious course to run.
Mid victories born, Victoria is her name,
Well named; and whom (does she advance or stay)
Triumphs and trophies evermore proclaim,
While Victory heads or follows her array.
Another Artemisia is the dame,
Renowned for love of her Mausolus, yea
By so much greater, as it is more brave
To raise the dead, than lay them in the grave.
If chaste Laodamia, Portia true,
Evadne, Argia, Arria, and many more
Merited praise, because that glorious crew
Coveted burial with their lords of yore,
How much more fame is to Victoria due?
That from dull Lethe, and the river's shore,
Which nine times hems the ghosts, to upper light
Has dragged her lord, in death and fate's despite.
If that loud-voiced Maeonian trump whilere
The Macedonian grudged Achilles, how,
Francis Pescara, O unconquered peer,
Would he begrudge thee, were he living now,
That wife, so virtuous and to thee so dear,
Thy well-earned glory through the world should blow;
And that thy name through her should so rebound,
Thou needst not crave a clearer trumpet's sound!
If all that is to tell, and all I fain
Would of that lady tell, I wished to unfold,
Though long, yet not so long, would be the stain,
But that large portion would be left untold,
While at a stand the story would remain
Of fierce Marphisa and her comrades bold;
To follow whom I promised erst, if you
Would but return to hear my song anew.
Now, being here to listen to my say,
Because I would not break my promise, I
Until my better leisure, will delay
Her every praise at length to certify.
Not that I think she needs my humble lay,
Who with such treasure can herself supply:
But simply to appay my single end,
That gentle dame to honour and commend.
Ladies, in fine I say, that every age
Worthy of story, many a dame supplies;
But that, through jealous authors' envious rage,
Unchronicled by fame, each matron dies;
But will no more; since in the historic page
Your virtues ye, yourselves, immortalize.
Had those two damsels in this art been read,
Their every warlike deed had wider spread.
Bradamant and Marphisa would I say,
Whose bold, victorious deeds, in battle done,
I strive to bring into the light of day;
But nine in ten remain to me unknown.
I what I know right willingly display;
As well, that all fair actions should be shown,
As well that, gentle ladies, I am bent
Ye whom I love and honour, to content.
As said, in act to go Rogero stood;
And, having taken leave, the cavalier
Withdraws his trenchant faulchion from the wood,
Which holds no more the weapon, as whilere.
When, sounding loud amid that solitude,
A cry, not distant far, arrests the peer.
Then thitherward he with those damsels made,
Prompt, if 'twere needed, to bestow his aid.
They rode an-end; and louder waxed the sound,
And plainer were the plaintive words they heard:
When in a valley they three women found
Making that plaint, who in strange garb appeared:
For to the navel were those three ungowned,
-- Their coats by some uncourteous varlet sheared --
And knowing not how better to disguise
Their shame, they sate on earth, and dared not rise.
As Vulcan's son, that sprang (as it is versed)
Out of the dust, without a mother made,
Whom -- so Minerva bade -- Aglauros nursed
With sovereign care, too bold and curious maid,
Seated in car, by him constructed first
To hide his hideous feet, was erst conveyed;
So that which never is to sight revealed,
Sitting, those mournful damsels kept concealed.
At that dishonest sight and shameful, glows
Each martial damsel's visage, overspread
With the rich dyes of Paestum's crimson rose,
When vernal airs their gentle influence shed.
Bradamant marked them; and that one of those
Was Ulany, the damsel quickly read;
Ulany, that was sent with solemn train
From the LOST ISLE to royal Charlemagne;
And recognised the other two no less;
From them she saw, when she saw Ulany;
But now to her directed her address.
As the most honoured of those ladies three,
Demanding, who so full of wickedness,
So lawless was and so unmannerly,
That he those secrets to the sight revealed,
Which Nature, as she could, 'twould seem, concealed.
Ulany, that in Bradamant descried,
-- Known both by voice and ensignry -- the maid,
Who some few days before those knights of pride
With her victorious lance on earth had laid,
How, in a town not far remote -- replied --
An evil race, by pity never swayed,
Besides that they their raiment thus had shorn,
Had beat them, and had done them other scorn.
What of the shield became, she cannot say,
Nor knows she those three monarchs' destiny,
Who guided her so long upon her way;
If killed, or led into captivity;
And says that she herself has ta'en her way,
Albeit to fare a-foot sore irksome be,
To appeal to royal Charlemagne, assured
By him such outrage will not be endured.
To hear, yet more to see, so foul a wrong,
Disturbed the Child and damsels' placid air
And beauteous visage, whose bold hearts and strong
No less compassionate than valiant were.
They now, all else forgetting, ere the tongue
Of Ulany prefers demand, or prayer,
That they would venge them on their cruel foe,
In haste towards the felon's castle go.
With one constant, the maids and cavalier,
By their great goodness moved, from plate and mail
Had stript their upper vests, well fitting gear
Those miserable ladies' shame to veil.
Bradamant suffers not, that, as whilere,
Sad Ulany shall tramp by hill and dale;
But seats her on her horse's croup; so do
Her comrades by those other damsels two.
To gentle Bradamant Ulania showed
The nearest way to reach the castle height;
While comfort Bradamant on her bestowed,
Promising vengeance for that foul despite.
They leave the vale, and by a crooked road
And long ascend, now wheeling left, now right:
Nor till the sun is hidden in the sea,
Upon their weary way repose the three.
They to a hamlet on the summit wound,
Scaling the mountain's steep and rugged side;
And such good shelter and good supper found,
As could by such rude quarters be supplied.
Arriving there, they turned their eyes around,
And full of women every place espied,
Some old, some young; nor, mid so large a clan,
Appeared the visage of a single man.
Not more bold Jason wondered, and the train
Which sailed with him, that Argonautic crew,
Seeing those dames that had their husbands slain,
Fathers and sons and brethren, -- so that through
All Lemnos' pleasant isle, by hill or plain,
Of manly visage they beheld not two --
Than here Rogero, and the rest who go
With good Rogero, wonder at this show.
The martial damsels bid for Ulany,
And those who came with her, provide attire;
And gowns that eve are furnished for the three,
If meaner than their own, at least entire.
To him a woman of that villagery
Valiant Rogero summons, to inquire
Where are the men; in that he none descries;
And thus to him that village wife replies:
"What haply is to you a wonderment,
This crowd of womankind, where man is none,
To us is grave and grievous punishment,
Who, banished here, live wofully alone;
And, that such exile us may more torment,
From those so loved, as brother, father, son,
A long divorce and cruel we sustain,
As our fell tyrant pleases to ordain.
"Sent to these confines from his land, which lies
But two leagues distant thence, where we were born,
Us in this place the fell barbarian sties,
Having first done us many a brutal scorn;
And has with death and all extremities
Threatened our kinsmen and ourselves forlorn,
If they come hither, or he hears report
We harbour them, when hither they resort.
"He to our name is such a deadly foe,
He will not have us nearer than I shewed,
Now have us of our kin approached, as though
Infection from the female sex ensued.
Already have the greenwood trees laid low
Their leafy honours twice, and twice renewed,
Since our lord's fury to such pitch arose,
Now is there one his phrensy to oppose.
"For he has spread such passing fear among
The people, death can cause no worse affright;
In that, beside his natural love of wrong,
He is endowed with more than human might.
He than a hundred other men more strong,
In body is of a gigantic height:
Nor us his vassals he molests alone;
But worse by him to stranger dame is done.
"If your own honour, sir, and of those three,
Beneath your charge, to you in aught is dear,
'Twill safer, usefuller, and better be
To leave this road, and by another steer.
This leads you to his tower, described by me,
To prove the savage use that cruel peer
Has there established, to the shame and woe
Of dame or cavalier, who thither go.
"This castellain or tyrant, Marganor
(So name the felon knight) than whom more fell
Nero was not, nor other heretofore,
If other be, whose actions Fame doth swell,
Thirsts for man's blood, but thirsts for woman's more
Than wolf for blood of lambs; and bids expel
With shame all females, that, in evil hour,
Their fortune has conducted to his tower."
How in that impious man such fury grew,
Asked young Rogero and those damsels twain,
And prayed she would in courtesy pursue,
Yea, rather from the first her tale explain.
"That castle's lord, fierce, and inhumane,
Yet for a while his wicked heart concealed,
Nor what he was so suddenly revealed.
"For in the lifetime of his sons, a pair
That differed much from the paternal style,
(Since they the stranger loved; and loathers were
Of cruelty and other actions vile)
Flourished the courtesies and good customs there,
And there were gentle deeds performed this while:
For. albeit avaricious was the sire,
He never crossed the youths in their desire.
"The cavaliers and dames who journeyed by
That castle, there so well were entertained,
That they departed, by the courtesy
Of those two kindly brothers wholly gained.
In the holy orders of fair chivalry
Alike the youthful pair had been ordained.
Cylander one, Tanacro hight the other;
Bold, and of royal mien each martial brother;
"And truly were, and would have been alway
Worthy of every praise and fame, withal
Had they not yielded up themselves a prey
To that uncurbed desire, which Love we call;
By which they were seduced from the right way
Into foul Error's crooked maze; and all
The good that by those brethren had been wrought,
Waxed, in a moment, rank, corrupt and naught.
"It chanced, that in their father's fortilage,
A knight of the Greek emperor's court did lie;
With him his lady was; of manners sage;
Nor fairer could be craved by wishful eye:
For her Cylander felt such amorous rage,
He deemed, save he enjoyed her, he should die;
He deemed that, when the lady should depart,
His soul as well would from his body part:
"And, for he knew 'twas useless to entreat,
Devised to make her his by force of hand;
Armed, and in silence, near his father's seat,
Where must pass knight and lady, took his stand.
Through natural daring and through amorous heat,
He with too little thought the matter planned;
So that, when he beheld the knight advance,
He issued, to assail him, lance to lance.
"To overthrow him, at first shock he thought,
And to win dame and palm in the career;
But that Greek knight, in warlike strife well-taught,
Shivered, like glass, his breastplate with the spear.
The bitter tidings to the sire were brought,
Who bade bear home the stripling on a bier:
He, finding he was dead, loud mourning made,
And him in earth, beside his fathers, layed.
"Yet harbourage and welcome as before
Had he who sought it; neither more nor less:
Because Tanacro in his courteous lore
Equalled his brother as in gentleness.
Thither that very year, from foreign shore,
A baron and his wife their steps address:
A marvel he of valour, and as fair
As could be said, is she, and debonnair.
"No fairer was the dame than chaste and right,
And well deserving every praise; the peer
Derived of generous stock, and bold in fight,
As ever champion, of whose fame we hear;
And 'tis well fitting, that such valiant wight
Should joy a thing so excellent and dear,
Olindro he, the lord of Lungavilla,
And she, his lady wife, yclept Drusilla.
"No less for her the young Tanacro glows,
Than for that other burned Cylander sore;
Who brought erewhile to sad and bitter close
The wicked love he to that lady bore.
The holy, hospitable laws he chose
To violate no less than he, before
He would endure, that him, with venomed sting,
His new desire to cruel death should bring.
"But he, because he has before his eyes
The example of his elder brother slain,
Thinks to bear off the lady in such wise,
That bold Olindro cannot venge the stain.
Straight spent in him, not simply weakened, lies
The virtue, wont Tancaro to sustain
Above that flood of vice, in whose profound
And miry waters Marganor lay drowned.
"That night, he in deep silence bade array
A score of armed men; and next conveyed
Into some caverns, bordering on the way,
And distant from the tower, his ambuscade.
The roads were broken, and the following day
Olindro from all sides was overlaid;
And, though he made a brave defence and long,
Of wife and life was plundered by that throng.
"Olindro slain, they led his lady fair
A captive thence, o'erwhelmed with sorrow so,
That she refused to live, and made her prayer,
Tanacro, as a grace, would death bestow:
Resolved to die, she leapt, in her despair,
From a high bank into a vale below;
But death was to the wretched dame refused;
Who lay with shattered head and sorely bruised.
"She could not to the castle be conveyed
In other guise than borne upon a bier:
Her (so Tanacro bids) prompt leeches aid;
Because he will not lose a prey so dear;
And while to cure Drusilla they essayed,
Busied about their spousals was the peer:
In that so chaste a lady and so fair,
A wife's and not a leman's name should wear.
"He had no other thought, no other aim,
No other care, nor spake beside of ought;
Saw he had wronged her, and took all the blame,
And, as he could, to amend his error wrought:
But all was vain; the more he loved the dame,
The more be to appease her anger sought,
So much more was her hate; so much more will,
So much more thirst had she that youth to kill.
"Yet hatred blinded not her judgment so,
But what the dame could clearly comprehend,
That she, if she would strike the purposed blow,
Must feign, and secret snares for him extend.
And her desire beneath another show
(Which is but how Tanacro to offend)
Must mask; and make him think, that overblown
Is her first love, and turned to him alone.
"Her face speaks peace; while vengeance inwardly
Her heart demands, and but to this attends:
She many things revolves, accepts, puts by;
Or, as of doubtful issue, some suspends.
Deeming she can, if she resolves to die,
Compass her scheme, with this resolve she ends;
And better how can she expend her breath
Than in avenging dear Olindro's death?
"She showed herself all joyful, on her part,
And feigned that she desired those nuptials sore;
Nor only showed an unreluctant heart;
But all delay and hindrance overbore.
Painted and tired above the rest with art,
'Twould seem, she of her husband thinks no more:
But 'tis her will, that in her country's wise
Tanacro shall their wedding solemnize.
"The custom howsoever was not true,
Which as her country's use she certified;
But, because never thought within her grew
Which she could spend on any thing beside,
A falsehood she devised, whence hope she drew
Of killing him by whom her husband died;
And told Tanacro -- and the manner said --
How in her country's fashion she would wed.
" `The widow that a husband's bed ascends,
Ere she approach the bridegroom (said that fair)
The spirit of the dead, whom she offends,
Must soothe with solemn office, mass and prayer;
In the holy temple making her amends,
Where her first husband's bones entombed are.
-- That sacrifice performed -- to bind their vows
The nuptial ring the bridegroom gives the spouse.
" `But the holy priest, while this shall be about,
Upon wine, thither for that purpose sped,
His orisons, appropriate and devout,
Blessing withal the liquor, shall have said;
Then from the flask into a cup pour out,
And give the blessed wine to them that wed.
But 'tis the spouse's part to take the cup;
And first that vessel's cordial beverage sup.'
"The unsuspecting youth, who takes no heed
What nuptials, ordered in her wise, import,
At her own pleasure bids the dame proceed,
So that she cut his terms of waiting short;
Nor does the miserable stripling read
She would avenge Olindro in that sort;
And on one object is so sore intent,
He sees but that, on that alone is bent.
Back to Full Books