Orlando Furioso
Ludovico Ariosto

Part 23 out of 25

The boatman then: "Erewhile was of this town
One Anselm, that of worthy lineage came;
A wight that spent his youth in flowing gown,
Studying his Ulpian: he of honest fame,
Beauty, and state assorting with his own,
A consort sought, and one of noble name:
Nor vainly; in a neighbouring city, crowned
With superhuman beauty, one he found.

"She such fair manners and so graceful shows,
She seems all love and beauty; and much more
Perchance than maketh for her lord's repose;
Then well befits the reverend charge he bore.
He, wedded, strait in jealousy outgoes
All jealous men that ever were before:
Yet she affords not other cause for care
But that she is too witty and too fair.

"In the same city dwelt a cavalier,
Numbered that old and honoured race among,
Sprung from the haughty lineage, which whilere
Out of the jaw-bone of a serpent sprung:
Whence Manto, doomed my native walls to rear,
Descended, and with her a kindred throng.
The cavalier (Adonio was he named)
Was with the beauties of the dame inflamed;

"And for the furtherance of his amorous quest,
To grace himself, began his wealth to spend,
Without restraint, in banquet and in vest,
And what might most a cavalier commend:
If he Tiberius' treasure had possest,
He of his riches would have made an end.
I well believe two winters were not done,
Ere his paternal fortune was outrun.

"The house erewhile, frequented by a horde
-- Morning and evening -- of so many friends,
Is solitary; since no more his board
Beneath the partridge, quail, and pheasant bends.
Of that once noble troop upon the lord,
Save beggars, hardly any one attends.
Ruined, at length he thinks he will begone
To other country, where he is unknown.

"He leaves his native land with this intent,
Nor letteth any his departure know;
And coasts, in tears and making sad lament,
The marshes that about his city go:
He his heart's queen, amid his discontent,
Meanwhile forgets not, for this second woe.
Lo! him another accident that falls,
From sovereign woe to sovereign bliss recalls!

"He saw a peasant who with heavy stake
Smote mid some sapling trunks on every side:
Adonio stopt, and wherefore so he strake,
Asked of the rustic, that in answer cried,
Within that clump a passing ancient snake,
Amid the tangled stems he had espied:
A longer serpent and more thick to view
He never saw, nor thought to see anew;

"And that from thence he would not wend his way
Until the reptile he had found and slain,
When so Adonio heard the peasant say,
He scarce his speech with patience could sustain,
Aye reverence to the serpent wont to pay,
The honoured ensign of his ancient strain;
In memory that their primal race had grown
Erewhile from serpent's teeth by Cadmus sown;

"And by the churl the offended knight so said,
And did withal, he made him quit the emprize;
Leaving the hunted serpent neither dead,
Nor injured, nor pursued in further wise.
Thither, where he believes would least have spread
The story of his woe, Adonio hies;
And in discomfort and in sorrow wears,
Far from his native land, seven weary years.

"Neither for distance nor for straitened cheer,
Which will not let Thought run its restless round,
Ceased Love, so wont to rein the cavalier,
Aye to inflame his heart, aye vex his wound:
At length those beauties, to his eyes so dear,
Parforce must he revisit, homeward bound.
Unshorn, afflicted, he, in poor array,
Thither returns, from whence he went his way.

"My city, at the time whereof I tell,
To Rome was fain to send an embassy;
That sometime near his holiness should dwell;
And for how long a time could none foresee.
Upon our judge the lot of envoy fell:
O day, that ever wept by him will be!
To be excused, Anselmo promised, prayed,
And bribed; but at the last parforce obeyed.

"As no less cruel and less hard to abide
He deemed a woe which caused such piteous smart,
Than had he seen a hostile hand his side
Lay bare, and from his bosom pluck his heart:
Dead-white with jealous fear his cheek is dyed,
Through doubt of his fair consort while apart;
And in the mode he deems may best avail,
He supplicates her not in faith to fail,

"Nor beauty, to his wife the husband cries,
Nor noble blood, nor fortune, are enow
To make a woman to true honour rise,
Save chaste in name and deed; subjoining how
The virtue that mankind most highly prize
Is that which triumphs after strife; and now
Through his long absense, a fair field and wide
Is opened where that virtue may be tried.

"With such persuasions, and with many more
Anselm exhorts the lady to be true.
His going doth his woful wife deplore.
O heaven, what tears, what loud complaints ensue!
Immersed in her despair, that lady swore,
Sooner the sun bedimmed the world should view
Than she would break her faith; she would expire
Sooner than she would cherish such desire.

"Though to the lady's promise and protest
He lent belief, and somewhat calmed his fears,
Until he further hear he will not rest;
And till he can find matter for his tears,
A soothsayer he among his friends possest,
Prized for his knowledge, as the first of seers;
Who of all witchery and of magic art
Had read the whole, or read the greater part.

"To him before departing does he pray,
To take the charge upon himself to see
If true would be Argia while away
(So name his consort), or the contrary.
Won by his prayers, he takes the time o' the day;
Figures the heavens as they appear to be.
Anselmo left him at his work, and came
His answer on the following day to claim.

"The astrologer is silent, loath to expose
A matter that will work the doctor woe;
And would excuse himself with many a gloze:
But when he sees, he would the evil know,
Argia will break faith with him, he shows,
As soon as he shall from his threshold go.
Nor prayer shall soften her, nor beauty fire:
Corrupted will she be by gain and hire.

"When to Anselmo's early doubt and fear
Are joined the threatnings of the signs above,
How stands his heart may well to thee appear,
If thou hast known the accidents of love;
And worse than every woe, wherewith whilere
The afflicted spirits of that husband strove,
Is that it by the prophet is foretold,
Argais' honour will be bought and sold.

"Now to support his wife, as best he may,
From falling into such an evil deed.
For man, alas, will sometimes disarray
The altar, when he finds himself in need,
What gold and gems the judge had put away,
(A plenteous store) he leaves; and field and mead,
Rents, fruits, and all possessions whatsoe'er
Leaves to his consort; all his worldly gear:

" `With power,' he said, `not only without measure,
These, as thou needest, to enjoy and spend,
But do with them according to thy pleasure,
Consume and fling away, and give and vend:
Other account I ask not of my treasure,
If such as now I find thee in the end;
But such as now remain; -- at thy command
(Even shouldst thou squander both) are house and land.'

"Unless she heard he thither made repair,
He prayed that she would dwell not in the town;
But would a farm of his inhabit, where
She might with all convenience live alone.
And this besought he of his consort fair,
As thinking, that the rustics, which on down
Pasture their flocks, or fruitful fallows till,
Could ne'er contaminate her honest will.

"Her fearful husband still embracing close,
Her arms about his neck Argia threw:
A burst of tears her visage overflows:
For from her eyes two streams their way pursue.
She grieves, he guilty should his wife suppose;
As if she hath already been untrue:
For his suspicion to its source she traced;
That in her faith no faith Anselmo placed.

"Citing their long farewell, I should exceed.
`-- To thee at length,' he so the dame addrest,
`I recommend my honour'; -- and indeed
Took leave, and on his road in earnest prest;
And truly felt, on wheeling round his steed,
As if his heart was issuing from his breast.
She follows him as long as she can follow
With eyes whose tears her furrowed visage hollow.

"Poor, pale, unshorn, and wretched (as whilere
To you in former strain by me was said),
Homeward meanwhile the wandering cavalier,
Hoping he there should be unknown, had made.
Beside the lake that pilgrim journeyed, near
The city, where he gave the serpent aid,
In that thick brake besieged by village swain,
Who with his staff the reptile would have slain.

"Arriving here, upon the dawn of light,
For yet some stars were glimmering in the skies,
Approaching him, in foreign vesture dight,
Along the shore, a damsel he espies.
Though neither squire nor waiting wench in sight
Appears, yet noble is the lady's guise.
With pleasing visage she Adonio boards,
And then breaks silence in the following words.

"Albeit thou know'st me not, O cavalier
I am thy kin, and greatly bound to thee:
I am thy kin; for of the lineage clear
Derived of haughty Cadmus' seed are we.
I am the fairy Manto, that whilere
Laid the first stone of this rude villagery;
And (as thou haply mayst have heard it famed)
Mantua from me the rising town was named.

" `O' the fairies am I one: with that to show
Our fatal state, and what it doth import;
We to all other kinds of ill below
Are subject by our natal influence, short
Of death; but with immortal being such woe
Is coupled, death is not of direr sort.
For every seventh day we all must take
By certain law, the form of spotted snake.

" `So sad it is that loathsome coil to fill,
And prone, at length, upon the ground to crawl;
Equal to this here is no worldly ill;
So that immortal life is cursed by all.
And thou the debt I owe thee (for my will
Is to inform thee of its cause withal)
Shalt know as well; how on that fatal day
Of change we are to countless ills a prey.

" `So hated as the serpent beast is none;
And we that wear its evil form, alarm,
Outrage, and war endure from every one:
For all that see us, hunt and do us harm:
Unless we can to ground for shelter run,
We feel how heavy falls man's furious arm.
Happier it were to die, than languish -- broke,
Battered, and crippled by the cruel stroke.

" `My mighty obligation due to thee
Is that, when once thou didst this greenwood thread,
Thou from a rustic's fury rescuedst me,
By whose ill handling was I sore bested.
But for thine aid, I should not have got free,
Without a broken spine or battered head:
With body crooked and crushed I should have lain,
Albeit I could not by his arm be slain.

" `Because thou hast to know upon the day
We sprang from earth with scales of dragon dight,
-- Subject to us at other times -- to obey
The heavens refuse; and we are void of might:
At other seasons, at our simple say
The circling sun stands still, and dims its light:
Fixt earth is moved, and in a circle wheels:
Ice at our word takes fire, and fire congeals.

" `Now here, prepared to render thee the meed
Of benefit then done to me, I stand;
For now, dismantled of my dragon weed,
Vainly no grace of me wilt thou demand.
Even now, thrice richer art thou by my deed,
Than when thou heirdst erewhile thy father's land:
Now will I that henceforth thou shalt be poor;
But wealth, the more 'tis spent, augment the more:

" `And because with that ancient knot thou still,
I know, art tangled, which by Love was tied,
The mode and order, how thou mayst fulfil
Thy wishes, shall by me be signified.
Now that her lord is absent, 'tis my will
My scheme without delay by thee be tried;
Go forth the lady at her farm to find,
Without the town; nor will I say behind.'

"She her discourse continuing, 'gan advise
What form he to that lady's eyes should take:
I say, what vesture wear, and in what wise
Should speak, how tempt her; what entreaties make:
And said, how she her figure would disguise;
For, save the day wherein she was a snake,
Upon all others went the fairy drest
In whatsoever figure pleased her best.

"She in a pilgrim's habit clothed the knight,
Such as from door to door our alms entreat:
Into a dog she changed herself to sight;
The smallest ever seen, of aspect sweet,
Long hair, than ermine's fur more snowy white;
And skilled withal in many a wondrous feat.
Towards Agria's villa, so transmewed,
The fairy and the knight their way pursued;

"And at the labourer's cabins in his round
The stripling halts, before he stops elsewhere;
And certain rustic reeds begins to sound;
His dog is up, and dances to the air.
The dame, that hears the voice and cry rebound,
Is by the rumour moved to see the pair.
Into her court she has the pilgrim brought,
As Anselm's evil destiny had wrought:

"And here Adonio gives the dog command;
And here by that obedient dog is shown
Dance of our country and of foreign land,
With paces, graces, fashions of his own;
And finally he does, amid that band,
With winning ways what else is to be done,
With such attention of the admiring crew,
None winked their eyes, their breath they scarcely drew.

"Great marvel in the dame, then longing, bred
That gentle dog: she one that her had nursed
With no mean offer to his master sped.
-- `If all the riches for which women thirst'
(To her embassadress in answer said
The wary pilgrim) `in my bags were pursued,
There is not in that treasure what would boot
To purchase of my dog one single foot':

"And he, the truth of his discourse to show,
Into a corner took the beldam old,
And bade the dog in courtesy bestow
Upon that messanger a mark of gold.
The dog obeyed, and shook himself; and lo!
The treasure! which he bade her have and hold:
Thereto he added, `Thinkest thou by ought
A dog so fair and useful can be bought?

" `For whatsoever I of him demand,
I empty-handed never go away;
Now pearl, now ring will he shake from him, and
Now gift me with some rich and fair array.
Yet tell madonna he is at her command;
But not for gold; for him no gold can pay;
But if I for one night her arms may fill,
Him may she take and do with him her will.'

"So said, a gem, new-dropt, on her he prest,
And bade her to the lady bear the boon.
That in the costly produce she possest
Ten, twenty ducats' value deemed the crone.
She bore the message to the dame addressed,
And after wrought on her till she was won
To buy the beauteous dog, who might be bought
By payment of a prize which costeth nought.

"Argia somewhat coy at first appears;
Partly that she her faith will not forego;
Partly that she believes not all she hears
That beldam of the dog and pilgrim show.
The nurse insists, and dins into her ears,
That seldom such a chance occurs below;
And makes her fix another day to see
That dog, when fewer eyes on her shall be.

"The next appearance which Adonio made
Was ruin to the doctor; for the hound
Doubloons, by dozens and by dozens, braid
Of pearl, and costly jewels scattered round.
So that Argia's pride of heart was laid;
And so much less the dame maintained her ground,
When she in him, who made the proffer, viewed
The Mantuan cavalier that whilom wooed.

"The harlot nurse's evil oratory,
The prayer and presence of the suitor lord,
The occasion to acquire that mighty fee,
Which wretched Anselm's absence would afford,
The hope that none would her accuser be,
So vanquish her chaste thoughts, she makes the accord --
Accepts the wondrous dog; and, as his pay,
To her leman yields herself a willing prey.

The fruits of love long culled that cavalier
With his lady fair; unto whom the fay
Took such affection, whom she held so dear,
That she obliged herself with her to stay.
Through all the signs the sun had travelled, ere
The judge had leave to wend his homeward way.
He finally returned; but sore afraid
Through what the astrologer erewhile had said.

"Arrived, his first employment is to run
To that astrologer's abode, and crave,
If shame and evil to his wife be done;
Of if she yet her faith and honor save.
The heavens he figured; and to every one
Of the seven planets its due station gave;
Then to the judge replied that it had been
Even as he feared, and as it was foreseen.

"By richest presents tempted to forego
Her faith, a prey was she to other wight.
This to the doctor's heart was such a blow;
Nor lance, nor spear, I deem, so sorely smite.
To be more certified he wends (although
He is too well assured the seer is right)
To that old nurse; and, drawing her apart,
To learn the truth employs his every art.

"He in wide circles doth about her wind,
Hoping now here, now there, to spy some trace:
But nought in the beginning can he find,
With whatsoever care he sifts the case.
For she, as not unpractised in that kind,
Denies, and fronts him with untroubled face;
And, as well taught, above a month stands out,
Holding the judge 'twixt certainty and doubt.

"How blest would doubt appear, had he that wound
Foreseen, which would be given by certainty!
When out of that false nurse at last he found
He could not fish the truth by prayer or fee,
Touching no chord but yielded a false sound,
He shrewdly waits his time till there should be
Discord between the beldam and his wife:
For whereso women are, is stir and strife.

"And even that Anselmo waited, so
Befell; since, angered by the first despite,
Unsought of him, to him that nurse did go,
To tell the whole; and nothing hid from sight.
How sank his heart beneath that cruel blow,
'Twere long to say; how prostrate lay his sprite.
So was the wretched judge with grief opprest,
He of his wits well-nigh was dispossest;

"And finally resolved to die, so burned
His rage, but first would kill the faithless dame;
And he with one destructive faulchion yearned
To free himself from woe and her from shame.
Stung by such blind and furious thoughts, returned
Anselmo to the city, in a flame;
And to the farm despatched a follower true,
Charged with the bidding he was bound to do.

"He bids the servant to the villa go,
And to Argia in his name pretend,
He by a fever is reduced so low,
She hardly can arrive before his end.
Hence without waiting escort -- would she show
Her love -- she with his man must backward wend,
(Wend with him will she surely, nor delay)
And bids him cut her throat upon the way.

"The serving man to call his lady went
Prepared his lord's command on her to do.
Having her little dog at starting hent,
She mounted and began her journey, through
The dog advised of Anselm's ill intent,
But bid no less her purpose to pursue;
For he had taken thought for her; and aid
Should in the time of peril be purveyed.

"The servant from his pathway turns aside,
And through bye-roads and solitary goes;
Purposely lighting on a stream, whose tide
From Apennine into our river flows;
Where, both of farm and busy city wide,
A holt, and dark and dismal greenwood grows.
Silent appeared the gloomy place, and one
Fitting the cruel deed which should be done.

"He drew his sword on her, and signified
The mandate by her angry husband given;
That so she might entreat, before she died,
Forgiveness of her every sin from Heaven.
I know not how; she vanished from his side,
When through her flank the blade he would have driven.
Vainly long time he seeks her, then remains
Foiled and outscorned, for guerdon of his pains.

"He all astound and with bewildered face,
And full of shame, to seek his lord returns;
Who from the servant that unwonted case,
Unweeting how the thing had happened, learns;
Nor knows the fairy Manto fills a place
About Argia, prompt to serve her turns.
Because the nurse, that all the rest revealed
(I know not wherefore, I), had this concealed.

"He knows not what to do: the outrage sore
Avenged he has not, nor his pain allaid:
What was a mote is now a beam; so sore
It prest him; on his heart so heavy weighed.
So plain is what was little known before,
He fears that it will shortly be displaid.
At first, he haply might have hid his woe;
Which Rumour now throughout the world will blow.

"Full well he wots, that since his evil vein
He to his wife, unhappy wretch! hath shown,
Not to be subject to his yoke again,
She to some strong protector will have flown;
Who to his ignominy will maintain,
And utter scorn, the lady as his own:
And haply may she to some losel flee,
Who will her paramour and pander be.

"For remedy, he sends in haste a band
Of messengers, with letters far and nigh.
Some of Argia here, some there demand;
Nor town unsearched is left in Lombardy.
Next he in person goes; nor any land
Leaves unexamined by himself or spy.
Yet cannot he discover means or way
For learning where concealed his consort lay.

"The servant last he called on whom was laid
The ill hest, but who had served not his despite;
And thither by his guidance was conveyed,
Where (as 'twas said) she vanished from his sight;
Who haply lurked by day in greenwood-shade,
And to some friendly roof retired at night.
He thither guided, where but forest-trees
He thinks to find, a sumptuous palace sees.

"This while for bright Argia in that part
The fay had made with speedy toil prepare
An alabaster palace by her art,
Gilded within, without, and everywhere.
So wonderful, no tongue could tell, no heart
Conceive, how rich within, without how fair:
That, which thou deemed so fair, my master's home,
Is but a cottage to that costly dome.

"Curtain and cloth of arras deck the wall,
Sumptuously woven and in different wise,
In vaulted cellar and in littered stall;
Not only spread in latticed galleries,
Not only spread in lordly bower and hall.
Vase, gold and silver, gems of many dyes,
Carved into cup and charger, blue, red, green,
And countless cloths of silk and gold are seen.

"He chanced upon the costly dome (as I
To you was in my story making known)
When he expected not a hut to spy,
And but a weary waste of woodland lone.
As he beheld the dome with wondering eye,
Anselmo thought his intellects were gone:
That he was drunk, or dreamed that wondrous sight
He weened, of that his wits had taken flight.

"An Aethiop woman posted at the door,
With blubber lip and nostril, he descries.
Nor will he see again, nor e'er before
Had seen a visage of such loathsome guise:
Ill-favoured -- such was Aesop feigned of yore:
If there, she would have saddened Paradise.
Greasy and foul and beggarly her vest;
Nor half her hideousness have I exprest.

"Anselm, who saw no other wight beside
To tell who was that mansion's lord, drew nigh
To the Aethiopian, and to her applied;
And she: `The owner of this house am I.'
The judge was well assured the negress lied,
And made that answer but in mockery:
But with repeated oaths the negress swears;
'Tis hers, and none with her the mansions shares;

"And would he see the palace, him invites
To view it at his ease; and recommends
If there be ought within which him delights,
To take it for himself or for his friends.
Anselmo hears, and from his horse alights,
Gives it his man; and o'er the threshold wends;
And by the hag conducted, mounts from hall
Below to bower above, admiring all.

"Form, site, and sumptuous work doth he behold,
And royal ornament and fair device;
And oft repeats, not all this wide world's gold
To buy the egregious mansion wound suffice.
To him in answer said that negress old:
'And yet this dome, like others, hath its prize;
If not in gold and silver, price less high
Than gold and silver will the palace buy':

"And she to him prefers the same request,
Which erst Adonio to Argia made.
A fool he deemed the woman and possest,
Who for a boon so foul and filthy prayed.
Yet ceased she not, though more than thrice represt;
And strove so well Anselmo to persuade,
Proffering, for his reward, the palace still,
She wrought on him to do her evil will.

"The wife Argia, that is hid fast by,
When in such sin her husband she descries,
Of doctor, that was deemed so passing wise,
Springs forth and saith: `Ah! worthy deed! which I
Found in such foul and filthy work, espy!'
Bethink thee, if his kindling blushes rise;
If he stands mute! why opens not thy hollow
And central womb, O earth, the wretch to swallow?

"To clear herself and shame him, doth she stun
Anselmo, never ceasing to upbraid.
`What pain should by thyself be undergone
For this so filthy deed, (Argia said)
If thou would'st take my life for having done
What Nature prompted and a lover prayed;
One that was fair and gentle, and who brought
A gift, compared wherewith, this dome is nought?

" `If worthy of one death thou deemest me,
Worthy art thou a hundred deaths to die:
And, though my pleasure might I do on thee,
So passing puissant in this place am I,
No other or worse vengeance done shall be
Upon my side, on thy delinquency.
The give against the take, O husband, place;
And, as 'twas granted thee, so grant me grace:

" `And be there peace between us, and accord
That all be to forgetfulness consigned;
Nor thee I of thy fault by deed or word,
Nor me of mine, henceforward thou remind!'
This seemed a goodly bargain to her lord;
Nor to such pardon was he disinclined.
Thus peace and concord they at home restore,
And love each other dearly evermore."

So said the mariner, and some brief fit
Of laughter in Montalban's master stirred;
And made his visage burn, as if 'twas lit
With fire, when of Anselmo's shame he heard.
Rinaldo greatly praised Argia's wit,
Who by such quaint device had trapped that bird;
Who fell into the net wherein the dame
Herself erewhile had fallen, but with less shame.

When the sun climbed a steeper road, the knight
Ordered the board with food to be supplied,
Which the good Mantuan landlord overnight
Took care with largest plenty to provide;
While the fair town, upon the left, from sight
Retired, and on the right that marish wide.
Argenta is come and gone, with circling walls
And stream into whose bed Santerno falls.

Then was not fair Bastia built, deem I,
Which little cause of boast affords to Spain
(That there her banner has been raised on high),
And causes deeper sorrow to Romagne.
Thence in strait line their bark, that seems to fly,
To the right shore the boatmen drive amain:
Next through a stagnant channel make, that near
Ravenna brings by noon the cavalier.

Though oft of money he had small supply,
Then was the knight so well bested, he made
The weary rowers, in his courtesy,
A parting present, ere farewell was said.
Here changing horse and guide, to Rimini
Rinaldo rode that very eye, nor stayed
In Montefiore till the night was done;
And well nigh reached Urbino with the sun.

Then Frederick was not there of gentle lore,
Nor was Elizabeth nor Guido good;
Francis Maria nor sage Leonore;
Who would in courteous, not in haughty mood,
Have forced so famed a paladin for more
Than one short eye, with them to make abode;
As they long did, and do unto this day,
By dames and cavaliers who pass that way.

Since here none takes his rein, Rinaldo bends
His course an-end to Cagli; o'er the height,
Rifted by Gaurus and Metaurus, wends
Past Apennine, no longer on his right,
Umbri and Tuscans; and at Rome descends.
From Rome to Ostia goes Montalban's knight:
Thence to the city sails; wherein a grave
His pious son to old Anchises gave.

There changes back; and thence in haste he goes
Bound towards Lampedosa's island-shore,
That place of combat chosen by the foes,
And where they had encountered Frank and Moor.
Rinaldo grants his boatmen no repose;
That do what can be done by sail and oar.
But with ill wind and strong the warrior strives;
And, though by little, there too late arrives.

Thither he came what time Anglante's peer
The useful and the glorious deed had done;
Had slain those paynim kings in the career,
But had a hard and bloody conquest won:
Dead was Sir Brandimart; and Olivier,
Dangerously hurt and sore, sate woe-begone,
Somedeal apart, upon the sandy ground,
Martyred and crippled by his cruel wound.

From tears could not the mournful Count refrain,
When brave Rinaldo he embraced, and said,
How in the battle Brandimart was slain.
Such love, such faith endeared the warrior dead.
Nor less Rinaldo's tears his visage stain
When he so cleft beholds their comrade's head.
Thence to embrace bold Oliviero, where
He sits with wounded foot, he makes repair.

All comfort that he could he gave; though none
Could good Rinaldo to himself afford;
Because he came but when the feast was done;
Yea after the removal of the board.
The servants wend to the demolished town,
There hide the bones of either paynim lord
Beneath Biserta's ruined domes, and nigh
And far, the fearful tidings certify.

At the fair conquest won by Roland's blade,
Sansonet and Astolpho make great cheer;
Yet other mirth whose warriors would have made
Had Brandimart not perished; when they hear
That he is dead, their joy is so allayed
They can no more the troubled visage clear.
Which of them now the tidings of such woe
To the unhappy Flordelice shall show?

The night preceding that ill-omened day
Flordelice dreamed the vest of sable grain
That she had made, her husband to array,
And woven with her hand and worked with pain,
Before her eyes all sprinkled-over lay
With ruddy drops, in guise of pattering rain.
That she had worked it so the lady thought;
And then was grieved at seeing what was wrought.

And seemed to say, "Yet from my lord have I
Command to make it all of sable hue;
Now wherefore it is stained with other dye
Against his will, in mode so strange to view?"
She from that dream draws evil augury;
And thither on that eve the tidings flew:
But these concealed Astolpho from the dame
Till he to her with Sansonetto came.

When they are entered, and she sees no show
Of joyful triumphs, she, without a word,
Without a hint to indicate that woe,
Knows that no longer living is her lord.
With that her gentle heart was riven so,
And so her harassed eyes the light abhorred,
And so was every other sense astound,
That, like one dead, she sank upon the ground.

She in her hair, when life returns again,
Fastens her hand; and on her lovely cheeks,
Repeating the beloved name in vain,
With all her force her scorn and fury wreaks;
Uproots and tears, her locks, and in her pain
Like woman, smit by evil demon, shrieks,
Or, as Bacchante at the horn's rude sound,
Erewhile was seen to run her restless round.

Now to the one, to the other now her prayer
She made for knife, wherewith her heart to smite;
Now she aboard the pinnace would repair
That brought the corse of either paynim knight,
And would on either, lifeless as they were,
Do cruel scathe, and vent her fierce despite.
Now would she seek her lord, till at his side
She rested from her weary search, and died.

"Ah! wherefore, Brandimart, did I let thee
Without me wend on such a dire emprize?
She ne'er before did thy departure see,
But Flordelice aye followed thee," she cries:
"Well aided mightest thou have been by me;
For I on thee should still have kept my eyes;
And when Gradasso came behind thee, I
Thee might have succoured with a single cry;

"And haply I so nimbly might have made
Between you, that the stroke I might have caught,
And with my head, as with a buckler, stayed:
For little ill my dying would have wrought.
Anyhow I shall die; and -- that debt paid --
My melancholy death will profit nought:
When, had I died, defending thee in strife,
I could not better have bestowed my life.

"Even is averse had been hard Destiny,
And all heaven's host, when thee I sought to aid,
At least my tears had bathed thy visage, I
Should the last kiss thereon, at least, have laid;
And, ere amid the blessed hierarchy
Thy spirit mixt, `Depart' -- I should have said --
`In peace, and wait me in thy rest; for there,
Where'er thou art, I swiftly shall repair.'

"Is this, O Brandimart, is this the reign,
Whose honoured sceptre thou wast now to take?
With thee to Dommogire, thy fair domain,
Thus went I; me thus welcome dost thou make?
Alas! what hope to-day thou renderest vain!
Ah! what designs, fell Fortune, dost thou break!
Ah! wherefore fear I, since a lot so blest,
Is lost, to lose as well the worthless rest?"

Repeating this and other plaint, so spite
And fury waxed, that she in her despair
Made new assault upon her tresses bright,
As if the fault was wholly in her hair:
Wildly her hands together doth she smite,
And gnaw; with nails her lip and bosom tear.
But I return to Roland and his peers;
While she bemoans herself and melts in tears.

Roland with Olivier, who much requires
Such leech's care, his anguish to allay;
And who, himself, some worthy place desires
As much, wherein Sir Brandimart to lay,
Steers for the lofty mountain, that with fires
Brightens the night, with smoke obscures the day.
The wind blows fair, and on the starboard hand,
Not widely distant from them, lies that land.

With a fresh wind, that in their favour blows,
They loose their hawser at the close of day:
In heaven above the silent goddess shows
Her shining horn, to guide them on their way;
And on the following morn before them rose
The pleasant shores that round Girgenti lay.
Here Roland orders for the ensuing night
All that is needful for the funeral rite.

He, when he saw his order duly done,
And now the westering sun's fair light was spent.
With many nobles, who from neighbouring town,
At his invital, to Girgenti went,
-- The shore with torches blazing up and down,
And sounding wide with cries and loud lament, --
Thither returned where late, of life bereft,
His friends, beloved in life and death, was left.

There stands Bardino, weeping o'er the bier,
Who under Age's heavy burden bows;
Who, in the tears on shipboard shed whilere.
Might well have wept away his eyes and brows:
Upbraiding skies and stars, the cavalier,
Like lion, in whose veins a fever glows,
Roars as he wreathes his wayward hands within
His hoary hair, and rends his wrinkled skin.

Upon the paladin's return the cry
Redoubled, and the mourning louder grew
Orlando to the corse approached more nigh,
And speechless stood awhile, his friends to view,
Pale, as at eve is the acanthus' dye
Or lily's, which were plucked at morn: he drew
A heavy sigh, and on the warrior dead
Fixing his stedfast eyes, the County said:

"O comrade bold and true, there here liest slain,
And who dost live in heaven above, I know,
Rewarded with a life, thy glorious gain,
Which neither heat nor cold can take, my woe
Forgive, if thou beholdest me complain:
Because I sorrow to remain below,
And not to share in such delights with thee;
Not that thou art not left behind with me.

"Alone, without thee, there is nought I may
Ever possess, without thee, that can please.
If still with thee in tempest and affray,
Ah wherefore not with thee in calm and ease?
Right sore must be my trespass, since this clay
Will not to follow thee my soul release.
If in thy troubles still I bore a burden,
Why am I not a partner of thy guerdon?

"Thine is the guerdon; mine the loss; thy gain
Is single; but not single is my woe:
Partners with me in sorrow are Almayne,
And grieving France and Italy; and oh!
How will my lord and uncle, Charlemagne,
How will his paladins lament the blow!
How will the Christian church and empire moan,
Whose best defence in thee is overthrown!

"Oh! how thy foes will by the death of thee
Be freed henceforward from alarm and fear!
Alas! how strengthened paynimry will be!
What hardiment will now be theirs! what cheer!
What of thy consort will become? I see
Even here her mourning, and her outcries hear.
Me she accuses, haply hates, I know;
In that, through me, her every hope lies low.

"Yet by one comfort, Flordelice, is followed
His loss, for us that reft of him remain:
His death, with such surpassing glory hallowed,
To die all living warriors should be fain.
Those Decii; Curtius, in Rome's forum swallowed;
Cordus, so vaunted by the Grecian train;
Not with more honour to themselves, with more
Profit to others, went to death of yore."

These sad laments and more Orlando made;
And all this while white friars, and black, and gray,
With other clerks, by two and two arrayed,
Behind in long procession took their way;
And they to God for the departed prayed,
That he would to his rest his soul convey.
Before and all about were torches reared,
And changed to day the sable night appeared.

They raise the warrior's bier, and ranged to bear
By turns that honoured weight were earl and knight.
The pall was purple silk, with broidery rare
Of gold, and pearls in costly circles dight.
Thereon, of lordly work and no less fair,
Cushions were laid, with jewels shining bright.
On which was stretched the lifeless knight in view,
Arrayed in vest of like device and hue.

A hundred men had past before the rest,
All taken from the poorest of the town;
And in one fashion equally were drest
Those beadsmen all, in black and trailing gown.
A hundred pages followed them, who prest
A hundred puissant steeds, for warfare bown;
And by those pages backed, the portly steeds
Went, sweeping wide the ground with sable weeds.

Banners in front and banners borne in rear,
Whose fields with diverse ensignry is stained,
Unfurled accompany the funeral bier;
Which from a thousand vanquished bands were gained,
For Caesar and for Peter's church whilere,
By that rare force, which now extinct remained.
Bucklers by other followers carried are,
Won from good warriors, whose device they bear.

By hundreds and by hundreds followed more,
Ordained for different tasks, the steps of those;
Who burning torches like those others bore.
Mantled, say rather closely muffled, goes
Roland in sables next, and evermore
His eyes suffused and red with weeping shows.
Nor wears a gladder face Montalban's peer.
At home his wound detains Sir Olivier.

The ceremonies would be long to say
In verse, wherewith Sir Brandimart was mourned;
The mantles, black or purple, given away;
The many torches which that eve were burned.
Wending to the cathedral, where the array
Past on its road, were no dry eyes discerned:
All sexes, ages, ranks, in pitying mood
Gazed upon him so youthful, fair, and good.

He in the church was placed; and, when with vain
Lament the women had bemoaned the dead,
And Kyrie Eleison, by the priestly train,
And other holy orisons were said,
In a fair ark, upraised on columns twain,
Was reared, with sumptuous cloth of gold o'erspread.
So willed Orlando; till he could be laid
In sepulchre of costlier matter made:

Nor out of Sicily the Count departs,
Till porphyries he procures and alabasters,
And fair designs; and in their several arts
Has with large hire engaged the primest masters.
Next Flordelice, arriving in those parts,
Raises the quarried slabs and rich pilasters;
Who, good Orlando being gone before,
Is hither wafted from the Africk shore.

She, seeing that her tears unceasing flow,
And that of long lament she never tires;
Nor she, for mass or service said, her woe
Can ease, or satisfy her sad desires,
Vows in her heart she thence will never go
Till from the wearied corse her soul expires;
And builds in that fair sepulchre a cell;
There shuts herself; therein for life will dwell.

Thither in person, having courier sent
And letter, Roland goes, her thence to take;
Her, would she wend to France, with goodly rent
Would gift, and Galerana's inmate make;
As far as Lizza convoy her, if bent
On journeying to her father; for her sake
If wholly she to serve her God was willed,
A monastery would the warrior build.

Still in that sepulchre she dwelt, and worn
By weary penance, praying night and day,
It was not long, ere by the Parcae shorn
Was her life's thread: already on their way
Were the three Christian warriors, homeward borne,
Sorrowing and afflicted sore in mind
For their fourth comrade who remained behind.

They would not go without a leech, whose skill
Might ease the wound of warlike Olivier;
Which, as in the beginning it could ill
Be salved, is hard to heal. Meanwhile they hear
The champion so complain, his outcries fill
Orlando and all that company with fear.
While they discoursed thereon, the skipper, moved
By a new notion, said what all approved.

A hermit not far distance hence, he said
A lonely rock inhabits in this sea;
Whose isle none, seeking succour, vainly tread,
Whether for counsel or for aid it be:
Who hath done superhuman deeds; the dead
Restores to life; and makes the blind to see;
Hushes the winds; and with a sign o' the cross
Lulls the loud billows when they highest toss;

And adds they need not doubt, if they will go
To seek that holy man to God so dear,
But he on Olivier will health bestow;
Having his virtue proved by signs more clear.
This counsel pleases good Orlando so,
That for the holy place he bids him steer;
Who never swerving from his course, espies
The lonely rock, upon Aurora's rise.

Worked by good mariners, the bark was laid
Safely beside the rugged rock and fell:
The marquis there, with crew and servants' aid,
They lowered into their boat; and through the swell
And foaming waters in that shallop made
For the rude isle; thence sought the holy cell;
The holy cell of that same hermit hoar,
By whom Rogero was baptized before.

The servant of the Lord of Paradise
Receives Orlando and the rest on land;
Blesses the company in cheerful wise;
And after of their errand makes demand;
Though he already had received advice
From angels of the coming of that band.
That they were thither bound in search of aid
For Oliviero's hurt, Orlando said;

Who, warring for the Christian faith, in fight
To perilous pass was brought by evil wound.
All dismal fear relieved that eremite,
And promised he would make him wholly sound.
In that no unguents hath the holy wight,
Nor is in other human medicine found,
His church he seeks, his knee to Jesus bows,
And issues from the fane with cheerful brows;

And in the name of those eternal Three,
The Father, and the Son, and Holy Ghost,
On Oliviero bade his blessing be.
Oh! grace vouchsafed to faith! his sainted host
From every pain the paladin did free;
And to his foot restored its vigour lost.
He moved more nimble than before, and sure;
And present was Sobrino at the cure.

Sobrino, so diseased that he described
How worse with each succeeding day he grew,
As soon as he that holy monk espied
The manifest and mighty marvel do,
Disposed himself to cast Mahound aside,
And own in Christ a living God and true.
He, full of faith, with contrite heart demands
Our holy rite of baptism at his hands.

So him baptized the hermit; and as well
That monarch made as vigorous as whilere.
At this conversion no less gladness fell
On Roland and each Christian cavalier,
Than when, restored from deadly wound, and well
The friendly troop beheld Sir Olivier.
Rogero more rejoiced than all that crew;
And still in faith and grace the warrior grew.

Rogero from the day he swam ashore
Upon that islet, there had ever been.
That band is counselled by the hermit hoar,
Who stands, benign, those warlike knights between,
Eschewing in their passage mire and moor,
To wade withal through that dead water, clean,
Which men call life; wherein so fools delight;
And evermore on heaven to fix their sight.

Roland on shipboard sends one from his throng,
Who fetches hence good wine, hams, cheese, and bread;
And makes the sage, who had forgotten long
All taste of partridge since on fruits he fed,
Even do for love, what others did, among
Those social guests for whom the board was spread.
They, when their strength by food was reinforced,
Of many things amid themselves discoursed;

And as in talk it often doth befall
That one thing from another takes its rise,
Roland and Olivier Rogero call
To mind for that Rogero, in such wise
Renowned in arms; whose valour is of all
Lauded and echoed with accordant cries.
Not even had Rinaldo known the knight
For him whose prowess he had proved in fight.

Him well Sobrino recognized whilere,
As soon as with that aged man espied;
But he at first kept silence; for in fear
Of some mistake the monarch's tongue was tied.
But when those others knew the cavalier
For that Rogero, famous far and wide,
Whose courtesy, whose might and daring through
The universal world loud Rumor blew,

All, for they know he is a Christian, stand
About him with serene and joyful face:
All press upon the knight; one grasps his hand;
Another locks him fast in his embrace:
Yet more than all the others of that band
Him would Montalban's lord caress and grace:
Why more than all the others will appear
In other strain, if you that strain will hear.


Rinaldo his sister to the Child hath plight,
And to Marseilles is with the warrior gone:
And having crimsoned wide the field in fight,
Therein arrives King Otho's valiant son.
To Paris thence: where to that squadron bright
Is mighty grace and wonderous honour done.
The Child departs, resolved on Leo's slaughter,
To whom Duke Aymon had betrothed his daughter.

In poor abode, mid paltry walls and bare,
Amid discomforts and calamities,
Often in friendship heart united are,
Better than under roof of lordly guise,
Or in some royal court, beset with snare,
Mid envious wealth, and ease, and luxuries;
Where charity is spent on every side,
Nor friendship, unless counterfeit, is spied.

Hence it ensues that peace and pact between
Princes and peers are of such short-lived wear.
To-day king, pope, and emperor leagued are seen,
And on the marrow deadly foemen are.
Because such is not as their outward mien
The heart, the spirit, that those sovereigns bear.
Since, wholly careless as to right or wrong,
But to their profit look the faithless throng.

Though little prone to friendship is that sort,
Because with those she loveth not to dwell,
Who, be their talk in earnest or in sport,
Speak not, except some cozening tale to tell;
Yet if together in some poor resort
They prisoned are by Fortune false and fell,
What friendship is they speedily discern;
Though years had past, and this was yet to learn.

In his retreat that ancient eremite
Could bind his inmates with a faster noose,
And in true love more firmly them unite,
Than other could in domes where courtiers use;
And so enduring was the knot and tight,
That nothing short of death the tie could loose.
Benignant all the hermit found that crew;
Whiter at heart than swans in outward hue.

All kind he found them, and of courteous lore;
Untainted with iniquity, in wise
Of them I painted, and who nevermore
Go forth, unless concealed in some disguise.
Of injuries among them done before
All memory, by those comrades buried lies:
Nor could they better love, if from one womb
And from one seed that warlike band had come.

Rinaldo more than all that lordly train
Rogero graced and lovingly caressed;
As well because be on the listed plain
Had proved the peer so strong in martial gest,
As that he was more courteous and humane
Than any knight that e'er laid lance in rest:
But much more; that to him on many a ground
By mighty obligation was he bound.

The fearful risk by Richardetto run
He knew, and how Rogero him bested;
What time the Spanish monarch's hest was done,
And with his daughter he was seized in bed;
And how he had delivered either son
Of good Duke Buovo (as erewhile was said)
From Bertolagi of Maganza's hand,
His evil followers, and the paynim band.

To honour and to hold Rogero dear,
Him, Sir Rinaldo thought, this debt constrained;
And that he could not so have done whilere,
The warlike lord was sorely grieved and pained;
When one for Africk's monarch couched the spear,
And one the cause of royal Charles maintained:
Now he Rogero for a Christian knew,
What could not then be done he now would do.

Welcome, with endless proffers, on his side,
And honour he to good Rogero paid.
The prudent sire that in such kindness spied
An opening made for more, the pass assayed:
"And nothing else remains," that hermit cried,
"Nor will, I trust, my counsel be gainsaid)
But that, conjoined by friendship, you shall be
Yet faster coupled by affinity.

"That from the two bright progenies, which none
Will equal in illustrious blood below,
A race may spring, that brighter than the sun
Will shine, wherever that bright sun may glow;
And which, when years and ages will have run
Their course, will yet endure and fairer show,
While in their orbits burn the heavenly fires:
So me, for your instruction, God inspires."

And his discourse pursuing still, the seer
So spake, he moves Rinaldo by his rede
To give his sister to the cavalier;
Albeit with either small entreaties need.
Together with Orlando, Olivier
The counsel lauds, and would that union speed:
King Charles and Aymon will, he hopes, approve,
And France will welcome wide their wedded love.

So spake together peer and paladine:
Nor knew that Aymon, with King Charles' consent,
Unto the Grecian emperor Constantine
To give his gentle daughter had intent;
Who for young Leo, of his lofty line
The heir and hope, to crave the maid had sent.
Such warmth the praises of her worth inspired,
With love of her unseen was Leo fired.

To him hath Aymon answered: he, alone,
Cannot conclude thereon in other sort,
Until he first hath spoken with his son,
Rinaldo, absent then from Charles's court;
Who with winged haste, he deems, will thither run,
And joy in kinsman of such high report;
But from the high regard he bears his heir,
Can nought resolve till thither he repair.

Now good Rinaldo, of his father wide,
And of the imperial practice knowing nought,
Promised his beauteous sister as a bride,
Upon his own, as well as Roland's thought
And the others, harboured in that cell beside;
But most of all on him the hermit wrought;
And by such marriage, 'twas the peer's belief,
He could not choose but pleasure Clermont's chief.

That day and night, and of the following day
Great part, with that sage monk the warriors spent;
Scarce mindful that the crew their coming stay,
Albeit the wind blew fair for their intent,
But these, impatient at their long delay,
More than one message to the warriors sent;
And to return those barons urged so sore,
Parforce they parted from the hermit hoar.

The Child who, so long banished, had not stayed
From the lone rock, whereon the waters roared,
His farewell to that holy master made,
Who taught him the true faith: anew with sword
Orlando girt his side, and with the blade,
Frontino and martial Hector's arms restored;
As knowing horse and arms were his whilere,
As well as out of kindness to the peer;

And, though the enchanted sword with better right
Would have been worn by good Anglantes' chief,
Who from the fearful garden by his might
Had won the blade with mickle toil and grief,
Than by Rogero, who that faulchion bright
Received with good Frontino, from the thief,
He willingly thereof, as with the rest,
As soon as asked, the warrior repossest.

The hermit blessings on the band implores:
They to their bark in fine return; their sails
Give to the winds, and to the waves their oars;
And such clear skies they have and gentle gales,
Nor vow nor prayer the patron makes; and moors
His pinnace in the haven of Marseilles.
There, safely harboured, let the chiefs remain,
Till I conduct Astolpho to that train.

When of that bloody, dear-brought victory
The scarcely joyful tale Astolpho knew,
He, seeing evermore fair France would be
Secure from mischief from the Moorish crew,
Homeward to send the king of Aethiopy
Devised, together with his army, through
The sandy desert, by the self-same track,
Through which he led them to Biserta's sack.

Erewhile restored, in Afric waters ride
Sir Dudon's ships which did the paynims rout;
Whose prows (new miracle!) and poop, and side,
As soon as all their sable crews are out,
Are changed anew to leaves; which far and wide,
Raised by a sudden breeze, are blown about;
And scattered in mid-air, like such light gear,
Go eddying with the wind, and disappear.

Home, horse and foot, the Nubian host arraid
By squadrons, all, from wasted Africk go;
But to their king, first, thanks Astolpho paid,
And said, he an eternal debt should owe;
In that he had in person given him aid
With all his might and main against the foe.
The skins Astolpho gave them, which confined
The turbid and tempestuous southern wind.

I say, enclosed in skins that wind he gave,
Which in such fury blows at noon, on high
I moves the shifting plain in many a wave,
And fills the eddying sand the troubled sky,
To carry with them, and from scathe to save
Their squadrons, lest the dusty whirlwind fly;
And bids them, when arrived at home, unnoose
The bladder's vent, and let their prisoners loose.

When they have lofty Atlas passes won,
The horses that the Nubian riders bear,
Turpin relates, are changed at once to stone;
So that the steeds return to what they were.
But it is time the Duke to France was gone;
Who having thus provided, in his care,
For the main places in the Moorish land,
Made the hippogryph anew his wings expand;

He reached Sardinia at one flight and shear,
Corsica from Sardinia; and then o'er
The foaming sea his venturous course did steer,
Inclining somewhat left the griffin's soar.
In the sea-marshes last his light career
He stopt, on rich Provence's pleasant shore:
Where to the hyppogryph by him is done
What was erewhile enjoined by sainted John.

To him the charge did sainted John commit,
When to Provence by that winged courser borne,
Him nevermore with saddle or with bit
To gall, but let him to his lair return.
Already had the planet, whither flit
Things lost on earth, of sound deprived his horn:
For this not only hoarse but mute remained,
As soon as the holy place Astolpho gained.

Thence to Marseilles he came; and came the day
Orlando, and Rinaldo, and Olivier
Arrived therein, upon their homeward way,
With good Sobrino, and the better peer,
Rogero: not so triumphs that array,
Touched by the death of him, their comrade dear,
As they for such a glorious victory won
-- But for that sad disaster -- would have done.

Of the kings slain upon the paynim part,
The news from Sicily to Charles were blown,
Sobrino's fate, and death of Brandimart;
Nor less of good Rogero had been shown.
Charles stood with jocund fate and gladsome heart,
Rejoicing he had from his shoulders thrown
The intolerable load whereof the weight
Will for long time prevent his standing straight.

To honour those fair pillars that sustain
The state -- the holy empire's corner-stone --
The nobles of his kingdom Charlemagne
Dispatched, to meet the knights, as far as Saone;
And from his city with his worthiest train,
King, duke, and her, the partner of his throne,
Issued amid a fair and gorgeous band
Of noble damsels, upon either hand.

The emperor Charles with bright and cheerful brow,
Lords, paladins and people, kinsmen, friends,
Fair love to Roland and the others show.
Mongrana and Clermont's cry the welkin rends.
No sooner, mid that kind and festal show,
The interchange of fond embracements ends,
Than Roland and his friends Rogero bring,
And mid those lords present him to the king;

And him Rogero of Risa's son declare,
And vouch in valour as his father's peer,
"Witnesses of his worth our squadrons are,
They best can tell his prowess with the spear."
Meanwhile, the noble and the lovely pair,
Marphisa and gentle Bradamant appear.
This runs to fold Rogero to her heart;
More coy, that other stands somedeal apart.

The emperor bids Rogero mount again,
Who from his horse had lit, in reverence due;
And, side by side, with him his courser rein;
Nor aught omits that monarch which may do
The warrior honour, mid his martial train:
How the true faith he had embraced he knew;
Of all instructed by that band before;
When first those paladins set foot ashore.

With pomp triumphal and with festive cheer
The troop returns within the city-walls:
With leaves and garlands green the streets appear,
And tapestried all about with gorgeous palls.
Of herbs and flowers a mingled rain, where'er
They wend, upon the conquering squadron falls,
Which with full hands from stand and window throw
Damsel and dame upon the knights below.

At every turn, in various places are,
Of sudden structure arch and trophy high,
Whereon Biserta's sack is painted fair,
Ruin and fire, and feat of chivalry:
Scaffolds, upraised for different sports elsewhere
And merrimake and stage-play meet the eye;
And, writ with truth, above, below, between,
To THE EMPIRE'S SAVIOURS, everywhere is seen.

With sound of shrilling pipe and trumpet proud,
And other festive music, laughter light,
Applause and favour of the following crowd,
Which scarce found room, begirt with dames and knight,
The mighty emperor, mid those greetings loud.
Before the royal palace did alight:
Where many days he feasted high in hall
His lords, mid tourney, mummery, mask and ball.

His son to Aymon on a day made known
His sister he would make Rogero's bride;
And, before Olivier and Milo's son,
Her to the Child by promise had affied;
Who think with him that kindred is there none
Wherewith to league themselves, on any side,
For valour or nobility of blood,
Better than his; nay, none so passing good.

Duke Aymon heard his heir with some disdain;
That, without concert with him, and alone
He dared to plight his daughter, whom he fain
Would marry to the Grecian emperor's son;
And not to him that has no kingly reign,
Nay has not ought that he can call his own;
And should not know, how little nobleness
Is valued without wealth; how virtue less.

But Beatrice, his wife, with more despite
Arraigns her son, and calls him arrogant;
And moves each open way and hidden sleight
To break Rogero's match with Bradamant;
Resolved to tax her every means and might
To make her empress of the wide Levant.
Firm in his purpose is Montalban's lord,
Nor will in ought forego his plighted word.

Beatrice who believes the highminded fair
Is at her hest, exhorts her to reply,
Rather than she will be constrained to pair
With a poor knight, she is resolved to die;
Nor, if this wrong she from Rinaldo bear
Will she regard her with a mother's eye:
Let her refuse and keep her stedfast course;
For her free will Rinaldo cannot force.

Silent stands mournful Bradamant, nor dares
Meanwhile her lady-mother's speech gainsay;
To whom such reverence, and respect, she bears,
She thinks no choice is left but to obey.
Yet a foul fault it in her eyes appears,
If what she will not do, she falsely say:
She will not, for she cannot; since above
All guidance, great or small, is mighty Love.

Deny she dared not, nor yet seem content;
So, sighed and spake not; but -- when uncontrolled
She could -- she gave her secret sorrow vent,
While from her eyes the tears like billows rolled;
A portion of the pains that her torment,
Inflicting on her breast and locks of gold:
For this she beat, and those uptore and brake;
And thus she made lament, and thus she spake.

"Ah! shall I will what she wills not, by right
More sovereign mistress of my will than I?
Hers shall I hold so cheaply, so to slight
A mother's will, my own to satisfy?
Alas! what blemish is so foul to sight
In damsel? What so ill, as to affy
Myself to husband, reckless of her will,
Which 'tis my duty ever to fulfil?

"Wo worth the while! and shall I then to thee
By filial love be forced to be untrue,
O my Rogero, and surrender me
To a new hope, a new love, and a new
Desire; or rather from those ties break free,
From all good children to good parents due;
Observance, reverence cast aside; and measure
My duty by my happiness, my pleasure?

"I know, alas! what I should do; I know
That which a duteous daughter doth behove;
I know; but what avails it, if not so
My reason moves me as my senses move;
If she retires before a stronger foe;
Nor can I of myself dispose, for Love;
Nor think how to dispose; so strict his sway;
Nor, saving as he dictates, do and say?

"Aymon and Beatrice's child, the slave
Of Love am I; ah! miserable me!
I from my parents am in hope to have
Pardon and pity, if in fault I be:
But, if I anger Love, whose prayer shall save
Me from his fury, till one only plea,
Of mine the Godhead shall vouchsafe to hear;
Nor doom me dead as soon as I appear?

"Alas! with long and obstinate pursuit,
To our faith to draw Rogero have I wrought;
And finally have drawn; but with what boot,
If my fair deed for other's good be wrought?
So yearly by the bee, whose labour's fruit
Is lost for her, is hive with honey fraught.
But I will die ere I the Child forsake,
And other husband than Rogero take.

"If I shall not obey my father's hest,
Nor mothers, I my brother's shall obey,
Of greater wisdom far than them possest;
Nor Time hath made that warrior's wit his prey;
And what he wills by Roland is profest;
And, one and the other, on my side are they;
A pair more feared and honoured far and wide
Than all the members of my house beside.

"If them the flower of Clermont's noble tree,
The glory and the splendor all account;
If all believe our other chivalry
They, more than head o'ertops the foot, surmount;
Why would I Aymon should dispose of me,
Rather than good Rinaldo and the Count?
I should not; so much less, as not affied
To Leo, and Rogero's promised bride."

If cruel thoughts the afflicted maid torment,
Rogero's mind enjoys not more repose;
For albeit those sad tidings have not vent
Yet in the city, he the secret knows.
He o'er his humble fortunes makes lament
Which his enjoying such a good oppose;
As unendowed with riches or with reign,
Dispensed so widely to a worthless train.

Of other goods which Nature's hand supplies,
Or which acquired by man's own study are,
He such a portion in himself espies,
Such and so large was never other's share:
In that, no beauty with his beauty vies;
In that, resistance to his might is rare.
The palm by none from him can challenged be,
In regal splendour, magnanimity.

But they at whose disposal honours lie,
Who give at will, and take away renown;
The vulgar herd; and from the vulgar I,
Except the prudent man, distinguished none;
Nor emperor, pope, nor king, is raised more high
Than these by sceptre, mitre, or by crown,
Nor save by prudence; save by judgement, given
But to the favoured few by partial Heaven;

This vulgar (to say out what I would say)
Which only honours wealth, therewith more smit
Than any worldly thing beside, nor they
Aught heed or aught esteem, ungraced with it,
Be beauty or be daring what it may,
Dexterity or prowess, worth, or wit,
Or goodness -- yet more vulgar stands confest
In that whereof I speak than in the rest.

Rogero said: "If Aymon is disposed
An empress in his Bradamant to see,
Let not his treaty be so quickly closed
With Leo; let a year be granted me:
In that, meanwhile, I hope, by me deposed
Shall Leo with his royal father be,
And I, encircled with their forfeit crown,
Shall be for Aymon no unworthy son.

"But if he give without delay, as said,
His daughter to the son of Constantine,
If to that promise no regard be paid,
Which good Rinaldo and the paladine,
His cousin, erst before the hermit made,
The Marquis Olivier and King Sobrine,
What shall I do? such grievous wrong shall I
Endure, or, rather than endure it, die?

"What shall I do? her father then pursue,
On whom for vengeance this grave outrage cries?
I heed not that the deed is hard to do,
Or if the attempt in me is weak or wise: --
But presuppose that, with his kindred crew
Slain by my hand that unjust elder dies;
This will in nothing further my content;
Nay it will wholly frustrate my intent.

" `Twas ever my intent, and still 'tis so
To have the love, not hatred, of that fair;
But should I Aymon slay, or bring some woe
By plot or practice, on his house or heir,
Will she not justly hold me as her foe,
And me, that foeman, as her lord forswear?
What shall I do, endure such injury?
Ah! no, by Heaven! far rather I will die.

"Nay die I will not; but with better right
Shall Leo die, who so disturbs my joy;
He and his unjust sire; less dear his flight
With Helen paid her paramour of Troy;
Nor yet in older time that foul despite,
Done to Proserpina, cost such annoy
To bold Pirithous, as for her I've lost
My grief of heart shall son and father cost.

"Can it be true, my life, that to forsake
Thy champion for this Greek should grieve not thee?
And could thy father force thee him to take,
Though joined thy brethren with thy sire should be?
But 'tis my fear that thou would'st rather make
Accord withal with Aymon than with me;
And that it seemeth better in thy sight
To wed with Caesar than with simple wight.

"Can it be true that royal name should blind,
Imperial title, pomp and majesty,
And taint my Bradamant's egregious mind,
Her mighty valour and her virtue high,
So that, as cheaper, she should cast behind
Her plighted faith, and from her promise fly?
Nor sooner she a foe to Love be made,
Than she no longer say, what once she said?"

These things Rogero said, and more beside,
Discoursing with himself, and in such strain
Oftentimes the afflicted warrior cried,
That stander-by o'erheard the knight complain,
And more than once his grief was signified
To her that was the occasion of his pain;
Who no less for his cruel woe, when known,
Lamented than for sorrows of her own.

But most, of all the sorrows that were said
To vex Rogero, most it works her woe
To hear that he afflicts himself, in dread
Lest for the Grecian prince she him forego.
Hence this belief, this error, from his head
To drive, comfort on the knight bestow,
The trustiest of her bower-women, one day,
She to Rogero bade these words convey.

"Rogero, I what I was till death will be;
And be more faithful, if I can be more:
Deals Love in kindness or in scorn with me;
Hath doubtful Fortune good or ill in store;
I am a very rock of faith, by sea
And winds unmoved, which round about it roar
Nor I have changed for calm or storm, nor I
Will ever change to all eternity.

"Sooner shall file or chisel made of lead
To the rough diamond various forms impart,
Than any stroke, by fickle Fortune sped,
Or Love's keen anger, break my constant heart:
Sooner return, to Alp, their fountain-head,
The troubled streams that from its summit part,
Than e'er, for change or chances, good or nought,
Shall wander from its way my stedfast thought.

"All power o'er me have I bestowed on you,
Rogero; and more than others may divine:
I know that to a prince whose throne is new
Was never fealty sworn more true than mine;
Nor ever surer state, this wide world through,
By king or keysar was possest than thine.
Thou need'st not dig a ditch nor build a tower,
In fear lest any rob thee of that power.

"For if thou hire no aids, assault is none,
But what thereon shall aye be made in vain;
Nor shall it be by any riches won:
So vile a price no gentle heart can gain:
Nor by nobility, nor kingly crown,
That dazzle so the silly vulgar train;
Nor beauty, puissant with the weak and light,
Shall ever make me thee for other slight.

"Thou hast no cause, amid thy griefs, to fear
My heart should ever bear new impress more:
So deeply is thine image graven here,
It cannot be removed: that my heart's core
Is not of wax is proved; for Love whilere
Smote it a hundred times, not once, before
He by his blows a single scale displaced,
What time therein his hand thine image traced.

"Ivory, gem, and every hard-grained stone
That best resists the griding tool, may break:
But, save the form it once hath taken, none
Will ever from the graver's iron take.
My heart like marble is, or thing least prone
Beneath the chisel's trenchant edge to flake:
Love this may wholly splinter, ere he may
Another's beauty in its core enlay."

Other and many words with comfort rife,
And full of love and faith, she said beside;
Which might a thousand times have given him life,
Albeit a thousand times the knight had died:
But, when most clear of the tempestuous strife,
In friendly port these hopes appeared to ride,
These hopes a foul and furious wind anew
Far from the sheltering land to seaward blew.

In that the gentle Bradamant, who fain
Would do far more than she hath signified,
With wonted daring armed her heart again;
And boldly casting all respect aside,
One day stood up before King Charlemagne;
And, "Sire, if ever yet," the damsel cried,
"I have found favour in your eyes for deed
Done heretofore, deny me not its meed;

"And I entreat, before I claim my fee,
That you to me your royal promise plight,
To grant my prayer; and fain would have you see
That what I shall demand is just and right."
"Thy valour, damsel dear, deserves from me
The boon wherewith thy worth I should requite"
(Charles answered), "and I to content thee swear,
Though of my kingdom thou should'st claim a share."

"The boon for which I to your highness sue,
Is not to let my parents me accord
(Pursued the martial damsel) save he shew
More prowess than myself, to any lord.
Let him contend with me in tourney, who
Would have me, or assay me with the sword.
Me as his wife let him that wins me, wear;
Let him that loses me, with other pair."

With cheerful face the emperor made reply,
The entreaty was well worthy of the maid;
And that with tranquil mind she might rely,
He would accord the boon for which she prayed.
This audience was not given so secretly,
But that the news to others were conveyed;


Back to Full Books