Part 14 out of 25
Not so Sir Richardet and Aldigier,
Varied the dance between those squadrons twain;
For, heedless of the Moors, each cavalier
Had but an eye to false Maganza's train.
The brother of Rinaldo, Charles's peer,
Much courage added to much might and main;
And these were now redoubled by the spite,
Which against false Maganza warmed the knight.
This cause made him who in his fury shared,
Good Buovo's bastard, seems a lion fell;
He, without pause, each trusty helmet pared
With his good blade, or crushed it like the shell
Of brittle egg: and who would not have dared --
Would not have shown a Hector's worth as well,
Having two such companions in the stower,
Of warlike wights the very choice and flower?
Marphisa, waging all the while the fight,
On her companions often turned to gaze,
And as she marked their rivalry in might,
Admiring, upon all bestowed her praise;
But when she on Rogero fixed her sight,
Deemed him unparalleled; and in amaze,
At times believed that Paladin was Mars,
Who left his heaven to mix in mortal wars.
She marvels at the champion's horrid blows;
She marvels how in vain they never fell.
The iron, smit by Balisarda shows
Like paper, not like stubborn plate and shell.
To pieces helm and solid corslet goes,
And men are severed, even to the sell;
Whom into equal parts those strokes divide,
Half dropt on this, and half on the other side.
With the same downright stroke, he overbore
The horse and rider, bleeding in the dust;
The heads of others from their shoulders bore,
And parted from the hips the bleeding bust.
He often at a blow cleft five and more;
And -- but I doubt who hears me might distrust
What of a seeming falsehood bears the impress --
I would say more; but I parforce say less.
Good Turpin, he who knows that he tells true,
And leaves men to believe what they think right,
Says of Rogero wondrous things, which you
Hearing related, would as falsehoods slight.
Thus, with Marphisa matched, that hostile crew
Appears like ice, and she like burning light.
Nor her Rogero with less marvel eyes,
That she had marked his valour with surprise.
As she had Mars in bold Rogero seen,
Perhaps Bellona he had deemed the maid,
If for a woman he had known that queen,
Who seemed the contrary, in arms arrayed;
And haply emulation had between
The pair ensued, by whom with cruel blade
Most deadly signs of prowess should be shown,
Mid that vile herd, on sinew, flesh and bone.
To rout each hostile squadron, filled with dread,
Sufficed the soul and valour of the four;
Nor better arms remained for them who fled
Than the sharp goads which on their heels they wore.
Happy was he with courser well bested!
By trot or amble they set little store;
And he who had no steed, here learned, dismayed,
How wretched is the poor foot-soldier's trade.
The conqueror's prize remained both field and prey;
Nor was there footman left nor muleteer;
The Moor took this, Maganza took that way;
One leaves the prisoners, and one leaves the gear.
With visage glad, and yet with heart more gay,
The four united each captive cavalier;
Nor were less diligent to free from chains
The prisoned pages, and unload the wains.
Besides good quantity of silver fine,
Wrought into different vessels, with a store
Of feminine array, of fair design,
Embroidered round about with choicest lore,
And suit of Flemish tapestry, framed to line
Royal apartments, wrought with silk and ore --
-- They, 'mid more costly things in plenty spread --
Discovered flasks of wine, and meat and bread.
When now the conquering troop their temples bare,
All see they have received a damsel's aid,
Known by her curling locks of golden hair,
And delicate and beauteous face displayed:
Her the knights honoured much, and to declare
Her name, so well deserving glory, prayed;
Nor she, that ever was of courteous mood
Among her friends, their instances withstood.
With viewing her they cannot sate their eyes,
Who in the battle such had her espied,
She speaks but with the Child, but him descries;
None prizes, values none, 'twould seem, beside.
Meanwhile that ready spread a banquet lies,
To them is by the servants notified.
This they had served about a neighbouring fountain,
Screened from the sun by an o'ershadowing mountain.
This spring was one of those four fountains rare,
Of those in France produced by Merlin's sleight;
Encompassed round about with marble fair,
Shining and polished, and then milk more white.
There in the stone choice figures chisseled were,
By that magician's godlike labour dight;
Save voice was wanting, these you might have thought
Were living and with nerve and spirit fraught.
Here, to appearance, from the forest prest
A cruel Beast and hideous to the eye,
With teeth of wolf, an ass's head and crest,
A carcass with long famine lean and dry,
And lion's claws; a fox in all the rest:
Which seemed to ravage France and Italy,
And Spain and England's desolated strands,
Europe and Asia, and in fine all lands.
The beast the low and those of proudest port
Had slain or maimed throughout this earthly ball;
Yea, fiercest seemed on those of noble sort,
Sovereign and satrap, prince and peer, to fall;
And made most havoc in the Roman court;
For it had slaughtered Pope and Cardinal:
Had filled St. Peter's beauteous seat with scathe,
And brought foul scandal on the HOLY FAITH.
Whate'er she touches, wall or rampire steep,
Goes to the ground' where'er the monster wends,
Each fortress opens; neither castle-keep,
Nor city from her rage its wealth defends.
Honours divine as well that Beast would reap,
It seems (while the besotted rabble bends)
And claim withal, as to its keeping given,
The sacred keys which open Hell and Heaven.
Approaching next, is seen a cavalier,
His temples circled with imperial bay;
Three youths with him in company appear,
With golden lilies wrought in their array:
A lion seems against that monster drear
To issue, with the same device as they:
The name of these are on the marble read,
Some on their skirt, some written overhead.
Of those who so against Beast advance,
One to the hilt has in his life-blood dyed
His faulchion, Francis styled the first of France;
With Austrian Maximilian at his side:
In one, who gores his gullet with the lance,
The emperor Charles the fifth is signified:
Henry the eighth of England is he hight,
Who in the monster's breast a dart has pight.
The TENTH, in writing, on his back displayed
The Lion, who that Beast is seen to hold
By both his ears, and him so well has bayed,
That thither troop assistants manifold.
'Twould seem the world all fear aside has laid;
And, in amendment of their errors old,
Thitherward nobles troop, but these are few;
And so that hideous Beast those hunters slew.
In wonder stood long time that warlike train,
Desirous, as the storied work they traced,
To know by hands of whom that Beast was slain,
Which had so many smiling lands defaced,
The names unknown to them, though figured plain
Upon the marble which that fountain cased:
They one another prayed, if any guessed
That story, he would tell it to the rest.
Vivian on Malagigi turned his eyes,
Who listening stood this while, yet spake he nought.
"With thee," he cried, "to tell the meaning lies,
Who are they, by whose darts and lances dies
That shouldst by what I see in this be taught:
The hideous monster, that to bay is brought?"
-- And Malagigi -- "Hitherto their glory
No author has consigned to living story.
"The chiefs whose names are graved upon the stone,
Not yet have moved upon this worldly stage;
But will within seven hundred years be known,
To the great honour of a future age.
What time king Arthur filled the British throne,
This fountain Merlin made, enchanter sage;
Who things to come upon the marble fair
Made sculpture by a cunning artist's care.
"This Beast, when weights and measures first were found,
Came out of nether hell; when on the plain,
Common before, men fixed the landmark's bound,
And fashioned written pacts with jealous pain;
Yet walked not every where, at first, her round:
Unvisited she left yet many a reign:
Through diverse places in our time she wends;
But the vile rabble and the crowd offends.
"From the beginning even to our day,
Aye has that monster grown, and aye will grow;
And till much time be past will grow alway:
Was never mightier, nor worse cause of woe.
That Python, oft the theme of ancient lay,
So passing wonderful and fierce in show,
Came not by half this loathsome monster nigh,
In all its foulness and deformity.
"Dread desolation shall it make; nor place
Will unpolluted or untainted be;
And you in the mysterious sculptured trace
But little of its foul iniquity.
The world, when weary of imploring grace,
Those worthy peers (whose names you sculptured see,
And which shall blazing carbuncle outshine),
To succour in its utmost need combine.
"No one shall more that cruel beast molest
Than Francis, who the realm of France will steer,
Who justly shall be forward in this quest,
Whom none shall go beyond, whom few shall peer
Since he in splendour, as in all the rest,
Wanting in worth, will many make appear
Who whilom perfect seemed; so fade and yield
All lesser glories to the sun revealed.
"In the first year of his successful reign,
The crown yet ill secure upon his front,
He threads the Alps, and makes their labour vain,
Who would against his arms maintain the Mount.
Impelled by generous and by just disdain,
The unavenged as yet is that affront,
Which a French army suffered from their rage,
Who poured from beast-cote, field, and pasturage:
"And thence shall into the rich Lombard plain
Descend, with all the flower of France, and so
Shall break the Switzer, that henceforth in vain
Would he uplift his horn against the foe.
To the sore scandal of the Church and Spain,
And to the Florentine's much scathe and woe,
By him that famous castle shall be quelled,
Which inexpugnable whilere was held.
"In quelling it his honoured faulchion, more
Than other arms, availing shall be found;
Which first that cruel Beast to death will gore,
The foul destroyer of each country round:
Parforce will every standard fly before
That conquering faulchion, or be cast to ground:
Nor, stormed by it, will rampart, fosse, or wall,
Secure the city, they surround, from fall.
"Imbued with every generous quality,
Which can in great commander be combined,
-- Prudence like his who won Thrasymenae
And Trebbia's field, with Caesar's daring mind,
And Alexander's fortune, him I see;
Without which all designs are mist and wind;
Withal, so passing liberal, I in none
Mark his example or his parragon."
So Malagigi to his comrades said,
And moved in them desire some name to hear
Of others, who had laid that monster dead,
Which to slay others had been used whilere.
Among the first Bernardo's name was read,
Much vaunted in the writing of the Seer:
Who said, "Through him as known as Bibbiena
As her own neighbour Florence and Siena.
"More forward in this chase shall no one show
Than Sigismond, than Lewis, and than John;
Each to that hideous beast a cruel foe;
One a Gonzaga, one of Arragon,
And one a Salviati: with them go
Francis Gonzaga and Frederick his son:
Brother and son-in-law, their aid afford;
One chief Ferrara's, one Urbino's lord.
"Of one of these the son, Sir Guidobald,
Will not by sire, or other, distanced be:
With Ottobon de Flisco, Sinibald
Chases the Beast, both striving equally:
Lewis de Gazolo its neck has galled
With one of those keen darts, Apollo's fee,
Given with his bow, what time as well his glaive,
The god of war, to gird that warrior, gave.
"Two Hercules and two Hippolyti
Of Este, a Hercules and Hippolyte
Of the Gonzagas' and the Medici,
Hunt and fatigue the monster in his flight:
Nor Julian lets his good son pass him by;
Nor bold Ferrant his brother; nor less wight
Is Andrew Doria; nor by any one
Is Francis Sforza in the chase outdone.
"Of good Avalo's glorious lineage bred,
Two chiefs that mountain for their bearing show,
Which, hiding him, from dragon-feet to head,
The wicked Typheus seems to keep below.
'Mid those combined, to lay the monster dead,
Shall none more forward than this couple go:
Him Francis of Pescara names the text;
Alphonso, hight of Guasto, is the next.
"But where leave I Gonsalvo Ferrant, who
Is held in such esteem, the pride of Spain?
So praised by Malagigi, that him few
Equal among the worthies of that train.
William, surnamed of Monferrato, view
'Mid those that have the hideous monster slain:
But these are few compared with numbers round,
Whom that despiteous Beast shall kill or wound."
To converse gay the friends themselves addrest,
And seemly pastimes, when their meal was done,
Through the hot noontide, and fine carpets prest,
'Mid shrubs, by which the limpid river run.
Vivian and Malagigi, that the rest
Might be more tranquil, watched with armour on;
When unaccompanied they saw a dame,
Who quickly towards their place of shelter came;
Hippalca she; from whom was torn away
Frontino, that good horse, by Rodomont:
Him had she long pursued the former day,
And now with prayer, now followed with affront.
Which booting nought, she had retraced her way,
To seek Rogero out in Agrismont;
And, how I know not, heard upon her round,
He here with Richardetto would be found.
And, for to her well known was that repair,
Used by her often, she herself addrest
Towards the fount, and in that quarter fair
Found him, and in what manner, was exprest;
But like embassadress, who -- wise and ware --
Better than was enjoined performs a hest,
When Richardetto she beheld, made show
As if she good Rogero did not know.
She turned her wholly to Sir Richardet,
As bound direct to him; and, on his side,
He who well knew her, straight uprose and met,
And asked that damsel whitherward she hied.
Hippalca, with her eyes yet red and wet
From her long weeping, sighing deeply, cried,
But cried aloud, that young Rogero, near
The warrior she addrest, her tale might hear:
"I from Mount Alban with a courser sped;
(So your good sister had commanded me)
A horse much loved by her, and highly bred;
Frontino is yclept that charger free;
And him I more than thirty miles had led
Towards Marseilles, where she designed to be
Within few days; by her enjoined to wend
Thither, and her arrival there attend.
"I in the sure belief pursued my course,
Was none so stout of heart, if I should say
How Sir Rinaldo's sister owned the horse,
He would presume to take that steed away.
But vain was my design; for him parforce
A Saracen took from me yesterday:
Nor, when to him his master's name I read,
Will that bold robber render back the steed.
"Him I to-day and all the day before
Have prayed, and prayer and menace proving vain,
Aye cursing him and execrating sore,
Have left at little distance; where, with pain,
Both to his courser and himself, the Moor,
As best he can, a combat does maintain
Against a knight, who him so hard has prest,
I trust my injury shall be redrest."
At this Rogero, leaping on his feet,
Who scarcely had endured the whole to hear,
To Richardetto turned; and, as a meet
Guerdon for his good deed, the cavalier
Did, with beseechings infinite, entreat
To let him singly with that damsel steer,
Until she showed the paynim, who by force
Had wrested from her hands that goodly horse.
Richardet (though it seems discourtesy
To yield to other champion that emprize,
Which by himself should terminated be)
Yet with Rogero's earnest suit complies;
Who takes farewell of that good company,
And with the damsel on her journey hies.
And leaves those others, whom his feats confound,
Not merely lost in wonder, but astoud.
To him Hippalca said, when she apart
Had drawn him to some distance from the rest,
She was dispatched by her that in her heart
Bore of his worth the image so imprest;
-- And added, without using farther art,
All that her lady had to him addrest;
And if she told another tale whilere,
Of Richardetto she was then in fear.
She added how the author of that deed
Had also said to her with mickle pride;
"Because I know Rogero owns the steed,
More willingly I take him from his guide.
If he would repossess the courser, read
To him what I have no desire to hide,
I am that Rodomont, whose martial worth
Scatters its splendour through this ample earth."
Listening, the visage of the youthful knight
Showed with what rage his heart was in a flame,
As well as that the horse was his delight;
As well upon account of whence it came;
And also that 'twas reft in his despite;
He sees dishonour will ensue and blame,
Save he from Rodomont redeems the prey,
And with a due revenge that wrong repay.
With him, without repose, the damsel rides,
Who with his foe would bring him front to front;
And thither journies where the road divides,
And one branch cuts the plain, one climbs the mount,
And either pathway to that valley guides,
Where she had newly left King Rodomont,
The mountain track was short, but trod with pain;
That other longer far, but smooth and plain.
Hippalca's ardour to retrieve the prey,
And upon Rodomont's avenge the wrong,
Incites that maid the mountain to assay;
By which (as said) the journey was less long:
While Mandricardo, Rodomont, and they
Of whom I erst made mention in my song,
That easier track across the level hold;
And thus encounter not Rogero bold.
Until King Agramant shall succoured be,
Suspended is their quarrel (in what wise
You know), and in the champions' company
Doralice, cause of all their discord, hies.
Now hear the upshot of this history!
Their way directly by that fountain lies,
Beside whose margin are in pastime met
Marphisa and Aldigier and Richardet.
Marphisa had, at her companions' prayer,
Cloathed her in female ornaments and vest,
Of those, which by Maganza's traitour were
Late to Lanfusa, in full trust, addrest;
And, though the appearance of that maid was rare
Without her corslet, casque and all the rest,
-- At their entreaty, these for once laid down --
She deigned to seem a maid and donned the gown.
As soon as Mandricardo saw her face,
In trust that, could he win her in affray,
He would that maid, in recompense and place
Of Doralice, to Rodomont convey;
As if Love trafficked in such contracts base,
And lover could his lady change away,
Nor yet with reason at the event be pained,
If he in losing one another gained.
Hence with a damsel to provide the peer,
That he himself the other may retain;
Deeming her worthy any cavalier,
He would by force of arms the maid obtain;
And, as if he could suddenly hold dear
This maid as that, on him bestow the gain;
And all of those, whom he about her spied,
Forthwith to joust and single fight defied.
Vivian and Malagigi (who were dight
In arms, as guard and surety for the rest,)
One and the other champion -- prompt for fight,
Rose lightly from the herbage which they prest,
Deeming they had to joust with either knight;
But Rodomont, who came not on this quest,
No motion made as he a course would run;
So that they had to tourney but with one.
Sir Vivian is the first who moves his horse,
With mighty heart, and lays his weapon low;
And he, that Tartar king, renowned for force,
With greater puissance meets the coming foe.
His lance each warrior levels in the course
Where he bests trusts to plant the furious blow.
Vainly Sir Vivian's spear the casque offends;
Nor throws that paynim knight, nor even bends.
That Tartar's harder weapon makes the shield
Of Vivian, at their onset, fly like grass;
And, tumbling from his saddle on the field,
Extends the champion amid flowers and grass.
To run his chance Sir Malagigi, steeled,
Did to his brother's succour quickly pass;
But (such that warrior's hurry to be near)
Rather accompanied, than venged the peer.
The other of those brethren armed before
His cousin, and had backed his courser wight;
And, having first defied, encountered sore,
Spurring with flowing rein, the stranger knight.
Against the tempered helm that pagan wore
Sounded the blow, an inch below the sight:
Heaven-high the truncheon flew, in fragments broke,
But the stout pagan winced not for the stroke.
Him on the left side smote that paynim peer,
And (for the blow was with huge force designed)
Little his shield, and less his iron gear,
Availed, which opened like the yielding rhind:
The weapon pierced his shoulder; Aldigier
Now right now left upon his horse inclined;
Then him, 'mid grass and flowers, his comrades view,
With arms of crimson, face of pallid, hue.
Next Richardetto comes, and for the blow
Intended, levels such a mighty lance,
He showed himself, as he was wont to show,
Worthy to be a paladin of France;
And has stamped signs of this upon the foe.
If he had warred on him with equal chance;
But prostrate rolled, encumbered by his steed;
Nor fell the courser through his lord's misdeed.
When knight appeared not on the other side,
Who should in joust the paynim king affront,
He thought the damsel was his prize, and hied
Thither, where she was seated by the fount.
And -- "Lady, you are mine," the Tartar cried,
"Save other champion in your succour mount;
Nor can you make denial or excuse,
Since such the right of war and common use."
Marphisa raised her face with haughty cheer,
And answered him: "Thy judgment wanders far;
I will concede thy sentence would be clear,
Concluding I am thine by right of war,
If either were my lord or cavalier
Of those, by thee unhorsed in bloody jar:
Nor theirs am I, nor other's, but my own,
Who wins me, wins me from myself alone.
"I too with lance and sword do doughty deed,
And more than one good knight on earth have laid.
-- Give me," she cried, "my armour and my steed."
And readily her squires that hest obeyed:
Then in her waistcoat stood, of flowing weed
Despoiled, with well-knit from and charms displayed;
And in all points (such strength she shewed and grace)
Resembled heavenly Mars, except her face.
The damsel donned her sword, when armed all o'er,
And on her courser leapt with nimble spring;
And, right and left, she made him, thrice or more
Poised on his haunches, turn in narrow ring.
And, levelling the sturdy lance she bore,
Defied, and next assailed, the Tartar king.
So combating with Peleus' son, of yore,
Penthesilaea warred on Trojan shore.
Like brittle crystal, in that proud career,
The weapons at the rest to pieces went;
Yet neither of those warriors, 'twould appear,
Backwards one inch at their encounter bent.
Marphisa, who would willingly be clear
What of a closer fight would be the event,
For a new combat with the paynim lord,
Wheeled, to attack that warrior with the sword.
That Tartar cursed the elements and sky,
When her he saw remaining in her sell;
And she, who thought to make his buckler fly,
Cursed heaven as loudly as that infidel.
Already were their faulchions raised on high,
Which on the enchanted arms like hammers fell:
Enchanted arms both combatants enclose,
Never more needed by those deadly foes.
So perfect are the champions' plate and chain,
They thrust or cut of spear or faulchion stay;
So that the two the battle might maintain,
Throughout this and throughout another day:
But Rodomont leaps in between the twain,
And taxes Mandricardo with delay;
Crying, "If battle here is to be done,
Finish we that which we to-day begun.
"We made a truce, thou knowest, upon pact
Of furnishing our baffled forces aid;
Nor foe in joust or fight can be attacked
By us with justice till this debt be paid."
Then to Marphisa he in reverent act
Addressed himself, and of that courier said;
And next recounted to the martial dame,
How seeking aid for Agramant he came.
Next prays not only with that Tartar knight
She will abandon or defer the fray;
But that, Troyano's valiant son to right,
She will, together with them, wend her way;
By which her warlike fame a higher flight,
More easily may, even to heaven, assay,
Than in a quarrel of such paltry guise,
Which offers hindrance to such fair emprize.
Marphisa, who had evermore in thought
To prove the paladins of Charles, and who
To France was over land and ocean brought,
From clime so distant, with no other view,
Than by her own experience to be taught
If their far-spread renown were false or true,
Resolved together with the troop to speed,
As soon as she had heard their monarch's need.
Meanwhile Rogero, with that guiding may,
Had vainly by the rugged pathway sped;
Who that king Rodomont another way
Had taken, when he reached the mountain, read;
And thinking, that he was not far away,
And the road straight towards that fountain led,
Trotting in haste behind the Sarzan hied,
Where he new prints upon the path espied.
Hippalca he to Mont Albano prayed,
To wend, which distant one day's journey lies;
Because to seek anew that fountain-glade,
Would be to wander in too wide a guise.
And that she need not doubt withal, he said,
But that he would retrieve the ravished prize.
And, were she in Mount Alban -- or where'er --
Vowed she the tidings speedily should hear,
And gave the letter to that maid to bear,
Which, writ by him, he in his bosom wore,
And added many matters, with the prayer,
She would excuse him by her friendly lore.
Hippalca in her memory fixt, with care,
The whole; took leave, and turned her horse once more:
Nor ceased that faithful messenger to ride
Till she Mount Alban reached at evening-tide.
Rogero followed fast the paynim knight,
Tracked o'er the level by those footsteps new,
But overtook him not, till he got sight,
Beside the fount, of Mandricardo too.
Already either had his promise plight,
He nought unknown to his compeer would do,
Till they had succour to that host conveyed,
On which King Charles his yoke had nearly laid.
Arrived, Rogero knew Frontino gay,
And, through that courser, knew the knight astride;
And on his lance with bending shoulder lay,
And in fierce tone the African defied.
Job was outdone by Rodomont that day,
In that the king subdued his haughty pride,
And the fell fight which he had ever used
To seek with every instance, he refused.
The first day this and last, that e'er in fight
King Rodomont refused his part to bear!
But his desire appeared to him so right,
In succour of his sovereign to repair;
That if he had believed he clutched the knight
Faster than nimble leopard gripes the hare,
He not so far his purpose would forego,
As on his prey to waste a passing blow.
Add, that he knows Rogero is the peer
Who him for good Frontino now assails;
-- So famous, that no other cavalier
Like him such eminence of glory scales;
-- The man, of whom he gladly would be clear,
By proof, how much in battle he avails:
Yet shuns the combat, proffered on his part;
So much his monarch's siege has he at heart.
Three hundred miles, a thousand, would he ride,
-- Were it not so -- to purchase such affray;
But he, if him Achilles had defied,
Had done no otherwise than as I say;
So deeply did the covering ashes hide
That fire beneath, whose fury stifled lay:
He told why he refused the strife; and prayed,
As well Rogero the design to aid.
Adding that he, in doing so, would do
What to his lord a faithful vassal owes;
Still, when the siege was raised, might they renew
And terminate their deadly strife by blows.
To him Rogero cried, "The fight with you
I freely will defer, till from his foes
King Agramant be rescued by the sword;
Provided first Frontino be restored.
"Would you that I delay to prove by deed,
That you have acted in unworthy sort,
-- Nor did, like valiant man, to take my steed
Thus from a woman -- till we meet at court,
Render me my Frontino back, or read,
Upon no other ground, will I support
That battle shall not be between us two;
Nor will accord an hour of truce to you."
While of that African he so demands
Frontino, or him threats with instant fray;
And either still the other's claim withstands,
Nor this the steed will grant, nor that delay;
King Mandricardo stirs, on the other hand,
Another strife; who sees that ensign gay
Rogero on his shield was wont to wear,
The bird which reigns o'er other fowls of air.
He bore on azure field that eagle white,
The beauteous ensign of the Trojan throng:
Such glorious bearing showed that youthful knight,
Because he drew his line from Hector strong.
But Mandricardo knew not of this right,
Nor would endure -- and deemed a crying wrong,
That any other but himself should wield
Famed Hector's argent eagle on his shield.
King Mandricardo is like blazon wore
The bird of Ide, which bore off Ganymede:
How in the castle perilous of yore,
He gained that noble ensign for his meed,
-- That enterprize I ween, with matter more,
You bear in mind, and how, for his good deed,
The fairy gave it him with all the gear,
Erst given by Vulcan to the Trojan peer.
The Tartar and Rogero had before
Engaged in battle, only on this quest,
Divided by what accident, my lore
Recites not, as already manifest:
Nor had till now those knights encountered more:
When Mandricardo sees that bird imprest
On the Child's shield, he shouts with threatening cry
To young Rogero: "Take my proud defy!"
"Audacious man, mine ensign do'st thou wear,
Nor this to-day for the first time, is said;
And think'st thou, madman, I will thee forbear,
Because for once to spare thee I was led?
But since nor menace nor yet counsel are
Of force to drive this folly from thy head,
It shall appear how much it had been best
For thee forthwith to have obeyed my hest."
"As fire, whereon dry, heated wood is strown,
Roused by a little puff, at once ascends,
So burns Rogero's wrath, to fury blown,
By the first word with which that king offends.
"Thou thinkest," he exclaims, "to bear me down,
Because his knight as well with me contends:
But learn that I can win in fighting field
From him the horse, from thee good Hector's shield.
"Yet once before -- nor is it long ago --
Twixt us in battle was this question tried:
But I that day restrained the murderous blow,
Because thou hadst no faulchion at thy side.
These shall be deeds, that strife was but a show;
And ill this argent bird shall thee betide;
This is the ancient bearing of my line;
Tis thou usurpest what by right is mine."
-- "Say rather, thou usurpest mine from me";
Cried Mandricardo; and that faulchion drew,
Which lately, underneath the greenwood tree,
Orlando from his hand in fury threw.
The Child, who could not aught but courteous be,
(Such was his gentle nature) at the view
Of Mandricardo, with his faulchion drawn,
Let fall his ready lance upon the lawn;
And at the same time, strained his goodly sword;
And better braced the covering shield he wore:
But 'twixt those combatants leapt Argier's lord,
And quick Marphisa spurred the pair before;
And one this foe, the other that implored,
And both besought, that they would strive no more.
King Rodomont complains the Tartar knight
Has violated twice the compact plight.
First, in belief he should Marphisa gain,
He more than once had jousted for that fair;
Now to bear off Rogero's ensign fain,
He for king Agramant shows little care.
-- "If thus" (said Rodomont) "you faith maintain,
To finish our own combat better were,
A cause of strife more fitting and more due
Than either of the pleas maintained by you.
"On this condition was the treaty plight,
And the accord between us now in force;
When I with thee shall have performed the fight,
I next shall answer him about the horse:
You then with him, if you survive, your right
Shall to the shield maintain in warlike course.
But I such work shall give you, I conceive,
As will small labour for Rogero leave."
-- "The bargain which thou hopest thou shalt not have,"
(King Mandricardo answered Rodomont)
"I will accord thee more than thou do'st crave,
And trust to make thee sweat from feet to front.
And to bestow on others, much shall save,
As water never fails in plenteous font;
And for Rogero and a thousand more,
And all the world beside reserve a store."
Their fury waxed, and angrier words ensued,
Now upon this and now upon that side.
With Rodomont and with the Child at feud,
Fierce Mandricardo both at once defied.
Rogero, not endowed with suffering mood,
Would hear no more of peace, but vengeance cried.
Now here Marphisa hurried, and now there,
But could not singly such an ill repair.
As peasant, when a river saps its mounds,
And seeking vent the oozing waters drop,
Hastening to shut the stream within its bounds,
And save his pastures and expected crop,
Dams right and left; yet him the stream confounds:
For, if he here the sinking ruin prop,
There he beholds the rotten dyke give out,
And from thick seams the restless water spout,
So, while the Tartar and Rogero rage,
And Rodomont, in hurly-burly fray,
For each of these would fiercest battle wage,
And would outgo his fears in that assay,
Marphisa seeks their fury to assuage,
And strives, and time and trouble throws away;
For as she makes one knight from strife retire,
She sees the others re-engage with ire.
Marphisa, to appease the warriors bent,
Exclaimed, "Sirs, listen to my better lore;
A good remembrance 'tis, all argument
To leave until we Agramant restore.
If each is on his own design intent,
With Mandricardo will I strive once more;
And fain would see, according to his word,
If he can conquer me with spear and sword.
"But if, to aid our sovereign, duty call,
Him let us aid, nor civil discord breed."
-- "To ground, through me, such project shall not fall,"
Rogero said, "so he restore my steed.
Let him resign that horse, or -- once for all.
I say again -- to his defence take heed.
I either here my parting breath will yield,
Or on my courser will return afield."
-- "Twere not so easy to obtain this quest
As 'twere that other," Rodomont replied;
And thus pursued: "I unto thee protest,
If any evil shall our king betide,
Thine is the fault not mine; for I am prest
To do whate'er is fitting, on my side."
Small heed to that protest Rogero paid,
And stung by fury, griped his trenchant blade.
On Argier's king he sprang, like savage boar,
Encountering him with shoulder and with shield;
And him disordered and distrest so sore,
That with one stirrup's loss, the monarch reeled.
-- "Rogero," Mandricardo cried, "give o'er,
Or else with me divide the battle-field";
And struck, this said, with worse than felon spite,
Upon the morion of that youthful knight.
Even to his courser's neck Rogero bends;
Nor, when he would, himself can rear;
Because the sword of Ulien's son descends
As well upon the youthful cavalier;
And, but that adamant his face defends,
Across the cheeks his tempered helm would sheer.
The Child, in anguish, opens either hand;
And this the bridle drops and that the brand.
Him o'er the field his courser bears away;
On earth the faulchion lies, which he let go:
Marphisa (with Rogero's through that day,
Comrade in arms) appeared like fire to glow,
Enraged, that two one knight should overlay;
And, as magnanimous and stout, for foe
Singled King Mandricardo out, and sped,
With all her might, stroke upon his head.
Rodomont o'er the plain pursues his man.
-- Another stroke, and he has lost the horse!
But Richardetto drives, and Vivian,
Between the Child and paynim in that course.
This warrior at the king of Argier ran,
And from Rogero severed him by force;
That (it was Vivian) in Rogero's hand,
Now from the blow recovered, placed his brand.
As soon as to himself the Child returns,
And is by Vivian armed with sword again,
To venge the injury that stripling burns,
And runs at Rodomont with flowing rein,
Like lion, whom a bull upon his horns
Has lifted, though he feels this while no pain,
So him his heat of blood, disdain, and ire,
To venge that cruel outrage goad and fire.
Rogero storms upon the paynim's crest;
And, could that knight recover his own brand,
Which by foul felony (as erst exprest)
Was ravished from the youthful warrior's hand,
I well believe that the descending pest
Rodomont's iron casque will ill withstand;
That casque which Babel's king bade forge, who sought
To war on Heaven in his presumptuous thought.
Discord, believing nothing could ensue
But stir, and strife, and combat on that head;
And that there was no place, amid the crew,
For truce or treaty, to her sister said,
That she, her well-beloved monks to view,
Might now again with her securely tread.
Let them depart; and mark we where in front
Rogero has sore wounded Rodomont.
Rogero's blow was levelled with such spite,
That this upon Frontino's crupper made
The helmet and the shell of iron smite,
In which that Saracen his limbs arrayed;
And he, three times or four, to left and right,
-- As if about to fall -- head-foremost, swayed;
And would have lost withal his trusty brand,
But that the hilt was fastened to his hand.
Marphisa has king Mandricardo prest
Meanwhile, and makes him sweat breast, front, and face;
And he Marphisa has as sore distrest:
But such good plates each valiant bosom case,
Impassable is either iron vest;
And both have hitherto maintained their place.
But, at a turn her martial courser made,
Marphisa needed young Rogero's aid.
Marphisa's martial steed, in turning short,
Where a firm footing that soft mead denied,
On the moist surface slipt, and in such sort,
That he fell, helpless, on his better side;
And, as he rose in haste and lacked support,
Athwart by furious Brigliador was plied;
On which the paynim, little courteous, came;
So that he fell anew beneath the dame.
Rogero, when Marphisa on the ground
He saw unhorsed, deferred no more his aid;
Who for that deed had leisure; since, astound,
Rodomont far away had been conveyed:
He smote the morion which that Tartar crowned;
And, cleft like stalk, his head on earth had laid,
Had he his trusty Balisarda born,
Or Mandricardo other helmet worn.
Rodomont, of his senses repossest,
Turned round this while, and Richardetto spied;
And recollecting how, when late distrest,
He to Rogero succour had supplied,
Quickly against that youthful warrior prest;
Who an ill guerdon would from him abide,
Did Malagigi not his malice thwart
With other magic and with mickle art.
Sage Malagigi versed in every sleight
Which by the wisest wizard can be done;
Although his book he has not, by whose might,
He in his course can stop the passing sun;
The conjuration recollects and rite,
By which he tames the rebel fiends; and one
Bids enter into Doralice's steed,
Whom he to fury stings and headlong speed.
Into that gentle palfrey's form, who bore
The beauteous daughter of King Stordilane,
Sir Vivian's brother, simply by his lore,
Made pass an angel of the dark domain;
And the good horse, who never moved before,
Except in due obedience to the rein,
Now took a leap, possest by that ill sprite,
Thirty feet long and sixteen feet in height.
It was a mighty leap, yet not so wide
As to make any rider void the sell.
Seeing herself so high in air, loud cried,
(Yielding herself for dead) that bonnibel.
Her palfrey, with the Daemon for his guide,
After his leap, runs, goaded by the spell
(The maid still screaming) such a furious course,
An arrow had not reached the flying horse.
At the first hearing of that voice, the son
Of Ulien, on his part, the strife suspended;
And thither, where the furious palfrey run,
Swiftly in succour of the lady wended.
No less was by the Tartar monarch done;
Who neither Child nor damsel more offended;
But without craving time, or truce, or peace,
Pursued King Rodomont and Doralice.
Marphisa rose meanwhile, to fury stirred;
And, with disdain all over in a glow,
Thought to accomplish her revenge, and erred:
For at too great a distance was the foe.
Rogero, who beheld the war deferred,
Rather like lion roared than sighed: well know
Those two their coursers they should vainly gore,
Following Frontino and good Brigliador.
Rogero will not halt till he renew
And end the unfinished combat for the horse;
Marphisa will not quit that Tartar, who
Will to her satisfaction prove his force.
To leave their quarrel in such guise the two
Esteem foul scandal; as their better course,
In chase of those offending knights to fare,
Is the conclusion of that valiant pair.
They in the paynim camp will find each foe,
If them before they find not on their way;
Whom thither bound, to raise the siege they know,
Ere Charlemagne bring all beneath his sway.
So thitherward the twain directly go
Where these, they deem, will be their certain prey.
Yet not so rudely thence Rogero broke,
But that he first with his companion spoke.
Thither returns Rogero, where apart
Is he, the brother of his lady fair;
And vows himself his friend, with generous heart,
In good or evil fortune, everywhere.
Him he implores -- and frames his speech with art --
He his salutes will to his sister bear;
And this so well, he moves by that request
No doubt in him, nor any of the rest.
Of Malagigi he and Viviane
Next takes farewell and wounded Aldigier;
Their services no less that kindly twain
Proffer, as ever debtors to the peer.
Marphisa to seek Paris is so fain,
That parting she forgets her friends to cheer;
But Malagigi and Vivian, in pursuit,
Follow, and from afar that maid salute;
And so Sir Richardet as well: but low
On earth lies Aldigier, and there must rest.
The two first champions towards Paris go,
And the two others next pursue that quest.
In other canto, Sir, I hope to show
Of wondrous and of superhuman gest,
Wrought to the damage of the Christian king,
By those two couples of whose worth I sing.
By good Rogero and those paynims three
Defeated, Charlemagne to Paris flies.
Already all, throughout their chivalry,
Are mad with spite and hatred; jars arise,
And strife; and means to still their enmity
Their sovereign is unable to devise.
From him departs the monarch of Argier,
Who is rejected of his lady dear.
A woman for the most part reasons best
Upon a sudden motion, and untaught;
For with that special grace the sex is blest,
'Mid those so many gifts, wherewith 'tis fraught;
But man, of a less nimble wit possest,
Is ill at counsel, save, with sober thought,
He ruminates thereon, content to spend
Care, time and trouble to mature his end.
That seemed good counsel, but was ill indeed
Of Malagigi's, as before was said;
Albeit he so rescued in his need
His cousin Richardet, with odds o'erlaid,
When from the paynim monarchs him he freed
By ready demon, who his hest obeyed;
For sure he never deemed they should be borne,
Where they would work the Christian army scorn.
Had he some little prize for counsel stayed,
(We with the same success may well suppose)
He to his cousin might have furnished aid,
Yet brought not on the Christian host their foes:
That evil sprite he might as well have made,
Him, who embodied in the palfrey goes,
Eastward or west, so far that lady bear,
That France should hear no further of the pair.
So the two lovers, following her who flies,
To other place than Paris might be brought:
But this calamity was a surprise
On Malagigi, through his little thought;
And fiendish malice, banished from the skies,
Which ever blood and fire and ravage sought,
Guided them by that way to Charles' disaster;
Left to his choice by him, the wizard master.
The wayward fiend who makes that palfrey ramp
Bears off the frighted Doralice amain;
Nor river nor yet yawning ditch, or swamp,
Wood, rock, or rugged cliff, the steed restrain;
Till, traversing the French and English camp,
And other squadrons of the mingled train,
Beneath the holy flag of Christ arraid,
He to Granada's king the fair conveyed.
The Sarzan and the Tartar the first day
That royal damsel a long while pursue;
Because her distant form they yet survey;
But finally they lose that lady's view;
When, like a lyme-dog, whom the hunters lay
On hare or roebuck's trail, the valiant two
Follow upon her track, nor halt, till told
That she is harboured in her father's hold.
Guard thyself, Charles: for, lo! against thee blown
Is such a storm, that I no refuge see:
Nor these redoubted monarchs come alone,
But those of Sericane and Circassy;
While Fortune, who would probe thee to the bone,
Has taken those two shining stars from thee,
Who kept thee by their wisdom and their light;
And thou remainest blind and wrapt in night.
'Tis of the valiant cousins I would speak:
Of these, Orlando of his wit bereft,
Naked, in sun or shower, by plain or peak,
Wanders about the world, a helpless weft;
And he, in wisdom little less to seek,
Rinaldo, in thy peril thee has left;
And, for in Paris-town she is not found,
In search of his Angelica is bound.
A cunning, old enchanter him deceived,
As in the outlet of my tale was said:
Deluded by a phantom, he believed
Angelica was with Orlando fled;
And hence with jealousy, at heart, aggrieved
(Lover ne'er suffered worse) to Paris sped;
Whence he, as soon as he appeared at court,
By chance, was named to Britain to resort.
Now, the field won, wherein with mickle fame
He drove King Agramant his works behind,
To Paris yet again the warrior came,
Searched convent, tower, and house, and, save confined
'Twixt solid walls or columns be the dame,
Her will the restless lover surely find:
Nor her nor yet Orlando he descries,
So forth in the desire to seek them hies.
Her to Anglantes or to Brava brought,
He deemed the Count enjoyed in mirth and play;
And vainly, here and there, that damsel sought,
Nor here nor there, descried the long-sought prey.
To Paris he repaired again, in thought
The paladin returning to waylay;
Because he deemed he could not rove at large
Without that Town, but on some special charge.
Within he takes a day or two's repose;
And, when he finds Orlando comes not there,
Again to Brava and Anglantes goes
Inquiring tidings of the royal fair;
Nor, whether morning dawns or noontide glows,
-- Nor night nor day -- his weary steed does spare;
Nor once -- but twice a hundred times -- has run
The selfsame course, by light of moon or sun.
But the ancient foe, deluded by whose say,
To the forbidden fruit Eve raised her hand,
Turned his wan eyes on Charlemagne one day,
When he the good Rinaldo absent scanned;
And seeing what foul rout and disarray
Might at that time be given to Charles's band,
Of all the Saracens the choice and flower
Marshalled in arms against the Christian power.
King Sacripant and King Gradasso (who
Whilere companionship in war had made,
When from Atlantes' palace fled the two)
Together to unite their arms, in aid
Of royal Agramant's beleaguered crew,
And where through unknown lands the warriors hied,
Made smooth the way, and served them as a guide.
Thither another fiend that ruthless foe
Bade Rodomont and Mandricardo bear
Through ways, by which his comrade was not slow
With the affrighted Doralice to fare:
A third, lest they their enterprize forego,
Rogero and Marphisa has in care:
But their conductor journeys not so fast;
And hence that martial pair arrives the last.
Later by half an hour, against their foes,
So matched, Rogero and Marphisa speed;
Because the sable angel, who his blows
Aimed at the bands that held the Christian creed,
Provided, that the contest which arose
About that horse, his work should not impede;
Which had again been kindled, had the twain,
Rodomont and Rogero, met again.
The first four ride until themselves they find
Where the besiegers and besieged they view;
And see the banners shaking in the wind,
And the cantonments of those armies two.
Here they short counsel took, and next opined,
In spite of Charlemagne's beleaguering crew,
To carry speedy succour to their liege,
And rescue royal Agramant from siege.
Where thickest camped lay Charles's host, they spurred,
Closing their files against the Christian foe.
"Afric and Spain!" is the assailants' word,
Whom at all points the Franks for paynims know.
-- "To arms, to arms!" throughout their camp is heard:
But first is felt the Moorish sabre's blow:
Even on the rear-guard falls the vengeful stroke,
Not charged alone, but routed, beat and broke.
The Christian host throughout is overthrown,
And how they know not, in tumultuous wise;
And that it is a wonted insult done
By Switzer or by Gascon, some surmise;
But -- since the reason is to most unknown --
Each several nation to its standard flies,
This to the drum, that to the trumpet's sound,
And shriek and shout from earth to heaven redound.
All armed is Charlemagne, except his head,
And, girt with paladins, his faithful stay,
Arrived demanding what alarm has bred
Disorder in his host and disarray;
And stopt with menace this or that who fled,
And many fugitives, upon their way,
Some with maimed face, breast, arm, or hand, espied,
And some with head or throat with life-blood dyed.
Advancing, he on earth saw many more,
Or rather in a lake of crimson laid,
Horribly weltering in their own dark gore,
Beyond the leech's and magician's aid;
And busts dissevered from the heads they bore,
And legs and arms -- a cruel show -- surveyed;
And, from the first cantonments to the last,
Saw slaughtered men on all sides as he past.
Where the small band advances in such wise,
Deserving well eternal praise to gain,
Vouching their deeds, a long-drawn furrow lies,
A signal record of their might and main.
His army's cruel slaughter, with surprise,
Anger and rage, is viewed by Charlemagne.
So he whose shattered walls have felt its force,
Throughout his mansion tracks the lightning's course.
Not to the ramparts of the paynim crew
Of Agramant as yet had pierced this aid,
When, on the further side, these other two,
Rogero and Marphisa, thither made.
When, once or twice, that worthy pair a view
Have taken of the ground, and have surveyed
The readiest way assistance to afford,
They swiftly move in succour of their lord.
As when we spark to loaded mine apply,
Through the long furrow, filled with sable grain,
So fast the furious wildfire darts, that eye
Pursues the progress of the flash with pain;
And as dire ruin follows, and from high,
The loosened rock and solid bastion rain,
So bold Rogero and Marphisa rush
To battle, so the Christian squadrons crush.
Front and askance, the assailants smote, and low
On earth heads, arms, and severed shoulders lay,
Where'er the Christian squadrons were too slow
To free the path and break their close array.
Whoe'er has seen the passing tempest blow,
And of the hill or valley, in its way,
One portion ravage and another leave,
May so their course amid that host conceive.
Many who had escaped by quick retreat,
Rodomont and those other furious three,
Thank God that he had given them legs and feet,
Wherewith to fly from that calamity;
And from the Child and damsel new defeat
Encounter, while with endlong course they flee:
As man, no matter if he stands or run,
Seeks vainly his predestined doom to shun.
Who 'scape one peril, into other fly,
And pay the penalty of flesh and blood;
So, by the teeth of dog, is wont to die
The fox, together with her infant brood,
By one who dwells her ancient cavern nigh
Unearthed, and with a thousand blows pursued;
When from some unsuspected place, that foe
Has filled with fire and smoke the den below.
Marphisa and the Child, of danger clear,
Enter the paynim ramparts; and, with eyes
Upturned, the Saracens, with humble cheer,
Thank Heaven for the success of that emprize:
The paladins no longer are their fear;
The meanest Moor a hundred Franks defies;
And 'tis resolved, without repose, again
To drench with Christian blood the thirsty plain.
At once a formidable larum rose;
Horns, drums, and shrilling clarions filled the skies;
And the wind ruffles, as it comes and goes,
Banner and gonfalon of various dyes.
The Germans and the warlike Bretons close;
Ranged on the other part, in martial wise,
Italians, English, French, were seen, and through
Those armies furious war blazed forth anew.
The force of the redoubted Rodomont,
And that of Agrican's infuriate son,
That of Rogero, valiant's copious font,
Gradasso's, so renowned for trophies won,
The martial maid, Marphisa's fearless front,
And might of Sacripant, excelled by none,
Made Charles upon Saint John and Denys call,
And fly for shelter to his Paris wall.
Of fierce Marphisa and her bold allies
The unconquered daring and the wondrous might,
Sir, was not of a nature -- of a guise --
To be conceived, much less described aright:
The number slaughtered hence may you surmise!
What cruel blow King Charles sustained in fight!
Add to these warriors of illustrious name,
More than one Moor, with Ferrau, known to Fame.
Many through reckless haste were drowned in Seine,
For all too narrow was the bridge's floor,
An wished, like Icarus, for wings in vain,
Having grim death behind them and before,
Save Oliver, and Ogier hight the Dane,
The paladins are prisoners to the Moor:
Wounded beneath his better shoulder fled
The first, that other with a broken head.
And. like Orlando and Duke Aymon's son,
Had faithful Brandimart thrown up the game,
Charles had from Paris into exile gone,
If he had scaped alive so fierce a flame.
Brandimart does his best, and when 'tis done,
Yields to the storm: Thus Fortune, fickle dame,
Now smiles upon the paynim monarch, who
Besieges royal Charlemagne anew.
From earth beneath the widow's outcry swells,
Mingled with elder's and with orphan's prayer,
Into the pure serene, where Michael dwells,
Rising above this dim and troubled air;
And to the blest archangel loudly tells,
How the devouring wolf and raven tear
His faithful English, French, and German train,
Whose slaughtered bodies overspread the plain.
Red blushed the blessed angel, who believed
He ill obedience to his lord had paid;
And, in his anger, deemed himself deceived
By the perfidious Discord and betrayed:
He his Creator's order had received
To stir the Moors to strife, nor had obeyed;
Had rather in their eyes who marked the event,
Appeared throughout to thwart his high intent.
As servant faithful to his lord, and more
In love than memory strong, who finds that he
Has that forgotten which at his heart-core,
As precious as his life and soul should be,
Hastes to repair his error, nor before
He mend that fault, again his lord will see,
So not to God St. Michael will ascend
Until he has achieved his holy end.
Again he to that monastery flew,
Where whilom he had Discord seen; and there
Seated in chapter sees her, while anew
Their yearly officers elected are,
She taking huge delight those friers to view,
That at each other hurled their books of prayer.
His hand within her locks the archangel twists,
And deals her endless scathe with feet and fists.
On her he next a cross's handle broke;
Wherewith her back, and arms, and head he plies:
His mercy with loud voice the wretch bespoke,
And hugged that angel's knees with suppliant cries.
Michael suspends not the avenging stroke
Till hunted to the Moorish camp she flies,
Then thus: "Believe worse vengeance yet in store,
If I beyond these lines behold thee more."
Albeit in back and arms all over shent
Was Discord by that angel, in her fear
Of suffering yet again such chastisement,
Such horrid fury and such blows severe,
She speedily to take her bellows went,
And, adding food to what she lit whilere,
And setting other ready piles afire,
Kindled in many hearts a blaze of ire;
And good Rogero (she inflames them so)
With Rodomont and Mandricardo fares
To Agramant; and all (since now the foe
The paynims pressed no more, the vantage theirs)
To him the seed of their dissensions show,
And what the bitter produce which it bears:
Then to the judgment of the king refer
Who first in listed field his claim should stir.
As well Marphisa to Troyano's son,
Relates her case, and will conclude the fray
Which with the Tartar king she had begun,
Because by him provoked to that assay;
Nor will she yield her place to any one,
No, not a single hour, yet less a day;
But with loud instances maintains her right
With Mandricardo first to wage the fight.
To have the first possession of the field
No less renowned king Rodomont contended,
Which he, the African array to shield,
Had interrupted and till now suspended.
Rogero to King Agramant appealed,
As having borne too long, though sore offended,
That Rodomont form him detained his horse,
Nor yet would meet him first in martial course.
The Tartar king, for more perplexity,
Denied on any ground Rogero's right
The bearer of the white-winged bird to be;
And was so passing wood with wrath and spite,
That, if to this those others would agree,
He would at once those several quarrels fight;
And so those others would as well have done,
If Agramant's consent they could have won.
King Agramant, with prayer and kingly word,
Had willingly appeased that jarring crew;
But since the foes were deaf to all accord,
Nor would assent to peace or truce anew,
Considered how at least he might afford
The field of each of them in order due;
And, as the best resolve, at last decreed,
Each should by lot possess the listed mead.
Four lots the monarch bade prepare, which done,
This "Rodomont and Mandricardo" said;
"Rogero and Mandricardo" were in one;
In one, "Rogero and Rodomont" were read;
That "Mandricardo and Marphisa" run:
Next, as the fickle goddess, Fortune, led,
The lots are drawn, and in the first appear
The Tartar king and sovereign of Argier.
Rogero and Mandricardo for that play
Were next; Rogero and Rodomont were third;
Marphisa's lot and Mardricardo's lay
At bottom; whence the dame was deeply stirred;
Nor young Rogero seems a whit more gay:
Who knows the prowess of those two preferred
Will nothing in the listed combat leave
For him or for Marphisa to achieve.
There lies a place, of Paris little wide,
Covering a mile or somewhat less, and round;
Like ancient theatre, on every side,
Encompast by a tall and solid mound;
With castle whilom was it fortified,
Which sword and fire had levelled with the ground.
The Parmesan like circle does survey,
Whenever he to Borgo wends his way.
In this place is prepared the listed mead,
Which palisades of little height inclose;
A square, of just proportions for that need,
With two capacious gates, as usage goes.
The day on which to combat have agreed
Those valiant knights, who will not balk their foes,
Beside the palisades, to left and right,
Facing each entrance, are pavilions pight.
In that, which looks towards the western sun,
Is lodged the giant monarch of Argier;
And him assist his serpent-hide to don
Bold Ferrau and Circassia's cavalier.
Gradasso and the puissant Falsiron,
In that which fronts the morning hemisphere,
Clothe with their hands, in Trojan plate and chain,
The good successor of King Agricane.
High on a throne of ample state appeared
Agramant and Marsilius; next in place
Were Stordilane and all the chiefs, revered
Throughout the squadrons of the paynim race.
Happy was he who found himself upreared
On mound or tree, above that level space.
Great was the throng, and round the palisade
On every side the eddying people swayed.
Were seated with the Queen of fair Castille
Queens, princesses, and dames of noble strain,
From Arragon, Granada, and Seville,
And Atlas' columns; and amid the train
Assembled to behold that fierce appeal,
Was placed the daughter of King Stordilane:
Two costly vests -- one red, one green -- she wore;
But ill the first was dyed, and faded sore.
In dress succinct Marphisa sate; in plight
Such as beseemed a warrior and a maid:
Thermodoon haply witnessed Hippolyte
And her fair squadron in like garb arrayed.
Afield already, in his livery dight,
Agramant's herald made proclaim, and said
It was forbid to all men, far and wide,
In act or word, with either part to side.
The frequent crowd expects the double foe;
And often, in impatience, they complain,
And call those famous cavaliers too slow:
When from the Tartar's tent an angry strain
Is heard, and cries which multiply; sir, know
It was the martial king of Sericane,
And puissant Tartar, who that question stirred,
And made the mighty tumult which has heard.
Sericane's monarch, having with his hand
Equipt the king of Tartary all o'er,
Approached to gird him with that sovereign brand,
With which Orlando went adorned of yore.
When Durindana on the hilt he scanned,
Graved with the quartering that Almontes wore;
Which from that wretched man, beside a font,
Youthful Orlando reft in Aspramont.
He, seeing this, agnised it for the blade
So famous, which Anglantes' warrior bore,
For which he had the fairest fleet arrayed
Which ever put to sea from eastern shore;
And had Castille's rich kingdom overlaid,
And conquered fruitful France some years before;
But cannot now imagine how that sword
Is in possession of the Tartar lord;
And asks had he by force or treaty won,
And when and where and how, that faulchion bright;
And Mandricardo said that he had done
Fierce battle for that sword with Brava's knight;
Who feigned himself of sober sense foregone,
Hoping that so he should conceal his fright:
-- "For I on him would ceaseless war have made,"
(He added) "while he kept the goodly blade."
Saying the Count, in yielding to his foe
That sword, the Beavers' known device had tried;
Who. followed closely by the hunter, know
Their fell pursuer covers nought beside.
Ere he had heard him out, -- "Nor I forego
That sword to thee nor any one," (replied
Gradasso, fierce,) "well earned by me, at cost
Of treasure, and of pain, and people lost.
"Some other faulchion for thyself purvey;
This will I have; nor deem my reasons new;
Whether Orlando wise or foolish stray,
I make it mine where'er it meets my view.
With none to witness, thou, beside the way
Usurped that sword; I claim it as my due:
For this my scimeter shall reasons yield,
And we will try the cause in listed field.
"Prepare to win the sword before thou rear
That goodly blade against King Rodomont.
To win his arms is use of cavalier,
Before his foe in duel he affront."
-- "No sweeter music ever soothes my ear"
(Replied the Tartar, as he raised his front)
"Than voice which champions me to martial field;
But see that his consent the Sarzan yield.
"Be thou the first; and, next on listed ground
Let Sarza's valiant lord the question try;
Nor doubt but I in readiness be found
To thee and every other to reply."
" -- Thou shalt not so the ordered lots confound,
Or break our compact (was Rogero's cry):
Either, first Rodomont shall take the field,
Or shall to me his right of battle yield.
"It that be true Gradasso has averred,
That knight should win the arms he would assay,
Thou hast no title to my white-winged bird,
Save this from me thou first shalt bear away.
But since, forsooth, whilere I said the word,
I will not what I once pronounced unsay,
That mine shall be the second battle, so
That Argier's monarch first affront his foe.
"I will confuse the order of the field,
Throughout, if partially confused by thee;
Abandon will I not my blazoned shield,
Unless thou combat for it now with me."
-- "Were one and the other Mars, for battle steeled,
(Replies enraged, the king of Tartary)
"Nor one nor the other's might should make me waive
My title to that shield and goodly glaive";
And over mastered by his choler, flies
With a clenched fist at him of Sericane,
And smites him with his right-hand in such wise,
As makes him quit his hold of Durindane.
Gradasso bold was taken by surprise,
Not deeming him so furious and insane;
And, while he looked not to the Tartar lord,
Found himself robbed of good Orlando's sword.
Fury and scorn Gradasso's visage heats,
Which seems to flash with fire, at that disgrace;
And with more rage and pain his bosom beats,
In that 'twas offered in such public place.
To draw his scimeter, the king retreats,
Intent upon revenge, some little space.
So Mandricardo on himself relies
Rogero he to fight, as well defies.
"Come on in arms against me, both combined,
And be King Rodomont the third!" (he said)
"Come Spain and Afric and all human kind;
Ne'er will I turn." And he, at nought dismaid,
So saying, in his fury, sawed the wind
About him, with Almontes' noble blade,
Embraced his shield, and, full of choler, stood
Against Gradasso and Rogero good.
"Leave me the care," the fierce Gradasso cried,
"The phrensy of this madman to subdue."
-- "Not so, by Heaven!" Rogero wroth replied,
"For I this field claim justly as my due."
-- "Stand back!" and "stand thou back!" on either side
They shout; yet neither of the twain withdrew.
And thus among those three began a feud;
And thence some strange result would have ensued,
If many had not interposed, and sought
With little wit their fury to restrain;
Who had well-nigh too dear the experience bought
Of saving others at their proper pain;
Nor to accord the world had ever brought
Those knights, but that the worthy king of Spain
Came thither with renowned Troyano's heir;
Awed by whose sovereign presence all forbear.
Agramant those contending warriors made
The cause of their so burning strife display;
Next earnestly bestirred himself, and prayed
Gradasso that he would, in courteous way,
Concede the Trojan Hector's goodly blade
To Mandricardo, solely for that day,
Until the cruel fight was at an end,
Wherein he should with Rodomont contend.
While royal Agramant would peace restore,
And now with this and now with that conferred,
From the other tent, between the Sarzan Moor
And Sacripant, another strife was heard.
Valiant King Sacripant (as said before)
To equip Sir Rodomont himself bestirred,
And he and Ferrau had that champion drest
In his forefather Nimrod's iron vest;
And there had they arrived, where with his spume
The horse was making his rich bridle white:
I of the good Frontino speak, for whom
Rogero urged with yet unfelt despite.
King Sacripant, who plays the part of groom,
And has to bring afield the Sarzan knight,
Marks narrowly the courser's gear and shoes,
And sell and furniture throughout reviews;
And as his points and nimble parts, more near,
He, in this view, observes with better heed,
The youthful king, beyond all doubt, is clear
He sees his Frontilatte in that steed,
Him he of old had held so passing dear,
Whilom of such debates the fruitful seed;
And for whose loss, whilere he was so woe,
He evermore on foot resolved to go.
This from beneath him had Brunello borne
Before Albracca, on the very day
Angelica's rare ring, and Roland's horn,
And Balisarda he conveyed away,
With fierce Marphisa's blade, -- and on return
To Afric -- to Rogero, from his prey,
Gave Balisarda and the courser, who
Was by the Child Frontino named anew.
Assured 'twas no mistake, Circassia's chief
Turned him about to Rodomont, and cried:
"Reft from me in Albracca, by a thief,
This horse is mine; which might be certified
By them whose words would warrant well belief:
But as my witnesses are distant wide,
If it be questioned, I will make it plain,
And will, with sword in hand, the truth maintain.
"Yet am I well contented, for that we
Have for these some few days together gone,
To lend him for to-day; since well I see,
That not without him could the fight be done;
But on condition, that the courser be
Acknowledged mine, and furnished as a loan:
Otherwise hope not for that horse, save first
Me, on this quarrel, thou in combat worst."
The furious king of Argier, that in pride
Surpassed all knights that ever girt the sword,
Whose paragon, for heart and prowess tried,
Meseems no ancient histories record,
Cried: "Sacripant, if any one beside
Thyself, to me should utter such a word,
He should deem quickly, from its bitter fruit,
He from his birth would better have been mute.
"But, for that fellowship in which we went,
(As thou hast said) together, I to show
Such patience and forbearance am content,
As warning thee, thy purpose to forego,
Until thou shalt have witnessed the event
Of strife between me and my Tartar foe:
When him I such example hope to make,
That thou shalt humbly say, `The courser take.' "
Fierce and enraged, replied Circassia's peer,
"To play the churl with thee is courteous deed,
But I to thee repeat more plain and clear,
Thou ill wouldst aught design against that steed,
For, while I an avenging sabre rear,
This I prohibit thee, and, should it need,
And every better means of battle fail,
With thee for this would battle, tooth and nail."
They from dispute proceed to ribaldry,
From words to blows; and through their mickle ire,
Fierce battle was inflamed, and blazed more high
Than ever lightly-kindled straw took fire.
King Rodomont is steeled in panoply;
Sacripant neither plate nor mail attire:
Yet so in fence is skilled that nimble lord,
He seems all over sheltered by his sword.
No greater were the daring and the might
(Though infinite) which Rodomont displaid
Than the precaution and the nimble sleight
Which the Circassian summoned to his aid:
No mill-wheel ever turns with swifter flight
The circling stone by which the grain is brayed,