Part 16 out of 25
Achieved with praise or shame: in evil trim,
The pagan, by his arms impeded sore,
With heavier pain and trouble, toiled ashore.
Along the bridge which spanned that foaming tide
Did Flordelice meantime securely pace,
And, having vainly sought on every side
Brandimart's bearing, since nor iron case
Nor vest of his she anywhere espied,
She hoped to find the knight in other place.
But here return we of the count to tell,
Who left behind him stream, bridge tower, and cell.
'Twere phrensy of his every frantic feat
To promise the relation, one by one;
So many and many, -- should I these repeat,
I know not when my story would be done.
Yet some of his notorious deeds, and meet
For mention in my song, will I make known:
Nor will I not that wondrous one recount,
Near Thoulouse, on the Pyrenaean Mount.
Much country had been traversed by the knight,
Urged by the furious rage which him misguides:
At last he reached the hill whose boundary height
Arragonese and neighbouring Frank divides.
Thither directing aye his course outright,
Where the descending sun his visage hides,
He reached a path upon the rugged steep,
Which overhung a valley dark and deep.
Here he by chance encountered in mid road
Two youths, that wood men were, and drove before
An ass along that pathway, with a load
Of logs; they, marking well what scanty store
Of brain in poor Orlando's head was stowed,
Called to the approaching knight, and threatened sore;
Bidding him stand aside, or else go back,
Nor to their hindrance block the common track.
To this address Orlando answered nought,
Save that his foot he to their beast applied,
Smote in mid-breast, which, with that vigour fraught,
-- That force exceeding every force beside --
Tost him so hight, that the beholders thought
It was a bird in air which they descried.
The ass upon a mountain-summit fell,
Which rose above a mile beyond that dell.
Upon those youths next sprang the furious knight.
With better luck than wit, one woodman shear
From that tall cliff, twice thirty yards in height,
Cast himself headlong downward in his fear:
Him a moist patch of brambles, in his flight,
Received; and, amid grass and bushes, here,
From other mischief safe, the stripling lit,
And for some scratches in his face was quit.
That other to a jutting fragment clung,
Who so to gain the higher steep would strive;
Because he hopes, if once those crags among,
To keep him from that fool he may contrive;
But by the feet Orlando, ere he sprung,
Seized him, who will not leave the wretch alive;
And stretching them as wide as he could strain,
So stretched his arms, he rent his prey in twain.
Even in such mode as often we descry
Falconer by heron or by puller do;
Whose entrails he plucks out, to satisfy
Merlin or falcon that the game pursue.
How happy was that other not to die!
Who risqued his neck in that deep bottom, who
Rehearsed the tale so often, Turpin heard,
And handed down to us the wondrous word.
These and more marvels does the count, who bends
His steps across that mountain to the plain;
And, seeking long a path, at length descends
Towards the south, upon the land of Spain.
His way along the beach he after wends,
Near Arragon, beside the rumbling main,
And, ever prompted by his phrensy rank,
Will make himself a dwelling on the bank,
Where he somedeal may shun the noontide ray,
With dry and powdery sea-sand covered o'er;
And here, while so employed, upon their way
Arrives Angelica with her Medore,
Who, as you have been told in former lay,
Had from the hills descended on that shore.
Within a yard or less approached the fair,
Ere yet she of his presence was aware.
So different from himself was he to sight,
Nought of Orlando she in him surveyed:
For, from the time that rage possest his sprite,
He had gone naked forth in sun and shade.
Had he been born on hot Syene's site,
Or sands where worship is to Ammon paid,
Or nigh those hills, whence Nile's full waters spin,
Orlando had not borne a dingier skin.
Nigh buried in their sockets are his eyes,
Spare in his visage, and as dry as bone:
Dishevelled is his hair in woeful wise,
With frightful beard his cheek is overgrown:
No sooner is he seen, than backward flies
Angelica, who, trembling sore, is flown:
She shrieking loud, all trembling and dismaid,
Betakes her to her youthful guide for aid.
When crazed Orlando was of her aware,
To seize the damsel he upsprang in haste;
So pleased the wretched count her visage fair,
So quickly was his mood inflamed: effaced
In him all ancient recollections are,
How she by him was whilom served and graced.
Behind her speech the count and hunts that dame,
As questing dog pursues the sylvan game.
The youth, that sees him chase his love who fled,
His courser spurs, and in pursuit is gone.
With naked faulchion after him he sped,
And cut and thrust at Roland as he run.
He from his shoulders hoped to cleave his head,
But found the madman's skin as hard as bone;
Yea, harder far than steel, nor to be harmed;
So good Orlando at his birth was charmed.
When on his back Orlando felt him beat,
He turned, and turning on his youthful foe,
Smote with clenched fist, and force which nought can meet,
-- Smote on his horse's head, a fearful blow;
And, with skull smashed like glass, that courser fleet
Was by the madman's furious stroke laid low.
In the same breath Orlando turned anew,
And chased the damsel that before him flew.
At speed Angelica impelled her mare.
And whipt and spurred her evermore; whom slow
She would esteem, albeit that palfrey were
Yet faster than a shaft dismist from bow:
Her ring she thought upon, and this the fair
Placed in her mouth; nor failed its virtue now;
For putting it between her lips, like light
Extinguished by a puff, she past from sight.
Was it through fear, or was she, while she stript
This from her finger, shaken in her seat;
Or was it rather, that her palfrey tript,
(For neither this nor that I surely weet)
Angelica, while 'twixt her lips she slipt
The virtuous ring, and hid her visage sweet,
Her stirrups lost; and, tumbling form the sell,
Reversed upon the sand that lady fell.
If but two inches short had fallen his prey,
Upon her would have pounced Orlando near;
Who would have crushed her in his furious way,
But that kind Fortune saved her from the peer.
Let her by other theft herself purvey
With other palfrey, as she did whilere;
For never will she have this courser more,
Who chased by swift Orlando scours the shore.
Doubt not that she another will provide;
And follow we in mad Orlando's rear;
Whose rage and fury nevermore subside,
Wroth that Angelica should disappear:
After that beast along the sands he hied,
Aye gaining on the mare in this career.
Now, now he touches her, and lo! The mane
He grasps, and now secures her by the rein.
Orlando seizes her with that delight
That other man might seize a damsel fair;
The bit and bridle he adjusts aright,
Springs on her back, and o'er the sea-beach bare
For many miles impels the palfrey's flight,
Without repose or pause, now here, now there:
Nor ever sell or bridle be displaced,
Nor let her grass or heartening forage taste.
As in this course to o'erleap a ditch he sought,
Head over heels, she with her rider went:
Nor harmed was he, nor felt that tumble aright;
But she, with shoulder slipt, lay foully shent.
Long how to bear her thence Orlando thought,
And in the end upon his shoulders hent.
He from the bottom climbed, thus loaded sore,
And carried her three bow-shots' length and more.
Next, for he felt that weight too irksome grow,
He put her down, to lead her by the rein;
Who followed him with limping gait and slow,
"Come on," Orlando cried, and cried in vain;
And, could the palfrey at a gallop go,
This ill would satisfy his mood insane.
The halter from her head he last unloosed,
Wherewith her hind off-foot the madman noosed.
'Tis thus he comforts and drags on that mare,
That she may follow with more ease, so led;
Who whiles despoiled of flesh, and whiles of hair,
Is scathed by stones which that ill road o'erspread.
At length the misused beast, with wear and tear
Of the rude rocks, and suffering sore, lies dead.
Orlando nought the slaughtered mare regards,
Nor anywise his headlong course retards.
To drag that palfrey ceased he not, though dead,
Continuing still his course towards the west,
And all this while sacked hamlet, farm, and stead,
Whenever he by hunger was distrest;
And aye to glut himself with meat, and bread,
And fruit, he every one by force opprest.
One by his hand was slain, one foully shent;
Seldom he stopt, and ever onward went.
As much, or little less, would do the knight
By his own love, did not that damsel hide;
Because the wretch discerns not black from white,
And harms where he would help. A curse betide
The wonder-working ring, and eke the wight
Who gave it to that lady, full or pride!
Since Roland, but for this, would venge the scorn
He and a thousand more from her had borne.
Would that of her Orlando were possest,
And of all women that are above ground!
For one and all are ingrates at the best,
Nor is in all an ounce of goodness found.
But it is meet I let my hearer rest
Ere my strained chords return a faltering sound,
And that he may less tedious deem the rhyme,
Defer my story till another time.
Great feats achieve Orlando by the way.
The Tartar king is by Rogero slain:
For whom fair Bradamant, his spouse, does stay,
But Fate forbade, that he who wounded lay
To her his plighted promise should maintain.
He after boldly with the brethren made,
Their lord Rinaldo in his need to aid.
When Reason, giving way to heat of blood,
Herself from hasty choler ill defends,
And, hurried on by blind and furious mood,
We with the tongue or hand molest our friends,
Though the offence is, after, wept and rued,
The penance which we pay is poor amends.
Alas! I sorrow and lament in vain
For what I said in other angry strain.
But like sick man am I, who, sore bested,
Suffering with patience many and many a day,
When against pain he can no more make head,
Yields to his rage, and curses; pain give way,
And with it the impetuous wrath is fled,
Which moved his ready tongue such ill to say;
And he is left his willful rage to rue,
But cannot that which he has done undo.
Well hope I, from your sovereign courtesy,
Your pardon, since I crave it, ladies bright;
You will excuse, if moved by madness, I
Rave in my passion; let your censure light
On foe, who treats me so despiteously,
I could not be reduced to worser plight;
Who prompts what sore repents me: Heaven above
Knows how she wrongs me, knows how well I love.
No less beside myself than Brava's peer
And I, nor less my pardon should obtain;
He, who by mead or mountain, far or near,
Had scowered large portion of the land of Spain,
Dragging that jennet in his wild career,
Dead as she was, behind him by the rein;
But, where a river joined the sea, parforce
Abandoned on the bank her mangled corse.
And he, who could like any otter swim,
Leapt in and rose upon the further side.
Behold! a mounted shepherd at the brim
Arrived, his horse to water in the tide;
Nor when he saw Orlando coming, him
Eschewed, whom naked and alone he spied.
-- "My jennet for thy hackney were I fain
To barter," cried the madman to the swain:
"Her will I show thee, if thou wilt; who dead
Upon the river's other margin fell;
At leisure may'st thou have her cured," (he said)
"And of no other fault have I to tell.
Give me thy hackney, with some boot instead:
Prythee, dismount thee, for he likes me well."
The peasant, laughing, answered not a word,
But left the fool and pricked towards the ford.
"Hearest thou not? hola! I want thy steed,"
(Cried Roland) and advanced with wrathful cheer.
A solid staff and knotted, for his need,
That shepherd had, wherewith he smote the peer;
Whose violence and ire all bounds exceed,
Who seems withal to wax more fierce than e'er:
A cuff he levels at that rustic's head,
And splits the solid bone, and lays him dead.
Then leaping on his horse, by different way
The country scowers, to make more spoil and wrack:
That palfrey never more tastes corn or hay;
So that few days exhaust the famished hack.
But not afoot does fierce Orlando stray,
Who will not, while he lives, conveyance lack.
As many as he finds, so many steeds
-- Their masters slain -- he presses for his needs.
He came at last to Malaga, and here
Did mightier scathe than he had done elsewhere;
For now -- besides that the infuriate peer
Of all its people left the country bare,
Nor (such the ravage) could another year
The desperate havoc of the fool repair --
So many houses burnt he, or cast down,
Sacked was a third of that unhappy town.
Departing thence, insane Orlando flees
To Zizera, a seaward town, whose site
Is in Gibraltar's bay, or (if you please)
Say Gibletar's; for either way 'tis hight;
Here, loosening from the land, a boat he sees
Filled with a party, and for pleasure dight:
Which, for their solace, to the morning gale,
Upon that summer sea, had spread their sail.
"Hoah! the boat! put back!" the count 'gan cry,
Who was in mind to go aboard their barge:
But vainly on their ears his clamours die:
For of such freight none willingly take charge.
As swiftly as a swallow cleaves the sky,
Furrowing the foamy wave the boat goes large.
Orlando urges on, with straightening knee,
And whip and spur, his horse towards the sea.
He plunged into the waves, at last, parforce;
For vainly would he shun the waters green.
Bathed are knees, paunch, and croup, till of that horse
Scarcely the head above the wave is seen:
Let him not hope to measure back his course,
While smitten with the whip his ears between.
Woe worth him! he must founder by the way,
Or into Africa his load convey.
Nor poops nor prows does Roland more descry,
For all have launched their shallops, which are wide
Of that dry shore; while from his level eye
Their hulls the tall and shifting surges hide.
He spurs his horse amid the billows high,
Wholly resolved to reach the farther side.
The courser ends his swim and life in fine,
Drained of his strength, and drenched brimfull of brine.
He sinks, and would with him draw down his load;
But that himself the madman's arms upbear:
With sinewy arms and either palm he rowed,
And puffed and blew the brine before; the air
Breathed softly, and the water gently flowed;
And well was needed weather more than fair:
For if the waters yet a little rise,
Whelmed by the waxing tide Orlando dies.
But Fortune, that of madmen is the guide,
Him from the water drew near Ceuta's shore,
Upon that beach, and of those walls as wide
As twice an archer's hand could shoot at score.
For many days along the bank he hied,
At hazard, ever westward hurrying sore,
Until he came where on the sea-beat strand
Encamped a host of blacks, a countless band.
Leave we the paladin at will to stray!
To speak of him occasion will come round.
-- Sir, what befel the lady of Catay,
Who scaped, in time, from him of wit unsound,
And afterwards, upon her homeward way,
Was with good bark and better weather bound;
And how she made Medoro, India's king;
Perchance some voice in happier verse may sing.
To say so many things I am intent,
I mean not to pursue the cavalier.
To Mandricardo my fair argument
It now behoves me, in his turn, to veer
He happily enjoyed, his rival spent,
The beauty, left in Europe without peer,
Since fair Angelica from hence had wended,
And virtuous Isabel to heaven ascended.
King Mandricardo, proud that in his right
His lady had adjudged the amorous suit,
Enjoys not her award with full delight;
Since others with him other points dispute.
By young Rogero claimed, that eagle white
Of one disastrous quarrel is the root;
Another moves the king of Sericana
Against the Tartar king, for Durindana.
Agramant and Marsilius strive in vain,
With labour sore, this tangle to undo;
Nor only cannot they persuade the twain
In peace and concord to unite anew,
But cannot make the valiant Child refrain
From claiming Hector's buckler as his due;
Nor yet Gradasso move the sword to lend,
'Till this, or till that, quarrel have an end.
Rogero brooks not that in other fight
His shield be braced, nor will Gradasso bear
That save against himself the Tartar knight
Should wield the sword Orlando used to wear
"See we, in fine, on whom the chance will light
(Cries Agramant) and further words forbear.
How Fortune rules the matter let us see,
And choose him that of her shall chosen be.
"And -- would ye do what most would me delight,
And be an obligation evermore --
You shall by casting lots decide your right:
Premising, he whose lot is drawn before
The other, shall upon two quarrels fight:
So he who wins, on his companion's score
Shall win as well as on his own; and who
Loses the battle lose alike for two.
"Between Rogero and Gradasso, we
Deem there is little difference, rather none;
And wot whichever shall elected be.
In arms will make his martial prowess known,
As for the rest, let doubtful victory
Descend on him whom Heaven is pleased to own!
Upon the vanquished knight no blame shall fall,
But we to Fortune will impute it all."
Rogero and Gradasso, at this say
Of Agramant, stood silent, and agreed,
That he whose lot first issued, the assay
Should undertake for both in listed mead.
Thus in two scrolls, inscribed in the same way,
Their names are writ as destined to succeed.
These afterwards are cast into an urn,
Which much they shake and topsy turvy turn.
A seely boy then dipt his hand and drew
A billet from the vase, and if befel,
Thereon Rogero's name the assistants knew;
-- Gradasso's left behind -- I cannot tell
How joyed renowned Rogero at the view,
And can as little say what sorrow fell
Upon Gradasso, on the other side;
But he parforce his fortune must abide.
Gradasso every thought and every deed
Employs, Rogero to instruct and aid,
That in the strife his champion may succeed;
And teaches every sleight he has assaid:
-- How best to manage sword and shield at need --
-- What strokes are feints, and what with vantage made --
And when he should tempt Fortune, when eschew --
Reminds him, one by one, in long review.
After the drawing lots and king's award,
What of the day remained the champions spent
As wont, in giving tokens of regard,
To this or to that other warrior sent.
The people, greedy for the fight, toward
The field is gone, and many not content
With wending thither ere the dawn of light,
Upon the place of combat watch all night.
The foolish rabble anxiously attends
Those goodly champions' contest for the prize,
A crowd which neither sees nor comprehends
Other than that which is before its eyes.
But they who know what boots and what offends,
-- Marsilius and Sobrino, and the wise --
Censure the fight, and monarch that affords
A field of combat to those martial lords.
Nor what a heavy loss he would sustain
(Cease they to royal Agramant to read)
Were Mandricardo or Rogero slain;
A thing by cruel Destiny decreed.
Since they, to combat against Charlemagne,
Of one of these alone have greater need
Than of ten thousand more, amid which crew
They scarce would find one champion good and true.
Agramant recognized this truth; but thought
That ill his royal word could be repealed;
Yet Mandricardo and the Child besought
That they the right, conferred by him, would yield:
More; that the question was a thing of nought,
Nor worthy to be tried in martial field;
And prayed them -- would they not obey his hest
At least somewhile, to let their quarrel rest.
Five or six months would they the strife delay,
Or more or less, till Charles defeated were,
And stript of mantle, crown, and royal sway.
But each, though he would willingly forbear,
And much desired his sovereign to obey,
Stood out against the Moorish monarch's prayer:
Since either deemed he would be foully shent
Who to this treaty first should yield consent.
But more than king, than all, who sought in vain
To soften Agrican's infuriate son,
The beauteous daughter of King Stordilane
Lamented, besought him, woe-begone,
Besought him he would do what all would fain
Behold by the relenting warrior done;
-- Lamenting her, as through the cavalier,
For ever kept in agony and fear.
"Alas! and what (exclaims she) can I find
Which may avail to minister repose,
If aye, by this or that desire inclined,
You don your harness to affront new foes?
What boots it to restore my harassed mind
That I behold one fearful quarrel's close,
Against one champion moved for love of me,
If one as fierce already kindled be?
"Woe worth me! I was proud, with little right,
So good a king, so stout a cavalier
For he should in the fierce and dangerous fight
Peril his life, who now, I see to clear,
Upon a ground of strife so passing light,
With the same risk prepares to couch the spear.
You, more than love for me, to strife impels
The natural rage, wherewith your bosom swells.
"But if the love you force yourself to show,
Be in good earnest, that which you profess,
By this I pray you, by that chastening woe
Which does my spirit, does my heart oppress,
Be not concerned, because the bird of snow
Rogero, pictured on his shield, possess.
I know not wherefore you should joy or grieve
That he the blazoned buckler bear or leave.
"Much evil may ensue and little gain
Out of the battle you to wage prepare;
Small guerdon will be bought with mickle pain
If from Rogero you his eagle bear;
But if your fortune shifts on listed plain,
She whom you hold not captive by her hair,
You cause an evil with such mischief fraught,
My heart is broken at the simple thought.
"If of small value life to you appear,
And you esteem a painted bird more high,
At least for my life's sake esteem yours dear;
For one without the other shall not die.
With you to die excites in me no fear;
With you, prepared for life or death am I:
Yet would I fain not die so ill content,
As I should die if you before me went."
Accompanying words with tears and sighs,
In such, or such like speech she him did pray,
Throughout that livelong night, in piteous wise,
Hoping her lover's anger to allay;
And Mandricardo, sucking from her eyes
Those sweet tears, glittering in their humid ray,
And that sweet moan, from lips more deeply dyed
Than crimson rose, himself in tears, replied.
"Alack! my dearest life! take thou no dread,
Alack! for love of Heaven! of thing so light:
For if (to my sole harm) with banners spread,
Their following of the Frank or paynim rite
King Agramant and Charles united led,
This need not cause you matter for affright.
What poor account you make of me is clear
If this one, sole, Rogero breeds such fear.
"And yet should you remember how alone
(Nor had I scimetar or sword in hand)
Of knights, with a spear's truncheon overthrown,
I singly cleared the field, an armed band.
Though to his shame and sorrow this he own,
Gradasso tells to them who make demand,
He was my prisoner in the Syrian tower:
Yet other than Rogero's is his power.
"Not King Gradasso will the truth deny:
Sacripant knows it and your Isolier:
I say King Sacripant of Circassy,
And Aquilant, and Gryphon, famous peer;
With hundreds -- yea and more -- from far and nigh
Made prisoners at that fearful pass whilere,
Baptized or Infidel; and all by me
From prison on the selfsame day set free.
"And even yet they marvel evermore
At the great feat which I performed that day;
Greater than if the squadrons of the Moor
And Frank united I had held at bay;
And shall Rogero, new to martial lore,
Me, onto to one, with scathe or scorn appay?
And me shall now this young Rogero scare,
When Hector's sword and Hector's arms I wear?
"Ah! as I might have won you from my foe,
Why did I not for you in arms contend?
I so had them my valour shown, I know,
You would have well foreseen Rogero's end.
For heaven's sake dry your tears, nor by such woe
-- An evil omen for my arms -- offend;
And learn, 'tis Honour pricks me to the field,
And not an argent bird and blazoned shield."
So said he; and with reasons passing good
To him that dame replied, with saddest face;
Nor only would have changed his sullen mood,
But would have moved a pillar from its place.
She would the champion quickly have subdued,
Though she was gowned, he locked in iron case;
And make him satisfy the Moorish lord,
If Agramant spake further of accord;
And had; but that Aurora -- on his way
Ushering aye the sun -- no sooner stirred,
Than young Rogero, anxious to display
That rightfully he bore Jove's beauteous bird,
To cut the quarrel short, and lest delay
Be further interposed, in act or word,
Where round the palisade the people close,
Appears in armour and his bugle blows.
When that loud sound is by the Tartar heard,
Which the proud warrior to the strife defies,
No more of treaty will he hear a word:
From bed upspringing, "Arms," the monarch cries,
And shows a visage with such fury stirred,
Doralice dares no longer peace advise,
Nor speak of treaty or of truce anew;
And now parforce the battle must ensue.
The Tartar arms himself in haste; with pain
The wonted service of his squires he tarries:
This done, he springs upon the steed amain,
Erewhile the champion's who defended Paris;
And him with speed towards the listed plain,
Fixt for that fierce assay, the courser carries.
Even then the king and barons thither made,
So that the strife was little time delaid.
Put on and laced the shining helmets were,
And given to either champion was the spear:
Quickly the trumpet's blast was heard in air,
Whose signal blanched a thousand cheeks with fear.
Levelled those cavaliers their lances bear,
Spurring their warlike steeds to the career,
And, in mid champaign, meet with such a shock,
That Earth appears to rive and Heaven to rock.
From this side and from that, the eagle flew,
Which Jove in air was wonted to sustain;
So hurtled, but with plumes of different hue,
Those others often on Thessalian plain.
The beamy lances, rested by the two,
Well warranted the warriors' might and main,
And worse than that encounter had withstood:
So towers resist the wind, so rocks the flood.
As Turpin truly writes, into the sky
Upwent the splinters, broke in the career;
For two or three fell flaming from on high,
Which had ascended to the starry sphere.
The knights unsheathed their faulchions from the thigh,
And, like those who were little moved by fear,
For new encounter wheeled, and, man to man,
Pointing at one another's vizor ran.
They, pointing at the vizors' sight, attacked,
Nor with their faulchions at the steeds took aim,
Each other to unhorse, unseemly act!
Since in that quarrel they are nought to blame.
Those err, nor know the usage, why by pact
Deem they were bound their horses not to maim:
Without pact made, 'twas reckoned a misdeed,
And an eternal blot to smite a steed.
They level at the vizor, which is double,
And yet resists such mighty blows with pain.
The champions evermore their strokes redouble
Faster than pattering hail, which mars the grain,
And bruises branch and leaf, and stalk and stubble,
And cheats the hopes of the expecting swain.
To you is known the force of either brand,
And known the force of either warrior's hand.
But yet no stroke well worthy of their might
Those peers have dealt, so cautious are the twain.
The Tartar's faulchion was the first to bite,
By which was good Rogero well nigh slain.
By one of those fell blows which either knight
So well could plant, his shield was cleft in twain;
Beneath, his cuirass opened to the stroke,
And to the quick the cruel weapon broke.
The assistants' hearts were frozen at the blow,
So did Rogero's danger them appal,
On whom the many's favor, well they know,
And wishes rest, if not of one and all.
And then (had Fortune ordered matters so,
As the most part desired they should befall)
Taken had been the Tartar king or slain;
So had that blow offended all the train.
I think that blow was by some angel stayed,
To save Rogero from the mischief near:
Yet at the king (nor answer he delayed)
He dealt a stroke more terrible than e'er.
As Mandricardo's head he aims his blade,
But such the fury of the cavalier,
And such his haste, he less my blame deserves,
If slanting from the mark his faulchion swerves.
Had Balisarda smote him full, though crowned
With Hector's helm, the enchantment had been vain.
So reels the Tartar, by that stroke astound,
He from the bristle-hand lets go the rein:
Thrice with his head he threats to smite the ground,
While his unguided courser scowers the plain;
That Brigliadoro, whom by name you know,
Yet, for his change of master, full of woe.
Never raged trampled serpent, never so
Raged wounded lion, as in fell despite
Raged Mandricardo, rallying from that blow,
Which had deprived of sense the astonied knight;
And as his pride and fury waxes, grow
As much, yea more, his valour and his might.
He at Rogero makes his courser vault,
With sword uplifted high for the assault.
Poised in his stirrups stood the Tartar lord,
And aiming at his foeman's casque, believed
He with the stroke of his descending sword
Rogero to the bosom should have cleaved;
But from that youth, yet quicker in his ward,
A wound beneath his arm the king received,
Which made wide daylight in the stubborn mail,
That clothed the better armpit with its scale.
Rogero drawing Balisarda back,
Out sprang the tepid blood of crimson stain;
Hence Mandricardo's arm did vigour lack,
And with less dint descended Durindane:
Yet on the croup the stripling tumbled back,
Closing his eyelids, through excess of pain;
And memorable aye had been that blow,
Had a worse helmet clothed the warrior's brow.
For this he pauses not, but spurs amain,
And Mandricardo smites in the right side.
Here little boots the texture of the chain,
And the well wealded metal's temper tried,
Against that sword, which never falls in vain,
Which was enchanted to no end beside,
But that against it nothing should avail,
Enchanted corselet or enchanted mail.
Whate'er that sword takes-in it shears outright,
And in the Tartar's side inflicts a wound:
He curses Heaven and raves in such despite,
Less horribly the boisterous billows sound.
He now prepares to put forth all his might:
The shield, with argent bird and azure ground,
He hurls, with rage transported, from his hand,
And grasps with right and left his trenchant brand.
"Marry," (Rogero cried,) "it needs no more
To prove your title to that ensign vain,
Which now you cast away, and cleft before;
Nor can you more your right in it maintain."
So saying, he parforce must prove how sore
The danger and the dint of Durindane;
Which smites his front, and with such weight withal,
A mountain lighter than that sword would fall.
If cleft his vizor through the midst; 'twas well
That from the sight diverged the trenchant blade,
Which on the saddle's plated pommel fell;
Nor yet its double steel the faulchion stayed:
It reached his armour (like soft wax, the shell
Oped, and the skirts wherewith 'twas overlaid)
And trenched upon his thigh a grievous wound;
So that 'twas long ere he again waxed sound.
The spouting blood of either cavalier
Their arms had crimsoned in a double drain:
Hence diversly the people guessed, which peer
Would have the better of the warlike twain:
But soon Rogero made the matter clear
With that keen sword, so many a champion's bane:
With this he at that part in fury past
Whence Mandricardo had his buckler cast.
He the left side of his good cuirass gored,
And found a passage to the heart below;
Which a full palm above the flank he bored;
So that parforce the Tartar must forego
His every title to the famous sword,
The blazoned buckler, and its bird of snow,
And yield, together with these seeds of strife,
-- Dearer than sword and shield -- his precious life.
Not unavenged the unhappy monarch dies;
For in the very moment he is smit,
The sword -- for little period his -- he plies,
And good Rogero's vizor would have split.
But that he stopt the stroke in wary wise,
And broke its force and vigour ere it lit;
Its force and vigour broke: for he, below
The better arm, first smote his Tartar foe.
Smit was the Child by Mandricardo's hand,
At the same moment he that monarch slew:
He, albeit thick, divides an iron band
And good steel cap beneath it; inches two,
Lies buried in the head the trenchant brand,
The solid bone and sinew severed through.
Astound Rogero fell, on earth reversed,
And from his head a stream of life-blood burst.
Rogero was the first who went to ground,
And so much longer did the king delay,
Nigh every one of those who waited round
Weened he the prize and vaunt had borne away.
So, erred his Doralice, that oft was drowned
In tears, and often clad in smiles that day:
She thanked her God, with hands to Heaven extended,
That in such wise the fearful fight had ended.
But when by tokens manifest appear
The live man living and the dead man slain,
The favourers of those knights, with change of cheer,
Some weep and some rejoice, an altered train.
King, lord, and every worthiest cavalier
Crowd round Rogero, who has risen with pain.
Him to embrace and gratulate they wend,
And do him grace and honour without end.
Each with Rogero is rejoiced, and feels
That which he utters in his heart; among
The crowd the Sericane alone conceals
Other than what he vouches with his tongue.
He pleasure in his countenance reveals,
With envy at the conquest inly stung;
And -- were his destiny or chance to blame --
Curses whiche'er produced Rogero's name.
What of Rogero's favour can be said?
What of caresses, many, true, and kind,
From Agramant? that not without his aid
Would have unrolled his ensigns the wind;
Who had to move from Africk been afraid,
Nor would have trusted in his host combined.
He, now King Mandricardo is no more,
Esteems him the united world before.
Nor to Rogero lean the men alone;
To him incline as well the female train,
Who for the land of France had left their own,
Amid the troops of Africk or of Spain;
And Doralice, herself, although she moan,
And for her lover, cold and pale, complain,
Save by the griding curb of shame represt,
Her voice, perchance, had added to the rest.
I say perchance, nor warrant it I dare,
Albeit the thing may easily be true;
For such his manners, such his merits are,
So beauteous is Rogero's form to view,
She (from experience we are well aware)
So prone to follow whatsoe'er is new,
That not to play the widow's lovelorn part,
She on Rogero well might set her heart.
Though he did well alive, what could be done
With Mandricardo, after he was dead?
'Tis fitting she provide herself with one
That her, by night or day, may bravely stead.
Meanwhile to young Rogero's succour run
The king's physician in his art best read;
Who, having seen the fruits of that fell strife,
Already has ensured Rogero's life.
Agramant bids them diligently lay
The wounded warrior in his tent, and there
Is evermore beside him, night and day;
Him with such love he watches, with such care:
To his bed the Tartar's arms and buckler gay,
So bade the Moorish king, suspended were;
Suspended all, save trenchant Durindana,
Relinquished to the King of Sericana.
With Mandricardo's arms, his other weed
Was to Rogero given, and given with these
Was warlike Brigliador, whom on the mead
Orlando left, distraught with his disease.
To Agramant Rogero gave the steed,
Well knowing how that goodly gift would please.
No more of this: parforce my strain returns
To her that vainly for Rogero burns.
Bradamant's torment have I to recount,
While for the courier damsel she did stay:
With tidings of her love to Alban's Mount,
To her Hippalca measured back her way:
She of Frontino first and Rodomont,
And next of good Rogero had to say;
How to the fount anew he had addrest
His way, with Richardetto and the rest;
And how the Child, in rescue of the steed,
Had gone with her to find the paynim rude;
And weened to have chastized his foul misdeed,
That from a woman took Frontino good.
And how the youth's design did ill succeed,
Because the king had other way pursued.
The reason too why to Mount Alban's hold
Rogero had not come, at full she told;
And fully she to Bradamant exprest
What to excuse himself Rogero said:
She after drew the letter from her breast,
Wherewith entrusted she had thither sped:
With visage which more care than hope confest,
The paper Bradamant received and read;
Which, but that she expected to have seen
Rogero's self, more welcome would have been.
To find herself with written scroll appaid
In good Rogero's place, whom she attends,
Marred her fair visage; which such fear pourtrayed,
Despite and sorrow as her bosom rends.
Ten times the page she kisses, while the maid
As oft to him who writes her heart commends:
The tears alone which trickle from her eyes
Keep it from kindling at her burning sighs.
Four times, nay six, she that epistle read,
And willed moreover that as many more
The message by that damsel should be said,
Who word and letter to Mount Alban bore.
This while unceasing tears the lady shed,
Nor, I believe, would ever have given o'er,
Save by the hope consoled, that she anew
Should briefly her beloved Rogero view.
Rogero's word was pledged for his return
When fifteen days or twenty were gone by:
So had he after to Hippalca sworn,
Bidding her boldly on his faith rely.
"From accidents that chance at every turn"
(Cried Bradamant) "what warranty have I,
Alas! -- and such are commonest in war --
That none the knight's return for ever bar?
"Alas! alas! Rogero, that above
Myself hast evermore been prized by me,
Who would have thought thou more than me could'st love
Any, and most thy mortal enemy?
And harm'st where thou should'st help; nor do I see
If thou as worthy praise or blame regard
Such tardiness to punish and reward.
"I know not if thou knowest -- the stones know --
How by Troyano was thy father slain;
And yet Troyano's son, against his foe,
Thou would'st defend, and keep from harm or stain
Such vengeance upon him do'st thou bestow?
And do his vengers, as their meed obtain,
That I, descended of his stock, should be
The martyr of the mortal cruelty?"
To her Rogero, in his absence, said
The lady these sad words, and more beside,
Lamenting aye; while her attendant maid
Nor once alone, but often, certified
The stripling would observe his faith, and prayed
Her -- who could do no better -- to abide
The Child's arrival till the time came round
When he by promise to return was bound.
The comfort that Hippalca's words convey,
And Hope, companion of the loving train,
Bradamant's fear and sorrow so allay,
That she enjoys some respite from her pain:
This moves her in Mount Alban's keep to stay;
Nor ever thence that lady stirred again
Until the day, that day the youthful knight
Had fixt, who ill observed his promise plight.
But in that he his promise ill maintained,
No blame upon Rogero should be cast;
Him one or other cause so long detained,
The appointed time parforce he overpast:
On a sick bed, long time, he, sorely pained,
Was laid, wherein a month or more he past
In doubt of death; so deeply him had gored
Erewhile in fight the Tartar monarch's sword.
Him on the day prefixed the maid attended,
Nor other tidings of the youth had read,
But those he through Hippalca had commended,
And that which after Richardetto said;
Who told how him Rogero had defended,
And freed the captive pair to prison led.
The tidings, overjoyed, she hears repeat;
Yet blended with some bitter is the sweet.
For she had heard as well in that discourse,
For might and beauty voiced, Marphisa's praise;
Heard, how Rogero thither bends his course,
Together with that lady, as he says,
Where in weak post and with unequal force
King Agramant the Christian army stays.
Such fair companionship the lady lauds,
But neither likes that union nor applauds.
Nor light suspicion has she of that queen:
For, were Marphisa beauteous, as was said,
And they together till that time had been,
'T were marvel but Rogero loved the maid:
Yet would she not believe; but hung between
Her hopes and fears, and in Mount Alban stayed;
And close and anxious there, until the day
Which was to bring her joy or sorrow, lay.
This while Mount Alban's prince and castellain,
Rinaldo, first of that fair brotherhood,
-- I say in honour, not in age, for twain
In right of birth before the warrior stood,
Who -- as the sun illumes the starry train --
Had by his deeds ennobled Aymon's blood,
One day at noon, with none beside a page
To serve him, reached that famous fortilage.
Hither had good Rinaldo now repaired;
Because returning Paris ward again,
From Brava, (whither had he often fared,
As said, to seek Angelica in vain)
He of that pair those evil news had heard.
His Malagigi and his Viviane,
How they were to Maganza to be sent;
And hence to Agrismont his way had bent.
There, hearing of the safety of that pair,
And of their enemies' defeat and fall;
And how Rogero and Marphisa were
The authors of their ruin; and how all
His valiant brethren and his cousins are
Returned, and harboured in Mount Alban's hall,
Until he there embrace the friendly throng
Each hour appears to him a twelvemonth long.
His course to Mont Albano had he ta'en;
And, there embracing wife and children dear,
Mother and brethren and the cousins twain,
(They who were captives to their foe whilere)
A parent swallow seems, amid that train,
Which, with full beak, its fasting youth doth cheer.
With them a day or more the warrior stayed,
Then issued forth and others thence conveyed.
Guichard, Duke Aymon's eldest born, and they,
Richard, Alardo, and Richardet' combined,
Vivian and Malagigi, wend their way
In arms, the martial paladin behind.
Bradamant, waiting the appointed day,
Which she, in her desire, too slow opined,
Feigned herself ailing to the brethren true,
Nor would she join in arms the banded crew;
And, saying that she ailed, most truly said;
Yet 'twas not corporal pain or fever sore,
It was Desire that on her spirit preyed,
Diseased with Love's disastrous fit: no more
Rinaldo in Mount Alban's castle stayed:
With him his kinsman's flower the warrior bore.
How he for Paris journeyed, and how well
He succoured Charles, shall other canto tell.
Rinaldo and Dudon fight; then friendship make,
And to each other fitting honour pay.
Agramant's host the united champions break,
And scatter it, like chaff, in disarray.
Brandimart wages war, for Roland's sake,
With Rodomont, and loses in the fray.
This while, for good Baiardo, with more pain,
Contend Rinaldo and the Sericane.
What sweeter, gladder, state could be possest
Than falls to the enamoured bosom's share?
What happier mode of life, what lot more blest,
Than evermore the chains of love to wear?
Were not the lover, 'mid his joys, distrest
By that suspicious fear, that cruel care,
That martyrdom, which racks the suffering sprite,
That phrensied rage, which jealousy is hight.
For by all bitters else which interpose
Before enjoyment of this choicest sweet,
Love is augmented, to perfection grows,
And takes a finer edge; to drink and eat,
Hunger and thirst the palate so dispose,
And flavour more our beverage and our meat.
Feebly that wight can estimate the charms
Of peace, who never knew the pain of arms.
That which the heart aye sees, though undiscerned
Of human eye, we can support in peace.
To him long absent, to his love returned,
A longer absence is but joy's increase.
Service may be endured, though nought is earned,
So that the hope of guerdon does not cease.
For worthy service in the end is paid,
Albeit its wages should be long delaid.
Scorn, and repulse, and finally each pain
Of suffering love, his every martyrdom,
Through recollection, make us entertain
Delights with greater rapture, when they come.
But if weak mind be poisoned by that bane,
That filthy pest, conceived in Stygian home,
Though joy ensue, with all its festive pleasures,
The wretched lover ill his comfort measures.
This is that cruel and envenomed wound
Where neither salve nor portion soothes the smart;
Nor figure made by witch, nor murmured sound;
Nor star benign observed in friendly part;
Nor aught beside by Zoroaster found,
Inventor as he was of magic art.
Fell wound, which, more than every other woe,
Makes wretched man despair, and lays him low!
O' cruel wound! incapable of cure,
Inflicted with such ease on lover's breast,
No less by false suspicion than by sure!
O wound! whose pangs so wofully molest,
They reason and our better wit obscure,
And from it natural bent our judgment wrest:
Wound, which against all reason didst destroy
The damsel of Dordona's every joy!
I speak not of what fatal mischief wrought
Hippalca's and the brother's bitter blow;
I speak of fell and cruel tidings brought
Some few days after; for the former woe,
Weighed with this other, was a thing of nought:
This after some digression will I show:
But first Rinaldo's feats I must declare,
Who with his troop to Paris made repair.
The following day they met a cavalier,
Towards evening, with a lady by his side;
Sable his shield, and sable was his gear,
Whose ground a bar of silver did divide.
As foremost, and of seeming force, the peer,
Young Richardetto to the joust defend:
He, prompt for battle, wheeled his courser round,
And for the tourney took sufficient ground.
Between those knights no further parley past:
Without more question, charged the martial two.
Rinaldo with the friendly troop stood fast,
And looked to see what issue would ensue.
"Him from his saddle will I quickly cast,
If firm the footing, and mine arm prove true";
Within himself young Richardetto cries:
But that encounter ends in other wise.
Him underneath the vizor's sight offends
The stranger champion, of the sable weed,
With force so fell, that he the youth extends
Above two lances' length beyond his steed.
Quickly to venge the knight Alardo wends,
But falls himself astounded on the mead;
Sore handled, and unhorsed by such a stroke,
His buckler in the cruel shock is broke.
His lance Guichardo levelled, when he spied
Outstretched upon the field, the brethren two;
Although "Halt, halt," (renowned Rinaldo cried,)
"For this third course to me is justly due":
But he as yet his helmet had not tied;
So that Guichardo to the combat flew.
He kept his seat no better than the twain;
Forthwith, like them, extended on the plain.
All to be foremost in the joust contend,
Richardo, Malagigi, Viviane:
But to their strife Rinaldo puts an end;
He shows himself in arms before the train,
Saying, " 'Tis time that we to Paris wend;
For us too long the tourney will detain,
If I expect till each his course has run,
And ye are all unseated, one by one."
So spake the knight, yet spake not in a tone
To be o'erheard in what he inly said;
Who thus foul scorn would to the rest have done.
Both now had wheeled, and fierce encounter made.
In the career Rinaldo was not thrown,
Who all the banded kinsmen much outweighed;
Their spears like brittle glass to pieces went,
But not an inch the champions backward bent.
The chargers such a rough encounter made,
That on his crupper sank each staggering horse:
Rinaldo's rose so quick, he might be said
Scarcely to interrupt his rapid course:
The stranger's broke his spine and shoulder-blade;
That other shocked him with such desperate force.
When his lord sees him slain, he leaves his seat,
And in an instant springs upon his feet;
And to his foe, that having wheeled anew,
Approached with hand unarmed, the warrior cried:
"Sir, to the goodly courser whom ye slew,
Because, whenas he lived, he was my pride,
I deem, I ill should render honour due,
If thus unvenged by my good arm he died;
And so fall on, and do as best ye may,
For we parforce must meet in new assay."
To him Rinaldo, "If we for thy horse
Have to contend in fight, and nought beside,
Take comfort, for I ween that with no worse
Thou, in his place, by me shalt be supplied."
-- "Thou errest if thou deem'st his loss the source
Of my regret" (the stranger knight replied);
"But I, since thou divinest not my speech,
To thee my meaning will more plainly teach.
"I should esteem it were a foul misdeed,
Unless I proved thee also with the brand.
I, if thou in this other dance succeed
Better or worse than me, would understand:
Then, as it please, afoot or on thy steed,
Attack me, so it be with arms in hand.
I am content all vantage to afford;
Such my desire to try thee with the sword!"
Not long Rinaldo paused: he cried, "I plight
My promise not to balk thee of the fray;
And, for I deem thou art a valiant knight,
And lest thou umbrage take at mine array,
These shall go on before, nor other wight,
Beside a page, to hold my horse, shall stay."
So spake Mount Alban's lord; and to his band,
To wend their way the warrior gave command.
To that king paladin with praise replied
The stranger peer; alighting on the plain,
Rinaldo to the valet, at his side,
Consigned the goodly steed Baiardo's rein,
And when his banner he no longer spied,
Now widely distant with the warrior's train,
His buckler braced, his biting faulchion drew,
And to the field defied the knight anew.
And now each other they in fight assail:
Was never seen a feller strife in show.
Neither believes his foeman can avail,
Long, in that fierce debate, against his blow:
But when they knew, well neighed in doubtful scale,
That they were fitly matched, for weal or woe,
They laid their fury and their pride apart,
And for their vantage practised every art.
Their cruel and despiteous blows resound,
Re-echoing wide, what time the valiant twain
With cantlets of their shields now strew the ground,
Now with their faulchions sever plate and chain.
Yet more behoves to parry than to wound,
If either knight his footing would maintain;
For the first fault in fence, by either made,
Will with eternal mischief be appaid.
One hour and more than half another, stood
The knights in battle; and the golden sun
Already was beneath the tumbling flood,
And the horizon veiled with darkness dun:
Nor yet had they reposed, nor interlude
Had been, since that despiteous fight begun,
'Twixt these, whom neither ire nor rancour warms,
But simple thirst of fame excites to arms.
Rinaldo in himself revolving weighed
Who was the stranger knight, so passing stout;
That not alone him bravely had gainsaid,
But oft endangered in that deadly bout;
And has so harassed with his furious blade,
He of its final issue stands in doubt.
-- He that the strife was ended would be fain,
So that his knightly honour took no stain.
The stranger knight, upon the other side,
As little of his valiant foeman knew;
Nor in that lord Mount Alban's chief descried,
In warfare so renowned all countries through.
And upon whom, with such small cause defied,
His faulchion he in deadly combat drew.
He was assured he could not have in fight
Experience of a more redoubted wight.
He gladly would be quit of the emprize
He undertook to venge his courser's fall;
And, could he, without blame, a mean devise,
Would fain withdraw from that disastrous brawl.
So overcast already were the skies,
Their cruel strokes well nigh fell harmless all.
Both blindly strike; more blindly yet those lords
Parry the stroke, who scarce discern their swords.
He of Mount Alban is the first to say,
They should not combat darkling, on the plain;
But should their duel till such time delay
As slow Arcturus should have turned his wain.
(And adds,) as safely as himself might stay
The foe in his pavilion, of his train
As duly tended, honoured, and well seen,
As he in any place had ever been.
To pray him has Rinaldo little need:
He courteously accepts him for his host;
And thither the united warriors speed,
Where lies Mount Alban's troop in chosen post.
From his attendant squire a goodly steed,
With sumptuous housings gorgeously embossed,
Rinaldo takes, with tempered sword and spear,
And these bestows upon the cavalier.
For Montalbano's lord the stranger guest,
The baron recognised, with whom he came;
Because, before they reached their place of rest,
The paladin had chanced himself to name;
And (for they brethren were) with love opprest,
His tenderness him wholly overcame;
And touched with kind affection, at his heart,
From his full eyes the tears of pleasure start.
Guido the savage was that cavalier,
Who, with Marphisa leagued, the martial maid,
Sansonet, and the sons of Olivier,
Long sailed the sea, as I erewhile have said;
From earlier meeting with his kindred dear
By Pinnabel, the felon knight, delaid;
Seized by that traitor, and by him detained,
To enforce the wicked law he had ordained.
Sir Guido, when he knew his host to be
Rinaldo, famed above each famous knight,
Whom he had burned with more desire to see
Than ever blindman covets the lost light,
In rapture cries, "What fortune tempted me
With you, my lord, to strive in deadly fight,
Whom long I have beloved, and love, whose worth
I prize above all dwellers' upon earth?
"Me on the distant bank of Euxine's flood
(I Guido am yclept) Constantia bare,
Conceived of the illustrious seed and good
Of generous Aymon, as ye likewise are.
To visit you and my bold brotherhood
Is the occasion, hither I repair;
And, where to honour you I had in thought,
I see my coming has but mischief wrought.
"But that I neither ye nor the others knew,
Must for so foul a fault be my excuse;
And, if I can amend it, bid me do
Whate'er thou wilt, nor ought will I refuse."
When, on this part and that, between the two,
Of interchanged embraces there was truce,
"Take you no farther thought upon your side
The battle to excuse," Rinaldo cried.
"For in complete assurance that you are
A real offset of our ancient tree,
You could no better testimony bear
Than the tried valour which in you we see;
If your demeanour more pacific were,
We ill should have believed your ancestry:
Since neither lion from the doe proceeds,
Nor fearful pigeon, hawk or eagle breeds."
While neither they through talk their journey stay,
Neither through speed abate their talk, those two
Reached the pavilions where the kinsmen lay:
There good Rinaldo, crying to his crew
That this was Guido, whom so many a day
They had impatiently desired to view,
Much pleased the friendly troop; and, at his sight
All like his father deemed the stranger knight.
I will not tell what welcome to the peer
Made Richardet, Alardo, and those twain;
What Malagigi, what Sir Aldigier,
And gallant Vivian, of that kindred train;
What every captain, every cavalier;
What Guido spake, what they replied again:
I for conclusion of my tale will say,
He was well greeted of the whole array.
Ever, I deem, good Guido would have been
Dear to his brethren bold; but welcomed more
Was now the valiant knight, and better seen
That at another time, as needed sore.
When the sun, garlanded with radiance sheen,
Upraised his visage from the watery floor,
Sir Guido and his kinsmen, in a band,
Beneath Rinaldo's banner took their stand.
So one day and another prick the train,
That they to Paris' leaguered gates are nigh,
Scarce ten miles distant, on the banks of Seine;
When, as good Fortune wills it, they descry
Gryphon and Aquilant, the two that stain
Their virtuous armour with a different dye;
Sable was Aquilant's, white Gryphon's, weed;
Good Olivier's and Sigismonda's seed.
In parley were they by a damsel stayed,
Nor she of mean condition to behold;
That in a snowy samyte was arraid,
The vesture edged about with list of gold:
Graceful and fair; although she was dismaid,
And down her visage tears of sorrow rolled;
Who with such mien and act her speech enforced,
It seemed of some high matter she discoursed.
As Guido them, they gallant Guido knew.
He with the pair had been few days before;
And to Rinaldo: "Behold those! whom few
In valour and in prowess go before,
And if they join your banner, against you
Feebly will stand the squadrons of the Moor."
Rinaldo vouched what valiant Guido told,
How either champion was a warrior bold.
Nor them he less had recognized at sight;
Because (such was the usage of the pair)
One by a vest all black, and one all white,
He knows, and by the ornaments they wear.
The brethren know as well Mount Alban's knight,
And give the warlike kinsmen welcome fair:
They both embrace Rinaldo as a friend,
And of their ancient quarrel make an end.
They -- erst at feud and with sore hate possest,
Through Truffaldino -- (which were long to say)
Each other with fraternal love carest,
Now putting all their enmity away.
Rinaldo next Sir Sansonet addrest,
Who somewhat later joined that fair array;
And (knowing well his force and mighty thew)
Received the cavalier with honour due.
When she, that gentle damsel, now more near,
Beholds renowned Rinaldo, him she knows,
Acquainted with each paladin and peer.
She news which sorely grieve the warrior shows;
And thus begin: "My lord, your cousin dear,
To whom its safety Church and Empire owes,
Roland, erewhile so honoured and so sage,
Now roves the world, possest with frantic rage.
"Whence woe, so direful and so strange, ensued
Cannot by me to you be signified:
I saw on earth his sword and armour strewed,
Doffed by that peer, and scattered far and wide;
And I a pious knight and courteous viewed
Those arms collecting upon every side,
Who, in the guise of trophy, to a tree
Fastened that fair and pompous panoply.
"But from the trophied stem the sword withdrew
The son of Agrican that very day.
Thou mayst conceive what mischief may ensue
To Charles and to the christened host's array,
From loss of Durindana, if anew
The infidels that goodly blade should sway.
Good Brigliador as well, who roved, forsaken,
About those arms, was by the paynim taken.
"Few days are past, since I in shameful wise
Saw Roland, running naked in his mood,
Sending forth piteous shrieks and fearful cries.
In fine, that he is frantic I conclude;
Nor this had I believed, save with these eyes
That strange and cruel wonder I had viewed."
She added next, how from the bridge's top,
Embraced by Rodomont, she saw him drop.
"To whosoe'er I deem not Roland's foe
I tell my tale," (pursued the dame again,)
"That, of the crowd who hear this cruel woe
Some one, in pity to his cruel pain,
May strive the peer in Paris to bestow,
Or other friendly place, to purge his brain.
Well wot I, if such tidings he receive,
Nought unattempted Brandimart will leave."
Fair Flordelice was she, the stranger dame;
That his own self to Brandimart more dear:
Who in pursuit of him to Paris came.
That damsel, after, tells the cavalier,
How hate and strife were blown into a flame
Between Gradasso and the Tartar peer,
For Roland's faulchion; fierce Gradasso's prey,
When slain in combat Mandricardo lay.
By accident, so strange and sad, distrust,
Rinaldo is distraught with ceaseless woe:
He feels his heart dissolve within his breast,
As in the sun dissolves the flake of snow;
And, with unchanged resolve, upon the quest
Of good Orlando, every where will go;
In hopes, if he discover him, to find
Some means of cure for his distempered mind.
But since his band already had he dight,
(Did him the hand of Heaven or Fortune sway)
He first to put the Saracens to flight,
And raise the siege of Paris, will assay.
But (for it promised vantage) he till night
The assault of their cantonments will delay,
Till the third watch or fourth, when heavy sleep
Their senses shall in Lethe's water steep.
His squadron in the wood he placed, and there,
Ambushed, he made them lie the daylight through;
But when the sun, leaving this nether air
In darkness, to his ancient nurse withdrew;
And fangless serpent now, and goat, and bear,
With other beasts, adorned the heavens anew,
Which by the greater blaze had been concealed,
Rinaldo moved his silent troop afield.
A mile an-end with Aquilant he prest,
Gryphon, Alardo, and Vivian of his race,
Guido and Sansonetto, and the rest,
Without word spoken, and with stealthy pace.
The Moorish guard they find with sleep opprest:
They slaughter all, nor grant one paynim grace;
And, ere they were by others seen or heard,
Into their midmost camp the squadron spurred.
At the first charge on that unchristened band,
Their guard and sentries, taken by surprise,
So broken are by good Rinaldo's brand,
No wight is left, save he who slaughtered lies.
Their first post forced, the paynims understand
No laughing matter is the lord's emprize;
For. sleeping and dismaid, their naked swarms
Make small resistance to such warriors' arms.
To strike more dread into the Moorish foe,
Mount Alban's champion, leading the assault,
Bade beat his drums and bade his bugles blow,
And with loud echoing cries his name exalt.
He spurs Baiardo, that is nothing slow;
He clears the lofty barriers at a vault,
Trampling down foot, o'erturning cavalier,
And scatters booth and tent in his career.
Is none so bold of all that paynimry
But what his stiffened hair stands up on end,
Hearing Mount Alban's and Rinaldo's cry
From earth into the starry vault ascend.
Him the twin hosts of Spain and Afric fly,
Nor time in loading baggage idly spend;
Who will not wait that deadly fury more,
Which to have proved so deeply irks them sore.
Guido succeeds; no less their foe pursue,
The valiant sons of warlike Olivier,
Alardo, Richardet, and the other two;
Sansonet's sword and horse a pathway clear;
And well is proved upon that paynim crew
The force of Vivian and of Aldigier.
Thus each bestirs himself like valorous knight,
Who follows Clermont's banner to the fight.
Seven hundred men with good Rinaldo speed,
Drawn from Mount Alban and the townships nigh
-- No fiercer erst obeyed Achilles' lead --
Enured to summer and to winter sky:
So stout each warrior is, so good at need,
A hundred would not from a thousand fly;
And, better than some famous cavaliers,
Many amid that squadron couch their spears.
If good Rinaldo gathers small supplies
From rents or cities, which his rule obey,
So these he bound by words and courtesies,
And sharing what he had with his array,
Is none that ever from his service buys
Deserter by the bribe of better pay.
Of Montalbano these are left in care,
Save pressing need demands their aid elsewhere.
Them now in succour of King Charles he stirred,
And left with little guard his citadel.
Among the Africans that squadron spurred,
That squadron, of whose doughty feats I tell,
Doing by them what wolf on woolly herd
Does where Galesus' limpid waters well,
Or lion by the bearded goat and rank,
That feeds on Cinyphus's barbarous bank.
Tidings to Charles Rinaldo had conveyed,
That he for Paris with his squadron steers,
To assail, by night, the paynims ill purveyed;
And ready and in arms the king appears.
He, when his help is needed, comes in aid,
With all his peerage, and, beside his peers,
Brings Monodantes' son, amid that crew,
Of Flordelice the lover chaste and true;
Whom by such long and by such tedious way
She sought throughout the realm of France in vain;
Here by the cognizance, his old display,
Afar, by her distinguished from the train.
At the first sight of her he quits the fray,
And wears a semblance loving and humane.
He clipt her round with many a fond caress,
And kissed a thousand times, or little less.
To dame and damsel in that ancient age
They trusted much, that, in their wandering vein,
Roved, unescorted, many a weary stage,
Through foreign countries and by hill and plain;
Whom they returning hold for fair and sage,
Nor of their faith suspicion entertain.
Here Brandimart by Flordelice was taught
How Roland wandered, of his wits distraught.
Had he such strange and evil tidings heard
From other lips, he scarce had these believed:
But credited fair Flordelice's word,
From whom more wondrous things he had received,
Nor this, as told by other, she averred;
This had she seen, and ill could be deceived;
For well as any she Orlando knows;
And both the when and where that damsel shows.
She tells him how the perilous bridge's floor
From cavaliers king Rodomont defends;
Where, on a pompous sepulchre, the Moor
His prisoners' ravished arms and vest suspends;
Tells how she saw Orlando, raging sore,
Do fearful deeds, and her relation ends,
Describing how the paynim fell reversed,
To his great peril, in the stream immersed.
Brandimart, who the Country loves as dear
As man can love a brother, friend, or son,
Disposed to seek Orlando, far and near,
Nor pain nor peril in the adventure shun,
Till something for the comfort of that peer
By wizard's or by leech's art be done,
Armed as he is, leaps lightly on his steed,
And takes his way beneath the lady's lead.
Thitherward were Orlando she had spied,
In company the knight and lady made.
They daily post till to that bridge they ride,
Which Argier's king maintained, in arms arraid,
To him the guard their coming signified;
Courser and arms his squires as well conveyed;
And Brandimart no sooner is at hand
Than Rodomont is armed and at his stand.
With lofty voice the sovereign of Argier,
Assorting with his moody rage, 'gan say:
" -- Whoe'er thou art, sir knight, and whencesoe'er --
Brought by mistake of purpose or of way,
Light from thine horse and doff thy warlike gear,
To deck this sepulchre, ere thee I slay,
An offering to its lovely tenant's spirit;
And thou in thy forced homage have no merit."
Brandimart, at the paynim's proud discourse,
His weapon in the rest, for answer, layed;
He good Batoldo spurred, his gentle horse,
And at the champion with such fury made,
As showed that he, for courage and for force,
With any warrior in the world had weighed.
King Rodomont as well, with rested spear,
Thundered along the bridge, in fierce career.
The paynim's courser, ever used to go
Upon that bridge's fearful pass, where one
Fell prone parforce into the stream below,
Securely to the fierce encounter run:
While, trembling, and irresolute in show,
That other to the unwonted course is gone.
Quivers the bridge beneath, as it would sink:
Narrow that passage is, unfenced the brink!
With heavy spears, the growth of forest hoar,
Saplings rough-hewn, those masters of the just,
Upon the perilous bridge encountering sore,
Exchange, on either side, no gentle thrust.
Nor much their mighty strength or manege-lore
Avails the steeds; for, prostrate in the dust,
Crumbles each knight and charger in mid-course;
Whelmed in one fate, the rider and his horse.
When either steed would nimbly spring from ground,
As the spur galled and gored his bleeding flank,
He on that little bridge no footing found;
For all to narrow was the scanty plank.
Hence both fall headlong, and the deafening sound
Re-echo vaulted skies and grassy bank.
So rang our stream, when from the heavenly sphere
Was hurled the sun's ill-fated charioteer.
With all their weight, down hurtled from the steep,
Coursers and cavaliers, who sate them well;
And dived into the river's darksome deep,
To search for beauteous nymph in secret cell.
Nor this the first nor yet the second leap
Which from the bridge had made that infidel!
Who, often floundering in its oozy bed,
Well in the soundings of that stream was read.
He where 'tis hand and where 'tis softer knows,
Where shallow is the water, where profound:
With breast and flanks above the waves he rose,
And Brandimart assailed on safer ground.
Brandimart, whirling with the current, goes,
While his steed's feet the faithless bottom pound.
He, with his lord, stands rooted in the mud,
With risk to both of drowning in the flood.
Whelming them upside-down, the waters flow,
And plunge them in the river's deepest bed;
The horse is uppermost, the knight below.
From the bridge looks his lady, sore bested,
And tear employs, and prayer, and suppliant vow:
-- "Ah, Rodomont! for love of her, whom dead
Ye worship, do not deed of such despite!
Permit not, sir, the death of such a knight.
"Ah! courteous lord! if e'er you loved withal,
Have pity upon me who love this peer;
Let it suffice that he become thy thrall!
For if thou on this stone suspend his gear,
Amid whatever spoils adorn the wall,
The best and worthiest will his spoils appear."
She ended, and her prayer so well addrest,
It touched, though hard to move, the paynim's breast.
Moved by her words, he lent her lover aid,
So by his courser in the stream immersed;
And largely drank, albeit with little thirst.
But Rodomont a while his help delayed,
And seized the warrior's sword and helmet first.
Him half exhausted from the stream he drew,
And prisoned with that other captive crew.
All happiness was in that damsel spent,
When taken she her Brandimart espied,
Although to see him captive more content,
Than to behold him perish in the tide.
None but herself she blames for the event,
Who thitherward had been the champion's guide,
She having to that faithful warrior shown,
How at the bridge Orlando she had known.