Part 24 out of 25
Which on that very day withal were told
In the ears of Beatrice and Aymon old;
Who against Bradamant with fury flame,
And both alike, with sudden anger fraught,
(For plainly they perceive, that in her claim
She for Rogero more than Leo wrought)
And active to prevent the damsel's aim
From being to a safe conclusion brought,
Privily take her from King Charles's court,
And thence to Rocca Forte's tower transport.
A castle this, which royal Charlemagne
Had given to Aymon some few days before,
Built between Carcasson and Perpignan,
On a commanding point upon the shore.
Resolved to send her eastward, there the twain
As in a prison kept her evermore.
Willing or nilling, so must she forsake
Rogero, and for lord must Leo take.
The martial maid of no less modest vein
Than bold and full of fire before the foe,
Albeit no guard on her the castellain
Hath set, and she is free to come or go,
Observant of her sire, obeys the rein:
Yet prison, death, and every pain and woe
To suffer is resolved that constant maid
Before by her Rogero be betrayed.
Rinaldo, who thus ravished from his hand,
By ancient Aymon's craft his sister spied,
And saw he could no more in wedlock's band
Dispose of her, by him in vain affied,
Of his old sire complains, and him doth brand,
Laying his filial love and fear aside:
But little him Rinaldo's words molest;
Who by the maid will do as likes him best.
Rogero, bearing this and sore afraid
That he shall lose his bride; and Leo take,
If left alive, by force or love the maid,
Resolved within himself (but nothing spake)
Constantine's heir should perish by his blade;
And of Augustus him a god would make.
He, save his hope deceived him and was vain,
Would sire and son deprive of life and reign.
His limbs in arms, which Trojan Hector's were,
And afterwards the Tartar king's, he steeled;
Bade rein Frontino, and his wonted wear
Exchanged, crest, surcoat and emblazoned shield.
On that emprize it pleased him not to bear
His argent eagle on its azure field.
White as a lily, was a unicorn
By him upon a field of crimson worn.
He chose from his attendant squires the best,
And willed none else should him accompany;
And gave him charge, that ne'er by him exprest
Rogero's name in any place should be;
Crost Meuse and Rhine, and pricked upon his quest
Through the Austrian countries into Hungary;
Along the right bank of the Danube made,
And rode an-end until he reached Belgrade.
Where Save into dark Danube makes descent,
And to the sea, increased by him, doth flow,
He saw the imperial ensigns spread, and tent
And white pavilion, thronged with troops below.
For Constantine to have that town was bent
Anew, late won by the Bulgarian foe.
In person, with his son, is Constantine,
With all the empire's force his host to line.
Within Belgrade, and through the neighbouring peak,
Even to its bottom which the waters lave,
The Bulgar fronts him; and both armies seek
A watering-place in the intermediate Save.
A bridge across that rapid stream the Greek
Would fling; the Bulgar would defend the wave;
When thither came Rogero; and engaged
Beheld the hosts in fight, which hotly raged.
The Greeks in that affray were four to one,
And with pontoons to bridge the stream supplied;
And a bold semblance through their host put on
Of crossing to the river's further side.
Leo meanwhile was from the river gone
With covert guile; he took a circuit wide,
Then thither made return; his bridges placed
From bank to bank, and past the stream in haste.
With many horse and foot in battle dight,
Who nothing under twenty thousand rank,
Along the river rode the Grecian knight;
And fiercely charged his enemies in flank.
The emperor, when his son appeared in sight.
Leading his squadrons on the farther bank,
Uniting bridge and bark together, crost
Upon his part the stream with all his host.
King Vatran, chief of the Bulgarian band,
Wise, bold, withal a warrior, here and there
Laboured in vain such onset to withstand,
And the disorder of his host repair;
When Leo prest him sore, and with strong hand
The king to earth beneath his courser bare;
Whom at the prince's hest, for all to fierce
Is he to yield, a thousand faulchions pierce.
The Bulgar host hath hitherto made head;
But when they see their sovereign is laid low,
And everywhere that tempest wax and spread,
They turn their backs where erst they faced the foe.
The Child, who mid the Greeks, from whom they fled,
Was borne along, beheld that overthrow,
And bowned himself their battle to restore,
As hating Constantine and Leo more.
He spurs Frontino, that in his career
Is like the wind, and passes every steed;
He overtakes the troop, that in their fear
Fly to the mountain and desert the mead.
Many he stops and turns; then rests his spear;
And, as he puts his courser to his speed,
So fearful is his look, even Mars and Jove
Are frighted in their azure realms above.
Advanced before the others, he descried
A cavalier, in crimson vest, whereon
With all its stalk in silk and gold was spied
A pod, like millet, in embroidery done:
Constantine's nephew, by the sister's side,
He was, but was no less beloved than son:
He split like glass his shield and scaly rind;
And the long lance appeared a palm behind.
He left the dead, and drew his shining blade
Upon a squadron, whom he saw most nigh;
And now at once, and now at other made;
Cleft bodies, and made hearts from shoulders fly.
At throat, at breast and flank the warrior laid;
Smote hand, and arm, and shoulder, bust, and thigh;
And through that champaign ran the reeking blood,
As to the valley foams the mountain-flood.
None that behold those strokes maintain their place;
So are they all bewildered by their fear.
Thus suddenly the battle changed its face:
For, catching courage from the cavalier,
The Bulgar squadrons rally, turn, and chase
The Grecian troops that fled from them whilere.
Lost was all order in a thought, and they
With all their banners fled in disarray.
Leo Augustus on a swelling height,
Seeing his followers fly, hath taken post;
Where woeful and bewildered (for to sight
Nothing in all the country round is lost)
He from his lofty station eyes the knight,
Who with his single arm destroys that host;
And cannot choose, though so his prowess harms,
But praise that peer and own his worth in arms.
He knew full well by ensignry displaid,
By surcoat and by gilded panoply,
That albeit to the foe he furnished aid,
That champion was not of his chivalry;
Wondering his superhuman deeds surveyed;
And now an angel seemed in him to see,
To scourge the Greeks from quires above descended,
Whose sins so oft and oft had heaven offended;
And, as a man of great and noble heart,
(Where many others would have hatred sworn)
Enamoured of such valour, on his part,
Would not desire to see him suffer scorn:
For one that died, six Grecians' death less smart
Would cause that prince; and better had he borne
To lose as well a portion of his reign,
Than to behold so good a warrior slain.
As baby, albeit its fond mother beat
And drive it forth in anger, in its fear
Neither to sire nor sister makes retreat;
But to her arms returns with fondling cheer:
So Leo, though Rogero in his heat
Slaughters his routed van and threats his rear,
Cannot that champion hate; because above
His anger is the admiring prince's love.
But if young Leo loved him and admired,
Meseems that he an ill exchange hath made;
For him Rogero loathed; nor aught desired
More than to lay him lifeless with his blade:
Him with his eyes he sought; for him inquired;
But Leo's fortune his desire gainsayed;
Which with the prudence of the practised Greek,
Made him in vain his hated rival seek.
Leo, for fear his bands be wholly spent,
Bids sound the assembly his Greek squadrons through:
He to his father a quick courier sent,
To pray that he would pass the stream anew;
Who, if the way was open, well content
Might with his bargain he; and with a few
Whom he collects, the Grecian cavalier
Recrost the bridge by which he past whilere.
Into the power o' the Bulgars many fall,
Stalin from the hill-top to the river-side;
And they into their hands had fallen all,
But for the river's intervening tide.
From the bridge many drop, and drown withal;
And many that ne'er turned their heads aside,
Thence to a distant ford for safety made;
And many were dragged prisoners to Belgrade.
When done was that day's fight, wherein (since borne
To ground the Bulgar king his life did yield)
His squadrons would have suffered scathe and scorn,
Had not for them the warrior won the field,
The warrior, that the snowy unicorn
Wore for his blazon on a crimson shield,
To him all flock, in him with joy and glee
The winner of that glorious battle see.
Some bow and some salute him; of the rest
Some kist the warrior's feet, and some his hand.
Round him as closely as they could they prest,
And happy those are deemed, that nearest stand;
More those that touch him; for to touch a blest
And supernatural thing believes the band.
On him with shouts that rent the heavens they cried,
To be their king, their captain, and their guide.
As king or captain them will he command
As liked them best, he said, but will not lay
On sceptre or on leading-staff his hand;
Nor yet Belgrade will enter on that day:
For first, ere farther flies young Leo's band,
And they across the river make their way,
Him will he follow, nor forego, until
That Grecian leader he o'ertake and kill.
A thousand miles and more for this alone
He thither measured, and for nought beside.
He saith; and from the multitude is gone,
And by a road that's shown to him doth ride.
For towards the bridge is royal Leo flown;
Haply lest him from this the foe divide:
Behind him pricks Rogero with such fire,
The warrior calls not, nor awaits, his squire.
Such vantage Leo has in flight (to flee
He rather may be said than to retreat)
The passage open hath he found and free;
And then destroys the bridge and burns his fleet.
Rogero arrived not, till beneath the sea
The sun was hid; nor lodging found; his beat
He still pursued; and now shone forth the moon:
But town or village found the warrior none.
Because he wots not where to lodge, he goes
All night, nor from his load Frontino frees.
When the new sun his early radiance shows,
A city to the left Rogero sees;
And there all day determines to repose,
As where he may his wearied courser ease,
Whom he so far that livelong night had pressed;
Nor had he drawn his bit, nor given him rest.
Ungiardo had that city in his guard,
Constantine's liegeman, and to him right dear;
Who, since upon the Bulgars he had warred,
Much horse and foot had sent that emperor; here
Now entered (for the entrance was not barred)
Rogero, and found such hospitable cheer,
He to fare further had no need, in trace
Of better or of more abundant place.
In the same hostelry with him a guest
Was lodged that evening a Romanian knight;
Present what time the Child with lance in rest
Succoured the Bulgars in that cruel fight;
Who hardly had escaped his hand, sore prest
And scared as never yet was living wight;
So that he trembled still, disturbed in mind,
And deemed the knight of the unicorn behind.
He by the buckler knew as soon as spied
The cavalier, whose arms that blazon bear,
For him that routed the Byzantine side;
By hand of whom so many slaughtered were.
He hurried to the palace, and applied
For audience, weighty tidings to declare;
And, to Ungiardo led forthwith, rehearsed
What shall by men in other strain be versed.
Young Leo doth from death Rogero free;
For him Rogero Bradamant hath won,
Making that maid appear less strong to be,
Disguised in fight like Leo; and, that done,
Straight in despite would slay himself; so he
By sorrow, so by anguish is foredone.
To hinder Leo of his destined wife
Marphisa works, and kindles mighty strife.
By how much higher we see poor mortal go
On Fortune's wheel, which runs a restless round,
We so much sooner see his head below
His heels; and he is prostrate on the ground.
The Lydian, Syracusan, Samian show
This truth, and more whose names I shall not sound;
All into deepest dolour in one day
Hurled headlong from the height of sovereign sway.
By how much more deprest on the other side,
By how much more the wretch is downwards hurled,
He so much sooner mounts, where he shall ride,
If the revolving wheel again be twirled.
Some on the murderous block have well-nigh died,
That on the following day have ruled the world.
Ventidius, Servius, Marius this have shown
In ancient days; King Lewis in our own;
King Lewis, stepfather of my duke's son;
Who, when his host at Santalbino fled,
Left in his clutch by whom that field was won,
Was nigh remaining shorter by the head.
Nor long before the great Corvinus run
A yet more fearful peril, worse bested:
Both throned, when overblown was their mischance,
One king of Hungary, one king of France.
'Tis plain to sight, through instances that fill
The page of ancient and of modern story,
That ill succeeds to good, and good to ill;
That glory ends in shame, and shame in glory;
And that man should not trust, deluded still,
In riches, realm, or field of battle, gory
With hostile blood, nor yet despair, for spurns
Of Fortune; since her wheel for ever turns.
Through that fair victory, when overthrown
Were Leo and his royal sire, the knight
Who won that battle to such trust is grown,
In his good fortune and his peerless might,
He, without following, without aid, alone
(So is he prompted by his daring sprite)
Thinks, mid a thousand squadrons in array,
-- Footmen and horsemen -- sire and son to slay.
But she, that wills no trust shall e'er be placed
In her by man, to him doth shortly show,
How wight by her is raised, and how abased;
How soon she is a friend, how soon a foe;
She makes him know Rogero, that in haste
Is gone to work that warrior shame and woe;
The cavalier, which in that battle dread
With much ado had from his faulchion fled.
He to Ungiardo hastens to declare
The Child who put the imperial host to flight,
Whose carnage many years will not repair,
Here past the day and was to pass the night;
And saith, that Fortune, taken by the hair,
Without more trouble, and without more fight,
Will, if he prisons him, the Bulgars bring
Beneath the yoke and lordship of his king.
Ungiardo from the crowd, which had pursued
Thither their flight from the ensanguined plain,
For, troop by troop, a countless multitude
(Arrived, because not all the bridge could gain)
Knew what a cruel slaughter had ensued:
For there the moiety of the Greeks was slain;
And knew that by a cavalier alone
One host was saved, and one was overthrown;
And that undriven he should have made his way
Into the net, and of his own accord,
Wondered, and showed his pleasure, at the say
In visage, gesture, and in joyful word.
He waited till Rogero sleeping lay;
Then softly sent his guard to take that lord;
And made the valiant Child, who had no dread
Of such a danger, prisoner in his bed.
By his own shield accused, that witness true,
The Child is captive in Novogorood,
To Ungiardo, worst among the cruel, who
Marvellous mirth to have that prisoner shewed.
And what, since he was naked, could he do,
Bound, while his eyes were yet by slumber glued?
A courier, who the news should quickly bear,
Ungiardo bids to Constantine repair.
Constantine on that night with all his host,
Raising his camp, from Save's green shore had gone:
With this in Beleticche he takes post,
Androphilus', his sister's husband's town,
Father of him, whose arms in their first joust
(As if of wax had been his habergeon)
Had pierced and carved the puissant cavalier,
Now by Ungiardo pent in dungeon drear.
Here from attack the emperor makes assure
The city walls and gates on every side;
Lest, from the Bulgar squadrons ill secure,
Having so good a warrior for their guide,
His broken Grecians worse than fear endure;
Deeming the rest would by his hand have died.
Now he is taken, these breed no alarms;
Nor would he fear the banded world in arms.
The emperor, swimming in a summer sea,
Knows not for very pleasure what to do:
"Truly the Bulgars may be said to be
Vanquished," he cries, with bold and cheerful brow.
As he would feel assured of victory,
That had of either arm deprived his foe;
So the emperor was assured, and so rejoiced,
When good Rogero's fate the warrior voiced.
No less occasion has the emperor's son
For joying; for besides that he anew
Trusts to acquire Belgrade, and tower and town
Throughout the Bulgars' country to subdue,
He would by favours make the knight his own,
And hopes to rank him in his warlike crew:
Nor need he envy, guarded by his blade,
King Charles', Orlando's, or Rinaldo's aid.
Theodora was by other thoughts possest,
Whose son was killed by young Rogero's spear;
Which through his shoulders, entering at his breast,
Issued a palm's breadth in the stripling's rear;
Constantine's sister she, by grief opprest,
Fell down before him; and with many a tear
That dropt into her bosom, while she sued,
His heart with pity softened and subdued.
"I still before these feet will bow my knee,
Save on this felon, good my lord," (she cried)
"Who killed my son, to venge me thou agree,
Now that we have him in our hold; beside
That he thy nephew was, thou seest how thee
He loved; thou seest what feats upon thy side
That warrior wrought; thou seest if thou wilt blot
Thine own good name, if thou avenge him not.
"Thou seest how righteous Heaven by pity stirred
From the wide champaign, red with Grecian gore,
Bears that fell man; and like a reckless bird
Into the fowler's net hath made him soar;
That for short season, for revenge deferred,
My son may mourn upon the Stygian shore.
Give me, my lord, I pray, this cruel foe,
That by his torment I may soothe my woe."
So well she mourns; and in such moving wise
And efficacious doth she make lament;
(Nor from before the emperor will arise,
Though he three times and four the dame has hent,
And to uplift by word and action tries)
That he is forced her wishes to content;
And thus, according to her prayer, commands
The Child to be delivered to her hands;
And, not therein his orders to delay,
They take the warrior of the unicorn
To cruel Theodora; but one day
Of respite has the knight: to have him torn
In quarters, yet alive; to rend and slay
Her prisoners publicly with shame and scorn,
Seems a poor pain; and he must undergo
Other unwonted and unmeasured woe.
At the commandment of that woman dread,
Chains on his neck and hands and feet they don;
And put him in a dungeon-cell, where thread
Of light was never by Apollo thrown:
He has a scanty mess of mouldy bread;
And sometimes is he left two days with none;
And one that doth the place of jailer fill
Is prompter than herself to work him ill.
Oh! if Duke Aymon's daughter brave and fair,
Of if Marphisa of exalted mind
Had heard Rogero's sad estate declare,
And how he in this guise in prison pined,
To his rescue either would have made repair,
And would have flung the fear of death behind:
Nor had bold Bradamant, intent to aid,
Respect to Beatrice or Aymon paid.
Meanwhile King Charlemagne upon his side,
Heeding his promise made in solemn sort,
That none should have the damsel for his bride,
That of her prowess in the field fell short;
Not only had his sovereign pleasure cried
With sound of trumpet in his royal court,
But in each city subject to his crown.
Hence quickly through the world the bruit was blown.
Such the condition which he bids proclaim:
He that would with Duke Aymon's daughter wed
Must with the sword contend against that dame
From the suns rise until he seeks his bed;
And if he for that time maintains the game,
And is not overcome, without more said,
The lady is adjudged to have lost the stake;
Nor him for husband can refuse to take.
The choice of arms must be by her foregone,
No matter who may claim it in the course:
And by the damsel this may well be done,
Good at all arms alike, on foot or horse.
Aymon, who cannot strive against the crown,
-- Cannot and will not -- yields at length parforce.
He much the matter sifts, and in the end
Resolves to court with Bradamant to wend.
Though for the daughter choler and disdain
The mother nursed, yet that she honour due
Might have, she garments, dyed in different grain,
Had wrought for her, of various form and hue.
Bradamant for the court of Charlemagne
Departs, and finding not her love, to her view
His noble court appears like that no more,
Which had appeared to her so fair before.
As he that hath beheld a garden, bright
With flowers and leaves in April or in May,
And next beholds it, when the sun his light
Hath sloped toward the north, and shortened day,
Finds it a desert horrid to the sight;
So, now that her Rogero is away,
To Bradamant, who thither made resort,
No longer what it was appeared that court.
What is become of him she doth not dare
Demand, lest more suspicion thence be bred;
But listens still, and searches here and there;
That this by some, unquestioned, may be said;
Knows he is gone, but has no notion where
The warrior, when he went, his steps had sped;
Because, departing thence, he spake no word
Save to the squire who journeyed with his lord.
Oh! how she sighs! how fears the gentle maid,
Hearing Rogero, as it were, was flown!
Oh! how above all other terrors, weighed
The fear, that to forget her he was gone!
That, seeing Aymon still his wish gainsayed,
And that to wed the damsel hope was none,
He fled, perchance, so hoping to be loosed
From toils wherein he by her love was noosed;
And that with further end the youthful lord
Her from his heart more speedily to chase,
Will rove from realm to realm, till one afford
Some dame, that may his former love efface;
Even, as the proverb says, that in a board
One nail drives out another from its place.
A second thought succeeds, and paints the youth
Arraigned of fickleness, as full of truth;
And her reproves for having lent an ear
To a suspicion so unjust and blind;
And so, this thought absolves the cavalier;
And that accuses; and both audience find;
And now this way, now that, she seemed to veer;
Nor this, nor that -- irresolute of mind --
Preferred: yet still to what gave most delight
Most promptly leaned, and loathed its opposite;
And thinking, ever and anon, anew
On that so oft repeated by the knight,
As for grave sin, remorse and sorrow grew
That she had nursed suspicion and affright;
And she, as her Rogero were in view,
Would blame herself, and would her bosom smite;
And say: "I see 'twas ill such thoughts to nurse,
But he, the cause, is even cause of worse.
"Love is the cause; that in my heart inlaid
Thy form, so graceful and so fair to see;
And so thy darling and thy wit pourtrayed,
And worth, of all so bruited, that to me
It seems impossible that wife or maid,
Blest with thy sight, should not be fired by thee;
And that she should not all her art apply
To unbind, and fasten thee with other tie.
"Ah! wellaway! if in my thought Love so
Thy thought, as thy fair visage, had designed,
This -- am I well assured -- in open show,
As I unseen believe it, should I find;
And be so quit of Jealousy, that foe
Would not still harass my suspicious mind;
And, where she is by me repulsed with pain,
Not quelled and routed would she be, but slain.
"I am like miser, so intent on gear,
And who hath this so buried in his heart,
That he, for hoarded treasure still in fear,
Cannot live gladly from his wealth apart.
Since I Rogero neither see nor hear,
More puissant far than Hope, O Fear! thou art;
To thee, though false and idle I give way;
And cannot choose but yield myself thy prey.
"But I, Rogero, shall no sooner spy
The light of thy glad countenance appear,
Against mine every credence, from mine eye
Concealed (and woe is me), I know not where, --
Oh! how true Hope false Fear shall from on high
Depose withal, and to the bottom bear!
Ah! turn to me, Rogero! turn again,
And comfort Hope, whom Fear hath almost slain.
"As when the sun withdraws his glittering head,
The shadows lengthen, causing vain affright;
And as the shadows, when he leaves his bed,
Vanish, and reassure the timid wight:
Without Rogero so I suffer dread;
Dread lasts not, if Rogero is in sight.
Return to me, return, Rogero, lest
My hope by fear should wholly be opprest.
"As every spark is in the night alive,
And suddenly extinguished when 'tis morn;
When me my sun doth of his rays deprive,
Against me felon Fear uplifts his horn:
But they the shades of night no sooner drive,
Than Fears are past and gone, and Hopes return.
Return, alas! return, O radiance dear!
And drive from me that foul, consuming Fear.
"If the sun turn from us and shorten day,
Earth all its beauties from the sight doth hide;
The wild winds howl, and snows and ice convey;
Bird sings not; nor is leaf or flower espied.
So, whensoever thou thy gladsome ray,
O my fair sun, from me dost turn aside,
A thousand, and all evil, dreads, make drear
Winter within me many times a year.
"Return, my sun, return! and springtide sweet,
Which evermore I long to see, bring back;
Dislodge the snows and ice with genial hear;
And clear my mind, so clouded o'er and black."
As Philomel, or Progne, with the meat
Returning, which her famished younglings lack,
Mourns o'er an empty nest, or as the dove
Laments himself at having lost is love;
The unhappy Bradamant laments her so,
Fearing the Child is reft from her and gone;
While often tears her visage overflow:
But she, as best she can, conceals her moan.
Oh! how -- oh! how much worse would be her woe,
If what she knew not to the maid were known!
That, prisoned and with pain and pine consumed,
Her consort to a cruel death was doomed.
The cruelty which by that beldam ill
Was practised on the prisoned cavalier,
And who prepared the wretched Child to kill,
By torture new and pains unused whilere,
While so Rogero pined, the gracious will
Of Heaven conveyed to gentle Leo's ear;
And put into his heart the means to aid,
And not to let such worth be overlaid.
The courteous Leo that Rogero loved,
Not that the Grecian knew howe'er that he
Rogero was, but by that valour moved
Which sole and superhuman seemed to be,
Thought much, and mused, and planned, how it behoved
-- And found at last a way -- to set him free;
So that his cruel aunt should have no right
To grieve or say he did her a despite.
In secret, Leo with the man that bore
The prison-keys a parley had, and said,
He wished to see that cavalier, before
Upon the wretch was done a doom so dread.
When it was night, one, faithful found of yore,
Bold, strong, and good in brawl, he thither led;
And -- by the silent warder taught that none
Must know 'twas Leo -- was the door undone.
Leo, escorted by none else beside,
Was led by the compliant castellain,
With his companion, to the tower, where stied
Was he, reserved for nature's latest pain.
There round the neck of their unwary guide,
Who turns his back the wicket to unchain,
A slip-knot Leo and his follower cast;
And, throttled by the noose, he breathes his last.
-- The trap upraised, by rope from thence suspended
For such a need -- the Grecian cavalier,
With lighted flambeau in his hand, descended,
Where, straitly bound, and without sun to cheer,
Rogero lay, upon a grate extended,
Less than a palm's breadth of the water clear:
To kill him in a month, or briefer space,
Nothing was needed but that deadly place.
Lovingly Leo clipt the Child, and, "Me,
O cavalier! thy matchless valour," cried,
"Hath in indissoluble bands to thee,
In willing and eternal service, tried;
And wills thy good to mine preferred should be,
And I for thine my safety set aside,
And weigh thy friendship more than sire, and all
Whom I throughout the world my kindred call.
"I Leo am, that thou what fits mayst know,
Come to thy succour, the Greek emperor's son:
If ever Constantine, my father, trow
That I have aided thee, I danger run
To be exiled, or aye with troubled brow
Regarded for the deed that I have done;
For thee he hates because of those thy blade
Put to the rout and slaughtered near Belgrade."
He his discourse with more beside pursues,
That might from death to life the Child recall;
And all this while Rogero's hands doth loose.
"Infinite thanks I owe you," cries the thrall,
"And I the life you gave me, for your use
Will ever render back, upon your call;
And still, at all your need, I for your sake,
And at all times, that life will promptly stake."
Rogero is rescued; and the gaoler slain
Is left in that dark dungeon in his place;
Nor is Rogero known, nor are the twain:
Leo the warrior, free from bondage base,
Brings home, and there in safety to remain
Persuades, in secret, four or six days' space:
Meanwhile for him will he retrieve the gear
And courser, by Ungiardo reft whilere.
Open the gaol is found at dawn of light,
The gaoler strangled, and Rogero gone.
Some think that these or those had helped his flight:
All talk; and yet the truth is guessed by none.
Well may they think by any other wight
Rather than Leo had the deed been done;
For many deemed he had cause to have repaid
The Child with scathe, and none to give him aid.
So wildered by such kindness, so immersed
In wonder, is the rescued cavalier,
So from those thoughts is he estranged, that erst
So many weary miles had made him steer,
His second thoughts confronting with his first,
Nor these like those, nor those like these appear.
He first with hatred, rage, and venom burned;
With pity and with love then wholly yearned.
Much muses he by night and much by day;
-- Nor cares for ought, nor ought desires beside --
By equal or more courtesy to pay
The mighty debt that him to Leo tied.
Be his life long or short, or what it may,
Albeit to Leo's service all applied,
Dies he a thousand deaths, he can do nought,
But more will be deserved, Rogero thought.
Thither meanwhile had tidings been conveyed
Of Charles' decree: that who in nuptial tye
Would yoke with Bradamant, with trenchant blade
Or lance must with the maid his prowess try.
These news the Grecian prince so ill appaid,
His cheek was seen to blanch with sickly dye;
Because, as one that measured well his might,
He knew he was no match for her in fight.
Communing with himself, he can supply
(He sees) the valour wanting with his wit;
And the strange knight with his own ensignry,
Whose name is yet unknown to him, will fit:
Him he against Frank champion, far and nigh,
Believes he may for force and daring pit;
And if the knight to that emprize agree,
Vanquished and taken Bradamant will be.
But two things must he do; must, first, dispose
That cavalier to undertake the emprize;
Then send afield the champion, whom he chose,
In mode, that none suspect the youth's disguise:
To him the matter Leo doth disclose;
And after prays in efficacious wise,
That he the combat with the maid will claim,
Under false colours and in other's name.
Much weighs the Grecian's eloquence; but more
Than eloquence with good Rogero weighed
The mighty obligation which he bore;
That debt which cannot ever be repaid.
So, albeit it appeared a hardship sore
And thing well-nigh impossible, he said,
With blither face than heart, that Leo's will
In all that he commands he would fulfil.
Albeit no sooner he the intent exprest,
Than with sore grief Rogero's heart was shent;
Which, night and day, and ever, doth molest,
Ever afflict him, evermore torment:
And though he sees his death is manifest,
Never will he confess he doth repent:
Rather than not with Leo's prayer comply,
A thousand deaths, not one, the Child will die.
Right sure he is to die; if he forego
The lady, he foregoes his life no less.
His heart will break through his distress and woe,
Or, breaking not with woe and with distress,
He will, himself, the bands of life undo,
And of its clay the spirit dispossess.
For all things can he better bear than one;
Than see that gentle damsel not his own.
To die is he disposed; but how to die
Cannot as yet the sorrowing lord decide:
Sometimes he thinks his prowess to belie,
And offer to her sword his naked side:
For never death can come more happily
Than if her hand the fatal faulchion guide:
Then sees, except he wins the martial maid
For that Greek prince, the debt remains unpaid.
For he with Bradamant, as with a foe,
Promised to do, not feign, a fight in mail,
And not to make of arms a seeming show;
So that his sword should Leo ill avail.
Then by his word will he abide; and though
His breast now these now other thoughts assail,
All from his bosom chased the generous youth,
Save that which moved him to maintain his truth.
With the emperor's licence, armour to prepare,
And steeds meanwhile had wrought his youthful son;
Who with such goodly following as might square
With his degree, upon his way was gone:
With him Rogero rides, through Leo's care,
Equipt with horse and arms, that were his own.
Day after day the squadron pricks; nor tarries
Until arrived in France; arrived at Paris.
Leo will enter not the town; but nigh
Pitches his broad pavilions on the plain;
And his arrival by an embassy
Makes known that day to royal Charlemagne.
Well pleased is he; and visits testify
And many gifts the monarch's courteous vein.
His journey's cause the Grecian prince displayed,
And to dispatch his suit the sovereign prayed:
To send afield the damsel, who denied
Ever to take in wedlock any lord
Weaker than her: for she should be his bride,
Or he would perish by the lady's sword.
Charles undertook for this; and, on her side,
The following day upon the listed sward
Before the walls, in haste, enclosed that night,
Appeared the martial maid, equipt for fight.
Rogero past the night before the day
Wherein by him the battle should be done,
Like that which felon spends, condemning to pay
Life's forfeit with the next succeeding sun:
He made his choice to combat in the fray
All armed; because he would discovery shun:
Nor barded steed he backed, nor lance he shook;
Nor other weapon than his faulchion took.
No lance he took: yet was it not through fear
Of that which Argalia whilom swayed;
Astolpho's next; then hers, that in career
Her foemen ever upon earth had laid:
Because none weened such force was in the spear,
Nor that it was by necromancy made;
Excepting royal Galaphron alone;
Who had it forged, and gave it to his son.
Nay, bold Astolpho, and the lady who
Afterwards bore it, deemed that not to spell,
But simply to their proper force, was due
The praise that they in knightly joust excel;
And with whatever spear they fought, those two
Believed that they should have performed as well.
What only makes that knight the joust forego
Is that he would not his Frontino show.
For easily that steed of generous kind
She might have known, if him she had espied;
Whom in Montalban, long to her consigned,
The gentle damsel had been wont to ride.
Rogero, that but schemes, but hath in mind
How he from Brandamant himself shall hide,
Neither Frontino nor yet other thing.
Whereby he may be known, afield will bring.
With a new sword will he the maid await;
For well he knew against the enchanted blade
As soft as paste would prove all mail and plate;
For never any steel its fury stayed;
And heavily with hammer, to rebate
Its edge, as well he on this faulchion layed.
So armed, Rogero in the lists appeared,
When the first dawn of day the horizon cheered.
To look like Leo, o'er his breast is spread
The surcoat that the prince is wont to wear;
And the gold eagle with its double head
He blazoned on the crimson shield doth bear;
And (what the Child's disguisement well may stead)
Of equal size and stature are the pair.
In the other's form presents himself the one;
That other lets himself be seen of none.
Dordona's martial maid is of a vein
Right different from the gentle youth's, who sore
Hammers and blunts the faulchion's tempered grain,
Lest it his opposite should cleave or bore.
She whets her steel, and into it would fain
Enter, that stripling to the quick to gore:
Yea, would such fury to her strokes impart,
That each should go directly to his heart.
As on the start the generous barb in spied,
When he the signal full of fire attends;
And paws now here now there; and opens wide
His nostrils, and his pointed ears extends;
So the bold damsel, to the lists defied,
Who knows not with Rogero she contends,
Seemed to have fire within her veins, nor found
Resting-place, waiting for the trumpet's sound.
As sometimes after thunder sudden wind
Turns the sea upside down; and far and nigh
Dim clouds of dust the cheerful daylight blind,
Raised in a thought from earth, and whirled heaven-high;
Scud beasts and herd together with the hind;
And into hail and rain dissolves the sky;
So she upon the signal bared her brand,
And fell on her Rogero, sword in hand.
But well-built wall, strong tower, or aged oak,
No more are moved by blasts that round them rave,
No more by furious sea is moved the rock,
Smote day and night by the tempestuous wave,
Than in those arms, secure from hostile stroke,
Which erst to Trojan Hector Vulcan gave,
Moved was he by that ire and hatred rank
Which stormed about his head, and breast, and flank.
Now aims that martial maid a trenchant blow,
And now gives point; and wholly is intent
'Twixt plate and plate to reach her hated foe;
So that her stifled fury she may vent:
Now on this side, now that, now high, now low
She strikes, and circles him, on mischief bent;
And evermore she rages and repines;
As balked of every purpose she designs.
As he that layeth siege to well-walled town,
And flanked about with solid bulwarks, still
Renews the assault; now fain would batter down
Gateway or tower; now gaping fosse would fill;
Yet vainly toils (for entrance is there none)
And wastes his host, aye frustrate of his will;
So sorely toils and strives without avail
The damsel, nor can open plate or mail.
Sparks now his shield, now helm, now cuirass scatter,
While straight and back strokes, aimed now low, now high,
Which good Rogero's head and bosom batter,
And arms, by thousands and by thousands fly
Faster than on the sounding farm-roof patter
Hailstones descending from a troubled sky.
Rogero, at his ward, with dexterous care,
Defends himself, and ne'er offends the fair.
Now stopt, now circled, now retired the knight,
And oft his hand his foot accompanied;
And lifted shield, and shifted sword in fight,
Where shifting he the hostile hand espied.
Either he smote her not, or -- die he smite --
Smote, where he deemed least evil would betide.
The lady, ere the westering sun descend,
Desires to bring that duel to an end.
Of the edict she remembered her, and knew
Her peril, save the foe was quickly sped:
For if she took not in one day nor slew
Her claimant, she was taken; and his head
Phoebus was now about to hide from view,
Nigh Hercules' pillars, in his watery bed,
When first she 'gan misdoubt her power to cope
With the strong foe, and to abandon hope.
By how much more hope fails the damsel, so
Much more her anger waxes; she her blows
Redoubling, yet the harness of her foe
Will break, which through that day unbroken shows;
As he, that at his daily drudgery slow,
Sees night on his unfinished labour close,
Hurries and toils and moils without avail,
Till wearied strength and light together fail.
Didst thou, O miserable damsel, trow
Whom thou wouldst kill, if in that cavalier
Matched against thee thou didst Rogero know,
On whom depend thy very life-threads, ere
Thou killed him thou wouldst kill thyself; for thou,
I know, dost hold him than thyself more dear;
And when he for Rogero shall be known,
I know these very strokes thou wilt bemoan.
King Charles and peers him sheathed in plate and shell
Deem not Rogero, but the emperor's son;
And viewing in that combat fierce and fell
Such force and quickness by the stripling shown;
And, without e'er offending her, how well
That knight defends himself, now change their tone;
Esteem both well assorted; and declare
The champions worthy of each other are.
When Phoebus wholly under water goes,
Charlemagne bids the warring pair divide;
And Bradamant (nor boots it to oppose)
Allots to youthful Leo as a bride.
Not there Rogero tarried to repose;
Nor loosed his armour, nor his helm untied:
On a small hackney, hurrying sore, he went
Where Leo him awaited in his tent.
Twice in fraternal guise and oftener threw
Leo his arms about the cavalier;
And next his helmet from his head withdrew,
And kiss'd him on both cheeks with loving cheer.
"I would," he cried, "that thou wouldst ever do
By me what pleaseth thee; for thou wilt ne'er
Weary my love: at any call I lend
To thee myself and state; these friendly spend;
"Nor see I recompense, which can repay
The mighty obligation that I owe;
Though of the garland I should disarray
My brows, and upon thee that gift bestow."
Rogero, on whom his sorrows press and prey,
Who loathes his life, immersed in that deep woe,
Little replies; the ensigns he had worn
Returns, and takes again his unicorn;
And showing himself spiritless and spent,
From thence as quickly as he could withdrew,
And from young Leo's to his lodgings went;
When it was midnight, armed himself anew,
Saddled his horse, and sallied from his tent;
(He takes no leave, and none his going view;)
And his Frontino to that road addrest,
Which seemed to please the goodly courser best.
Now by straight way and now by crooked wound
Frontino, now by wood and wide champaign;
And all night with his rider paced that round,
Who never ceased a moment to complain:
He called on Death, and therein comfort found;
Since broke by him alone is stubborn pain;
Nor saw, save Death, what other power could close
The account of his insufferable woes.
"Whereof should I complain," he said, "wo is me!
So of my every good at once forlorn?
Ah! if I will not bear this injury
Without revenge, against whom shall I turn?
For I, besides myself, none other see
That hath inflicted on me scathe and scorn.
Then I to take revenge for all the harm
Done to myself, against myself must arm.
"Yet was but to myself this injury done,
Myself to spare (because this touched but me)
I haply could, yet hardly could, be won;
Nay, I will say outright, I could not be.
Less can I be, since not to me alone,
But Bradamant, is done this injury;
Even if I could consent myself to spare,
It fits me not unvenged to leave that fair.
"Then I the damsel will avenge, and die,
(Nor this disturbs me) whatsoe'er betide;
For, bating death, I know not aught, whereby
Defence against my grief can be supplied.
But I lament myself alone, that I
Before offending her, should not have died.
O happier Fortune! had I breathed my last
In Theodora's dungeon prisoned fast!
"Though she had slain, had tortured me before
She slew, as prompted by her cruelty,
At least the hope would have remained in store
That I by Bradamant should pitied be:
But when she knows that I loved Leo more
Than her, that, of my own accord and free,
Myself of her, I for his good, deprive,
Dead will she rightly hate me or alive."
These words he said and many more, with sigh
And heavy sob withal accompanied,
And, when another sun illumed the sky,
Mid strange and gloomy woods himself espied;
And, for he desperate was and bent to die,
And he, as best he could, his death would hide;
This place to him seemed far removed from view,
And fitted for the deed that he would do.
He entered into that dark woodland, where
He thickest trees and most entangled spied:
But first Frontino was the warrior's care,
Whom he unharnessed wholly, and untied.
"O my Frontino, if thy merits rare
I could reward, thou little cause" (he cried)
"Shouldst have to envy him, so highly graced,
Who soared to heaven, and mid the stars was placed.
"Nor Cillarus, nor Arion, was whilere
Worthier than thee, nor merited more praise;
Nor any other steed, whose name we hear
Sounded in Grecian or in Latin lays.
Was any such in other points thy peer,
None of them, well I know, the vaunt can raise;
That such high honour and such courtesy
Were upon him bestowed, as were on thee.
"Since to the gentlest maid, of fairest dye,
And boldest that hath been, or evermore
Will be, thou wast so dear, she used to tie
Thy trappings, and to thee thy forage bore:
Dear wast thou to my lady-love: Ah! why
Call I her mine, since she is mine no more?
If I have given her to another lord,
Why turn I not upon myself this sword?"
If him these thoughts so harass and torment,
That bird and beast are softened by his cries;
(For, saving these, none hears the sad lament,
Nor sees the flood that trickles form his eyes)
You are not to believe that more content
The Lady Bradamant in Paris lies;
Who can no longer her delay excuse,
Nor Leo for her wedded lord refuse.
Ere she herself to any consort tie,
Beside her own Rogero, she will fain
Do what so can be done; her word belie;
Anger friends, kindred, court, and Charlemagne;
And if she nothing else can do, will die,
By poison or her own good faulchion slain:
For not to live appears far lesser woe,
Than, living, her Rogero to forego.
"Rogero mine, ah! wonder gone" (she cried)
"Art thou; and canst thou so far distant be,
Thou heardest not this royal edict cried,
A thing concealed from none, expecting thee?
Faster than thee would none have hither hied,
I wot, hadst thou known this; ah! wretched me!
How can I e'er in future think of aught,
Saving the worst that can by me be thought?
"How can it be, Rogero, thou alone
Hast read not what by all the world is read?
If thou hast read it not, nor hither flown,
How canst thou but a prisoner be, or dead?
But well I wot, that if the truth were known,
This Leo will for thee some snare have spread:
The traitor will have barred thy way, intent
Thou shouldst not him by better speed prevent.
"From Charles I gained the promise, that to none
Less puissant than myself should I be given;
In the reliance thou wouldst be that one,
With whom I should in arms have vainly striven.
None I esteemed, excepting thee alone:
But well my rashness is rebuked by Heaven:
Since I by one am taken in this wise
Unfamed through life for any fair emprize.
"If I am held as taken, since the knight
I had not force to take nor yet to slay;
A thing that is not, in my judgment, right;
Nor I to Charles's sentence will give way,
I know that I shall be esteemed as light,
If what I lately said, I now unsay;
But of those many ladies that have past
For light, I am not, I, the first or last.
"Enough I to my lover faith maintain,
And, firmer than a rock, am still found true!
And far herein surpass the female train,
That were in olden days, or are in new!
Nor, if they me as fickle shall arraign,
Care I, so good from fickleness ensue;
Though I am lighter than a leaf be said,
So I be forced not with that Greek no wed."
These things and more beside the damsel bright
('Twixt which oft sobs and tears were interposed),
Ceased not to utter through the livelong night
Which upon that unhappy day had closed.
But, when within Cimmeria's caverned height
Nocturnus with his troops of shades reposed,
Heaven, which eternally had willed the maid
Should be Rogero's consort, brought him aid:
This moves the haught Marphisa, when 'tis morn,
To appear before the king; to whom that maid
Saith, to the Child, her brother, mighty scorn
Was done; nor should he be so ill appaid,
That from him should his plighted wife be torn;
And nought thereof unto the warrior said;
And on whoever lists she will in strife
Prove Bradamant to be Rogero's wife;
And this, before all others, will prove true
On her, if to deny it she will dare;
For she had to Rogero, in her view,
Spoken those words, which they that marry swear;
And with all ceremony wont and due
So was the contract sealed between the pair,
They were no longer free; nor could forsake
The one the other, other spouse to take.
Whether Marphisa true or falsely spake,
I well believe that, rather with intent
Young Leo's purpose, right or wrong, to break,
Than tell the truth, she speaks; and with consent
Of Bradamant doth that avowal make:
For to exclude the hated Leo bent,
And of Rogero to be repossest,
This she believes her shortest way and best.
Sorely by this disturbed, King Charlemagne
Bade Bradamant be called, and to her told
That which the proud Marphisa would maintain;
And Aymon present in the press behold!
-- Bradamant drops her head, nor treats as vain,
Nor vouches what avows that virgin bold,
In such confusion, they may well believe
That fierce Marphisa speaks not to deceive.
Joy good Orlando and joy Rinaldo show,
Who view in valorous Marphisa's plea
A cause the alliance shall no further go,
Which sealed already Leo deemed to be;
And yet, in spite of stubborn Aymon's no,
Bradamant shall Rogero's consort be;
And they may, without strife, without despite
Done to Duke Aymon's, give her to the knight.
For if such words have pass'd between the twain,
Fast is the knot and cannot be untied;
They what they vowed more fairly will obtain,
And without further strife are these affied.
"This is a plot, a plot devised in vain;
And ye deceive yourselves (Duke Aymon cried)
For, were the story true which ye have feigned,
Believe not therefore that your cause is gained.
"For granting what I will not yet allow,
And what I to believe as yet demur;
That weakly to Rogero so her vow
Was plighted, as Rogero's was to her;
Where was the contract made, and when and how?
More clearly this to me must ye aver.
Either it was not so, I am advised;
Or was before Rogero was baptized.
"But if it were before the youthful knight
A Christian was, I will not heed it, I;
For 'twixt a faithful and a paynim wight,
I deem that nought avails the marriage-tie.
For this not vainly in the doubtful fight
Should Constantine's fair son have risked to die;
Nor Charlemagne for this, our sovereign lord
Will forfeit, I believe, his plighted word.
"What now you say you should before have said,
While yet the matter was unbroke, and ere
Charles at my daughter's prayer that edict made
Which has drawn Leo to the combat here."
Orlando and Rinaldo were gainsayed
So before royal Charles by Clermont's peer;
And equal Charlemagne heard either side,
But neither would for this nor that decide.
As in the southern or the northern breeze
The greenwood murmurs; and as on the shore,
When Aeolus with the god that rules the seas
Is wroth, the hoarse and hollow breakers roar,
So a loud rumour of this strife, that flees
Through France, and spreads and circles evermore,
Affords such matter to rehearse and hear,
That nought beside is bruised far or near.
These with Rogero, those with Leo side;
But the most numerous are Rogero's friends,
Who against Aymon, ten to one, divide.
Good Charlemagne to neither party bends;
But wills that cause shall be by justice tried,
And to his parliament the matter sends.
Marphisa, now the bridal was deferred,
Appeared anew, and other question stirred;
And said, "In that anther cannot have
Bradamant, while my brother is alive,
Let Leo, if the gentle maid he crave,
His foe in listed fight of life deprive;
And he, that sends the other to his grave,
Freed from his rival, with the lady wive."
Forthwith this challenge, as erewhile the rest,
To Leo was declared at Charles' behest.
Leo who if he had the cavalier
Of the unicorn, believed he from his foe
Was safe; and thought no peril would appear
Too hard a feat for him; and knew not how
Thence into solitary woods and drear
That warrior had been hurried by his woe;
Him gone for little time and for disport
Believed, and took his line in evil sort.
This shortly Leo was condemned to rue:
For he, on whom too fondly he relied,
Nor on that day nor on the following two
Appeared, nor news of him were signified;
And combat with Rogero was, he knew,
Unsafe, unless that knight was on his side:
So sent, to eschew the threatened scathe and scorn,
To seek the warrior of the unicorn.
Through city, and through hamlet, and through town,
He sends to seek Rogero, far and near:
And not content with this, himself is gone
In person, on his steed, to find the peer.
But of the missing warrior tidings none
Nor he nor any of the Court would hear
But for Melissa: I for other verse
Reserve myself, her doings to rehearse.
After long search for good Rogero made,
Him Leon finds, and yields to him his prize:
Informed of all -- already with that maid
He wives; already in her bosom lies:
When thither he that Sarza's sceptre swayed
To infect such bliss with impious venom hies,
But falls in combat; and, blaspheming loud,
To Acheron descends his spirit proud.
I, if my chart deceives me not, shall now
In little time behold the neighbouring shore;
So hope withal to pay my promised vow
To one, so long my guide through that wide roar
Of waters, where I feared, with troubled brow,
To scathe my bark or wander evermore.
But now, methinks -- yea, now I see the land;
I see the friendly port its arms expand.
A burst of joy, like thunder to my ear,
Rumbles along the sea and rends the sky.
I chiming bells, I shrilling trumpets hear,
Confounded with the people's cheerful cry;
And now their forms, that swarm on either pier
Of the thick-crowded harbour, I descry.
All seem rejoiced my task is smoothly done,
And I so long a course have safely run.
What beauteous dames and sage, here welcome me!
With them what cavaliers the shore adorn!
What friends! to whom I owe eternity
Of thanks for their delight at my return.
Mamma, Ginevra, with the rest I see,
Correggio's seed, on the harbour's furthest horn.
Veronica de Gambara is here,
To Phoebus and the Aonian choir so dear.
With Julia, a new Ginevra is in sight,
Another offset from the selfsame tree;
Hippolita Sforza, and Trivultia bright,
Bred in the sacred cavern, I with thee
Emilia Pia, and thee, Margherite,
Angela Borgia, Graziosa, see,
And fair Richarda d'Este, Lo! the twain,
Blanche and Diana, with their sister train!
Beauteous, but wiser and more chaste than fair,
I Barbara Turca, linked with Laura, know:
Nor beams the sun upon a better pair
'Twixt Ind and where the Moorish waters flow.
Behold Ginevra! that rich gem and rare
Which gilds the house of Malatesta so,
That never worthier or more honoured thing
Adorned the dome of Keysar or of king.
If she had dwelt in Rimini of yore,
What time, from conquered Gaul returning home,
Julius stood fearing on the river-shore,
To ford the stream and make a foe of Rome,
He every banner would have bowed before
That dame, discharged his trophies, and such doom,
Such pact would have received as liked her best;
And haply ne'er had Freedom been opprest.
The consort of my lord of Bozzolo
Behold! the mother, sisters, cousinhood;
Them of Torello, Bentivoglio,
Pallavigini's and Visconti's brood!
Lo! she to whom all living dames forego
The palm, and all of Grecian, Latin blood,
Or barbarous, all that ever were, whose name
For grace and beauty most is noised by Fame;
Julia Gonzaga, she that wheresoe'er
She moves, where'er she turns her lucid eyes,
Not only is in charms without a peer,
But seems a goddess lighted from the skies:
With her is paired her brother's wife, who ne'er
Swerved from her plighted faith -- aye good and wise --
Because ill Fortune bore her long despite;
Lo! Arragonian Anna, Vasto's light!
Anne gentle, courteous, and as sage as fair,
Temple of Love and Truth and Chastity:
With her, her sister dims all beauty, where
Her radiance shines. Lo! one that hath set free
Her conquering lord from Orcus' dark repair,
And him in spite of death and destiny
(Beyond all modern instance) raised on high,
To shine with endless glory in the sky.
My ladies of Ferrara, those of gay
Urbino's court are here; and I descry
Mantua's dames, and all that fair array
Which Lombardy and Tuscan town supply.
The cavalier amid that band, whom they
So honour, unless dazzled is mine eye
By those fair faces, is the shining light
Of his Arezzo, and Accolti hight.
Adorned with scarlet hat, and scarlet pall,
His nephew Benedict, lo! there I see;
With him Campeggio and Mantua's cardinal;
Glory and light of the consistory;
And (if I dote not) mark how one and all
In face and gesture show such mighty glee
At my return, no easy task 'twould seem
So vast an obligation to redeem.
With them Lactantius is, Claude Ptolemy,
Trissino, Pansa, and Capilupi mine,
Latino Giovenal, it seems to me;
Sasso, and Molza, and Florian hight Montine;
With him, by whom through shorter pathway we
Are led to the Ascraean font divine,
Julio Camillo; and meseems that I
Berna, and Sanga, and Flaminio spy.
Lo! Alexander of Farnese, and O
Learned company that follows in his train!
Phaedro, Cappella, Maddalen', Portio,
Surnamed the Bolognese, the Volterrane.
Blosio, Pierio, Vida, famed for flow
Of lofty eloquence of exhaustless vein;
Mussuro, Lascari, and Navagero,
And Andrew Maro, and the monk Severo.
Lo! two more Alexanders! of the tree
Of the Orologi one, and one Guarino:
Mario d' Olvito, and of royalty
That scourge, divine Pietro Aretino.
I two Girolamos amid them see,
Of Veritade and the Cittadino;
See the Mainardo, the Leoniceno,
Panizzato, Celio, and Teocreno.
Bernardo Capel, Peter Bembo here
I see, through whom our pure, sweet idiom rose,
And who, of vulgar usage winnowed clear,
Its genuine form in his example shows.
Behold an Obyson, that in his rear
Admires the pains which he so well bestows.
I Fracastoro, Bevezzano note,
And Tryphon Gabriel, Tasso more remote.
Upon me Nicholas Tiepoli
And Nicholas Ammanio fix their eyes;
With Anthony Fulgoso, who to spy
My boat near land shows pleasure and surprise.
There, from those dames apart, my Valery
Stands with Barignan, haply to devise
With him how, evermore by woman harmed,
By her he shall not evermore be charmed.
Of high and superhuman genius, tied
By love and blood, lo! Pico and Pio true;
He that approaches at the kinsmen's side,
-- So honoured by the best -- I never knew;
But, if by certain tokens signified,
He is the man I so desire to view,
That Sannazaro, who persuades the nine
To leave their fountain for the foaming brine.
Diligent, faithful secretary, lo!
The learned Pistophilus, mine Angiar here,
And the Acciajuoli their joint pleasure show
That for my bark there is no further fear.
There I my kinsman Malaguzzo know;
And mighty hope from Adoardo hear,
That these my nest-notes shall by friendly wind
Be blown from Calpe's rock to furthest Ind.
Joys Victor Fausto; Tancred joys to view
My sail; and with them joy a hundred more.
Women and men I see, a mingled crew,
At my return rejoicing, crowd the shore.
Then, since the wind blows fair, nor much to do
Remains, let me my course delay no more;
And turning to Melissa, in what way
She rescued good Rogero let me say.
Much bent was this Melissa (as I know
I many times have said to you whilere)
That Bradamant in wedlock should bestow
Her hand upon the youthful cavalier;
And so at heart had either's weal and woe,
That she from hour to hour of them would hear:
Hence ever on that quest she spirits sent,
One still returning as the other went.
A prey to deep and stubborn grief, reclined
Mid gloomy shades Rogero they descried;
Firm not to swallow food of any kind,
Nor from that purpose to be turned aside;
And so to die of hunger he designed:
But weird Melissa speedy aid supplied;
Who took a road, from home forth issuing, where
She met the Grecian emperor's youthful heir;
Leo that, one by one, dispatched his train
Of followers, far and wide, through every bourn,
And afterwards, in person went in vain,
To find the warrior of the unicorn.
The wise enchantress, that will sell and rein,
Had on that day equipt a demon, borne
By him, in likeness of a hackney horse,
Constantine's son encountered in her course.
"If such as your ingenuous mien" (she cried
To Leo) "is your soul's nobility,
And corresponding with your fair outside
Your inward goodness and your courtesy,
Some help, some comfort, sir, for one provide
In whom the best of living knights we see;
Who, save ye help and comfort quickly lend,
Is little distant from his latter end.
"The best of knights will die of all, who don,
Or e'er donned sword and buckler, the most fair
And gentle of all warriors that are gone,
Or who throughout the world yet living are,
And simply for a courteous deed, if none
Shall comfort to the youthful sufferer bear.
Then come, sir, for the love of Heaven, and try
If any counsel succour may supply."
It suddenly came into Leo's mind
The knight of whom she parlayed was that same,
Whom throughout all the land he sought to find,
And seeking whom, he now in person came.
So that obeying her that would persuade
Such pious work, he spurred behind the dame;
Who thither led (nor tedious was the way)
Where nigh reduced to death the stripling lay.
They found Rogero fasting from all food
For three long days, so broken down; with pain
The knight could but upon his feet have stood,
To fall, albeit unpushed, to ground again.
With helm on head, and with his faulchion good
Begirt, he lay reclined in plate and chain.
A pillow of his buckler had he made,
Where the white unicorn was seen pourtraid.
There thinking what an injury he had done
To his lady love -- how ingrate, how untrue
To her had been -- not simple grief alone
O'erwhelmed him, to such height his fury grew,
He bit his hands and lips; while pouring down
His cheeks, the tears unceasing ran, and through
The passion that so wrapt his troubled sprite,
Nor Leo nor Melissa heard the knight.
Nor therefore interrupts he his lament,
Nor checks his sighs, nor checks his trickling tears.
Young Leo halts, to hear his speech intent;
Lights from his courser, and towards him steers:
He knows that of the sorrows which torment
Love is the cause; but yet from nought appears
Who is the person that such grief hath bred;
For by Rogero this remains unsaid.
Approaching nearer and yet nearer, now
He fronts the weeping warrior, face to face,
Greets with a brother's love, and stooping low,
His neck encircles with a fast embrace.
By the lamenting Child I know not how
Is liked his sudden presence in that place;
Who fears annoy or trouble at his hand;
And lest he should his wish for death withstand.
Him with the sweetest words young Leo plied,
And with the warmest love that he could show,
"Let it not irk thee," to the Child he cried,
"To tell the cause from whence thy sorrows flow;
For few such desperate evils man betide,
But that there is deliverance from his woe,
So that the cause be known; nor he bereft
Of hope should ever be, so life be left.
"Much grieve I thou wouldst hide thyself from me,
That known me for thy faithful friend and true;
Not only now I am so bound to thee,
That I the knot can never more undo;
But even from the beginning, when to be
Thy deadly foeman I had reason due.
Hope then that I will succour thee with pelf,
With friends, with following, and with life itself.
"Nor shun to me thy sorrow to explain,
And I beseech thee leave to me to try
If wealth avail to free thee from thy pain,
Art, cunning, open force, or flattery,
If my assistance is employed in vain,
The last relief remains to thee to die:
But be content awhile this deed to shun
Till all that thou canst do shall first be done."
He said; and with such forceful prayer appealed;
So gently and benignly soothed his moan;
That good Rogero could not choose but yield,
Whose heart was not of iron or of stone;
Who deemed, unless he now his lips unsealed,
He should a foul discourteous deed have done.
He fain would have replied, but made assay
Yet twice or thrice, ere words could find their way.
"My lord, when known for what I am (and me
Now shalt thou know)," he made at last reply,
"I wot thou, like myself, content wilt be,
And haply more content, that I should die.
Know me for him so hated once by thee;
Rogero who repaid that hate am I;
And now 'tis many days since with intent
Of putting thee to death from court I went.
"Because I would not see my promised bride
Borne off by thee; in that Duke Aymon's love
And favour was engaged upon thy side.
But, for man purposes, and God above
Disposes, thy great courtesy, well tried
In a sore need, my fixt resolve did move.
Nor only I renounced the hate I bore,
But purposed to be thine for evermore.
"What time I as Rogero was unknown,
Thou madest suit I would obtain for thee
The Lady Bradamant; which was all one
As to demand my heart and soul from me.
Whether thy wish I rather than mine own
Sought to content, thou hast been made to see.
Thine is the lady; her in peace possess;
Far more than mine I prize thy happiness.
"Content thee, that deprived of her, as well
I should myself of worthless life deprive;
For better I without a soul could dwell
Than without Bradamant remain alive.
And never while these veins with life-blood swell
Canst thou with her legitimately wive:
For vows erewhile have been between us said;
Nor she at once can with two husbands wed."
So filled is gentle Leo with amaze
When he the stranger for Rogero knows,
With lips and brow unmoved, with stedfast gaze
And rooted feet, he like a statue shows;
Like statue more than man, which votaries raise
In churches, for acquittance of their vows.
He deems that courtesy of so high a strain
Was never done nor will be done again;
And that he him doth for Rogero know
Not only that goodwill he bore whilere
Abates not, but augments his kindness so,
That no less grieves the Grecian cavalier
Than good Rogero for Rogero's woe.
For this, as well as that he will appear
Deservedly an emperor's son -- although
In other things outdone -- he will not be
Defeated in the race of courtesy;
And says, "That day my host was overthrown,
Rogero, by thy wond'rous valour, though
I had thee at despite, if I had known
Thou was Rogero, as I know it now,
So me thy virtue would have made thine own,
As then it made me, knowing not my foe;
So hatred from my bosom would have chased,
And with my present love have straight replaced.
"That I Rogero hated, ere I knew
Thou was Rogero, will I not deny.
But think not that I further would pursue
The hatred that I bore thee; and had I,
When thee I from thy darksome dungeon drew,
Descried the truth, as this I now descry,
Such treatment shouldst thou then have had, as thou
Shalt have from me, to thine advantage, now;
"And if I willingly had done so then,
When not, as I am now, obliged to thee;
How much more gladly should I now; and when,
Not doing so, I should with reason be
Deemed most ungrateful amid ingrate men;
Since thou foregoest thine every good for me!
But I to thee restore thy gift, and, more
Glady than I received it, this restore.
"The damsel more to thee than me is due;
And though for her deserts I hold her dear,
If that fair prize some happier mortal drew,
I think not I my vital thread should shear:
Nor would I by thy death be free to woo:
That from the hallowed bands of wedlock clear
Wherein the lady hath to thee been tied,
I might possess her as my lawful bride.
"Not only Bradamant would I forego,
But whatsoe'er I in the world possess;
And rather forfeit life than ever know
That grief, through me, should such a knight oppress.
To me is thy distrust great cause of woe,
That since thou couldst dispose of me no less
Than of thyself, thou -- rather than apply
To me for succour -- wouldst of sorrow die."
These words he spake, and more to that intent,
Too tedious in these verses to recite;
Refuting evermore such argument
As might be used in answer by the knight:
Who said, at last, "I yield, and am content
To live; but how can I ever requite
The obligation, which by me is owed
To thee that twice hast life on me bestowed?"
Melissa generous wine and goodly cheer
Thither bade carry, in a thought obeyed;
And comforted the mourning cavalier,
Who would have sunk without her friendly aid.
Meanwhile the sound of steeds Frontino's ear
Had reached, and thither had he quickly made:
Him Leo's squires at his commandment caught,
And saddled, and to good Rogero brought;
Who, though by Leo helped, with much ado
And labour sore the gentle courser scaled.
So wasted was the vigour which some few
Short days before, in fighting field, availed
To overthrow a banded host, and do
The deeds he did, in cheating armour mailed.
Departing thence, ere they had measured more