Part 6 out of 25
The fair vermillion cheeks and golden hair
Of the sweet damsel, who before them flies,
And goads to better speed her panting mare;
Ill pleased the three assembled to discern,
Though haply she had taken each in turn.
And when these from the magic palace she
Had ticed so far, that she no more supposed
The warriors to the wicked fallacy
Of the malign enchanter were exposed,
The ring, which more than once from misery
Had rescued her, she 'twixt her lips enclosed,
Hence from their sight she vanished in a thought,
And left them wondering there, like men distraught.
Although she first the scheme had entertained
Roland or Sacripant to have released,
To guide her thither, where her father reigned,
King Galaphron, who ruled i' the farthest East,
The aid of both she suddenly disdained,
And in an instant from her project ceased;
And deemed, without more debt to count or king,
In place of either knight sufficed the ring.
In haste, they through the forest, here and there,
So scorned of her, still gaze with stupid face;
Like questing hound which loses sight of hare
Or fox, of whom he late pursued the trace,
Into close thicket, ditch, or narrow lair,
Escaping from the keen pursuer's chase.
Meantime their ways the wanton Indian queen
Observes, and at their wonder laughs unseen.
In the mid wood, where they the maid did lose,
Was but a single pathway, left or right;
Which they believed the damsel could not choose
But follow, when she vanished from their sight.
Ferrau halts not, and Roland fast pursues,
Nor Sacripant less plies the rowels bright.
Angelica, this while, retrains her steed,
And follows the three warriors with less speed.
When pricking thus they came to where the way
Was in the forest lost, with wood o'ergrown,
And had begun the herbage to survey
For print of recent footsteps, up and down,
The fierce Ferrau, who might have borne away
From all that ever proudest were, the crown,
With evil countenance, to the other two
Turned him about, and shouted "Whence are you?"
"Turn back or take another road, save here,
In truth, you covet to be slain by me.
Nor when I chase or woo my lady dear,
Let any think I bear with company."
And -- "What more could he say, sir cavalier,"
(Orlando cried to Sacripant) "if we
Were known for the two basest whores that pull
And reel from spindle-staff the matted wool?"
Then turning to Ferrau,, "But that thine head,
Thou brutish sot, as I behold, is bare,
If thy late words were ill or wisely said,
Thou should'st perceive, before we further fare."
To him Ferrau: "For that which breeds no dread
In me, why should'st thou take such sovereign care?
What I have said unhelmed will I prove true,
Here, single as I am, on both of you."
"Oh!" (to Circassia's king cried Roland dread)
"Thy morion for this man let me entreat,
Till I have driven such folly from his head;
For never with like madness did I meet."
-- "Who then would be most fool?" the monarch said;
"But if indeed you deem the suit discreet,
Lend him thine own; nor shall I be less fit
Haply than thee to school his lack of wit."
-- "Fools, both of you!" (the fierce Ferrau replied)
"As if, did I to wear a helm delight,
You would not be without your casques of pride,
Already reft by me in your despite;
But know thus much, that I by vow am tied
To wear no helm, and thus my promise quite;
Roaming without, till that fine casque I win
Worn by Orlando, Charles's paladin."
-- "Then" (smiling, to the Spaniard said the count)
"With naked head, thou thinkest to repeat
On Roland what he did in Aspramont,
By Agolant's bold son: but shouldst thou meet
The warrior whom thou seekest, front to front,
I warrant thou wouldst quake from head to feet;
Nor only wouldst forego the casque, but give
The knight thine other arms to let thee live."
-- "So oft have I had Roland on the hip,
And oft," (exclaimed the boaster) "heretofore;
From him it had been easy task to strip
What other arms, beside his helm, he wore;
And if I still have let the occasion slip,
-- We sometimes think of things unwished before:
Such wish I had not; I have now; and hope
To compass easily my present scope."
The good Orlando could no more forbear,
And cried, "Foul miscreant, liar, marched with me,
Say, caitiff, in what country, when and where
Boast you to have obtained such victory?
That paladin am I, o'er whom you dare
To vaunt, and whom you distant deemed: now see
If you can take my helm, or I have might
To take your other arms in your despite.
"Nor I o'er you the smallest vantage wou'd."
He ended, and his temples disarrayed,
And to a beech hung up the helmet good,
And nigh as quickly bared his trenchant blade.
Ferrau stands close, and in such attitude,
(His courage not for what had chanced dismayed)
Covered with lifted shield and naked sword,
As might best shelter to his head afford.
'Twas thus those warriors two, with faulchions bare,
Turning their ready steeds, began to wheel;
And where the armour thinnest was, and where
The meeting plates were joined, probed steel with steel;
Nor was there in the world another pair
More fitted to be matched in fierce appeal:
Equal their daring, equal was their might,
And safe alike from wound was either knight.
By you, fair sir, already, I presume,
That fierce Ferrau was charmed is understood,
Save where the child, enclosed within the womb
Of the full mother, takes its early food;
And hence he ever, till the squalid tomb
Covered his manly face, wore harness good
(Such was his wont) the doubtful part to guard,
Of seven good plates of metal, tempered hard.
Alike a charmed life Orlando bore,
Safe every where, except a single part:
Unfenced beneath his feet, which evermore
By him were guarded with all care and art.
The rest than diamond dug from mountain hoar
More hard, unless report from truth depart;
And armed to battle either champion went,
Less for necessity than ornament.
Waxing more fierce and fell the combat rages,
Of fear and horror full, between the twain:
The fierce Ferrau such dreadful battle wages,
That stroke or thrust is never dealt in vain:
Each mighty blow from Roland disengages
And loosens, breaks, or shatters, plate and chain.
Angelica alone, secure from view,
Regards such fearful sight, and marks the two.
For, during this, the king of Circassy,
Who deemed Angelica not far before,
When Ferrau and Orlando desperately
Closing in fight were seen, his horse did gore
Along the way by which he deemed that she
Had disappeared; and so that battle sore
Was witnessed 'twixt the struggling foes, by none,
Beside the daughter of king Galaphron.
After the damsel had sometime descried
This dread and direful combat, standing nigh;
And it appearing that on either side
With equal peril both the warriors vie,
She, fond of novelty, the helm untied
Designs to take; desirous to espy
What they would do when they perceived the wrong;
But, without thought to keep her plunder long.
To give it to Orlando was she bent,
But first she would upon the warrior play:
The helmet she took down with this intent
And in her bosom hid, and marked the fray:
Next thence, without a word to either went,
And from the scene of strife was far away
Ere either of the two had marked the feat;
So were they blinded by their angry heat.
But Ferrau, who first chanced the loss to see,
From Roland disengaged himself, and cried,
"How like unwary men and fools are we
Treated by him, who late with us did ride!
What meed, which worthiest of the strife might be,
If this be stolen, the victor shall abide?"
Roland draws back, looks upward, and with ire,
Missing the noble casque, is all on fire:
And in opinion with Ferrau agreed,
That he the knight, who was with them before,
Had born away the prize: hence turned his steed.
And with the spur admonished Brigliador.
Ferrau, who from the field beheld him speed.
Followed him, and when Roland and the Moor
Arrived where tracks upon the herbage green
Of the Circassian and the maid were seen,
Towards a vale upon the left the count
Went off, pursuing the Circassian's tread;
The Spaniard kept the path more nigh the mount,
By which the fair Angelica had fled.
Angelica, this while, has reached a fount,
Of pleasant site, and shaded overhead;
By whose inviting shades no traveller hasted,
Nor ever left the chrystal wave untasted.
Angelica, the sylvan spring beside,
Reposes, unsuspicious of surprise;
And thinking her the sacred ring will hide,
Fears not that evil accident can rise.
On her arrival at the fountain's side,
She to a branch above the helmet ties;
Then seeks the fittest sapling for her need,
Where, fastened to its trunk, her mare may feed.
The Spanish cavalier the stream beside
Arrived, who had pursued her traces there:
Angelica no sooner him espied,
Than she evanished clean, and spurred her mare:
The helm this while had dropt, but lay too wide
To be recovered of the flying fair.
As soon as sweet Angelica he saw,
Towards her full of rapture sprang Ferrau.
She disappeared, I say, as forms avaunt
At sleep's departure: toiling long and sore
He seeks the damsel there, 'twixt plant and plant,
Now can his wretched eyes behold her more.
Blaspheming his Mahound and Termagant,
And cursing every master of his lore,
Ferrau returned towards the sylvan fount,
Where lay on earth the helmet of the count.
This he soon recognised, for here he read
Letters upon the margin, written fair,
Which how Orlando won the helmet said;
And from what champion took, and when and where.
With it the paynim armed his neck and head,
Who would not for his grief the prize forbear;
His grief for loss of her, conveyed from sight,
As disappear the phantoms of the night.
When in this goodly casque he was arrayed,
He deemed nought wanting to his full content,
But the discovery of the royal maid,
Who like a flash of lightning came and went:
For her he searches every greenwood shade,
And when all hope of finding her is spent,
He for the vain pursuit no longer tarries,
But to the Spanish camp returns near Paris;
Tempering the grief which glowed within his breast,
For such sore disappointment, with the thought
That he was with Orlando's morion blest,
As sworn. By good Anglante's count, when taught
That the false Saracen the prize possest,
Long time the Spanish knight was vainly sought;
Nor Roland took the helmet from his head,
Till he between two bridges laid him dead.
Angelica thus, viewless and alone,
Speeds on her journey, but with troubled front;
Grieved for the helmet, in her haste foregone
On her departure from the grassy fount.
"Choosing to do what I should least have done,"
(She said) "I took his helmet from the count.
This for his first desert I well bestow;
A worthy recompense for all I owe!
"With good intentions, as God knows, I wrought;
Though these an ill and different end produce;
I took the helmet only with the thought
To bring that deadly battle to a truce;
And not that this foul Spaniard what he sought
Should gain, or I to his intent conduce."
So she, lamenting, took herself to task
For having robbed Orlando of his casque.
By what appeared to her the meetest way,
Moody and ill-content she eastward pressed;
Ofttimes concealed, sometimes in face of day,
As seemed most opportune and pleased her best.
After much country seen, a forest gray
She reached, where, sorely wounded in mid breast,
Between two dead companions on the ground,
The royal maid a bleeding stripling found.
But of Angelica I now no more
Shall speak, who first have many things to say;
Nor shall to the Circassian or the Moor
Give for long space a rhyme; thence called away
By good Anglante's prince, who wills, before
I of those others tell, I should display
The labours and the troubles he sustained,
Pursuing the great good he never gained.
At the first city, whither he was brought
(Because to go concealed he had good care),
He a new helmet donned; but took no thought
What was the head-piece he designed to bear.
So safe is he in fairy spell, it nought
Imports, if hard or soft its temper were.
Orlando, covered thus, pursues the quest,
Nor him day, night, or rain, or sun arrest.
It was the hour that our of Ocean's bed
Dan Phoebus drew his dripping steeds, and high
And low, still scattering yellow flowers and red,
Aurora stained the heavens with various dye,
And Stars had cast their veils about their head,
Departing from their revels in the sky;
When passing on a day fair Paris near,
Orlando made his mighty worth appear.
Two squadrons he encountered; one an old
Saracen, Manilardo clept, obeyed;
King of Noritia, whilom fierce and bold.
But fitter now to counsel than to aid.
The next beneath the standard was enrolled
Or Tremisena's monarch, who was said
'Mid Africans to be a perfect knight;
Alzirdo he by those who knew him, hight:
These, with the other Saracen array,
Cantoned throughout the winter months had lain,
Some near the city, some more far away,
All lodged nigh town or hamlet on the plain.
For since King Agramant had many a day
Spent in attacking Paris' walls in vain,
He (for no other means remained to try)
Would lastly with a siege the city ply;
And to do this had people infinite:
Since he, beside the host that with him came,
And that of Spain which followed to the fight
The Spanish King Marsilius' oriflame,
Many of France did in his pay unite:
For all from Paris he to Arles's stream,
With part of Gascony, some straggling tower
Excepted, had reduced beneath his power.
The quivering brook, as warmer breezes blew,
Beginning now from ice its waves to free,
And the fresh-springing grass and foliage new,
To cloathe again the field and greenwood tree,
All those King Agramant assembled, who
Had followed him in his prosperity;
To muster in review the armed swarm,
And give to his affairs a better form:
Hence did the King of Tremisen' repair,
With him who had Noritia in command,
To be in time at that full muster, where
Each squadron, good or bad, was to be scanned
Orlando thus by chance encountered there,
As I have told you, this united hand;
Who, as his usage was, went seeking her,
By whom he had been made Love's prisoner.
Alzirdo, as the approaching count he eyes,
Who in this world for valour has no peer,
With such a haughty front, and in such guise,
The God of war would less in arms appear,
The features known before astounded spies,
The fierce, disdainful glance and furious cheer;
And him esteems a knight of prowess high,
Which, fondly, he too sore desires to try.
Arrogant, young, and of redoubted force,
Alzirdo was, and prized for dauntless mind;
Who bent to joust pricked forth his foaming horse,
Happier had he remained in line behind!
Met by Anglante's prince in middle course,
Who pierced his heart as they encountering joined.
Frighted, the lightened courser scoured the plain,
Without a rider to direct the rein.
Rises a sudden and a horrid cry,
And air on every side repeats the scream;
As his scared band the falling youth descry,
And issuing from his wound so wide a stream:
Disordered, they the count in fury ply,
And, raised to cut or thrust, their weapons gleam.
Against that flower of knights, their feathered reeds,
A thicker squadron yet in tempest speeds.
With sound like that, with which from hill repair,
Or from the champaign's flat the hurrying swine,
(If the Wolf, issue from his grot, or Bear,
Descending to the mountains' lower line,
Some bristly youngling take away and tear,
Who with loud squeal and grunt is heard to pine)
Came driving at the count the barbarous rout;
"Upon him!" and "upon him!" still their shout.
At once spears, shafts, and swords, his corslet bore
By thousands, and as many pierce his shield.
This threatens on one side, and that before,
And those the ponderous mace behind him wield.
But he esteems the craven rout no more.
He, who did never yet to terror yield,
Than hungry Wolf in twilight makes account
To what the number of the flock may mount.
He held unsheathed that thundering sword in hand,
Which with so many foes has heaped the plain,
That he who thinks to count the slaughtered band,
Has undertaken, hard emprize and vain.
The road ran red, ensanguined by his brand,
And scarce capacious of the many slain.
For neither targe nor head-piece good defends,
Where fatal Durindana's blade descends.
Nor safety cotton vest, nor cloths supply,
In thousand folds about the temples spread:
Nor only groan and lamentation fly
Through air, but shoulder, arm, and severed head,
Death roams the field in strange variety
Of horrid forms, and all inspiring dread;
And says, "For hundreds of my scythes may stand
His Durindana in Orlando's hand."
His ceaseless strokes scarce one the other wait:
Speedily all his foemen are in flight.
And when before they came at furious rate,
They hoped to swallow quick the single knight.
None is there who, in that unhappy straight,
Stops for his comrade, flying from the fight.
Here one man speeds afoot, one gallops there;
None stays to question if the road be fair.
His mirror Valour bore about, and here
Each blemish of the soul was seen confest:
None looked therein, except an aged peer,
Whose blood was chilled, but courage unreprest.
That death were better deems this cavalier
Than life in flight, and in disgrace possest:
I mean Noritia's king, who lays his lance
In rest against the paladin of France;
He broke it on the border of the shield
Of the intrepid count, with stedfast hand,
Who, by the stroke unshaken, nothing reeled:
And smote the king, in passing, with his brand.
Him Fortune saved; for as Orlando wheeled
The blade, it turned, descending, in his hand.
Although an-edge he guides not still the sword,
Stunned from his saddle reels the paynim lord.
Astounded from his saddle reels the king,
Nor him Orlando turns about to see.
He cuts, and cleaves, and slays his following;
Who all believe him at their backs to be.
As through the spacious air, with troubled wing,
The starlings from the daring merlin flee;
So, of that broken squadron, scattered round,
Some fly, some dip, and some fall flat to ground.
He ceased not his ensanguined blade to sway
Till living wight remained not in his view.
Orlando doubted to resume his way,
Although the country all about he knew.
Does he the right or left-hand road assay,
His thoughts still rove from what his steps pursue,
And he to seek the damsel is in dread
Through other path than that by which she fled.
Through wood and field his courser did he goad,
Often inquiring for the royal dame:
Beside himself, he strayed beside his road,
And to the foot of rising mountain came,
Whence (it was night-time) through a fissure glowed
The distant flicker of a quivering flame.
Orlando to the rock approached, to spy
If there Angelica concealed might lie.
As where low junipers o'er shade her lair,
Or in the stubble of the open lay,
What time the hunters seek the fearful hare
Through traversed woods, and through uncertain way,
-- Lest peradventure she be hidden there,
They every bramble, every bush assay;
Even so, where hope the toiling warrior leads,
Searching his lady-love, Orlando speeds.
Pricking in haste towards that ray, the count
Arrived where in the wood the light was shed,
Forth-streaming from a crevice in the mount,
Within whose womb a spacious grotto spread;
And there, like wall or bank, discerned in front,
Of thorns and underwood a bristly bed,
To hide the grotto's inmates, and defend
From scathe or scorn, which others might intend.
By day it had been hidden evermore;
But the clear flame betrayed the haunt by night.
Its use he guessed; but would the place explore,
And better certify himself by sight.
When he without had tied his Brigliador,
In silence to the grotto stole the knight;
Threading the shrubs; nor calling for a guide,
Entered the passage in the mountain's side.
By a long flight of steps was the descent
Into the cave; where, in the rocky tomb,
Buried were living folk. Of wide extent,
The grot was chiselled into vaulted room;
Nor was, although its entrance little lent,
All daylight wanting to disperse the gloom:
For much was furnished by a window dight,
Within a natural fissure on the right.
In the mid cave, beside a fire was seen
A gentle maid of pleasing look and guise;
Who seemed to Roland little past fifteen,
As far as at first sight he might surmise.
With that so fair she made the rugged scene
Seem in the warrior's sight a paradise.
Although this while her eyes with tears o'erflow,
Clear tokens of a heart oppressed with woe.
An aged dame was with her, and the pair
Wrangled, as oftentimes is women's way;
But when the County was descending there,
Concluded the dispute and wordy fray.
Orlando hastens to salute them fair
(As still is due to womankind) and they
To welcome him rise lightly form their seat,
And with benign return the warrior greet.
'Tis true, that when that sudden voice they hear,
Somedeal confused in look they seem to be,
At the same time beholding thus appear
So fierce a wight, and harnessed cap-a-pee.
"What wight" (demands Anglantes' cavalier)
So barbarous is, and void of courtesy,
That he keeps buried, in this rude repair,
A face so gentle and so passing fair?"
With pain the virgin to the count replies,
As he inquires of her unhappy doom,
In sweet and broken accents, which by sighs
Impelled, through rows of pearl and coral come:
And between rose and lily, from her eyes
Tears fall so fast, she needs must swallow some.
In other canto, sir, be pleased to attend
The rest, for here 'tis time my strain should end.
The Count Orlando of the damsel bland
Who loves Zerbino, hears the piteous woes.
Next puts to death the felons with his hand
Who pent her there. Duke Aymon's daughter goes,
Seeking Rogero, where so large a band
The old Atlantes' magic walls enclose.
Her he impounds, deceived by fictions new.
Agramant ranks his army for review.
Those ancient cavaliers right happy were,
Born in an age, when, in the gloomy wood,
In valley, and in cave, wherein the bear,
Serpent, or lion, hid their savage brood,
They could find that, which now in palace rare
Is hardly found by judges proved and good;
Women, to wit, who in their freshest days
Of beauty worthily deserve the praise.
Above I told you how a gentle maid
Orlando had discovered under ground,
And asked, by whom she thither was conveyed?
Pursuing now my tale, I tell, how drowned
In grief (her speech by many a sob delayed),
The damsel fair, in sweet and softest sound,
Summing them with what brevity she might,
Her ills recounted to Anglantes' knight.
"Though I am sure," she said, "O cavalier,
To suffer punishment for what I say;
Because I know, to him who pens me here,
This woman quickly will the fact display;
I would not but thou shouldst the story hear.
-- And let my wretched life the forfeit pay!
For what can wait me better than that he,
My gaoler, should one day my death decree?
"Lo! I am Isabel, who once was styled
The daughter of Gallicia's hapless king:
I said aright who was; but now the child
(No longer his) of care and suffering:
The fault of Love, by whom I was beguiled;
For against him alone this charge I bring.
Who sweetly, at the first, our wish applauds,
And weaves in secret but deceit and frauds.
"Whilom I lived, content in Fortune's smile,
Rich, blameless, fair, and young; to sad reverse
Condemned, I now am wretched, poor, and vile,
And in worse case, if any yet be worse.
But it is fitting, I to thee this while
From their first root my troubles should rehearse.
And it will soothe me, though of thee I borrow
No help, that thou compassionate my sorrow.
"My father in his city of Bayonne,
(To-day will be twelve months) a tourney dight;
Hence, led by spreading rumour to our town,
To joust, from different lands came many a knight;
Mid these (was it his manifest renown,
Or was it love which so deceived my sight)
Praise in my eyes alone Zerbino won,
Who was the mighty king of Scotland's son.
"When him I after in the field espied,
Performing wondrous feats of chivalry,
I was surprised by Love, ere I descried
That freedom in my Love, so rash a guide,
I lay this unction to my phantasy,
That no unseemly place my heart possest,
Fixed on the worthiest in the world and best.
"In beauty and in valour's boast above
Those other lords the Scottish prince stood high.
He showed me, and, I think, be bore me love,
And left no less an ardent flame than I.
Nor lacked there one who did between us move,
To speak our common wishes frequently,
So could we still in heart and mind unite,
Although disjoined from one another's sight.
"Hence, when concluded was the festal show,
And to his home Zerbino was returned,
If thou know'st what is love, thou well may'st know
How night and day I for the warrior yearned;
And was assured, no less on him did prey
The flame, that in his constant bosom burned.
He, save a way to have me with him, nought
For solace of his restless passion sought.
"For different faith forbade him (on my side
I was a saracen, a Christian he)
To ask me of my father as a bride,
By stealth he purposed to elope with me.
Amid green fields, our wealthy town beside,
I had a garden, seated by the sea,
Upon the pleasant shore; from whence the eye
Might ocean and the hills about descry.
"A fitting place to effect what different creed
And law forbade us, he esteemed this site,
And showed the order taken for the deed,
Which was to make our future life's delight;
And how, near Santa Martha, for our need,
A bark was with arm'd men in ambush dight,
Under Sir Odoric of Biscay's command;
A leader he, approved by sea and land!
"Unable in his person this to do,
For by his father he was forced to wend
In succour of the king of France, in lieu
This Odoric for the purpose he would send;
Chosen, of all his faithful friends and true,
As his most faithful and his truest friend:
And such had been, if benefits could bind
And goodly deeds the friendship of mankind.
"At the time fixed to bear me thence away,
This chief would anchor on the destined ground.
-- And thus it was arrived the wished for day,
Then I of them was in my garden found.
Sir Odoric, at night, with fair array
Of valiant men, by land and sea renowned,
In the near river from his bark descends,
And thence in silence to my garden wends.
"To the pitched bark with me his party sped,
Before the city knew what was at hand;
Some of the house, disarmed and naked, fled,
And some were slain; while of the helpless band,
With me, another part was captive led.
So was I severed from my native land,
Hoping in brief Zerbino to possess,
I cannot tell thee with what happiness.
"Scarcely was Mongia by our galley doubled,
Ere a squall took us on the larboard side,
Which round about the clear horizon troubled,
And stirred and tost heaven-high the foaming tide.
Smote with a north-west wind, next, ocean bubbled,
Which on her other beam the vessel plied:
This evermore increases, with such force,
Starboard or larboard, boots not which our course.
"It steads not to strike sail, nor lash the mast,
Lowered on the gang-board, nor our castles fell;
The bark, in our despite, is hurried fast
Towards the pointed rocks about Rochelle:
Save He, above, assist us at the last,
The cruel storm will us ashore impel;
Driven thither by ill wind with mightier speed
Than ever bow-string gave to whistling reed.
"Our peril well does the Biscayan note,
And tries what often has an evil end;
Lowers down the galley's skiff, and, when afloat,
Descends into it, and makes me descend:
Two follow, and a troop would throng the boat,
Did not the first prevent them, and defend
The entrance with their naked faulchions; we
Sever the rope forthwith, and put to sea.
"Driven landward, on the shore we safely light
Who in the skiff embarked; while of our band
The rest in the split vessel sink outright;
Our goods sea-swallowed all. Upon the strand
To Eternal Love, To Goodness Infinite,
I offer up my thanks, with outstretched hand,
That I was doomed not 'mid the watery roar
To perish, nor behold Zerbino more.
"Though I had left on shipboard matters rare,
And precious in their nature, gem and vest,
So I might hope Zerbino's lot to share,
I was content the sea should have the rest.
No dwelling on the beach appears, nor there
Is any pathway seen, by footsteps pressed;
Only a hill, whose woody top is beat
By ceaseless winds, the waters bathe its feet.
"Here the fell tyrant Love, aye prompt to range,
And faithless to his every promise still,
Who watches ever how he may derange
And mar our every reasonable will,
Converts, with woeful and disastrous change,
My comfort to despair, my good to ill:
For he, in whom Zerbino put his trust,
Cooled in his loyal faith, and burned with lust.
"Whether he his desire had nursed at sea,
And had not dared exhibit it before;
Or that it sprung from opportunity,
Suggested by that solitary shore;
Without more pause, in that lone desert, he
Would sate his greedy passion; but forbore
Till he of one could rid him, of the twain,
Who in the boat with us had scaped the main.
"A man of Scotland he, Almonio hight,
Who to Zerbino seemed great faith to bear;
And as a perfect warrior by the knight,
Praised, when to Odoric given, his trust to share:
To him (the Spaniard said) it were a slight
If I unto Rochelle afoot should fare;
And prayed, that he before would thither speed,
And forward thence some hackney, for my need.
"Almonio, who in this suspects no ill,
Forthwith, before our party, wends his way
To the town, hidden by the wooded hill,
And which not more than six miles distant lay.
To the other finally his wicked will
Sir Odoric took courage to display;
As well because he could not rid him thence,
As that in him he had great confidence.
"He that remained with us, of whom I said
Before, Corebo was of Bilbao hight,
Who with him under the same roof was bred
From infancy, and the ungrateful wight
Deemed that the thought he harboured in his head,
He could impart in safety to the knight,
Who would prefer, neglected of his trust,
The pleasure of his friend to what was just.
"Not without high disdain Corebo heard
(Who kind and courteous was) the Biscayneer,
And termed him traitor; and by deed and word
Withstood the purpose of his foul compeer.
This mighty wrath in either warrior stirred;
In sign whereof their naked brands they rear.
At sight of their drawn swords, in panic, I
Turn shortly through the gloomy wood to fly.
"Sir Odoric in war well taught and bred,
Gained in few blows such vantage in the fray,
He left Corebo on the field for dead,
And, following in my steps, pursued my way.
Love lent to him (unless I am misled)
Pinions, that he might overtake his prey;
And many a prayer and glozing flattery taught,
Wherewith I to compliance might be wrought.
"But all in vain, for I was fixed and bent,
Rather than sate his ill desire, to die.
When menace had by him been vainly spent,
And every prayer and every flattery,
He would by open force his will content;
Nor boots it aught that I entreaties try; --
Of his lord's faith in him the wretch remind,
And how myself I to his hands resigned.
"When I perceived that fruitless was my prayer,
And that I could not hope for other aid;
For he assailed me like a famished bear,
With hands and feet I fierce resistance made,
As he more brutal waxed, and plucked his hair,
And with my teeth and nails his visage flayed:
This while I vent such lamentable cries,
The clamour echoes to the starry skies.
"Were they by chance conducted, or my shriek,
Which might have well been heard a league around,
(Or, was it they were wont the shore to seek,
When any vessel split or ran aground)
I saw a crowd appear upon the peak,
Which, to the sea descending, towards us wound.
Them the Biscayan say, and at the sight
Abandoned his design, and turned to flight.
"This rabble, sir, against that treacherous man
Comes to my aid; but in such guise, that I
The homely saw, of falling from the pan
Into the fire beneath, but verify.
'Tis true so lost I was not, nor that clan
Accursed with minds of such iniquity,
That they to violate my person sought;
Though nothing good or virtuous on them wrought:
"But that they knew, for me preserved a maid,
As yet I am, they higher price might crave.
Eight months are past, the ninth arrived, since, stayed
By them, alive I languish in this grave.
All hope is lost of my Zerbino's aid:
For from their speech I gather, as a slave,
I am bartered to a merchant for his gold;
By whom I to the sultan shall be sold."
The gentle damsel so her tale pursues,
While sobs and sighs oft interposing break
Her soft angelic voice, which might infuse
Compassion into asp, or venomed snake.
What time she so her piteous grief renews,
Or haply does her bitter anguish slake,
Some twenty men the gloomy cavern fill;
This armed with hunting-spear, and that with bill.
With squinting look and dark, and but one eye,
The leader of the troop, of brutish cheer
Was he, the foremost of the company;
By a blow blinded, which from nose to ear
Had cleft his jaw: when he did so descry
Seated beside the maid, that cavalier,
He turned about and said: "Lo! in the net
Another bird for whom it was not set!"
Then to the County cried: "I never knew
A man more opportune my wants to stead;
I know not whether any one to you
Perchance may have announced my pressing need
Of such fair arms, -- or you conjectured true, --
As well as of that goodly sable weed.
You verily arrived in season are
My needs (pursued the losel) to repair."
With bitter smile, upstarting on his feet,
Orlando to the ruffian made reply:
"Thou at a price at which no chapman treat,
Unmarked in merchant's books, these arms shalt buy."
With that he snatched a brand, which, full of heat
And smoke, was smouldering in the chimney nigh,
Threw it, and smote by chance the knave half blind,
Where with the nose the meeting brows confined.
The brand discharged by him, hit either brow,
But most severely on the left did smite;
For that ill feature perished by the blow,
Which was the thief's sole minister of light.
Nor is the stroke content to blind the foe;
Unsated, save it register his sprite
Among those damned souls, whom Charon keeps,
With their companions, plunged in boiling deeps.
A spacious table in mid cavern stood,
Two palms in thickness, in its figure square;
Propt on one huge, ill fashioned food and rude,
Which held the thief and all who harboured there.
Even with such freedom as his dart of wood
We mark the nimble Spaniard launch through air,
The heavy table Roland seized and threw,
Where, crowded close together, stood the crew.
One had his belly crushed, and one his breast;
Another head or arm, or leg and thigh.
Whence some were slain outright, and maimed the rest,
While he who was least injured sought to fly.
'Tis so sometimes, with heavy stone oppressed,
A knot of slimy snakes is seen to lie,
With battered heads and loins where, winter done,
They lick their scales, rejoicing in the sun.
I could not say what mischiefs these offend;
One dies, and one departs without its tail;
Another crippled cannot move an-end,
And wriggling wreathes its length without avail:
While this, whom more propitious saints befriend,
Safe through the grass drags off its slimy trail.
Dire was the stroke; yet should no wonder breed,
Since good Orlando's arm achieved the deed.
Those whom the board had little maimed or nought,
(Turpin says there were seven) in craven wise,
Their safety in their feet, yet vainly, sought;
For to the cavern's door Orlando hies.
And having them without resistance caught,
Fast with a rope their hands behind them ties;
A rope, which in the cavern on the ground,
Convenient for his purpose he had found.
He after drags them bound without the cave,
Where an old service-tree its shadow throws.
Orlando lops the branches with his glaive,
And hangs the thieves, a banquet for the crows:
Nor chain and crook for such a deed did crave:
For ready hooks the tree itself bestows,
To purge the world; where by the chin up-hung,
These, on the branches, bold Orlando strung.
The ancient woman, the assassin's friend,
Escapes when she perceives that all are dead,
And, threading that green labyrinth without end,
Laments, and plucks the hair from off her head,
By fear impelled, through paths which sore offend
Her feet, till she, beside a river's bed,
Encounters with a warrior: but to say
Who was the stranger champion I delay;
And turn to her, who to the count applied,
Praying he would not leave her there alone,
And vowed to follow whither he would guide.
Orlando her consoles in courteous tone:
And thence, when, with a wreath of roses tied
About her brows, and robed in purple gown,
On wonted journey white Aurora starts,
The paladin with Isabel departs.
Without encountering aught that might appear
Worthy of note, they wended many a day;
And finally the twain a cavalier,
As prisoner led, encountered by the way.
Who shall be told; but, tale to you as dear
Now calls me from the beaten path away;
-- Of Aymon's daughter, -- whom I left above,
Languid and lost in all the pains of love.
The beauteous lady who desires in vain,
Rogero should not his return delay,
Lies in Marseilles, from whence the paynim train
She harasses, nigh each returning day;
(What time they robbing aye, by hill and plain,
Scower fruitful Languedoc and Provence gay)
And the true duty executes aright
Of a sage leader and a valiant knight.
The time long past, she, lying in that place,
Had hoped that her Rogero would appear,
She, not beholding him in all that space,
Of many evil chances lived in fear.
One day, mid others that her woeful case
The lady wept alone, to her drew near
The dame, who with that healing ring made sound
The bosom rankling with Alcina's wound.
When her she saw, without her love returned,
(Such time elapsed, her mission incomplete),
Sore trembling, faint, and pale, her heart so yearned,
She scarce had strength to stand upon her feet.
But the enchantress kind, when she discerned
Her fear, advanced with smiles the maid to meet;
And to console her such glad visage wore
As messenger who joyful tidings bore.
"Fear not for thy Rogero: he is well
And safe (she cried), and ever worships thee,
As wonted; but thy foe, that wizard fell,
Him yet again deprives of liberty.
And it behoves thee now to climb the sell,
Would'st thou posses him, and to follow me;
For if thou wendest with me, I will lead
Whither, by thee Rogero shall be freed."
And next pursued, relating to her all
The frauds and magic of Atlantes hoar,
That wearing her fair face, who seemed the thrall
Of an ill giant, him had through the door
Of gold, enticed into the enchanted hall,
And after disappeared, the youth before;
And told how dames and cavaliers he cheats
Who thither make resort, with like deceits.
Seeing the sage, all think they see a squire,
Companion, lady-love, or absent friend;
Whatever is each several wight's desire:
Since to our scope our wishes never tend.
Hence searching every where, themselves they tire
With labour sore, and frustrate of their end;
And cannot, (so Desire and Hope deceive),
Without the missing good, that palace leave.
"As soon as thou (pursued the dame) art near
The place where he has built the magic seat,
Resembling thy Rogero in his cheer
And every look, Atlantes thee shall meet,
And make himself by his ill art appear
As suffering from some stronger arm defeat;
That thou may'st aid him in the peril feigned,
And thus among those others be detained.
"To the end thou may'st escape his ambush, where
So many and so many, thus betrayed,
Have fallen; though he Rogero seem, beware
To lend him faith, who will demand thine aid:
Nor, when the sage presents himself, forbear
To take his worthless life with lifted blade.
Nor think to slay Rogero with the blow,
But him who works thee still such cruel woe.
"Hard will it seem to slay, full well I know,
The wight, in whom Rogero you descry:
But, for truth is not in the lying show,
Trust not to sight where magic blears the eye.
Fix, ere with me you to the forest go,
To change not when the traitorous foe is nigh:
For never shall with you Rogero wive,
If weakly you the wizard leave alive."
The valorous maid with the intent to slay
The false enchanter, on her plan decides,
Snatches her arms, and follows on her way
Melissa sage, in whom she so confides,
And thus, by fruitful field or forest gray,
Her by forced journeys that enchantress guides;
And studies to beguile their weary course
Ever, as best she may, with sweet discourse:
And as the fairest topic of all those
Which might be grateful to the damsel's ear,
Her future offspring and Rogero's chose
(A race of demigods) in prince and peer.
For as Melissa all the secrets knows
Of the eternal gods who rule our sphere,
The good enchantress can discover all
Which should in many ages hence befall.
"Oh! my best guide." exclaimed the damsel bold
To the weird-woman that to aid her came,
"As thou hast many years before foretold
Men who shall glorify my race and name,
So now I pray thee, lady, to unfold
The praise and virtues of some noble dame,
If from my lineage any such shall rise."
To whom Melissa courteously replies:
"Chaste dames of thee descended I survey,
Mothers of those who wear imperial crown,
And mighty kings; the column and the stay
Of glorious realms and houses of renown.
And as thy sons will shine in arms, so they
Will no less fame deserve in female gown,
With piety and sovereign prudence graced,
And noble hearts, incomparably chaste.
"And if at length, I should relate to thee
The praise of all who from thy root ascend,
Too long my tale would hold, nor do I see
Whom I could pass, where all to fame pretend.
But from a thousand I some two or three
Will choose, because my tale may have an end.
Why was not in the cave thy wish made known,
Where I their shadows might as well have shown?
"To hear of one of thy famed race prepare,
Whom liberal studies and good works engage;
Of whom, I know not well, if she more fair
May be entitled, or more chaste and sage;
The noble-minded Isabel, who, where
It stands on Mincius' bank, in other age
Shall gild the town, of Ocnus' mother hight,
With her own glorious rays by day and night;
"Where, with her worthiest consort she will strain,
In honoured and in splendid rivalry,
Which best shall prize the virtues' goodly train,
And widest ope the gates to courtesy.
If he by Taro, and in Naples' reign,
('Tis said), from Gauls delivered Italy,
'Twill be replied. Penelope the chaste,
As such, was not beneath Ulysses placed.
"Great things and many thus I sum in few
Of this brave dame, and others leave behind:
Which when I from the vulgar herd withdrew,
Sage Merlin from the hollow stone divined.
For I should leave old Typhis out of view,
If on such sea I launched before the wind:
And with this finish my prophetic strain,
-- All blessings on her head the skies will rain.
"With her shall be her sister Beatrice,
Whose fortunes well shall with her name accord;
Who, while she lives, not only shall not miss
What good the heavens to those below afford,
But make, with her, partaker of her bliss,
First among wealthy dukes, her cherished lord;
Who shall, when she from hence receives her call,
Into the lowest depth of misery fall.
"Viscontis' serpents will be held in dread,
And Moro and Sforza, while this dame shall be,
From Hyperborean snows to billows red;
From Ind to hills, which to a double sea
Afford a passage; and, the lady dead,
To the sore mischief of all Italy,
Will with the Insubri into slavery fall;
And men shall sovereign wisdom fortune call.
"Other the same illustrious name will bear,
And who will flourish many years before.
Pannonia's garland one of these shall wear.
Another matron on the Ausonian shore,
When she shall be released from earthly care,
Men will among the blessed saints adore;
With incense will approach the dame divine,
And hang with votive images her shrine.
"The others I shall pass in silence by,
For 'twere too much (as said before) to sound
Their fame: though each might well deserve, that high
Heroic trump should in her praise be wound.
Hence the Biancas and Lucretias I
And Constances and more reserve; who found,
Or else repair, upon Italian land,
Illustrious houses with supporting hand.
"Thy race, which shall all else in this excel,
In the rare fortune of its women thrives;
Nor of its daughters' honour more I tell
Than of the lofty virtue of its wives:
And that thou may'st take note of this as well,
Which Merlin said of thy descendents' lives,
(Haply that I the story might narrate)
This I no little covet to relate.
"Of good Richarda first shall be my strain,
Mirror of chastity and fortitude,
Who, young, remains a widow, in disdain
Of fortune: (that which oft awaits the good)
Exiles, and cheated of their father's reign,
She shall behold the children of her blood
Wandering into the clutches of their foe;
Yet find at last a quittance for her woe.
"Nor sprung from the ancient root of Aragon,
I of the gorgeous queen will silent be;
Than whom more prudent or more chaste is none,
Renowned in Greek or Latin history;
Nor who so fortunate a course will run,
After that, by divine election, she
Shall with the goodly race of princes swell,
Alphonso, Hyppolite, and Isabel.
"The prudent Eleanour is this: a spray
Which will be grafted on thy happy tree.
What of the fruitful stepchild shall I say,
Who in succession next to her I see,
Lucretia Borgia? who, from day to day,
Shall wax in beauty, virtue, chastity,
And fortune, that like youthful plant will shoot,
Which into yielding soil has struck its root.
"As tin by silver, brass by gold, as Corn-
Poppy beside the deeply-crimsoning rose,
Willow by laurel evergreen, as shorn
Of light, stained glass by gem that richly glows,
-- So by this dame I honour yet unborn,
Each hitherto distinguished matron shows;
For beauty and for prudence claiming place,
And all praise-worthy excellence and grace.
"And above every other noble praise,
Which shall distinguished her alive or dead,
Is that by her shall be, through kingly ways,
Her Hercules and other children led;
Who thus the seeds of worth in early days,
To bloom in council and in camp, will shed.
For long wine's savour lingers in the wood
Of the new vessel, whether bad or good.
"Nor the step-daughter of this noble dame,
Will I, Renata, hight of France, forget,
Of Louis born, twelfth monarch of his name,
And Bretagne's pride; all virtues ever yet
Bestowed on woman, since the ruddy flame
Has warmed, or water had the power to wet,
Or overhead the circling heavens have rolled,
United in Renata I behold.
" 'Twere long to tell of Alda de Sansogna,
Or of Celano's countess in this string,
Or Blanche Maria, stiled of Catalonia;
Or her, the daughter of Sicilia's king,
Or of the beauteous Lippa de Bologna,
Or more, with whose renown the world shall ring,
To speak whose separate praise with fitting lore,
Were to attempt a sea without a shore."
When of the larger portion of her seed
The king enchantress at full ease had told,
And oft and oft rehearsed, amid the rede,
What arts Rogero to the wizard's hold
Had drawn, Melissa halted near the mead
Where stood the mansion of Atlantes old,
Nor would approach the magic dome more nigh,
Lest her the false magician should espy.
And yet again advised the martial maid,
(Counsel she had a thousand times bestowed)
Then left, Nor Bradamant through greenwood shade
More than two miles in narrow path had rode,
Before, by two fierce giants overlaid,
She saw a knight, who like Rogero showed,
So closely pressed, and labouring sore for breath,
That he appeared well nigh reduced to death.
When she beheld him in such perilous strait,
Who of Rogero all the tokens wore,
She quickly lost the faith she nourished late,
Quickly her every fair design forbore.
She weens Melissa bears Rogero hate,
For some new injury unheard before:
And with unheard of hate and wrong, her foe
Would by her hand destroy who loves him so.
She cried, "And is not this Rogero, who
Aye present to my heart, is now to sight?
If 'tis not him whom I agnize and view.
Whom e'er shall I agnize or view aright?
Why should I other's judgment deem more true
Than the belief that's warranted by sight?
Even without eyes, and by my heart alone,
If he were near or distant, would be shown."
While so the damsel thinks, a voice she hears,
Which, like Rogero's, seems for aid to cry;
At the same time, the worsted knight appears
To slack the bridle and the rowels ply:
While at full speed the goaded courser clears
His ground, pursued by either enemy.
Nor paused the dame, in following them who sought
His life, till to the enchanted palace brought.
Of which no sooner has she past the door,
Than she is cheated by the common show.
Each crooked way or straight her feet explore
Within it and without, above, below;
Nor rests she night or day, so strong the lore
Of the enchanter, who has ordered so,
She (though they still encounter and confer)
Knows not Rogero, nor Rogero her.
But leave we Bradamant, nor grieve, O ye
Who hear, that she is prisoned by the spell,
Since her in fitting time I shall set free,
And good Rogero, from the dome as well,
As taste is quickened by variety,
So it appears that, in the things I tell,
The wider here and there my story ranges,
It will be found less tedious for its changes.
Meseems that I have many threads to clear
In the great web I labour evermore;
And therefore be ye not displeased to hear
How, all dislodged, the squadrons of the Moor,
Threatening the golden lines loud, appear
In arms, the royal Agramant before:
Who bids for a review his army post,
Willing to know the numbers of his host.
For besides horse and foot, in the campaign
Sore thinned, whose numbers were to be supplied,
Had many captains, and those good, of Spain,
Of Libya, and of Aethiopia, died;
And thus the nations, and the various train,
Wandered without a ruler or a guide.
To give to each its head and order due,
The ample camp is mustered in review.
To fill the squadrons ravaged by the sword,
In those fierce battles and those conflicts dread,
This to his Spain, to his Africa that lord,
Sent to recruit, where well their files they fed;
And next distributed the paynim horde
Under their proper captains, ranged and led.
I, with your leave, till other strain, delay
The order of the muster to display.
Two squadrons lack of those which muster under
King Agramant, by single Roland slain;
Hence furious Mandricardo, full of wonder
And envy, seeks the count by hill and plain:
Next joys himself with Doralice; such plunder,
Aided by heaven, his valiant arms obtain.
Rinaldo comes, with the angel-guide before,
To Paris, now assaulted by the Moor.
In many a fierce assault and conflict dread,
'Twixt Spain and Afric and their Gallic foe,
Countless had been the slain, whose bodies fed
The ravening eagle, wolf, and greedy crow;
But though the Franks had worse in warfare sped,
Forced all the champaigne country to forego,
This had the paynims purchased at the cost
Of more good princes and bold barons lost.
So bloody was the price of victory,
Small ground was left them triumphs to prepare;
And if, unconquered Duke Alphonso, we
May modern things with ancient deeds compare,
The battle, whose illustrious palm may be
Well worthily assigned to you to wear,
At whose remembrance sad Ravenna trembles,
And aye shall weep her loss, this field resembles.
When the Calesians and the Picards yielding,
And troops of Normandy and Aquitaine,
You, with your valiant arms their squadrons shielding,
Stormed the almost victorious flags of Spain;
And those bold youths their trenchant weapons wielding,
Through parted squadrons, followed in your train;
Who on that day deserved you should accord,
For honoured gifts, the gilded spur and sword.
You, with such glorious hearts, who were not slow
To follow, nor far off, the gorgeous oak
Seized, and shook down the golden acorns so,
And so the red and yellow truncheon broke,
That we to you our festive laurels owe,
And the fair lily, rescued from its stroke;
Another wreath may round your temples bloom,
In that Fabricius you preserved to Rome.
Rome's mighty column, by your valiant hand
Taken and kept entire, more praise has shed
On you, than if the predatory band
Had routed by your single valour bled,
Of all who flocked to fat Ravenna's land,
Or masterless, without a banner fled,
Of Arragon, Castile, or of Navarre;
When vain was lance or cannon's thundering car.
This dear-bought victory brought more relief
Than joy, by its event too much outweighed,
The loss of that French captain and our chief,
Whom dead we on the fatal field surveyed;
And swallowed in one storm, for further grief,
So many glorious princes, who, arrayed
For safeguard of their own, or neighbouring lands,
Had poured through, frozen Alps their friendly bands.
Our present safety, and life held in fear,
We see assured us by this victory,
That saved us from the wintry tempest drear,
Which would have whelmed us from Jove's angry sky.
But ill can we rejoice, while yet the tear
Is standing in full many a widow's eye,
Who weeping and attired in sable, vents,
Throughout all grieving France, her loud laments.
'Tis meet King Lewis should find new supplies
Of chiefs by whom his troops may be arrayed,
Who for the lilies' honour shall chastise
The hands which so rapaciously have preyed;
Who brethren, black and white, in shameful wise,
Have outraged, sister, mother, wife, and maid,
And cast on earth Christ's sacrament divine,
With the intent to thieve his silver shrine.
Hadst thou not made resistance to thy foe,
Better, Ravenna, had it been for thee,
And thou been warned by Brescia's fate, than so
Thine should Faenza warn and Rimini.
O Lewis, bid good old Trivulzio go
With thine, and to thy bands example be,
And tell what ills such license still has bred,
Heaping our ample Italy with dead.
As the illustrious King of France has need
Of captains to supply his leaders lost,
So the two kings who Spain and Afric lead,
To give new order to the double host,
Resolve their bands should muster on the mead,
From winter lodgings moved and various post;
That they may furnish, as their wants demand,
A guide and government to every band.
Marsilius first, and after Agramant,
Passing it troop by troop their army scan.
The Catalonians, who their captain vaunt
In Doriphoebus, muster in the van;
And next, without their monarch Fulvirant,
Erst killed by good Rinaldo, comes the clan
Of bold Navarre; whose guideless band to steer
The King of Spain appoints Sir Isolier.
With Balugantes Leon's race comes on,
The Algarbi governed by Grandonio wheel.
The brother of Marsilius, Falsiron,
Brings up with him the power of Less Castile.
They follow Madarasso's gonfalon,
Who have left Malaga and fair Seville,
'Twixt fruitful Cordova and Cadiz-bay,
Where through green banks the Betis winds its way.
Stordilane, Tessira, and Baricond,
After each other, next their forces stirred;
This in Grenada, that in Lisbon crowned;
Majorca was obedient to the third.
Larbino had Lisbon ruled, whose golden round
Was at his death on Tessira conferred;
His kinsman he: Gallicia came in guide
Or Serpentine, who Mericold supplied.
They of Toledo and of Calatrave,
Who erst with Sinnagon's broad banner spread,
Marched, and the multitude who drink and lave
Their limbs in chrystal Guadiana's bed,
Came thither, under Matalista brave;
Beneath Bianzardin, their common head,
Astorga, Salamanca, Placenza,
With Avila, Zamorra, and Palenza.
The household-troops which guard Marsilius' state,
And Saragossa's men, Ferrau commands;
And in this force, well-sheathed in mail and plate,
Bold Malgarine and Balinverno stands;
Morgant and Malzarise, whom common fate
Had both condemned to dwell in foreign lands,
Who, when dethroned, had to Marsilius' court
(There hospitably harboured) made resort.
Follicon, Kind Marsilius' bastard, hies
With valiant Doricont; amid this horde,
Bavartes, Analard, and Argalise,
And Archidantes, the Saguntine lord.
Here, Malagur, in ready cunning wise,
And Ammirant and Langhiran the sword
Unsheath, and march; of whom I shall endite,
When it is time, their prowess to recite.
When so had filed the warlike host of Spain
In fair review before King Agramant,
Appeared King Oran with his martial train,
Who might almost a giant's stature vaunt;
Next they who weep their Martasino, slain
By the avenging sword of Bradamant,
King of the Garamantes, and lament
That woman triumphs in their monarch spent.
Marmonda's men next past the royal Moor,
Who left Argosto dead on Gascon meads;
And this unguided band, like that before,
As well as the fourth troop, a captain needs.
Although King Agramant has little store
Of chiefs, he feigns a choice, and thinks; next speeds
Buraldo, Ormida, and Arganio tried,
Where needing, the unordered troops to guide.
He give Arganio charge of Libicane,
Who wept the sable Dudrinasso dead.
Brunello guides the men of Tingitane,
With cloudy countenance and drooping head;
Who since he in the wooded mountain-chain
(Nigh where Atlantes dwelt), to her he led,
Fair Bradamant, had lost the virtuous ring,
Had lived in the displeasure of his king;
And but that Ferrau's brother Isolier,
Who fastened to a stem had found him there,
Made to King Agramant the truth appear,
He from the gallows-tree had swung in air:
Already fastened was the noose, and near
The caitiff's fate, when at the many's prayer
The king bade loose him; but reprieving, swore,
For his first fault to hang, offending more.
Thus, not without a cause, Brunello pined,
And showed a mournful face, and hung his head.
Next Farurantes; to whose care consigned,
Maurina's valiant horse and footmen tread.
The new-made king Libanio comes behind,
By whom are Constatina's people led:
Since Agramant the crown and staff of gold,
Once Pinador's, had given to him to hold.
Hesperia's people come with Soridan,
With Dorilon the men of Setta ride;
The Nasamonians troop with Pulian,
And Agricaltes is Ammonia's guide.
Malabupherso rules o'er Fezzan's clan,
And Finaduro leads the band supplied
By the Canary Islands and Morocco:
Balastro fills the place of king Tardocco.
Next Mulga and Arzilla's legions two.
The first beneath their ancient captains wend;
The second troop without a leader, who
Are given to Corineus, the sovereign's friend.
So (late Tanphirion's) Almonsilla's crew,
To a new monarch in Caichus bend.
Goetulia is bestowed on Rhimedont,
And Cosca comes in charge of Balinfront.
Ruled by Clarindo, Bolga's people go,
Who fills the valiant Mirabaldo's post:
Him Baliverso, whom I'd have you know
For the worst ribald in that ample host,
Succeeded next. I think not, 'mid that show,
The bannered camp a firmer troop could boast
Than that which followed in Sobrino's care;
Nor Saracen than him more wise and ware.
Gualciotto dead, Bellamarina's crew,
(His vassals) serve, the sovereign of Algiers,
King Rodomont, of Sarza; that anew
Brought up a band of foot and cavaliers:
Whom, when the cloudy sun his rays withdrew
Beneath the Centaur and the Goat, his spears
There to recruit, was sent to the Afric shore
By Agramant, returned three days before.
There was no Saracen of bolder strain,
Of all the chiefs who Moorish squadrons led;
And Paris-town (nor is the terror vain)
More of the puissant warrior stands in dread
Than of King Agramant and all the train,
Which he, or the renowned Marsilius head;
And amid all that mighty muster, more
Than others, hatred to our faith he bore.
Prusion is the Alvaracchia's king: below
King Dardinello's flag Zumara's power
Is ranged. I wot not, I, if owl or crow,
Or other bird ill-omened, which from tower
Or tree croaks future evil, did foreshow
To one or to the other, that the hour
Was fixed in heaven, when on the following day
Either should perish in this deadly fray.
Noritia's men and Tremisene's alone
Were wanting to complete the paynim host;
But in the martial muster sign was none,
Nor tale, nor tiding of the squadrons lost;
To wondering Agramant alike unknown,
What kept the slothful warriors from their post,
When of King Tremisene's a squire was brought
Before him, who at large the mischief taught;
-- Who taught how Manilardo was laid low,
Alzirdo, and many others, on the plain.
-- "Sir," said the bearer of the news, "the foe
Who slew our troop, would all thy camp have slain,
If thine assembled host had been more slow
Than me, who, as it was, escaped with pain.
This man slays horse and foot, as in the cote,
The wolf makes easy waste of sheep and goat."
Where the bold Africans their standards plant,
A warrior had arrived some days before;
Nor was there in the west, or whole Levant,
A knight, with heart or prowess gifted more.
To him much grace was done by Agramant,
As successor of Agrican, who wore
The crown of Tartary, a warrior wight;
The son the famous Mandricardo hight.
Renowned he was for many a glorious quest
Atchieved, and through the world his fame was blown.
But him had glorified above the rest
Worth in the Syrian fairy's castle shown:
Where mail, which cased the Trojan Hector's breast
A thousand years before, he made his own.
And finished that adventure, strange and fell;
A story which breeds terror but to tell.
When the squire told his news amid that show
Of troops, was present Agrican's bold son,
Who raised his daring face, resolved to go
And find the warrior who the deed had done;
But the design he hatched, forebore to show;
As making small account of any one,
Or fearing lest, should he reveal his thought,
The quest by other champion might be sought.
He of the squire demanded what the vest
And bearings, which the valiant stranger wore;
Who answered that he went without a crest,
And sable shield and sable surcoat bore.
-- And, sir, 'twas true; for so was Roland drest;
The old device renounced he had before:
For as he mourned within, so he without,
The symbols of his grief would bear about.
Marsilius had to Mandricardo sped,
As gift, a courser of a chestnut stain,
Whose legs and mane were sable; he was bred
Between a Friesland mare and nag of Spain.
King Mandricardo, armed from foot to head,
Leapt on the steed and galloped o'er the plain,
And swore upon the camp to turn his back
Till he should find the champion clad in black.
The king encounters many of the crew
Whom good Orlando's arm had put to flight;
And some a son, and some a brother rue,
Who in the rout had perished in their sight;
And in the coward's cheek of pallid hue
Is yet pourtrayed the sad and craven sprite:
-- Yet, through the fear endured, they far and nigh,
Pallid, and silent, and insensate fly.
Nor he long was had rode, ere he descried
A passing-cruel spectacle and sore;
But which the wonderous feats well testified,
That were recounted Agramant before.
Now on this hand, now that, the dead he eyed,
Measured their wounds, and turned their bodies o'er;
Moved by strange envy of the knight whose hand
Had strown the champaign with the slaughtered band.
As wolf or mastiff-dog, who comes the last
Where the remains of slaughtered bullock lie,
And finds but horn and bones, where rich repast
Had fed the ravening hound and vulture night,
Glares vainly on the scull, unsmacked; so passed
The barbarous Tartar king those bodies by;
And grudged, lamenting, like the hungry beast,
To have come too late for such a sumptuous feast.
That day, and half the next, in search he strayed
Of him who wore the sable vest and shield.
When lo! he saw a mead, o'ertopt with shade,
Where a deep river wound about the field,
With narrow space between the turns it made,
Where'er from side to side the water wheeled.
Even such a spot as this with circling waves
Below Otricoli the Tyber laves.
Where this deep stream was fordable, he scanned
A crowd of cavaliers that armour bore:
And these the paynim questioned who had manned,
With such a troop, and to what end, the shore?
To him replied the captain of the band,
Moved by his lordly air, and arms he wore,
Glittering with gold and jewels, -- costly gear,
Which showed him an illustrious cavalier.
"In charge" (he said) "we of the daughter go
Of him our king, who fills Granada's throne,
Espoused by Rodomont of Sarza, though
To fame the tidings are as yet unknown.
And we, departing when the sun is low,
And the cicala hushed, which now alone
Is heard, shall bring her where her father keeps
I' the Spanish camp; meanwhile the lady sleeps."
He who for scorn had daffed the world aside,
Designs to see at once, how able were
Those horsemen to defend the royal bride,
Committed by their sovereign to their care.
"The maid, by what I hear, is fair" (he cried).
"Fain would I now be certified, how fair:
Then me to her, or her to me convey,
For I must quickly wend another way."
"Thou needs art raving mad," replied in few
The chief, -- nor more. But with his lance in rest,
The Tartar monarch at the speaker flew,
And with the levelled spear transfixed his breast.
For the point pierced the yielding corslet through,
And lifeless he, perforce, the champaign prest.
The son of Agrican his lance regained,
Who weaponless without the spear remained.
Now sword nor club the warlike Tartar bore,
Since, when the Trojan Hector's plate and chain
He gained, because the faulchion lacked, he swore
(To this obliged), nor swore the king in vain,
That save he won the blade Orlando wore,
He would no other grasp, -- that Durindane.
Held in high value by Almontes bold,
Which Roland bears, and Hector bore of old.
Great is the Tartar monarch's daring, those
At such a disadvantage to assay,
He pricks, with levelled lance, among his foes,
Shouting, in fury, -- "Who shall bar my way?" --
Round and about him suddenly they close;
These draw the faulchion, and those others lay
The spear in rest: a multitude he slew,
Before his lance was broke upon the crew.
When this he saw was broke, the truncheon sound
And yet entire, he took, both hands between,
And with so many bodies strewed the ground,
That direr havoc never yet was seen:
And as with that jaw bone, by hazard found,
The Hebrew Samson slew the Philistine,
Crushed helm and shield; and often side by side,
Slain by the truncheon, horse and rider died.
In running to their death the wretches vie,
Nor cease because their comrades perish near:
Yet bitterer in such a mode to die,
Than death itself, does to the troop appear.
They grudge to forfeit precious life, and lie
Crushed by the fragment of a broken spear;
And think foul scorn beneath the pounding stake
Strangely to die the death of frog or snake.
But after they at their expense had read
That it was ill to die in any way,
And near two thirds were now already dead,
The rest began to fly in disarray.
As if with what was his the vanquished fled,
The cruel paynim, cheated of his prey,
Ill bore that any, from the murderous strife
Of that scared rabble, should escape with life.
As in the well-dried fen or stubble-land,
Short time the stalk endures, or stridulous reed,
Against the flames, which careful rustic's hand
Scatters when Boreas blows the fires to feed;
What time they take, and by the north-wind fanned.
Crackle and snap, and through the furrow speed;
No otherwise, with little profit, those
King Mandricardo's kindled wrath oppose.
When afterwards he marks the entrance free,
Left ill-secured, and without sentinel.
He, following prints (which had been recently
Marked on the mead), proceeds, amid the swell
Of loud laments, Granada's dame to see,
If she as beauteous were as what they tell.
He wound his way 'mid corpses, where the wave,
Winding from side to side, a passage gave:
And in the middle of the mead surveyed
Doralice (such the gentle lady's name),
Who, at the root of an old ash tree laid,
Bemoaned her: fast her lamentations came.
And tears, like plenteous vein of water, strayed
Into the beauteous bosom of the dame;
Who, (so it from her lovely face appeared,)
For others mourned, while for herself she feared.
Her fear increased when she approaching spied
Him foul with blood, and marked his felon cheer;
And piercing shrieks the very sky divide
Raised by herself and followers, in their fear.
For over and above the troop who guide
The fair infanta, squire and cavalier,
Came ancient men and matrons in her train,
And maids, the fairest of Granada's reign.
When that fair face by him of Tartary
Is seen, which has no paragon in Spain,
Where amid tears (in laughter what were she?)
Is twisted Love's inextricable chain.
He knows not if in heaven or earth he be;
Nor from his victory reaps other gain,
Than yielding up himself a thrall to her,
(He knows not why) who was his prisoner.
Yet not so far his courtesy he strained,
That he would lose his labour's fruit, although
The royal damsel showed, who sorely plained,
Such grief as women in despair can show.
He, who the hope within him entertained
To turn to sovereign joy her present woe,