Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

The Song of Roland

Part 2 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.


Out of Affrike an Affrican was come,
'Twas Malquiant, the son of king Malcud;
With beaten gold was all his armour done,
Fore all men's else it shone beneath the sun.
He sate his horse, which he called Salt-Perdut,
Never so swift was any beast could run.
And Anseis upon the shield he struck,
The scarlat with the blue he sliced it up,
Of his hauberk he's torn the folds and cut,
The steel and stock has through his body thrust.
Dead is that count, he's no more time to run.
Then say the Franks: "Baron, an evil luck!"


Swift through the field Turpin the Archbishop passed;
Such shaven-crown has never else sung Mass
Who with his limbs such prowess might compass;
To th'pagan said "God send thee all that's bad!
One thou hast slain for whom my heart is sad."
So his good horse forth at his bidding ran,
He's struck him then on his shield Toledan,
Until he flings him dead on the green grass.


From the other part was a pagan Grandones,
Son of Capuel, the king of Capadoce.
He sate his horse, the which he called Marmore,
Never so swift was any bird in course;
He's loosed the reins, and spurring on that horse
He's gone to strike Gerin with all his force;
The scarlat shield from's neck he's broken off,
And all his sark thereafter has he torn,
The ensign blue clean through his body's gone,
Until he flings him dead, on a high rock;
His companion Gerer he's slain also,
And Berenger, and Guiun of Santone;
Next a rich duke he's gone to strike, Austore,
That held Valence and the Honour of the Rhone;
He's flung him dead; great joy the pagans shew.
Then say the Franks: "Of ours how many fall."


The count Rollanz, his sword with blood is stained,
Well has he heard what way the Franks complained;
Such grief he has, his heart would split in twain:
To the pagan says: "God send thee every shame!
One hast thou slain that dearly thou'lt repay."
He spurs his horse, that on with speed doth strain;
Which should forfeit, they both together came.


Grandonie was both proof and valiant,
And virtuous, a vassal combatant.
Upon the way there, he has met Rollant;
He'd never seen, yet knew him at a glance,
By the proud face and those fine limbs he had,
By his regard, and by his contenance;
He could not help but he grew faint thereat,
He would escape, nothing avail he can.
Struck him the count, with so great virtue, that
To the nose-plate he's all the helmet cracked,
Sliced through the nose and mouth and teeth he has,
Hauberk close-mailed, and all the whole carcass,
Saddle of gold, with plates of silver flanked,
And of his horse has deeply scarred the back;
He's slain them both, they'll make no more attack:
The Spanish men in sorrow cry, "Alack!"
Then say the Franks: "He strikes well, our warrant."


Marvellous is the battle in its speed,
The Franks there strike with vigour and with heat,
Cutting through wrists and ribs and chines in-deed,
Through garments to the lively flesh beneath;
On the green grass the clear blood runs in streams.
The pagans say: "No more we'll suffer, we.
Terra Major, Mahummet's curse on thee!
Beyond all men thy people are hardy!"
There was not one but cried then: "Marsilie,
Canter, O king, thy succour now we need!"


Marvellous is the battle now and grand,
The Franks there strike, their good brown spears in hand.
Then had you seen such sorrowing of clans,
So many a slain, shattered and bleeding man!
Biting the earth, or piled there on their backs!
The Sarrazins cannot such loss withstand.
Will they or nill, from off the field draw back;
By lively force chase them away the Franks.


Their martyrdom, his men's, Marsile has seen,
So he bids sound his horns and his buccines;
Then canters forth with all his great army.
Canters before a Sarrazin, Abisme,
More felon none was in that company;
Cankered with guile and every felony,
He fears not God, the Son of Saint Mary;
Black is that man as molten pitch that seethes;
Better he loves murder and treachery
Than to have all the gold of Galicie;
Never has man beheld him sport for glee;
Yet vassalage he's shown, and great folly,
So is he dear to th' felon king Marsile;
Dragon he bears, to which his tribe rally.
That Archbishop could never love him, he;
Seeing him there, to strike he's very keen,
Within himself he says all quietly:
"This Sarrazin great heretick meseems,
Rather I'ld die, than not slay him clean,
Neer did I love coward nor cowardice."


That Archbishop begins the fight again,
Sitting the horse which he took from Grossaille
-- That was a king he had in Denmark slain; --
That charger is swift and of noble race;
Fine are his hooves, his legs are smooth and straight,
Short are his thighs, broad crupper he displays,
Long are his ribs, aloft his spine is raised,
White is his tail and yellow is his mane,
Little his ears, and tawny all his face;
No beast is there, can match him in a race.
That Archbishop spurs on by vassalage,
He will not pause ere Abisme he assail;
So strikes that shield, is wonderfully arrayed,
Whereon are stones, amethyst and topaze,
Esterminals and carbuncles that blaze;
A devil's gift it was, in Val Metase,
Who handed it to the admiral Galafes;
So Turpin strikes, spares him not anyway;
After that blow, he's worth no penny wage;
The carcass he's sliced, rib from rib away,
So flings him down dead in an empty place.
Then say the Franks: "He has great vassalage,
With the Archbishop, surely the Cross is safe."


The count Rollanz calls upon Oliver:
"Sir companion, witness you'll freely bear,
The Archbishop is a right good chevalier,
None better is neath Heaven anywhere;
Well can he strike with lance and well with spear."
Answers that count: "Support to him we'll bear!"
Upon that word the Franks again make yare;
Hard are the blows, slaughter and suffering there,
For Christians too, most bitter grief and care.
Who could had seen Rollanz and Oliver
With their good swords to strike and to slaughter!
And the Archbishop lays on there with his spear.
Those that are dead, men well may hold them dear.
In charters and in briefs is written clear,
Four thousand fell, and more, the tales declare.
Gainst four assaults easily did they fare,
But then the fifth brought heavy griefs to bear.
They all are slain, those Frankish chevaliers;
Only three-score, whom God was pleased to spare,
Before these die, they'll sell them very dear.


The count Rollant great loss of his men sees,
His companion Olivier calls, and speaks:
"Sir and comrade, in God's Name, That you keeps,
Such good vassals you see lie here in heaps;
For France the Douce, fair country, may we weep,
Of such barons long desolate she'll be.
Ah! King and friend, wherefore are you not here?
How, Oliver, brother, can we achieve?
And by what means our news to him repeat?"
Says Oliver: "I know not how to seek;
Rather I'ld die than shame come of this feat."


Then says Rollanz: "I'll wind this olifant,
If Charles hear, where in the pass he stands,
I pledge you now they will return, the Franks."
Says Oliver: "Great shame would come of that
And a reproach on every one, your clan,
That shall endure while each lives in the land,
When I implored, you would not do this act;
Doing it now, no raise from me you'll have:
So wind your horn but not by courage rash,
Seeing that both your arms with blood are splashed."
Answers that count: "Fine blows I've struck them back."


Then says Rollant: "Strong it is now, our battle;
I'll wind my horn, so the King hears it, Charles."
Says Oliver: "That act were not a vassal's.
When I implored you, comrade, you were wrathful.
Were the King here, we had not borne such damage.
Nor should we blame those with him there, his army."
Says Oliver: "Now by my beard, hereafter
If I may see my gentle sister Alde,
She in her arms, I swear, shall never clasp you."


Then says Rollanz: "Wherefore so wroth with me?"
He answers him: "Comrade, it was your deed:
Vassalage comes by sense, and not folly;
Prudence more worth is than stupidity.
Here are Franks dead, all for your trickery;
No more service to Carlun may we yield.
My lord were here now, had you trusted me,
And fought and won this battle then had we,
Taken or slain were the king Marsilie.
In your prowess, Rollanz, no good we've seen!
Charles the great in vain your aid will seek --
None such as he till God His Judgement speak; --
Here must you die, and France in shame be steeped;
Here perishes our loyal company,
Before this night great severance and grief."


That Archbishop has heard them, how they spoke,
His horse he pricks with his fine spurs of gold,
Coming to them he takes up his reproach:
"Sir Oliver, and you, Sir Rollant, both,
For God I pray, do not each other scold!
No help it were to us, the horn to blow,
But, none the less, it may be better so;
The King will come, with vengeance that he owes;
These Spanish men never away shall go.
Our Franks here, each descending from his horse,
Will find us dead, and limb from body torn;
They'll take us hence, on biers and litters borne;
With pity and with grief for us they'll mourn;
They'll bury each in some old minster-close;
No wolf nor swine nor dog shall gnaw our bones."
Answers Rollant: "Sir, very well you spoke."


Rollant hath set the olifant to his mouth,
He grasps it well, and with great virtue sounds.
High are those peaks, afar it rings and loud,
Thirty great leagues they hear its echoes mount.
So Charles heard, and all his comrades round;
Then said that King: "Battle they do, our counts!"
And Guenelun answered, contrarious:
"That were a lie, in any other mouth."


The Count Rollanz, with sorrow and with pangs,
And with great pain sounded his olifant:
Out of his mouth the clear blood leaped and ran,
About his brain the very temples cracked.
Loud is its voice, that horn he holds in hand;
Charles hath heard, where in the pass he stands,
And Neimes hears, and listen all the Franks.
Then says the King: "I hear his horn, Rollant's;
He'ld never sound, but he were in combat."
Answers him Guenes "It is no battle, that.
Now are you old, blossoming white and blanched,
Yet by such words you still appear infant.
You know full well the great pride of Rollant
Marvel it is, God stays so tolerant.
Noples he took, not waiting your command;
Thence issued forth the Sarrazins, a band
With vassalage had fought against Rollant;
A He slew them first, with Durendal his brand,
Then washed their blood with water from the land;
So what he'd done might not be seen of man.
He for a hare goes all day, horn in hand;
Before his peers in foolish jest he brags.
No race neath heav'n in field him dare attack.
So canter on! Nay, wherefore hold we back?
Terra Major is far away, our land."


The count Rollanz, though blood his mouth doth stain,
And burst are both the temples of his brain,
His olifant he sounds with grief and pain;
Charles hath heard, listen the Franks again.
"That horn," the King says, "hath a mighty strain!"
Answers Duke Neimes: "A baron blows with pain!
Battle is there, indeed I see it plain,
He is betrayed, by one that still doth feign.
Equip you, sir, cry out your old refrain,
That noble band, go succour them amain!
Enough you've heard how Rollant doth complain."


That Emperour hath bid them sound their horns.
The Franks dismount, and dress themselves for war,
Put hauberks on, helmets and golden swords;
Fine shields they have, and spears of length and force
Scarlat and blue and white their ensigns float.
His charger mounts each baron of the host;
They spur with haste as through the pass they go.
Nor was there one but thus to 's neighbour spoke:
"Now, ere he die, may we see Rollant, so
Ranged by his side we'll give some goodly blows."
But what avail? They've stayed too long below.


That even-tide is light as was the day;
Their armour shines beneath the sun's clear ray,
Hauberks and helms throw off a dazzling flame,
And blazoned shields, flowered in bright array,
Also their spears, with golden ensigns gay.
That Emperour, he canters on with rage,
And all the Franks with wonder and dismay;
There is not one can bitter tears restrain,
And for Rollant they're very sore afraid.
The King has bid them seize that county Guene,
And charged with him the scullions of his train;
The master-cook he's called, Besgun by name:
"Guard me him well, his felony is plain,
Who in my house vile treachery has made."
He holds him, and a hundred others takes
From the kitchen, both good and evil knaves;
Then Guenes beard and both his cheeks they shaved,
And four blows each with their closed fists they gave,
They trounced him well with cudgels and with staves,
And on his neck they clasped an iron chain;
So like a bear enchained they held him safe,
On a pack-mule they set him in his shame:
Kept him till Charles should call for him again.


High were the peaks and shadowy and grand,
The valleys deep, the rivers swiftly ran.
Trumpets they blew in rear and in the van,
Till all again answered that olifant.
That Emperour canters with fury mad,
And all the Franks dismay and wonder have;
There is not one but weeps and waxes sad
And all pray God that He will guard Rollant
Till in the field together they may stand;
There by his side they'll strike as well they can.
But what avail? No good there is in that;
They're not in time; too long have they held back.


In his great rage on canters Charlemagne;
Over his sark his beard is flowing plain.
Barons of France, in haste they spur and strain;
There is not one that can his wrath contain
That they are not with Rollant the Captain,
Whereas he fights the Sarrazins of Spain.
If he be struck, will not one soul remain.
-- God! Sixty men are all now in his train!
Never a king had better Capitains.


Rollant regards the barren mountain-sides;
Dead men of France, he sees so many lie,
And weeps for them as fits a gentle knight:
"Lords and barons, may God to you be kind!
And all your souls redeem for Paradise!
And let you there mid holy flowers lie!
Better vassals than you saw never I.
Ever you've served me, and so long a time,
By you Carlon hath conquered kingdoms wide;
That Emperour reared you for evil plight!
Douce land of France, o very precious clime,
Laid desolate by such a sour exile!
Barons of France, for me I've seen you die,
And no support, no warrant could I find;
God be your aid, Who never yet hath lied!
I must not fail now, brother, by your side;
Save I be slain, for sorrow shall I die.
Sir companion, let us again go strike!"


The count Rollanz, back to the field then hieing
Holds Durendal, and like a vassal striking
Faldrun of Pui has through the middle sliced,
With twenty-four of all they rated highest;
Was never man, for vengeance shewed such liking.
Even as a stag before the hounds goes flying,
Before Rollanz the pagans scatter, frightened.
Says the Archbishop: "You deal now very wisely!
Such valour should he shew that is bred knightly,
And beareth arms, and a good charger rideth;
In battle should be strong and proud and sprightly;
Or otherwise he is not worth a shilling,
Should be a monk in one of those old minsters,
Where, day, by day, he'ld pray for us poor sinners."
Answers Rollant: "Strike on; no quarter give them!"
Upon these words Franks are again beginning;
Very great loss they suffer then, the Christians.


The man who knows, for him there's no prison,
In such a fight with keen defence lays on;
Wherefore the Franks are fiercer than lions.
Marsile you'd seen go as a brave baron,
Sitting his horse, the which he calls Gaignon;
He spurs it well, going to strike Bevon,
That was the lord of Beaune and of Dijon,
His shield he breaks, his hauberk has undone,
So flings him dead, without condition;
Next he hath slain Yvoerie and Ivon,
Also with them Gerard of Russillon.
The count Rollanz, being not far him from,
To th'pagan says: "Confound thee our Lord God!
So wrongfully you've slain my companions,
A blow you'll take, ere we apart be gone,
And of my sword the name I'll bid you con."
He goes to strike him, as a brave baron,
And his right hand the count clean slices off;
Then takes the head of Jursaleu the blond;
That was the son of king Marsilion.
Pagans cry out "Assist us now, Mahom!
God of our race, avenge us on Carlon!
Into this land he's sent us such felons
That will not leave the fight before they drop."
Says each to each: "Nay let us fly!" Upon
That word, they're fled, an hundred thousand gone;
Call them who may, they'll never more come on.


But what avail? Though fled be Marsilies,
He's left behind his uncle, the alcaliph
Who holds Alferne, Kartagene, Garmalie,
And Ethiope, a cursed land indeed;
The blackamoors from there are in his keep,
Broad in the nose they are and flat in the ear,
Fifty thousand and more in company.
These canter forth with arrogance and heat,
Then they cry out the pagans' rallying-cheer;
And Rollant says: "Martyrdom we'll receive;
Not long to live, I know it well, have we;
Felon he's named that sells his body cheap!
Strike on, my lords, with burnished swords and keen;
Contest each inch your life and death between,
That neer by us Douce France in shame be steeped.
When Charles my lord shall come into this field,
Such discipline of Sarrazins he'll see,
For one of ours he'll find them dead fifteen;
He will not fail, but bless us all in peace."


When Rollant sees those misbegotten men,
Who are more black than ink is on the pen
With no part white, only their teeth except,
Then says that count: "I know now very well
That here to die we're bound, as I can tell.
Strike on, the Franks! For so I recommend."
Says Oliver: "Who holds back, is condemned!"
Upon those words, the Franks to strike again.


Franks are but few; which, when the pagans know,
Among themselves comfort and pride they shew;
Says each to each: "Wrong was that Emperor."
Their alcaliph upon a sorrel rode,
And pricked it well with both his spurs of gold;
Struck Oliver, behind, on the back-bone,
His hauberk white into his body broke,
Clean through his breast the thrusting spear he drove;
After he said: "You've borne a mighty blow.
Charles the great should not have left you so;
He's done us wrong, small thanks to him we owe;
I've well avenged all ours on you alone."


Oliver feels that he to die is bound,
Holds Halteclere, whose steel is rough and brown,
Strikes the alcaliph on his helm's golden mount;
Flowers and stones fall clattering to the ground,
Slices his head, to th'small teeth in his mouth;
So brandishes his blade and flings him down;
After he says: "Pagan, accurst be thou!
Thou'lt never say that Charles forsakes me now;
Nor to thy wife, nor any dame thou'st found,
Thou'lt never boast, in lands where thou wast crowned,
One pennyworth from me thou'st taken out,
Nor damage wrought on me nor any around."
After, for aid, "Rollant!" he cries aloud.


Oliver feels that death is drawing nigh;
To avenge himself he hath no longer time;
Through the great press most gallantly he strikes,
He breaks their spears, their buckled shields doth slice,
Their feet, their fists, their shoulders and their sides,
Dismembers them: whoso had seen that sigh,
Dead in the field one on another piled,
Remember well a vassal brave he might.
Charles ensign he'll not forget it quite;
Aloud and clear "Monjoie" again he cries.
To call Rollanz, his friend and peer, he tries:
"My companion, come hither to my side.
With bitter grief we must us now divide."


Then Rollant looked upon Olivier's face;
Which was all wan and colourless and pale,
While the clear blood, out of his body sprayed,
Upon the ground gushed forth and ran away.
"God!" said that count, "What shall I do or say?
My companion, gallant for such ill fate!
Neer shall man be, against thee could prevail.
Ah! France the Douce, henceforth art thou made waste
Of vassals brave, confounded and disgraced!
Our Emperour shall suffer damage great."
And with these words upon his horse he faints.


You'd seen Rollant aswoon there in his seat,
And Oliver, who unto death doth bleed,
So much he's bled, his eyes are dim and weak;
Nor clear enough his vision, far or near,
To recognise whatever man he sees;
His companion, when each the other meets,
Above the helm jewelled with gold he beats,
Slicing it down from there to the nose-piece,
But not his head; he's touched not brow nor cheek.
At such a blow Rollant regards him keen,
And asks of him, in gentle tones and sweet:
"To do this thing, my comrade, did you mean?
This is Rollanz, who ever held you dear;
And no mistrust was ever us between."
Says Oliver: "Now can I hear you speak;
I see you not: may the Lord God you keep!
I struck you now: and for your pardon plead."
Answers Rollanz: "I am not hurt, indeed;
I pardon you, before God's Throne and here."
Upon these words, each to the other leans;
And in such love you had their parting seen.


Oliver feels death's anguish on him now;
And in his head his two eyes swimming round;
Nothing he sees; he hears not any sound;
Dismounting then, he kneels upon the ground,
Proclaims his sins both firmly and aloud,
Clasps his two hands, heavenwards holds them out,
Prays God himself in Paradise to allow;
Blessings on Charles, and on Douce France he vows,
And his comrade, Rollanz, to whom he's bound.
Then his heart fails; his helmet nods and bows;
Upon the earth he lays his whole length out:
And he is dead, may stay no more, that count.
Rollanz the brave mourns him with grief profound;
Nowhere on earth so sad a man you'd found.


So Rollant's friend is dead whom when he sees
Face to the ground, and biting it with's teeth,
Begins to mourn in language very sweet:
"Unlucky, friend, your courage was indeed!
Together we have spent such days and years;
No harmful thing twixt thee and me has been.
Now thou art dead, and all my life a grief."
And with these words again he swoons, that chief,
Upon his horse, which he calls Veillantif;
Stirrups of gold support him underneath;
He cannot fall, whichever way he lean.


Soon as Rollant his senses won and knew,
Recovering and turning from that swoon.
Bitter great loss appeared there in his view:
Dead are the Franks; he'd all of them to lose,
Save the Archbishop, and save Gualter del Hum;
He is come down out of the mountains, who
Gainst Spanish men made there a great ado;
Dead are his men, for those the pagans slew;
Will he or nill, along the vales he flew,
And called Rollant, to bring him succour soon:
"Ah! Gentle count, brave soldier, where are you?
For By thy side no fear I ever knew.
Gualter it is, who conquered Maelgut,
And nephew was to hoary old Drouin;
My vassalage thou ever thoughtest good.
Broken my spear, and split my shield in two;
Gone is the mail that on my hauberk grew;
This body of mine eight lances have gone through;
I'm dying. Yet full price for life I took."
Rollant has heard these words and understood,
Has spurred his horse, and on towards him drew.


Grief gives Rollanz intolerance and pride;
Through the great press he goes again to strike;
To slay a score of Spaniards he contrives,
Gualter has six, the Archbishop other five.
The pagans say: "Men, these, of felon kind!
Lordings, take care they go not hence alive!
Felon he's named that does not break their line,
Recreant, who lets them any safety find!"
And so once more begin the hue and cry,
From every part they come to break the line.


Count Rollant is a noble and brave soldier,
Gualter del Hum's a right good chevalier,
That Archbishop hath shewn good prowess there;
None of them falls behind the other pair;
Through the great press, pagans they strike again.
Come on afoot a thousand Sarrazens,
And on horseback some forty thousand men.
But well I know, to approach they never dare;
Lances and spears they poise to hurl at them,
Arrows, barbs, darts and javelins in the air.
With the first flight they've slain our Gualtier;
Turpin of Reims has all his shield broken,
And cracked his helm; he's wounded in the head,
From his hauberk the woven mail they tear,
In his body four spear-wounds doth he bear;
Beneath him too his charger's fallen dead.
Great grief it was, when that Archbishop fell.


Turpin of Reims hath felt himself undone,
Since that four spears have through his body come;
Nimble and bold upon his feet he jumps;
Looks for Rollant, and then towards him runs,
Saying this word: "I am not overcome.
While life remains, no good vassal gives up."
He's drawn Almace, whose steel was brown and rough,
Through the great press a thousand blows he's struck:
As Charles said, quarter he gave to none;
He found him there, four hundred else among,
Wounded the most, speared through the middle some,
Also there were from whom the heads he'd cut:
So tells the tale, he that was there says thus,
The brave Saint Giles, whom God made marvellous,
Who charters wrote for th' Minster at Loum;
Nothing he's heard that does not know this much.


The count Rollanz has nobly fought and well,
But he is hot, and all his body sweats;
Great pain he has, and trouble in his head,
His temples burst when he the horn sounded;
But he would know if Charles will come to them,
Takes the olifant, and feebly sounds again.
That Emperour stood still and listened then:
"My lords," said he, "Right evilly we fare!
This day Rollanz, my nephew shall be dead:
I hear his horn, with scarcely any breath.
Nimbly canter, whoever would be there!
Your trumpets sound, as many as ye bear!"
Sixty thousand so loud together blare,
The mountains ring, the valleys answer them.
The pagans hear, they think it not a jest;
Says each to each: "Carlum doth us bestead."


The pagans say: "That Emperour's at hand,
We hear their sound, the trumpets of the Franks;
If Charles come, great loss we then shall stand,
And wars renewed, unless we slay Rollant;
All Spain we'll lose, our own clear father-land."
Four hundred men of them in helmets stand;
The best of them that might be in their ranks
Make on Rollanz a grim and fierce attack;
Gainst these the count had well enough in hand.


The count Rollanz, when their approach he sees
Is grown so bold and manifest and fierce
So long as he's alive he will not yield.
He sits his horse, which men call Veillantif,
Pricking him well with golden spurs beneath,
Through the great press he goes, their line to meet,
And by his side is the Archbishop Turpin.
"Now, friend, begone!" say pagans, each to each;
"These Frankish men, their horns we plainly hear
Charle is at hand, that King in Majesty."


The count Rollanz has never loved cowards,
Nor arrogant, nor men of evil heart,
Nor chevalier that was not good vassal.
That Archbishop, Turpins, he calls apart:
"Sir, you're afoot, and I my charger have;
For love of you, here will I take my stand,
Together we'll endure things good and bad;
I'll leave you not, for no incarnate man:
We'll give again these pagans their attack;
The better blows are those from Durendal."
Says the Archbishop: "Shame on him that holds back!
Charle is at hand, full vengeance he'll exact."


The pagans say: "Unlucky were we born!
An evil day for us did this day dawn!
For we have lost our peers and all our lords.
Charles his great host once more upon us draws,
Of Frankish men we plainly hear the horns,
"Monjoie " they cry, and great is their uproar.
The count Rollant is of such pride and force
He'll never yield to man of woman born;
Let's aim at him, then leave him on the spot!"
And aim they did: with arrows long and short,
Lances and spears and feathered javelots;
Count Rollant's shield they've broken through and bored,
The woven mail have from his hauberk torn,
But not himself, they've never touched his corse;
Veillantif is in thirty places gored,
Beneath the count he's fallen dead, that horse.
Pagans are fled, and leave him on the spot;
The count Rollant stands on his feet once more.


Pagans are fled, enangered and enraged,
Home into Spain with speed they make their way;
The count Rollanz, he has not given chase,
For Veillantif, his charger, they have slain;
Will he or nill, on foot he must remain.
To the Archbishop, Turpins, he goes with aid;
I He's from his head the golden helm unlaced,
Taken from him his white hauberk away,
And cut the gown in strips, was round his waist;
On his great wounds the pieces of it placed,
Then to his heart has caught him and embraced;
On the green grass he has him softly laid,
Most sweetly then to him has Rollant prayed:
"Ah! Gentle sir, give me your leave, I say;
Our companions, whom we so dear appraised,
Are now all dead; we cannot let them stay;
I will go seek and bring them to this place,
Arrange them here in ranks, before your face."
Said the Archbishop: "Go, and return again.
This field is yours and mine now; God be praised!"


So Rollanz turns; through the field, all alone,
Searching the vales and mountains, he is gone;
He finds Gerin, Gerers his companion,
Also he finds Berenger and Otton,
There too he finds Anseis and Sanson,
And finds Gerard the old, of Rossillon;
By one and one he's taken those barons,
To the Archbishop with each of them he comes,
Before his knees arranges every one.
That Archbishop, he cannot help but sob,
He lifts his hand, gives benediction;
After he's said: "Unlucky, Lords, your lot!
But all your souls He'll lay, our Glorious God,
In Paradise, His holy flowers upon!
For my own death such anguish now I've got;
I shall not see him, our rich Emperor."


So Rollant turns, goes through the field in quest;
His companion Olivier finds at length;
He has embraced him close against his breast,
To the Archbishop returns as he can best;
Upon a shield he's laid him, by the rest;
And the Archbishop has them absolved and blest:
Whereon his grief and pity grow afresh.
Then says Rollanz: "Fair comrade Olivier,
You were the son of the good count Reinier,
Who held the march by th' Vale of Runier;
To shatter spears, through buckled shields to bear,
And from hauberks the mail to break and tear,
Proof men to lead, and prudent counsel share,
Gluttons in field to frighten and conquer,
No land has known a better chevalier."


The count Rollanz, when dead he saw his peers,
And Oliver, he held so very dear,
Grew tender, and began to shed a tear;
Out of his face the colour disappeared;
No longer could he stand, for so much grief,
Will he or nill, he swooned upon the field.
Said the Archbishop: "Unlucky lord, indeed!"


When the Archbishop beheld him swoon, Rollant,
Never before such bitter grief he'd had;
Stretching his hand, he took that olifant.
Through Rencesvals a little river ran;
He would go there, fetch water for Rollant.
Went step by step, to stumble soon began,
So feeble he is, no further fare he can,
For too much blood he's lost, and no strength has;
Ere he has crossed an acre of the land,
His heart grows faint, he falls down forwards and
Death comes to him with very cruel pangs.


The count Rollanz wakes from his swoon once more,
Climbs to his feet; his pains are very sore;
Looks down the vale, looks to the hills above;
On the green grass, beyond his companions,
He sees him lie, that noble old baron;
'Tis the Archbishop, whom in His name wrought God;
There he proclaims his sins, and looks above;
Joins his two hands, to Heaven holds them forth,
And Paradise prays God to him to accord.
Dead is Turpin, the warrior of Charlon.
In battles great and very rare sermons
Against pagans ever a champion.
God grant him now His Benediction!


The count Rollant sees the Archbishop lie dead,
Sees the bowels out of his body shed,
And sees the brains that surge from his forehead;
Between his two arm-pits, upon his breast,
Crossways he folds those hands so white and fair.
Then mourns aloud, as was the custom there:
"Thee, gentle sir, chevalier nobly bred,
To the Glorious Celestial I commend;
Neer shall man be, that will Him serve so well;
Since the Apostles was never such prophet,
To hold the laws and draw the hearts of men.
Now may your soul no pain nor sorrow ken,
Finding the gates of Paradise open!"


Then Rollanz feels that death to him draws near,
For all his brain is issued from his ears;
He prays to God that He will call the peers,
Bids Gabriel, the angel, t' himself appear.
Takes the olifant, that no reproach shall hear,
And Durendal in the other hand he wields;
Further than might a cross-bow's arrow speed
Goes towards Spain into a fallow-field;
Climbs on a cliff; where, under two fair trees,
Four terraces, of marble wrought, he sees.
There he falls down, and lies upon the green;
He swoons again, for death is very near.


High are the peaks, the trees are very high.
Four terraces of polished marble shine;
On the green grass count Rollant swoons thereby.
A Sarrazin him all the time espies,
Who feigning death among the others hides;
Blood hath his face and all his body dyed;
He gets afoot, running towards him hies;
Fair was he, strong and of a courage high;
A mortal hate he's kindled in his pride.
He's seized Rollant, and the arms, were at his side,
"Charles nephew," he's said, "here conquered lies.
To Araby I'll bear this sword as prize."
As he drew it, something the count descried.


So Rollant felt his sword was taken forth,
Opened his eyes, and this word to him spoke
"Thou'rt never one of ours, full well I know."
Took the olifant, that he would not let go,
Struck him on th' helm, that jewelled was with gold,
And broke its steel, his skull and all his bones,
Out of his head both the two eyes he drove;
Dead at his feet he has the pagan thrown:
After he's said: "Culvert, thou wert too bold,
Or right or wrong, of my sword seizing hold!
They'll dub thee fool, to whom the tale is told.
But my great one, my olifant I broke;
Fallen from it the crystal and the gold."


Then Rollanz feels that he has lost his sight,
Climbs to his feet, uses what strength he might;
In all his face the colour is grown white.
In front of him a great brown boulder lies;
Whereon ten blows with grief and rage he strikes;
The steel cries out, but does not break outright;
And the count says: "Saint Mary, be my guide
Good Durendal, unlucky is your plight!
I've need of you no more; spent is my pride!
We in the field have won so many fights,
Combating through so many regions wide
That Charles holds, whose beard is hoary white!
Be you not his that turns from any in flight!
A good vassal has held you this long time;
Never shall France the Free behold his like."


Rollant hath struck the sardonyx terrace;
The steel cries out, but broken is no ways.
So when he sees he never can it break,
Within himself begins he to complain:
"Ah! Durendal, white art thou, clear of stain!
Beneath the sun reflecting back his rays!
In Moriane was Charles, in the vale,
When from heaven God by His angel bade
Him give thee to a count and capitain;
Girt thee on me that noble King and great.
I won for him with thee Anjou, Bretaigne,
And won for him with thee Peitou, the Maine,
And Normandy the free for him I gained,
Also with thee Provence and Equitaigne,
And Lumbardie and all the whole Romaigne,
I won Baivere, all Flanders in the plain,
Also Burguigne and all the whole Puillane,
Costentinnople, that homage to him pays;
In Saisonie all is as he ordains;
With thee I won him Scotland, Ireland, Wales,
England also, where he his chamber makes;
Won I with thee so many countries strange
That Charles holds, whose beard is white with age!
For this sword's sake sorrow upon me weighs,
Rather I'ld die, than it mid pagans stay.
Lord God Father, never let France be shamed!"


Rollant his stroke on a dark stone repeats,
And more of it breaks off than I can speak.
The sword cries out, yet breaks not in the least,
Back from the blow into the air it leaps.
Destroy it can he not; which when he sees,
Within himself he makes a plaint most sweet.
"Ah! Durendal, most holy, fair indeed!
Relics enough thy golden hilt conceals:
Saint Peter's Tooth, the Blood of Saint Basile,
Some of the Hairs of my Lord, Saint Denise,
Some of the Robe, was worn by Saint Mary.
It is not right that pagans should thee seize,
For Christian men your use shall ever be.
Nor any man's that worketh cowardice!
Many broad lands with you have I retrieved
Which Charles holds, who hath the great white beard;
Wherefore that King so proud and rich is he."


But Rollant felt that death had made a way
Down from his head till on his heart it lay;
Beneath a pine running in haste he came,
On the green grass he lay there on his face;
His olifant and sword beneath him placed,
Turning his head towards the pagan race,
Now this he did, in truth, that Charles might say
(As he desired) and all the Franks his race; --
'Ah, gentle count; conquering he was slain!' --
He owned his faults often and every way,
And for his sins his glove to God upraised.


But Rollant feels he's no more time to seek;
Looking to Spain, he lies on a sharp peak,
And with one hand upon his breast he beats:
"Mea Culpa! God, by Thy Virtues clean
Me from my sins, the mortal and the mean,
Which from the hour that I was born have been
Until this day, when life is ended here!"
Holds out his glove towards God, as he speaks
Angels descend from heaven on that scene.


The count Rollanz, beneath a pine he sits,;
Turning his eyes towards Spain, he begins
Remembering so many divers things:
So many lands where he went conquering,
And France the Douce, the heroes of his kin,
And Charlemagne, his lord who nourished him.
Nor can he help but weep and sigh at this.
But his own self, he's not forgotten him,
He owns his faults, and God's forgiveness bids:
"Very Father, in Whom no falsehood is,
Saint Lazaron from death Thou didst remit,
And Daniel save from the lions' pit;
My soul in me preserve from all perils
And from the sins I did in life commit!"
His right-hand glove, to God he offers it
Saint Gabriel from's hand hath taken it.
Over his arm his head bows down and slips,
He joins his hands: and so is life finish'd.
God sent him down His angel cherubin,
And Saint Michael, we worship in peril;
And by their side Saint Gabriel alit;
So the count's soul they bare to Paradis.


Rollant is dead; his soul to heav'n God bare.
That Emperour to Rencesvals doth fare.
There was no path nor passage anywhere
Nor of waste ground no ell nor foot to spare
Without a Frank or pagan lying there.
Charles cries aloud: "Where are you, nephew fair?
Where's the Archbishop and that count Oliviers?
Where is Gerins and his comrade Gerers?
Otes the Duke, and the count Berengiers
And Ivorie, and Ive, so dear they were?
What is become of Gascon Engelier,
Sansun the Duke and Anseis the fierce?
Where's old Gerard of Russillun; oh, where
The dozen peers I left behind me here?"
But what avail, since none can answer bear?
"God!" says the King, "Now well may I despair,
I was not here the first assault to share!"
Seeming enraged, his beard the King doth tear.
Weep from their eyes barons and chevaliers,
A thousand score, they swoon upon the earth;
Duke Neimes for them was moved with pity rare.


No chevalier nor baron is there, who
Pitifully weeps not for grief and dule;
They mourn their sons, their brothers, their nephews,
And their liege lords, and trusty friends and true;
Upon the ground a many of them swoon.
Thereon Duke Neimes doth act with wisdom proof,
First before all he's said to the Emperour:
"See beforehand, a league from us or two,
From the highways dust rising in our view;
Pagans are there, and many them, too.
Canter therefore! Vengeance upon them do!"
"Ah, God!" says Charles, "so far are they re-moved!
Do right by me, my honour still renew!
They've torn from me the flower of France the Douce."
The King commands Gebuin and Otun,
Tedbalt of Reims, also the count Milun:
"Guard me this field, these hills and valleys too,
Let the dead lie, all as they are, unmoved,
Let not approach lion, nor any brute,
Let not approach esquire, nor any groom;
For I forbid that any come thereto,
Until God will that we return anew."
These answer him sweetly, their love to prove:
"Right Emperour, dear Sire, so will we do."
A thousand knights they keep in retinue.


That Emperour bids trumpets sound again,
Then canters forth with his great host so brave.
Of Spanish men, whose backs are turned their way,
Franks one and all continue in their chase.
When the King sees the light at even fade,
On the green grass dismounting as he may,
He kneels aground, to God the Lord doth pray
That the sun's course He will for him delay,
Put off the night, and still prolong the day.
An angel then, with him should reason make,
Nimbly enough appeared to him and spake:
"Charles, canter on! Light needst not thou await.
The flower of France, as God knows well, is slain;
Thou canst be avenged upon that crimeful race."
Upon that word mounts the Emperour again.


For Charlemagne a great marvel God planned:
Making the sun still in his course to stand.
So pagans fled, and chased them well the Franks
Through the Valley of Shadows, close in hand;
Towards Sarraguce by force they chased them back,
And as they went with killing blows attacked:
Barred their highways and every path they had.
The River Sebre before them reared its bank,
'Twas very deep, marvellous current ran;
No barge thereon nor dromond nor caland.
A god of theirs invoked they, Tervagant.
And then leaped in, but there no warrant had.
The armed men more weighty were for that,
Many of them down to the bottom sank,
Downstream the rest floated as they might hap;
So much water the luckiest of them drank,
That all were drowned, with marvellous keen pangs.
"An evil day," cry Franks, "ye saw Rollant!"


When Charles sees that pagans all are dead,
Some of them slain, the greater part drowned;
(Whereby great spoils his chevaliers collect)
That gentle King upon his feet descends,
Kneels on the ground, his thanks to God presents.
When he once more rise, the sun is set.
Says the Emperour "Time is to pitch our tents;
To Rencesvals too late to go again.
Our horses are worn out and foundered:
Unsaddle them, take bridles from their heads,
And through these meads let them refreshment get."
Answer the Franks: "Sire, you have spoken well."


That Emperour hath chosen his bivouac;
The Franks dismount in those deserted tracts,
Their saddles take from off their horses' backs,
Bridles of gold from off their heads unstrap,
Let them go free; there is enough fresh grass --
No service can they render them, save that.
Who is most tired sleeps on the ground stretched flat.
Upon this night no sentinels keep watch.


That Emperour is lying in a mead;
By's head, so brave, he's placed his mighty spear;
On such a night unarmed he will not be.
He's donned his white hauberk, with broidery,
Has laced his helm, jewelled with golden beads,
Girt on Joiuse, there never was its peer,
Whereon each day thirty fresh hues appear.
All of us know that lance, and well may speak
Whereby Our Lord was wounded on the Tree:
Charles, by God's grace, possessed its point of steel!
His golden hilt he enshrined it underneath.
By that honour and by that sanctity
The name Joiuse was for that sword decreed.
Barons of France may not forgetful be
Whence comes the ensign "Monjoie," they cry at need;
Wherefore no race against them can succeed.


Clear was the night, the moon shone radiant.
Charles laid him down, but sorrow for Rollant
And Oliver, most heavy on him he had,
For's dozen peers, for all the Frankish band
He had left dead in bloody Rencesvals;
He could not help, but wept and waxed mad,
And prayed to God to be their souls' Warrant.
Weary that King, or grief he's very sad;
He falls on sleep, he can no more withstand.
Through all those meads they slumber then, the Franks;
Is not a horse can any longer stand,
Who would eat grass, he takes it lying flat.
He has learned much, can understand their pangs.


Charles, like a man worn out with labour, slept.
Saint Gabriel the Lord to him hath sent,
Whom as a guard o'er the Emperour he set;
Stood all night long that angel by his head.
In a vision announced he to him then
A battle, should be fought against him yet,
Significance of griefs demonstrated.
Charles looked up towards the sky, and there
Thunders and winds and blowing gales beheld,
And hurricanes and marvellous tempests;
Lightnings and flames he saw in readiness,
That speedily on all his people fell;
Apple and ash, their spear-shafts all burned,
Also their shields, e'en the golden bosses,
Crumbled the shafts of their trenchant lances,
Crushed their hauberks and all their steel helmets.
His chevaliers he saw in great distress.
Bears and leopards would feed upon them next;
Adversaries, dragons, wyverns, serpents,
Griffins were there, thirty thousand, no less,
Nor was there one but on some Frank it set.
And the Franks cried: "Ah! Charlemagne, give help!"
Wherefore the King much grief and pity felt,
He'ld go to them but was in duress kept:
Out of a wood came a great lion then,
'Twas very proud and fierce and terrible;
His body dear sought out, and on him leapt,
Each in his arms, wrestling, the other held;
But he knew not which conquered, nor which fell.
That Emperour woke not at all, but slept.


And, after that, another vision came:
Himseemed in France, at Aix, on a terrace,
And that he held a bruin by two chains;
Out of Ardenne saw thirty bears that came,
And each of them words, as a man might, spake
Said to him: "Sire, give him to us again!
It is not right that he with you remain,
He's of our kin, and we must lend him aid."
A harrier fair ran out of his palace,
Among them all the greatest bear assailed
On the green grass, beyond his friends some way.
There saw the King marvellous give and take;
But he knew not which fell, nor which o'ercame.
The angel of God so much to him made plain.
Charles slept on till the clear dawn of day.


King Marsilies, fleeing to Sarraguce,
Dismounted there beneath an olive cool;
His sword and sark and helm aside he put,
On the green grass lay down in shame and gloom;
For his right hand he'd lost, 'twas clean cut through;
Such blood he'd shed, in anguish keen he swooned.
Before his face his lady Bramimunde
Bewailed and cried, with very bitter rue;
Twenty thousand and more around him stood,
All of them cursed Carlun and France the Douce.
Then Apollin in's grotto they surround,
And threaten him, and ugly words pronounce:
"Such shame on us, vile god!, why bringest thou?
This is our king; wherefore dost him confound?
Who served thee oft, ill recompense hath found."
Then they take off his sceptre and his crown,
With their hands hang him from a column down,
Among their feet trample him on the ground,
With great cudgels they batter him and trounce.
From Tervagant his carbuncle they impound,
And Mahumet into a ditch fling out,
Where swine and dogs defile him and devour.


Out of his swoon awakens Marsilies,
And has him borne his vaulted roof beneath;
Many colours were painted there to see,
And Bramimunde laments for him, the queen,
Tearing her hair; caitiff herself she clepes;
Also these words cries very loud and clear:
"Ah! Sarraguce, henceforth forlorn thou'lt be
Of the fair king that had thee in his keep!
All those our gods have wrought great felony,
Who in battle this morning failed at need.
That admiral will shew his cowardice,
Unless he fight against that race hardy,
Who are so fierce, for life they take no heed.
That Emperour, with his blossoming beard,
Hath vassalage, and very high folly;
Battle to fight, he will not ever flee.
Great grief it is, no man may slay him clean."


That Emperour, by his great Majesty,
I Full seven years in Spain now has he been,
And castles there, and many cities seized.
King Marsilies was therefore sore displeased;
In the first year he sealed and sent his brief
To Baligant, into Babilonie:
('Twas the admiral, old in antiquity,
That clean outlived Omer and Virgilie,)
To Sarraguce, with succour bade him speed,
For, if he failed, Marsile his gods would leave,
All his idols he worshipped formerly;
He would receive blest Christianity
And reconciled to Charlemagne would be.
Long time that one came not, far off was he.
Through forty realms he did his tribes rally;
His great dromonds, he made them all ready,
Barges and skiffs and ships and galleries;
Neath Alexandre, a haven next the sea,
In readiness he gat his whole navy.
That was in May, first summer of the year,
All of his hosts he launched upon the sea.


Great are the hosts of that opposed race;
With speed they sail, they steer and navigate.
High on their yards, at their mast-heads they place
Lanterns enough, and carbuncles so great
Thence, from above, such light they dissipate
The sea's more clear at midnight than by day.
And when they come into the land of Spain
All that country lightens and shines again:
Of their coming Marsile has heard the tale.


The pagan race would never rest, but come
Out of the sea, where the sweet waters run;
They leave Marbris, they leave behind Marbrus,
Upstream by Sebre doth all their navy turn.
Lanterns they have, and carbuncles enough,
That all night long and very clearly burn.
Upon that day they come to Sarragus.


Clear is that day, and the sun radiant.
Out of his barge issues their admiral,
Espaneliz goes forth at his right hand,
Seventeen kings follow him in a band,
Counts too, and dukes; I cannot tell of that.
Where in a field, midway, a laurel stands,
On the green grass they spread a white silk mat,
Set a fald-stool there, made of olifant;
Sits him thereon the pagan Baligant,
And all the rest in rows about him stand.
The lord of them speaks before any man:
"Listen to me, free knights and valiant!
Charles the King, the Emperour of the Franks,
Shall not eat bread, save when that I command.
Throughout all Spain great war with me he's had;
I will go seek him now, into Douce France,
I will not cease, while I'm a living man,
Till be slain, or fall between my hands."
Upon his knee his right-hand glove he slaps.


He is fast bound by all that he has said.
He will not fail, for all the gold neath heav'n,
But go to Aix, where Charles court is held:
His men applaud, for so they counselled.
After he called two of his chevaliers,
One Clarifan, and the other Clarien:
"You are the sons of king Maltraien,
Freely was, wont my messages to bear.
You I command to Sarraguce to fare.
Marsiliun on my part you shall tell
Against the Franks I'm come to give him help,
Find I their host, great battle shall be there;
Give him this glove, that's stitched with golden thread,
On his right hand let it be worn and held;
This little wand of fine gold take as well,
Bid him come here, his homage to declare.
To France I'll go, and war with Charles again;
Save at my feet he kneel, and mercy beg,
Save all the laws of Christians he forget,
I'll take away the crown from off his head."
Answer pagans: "Sire, you say very well."


Said Baligant: "But canter now, barons,
Take one the wand, and the other one the glove!"
These answer him: "Dear lord, it shall be done."
Canter so far, to Sarraguce they come,
Pass through ten gates, across four bridges run,
Through all the streets, wherein the burghers crowd.
When they draw nigh the citadel above,
From the palace they hear a mighty sound;
About that place are seen pagans enough,
Who weep and cry, with grief are waxen wood,
And curse their gods, Tervagan and Mahum
And Apolin, from whom no help is come.
Says each to each: "Caitiffs! What shall be done?
For upon us confusion vile is come,
Now have we lost our king Marsiliun,
For yesterday his hand count Rollanz cut;
We'll have no more Fair Jursaleu, his son;
The whole of Spain henceforward is undone."
Both messengers on the terrace dismount.


Horses they leave under an olive tree,
Which by the reins two Sarrazins do lead;
Those messengers have wrapped them in their weeds,
To the palace they climb the topmost steep.
When they're come in, the vaulted roof beneath,
Marsilium with courtesy they greet:
"May Mahumet, who all of us doth keep,
And Tervagan, and our lord Apoline
Preserve the, king and guard from harm the queen!"
Says Bramimunde "Great foolishness I hear:
Those gods of ours in cowardice are steeped;
In Rencesvals they wrought an evil deed,
Our chevaliers they let be slain in heaps;
My lord they failed in battle, in his need,
Never again will he his right hand see;
For that rich count, Rollanz, hath made him bleed.
All our whole Spain shall be for Charles to keep.
Miserable! What shall become of me?
Alas! That I've no man to slay me clean!"


Says Clarien: "My lady, say not that!
We're messengers from pagan Baligant;
To Marsilies, he says, he'll be warrant,
So sends him here his glove, also this wand.
Vessels we have, are moored by Sebres bank,
Barges and skiffs and gallies four thousand,
Dromonds are there -- I cannot speak of that.
Our admiral is wealthy and puissant.
And Charlemagne he will go seek through France
And quittance give him, dead or recreant."
Says Bramimunde: "Unlucky journey, that!
Far nearer here you'll light upon the Franks;
For seven years he's stayed now in this land.
That Emperour is bold and combatant,
Rather he'ld die than from the field draw back;
No king neath heav'n above a child he ranks.
Charles hath no fear for any living man.


Says Marsilies the king: "Now let that be."
To th'messengers: "Sirs, pray you, speak to me.
I am held fast by death, as ye may see.
No son have I nor daughter to succeed;
That one I had, they slew him yester-eve.
Bid you my lord, he come to see me here.
Rights over Spain that admiral hath he,
My claim to him, if he will take't, I yield;
But from the Franks he then must set her free.
Gainst Charlemagne I'll shew him strategy.
Within a month from now he'll conquered be.
Of Sarraguce ye'll carry him the keys,
He'll go not hence, say, if he trusts in me."
They answer him: "Sir, 'tis the truth you speak."


Then says Marsile: "The Emperour, Charles the Great
Hath slain my men and all my land laid waste,
My cities are broken and violate;
He lay this night upon the river Sebre;
I've counted well, 'tis seven leagues away.
Bid the admiral, leading his host this way,
Do battle here; this word to him convey."
Gives them the keys of Sarraguce her gates;
Both messengers their leave of him do take,
Upon that word bow down, and turn away.


Both messengers did on their horses mount;
From that city nimbly they issued out.
Then, sore afraid, their admiral they sought,
To whom the keys of Sarraguce they brought.
Says Baligant: "Speak now; what have ye found?
Where's Marsilies, to come to me was bound?"
Says Clarien : "To death he's stricken down.
That Emperour was in the pass but now;
To France the Douce he would be homeward-bound,
Rereward he set, to save his great honour:
His nephew there installed, Rollanz the count,
And Oliver; the dozen peers around;
A thousand score of Franks in armour found.
Marsile the king fought with them there, so proud;
He and Rollanz upon that field did joust.
With Durendal he dealt him such a clout
From his body he cut the right hand down.
His son is dead, in whom his heart was bound,
And the barons that service to him vowed;
Fleeing he came, he could no more hold out.
That Emperour has chased him well enow.
The king implores, you'll hasten with succour,
Yields to you Spain, his kingdom and his crown."
And Baligant begins to think, and frowns;
Such grief he has, doth nearly him confound.


"Sir admiral," said to him Clariens,
"In Rencesvals was yesterday battle.
Dead is Rollanz and that count Oliver,
The dozen peers whom Charle so cherished,
And of their Franks are twenty thousand dead.
King Marsilie's of his right hand bereft,
And the Emperour chased him enow from thence.
Throughout this land no chevalier is left,
But he be slain, or drowned in Sebres bed.
By river side the Franks have pitched their tents,
Into this land so near to us they've crept;
But, if you will, grief shall go with them hence."
And Baligant looked on him proudly then,
In his courage grew joyous and content;
From the fald-stool upon his feet he leapt,
Then cried aloud: "Barons, too long ye've slept;
Forth from your ships issue, mount, canter well!
If he flee not, that Charlemagne the eld,
King Marsilies shall somehow be avenged;
For his right hand I'll pay him back an head."


Pagan Arabs out of their ships issue,
Then mount upon their horses and their mules,
And canter forth, (nay, what more might they do?)
Their admiral, by whom they all were ruled,
Called up to him Gemalfin, whom he knew:
"I give command of all my hosts to you."
On a brown horse mounted, as he was used,
And in his train he took with him four dukes.
Cantered so far, he came to Sarraguce.
Dismounted on a floor of marble blue,
Where four counts were, who by his stirrup stood;
Up by the steps, the palace came into;
To meet him there came running Bramimunde,
Who said to him: "Accursed from the womb,
That in such shame my sovran lord I lose!
Fell at his feet, that admiral her took.
In grief they came up into Marsile's room.


King Marsilies, when he sees Baligant,
Calls to him then two Spanish Sarazands:
"Take me by the arms, and so lift up my back."
One of his gloves he takes in his left hand;
Then says Marsile: "Sire, king and admiral,
Quittance I give you here of all my land,
With Sarraguce, and the honour thereto hangs.
Myself I've lost; my army, every man."
He answers him: "Therefore the more I'm sad.
No long discourse together may we have;
Full well I know, Charles waits not our attack,
I take the glove from you, in spite of that."
He turned away in tears, such grief he had.
Down by the steps, out of the palace ran,
Mounted his horse, to's people gallopped back.
Cantered so far, he came before his band;
From hour to hour then, as he went, he sang:
"Pagans, come on: already flee the Franks!"


In morning time, when the dawn breaks at last,
Awakened is that Emperour Charles.
Saint Gabriel, who on God's part him guards,
Raises his hand, the Sign upon him marks.
Rises the King, his arms aside he's cast,
The others then, through all the host, disarm.
After they mount, by virtue canter fast
Through those long ways, and through those roads so large;
They go to see the marvellous damage
In Rencesvals, there where the battle was.


In Rencesvals is Charles entered,
Begins to weep for those he finds there dead;
Says to the Franks: "My lords, restrain your steps,
Since I myself alone should go ahead,
For my nephew, whom I would find again.
At Aix I was, upon the feast Noel,
Vaunted them there my valiant chevaliers,
Of battles great and very hot contests;
With reason thus I heard Rollant speak then:
He would not die in any foreign realm
Ere he'd surpassed his peers and all his men.
To the foes' land he would have turned his head,
Conqueringly his gallant life he'ld end."
Further than one a little wand could send,
Before the rest he's on a peak mounted.


When the Emperour went seeking his nephew,
He found the grass, and every flower that bloomed,
Turned scarlat, with our barons' blood imbrued;
Pity he felt, he could but weep for rue.
Beneath two trees he climbed the hill and looked,
And Rollant's strokes on three terraces knew,
On the green grass saw lying his nephew;
`Tis nothing strange that Charles anger grew.
Dismounted then, and went -- his heart was full,
In his two hands the count's body he took;
With anguish keen he fell on him and swooned.


That Emperour is from his swoon revived.
Naimes the Duke, and the count Aceline,
Gefrei d'Anjou and his brother Tierry,
Take up the King, bear him beneath a pine.
There on the ground he sees his nephew lie.
Most sweetly then begins he to repine:
"Rollant, my friend, may God to thee be kind!
Never beheld any man such a knight
So to engage and so to end a fight.
Now my honour is turned into decline!"
Charle swoons again, he cannot stand upright.


Charles the King returned out of his swoon.
Him in their hands four of his barons took,
He looked to the earth, saw lying his nephew;
All colourless his lusty body grew,
He turned his eyes, were very shadowful.
Charles complained in amity and truth:
"Rollant, my friend, God lay thee mid the blooms
Of Paradise, among the glorious!
Thou cam'st to Spain in evil tide, seigneur!
Day shall not dawn, for thee I've no dolour.
How perishes my strength and my valour!
None shall I have now to sustain my honour;
I think I've not one friend neath heaven's roof,
Kinsmen I have, but none of them's so proof."
He tore his locks, till both his hands were full.
Five score thousand Franks had such great dolour
There was not one but sorely wept for rue.


"Rollant, my friend, to France I will away;
When at Loum, I'm in my hall again,
Strange men will come from many far domains,
Who'll ask me, where's that count, the Capitain;
I'll say to them that he is dead in Spain.
In bitter grief henceforward shall I reign,
Day shall not dawn, I weep not nor complain.


"Rollant, my friend, fair youth that bar'st the bell,
When I arrive at Aix, in my Chapelle,
Men coming there will ask what news I tell;
I'll say to them: `Marvellous news and fell.
My nephew's dead, who won for me such realms!'
Against me then the Saxon will rebel,
Hungar, Bulgar, and many hostile men,
Romain, Puillain, all those are in Palerne,
And in Affrike, and those in Califerne;
Afresh then will my pain and suffrance swell.
For who will lead my armies with such strength,
When he is slain, that all our days us led?
Ah! France the Douce, now art thou deserted!
Such grief I have that I would fain be dead."
All his white beard he hath begun to rend,
Tore with both hands the hair out of his head.
Five score thousand Franks swooned on the earth and fell.


"Rollant, my friend, God shew thee His mercy!
In Paradise repose the soul of thee!
Who hath thee slain, exile for France decreed.
I'ld live no more, so bitter is my grief
For my household, who have been slain for me.
God grant me this, the Son of Saint Mary,
Ere I am come to th' master-pass of Size,
From my body my soul at length go free!
Among their souls let mine in glory be,
And let my flesh upon their flesh be heaped."
Still his white beard he tears, and his eyes weep.
Duke Naimes says: "His wrath is great indeed."


"Sire, Emperour," Gefrei d'Anjou implored,
"Let not your grief to such excess be wrought;
Bid that our men through all this field be sought,
Whom those of Spain have in the battle caught;
In a charnel command that they be borne."
Answered the King: "Sound then upon your horn."


Gefreid d'Anjou upon his trumpet sounds;
As Charles bade them, all the Franks dismount.
All of their friends, whose bodies they have found
To a charnel speedily the bring down.
Bishops there are, and abbots there enow,
Canons and monks, vicars with shaven crowns;
Absolution in God's name they've pronounced;
Incense and myrrh with precious gums they've ground,
And lustily they've swung the censers round;
With honour great they've laid them in the ground.
They've left them there; what else might they do now?


That Emperour sets Rollant on one side
And Oliver, and the Archbishop Turpine;
Their bodies bids open before his eyes.
And all their hearts in silken veils to wind,
And set them in coffers of marble white;
After, they take the bodies of those knights,
Each of the three is wrapped in a deer's hide;
They're washen well in allspice and in wine.
The King commands Tedbalt and Gebuin,
Marquis Otun, Milun the count besides:
Along the road in three wagons to drive.
They're covered well with carpets Galazine.


Now to be off would that Emperour Charles,
When pagans, lo! comes surging the vanguard;
Two messengers come from their ranks forward,
From the admiral bring challenge to combat:
"'Tis not yet time, proud King, that thou de-part.
Lo, Baligant comes cantering afterward,
Great are the hosts he leads from Arab parts;
This day we'll see if thou hast vassalage."
Charles the King his snowy beard has clasped,
Remembering his sorrow and damage,
Haughtily then his people all regards,
In a loud voice he cries with all his heart:
"Barons and Franks, to horse, I say, to arms!"


First before all was armed that Emperour,
Nimbly enough his iron sark indued,
Laced up his helm, girt on his sword Joiuse,
Outshone the sun that dazzling light it threw,
Hung from his neck a shield, was of Girunde,
And took his spear, was fashioned at Blandune.
On his good horse then mounted, Tencendur,
Which he had won at th'ford below Marsune
When he flung dead Malpalin of Nerbune,
Let go the reins, spurred him with either foot;
Five score thousand behind him as he flew,
Calling on God and the Apostle of Roum.


Through all the field dismount the Frankish men,
Five-score thousand and more, they arm themselves;
The gear they have enhances much their strength,
Their horses swift, their arms are fashioned well;
Mounted they are, and fight with great science.
Find they that host, battle they'll render them.
Their gonfalons flutter above their helms.
When Charles sees the fair aspect of them,
He calls to him Jozeran of Provence,
Naimon the Duke, with Antelme of Maience:
"In such vassals should man have confidence,
Whom not to trust were surely want of sense;
Unless the Arabs of coming here repent,
Then Rollant's life, I think, we'll dearly sell."
Answers Duke Neimes: "God grant us his consent!"


Charles hath called Rabel and Guineman;
Thus said the King: "My lords, you I command
To take their place, Olivier and Rollant,
One bear the sword and the other the olifant;
So canter forth ahead, before the van,
And in your train take fifteen thousand Franks,
Young bachelors, that are most valiant.
As many more shall after them advance,
Whom Gebuins shall lead, also Lorains."
Naimes the Duke and the count Jozerans
Go to adjust these columns in their ranks.
Find they that host, they'll make a grand attack.


Of Franks the first columns made ready there,
After those two a third they next prepare;
In it are set the vassals of Baiviere,
Some thousand score high-prized chevaliers;
Never was lost the battle, where they were:
Charles for no race neath heaven hath more care,
Save those of France, who realms for him conquered.
The Danish chief, the warrior count Oger,
Shall lead that troop, for haughty is their air.


Three columns now, he has, the Emperour Charles.
Naimes the Duke a fourth next sets apart
Of good barons, endowed with vassalage;
Germans they are, come from the German March,
A thousand score, as all said afterward;
They're well equipped with horses and with arms,
Rather they'll die than from the battle pass;
They shall be led by Hermans, Duke of Trace,
Who'll die before he's any way coward.


Naimes the Duke and the count Jozerans
The fifth column have mustered, of Normans,
A thousand score, or so say all the Franks;
Well armed are they, their horses charge and prance;
Rather they'ld die, than eer be recreant;
No race neath heav'n can more in th'field compass.
Richard the old, lead them in th'field he shall,
He'll strike hard there with his good trenchant lance.


The sixth column is mustered of Bretons;
Thirty thousand chevaliers therein come;
These canter in the manner of barons,
Upright their spears, their ensigns fastened on.
The overlord of them is named Oedon,
Who doth command the county Nevelon,
Tedbald of Reims and the marquis Oton:
"Lead ye my men, by my commission."


That Emperour hath now six columns yare
Naimes the Duke the seventh next prepares
Of Peitevins and barons from Alverne;
Forty thousand chevaliers might be there;
Their horses good, their arms are all most fair.
They're neath a cliff, in a vale by themselves;
With his right hand King Charles hath them blessed,
Them Jozerans shall lead, also Godselmes.


And the eighth column hath Naimes made ready;
Tis of Flamengs, and barons out of Frise;
Forty thousand and more good knights are these,
Nor lost by them has any battle been.
And the King says: "These shall do my service."
Between Rembalt and Hamon of Galice
Shall they be led, for all their chivalry.


Between Naimon and Jozeran the count
Are prudent men for the ninth column found,
Of Lotherengs and those out of Borgoune;
Fifty thousand good knights they are, by count;
In helmets laced and sarks of iron brown,
Strong are their spears, short are the shafts cut down;
If the Arrabits demur not, but come out
And trust themselves to these, they'll strike them down.
Tierris the Duke shall lead them, of Argoune.


The tenth column is of barons of France,
Five score thousand of our best capitans;
Lusty of limb, and proud of countenance,
Snowy their heads are, and their beards are blanched,
In doubled sarks, and in hauberks they're clad,
Girt on their sides Frankish and Spanish brands
And noble shields of divers cognisance.
Soon as they mount, the battle they demand,
"Monjoie" they cry. With them goes Charlemagne.
Gefreid d'Anjou carries that oriflamme;
Saint Peter's twas, and bare the name Roman,
But on that day Monjoie, by change, it gat.


That Emperour down from his horse descends;
To the green grass, kneeling, his face he bends.
Then turns his eyes towards the Orient,
Calls upon God with heartiest intent:
"Very Father, this day do me defend,
Who to Jonas succour didst truly send
Out of the whale's belly, where he was pent;
And who didst spare the king of Niniven,
And Daniel from marvellous torment
When he was caged within the lions' den;
And three children, all in a fire ardent:
Thy gracious Love to me be here present.
In Thy Mercy, if it please Thee, consent
That my nephew Rollant I may avenge.
When he had prayed, upon his feet he stepped,
With the strong mark of virtue signed his head;
Upon his swift charger the King mounted
While Jozerans and Neimes his stirrup held;
He took his shield, his trenchant spear he kept;
Fine limbs he had, both gallant and well set;
Clear was his face and filled with good intent.
Vigorously he cantered onward thence.
In front, in rear, they sounded their trumpets,
Above them all boomed the olifant again.
Then all the Franks for pity of Rollant wept.


That Emperour canters in noble array,
Over his sark all of his beard displays;
For love of him, all others do the same,
Five score thousand Franks are thereby made plain.
They pass those peaks, those rocks and those mountains,
Those terrible narrows, and those deep vales,
Then issue from the passes and the wastes
Till they are come into the March of Spain;
A halt they've made, in th'middle of a plain.
To Baligant his vanguard comes again
A Sulian hath told him his message:
"We have seen Charles, that haughty sovereign;
Fierce are his men, they have no mind to fail.
Arm yourself then: Battle you'll have to-day."
Says Baligant: "Mine is great vassalage;
Let horns this news to my pagans proclaim."


Through all the host they have their drums sounded,
And their bugles, and, very clear trumpets.
Pagans dismount, that they may arm themselves.
Their admiral will stay no longer then;
Puts on a sark, embroidered in the hems,
Laces his helm, that is with gold begemmed;
After, his sword on his left side he's set,
Out of his pride a name for it he's spelt
Like to Carlun's, as he has heard it said,
So Preciuse he bad his own be clept;
Twas their ensign when they to battle went,
His chevaliers'; he gave that cry to them.
His own broad shield he hangs upon his neck,
(Round its gold boss a band of crystal went,
The strap of it was a good silken web;)
He grasps his spear, the which he calls Maltet; --
So great its shaft as is a stout cudgel,
Beneath its steel alone, a mule had bent;
On his charger is Baligant mounted,
Marcules, from over seas, his stirrup held.
That warrior, with a great stride he stepped,
Small were his thighs, his ribs of wide extent,
Great was his breast, and finely fashioned,
With shoulders broad and very clear aspect;

Book of the day: