Translated by William Stewart Rose
NOTE: Please let the preparer know of any textual errors that you find; this edition has been proofed once, but I am finding additional errors all the time.
This work is a continuation of the "Orlando Innamorato" of Matteo Maria Boiardo, which was left unfinished upon the author's death in 1494. It begins more or less at the point where Boiardo left it.
This is a brief synopsis of Boiardo's work, omitting most of the numerous digressions and incidental episodes associated with these events:
To the court of King Charlemagne comes Angelica (daughter to the king of Cathay, or India) and her brother Argalia. Angelica is the most beautiful woman any of the Peers have ever seen, and all want her. However, in order to take her as wife they must first defeat Argalia in combat. The two most stricken by her are Orlando and Ranaldo ("Rinaldo" in Rose).
When Argalia falls to the heathen knight Ferrau, Angelica flees — with Orlando and Ranaldo in hot pursuit. Along the way, both Angelica and Ranaldo drink magic waters — Angelica is filled with a burning love for Ranaldo, but Ranaldo is now indifferent.
Eventually, Orlando and Ranaldo arrive at Angelica's castle. Others also gather at Angelica's castle, including Agricane, King of Tartary; Sacripant, King of Circassia; Agramante, King of Africa and Marfisa ("Marphisa" in Rose), an Asian warrior-Queen. Except for Orlando and Ranaldo, all are heathen.
Meanwhile, France is threatened by heathen invaders. Led by King Gradasso of Sericana (whose principal reason for going to war is to obtain Orlando's sword, Durindana) and King Rodomonte of Sarzia, a Holy War between Pagans and Christians ensues.
Ranaldo leaves Angelica's castle, and Angelica and a very love-sick (but very chaste and proper) Orlando, set out for France in search of him. Again the same waters as before are drunk from, but this time in reverse — Ranaldo now burns for Angelica, but Angelica is now indifferent. Ranaldo and Orlando now begin to fight over her, but King Charlemagne (fearing the consequences if his two best knights kill each other in combat) intervenes and promises Angelica to whichever of the two fights the best against the heathen; he leaves her in the care of Duke Namus. Orlando and Ranaldo arrive in Paris just in time to repulse an attack by Agramante.
Namus' camp is overrun by the heathen. Angelica escapes, with Ranaldo in pursuit. Also in pursuit is Ferrau, who (because he had defeated Argalia) considers Angelica his. It is at this point that the poem breaks off.
While the Orlando-Ranaldo-Angelica triangle is going on, the stories of other knights and their loves are mixed in. Most important of these is that of the female knight Bradamante (sister of Ranaldo), who falls in love with a very noble heathen knight named Ruggiero ("Rogero" in Rose). Ruggiero, who is said to be a descendent of Alexander the Great and Hector, also falls in love with Bradamante, but because they are fighting on opposite sides it is felt that their love is hopeless. Nevertheless, it is prophecised that they shall wed and found the famous Este line, who shall rise to become one of the major families of Medieval and Renaissance Italy (it is worth noting that the Estes where the patrons of both Boiardo and Ariosto). Opposed to this prophecy is Atlantes, an African wizard who seeks to derail fate and keep Ruggiero from becoming a Christian. By the end of the poem, Ruggiero is imprisoned in Atlantes' castle. However, Bradamante (who has decided to follow her heart) is in pursuit of her love, and is not too far away. It is the Bradamante-Ruggiero story that eventually takes center stage in Ariosto's work.
Other characters of importance: Astolfo, a Peer and friend of Orlando, who is kidnaped by the evil witch Morgana and her sister Alcina; Mandricardo, a fierce but hot-headed heathen; and a young knight named Brandimarte, who falls in love with (and wins the heart of) the beautiful Fiordelisa ("Flordelice" in Rose). All play major or semi-major roles in the events of Ariosto's poem.
ARGUMENT Angelica, whom pressing danger frights, Flies in disorder through the greenwood shade. Rinaldo's horse escapes: he, following, fights Ferrau, the Spaniard, in a forest glade. A second oath the haughty paynim plights, And keeps it better than the first he made. King Sacripant regains his long-lost treasure; But good Rinaldo mars his promised pleasure.
I OF LOVES and LADIES, KNIGHTS and ARMS, I sing, Of COURTESIES, and many a DARING FEAT; And from those ancient days my story bring, When Moors from Afric passed in hostile fleet, And ravaged France, with Agramant their king, Flushed with his youthful rage and furious heat, Who on king Charles', the Roman emperor's head Had vowed due vengeance for Troyano dead.
II In the same strain of Roland will I tell Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme, On whom strange madness and rank fury fell, A man esteemed so wise in former time; If she, who to like cruel pass has well Nigh brought my feeble wit which fain would climb And hourly wastes my sense, concede me skill And strength my daring promise to fulfil.
III Good seed of Hercules, give ear and deign, Thou that this age's grace and splendour art, Hippolitus, to smile upon his pain Who tenders what he has with humble heart. For though all hope to quit the score were vain, My pen and pages may pay the debt in part; Then, with no jealous eye my offering scan, Nor scorn my gifts who give thee all I can.
IV And me, amid the worthiest shalt thou hear, Whom I with fitting praise prepare to grace, Record the good Rogero, valiant peer, The ancient root of thine illustrious race. Of him, if thou wilt lend a willing ear, The worth and warlike feats I shall retrace; So thou thy graver cares some little time Postponing, lend thy leisure to my rhyme.
V Roland, who long the lady of Catay, Angelica, had loved, and with his brand Raised countless trophies to that damsel gay, In India, Median, and Tartarian land, Westward with her had measured back his way; Where, nigh the Pyrenees, with many a band Of Germany and France, King Charlemagne Had camped his faithful host upon the plain.
VI To make King Agramant, for penance, smite His cheek, and rash Marsilius rue the hour; This, when all trained with lance and sword to fight, He led from Africa to swell his power; That other when he pushed, in fell despite, Against the realm of France Spain's martial flower. 'Twas thus Orlando came where Charles was tented In evil hour, and soon the deed repented.
VII For here was seized his dame of peerless charms, (How often human judgment wanders wide)! Whom in long warfare he had kept from harms, From western climes to eastern shores her guide In his own land, 'mid friends and kindred arms, Now without contest severed from his side. Fearing the mischief kindled by her eyes, From him the prudent emperor reft the prize.
VIII For bold Orlando and his cousin, free Rinaldo, late contended for the maid, Enamored of that beauty rare; since she Alike the glowing breast of either swayed. But Charles, who little liked such rivalry, And drew an omen thence of feebler aid, To abate the cause of quarrel, seized the fair, And placed her in Bavarian Namus' care.
IX Vowing with her the warrior to content, Who in that conflict, on that fatal day, With his good hand most gainful succour lent, And slew most paynims in the martial fray. But counter to his hopes the battle went, And his thinned squadrons fled in disarray; Namus, with other Christian captains taken, And his pavilion in the rout forsaken.
X There, lodged by Charles, that gentle bonnibel, Ordained to be the valiant victor's meed, Before the event had sprung into her sell, And from the combat turned in time of need; Presaging wisely Fortune would rebel That fatal day against the Christian creed: And, entering a thick wood, discovered near, In a close path, a horseless cavalier.
XI With shield upon his arm, in knightly wise, Belted and mailed, his helmet on his head; The knight more lightly through the forest hies Than half-clothed churl to win the cloth of red. But not from cruel snake more swiftly flies The timid shepherdess, with startled tread, Than poor Angelica the bridle turns When she the approaching knight on foot discerns.
XII This was that Paladin, good Aymon's seed, Who Mount Albano had in his command; And late Baiardo lost, his gallant steed, Escaped by strange adventure from his hand. As soon as seen, the maid who rode at speed The warrior knew, and, while yet distant, scanned The angelic features and the gentle air Which long had held him fast in Cupid's snare.
XIII The affrighted damsel turns her palfrey round, And shakes the floating bridle in the wind; Nor in her panic seeks to choose her ground, Nor open grove prefers to thicket blind. But reckless, pale and trembling, and astound, Leaves to her horse the devious way to find. He up and down the forest bore the dame, Till to a sylvan river's bank he came.
XIV Here stood the fierce Ferrau in grisly plight, Begrimed with dust, and bathed with sweat and blood Who lately had withdrawn him from the fight, To rest and drink at that refreshing flood: But there had tarried in his own despite, Since bending from the bank, in hasty mood, He dropped his helmet in the crystal tide, And vainly to regain the treasure tried.
XV Thither at speed she drives, and evermore In her wild panic utters fearful cries; And at the voice, upleaping on the shore, The Saracen her lovely visage spies. And, pale as is her cheek, and troubled sore, Arriving, quickly to the warrior's eyes (Though many days no news of her had shown) The beautiful Angelica is known.
XVI Courteous, and haply gifted with a breast As warm as either of the cousins two; As bold, as if his brows in steel were dressed, The succour which she sought he lent, and drew His faulchion, and against Rinaldo pressed, Who saw with little fear the champion true. Not only each to each was known by sight, But each had proved in arms his foeman's might.
XVII Thus, as they are, on foot the warriors vie In cruel strife, and blade to blade oppose; No marvel plate or brittle mail should fly, When anvils had not stood the deafening blows. It now behoves the palfrey swift to ply His feet; for while the knights in combat close, Him vexed to utmost speed, with goading spurs, By waste or wood the frighted damsel stirs.
XVIII After the two had struggled long to throw Each other in the strife, and vainly still; Since neither valiant warrior was below His opposite in force and knightly skill: The first to parley with his Spanish foe Was the good master of Albano's hill (As one within whose raging breast was pent A reckless fire which struggled for a vent).
XIX "Thou think'st," he said, "to injure me alone, But know thou wilt thyself as much molest: For if we fight because yon rising sun This raging heat has kindled in thy breast. What were thy gain, and what the guerdon won, Though I should yield my life, or stoop my crest; If she shall never be thy glorious meed, Who flies, while vainly we in battle bleed?
XX "Then how much better, since our stake's the same, Thou, loving like myself, should'st mount and stay To wait this battle's end, the lovely dame, Before she fly yet further on her way. The lady taken, we repeat our claim With naked faulchion to that peerless prey: Else by long toil I see not what we gain But simple loss and unrequited pain."
XXI The peer's proposal pleased the paynim well. And so their hot contention was foregone; And such fair truce replaced that discord fell, So mutual wrongs forgot and mischief done; That for departure seated in his sell, On foot the Spaniard left not Aymon's son; But him to mount his courser's crupper prayed; And both united chased the royal maid.
XXII Oh! goodly truth in cavaliers of old! Rivals they were, to different faith were bred. Not yet the weary warriors' wounds were cold — Still smarting from those strokes so fell and dread. Yet they together ride by waste and wold, And, unsuspecting, devious dingle thread. Them, while four spurs infest his foaming sides, Their courser brings to where the way divides.
XXIII And now the warlike pair at fault, for they Knew not by which she might her palfrey goad, (Since both, without distinction, there survey The recent print of hoofs on either road), Commit the chase to fortune. By this way The paynim pricked, by that Rinaldo strode. But fierce Ferrau, bewildered in the wood, Found himself once again where late he stood.
XXIV Beside the water, where he stoop'd to drink, And dropt the knightly helmet, — to his cost, Sunk in the stream; and since he could not think Her to retrieve, who late his hopes had crossed. He, where the treasure fell, descends the brink Of that swift stream, and seeks the morion lost. But the casque lies so bedded in the sands, 'Twill ask no light endeavour at his hands.
XXV A bough he severs from a neighbouring tree, And shreds and shapes the branch into a pole: With this he sounds the stream, and anxiously Fathoms, and rakes, and ransacks shelf and hole. While angered sore at heart, and restless, he So lingered, where the troubled waters roll, Breast-high, from the mid river rose upright, The apparition of an angry knight.
XXVI Armed at all points he was, except his head, And in his better hand a helmet bore: The very casque, which in the river's bed Ferrau sought vainly, toiling long and sore. Upon the Spanish knight he frowned, and said: "Thou traitor to thy word, thou perjured Moor, Why grieve the goodly helmet to resign, Which, due to me long since, is justly mine?
XXVII "Remember, pagan, when thine arm laid low The brother of Angelica. That knight Am I; — thy word was plighted then to throw After my other arms his helmet bright. If Fortune now compel thee to forego The prize, and do my will in thy despite, Grieve not at this, but rather grieve that thou Art found a perjured traitor to thy vow.
XXVIII "But if thou seek'st a helmet, be thy task To win and wear it more to thy renown. A noble prize were good Orlando's casque; Rinaldo's such, or yet a fairer crown; Almontes', or Mambrino's iron masque: Make one of these, by force of arms, thine own. And this good helm will fitly be bestowed Where (such thy promise) it has long been owed."
XXIX Bristled the paynim's every hair at view Of that grim shade, uprising from the tide, And vanished was his fresh and healthful hue, While on his lips the half-formed accents died. Next hearing Argalia, whom he slew, (So was the warrior hight) that stream beside, Thus his unknightly breach of promise blame, He burned all over, flushed with rage and shame.
XXX Nor having time his falsehood to excuse, And knowing well how true the phantom's lore, Stood speechless; such remorse the words infuse. Then by Lanfusa's life the warrior swore, Never in fight, or foray would he use Helmet but that which good Orlando bore From Aspramont, where bold Almontes paid His life a forfeit to the Christian blade.
XXXI And this new vow discharged more faithfully Than the vain promise which was whilom plight; And from the stream departing heavily, Was many days sore vexed and grieved in sprite; And still intent to seek Orlando, he Roved wheresoe'er he hoped to find the knight. A different lot befel Rinaldo; who Had chanced another pathway to pursue.
XXXII For far the warrior fared not, ere he spied, Bounding across the path, his gallant steed, And, "Stay, Bayardo mine," Rinaldo cried, "Too cruel care the loss of thee does breed." The horse for this returned not to his side, Deaf to his prayer, but flew with better speed. Furious, in chase of him, Rinaldo hies. But follow we Angelica, who flies.
XXXIII Through dreary woods and dark the damsel fled, By rude unharboured heath and savage height, While every leaf or spray that rustled, bred (Of oak, or elm, or beech), such new affright, She here and there her foaming palfrey sped By strange and crooked paths with furious flight; And at each shadow, seen in valley blind, Or mountain, feared Rinaldo was behind.
XXXIV As a young roe or fawn of fallow deer, Who, mid the shelter of its native glade, Has seen a hungry pard or tiger tear The bosom of its bleeding dam, dismayed, Bounds, through the forest green in ceaseless fear Of the destroying beast, from shade to shade, And at each sapling touched, amid its pangs, Believes itself between the monster's fangs,
XXXV One day and night, and half the following day, The damsel wanders wide, nor whither knows; Then enters a deep wood, whose branches play, Moved lightly by the freshening breeze which blows. Through this two clear and murmuring rivers stray: Upon their banks a fresher herbage grows; While the twin streams their passage slowly clear, Make music with the stones, and please the ear.
XXXVI Weening removed the way by which she wends, A thousand miles from loathed Rinaldo's beat, To rest herself a while the maid intends, Wearied with that long flight and summer's heat. She from her saddle 'mid spring flowers descends And takes the bridle from her courser fleet. And loose along the river lets him pass, Roving the banks in search of lusty grass.
XXXVII Behold! at hand a thicket she surveys Gay with the flowering thorn and vermeil rose: The tuft reflected in the stream which strays Beside it, overshadowing oaks enclose. Hollow within, and safe from vulgar gaze, It seemed a place constructed for repose; With bows so interwoven, that the light Pierced not the tangled screen, far less the sight.
XXXVIII Within soft moss and herbage form a bed; And to delay and rest the traveller woo. 'Twas there her limbs the weary damsel spread, Her eye-balls bathed in slumber's balmy dew. But little time had eased her drooping head, Ere, as she weened, a courser's tramp she knew. Softly she rises, and the river near, Armed cap-a-pie, beholds a cavalier.
XXXIX If friend or foe, she nothing comprehends, (So hope and fear her doubting bosom tear) And that adventure's issue mute attends, Nor even with a sigh disturbs the air. The cavalier upon the bank descends; And sits so motionless, so lost in care, (His visage propt upon his arm) to sight Changed into senseless stone appeared the knight.
XL Pensive, above an hour, with drooping head, He rested mute, ere he began his moan; And then his piteous tale of sorrow said, Lamenting in so soft and sweet a tone, He in a tiger's breast had pity bred, Or with his mournful wailings rent a stone. And so he sighed and wept; like rivers flowed His tears, his bosom like an Aetna glowed.
XLI "Thought which now makes me burn, now freeze with hate, Which gnaws my heart and rankles at its root! What's left to me," he said, "arrived too late, While one more favoured bears away the fruit? Bare words and looks scarce cheered my hopeless state, And the prime spoils reward another's suit. Then since for me nor fruit nor blossom hangs, Why should I longer pine in hopeless pangs?
XLII "The virgin has her image in the rose Sheltered in garden on its native stock, Which there in solitude and safe repose, Blooms unapproached by sheperd or by flock. For this earth teems, and freshening water flows, And breeze and dewy dawn their sweets unlock: With such the wistful youth his bosom dresses. With such the enamored damsel braids her tresses.
XLIII "But wanton hands no sooner this displace From the maternal stem, where it was grown, Than all is withered; whatsoever grace It found with man or heaven; bloom, beauty, gone. The damsel who should hold in higher place Than light or life the flower which is her own, Suffering the spoiler's hand to crop the prize, Forfeits her worth in every other's eyes.
XLIV "And be she cheap with all except the wight On whom she did so large a boon bestow. Ah! false and cruel Fortune! foul despite! While others triumph, I am drown'd in woe. And can it be that I such treasure slight? And can I then my very life forego? No! let me die; 'twere happiness above A longer life, if I must cease to love."
XLV If any ask who made this sorrowing, And pour'd into the stream so many tears, I answer, it was fair Circassia's king, That Sacripant, oppressed with amorous cares. Love is the source from which his troubles spring, The sole occasion of his pains and fears; And he to her a lover's service paid, Now well remembered by the royal maid.
XLVI He for her sake from Orient's farthest reign Roved thither, where the sun descends to rest; For he was told in India, to his pain, That she Orlando followed to the west. He after learned in France that Charlemagne Secluded from that champion and the rest, As a fit guerdon, mewed her for the knight Who should protect the lilies best in fight.
XLVII The warrior in the field had been, and viewed, Short time before, king Charlemagne's disgrace; And vainly had Angelica pursued, Nor of the damsel's footsteps found a trace. And this is what the weeping monarch rued, And this he so bewailed in doleful case: Hence, into words his lamentations run, Which might for pity stop the passing sun.
XLVIII While Sacripant laments him in this plight, And makes a tepid fountain of his eyes; And, what I deem not needful to recite, Pours forth yet other plaints and piteous cries; Propitious Fortune will his lady bright Should hear the youth lament him in such wise: And thus a moment compassed what, without Such chance, long ages had not brought about.
XLIX With deep attention, while the warrior weeps, She marks the fashion of the grief and tears And words of him, whose passion never sleeps; Nor this the first confession which she hears. But with his plaint her heart no measure keeps, Cold as the column which the builder rears. Like haughty maid, who holds herself above The world, and deems none worthy of her love.
L But her from harm amid those woods to keep, The damsel weened she might his guidance need; For the poor drowning caitiff, who, chin-deep, Implores not help, is obstinate indeed. Nor will she, if she let the occasion sleep, Find escort that will stand her in such stead: For she that king by long experience knew Above all other lovers, kind and true.
LI But not the more for this the maid intends To heal the mischief which her charms had wrought, And for past ills to furnish glad amends In that full bliss by pining lover sought. To keep the king in play are all her ends, His help by some device or fiction bought, And having to her purpose taxed his daring, To reassume as wont her haughty bearing.
LII An apparition bright and unforeseen, She stood like Venus or Diana fair, In solemn pageant, issuing on the scene From out of shadowy wood or murky lair. And "Peace be with you," cried the youthful queen, "And God preserve my honour in his care, Nor suffer that you blindly entertain Opinion of my fame so false and vain!"
LIII Not with such wonderment a mother eyes, With such excessive bliss the son she mourned As dead, lamented still with tears and sighs, Since the thinned files without her boy returned. — Not such her rapture as the king's surprise And ecstasy of joy when he discerned The lofty presence, cheeks of heavenly hue, And lovely form which broke upon his view.
LIV He, full of fond and eager passion, pressed Towards his Lady, his Divinity; And she now clasped the warrior to her breast, Who in Catay had haply been less free. And now again the maid her thoughts addressed Towards her native land and empery: And feels, with hope revived, her bosom beat Shortly to repossess her sumptuous seat.
LV Her chances all to him the damsel said, Since he was eastward sent to Sericane By her to seek the martial monarch's aid, Who swayed the sceptre of that fair domain; And told how oft Orlando's friendly blade Had saved her from dishonour, death, and pain; And how she so preserved her virgin flower Pure as it blossomed in her natal hour.
LVI Haply the tale was true; yet will not seem Likely to one of sober sense possessed: But Sacripant, who waked from worser dream, In all without a cavil acquiesced: Since love, who sees without one guiding gleam, Spies in broad day but that which likes him best: For one sign of the afflicted man's disease Is to give ready faith to things which please.
LVII "If good Anglante's lord the prize forbore, Nor seized the fair occasion when he might, The loss be his, if Fortune never more Him to enjoy so fair a prize invite. To imitate that lord of little lore I think not," said, apart, Circassa's knight. "To quit such proffered good, and, to my shame, Have but myself on after-thought to blame.
LVIII "No! I will pluck the fresh and morning rose, Which, should I tarry, may be overblown. To woman, (this my own experience shows), No deed more sweet or welcome can be done. Then, whatsoever scorn the damsel shows, Though she awhile may weep and make her moan, I will, unchecked by anger, false or true, Or sharp repulse, my bold design pursue."
LIX This said, he for the soft assault prepares, When a loud noise within the greenwood shade Beside him, rang in his astounded ears, And sore against his will the monarch stayed. He donned his helm (his other arms he wears), Aye wont to rove in steel, with belted blade, Replaced the bridle on his courser fleet, Grappled his lance, and sprang into his seat.
LX With the bold semblance of a valiant knight, Behold a warrior threads the forest hoar. The stranger's mantle was of snowy white, And white alike the waving plume he wore. Balked of his bliss, and full of fell despite, The monarch ill the interruption bore, And spurred his horse to meet him in mid space, With hate and fury glowing in his face.
LXI Him he defies to fight, approaching nigh, And weens to make him stoop his haughty crest: The other knight, whose worth I rate as high, His warlike prowess puts to present test; Cuts short his haughty threats and angry cry, And spurs, and lays his levelled lance in rest. In tempest wheels Circassia's valiant peer, And at his foeman's head each aims his spear.
LXII Not brindled bulls or tawny lions spring To forest warfare with such deadly will As those two knights, the stranger and the king. Their spears alike the opposing bucklers thrill: The solid ground, at their encountering, Trembles from fruitful vale to naked hill: And well it was the mail in which they dressed Their bodies was of proof, and saved the breast.
LXIII Nor swerved the chargers from their destined course; Who met like rams, and butted head to head. The warlike Saracen's ill-fated horse, Well valued while alive, dropt short and dead: The stranger's, too, fell senseless; but perforce Was roused by rowel from his grassy bed. That of the paynim king, extended straight, Lay on his battered lord with all his weight.
LXIV Upright upon his steed, the knight unknown, Who at the encounter horse and rider threw, Deeming enough was in the conflict done, Cares not the worthless warfare to renew; But endlong by the readiest path is gone, And measures, pricking frith and forest through, A mile, or little less, in furious heat, Ere the foiled Saracen regains his feet.
LXV As the bewildered and astonished clown Who held the plough (the thunder storm o'erpast) There, where the deafening bolt had beat him down, Nigh his death-stricken cattle, wakes aghast, And sees the distant pine without its crown, Which he saw clad in leafy honours last; So rose the paynim knight with troubled face, The maid spectatress of the cruel case.
LXVI He sighs and groans, yet not for mischief sore Endured in wounded arm or foot which bled; But for mere shame, and never such before Or after, dyed his cheek so deep a red, And if he rued his fall, it grieved him more His dame should lift him from his courser dead. He speechless had remained, I ween, if she Had not his prisoned tongue and voice set free.
LXVII "Grieve not," she said, "sir monarch, for thy fall; But let the blame upon thy courser be! To whom more welcome had been forage, stall, And rest, than further joust and jeopardy; And well thy foe the loser may I call, (Who shall no glory gain) for such is he Who is the first to quit his ground, if aught Angelica of fighting fields be taught."
LXVIII While she so seeks the Saracen to cheer, Behold a messenger with pouch and horn, On panting hackney! — man and horse appear With the long journey, weary and forlorn. He questions Sacripant, approaching near, Had he seen warrior pass, by whom were borne A shield and crest of white; in search of whom Through the wide forest pricked the weary groom.
LXIX King Sacripant made answer, "As you see, He threw me here, and went but now his way: Then tell the warrior's name, that I may be Informed whose valour foiled me in the fray." To him the groom, — "That which you ask of me I shall relate to you without delay: Know that you were in combat prostrate laid By the tried valour of a gentle maid.
LXX "Bold is the maid; but fairer yet than bold, Nor the redoubted virgin's name I veil: 'Twas Bradamant who marred what praise of old Your prowess ever won with sword and mail." This said, he spurred again, his story told, And left him little gladdened by the tale. He recks not what he says or does, for shame, And his flushed visage kindles into flame.
LXXI After the woeful warrior long had thought Upon his cruel case, and still in vain, And found a woman his defeat had wrought, For thinking but increased the monarch's pain, He climbed the other horse, nor spake he aught; But silently uplifted from the plain, Upon the croup bestowed that damsel sweet, Reserved to gladder use in safer seat.
LXXII Two miles they had not rode before they hear The sweeping woods which spread about them, sound With such loud crash and trample, far and near, The forest seemed to tremble all around; And shortly after see a steed appear, With housings wrought in gold and richly bound; Who clears the bush and stream, with furious force And whatsoever else impedes his course.
LXXIII "Unless the misty air," the damsel cries, "And boughs deceive my sight, yon noble steed Is, sure, Bayardo, who before us flies, And parts the wood with such impetuous speed. — Yes, 'tis Bayardo's self I recognize. How well the courser understands our need! Two riders ill a foundered jade would bear, But hither speeds the horse to end that care."
LXXIV The bold Circassian lighted, and applied His hand to seize him by the flowing rein, Who, swiftly turning, with his heels replied, For he like lightning wheeled upon the plain. Woe to the king! but that he leaps aside, For should he smite, he would not lash in vain. Such are his bone and sinew, that the shock Of his good heels had split a metal rock.
LXXV Then to the maid he goes submissively, With gentle blandishment and humble mood; As the dog greets his lord with frolic glee, Whom, some short season past, he had not viewed. For good Bayardo had in memory Albracca, where her hands prepared his food, What time the damsel loved Rinaldo bold; Rinaldo, then ungrateful, stern, and cold.
LXXVI With her left hand she takes him by the bit, And with the other pats his sides and chest: While the good steed (so marvellous his wit), Lamb-like, obeyed the damsel and caressed. Meantime the king, who sees the moment fit, Leapt up, and with his knees the courser pressed. While on the palfrey, eased of half his weight, The lady left the croup, and gained the seat.
LXXVII Then, as at hazard, she directs her sight, Sounding in arms a man on foot espies, And glows with sudden anger and despite; For she in him the son of Aymon eyes. Her more than life esteems the youthful knight, While she from him, like crane from falcon, flies. Time was the lady sighed, her passion slighted; 'Tis now Rinaldo loves, as ill requited.
LXXVIII And this effect two different fountains wrought, Whose wonderous waters different moods inspire. Both spring in Arden, with rare virtue fraught: This fills the heart with amorous desire: Who taste that other fountain are untaught Their love, and change for ice their former fire. Rinaldo drank the first, and vainly sighs; Angelica the last, and hates and flies.
LXXIX Mixed with such secret bane the waters glide, Which amorous care convert to sudden hate; The maid no sooner had Rinaldo spied, Than on her laughing eyes deep darkness sate: And with sad mien and trembling voice she cried To Sacripant, and prayed him not to wait The near approach of the detested knight, But through the wood with her pursue his flight.
LXXX To her the Saracen, with anger hot: "Is knightly worship sunk so low in me, That thou should'st hold my valour cheap, and not Sufficient to make yonder champion flee? Already are Albracca's fights forgot, And that dread night I singly stood for thee? That night when I, though naked, was thy shield Against King Agrican and all his field?"
LXXXI She answers not, and knows not in her fear What 'tis she does; Rinaldo is too nigh: And from afar that furious cavalier Threats the bold Saracen with angry cry, As soon as the known steed and damsel dear, Whose charms such flame had kindled, meet his eye. But what ensued between the haughty pair I in another canto shall declare.
ARGUMENT A hermit parts, by means of hollow sprite, The two redoubted rivals' dangerous play; Rinaldo goes where Love and Hope invite, But is dispatched by Charles another way; Bradamont, seeking her devoted knight, The good Rogero, nigh becomes the prey Of Pinabel, who drops the damsel brave Into the dungeon of a living grave.
I Injurious love, why still to mar accord Between desires has been thy favourite feat? Why does it please thee so, perfidious lord, Two hearts should with a different measure beat? Thou wilt not let me take the certain ford, Dragging me where the stream is deep and fleet. Her I abandon who my love desires, While she who hates, respect and love inspires.
II Thou to Rinaldo show'st the damsel fair, While he seems hideous to that gentle dame; And he, who when the lady's pride and care, Paid back with deepest hate her amorous flame, Now pines, himself, the victim of despair, Scorned in his turn, and his reward the same. By the changed damsel in such sort abhorred, She would choose death before that hated lord.
III He to the Pagan cries: "Forego thy theft, And down, false felon, from that pilfer'd steed; I am not wont to let my own be reft. And he who seeks it dearly pays the deed. More — I shall take from thee yon lovely weft; To leave thee such a prize were foul misdeed; And horse and maid, whose worth outstrips belief, Were ill, methinks, relinquished to a thief."
IV "Thou liest," the haughty Saracen retorts, As proud, and burning with as fierce a flame, "A thief thyself, if Fame the truth reports: But let good deeds decide our dubious claim, With whom the steed or damsel fair assorts: Best proved by valiant deeds: though, for the dame, That nothing is so precious, I with thee (Search the wide world throughout) may well agree."
V As two fierce dogs will somtimes stand at gaze, Whom hate or other springs of strife inspire, And grind their teeth, while each his foe surveys With sidelong glance and eyes more red than fire, Then either falls to bites, and hoarsely bays, While their stiff bristles stand on end with ire: So from reproach and menace to the sword Pass Sacripant and Clermont's angry lord.
VI Thus kindling into wrath the knights engage: One is on foot, the other on his horse: Small gain to this; for inexperienced page Would better rein his charger in the course. For such Baiardo's sense, he will not wage War with his master, or put out his force. For voice, nor hand, nor manage, will he stir, Rebellious to the rein or goading spur.
VII He, when the king would urge him, takes the rest, Or, when he curbs him, runs in giddy rings; And drops his head beneath his spreading chest, And plays his spine, and runs an-end and flings. And now the furious Saracen distressed, Sees 'tis no time to tame the beast, and springs, With one hand on the pummel, to the ground; Clear of the restless courser at a bound.
VIII As soon as Sacripant, with well-timed leap, Is from the fury of Bayardo freed, You may believe the battle does not sleep Between those champions, matched in heart and deed. Their sounding blades such changeful measure keep, The hammer-strokes of Vulcan with less speed Descend in that dim cavern, where he heats, And Jove's red thunders on his anvil beats.
IX Sometimes they lunge, then feign the thrust and parry: Deep masters of the desperate game they play; Or rise upon the furious stroke, and carry Their swords aloft, or stoop and stand at bay. Again they close, again exhausted tarry; Now hide, now show themselves, and now give way, And where one knight an inch of ground has granted, His foeman's foot upon that inch is planted.
X When, lo! Rinaldo, now impatient grown, Strikes full at Sacripant with lifted blade; And he puts forth his buckler made of bone, And well with strong and stubborn steel inlaid: Though passing thick, Fusberta cleaves it: groan Greenwood, and covert close, and sunny glade. The paynim's arm rings senseless with the blow, And steel and bone, like ice, in shivers go.
XI When the fair damsel saw, with timid eye, Such ruin follow from the faulchion's sway, She, like the criminal, whose doom is nigh, Changed her fair countenance through sore dismay, And deemed that little time was left to fly If she would not be that Rinaldo's prey, Rinaldo loathed by her as much, as he Doats on the scornful damsel miserably.
XII So turned her horse into the gloomy chase, And drove him through rough path and tangled ally And oftentimes bent back her bloodless face, And saw Rinaldo from each thicket sally. Nor flying long had urged the frantic race, Before she met a hermit in a valley. Devotion in his aspect was expressed, And his long beard descended on his breast.
XIII Wasted he was as much by fasts as age, And on an ass was mounted, slow and sure; His visage warranted that never sage Had conscience more precise or passing pure. Though in his arteries time had stilled the rage Of blood, and spake him feeble and demure, At sight of the delighted damsel, he Was inly stirred for very charity.
XIV The lady prayed that kindly friar, that he Would straight conduct her to some haven near, For that she from the land of France might flee, And never more of loathed Rinaldo hear. The hermit, who was skilled in sorcery, Ceased not to soothe the gentle damsel's fear. And with the promise of deliverance, shook His pocket, and drew forth a secret book.
XV This opened, quick and mighty marvel wrought; For not a leaf is finished by the sage, Before a spirit, by his bidding brought, Waits his command in likeness of a page: He, by the magic writ constrained and taught, Hastes where the warriors face to face engage, In the cool shade — but not in cool disport — And steps between, and stops their battle short.
XVI "In courtesy," he cried, "let either show What his foe's death to either can avail, And what the guerdon conquest will bestow On him who in the battle shall prevail, If Roland, though he has not struck a blow, Or snapt in fight a single link of mail, To Paris-town conveys the damsel gay, Who has engaged you in this bitter fray.
XVII "Within an easy mile I saw the peer Pricking to Paris with that lady bright; Riding, in merry mood, with laugh and jeer, And mocking at your fierce and fruitless fight. Sure it were better, while they yet are near, To follow peer and damsel in their flight: For should he once in Paris place his prize The lady never more shall meet your eyes."
XVIII You might have seen those angry cavaliers Change at the demon's tale for rage and shame; And curse themselves as wanting eyes and ears, To let their rival cheat them of the dame. Towards his horse the good Rinaldo steers, Breathing forth piteous sighs which seem of flame; And, if he joins Orlando — ere they part — Swears in his fury he will have his heart.
XIX So, passing where the prompt Bayardo stood, Leaps on his back, and leaves, as swift as wind, Without farewell, his rival in the wood; Much less invites him to a seat behind. The goaded charger, in his heat of blood, Forces whate'er his eager course confined, Ditch, river, tangled thorn, or marble block; He swims the river, and he clears the rock.
XX Let it not, sir, sound strangely in your ear Rinaldo took the steed thus readily, So long and vainly followed far and near; For he, endued with reasoning faculty, Had not in vice lured on the following peer, But fled before his cherished lord, that he Might guide him whither went the gentle dame, For whom, as he had heard, he nursed a flame.
XXI For when Angelica, in random dread, From the pavilion winged her rapid flight, Bayardo marked the damsel as she fled, His saddle lightened of Mount Alban's knight; Who then on foot an equal combat sped, Matched with a baron of no meaner might; And chased the maid by woods, and floods, and strands, In hopes to place her in the warrior's hands.
XXII And, with desire to bring him to the maid, Gallopped before him still with rampant play; But would not let his master mount, afraid That he might make him take another way. So luring on Rinaldo through the shade, Twice brought him to his unexpected prey; Twice foiled in his endeavour: once by bold Ferrau; then Sacripant, as lately told.
XXIII Now good Bayardo had believed the tiding Of that fair damsel, which produced the accord; And in the devil's cunning tale confiding, Renewed his wonted service to his lord. Behold Rinaldo then in fury riding, And pushing still his courser Paris-ward! Though he fly fast, the champion's wishes go Faster; and wind itself had seemed too slow.
XXIV At night Rinaldo rests his steed, with pain To meet Anglante's lord he burned so sore; And lent such credit to the tidings vain Of the false courier of that wizard hoar: And that day and the next, with flowing rein, Rode, till the royal city rose before His eyes; where Charlemagne had taken post, With the sad remnant of his broken host.
XXV He, for he fears the Afric king's pursuit, And sap and siege, upon his vassals calls To gather in fresh victual, and recruit And cleanse their ditches, and repair their walls. And what may best annoy the foes, and suit For safety, without more delay forestalls; And plans an embassy to England, thence To gather fresher forces for defence.
XXVI For he is bent again to try the fate Of arms in tented field, though lately shamed; And send Rinaldo to the neighbouring state Of Britain, which was after England named. Ill liked the Paladin to cross the strait; Not that the people or the land he blamed, But that King Charles was sudden; nor a day Would grant the valiant envoy for delay.
XXVII Rinaldo never executed thing Less willingly, prevented in his quest Of that fair visage he was following, Whose charms his heart had ravished from his breast. Yet, in obediance to the christian king, Prepared himself to do the royal hest. To Calais the good envoy wends with speed, And the same day embarks himself and steed.
XXVIII And there, in scorn of cautious pilot's skill (Such his impatience to regain his home), Launched on the doubtful sea, which boded ill, And rolled its heavy billows, white with foam. The wind, enraged that he opposed his will, Stirred up the waves; and, 'mid the gathering gloom, So the loud storm and tempest's fury grew, That topmast-high the flashing waters flew.
XXIX The watchful mariners, in wary sort, Haul down the mainsail, and attempt to wear; And would put back in panic to the port, Whence, in ill hour, they loosed with little care. — "Not so," exclaims the wind, and stops them short, "So poor a penance will not pay the dare." And when they fain would veer, with fiercer roar Pelts back their reeling prow and blusters more.
XXX Starboard and larboard bears the fitful gale, And never for a thought its ire assuages; While the strained vessel drives with humble sail Before the billows, as the tempest rages. But I, who still pursue a varying tale, Must leave awhile the Paladin, who wages A weary warfare with the wind and flood; To follow a fair virgin of his blood.
XXXI I speak of that famed damsel, by whose spear O'erthrown, King Sacripant on earth was flung; The worthy sister of the valiant peer, From Beatrix and good Duke Aymon sprung. By daring deeds and puissance no less dear To Charlemagne and France: Since proved among The first, her prowess, tried by many a test, Equal to good Rinaldo's shone confessed.
XXXII A cavalier was suitor to the dame, Who out of Afric passed with Agramant; Rogero was his valiant father's name, His mother was the child of Agolant. And she, who not of bear or lion came, Disdained not on the Child her love to plant, Though cruel Fortune, ill their wishes meeting, Had granted to the pair a single greeting.
XXXIII Alone thenceforth she sought her lover (he Was named of him to whom he owed his birth), And roved as safe as if in company Of thousands, trusting in her single worth. She having made the king of Circassy Salute the visage of old mother earth, Traversed a wood, and that wood past, a mountain; And stopt at length beside a lovely fountain.
XXXIV Through a delicious mead the fountain-rill, By ancient trees o'ershaded, glides away; And him whose ear its pleasing murmurs fill, Invites to drink, and on its banks to stay; On the left side a cultivated hill Excludes the fervors of the middle day. As first the damsel thither turns her eyes, A youthful cavalier she seated spies;
XXXV A cavalier, who underneath the shade, Seems lost, as in a melancholy dream; And on the bank, which gaudy flowers displayed, Reposing, overhangs the crystal stream. His horse beneath a spreading beech is laid, And from a bough the shield and helmet gleam. While his moist eyes, and sad and downcast air, Speak him the broken victim of despair.
XXXVI Urged by the passion lodged in every breast, A restless curiosity to know Of others' cares, the gentle maid addressed The knight, and sought the occasion of his woe. And he to her his secret grief confessed, Won by her gentle speech and courteous show, And by that gallant bearing, which at sight, Prepared who saw her for nimble knight.
XXXVII "Fair sir, a band of horse and foot," he said, "I brought to Charlemagne; and thither pressed, Where he an ambush for Marsilius spread, Descending from the Pyrenean crest; And in my company a damsel led, Whose charms with fervid love had fired my breast. When, as we journey by Rhone's current, I A rider on a winged courser spy.
XXXVIII "The robber, whether he were man or shade, Or goblin damned to everlasting woe, As soon as he beheld my dear-loved maid, Like falcon, who, descending, aims its blow, Sank in a thought and rose; and soaring, laid Hands on his prize, and snatched her from below. So quick the rape, that all appeared a dream, Until I heard in air the damsel's scream.
XXXIX "The ravening kite so swoops and plunders, when Hovering above the shelterd yard, she spies A helpless chicken near unwatchful hen, Who vainly dins the thief with after cries. I cannot reach the mountain-robber's den, Compassed with cliffs, or follow one who flies. Besides, way-foundered is my weary steed, Who 'mid these rocks has wasted wind and speed.
XL "But I, like one who from his bleeding side Would liefer far have seen his heart out-torn, Left my good squadrons masterless, to ride Along the cliffs, and passes least forlorn; And took the way (love served me for a guide) Where it appeared the ruthless thief had born, Ascending to his den, the lovely prey, What time he snatched my hope and peace away.
XLI "Six days I rode, from morn to setting sun, By horrid cliff, by bottom dark and drear; And giddy precipice, where path was none, Nor sign, nor vestiges of man were near. At last a dark and barren vale I won, Where caverned mountains and rude cliffs appear; Where in the middle rose a rugged block, With a fair castle planted on the rock.
XLII "From far it shone like flame, and seemed not dight Of marble or of brick; and in my eye More wonderful the work, more fair to sight The walls appeared, as I approached more nigh. I, after, learned that it was built by sprite Whom potent fumes had raised and sorcery: Who on this rock its towers of steel did fix, Case-hardened in the stream and fire of Styx.
XLIII "Each polished turret shines with such a ray That it defies the mouldering rust and rain: The robber scours the country night and day, And after harbours in this sure domain. Nothing is safe which he would bear away; Pursued with curses and with threats in vain. There (fruitless every hope to foil his art) The felon keeps my love, oh! say my heart.
XLIV "Alas! what more is left me but to eye Her prison on that cliff's aerial crest? Like the she-fox, who hears her offspring cry, Standing beneath the ravening eagle's nest; And since she has not wings to rise and fly, Runs round the rugged rock with hopeless quest. So inaccessible the wild dominion To whatsoever has not plume and pinion.
XLV "While I so lingered where those rocks aspire, I saw a dwarf guide two of goodly strain; Whose coming added hope to my desire (Alas! desire and hope alike were vain) Both barons bold, and fearful in their ire: The one Gradasso, King of Sericane, The next, of youthful vigour, was a knight, Prized in the Moorish court, Rogero hight.
XLVI "The dwarf exclaimed, 'These champions will assay Their force with him who dwells on yonder steep, And by such strange and unattempted way Spurs the winged courser from his mountain-keep.' And I to the approaching warriors say, 'Pity, fair sirs, the cruel loss I weep, And, as I trust, yon daring spoiler slain, Give my lost lady to my arms again.'
XLVII "Then how my love was ravished I make known, Vouching with bitter tears my deep distress. They proffer aid, and down the path of stone Which winds about the craggy mountain, press. While I, upon the summit left alone, Look on, and pray to God for their success. Beneath the wily wizard's castle strong Extends a little plain, two bow-shots long.
XLVIII "Arrived beneath the craggy keep, the two Contend which warrior shall begin the fight. When, whether the first lot Gradasso drew, Or young Rogero held the honor light, The King of Sericane his bugle blew, And the rock rang and fortress on the height; And, lo! apparelled for the fearful course, The cavalier upon his winged horse!
XLIX "Upwards, by little and by little, springs The winged courser, as the pilgrim crane Finds not at first his balance and his wings, Running and scarcely rising from the plain; But when the flock is launched and scattered, flings His pinions to the wind, and soars amain. So straight the necromancer's upward flight, The eagle scarce attempts so bold a height.
L "When it seems fit, he wheels his courser round, Who shuts his wings, and falling from the sky, Shoots like a well trained falcon to the ground, Who sees the quarry, duck or pigeon, fly: So, through the parting air, with whizzing sound, With rested lance, he darted from on high; And while Gradasso scarcely marks the foe He hears him swooping near, and feels the blow.
LI "The wizard on Gradasso breaks his spear, He wounds the empty air, with fury vain. This in the feathered monster breeds no fear; Who to a distance shifts, and swoops again. While that encounter made the Alfana rear, Thrown back upon her haunches, on the plain. The Alfana that the Indian monarch rode, The fairest was that ever man bestrode.
LII "Up to the starry sphere with swift ascent The wizard soars, then pounces from the sky, And strikes the young Rogero, who, intent Upon Gradasso, deems no danger nigh. Beneath the wizard's blow the warrior bent, Which made some deal his generous courser ply; And when to smite the shifting foe he turned, Him in the sky, and out of reach discerned.
LIII "His blows Rogero, now Gradasso, bruise On forehead, bosom, back, or flanks, between; While he the warrior's empty blows eschews, Shifting so quickly that he scarce is seen. Now this, now that, the wizard seems to choose, The monster makes such spacious rings and clean, While the enchanter so deceives the knights, They view him not, and know not whence he smites.
LIV "Between the two on earth and him o' the sky, Until that hour the warfare lasted there, Which, spreading wide its veil of dusky dye, Throughout the world, discolours all things fair. What I beheld, I say; I add not, I, A tittle to the tale; yet scarcely dare To tell to other what I stood and saw; So strange it seems, so passing Nature's law.
LV "Well covered in a goodly silken case, He, the celestial warrior, bore his shield; But why delayed the mantle to displace I know not, and its lucid orb concealed. Since this no sooner blazes in his face, Than his foe tumbles dazzled on the field; And while he, like a lifeless body, lies, Becomes the necromancer's helpless prize.
LVI "LIke carbuncle, the magic buckler blazed, No glare was ever seen which shone so bright: Nor could the warriors choose but fall, amazed And blinded by the clear and dazzling light. I, too, that from a distant mountain gazed, Fell senseless; and when I regained my sight, After long time, saw neither knights nor page, Nor aught beside a dark and empty stage.
LVII "This while the fell enchanter, I supposed, Dragged both the warriors to his prison-cell; And by strange virtue of the shield disclosed, I from my hope and they from freedom fell: And thus I to the turrets, which enclosed My heart, departing, bade a last farewell. Now sum my griefs, and say if love combine Other distress or grief to match with mine."
LVIII The knight relapsed into his first disease, After his melancholy tale was done. This was Count Pinabel, the Maganzese, Anselmo d'Altaripa's faithless son. He, where the blood ran foul through all degrees, Disdained to be the only virtuous one; Nor played a simple part among the base, Passing in vice the villains of his race.
LIX With aspect changing still, the beauteous dame Hears what the mournful Maganzese narrates; And, at first mention of Rogero's name, Her radiant face with eager joy dilates. But, full of pity, kindles into flame As Pinabel his cruel durance states. Nor finds she, though twice told, the story stale; But makes him oft repeat and piece his tale.
LX And, after, when she deemed that all was clear, Cried to the knight, "Repose upon my say. To thee may my arrival well be dear, And thou as fortunate account this day. Straight wend me to the keep, sir cavalier, Which holds a jewel of so rich a ray: Nor shalt thou grudge thy labour and thy care, If envious Fortune do but play me fair."
LXI The knight replied, "Then nought to me remains But that I yonder mountain-passes show; And sure 'tis little loss to lose my pains, Where every thing is lost I prize below. But you would climb yon cliffs, and for your gains Will find a prison-house, and be it so! Whate'er betide you, blame yourself alone; You go forewarned to meet a fate foreshown."
LXII So said, the cavalier remounts his horse, And serves the gallant damsel as a guide; Who is prepared Rogero's gaol to force, Or to be slain, or in his prison stied. When lo! a messenger, in furious course, Called to the dame to stay, and rode and cried. This was the post who told Circassa's lord What valiant hand had stretched him on the sward.
LXIII The courier, who so plied his restless heel, News of Narbonne and of Montpelier bore: How both had raised the standard of Castile, All Acquamorta siding with the Moor; And how Marseilles' disheartened men appeal To her, who should protect her straightened shore; And how, through him, her citizens demand Counsel and comfort at their captain's hand.
LXIV This goodly town, with many miles of plain, Which lie 'twixt Var and Rhone, upon the sea, To her was given by royal Charlemagne: Such trust he placed in her fidelity. Still wont with wonder on the tented plain The prowess of that valiant maid to see. And now the panting courier, as I said, Rode from Marseilles to ask the lady's aid.
LXV Whether or not she should the call obey, The youthful damsel doubts some little space; Strong in one balance Fame and Duty weigh, But softer thoughts both Fame and Duty chase: And she, at length, resolved the emprize to assay, And free Rogero from the enchanted place: Or, should her valour in the adventure fail, Would with the cherished lover share his jail.
LXVI And did with such excuse that post appay, He was contented on her will to wait: Then turned the bridle to resume her way With Pinabel, who seemed no whit elate. Since of that line he knows the damsel gay, Held in such open and such secret hate; And future trouble to himself foresees, Were he detected as a Maganzese.
LXVII For 'twixt Maganza's and old Clermont's line There was an ancient and a deadly feud: And oft to blows the rival houses came, And oft in civil blood their hands embrued. And hence some treason to this gentle dame In his foul heart, the wicked County brewed; Or, as the first occasion served, would stray Out of the road, and leave her by the way.
LXVIII And so the traitor's troubled fancy rack Fear, doubt, and his own native, rancorous mood, That unawares he issued from the track, And found himself within a gloomy wood: Where a rough mountain reared its shaggy back, Whose stony peak above the forest stood; The daughter of Dodona's duke behind, Dogging his footsteps through the thicket blind.
LXIX He, when he saw himself within the brake, Thought to abandon his unweeting foe; And to the dame — " 'Twere better that we make For shelter ere the gathering darkness grow; And, yonder mountain past, (save I mistake) A tower is seated in the vale below. Do you expect me then, while from the peak I measure the remembered place I seek."
LXX So said, he pushed his courser up the height Of that lone mountain; in his evil mind Revolving, as he went, some scheme or sleight To rid him of the gentle dame behind. When lo! a rocky cavern met his sight, Amid those precipices dark and blind: Its sides descended thirty yards and more, Worked smooth, and at the bottom was a door.
LXXI A void was at the bottom, where a wide Portal conducted to an inner room: From thence a light shone out on every side, As of a torch illumining the gloom. Fair Bradamant pursued her faithless guide, Suspended there, and pondering on her doom: And came upon the felon where he stood, Fearing lest she might lose him in the wood.
LXXII When her approach the County's first intent Made vain, the wily traitor sought to mend His toils, and some new stratagem invent To rid her thence, or bring her to her end. And so to meet the approaching lady went, And showed the cave, and prayed her to ascend; And said that in its bottom he had seen A gentle damsel of bewitching mien.
LXXIII Who, by her lovely semblance and rich vest, Appeared a lady of no mean degree; But melancholy, weeping, and distressed, As one who pined there in captivity: And that when he towards the entrance pressed, To learn who that unhappy maid might be, One on the melancholy damsel flew, And her within that inner cavern drew.
LXXIV The beauteous Bradamant, who was more bold Than wary, gave a ready ear; and, bent To help the maid, imprisoned in that hold, Sought but the means to try the deep descent. Then, looking round, descried an elm-tree old, Which furnished present means for her intent: And from the tree, with boughs and foliage stored, Lopt a long branch, and shaped it with her sword.
LXXV The severed end she to the count commended, Then, grasping it, hung down that entrance steep. With her feet foremost, by her arms suspended: When asking if she had the skill to leap, The traitor, with a laugh, his hands extended. And plunged his helpless prey into the deep. "And thus," exclaimed the ruffian, "might I speed With thee each sucker of thy cursed seed!"
LXXVI But not, as was the will of Pinabel, Such cruel lot fair Bradamant assayed; For striking on the bottom of the cell, The stout elm-bough so long her weight upstayed, That, though it split and splintered where it fell, It broked her fall, and saved the gentle maid. Some while astounded there the lady lay, As the ensuing canto will display.
ARGUMENT Restored to sense, the beauteous Bradamant Finds sage Melissa in the vaulted tomb, And hears from her of many a famous plant And warrior, who shall issue from her womb. Next, to release Rogero from the haunt Of old Atlantes, learns how from the groom, Brunello hight, his virtuous ring to take; And thus the knight's and others' fetters break.
I Who will vouchsafe me voice that shall ascend As high as I would raise my noble theme? Who will afford befitting words, and lend Wings to my verse, to soar the pitch I scheme? Since fiercer fire for such illustrious end, Than what was wont, may well my song beseem. For this fair portion to my lord is due Which sings the sires from whom his lineage grew.
II Than whose fair line, 'mid those by heavenly grace Chosen to minister this earth below, You see not, Phoebus, in your daily race, One that in peace or war doth fairer show; Nor lineage that hath longer kept its place; And still shall keep it, if the lights which glow Within me, but aright inspire my soul, While the blue heaven shall turn about the pole.
III But should I seek at full its worth to blaze, Not mine were needful, but that noble lyre Which sounded at your touch the thunderer's praise, What time the giants sank in penal fire. Yet should you instruments, more fit to raise The votive work, bestow, as I desire, All labour and all thought will I combine, To shape and shadow forth the great design.
IV Till when, this chisel may suffice to scale The stone, and give my lines a right direction; And haply future study may avail, To bring the stubborn labour to perfection. Return we now to him, to whom the mail Of hawberk, shield, and helm, were small protection: I speak of Pinabel the Maganzeze, Who hopes the damsel's death, whose fall he sees.
V The wily traitor thought that damsel sweet Had perished on the darksome cavern's floor, And with pale visages hurried his retreat From that, through him contaminated door. And, thence returning, clomb into his seat: Then, like one who a wicked spirit bore, To add another sin to evil deed, Bore off with him the warlike virgin's steed.
VI Leave we sometime the wretch who, while he layed Snares for another, wrought his proper doom; And turn we to the damsel he betrayed, Who had nigh found at once her death and tomb. She, after rising from the rock, dismayed At her shrewd fall, and gazing through the gloom, Beheld and passed that inner door, which gave Entrance to other and more spacious cave.
VII For the first cavern in a second ended, Fashioned in form of church, and large and square; With roof by cunning architect extended On shafts of alabaster rich and rare. The flame of a clear-burning lamp ascended Before the central altar; and the glare, Illuminating all the space about, Shone through the gate, and lit the cave without.
VIII Touched with the sanctifying thoughts which wait On worthy spirit in a holy place, She prays with eager lips, and heart elate, To the Disposer of all earthly grace: And, kneeling, hears a secret wicket grate In the opposing wall; whence, face to face, A woman issuing forth, the maid addresses, Barefoot, ungirt, and with dishevelled tresses.
IX "O generous Bradamant," the matron cried, "Know thine arrival in this hallowed hold Was not unauthorized of heavenly guide: And the prophetic ghost of Merlin told, Thou to this cave shouldst come by path untried, Which covers the renowned magician's mould. And here have I long time awaited thee, To tell what is the heavens' pronounced decree.
X "This is the ancient memorable cave Which Merlin, that enchanter sage, did make: Thou may'st have heard how that magician brave Was cheated by the Lady of the Lake. Below, beneath the cavern, is the grave Which holds his bones; where, for that lady's sake, His limbs (for such her will) the wizard spread. Living he laid him there, and lies there dead.
XI "Yet lives the spirit of immortal strain; Lodged in the enchanter's corpse, till to the skies The trumpet call it, or to endless pain, As it with dove or raven's wing shall rise. Yet lives the voice, and thou shalt hear how plain From its sepulchral case of marble cries: Since this has still the past and future taught To every wight that has its counsel sought.
XII "Long days have passed since I from distant land My course did to this cemetery steer, That in the solemn mysteries I scanned, Merlin to me the truth should better clear; And having compassed the design I planned, A month beyond, for thee, have tarried here; Since Merlin, still with certain knowledge summing Events, prefixed this moment for thy coming."
XIII The daughter of Duke Aymon stood aghast, And silent listened to the speech; while she Knew not, sore marvelling at all that passed, If 'twere a dream or a reality. At length, with modest brow, and eyes down cast, Replied (like one that was all modesty), "And is this wrought for me? and have I merit Worthy the workings of prophetic spirit?"
XIV And full of joy the adventure strange pursues, Moving with ready haste behind the dame, Who brings her to the sepulchre which mews The bones and spirit, erst of Merlin's name. The tomb, of hardest stone which masons use, Shone smooth and lucid, and as red as flame. So that although no sun-beam pierced the gloom, Its splendour lit the subterraneous room.
XV Whether it be the native operation O certain stones, to shine like torch i' the dark, Or whether force of spell or fumigation, (A guess that seems to come more near the mark) Or sign made under mystic constellation, The blaze that came from the sepulchral ark Discovered sculpture, colour, gems, and gilding, And whatsoever else adorned the building.
XVI Scarcely had Bradamant above the sill Lifter her foot, and trod the secret cave, When the live spirit, in clear tones that thrill, Addressed the martial virgin from the grave; "May Fortune, chaste and noble maid, fulfil Thine every wish!" exclaimed the wizard brave. "Since from thy womb a princely race shall spring, Whose name through Italy and earth shall ring.
XVII "The noble blood derived from ancient Troy, Mingling in thee its two most glorious streams, Shall be the ornament, and flower, and joy Of every lineage on which Phoebus beams, Where genial stars lend warmth, or cold annoy, Where Indus, Tagus, Nile, or Danube gleams; And in thy progeny and long drawn line Shall marquises, counts, dukes and Caesers shine.
XVIII "Captains and cavaliers shall spring from thee, Who both by knightly lance and prudent lore, Shall once again to widowed Italy Her ancient praise and fame in arms restore; And in her realms just lords shall seated be, (Such Numa and Augustus were of yore), Who with their government, benign and sage, Shall re-create on earth the golden age.
XIX "Then, that the will of Heaven be duly brought To a fair end through thee, in fitting date, Which from the first to bless thy love has wrought, And destined young Rogero for thy mate, Let nothing interpose to break that thought, But boldly tread the path perscribed by fate; Nor let aught stay thee till the thief be thrown By thy good lance, who keeps thee from thine own."
XX Here Merlin ceased, that for the solemn feat Melissa might prepare with fitting spell, To show bold Bradamant, in aspect meet, The heirs who her illustrious race should swell. Hence many sprites she chose; but from what seat Evoked, I know not, or if called from hell; And gathered in one place (so bade the dame), In various garb and guise the shadows came.
XXI This done, into the church she called the maid, Where she had drawn a magic ring, as wide As might contain the damsel, prostrate laid; With the full measure of a palm beside. And on her head, lest spirit should invade, A pentacle for more assurance tied. So bade her hold her peace, and stand and look, Then read, and schooled the demons from her book.
XXII Lo! forth of that first cave what countless swarm Presses upon the circle's sacred round, But, when they would the magic rampart storm, Finds the way barred as if by fosse or mound; Then back the rabble turns of various form; And when it thrice with bending march has wound About the circle, troops into the cave, Where stands that beauteous urn, the wizard's grave.
XXIII "To tell at large the puissant acts and worth, And name of each who, figured in a sprite, Is present to our eyes before his birth," Said sage Melissa to the damsel bright; "To tell the deeds which they shall act on earth, Were labour not to finish with the night. Hence I shall call few worthies of thy line, As time and fair occasion shall combine.
XXIV "See yonder first-born of thy noble breed, Who well reflects thy fair and joyous face; He, first of thine and of Rogero's seed, Shall plant in Italy thy generous race. In him behold who shall distain the mead, And his good sword with blood of Pontier base; The mighty wrong chastised, and traitor's guilt, By whom his princely father's blood was spilt.
XXV "By him King Desiderius shall be pressed, The valiant leader of the Lombard horde: And of the fiefs of Calaon and Este; For this imperial Charles shall make him lord. Hubert, thy grandson, comes behind; the best Of Italy, with arms and belted sword: Who shall defend the church from barbarous foes, And more than once assure her safe repose.
XXVI "Alberto next, unconquered captain, see, Whose trophies shall so many fanes array. Hugh, the bold son, is with the sire, and he Shall conquer Milan, and the snakes display. Azo, that next approaching form shall be, And, his good brother dead, the Insubri sway. Lo! Albertazo! by whose rede undone, See Berengarius banished, and his son.
XXVII "With him shall the imperial Otho join In wedlock worthily his daughter fair. And lo! another Hugh! O noble line! O! sire succeeded by an equal heir! He, thwarting with just cause their ill design, Shall thrash the Romans' pride who overbear; Shall from their hands the sovereign pontiff take, With the third Otho, and their leaguer break.
XXVIII "See Fulke, who to his brother will convey All his Italian birth-right, and command To take a mighty dukedom far away From his fair home, in Almayn's northern land. There he the house of Saxony shall stay, And prop the ruin with his saving hand; This in his mother's right he shall possess, And with his progeny maintain and bless.
XXIX "More famed for courtesy than warlike deed, Azo the second, he who next repairs! Bertoldo and Albertazo are his seed: And, lo! the father walkes between his heirs. By Parma's walls I see the Germans bleed, Their second Henry quelled; such trophy bears The one renowned in story's future page: The next shall wed Matilda, chaste and sage.
XXX "His virtues shall deserve so fair a flower, (And in his age, I wot, no common grace) To hold the half of Italy in dower, With that descendent of first Henry's race. Rinaldo shall succeed him in his power, Pledge of Bertoldo's wedded love, and chase Fierce Frederick Barbarossa's hireling bands, Saving the church from his rapacious hands.
XXXI "Another Azo rules Verona's town, With its fair fields; and two great chiefs this while (One wears the papal, one the imperial crown), The baron, Marquis of Ancona style. But to show all who rear the gonfalon Of the consistory, amid that file, Were task too long; as long to tell each deed Achieved for Rome by thy devoted seed.
XXXII "See Fulke and Obyson, more Azos, Hughs! Both Henrys! — mark the father and his boy. Two Guelphs: the first fair Umbria's land subdues, And shall Spoleto's ducal crown enjoy. Behold the princely phantom that ensues, Shall turn fair Italy's long grief to joy; I speak of the fifth Azo of thy strain, By whom shall Ezelin be quelled and slain.
XXXIII "Fierce Ezelin, that most inhuman lord, Who shall be deemed by men a child of hell. And work such evil, thinning with the sword Who in Ausonia's wasted cities dwell; Rome shall no more her Anthony record, Her Marius, Sylla, Nero, Cajus fell. And this fifth Azo shall to scathe and shame Put Frederick, second Caeser of the name.
XXXIV "He, with his better sceptre well contented, Shall rule the city, seated by the streams, Where Phoebus to his plaintive lyre lamented The son, ill-trusted with the father's beams; Where Cygnus spread his pinions, and the scented Amber was wept, as fabling poet dreams. To him such honour shall the church decree; Fit guerdon of his works, and valour's fee.
XXXV "But does no laurel for his brother twine, Aldobrandino, who will carry cheer To Rome (when Otho, with the Ghibelline, Into the troubled capital strikes fear), And make the Umbri and Piceni sign Their shame, and sack the cities far and near; Then hopeless to relieve the sacred hold, Sue to the neighbouring Florentine for gold:
XXXVI "And trust a noble brother to his hands, Boasting no dearer pledge, the pact to bind: And next, victorious o'er the German bands, Give his triumphant ensigns to the wind: To the afflicted church restore her lands, And take due vengeance of Celano's kind. Then die, cut off in manhood's early flower, Beneath the banners of the Papal power?
XXXVII "He, dying, leaves his brother Azo heir Of Pesaro and fair Ancona's reign, And all the cities which 'twixt Tronto are, And green Isauro's stream, from mount to main; With other heritage, more rich and rare, Greatness of mind, and faith without a strain. All else is Fortune's in this mortal state; But Virtue soars beyond her love and hate.
XXXVIII "In good Rinaldo equal worth shall shine, (Such is the promise of his early fire) If such a hope of thine exalted line. Dark Fate and Fortune wreck not in their ire. Alas! from Naples in this distant shrine, Naples, where he is hostage for his sire, His dirge is heard: A stripling of thy race, Young Obyson, shall fill his grandsire's place.
XXXIX "This lord to his dominion shall unite Gay Reggio, joined to Modena's bold land. And his redoubted valour lend such light, The willing people call him to command. Sixth of the name, his Azo rears upright The church's banner in his noble hand: Fair Adria's fief to him in dower shall bring The child of second Charles, Sicilia's king.
XL "Behold in yonder friendly group agreed. Many fair princes of illustrious name; Obyson, Albert famed for pious deed, Aldobrandino, Nicholas the lame. But we may pass them by, for better speed, Faenza conquered, and their feats and fame; With Adria (better held and surer gain) Which gives her title to the neighbouring main:
XLI "And that fair town, whose produce is the rose, The rose which gives it name in Grecian speech: That, too, which fishy marshes round enclose, And Po's two currents threat with double breach; Whose townsmen loath the lazy calm's repose, And pray that stormy waves may lash the beach. I pass, mid towns and towers, a countless store, Argenta, Lugo, and a thousand more.
XLII "See Nicholas, whom in his tender age, The willing people shall elect their lord; He who shall laugh to scorn the civil rage Of the rebellious Tideus and his horde; Whose infantine delight shall be to wage The mimic fight, and sweat with spear and sword: And through the discipline such nurture yields, Shall flourish as the flower of martial fields.
XLIII "By him rebellious plans are overthrown, And turned upon the rash contriver's head; And so each stratagem of warfare blown, That vainly shall the cunning toils be spread. To the third Otho this too late is known, Of Parma and the pleasant Reggio dread; Who shall by him be spoiled in sudden strife, Of his possessions and his wretched life.
XLIV "And still the fair dominion shall increase, And without wrong its spreading bounds augment; Nor its glad subjects violate the peace, Unless provoked some outrage to resent, And hence its wealth and welfare shall not cease; And the Divine Disposer be content To let it flourish (such his heavenly love!) While the celestial spheres revolve above.
XLV "Lo! Lionel! lo! Borse great and kind! First duke of thy fair race, his realm's delight; Who reigns secure, and shall more triumphs find In peace, than warlike princes win in fight. Who struggling Fury's hands shall tie behind Her back, and prison Mars, removed from sight. His fair endeavours bent to bless and stay The people, that his sovereign rule obey.
XLVI "Lo! Hercules, who may reproach his neighbour, With foot half burnt, and halting gait and slow, That at Budrio, with protecting sabre, He saved his troops from fatal overthrow; Not that, for guerdon of his glorious labour, He should distress and vex him as a foe; Chased into Barco. It were hard to say, If most he shine in peace or martial fray.
XLVII "Lucania, Puglia, and Calabria's strand, Shall with the rumour of his prowess ring: Where he shall strive in duel, hand to hand, And gain the praise of Catalonia's king. Him, with the wisest captains of the land His worth shall class; such fame his actions bring; And he the fief shall win like valiant knight, Which thirty years before was his of right.
XLVIII "To him his grateful city owes a debt, The greatest subjects to their lord can owe; Not that he moves her from a marsh, to set Her stones, where Ceres' fruitful treasures grow. Nor that he shall enlarge her bounds, nor yet That he shall fence her walls against the foe; Nor that he theatre and dome repairs, And beautifies her streets and goodly squares;
XLIX "Not that he keeps his lordship well defended From the winged lions' claws and fierce attacks; Nor that, when Gallic ravage is extended, And the invader all Italia sacks, His happy state alone is unoffended; Unharassed, and ungalled by toll or tax. Not for these blessings I recount, and more His grateful realm shall Hercules adore;
L "So much as that from him shall spring a pair Of brothers, leagued no less by love than blood; Who shall be all that Leda's children were; The just Alphonso, Hippolite the good. And as each twin resigned the vital air His fellow to redeem from Stygian flood, So each of these would gladly spend his breath, And for his brother brave perpetual death.
LI "In these two princes' excellent affection, Their happy lieges more assurance feel, Than if their noble town, for its protection, Were girded twice by Vulcan's works of steel. And so Alphonso in his good direction, Justice, with knowledge and with love, shall deal, Astrea shall appear returned from heaven, To this low earth to varying seasons given.
LII "Well is it that his wisdom shines as bright As his good sire's, nor is his valour less; Since here usurping Venice arms for fight, And her full troops his scanty numbers press, There she (I know not if more justly hight Mother or stepmother) brings new distress; But, if a mother, scarce to him more mild Than Progue or Medea to her child.
LIII "This chief, what time soever he shall go Forth with his faithful crew, by night or day, By water or by land, will shame the foe, With memorable rout and disarray; And this too late Romagna's sons shall know. Led against former friends in bloody fray, Who shall bedew the campaign with their blood, By Santern, Po, and Zaniolus' flood.
LIV "This shall the Spaniard know, to his dismay, 'Mid the same bounds, whom papal gold shall gain, Who shall from him Bastia win and slay, With cruel rage, her hapless Castellain, The city taken; but shall dearly pay; His crime, the town retrieved, and victor slain: Since in the rescued city not a groom Is left alive, to bear the news to Rome.
LV " 'Tis he, who with his counsel and his lance, Shall win the honours of Romagna's plain, And open to the chivalry of France The victory over Julius, leagued with Spain. Paunch-deep in human blood shall steeds advance In that fierce strife, and struggle through the slain, 'Mid crowded fields, which scarce a grace supply, Where Greek, Italian, Frank, and Spaniard die.
LVI "Lo! who in priestly vesture clad, is crowned With purple hat, conferred in hallowed dome! 'Tis he, the wise, the liberal, the renowned Hippolitus, great cardinal of Rome; Whose actions shall in every region sound, Where'er the honoured muse shall find a home: To whose glad era, by indulgent heaven, As to Augustus' is a Maro given.
LVII "His deeds adorn his race, as from his car The glorious sun illumes the subject earth More than the silver moon or lesser star; So far all others he transcends in worth. I see this captain, ill bested for war, Go forth afflicted, and return in mirth: Backed by few foot, and fewer cavaliers, He homeward barks, and fifteen gallies steers.
LVIII "Two Sigismonds, the first, the second, see; To these Alphonso's five good sons succeed; Whose glories spread o'er seas and land shall be. The first shall wed a maid of France's seed. This is the second Hercules; and he, (That you may know their every name and deed), Hippolitus; who with the light shall shine, Of his wise uncle, gilding all his line.
LIX "Francis the third comes next; the other two Alphonsos both; — but yet again I say, Thy line through all its branches to pursue, Fair virgin, would too long protract thy stay; And Phoebus, many times, to mortal view, Would quench and light again the lamp of day. Then, with thy leave, 'tis time the pageant cease, And I dismiss the shades and hold my peace."
LX So with the lady's leave the volume closed, Whose precepts to her will the spirits bent. And they, where Merlin's ancient bones reposed, From the first cavern disappearing, went. Then Bradamant her eager lips unclosed, Since the divine enchantress gave consent; "And who," she cried, "that pair of sorrowing mien, Alphonso and Hippolitus between?
LXI "Sighing, those youths advanced amid the show, Their brows with shame and sorrow overcast, With downward look, and gait subdued and slow: I saw the brothers shun them as they passed." Melissa heard the dame with signs of woe, And thus, with streaming eyes, exclaim'd at last: "Ah! luckless youths, with vain illusions fed, Whither by wicked men's bad counsel led!
LXII "O, worthy seed of Hercules the good, Let not their guilt beyond thy love prevail; Alas! the wretched pair are of thy blood, So many prevailing pity turn the scale!" And in a sad and softer tone pursued, "I will not further press the painful tale. Chew on fair fancy's food: Nor deem unmeet I will not with a bitter chase the sweet.
LXIII "Soon as to-morrow's sun shall gild the skies With his first light, myself the way will show To where the wizard knight Rogero sties; And built with polished steel the ramparts glow: So long as through deep woods thy journey lies, Till, at the sea arrived, I shall bestow Such new instructions for the future way, That thou no more shalt need Melissa's stay."