Book I, Canto I, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English Translation. Book I, Canto 1, Part 3, Stanzas 41-60.

41
Thus Malagise learns their true intent,
But let us leave him reeling from the shock,
And rather see where Argalía went.
He, once he had arrived at Merlin’s Rock,
Dismounted, tied his horse, and pitched his tent.
Then lay inside it, and some slumber took.
A fancier tent in France was never kept,
Than that in which now Argalía slept.

42
Angelica, who was not far behind
Her brother, rests her head upon the ground,
Beside the fountain, underneath the pine,
While the four watchful giants her surround.
In sleep, she seems not one of humankind,
But like an angel come from Heaven down.
Her brother’s ring upon her hand she wore,
The pow’rs of which, I have explained before.

43
Now Malagise, carried through the air,
By fiends he’s summoned, silently comes thither.
Unseen he sees the damsel sleeping there,
Beneath the pine beside the flowing river.
But the four giants arms and armor bear,
And keep unblinking watch as they sit with her.
The wizard laughs and thinks, “Ye ugly rabble,
I’ll overcome you all without a battle.

44
Your flails and maces are no use today,
Nor darts nor swords nor all your other arms,
But Slumber soon shall hold you ‘neath his sway.
You foolish geldings will raise no alarms.”
When he had gloated, he made no delay,
To take his spellbook out and cast his charms.
The first page of the book he had not read,
Before the giants slumbered as if dead.

45
This done, the damsel is his target next.
He slowly closes in and draws his sword,
But when he sees her lovely face at rest,
Her arms stretched gently out across the sward,
His spirits rise; his heart throbs in his chest
He thinks, “Why spurn the gifts that fate affords?
I’ll make her sleep so soundly with my charms,
She’ll never know I held her in my arms.”

46
He drops his sword and takes his book in hand,
And reads the spell again the whole way through,
But all in vain, the charm works not as planned,
For all enchantments can the ring undo.
But Malagise thinks th’enchanted band
Is Argalía’s and the maid he views
Is sealed by magic in a slumbrous prison.
He stretches out beside her and starts kissing.

47
The girl awakens with a frightened cry:
“Ah, miserable me; I am betrayed!”
Stunned, Malagise can make no reply,
To see his charms did not affect the maid.
She grabs him by the wrist, lest he should fly,
And loudly calls for Argalía’s aid.
He hears her cry, and starts awake, alarmed.
He rushes from his tent in haste, unarmed.

48
Soon as his eyes behold this Frankish wight,
Who’s tried to treat his sister like a harlot,
His heart sinks in him, overmastered quite.
His strength is gone, and his face flushes scarlet.
But in an instant he regains his might
And grabs a stick of wood to brain the varlet.
“Die, traitor! – shouts he as he rushes o’er –
How dar’st thou treat my sister like a whore?”

49
But she cries, “Brother, we must bind him tightly,
Ere I release him; he’s a sorcerer,
And if I didn’t have the ring, your knightly
Prowess would fail to take him prisoner.”
On hearing this, the youthful prince runs lightly
Across the grass, but keeps an eye on her.
He tries to wake a giant, but despite,
His shouting, the enchantment holds him tight.

50
He tries another one; again he fails,
And so he switches to another tack.
He takes the chain from out a giant’s flail,
And hurries back to them , in no way slack.
Where, after struggling, the two prevail
And tie the wizard’s arms behind his back.
And then they bind his feet and legs and neck,
And gag him, too, his magic arts to check.

51
Once Malagise has been firmly bound,
The damsel searches all around the pine
And soon his magic grimoire has she found,
Filled with unholy names and mystic signs.
She oped the clasps that girdle it around,
And when she read therein, elapsed no time,
Ere spirits filled the air and stream and land,
All crying, “Mistress, what is your command?”

52
She orders, “Take this wretched captive past
Tartary, and both Indies to Cathay,
To that fair capitol, whence o’er his vast
Dominions, Galliphron the King holds sway.
Tell him his daughter wishes him to cast
Him into prison. Once he’s put away,
I do not reckon at a broken pin,
All of King Charles’ Peers and Paladins.”

53
Soon as her speech is done, the fiends transport
Malgis away, and set him down with glee
Before King Galliphron and all his court,
Who cast him in a dungeon by the sea.
The while Angelica tends her escorts
And from enchanted slumber sets them free.
They yawn and scratch and stretch their limbs, and gape,
Unmindful of the peril they’ve escaped.

54
But while this happened in the countryside,
Paris was wracked with quarrels and dissensions.
Orlando claimed the right to foremost ride
Against Uberto, but to his pretensions,
Time and again King Charlemagne replied
There was no reason in them. Like contentions
Racked ev’ry knight. The mightiest to the worst
All wished to joust against the stranger first.

55/56
Orlando fears that he will be too late
To win his lady, if some other rides
Before him, and in agony he waits
To hear what Charlemagne at last decides.
The cavaliers assemble and debate
Which one of them will be the first to try
The challenge, and they all agree at last,
That for the foremost place they lots will cast.

57
Every cavalier wrote down his name,
Or had it written, on a little roll
Of paper. Then each knight who wished to claim
The lady, cast his slip into a bowl
And then a little page before them came
And put his hand in, and drew out a scroll.
Loud he announced the knight who would commence
The jousting was Astolfo, England’s prince.

58
The second place will Ferraguto take,
The third Rinaldo and the fourth Dudon,
And next Grandonio the attempt will make,
And Belengieri; after them, Otton,
Then Charlemagne himself a lance will break,
But lest my story should too long be grown,
I’ll tell you Count Orlando’s name was called
The thirty-first, and much his heart was galled.

59
Before the name was called of ev’ry knight,
The day was fading into evening’s glow.
The Duke Astolfo, with his heart alight
Called for his arms, and thinks his men too slow.
No whit discouraged that it draws to night,
But eager as he is to face his foe,
He boasts aloud that with one mighty thrust,
He’ll send Uberto rolling in the dust.

60
You, lords, should know about Astolfo. He
Outdid all men for comeliness of face.
He had much wealth, but still more courtesy,
And dressed and groomed himself with careful grace.
Though in the jousts he wasn’t much to see,
And fell more often than he kept his place,
As often as he fell he quick returned,
For in his fearless heart such honor burned.

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Notes

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