Book I, Canto I, Part 4

The Orlando Innamorato in English Translation. Book I, Canto 1, Part 4, Stanzas 61-80.

61
Now turn we to our story. He was dight
In his best armor, which was worth a treasure.
His shield was ringed with pearls of spotless white.
To see his gilded armor was a pleasure.
Upon his helmet’s crest there shone full bright
A gemstone of a value beyond measure.
Which (unless Bishop Turpin be a liar)
Was a great ruby, blazing red as fire.

62
No poorer is the cov’ring of his horse,
With leopards thereon tricked in golden thread.
Astolfo mounts, and straightaway rides forth
Alone and hasty, and devoid of dread.
No time he wasted, as he took his course,
And soon to Merlin’s Rock the knight hath sped,
Where, without pausing, to alert his foe,
He grabs his horn and gives a lusty blow.

63
When Argalía hears the Astolfo’s blast,
He rises up and peers from out his tent.
A knight is come, he dons his armor fast,
In which from head to foot there is no dent,
And sallies forth upon his steed to cast
His foe to earth, he’s eager and intent.
With shield on arm, and magic lance in hand –
The cornerstone of all that he has planned.

64
Each knight salutes the other court’ously,
And then they draw apart a fitting space,
While fair Angelica comes out to see.
The knights have come unto their proper place.
They brace them in their saddles sturdily,
Then loose the reins and at each other race.
Soon as the Duke the golden weapon feels,
He tumbles on the ground, head over heels.

65
Slowly arises that most wretched wight,
And in his anguish cries, “I am betrayed
By thee, O Fortune, out of thy pure spite.
Canst thou deny, that otherwise I’d stayed
Firm in my saddle and o’erthrown this knight,
And won the favors of this lovely maid?
Thou hast wrought my defeat, I know it well,
To give the honor to an infidel!”

66
The giants lift Astolfo from his feet
And take him to the tent, where he disarms.
When he comes out, Angelica casts sweet
And lovely looks at him, and she so charms
Him that he thinks she pities his defeat.
He’d sworn an oath that if he failed at arms
He’d stay their pris’ner and not run away,
But she more than his oath persuades him stay.

67
He’s left unguarded, so he takes his way
Towards the fountain, where he laves his head.
The fair Angelica, long as she may,
Watches the knight, but when the sky turns red
And but a little while is left of day,
He goes within the tent and goes to bed.
While she, her brother, and the giants four
Wait by the Stone a little while more.

68
Just as the day was almost done and past,
Came Ferraguto with an eager heart.
He blew upon his horn a mighty blast,
So that it seemed the world would fall apart.
The birds and beasts who heard it were aghast
And fled in terror through the forest dark.
The giants shook, Angelica turned pale,
And Argalía laughed and donned his mail.

69
He tied his scabbard on and then concealed
His head within a helm which bore his crest,
Then mounted on his horse and set his shield
Before himself and laid his lance in rest.
His Rabican was eager for the field;
No whit afraid, the charger forward pressed.
So soft and light he trod, he left no print,
By which a man could tell the way he went.

70
But to a lover, minutes seem like years,
And Ferraguto’s burning with impatience,
So when his foe is ready for the fray,
The knights don’t waste their time with salutations,
But draw apart, and turn, and drop the reins,
And at each other fly. Exhilaration
Fills Ferraguto, for this proud knight is
Certain the lovely dame will soon be his.

71
But when the lance first touches him, he’s shocked;
His face falls, and his heart fills with despair.
His mighty strength has been completely blocked,
And he himself is flying through the air.
With a great thump he lands; his breath is knocked
Out of his lungs, and he does not know where
He is. But he does not stay down for long,
His body and his spirit both are strong.

72
Love, and youth, and temperament have power
To fill the heart with anger in a flash.
Now, Ferraguto is in youth’s first flower,
Loves beyond measure, and is very rash.
His rages make all those around him cower
For trifles. Anything might make this brash
And hasty cavalier begin a duel,
So short his temper is; his heart so cruel.

73
His shame and anger raise him from the dirt,
Just as he fell to it, with lightning speed.
His only thought is to avenge this hurt.
He’s quite forgot the terms that were decreed.
He draws his sword, advancing undeterred
On Argalía, who sits on his steed
And calmly say, “Thou art my captive, knight.
And hast no reason to prolong the fight.”

74
But Ferraguto this rebuke ignores,
And charges at him, with his sword held high.
In haste and anger rise the giants four,
And seize their weapons which they’d lain nearby,
And rush at Ferragu with such a roar
As never hath been heard beneath the sky.
And Turpin says, although I think it strange,
It shook the earth within two miles’ range.

75
Don Ferraguto whirls around and sees
Them coming, but he fears them not at all.
The one who’s faster than the other three
Is called Argesto the Supremely Tall.
Another one is named Lampordo. He
Is called “The Hairy”. And Urgan men call
The third one, and the shortest one is hight
Turlone; he has thirty feet of height.

76
Lampordo from a distance hurls a dart,
At Ferragu, the battle to begin.
It would have pierced that proud knight to the heart,
Had it not been for his enchanted skin.
You may have seen a greyhound chase a hart,
A panther spring, a leaf in stormy wind,
Or lightning flash. These things are all more slow,
Than Ferragu was to return that blow.

77
He drives his sword into the giant’s shank,
And starts to carve him, as he were a pie,
Cutting through reins and bowels to his flank,
But still his anger is unsatisfied.
He pulls his sword out and confronts the rank
Of th’other three, who with their weapons high,
Fall on him all at once, while Cathay’s prince
Stands to the side and watches these events.

78
Now Ferraguto takes a mighty leap,
Full twenty feet or more from off the ground,
And smites Urgano’s head a blow so deep
It cleaves him to the teeth. When he comes down
Argesto sends him tumbling in a heap,
With one great blow delivered to his crown,
With his iron mace. So forceful is his blow,
Blood spurts from Ferraguto’s mouth and nose.

79
He quick recovered, and more hot and bright
His anger burned. No trace of fear he felt,
But knocked the giant down despite his height,
Split open from the shoulders to the belt.
But then new peril came upon the knight;
Turlone, in whose muscles much strength dwelt,
Stretched his right hand out, gripped and held him fast,
And thought the battle had been won at last.

80/81
But by his potency, or his good chance,
I don’t know which, the knight broke loose. Dismayed,
The giant lifts his mace with both his hands
And Ferraguto brandishes his blade.
Turlone swings his iron club and lands
A mighty blow on Ferraguto’s pate.
Cracking his helmet, while the knight swings free
And cuts through both his legs below the knee.

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Notes

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