Book I, Canto II, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto II, Part 3, Stanzas 41-68, Notes

41
Astolf advances, eager for the fray,
Bearing the lance he found beneath the pine.
Three golden pards his crimson shield displays,
And he sits in his saddle, strong and fine.
But unexpected danger comes his way;
His charger stumbles and he sprawls supine.
Astolfo’s knocked unconscious at that point,
And his right foot is pulled out of its joint.

42
At this mischance, the crowd lets out a groan,
And Serpentino utters maledictions,
Lamenting that his prowess was not shown.
(But certainly this was a false prediction)
They bear the senseless duke back to his home,
Where carefully they tend to his afflictions.
They bring his senses back, and then his foot,
Is set and wrapped, and in good order put.

43
Though Serpentin has shown such awesome might,
No whit afraid is Don Ogier the Dane.
So fast he gallops that it seems like flight,
Or like the wind that sweeps across the main.
Upon his shield for emblem hath this knight
A chevron argent on an azure plain.
A basilisk was sculpted on the helm
Of this great champion of the Danish realm.

44
The trumpets sound, and those two knights ride out
With lance in rest, so fast it was a wonder.
All day there had not been a blow so stout
As this, which sounded like a clap of thunder.
The Dane Ogieri, with a mighty clout
Makes Serpentino’s stirrups split asunder
And knocks him back across his horse’s croup;
He lies in dust, his haughty pride must stoop.

45
Now strong Ogieri takes the vanquished’s place,
And stridently within the ring defends him.
Flushed red with shame is Balugante’s face.
His dear son’s overthrow so much offends him,
But soon he finds himself in like disgrace,
Because the Dane along the earth distends him.
And now advances the young Isolier,
The bold and court’eous heathen cavalier.

46
This knight was cousin unto Ferragu.
On his green shield he bears three moons of gold.
He spurs his horse; his lance aims straight and true,
And he collides against that baron bold.
The mighty Dane strikes him a blow to rue,
And sweeps him off his horse and knocks him cold.
‘Tis hard to tell if he is still alive.
He lays insensible for hours five.

47
Then Don Gualtiero, lord of Monleon,
Is by Ogieri laid upon the field.
A dragon, emblem of this hero, shone
In burnished crimson on his golden shield.
“Oh, Christians, – cries Ogier in woeful tone –
Why should we arms against each other wield?
Do you not hear the Pagans’ jeers and mocks
When to ourselves we give such dreadful knocks.

48
Spinella d’Altamonte was the name
Of a stout Saracen who sought renown
By jousting at the court of Charlemagne.
On his blue shield he bore a golden crown.
Ogieri sends him sprawling on the plain.
Now Matalista on the Dane bears down.
He’s brother to the lovely Fiordespin.
In battle he is ardent, fierce, and keen.

49
Upon his helm, a dragon is his crest,
His shield in halves of gold and brown is split.
Shortly upon the earth he takes his rest,
Of steed and saddle he’s completely quit.
That dog, Grandonio, issues forward next.
God help Ogier! He has great need of it.
In all the world you could not find so strong
A pagan, though you searched forever long.

50
This king was seven foot (it is no fable),
He rode the largest horse that could be found.
He held before him a great shield of sable
Which bore a golden image of Mahound.
There was no Christian who thought himself able
To stand against that mighty felon hound.
Gan of Pontiers, soon as he saw his height,
Quietly slipped away from field and fight.

51
Macario of Lusana does likewise,
Rainer with Pinabello disappears;
Falcone after his companions hies,
And till he’s gone, it seems a thousand years.
Though ev’ry other man of Mayence flies,
Grifon stands firm among King Charles’ Peers.
For fear of shame, or through his bravery,
Or else, he didn’t see his kinsmen flee.

52
But turn we to that heathen hound atrocious
Who rides as swiftly as the tempest blast.
His lance with which he means to strike his foes, is
So large, a ship could use it as a mast.
Nor was his charger any less ferocious.
It raised great clouds of dust wherev’r it passed,
And split the stones, and caused the earth to shake,
And all the crowd for very terror quake.

53
With such great wrath against the Dane he comes,
And strikes so hard that he destroys his shield.
Both horse and rider to the blow succumb,
And lie in dust. Ogieri’s senses reel.
The aging Naimo to his nephew runs,
And picks him up, and bears him from the field.
And fetched him doctors for his arm and chest.
Though for a month in bed he had to rest.

54
A mighty shout goes up on ev’ry side,
And loudest then the Saracens are heard.
Now King Grandonio holds the ring with pride,
But for all this, the Peers are undeterred.
Turpin of Rheims against the giant rides,
And clashes with him, and lands in the dirt.
He felt such pain when from his hose he flew,
The priest was certain that his life was through.

55
Astolfo had returned unto the square,
Upon a palfrey, gentle, white, and pretty.
No weapons, save his belted sword, he bears,
And sits amidst the dames of Paris city.
He speaks to them with pleasant words and fair,
For he was courteous and very witty.
But while he’s chatting with them, see Grifon,
By King Grandonio now is overthrown.

56
This knight was of the lineage of Mayence.
On his blue shield he bore a falcon white.
The King Grandonio cries with arrogance,
“O Christians, are you all too tired to fight?
Are your shields heavy? Have you all got splints?”
Now comes forth Guido, a most courteous knight,
Lord of Borgogna, and a he bears a lion
Sable on gold; Grandonio sends him flying.

57
He throws to earth the mighty Angelier,
Who bore a dragon with a woman’s face.
Avin, Avol, Otton, and Berlinzer,
One after th’other tumble in disgrace.
Their shields with checkered blue and gold shone clear,
Four sable eagles on their helms were placed.
For these four were the sons, I understand,
Of Naimo, Duke of the Bavarian land.

58
Don Ugo of Marseilles is thrown and killed
By this Grandon, he hits the ground so hard.
The more he jousts, the more he shows his skill.
He knocks down Riccardetto and Alard,
And mocks King Charles with a right good will,
Calling the Christians vile, faint of heart.
The court stands still, in mourning and in fear,
But see, advancing, Marquis Olivier!

59
It seemed as if the heavens would be torn
For each man cheered and laughed as he rode by.
The marquis comes, adorned in shining arms.
King Charles greets him with his panoply.
The trumpets blow; each herald sounds his horn,
And great and small alike send up the cry:
“Long life to Olivier! Long live Vienne!”
And King Grandonio laughed and armed him then.

60
The knights charged at each other with more hate
And with more vigor than my tongue could tell.
The crowd looks on, and in suspense they wait,
To see the outcome of this battle fell.
No word was spoken. Ev’ry man doth bate
His breath, and seems as if beneath a spell.
And now they meet! Don Olivier’s puissance
Pierces the Pagan’s shield with his good lance.

61
That shield was fashioned of nine plates of steel,
And Marquis Olivier has pierced them all.
He breaks the hauberk, and Grandonio feels
The iron wounding him; it stings like gall,
But he, the pitiless, with his mast deals
A blow to Olivier that makes him fall,
And that fierce giant struck him with such force,
He landed twenty feet beyond his horse.

62
Every man was certain he was dead,
Because his helmet had been cracked in two.
The Christians sorrowfully hang their heads,
Thinking his spirit from his body flew.
Stunned was King Charles, heavy tears he shed,
And cried in anguish, “Baron stout and true,
O flower of my court, my Peer, my son!
Can God be silent when such things are done?”

63
Grandonio now such arrogance displays
As dwarfs the pride he showed until this time.
He cries, while savage joy lights up his face,
“O Paladins, besotted with your wine,
Back to your taverns, lily-livered race;
This game is harder than your cards, you’ll find!
You Paladins are full of martial spirit,
And boast and threat – when no one else can hear it!”

64
When Charles hears his court held in despite,
And King Grandonio’s overbearing boasts,
His heart throbs, and his face for wrath turns white.
He glares with flaming eyes at all his host.
“Where are my vassals? Where my stalwart knights?
Why have they left me when I need them most?
Where’s Ganellone? Has Rinald turned dastard?
And where’s Orlando, that dammed treach’rous bastard?

65
Thou whoreson scoundrel, renegade thrice-damned,
If ev’r again I see thee, may I die
If I don’t stringthee up with mine own hands!”
This and much else the Emp’ror Charles cries.
Astolfo, hearing him, slips from the stands,
And rides back to his house, which stood close by,
And promptly arms himself and rushes back,
In shining armor, ready to attack.

66
No foolish hope that baron’s breast inspired
That he would best that Pagan in the ring.
With pure and good intentions he desired
Only to do his duty by his King.
He bore him proudly, in fine arms attired,
And seemed to be a paragon of strength,
But ev’ryone who recognized him groaned.
“God send us better help than him!” they moaned.

67
With reverence, he bends his head down low,
Before King Charles and salutes him. “Sire,
Yon braggart knight I mean to overthrow.
I understand that such is thy desire.”
Charles, scarce caring says to him, “Then, go!
And God go with thee!” But the king, in ire,
Says to his men, soon as the prince can’t hear,
“And from this crowning shame, God keep us clear.”

68
Astolfo boasts that he will cast that knight
Within the galleys, chained unto an oar.
The giant’s anger reaches such a height,
He has such wrath that no one e’er had more.
In my next canto, lordings, I’ll recite,
With the permission of th’Almighty Lord
A tale most marvelous of fights more dread
Than any you have ever heard or read.

HERE ENDETH THE SECOND CANTO

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