Book I, Canto III, Part 1

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto III, Stanzas 1-20



The fierce Grandonio is o’erthrown at last.
Maganzans give Astolfo cause to rue.
They have him into Charles’ dungeon cast.
Rinaldo’s cured; Angelica’s imbued
With love, but her beloved flees her fast.
Don Argalía fights with Ferragu.
The victor makes a promise to the dying,
And soon with Count Orlando is he vying.

My lords, remember when I sang before,
Astolfo to the Saracen so fell
Was saying, “Scoundrel, thou shalt boast no more,
Unless thou wish to make thy boasts in Hell,
Of all the mighty barons thou hast floored.
Know, once I conquer thee, I’ll make thee dwell
Within a galley. Thou hast so much strength,
Thou’lt have an oar unto thyself, I think!”

The King Grandonio, though he knows full well
To give insults, knows not how to receive.
For wrath and anger so much doth he swell
That not so much are swollen stormy seas
When racked by mighty winds and stormclouds fell,
The bravest captain falls upon his knees.
The king such anger has, all uncontrolled,
His teeth he gnashes and his eyes he rolls,

And flares his nostrils like an angry snake,
And with a curse, Astolfo he defied,
Then turns around, his starting place to take,
And lays his mighty lance in rest, and rides,
With which he’s certain that he’ll shortly break
Clean through him, and come out the other side,
Or stretch him lifeless out upon the plain,
Or knock him from his saddle, split in twain.

See where that Pagan in his fury starts!
And Don Astolfo swift against him sped.
His face was pale, and fear consumed his heart,
He knew he shortly would be shamed, or dead.
The cavaliers towards each other dart
At breakneck speed – now are they fairly met –
Grandonio falls! No words of mine could tell
How loud his armor rattled when he fell.

So great a cry goes up at his defeat,
It seemed the earth would split and heaven fall.
Ev’ryone seated rises to his feet,
And all men shout, the mighty and the small.
And each one presses forth to better see’t.
The Saracens are overwhelmed and galled.
King Charles, when the Pagan he espies
Rolling in dust, cannot believe his eyes.

When the great giant tumbled from his horse,
Because he’d landed heav’ly on his right,
The wound within his chest he’d got before,
When he had clashed with the Viennese knight,
Gives such pain to this king of Afric’s shore,
He lies still on the earth, half-dead and white.
With blood forth spurting, so that, sooth to say,
It seems just like a water fountain’s spray.

Some said Astolfo for this mighty blow,
Should have the prize, but other folk averred
It was pure chance that wrought this overthrow.
Some “yes”, some “no”, each spoke as he preferred.
They bear forth from the field, in pain and woe,
The King Grandonio, who, as I have heard,
Much later killed Astolf in battle’s strife,
But shortly after, he too lost his life.

Astolfo takes his place within the ring
And scarce believes he stands as victor there.
None of the Pagans dares to try to fling
Him from his horse, save for a valiant pair
Of stalwart warriors, and sons of kings:
Gisarte dark, and Pilïasi fair.
Gisarte’s father’s conquered with his sword
All of Arabia, and been crowned lord.

But that of Pilïasi holds in fee
The whole of Russia and some lands beyond
The mountains, reaching into Tartary,
So that his lands are bounded by the Don.
But now I wish to keep my story brief.
These two alone of Saracens came on
Against Astolfo, and, to tell it quickly,
He knocked them to the ground like they were sickly.

A squire comes to Ganelon and tells
The news of King Grandonio’s strange defeat.
At first, he scarce believes that infidel
Was by Astolfo tumbled from his seat.
But then he thinks, and he believes it well
That some unlooked-for chance hath wrought this feat,
And that proud giant’s fall must be a fluke,
And can’t be from the prowess of the duke.

And then he thinks that he will surely win
The foremost honor of the tournament.
With pomp and finery he enters in
The lists. T’impress the crowd is his intent.
Eleven counts, the flower of his kin,
He brought to ride behind him as he went
Before  King Charles, and with haughty words,
He made excuses for what had occurred.

Whether King Charlemagne believed this liar
I cannot say, but he bestowed good cheer.
Then Gano asked Astolfo by a squire
If he’d agree to combat with the spear,
Since none among the Pagans so desired,
And he (Count Gano) was so stout, ‘twas clear
He ought to demonstrate his chivalry
By knocking down the knights of less degree.

Astolf, who never thinks before he speaks,
Unto the herald says: “To Gano tell,
When he’s around, nobody needs to seek
For heathens, for he’s worse than infidels,
That foe of God, oppressor of the weak,
That traitor, heretic, and spawn of Hell.
Go tell that swine I hope to see him hung,
And fear him as I would a sack of dung.

When Gano hears himself held in despite,
He sends no answer, but his wrath burns hot,
And furi’usly he charges at that knight
And calls aloud to him, “Thou glutton! Sot!
Thou’lt cease thy boasting once thou feel’st my might!”
He thought he’d knock him down, for this was not
The first time they had jousted, and each time
Before, he’d laid him on the ground supine.

But things fall elsewise than we think they will,
And Gano on the soil takes his place.
Macario charges to avenge this ill,
And joins in shame the leader of his race.
“How can God suffer that this imbecile –
Says Pinabello – “should bring such disgrace
On House Maganza?” Then he lays his lance
In rest, and spurs his charger to advance.

But he was overthrown just like the rest.
You need not wonder if Astolf felt grand.
He shouts aloud to them, “O race unblest!
I’ll knock you one and all upon the sand.”
The Count Smiriglio, lance in hand, forth pressed.
Astolfo fells him with a blow so grand
They have to bear him, senseless, from the ring.
O how Count Ganelon was sorrowing!

Falcone says, when he beholds him swoon,
“Can Fortune to such malice be inclined?
Can Heaven have permitted this buffoon
To overthrow us all and make us pine?”
An evil plots wakes in his head, and soon
He secretly pulls out a rope to bind
Himself unto his saddle, then he calls
Astolf to combat, thinking he can’t fall.

He gallops forward, hoping him to mangle.
Thanks to the rope, he isn’t overthrown,
But such a blow he takes, his limbs all dangle,
He scarce can sit upright, his life nigh flown.
Ev’ryone sees him, hopelessly entangled,
And thus his subterfuge to all is known.
The crowd, enraged and in a fury, cried,
“See how the traitor to his horse was tied!”

The field he exits, covered with men’s spite,
Their hoots and jeers add to his misery.
Count Gano agonizes at the sight.
Astolfo calls aloud right valiantly:
“Come at me, if you’re itching for a fight,
And if you’re tied, it’s all the same to me.
Madmen like you should not be running round
The countryside, but with a rope be bound.”

Anselmo della Ripa, count perfidious,
Decides upon a most malicious plan.
T’avenge his kinsmen’s shame by means insidious.
“I’ll smite him soon as he has felled his man,
Before he’s ready, with a blow dispiteous.”
Rainieri, count of Altafoglia, ran
Ahead. Anselmo, lance in rest, awaited
A chance to overthrow the man he hated.

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