Book I, Canto III, Part 4

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto III, Stanzas 61-81

But like a man whose limbs are strong and stout,
He grabs Don Ferragu, and soon above
His foes he finds himself, and starts to clout
Him on the face and head with iron gloves,
But Ferraguto pulls his dagger out,
And where his armor guards him not, he shoves
It through the chink as far as it will go.
Ah, God of Heaven, what a dreadful blow!

While that this youth was in this world alive,
There was no knight so courteous and free,
Nor any who so ardently would strive.
He lacked for nought but Christianity.
Now he, perceiving that his death arrives,
With anguished effort, speaks up quietly
As towards Ferragu he turns his head,
“I beg a gift of thee, since I am dead.

“I beg of thee, as th’art a worthy knight,
And baron courteous, do not say nay!
But take and throw me and my armor bright,
Into the river, ere thou wend thy way,
Lest someone, ignorant about our fight,
Should find me, put my armor on, and say
“A vile knight this must have been who bore
Such arms as these, and still was slain in war.”

Don Ferraguto’s face is wet with tears,
Just as a block of ice beneath the sun.
He says to Argalía, “Worthy peer,
God knows how much I grieve thy course is run.
What happed between us was misfortune drear,
But what Fate wills to happen must be done.
For glory only did I hunt thee down,
And sought not for thy death, but my renown.

“But I must wander among Christian men.
I beg thee, lest I should be recognized,
For but four days to me thine helmet lend,
Then shall I throw it where thy body lies.”
Don Argalía softly gives assent,
Then lays his head back on the ground and dies.
When Ferraguto saw his life was fled,
He knelt beside him; bitter tears he shed.

He takes the helmet off his vanquished foe,
And as he did, into fresh weeping burst,
Then laced it onto his own head, although
He cut the crest off of its summit first.
Then mounts he, with the corpse before him. Slow
He lets his charger pace, led by its thirst.
It took him shortly to a stream, into
Whose waters Argalía’s corpse he threw.

A little while stood he silent there,
Then rode beside the river, plunged in thought
I want to tell you how Orlando fares.
He’s searched through all the wilderness, but caught
No glimpses of Angelica the fair.
Beyond all measure wrathful and distraught,
He blasphemes Fortune as unkind and fell,
When suddenly he sees the damosel.

Sleeping, she seemed so lovely that no power
You have to picture her, nor I to write.
She seemed to have been brought forth from the flowers,
As if the stream were made for her delight.
Whoever now is lovely, at the hour
When she looked fairest, at her beauty’s height,
Recked ‘gainst Angelica, would be outdone
As stars by Dian, or she by the sun.

The count stands silently, as he beholds
Her beauty, like a man whose spirit flies.
To wake her from her sleep he is not bold,
But simply gazes on her where she lies
And with himself soft conversation holds,
“Am I on Earth, or else in Paradise?
I see her there, but it is only seeming,
For I am fast asleep and only dreaming.”

Gazing this way upon the girl delights
The worthy baron, lost in daydreams vain.
Ah! How much better can he win a fight,
Then can he win the favors of a dame!
For opportunity will soon take flight,
And void and empty will his hand remain.
For at this very moment, someone nears
Who shall with bitterness his pleasure pierce.

Because Don Ferraguto hither rides,
Glad that the forest to a clearing yields.
And when the Count Orlando he espied,
Because he did not recognize his shield,
He wondered who he was, but then descried
The damsel sleeping in the open field:
Her he has recognized without a falter.
His face and feelings in an instant alter.

He has no doubts, but is completely sure
This knight is standing there to be her guard.
He runs to him, commences to adjure
The cavalier with haughty words and hard.
“I loved the lady long ere thou ever knew her,
And it is time for thou and she to part.
Give up the lady, or give up thy life,
Or try to take mine own from me in strife.”

The Cont Orlando, sorely grieved at heart
To see his fortune slipping from his hands,
Responds, “O cavalier, thoud’st best depart,
And not make such impertinent demands.
Though, on my faith, I do not wish to start
A fight with thee, or any other man,
Thy presence here is an offense so great,
Thy death alone will serve to expiate.”

“From what thou sayest, it is plain to see
That either thou or I must quit this place.
But I assure thee that I shall not flee,
Nor shalt thou stand for long before my face,
For I shall make thee so afraid of me,
That if before thee was a furnace’ blaze,
Thou’lt rush into it, if I thee pursue.”
Such ardent words as spoke by Ferragu.

Wroth beyond measure is the Count to hear
These words. His cheeks a crimson hue displayed.
“I am Orlando, and if ‘gainst me here
Were all the world, I wouldn’t be dismayed.
And such a one as thou I no more fear
Than I would fear a squalling new-born babe,
Thou vile ribald, thou son of a whore!”
And with these words, he pulls out his good sword.

Now could you see begin the greatest brawl
That ever was between two cavaliers.
Pieces of armor like a shower fall,
Hacked off by awful blows from men most fierce.
Each hopes his foe will quickly fade and pall,
So that he can possess the dame who cheers
His heart so much, for she may yet desert them
And vainly then in battle they’ll exert them.

But at that moment does their tumult wake
The lovely damsel whom they wish to gain.
Fear and terror make her sorely quake,
To see the armor scattered on the plain,
And the ferocious battle that they make.
She mounts her palfrey, and lets fall the rein,
And swiftly off into the woods she goes,
At which the Count Orlando halts his blows,

And says, “Sir Cavalier, grant in the name
Of chivalry, that we postpone this strife
And let me follow after my sweet dame,
And I shall reckon thou hast saved my life.
Besides, to fight without a prize to claim,
Or any quarrel, is with folly rife.
The girl is fled, for whom we came to blows.
For God’s sake, let me follow where she goes!”

“No, no, put such a thought out of thy mind,”
Says Ferraguto, and his head he shook,
“If towards fighting thou art disinclined,
Thy lady rightly such a man forsook.
I swear that only one of us shall wind
Throughout this forest for the dame to look.
If I thee slay, I shall resume my quest.
If thou slay me, do as it likes thee best.”

“Thou shalt gain no advantage from this tussle,”
Responds Orlando, “By Our Blessed Lord!”
Now they begin the fight with wit and muscle,
As in another canto I’ll record.
You’ll see there Count Orlando fight and hustle
More stoutly than he ever has with sword.
Of Ferraguto I shall say no more,
But he was angrier than e’er before.

Keep reading


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