Book I, Canto IV, Part 2

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto IV, Stanzas 21-40


Although Marsil had little hope that he
Could raise the siege, he still had let him go.
He could not think of any remedy
Short of surrendering his crown and throne.
For utter weariness and misery
He speaks to none, and spends his time alone.
But he sees arriving succors two:
The host of Charlemagne, and Ferragu.

Don Serpentino by his liegelord stands.
Spinel and King Morgante there remain.
And Isolier, and Matalist the grand,
The Argalif and Amirant of Spain.
All of the other lords who held their land
From King Marsil or lived in his domain
Along with Baligant and Falsiron
Are either dead, or into prison thrown.

When King Gradasso launched his expedition
With troops uncountable, he was not lax,
But forced the Indian Sea into submission,
And strong Ceylon succumbed to his attacks.
When Persia and Arabia came in vision
He conquered them, and conquered all the blacks.
He’d sailed across and conquered half the world,
Before in Spain his banners were unfurled.

He brought along with him so great a throng
And kings so many that my tongue would falter
To tell them all. No host was e’er so strong.
They disembarked, and quickly took Gibraltar.
He burnt Granada, and he seized ere long
Toledo and Seville, and did not halt or
Delay to raze Valencia with fire.
Whatever lands he passed through felt his ire.

He took as prisoners, as I have said,
All of the lords who held their lands in fief
Except for those who to Gerona fled,
And kept Marsilio company in grief,
And for Grandonio, who most bravely led
A force to Barcelon to bring relief.
Morning and eve he fought, and was so stout,
‘Twas thanks to him alone they still held out.

To King Marsilio let us turn again.
Rinald’s arrival filled his soul with bliss.
He thanked him for the aid from Charlemagne,
And greeted Ferraguto with a kiss.
And said, “My son, I know thou’lt be the bane
Of King Gradasso. Many times ere this
I’ve seen they courage and thy strength are great.
Thou shalt be the preserver of our state.”

They give their orders that they’ll march toward
‘Sieged Barcelona at the break of dawn.
Though King Grandon from fire and from sword
Defends it, he cannot hold out for long.
They draw the army up, and give a lord
To each battalion. Once the first is drawn,
They give it to Spinell and Serpentin.
Full twenty thousand in this band are seen.

Rinaldo’s troop of fifty thousand knights
And men-at-arms will follow to the fray.
Then Matalist and King Morgant will fight
With thirty thousand soldiers brace as they.
Then twenty thousand, a most goodly sight,
‘Neath Isolier and th’Amirante’s sway.
Then Ferragu will follow with a band
Of thirty thousand under his command.

Marsil himself is leader of the last.
Fifty thousand make up this brigade.
The orders given, little time is passed
Ere all the troop are properly arrayed.
At break of day the trumpets gave a blast.
The banners in the morning breezes swayed.
As on the army marched across the heights,
They came straight into King Gradasso’s sight.

Cardon, Francardo, and Urnass he calls,
And Straciaberra, mighty kings were they.
“Lead the assault at Barcellona’s walls,
And raze it to the ground this very day.
Kill ev’rybody once the city falls,
Except Grandonio. I shall make him pay
For his resistance. I want him alive,
And ‘gainst my dogs I mean to make him strive.”

From India these monarchs were, all four.
They’d brought so many of their swarthy race
That nobody could count them. Furthermore,
Two thousand elephants were in that place
With towers and with castles armed for war.
Now King Gradasso calls before his face
A mighty giant, ruler of Ceylon,
Who for his charger, sat a giraffe upon.

A thing more hideous nobody knows
Than this king’s face. Alfrera was he called.
Gradasso tells him. “Take thy men and go,
To lead my banner ‘gainst this new assault.
Take all thy vassals with thee ‘gainst this foe.”
This said, he turns around without a halt
To King Faraldo, lord of Araby.
A most robust and worthy knight was he.

This king he orders that he strive amain
To take Rinaldo prisoner by force,,
And take the banner of King Charlemagne,
“But have a care thou scratchest not his horse,
Or like a peasant I shall have thee hanged!
‘Twas for that steed that I set on this course
And left sweet Sericane with my vast hoard
To win the horse, and Durindan the sword.”

He bids the king of Persia and his whole
Battalion fight Morgant and Matalist.
(He’s call Framarte, this most valiant soul)
Behold Macrobia’s king, twelve feet at least.
His skin is blacker than a burnt-out coal.
His name is Orion. He rides no beast;
To hold his massive weight no beast has might.
With Amirant and Isolier he’ll fight.

A cunning giant who sits on the throne
Of Ethiopia is summoned now.
He’s named Balorza and his mouth alone
Is larger than your palm. He comes and bows.
‘Gainst Ferraguto will his strength be shown.
To make the final troop, Gradass endows
His Sericanian lords with full command,
But he arms not; within his tent he stands.

Meanwhile, King Marsilio and his train
Came to the field and they beheld the host
Stretched out before them cov’ring all the plain.
It seems to even stretch unto the coast.
At first, that such a mighty army came
They scarce believed, or that the world could boast
So many men as stood within their sight.
It seemed as if their force were infinite.

The one camp closer to their other draws,
Until they’re parted by a pebble’s toss.
All of the troops believe in Mahound’s laws,
Save those of Charlemagne, who bear the Cross.
Spinella and Don Serpentino cause
Their first batallion to march out across
The plain. The cry goes up, a dreadful sound
That makes the heavens and the earth resound.

The drums, and trumps, and voices are so loud
The echoes shake the rivers and the mounts.
In front of all, Don Serpentin sits proud
Upon a terrible and splendid mount.
The great Alfrera came forth from the crowd.
He looked more fearsome than I could recount
From head to toe, full thirty feet he spanned.
He sat upon his giraffe with mace in hand.

This mace was solid iron, and so large
That three palm’s measure couldn’t circle it.
Don Serpentino makes a gallant charge,
With lance in rest, and not afraid a bit.
He wounds the giant, piercing mail and targe,
But that misshapen brute so cleanly hit
Don Serpentino that he knocked him off
His horse, half-dead, and did not deign to scoff.

Once more unto the fray he spurs his giraffe,
And met Spinella, and stretched his hand out
And picked him up, and with a scornful laugh,
Tucked him beneath his arm, then ‘gan to rout
His foes, and chased them as the wind does chaff,
And took their banner, and then turned about
To send it back to King Gradasso the fell,
And sent besides, his prisoner Spinel.

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