Book I, Canto IV, Part 4

The Orlando Innamorato in English, Book I, Canto IV, Stanzas 61 through 89.

61
A variegated, terrifying cry
Rose from the army as they rushed the walls.
Grandonio from the ramparts doesn’t fly,
But firm defends them, and his war-cry calls.
He hurls great stones, and luckless foes descry
How on them parts of towers or merlons fall.
Columns are thrown by this gigantic lord;
With ev’ry toss, an elephant is floored.

62
A little ways back from the fight he draws,
And with a running start leaps o’er the heads
Of their front rank, and cuts his foes like straw.
And throws Greek fire, filling all with dread.
For when the folk of Barcelona saw
How strong he was, and how much blood he shed,
They brought him sulphur and prepared the fuse,
And now Grandonio puts it to good use.

63
Let us leave them, and to Rinaldo turn,
Who in bewilderment and fury stands.
To rescue Ricciardet his spirit burns
So much, that nothing else he understands.
The mighty giant stood, upright and stern.
A mace of iron held he in his hand.
Well-armed from toe to head did he appear,
And rode an elephant for his destrier.

64
A furious assault were no avail.
Of no avail is all the hero’s might,
When he can’t reach his foe. He does not quail.
Upon Baiardo’s back he stands upright,
And off the croup he leaps, to thus assail
The giant, who of him has caught no sight;
He splits the helmet, cutting through the steel.
No trace of pity does the warrior feel.

65
Fusberta’s smith was master of his trade;
It sliced Balorza’s massive head in twain.
The giant fell, and such a noise he made
As could be heard far out across the plain.
Now do the heathen forces flee, dismayed,
Or if they stand against Rinald, are slain.
As rabbits flee the leopard, even thus
The soldiers flee the champion valorous.

66
Meanwhile, Ferraguto has pursued
The great Alfrera longer than four hours.
His berserk eyes were bloodshot through and through,
Because it seemed to be beyond his powers
To rescue Isolier, good friend and true.
The giraffe, misshapen brute, most fiercely glowers,
As it runs all a-gallop through the door,
In the pavilion, King Gradass before.

67
Don Ferraguto right behind him raced.
Alfrer, who was expecting him, turns round,
And throws down Isolier and lifts his mace,
And on the Spaniard’s helmet brings it down,
Knocking him from his horse and on his face.
Alfrera lifts him, senseless, from the ground.
And tucks him ‘neath his arm, and when he’s done,
Tucks Isolier beneath the other one.

68
And then he says, “My lord, I must relate
What dreadful loss our army has incurred.
Because Rinaldo’s prowess is so great.
Of enemies, I hate to speak good words,
But lying even more than foes I hate.
A little while ago, as I have heard
He split the great Balorza’s head in two.
Now think, my lord, what else this man might do.

69
And ask not of thine other mighty men.
Of all those officers of great puissance,
For King Faraldo’s life is at an end.
I saw him slain with one blow of the lance.
The King of Persia to Mahound commend,
For he was slain by alike circumstance.
Though of myself, perhaps I should not speak,
Yet no more wars with France I wish to seek.

70
Gradasso says, “Can God have truly given
A single knight a heart and strength so big?
If someone offered me the crown of heaven
(For all the earth I rate not at a fig)
I’d never be content, unless I’ve striven
Right here and now, against this Frankish pig,
And seen if he can really right so hard
To keep me from obtaining his Baiard.”

71
As thus he speaks, he puts his armor on,
Which as great Samson’s armor had begun.
In all the world, no armor was more strong.
Soon as, from head to toe, his arming’s done,
Behold the terrified and fleeing throng
Running before Amone’s mighty son.
The king knew clearly that the tumult meant
That Don Rinald had almost reached his tent.

72
He waits no more. Upon his horse he leapt,
A mighty charger of Arabian breed.
No horse so tall upon earth ever stepped.
Baiard was scarcely faster than that steed.
Behold Rinald, whose foes are all inept
To stop him, and who flee him with all speed.
How clearly could you track the way he came,
Littered with legs and arms and trunks and brains.

73
Bold King Gradasso to the fray set out,
On his Arabian, with so much daring,
That all the world he seems prepared to flout.
His lance he lowers, ‘gainst Rinaldo faring.
And as he gallops, gives so great a shout
That even stout Baiardo was he scaring.
Full sixteen feet that horse leapt in the air,
A leap so marvelous has been seen ne’er.

74
Even Gradasso at this is impressed,
But moves ahead, for fear that it should show.
He sliced and chopped and hacked his foes with zest.
Ivon and King Morgant to earth he throws,
Alfrera picks them up just like the rest,
For always following Gradass he goes.
He finds Spinel, Guizard, and Angelin,
All conquered by that heathen fierce and keen.

75
Rinaldo turns about to view the war,
And when he sees that Pagan strike so hard,
He lays his mighty lance in rest once more.
And then he says, “O my good steed, Baiard,
God know that thou hast never failed before,
But now thou’lt need to be upon thy guard.
Don’t think, by God! that I’m at all afraid,
But we’ve ne’er fought a man so stoutly made.

76
He closed his visor when these words were done,
And rode against the king with heart alight
Against Gradass, who turned and saw him come.
Never since he was born had such delight
Been his as now. He thought to overcome
With ease and speed, the valiant Frankish knight,
But when he put this theory to the test,
It was much harder than he could have guessed.

77
That joust and clashing was far more intense
Than any you have ever seen, or will.
Baiard’s croup touched the ground; his hindlegs bent.
Which ne’er before he’d done against his will.
He stood up quickly, for he kept his sense,
Rinaldo’s been knocked out, but sits up still.
Th’Arabian with a great ruckus falls,
But tough Gradasso doesn’t care at all.

78
He spurs it sharply till it stands again,
Then goes back to the fight, devoid of fear.
He bids Alfrera grab Rinaldo then,
And carefully to tend to his destrier.
But on a hopeless task the giant went,
For Baiard, carrying his master dear,
Had fled across the fled, and did not slack,
Till shortly after, Rinald’s sense came back.

79
He drew Fusberta, for he still conceived
He fought Gradasso, in his muddled brain.
Alfrera followed him, and he believed
He’d snatch him soon, but spurred his giraffe in vain.
Rinaldo, of his fancy’s error relieved,
Galloped on Baiard all around the plain.
He searches vales and hills and ev’ry place,
Seeking to meet Gradasso face to face.

80
At last he finds him, where he’s just unseated
His brother Don Alardo from his horse.
The dreadful sight once seen, his blood grows heated.
Heedless of all beside, he sets his course
Straight for Gradasso, and so fast he speeded,
And swung Fusberta down with so much force,
With both his hands, that certainly he recked
The king, and charger too, he would bisect.

81
Such mighty blows as this were nothing new
To King Gradasso, who wore valor’s crown.
Don’t think that this enormous blow him slew,
Or that his armor split, or blood ran down.
He tells Rinaldo, “Now mayst thou see true,
And tell, if any ask thee, whose renown
Of ours, should be the greater, and if thou
Canst knock me from my horse, to thee I’ll bow.

82
And with these words the mighty infidel
Brings down with all his might his pond’rous sword.
Upon Baiardo’s neck Rinaldo fell.
So strong a blow he’s never yet endured.
Mambrino’s helmet, by its magic spell,
Is all that kept Rinaldo’s life secured.
Baiardo galloped off with all his speed,
Rinald hung on the neck of his good steed.

83
Gradasso followed him for many a mile.
He wanted Baiard more than anything.
But he lost sight of him. His anger boiled.
He turned back to the battle scowling.
Rinaldo’s sense came back after a while.
He burned t’avenge himself upon the king.
No sooner was Gradasso in his sight,
He swung his sword adown with all his might,

84
Upon Gradasso’s helm with both his hands.
His teeth are ground together from the shock.
The king of valor says, “I think this man
Must be some demon, or of demon’s stock.
I gave him blows that no man could withstand,
And he’s come back to seek for still more knocks.
But Fortune won’t on him forever shine.
If not now, he’ll go down some other time.

85
And with these words Gradasso ceased his talk,
And charged against him, while his eyes shot fire.
Cautious Rinaldo watched him like a hawk.
He had good need, you may believe it, sire.
The giant swings a blow that like a stalk
Of parsley, would have cleft him, ‘twas so dire.
But Rinald dodged the strike anticipated,
Sorry were he, had he an instant waited!

86
To make a mighty leap he was not slow,
For certainly he had no wish to bide.
The giant swings another pond’rous blow.
Baiardo once again leaps to one side.
“Can God Himself be fighting for my foe?”
In desperation King Gradasso cried.
He swings a third time, but no luck three brings.
Baiardo dodges it like he had wings.

87
Gradasso, growing weary of this game,
Decides to show his strength some other place.
Into the fray against his foes he came;
Horses and riders fell before his mace.
But ere a hundred paces he had ta’en
Rinaldo was resolved to give him chase.
He would have boldly ‘gainst the King contested,
But by a dreadful sight he was arrested.

88
Rinaldo scanned the field, when what should meet
His piercing eyes, but mighty Orïon.
The giant fell, who ran on swift and fleet.
The young Don Ricciardet, Rinaldo’s own
Brother, this felon carried by the feet.
The young man called for aid in woeful tones.
When Don Rinald that horrid sight espies,
For grief and love he very nearly dies.

89
The tears run down Rinaldo’s face I streams.
Of nothing else did he take any account.
In all his life, his soul had never been
So grieved as now. His pride and fury mount.
Which of the armies did the battle win,
In my next canto for you I’ll recount,
Which as I’ve said, began at break of dawn.
All day it’s lasted, and it still goes on.

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Notes

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