Book I, Canto V, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto V, Stanzas 41-60

41
Rinaldo instantly repays his foe
With a great backthrust to Gradasso’s chest.
Now this way, and now that, the battle goes,
Their ardent spirits swelling in their breasts.
Rinaldo soon decides its time to show
All of his strength. One mighty blow is best.
His shield he casts adown upon the strand,
And lifts Fusberta up with both his hands

42
With painful fury, with his mind on height,
With full abandon he swings Fusbert down.
Down on the earth he knocks the pennon white,
He drives Fusberta through the golden crown;
Nasal and visor from the helm he smites;
Straight through the shield of bone the blow resounds;
From crest to base the shield in twain was split,.
Fusbert sinks in the earth five finger’s width.

43
The demon sees his opportunity.
He turns his back on him and runs away.
Rinaldo sees him and is filled with glee,
Thinking his foe is weary of the fray.
That cunning scoundrel runs toward the sea;
Rinaldo follows swiftly as he may,
Calling, “O braggart king, oh, wait a bit,
Or on Baiardo’s back thou’lt never sit.

44
Is it a kingly deed to flee from battle?
Art thou not shamed to let me see thy back?
Come back with me to see Baiard, and that’ll
Show thee he is no worthless jade or hack.
I shoed him yesterday, and bought a saddle
And harnessings so fine they nothing lack.
Come thou, and take him; he’s fit for a lord.
Thou shalt behold him – if thou pass my sword!”

45
But that false king seems carried by the wind,
So swift he runs, but not a word lets slip.
He jumps into the water, and he swims,
Swift as a dolphin, and climbs on the ship.
Undaunted, Don Rinaldo too jumps in,
And pulls himself up with an iron grip.
When on the deck he stands, he sees his foe,
But ere he strikes him, he leaps down below.

46
Rinaldo follows, even fiercer now,
Bearing Fusberta with uplifted hand.
The demon scrambles up into the prow.
The ship is swiftly sailing from the land.
Rinaldo notes not how the ship doth plow
The waves. Naught but his fight he understands.
They had gone seven miles ere the sprite
Dissolved in smoke and disappeared from sight.

47
Rinaldo was astonished to behold
Gradasso vanishing into thin air.
He searched upon the deck; he searched the hold,
But couldn’t find his foeman anywhere.
The ropes were trim, the sails were all unrolled,
The ship moved swiftly, for the wind stood fair.
Rinaldo stood upon the deck, alone.
Oh, how that worthy baron made his moan:

48
“Ah, God of Heaven,” said he, “for what crime
Hast thou decreed that I should suffer so?
Though I confess I have sinned many a time,
This penance is too hard to undergo.
Dishonor, long as I shall live, is mine,
For in my mind I have no doubt, I know,
That if to tell this story I desire,
I’ll speak the truth, but will be thought a liar.

49
“My lord with all his army me endowered.
He left his empire within my hands.
Then I, vile, false, and fickle treacherous coward,
I fled to sea and left them on the land.
O, how the heathen troops will be empowered!
I seem to hear the tumult of that band,
I hear my bold companions rush to war,
I see Alfrera kill them by the score.

50
“Dear Ricciardet, how could I leave a lad
As young as thou amidst thy foes, alone?
And ye, my kin, Gradasso’s pris’ners sad,
Guizard, my brave Alardo, and Ivon?
Alas, the fame and honor that I had
When I first came to Spain, they all are flown.
Then was I bold and expert in the fight,
But this shame hath mine honor stolen quite.

51
“Nought will avail; how can I be excused,
When men shall call me coward to my face?
I, once a paragon, shall be accused
Of being no more a knight, but reprobate.
‘Tis by Lanfusa’s son I am abused,
By him I’ve been imprisoned in this place.
He means for me to die in torments great.
I see no way I can avert my fate.

52
What will they say of me in Charles’ court,
When what I’ve done to all of France is known?
Oh, how Mongrana’s house will grieve full sore
To know such traitors were among their own!
How they will triumph, how they’ll jest and sport,
Gano, and Pinabello, and Grifon!
Alas, I once could call them traitors base.
No more! For e’en as them am I disgraced.”

53
These words and many more the baron grand
Says as he sadly on the deck laments.
Thrice doth he take his goodly sword in hand,
Thinking of all his woes to make an end.
Thrice on the galley’s railing doth he stand;
To jump all armed and drown is his intent.
But ev’ry time his fearing for his soul
Rebukes his wrath and grants him self-control.

54
The ship so quickly through the waters raced
It had already gone three hundred miles.
No dolphin ever had so swift a pace
As this enchanted ship. After a while,
It turned towards the left and set its face
Eastward, but not to catch the west wind mild,
For magic moved it, and its speed increased
As it set off into the furthest East.

55
The ship was furnished with all things a fine
Sailing ship ought to have, except a crew.
The holds were filled with finest bread and wine,
But Don Rinaldo had no lust thereto.
He knelt adown and made the holy sign,
And as he prayed, there came into his view
A garden and a place fair to see,
Upon a tiny island in the sea.

56
But now I wish to leave him in this place,
Where such great marvels all around him pressed,
And sing of Count Orlando for a space.
As I have told you, love so filled his breast
That stoutly to the East he set his face.
Neither by night or day did he take rest,
Only to find Angelica the fair,
But he could hear no tidings anywhere.

57
The river Don he now has put behind,
And journeys on alone, this baron bold.
All day he rode, but no man did he find,
Until at eve, he met a palmer old.
His beard was gray, and sorely he repined,
Crying, “O Fortune, pitiless and cold!
Thou hast deprived me of my only joy!
I leave thee in God’s hands, my darling boy!”

58/59
“As may God help thee, pilgrim, tell to me
What is the reason thou lamentest so?”
Thus said Orlando, and then bitterly
The wretch continued to pour out his woe,
Saying, “Alas! A luckless wretch you see.
In but one day I have been brought this low!”
He stopped, o’ercome by grief. Orlando waited
To hear his story, and his breath was bated.

59/60
“At the top of this cliff there grows no grass,
Nothing but rocks, and soil red as flame.
I heard a roar from there, but I don’t know
From what infernal beast that dread noise came.
Along the base, a rapid river flows,
Spanned by a bridge as black as coal. The same
Is closed to travellers by a diamond gate,
And on a tower thereof a giant waits.

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