The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads 10: The Adventures of Bernardo del Carpio

Spain is home to a large number of beautiful ballads, called romances. Some of these ballads are about lovers. Many are about the Moors who ruled Spain for so many long centuries. There are a large number about the famous Cid who fought the Moors. There is also a large cycle about the Paladins of France, and about Bernardo del Carpio, who, the Spaniards say, killed the mighty Roland in the battle of Roncesvalles. While there are several collections of English translations of the Spanish ballads, scholars and translators tend to focus on the Moorish and love ballads. It is difficult to find any complete account of this branch of the Carolingian legend, which is why I decided to write a summary of every Spanish ballad related to Charlemagne. I quickly discovered that this is an impossible task. The folk tradition is still alive and well, not only in Iberia, but in every land to which the Spanish Jews moved after being exiled by Ferdinand and Isabella. New variants are constantly being recorded, and no Professor Child has yet arisen to make a complete collection of the folksongs and to standardize the titles by which they are known.
The closest thing to a definitive collection of Spanish ballads that currently exists is the Romancero General of Agustin Duran, published in 1877, which includes every ballad printed prior to the 1800’s. This means it does not include any folksongs from the Spain of his day, or, naturally, from later. These folksongs sometimes contain very interesting variants from the printed texts. Many of these later folksongs can be found at the Pan-Hispanic Ballad Project and Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews, two confusingly arranged messes of websites which I leave it to you to sift through if my dozen posts on Duran’s ballads leave you wanting more.
Duran’s magnum opus is in two volumes, which are volumes 10 and 14 of the Biblioteca des Autores Españoles. The numbers of the ballads below are those of this collection, as are the divisions into classes, based on antiquity.
Class I ballads are pure folksongs.
Class III are productions of uneducated or scarcely educated minstrels.
Class V are early literary ballads, attempts to imitate the oral tradition.
Class VIII are Renaissance or Siglo d’Oro literary ballads, which do not attempt to imitate the oral tradition.

Also note that most of the titles were supplied by Duran. Spanish ballads are usually identified by their first lines.

The principal English translations of Spanish ballads are:
Thomas Rodd, Most Celebrated Ancient Spanish Ballads relating to the Twelve Peers of France mentioned in Don Quixote. 1812.
John Gibson Lockhart, Ancient Spanish Ballads. 1823.
John Bowring, Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain. 1824.
James Young Gibson, The Cid Ballads and other Poems and Translation from Spanish and German. 1887.
Roger Wright, Spanish Ballads, 1987.

628, BERNARDO CONQUERS KING ORES OF MÉRIDA, AND SAVES ALFONSO THE CHASTE FROM BEING DISINHERITED AND IMPRISONED. Class IV. “Hueste saca el rey Ores”
King Ores of Mérida besieges Benavente. Alfonso rides to raise the siege, but is surrounded, until Bernardo arrives and rescues him. Bernardo kills King Ores and routes the Moors, but Alfonso will not free his father.

629, BERNARDO CONQUERS KING ALMAZA OF BADAJOZ, AND SAVES ALFONSO THE CHASTE FROM BEING CAPTURED. Class IV. “Ya pasados pocos dias”
King Almaza of Badajoz lays siege to Zamora. Alfonso rides to raise the siege, is nearly captured, but is saved by Bernardo, who asks for his father’s liberty. Alfonso refuses.
A copy of #628. Duran suspects this is by Timoneda.

630, BERNARDO, CONQUEROR OF THE FRANK DON BUESO, ASKS THE KING FOR HIS FATHER’S FREEDOM. Class IV. “Estando en paz y sosiego”
Don Bueso of France invades Alfonso’s lands. Bernardo defeates Bueso in single combat, and the French go home. Alfonso, in gratitude, promises to free Bernardo’s father, but when he is back in safety, changes his mind.

631, BERNARDO CAPTURES KING VENCEDOR IN HIS FORTRESS OF POLVOREDA. Class V. “No cesando el Casto Alfonso”
Alfonso is annoyed that two Moorish fortresses are on the borders of his kingdom. He sends Bernardo to capture Polvoreda while he takes the other, on the banks of the Duero. Both are successful.

632, BERNARDO RESCUES EL CARPIO AND HIS BELOVED ESTELA FROM THE MOORS WHO BESIEGED IT. By Lucas Rodirguez. Class VIII. “Con ansia extrema y lloroso”
The Moors lays siege to Bernardo’s castle of El Carpio, where his beloved Estela is. He arrives, and learns the current situation from his friend Ascanio. He proceeds to save the day.
This is an invention of Rodriguez’ from beginning to end. Estela and Ascanio are completely unknown outside of this ballad.

633, BERNARDO AGAIN ASKS THE KING FOR HIS FATHER’S FREEDOM. Class VIII. “Al casto rey Don Alfonso”
Bernardo asks Alfonso for his father’s freedom, invoking his father’s great age, and that he has suffered enough. He recalls his services when Charlemagne invaded, and reminds him that, after, all, there was a legitimate marriage, and he [Bernardo] is no bastard, but a loyal and dutiful knight.

634, THE QUEEN PROMISES BERNARDO THE LIBERTY OF HIS FATHER, IF HE WINS A TOURNAMENT, BUT THE KING REFUSES TO HONOR HIS WIFE’S WORD. Class I. “Andados treinta y seis años”
In the year 853 [!], the thirty-sixth year of Don Alfonso’s reign, he is at Leon, and holds a feast. Don Arias and Don Tibalte are saddened to see that Bernardo is absent, and ask the Queen to ask him to come to the feast. She promises his father’s liberty to Bernardo if he comes. He fulfills his end of the bargain, but the King flatly refuses to grant the Queen’s request.
This Queen must be the Queen Mother, since Alfonso never married. His mother was a Basque noblewoman named Munia.

635, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. By Lorenzo de Sepúlveda. Class IV. “El casto Alfonso hizo cortes”
Alfonso the Chaste holds court in Leon. Bernardo does not come. The nobles go before the Queen, and ask her to ask him to come to the feast. She promises his father’s liberty to Bernardo if he comes. He fulfills his end of the bargain. Bernardo then reminds the king of his services, such as killing King Ores, and rescuing the King at the Oruega River. Alfonso refuses to release the Count, and so Bernardo defies him and starts a rebellion.
According to Duran, this is based on an older, more popular ballad, perhaps a combination of 634 and 637.

636, BERNARDO ASKS AGAIN IN VAIN FOR THE LIBERTY OF HIS FATHER. Class VIII. “A los piés arrodillado”
Bernardo throws himself at Alfonso’s feet, and beseeches mercy for his old, grey-haired father.

637, THE KING BANISHES BERNARDO. Class I. “En gran pesar y tristeza”
Bernardo is sorrowful, after Alfonso threatens to throw him in jail, too, if he ever asks for his father’s freedom again. He reminds the king of his many services, such as killing King Ores and King Alzaman, and rescuing Alfonso at the battle of the Orbi River. He then defies the king, and renounces his vassalship. Alfonso gives Bernardo nine days to leave the kingdom, on pain of death. Bernardo retreats to Saldaña, gathers his loyal men, and wars against Alfonso until the latter’s death.

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The Te Deum

Often in medieval literature, one comes across a reference someone singing the Te Deum. Very rarely is it explained what the Te Deum is. It is a Catholic hymn, according to legend written by Saint Ambrose and Saint Augustine, though this has been disproved. It is recited as part of the Liturgy of the Hours, and it was traditionally sung before or after Mass as part of the celebrations following great victories, or the election of a Pope. So that you know what the old romances are talking about when, for instance, Turpin sings the Te Deum, the text follows, in Latin and English.
Te Deum laudamus: te Dominum confitemur.
O God, we praise Thee, and acknowledge Thee to be the supreme Lord.
Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur.
Everlasting Father, all the earth worships Thee.
Tibi omnes Angeli; tibi caeli et universae Potestates;
All the Angels, the heavens and all angelic powers,
Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim incessabili voce proclamant:
All the Cherubim and Seraphim, continuously cry to Thee:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts!
Pleni sunt caeli et terra maiestatis gloriae tuae.
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Thy glory.
Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus,
The glorious choir of the Apostles,
Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus,
The wonderful company of Prophets,
Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.
The white-robed army of Martyrs, praise Thee.
Te per orbem terrarum sancta confitetur Ecclesia,
Holy Church throughout the world acknowledges Thee:
Patrem immensae maiestatis:
The Father of infinite Majesty;
Venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium;
Thy adorable, true and only Son;
Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum.
Also the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
Tu Rex gloriae, Christe.
O Christ, Thou art the King of glory!
Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem, non horruisti Virginis uterum.
When Thou tookest it upon Thyself to deliver man, Thou didst not disdain the Virgin’s womb.
Tu, devicto mortis aculeo, aperuisti credentibus regna caelorum.
Having overcome the sting of death, Thou opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes, in gloria Patris.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.
Iudex crederis esse venturus.
We believe that Thou wilt come to be our Judge.
Te ergo quaesumus, tuis famulis subveni: quos pretioso sanguine redemisti.
We, therefore, beg Thee to help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy Precious Blood.
Aeterna fac cum sanctis tuis in gloria numerari.
Let them be numbered with Thy Saints in everlasting glory.
 V.  Salvum fac populum tuum, Domine, et benedic hereditati tuae.
 Priest.  Save Thy people, O Lord, and bless Thy inheritance!
 R.  Et rege eos, et extolle illos usque in aeternum.
 People.  Govern them, and raise them up forever.
 V.  Per singulos dies benedicimus te.
 V.  Every day we thank Thee.
 R.  Et laudamus nomen tuum in saeculum, et in saeculum saeculi.
 R.  And we praise Thy Name forever, yes, forever and ever.
 V.  Dignare, Domine, die isto sine peccato nos custodire.
 V.  O Lord, deign to keep us from sin this day.
 R.  Miserere nostri, Domine, miserere nostri.
 R.  Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
 V.  Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos, quemadmodum speravimus in te.
 V.  Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in Thee.
 R.  In te, Domine, speravi: non confundar in aeternum.
 R.  O Lord, in Thee I have put my trust; let me never be put to shame.

The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads 9: The Youth of Bernardo del Carpio

Spain is home to a large number of beautiful ballads, called romances. Some of these ballads are about lovers. Many are about the Moors who ruled Spain for so many long centuries. There are a large number about the famous Cid who fought the Moors. There is also a large cycle about the Paladins of France, and about Bernardo del Carpio, who, the Spaniards say, killed the mighty Roland in the battle of Roncesvalles. While there are several collections of English translations of the Spanish ballads, scholars and translators tend to focus on the Moorish and love ballads. It is difficult to find any complete account of this branch of the Carolingian legend, which is why I decided to write a summary of every Spanish ballad related to Charlemagne. I quickly discovered that this is an impossible task. The folk tradition is still alive and well, not only in Iberia, but in every land to which the Spanish Jews moved after being exiled by Ferdinand and Isabella. New variants are constantly being recorded, and no Professor Child has yet arisen to make a complete collection of the folksongs and to standardize the titles by which they are known.
The closest thing to a definitive collection of Spanish ballads that currently exists is the Romancero General of Agustin Duran, published in 1877, which includes every ballad printed prior to the 1800’s. This means it does not include any folksongs from the Spain of his day, or, naturally, from later. These folksongs sometimes contain very interesting variants from the printed texts. Many of these later folksongs can be found at the Pan-Hispanic Ballad Project and Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews, two confusingly arranged messes of websites which I leave it to you to sift through if my dozen posts on Duran’s ballads leave you wanting more.
Duran’s magnum opus is in two volumes, which are volumes 10 and 14 of the Biblioteca des Autores Españoles. The numbers of the ballads below are those of this collection, as are the divisions into classes, based on antiquity.
Class I ballads are pure folksongs.
Class III are productions of uneducated or scarcely educated minstrels.
Class V are early literary ballads, attempts to imitate the oral tradition.
Class VIII are Renaissance or Siglo d’Oro literary ballads, which do not attempt to imitate the oral tradition.

Also note that most of the titles were supplied by Duran. Spanish ballads are usually identified by their first lines.

The principal English translations of Spanish ballads are:
Thomas Rodd, Most Celebrated Ancient Spanish Ballads relating to the Twelve Peers of France mentioned in Don Quixote. 1812.
John Gibson Lockhart, Ancient Spanish Ballads. 1823.
John Bowring, Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain. 1824.
James Young Gibson, The Cid Ballads and other Poems and Translation from Spanish and German. 1887.
Roger Wright, Spanish Ballads, 1987.

619, THE BIRTH OF BERNARDO DEL CARPIO. Class I. “En los reinos de Leon”
In Leon, Alfonso the Chaste reigned. His beautiful sister, Doña Jimena, and the Count of Saldaña fell in love, and produced Bernardo del Carpio, at which the irritated King threw the count in jail.
Wright.
The real Alfonso II the Chaste of Asturias was born in 760, became king in 791, and died in 842. Bernardo del Carpio is a figment of some patriotic minstrel’s imagination. Despite what some sources claim, the story is not based on King Nepociano, the brother-in-law of Alfonso who attempted to usurp the throne at his death. The real Nepociano, while a usurper, was only a distant kinsman of the Chaste, who had no known sisters.

620, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. By Lorenzo de Sepúlveda. “El conde Don Sancho Diaz”
Count Don Sancho Diaz of Saldaña secretly marries King Alfonso the Chaste’s sister Doña Jimena, and begets Bernardo del Carpio, which irks the King to no end. He arrests the Count, who begs the king to be merciful to Bernardo.

621, HOW KING ALFONSO SUMMONED THE COUNT OF SALDAÑA UNDER SAFE-CONDUCT, AND IMPRISONED HIM TO PUNISH HIS SECRET MARRIAGE WITH HIS SISTER DOÑA JIMENA. Class IV. Perhaps by Timoneda. “Reinando el rey Don Alfonso”
Seventeen years into Alfonso’s reign, Jimena weds Count Sancho Diaz in secrecy, producing Bernardo del Carpio. Alfonso invites Sancho to court under safe-conduct, but seizes him and throws him in prison.

622, HOW THE COUNT OF SALDAÑA WAS IMPRISONED IN THE CASTLE OF LUNA, AND DOÑA JIMENA SENT TO A NUNNERY. Class V. “Sabiendo el Rey cómo el Conde”
While Count Sancho is at court, Alfonso and his men capture him. Sancho asks only that the king be merciful to young Bernardo. Jimena is sent to a nunnery
Duran thinks this is Timoneda’s reworking of 620.

Some later versions of these ballads, from the oral tradition, give the story a happy ending, by having the queen overhear the Count’s laments and obtain his freedom. Others make Jimena the sister not of King Alfonso, but of the Cid. Still others combine these two corruptions.

623, DESCRIPTION OF BERNARDO DEL CARPIO. Class V. “A cabo de mucho tiempo”
When Bernardo is of age, Alfonso summons him to court, and his very pleased with him. He has every knightly virtue.

624, BERNARDO LEARNS THE SECRET OF HIS BIRTH. Class VIII. “Contándole estaba un dia”
Elvira Sanchez, Bernardo’s nurse, tells him that, despite what Alfonso said, he is not a bastard. He is the son of the lawfully married Sancho Diaz and Jimena. The Count is imprisoned in the castle of Luna. Bernardo is the rightful heir to the throne, though Alfonso wishes to leave it to the French.

625, THE LAMENT OF THA COUNT OF SALDAÑA, THAT HIS SON BERNARDO HAS NOT FREED HIM. Class VIII. “Bañado está las prisiones”
Count Sancho Diaz, in prison, laments.
Lockhart

626, BERNARDO ASKS THE KING FOR THE LIBERTY OF HIS FATHER, WHICH IS DENIED. Class I. “En corte del casto Alfonso”
Bernardo, living at Alfonso’s court, does not know his father is imprisoned, though everyone else does. Two courties, Vasco Melendez and Suero Velazquez, tell two noblewomen, Urraca Sanchez and Maria Melendez, to tell Bernardo the truth. Bernardo storms to the throne room, so angrily that Alfonso thinks he has come to kill him. But Bernardo merely asks humbly for the release of his father. Alfonso swears it will never be done while he [Alfonso] lives. Bernardo swears to serve the king loyally until he earns his father’s pardon.
Wright.

627, ON THE SAME SUBJECT. By Lorenzo de Sepúlveda. Class IV. “En Luna está preso el Conde.”
The Count has long been imprisoned in Luna. Bernardo knows nothing of this. Two damsels break King Alfonso’s orders and tell Bernardo the truth. He laments, then goes before the king. Alfonso thinks Bernardo has come to kill him, but he merely asks for his father’s liberty. Alfonso swears it will never be done while he [Alfonso] lives. Bernardo swears to serve the king loyally until he earns his father’s pardon.

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