Book I, Canto VI, Part 4

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto VI, Stanzas 61-69

But King Gradasso’s men have crossed the mounts,
And will be at the Paris gates ere long.
Charlemagne summons all his dukes and counts.
To save their fatherland, to him they throng.
Guards on the bridges and the tow’rs he mounts,
And makes each part, to withstand battle, strong.
They stand alert, and on a morn they see
Th’advancing banners of the Paynimrie.

The Emp’ror has his army all prepared.
Days ago were his battalions made.
Now are the banners waving in the air,
And now the trumpets and the tambours play.
The soldiers have been waiting in the square.
They arm and exit through Saint Celsus’ gate,
The footmen foremost and the knights in back.
Ogier the Dane will lead the first attack.

The King Gradasso has his people split
Into five parts, each one a vast brigade.
The first, of Indian folk nigh infinite,
Of ugly blackamoors this horde was made.
Two kings as captains of this army sit.
One was Cardon, who like a bloodhound bayed.
Urnass the Merciless with him attacks,
Who wields six javelins and a giant axe.

King Stracciaberra leads the next brigade.
A sight more hideous the world knows none.
Two tusks like boars’ he had. Men were afraid
At the mere sight of him. Beside him comes
Francardo, bearing javelins long and great,
Which he could farther throw than anyone.
The third is made of soldiers from Ceylon,
Their king, Alfrera, ‘tis who leads them on.

The fourth is wholly of the folk of Spain,
Led by Marsilio with his lords beside.
The fifth one fills the mountains and the plain,
And over them Gradasso’s pennon flies.
So vast the army was that thither came
That by mere words it could not be described.
But let us speak now of the strong Ogier,
Who leads his men against Cardano fierce.

A good twelve thousand in a fair brigade
The Dane Ogieri leads to the attack,
Marching together, properly arrayed;
They split and drive right through the horde of blacks.
Against Cardon his lance in rest he laid.
That brute howls like a dog, his head thrown back.
Upon an armored horse he sits, unblessed.
Ogieri strikes the middle of his chest.

His shield and breastplate are no use at all,
He falls off of his steed and soon will die.
He kicks the air as on the ground he falls,
Because he’s been transfixed from side to side.
Now his companion moves, Urnasso tall.
He lets a dart against Ogieri fly.
Through mail and cuirass and through shield it pressed.
The iron stopped just as it reached his chest.

Ogier is wounded, but he still fights on;
The giant throws another with such force
It pierces through his shoulder to the bone.
Then was the Dane in pain and sorrow sore.
He mutters to himself, “If I get close,
I’ll make thee pay for this, son of a whore!”
Urnasso drops his darts upon the land,
And lifts his battle-axe with both his hands.

My lords, if I were silent, I were wrong,
About Urnasso’s horse. It’s full of spirit;
Upon its brow a horn grows, two foot long,
With which it spits whoever comes anear it.
But at this point I must break off my song,
Which grows so long, you may not wish to hear it;
For I have sung for long enough already,
And this new battle will be long and bloody.

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