St. George for England – Added Verses

Le Sieur de Bayard held a bridge and never once did shirk.
Don John of Austria, he thumped and thrashed the Turk.
St. Michael and St. Catherine appeared to Joan of Arc.
Scanderbeg and Sobieski always hit their mark.
Ferdinand and Isabella took Alhambra Hall,
But Saint George, Saint George, he made the dragon fall!
Saint George he was for England; Saint Denis was for France,
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

There is a ballad in Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, first printed in 1612, which lists great knights and heroes of old and compares them to Saint George. You can read it here. I wrote this extra verse myself, and am posting it here in honor of Saint George’s Day.
As for the heroes listed, le Sieur de Bayard was a French knight in the 1500’s, who was known as the “Good Knight without Fear and without Reproach”. (He has no connection to Bayard, the steed of Rinaldo). You can read some of his adventures in The Red True Story Book by Andrew Lang. Don Juan of Austria led the Christian fleets against the Turkish fleet at the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1591, which saved Christendom from Islam (temporarily, at least). You can read a magnificent ballad about the fight (better by far than anything I’ll ever write) by G. K. Chesterton, here. Joan of Arc is universally known, but many people have misconceptions about her. A good and accurate summary of her life can be found in Lang’s Red True Story Book. Skanderbeg, born George Castriot, heroically defended Albania and Christendom against the encroaching Turks from 1443 to his death in 1468. Longfellow’s poem Scanderbeg is about that hero’s defection from the Turks (he had been born Christian but raised as a Janissary) to rejoin the true Faith. King John III Sobieski of Poland rescued Vienna from the Turks who were besieging it in 1683, thereby breaking the power of the Ottoman Empire and putting Islam on the defensive for the next three hundred years. He arrived to save the day on September 11th, (probably not a coincidence), and actually raised the siege on the 12th, a feat commemorated in the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary. Ferdinand and Isabella, king and queen of Spain, completed the reconquest of that country from the Moors in 1492, when they conquered Granada from King Boabdil, a feat which gave Spain the unity and security she needed to bring the Catholic Faith to the New World. Lord Byron’s “Ballad on the Siege and Conquest of Alhama” is not about the final loss, but about an earlier one. Some ballads on Boabdil have been Englished, however, by John Lockhart and by James Gibson, and may be found in their Ancient Spanish Ballads, and The Cid Ballads and other Poems, respectively.
As for Saint George himself, he was martyred under Emperor Diocletian in Diospolis, in Palestine [now called Lod in Israel]. The legend of the dragon was not attached to him until the time of the First Crusade, when his popularity in the west exploded – but that is a story for another post. For now, I refer you to the summary in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

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Book I, Canto VII, Part 2

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

21
He would have been a captive, or a corpse,
But as I said, Alfrera reappeared,
Swinging his iron mace with deadly force
As through th’advancing Christian host he sheared.
Burgundian Gui he topples from his horse,
And good Duke Naimo of the hoary beard.
But Olivier, Dudon, and Charlemagne
All three at once against the giant came.

22
One charges from that side, and one from this.
Boldly and gallantly they urge their steeds.
He cannot turn his giraffe around. It is
By nature quite a lazy, sluggish beast.
He swings great strokes, but all of them just miss.
Charles and his companions dodge with ease.
Since nought he did availed him, he abated
His fight and fled to where Gradasso waited.

23
His flight the haughty lord Gradasso spies,
Who used to hold him in a high regard.
He turns to him in anger, and he cried:
“Ah, worthless coward, vile sack of lard!
Art thou not shamed, so cravenly to fly?
Art thou so great of limb and small of heart?
Go wait inside my tent, thou scorned of men,
And never let me see thee armed again!”

24
He ceases talking and he spurs his horse,
And with one thrust he overthrows Dudon.
And with what seems a more than human force
He floors Ricardo and King Salamon.
The men of Sericane behind him course.
Their dragon-hearted king deserves his throne.
His lance was iron bound, twenty feet long.
The world has never seen a man so strong.

25
Against Count Ganellone he collides,
Striking the falcon’s breast upon his shield.
He knocks him to the ground, his legs sprawled wide,
Then spies King Charlemagne across the field.
His lance in rest, with utmost speed he rides,
And with one blow, his seat the emperor yields.
But as Gradasso Baiard’s bridle clasped,
That destrier turned its croup, and lightning fast

26
With a loud neighing, he kicks out his heels,
And just below the knee gives such a clout
That though his greaves were of enchanted steel,
Yet they were dented in, while sparks flew out.
Worse pain than ever now Gradasso feels.
It runs all through him, so he turns about,
And leaves Baiardo, letting fall the rein;
The good beast swiftly back to Paris came.

27
Gradasso flees in anguish to his tent.
You all may guess what agony he’s in.
Straightaway for an agéd man he sent,
A master of the art of medicine.
He binds the wound with skill, and then presents
A potion brewed from herbs and roots to him,
Which, when Gradasso quaffs it all, it seems
As if his wound were nothing but a dream.

28
To battle he returns, sans pain or fear .
In fact, he’s even fiercer than before.
Against him gallops Marquis Olivier,
But with one blow he knocks him to the floor.
Avin, Avolio, Guido, Angelier,
Without a pause he overthrows all four
To tell it shortly, ev’ry Paladin
Was by Gradasso captured with great vim.

29
The Christian people turn about and flee;
Against the Saracens no more they fight.
The Frankish lords are in captivity.
The other rabble in distress take flight.
No Christian faces do the pagans see;
Captives or slain are all the valiant knights.
And of the rest, none than the next is bolder,
And all show to the Saracens their shoulders.

30
Now all of Paris hears the tidings dread
Of the defeat, and Karl’s captivity.
Ogier the Dane leaps up at once from bed,
Lamenting loudly, as a baron free.
He donned his arms, then to the gate he sped
On foot, not waiting even for his steed.
But he commanded it be harnessed straight,
And brought to meet him at the Paris gate.

31
When he arrived, he found the gate was down,
And from without he hears the woeful cry
Of all the baptized cruelly cut down.
The murd’rous porter at his ease there lies;
So that the Pagans enter not the town
He is content that his compatriots die.
The Dane him bids to open up the gate;
He clearly sees he can’t a minute wait.

32
The scowling porter, like a churl, informs
The Dane he has no wish to raise the gate,
And with proud boasts he blusters and he storms
That his appointed post he’ll ne’er forsake.
Ogieri lifts his axe, which so alarms
The porter, that he doesn’t hesitate
To run away in terror with a shout.
Ogieri opes the gate and rushes out.

33
Upon the bridge forth strides the gallant knight;
With axe in readiness he takes his stand.
Now is he fortunate to have keen sight,
For as in terror fled the Christian band,
Each of them wishing to be first in flight,
The swiftest Pagans mixed among them ran.
The mighty Dane perceives them where they go,
And with his axe he brings them all to woe.

34
The Pagan army ever closer sped.
Don Serpentino leads them their attack.
Upon the bridge, as swift as lightning, leapt
The Danish hero, brandishing his axe,
And brought it down on Serpentino’s head.
The sparks fly from his helm, which would have cracked
If Serpentino’s armor were not made
By magic art, secure from all such blades.

35
The Dane upon the Pagan army gazed.
Gradasso led, and mighty Ferragu.
So many enemies Ogieri faced,
He clearly saw that nothing could he do.
He called behind him that the bridge be raised.
There never was a knight so brave and true.
Alone against the Pagan host he fights,
And keeps them off the bridge in their despite.

36
Gradasso confidently ‘gainst him came,
Ordering all his vassals to step back.
Ogieri hears the gate shut with a clang,
And in a brave despair he lifts his axe.
Gradasso seizes it, to snap in twain,
Then lights down off his charger, and he grasps
The Dane, who’s stout and skilled in wrestling play,
But King Gradasso carries him away.

37
No knights were left to make an opposition,
As day gave was unto the dusky knight.
The priests lead all the people in processions,
With pure intent, and clad in garments white.
Open is ev’ry church, and ev’ry prison
With fear and terror they await the light.
None dare to rest, for once the gates are breached,
Destruction waits alike for all and each.

38
Astolfo with the others was set free;
No one remembered that he was alive;
For once he’d been thrown in captivity
A rumor went around that he had died.
His habit was to talk incessantly
And brag more proudly than I could describe.
He heard the news, and “Oh, alas!” he moaned,
“Of my arrest, Gradasso must have known!

39
“Had I not been thrown in a dungeon cell,
King Charlemagne would have no cause to moan.
But even now, I can make all things well,
I’ll take Gradasso pris’ner by my lone.
Soon as the dawning o’er th’horizon swells
I’ll arm myself and mount upon my roan.
You all, stand on the walls and watch me fight.
Woe to the infidel who tests my might!”

40
Meanwhile, joy possessed the pagan races.
They cheer their ruler and upon him fawn.
His glee unbounded written on his face is,
Dreaming of seizing Paris at the dawn.
He’s put Alfrera back in his good graces.
Now to review his prisoners he’s gone.
When he sees Charlemagne, he sits down, and
He takes his fellow monarch by the hand

Book I, Canto VII, Part 1

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto VII, Stanzas 1-20

CANTO VII

ARGUMENT

Ogier retreats, the barons issue out,
Stoutly they fight, but all are caught at last.
Gradasso doth the Christian army rout,
But thanks t’Ogier, the Paris walls aren’t passed.
Astolfo, like a foolish, headstrong lout
Ruins the truce, and leaves King Charles aghast.
Astolfo and Gradass joust one on one,
And with that joust, so shall the war be done.

1
Cruel and chaotic was the fight begun,
Outside of Paris, as I sang before.
Now does the Dane against Urnasso run,
And with Curtana through the heart him gores.
The pagan army’s routed and undone,
But King Urnasso’s thrice-accursed horse,
Strikes with its horn upon the Dane’s cuirass,
And doth through chainmail and through platemail pass.

2
Ogieri, wounded sore in places three,
Returned to Paris and a doctor found.
The Emperor, who all the battle sees,
Sends Salamone to the battle ground,
And Turpin after him, that ardent priest.
The drawbridge of Saint-Denis he lets down,
And thence sends Ganelon with all his force.
Ricardo by another route goes forth.

3
Out of a third go mighty Angelieri,
And strong Dudon, the soul of courtesy;
And from the Royal Gate comes Olivieri,
And mighty Guido, lord of Burgundy.
The wise duke Naimo, his sons Berlengieri,
Avol, Otton, Avin, each bold and free,
Some from one gate, some from another go,
To wreak upon the heathens pain and woe.

4
The Emperor, the fiercest soldier there,
Issues forth armed, and leads the last brigade,
The while to God he softly makes his prayer
That Paris might from fire and sack be saved.
Relics and crosses monks and mass-priests bear
In long processions, and devoutly prayed
To God and all His saints, that they preserve
King Charles and his barons strong of nerve.

5
And now there is a mighty sound of bells,
Of drums, and trumpets, and of battle-cries.
From ev’ry part advance the infidels,
And straight against them do the Christians ride.
There never was a battle half as fell,
Both sides are mixed together in the fight.
Don Olivieri ‘mongst the Paynim ranks
Seems like a stream that overflows its banks.

6
He rides against footmen and cavaliers,
And some he knocked to earth and some he slew
With Altachiara, filling hosts with fear,
More than a thousand other knights could do.
And not a single thrust his armor pierced.
Now Stracciaberra comes into his view,
That Black-skinned Indian, King of Lucinorca
Who had two tusks protruding like a porker.

7
The fight between these cavaliers was brief,
For Olivier brought Altachiara down,
Between the Indian’s eyes, then ‘twixt his teeth,
Splitting in two his ugly visage brown;
This done, his sharpened blade he did not sheath,
But wreaked destruction with it all around,
And while he wasted all of that brigade,
Emperor Charlemagne came to his aid.

8
That monarch’s sword was all awash in blood.
That day he rode to battle on Baiard;
None of the Saracens against him stood.
You never saw a king who fought so hard.
He sheathes his brand, and takes a lance of wood,
Because he’s challenged by the King Francard,
Francardo, ruler of Elissa’s land,
In India, who had a bow in hand.

9
The strange man, as he rides, shoots constantly.
He is coal-black; snow-white is his destrier.
Charlemagne interrupts him in his spree,
And all the way though him he drives his spear.
The body’s pierced and broke; the spirit flees.
Baiardo’s not yet tired, it appears.
The steed lay dead before him on the ground,
But he leapt o’er it with a single bound.

10
“Who is the man who dares to block my way?
Who stops me riding whereso I desire?”
So shouts King Charles, and within the fray
He passes through the Saracens like fire.
Cornuto, once Urnasso’s charger gay,
Races around, unrid by knight or squire.
With its horn down, it runs against Baiard,
But this steed’s courage is by no means marred.

11
Without King Charles prompting him, he starts
To turn around, and he kicks out his hooves,
And strikes Cornuto where his forelegs part.
He falls to ground, and never more he moves.
Oh, how King Charles laughs with all his heart!
Now does the battle grow more fierce, in sooth,
Because Alfrera leads a mighty corps
Of Saracens, all eager for the war.

12
Upon his giraffe the mighty giant fares,
Swinging his club and dealing dreadful harm.
Turpin of Rheims he lifts into the air
And then he tucks him underneath his arm
And fights as well as if he wasn’t there.
Oton and Berlengier, to their alarm,
He grabs, and ties them up, and then he brings
Them, trussed up like a faggot, to the king

13
And turns immediately back to the plain;
To seize and bind the others is his plan.
Marsilio comes, with all the folk of Spain,
And he himself is leader of the van.
Thoughts of surrender or of flight are vain.
Ev’ryone fights as stoutly as he can.
Olivier and the Paladins concur
To form a circle round their emperor.

14
In gilded arms he sits upon Baiard,
Covered from crest to spur with precious stones.
And Marquis Olivier his right side guards,
And at his other shoulder brave Dudon,
And Angelier, and worthy Don Riccard,
And good Duke Naimo, and Count Ganelon.
They from their line and gallop off to bring
Doom to the heathen Spaniards and their king.

15
Don Ferragu against the Marquis speeds,
And that stout pagan has the upper hand,
But not enough to knock him from his steed,
So they begin to fight with their good brands.
Don Angelieri and Spinella meet,
And Gano with Margante breaks a lance.
The Argalif with the Baviarn jousts,
And ev’ryone is fighting all about.

16
And while the mêlée and the tumult grow,
Grandonio meets Dudone in that place.
These two lay on each other mighty blows,
For each of them prefers to use his mace.
Each paladin confronts his chosen foe.
Marsil and Charlemagne are face to face,
And king Marsilio’s life would have been through
Had he not been relieved by Ferragu.

17
Forgetting Olivier, he leaves his fight,
Fearing lest his dear uncle should be slain.
But the Marquis, just like a valiant knight,
Rides to the aid of Emp’ror Charlemagne.
Now of these four, each is a man of might,
Each quick of limb, and each of battle fain.
On that day Charles more adroitly sparred
Than any other, for he rode Baiard.

18
Each a great baron, or a mighty king,
And each in love with honor and with glory;
Their shields they have forgotten, while they swing
Their swords with both their hands, in raging fury.
Meanwhile, the Chrisitans to the Spaniards bring
Defeat, and chase them in a routing gory.
Marsilio’s standard lay upon the ground;
This was the state of things Alfrera found.

19
The Spaniards fled as swiftly as they could,
Across the plain, and dared no longer dwell.
Neither Marsilio nor Grandonio stood
His ground, but joined in the retreating swell.
The Argalifa showed his legs were good,
And King Morgante, that false infidel.
Spinella back towards the camp has flown.
Don Ferraguto fights his foes alone.

20
Just like a lion he confronts their ranks,
Nor does he falter in the slightest manner.
Upon his armor now, Dudon the Frank,
Charles and Olivieri stoutly hammer.
He guards his front side now, and now his flank,
And strikes them back again with mighty clamor.
But since his army’d left him all alone,
These three ferocious soldiers wore him down.

Notes

Notes to the Seventh Canto, Part 1

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto VII, Stanzas 1-20, Notes

1. Curtana. Or Cortana, or Cortain, or Curtain. Ogier’s sword. The name means “Short”, and how he got this sword is told in Le Chevalerie Ogier le Danois.
3. Gui of Burgundy. Hero of Fierabras, and husband of the giant Fierabras’ sister Floripas.
15. The Bavarian. Naimo.