Book I, Canto VIII, Part 1

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

ARGUMENT

Rinaldo at the Joyous Isle arrives,
But it’s Angelica’s, and so he leaves.
To save a kidnapped damosel he tries,
But he himself is by a giant seized.
In Castle Cruel, an old hag describes
Her wicked customs, scarce to be believed,
Then throws Rinaldo in a monster’s den
Where gallantly he doth himself defend.

1
Rinaldo at the Joyous Palace lands,
(For thus the island he had come to hight)
Whereas his wayward bark ran on the sand,
That bark that steered, though with no pilot dight.
Fair shady trees within a garden stand,
The sea inclosed it, beating on each side.
All was abundance, green was all the isle,
That stretched its length and breadth for fifteen miles.

2
Amidst the garden, looking out to sea,
A palace rich and beautiful appeared
Of marble white, polished so wondrously
That all the garden in its walls was mirrored.
Upon the sand Rinald leapt instantly.
To stay upon th’enchanted boat he feared.
And when he stands upon the beach, there greets him
A lady beautiful, who sweetly greets him.

3
The lady said, “O worthy cavalier,
You have been hither led by kindly Fate.
Pray do not think that you were guided here
Without  a reason on your journey great
Though such strange passages, so full of fear.
Joyful and sweet will be your final state
And pleasant, though most painful was its start
If, as I think, you have a loving heart.”

4
As thus she spoke, she took him by the hand
And to the Palace Beautiful him led.
The doors were reed and white, with carvings grand,
With marble black and green and flecked, inset.
The very flooring upon which they stand
Is all of parti-colored marble set.
Loggias on ev’ry side great treasure hold
Of bas-reliefs, inlaid with blue and gold.

5
And hidden gardens, luscious, fresh and green
Are on the rooftops and upon the grounds.
With paintings rich, with gold and gems’ fair sheen
These noble, joyous pleasances abound.
Clear fountains and delightful spread their streams
Beneath the shady trees that ring them round.
And best of all, there wafted sweet perfume
To joy the heart that’s most beset with gloom.

6
The knight and dame go in a gallery
Rich and delicate and gaily trammeled.
For ev’ry face and corner you could see
Was decorated with gold and enamel.
The sunlight’s rays were gently blocked by trees,
The sweetest known in all of nature’s annals.
The columns which that lovely work uphold
Have crystal shafts and capitals of gold.

7
Into this loggia is the baron gone.
Of ladies beautiful there was a band.
Three sang together, while one played upon
An instrument unheard of in our lands,
But sweetly harmonized it with the song.
The other ladies in a ring did dance,
And when that worthy in the loggia found him,
The ladies came and formed a ring around him.

8
One of them, with a count’nance sweet and fine
Begins, “The tables are made ready, lord,
And now it is the hour when we dine.”
And so, upon the lush, sweet-smelling sward
Beneath a trellis rosy they recline,
Beside a fount whence waters clear outpoured.
Here all things for a feast were ready dight.
The plates were golden and the cloths pure white.

9
Four of the damsels at the table sit,
And bid Rinaldo take the highest place.
Rinaldo with astonishment is smit.
His chair with ornaments of pearls is graced.
He sees arriving viands delicate
And goblets decked with jewels from brim to base,
Filled up with wine of scent and taste superb.
Three of the damsels on Rinaldo serve.

10
The dinner ended, and they cleared away
The sparkling plates and chalices of gold.
On lutes and harps they now begin to play.
One of the ladies to Rinaldo stole
And softly in his ear began to say:
“This royal palace, all the wealth it holds,
(And thou hast not yet seen one half its treasures)
Are all thine own to deal with at thy pleasure.

11
Our Queen devised this palace for thy sake,
For thee alone, alone of all men born.
Thou art a worthy knight indeed, to wake
Love in her heart, who doth so many scorn.
She’s whiter than the lily on the brake,
And redder than the rose among the thorns;
Angelica the lovely maiden hight,
Who loves with heart and soul and mind and might.”

12
When Don Rinaldo, joyous past belief,
Hears the maid named whom he detesteth so,
He never in his life has felt such grief,
And on his face is plainly writ his woe.
He rates the palace at a withered leaf,
And has no wish but to arise and go.
But then the lady says, “Attend, good sir.
Deny thou canst not. Th’art our prisoner.

13
Thy sharp Fusberta will not help thee flee.
Hadst thou Baiard, yet couldst thou not take flight.
On ev’ry side we’re girded by the sea;
Thou must forgo thine arrogance and spite.
To change thy bitter heart behooveth thee.
My lady wishes nought besides thy sight.
If thou art scared of one whose love is great,
What will thou do to one who bears thee hate?”

14
The damsel  now seems bold and now seems meek,
But neither art affects the cavalier.
He does not listen to a word she speaks,
But turns and stalks out of the garden dear.
The Joyful Palace seems but dull and bleak,
As with a pitiless cold heart and fierce
Desiring nothing but to leave that place
Towards the sea he firmly set his face.

15
He seeks the bark that bore him to these shores,
And when he finds it, leaps into the stern.
He’d rather take his chance with wave and storm
Than ever to that garden fair return.
The boat won’t move. He thinks he’s all forlorn.
To leave this isle doth his spirit yearn
So much that he is just about to leap
Over the rails and drown him in the deep,

16
When suddenly the boat casts out to sea,
And soon the island out of sight has passed.
No words of mortal man could possibly
Describe how swift it went, it sailed so fast.
When morning dawns, before his eyes he sees
That he has landed by a forest vast.
When Don Rinaldo steps upon the sand,
At once he’s greeted by an ancient man.

17
The greybeard says, though weeping sore with grief,
“Oh, don’t abandon me, O worthy knight.
For chivalry, for honor, give relief
To this poor ancient and defend the right!
A false, deceitful, and most vicious thief
Has stol’n my only child, my daughter bright.
He just ran off, thou’lt catch him if th’art fleet.
They can’t have gone more than two hundred feet.

18
The cavalier by pity’s overcome.
He has his sword, although he lacks a steed.
Along the sand, in armor clad, he runs.
Not for an instant does he slack his speed.
When the false robber sees the champion come
He drops the lady, but he doesn’t flee.
Instead, a mighty horn he drew and wound,
And with that noise the earth and sky resound.

19
Rinaldo rushes up the slope and sees
Not far ahead of him, a little spit
Of rock that’s jutting out into the sea,
On top of which a crimson castle sits,
Whose drawbridge lowers when the horn blows free,
And a ferocious giant crosses it.
His head was sixteen feet above the land.
A chain and javelin he had in hand.

20
This great chain had a hook upon its tip
(Now see if you can guess the reason why)
When the fierce giant sees the knight, he grips
His dart, and raises it, and lets it fly.
All the way through Rinaldo’s shield it rips
(Although ‘twas finest steel; I do not lie)
Then pierced the hauberk and the mail within
And lightly pricked the worthy baron’s skin.

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