The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto IX, Stanzas 1-20
Angelica by Don Rinald is spurned,
Though she arrives to save her by her arts.
He slays the beast, and then he sorely yearns
To raze the castle. Duke Astolfo starts
His quest, by Sacripant away is turned,
And meets the noble heathen Brandimart.
Orlando in the magic bower he sees,
But they two fight, and Duke Astolfo flees.
You’ve heard already of the shape miswrought
The horrible and wasted monster bore,
Which had for long against Rinaldo fought,
And how Fusberta from his hand it tore.
And we shall leave him here, unhelped, distraught,
For now another matter needs me more.
Now of a lady who with love doth burn
I sing, then to Rinaldo I’ll return.
Me gracious lords, most humble I request
Ye to recall Angelica the bright.
How she met Malagise on a quest
And watches for his coming day and night.
Now as she waits, her spirit is oppressed.
As all may guess who’ve waited for delight,
And one’s who’s waited for a lover knows
All other waiting seems a pleasant rose.
She stands for hours gazing at the sea,
And then for hours looking o’er the land.
And if a ship the poor girl chanced to see,
Or any speck, as she th’horizon scanned,
She whispers to herself that certainly
The gallant Don Rinaldo was at hand.
And when a beast or cart came down the road,
She thought the lord of Montalban there rode.
Behold! When Malagise there appeared,
(But no Rinaldo stood there by his side)
Haggard and pale, with a disheveled beard.
Upon the earth he fixed his tired eyes;
His clothes were ragged and with grime besmirched.
He looked like one who from a dungeon flies.
The damsel sees him, seeming hard bestead,
“Alas!” she cries out, “My Rinaldo’s dead!”
“He isn’t dead. At least he isn’t yet,”
Says Malagise to the damosel,
“But he cannot endure. He’s hard beset,
And will be eaten by a monster fell.
Confound the day and hour that did beget
A soul who dared to thus ‘gainst Love rebel!”
And then in full detail he makes report
How he had lured Rinaldo to that court.
And how the folk had sentenced him to die,
And how a quick and painful end he faced.
You need not wonder if the lady’s nigh
To death. Her spirit sinks, so much abased
She cannot move, cannot let out a cry,
But stands with vacant eyes and icy face.
But strength returning just an instant later,
She says to Malagise, “Ah! Thou traitor!
“Traitor, cruel, ribald brute, forsworn.
How dost thou dare to tell me such a tale?
When thou hast left thy cousin all forlorn,
So close to death, and hopest he will fail?
But if thou dost not help him, be forewarned,
Thy demons and enchantments won’t avail,
But I shall have thee burnt immediately,
And then I’ll throw thine ashes in the sea.
“Make no excuses, thou deceitful cad,
Saying thou’st thought to give me vengeful joy.
Didst thou not know, I would be far more sad
Were he unhappy than if I should die?
The height of beauty and of strength he had,
A vile and a luckless woman I.
And furthermore, I told thee, witless lout,
Thy cousin Rinald I can’t live without.”
Quoth Malagis, “If thou dost so much care,
There is a way to help him, even now.
But thou must be the one to help him there,
And do just as I say. I’ll tell thee how.
He, although he is crueler than a bear,
Despite himself, to Love he soon will bow.
Make thyself ready, then, without delay.
He may well die if we an instant stay.”
As he is speaking thus, a rope he brings,
Tied into loops about a palm around;
A cake of wax which to his fingers clings;
A magic file which makes ne’er a sound.
He tells the damsel how to use these things.
Angelica a demon black has bound
To serve her, and he flies her through the air
To the Cruel Rock and her beloved there.
Now to Rinaldo must I turn my tale,
Who finds himself in woeful plight. Appalled,
It seems Death soon will catch him without fail.
Can swordless knight fight on, or even stall?
He runs away, the monster on his tail,
And lo, before him, halfway up the wall,
A cornice, some ten feet above the ground.
Rinaldo, running, takes a mighty bound,
Reaches it, with his hand he grabs the spit,
And pulls his body up with knightly force.
Now perched between the heaven and earth he sits,
And down below, the fearful monster roars.
Although most gross and ponderous is it,
It leapt up, with its savage claws it tore
The air alone; it could not reach the knight.
Rinaldo, nonetheless, is filled with fright.
And now the day gave way to darkling night.
Rinaldo, still upon his risky perch,
Knows not what chance or miracle has might
To bring him out of his imperiled lurch,
When he beholds, lit by the moon’s pale light,
(For not a single cloud the sky besmirched)
He knows not what, that through the ether came,
But by its shape, it seemed to be a dame.
It was Angelica, who hither raced
To bring deliverance to her cavalier.
But when Rinaldo recognized her face,
To throw himself upon the ground he’s near,
Because for her he had so much distaste
That less repulsive is the monster fierce.
Being devoured seems a lesser grief
That seeing her who’s come to bring relief.
She stands before him, hov’ring in the air,
And kneels on nothing, saying, “Cavalier,
One grief above all fills my heart with care:
That by my doing thou art prisoned here.
I must confess, such love for thee I bear,
At times I’m like to lose my wit, I fear.
But never could I do thee injury.
Ah! Couldst thou really think so ill of me?
“I but intended to give thee delight,
With joy and pleasure, and with sweet repose,
And so I brought thee to the island bright,
But now I find thee in such perilous throes
And so constrained, in so extreme a plight,
That I am almost slain to see thy woes.
But let all fear be put away from tee,
For I have come, and I can set thee free.
“Come, leap into my arms! Oh, be not shy!
And I shall carry thee across the skies,
And thou shalt see the earth below flit by.
Swifter than thought, almost, my whirlwind flies.
Didst thou not ever wish that thou couldst fly?
Thy wish is granted! From thy perch arise.
Come, mount me, worthy knight, and thou mayst find
I am no worse than that Baiard of thine.”
The brave Rinaldo was aggrieved full sore,
Whenas her loving words fell on his ear.
He answered thusly: “By Our Blesséd Lord,
I would far sooner meet my death right here,
Than flee this place with thee as my support.
Unless thou instantly dost disappear,
I swear I’ll throw myself down from this spit;
Now stay or leave, whate’er thou thinkest fit.”
Believe it well, no greater injury
Than for a loving dame to be rejected.
The man she once adored now hateth she.
Her passions are completely redirected.
But by this deathless animosity,
Angelica is not the least affected.
Her love towards Rinaldo hath such might
That all his injuries to her seem light.
She answers him, “I shall obey thy will,
For I lack power to do otherwise.
With my one hand myself I’ll gladly kill,
If I thought at my death you would rejoice.
But most unrightly thou with hate art filled.
I swear, as I have hope of Paradise,
I shall do anything thou dost decree,
Save the impossible: to love not thee.