The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto IX, Stanzas 41-60
The fair Angelica he loved above
All other things, although she loved him not;
But this the mighty peril is of love,
That unrequited love burns still more hot.
But not to make too long a story of
The matter, Sacripante now had got
His troops together, all things as they ought,
When Don Astolfo was before him brought.
Because that worthy monarch had decreed,
That ev’ry sentinel and ev’ry guard
Must stop all passers-by, whate’er their creed,
Or age or country, be they churl or lord,
To bring before His Majesty with speed;
The king would try to bring them to accord
To join his army, if he would agree,
But if he didn’t, then he should go free.
Astolfo enters, riding on Baiard,
A sight for Sacripante to behold,
Whoever saw him held him in regard,
He seemed to be the flower of the bold.
For coat of arms, he did not bear his pards,
But shield and surcoat both were solid gold,
And so the guard who’d met him in the field
Called him the Knight Who Bore the Golden Shield.
“O valiant knight,” quoth Sacripante then,
“What wilt thou take to be my man in fee?”
Astolfo answers him, “All of thy men
Who in the camp here serve thy crown and thee.
Upon no other terms will I come in.
Thus must thou take me, or must let me free.
No offer short of this can make me stay;
I know how to command, not to obey.
“If th’art uncertain I should be so dight,
Or if thou thinkest that my wits I lack,
I’ll show thee such an honor is but right.
Let me left hand be tied behind my back,
And against all thine army I will fight,
From thee down to the man who tends thy hack.
But talk is cheap, and urgent matters press.
Come on right now and put me to the test.”
The king talks to his lords and asks them whether,
Since this knight clearly has no more possession
Of sense than if he had webbed feet and feathers,
And since it were an easy task to lessen
His malady, or cure it all together,
If they were willing to teach him a lesson.
His barons answered him, “Just let him be.
If we’re wroth with a fool, then fools are we.”
And thus the bold Astolfo is dismissed,
And travels on without a trace of fear.
But the Circassian monarch sorely missed
His golden arms, and Baiard his destrier,
And in his spirit he resolves on this:
To all alone pursue the cavalier.
He thinks it will require little force
To lift Astolfo’s armor and his horse.
He dons his helmet but lays by his crown,
To make sure no one recognizes him.
His wonted shield he swaps for one all brown.
This worthy king was strong and large of limb,
And for his comeliness was much renowned.
In war he fought with bravery and vim.
As you yourselves shall see, when I relate
His wondrous feats before Albracca’s gates.
He follows Don Astolfo, as I’ve shown,
Who was a ways ahead of him and rode
Devoid of care, and ambled on alone
Till he encountered, coming down the road
A Saracen, the finest ever known
In all the lands by rolling seas enclosed.
I’ll tell of his great exploits in the war
Against Albrac, of which I spoke before.
This noble Saracen hight Brandimart,
A count, and Sylvan Rock was his domain.
In all of Pagandom, in ev’ry part,
Was known his noble and illustrious fame.
Of tournaments and joust he knew the art,
But above all, his person was humane
And courteous. He gave each man his due,
And was a courtly lover and a true.
A damsel rode with him, of beauty rare,
And when Astolfo sees this lady bright,
Who was so highly born and wondrous fair,
Her beauty fills him with desire to fight.
When Don Astolfo sees them riding there,
At once he gives a challenge to the knight.
He cries out, “Thou must joust with me anon,
Or hand the lady over and begone.”
Quoth Brandimarte, “By Mahound I swear
Sooner than her, my life will I forsake.
But, worthy champion, thou must be aware,
Since thou no lady hast for me to take,
If I defeat thee, thou on foot shalt fare;
Thy gallant destrier, I mine own shall make.
This is no villainy I have in mind;
Thou hast no lady and thou wouldst claim mine.”
That Pagan baron rode a stout destrier,
Whose stock and spirit were among the best.
Now turn and draw apart the cavaliers,
And now they charge each other, lance in rest.
Hooves thund’ring, armor clanging, they draw near,
And squarely strike each other on the chest.
Don Brandimarte from his seat was sped,
While the two steeds collided head to head.
That of the Pagan, lifeless, earthward falls.
Baiard takes not the slightest hurt from it,
Which does not trouble Brandimart at all:
But losing of his lady delicate
Makes him nigh crazy, he is so appalled,
With such great love for her his heart was lit.
He’s lost all of his good; his joys depart;
He draws his sword to thrust it through his heart.
Astolf by this action understands
That of despair the knight is in the throes.
Immediately from Baiard he descends.
To comfort him, with words like these he goes:
“Dost thou believe I’m such a churlish man
To rive thee from the dame thou lovest so?
I only joust for victory and fame;
Mine be the honors, and be thine the dame.”
The standing knight receives this comfort sweet,
Who just a moment prior sought to die.
And now, o’erwhelmed by joyfulness he weeps,
And cannot speak a sole word in reply.
He kneels and kisses Duke Astolfo’s feet,
And midst his sobs chokes out, “O sire, I
Have lost all pride, for thou hast vanquished me
At once in battle and in courtesy.
“My fame and honor all I’d gladly yield
And bear all shame to raise thine honor higher.
Thou hast preserved my life upon this field;
To lay it down for thee is my desire.
I cannot show the gratitude I feel;
I am not strong enough to be thy squire,
And thou in ev’rything art so complete,
Of ev’ry other service thou’st no need.”
But while in conversation they were ranged,
King Sacripante through the forest pressed;
And when upon the lovely maid he came,
Resolved at once to leave his former quest
And conquer for his own the fair young dame.
And himself he thinks, “Ah, how I’m blest!
I came here seeking for a horse and arms;
Now a far better thing will fill my arms.”
With a loud voice, the pagan monarch cried
“Whichever of you guards this lady bright,
Hand over her at once, and from hence ride,
Or otherwise against me must thou fight.”
To which the noble Brandimart replied,
“Thou art a highwayman, and not a knight.
Thou clearly seest that I have no horse,
And thou wouldst challenge me to run a course.”
Before the Duke Astolf his knees he bends,
Imploring, asking if his pleasure is
To lend him Baiard, that he might defend
His honor. Duke Astolfo laughs at this
And says, “My horse on no account I’ll lend,
So I will simply have to give thee his.
Purely for love of thee I’m thus inclined.
Thine be the steed, and be the honor mine.”