The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto IX, Stanzas 61-79
To Sacripant he answers thus, “My lord,
Before thou dost acquire this damosel,
Thou art obliged to settle one more score;
If from thy horse’s back I can thee fell,
Then I shall make thee leave without a horse.
If thou canst throw me, treat me just as well,
And take my gallant steed away from me.
Then let thine other challenge settled be.”
King Sacripante says, “O God Mahound,
What blessings on thy servant dost thou pour!
I sought a horse and armor, and I’ve found
A lovely creature whom I’ll prize far more.
And I shall conquer, with a single bound,
The lady, and the armor, and the horse!
This said, away from Duke Astolf he paced,
Then turned and said to him, “Go, take thy place.”
And now towards each other, raged, they rushed,
Lances aimed squarely at their chests they sped.
To overcome the other each one trusts.
They near; they strike; they make a clamor dread –
But Sacripante from his steed is thrust.
Against the grassy lawn he knocks his head.
Astolfo leaves him lying on the field.
To Brandimart the conquered horse he yields.
“Hast thou heard ever such a merry tale,”
Astolfo says, “as of that cavalier,
Who thought he could unseat me without fail,
And now must go on foot away from here?”
Thus they go talking on their way, until
The damsel says, “My lords, we’re drawing near
The River of Forgetfulness. Take heed;
Caution and counsel all of us will need.
If all of us do not act prudently,
Before nightfall we will be lost forever.
Courage and arms of no avail will be,
For not three miles off there flows a river
Which robs the drinker of his memory.
His very name is from his mind dissevered.
In fact, I think it would be best to find
The way we came, and leave this road behind,
Because the curséd river can’t be crossed.
On either bank of it tall mountains rise.
From one to th’other side a bridge is tossed,
Which the two giant rocks together ties.
Atop a turret there, come sun or frost,
A lady stands and waits for passers-by,
And from a shining crystal goblet, offers
All travellers to drink the river waters.
When he has drunk, gone is his memory,
His very name he can recall no more;
But if a man trust so his strength, that he
Tries to resist her and to cross by force,
Impossible would be his victory,
For all her captive knights and men of war
Are so enchanted that they all will fight
Madly and blindly for that lady bright.
With words like these the lady maketh clear
Their risk, and urgeth them their road to change.
Neither knight, though, felt a trace of fear.
It is for quests like these the world they range.
The time appears to them a thousand years
Before they come to this adventure strange.
Until the early morning, on they ride.
The bridge across the river they espied.
The damsel, as she’s often done before
Steps on the bridge to greet them when they come.
Sweetly she spoke; a lovely look she wore,
And offered them the chalice, every one.
“Ah!” cries Astolfo, “Stop, thou lying whore!
Thy wicked magic arts today are done.
Now shalt thou die! And think thou not to flee,
Or fool us; we know all thy trickery.”
The damsel, when she hears his threat’nings dire
Lets fall the crystal goblet from her hand.
At once the narrow bridge is swathed in fire.
It seems that none can pass the blazes grand.
The other damsel, fearing not the pyre,
Grabs the two cavaliers with either hand.
The dame, I mean to say, of Brandimart,
Who’s wise to conquer this malicious art.
She grabs the hands of either valiant knight,
And swiftly as they can, the threesome go
Along a hidden path just on their right,
And they pass over the enchanted flow
Upon a narrow bridge, just hid from sight
So that no travellers this secret know.
But the new damsel, who knew all about
The ill enchantments, found this passage out.
Don Brandimarte batters down the door,
And the false garden all three enter in.
Here of enchanted knights are half a scoe,
Here prisoned is Orlando Paladin,
And King Ballano, master of the war,
And Chiarïone, the brave Saracen.
Here is the real Uberto dal Leone,
The brothers Aquilante and Grifone,
With Adrïano, the redoubted king,
The Belarussian worthy, Antifor.
None know each other; none know anything.
They don’t remember who they were before,
If Jesus or Mahomet is their king.
All have been snared by necromantic lore.
All have been captured by that lying dame.
Dragontina is the lady’s name.
When Brandimarte and Astolfo enter,
They start an uproar, for bold Chiarïon
And King Ballano meet them as defenders,
Both clad in mail that’s Dragontina’s own.
The other knights stroll through the garden’s center,
If once they knew each other, now unknown;
All, save the count, are in the garden bright;
Orlando views the logia for delight.
In all his armor was the cavalier,
For he had only been ensnared that morn,
And Brigliadoro, his renowned destrier,
Is tied amidst the roses and the thorns.
Of any other thoughts his mind is clear,
And lo! where Dragontina comes before him,
And sweetly asks him, “Knight, wilt thou go see
What all that racket is, for love of me?”
Without another thought, the baron grand
Leaps to the saddle, drops his visor down,
Goes to the scuffle with his sword in hand.
Brandimart’s knocked Don Chiarïon to ground,
Astolf stretched King Ballano on the land;
On foot and horse there’s fighting all around.
But when Orlando entered in the fray
Astolfo recognized him by his blade,
And cried aloud, “O bravest knight and best,
Of ev’ry paladin the crown and flower!
May God in Heaven be forever blest!
Dost thou not know thy cousin? With much stour
Through all the world I’ve gone of thee in quest.
Who has betrayed thee to this curséd bower?”
The Count Orlando hears no word of this.
He has forgotten who Astolfo is.
Without a thought, and with ungoverned rage,
With both his hands he swings a mighty blow,
Which, if Baiardo hadn’t been so sage,
Or if that steed had been a tad more slow,
Would have dispatched Astolfo from life’s stage,
Which would have caused Orlando mickle woe.
High was the wall that ringed the garden round,
But Baiard leapt it with a single bound.
Through the gate, ‘cross the bridge, Orlando chases.
He wants to utterly destroy his foe.
Although his Brigliadoro swiftly races,
Compared with Baiard, ev’ry horse is slow,
And Brigliador he easily outpaces.
But I have sung enough for now, I trow.
Next time, my lords, you’ll hear, if you come back,
How Duke Astolfo dealt with this attack.