Book I, Canto X, Part 2

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

21
The lady pays his boasting slight attention.
She knows full well he’s an amusing braggart.
Of Don Rinaldo she makes no more mention,
Hearing him blasphemed pierced her like a dagger,
And she knew all about Astolf’s inventions,
For when in Paris, she had been no laggard
T’examine all the worthies of the court
And find out what their rank and what their sort.

22
She treats Astolfo with utmost respect.
To dight a chamber for her guest she hies,
When, lo, outside a cry begins to spread,
Because a messenger just then arrives.
With dust the man was covered, and with sweat.
“To arms! To arms!” to one and all he cries.
Ev’ry man arms and turns out on the ground,
Because the fortress bells the signal sound.

23
Three thousand cavaliers were kept inside,
One thousand footmen made the Rock their bower.
The lady, with Astolfo at her side,
Consults with them, of all her knights the flower.
To stay within the fortress they decide,
And guard Albracca’s walls and lofty towers.
The grounds and fort so wondrously are shapen
That never in a war can they be taken.

24
They think to trust in their defenses good,
Which may for fifteen years withstand all strife.
Astolfo answers, “If I thought I would
Waste here a single day out of my life,
Besieged and fighting not at all, I should
Be glad to end myself with rope or knife.
And for eternity may I be damned,
If on this day I take not lance in hand!”

25
No sooner silent, then he took to arming,
And mounted on Baiard he leaves the fort,
Shouting things stupefying and alarming,
Which might stop e’en the boldest warrior short.
“You knights will wish you’d spent your whole lives farming,
When I get through with you!” Astolfo roared,
“None of your soldiers can against me stand,
I’ll cut down all your men with my two hands!”

26
Twenty two hundred thousand, maybe bigger,
The size was of the troops of Agrican.
Good Bishop Turpin ‘tis who gives this figure.
Astolf didn’t count, but charged straight on.
Truly, a hair this valiant knight could trigger.
That day such obstacles he came upon,
That somewhat of his rashness he repents,
And ever after had a bit more sense.

27
For now, though, all the army he defied,
Calling on Radamant and Saritrone.
For Polifermo and Argant he cried;
Insults Brontino and King Pandragone,
And Agrican, their master and their guide,
And strong Uldano, and the false Lurcone,
And Santaría, ruler of the Swedes.
Outrage and threats against them al he breathed.

28
The siegers arm themselves in madcap fury.
You never saw so humorous a sight
As was this multitude in such a hurry
To arm themselves against a single knight.
Loudly they cry, and eagerly they scurry.
The noises echo off the mountains’ height.
The flags are raised, batallions are arrayed,
Ten kings together march in one brigade.

29
When Don Astolf alone there they espied,
They are ashamed that such a host they’ve led.
Emp’ror Argante not a bit delayed,
But left his troops and to Astolfo sped.
Six palms could fit between his shoulder blades.
You never saw such an enormous head.
His nose is flat and broad; his eyes are slits;
The dog is ugly, but he has good wits.

30
With head aloft, the challenger advanced,
Upon a fine destrier with pelt of sorrel.
The Frankish duke, thanks to his golden lance,
Knocks him down from his seat and ends their quarrel.
The hosts assembled look at him askance.
Uldano lays his lance in rest. With laurels
He often has been crowned, this cavalier.
He’s cousin german to the good Ogier.

31
Astolfo with the lance his foeman clouts,
And on the ground Uldano takes his place.
The other kings are seized with awe and doubt.
They dare not look each other in the face.
There rose from ev’ry side a mighty shout,
“Kill him! Kill him!” thus the cry is raised,
And all together, the uncounted rabble
Charge at Astolfo and begin the battle.

32
He, on the other side, stands firm, secure,
And all that charging army he awaits
Just like a rock behind high walls endures,
Ready with Baiard to perform feats great.
By all the dust, the heavens are obscured,
Raised by the feet of that accurséd race.
Four of them lead the vanguard: Saritrone,
Radamont, Agrican, and Pandragone.

33
Now Saritrone first accosts the knight,
And of his horse and saddle he’s bereft.
But Radamonto charges on his right,
And strikes the English duke, while on his left
At the same time, king Agricane strikes,
While charging head-on, with a blow most deft
King Pandragone strikes Astolfo, too,
And these three blows him from his saddle threw.

34
Half-dead, upon the earth he lies distended,
From the three mighty blows he had received.
King Radamanto from his steed descended
And Don Astolf as prisoner he seized.
Astolf now no more himself defended.
He was alone. Nobody him relieved.
What Agricane held in more regard
Than Duke Astolfo was his horse, Baiard.

35
I do not know, my lords, if that destrier
No longer being in his master’s hands
No longer was to Saracens as fierce,
Or if his being in a foreign land
Made all his hopes of fleeing disappear.
At any rate, to Agrican’s command,
As gentle as a gelding, he submits,
Unforced by rein or bridle or by bit.

36
Taken Astolfo is, and lost Baiard,
And the rich harness and the lance of gold.
In all Albracca, not one has the heart
The field against their enemies to hold,
But on the walls they stay, their foes regard
With drawbridge up and with portcullis closed,
For days they stand upon the wall and wait,
Until a host arrives before their gate.

37
Who are these people in this newcome horde,
Who make a noise that echoes up to heaven?
Here is the terrible Circassian lord,
King Sacripante, who has boldly striven
To raise the army with which now he warred.
An emperor is there, beside kings seven,
Who all have come to bring the lady aid.
And who they were, for you I will relate.

38
The foremost of them is a Christian knight,
Although he’s strongly stained with heresy,
King of Armenia, Varone hight,
Of ardor and of vigor full is he.
Full thirty thousand march with him to fight
Who all are excellent at archery.
The second, just a little ways beyond
Is the great Emperor of Trebisond.

39
Brunaldo hight this worthy most renowned.
Twenty-six thousand warriors round him throng.
The third is ruler of Roase crowned;
He’s named Ungiano, and he’s very strong.
Full fifty thousand in his camp are found.
And next two kings, to each of whom belongs
Much honor, vast dominion, mighty works.
One rules the Medes, the other rules the Turks.

40
Torindo is the Turkish leader named,
And Savarone ‘tis who rules the Medes.
Thirty-six thousand soldiers with him came,
And forty thousand Turks Torindo leads.
The land of Babylon is widely famed,
And Baghdad is renowned for valiant deeds.
The lord thereof is come, his foes to meet:
King Trufaldino, master of deceit.

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