Book I, Canto XII, Part 5

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto XII, Stanzas 81-90

The porter, when he hears the tidings grave,
At once admits the leech into the hall
(This worthy servant kept the gate always
And chose who left and who could come to call)
And to Prasildo now he goes and says
The message that the doctor gave him all.
He listlessly agrees to parley with him,
And bids his man into the room admit him.

The old leech says to him: “My dear signor,
Forever have I loved thy house and thee;
But now much fear have I, and I deplore
That thou hast been deceived with cruelty,
Because now love, and jealousy, and scorn
And womankind’s eternal treachery,
Which is as common as a feathered bird
To bring thee ruin, all have now concurred.

“And this I say to thee, for just today
Tisbina’s servant asked me if I sold
Slow-acting poison, and I told her yea,
Though, just before I’d heard thy story told,
Of how thou hadst returned, to her dismay.
And the whole case I plainly saw unfold.
I bring the news to thee: be on thy guard,
Forsake her utterly, though it be hard.

“But have no fear of poison, for today
I did not give her any such, of course.
So fear thou not, her drink will not thee slay.
Thou wilt but sleep for hours three or four.
Thus all her wicked plans are kept at bay,
And would of all such I could blunt the force!
I tell the truth, for in this wretched city,
Hundreds are cruel for each one that shows pity.”

When Don Prasildo by this understands,
The reason why he seems about to die,
Like as, when rain comes down upon the land,
Roses and violets shut their buds and hide,
But after, when the sun with gentle hand
Touches them, blossoms ope and blooms revive,
Such was Prasildo at the tidings glad.
His face lit up again, and joy he had.

For very joy the old man he embraced,
And then he ran to seek Tisbina’s homw,
And found Irold despairing in that place,
And all the news to him at once made known.
Now only think about his joy so great!
Her, her whose life is dearer than his own,
He wished to yield Prasildo utterly,
To pay him fully for his courtesy.

Prasildo doesn’t make a great protest,
For scarce can he reject what he desires;
And well the soul of each one is at rest,
Knowing that courtesy could go no higher,
Iroldo’s suit henceforth no more he pressed,
And in few words, he ’nounces he’ll retire,
And leave Prasildo to the lady bright;
He parted Babylon that selfsame night.

He wished to take his way from Babylon,
And never more return there all his life.
Lest he regret too much Tisbina gone,
Lest facing mem’ry be too great a strife.
Often he feels his grievous martyrdom,
And thinks a hasty death would make him blithe,
But while he knew that for a broken heart
There is no cure – save to at once depart.

For ev’ry woman soft and yielding is,
As is her body, so is eke her mind,
Like to the ocean’s waves are they in this:
They keep no heat when Phoebus no more shines.
All are the same as was Tisbin, ywis,
Who wouldn’t for an instant hold the line,
But at the first assault the fort surrendered,
And hand and heart to fair Prasildo rendered.”

The damsel only just her tale had ended,
When from a dangerous and dusky wood,
They heard a cry that all the welkin rended,
The damsel paled and like a statue stood,
While he his arm to comfort her extended.
This canto’s far too long for its own good,
But if its length is overmuch for you,
Then take a break when you are halfway through.

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