Notes to the Fourteenth Canto, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto XIV, Stanzas 41-60 Notes

42. In the Italian, it is Aquilante who sings soprano and Chiarïone who sings tenor. I have switched them for the sake of the meter.
54. The custom in Italy was to hang traitors by one foot and leave them to die of blood rushing to their heads. The Hanged Man of Tarot cards (invented in Italy in the 1400’s is a depiction of a traitor [Judas] receiving his fitting reward, not a mystical symbol of balance.

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Book I, Canto XIV, Part 2

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

Three kings within the keep are still alive,
Besides the damsel and some thirty men,
Most of whom are too wounded to survive.
The keep is strong beyond most builders’ ken.
They all agree that they will further strive,
And fight against the Tartars till the end.
They’ll eat and drink by slaughtering the horses,
And pray to God to boost their meager forces.

They next agree to send the princess out,
To save her comrades from starvation miserable.
She has the magic ring, which in her mouth
Can make her all at once become invisible.
The sun begins to set beyond the mounts,
And darkness makes all creatures scarcely visible.
The princes calls into her presence keen,
Torindo, Sacripant, and Trufaldin.

And to the monarchs on her faith she swore
That she’d be back again in twenty days,
And in return they swear to hold the fort
As long as they and their companions may,
Until Mahomet sendeth them succor,
For she will seek for aid by night and day,
From ev’ry king and ev’ry man of might,
And with the hope of aid her heart is light.

When all is spoken, in the quiet night
The damsel mounts upon her palfrey’s back
And makes her way beneath the moon’s pale light.
Along beneath the sky her path she tracks.
She was not caught in any sentry’s sight,
Although of men outside there is no lack,
Because fatigue, and certain victory
Wrap them in sleep, devoid of memory.

The magic ring she doesn’t need at all,
For by the time the sun his head uprose,
Five leagues behind her are Albracca’s walls,
And four leagues from her are her nearest foes.
She turns around, she sighs, her eyelids fall,
To see afar her newly-scapéd woes.
Riding as fast as won’t her palfrey lame,
She passed Orgagna, to Circassia came.

She chanced to ride along the river banks,
Where the bold Don Rinaldo lately slew
The cruel centaur, like a valiant Frank.
As on she rides, a flow’ry meadow through,
She met an ancient man, who clearly drank
A bitter cup. His tears fell like the dew,
And with clasped hands he dropped upon his knees,
Begging the dame to listen to his pleas.

The old man says to her, “A handsome lad,
My only comfort in my feeble age,
My son, my joy, the only one I had,
Within our house – it’s but a little ways –
With burning fever lies upon his bed.
I know no medicine to stop its rage.
And if to bring me help thou dost not run,
All of my hope is gone, my life is done.”

Pity soon runs within her gentle heart.
She ‘gins to comfort the old, feeble man.
For she knew ev’ry herb and all the art
Of medicine, as much as mortal can.
Alas! Too credulous and trusting heart!
She knew the danger not, in which she ran.
The innocent takes on her palfrey’s croup
The wicked man, who will to all things stoop.

Now you must know that this old silver-hair
Waits by the wood and plain, till fortune brings
A girl or woman on a journey there,
To snare them like a songbird in a spring.
For ev’ry year one hundred women fair
He pays in tribute to Orgagna’s king.
By cunning guile no one can withstand
He takes them o’er to Polifermo’s hands.

For not five miles off, the man had dight
Upon a bridge, a vast and mighty tower.
You never saw so wonderful a sight.
And ev’ry dame who fell into his power
The old man in this lofty prison pight.
A whole brigade was in this joyless bower.
All of his pris’ners by deception made he,
And one of them was Brandimarte’s lady.

The centaur dunked her, as you may recall,
In sooth, her prospects seldom had looked dimmer.
But she was saved, and didn’t fear at all,
Because she was a very able swimmer.
The current bore her like a child’s ball,
Or like a branch amidst the water’s glimmer.
It bore her to the bridge, which was not far,
Where rose the tower, and the man stood guard.

He pulled her from the river, almost dead,
And tends to her with unremitting care,
For many skilled physicians ate his bread
And other vassals dwelt within his lair.
When she recovers, in the prison dread
He thrusts her, with the rest to languish there.
But le’s speak of Angelica the sweet,
Who came, not witting the old man’s deceit.

When she set foot upon the tower floor,
(The old man lingered on the bridge, “to rest”)
Immediately did the iron door
Slam shut, though by no earthly hand ’twas pressed.
Too late Angelica sees to the core
Of the false elder, and she beats her breast;
She loudly wept, and loudly cried – in vain.
None to her aid except the prisoners came.

They gathered round her, and they vainly sought
To give her comfort, all alone and scared;
They all relate to her how they were caught,
For griefs seems always lesser when they’re shared.
The last to speak is she who last was brought.
She scarce could speak, so weighed was she with care.
This was the noble Brandimarte’s dame,
And Fiordelisa was the lady’s name.

She tells, while often sighs escape her breast,
How she and Brandimart loved faithfully,
How searching with Astolfo on a quest
They came upon a garden filled with trees
And flowers and fruit, that seemed a pleasant rest,
Where Dragontina stole his memory.
The Paladin Orlando there she saw,
With many others, in the fairy’s claws.

And how she’d travelled on, in search of aid,
And met with Don Rinaldo on the road;
And all their wanderings she next relates.
Without a lie, the story plain she showed,
About the giant and the gryphons great,
And the great treason done to Albarose.
And of the centaur, like an evil dream,
Who’d kidnapped her and thrown her in the stream.

Poor Fiordelisa sighs for, as she speaks,
Her love true, of whom she’s been deprived.
Angelica, though, hears the door hinge creak,
For one more lady on the bridge arrived.
At once she has the chance for which she seeks.
She was not seen by any man alive
As she escaped the prison, for she bore
The magic ring, and just walked out the door.

It would have been in vain if any sought her,
Such is the ring’s most potent grammarye.
When into freedom it has safely brought her,
She finds the stables, and her palfrey frees,
Then rides away to seek the curséd water
Which steals away the drinker’s memories,
Where Milo’s son and others she may meet,
Captured in Dragontina’s prison sweet.

And going on her way without a pause,
She comes one morning to a garden fair,
Where Dragontina marks her not, because
The magic ring within her mouth she bears.
Aside into a little grove she draws,
Ties up her palfrey, and on foot she fares
Across the grass, till by a fountain’s side
The Count, in armor resting, she espied,

Because it was his turn to be on guard.
So at the garden’s entrance he reclines.
His Brigliadoro munches on the sward.
His shield and helm are hanging on a pine.
Nearby, beneath the shade a tree affords,
There waits a cavalier of noble line.
Upon his horse he sat, and he was known
And famed as Don Uberto dal Leon.

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Book I, Canto XIV, Part 1

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto XIV, Stanzas 1-20

Rinaldo kills the monster, but too late.
Angelica by moonlight slips away
To seek for succor, but is captured straight.
Meanwhile, in the garden of the fay
Orlando and the rest from their hard fate
Are rescued. Gallantly they make their way
Towards Albracca, where they see the camp,
But nothing can their ardent spirits damp.

You’ve heard already of the battle made
By Don Rinald, just risen from his bed,
And how the twisted monster threw the maid
Across his croup and with her swiftly fled.
You need not wonder if she felt afraid.
She trembled like a leaf, her face looked dead.
But still, as loudly as she could, she shouted
For aid from Don Rinaldo the redoubted.

The light-foot monster gallops on apace,
While the fair lady o’er his croup is spread.
Often he turns to her his ugly face,
And gripped her tightly as he onwards sped.
Rinaldo mounts his steed to give him chase,
And wishes that he had Baiard instead.
The beast already was so far away,
He thought no other horse would serve that day.

But when he held the bridle richly trimmed
Of the best horse which ever felt a spur,
He felt like he was carried by the wind.
Rides he or flies he? He is scarcely sure.
Nothing so fast has ever  hap’d to him.
All things before his eyes are but a blur.
Hills, mountains, valleys, plains, he looks on, just
Ere Rabicano leaves them in the dust.

And yet he hadn’t bent a blade of grass,
So lightly trod he wheresoe’er he’d gone,
And none could track the way that horse had passed,
Though sparkling dew had fallen with the dawn.
As thus he galloped on, unearthly fast,
Rinaldo came upon a river strong.
And as the one bank of the stream he nighed,
The centaur, wading though it, he espied.

The wicked monster did not wait a minute
When he arrived, but turning in the stream,
At once he threw the lovely lady in it,
And she was swept away along the bream.
Where she arrived, her ‘ventures nigh infinite,
I’ll tell you later on, but now it seems
The centaur, with this burden off his back
Is getting ready for Rinald’s attack.

Now in the stream begins a battle great,
With merciless assaults with strength and vim.
It’s true that Don Rinald has mail and plate,
And nought the centaur has except his skin,
But mighty is the monster, full of hate.
More tough than leather is the hide of him.
And the new horse of Montalbano’s lord
He almost matched for speed – within the ford.

The river came to Don Rinado’s knees,
The bed was treacherous and full of rocks.
The centaur swings his mighty mace with ease
But not for this is Don Rinaldo shocked.
He wields Fusberta skillfully and sees
Blood on it from the blade to pommel-block.
His shield is ruined by the mace’s blow,
But more than thirty times he’s pricked his foe.

The bloody monster fleeth to the shore.
Rinaldo follows as a brave knight ought.
He went a couple yards, or barely more
Before by Rabicano he was caught.
There in the field he lies, his life days o’er.
The Lord of Montalban now stands in thought.
He knows not where he is, or where to ride.
He’s lost the dame that should have been his guide.

Alone beside a forest vast he’s mired.
How large it was he had no way to tell.
His chance of finding passage through seems dire.
He thinks of turning back, his spirits quelled.
But so much do his heart and soul desire
To free the Count Orlando from his spell
That he resolves to carry on his quest,
Or else, in seeking, find eternal rest.

To Tramontana is his course now set,
Whither the lady was supposed to lead.
And on the way, beside a fountain met
A knight in armor, mounted on a steed,
But Turpin doesn’t tell what happened yet,
And rather turns to tell the noble deeds
Of Agricane, King of Tartary.
With Albracca’s ramparts trapped is he.

Though they have trapped him, ’tis his foes who quiver.
He wreaks destruction everywhere around.
The army of his foes to bits he shivers.
Albracca, you must know, was on strong ground,
On a tall rock, beside a mighty river,
The inner bank of which a rampart bounds.
With stone and water thus is feet the foot,
While at the peak the fortress proper’s put.

Above the river rose the towering walls,
Where turrets pleasure and defense afforded.
Orada was the mighty river called.
Summer or winter, it could not be forded.
The siege had made part of the rampart fall,
But the defenders hadn’t yet restored it,
Because the river was so swift and wide
They did not fear invasion from that side.

Now Agricane, as I’ve said before,
Was fighting bravely in the citadel;
King Sacripante and his men of war,
For all they tried, could not his spirit quell.
Their mighty feats, how nobly these two bore
Themselves, I do not need again to tell.
I left off, when a new brigade attacked
The valiant Agricane from the back.

The valiant king is not the least dismayed,
But turns around and roars his battle cry.
With both his hands he swings his bloody blade.
This ambush on the King of Tartary
A stout and battle-loving baron made:
The Turk Torindo, followed closely by
Many and many of his valiant Turks,
Not a man of them all his duty shirks.

The Tartar spurs Baiard into the Turks,
And splits and skewers them to left and right;
Now Sacripante, never known to shirk,
Follows his rival through the thickest fight.
Nor deer’s nor leopards’ limbs as swiftly work
As that Circassian kings, the truth to write.
King Agricane’s strength will not avail.
Against so many, even he must fail.

Thronged are the streets, the fight is far extended,
The men are packed so tight their mail can’t rattle.
The troops upon the walls have all descended,
And ev’ry man is rushing to the battle.
The wall is left with no one to defend it,
And those outside the walls, that massive rabble,
Some rushing though the gate, some climb the wall,
All crying: “Kill them, kill them, kill them all!”

They force back Sacripante, wounded sore,
And King Torindo back into the keep;
Angelica has entered long befroe,
And Trufaldino, who was first to creep.
All of his men have been destroyed by war;
Of the great death, no mortal words can speak.
Dead is Varano, and great Savaron,
King of the Medes, whose prowess oft had shone.

These two are slain as they defend the gate,
While the great battle rages on the plain.
Brunaldo likewise met a bitter fate.
By Radamanto’s hand has he been slain.
This Radamant sends to the next world straight
The bold Ungiano, beating out his brain.
A mighty phalanx he had led to war;
Not one of them will see their homes once more.

All of the city by its foes is ta’en;
Compassion never has been so well-founded.
Here and there the buildings are aflame,
The slaughter of the people was unbounded.
The keep alone above the strife remains,
On a high rock, by sturdy walls surrounded.
All of the city elsewhere is on fire,
And goes to ruin in a blazing pyre.

Angelica in desperation thinks
What she can do, caught in these dire straits.
Within the keep is neither food nor drink.
After a day, starvation for her waits.
If you had seen her cheek, so sweet and pink
All wet with tears, and heard her sad complaints,
Had you a lion’s or a dragon’s heart,
You would have filled with pity for her part.

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Book I, Canto XIII, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto XIII, Stanzas 41-58

Polindo did not dare to speak a word,
Lest with himself he make his lady die;
What agony he in his wrath endured,
With Trufaldin untouchable, though nigh.
That king soon parchment and a pen procured,
And bade the lady to her brother write,
Claiming by Don Polindo she’d been seized,
While she was riding underneath the trees.

And that as prisn’r she was being kept
Beneath three henchmen’s not-too-watchful eyes;
But if he swiftly to the greenwood sped,
Then all the four of them he could surprise;
And she’ll explain why overnight she fled..
That she had motives good, he’ll realize,
When she explains it was part of a plan
To save his life from Trufaldino’s hands.

The lady answers she would gladly die
Ere she betrayed her brother and her kin.
Though threats and pleasant speech by turns he tries,
She will not lay a finger on the pen.
The king into a fit of fury flies,
“Bring on the tortures!” he calls to his men.
Glowing-hot pincers he procured with haste,
And touched the gentle damsel on her face.

He tears into her cheek with red-hot steel.
She weeps not, speaks not, not an inch recoils;
Her blush alone betrays the pain she feels.
In agony, Polindo’s blood nigh boils.
He can do nought at all; his senses reel.
But to his lady, now as ever, loyal,
His noble spirit can endure no more.
For grief he falleth dead upon the floor.

The little book relateth all these things,
Though in far better words than my poor skill;
Rinaldo seemed to hear their voices ring,
And hear the lovers speak of love their fill,
And see their faces in that suffering.
Polindo grievéd not that he was killed,
But all for Albarosa was his woe,
And hers for him, they loved each other say.

As Don Rinaldo read the woeful tale,
Time and again his eyes were filled with tears;
His face was racked with grief and oft turned pale
With pity for these lovers’ woes and fears.
Again he swears that he will never fail
To venge King Trufaldino’s cru’lty fierce
And then this cavalier pursues his course
On Rabicano (such was named the horse).

Upon the same, Rinaldo rides with glee,
With him the lady on their journey swept.
Till, then the twilight gathered gloomily,
The two of them down from the saddle stepped.
Rinaldo slumbered underneath a tree,
And not far off from him the lady slept.
The spell of Merlin’s fountain so much sways
The Paladin, he’s lost his wonted ways.

A lovely lady sleepeth him beside,
And the bold baron simply doesn’t care.
The time has been when all the ocean wide
Would not have turned him from his course a hair.
A wall, a mountain he would have destroyed
To be united to a dame so fair.
But now to slumber only is he bent;
I cannot say if she was quite content.

The air already started growing bright,
Though not yet had the sun his head upraised.
With many stars the heavens yet were dight.
Amidst the boughs the birds sang joyous lays.
Though not yet day, it was no longer night.
The damsel on the bold Rinaldo gazed,
For though the rosy-fingered dawn was creeping
The baron still upon the grass was sleeping.

For he was at the age when youth is fairest,
Strong, and limber, with a lovely face,
Straight-limbed, and muscular from chest to bare wrist,
A handsome beard was growing on apace.
The damsel watches him with pleasure rarest.
She almost dies of pleasure in that place;
And in beholding him takes such delight,
She lists to nothing, heeds no other sight.

The lady nigh was from her senses rapt,
Watching that knight sleep on the forest floor,
But in that wild and dismal forest happed
To live a centaur, horrible and coarse.
You never saw a monster so unapt,
Because it had the body of a horse,
Up to its shoulders, but thereat began
The chest and head and members of a man.

This monster lived for nothing but the chase.
Through all that massive wasteland did he rove.
He bore three darts, a shield, and one large mace,
And went a-hunting over field and grove.
Today a mighty lion he embraced;
The half-dead beast within his arms he hove.
The lion roared, and made an awful sound,
Which made the damsel swiftly turn around.

And all at once the savage beast beheld
The beauty of the damsel, and he thought
That if Rinaldo he could only kill,
Then ’twixt him and the lady would stand naught.
The damsel cries aloud both sharp and shrill,
“O King of Heaven, help before I’m caught!”
Her shouting woke Rinaldo from his sleep,
To see a centaur right before him leap.

Rinaldo starteth up and grabs his shield,
Though by the giant it’s been sorely mangled.
The centaur, with his hatred unconcealed,
Throws down the lion which he erst had strangled.
Rinaldo chased the brute across the field,
Which galloped of a ways, then turned and jangled
Its darts, then lifted one and let it fly;
Rinaldo watches with unblinking eye

As the dart missed him by a decent breadth.
Another dart at him the centaur sped.
His helmet saves Rinald from certain death,
For this one glances off his armored head.
The last is thrown no better than the rest,
But still the centaur’s hopes are far from fled.
He lifts his massive wooden club amain
And gallops angrily across the plain,

With such velocity and rapid speed,
Rinaldo starts to think he’s up a crick.
He realizes all his skill he’ll need.
The monster reaches him and strikes so quick,
He has no time to mount his late-won steed.
It runs him round so fast he’s nearly sick.
To stand against the pine he is not slack,
So that the might trunk will guard his back.

That hideous and odd mis-shapen man
Is leaping, darting in with speed intense,
But the good prince, who has Fusbert in hand
Keeps him at bay, till slightly he relents.
The centaur sees he’ll have to change his plan,
Since Don Rinaldo makes such good defense.
He turns his head and sees the lady bright,
Who for pure terror had gone wholly white.

Immediately Rinaldo he forsakes.
Across his back he slings the damosel,
Whose face turns icy and whose body shakes.
The fate in store for her she knows too well.
This canto’s long enough. No more I’ll make,
Until next time, when I’ll the story tell
Of this fair dame, and, as I said before
Of Sacripant and Agrican once more.

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Book I, Canto XIII, Part 2

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

At last he lays himself upon the ground,
Sprawled out and motionless, and dead he seemed.
The bird immediately hurried down
Like one who such a trap has never seen,
And with his talons clutched Rinaldo round.
The nerves of Don Rinaldo are so keen
That he no sooner felt the monster’s claws,
He swung his sword around without a pause.

Where the wing joined the body Rinald pressed,
And muscle, nerve, and bone Fusberta rent;
The wing fell off, upon the ground to rest,
But not yet did the savage beast relent.
With both its foreclaws it attacked his breast,
Cuirass and plate and mail were all to-shent;
So fierce with one and th’other claw he tore,
The knight was sure his life would soon be o’er.

But still for victory the baron tries;
Now in the chest he strikes it, now the flanks,
And strikes so much, at last he makes it die.
Rinaldo stands once more upon his shanks.
Great peril he’s escaped, it is no lie.
To God he humbly offers praise and thanks;
And then he bids the lady ride him to,
For all the pains and danger now are through.

But Don Rinaldo had beheld the place
Wherein was kept the magic, wind-born horse.
If to its end this path he could not trace,
Then all his life ’twould fill him with remorse.
’Neath the cliff’s horrible and jagged face
The gallant champion boldly set his course.
A hundred steps he did not take before
He found a massive, carven marble door.

With fine enamel was the door o’erspread,
And pearls and em’ralds set there in such wise
Of such a door you never heard or read.
No work e’er known was of so great a price.
Laid behind crystal was a lady, dead,
And golden letters round her were incised:
“Swear to avenge me, thou who passest by,
Or else a death unknightly mayst thou die.

“But he who sweareth to avenge my wrong,
And slay the man by whom I was betrayed,
To him the magic destrier shall belong,
Which leaves the wind behind, so fast its gait.”
Rinaldo doesn’t hesitate for long,
But knelt at once. His vow to God he made,
That if his life and all his strength remain,
He will avenge the wrongly-slaughtered dame.

And then he entered in and saw the steed,
Kept by no stall-door, but by chains of gold.
All things were there a rider e’er could need,
Its coverlet fell down in silken folds.
The horse was black as an obsidian bead,
Save a white spot upon his forehead bold,
And one white patch, close by his tail, forsooth,
And his right foreleg, just above the hoof.

No horse surpasseth him in all the lands.
The great Baiardo is his only peer,
Who still is sung throughout the whole of France.
Baiard is stronger, smarter, without fear,
But swiftest doth this Rabican advance.
Slung stones and darts o’ertake not this destrier.
Nor birds in flight, nor arrows from a bow,
Nor any other thing can faster go.

Rinald is rapt out of this world for bliss,
That such a lofty quest fell to his lot.
But to the chain attached a small book is,
Writ not with sable ink, but crimson blood.
All the sad story is contained in this,
The woeful tale, for all to read who would,
Of the dead lady lying in the door,
How she untimely died; by whom; wherefore.

The book related how King Trufaldin,
The false and wicked ruler of Baghdad,
To neighbor had a Count, in battle keen,
Ardent and frank, and virtues all he had;
So highly praised he was, he long had been
Wholly despisèd by this monarch bad.
Don Orisello was this baron  named,
As Montefalcon was his castle famed.

Don Orisello had a sister fair,
Who of all women was the crown and flower.
He face and body’s comeliness were rare.
If grace, and loveliness, and virtue’s power
Reached not their peak in her, they did nowhere.
She loved a knight was stalwart in the stour,
Of noble blood, and courteous and kind;
A better baron could you nowhere find.

The sun, who views the whole world at a glance,
Saw not on earth a pair of truer lovers,
More virtuous, more fair, more blessed by chance.
One will they had; one gentle love them covered.
From day to day their happy love advanced.
Now Trufaldin loved making war on others,
But Montefalcone could he never siege,
For it was strong and safe beyond belief.

Upon a massive, awe-inspiring rock,
(The path a mile long from base to height)
The walls were built, as if the world to mock;
Nor was this all that gave the castle might.
A great, vast, steep, and treach’rous moat there blocked
The way, and ringed the hill on ev’ry side.
Every path which to the castle ran
Had three watchtowers and a barbican.

The caution to his castle dedicated
Was worthy Orisello, for he feared
King Trufaldino and by him was hated.
Often with siegers he the fortress neared,
And ev’ry time he shamefully retreated.
This foul monarch at all goodness jeered,
But then he chanced to meet a knight who loved
Count Orisello’s sister, life above.

Polindo was the worthy baron hight,
And Albarosa hight the lady fair.
Joy she had, much as any human might
So much she was beloved, such love she bare.
Now on a day, this loving errant-knight
Seeking adventure, did at random fare,
Roving through lands and men of ev’ry sort,
At last he came to Trufaldino’s court.

King Trufaldino was a wicked traitor,
But ev’ry mood he perfectly could feign;
To Don Polindo no one could show greater
Favor, or speak so courteously amain.
Would he make war? He’ll be a co-invader.
Is he in Love? He’ll help him win his dame.
What variegated wonders Love can do!
Love fears all things; believes in all things, too!

Who, other than Polindo, would believe
This wicked, foul, breaker of his faith,
Who had so many knights ere this deceived?
The knight heeds not the words that any saith,
But gratefully the offers he received,
And thinks his lady love at last he hath.
He feels her lips already on his cheek.
Of nought else can he think; he scarce can speak.

After the lady has been asked in vain
To leave the gate ajar and let him in,
She swears to meet Polindo on the plain
One quiet night and run away with him.
Thereto she plights her troth, and he again
Pledges that he will serve her ev’ry whim,
If she will come and be his weded wife,
To live in joy together all their life.

All is arranged; prepared the fatal night.
Now Trufaldin had graciously bestowed
On Don Polind a fort for his delight,
A day from Montefalcon by the road.
Hither there came, without the least respite
The knight and lady, who with true love glowed.
With mirth and laughter sat they down to eat,
When Trufaldino burst on their retreat.

O wayward Fortune, fickle and untrue,
Who never wished happiness to last!
Below the ground a tunnel had been hewn
Which from without into the fortress passed.
And Trudaldino well this faucebray knew;
All gifts he gave turned to his gain at last.
While thus the lovers dined and of love spoke,
King Trufaldin them seized without one stroke.

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Book I, Canto XIII, Part 1

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto XIII, Stanzas 1-20


Rinaldo, to obtain a magic steed,
Fights with two gryphons and a giant great.
He learns the tale of Albarose sweet,
How she and her beloved were betrayed
And slain by Trufaldino. He is fleet
To swear an oath to venge the hapless maid.
As they ride onward underneath the trees,
A centaur comes and kidnaps Fiordelis.

I told you earlier how those two heard
A cry that could have made the brave despair.
No fear nor panic in Rinaldo stirred.
He leapt to ground and left the palfrey there
With the fair maiden, sweet as singing bird,
Whose face was white with anguish and with care.
Rinald advances with an air defiant,
And finds the reason for this is a giant

Who stood a sentinel, as it appeared,
Before a darkling and enormous cave.
His face was horrible, his visage fierce,
To terrify the bravest of the brave.
But braver still than they, our cavalier
Who never has known fear in all his days,
Now moves against him with his sword in hand;
But not a muscle moved the giant grand.

His right hand he an iron club held stiff in.
From head to foot he was enclosed in mail.
On either side of him there lay a gryphon,
Bound to the rocks by chains too thick to fail,
But lest his presence be a hieroglyph in
Your eyes, his purpose here I will unveil.
This giant here was set to guard, you see, a
Horse, which erst belonged to Argalía.

By strange enchantment was this horse begot,
Because, of fire and of purest ashes,
A mare was magic’ly to being brought,
A thing that with the course of Nature clashes.
And then the wind this mare with child got,
And this the horse, of all the fastest,
Which ate no grass and fed upon no hay,
But lived on air alone from day to day.

Back to this cave the charger had returned,
As soon as Ferraguto set him free.
Here he was born, for here he ever yearned,
Here all his happy foalhood days spent he,
Till Argalía, who had magic learned,
Compelled him hence, to serve him faithfully,
Long as he loved, and once the knight was dead,
The horse in but a day to his home sped.

The giant then his sentry post regained,
The ugly, cruel, strong, and pertinacious,
And with him kept two gryphons tightly chained,
Each with sharp talons, horrid and rapacious.
These chains were wrought, as I should have explained,
So he could quickly loose those beasts hellacious.
Each of these gryphons was so strong in flight,
That though the air they could transport a knight.

Rinaldo with caution to the battle stepped,
Deliberate footsteps and a searching eye,
But do not think that fear upon him crept,
Because his paces are so far from spry.
The loft giant who the passage kept
Could clearly see a valiant knight drew nigh.
Not that he cared, for he had slain already
A thousand comers, be they weak or steady.

And all around the field were spread the white
Bones of the men the giant fierce had slain.
And now began the hard and eager fight:
Each seeks a vantage point upon the plain.
And furious blows they deal to left and right:
Neither to smile or to laugh will deign,
For each knows, true as there’s a sun i’th’ sky,
That one or th’other on this day will die.

The good Rinaldo was the first to strike,
And smites the mighty giant on the head.
But that brute’s helm was stronger than a dyke,
And not a whit was he discomfortéd.
Now his hot wrath and surqidry up-spike,
Just like a storm descends his club of lead;
Rinaldo takes the blow upon his shield,
Which splinters; pieces fly across the field.

But this was all the damage that was done;
Rinaldo pays him back a mighty blow
Which was a cruel and a mortal one,
Between his ribs, nigh to his heart it goes,
But scarcely had this wound to bleed begun
Rinald struck, on the other flank, his foe.
The armor strong no more intact remains,
Fusbert cuts through his entrails to his reins.

At this the giant was astonished quite;
Clearly he could perceive his death at hand.
From his two wounds his pain is infinite.
Upon his feet the brute can scarcely stand.
So he resolveth, out of hellish spite
That Don Rinald will leave the living land.
He staggers back, and ere his body stiffens,
The chains he loosens to release the gryphons.

The first one clutched the giant in his talons
And sailed away with him into the air,
And vanished from the dame’s sight and the gallants.
The other moves against Rinaldo there,
Hoping, perhaps, to knock him off his balance,
Ruffles his feathers, and to strike prepares.
His wings outspread, and ev’ry talon shows.
Rinaldo with Fusberta swings a blow

The bold Rinaldo’s aim was stout and true:
Both the beast’s foreclaws at a blow he mauls.
A searing pain the ugly bird shot through;
Shrieking, it fled, and came back not at all
When lo! A mighty noise from in the blue:
The other gryphon lets the giant fall.
I don’t think that he can survive this leap:
The gryphon dropped him from four thousand feet.

With a great rushing noise, he downward sped.
Rinaldo sees him falling from the sky;
It seems the brute is headed for his head.
If not exactly there, he’ll land nearby.
He sees that very shortly he’ll be dead,
Nor does he know what tactics he can try;
Whether he runs, or he stays where he’s at,
The giant’s massive corpse will squash him flat.

Still closer to the ground it makes its way;
Straight at Rinaldo, seemingly, it’s bound,
Before it lands, less than a foot away.
His head was shattered when it hit the ground,
And made a greater noise than words could say,
And shook the plain for nigh a mile around.
Rinaldo scarcely has the time to sigh,
Before, God help him! other perils nigh.

For th’other gryphon his way downwards took,
Wings folded back, with such a rush he comes,
The air re-echoed and the heavens shook,
And he concealed the splendor of the sun,
Shadowing ev’rywhere the knight might look.
A beast so great as this was never none.
Turpin affirms it for a certain thing
That fifteen feet outspread was either wing.

Rinaldo firmly for the bird awaits
But very little time does he spend waiting,
Ere like a lightning bolt accelerates
The gryphon, not a whit its speed abating.
Rinaldo his revenge anticipates,
And smites the monster without hesitating:
Beneath its throat he digs a nasty ditch,
Through which the red blood flows without a hitch.

But not enough he struck it death to bring.
He could not break the ribs or pierce the lungs.
The brute mounts to the sky, then folds its wings,
And downward with a piercing shriek it plunged.
The ugly brute Rinaldo’s helmet dings,
The crest and circlet from the top it wrung,
But could not break the helm itself because
The magic helmet of Mambrino ’twas.

The bird now flies aloft and now dives back;
Rinaldo does not know and cannot guess
Which is the weakest point he should attack.
The damsel watches with such great distress
She thought for fear she would her life soon lack.
Not for herself did she her prayers address
To God above, but only for the knight.
Her own self then she had forgotten quite.

The day was vanquished by the dismal night,
And yet the battle ’twixt the two raged on.
One thing alone now caused Rinaldo fright.
He might not see which way the beast had gone;
He knows that swiftly he must end the fight.
To this he bends his members, ev’ry one;
His only hope to keep himself from dying
Is to prevent that vicious bird from flying.

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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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Book I, Canto XII, Part 4

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto XII, Stanzas 61-80

Iroldo covers now his face and head,
For with his eyes he does not wish to see
His dear beloved to her death thus led.
Now doth Tisbin begin to sorrow free.
Her heartsickness hath not yet from her sped;
Her own death naught to her appears to be,
But all her grief is for Prasildo’s death;
This woe all other sorrows augmenteth.

To leave no thing undone, and keep her word,
Towards Prasildo’s house she takes her way,
And secret audience with him implored;
She went alone, just at the break of day.
When Don Prasild her gentle knocking heard,
He went and opened to her straightaway.
He wished to do all things to please the dame,
Nor knew he what to do for fear and shame.

But once they are alone together in
A secret place, and may be at their ease,
With dulcet voice and soft words he begins
To do whatever he thinks may her please.
He tries to make her laugh, or even grin,
For tracks of tears upon her face he sees.
He though it only was for maiden’s shame;
He knew not death with hasty footsteps came.

At last, with gentle chiding, he implores her,
By what she loves the most in all the world,
To tell him why and wherefore she deplores her,
And by what stormy grief her soul is whirled,
For, so he swears to her, he so adores  her
He’d die, if need were, for his joy, his pearl;
So urgently for answering he sought,
At last he hears what he’d far rather not.

Because Tisbina answered him: “The love
Which after so much labor thou hast gained
Is in thy power, but for not above
Four hours more. My oath unbroke remains.
I lose my life, but what I prize most of
All things is that the man I love was fain
To lost his life with me and walk beside
Me when away from thee fore’er I hide.

“Had my heart been at any time my own,
And hadst thou been, as thou hast been, so true,
A great discourtesy I should have shown
Had I not loved thee much as I could do;
But so I could not do, for one alone
I love, and no one can have love for two.
To love thee, sir, I cannot even start,
Though much compassion long has filled my heart.

“And this my having pity on thy lot
Has grown my misery a hundredfold,
For thy laments such sorrow to me brought
Since first I heard thee all thy griefs unfold,
That to stay faithful to my love, I wrought
My poison-death ere I might thee behold.”
With further words, she all the tale explains,
How Don Irold and she had drunk their banes.

Don Prasildo hath such grief at heart
When he hath heard Tisbina’s woeful speech,
To speak or move he cannot even start.
And where he’d thought his happiness to reach,
He sees all happiness for aye depart,
For in his heart she hath made such a breach,
Her, in whose person all his joy resides
He now sees dying right before his eyes.

“Ah, would that neither God, nor thou, Tisbina,
Had put my courtesy to such a test,”
The baron said, “No one has ever seen a
Fate like ours cruel, not lovers so distressed.
That lovers twain should slay themselves has been a
Thing done too often at great Love’s behest,
But three together, I can see full well
By evening shall together wend to Hell.

“O thou of little faith, why didst thou doubt
That I’d release thee from thy plighted boon?
Thou saidst thou heardst me in the woods without
A hardened heart. Ah, speak the truth, dear, now.
I trust thee not; this lays it plainly out.
Thou’st slain thyself to murder me, I trow.
Ah, wherefore could I not have been born blind,
Before thy lovely face I chanced to find?

“Wert so disgusted when my love was shown,
O cruel one, for death thou couldst not wait?
God be my witness, if I’d only known
I could not cease to love, or start to hate,
But in the wastes I would have lived alone,
If my love pressed thy heart with so much weight.
Who could have been so cruel as to provide
One sweet as thou the means for suicide?

“I never wished to cause thee any grief,
I do not wish to now, nor shall I ever;
Now from my luckless love I grant relief
To thee, though I shall love another never.
If not yet in my good-will thou’st belief
Then I shall prove it, and all ties I sever.
Hereby I free thee of all oaths to me,
And in all things I shall be ruled by thee.”

Tisbina hears the baron courteous,
And filled with pity, she begins to say:
“Thy courtesy hath conquered me by this;
For thy sake, living still would make me gay.
But Fortune wills the contrary, ywis,
And but a little time I have to stay,
But in what little space to me remains,
To please thee, gladly I’d take any pains.”

Prasildo’s heart is burning up with woe,
So sad is he that he her death hath wrought.
He doesn’t comprehend her words, and so
With mind so sorrowful it hath no thought
He only pressed his lips against her own,
Then left her free to do whate’er she sought.
And when he hears the door behind her close,
Sobbing, himself upon his bed he throws.

After, Tisbina to Iroldo came,
Who lay upon his bed with woeful look.
All of Prasildo’s doings she explains,
How nought from her besides a kiss he took.
Iroldo leapt from bed upon the boards
And with clasped hands, and with a voice that shook,
Upon his knees he went, and humbly did he
Beseech High God for mercy and for pity,

That He will rend Prasildo guerdon fair
For courtesy, by selfishness unkept.
But, while he knelt and he poured out his prayer,
Tisbina fell to earth, as if she slept;
Swiftly the potion wrought upon his dear;
And through her delicate, small veins it crept.
Upon a weak heart death takes sooner hold
As do all passions, than one stout and bold.

Now Don Iroldo fells his face like ice,
When that he sees his lady fall to ground,
Just like a rag she fell before his eyes;
She seemed as slumber, and not death, her bound.
Cruel he calls God above, and cruel the skies,
Who with such woes have compassed him around;
Cruel he calls Fortune, cruel he blameth Love,
Who will not slay him, grieved all men above.

But let us leave this cavalier in woes,
Thou mayst imagine, sir knight, how he fares.
Prasildo in his chamber was enclosed.
Thus he lamented, speaking through his tears:
“Does all the world another lover know,
Whom Fortune dealt so cruelly with as here?
For, if I wish to be my lady nigh,
In but a little time I’ll have to die.

“This is my comfort from this heartless one,
Who is so hateful, though as Love he’s known.
Of all my pleasures, come now, leave me none,
Come sate yourself, O cruel one, on my woes!
With thee and thine forever I am done.
There is no worser lot than in thy throes.
And lesser pain, I trow, is found in Hell,
Then in thy kingdom, governed most unwell.”

But while he with lament the air inspires,
Behold arriving there an old physician.
The aged doctor for Prasild inquires,
Whose servants fain would him refuse admission.
The old man says, “My spirit is afire.
I shall come in, with or without permission,
For otherwise you will regret it soon:
Your master will be dead  by afternoon.”

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Book I, Canto XII, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto XII, Stanzas 41-60

The path led up a narrow, dang’rous slope,
Nor without clamor was the gate unbarred.
Few were the times that saw that gateway ope,
Sometimes by Toil, but more oft by Fraud.
Many are they who towards the portal grope,
But few to find it open are well-starred.
Prasildo found it open on that day,
Because one-half the branch he’d had to pay.

Leaving that place, he rides on swift and steady,
Now judge, Sir Knight, if happy he him deemd,
Who longed to be in Babylon already,
And each day to him like a hundred seemed.
Through Nubia, for quicker travel, sped he,
His boat soon through Arabian waters streamed.
By night and day he sped so far and fast,
That into Babylon he came at last.

He sends his squire to the lady how
Her will is done, her knight is faithful still,
And, when she wishes to behold the bough,
She need but name what place and time she will,
And to remind her that the time is now
When likewise she her promise must fulfill,
And if her plighted word she altereth,
She may be certain she will cause his death.

What pain at heart, and how much cause to mourn
This woeful message brings Tisbina bright!
She throws herself upon her bed, forlorn.
To her there comes no rest by day or night.
“Alas for me!” she says, “Why was I born?
Or in the cradle could I not have died?
Death is the remedy for ev’ry ill,
But not for mine; my word I must fulfill.

“For if I slay myself with my own hand,
My oath is broken and I am a coward.
How foolish was I not to understand
That there is nothing that’s beyond Love’s power.
Beneath his sway are sky and sea and land,
With rule o’er mind and body he’s endowered.
Prasild came back alive, and sore I rue it;
Who would have ever thought that he could do it?

“Luckless Iroldo, ah, what wilt thou do,
When thy Tisbina is forever lost
And thine own fault it is that thou must rue,
Thy plan the cause that by distress I’m tossed.
Ah, luckless wretch, why wilt thou speak words new?
Thy words already had so great a cost.
Such woe has come from what my mouth said then,
I swear I’ll never make an oath again!”

Iroldo came, and heard his love lament,
And saw her lying face-down on her bed,
Because she had a message to him sent,
To come at once, where all her woes she said.
Without a word, across the bed he leant,
And took her in his arms; she laid her head
Upon his breast, and neither one could speak,
Nor any other thing could do but weep.

They seemed two blocks of ice beneath the sun,
For down their faces ran such woeful tears.
They tried to speak, but only sobs would come,
But finally, Iroldo’s voice appears:
“What grieves me most is that what I have done
Has brought such pain to thee, my love, my dear.
For nothing hath the power to be a spite
To me, which is to thee a sweet delight.

“But thou art well aware, my love, my all,
For thou such wisdom hast and such discretion,
That if once Love to Jealousy should fall,
The world knows not a more intensive passion.
This misadventure grieves me more than gall,
For our unhappiness myself have fashioned.
‘Twas I and I alone who made thee swear;
‘Tis I alone deserve the pain to bear.

“’Tis I alone who ought to be in pain,
Who did induce thee to thy woeful plight.
But still, I beg thee, as thou bliss wouldst gain,
And by the love which gave me once delight,
That thou wilt keep thine honor without stain,
And let Prasildo with reward be dight
For his great enterprise and perils vast,
Which at thy bidding he has overpassed.

“But please, oh, grant it not till I am dead,
For I am sure I shall not last the day.
Let Fortune heap up wrongs upon my head
But never living shall I see thee stray
And down in Hell I shall be comfortéd,
Knowing I made thee happy for a day;
But when I know thou art no longer mine,
Though I be dead, I’ll die a second time.”

He would have ‘plained his sorrow even more,
But his voice broke, he was so much distressed;
He stands insensible, and stunned, so sore
His grief; his heart beat high within his chest.
And fair Tisbina no less sorrow bore.
Woe of all color did her face divest.
But, turning now to look upon her love,
She spoke, as soft and gentle as a dove:

“Thinkest thou, such a fickle heart is mine,
That I could live without thee anywhere?
And what hath happened to that love of thine,
Of which so often thou wast wont to swear,
That if you hadst a heaven, or all nine,
Thou couldst not stand to live without me there?
And now thou thinkest thou wilt live in Hell,
And leave me wretched upon Earth to dwell?

“I am and have been thine since first we met,
And shall be thine beyond the gates of death,
If after dying, Love surviveth yet,
And mem’ry in the soul still lingereth.
It never shall of me be writ or said,
‘Another man Tisbina comforteth.’
‘Tis true that at thy death I shall not cry,
For at the news, immediately I’ll die.

“But hearken now, for I have found a way
That I may keep my promise to Prasild.
That curséd promise, which shall soon me slay;
Once it’s fulfilled, myself to death I’ll yield.
Together in the afterlife we’ll stay
While in one tomb our bodies lie concealed.
I beg thee, by the love thou bearest me,
To let me die the self-same time as thee.

“This shall be finished through a pleasant poison,
The which in such a manner hath been brewed,
That slowly from our bodies leaves the foison,
And in five hours with life they’re not imbued.
Time for Prasild to see the face he joys in,
And I shall keep my honor whitely hued,
And soon thereafter, with my death shall cease
All of the evils that disturb our peace.

And thus, and thus, they do their death ordain,
Two hapless lovers, to each other dear.
They stand, their faces by their grieving stained,
Now more then ever are they choked with tears.
Nor wish they ought, but only to remain
Together. Oft they clasp each other near.
At last Tisbina for the poison sent,
And to an agéd doctor’s shop she went.

The doctor gave to her a little vial,
And would not take of her a thing in fee.
Iroldo, when he stared at it a while,
Began, “No other path is offered me,
To change my darling’s sorrows to a smile.
Ah, Fortune, safely may I mock at thee,
For Death has power greater far than thine,
And thy dominion soon I’ll leave behind.”

He swallows half the contents of the flask,
Nor hesitates to drunk the poison sweet.
But not yet to Tisbina’s hand it passed.
He had no fear himself his death to meet,
But did not wish to make hers come more fast;
But when he saw the tears run down her cheek,
He stared down at the ground, and passed the drink,
And seemed to be already on death’s brink,

Not from the toxin, but alone from woe,
That she whom he so dearly loved must die.
Tisbin, with icy heart and motion slow,
And trembling hand, lifts up the vial high.
She blasphemes Fate and Love that forced her so
Unto this cruel end. She brings it nigh
Her ruby lips, and swallows ev’ry drop,
Then on the floor she lets the vial drop.

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Notes to the Twelfth Canto, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto XII, Stanzas 41-60 Notes

56. Foison. Strength or power.

Back to Part 3