Book I, Canto IX, Part 2

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

21
She ceased her talk, descended to the ground,
Where the beast lurked, prepared for fresh attacks,
And there the knotted cord the dame unwound,
And from its pan she threw the cake of wax.
The monster snatched it in its jaws, but found
Its teeth stuck fast, and it began to wax
Exceeding wroth, and snorted, shook, and leapt,
And straightway got entangled in the net.

22
The damsel left it in its hempen prison,
And flew away as swiftly as she’d come.
By that time was the lovely star arisen
Which mounts up in the East before the sun.
The growing light brought to Rinaldo’s vision
The beast, whose jaws were sealed and who had run
Smack-dab into a mazy web of knots.
It could not move a hands-breadth from its spot.

23
Immediately he leaps down to the ground,
Where the ferocious freak of nature lies
And bellows so that all the folk around,
Despite their wall, with fear are paralyzed.
Rinaldo quickly his Fusberta found,
And to assault the monster great he tried.
But such thick skin possessed the beast accurst,
It seemed Fusberta would be broken first.

24
Rinaldo searches for its weakest place.
He strikes the right side now, and now the left,
And now he stabs its legs, and now its face,
But still the monster’s skin he hasn’t cleft.
Fusbert can split a rock or iron mace,
But of incisions is the beast bereft.
But bold Rinaldo isn’t took aback.
At once he switches to another tack.

25
To leap upon the monster’s back he rushed,
And threw his arms around its ugly throat,
His knees into the monster’s flanks he pushed.
This is the wildest steed he ever rode!
The baron’s visage crimson red was flushed.
All of his power in this fight he showed,
More strength than he had ever used before,
Till the abomination breathed no more.

26
After he beast’s completely suffocated,
Rinaldo starts to ponder how to fly.
The field was circumscribed (as I have stated)
By an enormous wall both thick and high.
There was one window only, which was grated
With latticed iron work. Rinaldo tries
To slice it open with Fusberta, but
The grate’s too thick and strong for him to cut.

27
Rinaldo realizes at this pass
He’s still a pris’ner in this castle vile.
The folk won’t life him o’er the wall, alas!
And with starvation he must reconcile.
He searches all around, till on the grass
He finds, just lying there, a massive file.
Angelica had left it on the sod.
The baron thinks it must have come from God.

28
The magic file swiftly cuts the bars.
The knight’s about to make his getaway.
From the bright heaven disappear the stars,
As rosy-fingered dawn leads forth the day.
But lo! a giant strolling by, who mars
Rinaldo’s plans not in the slightest way.
For when he sees the knight, he gives a yelp,
And turns, and runs away, and shouts, “Help! Help!”

29
Rinaldo’s sawed completely through the grate,
And from the window he removes the bars,
But the scared outcries of the giant great
Have summon all the wicked folk to arms.
Rinaldo issues from the window straight.
He has Fusberta drawn. He must look sharp,
For ‘gainst him come the people of the castle,
More than six hundred armed and angry vassals.

30
The worthy baron doesn’t care at all;
Were they six times their strength, he’d face them yet.
Leading the rabble is a giant tall,
Who tries to snare Rinaldo in a net.
That false poltroon, whose virtues are but small,
Rinaldo dodges, and he does not fret,
But strikes the giant just below the knee,
Without his legs upon the earth fell he.

31
He left him there; against the rest he sped.
Death and destruction with Fusbert he rained,
And soon he stood alone; the rest were fled.
Not one of all the Saracens remained.
Some left their arms behind, and some their heads.
The courtyard now is even more blood-stained.
The old hag in the keep is barricaded.
With her last soldiers for Rinald she waited.

32
The other giant in the room there stood.
Rinald arrives and doesn’t gape or gawk,
But strikes the door and batters through the wood
Until the door is off its hinges knocked.
The mighty giant in confusion stood,
In terror and embarrassment and shock.
Although he armored is from head to toe,
Not till the door is open does he go

33
Leaping out, brings his club down with a roar;
On Don Rinaldo’s head his great blow fell.
Rinaldo merely laughed at him and swore
“I do thee honor, wretched infidel.
To take thy death from Montalbano’s lord –
Thou wilt be honored for it, down in Hell,
Where thou wilt shortly meet, I dare assert, a
Mighty host I’ve sent there with Fusberta.”

34
The worthy cavalier’s discourse is brief.
He strikes a mighty blow and does not flag
Till he has cleft the giant to the teeth.
The others flee; Rinaldo does not lag,
But hunts and slays them all, with no relief.
But the black-hearted, unrepentant hag
Is standing on a narrow balcony,
And leaps down when the cavalier she sees.

35
The balcony rose up a hundred feet.
You may be well assured the hag is dead.
When Don Rinaldo saw that mighty leap,
“Go to the Devil with thy men!” he said.
The blood upon the chamber floor was deep;
But Don Rinaldo, sword in hand, still sped
In hot pursuit, but, not to tell it all,
He left no soul alive within the walls.

36
And then he left and walked back to the sea.
He did not trust the magic bark; instead
Traipsing along the coastline traveled he,
Until he met a lady fair, who said,
“Alas! Ah, woeful wight! Ah, misery!
My life is dreary, would that I were dead!”
But Turpin speaks no more about her here,
And turns to Don Astolfo, England’s peer.

37
Astolfo had departed lovely France;
Upon the good Baiardo travels he.
In gilded armor, with the golden lance.
Alone he journeys, without company.
He passes through the region of Mayence,
And through great Germany, fair Hungary,
The Danube, Transylvania he’s gone,
And through White Russia till he saw the Don.

38
Reaching this place, to the right hand he swings,
And into mountainous Circasse he’s come.
All of that territory’s bustling.
He sees the folk in armor, every one,
For Sacripante, the Circassian king
A mighty war had recently begun
With Agricane, king of Tartary.
Both of the lords were full of chivalry.

39
The war did not begin for reasons of
A recent insult, nor for ancient hate,
Nor for one king another king to shove
Off of his throne, or to extend the state,
But all these men were armed to fight for Love.
For Agricane wanted as his mate
Angelica, and with her he would wed.
She answered him, she’d rather she were dead.

40
She sent out messengers through ev’ry land,
Both near and far, to palaces and tents,
To knights most lowly and to knights most grand,
Inviting one and all to her defense.
And so a myriad, uncounted band
To save the lady, ready their offense.
But Sacripante’s first of all the throng,
Because this worthy king has loved her long.

Book I, Canto VI, Part 2

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

21
I asked Him to be helped, and not consoled.
A curse upon the ass that did thee bear!
I wouldn’t die if thou wert not so old,
No worser helper could have found me here!”
The friar says, “Alas! Thou baron bold,
I see thou art abandoned to despair.
Thou soon shalt lose thy life, as all must do.
Think of thy soul, and do not lose that, too.

22
Thou seem’st to be a lord of strength and sense,
And in the face of death art thou so weak?
Know thou, that God Almighty’s providence
Never abandons those who for Him seek.
Immeasurable is His omnipotence!
About myself a little shall I speak,
For all my life I’ve never had a doubt of
God’s mercy. Hear what He has brought me out of.

23
I and three friars from Armenia went
At holy shrines in Georgia to seek grace.
We travelled on the road with pure intent,
And came into the kingdom of Circase.
The youngest of us four ahead we sent
So that he could discern for us the way.
When suddenly, we saw him running fast
Towards us, shouting “Help!” with face aghast.

24
Westward, descending from the mount, we saw
A mighty giant with a single eye
Amidst his forehead. Through my shock and fright
The mail he wore I could not well descry,
But I think it was made of dragon hide.
Three javelins and a mace he carried high,
But did not need to use them to entrap us.
Without a fight, we simply let him grab us.

25
He led us to a cavern’s gaping maw,
Where many other prisoners he had.
And once within, with my own eyes I saw
Him grab our erstwhile guide, a tender lad,
And dash his brains out and devour him raw.
I never saw a spectacle so sad.
The brute then looked me and uttered, scowling,
“This tough old geezer isn’t worth the gnawing.”

26
And with his foot he kicked me out the door,
And down a slope all jagged, stark, and grim.
Three hundred feet ‘twas to the valley floor.
In God I trusted, and was saved by Him,
For as I tumbled down, in peril sore,
I found within my hands a sturdy limb,
On a young sapling growing in a cleft.
I clung to this, and ‘neath it took my rest.

27
And there, in silence, keeping still, I waited,
Until the evening faded into night – ”
But as the friar thus his tale related,
He glanced around, and, overcome with fright,
Ran for the woods, and cried, “O wretch ill-fated!
Behold, the wicked monster, whose delight
It is to feast upon the flesh of man.
O worthy knight, I leave thee in God’s hands!”

28
With these words said, no longer did he wait,
But ran and hid himself within the wood.
The fearful giant to the bridge came straight.
His beard and mustaches were soaked with blood.
With his large eye, the region he surveyed.
He saw Orlando, and surprised he stood.
He grabbed him by the arms and stoutly pulled him,
But could not break the chains that did enfold him.

29
“I do not wish to leave so plump a man,”
The giant said, “here lying on the ground.
I ought to boil him like a luscious ram.
But since my dinner I’ve already found,
I’ll only eat his shoulder – if I can.”
Then pondering he cast his eye around,
And saw where Durindan lay on the sand.
He quickly knelt and took it in his hand.

30
His mace of iron and his three great darts
The giant leans against a mighty oak.
Then raises Durindan, that blade so sharp,
And swings with both his hands a mighty stroke.
He doesn’t kill the count, for he is charmed.
But certainly the iron net he broke.
And Don Orlando felt the mighty blow,
So he broke out in sweat from head to toe.

31
But he is so delighted to be free,
That soon he doesn’t feel the pain at all.
He squirms out of the net, and instantly
Runs to the oak, and grabs the club so tall.
The monster’s startled, for he thought that he
Would be as docile as a gelding small.
But now he sees that things are otherwise,
And he will have to fight to win this prize.

32
These two had switched their weapons, as you know.
Orlando of his Durindan is wary,
And so he doesn’t wish to get too close,
But from a distance he the giant harries.
The brute swings downward many fearful blows.
To dodge which, Count Orlando does not tarry.
Now there he dodges, and now here he smites,
But keeps aye Durindana in his sights.

33
He hits him often, but no blood he draws.
The giant doesn’t even feel his blows,
Because his mail is made of griffin’s claws.
No harder  substance on the earth is known.
Orlando wearies, and thinks all is lost;
He can’t endure until three days are flown.
But as he fights on with a sinking heart,
He has a new idea and grabs a dart.

34
One of the darts the brute left on the sward,
Orlando snatches up, and lets it fly.
The aim is true of good Anglante’s lord.
He strikes the center of the giant’s eye.
He had but one, as you have heard before,
Above his nose. He had no time to cry,
Before the dart had driven through his brain.
The brute falls with a crash upon the plain.

35
No further blows are needed; he is dead.
Orlando kneels to give God thanks and praise.
The monk returns, by noise of battle led,
And sees the giant lying on his face.
Even in death, the monster seems so dread,
That back towards the wood he starts to race.
Orlando, laughing, calls him to draw near.
The monk obeys, though trembling with fear.

36
And then he says to him, “O knight of Heaven,
For well thou dost deserve that name to have,
For like a pious baron hast thou striven,
The innocent from that ill fiend to save.
New life unto his captives hast thou given.
Follow, and I will lead thee to his cave.
But if he blocked the entrance with his stone,
Then thou wilt have to open it alone.

37
These words once spoke, he was the baron’s guide,
Towards the cave, which, as he feared, was blocked.
Orlando stood in front, and loudly cried.
The mouth was closed by an enormous rock.
They head a woeful voice from th’other side,
Coming from those inside, that hapless flock.
The rock was square, and of one solid piece.
Each side thereof did span ten feet at least.

38
One and a half feet was the depth of it.
Two chains of iron held it in its place.
A strength and potency nigh infinite
The worthy Count of Brava now displays.
With Durindan the iron chains he split,
And then within his arms the rock he raised;
All of the prisoners he swiftly frees,
Who then resume their journeys as they please.

39
Orlando left the friar and the rest,
And traveled on along a forest trail.
He came where four roads cross, and paused, perplexed.
He stared down each of them, and pondered well
Which of these branching paths to take were best,
To come unto some land wherein men dwell.
As he debates, there comes a herald riding.
The Count him halts, and asks him for his tidings.

40
He says, “I’m coming from among the Medes,
And go to seek the King of Circassy.
Through all the world I travel with my steed,
To find help for my wretched princess. She
Has suffered woes, which I beseech thee heed.
The mighty Emperor of Tartary
Loves her so much, that he’s to madness nigh,
But for her part, she’d gladly watch him die.

The Spanish Charlemagne Ballads, 7: Ballads Based on the Italian Epics 2

Spain is home to a large number of beautiful ballads, called romances. Some of these ballads are about lovers. Many are about the Moors who ruled Spain for so many long centuries. There are a large number about the famous Cid who fought the Moors. There is also a large cycle about the Paladins of France, and about Bernardo del Carpio, who, the Spaniards say, killed the mighty Roland in the battle of Roncesvalles. While there are several collections of English translations of the Spanish ballads, scholars and translators tend to focus on the Moorish and love ballads. It is difficult to find any complete account of this branch of the Carolingian legend, which is why I decided to write a summary of every Spanish ballad related to Charlemagne. I quickly discovered that this is an impossible task. The folk tradition is still alive and well, not only in Iberia, but in every land to which the Spanish Jews moved after being exiled by Ferdinand and Isabella. New variants are constantly being recorded, and no Professor Child has yet arisen to make a complete collection of the folksongs and to standardize the titles by which they are known.
The closest thing to a definitive collection of Spanish ballads that currently exists is the Romancero General of Agustin Duran, published in 1877, which includes every ballad printed prior to the 1800’s. This means it does not include any folksongs from the Spain of his day, or, naturally, from later. These folksongs sometimes contain very interesting variants from the printed texts. Many of these later folksongs can be found at the Pan-Hispanic Ballad Project and Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews, two confusingly arranged messes of websites which I leave it to you to sift through if my dozen posts on Duran’s ballads leave you wanting more.
Duran’s magnum opus is in two volumes, which are volumes 10 and 14 of the Biblioteca des Autores Españoles. The numbers of the ballads below are those of this collection, as are the divisions into classes, based on antiquity.
Class I ballads are pure folksongs.
Class III are productions of uneducated or scarcely educated minstrels.
Class V are early literary ballads, attempts to imitate the oral tradition.
Class VIII are Renaissance or Siglo d’Oro literary ballads, which do not attempt to imitate the oral tradition.

Also note that most of the titles were supplied by Duran. Spanish ballads are usually identified by their first lines.

The principal English translations of Spanish ballads are:
Thomas Rodd, Most Celebrated Ancient Spanish Ballads relating to the Twelve Peers of France mentioned in Don Quixote. 1812.
John Gibson Lockhart, Ancient Spanish Ballads. 1823.
John Bowring, Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain. 1824.
James Young Gibson, The Cid Ballads and other Poems and Translation from Spanish and German. 1887.
Roger Wright, Spanish Ballads, 1987.

BALLADS FROM THE ITALIAN EPICS

THERE WILL BE SPOILERS FOR THE ORLANDO INNAMORATO AND THE ORLANDO FURIOSO. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

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