Book I, Canto XIV, Part 3

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

I do not know, my lords, if ere this time
You’ve heard the fame of great Uberto bruited?
He was a knight most courteous and fine,
Strong and courageous and for all things suited.
He scanned th’horizon with his watchful eye,
(For diligence he ever was reputed)
And thuswise was he when the lady fair
Came to the side of Count Orlando there.

King Adrïano and the bold Grifon
Stand in the loggia and discourse of love.
While Aquilante sings with Chiarïon,
The first the tenor part, the next above,
While Brandimarte sang the baritone;
And King Balllano was discoursing of
Swords, lances, armor, horses, weapons, war
With Belarussia’s baron, Antifor.

The damsel takes Orlando by the hand
And on his finger puts the wondrous ring
Which magic hath no power to withstand.
At once the Count remembers everything,
But when he sees who ’tis before him stads,
He quick forgets all else, save how to bing
Pleasure to her, though scarcely can he deem
He is awake, and this is not a dream.

The damsel hastily explaineth all
About the garden, how he thither came,
And Dragontine captured him in thrall
And wiped all memory clean from his brain.
And then for succor and for aid she calls,
With humble prayer asking if he’ll deign
To fight ’gainst Agricane and his horde,
Who waste her land with fire and with sword.

But Dragontina, standing in the palace
Looked out the window and beheld the dame.
She ran to find her knights, snared by the chalice,
But none are armed; her caution was her bane.
Now Count Orlando in the saddle tall is,
And in his arms Uberto he restrained,
Before he had the chance to stir one foot,
And then the ring upon his finger’s put.

The situation quickly is made clear.
Obert will help the spell be overthrown.
Now pay attention, lords, and you shall hear
Their wondrous deeds most worthy to be known.
They captured first the sons of Olivier,
The one Don Aquilant, the one Grifon.
The count had not yet recognized the boys,
But now he did. Great was Orlando’s joy.

And greater joy upon the brothers came,
Seeing each other at this blesséd hap.
Now Dragontina nearly goes insane,
Seeing her garden lost by sad mishap.
The potent ring makes all her magic vain.
The palace vanished with a thunderclap.
Bridge, river, fairy, vanished where they stood,
And left the barons standing in a wood.

They stand in stupefaction and amaze.
At one another stare they all and seek
Among the knights for a familiar face.
The Count of Brava, who is first to speak,
Addressing all assembled in that place,
Explains what happened, then proceeds with meek
And humble words, to ask the lords to fight
For her who rescued them from such a plight.

He tells of Agricane’s mighty war,
And how he has destroyed the lovely city,
And in the keep she is besiegéd sore.
Ev’ry last cavalier is filled with pity
And swears to bering the lady fair succor,
As long as he can fight, or on horse sit he,
And to force Agricane to retire,
Or in attempting the great deed, expire.

They set out, all together, on the road.
The lady guides them, and the knights escort.
Of Trufaldino now must things be told;
Who was holed up within the tiny fort.
Evil when young, and worse when he was old,
He was as treacherous as he was short.
No one suspected him. Each trusting head
Of Turk and of Circassian lay abed.

Torindo’s valor can avail no more
Than all of Sacripante’s chivalry.
For each of them is lying wounded sore
From fighting in the battle valiantly.
They’ve lost much blood, and they are weak therefore,
And they are overpowered instantly.
King Trufaldino binds them hand and foot.
Into a turret’s attic are they put.

He sends a messenger to Agrican,
Saying that he can have at will the keep.
The rock is his, and his the barbican.
Both of the kings were tied up in their sleep,
And now he wished to place them in his hand.
But the great Tartar’s ire runneth deep.
With eyes ablaze and with a haughty look,
He thus addressed the messenger, who shook:

“Go tell thy lord that Termagant forbid
That any man on earth should ever say
That traitors helped in anything I did.
By honest strength I’ll win; no other way.
I’ll fight in daylight, not by darkness hid,
But thee and thy false lord I shall make pay
For impudence to thus suggest this thing.
You scoundrels from the battlements will swing.

“Fool though thou art, thou still must be aware
You cannot long remain within your fort;
And once I take it, thou wilt hang in air,
Out of a tower window by thy foot.
Thou and thy Trufaldin will make a pair,
And ev’ry person who his hand hath put
To do a treason so black and immense
Will likewise dangle from the battlements.

The herald listened, while his face had turned
Now ghostly white, and now as red as flame.
He wished that long ago he had returned,
And thinks that Tartar has to be insane.
The king turned ’round, once he the offer spurned,
And the miscreant when back the way he came.
He went as swift as if the Fiend pursued,
Without the rich reward he’d thought his due.

Trembling all over, he regained the hold,
And told King Trufaldino what befell.
Now turn we to Orland, brave and bold,
Who came with his companions, right good-willed.
By night and day without a rest they rode.
One morn they reached the summit of a hill.
From the top they look down, and all they see
Is the vast campment of their enemy.

Such were the numbers nearly infinite
So many tents and such  mass of banners,
Angelica is dumbstruck at the sight.
They must pass through these legions in some manner,
Before they can regain the fortress’ height.
But the brave knights do not an instant stammer.
They see that glory will be their reward,
Taking the lady home by force of sword.

About the treason, nothing o they know,
Which wicked Trufaldino has prepared.
But on the mountaintop with hearts aglow,
They plan out how the duties will be shared
To let Angelica in safety go,
Though all the world in arms against them fared.
They don their armor and they mount their steeds,
Discuss and form a plan that may succeed.

In this formation, then, they will confront
And pass through all of this enormous rabble.
The Count Orlando will be at the front,
With Brandimarte, to begin the battle.
Then four knights will protect from all affront
The lady in a ring around her saddle.
Oberto, Aquilant, and Chiarïon
With Adrïano will escort her home.

Angelica, defended by these four
Need have no feat of any foeman’s blow.
The rearguard will be made of three, no more.
But everyone his valor well will show.
Grifone, Belarussian Antifor,
And King Ballano, who does not fear know.
The whole brigade is ready for to start.
They fear not all the world, these noble hearts.



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.

Back to Part 3

Book I, Canto IV, Part 1

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


Fair Fiordespina stops the fight amain.
Orlando eastward goes, his rival west,
For King Gradasso’s nearly conquered Spain.
Charlemagne sends his bravest and his best
To help Marsilio, and Rinald he names
The leader of the army. With much zest
The French and Spaniards ‘gainst the Indians fight.
Gradass meets Rinald at the battle’s height.

Last time, I sang about the fight begun
Between two cavaliers of worth and praise.
Perhaps, upon a fight so dread, the sun
As went round the earth, ne’er shed his rays.
Orlando never fought with anyone
Who stood against him longer than three days,
And past the second day endured but two:
His cousin Chiaro, and Don Ferragu.

They face each other with anticipation,
With glowing faces and expression grim.
Unwillingly, each fills with admiration,
To see a knight who seems so stout of limb.
As of each other they make estimation,
Each thinks his foe may be as stout as him.
They’ve never met so stout a knight before.
For battle now they hunger even more.

Now the begin their cruel and violent game.
Dispiteously, each the other battered.
At ev’ry blow are scattered sparks of flame.
Their shields are broken, and their armor tattered.
Little by little, such good strokes they aim,
The platemail from their arms is wholly scattered.
Thanks to their magic skin, no blood they lose,
But give each other many an ugly bruise.

As thus these two pursue their fight in vain,
And both of them a clear advantage lack,
Behold a damsel riding o’er the plain
Clothed in a dress of samite fine and black.
She weeps as one who suffers grievous pain,
Beating her breast, she cries, “I’m lost, alack!
What man, what god, will guide me safely through
This forest perilous to Ferragu?”

Now she perceives the dueling cavaliers.
She spurred her horse and in between them rode.
Each of them pulls the reins of his destrier.
She greeted them, and with her head bowed low,
Addressed Orlando, “O most courteous Peer,
Although I know thee not, nor dost thou know
Who I am, yet I pray, for mercy’s sake,
Do not deny me this request I make.

“I ask thee to at once give up this war
Which against Ferraguto thou hast made,
For I am suffering misfortune sore,
And he alone can bring me any aid.
If Fortune brings me back to bliss once more,
Then I’ll make certain thou art well repaid.
If thou hast need of ought that I can give,
I shall remember thee, long as I live.”

Orlando answers, “I am well content.
(He speaks as one who’s full of courtesy)
And if thou needest it, I will assent
To lend mine own assistance unto thee.
To aid those in distress is my intent.
If Ferraguto, by mischance, can’t be
Thy champion, thou wilt not find me slack,
Or that the prowess of a knight I lack.”

She bows her head. To Ferragu she turns,
And says, “I’m Fiordespina. Dost thou think
By fighting with this knight renown to earn,
While Spain is tottering on ruin’s brink?
Sieged Barcelona for deliverance yearns;
All Aragon a cup of anguish drinks;
Valencia has been destroyed by fire;
Prisoner of our foe is thy good sire.

The great Gradasso, lord of Sericane,
Has crossed the ocean with his host to bring
Ruin to Charles and the folk of Spain.
Christians and Saracens alike this king
Destroys. He boasts that he will shortly reign
O’er all, and won’t make peace for anything.
He landed at Gibraltar, burnt Seville,
And means to crush all Spain beneath his heel.

Our King Marsilio hopes in thee alone.
Thy name alone he calls in his despair.
I’ve seen him beat his breast and heard him groan.
I’ve seen him tear his snowy beard and hair.
Come, knock this proud Gradasso from his throne.
Come, save thy father from the prison where
He languishes, and once thou art victorious,
This deed of all thy deeds will be most glorious.”

When he has heard her sorrowful account,
The Saracen’s completely stupefied.
“Sir Paladin – he thus addressed the count –
Another time our prowess must be tried.
But well I swear to thee by great Mahound,
That with a knight so strong I’ve never vied.
And if I conquer thee, I’ll dare to say
I am the greatest knight alive today.”

The cavaliers now go their separate ways;
Orlando turns towards the Orient.
The footsteps of Angelica to trace
Where’er he change to go, is his intent.
But he will labor sore for many days,
Because, when from the cavaliers she went,
And was alone, she oped her magic book,
And spirits back unto Cathay her took.

Don Ferraguto, over hills and streams,
O’er plains and valleys gallops on apace,
For ev’ry hour like a hundred seems,
Till he confronts Gradasso face to face.
His wind-like speed a sluggard’s walk he deems,
But let us leave him in his eager chase.
I wish to speak of Emp’ror Charlemagne,
Who heard the news about the war in Spain.

He bids his counsel gather. There appear
Rinaldo and the other paladins.
His speaks: “I saying once I chanced to hear,
That when thy neighbor’s house to burn begins,
Then for thine own thou shouldst begin to fear.
I say that, though Marsil’s a Saracen,
It matters not. We joined in wedlock’s bands
His sister, and his country next ours stands.

So we decree that to the uttermost
We’ll give him help in any way we can,
Against the horrible, outlandish host
Of King Gradasso, who, I understand,
Of conquering fair France already boasts.
He will not slake his thirst with Spanish land.
Under no circumstances would we wish us
To have a neighbor so close and so vicious.

For our salvation, therefore, we decree
To send out fifty thousand cavaliers.
And since we know the strength and chivalry
Of brave Rinaldo, who does not know fear,
Our will is fixed, and changed it cannot be,
For we know well his is without a peer,
The Lord of Montalbano we commission
As supreme general of this expedition.

“And for so long as this sad war drags on,
We will that he be gov’nor of Bordeaux,
Gascony, Languedoc, and Roussillon,
And that their lords to battle with him go.”
So saying, he extends him his baton.
Rinaldo kneels, and bows his head down low,
And says, “I’ll strive with all my might, your grace,
To prove myself deserving of this place.”

He cannot speak another word. His face
With tears of gratitude and joy was wet.
The emperor clasps him in his embrace,
And says, “My son, I bid thee ne’er forget
That my whole kingdom in thy hands I place,
Which in the midst of danger grave is set.
Orlando, whither I know not, has flown.
Our country can be saved by thee alone.”

These words he whispered softly in his ear.
Then joyfully the barons leave the hall.
Ivon and Angelin, and all the Peers
Congratulate him, and from one and all
He takes their homage, and shows them good cheer.
They send their heralds to their fiefs to call
Their vassals, and they come from ev’ry part
Of France, and swiftly southward they depart.

Each cavalier who’s tired of the peace
Joins with Rinaldo, and they journey on.
They climb the Pyrenees, from which they see
The smoke still rising over Aragon.
They cross the pass that is close by Pertuis,
And to Gerona are they come anon.
Marsilio’s waiting there till news is brought
Of how Grandon at Barcellona’s fought.

Keep reading


Notes to the Fourth Canto, Part 1

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

1. When Orlando was a youth, he went on pilgrimage to Compostella, where Saint James gave him three gifts. The first was to be invincible everywhere save the soles of his feet, the second was that no one would be able to stand against him in battle longer than three days. The third I cannot remember, nor can I track down the book relating it.
Orlando will eventually slay Ferraguto shortly before the battle of Roncesvalles. Chiaro, or Claron, is the son of Milone and the nephew of Girart d’Eufrate. Although Chiaro and Orlando fought side by side in the battle of Aspremont, Girart later rebelled against Charlemagne. The war was to be settled by  a duel between Orlando and Chiaro. Orlando killed Chiaro, which caused Girart to turn pagan and flee to Africa. This story may be found in the Italian versions of Aspromont; it is not in any French source.
4. Samite. Silk.
8. Fiordespina. Sister of Matalista. She will be of some importance near the end of the poem.
Thy good sire. Ferraguto is the son of Falsirone and Lanfusa. Falsirone is the brother of King Marsilio of Spain.
9. Gradasso, in case you have forgotten, is Boiardo’s invention. The location of Sericane is unknown.  Some say between India and Tartary, some in south-east China, some between China and the Himalayas.
14. Charlemagne, according to the romances, married Gallerana, sister of Marsilius and daughter of King Galafre, after he spent some time at the Spanish court in his youth, due to his half-brothers Haufrey and Henri conspiring to exile him. The only French romance to treat of these adventures is the fragmentary Mainet, though it is often alluded to in the Italian poems, and Haufrey and Henri reappear in Valentine and Orson and in Bertha Broadfoot. Needless to say, all of this is legendary. The real Charlemagne had four wives and many mistresses, but none of them were Spanish. He never was in that country except on the ill-fated expedition that ended with Roncesvalles, and nothing is known of his youth.
19. Ivon.  Perhaps the Duke of Gascony whose sister Clarice is married to Rinaldo. Perhaps just a name.
Angelin. Of Bordeaux. The Engelier of Bordeaux of The Song of Roland.

On to Part 2

Back to Part 1