Book I, Canto XII, Part 1

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

ARGUMENT

Dame Fiordelisa tells Rinald a tale,
Their tedious journey somewhat to beguile,
Of how Prasild of Babylon was pale
With love for fair Tisbina, who by guile
Bade him within Medusa’s garden’s rail
Fetch her a branch. He traveled many a mile,
Ere he returned to please his lady fair,
Who tried to kill herself in her despair.

1
I sung already of the battle drear
Were all day long the noise of battle roared
‘Twixt Sacripante, he who knows not fear,
And Agrican, that free and lofty lord,
But no more bitterness will strike your eat,
And a sweet tale of love I shall record,
If it will please you, lords, to call to mind
Where Don Rinaldo we had left last time.

2
The damsel lightly off her palfrey came,
And offers to the cavalier her seat.
Rinaldo answers her, “Thou dost me shame
To think that I could do so ill a deed.”
With speedy words then answered him the dame
That she can’t let him travel on his feet.
At last (for too-long tales make listeners droop)
He swings to saddle, and she takes the croup.

3
At first, the lady felt a little fear
For virtue’s sake, whih she was cautious of,
But all day long she rode, and didn’t hear
Rinaldo speak a single word of love.
Till somewhat reassured, she makes good cheer
And says to him, “O knight all knights above,
Now through a mighty forest must we wend
A hundred leagues across from end to end.

4
“And so that not so long will seem the way,
Through this oppressive and deserted wood,
I’d like to tell a story, if I may,
Which I think thou wilt like. It’s very good.
If ever th’art in Babylon some day,
Ask anyone, they’ll tell thee how it stood.
For a true story, not a fable, I’ll tell,
And all folk in that city know it well.

5
“There was a cavalier, Iroldo hight,
And a fair lady who was called Tisbin.
Such love for him possessed this lady bright
As Tristan had from fair Isold the Queen.
And in return he loved her with such might,
That always, from the dusk to morn’s first beam,
And from dawn’s birth to when the daylight died,
He thinks of her alone and naught beside.

6
“There was a knight, who dwelt nearby these two,
Reckoned of Babylon the finest knight.
This was the common talk, and it was true,
For he was full of courtesy and might.
His many riches which he had, he’d strew
Lavishly, so to keep his honor bright.
Pleasant at feasts and dreadful in the fight,
A courtly lover and an honest knight.

7
This worthy knight, (Prasildo was his name)
Was once invited, to his sore mishap,
Into a garden, where the knights and dames,
Tisbin among them, played a game. One sat
Amidst them, as the mistress of the game,
And one knight hid his head within her lap,
Then she would point to one to tap his hand,
And he must guess who thus obeyed the command.

8
Prasildo stood awhile and watched the fun,
Until Tisbina signalled him to hit.
He tapped the palm of the blind, kneeling one,
Who quickly guessed him, and now he was It.
Face in her lap, he felt such fire run
Through all his veins, and felt his heart so lit,
His only thought is how to answer wrong,
For no time in her lap can seem too long.

9
After the game is over and the feast,
The flame that’s burning in his heart won’t quail.
But all that day its violence increased.
At night, more sharp and bitter pains assail.
He cannot fathom why his face has ceased
To bear its wonted glow and turned so pale,
And why he cannot find repose in sleep.
He finds no place where he his rest can keep.

10
His pillow seems to him to be so hard,
That he would gladly change it for a stone.
The lively sorrow grows within his heart,
From which all other thoughts away have flown.
Sighs without number from his lips depart.
What grief he had, is but to lovers known.
For I can not describe, and no one can,
What love is like to an unloving man.

11
His hunting horses and his hunting hounds
Which he once raised and raced devotedly,
No longer with them is he ever found.
Now he delights in jolly company.
To feasts and parties is he always bound.
Verses he writes and gives them melody.
He often jousts and enters tournaments,
With great destriers and rich apparellments.

12
And if he had some courtesy before,
Now by a hundred times ‘tis multiplied.
For ev’ry virtue always grows the more,
Which finds itself with faithful love allied.
I’ve never known a man who virtue bore,
Which didn’t blossom, having Love for guide.
But this Prasildo, he who loved so greatly,
Grew still more courtly, courteous, and stately.

13
He found himself a faithful advocate,
Who was among Tisbina’s dearest friends,
Who ev’ry evening of Prasildo prates.
Nor did she think the first rebuff the end,
But all for naught. Tisbina wasn’t swayed.
To oaths and prayers would she never bend.
But still the lady didn’t cease attempting;
She knew full well a change is always tempting.

14
She often wheedles her, “O lady fair,
Does not hear opportunity now knock.
When thou hast such a lover, past compare,
Who thinks none fairer under Heaven walks
Than thou? Although thou art of beauty rare,
Yet swift time at thy fading beauty mocks.
Take the delight, and while th’art young, be merry,
Or when th’art old, thou wilt forever tarry.

15
Youth with beauty and with pleasure glows,
The young with merriment and glee should go,
For in an instant all its fairness goes,
As when the morning sun dissolves the snow,
Or in one day the bright vermillion rose
Loses its scent and color, even so
Youth flies away, and none can him retain.
No one can hold him, for he has no rein.

16
Often these words and similar ones she wields
Against Tisbina, but she fights in vain.
But, when the violets sprouted in the fields,
And all the earth was gladdened by the rain,
And winter’s ice to solar radiance yields,
The lofty knight was sunk so deep in pain,
And had been brought to such a woeful state,
For death and death alone he hopes and waits.

17
No longer does he celebrate and feast.
He’s pained by pleasure and his eyes are bleary.
His chalky pallor ev’ry day increased.
He stayed away from happy men and cheery.
He knew of naught by which he would be pleased,
Except to swiftly leave this world so dreary.
He often went alone into the forest,
There to lament when agony was sorest.

18
He did this often, till one morning came
Iroldo riding out, on game intent.
Beside him was Tisbina, lovely dame.
They heard a voice that through the branches went,
With sighs and sobs the broken voice complained.
Prasild so sweetly did his love lament,
And with such gentle words he made his moan
He could wake pity in the very stones.

19
“Hear me, ye flowers and ye woods,” he said,
“For she, ah, cruel she! Her ears are closed.
Hear what misfortunes fall upon my head!
And thou, O sun, that only now arose,
And ye, bright stars, thou moon of gentle tread,
Hear only once the story of my woes;
For these my final words are. Soon will I,
A most cruel death for my belovéd die.

20
“With such extremities I am content,
Because my live contains nought else but bad,
Since heaven such a cruel soul hath sent
To one who such a gracious virtue had,
She would be joyous if my life were shent,
So I shall kill myself to make her glad.
There is no other thing I more delight in
Than to make her sweet face a little brighten.”

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Book I, Canto XI, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto XI, Stanzas 41-53

41
Redoubted Sacripante leads the rest,
And doesn’t seem to hold his life too dear,
For he no armor had upon his chest.
You’d think the ending of his life was near,
But his agility is of the best,
As is his strength, and so he has no fear.
Nothing protects him but a copper shield,
But still, his sword with deadly skill he wields.

42
Sometimes a rock he throws, sometimes a dart,
And now he fights his foes with spear in hand,
Now he stands with his shield, a ways apart,
And strikes his enemies with his good brand.
So well he fights that Agricane starts
To think this battle may not go as planned.
His vigor and his prowess are in vain.
By now, three hundred of his men are slain.

43
Although his strength and efforts he redoubles,
And darts and arrows on his foe he rains,
King Sacripante gives him still more trouble,
And the Circassians new courage gain.
His plume is gone, his crest broke like a bubble.
Less than a quarter of his shield remains.
Rocks strike his head and make his helm resound;
All up and down his body wounds are found.

44
As when, force by an angry crowd of men,
A raging lion’s driven to the wood
But scorns to seem a coward even then,
He often turns his head, as if he would
Come back to fight, and swings his tail, and when
He roars, he stands like mighty kings have stood,
Even so Agricane, forced to flight,
Shows courage more than many do in fight.

45
At ev’ry thirty steps he turns around,
And breathes defiance, fronts his foes with scorn,
But far too many of them press him round,
All through the city, and his hope’s forlorn.
Rushing from ev’ry side new folk are found;
Behold a fresh battalion there is born.
With newfound heart and vigor they attack,
Pressing close up to Agricane’s back.

46
But even so, they can’t alarm the king,
Who strikes among them, dealing woe and ruin.
Footmen and cavaliers to earth he flings,
In desperation growling like a bruin.
Now shall I leave him, as his sword he swings,
I wish to sing about Rinaldo’s doings,
Who recently has left the Cruel Rock,
And now along the seashore takes a walk.

47
My lords, remember how I told before
How on a woeful damosel he came,
Who seemed to wish for death, such grief she bore.
The baron courteously hailed the dame,
And begged her, but whatever love she bore,
And by whatever can her love most claim,
And by the God of Heaven and by Mahound,
To tell him why she was in sorrow drowned.

48
With weeping answers him the dame forlorn,
“All thou art fain to know I will thee tell.
Oh, God! Why couldn’t I have ne’er been born,
Or died in bliss, before to woe I fell?
I’ve searched this land, and will search many more,
But have no even found a hope of help.
For I must find, to save me from this plight,
One who can fight alone against nine knights.”

49
“Rinaldo answers, “I care not to boast,
That I could fight with two, much less with nine,
But thy sad speech and plight me slay almost.
Such pity stir they in this heart of mine,
That I will fight for thee against a host
To prove what I can do for thee and thine.
Take heart, for I’ll be ever at thy side,
Till in thy cause I’ve conquered or I’ve died.”

50
She said, “God bless thee for thy fair design!
And for the noble goal thou hast in aim.
But half unknown to thee’s this task of thine.
When thou know’st all, thou’lt leave me as I came,
For Count Orland is among the nine.
Thou hast perhaps, heard somewhat of his fame.
The others also all are men of might.
Thou wilt not go with honor from this fight.

51
When Don Rinaldo hears the damosel
And hears his cousin Count Orlando’s name,
At once he gently asks if she will tell
All that she’s heard of Count Orlando’s fame.
The lady tells him all that her befell:
The stream that robs all mem’ry from the brain,
And all things else she tells of as they happed,
And how Orlando with the rest was trapped.

52
When he hears ev’rything the lady says,
And how she parted was from Brandimart,
Rinald immediately boldly prays
That with all speed she’ll guide him to those parts,
And swears and promises upon his faith
To use his utmost strength and utmost art,
Whether in fighting, or in feigning love,
To save them all from her they’re pris’ners of.

53
The lady sees the baron resolute,
And of his person ev’ry limb was strong,
As if all noble deeds were his pursuit,
And he who gave him knighthood did no wrong.
But though this canto’s short, here stops my lute,
Because the next one will be very long,
Wherein I’ll tell a pleasant tale in rhyme
The damsel told to him to pass the time.

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Book I, Canto X, Part 1

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

CANTO X

ARGUMENT

The bold Astolfo turns his tail and flees.
Then Agricane’s army he descries.
He beats them to Albracca. When he sees
The siege begun at last, then out he hies.
His golden lance gives him some victories,
But then he’s conquered. Sacripant arrives
To save Angelica. He fiercely wars,
And all day long the noise of battle roars.

1
Orlando after Duke Astolfo spurred,
Quick as he could, but no reward it brings.
For Baiard, “marvellous” is not the word,
He runs as swiftly as if he had wings.
Off the road, to the woods, Astolfo turned.
The though of leaving Brandimart stings.
He’d been a true companion n the trail,
And now he left him in a worse than jail.

2
But mighty Durindan so much he feared,
Which in his cousin-german’shand remained,
That in the wild wood he disappeared.
Orlando tried to follow, but in vain.
He climbed a hill, and all around he peered,
But could not see him, in the woods or plain.
Out in the fields he makes no longer stay,
But rides back to the bower without delay.

3
There still is raging an intensive fight,
For yet high in the saddle Brandimart
Now King Ballon, now Chiarïone strikes,
Hammering them, and makes them sorely smart,
The while his lady pleads with all her might
That he will leave the battle and depart,
And with the two enchanted knights make peace,
And strive the lady Dragontin to please.

4
For by no other means could he evade
Having to drink of the enchanted glass,
Which would wipe clean his thoughts and mem’ry’s slate,
But when she saw the fay tread o’er the grass,
Certainly with intent her knights to aid,
She dared not tarry, but the frightened lass
Swiftly turned roundabout her palfrey good,
And galloped till she reached the shadowed wood.

5
Ballan and Chiarïon now draw apart.
The fairy’s will is law throughout her palace.
And Dragontina takes Sir Brandimart,
Off’ring a drink from her enchanted  chalice,
Which from the magic stream she filled by art.
The cavalier falls victim to her malice.
Forgetting ev’rything he once knew, he
Completely changed from what he used to be.

6
O pleasant liquor, bev’rage sweet and clear,
Which thus can snatch a man out of his mind!
Now Brandimarte’s love has disappeared,
Which did his heart in silken cords once bind.
He hopes for nothing; he has no more fear
To lose his honor, or disgrace to find.
On Dragontina centers all his thought,
And of all things beside he reckons nought.

7
Back to the garden comes the Count, astounded,
And before Dragontina’s feet he kneels.
He makes excuses, in which long words abounded.
No knight so eloquently e’er appealed.
The Paladin was perfectly confounded
That a mere boy outdid him in the field,
Speaking of which, I ought to go and find him.
He thinks Orlando ever right behind him,

8
So constantly he travels on his way,
By day and night, that hero stout and good.
Nothing at all he finds the foremost day,
Travelling through a vast deserted wood,
But on the second morn his eyes survey
Where on a plain, a vast encampment stood.
Astolfo asks a herald to explain
Why all these people gathered on this plain.

9
The herald shows a banner to the knight,
Which fluttered in the center of the horde,
And says, “Here lodges, with his men of might,
The king of kings, the Tartars’ sov’reign lord.
That is his royal banner, black as night,
The one that has a rampant silver horse.
It’s decked with pearls and precious stones and gold.
The world does not a richer treasure hold.

10
“The white flag, there, that has the sun of gold,
Marks great Mongolia’s monarch, Saritron.
The world knows not a knight so frank and bold.
That green one, where the lion white is shown,
Belongs to Radamant the Uncontrolled,
Who measures twenty feet, it’s widely known.
Beyond the mountains, holds he ‘neath his hand
Moscow the mighty and the Coman land.

11
“That golden moon upon the flag of red
Is Polifermo’s, a great king who reigns
Over Orgagna. He’s a man to dread
And often shows his prowess on the plain.
I wish to speak of ev’ry flag outspread,
So that unknown no standard will remain,
So thou mayst tell out might to friend or foe
Into whatever country thou mayst go.

12
“The mighty king of Gothland there is shown.
King Pandragone is this worthy hight.
The emperor of Russia’s flag is blown;
He’s called Argante. He’s a man of might.
See Santaría and the fierce Lurcon.
The first is ruler of the Swedes by right,
The next of Norway. See on his right hand
The banner of the king of Norman land.

13
“Brontino is this mighty ruler called.
His is the green flag with the burning heart.
Camped next to him, the Danish monarch tall,
Who’s named Uldano. Well he plays his part.
King Agricane, master of them all,
Summoned these vassals when he wished to start
A war, and all have gathered on this plain
To give King Gallifrone bitter pain.

14
“This Gallifrone is from India, where
He rules a vast dominion called Cathay.
He has a daughter, with whom can’t compare
The freshest rose that blossoms in the May.
Such love for her King Agricane bears
He thinks of nothing else by night or day,
Save how to have the lady for his own.
He cares not for his kingdom or his throne.

15
“Yesterday, Gallifron to us addressed
A message, by one of his heralds sent.
With many words, his majesty confessed
He could not yield the girl, though his intent
Had been to do so, for she was impressed
With madness, had defied the king, and went
To the Rock of Albracca, where she claimed
She would remain unwed till death her claimed.

16
“So now it’s likely that this massive throng
Before Albracca will begin a siege.
Because her father has done nothing wrong,
If his fair daughter cannot love my liege.
But I believe (and my belief is strong)
The damsel won’t have any remedies
To make a very lengthy war of it;
It would be better for her to submit.”

17
As soon as Don Astolf the reason hears
For the assembly of this people vast,
He sets out journeying, that cavalier,
Riding by day and night exceeding fast.
Albracca Rock at length the hero nears
And to the lovely damsel comes at last.
She, when she saw Astolfo face to face,
Knew him at once, and gladly him embraced.

18
“Welcome a thousand times!” the lady cried,
“Welcome a thousand more, Sir Paladin,
Thou who to succor the distressed dost ride!
Would that Rinaldo with thee had come in!
This castle gladly would I cast aside
And all my kingdom reck not at a pin,
To have that worthy baron with us here;
All of the world beside I would not fear.”

19
Astolfo says, “I wish not to deny
Rinaldo is a valiant cavalier,
But I would have you recollect that I
In battle am more fearsome than that peer.
Many a time we two our strength have tried,
And he has had the worst of it, I fear.
For I have made him sweat, and made him sore,
And made him say, ‘I yield, I can no more.’

20
“And of Orlando, too, thou mayst record,
The standard-bearer of all chivalry,
That were he missing Durindan, his sword,
The way my other cousin’s lost his steed,
He would not be as famous as before,
Nor so intimidating would he be.
Not like myself, you see, for when we fight,
No matter what my arms, I beat those knights.”

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Book I, Canto IX, Part 4

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto IX, Stanzas 61-79

61
To Sacripant he answers thus, “My lord,
Before thou dost acquire this damosel,
Thou art obliged to settle one more score;
If from thy horse’s back I can thee fell,
Then I shall make thee leave without a horse.
If thou canst throw me, treat me just as well,
And take my gallant steed away from me.
Then let thine other challenge settled be.”

62
King Sacripante says, “O God Mahound,
What blessings on thy servant dost thou pour!
I sought a horse and armor, and I’ve found
A lovely creature whom I’ll prize far more.
And I shall conquer, with a single bound,
The lady, and the armor, and the horse!
This said, away from Duke Astolf he paced,
Then turned and said to him, “Go, take thy place.”

63
And now towards each other, raged, they rushed,
Lances aimed squarely at their chests they sped.
To overcome the other each one trusts.
They near; they strike; they make a clamor dread –
But Sacripante from his steed is thrust.
Against the grassy lawn he knocks his head.
Astolfo leaves him lying on the field.
To Brandimart the conquered horse he yields.

64
“Hast thou heard ever such a merry tale,”
Astolfo says, “as of that cavalier,
Who thought he could unseat me without fail,
And now must go on foot away from here?”
Thus they go talking on their way, until
The damsel says, “My lords, we’re drawing near
The River of Forgetfulness. Take heed;
Caution and counsel all of us will need.

65
If all of us do not act prudently,
Before nightfall we will be lost forever.
Courage and arms of no avail will be,
For not three miles off there flows a river
Which robs the drinker of his memory.
His very name is from his mind dissevered.
In fact, I think it would be best to find
The way we came, and leave this road behind,

66
Because the curséd river can’t be crossed.
On either bank of it tall mountains rise.
From one to th’other side a bridge is tossed,
Which the two giant rocks together ties.
Atop a turret there, come sun or frost,
A lady stands and waits for passers-by,
And from a shining crystal goblet, offers
All travellers to drink the river waters.

67
When he has drunk, gone is his memory,
His very name he can recall no more;
But if a man trust so his strength, that he
Tries to resist her and to cross by force,
Impossible would be his victory,
For all her captive knights and men of war
Are so enchanted that they all will fight
Madly and blindly for that lady bright.

68
With words like these the lady maketh clear
Their risk, and urgeth them their road to change.
Neither knight, though, felt a trace of fear.
It is for quests like these the world they range.
The time appears to them a thousand years
Before they come to this adventure strange.
Until the early morning, on they ride.
The bridge across the river they espied.

69
The damsel, as she’s often done before
Steps on the bridge to greet them when they come.
Sweetly she spoke; a lovely look she wore,
And offered them the chalice, every one.
“Ah!” cries Astolfo, “Stop, thou lying whore!
Thy wicked magic arts today are done.
Now shalt thou die! And think thou not to flee,
Or fool us; we know all thy trickery.”

70
The damsel, when she hears his threat’nings dire
Lets fall the crystal goblet from her hand.
At once the narrow bridge is swathed in fire.
It seems that none can pass the blazes grand.
The other damsel, fearing not the pyre,
Grabs the two cavaliers with either hand.
The dame, I mean to say, of Brandimart,
Who’s wise to conquer this malicious art.

71
She grabs the hands of either valiant knight,
And swiftly as they can, the threesome go
Along a hidden path just on their right,
And they pass over the enchanted flow
Upon a narrow bridge, just hid from sight
So that no travellers this secret know.
But the new damsel, who knew all about
The ill enchantments, found this passage out.

72.
Don Brandimarte batters down the door,
And the false garden all three enter in.
Here of enchanted knights are half a scoe,
Here prisoned is Orlando Paladin,
And King Ballano, master of the war,
And Chiarïone, the brave Saracen.
Here is the real Uberto dal Leone,
The brothers Aquilante and Grifone,

73
With Adrïano, the redoubted king,
The Belarussian worthy, Antifor.
None know each other; none know anything.
They don’t remember who they were before,
If Jesus or Mahomet is their king.
All have been snared by necromantic lore.
All have been captured by that lying dame.
Dragontina is the lady’s name.

74
When Brandimarte and Astolfo enter,
They start an uproar, for bold Chiarïon
And King Ballano meet them as defenders,
Both clad in mail that’s Dragontina’s own.
The other knights stroll through the garden’s center,
If once they knew each other, now unknown;
All, save the count, are in the garden bright;
Orlando views the logia for delight.

75
In all his armor was the cavalier,
For he had only been ensnared that morn,
And Brigliadoro, his renowned destrier,
Is tied amidst the roses and the thorns.
Of any other thoughts his mind is clear,
And lo! where Dragontina comes before him,
And sweetly asks him, “Knight, wilt thou go see
What all that racket is, for love of me?”

76
Without another thought, the baron grand
Leaps to the saddle, drops his visor down,
Goes to the scuffle with his sword in hand.
Brandimart’s knocked Don Chiarïon to ground,
Astolf stretched King Ballano on the land;
On foot and horse there’s fighting all around.
But when Orlando entered in the fray
Astolfo recognized him by his blade,

77
And cried aloud, “O bravest knight and best,
Of ev’ry paladin the crown and flower!
May God in Heaven be forever blest!
Dost thou not know thy cousin? With much stour
Through all the world I’ve gone of thee in quest.
Who has betrayed thee to this curséd  bower?”
The Count Orlando hears no word of this.
He has forgotten who Astolfo is.

78
Without a thought, and with ungoverned rage,
With both his hands he swings a mighty blow,
Which, if Baiardo hadn’t been so sage,
Or if that steed had been a tad more slow,
Would have dispatched Astolfo from life’s stage,
Which would have caused Orlando mickle woe.
High was the wall that ringed the garden round,
But Baiard leapt it with a single bound.

79
Through the gate, ‘cross the bridge, Orlando chases.
He wants to utterly destroy his foe.
Although his Brigliadoro swiftly races,
Compared with Baiard, ev’ry horse is slow,
And Brigliador he easily outpaces.
But I have sung enough for now, I trow.
Next time, my lords, you’ll hear, if you come back,
How Duke Astolfo dealt with this attack.

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Notes

Book I, Canto IX, Part 3

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

41
The fair Angelica he loved above
All other things, although she loved him not;
But this the mighty peril is of love,
That unrequited love burns still more hot.
But not to make too long a story of
The matter, Sacripante now had got
His troops together, all things as they ought,
When Don Astolfo was before him brought.

42
Because that worthy monarch had decreed,
That ev’ry sentinel and ev’ry guard
Must stop all passers-by, whate’er their creed,
Or age or country, be they churl or lord,
To bring before His Majesty with speed;
The king would try to bring them to accord
To join his army, if he would agree,
But if he didn’t, then he should go free.

43
Astolfo enters, riding on Baiard,
A sight for Sacripante to behold,
Whoever saw him held him in regard,
He seemed to be the flower of the bold.
For coat of arms, he did not bear his pards,
But shield and surcoat both were solid gold,
And so the guard who’d met him in the field
Called him the Knight Who Bore the Golden Shield.

44
“O valiant knight,” quoth Sacripante then,
“What wilt thou take to be my man in fee?”
Astolfo answers him, “All of thy men
Who in the camp here serve thy crown and thee.
Upon no other terms will I come in.
Thus must thou take me, or must  let me free.
No offer short of this can make me stay;
I know how to command, not to obey.

45
“If th’art uncertain I should be so dight,
Or if thou thinkest that my wits I lack,
I’ll show thee such an honor is but right.
Let me left hand be tied behind my back,
And against all thine army I will fight,
From thee down to the man who tends thy hack.
But talk is cheap, and urgent matters press.
Come on right now and put me to the test.”

46
The king talks to his lords and asks them whether,
Since this knight clearly has no more possession
Of sense than if he had webbed feet and feathers,
And since it were an easy task to lessen
His malady, or cure it all together,
If they were willing to teach him a lesson.
His barons answered him, “Just let him be.
If we’re wroth with a fool, then fools are we.”

47
And thus the bold Astolfo is dismissed,
And travels on without a trace of fear.
But the Circassian monarch sorely missed
His golden arms, and Baiard his destrier,
And in his spirit he resolves on this:
To all alone pursue the cavalier.
He thinks it will require little force
To lift Astolfo’s armor and his horse.

48
He dons his helmet but lays by his crown,
To make sure no one recognizes him.
His wonted shield he swaps for one all brown.
This worthy king was strong and large of limb,
And for his comeliness was much renowned.
In war he fought with bravery and vim.
As you yourselves shall see, when I relate
His wondrous feats before Albracca’s gates.

49
He follows Don Astolfo, as I’ve shown,
Who was a ways ahead of him and rode
Devoid of care, and ambled on alone
Till he encountered, coming down the road
A Saracen, the finest ever known
In all the lands by rolling seas enclosed.
I’ll tell of his great exploits in the war
Against Albrac, of which I spoke before.

50
This noble Saracen hight Brandimart,
A count, and Sylvan Rock was his domain.
In all of Pagandom, in ev’ry part,
Was known his noble and illustrious fame.
Of tournaments and joust he knew the art,
But above all, his person was humane
And courteous. He gave each man his due,
And was a courtly lover and a true.

51
A damsel rode with him, of beauty rare,
And when Astolfo sees this lady bright,
Who was so highly born and wondrous fair,
Her beauty fills him with desire to fight.
When Don Astolfo sees them riding there,
At once he gives a challenge to the knight.
He cries out, “Thou must joust with me anon,
Or hand the lady over and begone.”

52
Quoth Brandimarte, “By Mahound I swear
Sooner than her, my life will I forsake.
But, worthy champion, thou must be aware,
Since thou no lady hast for me to take,
If I defeat thee, thou on foot shalt fare;
Thy gallant destrier, I mine own shall make.
This is no villainy I have in mind;
Thou hast no lady and thou wouldst claim mine.”

53
That Pagan baron rode a stout destrier,
Whose stock and spirit were among the best.
Now turn and draw apart the cavaliers,
And now they charge each other, lance in rest.
Hooves thund’ring, armor clanging, they draw near,
And squarely strike each other on the chest.
Don Brandimarte from his seat was sped,
While the two steeds collided head to head.

54
That of the Pagan, lifeless, earthward falls.
Baiard takes not the slightest hurt from it,
Which does not trouble Brandimart at all:
But losing of his lady delicate
Makes him nigh crazy, he is so appalled,
With such great love for her his heart was lit.
He’s lost all of his good; his joys depart;
He draws his sword to thrust it through his heart.

55
Astolf by this action understands
That of despair the knight is in the throes.
Immediately from Baiard he descends.
To comfort him, with words like these he goes:
“Dost thou believe I’m such a churlish man
To rive thee from the dame thou lovest so?
I only joust for victory and fame;
Mine be the honors, and be thine the dame.”

56
The standing knight receives this comfort sweet,
Who just a moment prior sought to die.
And now, o’erwhelmed by joyfulness he weeps,
And cannot speak a sole word in reply.
He kneels and kisses Duke Astolfo’s feet,
And midst his sobs chokes out, “O sire, I
Have lost all pride, for thou hast vanquished me
At once in battle and in courtesy.

57
“My fame and honor all I’d gladly yield
And bear all shame to raise thine honor higher.
Thou hast preserved my life upon this field;
To lay it down for thee is my desire.
I cannot show the gratitude I feel;
I am not strong enough to be thy squire,
And thou in ev’rything art so complete,
Of ev’ry other service thou’st no need.”

58
But while in conversation they were ranged,
King Sacripante through the forest pressed;
And when upon the lovely maid he came,
Resolved at once to leave his former quest
And conquer for his own the fair young dame.
And himself he thinks, “Ah, how I’m blest!
I came here seeking for a horse and arms;
Now a far better thing will fill my arms.”

59
With a loud voice, the pagan monarch cried
“Whichever of you guards this lady bright,
Hand over her at once, and from hence ride,
Or otherwise against me must thou fight.”
To which the noble Brandimart replied,
“Thou art a highwayman, and not a knight.
Thou clearly seest that I have no horse,
And thou wouldst challenge me to run a course.”

60
Before the Duke Astolf his knees he bends,
Imploring, asking if his pleasure is
To lend him Baiard, that he might defend
His honor. Duke Astolfo laughs at this
And says, “My horse on no account I’ll lend,
So I will simply have to give thee his.
Purely for love of thee I’m thus inclined.
Thine be the steed, and be the honor mine.”

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Notes

Notes to the Ninth Canto, Part 3

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

43. Pards. Leopards. The term is used in heraldry for a lion passant guardant, such as those on the English royal arms, which Astolfo normally bears, since he is the son of King Otto of England.

51. This damsel, who will not be named until much later, is Fiordelisa, whom Ariosto calls Fiordiligi in the Furioso.

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On to Part 4

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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