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.

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.”

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.

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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