Book I, Canto VIII, Part 1

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

ARGUMENT

Rinaldo at the Joyous Isle arrives,
But it’s Angelica’s, and so he leaves.
To save a kidnapped damosel he tries,
But he himself is by a giant seized.
In Castle Cruel, an old hag describes
Her wicked customs, scarce to be believed,
Then throws Rinaldo in a monster’s den
Where gallantly he doth himself defend.

1
Rinaldo at the Joyous Palace lands,
(For thus the island he had come to hight)
Whereas his wayward bark ran on the sand,
That bark that steered, though with no pilot dight.
Fair shady trees within a garden stand,
The sea inclosed it, beating on each side.
All was abundance, green was all the isle,
That stretched its length and breadth for fifteen miles.

2
Amidst the garden, looking out to sea,
A palace rich and beautiful appeared
Of marble white, polished so wondrously
That all the garden in its walls was mirrored.
Upon the sand Rinald leapt instantly.
To stay upon th’enchanted boat he feared.
And when he stands upon the beach, there greets him
A lady beautiful, who sweetly greets him.

3
The lady said, “O worthy cavalier,
You have been hither led by kindly Fate.
Pray do not think that you were guided here
Without  a reason on your journey great
Though such strange passages, so full of fear.
Joyful and sweet will be your final state
And pleasant, though most painful was its start
If, as I think, you have a loving heart.”

4
As thus she spoke, she took him by the hand
And to the Palace Beautiful him led.
The doors were reed and white, with carvings grand,
With marble black and green and flecked, inset.
The very flooring upon which they stand
Is all of parti-colored marble set.
Loggias on ev’ry side great treasure hold
Of bas-reliefs, inlaid with blue and gold.

5
And hidden gardens, luscious, fresh and green
Are on the rooftops and upon the grounds.
With paintings rich, with gold and gems’ fair sheen
These noble, joyous pleasances abound.
Clear fountains and delightful spread their streams
Beneath the shady trees that ring them round.
And best of all, there wafted sweet perfume
To joy the heart that’s most beset with gloom.

6
The knight and dame go in a gallery
Rich and delicate and gaily trammeled.
For ev’ry face and corner you could see
Was decorated with gold and enamel.
The sunlight’s rays were gently blocked by trees,
The sweetest known in all of nature’s annals.
The columns which that lovely work uphold
Have crystal shafts and capitals of gold.

7
Into this loggia is the baron gone.
Of ladies beautiful there was a band.
Three sang together, while one played upon
An instrument unheard of in our lands,
But sweetly harmonized it with the song.
The other ladies in a ring did dance,
And when that worthy in the loggia found him,
The ladies came and formed a ring around him.

8
One of them, with a count’nance sweet and fine
Begins, “The tables are made ready, lord,
And now it is the hour when we dine.”
And so, upon the lush, sweet-smelling sward
Beneath a trellis rosy they recline,
Beside a fount whence waters clear outpoured.
Here all things for a feast were ready dight.
The plates were golden and the cloths pure white.

9
Four of the damsels at the table sit,
And bid Rinaldo take the highest place.
Rinaldo with astonishment is smit.
His chair with ornaments of pearls is graced.
He sees arriving viands delicate
And goblets decked with jewels from brim to base,
Filled up with wine of scent and taste superb.
Three of the damsels on Rinaldo serve.

10
The dinner ended, and they cleared away
The sparkling plates and chalices of gold.
On lutes and harps they now begin to play.
One of the ladies to Rinaldo stole
And softly in his ear began to say:
“This royal palace, all the wealth it holds,
(And thou hast not yet seen one half its treasures)
Are all thine own to deal with at thy pleasure.

11
Our Queen devised this palace for thy sake,
For thee alone, alone of all men born.
Thou art a worthy knight indeed, to wake
Love in her heart, who doth so many scorn.
She’s whiter than the lily on the brake,
And redder than the rose among the thorns;
Angelica the lovely maiden hight,
Who loves with heart and soul and mind and might.”

12
When Don Rinaldo, joyous past belief,
Hears the maid named whom he detesteth so,
He never in his life has felt such grief,
And on his face is plainly writ his woe.
He rates the palace at a withered leaf,
And has no wish but to arise and go.
But then the lady says, “Attend, good sir.
Deny thou canst not. Th’art our prisoner.

13
Thy sharp Fusberta will not help thee flee.
Hadst thou Baiard, yet couldst thou not take flight.
On ev’ry side we’re girded by the sea;
Thou must forgo thine arrogance and spite.
To change thy bitter heart behooveth thee.
My lady wishes nought besides thy sight.
If thou art scared of one whose love is great,
What will thou do to one who bears thee hate?”

14
The damsel  now seems bold and now seems meek,
But neither art affects the cavalier.
He does not listen to a word she speaks,
But turns and stalks out of the garden dear.
The Joyful Palace seems but dull and bleak,
As with a pitiless cold heart and fierce
Desiring nothing but to leave that place
Towards the sea he firmly set his face.

15
He seeks the bark that bore him to these shores,
And when he finds it, leaps into the stern.
He’d rather take his chance with wave and storm
Than ever to that garden fair return.
The boat won’t move. He thinks he’s all forlorn.
To leave this isle doth his spirit yearn
So much that he is just about to leap
Over the rails and drown him in the deep,

16
When suddenly the boat casts out to sea,
And soon the island out of sight has passed.
No words of mortal man could possibly
Describe how swift it went, it sailed so fast.
When morning dawns, before his eyes he sees
That he has landed by a forest vast.
When Don Rinaldo steps upon the sand,
At once he’s greeted by an ancient man.

17
The greybeard says, though weeping sore with grief,
“Oh, don’t abandon me, O worthy knight.
For chivalry, for honor, give relief
To this poor ancient and defend the right!
A false, deceitful, and most vicious thief
Has stol’n my only child, my daughter bright.
He just ran off, thou’lt catch him if th’art fleet.
They can’t have gone more than two hundred feet.

18
The cavalier by pity’s overcome.
He has his sword, although he lacks a steed.
Along the sand, in armor clad, he runs.
Not for an instant does he slack his speed.
When the false robber sees the champion come
He drops the lady, but he doesn’t flee.
Instead, a mighty horn he drew and wound,
And with that noise the earth and sky resound.

19
Rinaldo rushes up the slope and sees
Not far ahead of him, a little spit
Of rock that’s jutting out into the sea,
On top of which a crimson castle sits,
Whose drawbridge lowers when the horn blows free,
And a ferocious giant crosses it.
His head was sixteen feet above the land.
A chain and javelin he had in hand.

20
This great chain had a hook upon its tip
(Now see if you can guess the reason why)
When the fierce giant sees the knight, he grips
His dart, and raises it, and lets it fly.
All the way through Rinaldo’s shield it rips
(Although ‘twas finest steel; I do not lie)
Then pierced the hauberk and the mail within
And lightly pricked the worthy baron’s skin.

Book I, Canto V, Part 3

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

41
Rinaldo instantly repays his foe
With a great backthrust to Gradasso’s chest.
Now this way, and now that, the battle goes,
Their ardent spirits swelling in their breasts.
Rinaldo soon decides its time to show
All of his strength. One mighty blow is best.
His shield he casts adown upon the strand,
And lifts Fusberta up with both his hands

42
With painful fury, with his mind on height,
With full abandon he swings Fusbert down.
Down on the earth he knocks the pennon white,
He drives Fusberta through the golden crown;
Nasal and visor from the helm he smites;
Straight through the shield of bone the blow resounds;
From crest to base the shield in twain was split,.
Fusbert sinks in the earth five finger’s width.

43
The demon sees his opportunity.
He turns his back on him and runs away.
Rinaldo sees him and is filled with glee,
Thinking his foe is weary of the fray.
That cunning scoundrel runs toward the sea;
Rinaldo follows swiftly as he may,
Calling, “O braggart king, oh, wait a bit,
Or on Baiardo’s back thou’lt never sit.

44
Is it a kingly deed to flee from battle?
Art thou not shamed to let me see thy back?
Come back with me to see Baiard, and that’ll
Show thee he is no worthless jade or hack.
I shoed him yesterday, and bought a saddle
And harnessings so fine they nothing lack.
Come thou, and take him; he’s fit for a lord.
Thou shalt behold him – if thou pass my sword!”

45
But that false king seems carried by the wind,
So swift he runs, but not a word lets slip.
He jumps into the water, and he swims,
Swift as a dolphin, and climbs on the ship.
Undaunted, Don Rinaldo too jumps in,
And pulls himself up with an iron grip.
When on the deck he stands, he sees his foe,
But ere he strikes him, he leaps down below.

46
Rinaldo follows, even fiercer now,
Bearing Fusberta with uplifted hand.
The demon scrambles up into the prow.
The ship is swiftly sailing from the land.
Rinaldo notes not how the ship doth plow
The waves. Naught but his fight he understands.
They had gone seven miles ere the sprite
Dissolved in smoke and disappeared from sight.

47
Rinaldo was astonished to behold
Gradasso vanishing into thin air.
He searched upon the deck; he searched the hold,
But couldn’t find his foeman anywhere.
The ropes were trim, the sails were all unrolled,
The ship moved swiftly, for the wind stood fair.
Rinaldo stood upon the deck, alone.
Oh, how that worthy baron made his moan:

48
“Ah, God of Heaven,” said he, “for what crime
Hast thou decreed that I should suffer so?
Though I confess I have sinned many a time,
This penance is too hard to undergo.
Dishonor, long as I shall live, is mine,
For in my mind I have no doubt, I know,
That if to tell this story I desire,
I’ll speak the truth, but will be thought a liar.

49
“My lord with all his army me endowered.
He left his empire within my hands.
Then I, vile, false, and fickle treacherous coward,
I fled to sea and left them on the land.
O, how the heathen troops will be empowered!
I seem to hear the tumult of that band,
I hear my bold companions rush to war,
I see Alfrera kill them by the score.

50
“Dear Ricciardet, how could I leave a lad
As young as thou amidst thy foes, alone?
And ye, my kin, Gradasso’s pris’ners sad,
Guizard, my brave Alardo, and Ivon?
Alas, the fame and honor that I had
When I first came to Spain, they all are flown.
Then was I bold and expert in the fight,
But this shame hath mine honor stolen quite.

51
“Nought will avail; how can I be excused,
When men shall call me coward to my face?
I, once a paragon, shall be accused
Of being no more a knight, but reprobate.
‘Tis by Lanfusa’s son I am abused,
By him I’ve been imprisoned in this place.
He means for me to die in torments great.
I see no way I can avert my fate.

52
What will they say of me in Charles’ court,
When what I’ve done to all of France is known?
Oh, how Mongrana’s house will grieve full sore
To know such traitors were among their own!
How they will triumph, how they’ll jest and sport,
Gano, and Pinabello, and Grifon!
Alas, I once could call them traitors base.
No more! For e’en as them am I disgraced.”

53
These words and many more the baron grand
Says as he sadly on the deck laments.
Thrice doth he take his goodly sword in hand,
Thinking of all his woes to make an end.
Thrice on the galley’s railing doth he stand;
To jump all armed and drown is his intent.
But ev’ry time his fearing for his soul
Rebukes his wrath and grants him self-control.

54
The ship so quickly through the waters raced
It had already gone three hundred miles.
No dolphin ever had so swift a pace
As this enchanted ship. After a while,
It turned towards the left and set its face
Eastward, but not to catch the west wind mild,
For magic moved it, and its speed increased
As it set off into the furthest East.

55
The ship was furnished with all things a fine
Sailing ship ought to have, except a crew.
The holds were filled with finest bread and wine,
But Don Rinaldo had no lust thereto.
He knelt adown and made the holy sign,
And as he prayed, there came into his view
A garden and a place fair to see,
Upon a tiny island in the sea.

56
But now I wish to leave him in this place,
Where such great marvels all around him pressed,
And sing of Count Orlando for a space.
As I have told you, love so filled his breast
That stoutly to the East he set his face.
Neither by night or day did he take rest,
Only to find Angelica the fair,
But he could hear no tidings anywhere.

57
The river Don he now has put behind,
And journeys on alone, this baron bold.
All day he rode, but no man did he find,
Until at eve, he met a palmer old.
His beard was gray, and sorely he repined,
Crying, “O Fortune, pitiless and cold!
Thou hast deprived me of my only joy!
I leave thee in God’s hands, my darling boy!”

58/59
“As may God help thee, pilgrim, tell to me
What is the reason thou lamentest so?”
Thus said Orlando, and then bitterly
The wretch continued to pour out his woe,
Saying, “Alas! A luckless wretch you see.
In but one day I have been brought this low!”
He stopped, o’ercome by grief. Orlando waited
To hear his story, and his breath was bated.

59/60
“At the top of this cliff there grows no grass,
Nothing but rocks, and soil red as flame.
I heard a roar from there, but I don’t know
From what infernal beast that dread noise came.
Along the base, a rapid river flows,
Spanned by a bridge as black as coal. The same
Is closed to travellers by a diamond gate,
And on a tower thereof a giant waits.