Book I, Canto XIV, Part 2

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

Three kings within the keep are still alive,
Besides the damsel and some thirty men,
Most of whom are too wounded to survive.
The keep is strong beyond most builders’ ken.
They all agree that they will further strive,
And fight against the Tartars till the end.
They’ll eat and drink by slaughtering the horses,
And pray to God to boost their meager forces.

They next agree to send the princess out,
To save her comrades from starvation miserable.
She has the magic ring, which in her mouth
Can make her all at once become invisible.
The sun begins to set beyond the mounts,
And darkness makes all creatures scarcely visible.
The princes calls into her presence keen,
Torindo, Sacripant, and Trufaldin.

And to the monarchs on her faith she swore
That she’d be back again in twenty days,
And in return they swear to hold the fort
As long as they and their companions may,
Until Mahomet sendeth them succor,
For she will seek for aid by night and day,
From ev’ry king and ev’ry man of might,
And with the hope of aid her heart is light.

When all is spoken, in the quiet night
The damsel mounts upon her palfrey’s back
And makes her way beneath the moon’s pale light.
Along beneath the sky her path she tracks.
She was not caught in any sentry’s sight,
Although of men outside there is no lack,
Because fatigue, and certain victory
Wrap them in sleep, devoid of memory.

The magic ring she doesn’t need at all,
For by the time the sun his head uprose,
Five leagues behind her are Albracca’s walls,
And four leagues from her are her nearest foes.
She turns around, she sighs, her eyelids fall,
To see afar her newly-scapéd woes.
Riding as fast as won’t her palfrey lame,
She passed Orgagna, to Circassia came.

She chanced to ride along the river banks,
Where the bold Don Rinaldo lately slew
The cruel centaur, like a valiant Frank.
As on she rides, a flow’ry meadow through,
She met an ancient man, who clearly drank
A bitter cup. His tears fell like the dew,
And with clasped hands he dropped upon his knees,
Begging the dame to listen to his pleas.

The old man says to her, “A handsome lad,
My only comfort in my feeble age,
My son, my joy, the only one I had,
Within our house – it’s but a little ways –
With burning fever lies upon his bed.
I know no medicine to stop its rage.
And if to bring me help thou dost not run,
All of my hope is gone, my life is done.”

Pity soon runs within her gentle heart.
She ‘gins to comfort the old, feeble man.
For she knew ev’ry herb and all the art
Of medicine, as much as mortal can.
Alas! Too credulous and trusting heart!
She knew the danger not, in which she ran.
The innocent takes on her palfrey’s croup
The wicked man, who will to all things stoop.

Now you must know that this old silver-hair
Waits by the wood and plain, till fortune brings
A girl or woman on a journey there,
To snare them like a songbird in a spring.
For ev’ry year one hundred women fair
He pays in tribute to Orgagna’s king.
By cunning guile no one can withstand
He takes them o’er to Polifermo’s hands.

For not five miles off, the man had dight
Upon a bridge, a vast and mighty tower.
You never saw so wonderful a sight.
And ev’ry dame who fell into his power
The old man in this lofty prison pight.
A whole brigade was in this joyless bower.
All of his pris’ners by deception made he,
And one of them was Brandimarte’s lady.

The centaur dunked her, as you may recall,
In sooth, her prospects seldom had looked dimmer.
But she was saved, and didn’t fear at all,
Because she was a very able swimmer.
The current bore her like a child’s ball,
Or like a branch amidst the water’s glimmer.
It bore her to the bridge, which was not far,
Where rose the tower, and the man stood guard.

He pulled her from the river, almost dead,
And tends to her with unremitting care,
For many skilled physicians ate his bread
And other vassals dwelt within his lair.
When she recovers, in the prison dread
He thrusts her, with the rest to languish there.
But le’s speak of Angelica the sweet,
Who came, not witting the old man’s deceit.

When she set foot upon the tower floor,
(The old man lingered on the bridge, “to rest”)
Immediately did the iron door
Slam shut, though by no earthly hand ’twas pressed.
Too late Angelica sees to the core
Of the false elder, and she beats her breast;
She loudly wept, and loudly cried – in vain.
None to her aid except the prisoners came.

They gathered round her, and they vainly sought
To give her comfort, all alone and scared;
They all relate to her how they were caught,
For griefs seems always lesser when they’re shared.
The last to speak is she who last was brought.
She scarce could speak, so weighed was she with care.
This was the noble Brandimarte’s dame,
And Fiordelisa was the lady’s name.

She tells, while often sighs escape her breast,
How she and Brandimart loved faithfully,
How searching with Astolfo on a quest
They came upon a garden filled with trees
And flowers and fruit, that seemed a pleasant rest,
Where Dragontina stole his memory.
The Paladin Orlando there she saw,
With many others, in the fairy’s claws.

And how she’d travelled on, in search of aid,
And met with Don Rinaldo on the road;
And all their wanderings she next relates.
Without a lie, the story plain she showed,
About the giant and the gryphons great,
And the great treason done to Albarose.
And of the centaur, like an evil dream,
Who’d kidnapped her and thrown her in the stream.

Poor Fiordelisa sighs for, as she speaks,
Her love true, of whom she’s been deprived.
Angelica, though, hears the door hinge creak,
For one more lady on the bridge arrived.
At once she has the chance for which she seeks.
She was not seen by any man alive
As she escaped the prison, for she bore
The magic ring, and just walked out the door.

It would have been in vain if any sought her,
Such is the ring’s most potent grammarye.
When into freedom it has safely brought her,
She finds the stables, and her palfrey frees,
Then rides away to seek the curséd water
Which steals away the drinker’s memories,
Where Milo’s son and others she may meet,
Captured in Dragontina’s prison sweet.

And going on her way without a pause,
She comes one morning to a garden fair,
Where Dragontina marks her not, because
The magic ring within her mouth she bears.
Aside into a little grove she draws,
Ties up her palfrey, and on foot she fares
Across the grass, till by a fountain’s side
The Count, in armor resting, she espied,

Because it was his turn to be on guard.
So at the garden’s entrance he reclines.
His Brigliadoro munches on the sward.
His shield and helm are hanging on a pine.
Nearby, beneath the shade a tree affords,
There waits a cavalier of noble line.
Upon his horse he sat, and he was known
And famed as Don Uberto dal Leon.

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Book I, Canto X, Part 2

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

The lady pays his boasting slight attention.
She knows full well he’s an amusing braggart.
Of Don Rinaldo she makes no more mention,
Hearing him blasphemed pierced her like a dagger,
And she knew all about Astolf’s inventions,
For when in Paris, she had been no laggard
T’examine all the worthies of the court
And find out what their rank and what their sort.

She treats Astolfo with utmost respect.
To dight a chamber for her guest she hies,
When, lo, outside a cry begins to spread,
Because a messenger just then arrives.
With dust the man was covered, and with sweat.
“To arms! To arms!” to one and all he cries.
Ev’ry man arms and turns out on the ground,
Because the fortress bells the signal sound.

Three thousand cavaliers were kept inside,
One thousand footmen made the Rock their bower.
The lady, with Astolfo at her side,
Consults with them, of all her knights the flower.
To stay within the fortress they decide,
And guard Albracca’s walls and lofty towers.
The grounds and fort so wondrously are shapen
That never in a war can they be taken.

They think to trust in their defenses good,
Which may for fifteen years withstand all strife.
Astolfo answers, “If I thought I would
Waste here a single day out of my life,
Besieged and fighting not at all, I should
Be glad to end myself with rope or knife.
And for eternity may I be damned,
If on this day I take not lance in hand!”

No sooner silent, then he took to arming,
And mounted on Baiard he leaves the fort,
Shouting things stupefying and alarming,
Which might stop e’en the boldest warrior short.
“You knights will wish you’d spent your whole lives farming,
When I get through with you!” Astolfo roared,
“None of your soldiers can against me stand,
I’ll cut down all your men with my two hands!”

Twenty two hundred thousand, maybe bigger,
The size was of the troops of Agrican.
Good Bishop Turpin ‘tis who gives this figure.
Astolf didn’t count, but charged straight on.
Truly, a hair this valiant knight could trigger.
That day such obstacles he came upon,
That somewhat of his rashness he repents,
And ever after had a bit more sense.

For now, though, all the army he defied,
Calling on Radamant and Saritrone.
For Polifermo and Argant he cried;
Insults Brontino and King Pandragone,
And Agrican, their master and their guide,
And strong Uldano, and the false Lurcone,
And Santaría, ruler of the Swedes.
Outrage and threats against them al he breathed.

The siegers arm themselves in madcap fury.
You never saw so humorous a sight
As was this multitude in such a hurry
To arm themselves against a single knight.
Loudly they cry, and eagerly they scurry.
The noises echo off the mountains’ height.
The flags are raised, batallions are arrayed,
Ten kings together march in one brigade.

When Don Astolf alone there they espied,
They are ashamed that such a host they’ve led.
Emp’ror Argante not a bit delayed,
But left his troops and to Astolfo sped.
Six palms could fit between his shoulder blades.
You never saw such an enormous head.
His nose is flat and broad; his eyes are slits;
The dog is ugly, but he has good wits.

With head aloft, the challenger advanced,
Upon a fine destrier with pelt of sorrel.
The Frankish duke, thanks to his golden lance,
Knocks him down from his seat and ends their quarrel.
The hosts assembled look at him askance.
Uldano lays his lance in rest. With laurels
He often has been crowned, this cavalier.
He’s cousin german to the good Ogier.

Astolfo with the lance his foeman clouts,
And on the ground Uldano takes his place.
The other kings are seized with awe and doubt.
They dare not look each other in the face.
There rose from ev’ry side a mighty shout,
“Kill him! Kill him!” thus the cry is raised,
And all together, the uncounted rabble
Charge at Astolfo and begin the battle.

He, on the other side, stands firm, secure,
And all that charging army he awaits
Just like a rock behind high walls endures,
Ready with Baiard to perform feats great.
By all the dust, the heavens are obscured,
Raised by the feet of that accurséd race.
Four of them lead the vanguard: Saritrone,
Radamont, Agrican, and Pandragone.

Now Saritrone first accosts the knight,
And of his horse and saddle he’s bereft.
But Radamonto charges on his right,
And strikes the English duke, while on his left
At the same time, king Agricane strikes,
While charging head-on, with a blow most deft
King Pandragone strikes Astolfo, too,
And these three blows him from his saddle threw.

Half-dead, upon the earth he lies distended,
From the three mighty blows he had received.
King Radamanto from his steed descended
And Don Astolf as prisoner he seized.
Astolf now no more himself defended.
He was alone. Nobody him relieved.
What Agricane held in more regard
Than Duke Astolfo was his horse, Baiard.

I do not know, my lords, if that destrier
No longer being in his master’s hands
No longer was to Saracens as fierce,
Or if his being in a foreign land
Made all his hopes of fleeing disappear.
At any rate, to Agrican’s command,
As gentle as a gelding, he submits,
Unforced by rein or bridle or by bit.

Taken Astolfo is, and lost Baiard,
And the rich harness and the lance of gold.
In all Albracca, not one has the heart
The field against their enemies to hold,
But on the walls they stay, their foes regard
With drawbridge up and with portcullis closed,
For days they stand upon the wall and wait,
Until a host arrives before their gate.

Who are these people in this newcome horde,
Who make a noise that echoes up to heaven?
Here is the terrible Circassian lord,
King Sacripante, who has boldly striven
To raise the army with which now he warred.
An emperor is there, beside kings seven,
Who all have come to bring the lady aid.
And who they were, for you I will relate.

The foremost of them is a Christian knight,
Although he’s strongly stained with heresy,
King of Armenia, Varone hight,
Of ardor and of vigor full is he.
Full thirty thousand march with him to fight
Who all are excellent at archery.
The second, just a little ways beyond
Is the great Emperor of Trebisond.

Brunaldo hight this worthy most renowned.
Twenty-six thousand warriors round him throng.
The third is ruler of Roase crowned;
He’s named Ungiano, and he’s very strong.
Full fifty thousand in his camp are found.
And next two kings, to each of whom belongs
Much honor, vast dominion, mighty works.
One rules the Medes, the other rules the Turks.

Torindo is the Turkish leader named,
And Savarone ‘tis who rules the Medes.
Thirty-six thousand soldiers with him came,
And forty thousand Turks Torindo leads.
The land of Babylon is widely famed,
And Baghdad is renowned for valiant deeds.
The lord thereof is come, his foes to meet:
King Trufaldino, master of deceit.

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