Canto 13 & Canto 14
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #10a
CANTO 13 ARGUMENT The Count Orlando of the damsel bland Who loves Zerbino, hears the piteous woes. Next puts to death the felons with his hand Who pent her there. Duke Aymon's daughter goes, Seeking Rogero, where so large a band The old Atlantes' magic walls enclose. Her he impounds, deceived by fictions new. Agramant ranks his army for review. I Those ancient cavaliers right happy were, Born in an age, when, in the gloomy wood, In valley, and in cave, wherein the bear, Serpent, or lion, hid their savage brood, They could find that, which now in palace rare Is hardly found by judges proved and good; Women, to wit, who in their freshest days Of beauty worthily deserve the praise. II Above I told you how a gentle maid Orlando had discovered under ground, And asked, by whom she thither was conveyed? Pursuing now my tale, I tell, how drowned In grief (her speech by many a sob delayed), The damsel fair, in sweet and softest sound, Summing them with what brevity she might, Her ills recounted to Anglantes' knight. III "Though I am sure," she said, "O cavalier, To suffer punishment for what I say; Because I know, to him who pens me here, This woman quickly will the fact display; I would not but thou shouldst the story hear. -- And let my wretched life the forfeit pay! For what can wait me better than that he, My gaoler, should one day my death decree? IV "Lo! I am Isabel, who once was styled The daughter of Gallicia's hapless king: I said aright who was; but now the child (No longer his) of care and suffering: The fault of Love, by whom I was beguiled; For against him alone this charge I bring. Who sweetly, at the first, our wish applauds, And weaves in secret but deceit and frauds. V "Whilom I lived, content in Fortune's smile, Rich, blameless, fair, and young; to sad reverse Condemned, I now am wretched, poor, and vile, And in worse case, if any yet be worse. But it is fitting, I to thee this while From their first root my troubles should rehearse. And it will soothe me, though of thee I borrow No help, that thou compassionate my sorrow. VI "My father in his city of Bayonne, (To-day will be twelve months) a tourney dight; Hence, led by spreading rumour to our town, To joust, from different lands came many a knight; Mid these (was it his manifest renown, Or was it love which so deceived my sight) Praise in my eyes alone Zerbino won, Who was the mighty king of Scotland's son. VII "When him I after in the field espied, Performing wondrous feats of chivalry, I was surprised by Love, ere I descried That freedom in my Love, so rash a guide, I lay this unction to my phantasy, That no unseemly place my heart possest, Fixed on the worthiest in the world and best. VIII "In beauty and in valour's boast above Those other lords the Scottish prince stood high. He showed me, and, I think, be bore me love, And left no less an ardent flame than I. Nor lacked there one who did between us move, To speak our common wishes frequently, So could we still in heart and mind unite, Although disjoined from one another's sight. IX "Hence, when concluded was the festal show, And to his home Zerbino was returned, If thou know'st what is love, thou well may'st know How night and day I for the warrior yearned; And was assured, no less on him did prey The flame, that in his constant bosom burned. He, save a way to have me with him, nought For solace of his restless passion sought. X "For different faith forbade him (on my side I was a saracen, a Christian he) To ask me of my father as a bride, By stealth he purposed to elope with me. Amid green fields, our wealthy town beside, I had a garden, seated by the sea, Upon the pleasant shore; from whence the eye Might ocean and the hills about descry. XI "A fitting place to effect what different creed And law forbade us, he esteemed this site, And showed the order taken for the deed, Which was to make our future life's delight; And how, near Santa Martha, for our need, A bark was with arm'd men in ambush dight, Under Sir Odoric of Biscay's command; A leader he, approved by sea and land! XII "Unable in his person this to do, For by his father he was forced to wend In succour of the king of France, in lieu This Odoric for the purpose he would send; Chosen, of all his faithful friends and true, As his most faithful and his truest friend: And such had been, if benefits could bind And goodly deeds the friendship of mankind. XIII "At the time fixed to bear me thence away, This chief would anchor on the destined ground. -- And thus it was arrived the wished for day, Then I of them was in my garden found. Sir Odoric, at night, with fair array Of valiant men, by land and sea renowned, In the near river from his bark descends, And thence in silence to my garden wends. XIV "To the pitched bark with me his party sped, Before the city knew what was at hand; Some of the house, disarmed and naked, fled, And some were slain; while of the helpless band, With me, another part was captive led. So was I severed from my native land, Hoping in brief Zerbino to possess, I cannot tell thee with what happiness. XV "Scarcely was Mongia by our galley doubled, Ere a squall took us on the larboard side, Which round about the clear horizon troubled, And stirred and tost heaven-high the foaming tide. Smote with a north-west wind, next, ocean bubbled, Which on her other beam the vessel plied: This evermore increases, with such force, Starboard or larboard, boots not which our course. XVI "It steads not to strike sail, nor lash the mast, Lowered on the gang-board, nor our castles fell; The bark, in our despite, is hurried fast Towards the pointed rocks about Rochelle: Save He, above, assist us at the last, The cruel storm will us ashore impel; Driven thither by ill wind with mightier speed Than ever bow-string gave to whistling reed. XVII "Our peril well does the Biscayan note, And tries what often has an evil end; Lowers down the galley's skiff, and, when afloat, Descends into it, and makes me descend: Two follow, and a troop would throng the boat, Did not the first prevent them, and defend The entrance with their naked faulchions; we Sever the rope forthwith, and put to sea. XVIII "Driven landward, on the shore we safely light Who in the skiff embarked; while of our band The rest in the split vessel sink outright; Our goods sea-swallowed all. Upon the strand To Eternal Love, To Goodness Infinite, I offer up my thanks, with outstretched hand, That I was doomed not 'mid the watery roar To perish, nor behold Zerbino more. XIX "Though I had left on shipboard matters rare, And precious in their nature, gem and vest, So I might hope Zerbino's lot to share, I was content the sea should have the rest. No dwelling on the beach appears, nor there Is any pathway seen, by footsteps pressed; Only a hill, whose woody top is beat By ceaseless winds, the waters bathe its feet. XX "Here the fell tyrant Love, aye prompt to range, And faithless to his every promise still, Who watches ever how he may derange And mar our every reasonable will, Converts, with woeful and disastrous change, My comfort to despair, my good to ill: For he, in whom Zerbino put his trust, Cooled in his loyal faith, and burned with lust. XXI "Whether he his desire had nursed at sea, And had not dared exhibit it before; Or that it sprung from opportunity, Suggested by that solitary shore; Without more pause, in that lone desert, he Would sate his greedy passion; but forbore Till he of one could rid him, of the twain, Who in the boat with us had scaped the main. XXII "A man of Scotland he, Almonio hight, Who to Zerbino seemed great faith to bear; And as a perfect warrior by the knight, Praised, when to Odoric given, his trust to share: To him (the Spaniard said) it were a slight If I unto Rochelle afoot should fare; And prayed, that he before would thither speed, And forward thence some hackney, for my need. XXIII "Almonio, who in this suspects no ill, Forthwith, before our party, wends his way To the town, hidden by the wooded hill, And which not more than six miles distant lay. To the other finally his wicked will Sir Odoric took courage to display; As well because he could not rid him thence, As that in him he had great confidence. XXIV "He that remained with us, of whom I said Before, Corebo was of Bilbao hight, Who with him under the same roof was bred From infancy, and the ungrateful wight Deemed that the thought he harboured in his head, He could impart in safety to the knight, Who would prefer, neglected of his trust, The pleasure of his friend to what was just. XXV "Not without high disdain Corebo heard (Who kind and courteous was) the Biscayneer, And termed him traitor; and by deed and word Withstood the purpose of his foul compeer. This mighty wrath in either warrior stirred; In sign whereof their naked brands they rear. At sight of their drawn swords, in panic, I Turn shortly through the gloomy wood to fly. XXVI "Sir Odoric in war well taught and bred, Gained in few blows such vantage in the fray, He left Corebo on the field for dead, And, following in my steps, pursued my way. Love lent to him (unless I am misled) Pinions, that he might overtake his prey; And many a prayer and glozing flattery taught, Wherewith I to compliance might be wrought. XXVII "But all in vain, for I was fixed and bent, Rather than sate his ill desire, to die. When menace had by him been vainly spent, And every prayer and every flattery, He would by open force his will content; Nor boots it aught that I entreaties try; -- Of his lord's faith in him the wretch remind, And how myself I to his hands resigned. XXVIII "When I perceived that fruitless was my prayer, And that I could not hope for other aid; For he assailed me like a famished bear, With hands and feet I fierce resistance made, As he more brutal waxed, and plucked his hair, And with my teeth and nails his visage flayed: This while I vent such lamentable cries, The clamour echoes to the starry skies. XXIX "Were they by chance conducted, or my shriek, Which might have well been heard a league around, (Or, was it they were wont the shore to seek, When any vessel split or ran aground) I saw a crowd appear upon the peak, Which, to the sea descending, towards us wound. Them the Biscayan say, and at the sight Abandoned his design, and turned to flight. XXX "This rabble, sir, against that treacherous man Comes to my aid; but in such guise, that I The homely saw, of falling from the pan Into the fire beneath, but verify. 'Tis true so lost I was not, nor that clan Accursed with minds of such iniquity, That they to violate my person sought; Though nothing good or virtuous on them wrought: XXXI "But that they knew, for me preserved a maid, As yet I am, they higher price might crave. Eight months are past, the ninth arrived, since, stayed By them, alive I languish in this grave. All hope is lost of my Zerbino's aid: For from their speech I gather, as a slave, I am bartered to a merchant for his gold; By whom I to the sultan shall be sold." XXXII The gentle damsel so her tale pursues, While sobs and sighs oft interposing break Her soft angelic voice, which might infuse Compassion into asp, or venomed snake. What time she so her piteous grief renews, Or haply does her bitter anguish slake, Some twenty men the gloomy cavern fill; This armed with hunting-spear, and that with bill. XXXIII With squinting look and dark, and but one eye, The leader of the troop, of brutish cheer Was he, the foremost of the company; By a blow blinded, which from nose to ear Had cleft his jaw: when he did so descry Seated beside the maid, that cavalier, He turned about and said: "Lo! in the net Another bird for whom it was not set!" XXXIV Then to the County cried: "I never knew A man more opportune my wants to stead; I know not whether any one to you Perchance may have announced my pressing need Of such fair arms, -- or you conjectured true, -- As well as of that goodly sable weed. You verily arrived in season are My needs (pursued the losel) to repair." XXXV With bitter smile, upstarting on his feet, Orlando to the ruffian made reply: "Thou at a price at which no chapman treat, Unmarked in merchant's books, these arms shalt buy." With that he snatched a brand, which, full of heat And smoke, was smouldering in the chimney nigh, Threw it, and smote by chance the knave half blind, Where with the nose the meeting brows confined. XXXVI The brand discharged by him, hit either brow, But most severely on the left did smite; For that ill feature perished by the blow, Which was the thief's sole minister of light. Nor is the stroke content to blind the foe; Unsated, save it register his sprite Among those damned souls, whom Charon keeps, With their companions, plunged in boiling deeps. XXXVII A spacious table in mid cavern stood, Two palms in thickness, in its figure square; Propt on one huge, ill fashioned food and rude, Which held the thief and all who harboured there. Even with such freedom as his dart of wood We mark the nimble Spaniard launch through air, The heavy table Roland seized and threw, Where, crowded close together, stood the crew. XXXVIII One had his belly crushed, and one his breast; Another head or arm, or leg and thigh. Whence some were slain outright, and maimed the rest, While he who was least injured sought to fly. 'Tis so sometimes, with heavy stone oppressed, A knot of slimy snakes is seen to lie, With battered heads and loins where, winter done, They lick their scales, rejoicing in the sun. XXXIX I could not say what mischiefs these offend; One dies, and one departs without its tail; Another crippled cannot move an-end, And wriggling wreathes its length without avail: While this, whom more propitious saints befriend, Safe through the grass drags off its slimy trail. Dire was the stroke; yet should no wonder breed, Since good Orlando's arm achieved the deed. XL Those whom the board had little maimed or nought, (Turpin says there were seven) in craven wise, Their safety in their feet, yet vainly, sought; For to the cavern's door Orlando hies. And having them without resistance caught, Fast with a rope their hands behind them ties; A rope, which in the cavern on the ground, Convenient for his purpose he had found. XLI He after drags them bound without the cave, Where an old service-tree its shadow throws. Orlando lops the branches with his glaive, And hangs the thieves, a banquet for the crows: Nor chain and crook for such a deed did crave: For ready hooks the tree itself bestows, To purge the world; where by the chin up-hung, These, on the branches, bold Orlando strung. XLII The ancient woman, the assassin's friend, Escapes when she perceives that all are dead, And, threading that green labyrinth without end, Laments, and plucks the hair from off her head, By fear impelled, through paths which sore offend Her feet, till she, beside a river's bed, Encounters with a warrior: but to say Who was the stranger champion I delay; XLIII And turn to her, who to the count applied, Praying he would not leave her there alone, And vowed to follow whither he would guide. Orlando her consoles in courteous tone: And thence, when, with a wreath of roses tied About her brows, and robed in purple gown, On wonted journey white Aurora starts, The paladin with Isabel departs. XLIV Without encountering aught that might appear Worthy of note, they wended many a day; And finally the twain a cavalier, As prisoner led, encountered by the way. Who shall be told; but, tale to you as dear Now calls me from the beaten path away; -- Of Aymon's daughter, -- whom I left above, Languid and lost in all the pains of love. XLV The beauteous lady who desires in vain, Rogero should not his return delay, Lies in Marseilles, from whence the paynim train She harasses, nigh each returning day; (What time they robbing aye, by hill and plain, Scower fruitful Languedoc and Provence gay) And the true duty executes aright Of a sage leader and a valiant knight. XLVI The time long past, she, lying in that place, Had hoped that her Rogero would appear, She, not beholding him in all that space, Of many evil chances lived in fear. One day, mid others that her woeful case The lady wept alone, to her drew near The dame, who with that healing ring made sound The bosom rankling with Alcina's wound. XLVII When her she saw, without her love returned, (Such time elapsed, her mission incomplete), Sore trembling, faint, and pale, her heart so yearned, She scarce had strength to stand upon her feet. But the enchantress kind, when she discerned Her fear, advanced with smiles the maid to meet; And to console her such glad visage wore As messenger who joyful tidings bore. XLVIII "Fear not for thy Rogero: he is well And safe (she cried), and ever worships thee, As wonted; but thy foe, that wizard fell, Him yet again deprives of liberty. And it behoves thee now to climb the sell, Would'st thou posses him, and to follow me; For if thou wendest with me, I will lead Whither, by thee Rogero shall be freed." XLIX And next pursued, relating to her all The frauds and magic of Atlantes hoar, That wearing her fair face, who seemed the thrall Of an ill giant, him had through the door Of gold, enticed into the enchanted hall, And after disappeared, the youth before; And told how dames and cavaliers he cheats Who thither make resort, with like deceits. L Seeing the sage, all think they see a squire, Companion, lady-love, or absent friend; Whatever is each several wight's desire: Since to our scope our wishes never tend. Hence searching every where, themselves they tire With labour sore, and frustrate of their end; And cannot, (so Desire and Hope deceive), Without the missing good, that palace leave. LI "As soon as thou (pursued the dame) art near The place where he has built the magic seat, Resembling thy Rogero in his cheer And every look, Atlantes thee shall meet, And make himself by his ill art appear As suffering from some stronger arm defeat; That thou may'st aid him in the peril feigned, And thus among those others be detained. LII "To the end thou may'st escape his ambush, where So many and so many, thus betrayed, Have fallen; though he Rogero seem, beware To lend him faith, who will demand thine aid: Nor, when the sage presents himself, forbear To take his worthless life with lifted blade. Nor think to slay Rogero with the blow, But him who works thee still such cruel woe. LIII "Hard will it seem to slay, full well I know, The wight, in whom Rogero you descry: But, for truth is not in the lying show, Trust not to sight where magic blears the eye. Fix, ere with me you to the forest go, To change not when the traitorous foe is nigh: For never shall with you Rogero wive, If weakly you the wizard leave alive." LIV The valorous maid with the intent to slay The false enchanter, on her plan decides, Snatches her arms, and follows on her way Melissa sage, in whom she so confides, And thus, by fruitful field or forest gray, Her by forced journeys that enchantress guides; And studies to beguile their weary course Ever, as best she may, with sweet discourse: LV And as the fairest topic of all those Which might be grateful to the damsel's ear, Her future offspring and Rogero's chose (A race of demigods) in prince and peer. For as Melissa all the secrets knows Of the eternal gods who rule our sphere, The good enchantress can discover all Which should in many ages hence befall. LVI "Oh! my best guide." exclaimed the damsel bold To the weird-woman that to aid her came, "As thou hast many years before foretold Men who shall glorify my race and name, So now I pray thee, lady, to unfold The praise and virtues of some noble dame, If from my lineage any such shall rise." To whom Melissa courteously replies: LVII "Chaste dames of thee descended I survey, Mothers of those who wear imperial crown, And mighty kings; the column and the stay Of glorious realms and houses of renown. And as thy sons will shine in arms, so they Will no less fame deserve in female gown, With piety and sovereign prudence graced, And noble hearts, incomparably chaste. LVIII "And if at length, I should relate to thee The praise of all who from thy root ascend, Too long my tale would hold, nor do I see Whom I could pass, where all to fame pretend. But from a thousand I some two or three Will choose, because my tale may have an end. Why was not in the cave thy wish made known, Where I their shadows might as well have shown? LIX "To hear of one of thy famed race prepare, Whom liberal studies and good works engage; Of whom, I know not well, if she more fair May be entitled, or more chaste and sage; The noble-minded Isabel, who, where It stands on Mincius' bank, in other age Shall gild the town, of Ocnus' mother hight, With her own glorious rays by day and night; LX "Where, with her worthiest consort she will strain, In honoured and in splendid rivalry, Which best shall prize the virtues' goodly train, And widest ope the gates to courtesy. If he by Taro, and in Naples' reign, ('Tis said), from Gauls delivered Italy, 'Twill be replied. Penelope the chaste, As such, was not beneath Ulysses placed. LXI "Great things and many thus I sum in few Of this brave dame, and others leave behind: Which when I from the vulgar herd withdrew, Sage Merlin from the hollow stone divined. For I should leave old Typhis out of view, If on such sea I launched before the wind: And with this finish my prophetic strain, -- All blessings on her head the skies will rain. LXII "With her shall be her sister Beatrice, Whose fortunes well shall with her name accord; Who, while she lives, not only shall not miss What good the heavens to those below afford, But make, with her, partaker of her bliss, First among wealthy dukes, her cherished lord; Who shall, when she from hence receives her call, Into the lowest depth of misery fall. LXIII "Viscontis' serpents will be held in dread, And Moro and Sforza, while this dame shall be, From Hyperborean snows to billows red; From Ind to hills, which to a double sea Afford a passage; and, the lady dead, To the sore mischief of all Italy, Will with the Insubri into slavery fall; And men shall sovereign wisdom fortune call. LXIV "Other the same illustrious name will bear, And who will flourish many years before. Pannonia's garland one of these shall wear. Another matron on the Ausonian shore, When she shall be released from earthly care, Men will among the blessed saints adore; With incense will approach the dame divine, And hang with votive images her shrine. LXV "The others I shall pass in silence by, For 'twere too much (as said before) to sound Their fame: though each might well deserve, that high Heroic trump should in her praise be wound. Hence the Biancas and Lucretias I And Constances and more reserve; who found, Or else repair, upon Italian land, Illustrious houses with supporting hand. LXVI "Thy race, which shall all else in this excel, In the rare fortune of its women thrives; Nor of its daughters' honour more I tell Than of the lofty virtue of its wives: And that thou may'st take note of this as well, Which Merlin said of thy descendents' lives, (Haply that I the story might narrate) This I no little covet to relate. LXVII "Of good Richarda first shall be my strain, Mirror of chastity and fortitude, Who, young, remains a widow, in disdain Of fortune: (that which oft awaits the good) Exiles, and cheated of their father's reign, She shall behold the children of her blood Wandering into the clutches of their foe; Yet find at last a quittance for her woe. LXVIII "Nor sprung from the ancient root of Aragon, I of the gorgeous queen will silent be; Than whom more prudent or more chaste is none, Renowned in Greek or Latin history; Nor who so fortunate a course will run, After that, by divine election, she Shall with the goodly race of princes swell, Alphonso, Hyppolite, and Isabel. LXIX "The prudent Eleanour is this: a spray Which will be grafted on thy happy tree. What of the fruitful stepchild shall I say, Who in succession next to her I see, Lucretia Borgia? who, from day to day, Shall wax in beauty, virtue, chastity, And fortune, that like youthful plant will shoot, Which into yielding soil has struck its root. LXX "As tin by silver, brass by gold, as Corn- Poppy beside the deeply-crimsoning rose, Willow by laurel evergreen, as shorn Of light, stained glass by gem that richly glows, -- So by this dame I honour yet unborn, Each hitherto distinguished matron shows; For beauty and for prudence claiming place, And all praise-worthy excellence and grace. LXXI "And above every other noble praise, Which shall distinguished her alive or dead, Is that by her shall be, through kingly ways, Her Hercules and other children led; Who thus the seeds of worth in early days, To bloom in council and in camp, will shed. For long wine's savour lingers in the wood Of the new vessel, whether bad or good. LXXII "Nor the step-daughter of this noble dame, Will I, Renata, hight of France, forget, Of Louis born, twelfth monarch of his name, And Bretagne's pride; all virtues ever yet Bestowed on woman, since the ruddy flame Has warmed, or water had the power to wet, Or overhead the circling heavens have rolled, United in Renata I behold. LXXIII " 'Twere long to tell of Alda de Sansogna, Or of Celano's countess in this string, Or Blanche Maria, stiled of Catalonia; Or her, the daughter of Sicilia's king, Or of the beauteous Lippa de Bologna, Or more, with whose renown the world shall ring, To speak whose separate praise with fitting lore, Were to attempt a sea without a shore." LXXIV When of the larger portion of her seed The king enchantress at full ease had told, And oft and oft rehearsed, amid the rede, What arts Rogero to the wizard's hold Had drawn, Melissa halted near the mead Where stood the mansion of Atlantes old, Nor would approach the magic dome more nigh, Lest her the false magician should espy. LXXV And yet again advised the martial maid, (Counsel she had a thousand times bestowed) Then left, Nor Bradamant through greenwood shade More than two miles in narrow path had rode, Before, by two fierce giants overlaid, She saw a knight, who like Rogero showed, So closely pressed, and labouring sore for breath, That he appeared well nigh reduced to death. LXXVI When she beheld him in such perilous strait, Who of Rogero all the tokens wore, She quickly lost the faith she nourished late, Quickly her every fair design forbore. She weens Melissa bears Rogero hate, For some new injury unheard before: And with unheard of hate and wrong, her foe Would by her hand destroy who loves him so. LXXVII She cried, "And is not this Rogero, who Aye present to my heart, is now to sight? If 'tis not him whom I agnize and view. Whom e'er shall I agnize or view aright? Why should I other's judgment deem more true Than the belief that's warranted by sight? Even without eyes, and by my heart alone, If he were near or distant, would be shown." LXXVIII While so the damsel thinks, a voice she hears, Which, like Rogero's, seems for aid to cry; At the same time, the worsted knight appears To slack the bridle and the rowels ply: While at full speed the goaded courser clears His ground, pursued by either enemy. Nor paused the dame, in following them who sought His life, till to the enchanted palace brought. LXXIX Of which no sooner has she past the door, Than she is cheated by the common show. Each crooked way or straight her feet explore Within it and without, above, below; Nor rests she night or day, so strong the lore Of the enchanter, who has ordered so, She (though they still encounter and confer) Knows not Rogero, nor Rogero her. LXXX But leave we Bradamant, nor grieve, O ye Who hear, that she is prisoned by the spell, Since her in fitting time I shall set free, And good Rogero, from the dome as well, As taste is quickened by variety, So it appears that, in the things I tell, The wider here and there my story ranges, It will be found less tedious for its changes. LXXXI Meseems that I have many threads to clear In the great web I labour evermore; And therefore be ye not displeased to hear How, all dislodged, the squadrons of the Moor, Threatening the golden lines loud, appear In arms, the royal Agramant before: Who bids for a review his army post, Willing to know the numbers of his host. LXXXII For besides horse and foot, in the campaign Sore thinned, whose numbers were to be supplied, Had many captains, and those good, of Spain, Of Libya, and of Aethiopia, died; And thus the nations, and the various train, Wandered without a ruler or a guide. To give to each its head and order due, The ample camp is mustered in review. LXXXIII To fill the squadrons ravaged by the sword, In those fierce battles and those conflicts dread, This to his Spain, to his Africa that lord, Sent to recruit, where well their files they fed; And next distributed the paynim horde Under their proper captains, ranged and led. I, with your leave, till other strain, delay The order of the muster to display. CANTO 14 ARGUMENT Two squadrons lack of those which muster under King Agramant, by single Roland slain; Hence furious Mandricardo, full of wonder And envy, seeks the count by hill and plain: Next joys himself with Doralice; such plunder, Aided by heaven, his valiant arms obtain. Rinaldo comes, with the angel-guide before, To Paris, now assaulted by the Moor. I In many a fierce assault and conflict dread, 'Twixt Spain and Afric and their Gallic foe, Countless had been the slain, whose bodies fed The ravening eagle, wolf, and greedy crow; But though the Franks had worse in warfare sped, Forced all the champaigne country to forego, This had the paynims purchased at the cost Of more good princes and bold barons lost. II So bloody was the price of victory, Small ground was left them triumphs to prepare; And if, unconquered Duke Alphonso, we May modern things with ancient deeds compare, The battle, whose illustrious palm may be Well worthily assigned to you to wear, At whose remembrance sad Ravenna trembles, And aye shall weep her loss, this field resembles. III When the Calesians and the Picards yielding, And troops of Normandy and Aquitaine, You, with your valiant arms their squadrons shielding, Stormed the almost victorious flags of Spain; And those bold youths their trenchant weapons wielding, Through parted squadrons, followed in your train; Who on that day deserved you should accord, For honoured gifts, the gilded spur and sword. IV You, with such glorious hearts, who were not slow To follow, nor far off, the gorgeous oak Seized, and shook down the golden acorns so, And so the red and yellow truncheon broke, That we to you our festive laurels owe, And the fair lily, rescued from its stroke; Another wreath may round your temples bloom, In that Fabricius you preserved to Rome. V Rome's mighty column, by your valiant hand Taken and kept entire, more praise has shed On you, than if the predatory band Had routed by your single valour bled, Of all who flocked to fat Ravenna's land, Or masterless, without a banner fled, Of Arragon, Castile, or of Navarre; When vain was lance or cannon's thundering car. VI This dear-bought victory brought more relief Than joy, by its event too much outweighed, The loss of that French captain and our chief, Whom dead we on the fatal field surveyed; And swallowed in one storm, for further grief, So many glorious princes, who, arrayed For safeguard of their own, or neighbouring lands, Had poured through, frozen Alps their friendly bands. VII Our present safety, and life held in fear, We see assured us by this victory, That saved us from the wintry tempest drear, Which would have whelmed us from Jove's angry sky. But ill can we rejoice, while yet the tear Is standing in full many a widow's eye, Who weeping and attired in sable, vents, Throughout all grieving France, her loud laments. VIII 'Tis meet King Lewis should find new supplies Of chiefs by whom his troops may be arrayed, Who for the lilies' honour shall chastise The hands which so rapaciously have preyed; Who brethren, black and white, in shameful wise, Have outraged, sister, mother, wife, and maid, And cast on earth Christ's sacrament divine, With the intent to thieve his silver shrine. IX Hadst thou not made resistance to thy foe, Better, Ravenna, had it been for thee, And thou been warned by Brescia's fate, than so Thine should Faenza warn and Rimini. O Lewis, bid good old Trivulzio go With thine, and to thy bands example be, And tell what ills such license still has bred, Heaping our ample Italy with dead. X As the illustrious King of France has need Of captains to supply his leaders lost, So the two kings who Spain and Afric lead, To give new order to the double host, Resolve their bands should muster on the mead, From winter lodgings moved and various post; That they may furnish, as their wants demand, A guide and government to every band. XI Marsilius first, and after Agramant, Passing it troop by troop their army scan. The Catalonians, who their captain vaunt In Doriphoebus, muster in the van; And next, without their monarch Fulvirant, Erst killed by good Rinaldo, comes the clan Of bold Navarre; whose guideless band to steer The King of Spain appoints Sir Isolier. XII With Balugantes Leon's race comes on, The Algarbi governed by Grandonio wheel. The brother of Marsilius, Falsiron, Brings up with him the power of Less Castile. They follow Madarasso's gonfalon, Who have left Malaga and fair Seville, 'Twixt fruitful Cordova and Cadiz-bay, Where through green banks the Betis winds its way. XIII Stordilane, Tessira, and Baricond, After each other, next their forces stirred; This in Grenada, that in Lisbon crowned; Majorca was obedient to the third. Larbino had Lisbon ruled, whose golden round Was at his death on Tessira conferred; His kinsman he: Gallicia came in guide Or Serpentine, who Mericold supplied. XIV They of Toledo and of Calatrave, Who erst with Sinnagon's broad banner spread, Marched, and the multitude who drink and lave Their limbs in chrystal Guadiana's bed, Came thither, under Matalista brave; Beneath Bianzardin, their common head, Astorga, Salamanca, Placenza, With Avila, Zamorra, and Palenza. XV The household-troops which guard Marsilius' state, And Saragossa's men, Ferrau commands; And in this force, well-sheathed in mail and plate, Bold Malgarine and Balinverno stands; Morgant and Malzarise, whom common fate Had both condemned to dwell in foreign lands, Who, when dethroned, had to Marsilius' court (There hospitably harboured) made resort. XVI Follicon, Kind Marsilius' bastard, hies With valiant Doricont; amid this horde, Bavartes, Analard, and Argalise, And Archidantes, the Saguntine lord. Here, Malagur, in ready cunning wise, And Ammirant and Langhiran the sword Unsheath, and march; of whom I shall endite, When it is time, their prowess to recite. XVII When so had filed the warlike host of Spain In fair review before King Agramant, Appeared King Oran with his martial train, Who might almost a giant's stature vaunt; Next they who weep their Martasino, slain By the avenging sword of Bradamant, King of the Garamantes, and lament That woman triumphs in their monarch spent. XVIII Marmonda's men next past the royal Moor, Who left Argosto dead on Gascon meads; And this unguided band, like that before, As well as the fourth troop, a captain needs. Although King Agramant has little store Of chiefs, he feigns a choice, and thinks; next speeds Buraldo, Ormida, and Arganio tried, Where needing, the unordered troops to guide. XIX He give Arganio charge of Libicane, Who wept the sable Dudrinasso dead. Brunello guides the men of Tingitane, With cloudy countenance and drooping head; Who since he in the wooded mountain-chain (Nigh where Atlantes dwelt), to her he led, Fair Bradamant, had lost the virtuous ring, Had lived in the displeasure of his king; XX And but that Ferrau's brother Isolier, Who fastened to a stem had found him there, Made to King Agramant the truth appear, He from the gallows-tree had swung in air: Already fastened was the noose, and near The caitiff's fate, when at the many's prayer The king bade loose him; but reprieving, swore, For his first fault to hang, offending more. XXI Thus, not without a cause, Brunello pined, And showed a mournful face, and hung his head. Next Farurantes; to whose care consigned, Maurina's valiant horse and footmen tread. The new-made king Libanio comes behind, By whom are Constatina's people led: Since Agramant the crown and staff of gold, Once Pinador's, had given to him to hold. XXII Hesperia's people come with Soridan, With Dorilon the men of Setta ride; The Nasamonians troop with Pulian, And Agricaltes is Ammonia's guide. Malabupherso rules o'er Fezzan's clan, And Finaduro leads the band supplied By the Canary Islands and Morocco: Balastro fills the place of king Tardocco. XXIII Next Mulga and Arzilla's legions two. The first beneath their ancient captains wend; The second troop without a leader, who Are given to Corineus, the sovereign's friend. So (late Tanphirion's) Almonsilla's crew, To a new monarch in Caichus bend. Goetulia is bestowed on Rhimedont, And Cosca comes in charge of Balinfront. XXIV Ruled by Clarindo, Bolga's people go, Who fills the valiant Mirabaldo's post: Him Baliverso, whom I'd have you know For the worst ribald in that ample host, Succeeded next. I think not, 'mid that show, The bannered camp a firmer troop could boast Than that which followed in Sobrino's care; Nor Saracen than him more wise and ware. XXV Gualciotto dead, Bellamarina's crew, (His vassals) serve, the sovereign of Algiers, King Rodomont, of Sarza; that anew Brought up a band of foot and cavaliers: Whom, when the cloudy sun his rays withdrew Beneath the Centaur and the Goat, his spears There to recruit, was sent to the Afric shore By Agramant, returned three days before. XXVI There was no Saracen of bolder strain, Of all the chiefs who Moorish squadrons led; And Paris-town (nor is the terror vain) More of the puissant warrior stands in dread Than of King Agramant and all the train, Which he, or the renowned Marsilius head; And amid all that mighty muster, more Than others, hatred to our faith he bore. XXVII Prusion is the Alvaracchia's king: below King Dardinello's flag Zumara's power Is ranged. I wot not, I, if owl or crow, Or other bird ill-omened, which from tower Or tree croaks future evil, did foreshow To one or to the other, that the hour Was fixed in heaven, when on the following day Either should perish in this deadly fray. XXVIII Noritia's men and Tremisene's alone Were wanting to complete the paynim host; But in the martial muster sign was none, Nor tale, nor tiding of the squadrons lost; To wondering Agramant alike unknown, What kept the slothful warriors from their post, When of King Tremisene's a squire was brought Before him, who at large the mischief taught; XXIX -- Who taught how Manilardo was laid low, Alzirdo, and many others, on the plain. -- "Sir," said the bearer of the news, "the foe Who slew our troop, would all thy camp have slain, If thine assembled host had been more slow Than me, who, as it was, escaped with pain. This man slays horse and foot, as in the cote, The wolf makes easy waste of sheep and goat." XXX Where the bold Africans their standards plant, A warrior had arrived some days before; Nor was there in the west, or whole Levant, A knight, with heart or prowess gifted more. To him much grace was done by Agramant, As successor of Agrican, who wore The crown of Tartary, a warrior wight; The son the famous Mandricardo hight. XXXI Renowned he was for many a glorious quest Atchieved, and through the world his fame was blown. But him had glorified above the rest Worth in the Syrian fairy's castle shown: Where mail, which cased the Trojan Hector's breast A thousand years before, he made his own. And finished that adventure, strange and fell; A story which breeds terror but to tell. XXXII When the squire told his news amid that show Of troops, was present Agrican's bold son, Who raised his daring face, resolved to go And find the warrior who the deed had done; But the design he hatched, forebore to show; As making small account of any one, Or fearing lest, should he reveal his thought, The quest by other champion might be sought. XXXIII He of the squire demanded what the vest And bearings, which the valiant stranger wore; Who answered that he went without a crest, And sable shield and sable surcoat bore. -- And, sir, 'twas true; for so was Roland drest; The old device renounced he had before: For as he mourned within, so he without, The symbols of his grief would bear about. XXXIV Marsilius had to Mandricardo sped, As gift, a courser of a chestnut stain, Whose legs and mane were sable; he was bred Between a Friesland mare and nag of Spain. King Mandricardo, armed from foot to head, Leapt on the steed and galloped o'er the plain, And swore upon the camp to turn his back Till he should find the champion clad in black. XXXV The king encounters many of the crew Whom good Orlando's arm had put to flight; And some a son, and some a brother rue, Who in the rout had perished in their sight; And in the coward's cheek of pallid hue Is yet pourtrayed the sad and craven sprite: -- Yet, through the fear endured, they far and nigh, Pallid, and silent, and insensate fly. XXXVI Nor he long was had rode, ere he descried A passing-cruel spectacle and sore; But which the wonderous feats well testified, That were recounted Agramant before. Now on this hand, now that, the dead he eyed, Measured their wounds, and turned their bodies o'er; Moved by strange envy of the knight whose hand Had strown the champaign with the slaughtered band. XXXVII As wolf or mastiff-dog, who comes the last Where the remains of slaughtered bullock lie, And finds but horn and bones, where rich repast Had fed the ravening hound and vulture night, Glares vainly on the scull, unsmacked; so passed The barbarous Tartar king those bodies by; And grudged, lamenting, like the hungry beast, To have come too late for such a sumptuous feast. XXXVIII That day, and half the next, in search he strayed Of him who wore the sable vest and shield. When lo! he saw a mead, o'ertopt with shade, Where a deep river wound about the field, With narrow space between the turns it made, Where'er from side to side the water wheeled. Even such a spot as this with circling waves Below Otricoli the Tyber laves. XXXIX Where this deep stream was fordable, he scanned A crowd of cavaliers that armour bore: And these the paynim questioned who had manned, With such a troop, and to what end, the shore? To him replied the captain of the band, Moved by his lordly air, and arms he wore, Glittering with gold and jewels, -- costly gear, Which showed him an illustrious cavalier. XL "In charge" (he said) "we of the daughter go Of him our king, who fills Granada's throne, Espoused by Rodomont of Sarza, though To fame the tidings are as yet unknown. And we, departing when the sun is low, And the cicala hushed, which now alone Is heard, shall bring her where her father keeps I' the Spanish camp; meanwhile the lady sleeps." XLI He who for scorn had daffed the world aside, Designs to see at once, how able were Those horsemen to defend the royal bride, Committed by their sovereign to their care. "The maid, by what I hear, is fair" (he cried). "Fain would I now be certified, how fair: Then me to her, or her to me convey, For I must quickly wend another way." XLII "Thou needs art raving mad," replied in few The chief, -- nor more. But with his lance in rest, The Tartar monarch at the speaker flew, And with the levelled spear transfixed his breast. For the point pierced the yielding corslet through, And lifeless he, perforce, the champaign prest. The son of Agrican his lance regained, Who weaponless without the spear remained. XLIII Now sword nor club the warlike Tartar bore, Since, when the Trojan Hector's plate and chain He gained, because the faulchion lacked, he swore (To this obliged), nor swore the king in vain, That save he won the blade Orlando wore, He would no other grasp, -- that Durindane. Held in high value by Almontes bold, Which Roland bears, and Hector bore of old. XLIV Great is the Tartar monarch's daring, those At such a disadvantage to assay, He pricks, with levelled lance, among his foes, Shouting, in fury, -- "Who shall bar my way?" -- Round and about him suddenly they close; These draw the faulchion, and those others lay The spear in rest: a multitude he slew, Before his lance was broke upon the crew. XLV When this he saw was broke, the truncheon sound And yet entire, he took, both hands between, And with so many bodies strewed the ground, That direr havoc never yet was seen: And as with that jaw bone, by hazard found, The Hebrew Samson slew the Philistine, Crushed helm and shield; and often side by side, Slain by the truncheon, horse and rider died. XLVI In running to their death the wretches vie, Nor cease because their comrades perish near: Yet bitterer in such a mode to die, Than death itself, does to the troop appear. They grudge to forfeit precious life, and lie Crushed by the fragment of a broken spear; And think foul scorn beneath the pounding stake Strangely to die the death of frog or snake. XLVII But after they at their expense had read That it was ill to die in any way, And near two thirds were now already dead, The rest began to fly in disarray. As if with what was his the vanquished fled, The cruel paynim, cheated of his prey, Ill bore that any, from the murderous strife Of that scared rabble, should escape with life. XLVIII As in the well-dried fen or stubble-land, Short time the stalk endures, or stridulous reed, Against the flames, which careful rustic's hand Scatters when Boreas blows the fires to feed; What time they take, and by the north-wind fanned. Crackle and snap, and through the furrow speed; No otherwise, with little profit, those King Mandricardo's kindled wrath oppose. XLIX When afterwards he marks the entrance free, Left ill-secured, and without sentinel. He, following prints (which had been recently Marked on the mead), proceeds, amid the swell Of loud laments, Granada's dame to see, If she as beauteous were as what they tell. He wound his way 'mid corpses, where the wave, Winding from side to side, a passage gave: L And in the middle of the mead surveyed Doralice (such the gentle lady's name), Who, at the root of an old ash tree laid, Bemoaned her: fast her lamentations came. And tears, like plenteous vein of water, strayed Into the beauteous bosom of the dame; Who, (so it from her lovely face appeared,) For others mourned, while for herself she feared. LI Her fear increased when she approaching spied Him foul with blood, and marked his felon cheer; And piercing shrieks the very sky divide Raised by herself and followers, in their fear. For over and above the troop who guide The fair infanta, squire and cavalier, Came ancient men and matrons in her train, And maids, the fairest of Granada's reign. LII When that fair face by him of Tartary Is seen, which has no paragon in Spain, Where amid tears (in laughter what were she?) Is twisted Love's inextricable chain. He knows not if in heaven or earth he be; Nor from his victory reaps other gain, Than yielding up himself a thrall to her, (He knows not why) who was his prisoner. LIII Yet not so far his courtesy he strained, That he would lose his labour's fruit, although The royal damsel showed, who sorely plained, Such grief as women in despair can show. He, who the hope within him entertained To turn to sovereign joy her present woe, Would wholly bear her off; whom having placed On a white jennet, he his way retraced. LIV He dames, maids, ancient men, and others, who Had from Granada with the damsel fared, Kindly dismissed, their journey to pursue; Saying, "My care suffices; I of guard, Of guide, of handmaid will the office do, To serve her in her every need prepared. Farewell!" and thus unable to withstand The wrong, with tears and sighs withdrew the band, LV Saying, "How woe-begone will be her sire, When he the miserable case shall hear! What grief will be the bridegroom's! what his ire! How dread the vengeance of that cavalier! When so the lady's needs such help require. Alas! and why is not the champion near, To save the illustrious blood of Stordilane, Ere the thief bears her farther hence, from stain?" LVI The Tartar, joying in the prize possest, Which he by chance and valour won and wore; To find the warrior of the sable vest Seemed not to have the haste he had before, And stopp'd and loitered, where he whilom prest; And cast about and studied evermore To find some fitting shelter; with desire, In quiet to exhale such amorous fire. LVII Doralice he consoled this while, whose eyes And cheek were wetted with the frequent tear, And many matters feigned and flattering lies; -- How, known by fame, he long had held her dear, And how his country and glad realm, whose size Shamed others, praised for grandeur far and near, He quitted, not for sight of France or Spain; But to behold that cheek of lovely grain. LVIII "If a man merits love by loving, I Yours by my love deserve; if it is won By birth, -- who boasts a genealogy Like me, the puissant Agricano's son? By riches, -- who with me in wealth can vie. That in dominion yield to God alone? By courage, -- I to-day (I ween) have proved That I for courage merit to be loved." LIX These words, and many others on his part, Love frames and dictates to the Tartar knight, Which sweetly tend to cheer the afflicted heart Of the unhappy maid, disturbed with fright. By these fear first was laid, and next the smart Sheathed of that woe, which had nigh pierced her sprite; And with more patience thence the maid began To hear, and her new lover's reasons scan. LX Next much more affable, with courteous lore Seasoning her answers to his suit, replies; Nor looking at the king, sometimes forbore To fix upon his face her pitying eyes. The paynim thence, whom Love had smote before, Not hopeful now, but certain, of his prize, Deemed that the lovely damsel would not still, As late, be found rebellious to his will. LXI Riding in her glad company a-field, Which so rejoiced his soul, so satisfied; And being near the time, when to their bield, Warned by the chilly night, all creatures hied, Seeing the sun now low and half concealed, The warrior 'gan in greater hurry ride; Until he heard reed-pipe and whistle sound, And next saw farm and cabin smoking round. LXII Pastoral lodgings were the dwellings near, Less formed for show, than for conveniency; And the young damsel and the cavalier The herdsman welcomed with such courtesy, That both were pleasured by his kindly cheer. For not alone dwells Hospitality In court and city; but ofttimes we find In loft and cottage men of gentle kind. LXIII What afterwards was done at close of day Between the damsel and the Tartar lord, I will not take upon myself to say; So leave to each, at pleasure, to award. But as they rose the following morn more gay, It would appear they were of fair accord: And on the swain who them such honour showed, Her thanks at parting Doralice bestowed. LXIV Thence from one place to the other wandering, they Find themselves by a river, as they go. Which to the sea in silence winds its way, And ill could be pronounced to stand or flow, So clear and limpid, that the cheerful day, With nought to intercept it, pierced below. Upon its bank, beneath a cooling shade, They found two warriors and a damsel laid. LXV Now lofty Fancy, which one course to run Permits not, calls me hence in sudden wise; And thither I return, where paynims stun Fair France with hosile din and angry cries, About the tent, wherein Troyano's son They holy empire in his wrath defies, And boastful Rodomont, with vengeful doom, Gives Paris to the flames, and levels Rome. LXVI Tidings had reached the Moorish sovereign's ear That the English had already passed the sea; And he bade Garbo's aged king appear, Marsilius, and his heads of chivalry: Who all advised the monarch to prepare For the assault of Paris. They may be Assured they in the storm will never thrive, Unless 'tis made before the aids arrive. LXVII Innumerable ladders for the scale Had been collected upon every hand, And plank and beam, and hurdle's twisted mail, For different uses, at the king's command; And bridge and boat; and, what might more avail Than all the rest, a first and second band For the assault (so bids the monarch) form; Who will himself go forth with them that storm. LXVIII The emperor, on the vigil of the day Of battle, within Paris, everywhere, By priest and friar of orders black and gray, And white, bade celebrate mass-rite and prayer; And those who had confessed, a fair array, And from the Stygian demons rescued were, Communicated in such fashions, all, As if they were the ensuing day to fall. LXIX At the high church, he, girt with paladine And preachers of the word, and barons brave, With much devotion at those acts divine Assisted, and a fair example gave; And there with folded hands and face supine, Exclaimed, "O Lord! although my sins be grave, Permit not, that, in this their utmost need, Thy people suffer for their king's misdeed! LXX "And if that they should suffer is thy will, And that they should due penance undergo, At least delay thy purpose to fulfil; So that thine enemies deal not the blow. For, when 'tis given him in his wrath to kill Us who are deemed thy friends, the paynim foe, That thou art without power to save, will cry, Because thou lett'st thy faithful people die: LXXI "And, for one faithless found, against thy sway A hundred shall throughout the world rebel; So that false Babel's law will have its way, And thus thy blessed faith put down and quell. Defend thy suffering people, who are they That purged thy tomb from heathen hounds and fell. And many times and oft, by foes offended, Thy holy church and vicars have defended. LXXII "That our deserts unfitting are to place I' the scale against our mighty debt, I know; Nor pardon can we hope, if we retrace Our sinful lives; but if thou shouldst bestow In aid, the gift of they redeeming grace, The account is quit and balanced, that we owe; Nor can we of thy succour, Lord, despair, While we in mind thy saving mercy bear." LXXIII So spake the holy emperor aloud, In humbleness of heart and deep contrition; And added other prayers withal, and vowed What fitted his great needs and high condition. Now was his supplication disallowed; For his good genius hears the king's petition, Best of the seraphs he; who spreads his wings, And to the Saviour's feet this offering brings. LXXIV Infinite other prayers as well preferred, Were, by like couriers, to the Godhead's ear So borne; which when the blessed spirits heard, They all together gazed, with pitying cheer, On their eternal, loving Lord, and, stirred With one desire, besought that he would hear The just petition, to his ears conveyed, Of this his Christian people, seeking aid. LXXV And the ineffable Goodness, who in vain Was never sought by faithful heart, an eye, Full of compassion, raised; and from the train Waved Michael, and to the arch-angel: "Hie, To seek the Christian host that crost the main, And lately furled their sails in Picardy: These so conduct to Paris, that their tramp And noise be heard not in the hostile camp. LXXVI "Find Silence first, and bid him, on my part, On this emprize attend thee, at thy side: Since he for such a quest, with happiest art Will know what is most fitting to provide. Next, where she sojourns, instantly impart To Discord my command, that she, supplied With steel and tinder, 'mid the paynims go, And fire and flame in their encampment blow; LXXVII "And throughout those among them, who are said To be the mightiest, spread such strife, that they Together may contend, and that some dead Remain, some hurt, some taken in the fray; And some to leave the camp, by wrath, be led; So that they yield their sovereign little stay." Nothing the blessed winged-one replies, But swoops descending from the starry skies. LXXVIII Where'er the angel Michael turns his wing, The clouds are scattered and the sky turns bright; About his person forms a golden ring, As we see summer lightning gleam at night. This while the courier of the heavenly king Thinks, on his way, where he may best alight, With the intent to find that foe to speech, To whom he first his high behest would teach. LXXIX Upon the thought the posting angel brooded, Where he, for whom he sought was used to dwell, Who after thinking much, at last concluded Him he should find in church or convent cell; Where social speech is in such mode excluded, That SILENCE, where the cloistered brethren swell Their anthems, where they sleep, and where they sit At meat; and everywhere in fine is writ. LXXX Weening that he shall find him here, he plies With greater speed his plumes of gilded scale, And deems as well that Peace, here guested, lies, And Charity and Quiet, without fail. But finds he is deceived in his surmise, As soon as he has past the cloister's pale. Here Silence is not; nor ('tis said) is found Longer, except in writing, on this ground. LXXXI Nor here he Love, nor here he Peace surveys, Piety, Quiet, or Humility. Here dwelt they once; but 'twas in ancient days; Chased hence by Avarice, Anger, Gluttony, Pride, Envy, Sloth, and Cruelty. In amaze The angel mused upon such novelty: He narrowly the hideous squadron eyed, And Discord too amid the rest espied; LXXXII Even her, to whom the eternal Sire as well, Having found Silence, bade him to repair. He had believed he to Avernus' cell, Where she was harboured with the damned, must fare, And now discerned her in this other hell (Who would believe it?) amid mass and prayer. Strange Michael thought to see her there enshrined, Whom he believed he must go far to find. LXXXIII Her by her party-coloured vest he knew. Unequal strips and many formed the gown, Which, opening with her walk, or wind that blew, Now showed, now hid her; for they were unsown. Her hair appeared to be at strife; in hue Like silver and like gold, and black and brown; Part in a tress, in riband part comprest, Some on her shoulders flowed, some on her breast. LXXXIV Examinations, summons, and a store Of writs and letters of attorney, she, And hearings, in her hands and bosom bore, And consultation, and authority: Weapons, from which the substance of the poor Can never safe in walled city be. Before, behind her, and about her, wait Attorney, notary, and advocate. LXXXV Her Michael calls to him, and give command That she among the strongest paynims go; And find occasion whence amid the band Warfare and memorable scathe may grow. He next from her of Silence makes demand, Who of his motions easily might know; As one who from one land to the other hied, Kindling and scattering fire on either side. LXXXVI "I recollect not ever to have viewed Him anywhere," quoth Discord in reply; "But oft have heard him mentioned, and for shrewd Greatly commended by the general cry: But Fraud, who makes one of this multitude, And who has sometimes kept him company, I think, can furnish news of him to thee, And" (pointing with her finger) "that is she." LXXXVII With pleasing mien, grave walk, and decent vest, Fraud rolled her eye-balls humbly in her head; And such benign and modest speech possest, She might a Gabriel seem who Ave said. Foul was she and deformed, in all the rest; But with a mantle long and widely spread, Concealed her hideous parts; and evermore Beneath the stole a poisoned dagger wore. LXXXVIII Of her the good archangel made demand What way in search of Silence to pursue: Who said; "He with the Virtues once was scanned Nor dwelt elsewhere; aye guested by the crew Of Benedict, or blest Elias' band, When abbeys and when convent-cells were new; And whilom in the schools long time did pass, With sage Archytas and Pythagorus. LXXXIX "But those philosophers and saints of yore Extinguished, who had been his former stay, From the good habits he had used before He passed to evil ones; began to stray, Changing his life, at night with lovers, bore Thieves company, and sinned in every way: He oftentimes consorts with Treason; further, I even have beheld him leagued with Murther. XC "With coiners him you oftentimes may see Harbour in some obscure and close repair. So oft he changes home and company, To light on him would be a fortune rare: Yet have I hope to point him out to thee; If to Sleep's house thou wilt at midnight fare, Him wilt thou surely find; for to repose At night he ever to that harbour goes." XCI Though Fraud was alway wont to deal in lies, So like the simple truth appears her say, The angel yields the tale belief; and flies Forth from the monastery without delay, Tempers his speed, and schemes withal in wise To finish at the appointed time his way, That at the house of Sleep (the mansion blind Full well he knew) this Silence he may find. XCII In blest Arabia lies a pleasant vale, Removed from village and from city's reach. By two fair hills o'ershadowed is the dale, And full of ancient fir and sturdy beech. Thither the circling sun without avail Conveys the cheerful daylight: for no breach The rays can make through boughs spread thickly round; And it is here a cave runs under ground. XCIII Beneath the shadow of this forest deep, Into the rock there runs a grotto wide. Here widely wandering, ivy-suckers creep, About the cavern's entrance multiplied. Harboured within this grot lies heavy Sleep, Ease, corpulent and gross, upon this side, Upon that, Sloth, on earth has made her seat; Who cannot go, and hardly keeps her feet. XCIV Mindless Oblivion at the gate is found, Who lets none enter, and agnizes none; Nor message hears or bears, and from that ground Without distinction chases every one; While Silence plays the scout and walks his round, Equipt with shoes of felt and mantle brown, And motions from a distance all who meet Him on his circuit, from the dim retreat. XCV The angel him approaches quietly, And, " 'Tis God's bidding" (whispers in his ear) "That thou Rinaldo and his company, Brought in his sovereign's aid, to Paris steer: But that thou do the deed so silently, That not a Saracen their cry shall hear; So that their army come upon the foe, Ere he from Fame of their arrival know." XCVI Silence to him no otherwise replied Than signing with his head that he obeyed: (And took his post behind the heavenly guide) Both at one flight to Picardy conveyed. The angel moved those bands of valour tried, And short to them a tedious distance made: Whom he to Paris safe transports; while none Is conscious that a miracle is done. XCVII Silence the advancing troop kept skirting round, In front, and flank, and rear of the array; Above the band he spread a mist profound, And everywhere beside 'twas lightsome day; Nor through the impeding fog the shrilling sound Of horn was heard, without, or trumpet's bray. He next the hostile paynims went to find, And with I know not what made deaf and blind. XCVIII While with such haste his band Rinaldo led, That him an angel well might seem to guide, And in such silence moved, that nought was said Or heard of this upon the paynim side; King Agramant his infantry had spread Throughout fair Paris' suburbs, and beside The foss, and underneath the walls; that day To make upon the place his worst assay. XCIX He who the Moorish monarch's force would tell, Which Charlemagne this day will have to meet, In wooded Apennine might count as well The trees upon its back, or waves that beat (What time the troubled waters highest swell) Against the Mauritanian Atlas' feet; Or watch at midnight with how many eyes The furtive works of lovers Heaven espies. C The larum-bells, loud-sounding through the air, Stricken with frequent blows, the town affray; And in the crowded temples every where Movement of lips and hands upraised to pray Are seen: if treasure seemed to God so fair As to our foolish thoughts, upon this day The holy consistory had bid mould Their every statue upon earth in gold. CI Lamenting may be heard the aged just, In that they were reserved for such a woe; Calling those happy that in sacred dust Were buried many and many a year ago. But the bold youths who, valiant and robust, Small thought upon the approaching ills bestow, Scorning their elders' counsel, here and there Hurrying, in fury, to the walls repair. CII Here might you paladin and baron ken, King, duke, and marquis, count and chivalry, And soldier, foreigner or citizen, Ready for honour and for Christ to die; Who, eager to assail the Saracen, On Charlemagne to lower the bridges cry. He witnesses with joy their martial beat, But to permit their sally deems not meet. CIII And them he ordered in convenient post, The advance of the barbarians to impede: For this would ill suffice a numerous host, To that he was content that few should speed. Some worked at the machines, some wild-fire tost, All ranged according to the separate need. Charles, never in one place, with restless care Provides defence and succour every where. CIV Paris is seated on a spacious plain, I' the midst -- the heart of France, more justly say. A stream flows into it, and forth again; But first, the passing waters, as they stray, An island form, and so secure the main And better part, dividing on their way. The other two (three separate quarters note). Within the river girds, without the moat. CV The town, whose walls for miles in circuit run, Might well have been attacked from many a side; Yet, for he would assail it but on one, Nor willingly his scattered troops divide, Westward beyond the stream Troyano's son Retired, from thence the assailing bands to guide. In that, he neither city had nor plain Behind, but what was his, as far as Spain. CVI Where'er the walls of Paris wound about, Large ammunition had king Charles purveyed; Strengthening with dyke each quarter held in doubt; And had within trench, drain, and casemate made: And where the river entered and went out, Had thickest chains across the channel laid. But most of all, his prudent cares appear Where there is greatest cause for present fear. CVII With eyes of Argus, Pepin's valiant son, Where Agramant was bent to storm foresaw, And every thing forestalled, ere yet begun By the bold followers of Mahound's law. With Isolier, Grandonio, Falsiron, Serpentin, Balugantes, and Ferrau, And what beside he out of Spain had led, Marsilius was in arms, their valiant head. CVIII With old Sobrino, on the left of Seine, Pulian and Dardinel d'Almontes meet, With Oran's giant king, to swell the train: Six cubits is the prince, from head to feet. But why move I my pen with greater pain Than these men move their arms? for in his heat King Rodomont exclaims, blaspheming sore, Nor can contain his furious spirit more. CIX As swarming to assail the pastoral bowl, With sound of stridulous wing, through summer sky, Or relics of a feast, their luscious dole, Repair the ready numbers of the fly; As starlings to the vineyard's crimsoning pole With the ripe clusters charged, -- heaven's concave high Filling, as they advanced, with noise and shout, Fast hurried to the storm the Moorish rout. CX Upon their walls the Christians in array, With lance, sword, axe, and wild-fire tost, The assaulted city guard without dismay, And little reck the proud barbarian's boast: Nor when death snatches this or that away, Does any one in fear refuse his post. Into the fosse below the paynim foes Return, amid a storm of strokes and blows. CXI Nor in this was is iron plied alone, But mighty masses and whole bulwarks fall, And top of tower, huge piece of bastion, And with much toil disrupted, solid wall; While streams of boiling water pouring down, Insufferably the advancing paynims gall: An ill-resisted rain, which, in despite Of helmet, makes its way, and blinds the sight. CXII And this than iron spear offended more: Then how much more the mist of lime-dust fine! Then how the emptied vessel, burning sore With nitre, sulphur, pitch, and turpentine! Nor idle lie the fiery hoops in store, Which, wreathed about with flaming tresses, shine. These at the foemen scaled, upon all hands, Form cruel garlands for the paynim bands. CXIII Meanwhile, up to the walls the second crew Fierce Sarza's king was driven, accompanied By bold Orlando and Buraldo, who The Garamantes and Marmonda guide; Clarindo and Loridano; nor from view, It seems, will Setta's valiant monarch hide: Morocco's king and he of Cosco go With these, that men their martial worth may know. CXIV With crimson Rodomont his banner stains, And in the vermeil field a lion shows; Who, bitted by a maid, to curb and reins His savage mouth disdains not to unclose. Himself in the submissive lion feigns The haughty Rodomont, and would suppose In her who curbs him with the bit and string, Doralice, daughter to Grenada's king; CXV Whom Mandricardo took, as I before Related, and from whom, and in what wise. Even she it was, whom Sarza's monarch more Loved than his realm, -- beyond his very eyes: And valour showed for her and courteous lore, Not knowing yet she was another's prize. If he had, -- then, -- then, first, -- the story known, Even what he did that day, he would have done. CXVI At once the foes a thousand ladders rear. Against the wall by the assailants shored, Two mannered each round; the second, in the rear, Urged on by the first; the third the second gored. One mounts the wall through valour, one through fear, And all attempt perforce the dangerous ford; For cruel Rodomont of Argier slays Or smites the wretched laggard who delays. CXVII 'Tis thus, 'mid fire and ruin, all assay To mount the wall; but others to assure Themselves, some safer passage seek, where they Will have least pain and peril to endure. Rodomont only scorns by any way To wend, except by what is least secure; And in that desperate case, where others made Their offerings, cursed the god to whom they prayed. CXVIII He in a cuirass, hard and strong, was drest; A dragon-skin it was with scaly quilt, Which erst secured the manly back and breast Of his bold ancestor, that Babel built; Who hoped the rule of heaven from God to wrest, And him would from his golden dome have split. Perfect, and for this end alone, were made Helmet and shield as well as trenchant blade. CXIX Nor Rodomont to Nimrod yields in might, Proud and untamed; and who would not forbear To scale the lofty firmament till night, Could he in this wide world descry the stair. He stood not, he, to mark the bulwark's plight Nor if the fosse of certain bottom were. He past, ran, -- rather flew across the moat, Plunging in filth and water to his throat. CXX Dripping and foul with water and with weeds, 'Mid fire and stone, and arbalests, and bows, On drives the chief; as through the marshy reeds, The wild-swine of our own Mallea goes; Who makes large day-light wheresoe'er he speeds, Parting the sedge with breast and tusk and nose. The paynim, safe in buckler lifted high, Scorns not the wall alone, but braves the sky. CXXI Rodomont has no sooner gained the shore, Than on the wooden bartizan he stands, Within the city walls, a bridge that bore (Roomy and large) king Charles's Christian bands. Here many a scull is riven, here men take more Than monkish tonsure at the warrior's hands: Heads fly and arms; and to the ditch a flood Runs streaming from the wall of crimson blood. CXXII He drops the shield; and with two-handed sway Wielding his sword, duke Arnulph he offends. Who came from whence, into the briny bay, The water of the rapid Rhine descends. No better than the sulphur keeps away The advancing flame, the wretch his life defends. He his last shudder gives, and tumbles dead; Cleft downwards, a full palm from neck and head. CXXIII At one back-stroke sir Spineloccio true, Anselmo, Prando, and Oldrado fell; The narrow place and thickly-swarming crew Make the wide-circling blow so fully tell. The first half Flemings were, the residue Are Normans, who the list of slaughter swell. Orghetto of Maganza, he from brow To breast divides, and thence to paunch below. CXXIV Down from the wall Andropono and Moschine He cast into the ditch: a priest the first; The second, but a worshipper of wine, Drained, at a draught, whole runlets in his thirst; Aye wonted simple water to decline, Like viper's blood or venom: now immersed In this, he perishes amid that slaughter; And, what breeds most affliction, dies by water. CXXV Lewis the Provencal is cleft in two; Arnold of Thoulouse through the breast before; Hubert of Tours, sir Dionysius, Hugh, And Claud, pour forth their ghosts in reeking gore. Odo, Ambaldo, Satallon ensue, And Walter next; of Paris are the four -- With others, that by me unmentioned fall, Who cannot tell the name and land of all. CXXVI The crowd, by Rodomont of Sarza led, The ladders lift, and many places scale. Here the Parisians make no further head, Who find their first defense of small avail Full well they know that danger more to dread Within awaits the foemen who assail; Because between the wall and second mound A fosse descends, wide, horrid, and profound. CXXVII Besides, that ours, with those upon the height, War from below, like valiant men and stout, New files succeed to those who fall in fight, Where, on the interior summit, stand the rout, Who gall with lances, and a whistling flight Of darts, the mighty multitude without; Many of whom, I ween, that post would shun, If it were not for royal Ulien's son. CXXVIII But he still heartened some, and chid the rest, And forced them forward to their sore alarm. One paynim's head he cleft, and other's breast, Who turned about to fly; and of the swarm Some shoved and pushed and to the encounter prest, Close-grappled by the collar, hair, or arm: And downwards from the wall such numbers threw, The ditch was all to narrow for the crew. CXXIX While so the foes descend, or rather fling Themselves into the perilous profound; And thence by many ladders try to spring Upon the summit of the second mound, King Rodomont, as if he had a wing Upon his every member, from the ground Upraised his weight, and vaulted clean across, Loaded with all his arms, the yawning fosse. CXXX The moat of thirty feet, not less, he cleared, As dexterously as leaps the greyhound fleet, Nor at his lighting louder noise was heard Than if he had worn felt beneath his feet. He now of this, now that, the mantle sheared; As though of pewter, not of iron beat, Or rather of soft rind their arms had been: So matchless was his force and sword so keen! CXXXI This while, not idle, those of ours had laid Snares in the inner moat, a well-charged mine: Where broom and thick fascines, all over paid With swarthy pitch, in plenty intertwine. Though they from bank to bank that hollow line, Filling the bottom well-nigh to the brink; And countless vessels the defenders sink. CXXXII Charged with salt-petre, oil, or sulphur pale, One and the other, or with such like gear; While ours, intent the paynims that assail The town, should pay their daring folly dear, (Who from the ditch on different parts would scale The inner bulwark's platform) when they hear The appointed signal which their comrades raise, Set, at fit points, the wildfire in a blaze. CXXXIII For that the moat was full from side to side, The scattered flames united into one, And mounted to such height, they well-nigh dried The watery bosom of the moon; a dun And dismal cloud above extending wide, Dimmed every glimpse of light, and hid the sun: A fearful crash, with a continued sound, Like a long peal of thunder, shook the ground. CXXXIV A horrid concert, a rude harmony Of deep lament, and yell and shriek, which came From those poor wretches in extremity, Perishing through their furious leader's blame, Was heard, as in strange concord, to agree With the fierce crackling of the murderous flame. No more of this, no more! -- Here, sir, I close My canto, hoarse, and needing short repose.