Canto 15 & Canto 16
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #10a
CANTO 15 ARGUMENT Round about Paris every where are spread The assailing hosts of Africa and Spain. Astolpho home by Logistilla sped, Binds first Caligorantes with his chain; Next from Orrilo's trunk divides the head; With whom Sir Aquilant had warred in vain, And Gryphon bold: next Sansonet discerns, Ill tidings of his lady Gryphon learns. I Though Conquest fruit of skill or fortune be, To conquer always is a glorious thing. 'Tis true, indeed, a bloody victory Is to a chief less honour wont to bring; And that fair field is famed eternally, And he who wins it merits worshipping, Who, saving from all harm his own, without Loss to his followers, puts the foe to rout. II You, sir, earned worthy praise, when you o'erbore The lion of such might by sea, and so Did by him, where he guarded either shore From Francolino to the mouth of Po, That I, though yet again I heard him roar, If you were present, should my fear forego. How fields are fitly won was then made plain; For we were rescued, and your foemen slain. III This was the Paynim little skilled to do, Who was but daring to his proper loss; And to the moat impelled his meiny, who One and all perished in the burning fosse. The mighty gulf had not contained the crew, But that, devouring those who sought to cross, Them into dust the flame reduced, that room Might be for all within the crowded tomb. IV Of twenty thousand warriors thither sent, Died nineteen thousand in the fiery pit; Who to the fosse descended, ill content; But so their leader willed, of little wit: Extinguished amid such a blaze, and spent By the devouring flame the Christians lit. And Rodomont, occasion of their woes, Exempted from the mighty mischief goes: V For he to the inner bank, by foes possest, Across the ditch had vaulted wonderously: Had he within it been, among the rest, It sure had been his last assault. His eye He turns, and when the wild-fires, which infest The infernal vale, he sees ascend so high, And hears his people's moan and dying screams, With imprecations dread he Heaven blasphemes. VI This while a band King Agramant had brought, To make a fierce assault upon a gate: For while the cruel battle here was fought, Wherein so many sufferers met their fate, This haply unprovided had he thought With fitting guard. Upon the monarch wait King Bambirago, 'mid his knights of price, And Baliverso, sink of every vice. VII And Corineus of Mulga, Prusion, The wealthy monarch of the blessed isles; Malabuferzo, he who fills the throne Of Fez, where a perpetual summer smiles; And other noble lords, and many a one Well-armed and tried; and others 'mid their files, Naked, and base, whose hearts in martial fields Had found no shelter from a thousand shields. VIII But all things counter to the hopes ensue Of Agramant upon his side; within, In person, girded by a gallant crew, Is Charlemagne, with many a paladin: Ogier the Duke, King Salamon, the two Guidos are seen, and either Angelin; Bavaria's duke, and Ganelon are here, Avino, Avolio, Otho, and Berlinghier. IX And of inferior count withal, a horde Of Lombards, French, and Germans, without end; Who, every one, in presence of his lord, To rank among the valiantest contend, This will I in another place record; Who here a mighty duke perforce attend, Who signs to me from far, and prays that I Will not omit him in my history. X 'Tis time that I should measure back my way Thither, where I Astolpho left of yore; Who, in long exile, loathing more to stay, Burnt with desire to tread his native shore; As hopes to him had given the sober fay, Who quelled Alcina by her better lore, She with all care would send the warrior back By the securest and the freest track. XI And thus by her a barque is fitted out; -- A better galley never ploughed the sea; And Logistilla wills, for aye in doubt Of hinderance from Alcina's treachery, That good Andronica, with squadron stout, And chaste Sophrosina, with him shall be, Till to the Arabian Sea, beneath their care, Or to the Persian Gulf he safe repair. XII By Scyth and Indian she prefers the peer Should coast, and by the Nabataean reign; Content he, after such a round, should veer For Persian gulf, or Erithraean main, Rather than for that Boreal palace steer, Where angry winds aye vex the rude domain: So ill, at seasons, favoured by the sun, That there, for months together, light is none. XIII Next, when she all in readiness espied, Her license to depart the prudent fay Accorded to the duke, first fortified With counsel as to things too long to say; And that he might no more by charms be stayed In place from whence he could not wend his way, Him with a useful book and fair purveyed, And ever for her love to wear it prayed. XIV How man should guard himself from magic cheats The book instructed, which the fay bestowed; At the end or the beginning, where it treats Of such, an index and appendix showed. Another gift, which in its goodly feats All other gifts excelled, to her he owed; This was a horn, which made whatever wight Should hear its clang betake himself to flight. XV I say, the horn is of such horrid sound, That, wheresoe'er 'tis heard, all fly for fear; Nor in the world is one of heart so sound That would not fly, should he the bugle hear. Wind, thunder, and the shock which rives the ground, Come not, in aught, the hideous clangour near. With thanks did the good Englishman receive The gift, and of the fairy took his leave. XVI Quitting the port and smoother waves, they stand To sea, with favouring wind which blows astern; And (coasting) round the rich and populous land Of odoriferous Ind the vessels turn, Opening a thousand isles on either hand, Scattered about that sea, till they discern The land of Thomas; here the pilot veers His ready tiller, and more northward steers. XVII Astolpho, furrowing that ocean hoar, Marks, as he coasts, the wealthy land at ease. Ganges amid the whitening waters roar, Nigh skirting now the golden Chersonese; Taprobana with Cori next, and sees The frith which chafes against its double shore; Makes distant Cochin, and with favouring wind Issues beyond the boundaries of Ind. XVIII Scouring at large broad ocean, with a guide So faithful and secure, the cavalier Questions Andronica, if from that side Named from the westering sun, of this our sphere, Bark, which with oars or canvas stemmed the tide, On eastern sea was wonted to appear; -- And could a wight, who loosed from Indian strand, Reach France or Britain, without touching land. XIX Andronica to England's duke replies: "Know that this earth is girt about with seas, And all to one another yield supplies, Whether the circling waters boil or freeze: But, since the Aethiops' land before us lies, Extending southward many long degrees. Across his waters, some one has supposed A barrier here to Neptune interposed. XX "Hence bark from this Levant of Ind is none Which weighs, to shape her course for Europe's shore; Nor navigates from Europe any one, Our Oriental regions to explore; Fain to retrace alike the course begun By the mid land, extending wide before: Weening (its limits of such length appear) That it must join another hemisphere. XXI "But in the course of circling years I view From farthest lands which catch the western ray, New Argonauts put forth, and Tiphys new Opening, till now an undiscovered way. Others I see coast Afric, and pursue So far the negroes' burning shore, that they Pass the far sign, from whence, on his return, The sun moves hither, leaving Capricorn; XXII "And find the limit of this length of land, Which makes a single sea appear as two; Who, scouring in their frigates every strand, Pass Ind and Arab isles, or Persian through: Others I see who leave, on either hand, The banks, which stout Alcides cleft in two, And in the manner of the circling sun, To seek new lands and new creations run. XXIII "The imperial flags and holy cross I know, Fixed on the verdant shore; see some upon The shattered barks keep guard, and others go A-field, by whom new countries will be won; Ten chase a thousand of the flying foe, Realms beyond Ind subdued by Arragon; And see all, wheresoe'er the warriors wend, To the fifth Charles' triumphant captains bend. XXIV "That this way should be hidden was God's will Of old, and ere 'twas known long time should run; Nor will he suffer its discovery, till The sixth and seventh century be done. And he delays his purpose to fulfil, In that he would subject the world to one, The justest and most fraught with prudent lore Or emperors, since Augustus, or before. XXV "Of Arragon and Austria's blood I see On the left bank of Rhine a monarch bred; No sovereign is so famed in history, Of all whose goodly deeds are heard or read. Astraea reinthroned by him will be, -- Rather restored to life, long seeming dead; And Virtues with her into exile sent, By him shall be recalled from banishment. XXVI "For such desert, Heaven's bounty not alone Designs he should the imperial garland bear, -- Augustus', Trajan's, Mark's, Severus', crown; But that of every farthest land should wear, Which here and there extends, as yet unknown, Yielding no passage to the sun and year; And wills that in his time Christ's scattered sheep Should be one flock, beneath one Shepherd's keep. XXVII "And that this be accomplished with more ease, Writ in the skies from all eternity, Captains, invincible by lands and seas, Shall heavenly Providence to him supply. I mark Hernando Cortez bring, 'mid these, New cities under Caesar's dynasty, And kingdoms in the Orient so remote, That we of these in India have no note. XXVIII "With Prospero Colonna, puissant peer, A marquis of Pescara I behold; -- A youth of Guasto next, who render dear Hesperia to the flower-de-luce of gold; I see prepared to enter the career This third, who shall the laurel win and hold; As a good horse before the rest will dart, And first attain the goal, though last to start. XXIX "I see such faith, such valour in the deeds Of young Alphonso (such his name) confest, He in his unripe age, -- nor he exceeds His sixth and twentieth year, -- at Caesar's hest, (A mighty trust) the imperial army leads: Saving which, Caesar not alone the rest Of his fair empire saves, but may the world Reduce, with ensigns by this chief unfurled. XXX "As with these captains, where the way by land Is free, he spreads the ancient empire's sway, So on the sea, which severs Europe's strand From Afric, open to the southern day, When with good Doria linked in friendly band, Victorious he shall prove in every fray. This is that Andrew Doria who will sweep From pirates, on all sides, your midland deep. XXXI "Pompey, though he chased rovers everywhere, Was not his peer; for ill the thievish brood Vanquished by him, in puissance, could compare With the most mighty realm that ever stood. But Doria singly will of the corsair With his own forces purge the briny flood: So that I see each continent and isle Quake at his name, from Calpe to the Nile. XXXII "Beneath the faith, beneath the warrantry Of the redoubted chief, of whom I say, I see Charles enter fertile Italy, To which this captain clears the monarch's way; But on his country, not himself, that fee Shall he bestow, which is his labour's pay; And beg her freedom, where himself perchance Another would to sovereign rule advance. XXXIII "The pious love he bears his native land Honours him more than any battle's gain Which Julius ever won on Afric's strand, Or in thine isle, France, Thessaly, or Spain. Nor great Octavius does more praise command, Nor Anthony who jousted for the reign, With equal arms: in that the wrong outweighs -- Done to their native land -- their every praise. XXXIV "Let these, and every other wight who tries To subject a free country, blush for shame, Nor dare in face of man to lift his eyes, Where he hears Andrew Doria's honoured name! To him I see Charles other meed supplies; For he beside his leaders' common claim, Bestows upon the chief the sumptuous state, Whence Norman bands their power in Puglia date. XXXV "Not only to this captain courtesy Shall Charles display, still liberal of his store; But to all those who for the empery In his emprizes have not spared their gore. Him to bestow a town, -- a realm -- I see, Upon a faithful friend, rejoicing more, And on all such as have good service done, Than in new kingdom and new empire won." XXXVI Thus of the victories, by land and main, Which, when long course of years shall be complete, Charles' worthy captains for their lord will gain, Andronica did with Astolpho treat. This while, now loosening, tightening now, the rein On the eastern winds, which blow upon their feet, Making this serve or that, her comrade stands; While the blasts rise or sink as she commands. XXXVII This while they saw, as for their port they made, How wide the Persian sea extends to sight; Whence in few days the squadron was conveyed Nigh the famed gulf from ancient Magi hight; Here they found harbourage; and here were stayed Their wandering barks, which stern to shore were dight. Secure from danger from Alcina's wrath, The duke by land continued hence his path. XXXVIII He pricks through many a field and forest blind, By many a vale and many a mountain gray; Where robbers, now before and now behind, Oft threat the peer by night or open day; Lion and dragon oft of poisonous kind, And other savage monsters cross his way: But he no sooner has his bugle wound, Than these are scared and scattered by the sound. XXXIX Through Araby the blest he fares, where grow Thickets of myrrh, and gums odorous ooze, Where the sole phoenix makes her nest, although The world is all before her where to choose; And to the avenging sea which whelmed the foe Of Israel, his way the duke pursues; In which King Pharaoh and his host were lost: From whence he to the land of heroes crost. XL Astolpho along Trajan's channel goes, Upon that horse which has no earthly peer, And moves so lightly, that the soft sand shows No token of the passing cavalier; Who prints not grass, prints not the driven snows, -- Who dry-shod would the briny billows clear, And strains so nimbly in the course, he wind And thunderbolt and arrow leaves behind: -- XLI Erst Argalia's courser, which was born From a close union of the wind and flame, And, nourished not by hay or heartening corn, Fed on pure air, and Rabican his name. His way the bearer of the magic horn Following, where Nile received that river, came; But ere he at its outlet could arrive, Towards him saw a pinnace swiftly drive. XLII A hermit in the poop the bark did guide With snowy beard descending to mid breast; Who when from far the Paladin be spied, Him to ascend his ready pinnace prest. "My son, unless thou loathest life, (he cried) And wouldst that Death to-day thy course arrest, Content thee in my bark to cross the water; For yonder path conducts thee straight to slaughter. XLIII "Within six miles, no further, shalt thou light (Pursued the hermit) on the bloody seat, Where dwells a giant, horrible to sight, Exceeding every stature by eight feet. From him wayfaring man or errant knight Would vainly hope with life to make retreat; For some the felon quarters, some he flays, And some he swallows quick, and some he slays. XLIV "He, 'mid the cruel horrors he intends, Takes pleasure in a net, by cunning hands Contrived, which near his mansion he extends; So well concealed beneath the crumbling sands, That whoso uninstructed thither wends, Nought of the subtle mischief understands; And so the giant scares him with his cries, That he within the toils in terror flies; XLV "Whom with loud laughter, to his seat hard by He drags along, enveloped in his snare; And knight and damsel views with equal eye, And for his prisoners' worth has little care. Then, having sucked their brains and life-blood dry, Casts forth their bones upon the desert lair; And round about his griesly palace pins, For horrid ornament, their bloody skins. XLVI "Take this, -- my son, oh! take this other way, Which thee will to the sea in safety guide." "I thank thee, holy father, for thy say, (To him the fearless cavalier replied) But cannot peril against honour weigh, Far dearer than my life. To the other side Me vainly dost thou move to pass the wave; Rather for this I seek the giant's cave. XLVII "I with dishonour life to flight may owe; But worse than death loath thus to save my head. The worst that can befall me if I go, Is I my blood shall with the others shed: But if on me such mercy God bestow, That I remain alive, the giant dead, Secure for thousands shall I make the ways; So that the greater good the risque o'erpays. XLVIII "I peril but the single life of one Against safety of the countless rest." -- "Go then in peace," (the other said). "my son, And to thy succour, form among the blest, May God dispatch the Archangel Michael down." -- And him, with that, the simple hermit blest. Astolpho pricks along Nile's rosy strand, More in his horn confiding than his brand. XLIX Between the mighty river and the fen, A path upon the sandy shore doth lie, Barred by the giant's solitary den Cut off from converse with humanity. About it heads and naked limbs of men Were fixed, the victims of his cruelty. Window or battlements was not, whence strung Might not be seen some wretched prisoner hung. L As in hill-farm or castle, fenced with moat, The hunter, mindful what his dangers were, Aye fastens on his door the shaggy coat And horrid paws and monstrous head of bear; So showed the giant those of greatest note, Who, thither brought, had perished in his snare. The bones of countless others wide were spread, And every ditch with human blood was red. LI Caligorant was standing at the gate (For so was the despiteous monster hight); Who decked his house with corpses, as for state Some theirs with cloth of gold and scarlet dight. He scarce contained himself for joy, so great His pleasure, when the duke appeared in sight; For 'twas two months complete, a third was near, Since by that road had past a cavalier. LII Towards the marish, where green rushes grow, He hastes, intending from that covert blind To double on his unsuspecting foe, And issue on the cavalier behind: For him to drive into the net, below The sand, the griesly giant had designed; As others trapt he had been wont to see, Brought thither by their evil destiny. LIII When him the wary paladin espied, He stopt his courser, not without great heed, Lest he into the covert snare might tide, Forewarned of this by the good hermit's rede. Here to his horn for succour he applied, Nor failed its wonted virtue in this need: It smote the giant's heart with such affright, That he turned back, and homeward fled outright. LIV Astolpho blew, still watchful of surprise, Weening to see the engine sprung: fast flew The giant, -- as if heart as well as eyes The thief had lost, -- nor whitherward he knew: Such is his fear, he kens not as he flies, How is own covert mischief to eschew: He runs into the net, which closing round, Hampers the wretch, and drags him to the ground. LV Astolpho, who beholds his bulky prey Fall bodily, drives thither at full speed, Secure himself, and, bent -- to make him pay The price of slaughtered thousands -- quits his steed. Yet after, deems a helpless wight to slay No valour were, but rather foul misdeed: For him, arms, neck, and feet, so closely tied, He could not shake himself, the warrior spied. LVI With subtle thread of steel had Vulcan wrought The net of old, and with such cunning pain, He, who to break its weakest mesh had sought, Would have bestowed his time and toil in vain. It was with this he Mars and Venus caught, Who, hands and feet, were fettered by the chain: Nor did the jealous husband weave the thread For aught, but to surprise that pair in bed. LVII Mercury from the smith conveyed the prize, Wanting to take young Chloris in the snare; Sweet Chloris, who behind Aurora flies, At rise of sun, through fields of liquid air, And from her gathered garment, through the skies, Scatters the violet, rose, and lily fair. He for this nymph his toils so deftly set, One day, in air he took her with the net. LVIII The nymph (it seems) was taken as she flew, Where the great Aethiop river meets the brine: The net was treasured in Canopus, through Successive ages, in Anubis' shrine. After three thousand years, Caligorant drew The sacred relict from the palace divine: Whence with the net the impious thief returned, Who robbed the temple and the city burned, LIX He fixed it here, beneath the sandy plain, In mode, that all the travellers whom he chased Ran into it, and the engine was with pain Touched, ere it arms, and feet, and neck embraced. From this the good Astolpho took a chain, And with the gyve his hands behind him laced: His arms and breast he swaddled in such guise, He could not loose himself; then let him rise. LX After, his other knots unfastening, (For he was turned more gentle than a maid) Astolpho, as a show, the thief would bring, By city, borough-town, and farm conveyed; The net as well; than which no quainter thing Was ever by the file and hammer made. On him, like sumpter-nag he laid the load, In triumph led, behind him, on his road. LXI Him helm and shield he gives alike to bear, As to a valet; hence proceeds the peer, Gladdening the fearful pilgrim every where, Who joys to think, henceforth his way is clear. So far an end does bold Astolpho fare, He is to Memphis' tombs already near, -- Memphis renowned for pyramids; in sight, He marks the populous Cairo opposite. LXII Ran all the people in tumultuous tide, To see him drag the unmeasured wight along. "How can it be," (each to his fellow cried) "That one so weak could master one so strong?" Scarce can Astolpho put the press aside, So close from every part their numbers throng; While all admire him as a cavalier Of mighty worth, and make him goodly cheer. LXIII Then Cairo was not such, as common cry Pronounces in our age that costly seat; -- That eighteen thousand districts ill supply Lodging to those who in her markets meet; -- And though the houses are three stories high, Numbers are forced to sleep in the open street; And that the soldan has a palace there Of wonderous size, and passing rich and fair; LXIV And therein (Christian renegadoes all) Keeps fifteen thousand vassals, for his needs, Beneath one roof supplied with bower and stall, Themselves, and wives, and families, and steeds. The duke desired to see the river's fall, And how far Nile into the sea proceeds. At Damietta; where wayfaring wight, He heard, was prisoner made or slain outright. LXV For at Nile's outlet there, beside his bed, A sturdy thief was sheltered in a tower, Alike the native's and the stranger's dread, Wont even to Cairo's gate the road to scower. Him no one could resist, and, it was said, That man to slay the felon had no power. A hundred thousand wounds he had in strife Received, yet none could ever take his life. LXVI To see if he could break the thread which tied The felon's life, upon his way the knight Set forward, and to Damietta hied, To find Orrilo, so the thief was hight; Thence to the river's outlet past, and spied The sturdy castle on the margin dight; Harboured in which the enchanted demon lay, The fruit of a hobgoblin and a fay. LXVII He here Orrilo and two knights in mail Found at fierce strife: the two ill held their own Against him; so Orrilo did assail The warlike pair, although himself alone; And how much either might in arms avail, Fame through the universal world had blown. Of Oliviero's seed was either plant; Gryphon the white, and sable Aquilant. LXVIII The necromancer had this while (to say The truth) with vantage on his side, begun The fight, who brought a monster to the fray, Found only in those parts, and wont to won Ashore or under water, and to prey, For food, on human bodies; feeding on Poor mariners and travelling men, who fare, Of the impending danger, unaware. LXIX The monster, slaughtered by the brethren two, Upon the sand beside the haven lies; And hence no wrong they to Orrilo do, Assailing him together in this guise. Him they dismembered often and not slew: Now he, -- because dismembered, -- ever dies; For he replaces leg or hand like wax, Which the good faulchion from his body hacks. LXX Gryphon and Aquilant by turns divide, Now to the teeth, now breast, the enchanted wight. The fruitless blow Orrilo does deride, While the two baffled warriors rage for spite. Let him who falling silver has espied (Which mercury by alchymists is hight) Scatter, and reunite each broken member, Hearing my tale, what he has seen remember. LXXI If the thief's head be severed by the pair, He lights and staggers till he finds it; now Uptaken by the nose or by the hair, And fastened to the neck, I know not how. This sometimes Gryphon takes, and whirled through air, Whelms in the stream; but bootless is the throw: For like a fish can fierce Orrilo swim; And safely, with the head, regains the brim. LXXII Two ladies, meetly clad in fair array, One damsel was in black and one in white, And who had been the occasion of that fray, Stood by to gaze upon the cruel fight: Either of these was a benignant fay, Whose care had nourished one and the other knight, Oliver's children; when the babes forlorn They from the claws of two huge birds had torn. LXXIII Since, from Gismonda they had these conveyed, Borne to a distance from their native sky. But more to say were needless, since displaid To the whole world has been their history. Though the author has the father's name mis-said; One for another (how I know not, I) Mistaking. Now this fearful strife the pair Of warriors waged at both the ladies' prayer. LXXIV Though it was noon in the happy islands, day Had vanished in this clime, displaced by night; And, underneath the moon's uncertain ray, And ill-discerned, were all things hid from sight; When to the fort Orrilo took his way. Since both the sable sister and the white Were pleased the furious battle to defer, Till a new sun should in the horizon stir. LXXV The duke, who by their ensigns, and yet more Had by the sight of many a vigorous blow, Gryphon and Aquilant long time before Agnized, to greet the brethren was not slow: And they, who in the peer, victorious o'er The giant, whom he led a captive, know The BARON OF THE PARD, (so styled at court) Him to salute, with no less love resort. LXXVI The ladies to repose the warriors led To a fair palace near, their sumptuous seat: Thence issuing courtly squire and damsel sped, Them with lit torches in mid-way to meet. Their goodly steeds they quit, there well bested, Put off their arms, and in a garden sweet Discern the ready supper duly laid Fast by, where a refreshing fountain played. LXXVII Here they bid bind the giant on the green, Fast-tethered by a strong and weighty chain To a tough oak, whose ancient trunk they ween May well be proof against a single strain; With that, by ten good serjeants overseen, Lest he by night get loose, and so the train Assault and haply harm; while careless they Without a guard and unsuspecting lay. LXXVIII At the abundant and most sumptuous board, With costly viands (its least pleasure) fraught, The longest topic for discourse afford Orrilo's prowess, and the marvel wrought; For head or arm dissevered by the sword, They (who upon the recent wonder thought) Might think a dream to see him re-unite, And but return more furious to the fight. LXXIX Astolpho in his book had found exprest (That which prescribed a remedy for spell) How he who of one hair deprived the pest Only could him in battle hope to quell: But this plucked out or sheared, he from his breast Parforce the felon's spirit would expell. So says the volume; but instructs not where, 'Mid locks so thickly set, to find the hair. LXXX The duke no less with hope of conquest glows Than if the palm he has already won; As he that hopes with small expense of blows To pluck the hair, the wizard-wight undone. Hence does he to the youthful pair propose The burden of that enterprize upon Himself to take: Orrilo will he slay, If the two brethren nought the intent gainsay, LXXXI But willingly to him these yield the emprize, Assured his toil will be bestowed in vain; And now a new Aurora climbs the skies, And from his walls Orrilo on the plain Drops, -- and the strife begins -- Orrilo plies The mace, the duke the sword; he 'mid a rain Of strokes would from the body at one blow Divorce the spirit of the enchanted foe: LXXXII Together with the mace he lops the fist; And now this arm, now the other falls to ground; Sometimes he cleaves the corslet's iron twist, And piecemeal shares and maims the felon round. Orrilo re-unites the portions missed, Found on the champagne, and again is sound: And, though into a hundred fragments hewed, Astolpho sees him, in a thought, renewed. LXXXIII After a thousand blows, Astolpho sped One stroke, above the shoulders and below The chin, which lopt away both helm and head: Nor lights the duke less swiftly than his foe. Then grasps the hair defiled with gore and red, Springs in a moment on his horse, and lo! Up-stream with it along Nile's margin hies, So that the thief cannot retake the prize. LXXXIV That fool, who had not marked the warrior's feat, Was searching in the dust to find his head; But when he heard the charger in retreat, Who through the forest with the plunder fled, Leapt quickly into his own courser's seat, And in pursuit of bold Astolpho sped. Fain had Orrilo shouted "Hola! stay!" But that the duke had borne his mouth away: LXXXV Yet pleased Astolpho had not in like guise Borne off his heels, pursues with flowing rein. Him Rabican, who marvellously flies, Distances by a mighty length of plain. This while the wizard's head Astolpho eyes From poll to front, above the eyebrows twain, Searching, in haste, if he the hair can see Which makes Orrilo's immortality. LXXXVI Amid innumerable locks, no hair Straiter or crisper than the rest was seen. How then should good Astolpho, in his care To slay the thief, so many choose between? "To cut them all (he said) it better were." And since he scissors lacked and razor keen, He wanting these, resorted to his glaive, Which cut so well, it might be said to shave. LXXXVII And, holding, by the nose, the severed head, Close-sheared it all, behind and eke before. He found, among the rest, the fatal thread. Then pale became the visage, changing sore, Turned up its eyes, and signals sore and dread Of the last agony of nature wore; And the headless body seated in the sell, Shuddered its last, and from the courser fell. LXXXVIII The duke returns where he the champions two And dames had left, the trophy in his hand, Which manifests of death the tokens true; And shows the distant body on the sand. I know not if they this with pleasure view, Though him they welcome with demeanour bland: For the intercepted victory might pain Perchance inflict upon the envying twain. LXXXIX Nor do I think that either gentle fay With pleasure could that battle's issue see: Since those kind dames, because they would delay The doleful fate which shortly was to be In France the brethren's lot, had in that fray With fierce Orrilo matched the warriors free; And so to occupy the pair had cast, Till the sad influence of the skies were past. XC When to the castellan was certified In Damietta, that the thief was dead, He loosed a carrier pigeon, having tied Beneath her wing a letter by a thread. She went to Cairo; and, to scatter wide The news, another from that town was sped (Such is the usage there); so, Egypt through, In a few hours the joyful tidings flew. XCI As he had brought the adventure to an end, The duke now sought the noble youths to stir, (Though of themselves that way their wishes tend, Nor they to whet that purpose need the spur) That they the Church from outrage to defend, And rights of Charles, the Roman Emperor, Would cease to war upon that Eastern strand, And would seek honour in their native land. XCII Gryphon and Aquilant thus bid adieu, One and the other, to his lady fair; Who, though it sorely troubled them, ill knew How to resist the wishes of the pair. The duke, together with the warlike two, Turns to the right, resolved to worship, where God erst incarnate dwelt, the holy places, Ere he to cherished France his way retraces. XCIII The warriors to the left-hand might incline, As plainer and more full of pleasant cheer, Where still along the sea extends their line; But take the right-hand path, abrupt and drear; Since the chief city of all Palestine, By six days' journey, is, through this, more near. Water there is along this rugged track, And grass; all other needful matters lack. XCIV So that, before they enter on their road, All that is needful they collect, and lay Upon the giant's back the bulky load, Who could a tower upon his neck convey. The Holy Land a mountain-summit showed, At finishing their rough and salvage way; Where HEAVENLY LOVE a willing offering stood, And washed away our errors with his blood. XCV They, at the entrance of the city, view A gentle stripling; and in him the three Agnize Sir Sansonet of Mecca, who Was, in youth's flower, for sovereign chivalry, For sovereign goodness, famed the country through, And wise beyond his years: from paganry Converted by Orlando to the truth, Who had, with his own hands, baptized the youth. XCVI Designing there a fortilage, in front Of Egypt's caliph they the warrior found; And with a wall two miles in length, the mount Of Calvary intending to surround. Received with such a countenance, as is wont To be of inward love the surest ground, Them he conducted to his royal home, And, with all comfort, harboured in the dome. XCVII As deputy, the sainted land he swayed, Conferred on him by Charlemagne, in trust, To him the English duke a present made Of that so sturdy and unmeasured beast, That it ten draught horse burdens had conveyed; So monstrous was the giant, and next gave The net, in which he took the unwieldy slave. XCVIII In quittance, Sansonet, his sword to bear, Gave a rich girdle to Astolpho bold, And spurs for either heel, a costly pair, With bucklers and with rowels made of gold; Which ('twas believed) the warrior's relicts were, Who freed the damsel from that dragon old; Spoils, which Sir Sansonet, with many more, From Joppa, when he took the city, bore XCIX Cleansed of their errors in a monastery, From whence the odour of good works upwent, They of Christ's passion every mystery Contemplating, through all the churches went; Which now, to our eternal infamy, Foul Moor usurp; what time on strife intent, All Europe rings with arms and martial deeds, And war is everywhere but where it needs. C While grace the warlike three devoutly sought, Intent on pardon and on pious lore, A Grecian pilgrim, known to Gryphon, brought Tidings, which ill the afflicted champion bore, From his long-cherished vow and former thought, Too foreign, too remote; and these so sore Inflamed his troubled breast, and bred such care, They wholly turned aside his mind from prayer. CI For his misfortune, one of lovely feature Sir Gryphon worshipped, Origilla hight. Of fairer visage and of better stature, Not one among a thousand meets the sight: But faithless, and of such an evil nature, That thou mightst town and city search outright, And continent and island, far and near, Yet, never, as I think, wouldst find her peer. CII In Constantine's imperial city, burned With a fierce fever, he had left the fair; And hoped to find her, to that place returned, Lovelier than ever; and enjoy her there. But she to Antioch (as the warrior learned) Had with another leman made repair; Thinking, while such fresh youth was yet her own, 'Twere not a thing to brook -- to sleep alone. CIII Sir Gryphon, from the time he heard the news Had evermore bemoaned him, day or night: Whatever pleasure other wight pursues Seems but the more to vex his troubled sprite. Let each reflect, who to his mischief woos, How keenly tempered are Love's darts of might, And, heavier than all ills, the torment fell, In that he was ashamed his grief to tell. CIV This: for that Aquilant had oft before Reproved him for the passion which he nursed, And sought to banish her from his heart's core; -- Her, who of all bad women is the worst, He still had censured, in his wiser lore, If by his brother Aquilant accurst, Her Gryphon, in his partial love, excuses, For mostly self-conceit our sense abuses. CV It therefore is his purpose, without say To Aquilant, alone to take the quest As far as Antioch, and bear her away, Who had borne off his heart-core from his breast: To find him, who had made the dame his prey, And take such vengeance of him, ere he rest, As shall for aye be told. My next will tell How he effected this, and what befell. CANTO 16 ARGUMENT Gryphon finds traitorous Origilla nigh Damascus city, with Martano vile. Slaughtered the Saracens and Christians lie By thousands and by thousands heaped this while; And if the Moor outside of Paris die, Within the Sarzan so destroys each pile, Such slaughter deals, that greater ill than this Never before has been exprest, I wiss. I Love's penalties are manifold and dread: Of which I have endured the greater part, And, to my cost, in these so well am read, That I can speak of them as 'twere my art. Hence if I say, or if I ever said, (Did speech or living page my thoughts impart) "One ill is grievous and another light." Yield me belief, and deem my judgment right. II I say, I said, and, while I live, will say, "He, who is fettered by a worthy chain, Though his desire his lady should gainsay, And, every way averse, his suit disdain; Though Love deprive him of all praised pay, After long time and trouble spent in vain, He, if his heart be placed well worthily, Needs not lament though he should waste and die." III Let him lament, who plays a slavish part, Whom two bright eyes and lovely tresses please: Beneath which beauties lurks a wanton heart With little that is pure, and much of lees. The wretch would fly; but bears in him a dart, Like wounded stag, whichever way he flees; Dares not confess, yet cannot quench, his flame, And of himself and worthless love has shame. IV The youthful Gryphon finds him in this case, Who sees the error which he cannot right; He sees how vilely he his heart does place On faithless Origille, his vain delight: Yet evil use doth sovereign reason chase, And free will is subdued by appetite. Though a foul mind the lady's actions speak, Her, wheresoe'er she is, must Gryphon seek. V Resuming the fair history, I say, Out of the city he in secret rode; Nor to his brother would his plan bewray, Who oft on him had vain reproof bestowed: But to the left t'wards Ramah shaped his way, By the most level and most easy road. Him six days' journey to Damascus brought, Whence, setting out anew, he Antioch sought. VI He nigh Damascus met the lover, who Perfidious Origilla's heart possest, And matched in evil customs were the two, Like stalk and flower: for that in either's breast Was lodged a fickle heart; the dame untrue, And he a traitor whom she loved the best. While both the lovers hid their nature base, To others' cost, beneath a courteous face. VII As I relate to you, the cavalier Came on huge courser, trapped with mickle pride; With faithless Origille, in gorgeous gear, With gold embroidered, and with azure dyed. Two ready knaves, who serve the warrior, rear The knightly helm and buckler at his side; As one who with fair pomp and semblance went Towards Damascus, to a tournament. VIII Damascus' king a splendid festival Had in these days bid solemnly proclaim; And with what pomp they could, upon his call, Thither, in shining arms, the champions came. At Gryphon's sight the harlot's spirits fall, Who fears that he will work her scathe and shame; And knows her lover has not force and breath To save her from Sir Gryphon, threatening death; IX But like most cunning and audacious quean, Although she quakes from head to foot with fear, Her voice so strengthens, and so shapes her mien, That in her face no signs of dread appear, Having already made her leman ween The trick devised, she feigns a joyous cheer, Towards Sir Gryphon goes, and for long space Hangs on his neck, fast-locked in her embrace. X She, after suiting with much suavity The action to the word, sore weeping, cried: "Dear lord, is this the guerdon due to me, For love and worship? that I should abide Alone one live long year, deprived of thee, -- A second near -- and, yet upon thy side No grief? -- and had I borne for thee to stay, I know not if I should have seen that day. XI "When I from Nicosia thee expected (When thou wast journeying to the plenar court) To cheer me, -- left with fever sore infected, And in the dread of death, -- I heard report That thou wast gone to Syria; and dejected By that ill tiding, suffered in such sort, I, all unable to pursue thy quest, Had nigh with this right hand transfixt my breast. XII "But fortune, by her double bounty, shows She guards me more than thou: me to convey She sent my brother here, who with me goes, My honour safe in his protecting stay; And this encounter with thee now bestows, Which I above all other blessings weigh, And in good time; for hadst thou longer stayed, My lord, I should have died of hope delayed." XIII The wicked woman, full of subtlety (Worse than a fox in crafty hardihood) Pursues, and so well shapes her history, She wholly throws the blame on Gryphon good; Makes him believe that other not to be Her kin alone, but of her flesh and blood, Got by one father; -- and so puts upon The knight, that he less credits Luke and John. XIV Nor he the fraud of her, more false than fair, Only forbore with just reproach to pay; Nor only did the threatened stranger spare, Who was the lover of that lady gay; But deemed to excuse himself sufficient were, Turning some portion of the blame away; And as the real brother she profest, Unceasingly the lady's knight carest; XV And to Damascus, with the cavalier Returned, who to Sir Gryphon made report, That Syria's wealthy king, with sumptuous cheer, Within that place would hold a splendid court; And who, baptized or infidel, appear There at his tourney (of whatever sort), Within the city and without, assures From wrong, for all the time the feast endures. XVI Yet I of Origilla's treachery Shall not so steadfastly pursue the lore, Who, famed not for one single perfidy, Thousands and thousands had betrayed before, But that I will return again to see Two hundred thousand wretched men or more Burnt by the raging wild-fire, where they spread, About the walls of Paris, scathe and dread. XVII I left you where king Agramant prepared To storm a gate, and to the assault was gone: This he had hoped to find without a guard; And work elsewhere to bar the way was none. For there, in person, Charles kept watch and ward With many, practised warriors every one; Two Angelines, two Guidos, Angelier, Avino, Avolio, Otho, and Berlinghier. XVIII One and the other host its worth, before Charles and king Agramant, desire to show, Where praise, where riches are, they think, in store For those that do their duty on the foe. But such were not the atchievements of the Moor As to repair the loss; for, to his woe, Full many a Saracen the champaign prest; Whose folly was a beacon to the rest. XIX The frequent darts a storm of hail appear, Which from the city-wall the Christians fling; The deafening clamours put the heavens in fear, Which, from our part, and from that other, ring. But Charles and Agramant must wait; for here I of the Mars of Africa will sing, King Rodomont, that fierce and fearful man, That through the middle of the city ran. XX I know not, sir, if you the adventure dread Of that so daring Moor to mind recall, The leader, who had left his people dead, Between the second work and outer wall; Upon those limbs the ravening fire so fed, Was never sight more sad! -- I told withal, How vaulting o'er that hindrance at a bound, He cleared the moat which girt the city round. XXI When he was known the thickening crowd among, By the strange arms he wore and scaly hide, There, where the aged sires and feebler throng. Listened to each new tale on every side; Heaven-high groan, moan, and lamentation rung, And loud they beat their lifted palms and cried: While those who had the strength to fly aloof, Sought safety not from house or temple's roof. XXII But this the cruel sword concedes to few, So brandished by that Saracen robust; And here, with half a leg dissevered, flew A foot, there head divided from the bust: This cleft across, and that behold him hew, From head to hips, so strong the blow and just. While, of the thousands wounded by the Moor, Is none that shows an honest scar before. XXIII What by weak herd, in fields of Hircany, The tiger does, or Indian Ganges near, Or wolf, by lamb or kid, on heights which lie On Typheus' back, the cruel cavalier Now executes on those, I will not, I Call phalanxes or squadrons, but a mere Rabble, that I should term a race forlorn, Who but deserved to die ere they were born. XXIV Of all he cuts, and thrusts, and maims, and bleeds, There is not one who looks him in the face. Throughout that street, which in a straight line leads Up to St. Michael's bridge, so thronged a space, Rodomont, terrible and fearful, speeds, Whirling his bloody brand, nor grants he grace, In his career, to servant or to lord; And saint and sinner feel alike the sword. XXV Religion cannot for the priest bespeak Mercy, nor innocence avail the child: Nor gently beaming eyes, nor vermeil cheek, Protect the blooming dame or damsel mild. Age smites its breast and flies: while bent to wreak Vengeance, the Saracen, with gore defiled, Shows not his valour more than cruel rage, Heedless alike of order, sex, and age. XXVI Nor the impious king alone with human blood, -- Lord of the impious he -- his hand distains, But even on walls so sorely vents his mood, He fires fair houses, and polluted fanes. The houses almost all were made of wood, Then (as 'tis told) and this, by what remains, May be believed; for yet in Paris we Six out of ten no better builded see. XXVII Though flames demolish all things far and wide, This ill appears his furious hate to slake: Where'er the paynim has his hands applied, He tumbles down a roof at every shake. My lord, believe, you never yet espied Bombard in Padua, of so large a make, That it could rend from wall of battered town What, at a single pull, the king plucked down. XXVIII While the accursed man, amid the rout, So warred with fire and sword, if at his post, King Agramant had prest it from without, The ample city had that day been lost. But he was hindered by the warrior stout, Who came from England with the advancing host, Composed of English and of Scotch allied, With Silence and the Angel for their guide. XXIX It was God's will, that while through town and tower The furious Rodomont such ruin spread, Thither arrived Rinaldo, Clermont's flower. Three leagues above, he o'er the river's bed Had cast a bridge; from whence his English power To the left-hand by crooked ways he led; That, meaning to assail the barbarous foes, The stream no obstacle might interpose. XXX Rinaldo had, with Edward, sent a force, Six thousand strong, of archer infantry, And sped, with Ariman, two thousand horse Of lightest sort; and foot and cavalry Sought Paris by those roads, which have their course Directly to, and from, the Picard sea; That by St. Martin's and St. Denys' gate, They might convey the aid the burghers wait. XXXI Rinaldo sent with these the baggage train And carriages, with which his troops were stored; And fetching, with the forces that remain, A compass, he the upper way explored. He bridge, and boat, and means to pass the Seine, Had with him; for it here was ill to ford. He past his army, broke the bridges down, And rank'd in line the bands of either crown. XXXII But having first the peers and captains wheeled About him in a ring, the cavalier Mounted the bank which overtopt the field, So much, that all might plainly see and hear; And cried, "My lords, you should thanksgiving yield, With lifted hands, to God, who brought you here; Through whom, o'er every nation, you may gain Eternal glory, bought with little pain. XXXIII "Two princes, by your means, will rescued be, If you relieve those city gates from siege; Him, your own king, whom you from slavery And death to save, a subject's vows oblige; And a famed emperor, of more majesty Than ever yet in court was served by liege, And with them other kings, and dukes, and peers, And lords of other lands, and cavaliers. XXXIV "So that one city saving, not alone Will the Parisians bless your helping hand, Who, sadder than for sorrows of their own, Timid, afflicted, and disheartened stand; And their unhappy wives and children moan, Which share in the same peril, and the band Or virgins, dedicate to heavenly spouse, Lest this day frustrate see their holy vows; XXXV -- "I say, this city saved from deadly wound, Not only will Parisians hold you dear; But habitants of all the countries round: Nor speak I only of the nations near; For city there is none on Christian ground. But what has citizens beleaguered here; So that to you, for vanquishing the foe, More lands than France will obligation owe. XXXVI "If him the ancients with a crown endued, Who saved one citizen by worthy deed, For rescuing such a countless multitude, What recompense shall be your worthy meed? But if, from jealousy or sloth, so good And holy, enterprise should ill succeed, Believe me, only while these walls endure, Is Italy or Almayn's realm secure; XXXVII "Or any other part, where men adore Him, who for us upon the cross was hung; Nor think that distance saves you from the Moor, Nor deem your island strong, the waves among. For if, from far Gibraltar's straits of yore, And old Alcides' pillars, sailed the throng, To bear off plunder from your sea-girt strands, What will they do when they possess our lands? XXXVIII "And, if in this fair enterprise arrayed, No gain, no glory served you as a guide, A common debt enjoins you mutual aid, Militant here upon one Church's side. Moreover, let not any be afraid, Our broken foemen will the assault abide; Who seem to me ill-taught in warlike art, A feeble rabble without arms or heart." XXXIX Such reasons, and yet better for, that need Might good Rinaldo in his speech infer; And with quick phrase and voice, to valiant deed The high-minded barons and bold army stir; And this was but to goad a willing steed (As the old proverb says) who lacks no spur. He moved the squadrons, having closed his speech, Softly, beneath their separate banners, each. XL He, without clamour, without any noise. So moves his triple host, their flags below. Zerbino, marching by the stream, enjoys The honour first to assail the barbarous foe; The paladin the Irishmen employs More inland, with a wider wheel to go. Thus England's horse and foot, the two between, Led by the Duke of Lancaster, are seen. XLI The paladin rode on, along the shore, When he had put the warriors in their way, And, passing by their squadrons, pricked before Valiant Zerbino and his whole array, Until he reached the quarters of the Moor, Where Oran's king, and king Sobrino lay; Who, half-a-mile removed from those of Spain, Posted upon that side, observed the plain. XLII With such a faithful escort fortified And sure, the Christians who had thither wound, With Silence and the Angel for their guide, No longer could stand mute or keep their ground: But hearing now the foe, with shouts defied Their host, and made the shrilling trumpets sound; And with loud clamours, which Heaven's concave fill, Sent through the paynim's bones a deadly chill. XLIII Rinaldo spurs before the troops combined His foaming courser, and his weapon rests; And a full bow-shot leaves the Scots behind: So all delay the impatient peer molests. As oftentimes an eddying gust of winds Issues, ere yet the horrid storm infests, So sallying swiftly from the following herd, Rinaldo forth upon Baiardo spurred. XLIV As the aspect of the paladin of France, The wavering Moorish files betray their fear; And, trembling in their hands, is seen the lance, Their thighs and stirrups quivering, like the spear. King Pulian only marks the knight's advance, Knowing Rinaldo not, unchanged in cheer; Nor thinking such a cruel shock to meet, Gallops against him on his courser fleet. XLV He stoops upon the weapon which he strains, Whole and collected for the martial game: Then to his horse abandoning the reins, And goading with both spurs the courser, came. Upon the other side no valour feigns, But shows, by doings, what he is in name; -- With what rare grace and matchless art he wars, The son of Aymon, rather son of Mars. XLVI Well-matched in skill, they aimed their cruel blows, With lances at each other's heads addrest; Ill matched, in arms and valour, were the foes, For this past on, and that the champaigne prest. More certain proof of worth, when warriors close, There needs than knightly lance, well placed in rest; But Fortune even more than Valour needs, Which ill, without her saving succour, speeds. XLVII With the good spear new levelled in his fist, At Oran's king behold Rinaldo dart. Of bulk, and bone, and sinew, to resist The monarch was, but ill supplied with heart. And his might pass for a fair stroke in list, Though planted in the buckler's nether part. Let those excuse it who refuse to admire, Since the good paladin could reach no higher. XLVIII Nor did the buckler so the weapon stay, Though made of palm within, and steel without, But that it pierced the paunch, and made a way To let that mean and ill matched spirit out. The courser, who had deemed that all the day He must so huge a burden bear about, Thanked in his heart the warrior, who well met, Had thus preserved him from so sore a sweat. XLIX Rinaldo, having broke his rested spear, So wheels his horse, he seems equipt with wings; Who, turning swiftly with the cavalier, Amid the closest crowd, impetuous springs. Composed of brittle glass the arms appear Where Sir Rinaldo red Fusberta swings. Nor tempered steel is there, nor corslet thick, Which keeps the sword from biting to the quick. L Yet few the tempered plates or iron pins With which encounters that descending brand; But targets, some of oak and some of skins, And quilted vest and turban's twisted band. Lightly such drapery good Rinaldo thins, And cleaves, and bores, and shears, on either hand; Nor better from his sword escapes the swarm, Than grass from sweeping scythe, or grain from storm. LI The foremost squadron had been put to flight, When thither the vanguard Zerbino led. Forth pricking from the following crowd, in sight Appeared, with levelled lance, their youthful head: With no less fury those who trooped to fight Beneath his banner, to the combat sped; Like lions, like so many wolves, who leap In fury to the assault of goat or sheep. LII Both spurred their coursers on, with rested lance, When either warrior to his foe was near; And that short interval, that small expanse, Of plain, between, was seen to disappear. Was never witnessed yet a stranger dance! For the Scots only ply the murderous spear; Only the scattered paynims slaughtered lie, As if conducted thither but to die. LIII It seemed as if each coward paynim grew More cold than ice, each Scot more fierce than flame. The Moors believed that with Rinaldo's thew And muscle fortified, each Christian came. Sobrino quickly moved his ordered crew, Nor stayed till herald should his call proclaim: Better were they than those which went before, For captain, armour, and for martial lore. LIV Less worthless men of Africa were they, Though ill had they been deemed of much avail. Ill harnessed, and worse trained to martial fray, Forthwith King Dardinel, the foe to assail, Moved up his host, himself in helmet gay, And sheathing all his limbs in plate and mail. The fourth division I believe was best, Which, under Isolier, to battle prest. LV Thraso, this while, the valiant Duke of Mar, Glad in the tumult, for the cavaliers Who muster in his train, uplifts the bar, And to the lists of fame his following chears, When Isolier, with horsemen of Navarre, Entered in that fierce fray he sees and hears. Next Ariodantes moved his chivalry, Who was of late made Duke of Albany. LVI The deep sonorous trumpet's bellowing, And sound of drum, and barbarous instrument, Combined with twang of bow, and whiz of sling, Wheel and machine, and stone from engine sent, And (what more loud than these appeared to ring) Tumult, and shriek, and groan, and loud lament, Composed a direr whole than what offends The neighbouring tribes where deafening Nile descends. LVII The arrows' double shower the ample sky With wide-extended shade is seen to shrowd; Breath, smoke of sweat and dust ascend on high, And seem to stamp in air a murky cloud. By turns each host gives way, and you might spy, Now chasing, now in flight, the self-same crowd; And here some wight, beside his foeman slain, Or little distant, prostrate on the plain. LVIII When, harassed with fatigue, a wearied crew Withdraw, fresh files their fellows reinforce: Men, here and there, the wasted ranks renew; Here march supplies of foot, and there of horse: Her mantle green for robe of crimson hue Earth shifts, ensanguined where the warriors course: And there were azure flowers and yellow sprung, Now slaughtered men lie stretched their steeds among. LIX Zerbino was more wonders seen to do Than ever stripling of his age, he strowed The ground with heaps of dead, and overthrew The paynim numbers which about him flowed. The valiant Ariodantes to his new- Entrusted squadron mighty prowess showed; Filling with dread and wonder, near and far, The squadrons of Castile and of Navarre. LX Chelindo and Mosco (bastards were the twain Of Calabrun, late king of Arragon), And one esteemed among the valiant train, Calamidor, of Barcellona's town, Leaving their standards, in the hope to gain, By young Zerbino's death, a glorious force, And wounded in his flanks the prince's horse. LXI Pierced by three lances lay the courser strong, But bold Zerbino quickly rose anew; And, eager to avenge his charger's wrong, The assailants, where he sees them, will pursue. Zerbino at Mosco first, that overhung Him, in the hope to make him prisoner, flew, And pierced him in the flank; who from his sell, Pallid and cold, upon the champaign fell. LXII When him so killed, as 'twere by stealthy blow, Chelindo viewed, to avenge his brother slain, He charged, intent the prince to overthrow; But he seized fast his courser by the rein, And, thence to rise not, laid the charger low, Destined no more to feed on hay or grain; For at one stroke, so matchless was his force, Zerbino cleft the rider and his horse. LXIII When that fell blow Calamidor espied, He turned the bridle short to speed away, But him with downright cut Zerbino plied Behind, and cried withal, "Stay, traitor, stay." Nor from its aim the sword-stroke wandered wide, Though from the mark it went somedeal astray; The falchion missed the rider as he fled, But reached the horse's croup, and stretched him dead, LXIV He quits the horse, and thence for safety crawls; But he with little boot escapes his foe; For him Duke Thraso's horse o'erturns and mawls, Opprest the ponderous courser's weight below. Where the huge crowd upon Zerbino falls, Ariodantes and Lurcanio go; And with them many a cavalier and count, Who do their best Zerbino to remount. LXV Then Artalico and Margano knew The force of Ariodantes' circling brand: While Casimir and Enearco rue More deeply yet the puissance of his hand. Smote by the knight, escaped the former two; The others were left dead upon the strand. Lurcanio shows what are his force and breath; Who charges, smites, o'erturns, and puts to death. LXVI Sir, think not that more inland on the plain The warfare is less mortal than along The stream, nor that the troops behind remain Which to the duke of Lancaster belong. He valiantly assailed the flags of Spain, And long in even scale the battle hung. For Horse and Foot, and Captains of those bands, On either side, could deftly ply their hands. LXVII Forward Sir Oldrad pricks and Fieramont; This Glocester's duke, and York's the other knight; With them conjoined is Richard, Warwick's count, And the bold duke of Clarence, Henry hight. These Follicon and Matalista front, And Baricond, with all they lead to fight. Almeria this, and that Granada guides, And o'er Marjorca Baricond presides. LXVIII Well matched awhile the Christian and the Moor Appeared, without advantage in the fray. Not this, now that gave ground, like corn before The light and fickle breeze which blows in May: Or as the sea which ripples on the shore, Still comes and goes, nor keeps one certain way, When hollow Fortune thus had sported long, She proved disastrous to the paynim throng. LXIX The duke of Glocester Matalista bold Assailed this while, and hurtled from his sell; Fieramont Follicon o'erturned and rolled, In the right shoulder smit, on earth as well. The advancing English either paynim hold, And bear their prisoners off to dungeon cell. This while, Sir Baricond is, in the strife, By Clarence's bold duke deprived of life. LXX Hence 'tis among the Moors amazement all, While hence the Christians take such heart and pride, The bands do nought but quit their ground and fall, And break their order on the Paynim side, What time the Christian troops come on, and gall Their flying rants, which nowhere will abide: And had not one arrived to aid their host. The Paynim camp had on that side been lost. LXXI But Ferrau, who till this time ever nigh Marsilius, scarce had quitted him that day, When half destroyed he marked his chivalry, And saw that baffled banner born away, Pricked his good courser forth, in time to spy, (Where mid those squadrons hottest waxed the fray) With his head severed in a griesly wound, Olympio de la Serra fall to ground: LXXII A stripling he, who such sweet musick vented, Accorded to the horned lyre's soft tone; That at the dulcet melody relented The hearer's heart, though harder than a stone. Happy! if, with such excellence contented, He had pursued so fair a fame alone, And loathed shield, quiver, helmet, sword and lance; Destined by these to die a youth in France. LXXIII When bold French beheld his cruel plight, For whom he love and much esteem profest, He felt more pity at the doleful sight Than, 'mid those thousands slain, for all the rest. And smote the foe who slew him with such might, That he his helm divided from the crest; Cut front, eyes, visage, and mid bosom through, And cast him down amid the slaughtered crew. LXXIV Nor stops he here, nor leaves a corslet whole, Nor helm unbroken, where his sword is plied, Of this the front or cheek, of that the poll, The arm of other foe his strokes divide; And he, of these divorcing body and soul, Restores the wavering battle on that side; Whence the disheartened and ignoble throng Are scattered wide, and broke, and driven along. LXXV Into the medley pricks King Agramant, Desirous there his bloody course to run; With him King Baliverzo, Farurant, Soridan, Bambirago, Prusion; And next so many more of little vaunt, Whose blood will form a lake ere day be done, That I could count each leaf with greater ease When autumn of their mantle strips the trees. LXXVI Agramant from the wall a numerous band Of horse and foot withdraws, and sends the array Beneath the king of Fez, with a command Behind the Moorish tents to make his way, And those of Ireland in their march withstand, Whom he sees hurrying with what haste they may, And with wide wheel and spacious compass wind, To fall upon the paynim camp behind. LXXVII The king of Fez upon this service prest; For all delay might sore his work impede. This while King Agramant unites the rest, And parts the troops who to the battle speed. He sought himself the river, where he guessed The Moorish host might most his presence need; And, from that quarter, had a courier prayed, By King Sobrino sent, the monarch's aid. LXXVIII He more than half his camp behind him led, In one deep phalanx. At the mighty sound Alone, the Scotsmen trembled, and in dread Abandoned honour, order, and their ground: Lurcanio, Ariodantes, and their head, Zerbino, there alone the torrent bound; And haply he, who was afoot, had died, But that in time his need Rinaldo spied. LXXIX Elsewhere the paladin was making fly A hundred banners: while the cavalier So chased the quailing Saracens, the cry Of young Zerbino's peril smote the ear; For, single and afoot, his chivalry Amid the Africans had left the peer. Rinaldo turned about and took his way Where he beheld the Scots in disarray. LXXX He plants his courser, where their squadrons yield To the fierce paynims, and exclaims: "Where go Your bands, and why so basely quit the field, Yielding so vilely to so vile a foe? Behold the promised trophies, spear and shield, Spoils which your loaded churches ought to show! What praise! what glory! that alone, and reft Of his good horse, your monarch's son is left! LXXXI He from a squire receives a lance, and spies King Prusion little distant, sovereign Of the Alvaracchiae, and against him hies; Whom he unhorses, dead upon the plain. So Agricalt, so Bambirago dies; And next sore wounded is Sir Soridane; Who had been slain as well amid the throng, If good Rinaldo's lance had proved more strong. LXXXII That weapon broken, he Fusberta rears, And smites Sir Serpentine, him of the star. Though charmed from mischief are the cavalier's Good arms, he falls astounded by the jar, And thus Rinaldo round Zerbino clears The field so widely, where those champions war, That without more dispute he takes a horse Of those, who masterless, at random, course. LXXXIII That he in time remounted it was well, Who haply would not, if he more delayed: For Agramant at once, and Dardinel, Sobrino, and Balastro thither made; But he, who had in time regained the sell, Wheeled, here and there his horse, with brandished blade, Dispatching into hell the mixt array, That how men live above their ghosts might say. LXXXIV The good Rinaldo, who to overthrow The strongest of the foeman covets still, At Agramant directs a deadly blow, -- Who seems too passing-proud, and greater ill Works there, than thousand others of the foe -- And spurs his horse, the Moorish chief to spill. He smote the monarch, broadside charged the steed, And man and horse reversed upon the mead. LXXXV What time, without, in such destructive frays Hate, Rage, and Fury, all offend by turns, In Paris Rodomont the people slays, And costly house, and holy temple burns: While Charles elsewhere anther duty stays, Who nothing hears of this, nor aught discerns. He, in the town, receives the British band, Which Edward and Sir Ariman command. LXXXVI To him a squire approached, who pale with dread, Scarce drew his breath, and cried: "Oh, well away! Alas! alas!" (and thus he often said, Ere he could utter aught beside). "To-day, To-day, sire, is the Roman empire sped, And Christ to the heathen makes his flock a prey. A fiend from air to-day has dropt, that none Henceforth may in this city make their won. LXXXVII "Satan (in sooth, it can no other be) Destroys and ruins the unhappy town. Turn, and the curling wreaths of vapour see, From the red flames which wander up and down; List to those groans, and be they warrantry Of the sad news thy servant now makes known! One the fair city wastes with sword and fire, Before whose vengeful fury all retire." LXXXVIII Even such as he, who hears the tumult wide, And clatter of church-bells, ere he espy The raging fire, concealed from none beside Himself, to him most dangerous, and most nigh; Such was King Charles; who heard, and then descried The new disaster with his very eye. Hence he the choicest of his meiny steers Thither, where he the cry and tumult hears. LXXXIX With many peers and chiefs, who worthiest are, Summoned about him, Charlemagne is gone: He bids direct his standards to the square Whither the paynim had repaired; hears groan And tumult, spies the horrid tokens there Of cruelty, sees human members strown. -- No more -- Let him return another time, Who willingly will listen to this rhyme.