Canto 3 & Canto 4
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #10a
CANTO 3 ARGUMENT Restored to sense, the beauteous Bradamant Finds sage Melissa in the vaulted tomb, And hears from her of many a famous plant And warrior, who shall issue from her womb. Next, to release Rogero from the haunt Of old Atlantes, learns how from the groom, Brunello hight, his virtuous ring to take; And thus the knight's and others' fetters break. I Who will vouchsafe me voice that shall ascend As high as I would raise my noble theme? Who will afford befitting words, and lend Wings to my verse, to soar the pitch I scheme? Since fiercer fire for such illustrious end, Than what was wont, may well my song beseem. For this fair portion to my lord is due Which sings the sires from whom his lineage grew. II Than whose fair line, 'mid those by heavenly grace Chosen to minister this earth below, You see not, Phoebus, in your daily race, One that in peace or war doth fairer show; Nor lineage that hath longer kept its place; And still shall keep it, if the lights which glow Within me, but aright inspire my soul, While the blue heaven shall turn about the pole. III But should I seek at full its worth to blaze, Not mine were needful, but that noble lyre Which sounded at your touch the thunderer's praise, What time the giants sank in penal fire. Yet should you instruments, more fit to raise The votive work, bestow, as I desire, All labour and all thought will I combine, To shape and shadow forth the great design. IV Till when, this chisel may suffice to scale The stone, and give my lines a right direction; And haply future study may avail, To bring the stubborn labour to perfection. Return we now to him, to whom the mail Of hawberk, shield, and helm, were small protection: I speak of Pinabel the Maganzeze, Who hopes the damsel's death, whose fall he sees. V The wily traitor thought that damsel sweet Had perished on the darksome cavern's floor, And with pale visages hurried his retreat From that, through him contaminated door. And, thence returning, clomb into his seat: Then, like one who a wicked spirit bore, To add another sin to evil deed, Bore off with him the warlike virgin's steed. VI Leave we sometime the wretch who, while he layed Snares for another, wrought his proper doom; And turn we to the damsel he betrayed, Who had nigh found at once her death and tomb. She, after rising from the rock, dismayed At her shrewd fall, and gazing through the gloom, Beheld and passed that inner door, which gave Entrance to other and more spacious cave. VII For the first cavern in a second ended, Fashioned in form of church, and large and square; With roof by cunning architect extended On shafts of alabaster rich and rare. The flame of a clear-burning lamp ascended Before the central altar; and the glare, Illuminating all the space about, Shone through the gate, and lit the cave without. VIII Touched with the sanctifying thoughts which wait On worthy spirit in a holy place, She prays with eager lips, and heart elate, To the Disposer of all earthly grace: And, kneeling, hears a secret wicket grate In the opposing wall; whence, face to face, A woman issuing forth, the maid addresses, Barefoot, ungirt, and with dishevelled tresses. IX "O generous Bradamant," the matron cried, "Know thine arrival in this hallowed hold Was not unauthorized of heavenly guide: And the prophetic ghost of Merlin told, Thou to this cave shouldst come by path untried, Which covers the renowned magician's mould. And here have I long time awaited thee, To tell what is the heavens' pronounced decree. X "This is the ancient memorable cave Which Merlin, that enchanter sage, did make: Thou may'st have heard how that magician brave Was cheated by the Lady of the Lake. Below, beneath the cavern, is the grave Which holds his bones; where, for that lady's sake, His limbs (for such her will) the wizard spread. Living he laid him there, and lies there dead. XI "Yet lives the spirit of immortal strain; Lodged in the enchanter's corpse, till to the skies The trumpet call it, or to endless pain, As it with dove or raven's wing shall rise. Yet lives the voice, and thou shalt hear how plain From its sepulchral case of marble cries: Since this has still the past and future taught To every wight that has its counsel sought. XII "Long days have passed since I from distant land My course did to this cemetery steer, That in the solemn mysteries I scanned, Merlin to me the truth should better clear; And having compassed the design I planned, A month beyond, for thee, have tarried here; Since Merlin, still with certain knowledge summing Events, prefixed this moment for thy coming." XIII The daughter of Duke Aymon stood aghast, And silent listened to the speech; while she Knew not, sore marvelling at all that passed, If 'twere a dream or a reality. At length, with modest brow, and eyes down cast, Replied (like one that was all modesty), "And is this wrought for me? and have I merit Worthy the workings of prophetic spirit?" XIV And full of joy the adventure strange pursues, Moving with ready haste behind the dame, Who brings her to the sepulchre which mews The bones and spirit, erst of Merlin's name. The tomb, of hardest stone which masons use, Shone smooth and lucid, and as red as flame. So that although no sun-beam pierced the gloom, Its splendour lit the subterraneous room. XV Whether it be the native operation O certain stones, to shine like torch i' the dark, Or whether force of spell or fumigation, (A guess that seems to come more near the mark) Or sign made under mystic constellation, The blaze that came from the sepulchral ark Discovered sculpture, colour, gems, and gilding, And whatsoever else adorned the building. XVI Scarcely had Bradamant above the sill Lifter her foot, and trod the secret cave, When the live spirit, in clear tones that thrill, Addressed the martial virgin from the grave; "May Fortune, chaste and noble maid, fulfil Thine every wish!" exclaimed the wizard brave. "Since from thy womb a princely race shall spring, Whose name through Italy and earth shall ring. XVII "The noble blood derived from ancient Troy, Mingling in thee its two most glorious streams, Shall be the ornament, and flower, and joy Of every lineage on which Phoebus beams, Where genial stars lend warmth, or cold annoy, Where Indus, Tagus, Nile, or Danube gleams; And in thy progeny and long drawn line Shall marquises, counts, dukes and Caesers shine. XVIII "Captains and cavaliers shall spring from thee, Who both by knightly lance and prudent lore, Shall once again to widowed Italy Her ancient praise and fame in arms restore; And in her realms just lords shall seated be, (Such Numa and Augustus were of yore), Who with their government, benign and sage, Shall re-create on earth the golden age. XIX "Then, that the will of Heaven be duly brought To a fair end through thee, in fitting date, Which from the first to bless thy love has wrought, And destined young Rogero for thy mate, Let nothing interpose to break that thought, But boldly tread the path perscribed by fate; Nor let aught stay thee till the thief be thrown By thy good lance, who keeps thee from thine own." XX Here Merlin ceased, that for the solemn feat Melissa might prepare with fitting spell, To show bold Bradamant, in aspect meet, The heirs who her illustrious race should swell. Hence many sprites she chose; but from what seat Evoked, I know not, or if called from hell; And gathered in one place (so bade the dame), In various garb and guise the shadows came. XXI This done, into the church she called the maid, Where she had drawn a magic ring, as wide As might contain the damsel, prostrate laid; With the full measure of a palm beside. And on her head, lest spirit should invade, A pentacle for more assurance tied. So bade her hold her peace, and stand and look, Then read, and schooled the demons from her book. XXII Lo! forth of that first cave what countless swarm Presses upon the circle's sacred round, But, when they would the magic rampart storm, Finds the way barred as if by fosse or mound; Then back the rabble turns of various form; And when it thrice with bending march has wound About the circle, troops into the cave, Where stands that beauteous urn, the wizard's grave. XXIII "To tell at large the puissant acts and worth, And name of each who, figured in a sprite, Is present to our eyes before his birth," Said sage Melissa to the damsel bright; "To tell the deeds which they shall act on earth, Were labour not to finish with the night. Hence I shall call few worthies of thy line, As time and fair occasion shall combine. XXIV "See yonder first-born of thy noble breed, Who well reflects thy fair and joyous face; He, first of thine and of Rogero's seed, Shall plant in Italy thy generous race. In him behold who shall distain the mead, And his good sword with blood of Pontier base; The mighty wrong chastised, and traitor's guilt, By whom his princely father's blood was spilt. XXV "By him King Desiderius shall be pressed, The valiant leader of the Lombard horde: And of the fiefs of Calaon and Este; For this imperial Charles shall make him lord. Hubert, thy grandson, comes behind; the best Of Italy, with arms and belted sword: Who shall defend the church from barbarous foes, And more than once assure her safe repose. XXVI "Alberto next, unconquered captain, see, Whose trophies shall so many fanes array. Hugh, the bold son, is with the sire, and he Shall conquer Milan, and the snakes display. Azo, that next approaching form shall be, And, his good brother dead, the Insubri sway. Lo! Albertazo! by whose rede undone, See Berengarius banished, and his son. XXVII "With him shall the imperial Otho join In wedlock worthily his daughter fair. And lo! another Hugh! O noble line! O! sire succeeded by an equal heir! He, thwarting with just cause their ill design, Shall thrash the Romans' pride who overbear; Shall from their hands the sovereign pontiff take, With the third Otho, and their leaguer break. XXVIII "See Fulke, who to his brother will convey All his Italian birth-right, and command To take a mighty dukedom far away From his fair home, in Almayn's northern land. There he the house of Saxony shall stay, And prop the ruin with his saving hand; This in his mother's right he shall possess, And with his progeny maintain and bless. XXIX "More famed for courtesy than warlike deed, Azo the second, he who next repairs! Bertoldo and Albertazo are his seed: And, lo! the father walkes between his heirs. By Parma's walls I see the Germans bleed, Their second Henry quelled; such trophy bears The one renowned in story's future page: The next shall wed Matilda, chaste and sage. XXX "His virtues shall deserve so fair a flower, (And in his age, I wot, no common grace) To hold the half of Italy in dower, With that descendent of first Henry's race. Rinaldo shall succeed him in his power, Pledge of Bertoldo's wedded love, and chase Fierce Frederick Barbarossa's hireling bands, Saving the church from his rapacious hands. XXXI "Another Azo rules Verona's town, With its fair fields; and two great chiefs this while (One wears the papal, one the imperial crown), The baron, Marquis of Ancona style. But to show all who rear the gonfalon Of the consistory, amid that file, Were task too long; as long to tell each deed Achieved for Rome by thy devoted seed. XXXII "See Fulke and Obyson, more Azos, Hughs! Both Henrys! -- mark the father and his boy. Two Guelphs: the first fair Umbria's land subdues, And shall Spoleto's ducal crown enjoy. Behold the princely phantom that ensues, Shall turn fair Italy's long grief to joy; I speak of the fifth Azo of thy strain, By whom shall Ezelin be quelled and slain. XXXIII "Fierce Ezelin, that most inhuman lord, Who shall be deemed by men a child of hell. And work such evil, thinning with the sword Who in Ausonia's wasted cities dwell; Rome shall no more her Anthony record, Her Marius, Sylla, Nero, Cajus fell. And this fifth Azo shall to scathe and shame Put Frederick, second Caeser of the name. XXXIV "He, with his better sceptre well contented, Shall rule the city, seated by the streams, Where Phoebus to his plaintive lyre lamented The son, ill-trusted with the father's beams; Where Cygnus spread his pinions, and the scented Amber was wept, as fabling poet dreams. To him such honour shall the church decree; Fit guerdon of his works, and valour's fee. XXXV "But does no laurel for his brother twine, Aldobrandino, who will carry cheer To Rome (when Otho, with the Ghibelline, Into the troubled capital strikes fear), And make the Umbri and Piceni sign Their shame, and sack the cities far and near; Then hopeless to relieve the sacred hold, Sue to the neighbouring Florentine for gold: XXXVI "And trust a noble brother to his hands, Boasting no dearer pledge, the pact to bind: And next, victorious o'er the German bands, Give his triumphant ensigns to the wind: To the afflicted church restore her lands, And take due vengeance of Celano's kind. Then die, cut off in manhood's early flower, Beneath the banners of the Papal power? XXXVII "He, dying, leaves his brother Azo heir Of Pesaro and fair Ancona's reign, And all the cities which 'twixt Tronto are, And green Isauro's stream, from mount to main; With other heritage, more rich and rare, Greatness of mind, and faith without a strain. All else is Fortune's in this mortal state; But Virtue soars beyond her love and hate. XXXVIII "In good Rinaldo equal worth shall shine, (Such is the promise of his early fire) If such a hope of thine exalted line. Dark Fate and Fortune wreck not in their ire. Alas! from Naples in this distant shrine, Naples, where he is hostage for his sire, His dirge is heard: A stripling of thy race, Young Obyson, shall fill his grandsire's place. XXXIX "This lord to his dominion shall unite Gay Reggio, joined to Modena's bold land. And his redoubted valour lend such light, The willing people call him to command. Sixth of the name, his Azo rears upright The church's banner in his noble hand: Fair Adria's fief to him in dower shall bring The child of second Charles, Sicilia's king. XL "Behold in yonder friendly group agreed. Many fair princes of illustrious name; Obyson, Albert famed for pious deed, Aldobrandino, Nicholas the lame. But we may pass them by, for better speed, Faenza conquered, and their feats and fame; With Adria (better held and surer gain) Which gives her title to the neighbouring main: XLI "And that fair town, whose produce is the rose, The rose which gives it name in Grecian speech: That, too, which fishy marshes round enclose, And Po's two currents threat with double breach; Whose townsmen loath the lazy calm's repose, And pray that stormy waves may lash the beach. I pass, mid towns and towers, a countless store, Argenta, Lugo, and a thousand more. XLII "See Nicholas, whom in his tender age, The willing people shall elect their lord; He who shall laugh to scorn the civil rage Of the rebellious Tideus and his horde; Whose infantine delight shall be to wage The mimic fight, and sweat with spear and sword: And through the discipline such nurture yields, Shall flourish as the flower of martial fields. XLIII "By him rebellious plans are overthrown, And turned upon the rash contriver's head; And so each stratagem of warfare blown, That vainly shall the cunning toils be spread. To the third Otho this too late is known, Of Parma and the pleasant Reggio dread; Who shall by him be spoiled in sudden strife, Of his possessions and his wretched life. XLIV "And still the fair dominion shall increase, And without wrong its spreading bounds augment; Nor its glad subjects violate the peace, Unless provoked some outrage to resent, And hence its wealth and welfare shall not cease; And the Divine Disposer be content To let it flourish (such his heavenly love!) While the celestial spheres revolve above. XLV "Lo! Lionel! lo! Borse great and kind! First duke of thy fair race, his realm's delight; Who reigns secure, and shall more triumphs find In peace, than warlike princes win in fight. Who struggling Fury's hands shall tie behind Her back, and prison Mars, removed from sight. His fair endeavours bent to bless and stay The people, that his sovereign rule obey. XLVI "Lo! Hercules, who may reproach his neighbour, With foot half burnt, and halting gait and slow, That at Budrio, with protecting sabre, He saved his troops from fatal overthrow; Not that, for guerdon of his glorious labour, He should distress and vex him as a foe; Chased into Barco. It were hard to say, If most he shine in peace or martial fray. XLVII "Lucania, Puglia, and Calabria's strand, Shall with the rumour of his prowess ring: Where he shall strive in duel, hand to hand, And gain the praise of Catalonia's king. Him, with the wisest captains of the land His worth shall class; such fame his actions bring; And he the fief shall win like valiant knight, Which thirty years before was his of right. XLVIII "To him his grateful city owes a debt, The greatest subjects to their lord can owe; Not that he moves her from a marsh, to set Her stones, where Ceres' fruitful treasures grow. Nor that he shall enlarge her bounds, nor yet That he shall fence her walls against the foe; Nor that he theatre and dome repairs, And beautifies her streets and goodly squares; XLIX "Not that he keeps his lordship well defended From the winged lions' claws and fierce attacks; Nor that, when Gallic ravage is extended, And the invader all Italia sacks, His happy state alone is unoffended; Unharassed, and ungalled by toll or tax. Not for these blessings I recount, and more His grateful realm shall Hercules adore; L "So much as that from him shall spring a pair Of brothers, leagued no less by love than blood; Who shall be all that Leda's children were; The just Alphonso, Hippolite the good. And as each twin resigned the vital air His fellow to redeem from Stygian flood, So each of these would gladly spend his breath, And for his brother brave perpetual death. LI "In these two princes' excellent affection, Their happy lieges more assurance feel, Than if their noble town, for its protection, Were girded twice by Vulcan's works of steel. And so Alphonso in his good direction, Justice, with knowledge and with love, shall deal, Astrea shall appear returned from heaven, To this low earth to varying seasons given. LII "Well is it that his wisdom shines as bright As his good sire's, nor is his valour less; Since here usurping Venice arms for fight, And her full troops his scanty numbers press, There she (I know not if more justly hight Mother or stepmother) brings new distress; But, if a mother, scarce to him more mild Than Progue or Medea to her child. LIII "This chief, what time soever he shall go Forth with his faithful crew, by night or day, By water or by land, will shame the foe, With memorable rout and disarray; And this too late Romagna's sons shall know. Led against former friends in bloody fray, Who shall bedew the campaign with their blood, By Santern, Po, and Zaniolus' flood. LIV "This shall the Spaniard know, to his dismay, 'Mid the same bounds, whom papal gold shall gain, Who shall from him Bastia win and slay, With cruel rage, her hapless Castellain, The city taken; but shall dearly pay; His crime, the town retrieved, and victor slain: Since in the rescued city not a groom Is left alive, to bear the news to Rome. LV " 'Tis he, who with his counsel and his lance, Shall win the honours of Romagna's plain, And open to the chivalry of France The victory over Julius, leagued with Spain. Paunch-deep in human blood shall steeds advance In that fierce strife, and struggle through the slain, 'Mid crowded fields, which scarce a grace supply, Where Greek, Italian, Frank, and Spaniard die. LVI "Lo! who in priestly vesture clad, is crowned With purple hat, conferred in hallowed dome! 'Tis he, the wise, the liberal, the renowned Hippolitus, great cardinal of Rome; Whose actions shall in every region sound, Where'er the honoured muse shall find a home: To whose glad era, by indulgent heaven, As to Augustus' is a Maro given. LVII "His deeds adorn his race, as from his car The glorious sun illumes the subject earth More than the silver moon or lesser star; So far all others he transcends in worth. I see this captain, ill bested for war, Go forth afflicted, and return in mirth: Backed by few foot, and fewer cavaliers, He homeward barks, and fifteen gallies steers. LVIII "Two Sigismonds, the first, the second, see; To these Alphonso's five good sons succeed; Whose glories spread o'er seas and land shall be. The first shall wed a maid of France's seed. This is the second Hercules; and he, (That you may know their every name and deed), Hippolitus; who with the light shall shine, Of his wise uncle, gilding all his line. LIX "Francis the third comes next; the other two Alphonsos both; -- but yet again I say, Thy line through all its branches to pursue, Fair virgin, would too long protract thy stay; And Phoebus, many times, to mortal view, Would quench and light again the lamp of day. Then, with thy leave, 'tis time the pageant cease, And I dismiss the shades and hold my peace." LX So with the lady's leave the volume closed, Whose precepts to her will the spirits bent. And they, where Merlin's ancient bones reposed, From the first cavern disappearing, went. Then Bradamant her eager lips unclosed, Since the divine enchantress gave consent; "And who," she cried, "that pair of sorrowing mien, Alphonso and Hippolitus between? LXI "Sighing, those youths advanced amid the show, Their brows with shame and sorrow overcast, With downward look, and gait subdued and slow: I saw the brothers shun them as they passed." Melissa heard the dame with signs of woe, And thus, with streaming eyes, exclaim'd at last: "Ah! luckless youths, with vain illusions fed, Whither by wicked men's bad counsel led! LXII "O, worthy seed of Hercules the good, Let not their guilt beyond thy love prevail; Alas! the wretched pair are of thy blood, So many prevailing pity turn the scale!" And in a sad and softer tone pursued, "I will not further press the painful tale. Chew on fair fancy's food: Nor deem unmeet I will not with a bitter chase the sweet. LXIII "Soon as to-morrow's sun shall gild the skies With his first light, myself the way will show To where the wizard knight Rogero sties; And built with polished steel the ramparts glow: So long as through deep woods thy journey lies, Till, at the sea arrived, I shall bestow Such new instructions for the future way, That thou no more shalt need Melissa's stay." LXIV All night the maid reposes in the cave, And the best part in talk with Merlin spends; While with persuasive voice the wizard grave To her Rogero's honest love commends; Till from the vault goes forth that virgin brave, As through the sky the rising sun ascends, By path, long space obscure on either side, The weird woman still her faithful guide. LXV They gain a hidden glen, which heights inclose, And mountains inaccessible to man: And they all day toil on, without repose, Where precipices frowned and torrents ran. And (what may some diversion interpose) Sweet subjects of discourse together scan, In conference, which best might make appear The rugged road less dismal and severe. LXVI Of these the greater portion served to guide (Such the wise woman's scope) the warlike dame; And teach by what device might be untied Rogero's gyves, if stedfast were her flame. "If thou wert Mars himself, or Pallas," cried The sage Melissa, "though with thee there came More than King Charles or Agramant command, Against the wizard foe thou could'st not stand. LXVII "Besides that it is walled about with steel, And inexpugnable his tower, and high; Besides that his swift horse is taught to wheel, And caracol and gallop in mid sky, He bears a mortal shield of power to seal, As soon as 'tis exposed, the dazzled eye; And so invades each sense, the splendour shed, That he who sees the blaze remains as dead. LXVIII "And lest to shut thine eyes, thou should'st suppose Might serve, contending with the wizard knight; How would'st thou know, when both in combat close, When he strikes home, or when eschews the fight? But to escape the blaze which blinds his foes, And render vain each necromantic sleight, Have here a speedy mean which cannot miss; Nor can the world afford a way but this. LXIX "King Agramant of Africa a ring. Thieved from an Indian queen by subtle guiles, Has to a baron of his following Consigned, who now precedes us by few miles; Brunello he. Who wears the gift shall bring To nought all sorceries and magic wiles. In thefts and cheats Brunello is as well Instructed, as the sage in charm and spell. LXX "Brunello, he so practised and so sly As now I tell thee, by his king is sent, That he with aid of mother wit may try, And of this ring, well proved in like event, To take Rogero from the castle high; So has he boasted, by the wizard pent: And to his lord such promise did impart, Who has Rogero's presence most at heart. LXXI "That his escape to thee alone may owe, Not to the king, the youthful cavalier, How to release Rogero from his foe And his enchanted cage, prepare to hear. Three days along the shingle shalt thou go, Beside the sea, whose waves will soon appear; Thee the third day shall to a hostel bring, Where he shall come who bears the virtuous ring. LXXII "That thou may'st recognise the man, in height Less than six palms, observe one at this inn Of black and curly hair, the dwarfish wight! Beard overgrown about the cheek and chin; With shaggy brow, swoln eyes, and cloudy sight, A nose close flattened, and a sallow skin; To this, that I may make my sketch complete, Succinctly clad, like courier, goes the cheat. LXXIII "Thy conversation with this man shall turn Upon enchantment, spell, and mystic pact; And thou shalt, in thy talk, appear to yearn To prove the wizard's strength, as is the fact. But, lady, let him not thy knowledge learn Of his good ring, which mars all magic act: He shall propose to bring thee as a guide To the tall castle, whither thou would'st ride. LXXIV "Follow him close, and viewing (for a sign), Now near, the fortress of the enchanter hoar; Let no false pity there thy mind incline To stay the execution of my lore. Give him his death; but let him not divine Thy thought, nor grant him respite; for before Thine eyes, concealed by it, the caitiff slips If once he place the ring between his lips." LXXV Discoursing thus, they came upon the sea Where Garonne near fair Bordeaux meets the tide; Here, fellow travellers no more to be, Some natural tears they drop and then divide. Duke Aymon's child, who slumbers not till she Release her knight, holds on till even-tide: 'Twas then the damsel at a hostel rested, Where Sir Brunello was already guested. LXXVI The maid Brunello knows as soon as found (So was his image on her mind impressed), And asks him whence he came, and whither bound; And he replies and lies, as he is pressed. The dame, who is forewarned, and knows her ground, Feigns too as well as he, and lies her best: And changes sex and sect, and name and land, And her quick eye oft glances at his hand; LXXVII Oft glances at his resless hand, in fear That he might undetected make some prize; Nor ever lets the knave approach too near, Well knowing his condition: In this guise The couple stand together, when they hear A sudden sound: but what that sound implies I, sir, shall tell hereafter with its cause; But first shall break my song with fitting pause. CANTO 4 ARGUMENT The old Atlantes suffers fatal wreck, Foiled by the ring, and young Rogero freed, Who soars in air till he appears a speck, Mounted upon the wizard's winged steed. Obediant to the royal Charles's beck, He who had followed Love's imperious lead, Rinaldo, disembarks on British land, And saves Genevra, doomed to stake and brand. I Though an ill mind appear in simulation, And, for the most, such quality offends; 'Tis plain that this in many a situation Is found to further beneficial ends, And save from blame, and danger, and vexation; Since we converse not always with our friends, In this, less clear than clouded, mortal life, Beset with snares, and full of envious strife. II If after painful proof we scarcely find A real friend, through various chances sought, To whom we may communicate our mind, Keeping no watch upon our wandering thought; What should the young Rogero's lady kind Do with Brunello, not sincere, but fraught With treasons manifold, and false and tainted, As by the good enchantress truly painted? III She feigns as well with that deceitful scout; (Fitting with him the father of all lies) Watches his thievish hands in fear and doubt; And follows every motion with her eyes. When lo! a mighty noise is heard without! "O mighty mother! king of heaven!" she cries, "What thing is this I hear?" and quickly springs Towards the place from whence the larum rings, IV And sees the host and all his family, Where, one to door, and one to window slips, With eyes upturned and gazing at the sky, As if to witness comet or eclipse. And there the lady views, with wondering eye, What she had scarce believed from other's lips, A feathered courser, sailing through the rack, Who bore an armed knight upon his back. V Broad were his pinions, and of various hue; Seated between, a knight the saddle pressed, Clad in steel arms, which wide their radiance threw, His wonderous course directed to the west: There dropt among the mountains lost to view. And this was, as that host informed his guest, (And true the tale) a sorcerer, who made Now farther, now more near, his frequent raid. VI "He, sometimes towering, soars into the skies; Then seems, descending, but to skim the ground: And of all beauteous women makes a prize, Who, to their mischief, in these parts are found. Hence, whether in their own or other's eyes, Esteemed as fair, the wretched damsels round, (And all in fact the felon plunders) hine; As fearing of the sun to be descried. VII "A castle on the Pyrenean height The necromancer keeps, the work of spell." (The host relates) "of steel, so fair and bright, All nature cannot match the wonderous shell. There many cavaliers, to prove their might, Have gone, but none returned the tale to tell. So that I doubt, fair sir, the thief enthralls Or slays whoever in the encounter falls." VIII The watchful maid attends to every thing, Glad at her heart, and trusting to complete (What she shall compass by the virtuous ring) The downfall of the enchanter and his seat. Then to the host -- "A guide I pray thee bring, Who better knows than me the thief's retreat. So burns my heart. (nor can I choose but go) To strive in battle with this wizard foe." IX "It shall not need," exclaimed the dwarfish Moor, "For I, myself, will serve you as a guide; Who have the road set down, with other lore, So that you shall rejoice with me to ride." He meant the ring, but further hint forbore; Lest dearly he the avowed should abide. And she to him -- "Your guidance gives me pleasure." Meaning by this she hoped to win his treasure. X What useful was to say, she said, and what Might hurt her with the Saracen, concealed. Well suited to her ends, the host had got A palfrey, fitting for the road or field. She bought the steed, and as Aurora shot Her rosy rays, rode forth with spear and shield: And maid and courier through a valley wind, Brunello now before and now behind. XI From wood to wood, from mount to mountain hoar, They clomb a summit, which in cloudless sky Discovers France and Spain, and either shore. As from a peak of Apennine the eye May Tuscan and Sclavonian sea explore, There, whence we journey to Camaldoli. Then through a rugged path and painful wended, Which thence into a lowly vale descended. XII A rock from that deep valley's centre springs; Bright walls of steel about its summit go: And this as high that airy summit flings, As it leaves all the neighbouring cliffs below. He may not scale the height who has not wings, And vainly would each painful toil bestow. "Lo! where his prisoners!" Sir Brunello cries, "Ladies and cavaliers, the enchanter sties." XIII Scarped smooth upon four parts, the mountain bare Seemed fashioned with the plumb, by builder's skill Nor upon any side was path or stair, Which furnished man the means to climb the hill. The castle seemed the very nest and lair Of animal, supplied with plume and quill. And here the damsel knows 'tis time to slay The wily dwarf, and take the ring away. XIV But deems it foul, with blood of man to stain Unarmed and of so base a sort, her brand; For well, without his death, she may obtain The costly ring; and so suspends her hand. Brunello, off his guard, with little pain, She seized, and strongly bound with girding band: Then to a lofty fir made fast the string; But from his finger first withdrew the ring. XV Neither by tears, nor groans, nor sound of woe, To move the stedfast maid the dwarf had power: She down the rugged hill descended slow, Until she reached the plain beneath the tower. Then gave her bugle breath, the keep below, To call the castled wizard to the stower: And when the sound was finished, threatening cried, And called him to the combat and defied. XVI Not long within his gate the enchanter stayed, After he heard the voice and bugle ring. Against the foe, who seemed a man, arrayed In arms, with him the horse is on the wing. But his appearance well consoled the maid, Who, with small cause for fear, beheld him bring Nor mace, nor rested lance, nor bitting sword, Wherewith the corselet might be bruised or gored. XVII On his left arm alone his shield he took, Covered all o'er with silk of crimson hue; In his right-hand he held an open book, Whence, as the enchanter read, strange wonder grew: For often times, to sight, the lance he shook; And flinching eyelids could not hide the view; With tuck or mace he seemed to smite the foe: But sate aloof and had not struck a blow. XVIII No empty fiction wrought by magic lore, But natural was the steed the wizard pressed; For him a filly to griffin bore; Hight hippogryph. In wings and beak and crest, Formed like his sire, as in the feet before; But like the mare, his dam, in all the rest. Such on Riphaean hills, though rarely found, Are bred, beyond the frozen ocean's bound. XIX Drawn by enchantment from his distant lair, The wizard thought but how to tame the foal; And, in a month, instructed him to bear Saddle and bit, and gallop to the goal; And execute on earth or in mid air, All shifts of manege, course and caracole; He with such labour wrought. This only real, Where all the rest was hollow and ideal. XX This truth by him with fictions was combined, Whose sleight passed red for yellow, black for white: But all his vain enchantments could not blind The maid, whose virtuous ring assured her sight: Yet she her blows discharges at the wind; And spurring here and there prolongs the fight. So drove or wheeled her steed, and smote at nought, And practised all she had before been taught. XXI When she sometime had fought upon her horse, She from the courser on her feet descends: To compass and more freely put in force, As by the enchantress schooled, her wily ends. The wizard, to display his last resource, Unweeting the defence, towards her wends. He bares the shield, secure to blind his foe, And by the magic light, astonished, throw. XXII The shield might have been shown at first, nor he Needed to keep the cavaliers at bay; But that he loved some master-stroke to see, Achieved by lance or sword in single fray. As with the captive mouse, in sportive glee, The wily cat is sometimes seen to play; Till waxing wroth, or weary of her prize, She bites, and at a snap the prisoner dies. XXIII To cat and mouse, in battles fought before, I liken the magician and his foes; But the comparison holds good no more: For, with the ring, the maid against him goes; Firm and attentive still, and watching sore, Lest upon her the wizard should impose: And as she sees him bare the wondrous shield, Closes her eyes and falls upon the field. XXIV Not that the shining metal could offend, As wont those others, from its cover freed; But so the damsel did, to make descend The vain enchanter from his wondrous steed. Nor was in ought defeated of her end; For she no sooner on the grassy mead Had laid her head, than wheeling widely round, The flying courser pitched upon the ground. XXV Already cased again, the shield was hung, By the magician, at his sadle bow. He lights and seeks her, who like wolf among The bushes, couched in thicket, waits the roe; She without more delay from ambush sprung, As he drew near, and grappled fast the foe. That wretched man, the volume by whose aid He all his battles fought, on earth had laid: XXVI And ran to bind her with a chain, which he, Girt round about him for such a purpose, wore; Because he deemed she was no less to be Mastered and bound than those subdued before. Him hath the dame already flung; by me Excused with reason, if he strove not more. For fearful were the odds between that bold And puissant maid, and warrior weak and old! XXVII Intending to behead the fallen foe, She lifts her conquering hand; but in mid space, When she beholds his visage, stops the blow, As if disdaining a revenge so base. She sees in him, her prowess has laid low, A venerable sire, with sorrowing face; Whose hair and wrinkles speak him, to her guess, Of years six score and ten, or little less. XXVIII "Kill me, for love of God!" (afflicted sore, The old enchanter full of wrath did cry). But the victorious damsel was not more Averse to kill, than he was bent to die. To know who was the necromancer hoar The gentle lady had desire, and why The tower he in that savage place designed, Doing such outrage foul to all mankind. XXIX "Nor I, by malice moved, alas! poor wight," (The weeping necromancer answer made,) "Built the fair castle on the rocky height, Nor yet for rapine ply the robber's trade; But only to redeem a gentle knight From danger sore and death, by love was swayed; Who, as the skies foreshow, in little season, Is doomed to die a Christian, and by treason. XXX "The sun beholds not 'twixt the poles, a Child So excellent as him, and passing fair; Who from his infancy, Rogero styled, (Atlantes I) was tutored by my care. By love of fame and evil stars beguiled, He follows into France Troyano's heir. Him, in my eyes, than son esteemed more dear, I seek to snatch from France and peril near. XXXI "I only built the beauteous keep to be Rogero's dungeon, safely harboured there; Who whilom was subdued in fight by me, As I to-day had hoped thyself to snare, And dames and knights, and more of high degree, Have to this tower conveyed, his lot to share, That with such partners of his prison pent, He might the loss of freedom less lament. XXXII "Save they should seek to break their dungeon's bound, I grant my inmates every other pleasure. For whatsoever in the world is found, Search its four quarters, in this keep I treasure; (Whatever heart can wish or tongue can sound) Cates, brave attire, game, sport, or mirthful measure. My field well sown, I well had reaped my grain. But that thy coming makes my labour vain. XXXIII "Ah! then unless thy heart less beauteous be Than thy sweet face, mar not my pious care; Take my steel buckler, this I give to thee, And take that horse, which flies so fast in air, Nor meddle with my castle more; or free One or two captive friends, the rest forbear -- Or (for I crave but this) release them all, So that Rogero but remain my thrall. XXXIV "Or if disposed to take him from my sight, Before the youth be into France conveyed, Be pleased to free my miserable sprite From its now rotted bark, long decayed." "Prate as thou wilt, I shall restore the knight To liberty," replied the martial maid, "Nor offer shield and courser to resign, Which are not in thy gift, -- already mine. XXXV "Nor were they thine to take or to bestow, Would it appear that such exchange were wise; Thou sayest to save him from what stars foreshow, And cheat an evil influence of the skies Rogero is confined. Thou canst not know, Or knowing, canst not change his destinies: For, if unknown an ill so near to thee, Far less mayest thou another's fate foresee. XXXVI "Seek not thy death from me; for the petition Is made in vain; but if for death thou sigh, Though the whole world refused the requisition, A soul resolved would find the means to die. But ope thy gates to give thy guests dismission Before thine hand the knot of life untie." So spake the scornful dame with angry mock, Speeding her captive still towards the rock. XXXVII Round by the conqueror with the chain he bore, Atlantes walked, the damsel following nigh, Who trusted not to the magician hoar, Although he seemed subdued in port and eye. Nor many paces went the pair, before They at the mountain's foot the cleft espy, With steps by which the rugged hill to round; And climb, till to the castle-gate they wound: XXXVIII Atlantes from the threshold, graved by skill, With characters and wondrous signs, upturned A virtuous stone, where, underneath the sill, Pots, with perpetual fire and secret, burned. The enchanter breaks them; and at once the hill To an inhospitable rock is turned. Nor wall nor tower on any side is seen, As if no castle there had ever been. XXXIX Then from the lady's toils the wizard clears His limbs, as thrush escapes the fowler's snare; With him as well his castle disappears, And leaves the prisoned troop in open air; From their gay lodgings, dames and cavaliers, Unhoused upon that desert, bleak and bare. And many at the freedom felt annoy, Which dispossessed them of such life of joy. XL There is Gradasso, there is Sacripant, There is Prasildo, noble cavalier, Who with Rinaldo came from the Levant; Iroldo, too, Prasildo's friend sincere. And there, at last, the lovely Bradamant Discerns Rogero, long desired and dear; Who, when assured it was that lady, flew With joyful cheer to greet the damsel true; XLI As her he prized before his eyes, his heart, His life; from that day cherished when she stood Uncasqued for him, and from the fight apart; And hence an arrow drank her virgin blood. 'Twere long to tell who launched the cruel dart, And how the lovers wandered in the wood; Now guided by the sun, and now benighted, Here first since that encounter reunited. XLII Now that the stripling sees her here, and knows Alone she freed him from the wizard's nest, He deems, his bosom with such joy overflows, That he is singly fortunate and blest. Thither, where late the damsel conquered, goes The band, descending from the mountain's crest; And finds the hippogryph, who bore the shield, But in its case of crimson silk concealed. XLIII To take him by the rein the lady there Approached, and he stood fast till she was nigh, Then spread his pinions to the liquid air, And at short distance lit, half-mountain high: And, as she follows him with fruitless care, Not longer flight nor shorter will he try. 'Tis thus the raven, on some sandy beach, Lures on the dog, and flits beyond his reach. XLIV Gradasso, Sacripant, Rogero, who With all those other knights below were met, Where'er, they hope he may return, pursue The beast, and up and down, each pass beset. He having led those others, as he flew, Often to rocky height, and bottom wet, Among the rocks of the moist valley dropt, And at short distance from Rogero stopt. XLV This was Atlantes the enchanter's deed, Whose pious wishes still directed were, To see Rogero from his peril freed: This was his only thought, his only care; Who for such end dispatched the winged steed, Him out of Europe by this sleight to bear. Rogero took his bridle, but in vain; For he was restive to the guiding rein. XLVI Now the bold youth from his Frontino flings (Frontino was his gentle courser hight) Then leaps on him who towers in air, and stings And goads his haughty heart with rowels bright. He runs a short career; then upward springs. And through mid ether soars a fairer flight Than hawk, from which the falconer plucks away In time the blinding hood, and points her prey. XLVII When her Rogero the fair dame discerned, In fearful peril, soar so high a strain, She stood long space amazed, ere she returned To her right judgement, and sound wits again: And what she erst of Ganymede had learned, Snatched up to heaven from his paternal reign, Feared might befall the stripling, born through air, As gentle as young Ganymede and fair. XLVIII She on Rogero looks with stedfast eyes As long as feeble sight can serve her use; And in her mind next tracks him through the skies, When sight in vain the cherished youth pursues. And still renewing tears, and groans, and sighs, Will not afford her sorrow peace or truce. After the knight had vanished from her view, Her eyes she on the good Frontino threw. XLIX And lest the courser should become the prey Of the first traveller, who passed the glen, Him will not leave; but thence to bear away Resolves, in trust to see his lord again. The griffin soars, nor can Rogero stay The flying courser; while, beneath his ken, Each peak and promontory sinks in guise, That he discerns not flat from mountain-rise. L After the hippogryph has won such height, That he is lessened to a point, he bends His course for where the sun, with sinking light, When he goes round the heavenly crab, descends; And shoots through air, like well-greased bark and light, Which through the sea a wind propitious sends. Him leave we on his way, who well shall speed, And turn we to Rinaldo in his need. LI Day after day the good Rinaldo fares, Forced by the wind, the spacious ocean through; Now westward borne, and now toward the Bears; For night and day the ceaseless tempest blew. Scotland at last her dusky coast uprears, And gives the Caledonian wood to view; Which, through its shadowy groves of ancient oak, Oft echoes to the champion's sturdy stroke. LII Through this roves many a famous cavalier, Renowned for feat in arms, of British strain; And throng from distant land, or country near, French, Norse, of German knights, a numerous train. Let none, save he be valiant, venture here, Where, seeking glory, death may be his gain. Here Arthur, Galahalt, and Gauvaine fought, And well Sir Launcelot and Tristram wrought. LIII And other worthies of the table round; (Of either table, whether old or new) Whose trophies yet remain upon the ground; Proof of their valiant feats, Rinaldo true Forthwith his armour and Bayardo found, And landed on the woody coast: The crew He bade, with all the haste they might, repair To Berwick's neighbouring port, and wait him there. LIV Without a guide or company he went Through that wide forest; choosing now this way, Now that, now other, as it might present Hope of adventurous quest or hard assay: And, ere the first day's circling sun is spent, The peer is guested in an abbey gray: Which spends much wealth in harbouring those who claim Its shelter, warlike knight or wandering dame. LV The monks and abbot to Mount Alban's peer A goodly welcome in their house accord; Who asked, but not before with savoury cheer He amply had his wearied strength restored, If in that tract, by errant cavalier, Often adventurous quest might be explored, In which a man might prove, by dangerous deed, If blame or glory were his fitting meed. LVI They answered, in those woods he might be sure Many and strange adventures would be found; But deeds, there wrought, were, like the place, obscure, And, for the greater part, not bruited round. "Then seek (they said) a worthier quest, secure Your works will not be buried underground. So that the glorious act achieved, as due, Fame may your peril and your pain pursue. LVII "And if you would your warlike worth assay, Prepare the worthiest enterprize to hear, That, e'er in times of old or present day, Was undertaken by a cavalier. Our monarch's daughter needs some friendly stay, Now sore bested, against a puissant peer: Lurcanio is the doughty baron's name, Who would bereave her both of life and fame. LVIII "Her he before her father does pursue, Perchance yet more for hatred than for right; And vouches, to a gallery she updrew A lover, seen by him, at dead of night. Hence death by fire will be the damsel's due, Such is our law, unless some champion fight On her behalf, and, ere a month go by, (Nigh spent) upon the accuser prove the lie. LIX "Our impious Scottish law, severe and dread, Wills, that a woman, whether low or high Her state, who takes a man into her bed, Except her husband, for the offence shall die. Nor is there hope of ransom for her head, Unless to her defence some warrior hie; And as her champion true, with spear and shield, Maintain her guiltless in the listed field. LX "The king, sore grieving for Geneura bright, For such is his unhappy daughter's name, Proclaims by town and city, that the knight Who shall deliver her from death and shame, He to the royal damsel will unite, With dower, well suited to a royal dame; So that the valiant warrior who has stood In her defence, be come of gentle blood. LXI "But if within a month no knight appear, Or coming, conquer not, the damsel dies. A like emrpize were worthier of your spear Than wandering through these woods in lowly guise. Besides, the eternal trophy you shall rear, You by the deed shall gain a glorious prize, The sweetest flower of all the ladies fair That betwixt Ind and Atlas' pillars are. LXII "And you with wealth and state shall guerdoned be, So that you evermore may live content, And the king's grace, if through your means he see His honour raised anew, now well-nigh spent. Besides, you by the laws of chivalry Are bound to venge the damsel foully shent. For she, whose life is by such treason sought, Is chaste and spotless in the common thought." LXIII Rinaldo mused awhile, and then replied, "And must a gentle damsel die by fire, Because she with a lover's wish complied, And quenched within her arms his fond desire? Cursed be the law by which the dame is tried! Cursed he who would permit a doom so dire! Perish (such fate were just!) who cruel proves! Not she that life bestows on him who loves. LXIV "Or true or false Geneura's tale of shame; If she her lover blessed I little heed: For this my praise the lady well might claim, If manifest were not that gentle deed. My every thought is turned to aid the dame. Grant me but one to guide my steps, and lead Quickly to where the foul accuser stands, I trust in God to loose Geneura's bands. LXV "I will not vouch her guiltless in my thought, In fear to warrant what is false; but I Boldly maintain, in such an act is nought For which the damsel should deserve to die; And ween unjust, or else of wit distraught, Who statutes framed of such severity; Which, as iniquitous, should be effaced, And with a new and better code replaced. LXVI "If like desire, and if an equal flame Move one and the other sex, who warmly press To that soft end of love (their goal the same) Which to the witless crowd seems rank excess; Say why shall woman -- merit scathe or blame, Though lovers, one or more, she may caress; While man to sin with whom he will is free, And meets with praise, not mere impunity? LXVII "By this injurious law, unequal still, On woman is inflicted open wrong; And to demonstrate it a grievous ill, I trust in God, which has been borne too long." To good Rinaldo's sentence, with one will, Deeming their sires unjust, assents the throng, Their sires who such outrageous statute penned, And king, who might, but does not, this amend. LXVIII When the new dawn, with streaks of red and white, Broke in the east, and cleared the hemisphere, Rinaldo took his steed and armour bright: A squire that abbey furnished to the peer. With him, for many leagues and miles, the knight Pricked through the dismal forest dark and drear; While they towards the Scottish city ride, Where the poor damsel's cause is to be tried. LXIX Seeking their way to shorten as they wound, They to the wider track a path preferred; When echoing through the gloomy forest round, Loud lamentations nigh the road were heard. Towards a neighbouring vale, whence came the sound, This his Bayardo, that his hackney spurred; And viewed, between two grisly ruffians there, A girl, who seemed at distance passing fair. LXX But woe begone and weeping was the maid As ever damsel dame, or wight was seen: Hard by the barbarous twain prepared the blade, To deluge with that damsel's blood the green. She to delay her death awhile essayed, Until she pity moved with mournful mien. This when Rinaldo near approaching eyes, He thither drives with threats and furious cries. LXXI The ruffians turn their backs and take to flight As soon as they the distant succour view, And squat within a valley out of sight: Nor cares the good Rinaldo to pursue. To her approaching, sues Mount Alban's knight, To say what on her head such evil drew; And, to save time, commands his squire to stoop, And take the damsel on his horse's croup. LXXII And as the lady nearer he surveyed, Her wise behaviour marked and beauty's bloom; Though her fait countenance was all dismayed, And by the fear of death o'erspread with gloom. Again to know, the gentle knight essayed, Who had prepared for her so fell a doom; And she began to tell in humble tone What to another canto I postpone.