Canto 36 & Canto 37
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #10a
CANTO 36 ARGUMENT While with the fierce Marphisa at despite Duke Aymon's daughter wages fierce affray, One and the other host engage in fight. With Bradamant Rogero wends his way. With other war disturbs their great delight Marphisa bold; but when that martial may Has for her brother recognized the peer, They end their every strife with joyous cheer. I Where'er they be, all hearts of gentle strain Still cannot choose but courtesy pursue; For they from nature and from habit gain What they henceforth can never more undo. Alike the heart that is of churlish vein, Where'er it be, its evil kind will shew. Nature inclines to ill, through all her range, And use is second nature, hard to change. II Among the warriors of antiquity Much gentleness and courtesy appear, Virtues but seldom seen with us; while we Of evil ways, on all sides, see and hear. Hippolytus, when you, with ensignry Won from the foe, and with his captive gear Adorned our temples; and his galleys bore, Laden with prey, to your paternal shore; III All the inhuman deeds which wrought by hand Of Moor, or Turk, or Tartar ever were, (Yet not by the Venetians' ill command, That evermore the praise of justice bear,) Were practised by that foul and evil band Of soldiers, who their mercenaries are. Of those so many fires not now I tell Which on our farms and pleasant places fell. IV Though a foul vengeance in that blow was meant Mainly at you, who being at Caesar's side, When Padua by his leaguering host was pent, 'Twas known, that oft, through you, was turned aside More than one ravening flame, and oft was spent The fire, in fane and village blazing wide: What time the destined mischief ye withstood, As to your inborn courtesy seemed good. V This will I pass, nor their so many more Discourteous and despiteous doings tell, Save one alone, whereat from rock-stone hoar Whene'er the tale is told warm tears might well. That day you sent your family before, Thither, my lord, where, under omens fell, Your foes into a well protected seat, Abandoning their barks, had made retreat. VI As Hector and Aeneas, mid the flood, Fire to the banded fleet of Greece applied, I Hercules and Alexander viewed, Urged by too sovereign ardour, side by side, Spurring before all others in their mood, Even within the hostile ramparts ride; And prick so far, the second 'scaped with pain, And on the foremost closed the opposing train. VII Feruffine 'scaped, the good Cantelmo left, What counsel, Sora's duke, was thine, what heart, When thy bold son thou saw'st, of helm bereft, Amid a thousand swords, when -- dragged apart -- Thou saw'st his young head from his shoulders cleft, A shipboard, on a plank? I, on my part, Marvel, that seeing but the murder done, Slew thee not, as the faulchion slew thy son. VIII Cruel Sclavonian! say, whence hast thou brought Thy ways of warfare? By what Scythian rite To slay the helpless prisoner is it taught, Who yields his arms, nor fends himself in fight? Was it a crime he for his country fought? Ill upon thee the sun bestows his light. Remorseless aera, which hast filled the page With Atreus', Tantalus', Thyestes' rage! IX Barbarian! thou madest shorter by the head The boldest of his age, on whom did beam The sun 'twixt pole and pole, 'twixt Indus' bed And where he sinks in Ocean's western stream; Whose years and beauty might have pity bred In Anthropophagus, in Polypheme; Not thee; that art in wickedness outdone By any Cyclops, any Lestrigon. X I ween, mid warriors in the days of yore, No such example was; they all, in field, Were full of gentleness and courteous lore, Nor against conquered foe their bosom steeled. Not only gentle Bradamant forbore To harm the knights whom, smitten on the shield, Her lance unhorsed; but for the vanquished crew Detained their steeds, that they might mount anew. XI I of that lady fair, of mickle might, Told you above, how she had overthrown Serpentine of the Star in single fight, Grandonio and Ferrau, and then upon Their coursers had replaced each baffled knight. I told moreover how the third was gone Rogero to defy to the career, Upon her call, who seemed a cavalier. XII Rogero heard the call in joyous vein, And bade his arms be brought; now while in view Of Agramant he donned the plate and chain, Those lords the former question moved anew; Who was the knight, that on the martial plain The manage of the lance so quaintly knew? And of Ferrau, who spake with him whilere, Craved, if to him was known that cavalier. XIII "Be ye assured," to them Ferrau replied, "He is not one of those I hear you cite To me (for I his open face descried). Rinaldo's youthful brother seemed the knight. But since his doughty valour I have tried, And wot not such is Richardetto's might, I ween it is his sister, who, I hear, Resembles much in mien that martial peer. XIV "The damsel equals well, so Rumour tells, Rinaldo, and every paladin in fray. But brother she and cousin both excels, Measured by that which I have seen to-day." Hearing him, while upon her praise he dwells, As the sky reddens with the morning ray, Rogero's face is flushed with crimson hue, And his heart throbs, nor knows he what to do. XV Stung, at these tidings, by the amorous dart -- Within, new fire inflames the cavalier; And strait, together with the burning smart, Shoots through his bones a chill, produced by fear; Fear, that new wrath had stifled in her heart That mighty love, wherewith she burned whilere. Confused he stands, irresolute and slow, And undecided if to stay or go. XVI Now fierce Marphisa, who was there, and prest By huge desire to meet the stranger wight, And armed withal (for, save in iron vest, Her seldom would you find by day or night). Hearing Rogero is in armour drest, Fearing to lose the honour of the fight, If first that champion with the stranger vies; Thinks to prevent the youth and win the prize. XVII She leapt upon her horse, and thither hied Where Aymon's daughter on the listed plain, With palpitating heart, upon her side, Waited Rogero; whom the damsel fain Would make her prisoner, and but schemed to guide Her lance in mode the stripling least to pain. Marphisa from the city portal fares, And on her gallant helm a phoenix wears. XVIII Whether the maid would publish, in her pride, That she was single in the world, for might; Or whether by that symbol signified, That she would live, exempt from bridal rite. Her closely Aymon's martial daughter eyed; When seeing not those features, her delight, She craves the damsel's name before they move, And hears that it is she who joys her love: XIX Or rather she, that gentle lady thought, Had joyed her love; and whom she hated so, Her to Death's door her anger would have brought, Unless she venged her sorrow on the foe. She wheeled her courser round, with fury fraught, Less with desire to lay her rival low, Than with the lance to pierce her in mid breast, And put her every jealousy at rest. XX Parforce to ground must go the royal maid, To prove it hard or soft the listed plain, And be with such unwonted scorn appaid, That she is nearly maddened by disdain. Scarce was she thrown, before her trenchant blade She bared, and hurried to avenge the stain. Cried Aymon's daughter, no less proud of heart, "What art thou doing? Thou my prisoner art." XXI "Though I have courtesy for others, none" (She said) "from me, Marphisa, shalt thou find. Since evermore I hear of thee, as one To pride and every churlishness inclined." Marphisa, at these words, was heard to groan, As roars in some sea-rock the prisoned wind. She screamed an answer; but its sense was drowned (Such rage confused that damsel) in the sound. XXII She whirls this while her faulchion, and would fain Wound horse or rider in the paunch or breast; But Aymon's watchful daughter turns the rein; And on one side her courser leaps; possest With furious anger and with fierce disdain, She at her opposite her lance addrest; And hardly touched the damsel, ere, astound, Marphisa fell, reversed upon the ground. XXIII Scarce down, Marphisa started from the plain, Intent fell mischief with her sword to do, Bradamant couched her golden spear again, And yet again the damsel overthrew. Yet Bradamant, though blest with might and main, Was not so much the stronger of the two As to have flung the maid in every just, But that such power was in the lance's thrust. XXIV This while some knights (some knights upon our side, I say) forth issuing from the city, go Towards the field of strife, which did divide The squadrons, here and there, of either foe -- Not half a league of one another wide -- Seeing their knight such mighty prowess show; Their knight, but whom no otherwise they knew Than as a warrior of the Christian crew. XXV Troyano's generous son, who had espied This band approaching to the city-wall, For due defence would every means provide, And every peril, every case forestall: And orders many to take arms, who ride Forth from the ramparts, at the monarch's call. With them Rogero goes, in armour cased, Balked of the battle by Marphisa's haste. XXVI The enamoured youth, with beating heart, intent, Stood by, the issue of the just to view. For his dear cousin fearing the event, In that he well Marphisa's valour knew; -- At the beginning I would say -- when, bent On mischief, fiercely closed the furious two: But when that duel's turn the stripling eyes, He stands amazed and stupid with surprize; XXVII And when he saw unfinished was the fight, At the first onset, like the justs whilere, Misdoubting some strange accident, in sprite, Sore vexed, this while remained the cavalier. To either maid wished well that youthful knight; For both were loved, but not alike were dear. For this the stripling's love was fury, fire; For that 'twas rather fondness than desire. XXVIII If so Rogero could with honour do, He willingly the warriors would divide; But his companions, in the fear to view Victory with King Charles's knight abide, Esteeming him the better of the two, Break in between and turn their arms aside; Upon the other part, the Christian foes Advance, and both divisions come to blows. XXIX On this side and that other, rings the alarm, Which in those camps is sounded every day, Bidding the unmounted mount, the unarmed arm, And all their standards seek, without delay, Where, under separate flags, the squadrons swarm, More than one shrilling trump is heard to bray; And as their rattling notes the riders call, Rousing the foot, beat drum and ataball. XXX As fierce as thought could think, 'twixt either host Kindled the fell and sanguinary fray. The daring damsel, fair Dordona's boast, Sore vexed and troubled, that in the affray She cannot compass what she covets most, -- Marphisa with avenging steel to slay, -- Now here, not there, amid the medley flies, Hoping to see the youth for whom she sighs. XXXI By the eagle argent on the shield of blue She recognized Rogero, mid the rest. With eyes and thought intent, she stops to view The warrior's manly shoulders and his breast, Fair face and movements full of graceful shew; And then the maid, with mickle spite possest, Thinking another joys the stripling's love, Thus speaks, as sovereign rage and fury move. XXXII "Shall then another kiss those lips so bright And sweet, if those fair lips are lost to me? Ah! never other shall in thee delight; For it not mine, no other's shalt thou be. Rather than die alone and of despite, I with this hand will slay myself and thee, That if I lose thee here, at least in hell With thee I to eternity may dwell. XXXIII "If thou slay'st me, there is good reason, I The comfort too of vengeance should obtain; In that all edicts and all equity The death of him that causes death ordain; Nor, since you justly, I unjustly, die, Deem I that thine is equal to my pain. I him who seeks my life, alas! shall spill, Thou her that loves and worships thee wouldst kill. XXXIV "My hand, why hast thou not the hardiment To rive with steel the bosom of my foe, That me so many times to death has shent, Under the faith of love, in peaceful show; Him, who to take my life can now consent, Nor even have pity of my cruel woe? Dare, valiant heart, this impious man to slay, And let his death my thousand deaths appay!" XXXV So said, she spurred at him amid the throng; But, first -- "Defend thee, false Rogero!" -- cried. "No more, if I have power, in spoil and wrong, Done to a virgin heart, shalt thou take pride." Hearing that voice the hostile ranks among, He deems -- and truly deems -- he hears his bride; Whose voice the youth remembers in such wise, That mid a thousand would he recognize. XXXVI Her further meaning well did he divine, Weening that him she in that speech would blame, For having broke their pact; and -- with design, The occasion of his failure to proclaim, -- Of his desire for parley made a sign: But she, with vizor closed, already came, Raging and grieved, intent, with vengeful hand, To fling the youth; nor haply upon sand. XXXVII Rogero, when he saw her so offended, Fixed himself firmly in his arms and seat, He rests his lance, but holds the stave suspended, So that it shall not harm her when they meet, She that to smite and pierce the Child intended, Pitiless, and inflamed with furious heat, Has not the courage, when she sees him near, To fling, or do him outrage with the spear. XXXVIII Void of effect, 'tis thus their lances go; And it is well; since Love with burning dart, Tilting this while at one and the other foe, Has lanced the enamoured warriors in mid-heart. Unable at the Child to aim her blow, The lady spent her rage in other part, And mighty deeds achieved, which fame will earn, While overhead the circling heavens shall turn. XXXIX Above three hundred men in that affray In little space by her dismounted lie, Alone that warlike damsel wins the day; From her alone the Moorish people fly. To her Rogero, circling, threads his way, And says: "Unless I speak with you I die. Hear me, for love of heaven! -- what done I done, Alas! that ever mine approach ye shun?" XL As when soft southern breezes are unpent, Which with a tepid breath from seaward blow, The snows dissolve, and torrents find a vent, And ice, so hard erewhile, is seen to flow; At those entreaties, at that brief lament, Rinaldo's sister's heart is softened so; Forthwith compassionate and pious grown; Which anger fain had made more hard than stone. XLI Would she not, could she not, she nought replied, But spurred aslant the ready Rabicane, And, signing to Rogero, rode as wide As she could wend from that embattled train; Then to a sheltered valley turned aside, Wherein embosomed was a little plain. In the mid lawn a wood of cypress grew, Whose saplings of one stamp appeared to view. XLII Within that thicket, of white marble wrought, Is a proud monument, and newly made; And he that makes enquiry, here is taught In few brief verses who therein is laid. But of those lines, methinks, took little thought, Fair Bradamant, arriving in that glade. Rogero spurred his courser, and pursued And overtook that damsel in the wood. XLIII But turn we to Marphisa, that anew During this space was seated on her steed, And sought again the valiant champion, who At the first onset cast her on the mead; And saw, how from the mingling host withdrew Rogero, after that strange knight to speed; Nor deemed the youth pursued in love; she thought He but to end their strife and quarrel sought. XLIV She pricks her horse behind the two, and gains, Well nigh as soon as they, that valley; how Her coming thither either lover pains, Who lives and loves, untaught by me, may know: But sorest vext sad Bradamant remains; Beholding her whence all her sorrows flow. Who shall persuade the damsel but that love For young Rogero brings her to that grove? XLV And him perfidious she anew did name. -- "Perfidious, was it not enough (she said) That I should know thy perfidy from fame, But must the witness of thy guilt be made? I wot, to drive me from thee is thine aim; And I, that thy desires may be appaid, Will die; but strive, in yielding up my breath, She too shall die, the occasion of my death." XLVI Angrier than venomed viper, with a bound, So saying, she upon Marphisa flies; And plants so well the spear, that she, astound, Fell backward on the champaigne in such guise, Nigh half her helm was buried in the ground: Nor was the damsel taken by surprise: Nay, did her best the encounter to withstand; Yet with her helmed head she smote the sand. XLVII Bradamant who will die, or in that just Will put to death Marphisa, rages so, She has no mind again with lance to thrust, Again that martial maid to overthrow: But thinks her head to sever from the bust, Where it half buried lies, with murderous blow: Away the enchanted lance that damsel flings, Unsheathes the sword, and from her courser springs. XLVIII But is too slow withal; for on her feet She finds Marphisa, with such fierce disdain Inflamed, at being in that second heat So easily reversed upon the plain, She hears in vain exclaim, in vain entreat, Rogero, who beholds their strife with pain. So blinded are the pair with spite and rage, That they with desperate fury battle wage. XLIX At half-sword's engage the struggling foes; And -- such their stubborn mood -- with shortened brand They still approach, and now so fiercely close, They cannot choose but grapple, hand to hand. Her sword, no longer needful, each foregoes; And either now new means of mischief planned. Rogero both implores with earnest suit: But supplicates the twain with little fruit. L When he entreaties unavailing found, The youth prepared by force to part the two; Their poniards snatched away, and on the ground, Beneath a cypress-tree, the daggers threw. When they no weapons have wherewith to wound, With prayer and threat, he interferes anew: But vainly; for, since better weapons lack, Each other they with fists and feet attack. LI Rogero ceased not from his task; he caught, By hand or arm, the fiercely struggling pair, Till to the utmost pitch of fury wrought The fell Marphisa's angry passions were. She, that this ample world esteemed at nought, Of the Child's friendship had no further care. Plucked from the foe, she ran to seize her sword, And fastened next upon that youthful lord. LII "Like a discourteous man and churl ye do, Rogero, to disturb another's fight; A deed (she cried) this hand shall make ye rue, Which I intend, shall vanquished both." The knight Sought fierce Marphisa's fury to subdue With gentle speech; but full of such despite He found her, and inflamed with such disdain, All parley was a waste of time and pain. LIII At last his faulchion young Rogero drew; For ire as well had flushed that cavalier: Nor is it my belief, that ever shew Athens or Rome, or city whatsoe'er Witnessed, which ever so rejoiced the view, As this rejoices, as this sight is dear To Bradamant, when, through their strife displaced, Every suspicion from her breast is chased. LIV Bradamant took her sword, and to descry The duel of those champions stood apart. The god of war, descended from the sky, She deemed Rogero, for his strength and art: If he seemed Mars, Marphisa to the eye Seemed an infernal Fury, on her part. 'Tis true, that for a while the youthful knight Against that damsel put not forth his might. LV He knew the virtues of that weapon well, Such proof thereof the knight erewhile had made. Where'er it falls parforce is every spell Annulled, or by its stronger virtue stayed. Hence so Rogero smote, it never fell Upon its edge or point, but still the blade Descended flat: he long this rule observes; Yet once he from his patient purpose swerves. LVI In that, a mighty stroke Marphisa sped, Meaning to cleave the brainpan of her foe: He raised the buckler to defend his head, And the sword smote upon its bird of snow, Nor broke nor bruised the shield, by spell bested; But his arm rang astounded by the blow; Nor aught but Hector's mail the sword had stopt, Whose furious blow would his left arm have lopt; LVII And had upon his head descended shear, Whereat designed to strike the savage fair. Scarce his left arm can good Rogero rear; Can scarce the shield and blazoned bird upbear. All pity he casts off, and 'twould appear As in his eyes a lighted torch did glare. As hard as he can smite, he smites; and woe To thee, Marphisa, if he plants the blow! LVIII I cannot tell you truly in what wise, That faulchion swerves against a cypress-stock, In such close-serried ranks the saplings rise, Buried above a palm within the block. As this the mountain and the plain that lies Beneath it, with a furious earthquake rock; And from that marble monument proceeds A voice, that every mortal voice exceeds. LIX The horrid voice exclaims, "Your quarrel leave; For 'twere a deed unjust and inhumane, That brother should of life his sister reave, Or sister by her brother's hand be slain. Rogero and Marphisa mine, believe! The tale which I deliver is not vain. Seed of one father, on one womb ye lay; And first together saw the light of day. LX "Galaciella's children are ye, whom She to Rogero, hight the second, bare. Whose brothers, having, by unrighteous doom, Of your unhappy sire deprived that fair, Not heeding that she carried in her womb Ye, who yet suckers of their lineage are, Her in a rotten carcase of a boat, To founder in mid ocean, set afloat. LXI "But Fortune, that had destined you whilere, And yet unborn, to many a fair emprize, Your mother to that lonely shore did steer, Which overright the sandy Syrtes lies. Where, having given you birth, that spirit dear Forthwith ascended into Paradise. A witness of the piteous case was I, So Heaven had willed, and such your destiny! LXII "I to the dame as descent burial gave As could be given upon that desert sand. Ye, well enveloped in my vest, I save, And bear to Mount Carena from the strand; And make a lioness leave whelps and cave, And issue from the wood, with semblance bland. Ye, twice ten months, with mickle fondness bred, And from her paps the milky mother fed. LXIII "Needing to quit my home upon a day, And journey through the country, (as you can Haply remember by an Arab clan. Those robbers thee, Marphisa, bore away: While young Rogero 'scaped, who better ran. Bereaved of thee, they woful loss I wept, And with more watchful care thy brother kept. LXIV "Rogero, if Atlantes watched thee well, While yet he was alive, thou best dost know. I the fixed stars had heard of thee foretell, That thou shouldst perish by a treacherous foe In Christian land; and still their influence fell Was ended, laboured to avert the blow; Nor having power in fine thy will to guide, I sickened sore, and of my sorrow died. LXV "But here, before my death, for in this glade I knew thou should'st with bold Marphisa fight, I with huge stones, amassed by hellish aid, Had this fair monument of marble dight; And I to Charon with loud outcries said; I would not he should hence convey my sprite, Till here, prepared in deadly fray to strive, Rogero and his sister should arrive. LXVI "Thus has my spirit for this many a day Waited thy coming in these beauteous groves; So be no more to jealous fears a prey, O Bradamant, because Rogero loves. But me to quit the cheerful realms of day, And seek the darksome cloisters it behoves." Here ceased the voice; which in the Child amazed And those two damsels mighty marvel raised. LXVII Gladly a sister in the martial queen Rogero, she in him a brother knows; Who now embrace, nor move her jealous spleen, That with the love of young Rogero glows; And citing what, and when, and where had been Their childish deeds, as they to memory rose, In summing up past times, more sure they hold The things whereof the wizard's spirit told. LXVIII Rogero from Marphisa does not hide, How Bradamant to him at heart is dear; And by what obligations he is tied In moving words relates the cavalier; Nor ceases till he has, on either side, Turned to firm love the hate they bore whilere. When, as a sign of peace, and discord chased, They, at his bidding, tenderly embraced. LXIX Marphisa to Rogero makes request To say what sire was theirs, and what their strain; And how he died; by banded foes opprest, Or at close barriers, was the warrior slain? And who it was had issued the behest To drown their mother in the stormy main? For of the tale, if ever heard before, Little or nothing she in memory bore. LXX "Of Trojan ancestors are we the seed, Through famous Hector's line," (Rogero said,) "For after young Astyanax was freed, From fierce Ulysses and the toils he spread, Leaving another stripling in his stead, Of his own age, he out of Phrygia fled. Who, after long and wide sea-wandering, gained Sicily's shore, and in Messina reigned. LXXI "Part of Calabria within Faro held The warrior's heirs, who after a long run Of successors, departed thence and dwelled In Mars' imperial city: more than one Famed king and emperor, who that list have swelled, In Rome and other part has filled the throne; And from Constantius and good Constantine, Stretched to the son of Pepin, is their line. LXXII "Rogero, Gambaron, Buovo hence succeed; And that Rogero, second of the name, Who filled our fruitful mother with his seed; As thou Atlantes may'st have heard proclaim. Of our fair lineage many a noble deed Shalt thou hear blazed abroad by sounding Fame." Of Agolant's inroad next the stripling told, With Agramant and with Almontes bold; LXXIII And how a lovely daughter, who excelled In feats of arms, that king accompanied; So stout she many paladins had quelled; And how, in fine, she for Rogero sighed; And for his love against her sire rebelled; And was baptized, and was Rogero's bride; And how a traitor loved (him Bertram name) His brother's wife with an incestuous flame; LXXIV And country, sire, and brethren two betrayed, Hoping he so the lady should have won; How Risa open to the foe he laid, By whom all scathe was on those kinsmen done; How Agolant's two furious sons conveyed Their mother, great with child, and six months gone, Aboard a helmless boat, and with its charge, In wildest winter, turned adrift the barge. LXXV Valiant Marphisa, with a tranquil face, Heard young Rogero thus his tale pursue, And joyed to be descended of a race Which from so fair a font its waters drew: Whence Clermont, whence renowned Mongrana trace Their noble line, the martial damsel knew; Blazoned through years and centuries by Fame, Unrivalled, both, in arms of mighty name. LXXVI When afterwards she from her brother knew Agramant's uncle, sire, and grandsire fell, In treacherous wise, the first Rogero slew And brought to cruel pass Galacielle, Marphisa could not hear the story through: To him she cries, "With pardon, what you tell, Brother, convicts you of too foul a wrong, In leaving thus our sire unvenged so long. LXXVII "Could'st thou not in Almontes and Troyane, As dead whilere, your thirsty faulchion plant, By you those monarch's children might be slain. Are you alive, and lives King Agramant? Never will you efface the shameful stain, That ye, so often wronged, not only grant Life to that king, but as your lord obey; Lodge in his court, and serve him for his pay? LXXVIII "Here heartily in face of Heaven I vow, That Christ my father worshipped, to adore; And till I venge my parents on the foe To wear this armour, and I will deplore Your deed, Rogero, and deplore even now, That you should swell the squadrons of the Moor, Or other follower of the Moslem faith, Save sword in hand, and to the paynim's scathe." LXXIX Ah! how fair Bradamant uplifts again Her visage at that speech, rejoiced in sprite! Rogero she exhorts in earnest vein To do as his Marphisa counsels right; And bids him seek the camp of Charlemagne, And have himself acknowledged in his sight, Who so reveres and lauds his father's worth, He even deems him one unmatched on earth. LXXX In the beginning so he should have done, (Warily young Rogero answer made,) But, for the tale was not so fully known, As since, the deed had been too long delaid. Now, seeing it was fierce Troyano's son That had begirt him with the knightly blade, He, as a traitor, well might be abhorred, If he slew one, accepted as his lord. LXXXI But, as to Bradamant whilere, he cries, He will all measures and all means assay, Whereby some fair occasion may arise To leave the king; and had there been delay, And he whilere had done in otherwise, She on the Tartar king the fault must lay: How sorely handled that redoubted foe Had left him in their battle, she must know; LXXXII And she, that every day had sought his bed, Must of this truth the fittest witness be. Much upon this was answered, much was said, Between those damsels, who at last agree; And as their last resolve, last counsel read, He should rejoin the paynim's ensignry, Till he found fair occasion to resort From Agramant's to Charles's royal court. LXXXIII To Bradamant the bold Marphisa cries: "Let him begone, nor doubt am I, before Many days pass, will manage in such wise, That Agramant shall be his lord no more." So says the martial damsel, nor implies The secret purpose which she has in store. Making his congees to the friendly twain, To join his king Rogero turns the rein. LXXXIV When a complaint is heard from valley near: All now stand listening, to the noise attent; And to that plaintive voice incline their ear, A woman's (as 'twould seem) that makes lament. But I this strain would gladly finish here, And, that I finish it, be ye content: For better things I promise to report, If ye to hear another strain resort. CANTO 37 ARGUMENT Lament and outcry loud of some that mourn, Attract Rogero and the damsels two. They find Ulania, with her mantle shorn By Marganor, amid her moaning crew. Upon that felon knight, for his foul scorn, A fierce revenge Marphisa takes: a new Statute that maid does in the town obtain, And Marganor is by Ulania slain. I If, as in seeking other gift to gain, (For Nature, without study, yieldeth nought) With mighty diligence, and mickle pain, Illustrious women day and night have wrought; And if with good success the female train To a fair end no homely task have brought, So -- did they for such other studies wake -- As mortal attributes immortal make; II And, if they of themselves sufficient were Their praises to posterity to show, Nor borrowed authors' aid, whose bosoms are With envy and with hate corroded so, That oft they hide the good they might declare, And tell in every place what ill they know, To such a pitch would mount the female name, As haply ne'er was reached by manly fame. III To furnish mutual aid is not enow, For many who would lend each other light. Men do their best, that womankind should show Whatever faults they have in open sight; Would hinder them of rising from below, And sink them to the bottom, if they might; I say the ancients; as if glory, won By woman, dimmed their own, as mist the sun. IV But hands or tongue ne'er had, nor has, the skill, Does voice or lettered page the thought impart, Though each, with all its power, increase the ill, Diminishing the good with all its art, So female fame to stifle, but that still The honour of the sex survives in part: Yet reacheth not its pitch, nor such its flight, But that 'tis far below its natural height. V Not only Thomyris and Harpalice, And who brought Hector, who brought Turnus aid, And who, to build in Lybia crost the sea, By Tyrian and Sidonian band obeyed; Not only famed Zenobia, only she Who Persian, Indian, and Assyrian frayed; Not only these and some few others merit Their glory, that eternal fame inherit: VI Faithful, chaste, and bold, the world hath seen In Greece and Rome not only, but where'er The Sun unfolds his flowing locks, between The Hesperides and Indian hemisphere; Whose gifts and praise have so extinguished been, We scarce of one amid a thousand hear; And this because they in their days have had For chroniclers, men envious, false, and bad. VII But ye that prosper in the exercise Of goodly labours, aye your way pursue; Nor halt, O women, in your high emprise, For fear of not receiving honour due: For, as nought good endures beneath the skies, So ill endures no more; if hitherto Unfriendly by the poet's pen and page, They now befriend you in our better age. VIII Erewhile Marullo and Pontante for you Declared, and -- sire and son -- the Strozzi twain; Capello, Bembo, and that writer, who Has fashioned like himself the courtier train; With Lewis Alamanni, and those two, Beloved of Mars and Muses, of their strain Descended, who the mighty city rule, Which Mincius parts, and moats with marshy pool. IX One of this pair (besides that, of his will, He honours you, and does you courtesies; And makes Parnassus and high Cynthus' hill Resound your praise, and lift it to the skies) The love, the faith, and mind, unconquered still, Mid threats of ruin, which in stedfast wise To him his constant Isabel hath shown, Render yet more your champion than his own. X So that he never more will wearied be With quickening in his verse your high renown; And, if another censures you, than he Prompter to arm in your defence is none; Nor knight, in this wide world, more willingly Life in the cause of virtue would lay down: Matter as well for other's pen he gives, As in his own another's glory lives; XI And well he merits, that a dame so blest, (Blest with all worth, which in this earthly round Is seen in them who don the female vest,) To him hath evermore been faithful found; Of a sure pillar of pure truth possest In her, despising Fortune's every wound. Worthy of one another are the twain; Nor better ere were paired in wedlock's chain. XII New trophies he on Oglio's bank has shown; For he, mid bark and car, amid the gleam Of fire and sword, such goodly rhymes hath strown, As may with envy swell the neighbouring stream. By Hercules Bentivoglio next is blown The noble strain, your honour's noble theme; Reynet Trivulzio and Guidetti mine, And Molza, called of Phoebus and the Nine. XIII There's Hercules of the Carnuti, son Of my own duke, who spreads his every plume Soaring and singing, like harmonious swan, And even to heaven uplifts your name; with whom There is my lord of Guasto, not alone A theme for many an Athens, many a Rome; In his high strain he promises as well, Your praise to all posterity to tell. XIV And beside these and others of our day, Who gave you once, or give you now renown, This for yourselves ye may yourselves purvey: For many, laying silk and sampler down, With the melodious Muses, to allay Their thirst at Aganippe's well, have gone, And still are going; who so fairly speed, That we more theirs than they our labour need. XV If I of these would separately tell, And render good account and honour due, More than one page I with their praise should swell, Nor ought beside would this day's canto shew; And if on five or six alone I dwell, I may offend and anger all the crew. What then shall I resolve? to pass all by? Or choose but one from such a company? XVI One will I choose, and such will choose, that she All envy shall so well have overthrown, No other woman can offend be, If, passing others, her I praise alone: Nor joys this one but immortality, Through her sweet style (and better know I none): But who is honoured in her speech and page, Shall burst the tomb, and live through every age. XVII As Phoebus to his silvery sister shows His visage more, and lends her brighter fires, Than Venus, Maja, or to star that glows Alone, or circles with the heavenly quires; So he with sweeter eloquence than flows From other lips, that gentle dame inspires; And gives her word such force, a second sun Seems in our days its glorious course to run. XVIII Mid victories born, Victoria is her name, Well named; and whom (does she advance or stay) Triumphs and trophies evermore proclaim, While Victory heads or follows her array. Another Artemisia is the dame, Renowned for love of her Mausolus, yea By so much greater, as it is more brave To raise the dead, than lay them in the grave. XIX If chaste Laodamia, Portia true, Evadne, Argia, Arria, and many more Merited praise, because that glorious crew Coveted burial with their lords of yore, How much more fame is to Victoria due? That from dull Lethe, and the river's shore, Which nine times hems the ghosts, to upper light Has dragged her lord, in death and fate's despite. XX If that loud-voiced Maeonian trump whilere The Macedonian grudged Achilles, how, Francis Pescara, O unconquered peer, Would he begrudge thee, were he living now, That wife, so virtuous and to thee so dear, Thy well-earned glory through the world should blow; And that thy name through her should so rebound, Thou needst not crave a clearer trumpet's sound! XXI If all that is to tell, and all I fain Would of that lady tell, I wished to unfold, Though long, yet not so long, would be the stain, But that large portion would be left untold, While at a stand the story would remain Of fierce Marphisa and her comrades bold; To follow whom I promised erst, if you Would but return to hear my song anew. XXII Now, being here to listen to my say, Because I would not break my promise, I Until my better leisure, will delay Her every praise at length to certify. Not that I think she needs my humble lay, Who with such treasure can herself supply: But simply to appay my single end, That gentle dame to honour and commend. XXIII Ladies, in fine I say, that every age Worthy of story, many a dame supplies; But that, through jealous authors' envious rage, Unchronicled by fame, each matron dies; But will no more; since in the historic page Your virtues ye, yourselves, immortalize. Had those two damsels in this art been read, Their every warlike deed had wider spread. XXIV Bradamant and Marphisa would I say, Whose bold, victorious deeds, in battle done, I strive to bring into the light of day; But nine in ten remain to me unknown. I what I know right willingly display; As well, that all fair actions should be shown, As well that, gentle ladies, I am bent Ye whom I love and honour, to content. XXV As said, in act to go Rogero stood; And, having taken leave, the cavalier Withdraws his trenchant faulchion from the wood, Which holds no more the weapon, as whilere. When, sounding loud amid that solitude, A cry, not distant far, arrests the peer. Then thitherward he with those damsels made, Prompt, if 'twere needed, to bestow his aid. XXVI They rode an-end; and louder waxed the sound, And plainer were the plaintive words they heard: When in a valley they three women found Making that plaint, who in strange garb appeared: For to the navel were those three ungowned, -- Their coats by some uncourteous varlet sheared -- And knowing not how better to disguise Their shame, they sate on earth, and dared not rise. XXVII As Vulcan's son, that sprang (as it is versed) Out of the dust, without a mother made, Whom -- so Minerva bade -- Aglauros nursed With sovereign care, too bold and curious maid, Seated in car, by him constructed first To hide his hideous feet, was erst conveyed; So that which never is to sight revealed, Sitting, those mournful damsels kept concealed. XXVIII At that dishonest sight and shameful, glows Each martial damsel's visage, overspread With the rich dyes of Paestum's crimson rose, When vernal airs their gentle influence shed. Bradamant marked them; and that one of those Was Ulany, the damsel quickly read; Ulany, that was sent with solemn train From the LOST ISLE to royal Charlemagne; XXIX And recognised the other two no less; From them she saw, when she saw Ulany; But now to her directed her address. As the most honoured of those ladies three, Demanding, who so full of wickedness, So lawless was and so unmannerly, That he those secrets to the sight revealed, Which Nature, as she could, 'twould seem, concealed. XXX Ulany, that in Bradamant descried, -- Known both by voice and ensignry -- the maid, Who some few days before those knights of pride With her victorious lance on earth had laid, How, in a town not far remote -- replied -- An evil race, by pity never swayed, Besides that they their raiment thus had shorn, Had beat them, and had done them other scorn. XXXI What of the shield became, she cannot say, Nor knows she those three monarchs' destiny, Who guided her so long upon her way; If killed, or led into captivity; And says that she herself has ta'en her way, Albeit to fare a-foot sore irksome be, To appeal to royal Charlemagne, assured By him such outrage will not be endured. XXXII To hear, yet more to see, so foul a wrong, Disturbed the Child and damsels' placid air And beauteous visage, whose bold hearts and strong No less compassionate than valiant were. They now, all else forgetting, ere the tongue Of Ulany prefers demand, or prayer, That they would venge them on their cruel foe, In haste towards the felon's castle go. XXXIII With one constant, the maids and cavalier, By their great goodness moved, from plate and mail Had stript their upper vests, well fitting gear Those miserable ladies' shame to veil. Bradamant suffers not, that, as whilere, Sad Ulany shall tramp by hill and dale; But seats her on her horse's croup; so do Her comrades by those other damsels two. XXXIV To gentle Bradamant Ulania showed The nearest way to reach the castle height; While comfort Bradamant on her bestowed, Promising vengeance for that foul despite. They leave the vale, and by a crooked road And long ascend, now wheeling left, now right: Nor till the sun is hidden in the sea, Upon their weary way repose the three. XXXV They to a hamlet on the summit wound, Scaling the mountain's steep and rugged side; And such good shelter and good supper found, As could by such rude quarters be supplied. Arriving there, they turned their eyes around, And full of women every place espied, Some old, some young; nor, mid so large a clan, Appeared the visage of a single man. XXXVI Not more bold Jason wondered, and the train Which sailed with him, that Argonautic crew, Seeing those dames that had their husbands slain, Fathers and sons and brethren, -- so that through All Lemnos' pleasant isle, by hill or plain, Of manly visage they beheld not two -- Than here Rogero, and the rest who go With good Rogero, wonder at this show. XXXVII The martial damsels bid for Ulany, And those who came with her, provide attire; And gowns that eve are furnished for the three, If meaner than their own, at least entire. To him a woman of that villagery Valiant Rogero summons, to inquire Where are the men; in that he none descries; And thus to him that village wife replies: XXXVIII "What haply is to you a wonderment, This crowd of womankind, where man is none, To us is grave and grievous punishment, Who, banished here, live wofully alone; And, that such exile us may more torment, From those so loved, as brother, father, son, A long divorce and cruel we sustain, As our fell tyrant pleases to ordain. XXXIX "Sent to these confines from his land, which lies But two leagues distant thence, where we were born, Us in this place the fell barbarian sties, Having first done us many a brutal scorn; And has with death and all extremities Threatened our kinsmen and ourselves forlorn, If they come hither, or he hears report We harbour them, when hither they resort. XL "He to our name is such a deadly foe, He will not have us nearer than I shewed, Now have us of our kin approached, as though Infection from the female sex ensued. Already have the greenwood trees laid low Their leafy honours twice, and twice renewed, Since our lord's fury to such pitch arose, Now is there one his phrensy to oppose. XLI "For he has spread such passing fear among The people, death can cause no worse affright; In that, beside his natural love of wrong, He is endowed with more than human might. He than a hundred other men more strong, In body is of a gigantic height: Nor us his vassals he molests alone; But worse by him to stranger dame is done. XLII "If your own honour, sir, and of those three, Beneath your charge, to you in aught is dear, 'Twill safer, usefuller, and better be To leave this road, and by another steer. This leads you to his tower, described by me, To prove the savage use that cruel peer Has there established, to the shame and woe Of dame or cavalier, who thither go. XLIII "This castellain or tyrant, Marganor (So name the felon knight) than whom more fell Nero was not, nor other heretofore, If other be, whose actions Fame doth swell, Thirsts for man's blood, but thirsts for woman's more Than wolf for blood of lambs; and bids expel With shame all females, that, in evil hour, Their fortune has conducted to his tower." XLIV How in that impious man such fury grew, Asked young Rogero and those damsels twain, And prayed she would in courtesy pursue, Yea, rather from the first her tale explain. "That castle's lord, fierce, and inhumane, Yet for a while his wicked heart concealed, Nor what he was so suddenly revealed. XLV "For in the lifetime of his sons, a pair That differed much from the paternal style, (Since they the stranger loved; and loathers were Of cruelty and other actions vile) Flourished the courtesies and good customs there, And there were gentle deeds performed this while: For. albeit avaricious was the sire, He never crossed the youths in their desire. XLVI "The cavaliers and dames who journeyed by That castle, there so well were entertained, That they departed, by the courtesy Of those two kindly brothers wholly gained. In the holy orders of fair chivalry Alike the youthful pair had been ordained. Cylander one, Tanacro hight the other; Bold, and of royal mien each martial brother; XLVII "And truly were, and would have been alway Worthy of every praise and fame, withal Had they not yielded up themselves a prey To that uncurbed desire, which Love we call; By which they were seduced from the right way Into foul Error's crooked maze; and all The good that by those brethren had been wrought, Waxed, in a moment, rank, corrupt and naught. XLVIII "It chanced, that in their father's fortilage, A knight of the Greek emperor's court did lie; With him his lady was; of manners sage; Nor fairer could be craved by wishful eye: For her Cylander felt such amorous rage, He deemed, save he enjoyed her, he should die; He deemed that, when the lady should depart, His soul as well would from his body part: XLIX "And, for he knew 'twas useless to entreat, Devised to make her his by force of hand; Armed, and in silence, near his father's seat, Where must pass knight and lady, took his stand. Through natural daring and through amorous heat, He with too little thought the matter planned; So that, when he beheld the knight advance, He issued, to assail him, lance to lance. L "To overthrow him, at first shock he thought, And to win dame and palm in the career; But that Greek knight, in warlike strife well-taught, Shivered, like glass, his breastplate with the spear. The bitter tidings to the sire were brought, Who bade bear home the stripling on a bier: He, finding he was dead, loud mourning made, And him in earth, beside his fathers, layed. LI "Yet harbourage and welcome as before Had he who sought it; neither more nor less: Because Tanacro in his courteous lore Equalled his brother as in gentleness. Thither that very year, from foreign shore, A baron and his wife their steps address: A marvel he of valour, and as fair As could be said, is she, and debonnair. LII "No fairer was the dame than chaste and right, And well deserving every praise; the peer Derived of generous stock, and bold in fight, As ever champion, of whose fame we hear; And 'tis well fitting, that such valiant wight Should joy a thing so excellent and dear, Olindro he, the lord of Lungavilla, And she, his lady wife, yclept Drusilla. LIII "No less for her the young Tanacro glows, Than for that other burned Cylander sore; Who brought erewhile to sad and bitter close The wicked love he to that lady bore. The holy, hospitable laws he chose To violate no less than he, before He would endure, that him, with venomed sting, His new desire to cruel death should bring. LIV "But he, because he has before his eyes The example of his elder brother slain, Thinks to bear off the lady in such wise, That bold Olindro cannot venge the stain. Straight spent in him, not simply weakened, lies The virtue, wont Tancaro to sustain Above that flood of vice, in whose profound And miry waters Marganor lay drowned. LV "That night, he in deep silence bade array A score of armed men; and next conveyed Into some caverns, bordering on the way, And distant from the tower, his ambuscade. The roads were broken, and the following day Olindro from all sides was overlaid; And, though he made a brave defence and long, Of wife and life was plundered by that throng. LVI "Olindro slain, they led his lady fair A captive thence, o'erwhelmed with sorrow so, That she refused to live, and made her prayer, Tanacro, as a grace, would death bestow: Resolved to die, she leapt, in her despair, From a high bank into a vale below; But death was to the wretched dame refused; Who lay with shattered head and sorely bruised. LVII "She could not to the castle be conveyed In other guise than borne upon a bier: Her (so Tanacro bids) prompt leeches aid; Because he will not lose a prey so dear; And while to cure Drusilla they essayed, Busied about their spousals was the peer: In that so chaste a lady and so fair, A wife's and not a leman's name should wear. LVIII "He had no other thought, no other aim, No other care, nor spake beside of ought; Saw he had wronged her, and took all the blame, And, as he could, to amend his error wrought: But all was vain; the more he loved the dame, The more be to appease her anger sought, So much more was her hate; so much more will, So much more thirst had she that youth to kill. LIX "Yet hatred blinded not her judgment so, But what the dame could clearly comprehend, That she, if she would strike the purposed blow, Must feign, and secret snares for him extend. And her desire beneath another show (Which is but how Tanacro to offend) Must mask; and make him think, that overblown Is her first love, and turned to him alone. LX "Her face speaks peace; while vengeance inwardly Her heart demands, and but to this attends: She many things revolves, accepts, puts by; Or, as of doubtful issue, some suspends. Deeming she can, if she resolves to die, Compass her scheme, with this resolve she ends; And better how can she expend her breath Than in avenging dear Olindro's death? LXI "She showed herself all joyful, on her part, And feigned that she desired those nuptials sore; Nor only showed an unreluctant heart; But all delay and hindrance overbore. Painted and tired above the rest with art, 'Twould seem, she of her husband thinks no more: But 'tis her will, that in her country's wise Tanacro shall their wedding solemnize. LXII "The custom howsoever was not true, Which as her country's use she certified; But, because never thought within her grew Which she could spend on any thing beside, A falsehood she devised, whence hope she drew Of killing him by whom her husband died; And told Tanacro -- and the manner said -- How in her country's fashion she would wed. LXIII " `The widow that a husband's bed ascends, Ere she approach the bridegroom (said that fair) The spirit of the dead, whom she offends, Must soothe with solemn office, mass and prayer; In the holy temple making her amends, Where her first husband's bones entombed are. -- That sacrifice performed -- to bind their vows The nuptial ring the bridegroom gives the spouse. LXIV " `But the holy priest, while this shall be about, Upon wine, thither for that purpose sped, His orisons, appropriate and devout, Blessing withal the liquor, shall have said; Then from the flask into a cup pour out, And give the blessed wine to them that wed. But 'tis the spouse's part to take the cup; And first that vessel's cordial beverage sup.' LXV "The unsuspecting youth, who takes no heed What nuptials, ordered in her wise, import, At her own pleasure bids the dame proceed, So that she cut his terms of waiting short; Nor does the miserable stripling read She would avenge Olindro in that sort; And on one object is so sore intent, He sees but that, on that alone is bent. LXVI "An ancient woman, seized with her whilere, And left, withal, obeyed Drusilla, who That beldam called and whispered in her ear, So as that none beside could hear the two -- A poison of quick power for me prepare, Such as, I know, thou knowest how to brew; And bottle it; for I have found a way The traitorous son of Marganor to slay; LXVII " `And me and thee no less can save,' (she said,) `And this at better leisure will explain.' The woman went her ways, the potion made, And to the palace bent her steps again: A flask of Candian sweet wine she purveyed, Wherewith Drusilla sheathed that deadly bane; And kept the beverage for the nuptial day; For now had ceased all hindrance and delay. LXVIII "On the fixt day she seeks the temple, dight With precious jewels and with goodly gear; Where her lord's tomb, befitting such a knight, Built by her order, two fair pillars rear. The holy office there, with solemn rite, Is sung, which men and women troop to hear; And -- gay, beyond his usage -- with his heir, Begirt by friends, Sir Marganor is there. LXIX "When the holy obsequies at last were o'er, And by the priest was blest the poisoned draught, He into a fair golden cup did pour The wine, as by Drusilla had been taught, She drank what sorted with her sex; nor more Than would effect the purpose which she sought: Then to the bridegroom, with a jocund eye, Handed the draught, who drained the goblet dry. LXX "The cup returned -- Tanacro, blithe and gay, Opened his arms Drusilla to embrace. Then altered was her sweet and winning way, And to a tempest that long calm gave place. She thrust him back, she motioned him away; She seemed to kindle in her eyes and face; And to the youth, with broken voice and dread, -- `Traitor, stand off,' -- the furious lady said; -- LXXI " `Shalt thou then joy and solace have from me, I tears from thee, and punishment and woe? Now these mine hands shall make an end of thee. This, if thou know'st it not, for poison know. Much grieve I that thou should'st too honoured be By the executioner who deals the blow; Should'st die a death too easy: since I wot, For thee too shameful hand or pain is not. LXXII " `In seeing this thy death, it gives me pain, My sacrifice should be completed ill; For could I do by thee as I were fain, Nothing should lack that purpose to fulfill. May my sweet consort not the work disdain, And for the imperfect deed accept the will! That, without power to compass what I would, I have been fain to slay thee as I could! LXXIII " `And that deserved punishment, which I Cannot, as I desire, on thee bestow, I hope thy soul shall have; hope to be nigh, To see thee suffer, in the realms of woe.' Her turbid eyes then raising to the sky, With joyous face all over in a glow, (She cried) `Olindro, take this victim's life, With the good will of thine avenging wife; LXXIV " `And of our lord for me the grace obtain, To be this day in paradise with thee, If he reply, none cometh to your reign, Without desert; say such I bring with me, Who this fell impious monster, in his fane, Offer, as my first-fruits; and what can be A greater merit than to have supprest Such loathsome and abominable pest?' LXXV "Her life, together with her speech, was spent; And, even dead, her face appeared to glow With joy, at having dealt such punishment To him, that laid her cherished husband low. If fierce Tanacro's spirit did prevent, Of follow hers, I wiss not; but, I trow, Prevented, for on him that venom rank Yet faster wrought, because he deeper drank. LXXVI "Marganor, who beheld his only son Fall and expire, his outstretched arms between, Well nigh had with Tanacro died, o'erthrown By that so sudden grief and unforeseen. Two sons he had, and now was left alone; Brought to that pass he by two wives had been; This was the cause one spent his vital breath With her own hand, that dealt the other death. LXXVII "Love, pity, sorrow, anger, and desire Of death and vengeance, all together rend And rack the childless and unhappy sire, Who groans like sea, when wind and waves contend: Towards the dame, with vengeful thoughts afire, He goes, but sees that life is at an end; And, goaded by his rage and hatred hot, Seeks to offend her corse that feels it not. LXXVIII "As serpent, by the pointed spear pinned down, Fixes his teeth in it, with fruitless spire; Or as the mastiff runs towards a stone, Which has been flung by some wayfaring wight, And gnaws it in his rage, nor will be gone Until he venge himself; 'tis so the knight, Than any mastiff, any serpent, worse Offends Drusilla's cold and lifeless corse. LXXIX "And, for he venteth not, nor slakes his mood, By foul abuse upon the carcase done, Among the women, a large multitude, He springs, and there shows mercy unto none. Mown are we with his impious sword, as strewed Is grass with scythe, when dried by summer sun. There is no 'scape; for straightways of our train Are full a hundred maimed, and thirty slain. LXXX "He of his vassals is so held in dread, There is no man who dares to lift his eyes: The women with the meaner sort are fled, And whosoever can, the temple flies. His friends against the furious fit make head, At last, with kind constraint and suppliant cries; And, leaving every thing in tears below, Him in his castle on the rock bestow. LXXXI "His wrath enduring still, to send away The wretch determines all the female band: In that, his will us utterly to slay His people and his friends, with prayer, withstand; And he bids punish, on that very day, An order for us all to leave his land; Placed such his pleasures on these confines: woe To them that nearer to his castle go! LXXXII "Thus husbands from their wives divided are, Mothers from sons: if hither to resort, Despite that order, any one should dare, Let none know this, who might the deed report! For sorely mulcted for the transgression were Many, and many slain in cruel sort. A statute for his town next made the peer: Of fouler law we neither read nor hear. LXXXIII "It wills, all women found within the vale, (For thither even yet will some descend,) His men with rods shall on the shoulders whale, And into exile from those countries send; But first their gowns shall clip, and parts unveil That decency and natural shame offend; And if with escort of an armed knight Any wend thither, they are slain outright. LXXXIV "Those that an armed warrior's escort have, By this ill man, to piety a foe, Are dragged as victims to his children's grave, Where his own hand inflicts the murderous blow. Stript ignominiously of armour, glaive, And steed, their champions to his prisons go; And this can he compel; for, night and day, A thousand men the tyrant's hest obey. LXXXV "And I will add, moreover, 'tis his will, Does he free any one, he first shall swear Upon the holy wafer, that he still To woman, while he lives, will hatred bear. If then these ladies and yourself to spill Seem good to you, to yonder walls repair; And put to proof withal, if prowess more Or cruelty prevails in Marganor." LXXXVI So saying, in those maids of martial might First she such pity moved and then disdain, That they (had it been day instead of night) Would then have gone against that castellain. There rest the troop; and when Aurora's light Serves as a signal to the starry train, That they should all before the sun recede, They don the cuirass and remount the steed: LXXXVII And now, in act to go, that company Behind them hear the stony road resound With a long trample, when those warlike three Look down the vale and roll their eyes around; And they from thence, a stone's-throw distant, see A troop, which through a narrow pathway wound: A score they are perhaps in number, who On horseback, or on foot, their way pursue. LXXXVIII They with them on a horse a woman haul, (Whom stricken sore in years her visage shows,) In guise wherein some doleful criminal Condemned to gallows, fire, or prison goes; Who, notwithstanding that wide interval, Is by her features known, as well as clothes: They of the village, mid the cavalcade, Know her for fair Drusilla's chamber maid. LXXXIX The chamber wench, made prisoner with his prize, By the rapacious stripling, as I shewed, Who being trusted with that ill emprize, The poisoned draught of foul effect had brewed. From the others she and those solemnites Had kept away, suspecting what ensued: Yea, this while, from that lordship had she fled, Where she in safety hoped to hide her head. XC News being after to her foeman brought, That she retired in Ostericche lay, He, with intent to burn the woman, sought To have her in his power by every way; And finally unhappy Avarice, bought By costly presents, and by proffered pay, Wrought on a lord, assured upon whose lands The beldam lived, to put her in his hands. XCI He on a sumpter horse the prisoner sent To Constance-town, like merchandise addrest; Fastened and bound in manner to prevent The use of speech, and prisoned in a chest. From whence that rabble, his ill instrument, Who has all pity banished from his breast, Had hither brought her, that his impious rage That cruel man might on the hag assuage. XCII As the flood, swoln with Vesulo's thick snows, The farther that it foams upon its way, And, with Ticino and Lambra, seaward goes, Ada, and other streams that tribute pay, So much more haughty and impetuous flows; Rogero so, the more he hears display Marganor's guilt, and so that gentle pair Of damsels filled with fiercer choler are. XCIII Them with such hatred, them with such disdain Against the wretch so many crimes incense, That they will punish him, despite the train Or armed men arraid in his defence: But speedy death appears too kind a pain, And insufficient for such foul offence. Better they deem, mid pangs prolonged and slow, He all the bitterness of death should know. XCIV But first 'tis right that woman to unchain, She whom the hangman-crew to death escort; And the quick rowel and the loosened rein Made the quick coursers make that labour short. Never had those assaulted to sustain Encounter of so fell and fierce a sort; Who held it for a grace, with loss of shield, Harness and captive dame, to quit the field; XCV Even as the wolf, who, laden with his prey, Is homeward to his secret cavern bound, And, when he deems that safest is the way, Beholds it crost by hunter and by hound, Flings down his load, and swiftly darts away, Where most o'ergrown with brushwood is the ground. Nor quicker are that band to void the vale, Than those bold three are quicker to assail. XCVI Not only they the dame and martial gear, But many horses they as well forsook; And, as the surest refuge in their fear, Cast themselves down from bank and caverned nook: Which pleased the damsels and the youthful peer; Who three of those forsaken horses took, To mount those three, whom, through the day before, Upon their croups the three good coursers bore. XCVII Thence, lightened thus, their way they thither bend, Where that despiteous, shameful, lordship lies; Resolved the beldam in their band shall wend, To see Drusilla venged; in vain denies That woman, who misdoubts the adventure's end, And grieves, and shrieks, and weeps in piteous wise: For flinging her upon Frontino's croup, Rogero bears her off amid the troop. XCVIII They reached a summit, and from thence espied A town with many houses, large and rich; With nought to stop the way on any side, As neither compassed round by wall or ditch. A rock was in the middle, fortified With a tall tower, upon its topmost pitch. Fearlessly thither pricked the warriors, who Marganor's mansion in that fortress knew. XCIX As soon as in the town that cavalcade Arrived, some footmen, who kept watch and ward, Behind those warriors closed a barricade; While that, before, they found already barred. And lo! Sir Marganor, with men arraid, Some foot, some horsemen! armed was all the guard; Who to the strangers, in few words, but bold, The wicked custom of his lordship told. C Marphisa, who had planned the thing whilere With Aymon's daughter and the youthful knight, For answer, spurred against the cavalier; And, valiant as she was and full of might, Not putting in the rest her puissant spear, Or baring that good sword, so famed in fight, So smote him with her fist upon the head, That on his horse's neck he fell half dead. CI The maid of France is with Marphisa gone, Nor in the rear it seen Rogero's crest; Who with those two his course so bravely run, That, though his lance he raised not from the rest, Six men he slew; transfixed the paunch of one, Another's head, of four the neck or breast; I' the sixth he broke it, whom in flight he speared: It pierced his spine and at his paps appeared. CII As many as are touched, so many lie On earth, by Bradamant's gold lance o'erthrown; She seems a bolt, dismist form burning sky, Which, in its fury, shivers and beats down Whatever it encounters, far and nigh. Some fly to plain, or castle from the town, Others to sheltering church and house repair; And none, save dead, are seen in street or square. CIII Meanwhile the hands of Marganor, behind His back, the fierce Marphisa had made fast, And to Drusilla's maid the wretch consigned, Well pleased that such a care on her was cast. To burn the town 'twas afterwards designed, Save it repented of its errors past, Repealed the statute Marganor had made, And a new law, imposed by her, obeyed. CIV Such end to compass is no hard assay; For, besides fearing lest Marphisa yearn To execute more vengeance, -- lest she say, -- She one and all will slaughter and will burn, -- The townsmen all were advised to the sway And cruel statute of that tyrant stern; But did, as others mostly do, that best Obey the master whom they most detest. CV Since none dares trust another, nor his will, -- Out of suspicion -- to his comrades break, They let him banish one, another kill, From this his substance, that his honour take. But the heart cries to Heaven, that here is still, Till God and saints at length to vengeance wake: Who, albeit they due punishment suspend, By mighty pain the long delay amend. CVI The rabble, full of rage and enmity, Now seeks the wretch with word and deed to grieve; As, it is said, all strip the fallen tree, Which from its roots and wintry winds upheave: Let rulers in his sad example see, Ill doers in the end shall ill receive. To view fell Marganor's disastrous fall, Fit penance for his sins, pleased great and small. CVII Many, of whom the sister had been slain, The mother, or the daughter, or the wife, Seeking no more their rebel wrath to rein, Hurry, with their own hands to take his life; And young Rogero and the damsels twain Can scarce defend the felon in that strife; Whom those illustrious three had doomed to die, Mid trouble, fear, and lengthened agony. CVIII To the hag, who bore such hatred to that wight, As woman to an enemy can bear, They give their prisoner naked, bound so tight, He will not at one shake the cordage tear; And she, her pains and sorrow to requite, Crimsons the wretch's body, here and there, With a sharp goad, which, mid that village band, A peasant churl had put into her hand. CIX Nor she the courier maid, nor they that ride With her, aye mindful how they had been shent, Now let their hands hang idle by their side; No less than that old crone on vengeance bent: Such was their fierce desire, it nullified The power to harm; but rage must have its vent., Him one with stones, another with her nails, This with her teeth, with needles that, assails. CX As torrent one while foams in haughty tide, When fed with mighty rain or melted snow; And, rending form the mountain's rugged side Tree, rock, and crop and field, the waters go: Then comes a season when its crested pride Is vanished, and its vigour wasted so, A child, a woman, everywhere may tread, And often dry-shod cross, its rugged bed. CXI So Marganor whilere each bound and bourn Made tremble, whereso'er his name was heard: Now one is come to bruise the tyrant's horn; And now his prowess is so little feared, That even the little children work him scorn: Some pluck his hair and others pluck his beard. Thence young Rogero and the damsels twain Towards his rock-built castle turn the rein. CXII This without contest its possessors yield, And the rich goods preserved in that repair. These the friends partly spoiled, and partly dealed To Ulany and that attendant pair. With them, recovered was the golden shield, And those three monarchs that were prisoned there; Who, without arms, afoot, towards that hold Had wended, as meseems whilere was told. CXIII For from the day that they were overthrown By Bradamant, afoot, they evermore, Unarmed, in company with her had gone, That hither came from her so distant shore. I know not, I, if it was better done Or worse, by her, that they their arms forbore; Worse, touching her defence; but better far, If they were losers in the doubtful war. CXIV For she would have been dragged, -- like others, whom Armed men had thither brought beneath their guide, (Unhappy women) to the brothers' tomb, -- And by the sacrifice knife have died. Death, sure, is worse, and more disastrous doom Than showing that which modesty would hide; And they who can to force ascribe the blame, Extinguish this and every other shame. CXV Before they hence depart, the martial twain Assemble the inhabitants, to swear, They to their wives the rule of that domain Will leave, as well as every other care; And that they will chastise, with heavy pain, Whoever to oppose this law shall dare. -- In fine, man's privileges, whatsoe'er, They swear, shall be conferred on woman here: CXVI Then make them promise never to bestow Harbourage on whosoever thither sped, Footman or cavalier, nor even allow Any beneath a roof to hide his head, Unless he swore by God and saints, or vow Yet stronger made -- if stronger could be said -- That he the sex's cause would aye defend, Foe to their foes, and woman's faithful friend; CXVII And, if he then were wived, or ever were -- Sooner or later -- linked in nuptial noose, Still to his wife he would allegiance bear, Nor e'er compliance with her will refuse. Marphisa says, within the year, she there Will be, and ere the trees their foliage lose; And, save she find her statute in effect, That borough fire and ruin may expect. CXVIII Nor hence they part ill from the filthy place, Wherein it lay, Drusilla's corse is borne; Her with her lord they in a tomb encase, And, with what means the town supplies, adorn. Drusilla's ancient woman, in this space, Marganor's body with her goad has torn. Who only grieves she has not wind enow, No respite to his torture to allow. CXIX Beside a church, the martial damsels twain Behold a pillar, standing in the square; Whereon the wicked lord of the domain Had graved that mad and cruel law; the pair, In imitation, his helm, plate, and chain, And shield, in guise of trophy fasten there; And afterwards upon the pillar trace That law they had enacted for the place. CXX Within the town the troop set up their rest, Until the law is graved, of different frame From that before upon the stone imprest, Which every woman doom'd to death and shame. With the intention to replace her vest, Here from that band divides the Islandick dame; Who deems, at court 'twere shameful to appear, Unless adorned and mantled as whilere. CXXI Here Ulany remained, and in her power Remained the wicked tyrant Marganor: She, lest he any how, in evil hour, Should break his bonds and injure damsel more, Made him, one day, leap headlong from a tower, Who never took so still a leap before. No more of her and hers! I of the crew That journey toward Arles, the tale pursue. CXXII Throughout all that and the succeeding day, Till the forenoon, proceed those banded friends; And, where the main-road branches, and one way Towards the camp, to Arles the other tends, Again embrace the lovers, and oft say A last farewell, which evermore offends. The damsels seek the camp; to Arles is gone Rogero; and my canto I have done.