Canto 40 & Canto 41
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #10a
CANTO 40 ARGUMENT To fly the royal Agramant is fain, And sees Biserta burning far away; But landing finds the royal Sericane, Who of his faith gives goodly warrant; they Defy Orlando, backed by champions twain; Whom bold Gradasso firmly trusts to slay. For seven kings' sake, fast prisoners to their foes, Rogero and the Dane exchange rude blows. I The diverse chances of that sea-fight dread, Here to rehearse would take a weary while; And to discourse to you upon this head, Great son of Hercules, were to Samos' isle To carry earthen vessels, as 'tis said, To Athens owls, and crocodiles the Nile. In that, my lord, by what is vouched to me, Such things you saw, such things made others see. II Your faithful people gazed on a long show, That night and day, wherein they crowded stood, As in a theatre, and hemmed on Po Twixt fire and sword, the hostile navies viewed. What outcries may be heard, what sounds of woe, How rivers may run red with human blood, In suchlike combat, in how many a mode Men die, you saw, and you to many showed. III I saw not, I, who was compelled to course, Evermore changing nags, six days before, To Rome, in heat and haste, some helpful force Of him our mighty pastor to implore. But, after, need was none of foot or horse, For so the lion's beak and claws you tore, From that day unto this I hear not said That he more trouble in your land has bread. IV But Trotto, present at this victory, Afranio, Moro, Albert, Hannibal, Zerbinat, Bagno, the Ariostos three, Assured me of the mighty feat withal, Certified after by that ensignry, Suspended from the holy temple's wall, And fifteen galleys at our river-side, Which with a thousand captive barks I spied. V He that those wrecks and blazing fires discerned, And such sore slaughter, under different shows, Which -- venging us for hall and palace burned -- While bark remained, raged wide among the foes, Might also deem how Africk's people mourned, With Agramant, mid diverse deaths and woes, On that dark night, when the redouted Dane Assaulted in mid sea the Moorish train. VI 'Twas night, nor gleam was anywhere descried, When first the fleets in furious strife were blended; But when lit sulphur, pitch and tar from side And poop and prow into the sky ascended, And the destructive wild-fire, scattered wide, Fed upon ship and shallop ill defended, The things about them all descried so clear That night was changed to day, as 'twould appear. VII Hence Agramant, that by the dark deceived, Had rated not so high the foes' array, Nor to encounter such a force believed, But would, if 'twere opposed, at last give way, When that wide darkness cleared, and he perceived (What least he weened upon the first affray) That twice as many were the ships he fought, As his own Moorish barks, took other thought. VIII Into a boat he with some few descends, Brigliador and some precious things, to flee; And so, twixt ship and ship, in silence wends, Until he finds himself in safer sea, Far from his own; whom fiery Dudon shends, Reduced to sad and sore extremity; Them steel destroys, fires burn, and waters drown; While he, that mighty slaughter's cause, is flown. IX Agramant flies, and with him old Sobrine, Agramant grieving he had not believed, What time that sage foresaw with eye divine, And told the woe wherewith he is aggrieved. But turn me to the valiant paladine, Who, before other aid can be received, Counsels the duke Biserta to destroy; That it no more may Christian France annoy. X And hence in public order was it said, The camp should to its arms the third day stand; For this, it was with many barks bested; For all were placed not at the Dane's command. That fleet the worthy Sansonetto led, (As good a warrior he by sea as land) Which a mile off the port, and overight Biserta, now was anchored by the knight. XI Orlando and the duke, like Christians true, Which dare no danger without God for guide, That fast and prayer be made their army through, Ordain by proclamation to be cried; And that upon the third day, when they view The signal, all shall bown them, far and wide, Biserta's royal city to attack, Which they, when taken, doom to fire and sack. XII And so, when now devoutly have been done Vigil and vow, and holy prayer and fast, Kin, friends, and those to one another known, Together feast; who, when with glad repast Their wasted bodies were refreshed, begun To embrace and weep; and acts and speeches past, Upon the banquet's close, amid those crews Such as best friends, about to sever, use. XIII The holy priests within Biserta's wall, Pray with their grieving people, and in tears, Aye beat their bosoms, and for succour call Upon their Mahomet, who nothing hears. What vigils, offerings, and what gifts withal Were promised silently, amid their fears! What temples, statues, images were vowed, In memory of their bitter woes, aloud! XIV And, when the cadi hath his blessing said, The people arms and to the rampart hies. As yet reposing in her Tithon's bed Aurora was, and dusky were the skies; When to their posts, their several troops to head, Here Sansonetto, there Astolpho flies. And when they hear Orlando's signal blown Assault with furious force Biserta's town. XV Washed by the sea, upon two quarters, were The city walls, two stood on the dry shore, Of a construction excellent and rare, Wherein was seen the work of days of yore: Of other bulwarks was the town nigh bare; For since Branzardo there the sceptre bore; Few masons at command, and little space That monarch had to fortify the place. XVI The Nubian king is charged by England's peer, With sling and arrow so the Moors to gall, That none upon the works shall dare appear; And that, protected by the ceaseless fall Of stone and dart, in safety cavalier And footman may approach the very wall; Who loaded, some with plank, with rock-stone some, And some with beam, or weightier burden, come. XVII This and that other thing the Nubians bore, And by degrees filled-up that channel wide, Whose waters were cut off the day before, So that in many parts the ooze was spied. Filled is the ditch in haste from shore to shore, And forms a level to the further side. Cheering the footmen on the works to mount, Stand Olivier, Astolpho, and the Count. XVIII The Nubian upon hope of gain intent, Impatient of delay, nor heeding how With pressing perils they were compassed, went Protected by the sheltering boar and sow. With battering ram, and other instrument, To break the gate and make the turret bow, Speedily to the city wall they post, Nor unprovided find the paynim host. XIX For steel, and fire, and roof, and turret there, In guise of tempest on the Nubians fell, Which plank and beam from those dread engines tear, Made for annoyance of the infidel. In the ill beginning, and while dim the air, Much injury the christened host befell; But when the sun from his rich mansion breaks, Fortune the faction of the Moor forsakes. XX The assault is reinforced on every side, By Count Orlando, both by sea and land: The fleet, with Sansonetto for its guide, Entered the harbour, and approached the strand; And sorely they with various engines plied, With arrows and with slings, the paynim band; And sent the assailants scaling-ladder, spear, And naval stores, and every needful gear. XXI Orlando, Oliviero, Brandimart, And he, in air so daring heretofore, Do fierce and furious battle on that part, Which lies the furthest inland from the shore: Each leads a portion of those Aethiops swart, Ordered in equal bands beneath the four, Who at the walls, the gateways, or elsewhere, All give of prowess shining proofs and rare. XXII So better could be seen each warrior's claim, That in confused in combat there and here. Who of reward is worthy, who of shame, To a thousand and to watchful eyes is clear. Dragged upon wheels are towers of wooden frame, And others well-trained elephants uprear, Which so o'ertop the turrets of the foe, Those bulwarks stand a mighty space below. XXIII Brandimart to the walls a ladder brought, Climbed, and to climb withal to others cried: Many succeed, with bold assurance fraught, For none can fear beneath so good a guide: Nor was there one who marked, nor one who thought Of marking, if such weight it would abide. Brandimart only, on the foes intent, Clambered and fought, and grasped a battlement. XXIV Here clang with hand and foot the daring knight, Sprang on the embattled wall, and whirled his sword; And, showing mickle tokens of his might, The paynims charged, o'erthrew, hewed down and gored: But all at once, o'erburthened with that weight, The ladder breaks beneath the assailing horde; And, saving Brandimart, the Christians all Into the ditch with headlong ruin fall. XXV Not therefore blenched the valiant cavalier, Nor thought he of retreat, albeit was none Of his own band that followed in his rear; Although he was a mark for all the town. Of many prayed, the warrior would not hear The prayer to turn; but mid the foes leapt down; I say, into the city took a leap, Where the town-wall was thirty cubits deep. XXVI He, without any harm on the hard ground, As if on feathers or on straw, did light; And, like cloth shred and shorn, the paynims round In fury shreds and shears the valiant knight. Now springs on these, now those, with vigorous bound; And these and those betake themselves to flight. They that without have seen the leap he made, Too late to save him deem all human aid. XXVII Throughout the squadrons a deep rumour flew, A murmur and a whisper, there and here, From mouth to mouth, the Fame by motion grew, And told and magnified the tale of fear: For upon many quarters stormed that crew, Where good Orlando was, where Olivier, Where Otho's son, she flew on pinions light, Nor ever paused upon her nimble flight. XXVIII Those warriors, and Orlando most of all, Who love and prize the gentle Brandimart, Hearing, should they defy upon that call, They would from so renowned a comrade part, Their scaling-ladders plant, and mount the wall With rivalry, which shows the kingly heart; Who carry all such terror in their look, That, at the very sight, their foemen shook. XXIX As on loud ocean, lashed by boisterous gale The billows the rash bark assault, and still -- Now threatening poop, now threatening prow -- assail, And, in their rage and fury, fain would fill; The pilot sighs and groans, dismaid and pale, -- He that should aid, and has not heart or skill -- At length a surge the pinnace sweeps and swallows, And wave on wave in long succession follows; XXX Thus when those win the wall, they leave a space So wide, that who beneath their conduct go, Safely may follow them; for at its base, A thousand ladders have been reared below. Meanwhile the battering rams, in many a place, Have breached that wall, and with such mighty blow, The bold assailant can, from many a part, Bear succour to the gallant Brandimart. XXXI Even with that rage wherewith the stream that reigns, The king of rivers -- when he breaks his mound, And makes himself a way through Mantuan plains -- The greasy furrows and glad harvests, round, And, with the sheepcotes, flock, and dogs and swains Bears off, in his o'erwhelming waters drowned; Over the elm's high top the fishes glide, Where fowls erewhile their nimble pinions plied; XXXII Even with that rage rushed in the impetuous band, Where many breaches in the wall were wrought, To slay with burning torch and trenchant brand, That people, which to evil pass were brought. Murder and rapine there, and violent hand Dipt deep in blood and plunder, in a thought, Destroy that sumptuous and triumphant town, Which of all Africk wore the royal crown. XXXIII Filled with dead bodies of the paynim horde, Blood issued from so many a gaping wound, A fouler fosse was formed and worse to ford Than girdles the infernal city round. From house to house the fire in fury poured; Mosque, portico, and palace, went to ground; And spoiled and empty mansions with the clang, Of beaten breast, and groan and outcry rang. XXXIV The victors, laden with their mighty prey, From that unhappy city's gates are gone, One with fair vase, and one with rich array, Or silver plate from ancient altar won. The mother this, that bore the child away; Rapes and a thousand evil things were done. Of much, and what they cannot hinder, hear Renowned Orlando and fair England's peer. XXXV By Olivier, amid that slaughter wide, Fell Bucifaro of the paynim band; And -- every hope and comfort cast aside -- Branzardo slew himself with his own brand; Pierced with three wounds whereof he shortly died, Folvo was taken by Astolpho's hand; The monarchs three, intrusted to whose care Agramant's African dominions were. XXXVI Agramant, who had left without a guide His fleet this while, and with Sobrino fled, Wept over his Biserta when he spied Those fires that on the royal city fed. When nearer now the king was certified, How in that cruel strife his town had sped, He thought of dying, and himself had slain, But that Sobrino's words his arm restrain. XXXVII "What victory, my lord," (Sobrino cries) "Could better than thy death the Christian cheer, Whence he might hope to joy in quiet wise Fair Africa, from all annoyance clear? Thy being yet alive this hope denies; Hence shall he evermore have cause for fear. For well the foeman knows, save thou art gone, He for short time will fill thine Africk throne. XXXVIII "Thy subjects by thy death deprived will be Of hope, the only good they have in store, Thou, if thou liv'st, I trust, shalt set us free, Redeem from trouble, and to joy restore. Captives for ever, if thou diest, are we; Africk is tributary evermore. Although not for thyself, yet not to give My liege, annoyance to thy followers, live. XXXIX "The soldan, he thy neighbour, will be won, Surely with men and money thee to aid: By him with evil eye King Pepin's son, So strong in Africa, will be surveyed. All efforts to restore thee to thy throne By Norandine, thy kinsman, will be made. Turk, Persian and Armenian, Arab, Mede, If prayed, will all assist thee in thy need." XL In such and such like words, with wary art, With hope of quickly winning back his reign, Sobrino soothed the king, while in his heart He other thought perchance did entertain. Well knows he to what pass, what evil mart That lord is brought; how often sighs in vain, Whoe'er foregoes the sceptre which he swayed, And to barbarians hath recourse for aid. XLI Jugurtha, martial Hannibal, and more In ancient times, good proof of this afford: In our own era, Lewis, hight the Moor, Delivered into other Lewis' ward. Your brother, Duke Alphonso, wiser lore Learned from their fate; -- I speak to you, my lord -- Wont them as very madmen to decry, That more on others than themselves rely; XLII And therefore aye, throughout that warfare drear Waged by the pontiff, in his fierce disdain, Albeit upon his feeble powers the peer Could ill depend, though from Italian plain Was driven the friend that aided him whilere, And by the foe possessed was Naples' reign, He against menace, against promise steeled, Ne'er to another would his dukedom yield. XLIII Eastward King Agramant had turned his prow; And seaward steered his bark, of Africk wide; When from the land a wicked wind 'gan blow, And took the reeling vessel on one side: The master, seated at the helm, his brow Raised towards heaven, and to the monarch cried: "I see so fell and fierce a tempest form, Our pinnace cannot face the pelting storm. XLIV "If you, my lords, will listen to my lore, An isle is on our left-hand; and to me It seems that it were well to make that shore Till overblown the tempest's fury be." To his advice assents the royal Moor, And makes the larboard land, from peril free; Which, for the sailor's weal, when tempests rise, 'Twixt Vulcan's lofty forge and Africk lies. XLV With juniper and myrtle overgrown, Of habitations is that islet bare; A pleasing solitude; and where alone Harbour wild stag and roebuck, deer and hare; And, save to fishermen, is little known, That oftentimes on the shorn brambles there Hang their moist nets; meanwhile, untroubled sleep The scaly fishes in their quiet deep. XLVI Here other vessel, sheltered from the main, They found, by tempest tost upon that land, Which had conveyed the king of Sericane Erewhile from Arles; on one and the other hand, In reverent wise and worthy of the twain, Those valiant kings embraced upon the strand: For friends the monarchs were, and late before The walls of Paris, arms together bore. XLVII With much displeasure Sericana's knight Heard by King Agramant his griefs displaid; Then him consoled, and in his cause to fight, Like courteous king, the kindly offer made: But brooked nat, that to Egypt's people, light And lacking faith, he should resort for aid. "That thither it is perilous to wend, Exiles (he said) are warned by Pompey's end. XLVIII "And for Senapus' Aethiopian crew Have come beneath Astolpho, as ye show, To wrest your fruitful Africa from you, And burnt and laid her chiefest city low. And with their squadrons is Orlando, who Was wandering void of wit, short while ago, The fittest cure for all, whereby to scape Out of this trouble I, meseems, can shape. XLIX "I, for your love, will undertake the quest, The Count in single combat to appear; He vainly would, I wot, with me contest, If wholly made of copper or of steel. I rate the Christian church, were he at rest, As wolf rates lambs, when hungering for his meal. Next have I thought how of the Nubian band -- A brief and easy task -- to free your land. L "I will make other Nubians, they that hold Another faith, divided by Nile's course, And Arabs and Macrobians (rich in gold And men are these, and those in herds of horse), Chaldaean, Perse, and many more, controlled By my good sceptre, in such mighty force, Will make them war upon the Nubians' reign, Those reavers shall not in your land remain." LI Gradasso's second offer seemed to be Most opportune to King Troyano's son; And much he blest the chances of the sea, Which him upon that desert isle had thrown: Yet would not upon any pact agree, -- Nay, not to repossess Biserta's town -- Gradasso should for him in fight contend; Deeming too sore his honour 'twoud offend. LII "If Roland is to be defied, more due The battle is to me (that king replies) I am prepared for it; and let God do His will by me, in good or evil wise." " -- Follow my mode; another mode and new, Which comes into my mind" (Gradasso cries), "Let both of us together wage this fight Against Orlando and another knight." LIII "So not left out, I care not, if I be The first or last (said Agramant): I know In arms no better can I find than thee, Though I should seek a comrade, high or low, And what (Sobrino cried) becomes of me? I should be more expert if old in show; And evermore in peril it is good, Force should have Counsel in his neighbourhood." LIV Stricken in years, yet vigorous was the sage, And well had proved himself with sword and spear; And said, he found himself in gray old age, Such as in green and supple youth whilere. They own his claim, and for an embassage Forthwith a courier find, then bid him steer For Africa, where camped the Christians lie, And Count Orlando on their part defy; LV With equal number of armed knights to be, Matching his foes, on Lampedosa's shore; Where on all quarters that circumfluent sea, By which they are inisled, is heard to roar. The paynim messenger unceasingly, Like one in needful haste, used sail and oar, Till he found Roland in Biserta, where The host beneath his eye their plunder share. LVI From those three monarchs to the cavalier The invitation was in public told; So pleasing to Anglante's valiant peer, To the herald he was liberal of his gold: From his companions had he heard whilere That Durindane was in Gradasso's hold: Hence, to retrieve that faulchion from the foe, To India had the Count resolved to go: LVII Deeming he should not find that king elsewhere, Who, so he heard, had sailed from the French shore. A nearer place is offered now; and there He hopes Gradasso shall his prize restore; Moved also by Almontes' bugle rare, To accept the challenge which the herald bore; Nor less by Brigliadoro; since he knew In Agramant's possession were the two. LVIII He chose for his companions in the fight The faithful Brandimart and Olivier: Well has he proved the one and the other's might; Knows he alike to both is passing dear. Good horses and good armour seeks the knight And goodly swords and lances, far and near, For him and his; meseems to you is known How none of those three warriors had his own. LIX Orlando (as I oft have certified) In fury, his had scattered wide and far; Rodomont took the others', which beside The river, locked in that high turret are. Few throughout Africa could they provide; As well because to France, in that long war, King Agramant had born away the best, As because Africa but few possest. LX What could be had of armour, rusted o'er And brown with age, Orlando bids unite; Meanwhile with his companions on the shore, He walks, discoursing on the future fight. So wandering from their camp three miles and more, It chanced that, turning towards the sea their sight, Under full sail approaching, they descried A helmless barque, with nought her course to guide. LXI She, without pilot, without crew, alone, As wind and fortune ordered it, was bound: The vessel neared the shore, with sails full-blown, Furrowing the waves, until she took the ground. But ere of these three warriors more be shown, The love wherewith I to the Child am bound, To his story brings me back, and bids record What past 'twixt him and Clermont's warlike lord. LXII I spake of that good pair of warriors, who Had both retreated from the martial fray, Beholding pact and treaty broken through, And every troop and band in disarray. Which leader to his oath was first untrue, And was occasion of such evil, they Study to learn of all the passing train; King Agramant or the Emperor Charlemagne. LXIII Meanwhile a servant of the Child's, at hand, -- Faithful, expert and wary was the wight, Nor in the shock of either furious band, Had ever of his warlike lord lost sight -- To bold Rogero bore his horse and brand, That he might aid his comrades now in flight. Rogero backed the steed and grasped the sword; But not in battle mixed that martial lord. LXIV Thence he departed; but he first renewed His compact with Montalban's knight -- that so His Agramant convinced of perjury stood -- Him and his evil sect he would forego. That day no further feats of hardihood Rogero will perform against the foe: He but demands of all that make for Arles, Who first broke faith, King Agramant or Charles? LXV From all he hears repeated, far and near, That Agramant had broke the promise plight: He loves that king, and from his side to veer, For this, believes would be no error light. The Moors were broke and scattered (this whilere Has been rehearsed) and from the giddy height Of HER revolving wheel were downward hurled, Who at her pleasure rolls this nether world. LXVI Rogero ponders if he should remain, Or rather should his sovereign lord attend: Love for his lady fits him with a rein And bit, which lets him not to Africk wend; Wheels him, and to a counter course again Spurs him, and threats his restive mood to shend, Save he maintains the treaty, and the troth Pledged to the paladin with solemn oath. LXVII A wakeful, stinging care, on the other side Scourges and goads no less the cavalier; Lest, if he now from Agramant divide, He should be taxed with baseness or with fear. If many deem it well he should abide, To many and many it would ill appear: Many would say, that oaths unbinding are, Which 'tis unlawful and unjust to swear. LXVIII He all that day and the ensuing night Remains alone, and so the following day; Forever sifting in his doubtful sprite, If it be better to depart or stay: Lastly for Agramant decides the knight; To him in Africk will he wend his way: Moved by his love for his liege-lady sore, But moved by honour and by duty more. LXIX He made for Arles, where yet he hoped would ride The fleet which him to Africa might bear; Nor in the port nor offing ships espied, Nor Saracens save dead beheld he there. For Agramant had swept the roadstead wide, And burnt what vessels in the haven were. Rogero takes the road, when his hope fails, Along the sea-beat shore toward Marseilles. LXX Upon some boat he hoped to lay his hand, Which him for love or force should thence convey. Already Ogier's son had made the land, With the barbarians' fleet, his captive prey. You could not there have cast a grain of sand Between those vessels; moored closely lay The mighty squadrons to that harbour brought, With conquerors these, and those with prisoners fraught. LXXI The vessels of the Moor that were not made The food of fire and water on that night (Saving some few that fled) were all conveyed Safe to Marseilles by the victorious knight Seven of those kings, that Moorish sceptres swayed, Who, having seen their squadron put to flight, With their seven ships had yielded to the foe, Stood mute and weeping, overwhelmed with woe. LXXII Dudon had issued forth upon dry land, Bent to find Charlemagne that very day; And of the Moorish spoil and captive band Made in triumphal pomp a long display. The prisoners all were ranged upon the strand, And round them stood their Nubian victors gay; Who, shouting in his praise, with loud acclaim, Made all that region ring with Dudon's name. LXXIII Rogero, when from far the ships he spied, Believed they were the fleet of Agramant, And, to know further, pricked his courser's side; Then, nearer, mid those knights of mickle vaunt, Nasamon's king a prisoner he desired, Agricalt, Bambirago, Farurant, Balastro, Manilardo, and Rimedont; Who stood with weeping eyes and drooping front. LXXIV In their unhappy state to leave that crew The Child, who loved those monarchs, cannot bear; That useless is the empty hand he knew; That where force is not, little profits prayer. He couched his lance, their keeper overthrew, Then proved his wonted might with faulchion bare; And in a moment stretched upon the strand Above a hundred of the Nubian band. LXXV The noise Sir Dudon hears, the slaughter spies, But knows not who the stranger cavalier: He marks how, put to rout, his people flies; With anguish, with lament and mighty fear; Quickly for courser, shield, and helmet cries, (Bosom, and arms, and thighs, were mailed whilere) Leaps on his horse, nor -- having seized his lance -- Forgets he is a paladin of France. LXXVI He called on every one to stand aside, And with the galling spur his courser prest; Meanwhile a hundred other foes have died, And filled with hope was every prisoner's breast; And as Rogero holy Dudon spied Approach on horseback, (footmen were the rest,) Esteeming him their head, he charged the knight, Impelled by huge desire to prove his might. LXXVII Already, on his part, had moved the Dane; But when he saw the Child without a spear, He flang is own far from him, in disdain To take such vantage of the cavalier. Admiring at Sir Dudon's courteous vein, "Belie himself he cannot," said the peer, "And of those perfect warriors must be one That as the paladins of France are known. LXXVIII "If I my will can compass, he shall shew His name, to me, ere further deed be done." He made demand; and in the stranger knew Dudon, the Danish Ogier's valiant son: He from Rogero claimed an equal due, And from the Child as courteous answer won. -- Their names on either side announced -- the foes A bold defiance speak, and come to blows. LXXIX Bold Dudon had with him that iron mace, Which won him deathless fame in many a fight: Wherewith he proved him fully of the race Of that good Danish warrior, famed for might. That best of faulchions, which through iron case Of cuirass or of casque was wont to bite, Youthful Rogero from the scabbard snatched, And with the martial Dane his valour matched. LXXX But for the gentle youth was ever willed To offend his lady-love the least he could, And knew he should offend her, if he spilled, In that disastrous battle, Dudon's blood (Well in the lineage of French houses skilled He wist of Beatrice's sisterhood, -- Bradamant's mother she -- with Armelline, The mother of the Danish paladine). LXXXI He therefore never thrust in that affray, And rarely smote an edge on plate and chain. Now warding off the mace, now giving way, Before the fall of that descending bane. Turpin believes it in Rogero lay Sir Dudon in few sword-strokes to have slain. Yet never when the Dane his guard foregoes, Save on the faulchion's flat descend the blows. LXXXII The flat as featly as the edge he plies, Of that good faulchion forged of stubborn grain; And, at strange blindman's bluff, in weary wise, Hammers on Dudon with such might and main, He often dazzles so the warrior's eyes, That hardly he his saddle can maintain. But to win better audience for my rhyme, My canto I defer to other time. CANTO 41 ARGUMENT His prisoners to the Child the Danish peer Consigns, who, homeward bound, are wrecked at sea; By swimming he escapes, and a sincere And faithful servant now of Christ is he. Meanwhile bold Brandimart, and Olivier, And Roland fiercely charge the hostile three. Sobrino is left wounded in the strife; Gradasso and Agramant deprived of life. I The odour which well-fashioned bear or hair, Of that which find and dainty raiment steeps Of gentle stripling, or of damsel fair, -- Who often love awakens, as she weeps -- If it ooze forth and scent the ambient air, And which for many a day its virtue keeps, Well shows, by manifest effects and sure, How perfect was its first perfume and pure. II The drink that to his cost good Icarus drew Of yore his sun-burned sicklemen to cheer, And which ('tis said) lured Celts and Boi through Our Alpine hills, untouched by toil whilere, Well shows that cordial was the draught, when new; Since it preserves its virtue through the year. The tree to which its wintry foliage cleaves, Well shows that verdant were its spring tide leaves. III The famous lineage, for so many years Of courtesy the great and lasting light, Which ever, brightening as it burns, appears To shine and flame more clearly to the sight, Well proves the sire of Este's noble peers Must, amid mortals, have shone forth as bright In all fair gifts which raise men to the sky, As the glad sun mid glittering orbs on high. IV As in his every other feat exprest, Rogero's valiant mind and courteous lore Were showed by tokens clear and manifest, And his high mindedness shone more and more; -- So toward the Dane those virtues stood confest, With whom (as I rehearsed to you before) He had belied his mighty strength and breath; For pity loth to put that lord to death. V The Danish warrior was well certified, No wish to slay him had the youthful knight, Who spared him now, when open was his side; Now, when so wearied he no more could smite. When finally he knew, and plain descried Rogero scrupled to put forth his might, If with less vigour and less prowess steeled, At least in courtesy he would not yield. VI "Pardi, sir, make we peace;" (he said) "success In this contention cannot fall to me -- Cannot be mine; for I myself confess Conquered and captive to thy courtesy." To him Rogero answered, "And no less I covet peace, than 'tis desired by thee. But this upon condition, that those seven Are freed from bondage, and to me are given." VII With that he showed those seven whereof I spake, Bound and with drooping heads, a sad array; Adding, he must to him no hindrance make, Who would those kings to Africa convey. And Dudon thus allowed the Child to take Those seven, and him allowed to bear away A bark as well; what likes him best he chooses, Amid those vessels, and for Africk looses. VIII He looses bark and sail; and in bold wise Trusting the fickle wind, to seaward stood. At first on her due course the vessel flies, And fills the pilot full of hardihood. The beach retreats, and from the sailors' eyes So fades, the sea appears a shoreless flood. Upon the darkening of the day, the wind Displays its fickle and perfidious kind. IX It shifts from poop to beam, from beam to prow, And even there short season doth remain: The reeling ship confounds the pilot; now Struck fore, now aft, now on her beam again. Threatening the billows rise, with haughty brow, And Neptune's white herd lows above the main. As many deaths appear to daunt that rout, As waves which beat their troubled bark about. X Now blows the wind in front, and now in rear, And drives this wave an-end, that other back; Others the reeling vessel's side o'erpeer; And every billow threatens equal wrack. The pilot sighs, confused and pale with fear; Vainly he calls aloud to shift the tack, To strike or jibe the yard; and with his hand, Signs to the crew the thing he would command. XI But sound or signal little boots; the eye Sees not amid the dim and rainy night; The voice unheard ascends into the sky, -- The sky, which with a louder larum smite The troubled sailors' universal cry, And roar of waters, which together fight. Unheard is every hest, above, below, Starboard or larboard, upon poop or prow. XII In the strained tackle sounds a hollow roar, Wherein the struggling wind its fury breaks; The forked lightning flashes evermore, With fearful thunder heaven's wide concave shakes. One to the rudder runs, one grasps an oar; Each to his several office him betakes. One will make fast, another will let go; Water into the water others throw. XIII Lo! howling horribly, the sounding blast, Which Boreas in his sudden fury blows, Scourges with tattered sail the reeling mast: Almost as high as heaven the water flows: The oars are broken; and so fell and fast That tempest pelts, the prow to leeward goes; And the ungoverned vessel's battered side Is undefended from the foaming tide. XIV Fallen on her starboard side, on her beam ends, About to turn keel uppermost, she lies. Meanwhile, his soul to Heaven each recommends, Surer than sure to sink, with piteous cries. Scathe upon scathe malicious Fortune sends, And when one woe is weathered, others rise. O'erstrained, the vessel splits; and through her seams In many a part the hostile water streams. XV A fierce assault and cruel coil doth keep Upon all sides that wintry tempest fell. Now to their sight so high the billows leap, It seems that these to heaven above would swell; Now, plunging with the wave, they sink so deep, That they appear to spy the gulfs of hell. Small hope there is or none: with faultering breath They gaze upon inevitable death. XVI On a despiteous sea, that livelong night, They drifted, as the wind in fury blew. The furious wind that with the dawning light Should have abated, gathered force anew. Lo! a bare rock, ahead, appears in sight, Which vainly would the wretched band eschew; Whom towards that cliff, in their despite, impel The raging tempest and the roaring swell. XVII Three times and four the pale-faced pilot wrought The tiller with a vigorous push to sway; And for the bark a surer passage sought: But the waves snapt and bore the helm away. To lower, or ease the bellying canvas aught The sailors had no power; nor time had they To mend that ill, or counsel what was best; For them too hard the mortal peril prest. XVIII Perceiving now that nothing can defend Their bark from wreck on that rude rock and bare, All to their private aims alone attend, And only to preserve their life have care. Who quickest can, into the skiff descend; But in a thought so overcrowded are, Through those so many who invade the boat, That, gunwale-deep, she scarce remains afloat. XIX Rogero, on beholding master, mate, And men abandoning the ship with speed, In doublet, as he is, sans mail and plate, Hopes in the skiff, a refuge in that need: But finds her overcharged with such a weight, And afterwards so many more succeed, That the o'erwhelming wave the pinnace drown, And she with all her wretched freight goes down; XX Goes down, and, foundering, drags with her whoe'er Leaving the larger bark, on her relies. Then doleful shrieks are heard, 'mid sob and tear, Calling for succour on unpitying skies: But for short space that shrilling cry they rear; For, swoln with rage and scorn, the waters rise, And in a moment wholly stop the vent Whence issues that sad clamour and lament. XXI One sinks outright, no more to reappear; Some rise, and bounding with the billows go: Their course, with head uplifted, others steer; An arm, an unshod leg, those others show: Rogero, who the tempest will not fear, Springs upward to the surface from below; And little distant sees that rock, in vain Eschewed by him and his attendant train. XXII Himself with hands and feet the warrior rows, Hoping by force thereof to win the shore; Breast boldly the importunate flood, and blows With his unwearied breath the foam before. Waxing meanwhile, the troubled water rose, And from the rock the abandoned vessel bore; Quitted of those unhappy men, who die (So curst their lot) the death from which they fly. XXIII Alas! for man's deceitful thoughts and blind! The ship escaped from wreck, where hope was none; When master and when men their charge resigned, And let the vessel without guidance run. It would appear the wind has changed its mind, On seeing all that sailed in her are gone; And blows the vessel from those shallows free, Through better course, into a safer sea. XXIV She, having drifted wildly with her guide, Without him, made directly Africk's strand, Two or three miles of waste Biserta wide, Upon the quarter facing Egypt's land; And, as the sea went down and the wind died, Stood bedded in that weary waste of sand. Now thither Roland roved, who paced the shore; As I in other strain rehearsed before; XXV And willing to discover if alone, Laden, or light, the stranded vessel were, He, Olivier, and Monodantes' son, Aboard her in a shallow bark repair: Beneath the hatchways they descend, but none Of human kind they see; and only there Find good Frontino, with the trenchant sword And gallant armour of his youthful lord; XXVI Who was so hurried in his hasty flight He had not even time to take his sword; To Orlando known; which, Balisardo hight, Was his erewhile; the tale's upon record, And ye have read it all, as well I wite; How Falerina lost it to that lord, When waste as well her beauteous bowers he laid; And how from him Brunello stole the blade; XXVII And how beneath Carena, on the plain Brunello on Rogero this bestowed. How matchless was that faulchion's edge and grain, To him experience had already showed; I say, Orlando; who was therefore fain, And to heaven's king with grateful thanks o'erflowed; And deemed, and often afterwards so said, Heaven for such pressing need had sent the blade: XXVIII Such pressing need, in that he had to fight With the redoubted king of Sericane; And knew that he, besides his fearful might, Was lord of Bayard and of Durindane. Not knowing them, Anglantes' valiant knight So highly rated not the plate and chain As he that these had proved: they valour were, But valued less as good than rich and fair; XXIX And, for of harness he had little need, Charmed, and against all weapons fortified, To Olivier he left the warlike weed: Not so the sword; which to his waist he tied: To Brandimart Orlando gave the steed: Thus equally that spoil would he divide With his companions twain, in equal share, Who partners in that rich discovery were. XXX Against the day of fight, in goodly gear And new, those warriors seek their limbs to deck. Blazoned upon Orlando's shield appear The burning bold and lofty Babel's wreck. A lyme-dog argent bears Sir Olivier, Couchant, and with the leash upon his neck: The motto; TILL HE COMES: In gilded vest And worthy of himself he will be drest. XXXI Bold Brandimart designed upon the day Of battle, for his royal father's sake, And his own honour, no device more gay Than a dim surcoat to the field to take. By gentle Flordelice for that dark array, Was wrought the fairest facing she could make. With costly jewels was the border sown; Sable the vest, and of one piece alone. XXXII With her own hand the lady wrought that vest, Becoming well the finest plate and chain, Wherein the valiant warrior should be drest, And cloak his courser's croup and chest and mane: But, from that day when she herself addrest Unto this task, till ended was her pain, She showed no sign of gladness; nor this while, Nor after, was she ever seen to smile. XXXIII The heartfelt fear, the torment evermore Of losing Brandimart the dame pursued. She him whilere a hundred times and more Engaged in fierce and fearful fight had viewed; Nor ever suchlike terror heretofore Had blanched her cheek and froze her youthful blood; And this new sense of fear increased her trouble, And made the trembling lady's heart beat double. XXXIV The warriors to the wind their canvas rear, When point device the three accoutred are. Bold Sansonet is left, with England's peer, Intrusted with the faithful army's care. Flordelice, pricked at heart with cruel fear, Filling the heavens with vow, lament and prayer, As far as they by sight can followed be, Follows their sails upon the foaming sea. XXXV Scarce, with much labour, the two captains led Her, gazing on the waters, from the shore, And to the palace drew, where on her bed They left the lady, grieved and trembling sore. Meanwhile upon their quest those others sped, Whom mercy wind and weather seaward bore. Their vessel made that island on the right; The field appointed for so fell a fight. XXXVI Orlando disembarks, with his array, His kinsman Olivier and Brandimart; Who on the side which fronts the eastern ray, Encamp them, and not haply without art. King Agramant arrives that very day, And tents him on the contrary part. But for the sun is sinking fast, forborne Is their encounter till the following morn. XXXVII Until the skies the dawning light receive, Armed servants keep their watch both there and here. The valiant Brandimart resorts that eve Thitherward, where their tents the paynims rear; And parleys, by this noble leader's leave, With Agramant; for they were friends whilere; And, underneath the banner of the Moor, He into France had passed from Africk's shore. XXXVIII After salutes, and joining hand with hand, Fair reasons, as a friend, the faithful knight Pressed on the leader of the paynim band Why he should not the appointed battle fight; And every town -- restored to his command -- Laying 'twixt Nile and Calpe's rocky height, Vowed he, with Roland's license, should receive, If upon Mary's Son he would believe. XXXIX He said: "For loved you were, and are by me, This counsel give I; that I deem it sane, Since I pursue it, you assured must be: Mahound I hold but as an idol vain; In Jesus Christ, the living God I see, And to conduct you in my way were fain; I' the way of safety fain would have you move With me and all those others that I love. XL "In this consists your welfare; counsel none Save this, in your disaster, can avail; And, of all counsels least, good Milo's son To meet in combat, clad in plate and mail; In that the profit, if the field be won, Weighs not against the loss, in equal scale. If you be conqueror, little gain ensues, Yet little loss results not, if you lose. XLI "Were good Orlando and we others slain, Banded with him to conquer or to die; Wherefore, through this, ye should your lost domain Acquire anew, forsooth, I see not, I; Nor is there reason hope to entertain That, if we lifeless on the champaigne lie, Men should be wanting in King Charles's host To guard in Africa his paltriest post." XLII Thus Brandimart to Afick's cavalier; And much would have subjoined; but, on his side, That knight, with angry voice and haughty cheer, The pagan interrupted, and replied: " `Tis sure temerity and madness sheer Moves you and whatsoever wight beside, That counsels matter, be it good or ill, Uncalled a counsellor's duty to fulfil; XLIII "And how to think, from love those counsels flow Which once you bore and bear me, as you say, (To speak the very truth) I do not know, Who with Orlando see you here, this day. I ween that, knowing you are doomed to woe, And marked for the devouring dragon's prey, Ye all mankind would drag to nether hell, In your eternity of pains to dwell. XLIV "If I shall win or lose, remount my throne, Or pass my future days in exile drear, God only knows, whose purpose is unknown To me, in turn, or to Anglantes' peer. Befall what may, by me shall nought be done Unworthy of a king, through shameful fear. If death must be my certain portion, I, Rather than wrong my princely blood, will die. XLV "Ye may depart, who, save ye better play The warrior, in to-morrow's listed fight, Then ye have plaid the embassador to-day, In arms will second ill Anglantes' knight." Agramant ended so his furious say; -- His angry bosom boiling with despite. So said -- the warriors parted, to repose, Till from the neighbouring sea the day arose. XLVI When the first whitening of the dawn was seen, Armed, in a moment leapt on horseback all; Short parley past the puissant foes between. There was no stop; there was no interval; For they have laid in rest their lances keen: But I into too foul a fault should fall Meseems, my lord, if, while their deeds I tell I let Rogero perish in the swell. XLVII Cleaving the flood with nimble hands and feet He swims, amid the horrid surges' roar, On him the threatening wind and tempest beat, But him his harassed conscience vexes more. Christ's wrath he fears; and, since in waters sweet (When time and fair occasion served of yore) He, in his folly, baptism little prized, Fears in these bitter waves to be baptized. XLVIII Those many promises remembered are Whereby he to his lady-love was tied, Those oaths which sworn to good Rinaldo were, And were in nought fulfilled upon his side. To God, in hope that he would hear and spare, That he repented, oftentimes he cried, And, should he land, and scape that mortal scaith, To be a Christian, vowed in heart and faith; XLIX And ne'er, in succour of the Moorish train, With sword or lance, the faithful to offend; And into France, where he to Charlemagne Would render honour due, forthwith to wend; Nor Bradamant with idle words again To cheat, but bring his love to honest end. A miracle it is that, as he vows, He swims more lightly and his vigour grows. L His vigour grows; unwearied is his mind; And still his arms from him the billow throw, This billow followed fast by that behind; Whereof one lifts him high, one sinks him low. Rising and falling, vext by wave and wind, So gains the Child that shore with labour slow; And where the rocky hill slopes seaward most, All drenched and dropping, climbs the rugged coast. LI All the others that had plunged into the flood In the end, o'erwhelmed by those wild waters died. Rogero, as to Providence seemed good, Mounted the solitary islet's side. When safe upon the barren rock he stood, A new alarm the stripling terrified; To be within those narrow bounds confined, And die, with hardship and with hunger pined. LII Yet he with an unconquered heart, intent To suffer what the heavens for him ordained, O'er those hard stones, against that steep ascent, Towards the top with feet intrepid strained; And not a hundred yards had gone, when, bent With years, and with long fast and vigil stained, He worthy of much worship one espied, In hermit's weed, descend the mountain's side; LIII Who cries, on his approaching him, "Saul, Saul, Why persecutest thou my faithful seed?" As whilom said the Saviour to Saint Paul, When (blessed stroke!) he smote him from his steed. "Thou thought'st to pass the sea, nor pay withal; Thought'st to defraud the pilot of his meed. Thou seest that God has arms to reach and smite, When farthest off thou deem'st that God of might." LIV And he, that holiest anchoret, pursued, To whom the night foregoing God did send A vision, as he slumbered, and foreshewed How, thither by his aid the Child should wend; Wherein his past and future life, reviewed, Were seen, as well as his unhappy end; And sons, and grandsons, and his every heir, Fully revealed to that good hermit were. LV That anchoret pursues, and does upbraid Rogero first, and comforts finally: Upbraideth him, because he had delaid Beneath that easy yoke to bend the knee; And what he should have done, when whilom prayed And called of Christ -- then uncompelled and free -- Had done with little grace; nor turned to God Until he saw him threatening with the rod. LVI Then comforts him -- that Christ aye heaven allows To them, that late or early heaven desire; And all those labourers of the Gospel shows, Paid by the vineyard's lord with equal hire. With charity and warm devotion glows, And him instructs the venerable sire, As toward the rocky cell where he resides He with weak steps and slow Rogero guides. LVII Above that hallowed cell, on the hill's brow, A little church receives the rising day; Commodious is the fane and fair enow; Thence to the beach descends a thicket gray, Where fertile and fruit-bearing palm-trees blow, Myrtle, and lowly juniper, and bay, Evermore threaded by a limpid fountain, Which falls with ceaseless murmur from the mountain. LVIII 'Twas well nigh forty years, since on that stone The goodly friar had fixed his quiet seat; Which, there to live a holy life, alone, For him the Saviour chose, as harbourage meet. Pure water was his drink, and, plucked from one, Or the other plant, wild berries were his meat; And hearty and robust, of ailments clear, The holy man had reached his eightieth year. LIX That hermit lit a fire, and heaped the board With different fruits, within his small repair; Wherewith the Child somedeal his strength restored, When he had dried his clothes and dripping hair. After, at better ease, to him God's word And mysteries of our faith expounded were; And the day following, in his fountain clear, That anchoret baptized the cavalier. LX There dwells the young Rogero, well content With what the rugged sojourn does allow; In that the friar showed shortly his intent To send him where he fain would turn his prow. Meanwhile with him he many an argument Handles and often; of God's kingdom now; Now of things appertaining to his case; Now to Rogero's blood, a future race. LXI The Lord, that every thing doth see and hear, Had to that holiest anchoret bewrayed, How he should not exceed the seventh year, Dating from when he was a Christian made; Who for the death of Pinabel whilere, (His lady's deed, but on Rogero laid) As well as Bertolagi's, should be slain By false Maganza's ill and impious train; LXII And, how that treason should be smothered so, No sign thereof should outwardly appear; For where that evil people dealt the blow, They should entomb the youthful cavalier. For this should vengeance follow, albeit slow, Dealt by his consort and his sister dear; And how he by his wife should long be sought, With weary womb, with heavy burden fraught, LXIII 'Twixt Brenta and Athesis, beneath those hills (Which erst the good Antenor so contented, With their sulphureous veins and liquid rills, And mead, and field, with furrows glad indented, That he for these left pools which Xanthus fills; And Ida, and Ascanius long lamented,) Till she a child should in the forests bear, Which little distant from Ateste are; LXIV And how the Child, in might and beauty grown, That, like his sire, Rogero shall be hight, Those Trojans, as of Trojan lineage known, Shall for their lord elect with solemn rite; Who next by Charles (in succour of whose crown Against the Lombards shall the stripling fight) Of that fair land dominion shall obtain, And the honoured title of a marquis gain; LXV And because Charles shall say in Latin `Este', (That is -- be lords of the dominion round!) Entitled in a future season Este Shall with good omen be that beauteous ground; And thus its ancient title of Ateste Shall of its two first letters lose the sound. God also to his servant had foresaid The vengeance taken for Rogero's dead; LXVI Who shall, in vision, to his consort true Appear somedeal before the dawn of day; And shall relate how him the traitor slew, And where his body lies to her shall say. She and Marphisa hence, those valiant two, With fire and sword on earth shall Poictiers lay; Nor shall his son, when of befitting age, Less harm Maganza in his mighty rage. LXVII On Azos, Alberts, Obysons, did dwell That hermit hoar, and on their offspring bright; Or Borso, Nicholas, and Leonel, Alphonso, Hercules, and Hippolyte, And. last of those, the gentle Isabel; Then curbs his tongue and will no more recite. He to Rogero what is fit reveals, And what is fitting to conceal, conceals. LXVIII Meanwhile Orlando and bold Brandimart, With that good knight, the Marquis Olivier, Against the paynim Mars together start; (Name well befitting Sericana's peer) And the other two -- that from the adverse part, At more than a foot-pace their coursers steer; I say King Agramant and King Sobrine: The pebbly beach resounds, and rolling brine. LXIX When they encounter in mid field, pell-mell, And to the sky flew every shivered lance, At that loud noise, the sea was seen to swell, At that loud noise, which echoed even to France. Gradasso and Roland met as it befel; And fairly balanced might appear the chance, But for the vantage of Rinaldo's horse; Which made Gradasso seem of greater force. LXX Baiardo shocked the steed of lesser might, Backed by Orlando, with such might and main, He made that courser stagger, left and right, And measure next his length upon the plain: Vainly to raise him strove Anglantes' knight, Thrice, nay four times, with rowels and with rein; Balked of his end, he lights upon the field, Draws Balisarda, and uplifts his shield. LXXI With Agramant encounters Olivier, Who, fitly matched, their foaming coursers gall. Bold Brandimart unhorsed in the career Sobrino; but it was not plain withal If 'twas the fault of horse or cavalier; For seldom good Sobrino used to fall. Was it his courser's or his own misdeed, Sobrino found himself without a steed. LXXII Now Brandimart, that upon earth descried The king Sobrine, assailed no more his man; But at Gradasso, who Anglantes' pride Had equally unhorsed, in fury ran. On Agramant and Oliviero's side, Meanwhile the warfare stood as it began: When broken on their bucklers were the spears, With swords encountered the returning peers. LXXIII Roland who saw Gradasso in such guise, As showed that to return he little cared, -- Nor can return; so Brandimart aye plies, And presses Sericana's monarch hard, Turns round, and, like himself, afoot descries Sobrino, in the doubtful strife unpaired: At him he sprang; and, at his haughty look, Heaven, as the warrior trod, in terror shook. LXXIV Foreseeing the assault with wary eye, Prepared, and at close ward, behold the Moor! As pilot against whom, now cresting nigh, The threatening billow comes with hollow roar, Towards it turns his prow, and, when so high He views the sea, would gladly be ashore. Sobrino rears his buckler, to withstand The furious fall of Falerina's brand. LXXV Of such fine steel was Balisarda's blade, That arms against it little shelter were; And by a person of such puissance swayed, By Roland, singe in the world or rare, It splits the shield, and is in nowise stayed, Though bound about with steel the edges are: It splits the shield, and to the bottom rends, And on the shoulder underneath descends. LXXVI Upon the shoulder; nor, though twisted chain And double plates encase the paynim foe, These hinder much that sword of stubborn grain From opening wide the parted flesh below. Sobrino at Orlando smites; but vain Against the valiant count is every blow; To whom, for special grace, the King of heaven A body charmed against all arms had given. LXXVII The valorous count, redoubling still his blows, Thought from the trunk the monarch's head to smite. Sobrino, who the strength of Clermont knows, And how the shield ill boots, retired from fight, Yet not so far, but that upon his brows Fell the dread faulchion of Anglantes' knight: 'Twas on its flat, but such his might and main, It crushed the helm and stupefied the brain. LXXVIII Stunned by that furious stroke, he pressed the shore, And it was long ere he again did rise. The paladin believes the warfare o'er, And that deprived of life Sobrino lies; And, lest Gradasso to ill pass and sore Should bring Sir Brandimart, at him he flies: For him the paynim overmatched in horse, In arms and faulchion, and perhaps in force. LXXIX Bold Brandimart, who guides Frontino's rein, The goodly courser, erst Rogero's steed, So well contends with him of Sericane, The king yet little seems his foe to exceed; Who, if he had as tempered plate and chain As that bold paynim lord, would better speed; But (for he felt himself ill-armed) the knight Often gave ground, and traversed left and right. LXXX Better than good Frontino horse is none To obey upon a sign the cavalier; 'Twould seem that courser had the sense to shun Sharp Durindana's fall, now there now here. Meanwhile elsewhere is horrid battle done By royal Agramant and Olivier; Who may be deemed well matched in warlike sleight, Nor champions differing much in martial might. LXXXI Orlando had left Sobrino (as I said) On earth, and against Sericana's pride, Desirous valiant Brandimart to aid, Even as he was, afoot, in fury hied: When, prompt to assail Gradasso with the blade, He, loose and walking in mid field, espied The goodly horse, which had Sobrino thrown; And bowned him straight to make the steed his own. LXXXII He seized the horse (for none the deed gainsaid) And took a leap, and vaulted on his prize. This hand the bridle grasped, and that the blade. Orlando's motions good Gradasso spies; Nor at his coming is the king dismaid; Who by his name the paladin defies: With him, and both his partners in the fight, He hopes to make it dark before 'tis night. LXXXIII Leaving his foe, he, facing Brava's lord, Thrust at the collar of his shirt of mail, All else beside the flesh the faulchion bored; To pierce through which would every labour fail. At the same time descends Orlando's sword, (Where Balisarda bites no spells avail) Shears helmet, cuirass, shield, and all below, And cleaves whate'er it rakes with headlong blow; LXXXIV And in face, bosom, and in thigh it seamed, Beneath his mail, the king of Sericane. From whom his blood till how had never streamed Since he that armour wore; new rage and pain Thereat the warrior felt, and strange it seemed Sword cut so now, nor yet was Durindane. Had Roland struck more home, or nearer been, From head to belly he had cleft him clean. LXXXV No more in arms can trust the cavalier As heretofore; for proved those arms have been: He with more care, more caution than whilere, Prepares to parry with the faulchion keen. When entered Brandimart sees Brava's peer, Who snatched that battle from him, he between Those other conflicts placed himself, that where It most was needed, he might succour bear. LXXXVI While so the fight is balanced 'mid those foes, Sobrino, that on earth long time had lain, When to himself he was returned, uprose, In face and shoulder suffering grievous pain. He lifts his face, his eyes about him throws; And thither, where more distant on the plain He sees his leader, with long paces steers So stealthily, that none his coming hears; LXXXVII He on the Marquis came, who had but eyes For Agramant, and in the warrior's rear, Wounded upon the hocks in such fierce wise The courser of unheeding Olivier, That he falls headlong; and beneath him lies His valiant master, nor his foot can clear; His left foot, which in that unthought for woe, Was in the stirrup jammed, his steed below. LXXXVIII Sorbine pursued, and with back-handed blow Thought he his head should from his neck have shorn; But this forbids that armour, bright of show, By Vulcan hammered, and by Hector worn. Brandimart sees his risque, and at the foe Is by his steed, with flowing bridle, borne. Sobrino on the head he smote and flung; But straight from earth that fierce old man upsprung; LXXXIX And turned anew to Olivier, to speed The warrior's soul more promptly on its way; Or at the least that baron to impede. And him beneath his courser keep at bay: Bold Olivier, whose better arm was freed, And with his sword could fend him as he lay, Meanwhile so smites and longes, there and here, That at sword's length he holds the ancient peer. XC He hopes, if him but little he withstood, He shall be straight delivered from that pain: He sees him wholly strained and wet with blood, And that he spills so much from open vein, 'Twould seem he speedily must be subdued, So weak he hardly can himself sustain. Often and oft to rise the Marquis strove, Yet could not from beneath his courser move. XCI Brandimart has found out the royal Moor, And storms about that paynim cavalier; Upon Frontino, like a lathe, before, Beside, or whirling in the warrior's rear. A goodly horse the Christian champion bore; Nor worse the southern king's in the career: That Brigliador, Rogero's gift he crost, Erewhile, by haughty Mandricardo lost. XCII Great vantage has he, on another part: Of proof and perfect is his iron weed. His at a venture took Sir Brandimart, As he could have in haste in suchlike need; But hopes (his anger puts him so in heart) To change it for a better coat with speech; Albeit the Moorish king, with bitter blow, Has made the blood from his right should flow. XCIII Him in the flank Gradasso too had gored; (Nor this was laughing matter) so had scanned His vantage that redoubted paynim lord, He found a place wherein to plant his brand; He broke the warrior's shield, his left arm bored, And touched him slightly in the better hand. But this was play, was pastime (might be said), With Roland's and Gradasso's battle weighed. XCIV Gradasso has Orlando half disarmed; Atop and on both sides his helm has broke: Fallen is his shield, his cuirass split; but harmed The warrior is not by the furious stroke, Which opened plate and mail; for he is charmed; And worser vengeance on the king has wroke, In face, throat, breast has gored that cavalier, Beside the wounds whereof I spake whilere. XCV Gradasso, desperate when he descried Himself all wet, and smeared with sanguine dye, And Roland, all from head to foot espied, After such mighty strokes unstained and dry, Thinking head, breast, and belly to divide, With both his hands upheaved his sword on high; And, even as he devised, upon the front, Smote with mid blade Anglantes' haughty count. XCVI And would by any other so have done; -- Would to the saddle-tree have cleft him clean: But the good sword, as if it fell upon Its flat, rebounds again, unstained and sheen. The furious stroke astounded Milo's son By whom some scattered stars on earth were seen. He drops the bridle and would drop the brand, But that a chain secures it to his hand. XCVII So by the noise was scared the horse that bore Upon his back Anglantes' cavalier. The courser scowered about the powdery shore, Showing how good his speed in the career: The County by that stroke astounded sore, Has not the power the frightened horse to steer. Gradasso follows and will reach him, so That he but little more pursues the foe; XCVIII But turning round, beholds the royal Moor To the utmost peril in that battle brought; For by the shining helmet which he wore, With the left hand, him Brandimart had caught; Already had unlaced the casque before, And with his dagger would new ill have wrought: Nor much defence could make the Moorish lord; For Brandimart as well had reft his sword. XCIX Gradasso turned, nor more Orlando sought, But hastened where he Agramant espied: The incautious Brandimart, suspecting nought Orlando would have let him turn aside, Had not Gradasso in his eyes or thought, And to the paynim's throat his knife applied. Gradasso came, and at his helmet layed, Wielding with either hand his trenchant blade. C Father of heaven! 'mid spirits chosen by thee, To him thy martyr true, a place accord; Who, having traversed his tempestuous sea, Now furls his sails in port. Ah! ruthless sword, So cruel, Durindana, can'st thou be, To good Orlando, to thine ancient lord, That thou can'st slaughter, in the warrior's view, Of all his friends the dearest and most true? CI An iron ring that girt his helmet round, Two inches thick, was broke by that fell blow And cleft; and with the solid iron bound, Was parted the good cap of steel below, Bold Brandimart, reversed upon the ground, With haggard face beside his horse lies low; And issuing widely from the warrior's head A stream of life-blood dyes the shingle red. CII Come to himself, the County turns his eye And sees his Brandimart upon the plain, And in such act Gradasso standing by As clearly shows by whom the knight was slain. If he most raged or grieved I know not, I, But such short time is left him to complain, His hasty wrath breaks forth, his grief gives way; But now 'tis time that I suspend my lay.