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Medieval and Classical Library

Orlando Furioso
("Orlando Enraged")

Canto 34 & Canto 35

Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #10a


In the infernal pit Astolpho hears
Of Lydia's woe, by smoke well-nigh opprest.
He mounts anew, and him his courser bears
To the terrestrial paradise addrest.
By John advised in all, to heaven he steers;
Of some of his lost sense here repossest,
Orlando's wasted wit as well he takes,
Sees the Fates spin their threads, and earthward makes.

O fierce and hungry harpies, that on blind
And erring Italy so full have fed!
Whom, for the scourge of ancient sins designed,
Haply just Heaven to every board has sped.
Innocent children, pious mothers, pined
With hunger, die, and see their daily bread,
-- The orphan's and the widow's scanty food --
Feed for a single feast that filthy brood.

Too foul a fault was his, who did unclose
That cave long shut, and made the passage free,
From whence that greediness, that filth arose,
Our Italy's infection doomed to be.
Then was good life extinguished, and repose
So banished, that with strife and poverty,
With fear and trouble, is she still perplext,
And shall for many a future year be vext:

Till she her sons has shaken by the hair,
And from Lethaean sloth to life restored;
Exclaiming, "Will none imitate that pair,
Zethes and Calais, with avenging sword
Rescue from claws and stench our goodly fare,
And cleanse and glad anew the genial board.
As they king Phineus from those fowls released,
And England's peer restored the Nubian's feast?"

Hunting those hideous birds, that cavalier
Aye scared them with the bugle's horrid sound;
Till at the mountain-cave his long career
He closed, and ran the monstrous troop to ground:
Attentive to the vent he held his ear,
And in that troubled cavern heard rebound,
Weeping and wailing, and eternal yell;
Proof certain that its entrance led to hell.

Astolpho doubts if he within shall wend,
And see those wretched ones expelled from day;
Into the central pit of earth descend,
And the infernal gulfs around survey.
"Why should I fear, that on my horn depend
For certain succour?" (did the warrior say)
"Satan and Pluto so will I confound,
And drive before me their three-headed hound."

He speedily his winged horse forsook;
(Him to a sapling near at hand he ties)
The cavern entered next; but first he took
His horn, whereon the knight in all relies.
Not far has he advanced before a smoke,
Obscure and foul, offends his nose and eyes.
Ranker than pitch and sulphur is the stench,
Yet not thereat does good Astolpho blench.

But as he more descends into that lair,
So much he finds the smoke and vapour worse;
And it appears he can no further fare;
Nay, backward must retrace his way parforce.
Lo!  something (what he knows not) he in air
Espies, that seems in motion, like a corse,
Upon whose wasted form long time had beat
The winter's rain and summers scorching heat.

In that dim cavern was so little light,
-- Yea, well-nigh might be said that light was none --
Nought sees or comprehends the English knight
What wavers so, above that vapour dun:
For surer proof, a stroke or two would smite
With his good faulchion Otho's valiant son:
Then deemed that duke it was a spirit, whom
He seemed to strike amid the misty gloom.

When him a melancholy voice addressed;
"Ah! without harming other, downward wend.
Me but too sore the sable fumes molest,
Which hither form the hellish fires ascend."
Thereat the duke, amazed, his steps represt,
And to the spirit cried: "So may Heaven send
A respite from the vapours that exhale,
As thou shalt deign to tell thy mournful tale!

"And to be known on earth shouldst thou be fain,
Thee will I satisfy."  To him the sprite:
So sweet it seems to me, in fame again
Thus to return into the glorious light,
My huge desire such favour to obtain,
Forces my words from me in my despite,
Constraining me to tell the things ye seek;
Though 'tis annoyance and fatigue to speak.

"Lydia, the child of Lydia's king, am I,
To proud estate and princely honours born,
Condemned by righteous doom of God on high
In murky smoke eternally to mourn:
Because a kindly lover's constancy
I, while I lived, repaid with spite and scorn.
With countless others swarm these grots below,
For the same sin, condemned to the same woe.

"Yet lower down, harsh Anaxarete
Suffers worse pain where thicker fumes arise;
Heaven changed her flesh to stone, and here to be
Tormented, her afflicted spirit sties:
In that unmoved she, hung in air, could see
A lover vest by her barbarities.
Here Daphne learns how rashly she had done
In having given Apollo such a run."

"Of hosts of ingrate women in this cell
Confined, it would be tedious to recite,
If, one by one, I upon these should dwell;
So many, their amount is infinite.
'Twould be more tedious of the men to tell,
Whose base ingratitude due pains requite;
And whom, in a more dismal prison pent,
Smoke blinds, and everlasting fires torment.

"Since to belief soft woman is more prone,
He that deceives her, merits heavier pain;
To Theseus and to Jason this is known,
And him that vexed of old the Latian reign,
And him that of his brother Absalon
Erewhile provoked the pestilent disdain,
Because of Thamar; countless is the horde
Of those who left a wife or wedded lord.

"But, rather of my state than theirs to shew,
And sin which brought me hither: -- I was fair,
But so much haughtier was than fair of hue,
I know not if I ever equalled were:
Nor which was most excessive of the two,
My pride of beauty, could to thee declare.
Though it is certain, Pride but took its rise
In that rare loveliness which pleased all eyes.

"There lived a Thracian knight, for warlike skill
And prowess, upon earth without a peer;
Who, voiced by many a worthy witness still,
The praises of my matchless charms did hear.
So that, of forethought and his own free will,
Fixed all his love on me that cavalier;
Weening this wife that I, upon my part,
Should for his valour duly prize his heart.

"He came to Lydia, and by faster tie
Was fettered at my sight; and there enrolled
Amid my royal father's chivalry,
In mickle fame increased that baron bold.
His feats of many a sort, and valour high
Would make a tale too tedious to be told;
With what his boundless merit had deserved,
If a more grateful master he had served.

"Pamphylia, Caria, and Cilicia's reign,
Through him, my father brought beneath his sway,
Who never moved a-field his martial train,
But when that warrior pointed out the way:
He, when he deemed he had deserved such gain,
Pressed close the Lydian king, upon a day,
And craved me from the monarch as his wife,
As meed of all that booty made in strife.

"Rejected of the monarch was the peer,
Who was resolved his child should highly wed;
Not him who was a simple cavalier;
Who, saving valour, was with nought bested.
For on my father, bent on gain and gear
And avarice, of all vice the fountain-head,
Manners and merit for as little pass,
As the lute's music on the lumpish ass.

"Alcestes, he of whom I speak (so hight
That warrior), when he sees his suit denied,
Repulsed by one, by whom he had most right
To think that he should most be gratified,
Craves his discharge, and threatens he this slight
Will make the Lydian monarch dear abide.
The Armenian, an old rival of my sire,
And mortal for, he sought with this desire;

"And so the monarch urged, he made him rear
His banner, and attack my sire; and, through
His famous feats, that Thracian cavalier
Was named the captain of the invading crew.
For the Armenian sovereign, far and near,
All things (so said the knight) he would subdue;
But claiming as his share, when all was won,
My sovereign beauties for the service done.

"I ill to you the mischief could express
Alcestes did us in that war; o'erthrown
By him four armies were, and he in less
Than one short twelvemonth left us neither town,
Not tower, save one, where cliffs forbade access:
'Twas here my sire, amid those of his own
Whom most he loved, took refuge, in his need,
With all the wealth he could collect with speed.

"Us in this fortilage the knight attacked,
And shortly to such desperation drave,
That gladly would the king have made a pact,
To yield me for his consort, yea his slave,
With half our realm, if certain by that act
Himself from every other loss to save;
Right sure he otherwise should forfeit all,
And, after, die in bonds, a captive thrall.

"Before this happened, to try every way
Of remedy the Lydian king was bent;
And thither, where Alcestes' army lay,
Me, the first cause of all the mischief, sent.
To yield my person to him as a prey
I with intention to Alcestes went;
To bid him take what portion of our reign
He pleased, and pacify his fierce disdain.

"When of my coming that good knight does know,
Me he encounters pale and trembling sore:
'Twould seem a vanquished man's a prisoner's brow,
He, rather than a victor's semblance, bore.
I who perceive he loves, address not now
The warrior as I was resolved before.
My vantage I descry, and shift my ground,
To fit the state wherein that knight was found.

"To curse the warrior's passion I begun,
And of his crying cruelty complained,
Since foully by my father had he done,
And me would have by violence constrained;
Who with more grace my person would have won,
Nor waited many days, had he maintained
His course of courtship, as begun whilere.
To king and all of us so passing dear;

"And if the honest suit he hoped to gain
Had been at first rejected by my sire,
'Twas, he was somedeal of a churlish vein,
Nor ever yielded to a first desire;
He should not therefore, restive to the rein,
Have left his goodly task, so prompt to ire;
Sure, passing aye from good to better deed,
In little time to win the wished-for meed;

"And if my father would not have been won,
To him I would so earnestly have prayed,
That he my lover should have made his son;
Nay, had my royal sire my suit gainsayed,
For him in secret that I would have done,
Wherewith he should have deemed himself appaid:
But since, it seemed, he other means designed,
Never to love him had I fixed my mind;

"And, though I sought him, at my father's hest,
And pious love for him had been my guide,
He might be sure, not long should be possest
The bliss that I, in my despite, supplied;
For the red blood should issue from my breast
As soon as his ill will was satisfied
On this my wretched person, which alone
He so by brutal force should make his own.

"With these, and words like these, I moved the peer,
When I such puissance in myself espied;
And him so contrite made, in desert drear,
Was never seen a saint more mortified.
Before my feet the doleful cavalier
Fell down, and snatched a poniard from his side;
Which, he protested, I parforce should take,
And for so foul a sin my vengeance slake.

"To push my mighty victory to an end
I scheme, when him I see in such distress,
And give him hopes he may even yet pretend
That I deservedly his love should bless,
If he his ancient error will amend,
Will of his realm my father repossess,
And will in future time deserve my charms
By love and service, not by force of arms.

"So promised he to do; and set me free,
And let me, as I came, untouched, depart;
Nor even to kiss my lips he ventured; see
If he is yoked securely, if his heart
Love has well touched with the desire of me,
If he for him need feather other dart!
He seeks the Armenian, why by pact should take
Whatever spoil the conquering armies make;

"And him, as best he might, would fain persuade
To leave to Lydia's monarch his domain,
Upon whose wasted lands his host had preyed,
And rest content with his Armenian reign.
-- He would not hear of this (the monarch said,
With cheers with fury swolen) nor would refrain
From pressing Lydia's king with armed band,
So long as he possessed a palm of land;

"And if the knight, when a vile woman sues,
His purpose shift, let him the evil bear:
He will not, for the warrior's asking, lose
What he has hardly conquered in a year.
Alcestes to the king his suit renews,
And next complains, that he rejects his prayer.
At length the Thracian fires, and threatens high,
By love or force the monarch shall comply.

"So kindling anger waxed between the two,
It urged them from ill words to worser deed:
Upon the king his sword Alcestes drew;
Though thousands aid the monarch in his need,
And, in despite of all, their sovereign slew;
And made that day as well the Armenian bleed,
Backed by the Thracians' and Cilicians' aid
And other followers, by the warrior paid.

"His conquest he pursued, and, at his cost,
Without expense to us, in less than one
Short month, the kingdom by my father lost
Restored; and, to repair the mischief done,
(Beside spoil given) he conquered with his host,
-- Taxing or taking what his arms had won --
Armenia and Cappadocia which confine;
And scowered Hyrcania to the distant brine.

"Him not to greet with triumphs, but to slay,
Returning from that warfare, we intend;
But, fearing failure, our design delay
In that we find too many him befriend.
Feeding him aye with hope from day to day,
I for the Thracian warrior love pretend:
But first declare my will that he oppose
And prove his valour on our other foes;

"And him, now sole, now ill accompanied,
On strange and perilous emprize I speed;
Wherein a thousand knights might well have died;
But all things happily with him succeed:
For Victory was ever on his side;
And oft with horrid foes of monstrous breed,
With Giants and with Lestrigons, who brought
Damage in our domains, the warrior fought.

Nor Juno, nor Eurystheus, in such chase
Ever renowned Alcides vext so sore,
In Erymanth, Nemaea, Lerna, Thrace,
Aetolia, Africa, by Tyber's shore,
By Ebro's sunny bank, or other place,
As (hiding murderous hate, while I implore)
I exercise my lover still in strife,
With the same fell design upon his life.

"Unable to achieve my first intent,
I on a scheme of no less mischief fall:
Through me, all deemed his friends by him are shent,
Who thus bring down on him the hate of all.
The Thracian leader never more content
Than to obey, whatever be the call,
Is at my bidding ever prompt to smite,
Without regarding who or what the wight.

"When I perceive that, through the warrior's mean,
Extinguished is my father's every foe;
And, conquered by himself, that knight is seen
-- Friendless, through us -- I now the masque forego;
What I, from him, beneath a flattering mien,
Had hitherto concealed, I plainly show;
-- What deep and deadly hate by bosom fired,
And that I but to work his death desired.

"Then, thinking if such course I should pursue,
That public shame would still the deed attend,
(For men too well my obligations knew,
And would be prompt my cruelty to shend.)
Meseemed enough to drive him from my view,
So that he should no more my eyes offend:
Nor would I more address or see the peer,
Nor letter would receive or message hear.

"This my ingratitude in him such pain
At length produced, that mastered by his woe,
After entreating mercy long in vain,
He sickened sore and sank beneath the blow.
For pain which fits my sin, dark fumes now stain
My cheek, and with salt rheum mine eyes o'erflow.
Thus in eternal torment shall I dwell;
For saving mercy helpeth not in hell."

Since wretched Lydia spake no more, the peer
Would fain discern if more in torment lay;
But, those false ingrates' curse, the darkness drear
So waxed before him, and obscured the way,
That not one inch advanced the cavalier;
Nay, back parforce returns that warrior; nay,
Himself from that increasing smoke to save,
Makes for the mouth of the disastrous cave.

The motion of his quickly shifting feet
More savours of a run than walk or trot.
Thus mounting the ascent in swift retreat,
Astolpho sees the outlet of the grot;
Where, through the darkness of that dismal seat
And those foul fumes, a dawn of daylight shot;
He from the cavern, sorely pained and pined,
Issues at last, and leaves the smoke behind;

And next to bar the way against that band,
Whose greedy bellies so for victual crave,
Picks stones, and trees lays level with his brand,
Which charged with pepper or amomum wave;
And what might seem a hedge, with busy hand,
As best he can, constructs before the cave;
And so succeeds in blocking that repair,
The harpies shall no more revisit air.

While in that cave Astolpho did remain,
The fumes that from the sable pitch arose,
Not only what appeared to sight did stain;
But even so searched the flesh beneath his clothes,
He sought some cleansing stream, long sought in vain;
But found at length a limpid till, which rose
Out of a living rock, within that wood,
And bathed himself all over in the flood.

Then backed the griffin-horse, and soared a flight
Whereby to reach that mountain's top he schemes,
Which little distant, with its haughty height,
From the moon's circle good Astolpho deems;
And, such desire to see it warms the knight,
That he aspires to heaven, nor earth esteems.
Through air so more and more the warrior strains,
That he at last the mountain-summit gains.

Here sapphire, ruby, gold, and topaz glow,
Pearl, jacinth, chrysolite and diamond lie,
Which well might pass for natural flowers which blow,
Catching their colour from that kindly sky.
So green the grass!  could we have such below,
We should prefer it to our emerald's dye.
As fair the foliage of those pleasant bowers!
Whose trees are ever filled with fruit and flowers.

Warble the wanton birds in verdant brake,
Azure, and red, and yellow, green and white.
The quavering rivulet and quiet lake
In limpid hue surpass the crystal bright.
A breeze, which with one breath appears to shake,
Aye, without fill or fall, the foliage light,
To the quick air such lively motion lends,
That Day's oppressive noon in nought offends;

And this, mid fruit and flower and verdure there,
Evermore stealing divers odours, went;
And made of those mixt sweets a medley rare,
Which filled the spirit with a calm content.
In the mid plain arose a palace fair,
Which seemed as if with living flames it brent.
Such passing splendour and such glorious light
Shot from those walls, beyond all usage bright.

Thither where those transparent walls appear,
Which cover more than thirty miles in measure,
At ease and slowly moved the cavalier,
And viewed the lovely region at his leisure;
And deemed -- compared with this -- that sad and drear,
And seen by heaven and nature with displeasure,
Was the foul world, wherein we dwell below:
So jocund this, so sweet and fair in show!

Astound with wonder, paused the adventurous knight,
When to that shining palace he was nigh,
For, than the carbuncle more crimson bright,
It seemed one polished stone of sanguine dye.
O mighty wonder!  O Daedalian sleight!
What fabric upon earth with this can vie?
Let them henceforth be silent, that in story
Exalt the world's seven wonders to such glory!

An elder, in the shining entrance-hall
Of that glad house, towards Astolpho prest;
Crimson his waistcoat was, and white his pall;
Vermillion seemed the mantle, milk the vest:
White was that ancient's hair, and white withal
The bushy beard descending to his breast;
And from his reverend face such glory beamed,
Of the elect of Paradise he seemed.

He, with glad visage, to the paladin,
Who humbly, from his sell had lighted, cries:
"O gentle baron, that by will divine
Have soared to this terrestrial paradise!
Albeit nor you the cause of your design,
Nor you the scope of your desire surmise,
Believe, you not without high mystery steer
Hitherward, from your arctic hemisphere.

"You for instruction, how to furnish aid
To Charles and to the Church in utmost need,
With me to counsel, hither are conveyed,
Who without counsel from such distance speed.
But, son, ascribe not you the journey made
To wit or worth; nor through your winged steed,
Nor through your virtuous bugle had ye thriven,
But that such helping grace from God was given.

"We will discourse at better leisure more,
And you what must be done shall after hear;
But you that, through long fast, must hunger sore,
First brace your strength with us, with genial cheer."
Continuing his discourse, that elder hoar
Raised mighty wonder in the cavalier,
When he avouched, as he his name disclosed,
That he THE HOLY GOSPEL, had composed;

He of our Lord so loved, the blessed John;
Of whom a speech among the brethren went,
He never should see death, and hence the Son
Of God with this rebuke St. Peter shent;
In saying, "What is it to thee, if one
Tarry on earth, till I anew be sent?"
Albeit he said not that he should not die,
That so he meant to say we plain descry.

Translated thither, he found company,
The patriarch Enoch, and the mighty seer
Elias; nor as yet those sainted three
Have seen corruption, but in garden, clear
Of earth's foul air, will joy eternity
Of spring, till they angelic trumpets hear,
Sounding through heaven and earth, proclaim aloud
Christ's second advent on the silvery cloud.

The holy ancients to a chamber lead,
With welcome kind, the adventurous cavalier;
And in another then his flying steed
Sufficiently with goodly forage cheer.
Astolpho they with fruits of Eden feed,
So rich, that in his judgment 'twould appear,
In some sort might our parents be excused
If, for such fruits, obedience they refused.

When with that daily payment which man owes,
Nature had been contented by the peer,
As well of due refreshment as repose,
(For all and every comfort found he here)
And now Aurora left her ancient spouse,
Not for his many years to her less dear,
Rising from bed, Astolpho at his side
The apostle, so beloved of God, espied.

Much that not lawfully could here be shown,
Taking him by the hand, to him he read.
"To you, though come from France, may be unknown
What there hath happened," next the apostle said;
"Learn, your Orlando, for he hath foregone
The way wherein he was enjoined to tread,
Is visited of God, that ever shends
Him whom he loveth best, when he offends:

"He, your Orlando, at his birth endowed
With sovereign daring and with sovereign might,
On whom, beyond all usage, God bestowed
The grace, that weapon him should vainly smite,
Because he was selected from the crowd
To be defender of his Church's right.
As he elected Sampson, called whilere
The Jew against the Philistine to cheer;

"He, your Orlando, for such gifts has made
Unto his heavenly Lord an ill return:
Who left his people, when most needing aid,
Then most abandoned to the heathens' scorn.
Incestuous love for a fair paynim maid
Had blinded so that knight, of grace forlorn,
That twice and more in fell and impious strife
The count has sought his faithful cousin's life.

"Hence God hath made him mad, and, in this vein,
Belly, and breast, and naked flesh expose;
And so diseased and troubled is his brain,
That none, and least himself, the champion knows,
Nebuchadnezzar whilom to such pain
God in his vengeance doomed, as story shows;
Sent, for seven years, of savage fury full,
To feed on grass and hay, like slavering bull.

"But yet, because the Christian paladine
Has sinned against his heavenly Maker less,
He only for three months, by will divine,
Is doomed to cleanse himself of his excess.
Nor yet with other scope did your design
Of wending hither the Redeemer bless,
But that through us the mode you should explore,
Orlando's missing senses to restore.

" `Tis true to journey further ye will need,
And wholly must you leave this nether sphere;
To the moon's circle you I have to lead,
Of all the planets to our world most near,
Because the medicine, that is fit to speed
Insane Orlando's cure, is treasured here.
This night will we away, when over head
Her downward rays the silver moon shall shed."

In talk the blest apostle is diffuse
On this and that, until the day is worn:
But when the sun is sunk i' the salt sea ooze,
And overhead the moon uplifts her horn,
A chariot is prepared, erewhile in use
To scower the heavens, wherein of old was borne
From Jewry's misty mountains to the sky,
Sainted Elias, rapt from mortal eye.

Four goodly coursers next, and redder far
Than flame, to that fair chariot yokes the sire;
Who, when the knight and he well seated are,
Collects the reins; and heavenward they aspire.
In airy circles swiftly rose the car,
And reached the region of eternal fire;
Whose heat the saint by miracle suspends,
While through the parted air the pair ascends.

The chariot, towering, threads the fiery sphere,
And rises thence into the lunar reign.
This, in its larger part they find as clear
As polished steel, when undefiled by stain;
And such it seems, or little less, when near,
As what the limits of our earth contain:
Such as our earth, the last of globes below,
Including seas, which round about it flow.

Here doubly waxed the paladin's surprize,
To see that place so large, when viewed at hand;
Resembling that a little hoop in size,
When from the globe surveyed whereon we stand,
And that he both his eyes behoved to strain,
If he would view Earth's circling seas and land;
In that, by reason of the lack of light,
Their images attained to little height.

Here other river, lake, and rich champaign
Are seen, than those which are below descried;
Here other valley, other hill and plain,
With towns and cities of their own supplied;
Which mansions of such mighty size contain,
Such never he before of after spied.
Here spacious hold and lonely forest lay,
Where nymphs for ever chased the panting prey.

He, that with other scope had thither soared,
Pauses not all these wonder to peruse:
But led by the disciple of our Lord,
His way towards a spacious vale pursues;
A place wherein is wonderfully stored
Whatever on our earth below we lose.
Collected there are all things whatsoe'er,
Lost through time, chance, or our own folly, here.

Nor here alone of realm and wealthy dower,
O'er which aye turns the restless wheel, I say:
I speak of what it is not in the power
Of Fortune to bestow, or take away.
Much fame is here, whereon Time and the Hour,
Like wasting moth, in this our planet prey.
Here countless vows, here prayers unnumbered lie,
Made by us sinful men to God on high:

The lover's tears and sighs; what time in pleasure
And play we here unprofitably spend;
To this, of ignorant men the eternal leisure,
And vain designs, aye frustrate of their end.
Empty desires so far exceed all measure,
They o'er that valley's better part extend.
There wilt thou find, if thou wilt thither post,
Whatever thou on earth beneath hast lost.

He, passing by those heaps, on either hand,
Of this and now of that the meaning sought;
Formed of swollen bladders here a hill did stand,
Whence he heard cries and tumults, as he thought.
These were old crowns of the Assyrian land
And Lydian -- as that paladin was taught --
Grecian and Persian, all of ancient fame;
And now, alas!  well-nigh without a name.

Golden and silver hooks to sight succeed,
Heaped in a mass, the gifts which courtiers bear,
-- Hoping thereby to purchase future meed --
To greedy prince and patron; many a snare,
Concealed in garlands, did the warrior heed,
Who heard, these signs of adulation were;
And in cicalas, which their lungs had burst,
Saw fulsome lays by venal poets versed.

Loves of unhappy end in imagery
Of gold or jewelled bands he saw exprest;
Then eagles' talons, the authority
With which great lords their delegates invest:
Bellows filled every nook, the fume and fee
Wherein the favourites of kings are blest:
Given to those Ganymedes that have their hour,
And reft, when faded is their vernal flower.

O'erturned, here ruined town and castle lies,
With all their wealth: "The symbols" (said his guide)
"Of treaties and of those conspiracies,
Which their conductors seemed so ill to hide."
Serpents with female faces, felonies
Of coiners and of robbers, he descried;
Next broken bottles saw of many sorts,
The types of servitude in sorry courts.

He marks mighty pool of porridge spilled,
And asks what in that symbol should be read,
And hears 'twas charity, by sick men willed
For distribution, after they were dead.
He passed a heap of flowers, that erst distilled
Sweet savours, and now noisome odours shed;
The gift (if it may lawfully be said)
Which Constantine to good Sylvester made.

A large provision, next, of twigs and lime
-- Your witcheries, O women! -- he explored.
The things he witnessed, to recount in rhyme
Too tedious were; were myriads on record,
To sum the remnant ill should I have time.
'Tis here that all infirmities are stored,
Save only Madness, seen not here at all,
Which dwells below, nor leaves this earthly ball.

He turns him back, upon some days and deeds
To look again, which he had lost of yore;
But, save the interpreter the lesson reads,
Would know them not, such different form they wore.
He next saw that which man so little needs,
-- As it appears -- none pray to Heaven for more;
I speak of sense, whereof a lofty mount
Alone surpast all else which I recount.

It was as 'twere a liquor soft and thin,
Which, save well corked, would from the vase have drained;
Laid up, and treasured various flasks within,
Larger or lesser, to that use ordained.
That largest was which of the paladin,
Anglantes' lord, the mighty sense contained;
And from those others was discerned, since writ
Upon the vessel was ORLANDO'S WIT.

The names of those whose wits therein were pent
He thus on all those other flasks espied.
Much of his own, but with more wonderment,
The sense of many others he descried,
Who, he believed, no dram of theirs had spent;
But here, by tokens clear was satisfied,
That scantily therewith were they purveyed;
So large the quantity he here surveyed.

Some waste on love, some seeking honour, lose
Their wits, some, scowering seas, for merchandise,
Some, that on wealthy lords their hope repose,
And some, befooled by silly sorceries;
These upon pictures, upon jewels those;
These on whatever else they highest prize.
Astrologers' and sophists' wits mid these,
And many a poet's too, Astolpho sees.

Since his consent the apostle signified
Who wrote the obscure Apocalypse, his own
He took, and only to his nose applied,
When (it appeared) it to its place was gone;
And henceforth, has Sir Turpin certified,
That long time sagely lived king Otho's son;
Till other error (as he says) again
Deprived the gentle baron of his brain.

The fullest vessel and of amplest round
Which held the wit Orlando erst possessed,
Astolpho took; nor this so light he found,
As it appeared, when piled among the rest.
Before, from those bright spheres, now earthward bound,
His course is to our lower orb addressed,
Him to a spacious palace, by whose side
A river ran, conducts his holy guide.

Filled full of fleeces all its chambers were,
Of wool, silk, linen, cotton, in their hue,
Of diverse dyes and colours, foul and fair.
Yarns to her reel from all those fleeces drew,
In the outer porch, a dame of hoary hair.
On summer-day thus village wife we view,
When the new silk is reeled, its filmy twine
Wind from the worm, and soak the slender line.

A second dame replaced the work when done
With other; and one bore it off elsewhere;
A third selected from the fleeces spun,
And mingled by that second, foul from fair.
"What is this labour?" said the peer to John;
And the disciple answered Otho's heir,
"Know that the Parcae are those ancient wives,
That in this fashion spin your feeble lives.

"As long as one fleece lasts, life in such wise
Endureth, nor outlasts it by a thought.
For Death and Nature have their watchful eyes
On the hour when each should to his end be brought.
The choicest threads are culled for Paradise,
And, after, for its ornaments are wrought;
And fashioned from the strands of foulest show
Are galling fetters for the damned below."

On all the fleeces that erewhile were laid
Upon the reel, and culled for other care,
The names were graved on little plates, which made
Of silver, or of gold, or iron, were,
These piled in many heaps he next surveyed;
Whence an old man some skins was seen to bear,
Who, seemingly unwearied, hurried sore,
His restless way retracing evermore.

That elder is so nimble and so prest,
That he seems born to run; he bears away
Out of those heaps by lapfulls in his vest
The tickets that the different names display.
Wherefore and whither he his steps addrest,
To you I shall in other canto say,
If you, in sign of pleasure, will attend,
With that kind audience ye are wont to lend.


The apostle praises authors to the peer.
Duke Aymon's martial daughter in affray,
Conquers the giant monarch of Argier,
And of the good Frontino makes a prey.
She next from Arles defies her cavalier,
And, while he marvels who would him assay,
Grandonio and Ferrau she with her hand
And Serpentine unhorses on the strand.

Madonna, who will scale the high ascent
Of heaven, to me my judgment to restore,
Which, since from your bright eyes the weapon went,
That pierced my heart, is wasting evermore?
Yet will not I such mighty loss lament,
So that it drain no faster than before;
But -- ebbing further -- I should fear to be
Such as Orlando is described by me.

To have anew that judgment, through the skies,
I deem there is no need for me to fly
To the moon's circle, or to Paradise;
For, I believe, mine is not lodged so high.
On your bright visage, on your beauteous eyes,
Alabastrine neck, and paps of ivory,
Wander my wits, and I with busy lip,
If I may have them back, these fain would sip.

Astolpho wandered through that palace wide,
Observing al the future lives around:
When those already woven he had spied
Upon the fatal wheel for finish wound,
He a fair fleece discerned that far outvied
Fine gold, whose wondrous lustre jewels ground,
Could these into a thread be drawn by art,
Would never equal by the thousandth part.

The beauteous fleece he saw with wondrous glee
Equalled by none amid that countless store;
And when and whose such glorious life should be,
Longed sore to know.  "This," (said the apostle hoar,
Concealing nothing of its history,)
"Shall have existence twenty years before,
Dating from THE INCARNATE WORD, the year
Shall marked my men with M and D appear;

"And, as for splendor and for substance fair,
This fleece shall have no like or equal, so
Shall the blest age wherein it shall appear
Be singular in this our world below;
Because all graces, excellent and rare,
Which Nature or which Study can bestow,
Or bounteous Fortune upon men can shower,
Shall be its certain and eternal dower.

"Between the king of rivers' horns," (he cries,)
"Stands what is now a small and humble town.
Before it runs the Po, behind it lies
A misty pool of marsh; this -- looking down
The stream of future years -- I recognize
First of Italian cities of renown;
Not only famed for wall and palace rare,
But noble ways of life and studies fair.

"Such exaltation, reached so suddenly,
Is not fortuitous nor wrought in vain;
But that is may his worthy cradle be,
Whereof I speak, shall so the heaven ordain.
For where men look for fruit they graff the tree,
And study still the rising plant to train;
And artist uses to refine the gold
Designed by him the precious gem to hold.

"Nor ever, in terrestrial realm, so fine
And fair a raiment spirit did invest,
And rarely soul so great from realms divine
Has been, or will be, thitherward addrest,
As that whereof THE ETERNAL had design
To fashion good Hippolytus of Este:
Hippolytus of Este shall he be hight,
On whom so rich a gift of God shall light.

"All those fair graces, that, on many spent,
Would have served many wholly to array,
Are all united for his ornament,
Of whom thou hast entreated me to say.
To prop the arts, the virtues is he sent;
And should I seek his merits to display,
So long a time would last my tedious strain,
Orlando might expect his wits in vain."

'Twas so Christ's servant with the cavalier
Discoursed; they having satisfied their view
With sight of that fair mansion, far and near,
That whence conveyed were human lives, the two
Issued upon the stream, whose waves appear
Turbid with sand and of discoloured hue;
And found that ancient man upon the shore,
Who names, engraved on metal, thither bore.

I know not if you recollect; of him
I speak, whose story I erewhile suspended,
Ancient of visage, and so swift of limb,
That faster far than forest stag he wended.
With names he filled his mantle to the brim,
Aye thinned the pile, but ne'er his labour ended;
And in that stream, hight Lethe, next bestowed,
Yea, rather cast away, his costly load.

I say, that when upon the river side
Arrives that ancient, of his store profuse,
He all those names into the turbid tide
Discharges, as he shakes his mantle loose.
A countless shoal, they in the stream subside;
Nor henceforth are they fit for any use;
And, out of mighty myriads, hardly one
Is saved of those which waves and sand o'errun.

Along that river and around it fly
Vile crows and ravening vultures, and a crew
Of choughs, and more, that with discordant cry
And deafening din their airy flight pursue;
And to the prey all hurry, when from high
Those ample riches they so scattered view;
And with their beak or talon seize the prey:
Yet little distance they their prize convey.

When they would raise themselves in upward flight,
They have not strength the burden to sustain;
So that parforce in Lethe's water light
The worthy names, which lasting praise should gain.
Two swans there are amid those birds, as white,
My lord, as is your banner's snowy grain;
Who catch what names they can, and evermore
With these return securely to the shore.

Thus, counter to that ancient's will malign,
Who them to the devouring river dooms,
Some names are rescued by the birds benign;
Wasteful Oblivion all the rest consumes.
Now swim about the stream those swans divine,
Now beat the buxom air with nimble plumes,
Till, near that impious river's bank, they gain
A hill, and on that hill a hallowed fane.

To Immortality 'tis sacred; there
A lovely nymph, that from the hill descends,
To the Lethean river makes repair;
Takes from those swans their burden, and suspends
The names about an image, raised in air
Upon a shaft, which in mid fane ascends;
There consecrates and fixes them so fast,
That all throughout eternity shall last.

Of that old sire, and why he would dispense
Idly, all those fair names, as 'twould appear,
And of the birds and holy place, from whence
The nymph was to the river seen to steer,
The solemn mystery, and the secret sense,
Astolpho, marvelling, desired to hear;
And prayed the man of God would these unfold,
Who to the warrior thus their meaning told.

"There moves no leaf beneath, thou hast to know,
But here above some sign thereof we trace;
Since all, in Heaven above or Earth below,
Must correspond, though with a different face.
That ancient, with his sweeping beard of snow,
By nought impeded and so swift of pace,
Works the same end and purpose in our clime,
As are on earth below performed by Time.

"The life of man its final close attains,
When on the wheel is wound the fatal twine;
There fame, and here above the mark remains;
For both would be immortal and divine,
But for that bearded sire's unwearied pains,
And his below, that for their wreck combine.
One drowns them, as thou seest, mid sand and surges.
And one in long forgetfulness immerges.

"And even, as here above, the raven, daw,
Vulture, and divers other birds of air,
All from the turbid water seek to draw
The names, which in their sight appear most fair;
Even thus below, pimps, flatterers, men of straw,
Buffoons, informers, minions, all who there
Flourish in courts, and in far better guise
And better odour, than the good and wise;

"And by the crowd are gentle courtiers hight,
Because they imitate the ass and swine:
When the just Parcae or (to speak aright)
Venus and Bacchus cut their master's twine,
-- These base and sluggish dullards, whom I cite --
Born but to blow themselves with bread and wine,
In their vile mouths awhile such names convey,
Then drop the load, which is Oblivion's prey.

"But as the joyful swans, that, singing sweet,
Convey the medals safely to the fane,
So they whose praises poets well repeat,
Are rescued from oblivion, direr pain
Than death.  O Princes, wary and discreet,
That wisely tread in Caesar's steps, and gain
Authors for friends!  They, doubt it not, shall save
Your noble names from Lethe's laxy wave.

"Rare as those gentle swans are poets too,
That well the poet's name have merited,
As well because it is Heaven's will, that few
Great rulers should the paths of glory tread,
As through foul fault of sordid lordlings, who
Let sacred Genius beg his daily bread;
Who putting down the Virtues, raise the tribe
Of Vices, and the liberal arts proscribe.

"Believe it, that these ignorant men should be
Blind and deprived of judgment, is God's doom;
Who makes them loathe the light of poetry,
That envious Death may wholly them consume.
Besides that Song can quicken and set free
Him that is prisoned in the darkness tomb,
Though foul his name, if Cirrha him befriend.
Its savour myrrh and spikenard shall transcend.

"Aeneas not so pious, nor of arm
So strong Achilles, Hector not so bold,
Was, as 'tis famed; and mid the nameless swarm,
Thousands and thousands higher rank might hold:
But gift of palace and of plenteous farm,
Bestowed by heirs of them, whose deeds they told,
Have moved the poet with his honoured hand,
To place them upon Glory's highest stand.

"Augustus not so holy and benign
Was as great Virgil's trumpet sounds his name,
Because he savoured the harmonious line.
His foul proscription passes without blame.
That Nero was unjust would none divine,
Nor haply would he suffer in his fame,
Though Heaven and Earth were hostile, had he known
The means to make the tuneful tribe his own.

"Homer a conqueror Agamemnon shows,
And makes the Trojan seem of coward vein,
And from the suitors, faithful to her vows,
Penelope a thousand wrongs sustain:
Yet -- would'st thou I the secret should expose? --
By contraries throughout the tale explain:
That from the Trojan bands the Grecian ran;
And deem Penelope a courtezan.

"What fame Eliza, she so chaste of sprite,
On the other hand, has left behind her, hear!
Who widely is a wanton baggage hight,
Solely that she to Maro was not dear,
Marvel not this should cause me sore despite,
And if my speech diffusive should appear.
Authors I love, and pay the debt I owe,
Speaking their praise; an author I below!

"There earned I, above all men, what no more
Time nor yet Death from me shall take away;
And it behoved our Lord, of whom I bore
Such testimony, so my paints to pay.
It grieves me much for them, on whom her door
Courtesy closes on a stormy day;
Who meagre, pale, and worn with hopeless suit,
Knock night and day, and ever without fruit.

Henceforth with that apostle let the peer
Remain; for I have now to make a spring
As far as 'tis from heaven to earth; for here
I cannot hang for ever on the wing.
I to the dame return, who was whilere
Wounded by jealousy with cruel sting.
I left her where, successively o'erthrown,
Three kings she quickly upon earth had strown;

And afterwards arriving in a town,
At eve, which on the road to Paris lay,
Heard tidings of Rinaldo's victory blown;
And how in Arles the vanquished paynim lay.
-- Sure, her Rogero with the king is gone --
As soon as reappears the dawning day,
Towards fair Provence, whither (as she hears)
King Charlemagne pursues, her way she steers.

She towards Provence, by the nearest road,
So journeying, met a maid of mournful air;
Who, though her cheeks with tears were overflowed,
Was yet of visage and of manners fair.
She was it, so transfixed with Love's keen goad,
Who sighed for Monodante's valiant heir,
Who at the bridge had left her lord a thrall,
When with King Rodomont he tried a fall.

She sought one of an otter's nimbleness,
By water and by land, a cavalier
So fierce, that she that champion -- to redress
Her wrongs -- might match against the paynim peer.
When good Rogero's lady, comfortless,
To that fair dame, as comfortless, drew near,
Her she saluted courteously, and next
Demanded by what sorrow she was vext.

Flordelice marked the maid, that, in her sight,
Appeared a warrior fitted for her needs;
And of the bridge and river 'gan recite,
Where Argier's mighty king the road impedes;
And how he had gone nigh to slay her knight;
Not that more doughty were the monarch's deeds;
But that the wily paynim vantage-ground
In that streight bridge and foaming river found.

"Are you (she said) so daring and so kind,
As kind and daring you appear in show,
Venge me of him that has my lord confined,
And makes me wander thus, opprest with woe,
For love of Heaven; or teach me where to find
At least a knight who can resist the foe,
And of such skill that little boot shall bring
His bridge and river to the pagan king.

"Besides that so you shall achieve an end,
Befitting courteous man and cavalier,
You will employ your valour to befriend
The faithfullest of lovers far and near.
His other virtues I should ill commend,
So many and so many, that whoe'er
Knoweth not these, may well be said to be
One without ears to hear or eyes to see."

The high-minded maid, to whom aye welcome are
All noble quests, by which she worthily
May hope a great and glorious name to bear,
Straight to the paynim's bridge resolves to hie;
And now so much the more -- as in despair --
Wends willingly, although it were to die:
In that she, ever with herself at strife,
Deeming Rogero lost, detested life.

"O loving damsel (she made answer), I
Offer mine aid, for such as 'tis, to do
The hard and dread adventure, passing by
Causes beside that move me, most that you
A matter of your lover testify,
Which I, in sooth, hear warranted of few;
That he is constant; for i'faith I swear,
I well believed all lovers perjured were."

With these last words a sigh that damsel drew,
A sigh which issued from her heart; then said:
"Go we"; and, with the following sun, those two
At the deep stream arrived and bridge of dread:
-- Seen of the guard, that on his bugle blew
A warning blast, when strangers thither sped --
The pagan arms him, girds his goodly brand,
And takes upon the bridge his wonted stand;

And as the maid appears in martial scale,
The moody monarch threatens her to slay,
Unless her goodly courser and her mail,
As an oblation to the tomb she pay.
Fair Bradamant who knew the piteous tale,
How murdered by him Isabella lay,
The story gentle Flordelice had taught;
Replied in answer to that paynim haught.

"Wherefore, O brutish man, for your misdeed
Should penance by the innocent be done?
'Tis fitting to appease her you should bleed;
You killed her, and to all the deed is known.
So that, of trophied armour or of weed
Of those so many, by your lance o'erthrown,
Your armour should the blest oblation be,
And you the choicest victim, slain by me;

"And dearer shall the gift be from my hand;
Since I a woman am, as she whilere;
Nor save to venge her have I sought this strand;
In this desire alone I hither steer:
But first, 'tis good some pact we understand,
Before we prove our prowess with the spear:
You shall do by me, if o'erthrown, what you
By other prisoners have been wont to do.

"But if, as I believe and trust, you fall,
I will your horse and armour have (she cried),
And taking down all others from the wall,
Hang on the tomb alone those arms of pride;
And will that you release each warlike thrall."
-- "The pact is just (King Rodomont replied),
But those, my prisoners, are not here confined,
And therefore cannot be to you consigned.

"These have I sent into mine Africk reign;
But this I promise thee, and pledge my fay;
If, by strange fortune, thou thy seat maintain,
And I shall be dismounted in the fray;
Delivered, all, shall be the captive train,
Within what time suffices to convey
An order thither, that they our of hand
'Should do what thou, if conqueror, may'st command.

"But art thou undermost, as fitter were,
And, as thou surely wilt be, I from thee
Not therefore will thy forfeit armour tear,
Nor shall thy name inscribed, as vanquished, be.
To thy bright face, bright eyes, and beauteous hair,
All breathing love and grace, the victory
Will I resign; let it suffice that thou
Then stoop to love me, as thou hatest now.

"To fall by me thou needest not disdain;
I with such strength, such nerve am fortified."
Somedeal she smiled; but smiled in bitter vein;
Savouring of anger more than aught beside.
She spake not to that haughty man again,
To the bridge-end returned the damsel, plied
Her courser with the rowels, couched her spear,
And rode to meet the furious cavalier.

King Rodomont prepares his course to run;
Comes on at speed; and with such mighty sound
Echoes that bridge, the thundering noise might stun
The ears of many distant from the ground.
The golden lance its wonted work has done;
For that fierce Moor, in tourney so renowned,
This from the saddle lifts, in air suspends,
Then headlong on the narrow bridge extends.

Scarce for her horse the martial damsel can
Find space to pass, when she has thrown her foe;
And little lacked, and mighty risque she ran
Of falling into that deep stream below:
But, born of wind and flame, good Rabican
So dextrous was, and could so lightly go,
He picked a path along the outer ledge,
And could have paced upon a faulchion's edge.

The damsel wheeled, towards the cavalier
Returned, and him bespoke in sportive way;
"Who is the loser now to thee is clear,
And who is undermost in this assay."
Silent remained the monarch of Argier,
Amazed, that woman him on earth should lay.
He cannot, or he will not speak; and lies
On earth, like one astound, in idiot guise.

Silent and sad, he raised himself from ground,
And when he some few paces thence had gone,
His shield unbraced and helm and mail unbound,
He flung against the tomb; and thence, alone,
Afoot the moody monarch left that ground:
Yet not till he had given command to one
(Of his four squires was he) to do his hest
Relating to those captives, as exprest.

He parts; and save that in a caverned cell
He dwelt, no further news of him were known:
Meanwhile the harness of that infidel
Bradamant hung upon the lofty stone;
And having thence removed all plate and shell
Wherewith (as by the writing it was shown)
The cavaliers of Charles their limbs had drest,
She moved not, nor let other move, the rest.

Besides the arms of Monodantes' heir
Were those of Sansonet and Olivier,
Who, bound in search of good Orlando, were
Thither conducted by the road most near.
The day before here taken was the pair,
And sent by that proud paynim to Argier:
These warriors' arms the martial maid bade lower
From that fair tomb, and stored them in the tower.

All others, taken from the paynim train,
Bradamant left suspended from the stone;
Mid these a king's, that idly and in vain,
Had thither, seeking Frontalatte, gone:
I say his arms, that ruled Circassia's reign;
Who, after wandering long, by date and down,
Here to his grief another courser left,
And lightly went his way, of arms bereft.

Stript of his armour and afoot, did part
That paynim monarch from the bridge of dread;
As Rodomont permitted to depart
Those other knights that in his faith were bred:
But to his camp to wend he had no heart,
For there he was ashamed to show his head:
Since, in such fashion, thither to return
After his boasts, had been too foul a scorn.

Yet still with new desire the warrior burned
To seek her, fixed alone in his heart's core;
And such the monarch's chance, he quickly learned
(I cannot tell you who the tidings bore)
She was towards her native land returned.
Hence, as Love spurs and goads him evermore,
He bowns him straight her footsteps to pursue:
But I to Bradamant return anew.

When she in other writing had displaid
How she had freed that passage from the foe,
To mournful Flordelice the martial maid,
She that still held her weeping visage low,
Turned her, and courteously that lady prayed
To tell her whither she designed to go.
To her afflicted Flordelice replied:
"To Arles, where camp the paynims, would I ride.

"Which bark (I hope) and fitting company,
To carry me to Africk may afford;
Nor will I halt upon my way, till I
Once more rejoin my husband and my lord;
All means and measures there resolved to try,
That may release him from his jailer's ward;
And should the Saracen deceitful prove,
Others, and others yet, I mean to move."

"My company (replied the martial fair)
For some part of the road, I offer thee,
Till we have sight of Arles; then to repair
Thither, will pray you, for the love of me,
To find King Agramant's Rogero there,
Whose glorious name is spread o'er land and sea,
And render to that knight this goodly horse,
Whence the proud Moor was flung in martial course.

"Say thus, from point to point, `A cavalier
That would in combat prove his chivalry,
And to the world at large would fain make clear
Thy breach of faith with him, that thou may'st be
Ready and well prepared for the career,
Gave me this horse, that I might give it thee.
He bids thee promptly mail and corslet dight,
And wait him, who with thee will wage the fight.'

"Say this and nought beside, and would he hear
My name, declare that 'tis to thee unknown."
With wonted kindness cried that dame, "I ne'er
In spending life itself, not words alone,
Should weary in your service; since whilere
You would in my behalf as much have done."
Her Aymon's daughter thanked in courteous strain,
And to her hand consigned Frontino's rein.

Through long days' journey, by that river-shore,
Together go the lovely pilgrim pair,
Till they see Arles, and hear the hollow roar.
Of billows breaking on the sea-beach bare.
Almost without the suburbs, and before
The furthest barrier, stops the martial fair;
To furnish Flordelice what time might need
For the conveyance of Rogero's steed.

She forward rode, within the enclosure sped,
And o'er the bridge and through the gateway wended,
And (furnished with a guide, who thither led)
To young Rogero's inn; and there descended.
She to the Child, as bid, her message said,
And gave the courser, to her care commended:
Then (for she waits not for an answer) speeds
In haste to execute her proper needs.

Rogero stands confused; he finds no end
To his perplexing thoughts, and cannot see
Who should defy him, who that message send,
To speak him ill, and do him courtesy.
Who thus as faithless him should reprehend,
Or any reprehend, whoe'er it be,
Nor knows he nor imagines; least of all
On Bradamant the knight's suspicions fall.

To think 'twas Rodomont the youthful peer
Was more inclined than any other wight;
And wherefore even from him he this should hear,
Muses, nor can the cause divine aright;
Save him, in all the world the cavalier
Knows not of one, that has him at despite.
Meanwhile Dordona's lady craved the field;
And loud that martial damsel's bugle pealed.

To Agramant and King Marsilius flew
The news, that one craved battle on the plain.
Serpentine stood by chance before the two,
And gained their leave to don his plate and chain,
And vowed to take that haughty man; the crew
Of people over wall and rampart strain;
Nor child nor elder was there, but he pressed
To see which champion should bestir him best.

In beauteous arms and costly surcoat drest,
Serpentine of the star to combat sped;
The ground he at the first encounter prest;
As if equipt with wings, his courser fled.
The damsel flew his charger to arrest,
And by the bride to that paynim led,
Exclaiming: "Mount, and bid your monarch send
A knight that better can with me contend."

The Moorish king, that on the rampart's height
Stood, with a mighty following, next the plain,
Marking the joust, much marvelled at the sight
Of the foe's courtesy to him of Spain.
"He takes him not, although he may of right,"
He cries i' the hearing of the paynim train.
Serpentine comes, and, as the maid commands,
A better warrior of that king demands.

Grandonio de Volterna, fierce of mood,
And in all Spain the proudest cavalier,
The second for that fell encounter stood,
Such favour had his suit obtained whilere.
"To thee thy courtesy shall do no good,"
He threats, "for if unhorsed in the career
A prisoner to my lord shalt thou be led:
But, if I fight as wonted, thou art dead."

She cries, "I would not thy discourtesy
Should make me so forget my courteous vein,
But that aforehand I should caution thee
Back to thy fortress to return again,
Ere on hard earth thy bones shall battered be.
Go tell thy king no champion of thy grain
I seek, but hither come to crave the fight
With warrior that is worthy of my might."

Bradamant's sharp and stinging answer stirred
The paynim's fury to a mighty flame;
So that, without the power to speak a word,
He wheeled his courser, filled with rage and shame;
Wheeling as well, at that proud paynim spurred
Her horse with levelled lance the warlike dame.
As the charmed weapon smites Grandonio's shield,
With heels in air, he tumbles on the field.

To him the high-minded damsel gave his horse,
And said, "Yet was this fate to thee foreshown,
Instead of craving thus the knightly course,
Better mine embassy wouldst thou have done.
Some other knight, that equals me in force,
I pray thee bid the Moorish king send down,
Nor weary me, by forcing me to meet
Champions like thee, untried in martial feat."

They on the walls, that know not who the peer
That in the joust so well maintains his seat,
Name many a warrior, famous in career,
That often make them shake in fiercest heat.
Brandimart many deem the cavalier;
More guesses in renowned Rinaldo meet;
Many would deem Orlando was the knight,
But that they knew his pitiable plight.

The third encounter craved Lanfusa's son,
And cried, "Not that I better hope to fare,
But that to warriors who this course have run,
My fall may furnish an excuse more fair."
Next, with all arms that martial jousters don,
Clothed him, and of a hundred steeds that were
Ready for service, kept in lordly stall,
For speed and action chose the best of all.

He bowned him for the tournay, on his side
But first saluted her and she the knight.
"If 'tis allowed to ask," (the lady cried,)
"Tell me in courtesy how ye are hight."
In this Ferrau the damsel satisfied,
Who rarely hid himself form living wight.
"Ye will I not refuse," (subjoined the dame)
"Albeit I to meet another came."

-- "And who?" the Spaniard said; -- the maid replied,
"Rogero"; and pronounced the word with pain.
And, in so saying, her fair face was dyed
All over with the rose's crimson grain.
She after added, "Hither have I hied,
To prove how justly famed his might and main.
No other care have I, no other call,
But with that gentle youth to try a fall."

She spoke the word in all simplicity,
Which some already may in malice wrest.
Ferrau replied, "Assured I first must be
Which of us two is schooled in warfare best,
If what has chanced to many, falls on me,
Hither, when I return, shall be addrest,
To mend my fault, that gentle cavalier,
With whom you so desire to break a spear."

Discoursing all this while, the martial maid
Spake with her beavor up, without disguise:
Ferrau, as that fair visage he surveyed,
Perceived he was half vanquished by its eyes.
And to himself, in under tone, he said,
"He seems an angel sent from Paradise;
And, though he should not harm me with his lance,
I am already quelled by that sweet glance."

They take their ground, and to the encounter ride,
And, like those others, Ferrau goes to ground;
His courser Bradamant retained, and cried,
"Return, and keep thy word with me as bound."
Shamed, he returned, and by his monarch's side,
Among his peers, the young Rogero found;
And let the stripling know the stranger knight,
Without the walls, defied him to the fight.

Rogero (for not yet that warrior knows
What champion him in duel would assail)
Nigh sure of victory, with transport glows,
And bids his followers bring his plate and mail;
Nor having seen beneath those heavy blows
The rest dismounted, makes his spirit quail.
But how he armed, how sallied, what befell
That knight, in other canto will I tell.