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Medieval and Classical Library

The Song of Roland


Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #12


     That admiral ten columns more reviews;
     The first is raised of Giants from Malpruse;
     The next of Huns; the third a Hungar crew;
3255 And from Baldise the Long the fourth have trooped;
     The fifth is raised of men from Val-Penuse;
     The sixth is raised of tribesmen from Maruse;
     The seventh is from Leus and Astrimunes;
     The eighth from Argoilles; the ninth is from Clarbune;
3260 The tenth is raised of beardsmen from Val-Frunde,
     That is a tribe, no love of God e'er knew.
     Gesta Francor' these thirty columns prove.
     Great are the hosts, their horns come sounding through.
     Pagans canter as men of valour should.


3265 That admiral hath great possessions;
     He makes them bear before him his dragon,
     And their standard, Tervagan's and Mahom's,
     And his image, Apollin the felon.
     Ten Canelious canter in the environs,
3270 And very loud the cry out this sermon:
     "Let who would from our gods have garrison,
     Serve them and pray with great affliction."
     Pagans awhile their heads and faces on
     Their breasts abase, their polished helmets doff.
3275 And the Franks say: "Now shall you die, gluttons;
     This day shall bring you vile confusion!
     Give warranty, our God, unto Carlon!
     And in his name this victory be won!"


     That admiral hath wisdom great indeed;
3280 His son to him and those two kings calls he:
     My lords barons, beforehand canter ye,
     All my columns together shall you lead;
     But of the best I'll keep beside me three:
     One is of Turks; the next of Ormaleis;
3285 And the third is the Giants of Malpreis.
     And Occiant's, they'll also stay with me,
     Until with Charles and with the Franks they meet.
     That Emperour, if he combat with me,
     Must lose his head, cut from his shoulders clean;
3290 He may be sure naught else for him's decreed.


     Great are the hosts, and all the columns fair,
     No peak nor vale nor cliff between them there,
     Thicket nor wood, nor ambush anywhere;
     Across the plain they see each other well.
3295 Says Baligant: "My pagan tribes adverse,
     Battle to seek, canter ye now ahead!"
     Carries the ensign Amboires of Oluferne;
     Pagans cry out, by Preciuse they swear.
     And the Franks say: "Great hurt this day you'll get!"
3300 And very loud "Monjoie!" they cry again.
     That Emperour has bid them sound trumpets;
     And the olifant sounds over all its knell.
     The pagans say: "Carlun's people are fair.
     Battle we'll have, bitter and keenly set."


3305 Great is that plain, and wide is that country;
     Their helmets shine with golden jewellery,
     Also their sarks embroidered and their shields,
     And the ensigns fixed on all their burnished spears.
     The trumpets sound, their voice is very clear,
3310 And the olifant its echoing music speaks.
     Then the admiral, his brother calleth he,
     'Tis Canabeus, the king of Floredee,
     Who holds the land unto the Vale Sevree;
     He's shewn to him Carlun's ten companies:
3315 "The pride of France, renowned land, you see.
     That Emperour canters right haughtily,
     His bearded men are with him in the rear;
     Over their sarks they have thrown out their beards
     Which are as white as driven snows that freeze.
3320 Strike us they will with lances and with spears:
     Battle with them we'll have, prolonged and keen;
     Never has man beheld such armies meet."
     Further than one might cast a rod that's peeled
     Goes Baligant before his companies.
3325 His reason then he's shewn to them, and speaks:
     "Pagans, come on; for now I take the field."
     His spear in hand he brandishes and wields,
     Towards Carlun has turned the point of steel.


     Charles the Great, when he sees the admiral
3330 And the dragon, his ensign and standard; --
     (In such great strength are mustered those Arabs
     Of that country they've covered every part
     Save only that whereon the Emperour was.)
     The King of France in a loud voice has called:
3335 "Barons and Franks, good vassals are ye all,
     Ye in the field have fought so great combats;
     See the pagans; they're felons and cowards,
     No pennyworth is there in all their laws.
     Though they've great hosts, my lords, what matters that?
3340 Let him go hence, who'ld fail me in the attack."
     Next with both spurs he's gored his horse's flanks,
     And Tencendor has made four bounds thereat.
     Then say the Franks: "This King's a good vassal.
     Canter, brave lord, for none of us holds back."


3345 Clear is the day, and the sun radiant;
     The hosts are fair, the companies are grand.
     The first columns are come now hand to hand.
     The count Rabel and the count Guinemans
     Let fall the reins on their swift horses' backs,
3350 Spurring in haste; then on rush all the Franks,
     And go to strike, each with his trenchant lance.


     That count Rabel, he was a hardy knight,
     He pricked his horse with spurs of gold so fine,
     The Persian king, Torleu, he went to strike.
3355 Nor shield nor sark could such a blow abide;
     The golden spear his carcass passed inside;
     Flung down upon a little bush, he died.
     Then say the Franks: "Lord God, be Thou our Guide!
     Charles we must not fail; his cause is right."


3360 And Guineman tilts with the king Leutice;
     Has broken all the flowers on his shield,
     Next of his sark he has undone the seam,
     All his ensign thrust through the carcass clean,
     So flings him dead, let any laugh or weep.
3365 Upon that blow, the Franks cry out with heat:
     "Strike on, baron, nor slacken in your speed!
     Charle's in the right against the pagan breed;
     God sent us here his justice to complete."


     Pure white the horse whereon Malprimes sate;
3370 Guided his corse amid the press of Franks,
     Hour in, hour out, great blows he struck them back,
     And, ever, dead one upon others packed.
     Before them all has cried out Baligant:
     "Barons, long time I've fed you at my hand.
3375 Ye see my son, who goes on Carlun's track,
     And with his arms so many lords attacks;
     Better vassal than him I'll not demand.
     Go, succour him, each with his trenchant lance!"
     Upon that word the pagans all advance;
3380 Grim blows they strike, the slaughter's very grand.
     And marvellous and weighty the combat:
     Before nor since was never such attack.


     Great are the hosts; the companies in pride
     Come touching, all the breadth of either side;
3385 And the pagans do marvellously strike.
     So many shafts, by God! in pieces lie
     And crumpled shields, and sarks with mail untwined!
     So spattered all the earth there would you find
     That through the field the grass so green and fine
3390 With men's life-blood is all vermilion dyed.
     That admiral rallies once more his tribe:
     "Barons, strike on, shatter the Christian line."
     Now very keen and lasting is the fight,
     As never was, before or since that time;
3395 The finish none shall reach, unless he die.


     That admiral to all his race appeals:
     "Pagans, strike on; came you not therefore here?
     I promise you noble women and dear,
     I promise you honours and lands and fiefs."
3400 Answer pagans: "We must do well indeed."
     With mighty blows they shatter all their spears;
     Five score thousand swords from their scabbards leap,
     Slaughter then, grim and sorrowful, you'd seen.
     Battle he saw, that stood those hosts between.


3405 That Emperour calls on his Franks and speaks:
     "I love you, lords, in whom I well believe;
     So many great battles you've fought for me,
     Kings overthrown, and kingdoms have redeemed!
     Guerdon I owe, I know it well indeed;
3410 My lands, my wealth, my body are yours to keep.
     For sons, for heirs, for brothers wreak
     Who in Rencesvals were slaughtered yester-eve!
     Mine is the right, ye know, gainst pagan breeds."
     Answer the Franks: "Sire, 'tis the truth you speak."
3415 Twenty thousand beside him Charles leads,
     Who with one voice have sworn him fealty;
     In straits of death they never will him leave.
     There is not one thenceforth employs his spear,
     But with their swords they strike in company.
3420 The battle is straitened marvellously.


     Across that field the bold Malprimes canters;
     Who of the Franks hath wrought there much great damage.
     Naimes the Duke right haughtily regards him,
     And goes to strike him, like a man of valour,
3425 And of his shield breaks all the upper margin,
     Tears both the sides of his embroidered ha'berk,
     Through the carcass thrusts all his yellow banner;
     So dead among sev'n hundred else he casts him.


     King Canabeus, brother of the admiral,
3430 Has pricked his horse with spurs in either flank;
     He's drawn his sword, whose hilt is of crystal,
     And strikes Naimun on's helmet principal;
     Away from it he's broken off one half,
     Five of the links his brand of steel hath knapped;
3435 No pennyworth the hood is after that;
     Right to the flesh he slices through the cap;
     One piece of it he's flung upon the land.
     Great was the blow; the Duke, amazed thereat,
     Had fallen ev'n, but aid from God he had;
3440 His charger's neck he clasped with both his hands.
     Had the pagan but once renewed the attack,
     Then was he slain, that noble old vassal.
     Came there to him, with succour, Charles of France.


     Keen anguish then he suffers, that Duke Naimes,
3445 And the pagan, to strike him, hotly hastens.
     "Culvert," says Charles, "You'll get now as you gave him!"
     With vassalage he goes to strike that pagan,
     Shatters his shield, against his heart he breaks it,
     Tears the chin-guard above his hauberk mailed;
3450 So flings him dead: his saddle shall be wasted.


     Bitter great grief has Charlemagne the King,
     Who Duke Naimun before him sees lying,
     On the green grass all his clear blood shedding.
     Then the Emperour to him this counsel gives:
3455 "Fair master Naimes, canter with me to win!
     The glutton's dead, that had you straitly pinned;
     Through his carcass my spear I thrust once in."
     Answers the Duke: "Sire, I believe it, this.
     Great proof you'll have of valour, if I live."
3460 They 'ngage them then, true love and faith swearing;
     A thousand score of Franks surround them still.
     Nor is there one, but slaughters, strikes and kills.


     Then through the field cantered that admiral,
     Going to strike the county Guineman;
3465 Against his heart his argent shield he cracked,
     The folds of his hauberk apart he slashed,
     Two of his ribs out of his side he hacked,
     So flung him dead, while still his charger ran.
     After, he slew Gebuin and Lorain,
3470 Richard the old, the lord of those Normans.
     "Preciuse," cry pagans, "is valiant!
     Baron, strike on; here have we our warrant!"


     Who then had seen those Arrabit chevaliers,
     From Occiant, from Argoille and from Bascle!
3475 And well they strike and slaughter with their lances;
     But Franks, to escape they think it no great matter;
     On either side dead men to the earth fall crashing.
     Till even-tide 'tis very strong, that battle;
     Barons of France do suffer much great damage,
3480 Grief shall be there ere the two hosts be scattered.


     Right well they strike, both Franks and Arrabies,
     Breaking the shafts of all their burnished spears.
     Whoso had seen that shattering of shields,
     Whoso had heard those shining hauberks creak,
3485 And heard those shields on iron helmets beat,
     Whoso had seen fall down those chevaliers,
     And heard men groan, dying upon that field,
     Some memory of bitter pains might keep.
     That battle is most hard to endure, indeed.
3490 And the admiral calls upon Apollin
     And Tervagan and Mahum, prays and speaks:
     "My lords and gods, I've done you much service;
     Your images, in gold I'll fashion each;
     Against Carlun give me your warranty!"
3495 Comes before him his dear friend Gemalfin,
     Evil the news he brings to him and speaks:
     "Sir Baliganz, this day in shame you're steeped;
     For you have lost your son, even Malprime;
     And Canabeus, your brother, slain is he.
3500 Fairly two Franks have got the victory;
     That Emperour was one, as I have seen;
     Great limbs he has, he's every way Marquis,
     White is his beard as flowers in April."
     That admiral has bent his head down deep,
3505 And thereafter lowers his face and weeps,
     Fain would he die at once, so great his grief;
     He calls to him Jangleu from over sea.


     Says the admiral, "Jangleu, beside me stand!
     For you are proof, and greatly understand,
3510 Counsel from you I've ever sought to have.
     How seems it you, of Arrabits and Franks,
     Shall we from hence victorious go back?"
     He answers him: "Slain are you, Baligant!
     For from your gods you'll never have warrant.
3515 So proud is Charles, his men so valiant,
     Never saw I a race so combatant.
     But call upon barons of Occiant,
     Turks and Enfruns, Arrabits and Giants.
     No more delay: what must be, take in hand."


3520 That admiral has shaken out his beard
     That ev'n so white as thorn in blossom seems;
     He'll no way hide, whateer his fate may be,
     Then to his mouth he sets a trumpet clear,
     And clearly sounds, so all the pagans hear.
3525 Throughout the field rally his companies.
     From Occiant, those men who bray and bleat,
     And from Argoille, who, like dogs barking, speak;
     Seek out the Franks with such a high folly,
     Break through their line, the thickest press they meet
3530 Dead from that shock they've seven thousand heaped.


     The count Oger no cowardice e'er knew,
     Better vassal hath not his sark indued.
     He sees the Franks, their columns broken through,
     So calls to him Duke Tierris, of Argune,
3535 Count Jozeran, and Gefreid, of Anjou;
     And to Carlun most proud his reason proves:
     "Behold pagans, and how your men they slew!
     Now from your head please God the crown remove
     Unless you strike, and vengeance on them do!"
3540 And not one word to answer him he knew;
     They spurred in haste, their horses let run loose,
     And, wheresoeer they met the pagans, strook.


     Now very well strikes the King Charlemagne,
     Naimes the Duke, also Oger the Dane,
3545 Geifreid d'Anjou, who that ensign displays.
     Exceeding proof is Don Oger, the Dane;
     He spurs his horse, and lets him run in haste,
     So strikes that man who the dragon displays.
     Both in the field before his feet he breaks
3550 That king's ensign and dragon, both abased.
     Baligant sees his gonfalon disgraced,
     And Mahumet's standard thrown from its place;
     That admiral at once perceives it plain,
     That he is wrong, and right is Charlemain.
3555 Pagan Arabs coyly themselves contain;
     That Emperour calls on his Franks again:
     "Say, barons, come, support me, in God's Name!"
     Answer the Franks, "Question you make in vain;
     All felon he that dares not exploits brave!"


3560 Passes that day, turns into vesper-tide.
     Franks and pagans still with their swords do strike.
     Brave vassals they, who brought those hosts to fight,
     Never have they forgotten their ensigns;
     That admiral still "Preciuse" doth cry,
3565 Charles "Monjoie," renowned word of pride.
     Each the other knows by his clear voice and high;
     Amid the field they're both come into sight,
     Then, as they go, great blows on either side
     They with their spears on their round targes strike;
3570 And shatter them, beneath their buckles wide;
     And all the folds of their hauberks divide;
     But bodies, no; wound them they never might.
     Broken their girths, downwards their saddles slide;
     Both those Kings fall, themselves aground do find;
3575 Nimbly enough upon their feet they rise;
     Most vassal-like they draw their swords outright.
     From this battle they'll ne'er be turned aside
     Nor make an end, without that one man die.


     A great vassal was Charles, of France the Douce;
3580 That admiral no fear nor caution knew.
     Those swords they had, bare from their sheaths they drew;
     Many great blows on 's shield each gave and took;
     The leather pierced, and doubled core of wood;
     Down fell the nails, the buckles brake in two;
3585 Still they struck on, bare in their sarks they stood.
     From their bright helms the light shone forth anew.
     Finish nor fail that battle never could
     But one of them must in the wrong be proved.


     Says the admiral: "Nay, Charles, think, I beg,
3590 And counsel take that t'wards me thou repent!
     Thou'st slain my son, I know that very well;
     Most wrongfully my land thou challengest;
     Become my man, a fief from me thou'lt get;
     Come, serving me, from here to the Orient!"
3595 Charle answers him: "That were most vile offence;
     No peace nor love may I to pagan lend.
     Receive the Law that God to us presents,
     Christianity, and then I'll love thee well;
     Serve and believe the King Omnipotent!"
3600 Says Baligant: "Evil sermon thou saist."
     They go to strikewith th'swords, are on their belts.


     In the admiral is much great virtue found;
     He strikes Carlun on his steel helm so brown,
     Has broken it and rent, above his brow,
3605 Through his thick hair the sword goes glancing round,
     A great palm's breadth and more of flesh cuts out,
     So that all bare the bone is, in that wound.
     Charles tottereth, falls nearly to the ground;
     God wills not he be slain or overpow'red.
3610 Saint Gabriel once more to him comes down,
     And questions him "Great King, what doest thou?"


     Charles, hearing how that holy Angel spake,
     Had fear of death no longer, nor dismay;
     Remembrance and a fresh vigour he's gained.
3615 So the admiral he strikes with France's blade,
     His helmet breaks, whereon the jewels blaze,
     Slices his head, to scatter all his brains,
     And, down unto the white beard, all his face;
     So he falls dead, recovers not again.
3620 "Monjoie," cries Charles, that all may know the tale.
     Upon that word is come to him Duke Naimes,
     Holds Tencendur, bids mount that King so Great.
     Pagans turn back, God wills not they remain.
     And Franks have all their wish, be that what may.


3625 Pagans are fled, ev'n as the Lord God wills;
     Chase them the Franks, and the Emperour therewith.
     Says the King then: "My Lords, avenge your ills,
     Unto your hearts' content, do what you will!.
     For tears, this morn, I saw your eyes did spill."
3630 Answer the Franks: "Sir, even so we will."
     Then such great blows, as each may strike, he gives
     That few escape, of those remain there still.


     Great was the heat, the dust arose and blew;
     Still pagans fled, and hotly Franks pursued.
3635 The chase endured from there to Sarraguce.
     On her tower, high up clomb Bramimunde,
     Around her there the clerks and canons stood
     Of the false law, whom God ne'er loved nor knew;
     Orders they'd none, nor were their heads tonsured.
3640 And when she saw those Arrabits confused
     Aloud she cried: "Give us your aid, Mahume!
     Ah!  Noble king, conquered are all our troops,
     And the admiral to shameful slaughter put!"
     When Marsile heard, towards the wall he looked,
3645 Wept from his eyes, and all his body stooped,
     So died of grief.  With sins he's so corrupt;
     The soul of him to Hell live devils took.


     Pagans are slain; the rest are put to rout
     Whom Charles hath in battle overpowered.
3650 Of Sarraguce the gates he's battered down,
     For well he knows there's no defence there now;
     In come his men, he occupies that town;
     And all that night they lie there in their pow'r.
     Fierce is that King, with 's hoary beard, and proud,
3655 And Bramimunde hath yielded up her towers;
     But ten ere great, and lesser fifty around.
     Great exploits his whom the Lord God endows!


     Passes the day, the darkness is grown deep,
     But all the stars burn, and the moon shines clear.
3660 And Sarraguce is in the Emperour's keep.
     A thousand Franks he bids seek through the streets,
     The synagogues and the mahumeries;
     With iron malls and axes which they wield
     They break the idols and all the imageries;
3665 So there remain no fraud nor falsity.
     That King fears God, and would do His service,
     On water then Bishops their blessing speak,
     And pagans bring into the baptistry.
     If any Charles with contradiction meet
3670 Then hanged or burned or slaughtered shall he be.
     Five score thousand and more are thus redeemed,
     Very Christians; save that alone the queen
     To France the Douce goes in captivity;
     By love the King will her conversion seek.


3675 Passes the night, the clear day opens now.
     Of Sarraguce Charles garrisons the tow'rs;
     A thousand knights he's left there, fighters stout;
     Who guard that town as bids their Emperour.
     After, the King and all his army mount,
3680 And Bramimunde a prisoner is bound,
     No harm to her, but only good he's vowed.
     So are they come, with joy and gladness out,
     They pass Nerbone by force and by vigour,
     Come to Burdele, that city of high valour.
3685 Above the altar, to Saint Sevrin endowed,
     Stands the olifant, with golden pieces bound;
     All the pilgrims may see it, who thither crowd.
     Passing Girunde in great ships, there abound,
     Ev'n unto Blaive he's brought his nephew down
3690 And Oliver, his noble companioun,
     And the Archbishop, who was so wise and proud.
     In white coffers he bids them lay those counts
     At Saint Romain: So rest they in that ground.
     Franks them to God and to His Angels vow.
3695 Charles canters on, by valleys and by mounts,
     Not before Aix will he not make sojourn;
     Canters so far, on th'terrace he dismounts.
     When he is come into his lofty house,
     By messengers he seeks his judges out;
3700 Saxons, Baivers, Lotherencs and Frisouns,
     Germans he calls, and also calls Borgounds;
     From Normandy, from Brittany and Poitou,
     And those in France that are the sagest found.
     Thereon begins the cause of Gueneloun.


3705 That Emperour, returning out of Spain,
     Arrived in France, in his chief seat, at Aix,
     Clomb to th' Palace, into the hall he came.
     Was come to him there Alde, that fair dame;
     Said to the King: "Where's Rollanz the Captain,
3710 Who sware to me, he'ld have me for his mate?"
     Then upon Charles a heavy sorrow weighed,
     And his eyes wept, he tore his beard again:
     "Sister, dear friend, of a dead man you spake.
     I'll give you one far better in exchange,
3715 That is Loewis, what further can I say;
     He is my son, and shall my marches take."
     Alde answered him: "That word to me is strange.
     Never, please God, His Angels and His Saints,
     When Rollant's dead shall I alive remain!"
3720 Her colour fails, at th' feet of Charlemain,
     She falls; she's dead.  Her soul God's Mercy awaits!
     Barons of France weep therefore and complain.


     Alde the fair is gone now to her rest.
     Yet the King thought she was but swooning then,
3725 Pity he had, our Emperour, and wept,
     Took her in's hands, raised her from th'earth again;
     On her shoulders her head still drooped and leant.
     When Charles saw that she was truly dead
     Four countesses at once he summoned;
3730 To a monast'ry of nuns they bare her thence,
     All night their watch until the dawn they held;
     Before the altar her tomb was fashioned well;
     Her memory the King with honour kept.


     That Emperour is now returned to Aix.
3735 The felon Guene, all in his iron chains
     Is in that town, before the King's Palace;
     Those serfs have bound him, fast upon his stake,
     In deer-hide thongs his hands they've helpless made,
     With clubs and whips they trounce him well and baste:
3740 He has deserved not any better fate;
     In bitter grief his trial there he awaits.


     Written it is, and in an ancient geste
     How Charles called from many lands his men,
     Assembled them at Aix, in his Chapelle.
3745 Holy that day, for some chief feast was held,
     Saint Silvester's that baron's, many tell.
     Thereon began the trial and defence
     Of Guenelun, who had the treason spelt.
     Before himself the Emperour has him led.


3750 "Lords and barons," Charles the King doth speak,
     "Of Guenelun judge what the right may be!
     He was in th'host, even in Spain with me;
     There of my Franks a thousand score did steal,
     And my nephew, whom never more you'll see,
3755 And Oliver, in 's pride and courtesy,
     And, wealth to gain, betrayed the dozen peers."
     "Felon be I," said Guenes, "aught to conceal!
     He did from me much gold and wealth forfeit,
     Whence to destroy and slay him did I seek;
3760 But treason, no; I vow there's not the least."
     Answer the Franks: "Take counsel now must we."


     So Guenelun, before the King there, stood;
     Lusty his limbs, his face of gentle hue;
     Were he loyal, right baron-like he'd looked.
3765 He saw those Franks, and all who'ld judge his doom,
     And by his side his thirty kinsmen knew.
     After, he cried aloud; his voice was full:
     "For th' Love of God, listen to me, baruns!
     I was in th' host, beside our Emperour,
3770 Service I did him there in faith and truth.
     Hatred of me had Rollant, his nephew;
     So he decreed death for me and dolour.
     Message I bare to king Marsiliun;
     By my cunning I held myself secure.
3775 To that fighter Rollant my challenge threw,
     To Oliver, and all their comrades too;
     Charles heard that, and his noble baruns.
     Vengeance I gat, but there's no treason proved."
     Answered the Franks: "Now go we to the moot.


3780 When Guenes sees, his great cause is beginning,
     Thirty he has around him of his kinsmen,
     There's one of them to whom the others listen,
     'Tis Pinabel, who in Sorence castle liveth;
     Well can he speak, soundly his reasons giving,
3785 A good vassal, whose arm to fight is stiffened.
     Says to him Guenes: "In you my faith is fixed.
     Save me this day from death, also from prison."
     Says Pinabel: "Straightway you'll be delivered.
     Is there one Frank, that you to hang committeth?
3790 Let the Emperour but once together bring us,
     With my steel brand he shall be smartly chidden."
     Guenes the count kneels at his feet to kiss them.


     To th' counsel go those of Bavier and Saxe,
     Normans also, with Poitevins and Franks;
3795 Enough there are of Tudese and Germans.
     Those of Alverne the greatest court'sy have,
     From Pinabel most quietly draw back.
     Says each to each: "'Twere well to let it stand.
     Leave we this cause, and of the King demand
3800 That he cry quits with Guenes for this act;
     With love and faith he'll serve him after that.
     Since he is dead, no more ye'll see Rollanz,
     Nor any wealth nor gold may win him back. 
     Most foolish then is he, would do combat."
3805 There is but one agrees not to their plan;
     Tierri, brother to Don Geifreit, 's that man.


     Then his barons, returning to Carlun,
     Say to their King:  "Sire, we beseech of you
     That you cry quits with county Guenelun,
3810 So he may serve you still in love and truth;
     Nay let him live, so noble a man 's he proved.
     Rollant is dead, no longer in our view,
     Nor for no wealth may we his life renew."
     Then says the King: "You're felons all of you!"


3815 When Charles saw that all of them did fail,
     Deep down he bowed his head and all his face
     For th' grief he had, caitiff himself proclaimed.
     One of his knights, Tierris, before him came,
     Gefrei's brother, that Duke of Anjou famed;
3820 Lean were his limbs, and lengthy and delicate,
     Black was his hair and somewhat brown his face;
     Was not too small, and yet was hardly great;
     And courteously to the Emperour he spake:
     "Fair' Lord and King, do not yourself dismay!
3825 You know that I have served you many ways:
     By my ancestors should I this cause maintain. 
     And if Rollant was forfeited to Guenes
     Still your service to him full warrant gave.
     Felon is Guene, since th' hour that he betrayed,
3830 And, towards you, is perjured and ashamed:
     Wherefore I judge that he be hanged and slain,
     His carcass flung to th' dogs beside the way,
     As a felon who felony did make.
     But, has he a friend that would dispute my claim
3835 With this my sword which I have girt in place
     My judgement will I warrant every way."
     Answer the Franks: "Now very well you spake."


     Before the King is come now Pinabel;
     Great is he, strong, vassalous and nimble;
3840 Who bears his blow has no more time to dwell:
     Says to him: "Sire, on you this cause depends;
     Command therefore this noise be made an end.
     See Tierri here, who hath his judgment dealt;
     I cry him false, and will the cause contest."
3845 His deer-hide glove in the King's hand he's left.
     Says the Emperour: "Good pledges must I get."
     Thirty kinsmen offer their loyal pledge.
     "I'll do the same for you," the King has said;
     Until the right be shewn, bids guard them well.


3850 When Tierri sees that battle shall come after,
     His right hand glove he offereth to Chares.
     That Emperour by way of hostage guards it;
     Four benches then upon the place he marshals
     Where sit them down champions of either party.
3855 They're chos'n aright, as the others' judgement cast them;
     Oger the Dane between them made the parley.
     Next they demand their horses and their armour.


     For battle, now, ready you might them see,
     They're well confessed, absolved, from sin set free;
3860 Masses they've heard, Communion received,
     Rich offerings to those minsters they leave.
     Before Carlun now both the two appear:
     They have their spurs, are fastened on their feet,
     And, light and strong, their hauberks brightly gleam;
3865 Upon their heads they've laced their helmets clear,
     And girt on swords, with pure gold hilted each;
     And from their necks hang down their quartered shields;
     In their right hands they grasp their trenchant spears.
     At last they mount on their swift coursing steeds.
3870 Five score thousand chevaliers therefor weep,
     For Rollant's sake pity for Tierri feel.
     God knows full well which way the end shall be.


     Down under Aix there is a pasture large
     Which for the fight of th' two barons is marked.
3875 Proof men are these, and of great vassalage,
     And their horses, unwearied, gallop fast;
     They spur them well, the reins aside they cast,
     With virtue great, to strike each other, dart;
     All of their shields shatter and rend apart.
3880 Their hauberks tear; the girths asunder start,
     The saddles slip, and fall upon the grass.
     Five score thousand weep, who that sight regard.


     Upon the ground are fallen both the knights;
     Nimbly enough upon their feet they rise.
3885 Nimble and strong is Pinabels, and light.
     Each the other seeks; horses are out of mind,
     But with those swords whose hilts with gold are lined
     Upon those helms of steel they beat and strike:
     Great are the blows, those helmets to divide.
3890 The chevaliers of France do much repine.
     "O God!" says Charles, "Make plain to us the right!"


     Says Pinabel "Tierri, I pray thee, yield:
     I'll be thy man, in love and fealty;
     For the pleasure my wealth I'll give to thee;
3895 But make the King with Guenelun agree."
     Answers Tierri: "Such counsel's not for me.
     Pure felon I, if e'er I that concede!
     God shall this day the right shew, us between!"


     Then said Tierri "Bold art thou, Pinabel,
3900 Thou'rt great and strong, with body finely bred;
     For vassalage thy peers esteem thee well:
     Of this battle let us now make an end!
     With Charlemagne I soon will have thee friends;
     To Guenelun such justice shall be dealt
3905 Day shall not dawn but men of it will tell."
     "Please the Lord God, not so!" said Pinabel.
     "I would sustain the cause of my kindred
     No mortal man is there from whom I've fled;
     Rather I'ld die than hear reproaches said."
3910 Then with their swords began to strike again
     Upon those helms that were with gold begemmed
     Into the sky the bright sparks rained and fell.
     It cannot be that they be sundered,
     Nor make an end, without one man be dead.


3915 He's very proof, Pinabel of Sorence,
     Tierri he strikes, on 's helmet of Provence,
     Leaps such a spark, the grass is kindled thence;
     Of his steel brand the point he then presents,
     On Tierri's brow the helmet has he wrenched
3920 So down his face its broken halves descend;
     And his right cheek in flowing blood is drenched;
     And his hauberk, over his belly, rent.
     God's his warrant, Who death from him prevents.


     Sees Tierris then 'that in the face he's struck,
3925 On grassy field runs clear his flowing blood;
     Strikes Pinabel on 's helmet brown and rough,
     To the nose-piece he's broken it and cut,
     And from his head scatters his brains in th' dust;
     Brandishes him on th' sword, till dead he's flung.
3930 Upon that blow is all the battle won.
     Franks cry aloud: "God hath great virtue done.
     It is proved right that Guenelun be hung.
     And those his kin, that in his cause are come."


     Now that Tierris the battle fairly wins,
3935 That Emperour Charles is come to him;
     Forty barons are in his following.
     Naimes the Duke, Oger that Danish Prince,
     Geifrei d'Anjou, Willalme of Blaive therewith.
     Tierri, the King takes in his arms to kiss;
3940 And wipes his face with his great marten-skins;
     He lays them down, and others then they bring;
     The chevaliers most sweetly disarm him;
     An Arab mule they've brought, whereon he sits.
     With baronage and joy they bring him in.
3945 They come to Aix, halt and dismount therein.
     The punishment of the others then begins.


     His counts and Dukes then calls to him Carlun:
     "With these I guard, advise what shall be done.
     Hither they came because of Guenelun;
3950 For Pinabel, as pledges gave them up."
     Answer the Franks: "Shall not of them live one."
     The King commands his provost then, Basbrun:
     "Go hang them all on th' tree of cursed wood!
     Nay, by this beard, whose hairs are white enough,
3955 If one escape, to death and shame thou'rt struck!"
     He answers him: "How could I act, save thus?"
     With an hundred serjeants by force they come;
     Thirty of them there are, that straight are hung.
     Who betrays man, himself and 's friends undoes.


3960 Then turned away the Baivers and Germans
     And Poitevins and Bretons and Normans.
     Fore all the rest, 'twas voted by the Franks
     That Guenes die with marvellous great pangs;
     So to lead forth four stallions they bade;
3965 After, they bound his feet and both his hands;
     Those steeds were swift, and of a temper mad;
     Which, by their heads, led forward four sejeants
     Towards a stream that flowed amid that land. 
     Sones fell Gue into perdition black;
3970 All his sinews were strained until they snapped,
     And all the limbs were from his body dragged.
     On the green grass his clear blood gushed and ran.
     Guenes is dead, a felon recreant.
     Who betrays man, need make no boast of that.


3975 When the Emperour had made his whole vengeance,
     He called to him the Bishops out of France,
     Those of Baviere and also the Germans:
     "A dame free-born lies captive in my hands,
     So oft she's heard sermons and reprimands,
3980 She would fear God, and christening demands.
     Baptise her then, so God her soul may have."
     They answer him: "Sponsors the rite demands,
     Dames of estate and long inheritance."
     The baths at Aix great companies attract;
3985 There they baptised the Queen of Sarazands,
     And found for her the name of Juliane. 
     Christian is she by very cognisance.


     When the Emperour his justice hath achieved,
     His mighty wrath's abated from its heat,
3990 And Bramimunde has christening received;
     Passes the day, the darkness is grown deep,
     And now that King in 's vaulted chamber sleeps.
     Saint Gabriel is come from God, and speaks:
     "Summon the hosts, Charles, of thine Empire,
3995 Go thou by force into the land of Bire,
     King Vivien thou'lt succour there, at Imphe,
     In the city which pagans have besieged.
     The Christians there implore thee and beseech."
     Right loth to go, that Emperour was he:
4000 "God!" said the King: "My life is hard indeed!"
     Tears filled his eyes, he tore his snowy beard.


[End of "The Song of Roland"]