lariosto text integral passage complete quotation of the sources works historical literary works in prose
and in verses prologue orlando enraged
Translated by William Stewart Rose
[ Argument ]
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.