Ludovico Ariosto (1474 - 1533 / Italy)
Orlando Furioso Canto 10
Another love assails Bireno's breast,
Who leaves one night Olympia on the shore.
To Logistilla's holy realm addressed,
Rogero goes, nor heeds Alcina more:
Him, of that flying courser repossest,
The hippogryph on airy voyage bore:
Whence he the good Rinaldo's levy sees,
And next Angelica beholds and frees.
Of all the loves, of all fidelity
Yet proved, of all the constant hearts and true,
Of all the lovers, in felicity
Or sorrow faithful found, a famous crew,
To Olympia I would give the first degree
Rather than second: if this be not due,
I well may say that hers no tale is told
Of truer love, in present times or old.
And this she by so many proofs and clear,
Had made apparent to the Zealand lord,
No woman's faith more certain could appear
To man, though he her open heart explored:
And if fair truth such spirits should endear,
And they in mutual love deserve reward,
Bireno as himself, nay, he above
Himself, I say, should kind Olympia love.
Not only should he nevermore deceive
Her for another, were that woman she
Who so made Europe and wide Asia grieve,
Or fairer yet, if one more fair there be;
But rather that quit her the light should leave,
And what is sweet to taste, touch, hear, and see,
And life and fame, and all beside; if aught
More precious can in truth be styled, or thought.
If her Bireno loved, as she had loved
Bireno, if her love he did repay
With faith like hers, and still with truth unmoved,
Veered not his shifting sail another way;
Or ingrate for such service - cruel proved
For such fair love and faith, I now will say;
And you with lips comprest and eye-brows bent,
Shall listen to the tale for wonderment;
And when you shall have heard the impiety,
Which of such passing goodness was the meed,
Woman take warning from this perfidy,
And let none make a lover's word her creed.
Mindless that God does all things hear and see,
The lover, eager his desires to speed,
Heaps promises and vows, aye prompt to swear,
Which afterwards all winds disperse in air.
The promises and empty vows dispersed
In air, by winds all dissipated go,
After these lovers have the greedy thirst
Appeased, with which their fevered palates glow.
In this example which I offer, versed,
Their prayers and tears to credit be more slow.
Cheaply, dear ladies mine, is wisdom bought
By those who wit at other's cost are taught.
Of those in the first flower of youth beware,
Whose visage is so soft and smooth to sight:
For past, as soon as bred, their fancies are;
Like a straw fire their every appetite.
So the keen hunter follows up the hare
In heat and cold, on shore, or mountain-height;
Nor, when 'tis taken, more esteems the prize;
And only hurries after that which flies.
Such is the practise of these striplings who,
What time you treat them with austerity,
Love and revere you, and such homage do,
As those who pay their service faithfully;
But vaunt no sooner victory, than you
From mistresses shall servants grieve to be;
And mourn to see the fickle love they owed,
From you diverted, and elsewhere bestowed.
I not for this (for that were wrong) opine
That you should cease to love; for you, without
A lover, like uncultivated vine,
Would be, that has no prop to wind about.
But the first down I pray you to decline,
To fly the volatile, inconstant rout;
To make your choice the riper fruits among,
Nor yet to gather what too long has hung.
A daughter they have found (above was said)
Of the proud king who ruled the Friesland state;
That with Bireno's brother was to wed,
As far as rumour tells; but to relate
The truth, a longing in Bireno bred
The sight of food so passing delicate;
And he to talk his palate deemed would be,
For other's sake, a foolish courtesy.
The gentle damsel had not past fourteen,
Was beautiful and fresh, and like a rose,
When this first opening from its bud is seen,
And with the vernal sun expands and grows.
To say Bireno loved the youthful queen
Were little; with less blaze lit tinder glows,
Or ripened corn, wherever envious hand
Of foe amid the grain has cast a brand,
Than that which on Bireno's bosom fed,
And to his marrow burned; when, weeping sore
The fate of her unhappy father dead,
He saw her bathed in ceaseless tears deplore:
And, as cold water, on the cauldron shed,
Shops short the bubbling wave, which boiled before;
So was the raging rife Olympia blew
Within his breast, extinguished by a new.
Nor feels Bireno mere satiety;
He loathes her so, he ill endures her sight;
And, if his hope he long deferred, will die:
For other such his fickle appetite!
Yet till the day prefixed to satisfy
His fond desire, so feigns the wary knight,
Olympia less to love than to adore
He seems, and but her pleasure to explore.
And if the other he too much caress,
Who cannot but caress her, there are none
See evil in the deed, but rather guess
It is in pity, is in goodness done:
Since to raise up and comfort in distress
Whom Fortune's wheel beats down in changeful run,
Was never blamed; with glory oftener paid;
- So much the more, a young - a harmless maid.
Almighty God! how fallible and vain
Is human judgment, dimmed by clouds obscure!
Bireno's actions, impious and profane,
By others are reputed just and pure.
Already stooping to their oars, the train
Have loosed his vessel from the port secure,
And with the duke and his companions steer
For Zealand through the deep, with meery cheer.
Already Holland and its headlands all
Are left astern, and now descried no more;
Since to shun Friesland they to larboard hawl.
And keep their course more nigh the Scottish shore:
When they are overtaken by a squall,
And drive three days the open sea before:
Upon the third, when now, near eventide,
A barren and unpeopled isle is spied.
As soon as they were harboured in a hight,
Olympia landed and the board was spread;
She there contented, with the faithless knight,
Supt, unsuspecting any cause for dread.
Thence, with Bireno, where a tent was pight
In pleasant place, repaired, and went to bed.
The others of their train returned abroad,
And rested in their ship, in haven moored.
The fear and late sea sorrow, which had weighed
So long upon the dame and broke her rest,
The finding herself safe in greenwood shade
Removed from noise, and, for her tranquil breast
(Knowing her lover was beside her laid)
No further thoughts, no further cares molest,
Olympia lap in slumber so profound,
No sheltered bear or dormouse sleeps more sound.
The lover false, who, hatching treason lies,
Stole from his bed in silence, when he knew
She slept: his clothes he in a bundle ties,
Nor other raiment on his body threw.
Then issuing forth from the pavilion hies,
As if on new-born wings, towards his crew;
Who, roused, unmoor without a cry, as he
Commands, and loosen thence and put to sea.
Behind the land was left; and there to pine
Olympia, who yet slept the woods among;
Till from her gilded wheels the frosty rhine
Aurora upon earth beneath had flung;
And the old woe, beside the tumbling brine,
Lamenting, halcyons mournful descant sung;
When she, 'twixt sleep and waking, made a strain
To reach her loved Bireno, but in vain.
She no one found: the dame her arm withdrew;
She tried again, yet no one found; she spread
Both arms, now here, now there, and sought anew;
Now either leg; but yet no better sped.
Fear banished sleep; she oped her eyes: in view
Was nothing: she no more her widowed bed
Would keep, but from the couch in fury sprung,
And headlong forth from the pavilion flung.
And seaward ran, her visage tearing sore,
Presaging, and now certain of her plight:
She beat her bosom, and her tresses tore,
And looked (the moon was shining) if she might
Discover any thing beside the shore;
Nor, save the shore, was any thing in sight.
She calls Bireno, and the caverns round,
Pitying her grief, Bireno's name rebound.
On the far shore there rose a rock; below
Scooped by the breaker's beating frequently:
The cliff was hollowed underneath, in show
Of arch, and overhung the foaming sea.
Olympia (MIND such vigour did bestow)
Sprang up the frowning crest impetuously,
And, at a distance, stretched by favouring gale,
Thence saw her cruel lord's departing sail.
Saw it, or seemed to see: for ill her eyes,
Things through the air, yet dim and hazy, view.
She falls, all-trembling, on the ground, and lies
With face than snow more cold and white in hue:
But when she has again found strength to rise,
Guiding her voice towards the bark which flew,
Calling with all her might, the unhappy dame
Calls often on her cruel consort's name.
Where unavailing was the feeble note,
She wept and clapt her hands in agony.
'Without its freight,' she cried, 'thy ship does float.
- Where, cruel, dost thou fly so swiftly? - Me
Receive as well: - small hinderance to thy boat,
Which bears my spirit, would my body be.'
And she her raiment waving in her hand,
Signed to the frigate to return to land.
But the loud wind which, sweeping ocean, bears
The faithless stripling's sail across the deep,
Bears off as well the shriek, and moan, and prayers
Of sad Olympia, sorrowing on the steep.
Thrice, cruel to herself, the dame prepares
From the high rock amid the waves to leap.
But from the water lifts at length her sight,
And there returns where she had passed the night.
Stretched on the bed, upon her face she lay,
Bathing it with her tears. 'Last night in thee
Together two found shelter,' did she say;
'Alas! why two together are not we
At rising? False Bireno! cursed day
That I was born! What here remains to me
To do? What can be done? - Alone, betrayed -
Who will console me, who afford me aid?
'Nor man I see, nor see I work, which shows
That man inhabits in this isle; nor I
See ship, in which (a refuge from my woes),
Embarking, I from hence may hope to fly.
Here shall I starve; nor any one to close
My eyes, or give me sepulture, be by,
Save wolf perchance, who roves this wood, a tomb
Give me, alas! in his voracious womb.
'I live in terror, and appear to see
Rough bear or lion issue even now,
Or tiger, from beneath the greenwood tree,
Or other beast with teeth and claws: but how
Can ever cruel beast inflict on me,
O cruel beast, a fouler death than thou?
Enough for them to slay me once! while I
Am made by thee a thousand deaths to die.
'But grant, e'en now, some skipper hither fare,
Who may for pity bear me hence away;
And that I so eschew wolf, lion, bear,
Torture, and dearth, and every horrid way
Of death; to Holland shall he take me, where
For thee is guarded fortilage and bay;
Or take me to the land where I was born,
If this thou hast from me by treachery torn?
'Thou, with pretence, from me my state didst wrest
Of our connection and of amity;
And quickly of my land thy troops possest,
To assure the rule unto thyself. Shall I
Return to Flanders where I sold the rest,
Though little, upon which I lived, to buy
Thee needful succour and from prison bear?
Wretch, whither shall I go? - I know not where.
'Can I to Friesland go, where I to reign
As queen was called, and this for thee forewent;
Where both my brethren and my sire were slain,
And every other good from me was rent? -
Thee would I not, thou ingrate, with my pain
Reproach, not therefore deal thee punishment:
As well as I, the story dost thou know;
Now, see the meed thou dost for this bestow!
'Oh! may I but escape the wild corsair,
Nor taken be, and after sold for slave!
Rather than this may lion, wolf, or bear,
Tiger, or other beast, if fiercer rave,
Me with his claws and rushes rend and tear,
And drag my bleeding body to his cave.'
So saying she her golden hair offends,
And lock by lock the scattered tresses rends.
She to the shore's extremest verge anew,
Tossing her head, with hair dishevelled, run;
And seemed like maid beside herself, and who
Was by ten fiends possessed, instead of one;
Of like the frantic Hecuba, at view
Of murdered Polydore, her infant son;
Fixed on a stone she gazed upon the sea,
Nor less than real stone seemed stone to be.
But let her grieve till my return. To show
Now of the Child I wish: his weary way
Rogero, in the noon's intensest glow,
Takes by the shore: the burning sunbeams play
Upon the hill and thence rebound; below
Boils the white sand; while heated with the ray,
Little is wanting in that journey dire,
But that the arms he wears are all on fire.
While to the warrior thirst and labour sore,
Still toiling through that heavy sand, as he
Pursued his path along the sunny shore,
Were irksome and displeasing company,
Beneath the shadow of a turret hoar,
Which rose beside the beach, amid the sea,
He found three ladies of Alcina's court,
As such distinguished by their dress and port.
Reclined on Alexandrian carpets rare
The ladies joyed the cool in great delight;
About them various wines in vessels were,
And every sort of comfit nicely dight;
Fast by, and sporting with the ripple there,
Lay, waiting on their needs, a pinnace light,
Until a breeze should fill her sail anew:
For then no breath upon the waters blew.
They, who beheld along the shifting sand
Rogero wend, upon his way intent,
And saw thirst figured on his lips, and scanned
His troubled visage, all with sweat besprent,
Began to pray, `on what he had in hand
He would not show his heart so deeply bent,
But that he in the cool and grateful shade
Would rest his weary limbs, beside them laid.'
To hold the stirrup one approaching near,
Would aid him to alight: the other bore
A cup of chrystal to the cavalier,
With foaming wine, which raised his thirst the more;
But to the music of their speech no ear
He lent, who weened if he his way forbore
For anything, each lett would time supply
To Alcina to arrive, who now was nigh.
Now so saltpetre fine and sulphur pure,
Touched with the fiery spark, blaze suddenly;
Not so loud ocean raves, when the obscure
Whirlwind descends and camps in middle sea,
As viewing thus the knight proceed secure
Upon his journey, and aware that he
Scorns them, who yet believe they beauteous are,
Kindled the third of those three damsels fair.
As loud as she could raise her voice, she said,
'Thou art not gentle, nor art thou a knight;
And hast from other arms and horse conveyed:
Which never could be thine by better right.
So be thy theft, if well I guess, appaid
By death, which this may worthily requite!
Foul thief, churl, haughty ingrate, may I thee
Burned, gibbeted, or cut in quarters see!'
Beside all these and more injurious cries,
Which the proud damsel at the warrior throws,
Though to her taunts Rogero nought replies,
Who weens small fame from such a contest flows;
She with her sisters to the frigate hies,
Which waits them, and aboard the tender goes;
And plying fast her oars, pursues the knight
Along the sandy beach, still kept in sight.
On him with threat and curse she ever cried;
Whose tongue collected still fresh cause for blame.
Meanwhile, where to the lovelier fairy's side
The passage lay across a straight, he came;
And there an ancient ferryman espied
Put from the other shore with punctual aim,
As if forewarned and well prepared, the seer
Waited the coming of the cavalier.
The ferryman put forth the Child to meet,
To bear him to a better shore rejoicing: he
Appeared as all benign and all discreet,
If of the heart the face is warranty.
Giving God thanks, Rogero took his seat
Aboard the bark, and passed the quiet sea,
Discoursing with that ancient pilot, fraught
With wisdom, and by long experience taught.
He praised Rogero much, that he had fled
In time from false Alcina, and before
To him the dame had given the chalice dread,
Her lover's final guerdon evermore.
Next that he had to Logistilla sped,
Where he should duly witness holy lore,
And beauty infinite and grace enjoy,
Which feed and nourish hearts they never cloy.
'Her shall you, struck with wonderment, revere,'
(He said), 'when first you shall behold the fay;
But better contemplate her lofty cheer,
And you no other treasure shall appay.
In this her love from other differs; fear
And hope in other on the bosom prey:
In hers Desire demands not aught beside,
And with the blessing seen is satisfied.
'You shall in nobler studies be professed,
Tutored by her, than bath and costly fare,
Song, dance, and perfumes; as how fashioned best,
Your thoughts may tower more high than hawks in air;
And how some of the glory of the blest
You here may in the mortal body share.'
So speaking, and yet distant from the shore,
To the safe bank approached the pilot hoar.
When he beholds forth-issuing from the strand,
A fleet of ships, which all towards him steer.
With these came wronged Alcina, with a band
Of many vassals, gathered far and near;
To risk the ruin of herself and land,
Or repossess the thing she held so dear.
Love, no light cause, incites the dame aggrieved,
Nor less the bitter injury received.
Such choler she had never felt before
As that which now upon her bosom fed:
And hence she made her followers ply the oar
Till the white foam on either bank was shed
The deafening noise and din o'er sea and shore,
By echo every where repeated, spread,
'Now - now, Rogero, bare the magic shield,
Or in the strife be slain, or basely yield':
Thus Logistilla's pilot; and beside,
So saying, seized the pouch, wherein was dight
The buckler, and the covering torn aside,
Exposed to open view the shining light.
The enchanted splendor, flashing far and wide,
So sore offends the adversaries' sight,
They from their vessels drop amazed and blind,
Tumbling from prow before, and poop behind.
One who stood sentry on the citadel
Descried the navy of the invading dame,
And backwards rang the castle larum-bell,
Whence speedy succours to the haven came.
The artillery rained like storm, whose fury fell
On all who would Rogero scathe and shame:
So that such aid was brought him in the strife,
As saved the warrior's liberty and life.
Four ladies are arrived upon the strand,
Thither by Logistilla sped in haste:
Leagued with the valiant Anrondica stand
Fronesia sage, Dicilla good, and chaste
Sofrosina, who, as she has in had
More than the others, 'mid the foremost placed,
Conspicuous flames. Forth issues from the fort
A matchless host, and files towards the port.
Beneath the castle, safe from wind and swell,
Of many ships and stout, a squadron lay;
Which, in the harbour, at a sound from bell, -
A word, were fit for action, night or day;
And thus by land and sea was battle, fell
And furious, waged on part of either fay:
Whence was Alcina's realm turned upside down,
Of which she had usurped her sister's crown.
Oh! of how many battles the success
Is different from what was hoped before!
Not only failed the dame to repossess,
As thought, her lover flying from her shore,
But out of ships, even now so numberless,
That ample ocean scarce the navy bore,
From all her vessels, to the flames a prey,
But with one bark escaped the wretched fay.
Alcina flies; and her sad troop around
Routed and taken, burnt or sunk, remains
To have lost Rogero, sorrow more profound
Wakes in her breast than all her other pains;
And she in bitter tears for ever drowned,
Of the Child's loss by night and day complains;
And bent to end her woes, with many a sigh,
Often laments her that she cannot die.
No fairy dies, or can, while overhead
The sun shall burn, or heaven preserve their stile,
Or Clotho had been moved to cut her thread,
Touched by such grief; or, as on funeral pile
Fair Dido, she beneath the steel had bled;
Or, haply, like the gorgeous Queen of Nile,
In mortal slumber would have closed her eye:
But fairies cannot at their pleasure die.
Return we, where eternal fame is due,
Leaving Alcina in her trouble sore:
I speak of valorous Rogero, who
Had disembarked upon the safer shore.
He turned his back upon the waters blue,
Giving God thanks for all with pious lore;
And on dry ground now landed, made repair
Towards the lofty castle planted there.
Than this a stronger or more bright in show
Was never yet before of mortal sight,
Or after, viewed; with stones the ramparts glow
More rich than carbuncle or diamond bright.
We of like gems discourse not here below,
And he who would their nature read aright
Must thither speed: none such elsewhere, I ween,
Except perhaps in heaven above, are seen.
What gives to them superiority
O'er every other sort of gem, confessed,
Is, man in these his very soul may see;
His vices and his virtues see expressed.
Hence shall he after heed no flattery,
Nor yet by wrongful censure be depressed.
His form he in the lucid mirror eyes,
And by the knowledge of himself grows wise.
Their rays, which imitate the sunshine, fill
All round about with such a flood of light,
That he who has them, Phoebus, may at will
Create himself a day, in thy despite.
Nor only marvellous the gems; the skill
Of the artificer and substance bright
So well contend for mastery, of the two,
'Tis hard to judge where preference is due.
On arches raised, whereon the firmament
Seemed to repose as props, so fair in show
Are lovely gardens, and of such extent,
As even would be hard to have below.
Clustering 'twixt lucid tower or battlement,
Green odoriferous shrubs are seen to grow,
Which through the summer and the winter shoot,
And teem with beauteous blossom and ripe fruit.
Never in any place such goodly tree
Is grown, except within these gardens fine;
Or rose, or violet of like quality,
Lilies, or amaranth, or jessamine.
Elsewhere it seems as if foredoomed to be
Born with one sun, to live and to decline,
Upon its widowed stalk the blossom dies,
Subject to all the changes of the skies.
But here the verdure still is permanent,
Still permanent the eternal blossoms are;
Not that kind nature, in her government,
So nicely tempers here the genial air,
But that, unneeding any influence lent
By planet, Logistilla's zeal and care
Ever keep fast (what may appear a thing
Impossible) her own perpetual spring.
That such a gentle lord had sought her rest,
Did much the prudent Logistilla please,
And she commanded he should be carest,
And all should seek to do him courtesies.
Sometime had Sir Astolpho been her guest,
Whom with a joyful heart Rogero sees.
There in few days resorted all the crew,
Changed by Melissa to their shapes anew.
When they a day or more their weariness
Had eased, Rogero sought the prudent fay;
With him the duke Astolpho, who no less
Desired to measure back his western way.
Melissa was for both embassadress,
And for the warlike pair, with humble say
To favour, warn and help them, prayed the dame;
So that they might return from whence they came.
'I' (said the fay) 'will think upon this need,
And in two days the pair will expedite.'
Then thought how good Rogero she should speed.
And afterwards how aid the English knight.
She wills the first shall, on the griffin steed,
To the Aquitanian shores direct his flight;
But first will fashion for the flying-horse
A bit, to guide him and restrain his course.
She shows him what to do, if he on high
Would make him soar, or down to earth would bring,
And what, would he in circles make him fly,
Or swiftly speed, or pause upon the wing.
And all that skilful horsemen use to try
Upon plain ground, beneath her tutoring,
Rogero learned in air, and gained dominion
Over the griffin-steed of soaring pinion.
When at all points Rogero was prepared,
He bade farewell to the protecting fay,
For ever to the loving knight endeared,
And issued from her realm upon his way.
I first of him, who on his journey fared
In happy hour, and afterwards shall say
Of the English knight, who spent more time and pain
Seeking the friendly court of Charlemagne.
Rogero thence departs; but as before
Takes not the way he took in his despite,
When him above the sea the courser bore,
And seldom was the land beneath in sight.
But taught to make him beat his wings and soar,
Here, there, as liked him best, with docile flight,
Returning, he another path pursued;
As Magi erst, who Herod's snare eschewed.
Borne hither, good Rogero, leaving Spain,
Had sought, in level line, the Indian lands,
Where they are watered by the Eastern main;
Where the two fairies strove with hostile bands.
He now resolved to visit other reign
Than that where Aeolus his train commands;
And finish so the round he had begun,
Circling the world beneath him like the sun.
Here the Catay, and there he Mangiane,
Passing the great Quinsay beheld; in air
Above Imavus turned, and Sericane
Left on the right; and thence did ever bear
From the north Scythians to the Hyrcanian main:
So reached Sarmatia's distant land; and, where
Europe and Asia's parted climes divide,
Russ, Prussian, he and Pomeranian spied.
Although the Child by every wish was pressed
Quickly to seek his Bradamant, yet he
With taste of roving round the world possest,
Would not desist from it, till Hungary
He had seen; and Polacks, Germans, and the rest
Should in his wide extended circuit see,
Inhabiting that horrid, northern land;
And came at last to England's farthest strand.
Yet think not, sir, that in so long a flight,
The warrior is for ever on the wing.
Who lodges, housed in tavern every night,
As best as can, through his capacious ring.
So nights and days he passes: such delight
Prospects to him of land and ocean bring.
Arrived one morn nigh London-town, he stopt;
And over Thames the flying courser dropt.
Where he in meadows to the city nigh
Saw troops of men at arms, and footmen spread;
Who, to the drum and trumpet marching by,
Divided into goodly bands, were led
Before Rinaldo, flower of chivalry;
He that (if you remember it) was said
To have been sent by Charlemagne, and made
His envoy to these parts in search of aid.
Rogero came exactly as the show
Of that fair host was made without the town,
And of a knight the occasion sought to know;
But from the griffin-horse first lighted down:
And he who courteous was, informed him how
Of kingdoms holding of the British crown,
English, Scotch, Irish, and the Islands nigh,
Those many banners were, upreared on high:
And added, having ended this display
Of arms, the troops would file towards the strand,
Where vessels anchored in the harbour lay,
Waiting to bear them to another land.
'The French beseiged, rejoice in this array,
And hope (he said) deliverance through the band.
But that I may of all inform you well,
I of each troop shall separately tell.
'Lo! where yon mighty banner planted stands,
Which pards and flower-de-luces does unfold,
That our great captain to the wind expands,
Under whose ensign are the rest enrolled:
The warrior's name, renowned throughout these lands,
Is Leonetto, flower of all the bold;
Lancaster's duke, and nephew to the king,
Valiant in war, and wise in counselling.
'That next the royal gonfalon, which stirred
By fluttering wind, is borne towards the mount,
Which on green field, three pinions of a bird
Bears agent, speaks Sir Richard, Warwick's count.
The Duke of Gloucester's blazon is the third,
Two antlers of a stag, and demi-front;
The Duke of Clarence shows a torch, and he
Is Duke of York who bears that verdant tree.
'Upon the Duke of Norfolk's gonfalon
You see a lance into three pieces broke;
The thunder on the Earl of Kent's; upon
Pembroke's a griffin; underneath a yoke;
In Essex's, conjoined, two snakes are shown:
By yonder lifted balance is bespoke
The Duke of Suffolk; and Northumbria's Earl
A garland does on azure field unfurl.
'Arundel's Earl is yonder cavalier,
Whose banner bears a foundering bark! In sight
The next, is Berkeley's noble Marquis; near
Are March and Richmond's Earls: the first on white
Shows a cleft mount; a palm the second peer;
A pine amid the waves the latter knight.
The next of Dorset and Southampton's town,
Are earls; this bears a car, and that a crown.
'The valiant Raymond, Earl of Devon, bears
The hawk, which spreads her wings above her nest;
While or and sable he of Worcester wears:
Derby's a dog, a bear is Oxford's crest.
There, as his badge, a cross of chrystal rears
Bath's wealthy prelate, camped among the rest.
The broken seat on dusky field, next scan,
Of Somerset's good duke, Sir Ariman.
'Forty-two thousand muster in array,
The men at arms and mounted archers there.
By a hundred I misreckon not, or they,
The fighting footmen, twice as many are.
Those ensigns yellow, brown, and green, survey,
And that striped blue and black. The foot repair
Each to his separate flag where these are spread;
By Godfrey, Henry, Hermant, Edward, led.
'The first is the Duke of Buckingham; and he,
The next, is Henry, Earl of Salisbury;
Old Hermant Aberga'nny hold in fee,
That Edward is the Earl of Shrewsbury.
In those who yonder lodge, the English see
Camped eastward; and now westward turn your eye,
Where you shall thirty thousand Scots, a crew
Led by their monarch's son, Zerbino, view.
'The lion 'twixt two unicorns behold
Upon the standard of the Scottish king!
Which has a sword of silver in its hold.
There camps his son: of all his following
Is none so beauteous: nature broke the mould
In which she cast him, after fashioning
Her work: Is none in whom such chivalry
And valour shines. The Duke of Rothsay he!
'Behold the Earl of Huntley's flag display
Upon an azure field a gilded bar:
In that a leopard in the toils survey,
The bearing of the noble Duke of Mar.
With many birds, and many colours gay,
See Alcabrun's, a valiant man in war;
Who neither duke, nor count, nor marquis hight,
Is in his savage country first of right.
'The Duke of Strathforth shows the bird, who strains
His daring eyes to keep the sun in view;
The Earl Lurcanio, that in Angus reigns,
A bull, whose flanks are torn by deerhounds two.
See there the Duke of Albany, who stains
His ensign's field with colours white and blue.
The Earl of Buchan next his banner bears,
In which a dragon vert a vulture tears.
'Herman, the lord of Forbes, conducts that band,
And stripes his gonfalon with black and white;
With Errol's earl upon his better hand,
Who on a field of green displays a light.
Now see the Irish, next the level land,
Into two squadrons ordered for the fight.
Kildare's redoubted earl commands the first;
Lord Desmond leads the next, in mountains nursed.
'A burning pine by Kildare is displayed;
By Desmond on white field a crimson bend.
Nor only England, Scotland, Ireland, aid
King Charlemagne; but to assist him wend
The Swede and Norse, and succours are conveyed
From Thule, and the farthest Iceland's end.
All lands that round them lie, in fine, increase
His host, by nature enemies to peace.
'Issued from cavern and from forest brown,
They sixteen thousand are, or little less;
Visage, legs, arms, and bosom overgrown
With hair, like beasts. Lo! yonder, where they press
About a standard white, the level down
Of lances seems a bristling wilderness.
Such Moray's flag, the savage squadron's head,
Who means with Moorish blood to paint it red.'
What time Rogero sees the fair array,
Whose bands to succour ravaged France prepare,
And notes and talks of ensigns they display,
And names of British lords, to him repair
One and another, crowding to survey
His courser, single of its kind, or rare:
All thither hasten, wondering and astound,
And compassing the warrior, form a round.
So that to raise more wonder in the train.
And to make better sport, as him they eyed,
Rogero shook the flying courser's rein,
And lightly with the rowels touched his side:
He towards heaven, uprising, soared amain,
And left behind each gazer stupefied.
Having from end to end the English force
So viewed, he next for Ireland shaped his course;
And saw fabulous Hibernia, where
The goodly, sainted elder made the cave,
In which men cleansed from all offences are;
Such mercy there, it seems, is found to save.
Thence o'er that sea he spurred, through yielding air,
Whose briny waves the lesser Britain lave;
And, looking down, Angelica descried
In passing, to the rock with fetters tied;
Bound to the naked rock upon the strand,
In the isle of tears; for the isle of tears was hight,
That which was peopled by the inhuman band,
So passing fierce and full of foul despite;
Who (as I told above) on every hand
Cruized with their scattered fleet by day or night;
And every beauteous woman bore away,
Destined to be a monster's evil prey:
There but that morning bound in cruel wise;
Where (to devour a living damsel sped)
The orc, that measureless sea-monster, hies,
Which on abominable food is fed.
How on the beach the maid became the prize
Of the rapacious crew, above was said,
Who found her sleeping near the enchanter hoar,
Who her had thither brought by magic lore.
The cruel and inhospitable crew
To the voracious beast the dame expose
Upon the sea-beat shore, as bare to view
As nature did at first her work compose.
Not even a veil she had, to shade the hue
Of the white lily and vermillion rose,
Which mingled in her lovely members meet,
Proof to December-snow and July-heat.
Her would Rogero have some statue deemed
Of alabaster made, or marble rare,
Which to the rugged rock so fastened seemed
By the industrious sculptor's cunning care,
But that he saw distinct a tear which streamed
Amid fresh-opening rose and lily fair,
Stand on her budding paps beneath in dew,
And that her golden hair dishevelled flew.
And as he fastened his on her fair eyes,
His Bradamant he called to mind again.
Pity and love within his bosom rise
At once, and ill he can from tears refrain:
And in soft tone he to the damsel cries,
(When he has checked his flying courser's rein)
'O lady, worthy but that chain to wear,
With which Love's faithful servants fettered are,
'And most unworthy this or other ill,
What wretch has had the cruelty to wound
And gall those snowy hands with livid stain,
Thus painfully with griding fetters bound?'
At this she cannot choose but show like grain,
Of crimson spreading on an ivory ground;
Knowing those secret beauties are espied,
Which, howsoever lovely, shame would hide;
And gladly with her hands her face would hood,
Were they not fastened to the rugged stone:
But with her tears (for this at least she could)
Bedewed it, and essayed to hold it down.
Sobbing some while the lovely damsel stood;
Then loosed her tongue and spake in feeble tone;
But ended not; arrested in mid-word,
By a loud noise which in the sea was heard.
Lo! and behold! the unmeasured-beast appears,
Half surging and half hidden, in such sort
As sped by roaring wind long carack steers
From north or south, towards her destined port.
So the sea monster to his food repairs:
And now the interval between is short.
Half dead the lady is through fear endured,
Ill by that other's comfort reassured.
Rogero overhand, not in the rest
Carries his lance, and beats, with downright blow,
The monstrous orc. What this resembled best,
But a huge, writhing mass, I do not know;
Which wore no form of animal exprest,
Save in the head, with eyes and teeth of sow.
His forehead, 'twixt the eyes, Rogero smites,
But as on steel or rock the weapon lights.
When he perceives the first of no avail,
The knight returns to deal a better blow;
The orc, who sees the shifting shadow sail
Of those huge pinions on the sea below,
In furious heat, deserts his sure regale
On shore, to follow that deceitful show:
And rolls and reels behind it, as it fleets.
Rogero drops, and oft the stroke repeats.
As eagle, that amid her downward flight,
Surveys amid the grass a snake unrolled,
Or where she smoothes upon a sunny height,
Her ruffled plumage, and her scales of gold,
Assails it not where prompt with poisonous bite
To hiss and creep; but with securer hold
Gripes it behind, and either pinion clangs,
Lest it should turn and wound her with its fangs;
So the fell orc Rogero does not smite
With lance or faulchion where the tushes grow,
But aims that 'twixt the ears his blow may light;
Now on the spine, or now on tail below.
And still in time descends or soars upright,
And shifts his course, to cheat the veering foe:
But as if beating on a jasper block,
Can never cleave the hard and rugged rock.
With suchlike warfare is the mastiff vext
By the bold fly in August's time of dust,
Or in the month before or in the next,
This full of yellow spikes and that of must;
For ever by the circling plague perplext,
Whose sting into his eyes or snout is thrust:
And oft the dog's dry teeth are heard to fall;
But reaching once the foe, he pays for all.
With his huge tail the troubled waves so sore
The monster beats, that they ascend heaven-high;
And the knight knows not if he swim, or soar
Upon his feathered courser in mid sky;
And oft were fain to find himself ashore:
For, if long time the spray so thickly fly,
He fears it so will bathe his hippogryph,
That he shall vainly covet gourd or skiff.
He then new counsel took, and 'twas the best,
With other arms the monster to pursue;
And lifting from his shield the covering vest,
To dazzle with the light his blasted view.
Landward towards the rock-chained maid he pressed,
And on her little finger, lest a new
Mischance should follow, slipt the ring, which brought
The enchantment of the magic shield to nought.
I say the ring, which Bradamant, to free
Rogero, from Brunello's hand had rent,
And which, to snatch him from Alcina, she
Had next to India by Melissa sent.
Melissa (as before was said by me),
In aid of many used the instrument;
And to Rogero this again had born;
By whom 'twas ever on his finger worn.
He gave it now Angelica; for he
Feared lest the buckler's light should be impaired,
And willed as well those beauteous eyes should be
Defended, which had him already snared.
Pressing beneath his paunch full half the sea,
Now to the shore the monstrous whale repaired:
Firm stood Rogero, and the veil undone,
Appeared to give the sky another sun.
He in the monster's eyes the radiance throws,
Which works as it was wont in other time.
As trout or grayling to the bottom goes
In stream, which mountaineer disturbs with lime;
So the enchanted buckler overthrows
The orc, reversed among the foam and slime.
Rogero here and there the beast astound
Still beats, but cannot find the way to wound.
This while the lady begs him not to bray
Longer the monster's rugged scale in vain.
'For heaven's sake turn and loose me' (did she say,
Still weeping) 'ere the orc awake again.
Bear me with thee, and drown me in mid-way.
Let me not this foul monster's food remain.'
By her just plaint Rogero moved, forebore,
Untied the maid, and raised her from the shore.
Upon the beach the courser plants his feet,
And goaded by the rowel, towers in air,
And gallops with Rogero in mid seat,
While on the croup behind him sate the fair;
Who of his banquet so the monster cheat;
For him too delicate and dainty fare.
Rogero turns and with thick kisses plies
The lady's snowy breast and sparkling eyes.
He kept no more the way, as he before
Proposed, for compassing the whole of Spain:
But stopt his courser on the neighbouring shore
Where lesser Britain runs into the main.
Upon the bank there rose an oakwood hoar,
Where Philomel for ever seemed to plain;
I' the middle was a meadow with a fountain,
And, at each end, a solitary mountain.
'Twas here the wishful knight first checked the rein,
And dropping in the meadow, made his steed
Furl, yet not shut so close, his wings again,
As he had spread them wide for better speed.
Down lights Rogero, and forbears with pain
From other leap; but this his arms impede:
His arms impede; a bar to his desire,
And he must doff them would he slake the fire.
Now here, now there, confused by different throng,
Rogero did his shining arms undo:
Never the task appeared to him so long;
For where he loosed one knot, he fastened two.
But, sir, too long continued is this song,
And haply may as well have wearied you;
So that I shall delay to other time,
When it may better please, my tedious rhyme.
Comments about this poem (Orlando Furioso Canto 10 by Ludovico Ariosto )
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