Of mighty matters, sculptured in a font,
  Does Malagigi to his comrades tell:
  On them come Mandricardo and Rodomont,
  And forthwith battle follows fierce and fell.
  Discord goes scattering quarrel and affront
  Amid the crew: but whither, forced by spell,
  Fair Doralice upon her palfrey speeds,
  The Tartar king, and Sarzan, turn their steeds.


  In former ages courteous ladies were,

  Who worshipt virtue, and not worldly gear.

  Women in this degenerate age are rare,

  To whom aught else but sordid gain is dear;

  But they who real goodness make their care,

  Nor with the avaricious many steer,

  In this frail life are worthy to be blest,

  — Held glorious and immortal when at rest.


  Bradamant well would deathless praise inherit,

  Who nor in wealth nor empire took delight;

  But in Rogero's worth, excelling spirit,

  In his unbounded gentlesse; and aright

  For this did good Duke Aymon's daughter merit

  To be beloved of such a valorous knight;

  Who, what might be for miracles received,

  In future ages, for her sake achieved.


  He, with those two of Clermont, as whilere

  To you I in the former canto said,

  I say with Richardet and Aldigier,

  Was gone, to give the prisoned brethren aid:

  I told, as well how they a cavalier

  Of haughty look approaching had surveyed,

  Who bore that noble bird, by fiery birth

  Renewed, and ever single upon earth.


  When those three of that warrior were espied,

  Poised on the wing, as if about to smite,

  He fain by proof their prowess would have tried,

  And if their semblance tallied with their might.

  "Is there, among you, one," the stranger cried,

  "Will prove upon me, which is best in fight,

  With lance or sword, till one to ground be cast,

  While in the sell his foe is seated fast?"


  " — I, at your choice," said Aldigier, "were fain

  To flourish faulchion, or to tilt with spear;

  But this with feat, which, if you here remain,

  Yourself may witness, so would interfere,

  That for the present parley time with pain

  Suffices, and yet less for the career.

  Six hundred men, or more, we here attend,

  With whom we must to-day in arms contend.


  "Two of our own to rescue from their foes,

  And free from chains, us Love and Pity sway."

  He to that stranger next the reason shows

  Why thus in steel their bodies they array.

  "So just is the excuse which you oppose,"

  — He answered — "that I ill should this gainsay,

  And hold you surely for three cavaliers

  That seldom upon earth will find their peers.


  "With you a lance or two I would have crost

  To prove how great your prowess in the field;

  But, since 'tis shown me at another's cost,

  Forego the joust, and to your reasons yield.

  Warmly I pray your leave against that host,

  To join with your good arms this helm and shield;

  And hope, if suffered of your band to be,

  No worthless comrade shall you find in me."


  Some one, meseems, may crave the stranger's name,

  Who thus the champions on their road delayed,

  And so to partnership in arms laid claim

  With those three warriors, for the strife arrayed:

  SHE — style no more a man that martial dame —

  Marphisa was; that on Zerbino laid

  The task to bear about, against his will,

  Ribald Gabrina, prone to every ill.


  The two of Clermont and their bold compeer

  Gladly received her succour in their cause,

  Whom certes they believed a cavalier,

  And not a damsel, and not what she was.

  A banner was espied by Aldigier

  And shown the others, after little pause,

  Which by the wavering wind was blown about,

  And round about it ranged a numerous rout.


  And when, now nearer, the advancing crew

  Were better marked in Moorish habit stoled,

  For Saracens the stranger band they knew;

  And they upon two sorry jades behold,

  I' the middle of that troop, the prisoners, who

  Were to the false Maganza to be sold.

  Marphisa cries, "Why is the feast delayed,

  When lo! the guests are here, for whom we stayed?"


  — "Not all," Rogero said, "Of the array

  Invited, lacks as yet a numerous part:

  A solemn festival is held to-day,

  And we. to grace it more, use every art:

  Yet they can now but little more delay."

  While thus they parley, they from other part

  Descry the treacherous Maganzese advance;

  So all was ready to begin the dance.


  They of Maganza from one quarter steer,

  And laden mules beneath their convoy go,

  Bearing vest, gold, and other costly gear.

  On the other side, mid faulchion, spear, and bow,

  Approached the captive two with doleful cheer,

  Who found themselves awaited by the foe;

  And false and impious Bertolagi heard,

  As with the Moorish captain he conferred.


  Nor Buovo's nor Duke Aymon's valiant son

  Can hold, when that false Maganzese they view;

  Against him both with rested lances run:

  He falls the victim of those furious two,

  Through belly and through pummel pierced by one,

  And by the other, in mid visage, through

  His bleeding cheeks: may like disastrous fate

  O'erwhelm all evil doers, soon or late!


  Marphisa with Rogero moved her horse

  At this, nor waited other trumpet-strain;

  Nor broke her lance in her impetuous course,

  Till in succession three had prest the plain.

  A mark well worthy fierce Rogero's force,

  The paynim leader in a thought is slain;

  And with him, pierced by the same weapon, go

  Two others to the gloomy realms below.


  'Twas hence a foul mistake the assaulted made;

  It caused their utter loss, and ruined all:

  They of Maganza deemed themselves betrayed

  By the infidels, upon their leader's fall:

  On the other side, so charged with hostile blade,

  The Moors those Maganzese assassins call;

  And, with fierce slaughter, either angry horde

  'Gan bend bow, and brandish lance and sword.


  Rogero, charging this, or the other band,

  Slays ten or twenty, shifting his career;

  No fewer by the warlike damsel's hand

  Are slaughtered and extinguished, there and here:

  As many men as feel the murderous brand

  Are from the saddle seen to disappear:

  Before it vanish cuirass, helms and shields,

  As the dry wood to fire in forest yields.


  If ever you remember to have viewed,

  Or heard, — what time the wasps divided are,

  And all the winged college is at feud,

  Mustering their swarms for mischief in mid air, —

  The greedy swallow swoop amid that brood,

  To mangle and devour, and kill, and tear,

  You must imagine so, on either part

  The bold Rogero and Marphisa dart.


  Not so Sir Richardet and Aldigier,

  Varied the dance between those squadrons twain;

  For, heedless of the Moors, each cavalier

  Had but an eye to false Maganza's train.

  The brother of Rinaldo, Charles's peer,

  Much courage added to much might and main;

  And these were now redoubled by the spite,

  Which against false Maganza warmed the knight.


  This cause made him who in his fury shared,

  Good Buovo's bastard, seems a lion fell;

  He, without pause, each trusty helmet pared

  With his good blade, or crushed it like the shell

  Of brittle egg: and who would not have dared —

  Would not have shown a Hector's worth as well,

  Having two such companions in the stower,

  Of warlike wights the very choice and flower?


  Marphisa, waging all the while the fight,

  On her companions often turned to gaze,

  And as she marked their rivalry in might,

  Admiring, upon all bestowed her praise;

  But when she on Rogero fixed her sight,

  Deemed him unparalleled; and in amaze,

  At times believed that Paladin was Mars,

  Who left his heaven to mix in mortal wars.

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook