Matteo Maria Boiardo.

The Orlando innamorato online

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and flies from her with loathing. She pursues,
and entreats his compassion in vain; and, at
length, wearied with the chace, sinks down upon
the turf, and weeps herself asleep. Ferrau
now arrives in the forest, in the hope of
finding Angelica, or wreaking his vengeance
upon her brother. Occupied with these



13bOK I. INNAMORATO. 29

thoughts he lights upon ArgaKa; who, having
followed his sister, had dismounted, and was
also sleeping under a tree. Ferrau unties
the sleeper's horse, and drives him into the
thicket. His adversary's means of escape thus
intercepted, he watches till the sleeping man
should wake ; nor is his patience put to a long
trial. Argalia soon opens his eyes, and is in
great distress at finding his horse gone; but
Ferrau, who is as quickly on his feet, tells him
not to think of his loss ; as one of them must
not quit the place alive, and his own horse will
remain the prize of the survivor.

The two warriors now again engage in battle,
and closing, Ferrau, through a chink in his
armour, strikes Argalia to the heart. Argaha
sinks beneath the blow, and dying entreats his
adversary to have regard to his honor, and cast
him and his armour into the river; that his
memory may not be disgraced by the knowledge
of his having been vanquished in enchanted
arms. Ferrau, who compassionates his fate,



30 THE ORLANDO BOOK I.

promises compliance, with the reservation of
wearing his helmet till he can provide himself
with another. Argalia consents by a sign, and
soon after expires.

Ferrau, who had waited by him till he drew
his last sigh, now puts on the helmet, which he
had previously taken jfrom his wounded adver-
sary's head in order to give him air ; and having
razed oiF the crest, places it upon his own. He
then, with the dead body under his arm, having
remounted his horse, proceeds sadly towards
the neighbouring river, into which he casts
Argalia, all armed as he was, conformably to
his dying request. He then pursues his melan-
choly way through the wood.

This while Orlando had arrived on this theatre
of adventures, and comes suddenly upon Ange-
lica, who is described as sleeping in act so ex-
quisitely graceful, that he gazes on the vision
in stupid wonderment, and, at last, to contem-
plate her more closely, throws himself down by
her side.



i



¥



BOOK I. INNAMORATO. 31

Ferrau arrives at this juncture, and suppos-
ing Orlando, whom he had not recognized, to
I be Angelica's guard, insults and defies him.
The paladin starts up and declares himself;
when Ferrau, though somewhat surprized,
making a virtue of necessity, stands to his arms.
A desperate duel follows : during this Angelica
wakes and flies : Orlando proposes a truce to
his adversary, that he may follow her ; but
Ferrau, whose courage was now up, tells him
she shall be the prize of the conqueror, and re-
fuses. The battle is therefore renewed with
more fiiry than before. The author here ex-
claims : —



Gifted with odd half lights, I often wonder
How I should think of love ; if well or ill.
For whether 'tis a thing above, or under
The rule of reason, foils my little skill ;
If we go guided by some god, or blunder
Into the snare, which warps our better will ;
If we by line and rule our actions measure.
And 'tis a thing we take or leave at pleasure.



32 THE ORLANDO BOOK I.



When we behold two bulls each other tear,
A cow the cause of strife, with mutual wound,
It looks as if such foolish fury were
In nature and controlling instinct found :
But when we see that absence, prudence, care ■

) And occupation, can preserve us sound
From such a charm, or, if you will, infection ;
Love seems to be the fruit of pure election.

Of this so many men have sung and told.
In Hebrew, Latin, and in heathen Greek,
In Egypt, Athens, and in Rome, of old,
Who govern'd by such different judgments speak,
That I can ill decide with whom to hold.
And cannot waste my time the truth to seek.
Let it suffice, that Love's a wayward god :
And so heav'n keep us from the tyrant's rod !

The truth of these reflections the author
considers as strikingly exemplified by the
combat between the champions, which is



I'



BOOK I. INNAMORATO. 33

interrupted by the appearance of a strange
damsel upon a panting palfrey, who clamours
eagerly for Ferrau. She, perceiving him,
entreats Orlando to forbear his blows ; which
he immediately does upon the damsel's
request. Addressing herself to the paynim,
she informs him that she is his relation
Flordespina, and dispatched in search of him,
to say that Gradasso king of Sericane, a
fiend incarnate, has invaded the Spanish do-
minions; that king Falsiron is taken, Valencia
ravaged, Arragon destroyed, and Barcelona
besieged; that poor Marsilius is broken down
by so many calamities, and that his last, hopes
rest on him, in pursuit of whom she was wan-
dering. Ferrau balances for a moment between
love and duty, but at length determines to
suspend his combat, with the permission of
Orlando, who agrees to the proposal, and who
himself follows Angelica. Ferrau, on the other
hand, departs with Flordespina for Spain. Tlie



34« THE ORLANDO BOOK I.

author here leaves each to pursue his separate
quest, and returns to Charles. This monarch
calls a council in consequence of intelligence
received, which was similar to that brought by
l


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Online LibraryMatteo Maria BoiardoThe Orlando innamorato → online text (page 4 of 13)