Matteo Maria Boiardo.

The Orlando innamorato online

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more you give. Here, too, you will see Pomp \^
and Honour, Flattery and Hospitality, Am- /
bition. Grandeur, and Favour : then Inquietude / %o
and Torment, Jealousy, Suspicion, Fear, So- »
licitude, and Terror. Behind the door stand
Hate, and Envy with a bow for ever bent."

" Prasildo having received his full instructions,
now crosses the desert, and, after thirty days'
journey, arrives at the garden. Here he easily



-///



80 THE ORLANDO BOOK I.

passes the gate of Poverty, the enta^^f which
no one defends. On the contrary, there ever
stands some one near it, to encourage and invite.
" Having entered the inclosure, he advances,
holding his shield of glass before his eyes ; and
reaching the tree, against which Medusa was
leaning, the Fairy, who raises her head at his
approach, and beholds herself in the mirror,
takes to flight; scared, it seems, by seeing re-
flected in it the head of a serpent; though
in other eyes her beauty is divine. * Prasildo,
hearing the Fairy fly, uncovers his eyes, which
were before protected by his shield, and leaving
her to escape, goes directly to the tree, from
which he severs a branch. Then, pursuing the
directions received, makes for the opposite gate.



• The circumstance of Medusa not being able to contem-
plate the reflection of her own hideous appearance, though
beautiful in the sight of others ; the fact of no one being able
to win the golden bough which she kept, but by refraining from
looking her in the face; and other circumstances, confirm the
coiyecture which I have hazarded in a preceding note.



BOOK I. , > INNAMORATO. 81

where he sees Wealth, surrounded by her fol-
lowers. This gate, which is of load-stone, never
opens without noise, and is for the most part
shut: Fatigue and Fraud are the guides who
conduct to it. It is, however, sometimes open ;
but requires both luck and courage to enable
any one to profit by the chance. It was open
the day Prasildo came, and he made the offering
of half the bough, as he was instructed, and
escaped with the remainder of his prize.

*' Transported with pleasure, he issues from
the garden, passes through Nubia, crosses the
Arabian Gulf with a fair wind, and journeys
day and night till he arrives in Babylon.

" Arrived there, he sends immediate news of
his success to Tisbina, who is in an agony at
learning the unexpected result of her device.
Iroldo is rendered equally miserable, but insists
upon the necessity of her redeeming her
promise, though he knows he cannot survive its
execution. She feels that she can as ill survive



^



82 THE ORLANDO «OOK I.

Iroldo ; and they at last resolve, that faith must
be kept with Prasildo, and that they will both die.
They accordingly send to an aged apothecary
for a deadly draught, which they divide between
them ; and each having swallowed a due portion,
Iroldo covers his face and throws himself on
his bed, while the yet more miserable Tisbina
proceeds to the residence of Prasildo. Here
she attempts to dissemble her sorrow and to
feign a cheerfulness, foreign to her heart. But
Prasildo detects the imposture, and at last ex-
torts a full confession of the truth. This de-
clared, he reproaches her, as having little faith
in his generosity, with a bursting heart renounces
the proffered happiness, and dismisses her with
an affectionate kiss. ^

" Tisbina, who had assured him that if she
had known him first, she should have loved
him as devotedly as she did her husband,
now departs, overflowing with gratitude, and
returns to Iroldo who was still unaffected by
the draught, but prostrate on the bed. She



BOOK r. INNAMORATO. 83

relates to him the sacrifice of her lover. The
husband springs from his couch, thanks God
for this last mercy, and invokes every blessing
upon the head of Prasildo. While he is yet
praying, he sees the countenance of Tisbina
change, who sinks, as if overcome by sleep.
The husband sees the operation of the drink
with horror, and is transported from his short
fit of pleasure^ to a state of the most agonizing
despair.

" The situation of Prasildo is scarcely
less intolerable ; who locked himself up in his
chamber, in order to indulge his grief in soli-
tude, upon the departure of Tisbina. While
he is shut up in darkness, the ancient apothe-
cary calls, and tells his valet that Prasildo's life
depends upon his immediate admission to him.
The valet was a native of Casazzo, of a merry
humour and full of faith and attachment, dihgent,
active, and experienced in all his duties; but of
a frankness which sometimes gave his master
G 2



84 THE ORLANDO BOOK I.

offence. This man, having a master-key, ad-
mits the apothecary; who excusing the intru-
sion by his zeal for Prasildo's repose, informs
him that he had that morning furnished the
chambermaid of Tisbina with a potion, by her
mistress's order, which he believed was des-
tined for his destruction, as Tisbina had been
shortly afterwards traced to his house ; but adds,
that he need be under no apprehension, even if
he has swallowed the draught: since, in the
apprehension of mischief, he had substituted a
mere sleeping-potion, the effects of which were
only calculated to last for a few hours.

" Prasildo, transported with joy, immediately
flies in search of Iroldo, whose stronger con-
stitution had as yet resisted the soporific, and
informs him of the joyful tidings of the apothe-
cary. Iroldo receives the news in such a manner
as might have been expected, and concludes with
making Prasildo a return such as he had never
looked for. In a transport of gratitude, he



BOOK I. INNAMORATO. 85

insists on his receiving Tisbina, and accordingly
departs from Babylon, leaving her yet asleep.
On waking, she is combated by opposing feel-
ings ; but at length, as the generosity of Pra-
sildo had made more impression on her heart,
than she was willing to confess, even to herself
yields to Iroldo's will, and takes Prasildo for
her husband."

The damsel was yet speaking, when a loud
cry was heard, which filled her with con-
sternation. Rinaldo however, re-assuring her
as he best could, pressed forward through the
wood (for they were then in the centre of one)
towards the quarter from which it proceeded.

He soon perceived a giant standing under a
vaulted cavern, with a large club in his hand,
and of an appearance to have struck the boldest
spirit with dread. On each side of the cavern
was chained a griffin, who, together with the
giant, were stationed there for the protection of
the horse which was once Argalia's.
G 3



8^ THE ORLANDO BOOK I.

This mwister of enchantment was the creature.
For of a mare, composed of spark and flame,
(Strange wonder, and beyond the laws of nature)
Made pregnant by the wind, the courser came ;
Matchless in vigour, speed, and form and feature.
Such was his birth, and Rabican his name :
Who, with his fellow-steeds, disdain'd to share
The profFer'd corn or grass, and fed on air.

This marvellous horse being driven away by
Ferrau, in the wood of Arden, previous to his
fatal encounter with Argalia, who had possessed
himself of him by enchantment, on finding him-
self at liberty, returned to his native cavern, and
was here stabled under the protection of the
^ant and the griffins. Towards these Rinaldo
advances with deliberate valour, over ground
whitened with the bones of their victims. He
is the first to smite at the giant, but his stroke
is rendered of no effect by the enchanted helmet
of his adversary. In a second blow he is more



BOOK I. INNAMORATO. 87

fortunate; but his adversary, though wounded
near the heart, escapes, and looses his griffins.
One of these immediately seizes the giant by
a foot: rises with him into the sky, hovers
over Rinaldo's head, and at length drops
his burden, with intent to crush the intruder.
\ Rinaldo, however, who was as remarkable for j
I his activity, as for his strength and courage, |
I shuns the descending mischief, and the giant ><
I falls to the ground crushed, without harm to the
paladin. In the meantime, the other griffin,
having towered in air, pounces upon Rinaldo,
who, watching his opportunity, wounds her des-
perately in her descent. She has, however,
strength enough to soar a second flight, and
swooping upon Rinaldo's helmet, loosens its
circle with her claws ; tear it she could not,
,^^ce this was the enchanted. hsJinet, which was_
once the head-piece of MambriuQ..^^

In this manner the griffin repeats her attacks,
and Rinaldo fends and parries as he can ; while
G 4



88 THE ORLANDO BOOK I.

the damsel stands trembling near, and witnesses
the contest.

The battle still continued, rendered more ter-
rible by the approach of night ; when Rinaldo,
fearing he should not be able to distinguish
his enemy, determined upon a desperate ex-
pedient, in order to bring it to a conclusion.
He fell, as if fainting from his wounds, and on
the close approach of the griffin, dealt her a
blow, which sheared away one of her wings.
The beast, though sinking, griped him fast with
her talons, digging through plate and mail:
but Rinaldo plied his sword in utter desper-
ation, and at last accomplished her destruc-
tion.

The damsel now entreats Rinaldo to mount
and proceed; but he thinks the adventure ill
acco mpliisI| ^^ and proceeds towards the en-
trance of the cavern. This was secured by a
door,



I



I



BOOK I. INNAMORATO. 89



Whose marble pannel a mosaic fiU'd

Of pearl and emerald, sown with care so nice ;
That he who saw the piece, if little skill'd,
Might deem it was a treasure passing price.
In the mid-picture lay a damsel kill'd ;
And, writ in golden letters, the device
This legend bore : " Let whoso passes, plight

" His word to 'venge my death, and do me right ;



rn'd>^
>r bear, I



" Or he shall die the death ; but if he swear
*pTo slay the traitor who my death desig
The enchanted courser shall the warrior
A courser that is swifter than the wind
The prince stopt not to think ; but plighted there
In solemn form, his promise, as enjoin'd; i

His promise to avenge, alive or dead.
The slaughter'd damsel's blood, unjustly shed.



90 THE ORLANDO BOOK I.

Then enters, and beholds the courser tied
With chains of gold, so famous for his speed.
With foot-cloth of white silk he was supplied.
And all things else convenient for his need.
Tho' coal-black all the rest, the tail was pied.
And starred with white the forehead of the steed ;
jAnd white one fDot behind. Bayardo's might
( Was more : but this had pass'd a dart in flight.^

EinaJdo is delighted with his adventure, and,
while surveying the steed, beholds a book,
secured by a chain, in which was written in
blood the history of the damsel's death.

The book related that TfufFaldino, king of

lHifcl>ilMHlWWli>ll| II I n Ki ^,

Baldacca, had a count for his neighbour, dis-
tinguisned for his virtues and accomplishments,
whom that evil-minded prince misliked on that
very account. His name was Orisello, and
Montefalcon was that of the castle where he
resided. This lord had a sister as distinguished
for her merit, called Albarosa, who loved Po-
lindo, a noble knight of equal virtue and daring.



BOOK I. INNAMORATO. 91

The castle was built upon a rock, and so well
fortified, that Truffaldino, who had warred
upon the count, though he had made several
assaults upon it, had always been defeated in
his attempts.

Things being in this state, Polindo, who had
a ^reat love for travel, and often wandered from
court to court, arrived at that of Truffaldino;
who, for his own evil views, shewed him great
favour, and having acquired his confidence,
promised him assistance in his designs upon
Albarosa. As a means of forwarding these, he
presents him with a castle of pleasure, situated
a day's journey from Montefalcon ; and Po-
lindo having persuaded Albarosa to elope with
him, carries her thither; but while they are
supping together, with infinite delight, Truffal-
dino, who had entered the castle by a subter-
raneous passage, unknown to its new possessor,
breaks in upon them with a party of his retain-
ers, and binds them both. He then dictates a



92 THE ORLANDO BOOK I.

letter to the lady, which he orders her to send
to her brother Orisello, in order to decoy him
into his hands. She refuses ; when the tyrant
puts her to the torture, in the presence of
Polindo, before whose eyes she expires, re-
fusing compliance with her latest breath.

Rinaldo, having read this dreadful history,
swears anew to avenge the treason, and, mounted
upon Rabican, issues forth from the cavern.
He and the damsel, however, have not ridden
far, when the light fails them in a forest, where
they dismount, secure their horses, and compose
themselves to rest.

Beside the maid with zest Rinaldo sleeps ;

^"01 him, nor time, nor place, nor beauty move.
hora whence we learn the antidote, which keeps

le heart and mind from that which is above
All other cure ; that he, who sows and reaps,
pr tilts and tourneys, never dies of love :
But in this book I am ill read, nor can



^J^olt,



as I would, such matters to the bran.



i



BOOK I. INNAMORATO. 93

And now the air on every side grew light,

Though the sun shew'd not yet his golden ray ;
With few and fading stars the sky was dight,
And the glad birds rang out their matin lay.
Such was the season, neither day nor night ;
When the maid view'd Rinaldo where he lay ;
Who from her grassy couch before had crept,
And watch'd the weary warrior as he slept.

Of lively visage, though composed to rest,

The lusty knight in early youth appear'd.

Light in the flanks, and large across the chest ;

And on his lip scarce bloom'd the manly beard.

On him the damsel gazed with alter'd breast,
J-' _ >

( To her by new-discovered gifts endear'd : ;

\ For slumber ever gives the sleeper's face

\I know not what of loveliness and grace.

While the damsel is engaged in contemplat-
ing the knight, she is startled by a loud roar,
and turning, sees a centaur with a live lion,
which he had just taken, in one hand, and a



94 THE ORLANDO BOOK I.

club and three darts in the other. Rinaldo is
at the same time awakened by the sound,
and grasping his shield, or rather the rem-
nant of it, which had been left by the griffin,
advances to her assistance.

The centaur now leaves his prey, and ^ying
to a little distance, launches his darts at the pa-
ladin. These he avoids by his agility, when the
monster returns and charges him with his club.
Rinaldo, thus pressed, shelters himself, by
placing his back against a pine, and maintains
the combat with Fusberta. The centaur, who 9
had at first seemed to have the advantage, in
being able to curvet about the knight, and
threaten him behind and before, finding himself
deprived of this double means of annoyance,
leaves him, and gallops after the damsel, who had
in the meantime seated herself upon her palfrey.
From this he snatches her in fury, throws her
on his own croup, and flies with her through _
the forest. *



BOOK I. INNAMORATO. 9SJ ^I^J-a

Rinaldo, who is this while engaged in mount- V';^
ing Rabican, follows ; and, such is the swiftness "^^ t^^f^'l i
of his horse, is almost immediately up with the X ()


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Online LibraryMatteo Maria BoiardoThe Orlando innamorato → online text (page 6 of 13)