Boiardo: Orlando Innamorato

Book I: Canto XXVIII: Rinaldo Saved

Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2022, All Rights Reserved.

This work may be freely reproduced, stored and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose.
Conditions and Exceptions apply.


Boiardo: Orlando Innamorato: Book I, Canto XXVIII

Book I: Canto XXVIII: 1-7: Orlando threatens Rinaldo

He who has never known the power of Love

May, perchance, seek to blame that valiant pair,

Each duelling, his supremacy to prove,

With ire and fury, and without a care

For the respect due, e’en at one remove,

To family, and the blood the two did share.

Count Orlando, was certainly remiss,

The desire to fight being mostly his.

But he who knows Love, and its endless might,

Will excuse the Count; stronger than the mind,

Love overcomes all art and wit, outright;

None can defend themselves from it, we find.

Young and old join the dance, lord and knight,

Merchant and peasant, folk of every kind.

Love lets the lover pause not to take breath,

For there’s no remedy for love or death.

And this will, shortly, be made manifest;

For Count Orlando, who’d possessed good sense,

Had changed his nature, being now obsessed,

And most impatient for his lady’s presence.

Rinaldo was his foe, though, once, the best

Of friends; driven now to warlike nonsense,

Orlando threatened him with death that morn,

And cried out, after sounding his great horn:

‘You’re not back in Montalbano now,

And so able to hide behind its wall;

Malagigi’s not here, to scrape and bow

And exercise his magic, at your call.

Who will save you from my grasp, and how?

Where could you run to, if you chose? Midst all

The realms and cities of the earth, there’s none

Where you have not some crime, or other done.

You journeyed to the Barbary Coast and there

It seems you kidnapped Belisandra,

Perchance to those shores you would repair,

Or seek the Levant and there find shelter,

Where seven brothers died, none Fate did spare,

Through your fraud and folly, and, as ever,

Your inevitable bent for treachery.

Or perchance you’ll go hide in Thessaly?

There you captured King Pantasilicor,

No greater cowardice was ever known!

You took him prisoner and what’s more

Saw him hanged, Whichever king holds his throne,

There you cannot pass. I know not, for sure,

The tale of all the lawlessness you’ve sown,

Your thefts and murders, yet, by night and day,

Montalbano’s road’s treacherous they say.

I do know that you stole a weight of gold,

Wealth that by every right belonged to me,

For twas me, not you, in lying ever bold,

That killed India’s king, Durastante.

And twas amidst a truce, so I was told,

Of Charlemagne’s, that you most secretly

Stole King Marsilio’s graven image.

Repent! Today I’ll repay the damage.’

Book I: Canto XXVIII: 8-12: Who replies in kind

Rinaldo gave the Count a sharp reply.

He blew loudly on his horn, Bondino,

And once the sound had ceased, he gave a cry:

‘To your mark, vassal, once a knightly foe,

Since you seemed disposed at least to try

And settle scores for every pagan so,

That was killed, by me, you claim, in the course

Of hanging, theft, or abduction by force.

But let me remind you, I avenged, thus,

The deaths of many a Christian there.

While you may recall the most courageous

Don Chiaro, whom you slew, in that affair,

Because of which Girardo, one of us,

Renounced his faith, turned pagan, in despair.

Hear me, you renegade! You, vile offence

Against honour! The evil lack defence!

Ranier, brave Oliviero’s father,

Was killed by Charlemagne because of you.

Arnoldo of Bilanda, moreover,

Before his loving father’s eyes, you slew.

When you rise tomorrow, and prayers offer,

Do you hope to have Paradise in view?

You’ll need far more than a fine word or so,

To outweigh your foul deeds, that fact I know.

Come villain, and recall Aspromonte!

The capture of that place, by treachery,

Meant death for the valiant king Balante,

A treachery you shared in equally,

Being close to Charlemagne; cowardly,

You proved, not facing the man openly.

But, at your behest, other men did go;

Twas Rugiero the Vassal slew him so.’

Rinaldo shouted out these words and more,

Taunting Orlando, sparing him not at all,

Until the Count could no longer endure

His cries and, maddened by the other’s gall,  

Charged, tempestuously, as if in war.

Each knight crouched behind his shield, a wall

Against his foe’s sharp lance, brave indeed;

Fast as wind or lightning seemed each steed.

Book I: Canto XXVIII: 13-18: The warrior’s exchange blows

Like two fearsome opposing gales at sea,

That clash, causing mighty ships to founder,

Drowning small vessels, scattering debris,

Or two mountain streams that meet together,

Rolling boulders, uprooting every tree

In their path, that pair fought one another,  

Charging to the encounter, there to clash,

Till their lances struck, with an almighty crash.

Neither moved a finger’s breadth in their seat,

Though the broken shafts hurtled to the sky.

They wheeled and, drawing their sharp swords to meet

The foe, glared deep into each other’s eye.

There was none so brave, amidst the elite

That watched on, that sight failed to terrify,

For, those two, turning, showed a fearsome gaze,

Grim, and menacing, in which dark fires did blaze.

No crueller thing the world has ever seen

Than the fierce onslaught of those two.

While the onlookers trembled at the scene,

And sweated, as those bold knights toiled anew.

Steel armour, chain-mail, as was rarely seen,

Baring the flesh, not only fell but flew

O’er the ground. Swinging hard, Rinaldo

Struck so fiercely at the shield of his foe,

That the targe split, and the blade swept on

To fracture the guard about his forearm.

Though the Count was pained by the blow thereon,

It yet failed to do him long-lasting harm,

While he attacked Rinaldo; thereupon,

Dealing a blow, left-handed, overarm,

That whistled like the wind, and cracked the shield,

And struck the shoulder-blade it had concealed.

Little by little, their fury waxed further.

Rinaldo struck the Count’s strong helm with force;

Twas once Almonte’s and charmed, however,

So that the blade deflected in its course,

Though Orlando took time to recover

From that fierce blow like the kick of a horse.

Dazed a moment or two, he yet survived;

Filled by shame and anger as he revived.

Gritting his teeth, the valiant knight groaned,

And struck Rinaldo a blow on the head,

Denting the helm Mambrino had owned,

With a fury rarely seen, a blow that led

To the prince slumping down, well-nigh dethroned

From his steed. Rabicano plunged ahead,

Then, as if borne by wings, sped on again,

While Orlando spurred his own mount in vain.  

Book I: Canto XXVIII: 19-26: And stun each other

Never so sad a sight was ever seen,

As that of the valorous Rinaldo

Hanging limp from the saddle; o’er the green

Grass of the meadow, trailing, in his woe,

His sword, Fusberta; twas a sorry scene.

Crimson flowed from his helm, and dripped below,

While he shook in his sore distress and pain,

His coursing blood trembling in every vein.

Blood issued forth from out his mouth, and nose,

And twas not long ere his helmet was full.

His courage was down, his heart nigh-froze,

His steed ran free; pained by a throbbing skull,

The knight was dazed awhile, such was the blow’s

Great force; yet no fierce snake, no raging bull,

Matched Rinaldo in anger, when he woke,

Recovering swiftly from that mighty stroke.

Ne’er was a fiercer challenge in this world;

What ensued surpassed all the duels of old.

For Rinaldo unstrapped his shield, and hurled

It to the ground, and then tightened his hold

On Fusberta, and round his head he whirled

That mighty sword, in both hands, to unfold

A vicious blow, striking hard at Orlando,

Dealing a shock to the forehead of his foe.

The Count could barely withstand its force,

His arms hung down loosely at his side.

He banged his head on the rump of his horse,

And then swayed back and forth, as he did ride,

Well-nigh sliding from the steed, in its course.

His sudden lack of strength he failed to hide.

Little kept the Count from falling to the field,

Stunned as he was; though not about to yield.

For like the knight he was, of sovereign strength,

He roused swiftly from his pain and distress,

And, gazing at Durindana, at length

Cried: ‘The blade is mine, and endless success

It brought me, by the fount, where a tenth

Of my Saracen foes, twas little less

I despatched at each blow; or I’m deranged,

And tis for some other sword exchanged.

I must trial the blade.’ Then he looked around,

And discovered a block of solid marble,

And split it, from its summit to the ground

Or well-nigh, as he leant from the saddle.

He turned to Rinaldo; fresh strength he found,

His eyes aflame, as, he sped to battle,

A dragon breathing fire, set to engage,

Whirling his sword, grinding his teeth in rage.

O Our God in Heaven, O Virgin Queen,

Defend Rinaldo from that mighty blow!

More vicious than aught our age has seen,

It might had laid a diamond mountain low.

Durindana’s gleaming steel was ever keen,

Armour held no truce with it, as we know,

But the Lord wished to save Amone’s son,

And twas but the flat of the blade he won.

Were it the edge, twould have sliced him in two,

Down to the saddle, and his mail worth naught;

He’d have died there and then. The blow was true,

For Orlando his cousin’s death had sought.

There was danger still; he was stunned anew,

The force of it his helmet’s crown had caught,

And the shock of it bruised the head below,

So that from ears and mouth the blood did flow.

Book I: Canto XXVIII: 27-28: Angelica intervenes to save Rinaldo

All who stood there, gazing on, raised a cry,

At the sheer power unleashed, in that stroke;

E’en fierce Marfisa had a tear in her eye,

Thinking him lost. While, ere the prince awoke,

Orlando swung again, his sword on high,

To slice the knight in two, and death invoke.

And since Rinaldo lay as still as death,

He might have drawn, that instant, his last breath.

But the mortal blow now failed to descend,

For Angelica called to the Count to hold.

Then, with smiling face, took his arm, to end

The duel and, in a voice sweet yet bold,

Said: ‘My intervention I’ll not defend,

Dear Count; midst the chivalrous, I’m told,

One’s word is everywhere a guarantee

Of one’s good faith, as I deem yours to be.

Book I: Canto XXVIII: 29-32: Sending Orlando on a quest to destroy Falerina’s garden

I swore my very self you might command,

That I’d render you happy, twas my vow;

Yours the how and when, you understand,

Yet that you’d first one sole request allow,

Undertaking a task that I’d demand,

Whene’er I might wish; and, that time is now.

Therefore, brave lord, go hence, without delay,

And, as to your road, hark to what I say.

Follow the road that crosses this country,

And make sure you do so without resting,

Till you reach Orgagna’s near boundary,

Where you’ll discover a most wondrous thing.

For, there, a deceitful, artful lady,

Falerina, fair queen of sorcery,

(God give her grief!) has wrought a magic garden,

That can but bring ruin to her kingdom.

All that portion of enchanted ground,

Is guarded by a dragon at the gate,

Which has ravaged all the fair land around,

While full many have been led to their fate;

Since no stranger passes there, safe and sound,

Nor knight that’s not captured soon or late,

Nor lord defending some lovely maiden;

All such are delivered to the dragon.

So, I ask of you, if you do love me,

Which, as far as I can see, you surely do:

Remove the threat to that fair country,

Which I cannot endure; to me, prove true.

I know the depths of your bravery,

Both the strength and skill that belong to you,

And that though the task is dangerous,

You can ne’er be aught but victorious.’

Book I: Canto XXVIII: 33-35: But Rinaldo still rejects her love

Orlando at once bowed to the lady;

No need was there to speak another word.

The Count galloped off so rapidly,

He was soon out of view; full hard he spurred.

Rinaldo revived, was full of fury,

And seemed bent on revenge, still wildly stirred,

For, with both hands, he gripped his mighty sword,

Pouring endless scorn on that departing lord,

Though, by then, Orlando was a league away.

Rinaldo pledged to follow on his trail,

For he swore he’d have no peace, night or day,

Till one of them was dead; to no avail,

For Astolfo and Marfisa had their say;

At last, their words of wisdom did prevail,

And though Rinaldo’s mind was yet on fire,

He abandoned, with reluctance, his desire.

Such was the end of that ill-advised fight;

Rinaldo had his wounds bathed and tended.

Angelica wished to speak with the knight,

But to be with her he ne’er condescended.

He had such hatred of her, the mere sight

Of the lady annoyed him, and offended.

Hence, she departed, her sadness unconcealed,

While he was borne to his tent in the field.

Book I: Canto XXVIII: 36-41: Angelica’s complaint

On returning to the fortress, the lady

Complained of her love, and her ill-fortune.

She called on Death, while weeping profusely,

And cried: ‘Was there e’er, beneath the moon,

Any maid that lived, any soul, that, sadly,

To the depths of hell descended, late or soon,

That felt such loving ardour and such pain

As my tormented heart must here sustain?

That noble knight possesses my poor heart;

He wishes me dead, yet will not slay me,

He hears me not, is cruel, walks apart.

If I could but make him listen, calmly,

To the tale of my torments, then impart

The means to end my existence, wholly

Content I’d die. My deep love I’d reveal,

That he might know the depths of pain I feel.

Every heart that’s harsh and disdainful

Yields at last to love, and tears of woe,

So, Hope assures me, and I am hopeful,

That he’ll grant what he denies me, and so

The sole path to joy is to be loyal,

And have patience, and pray, yet cry also,

And if I fail, left forever sighing,

Then twill not be for the want of trying.

Nay, I shall conquer his discourtesy:

I’ll please him though it takes forever,

My pain, the endless flames that consume me,

Will make him pity his tormented lover.

And to start upon that path, I must surely

Send him Baiardo, since that bold charger,

Or so I hear, for all folk say tis true,

He loves more than aught else the eye can view.

The Count will not return, whose is the steed,

For all his strength and skill are useless where

I’ve sent him; he’ll know nothing of my deed,

Thus the creature’s fate is my own affair.

Dear Lord, how sinful I must be, indeed,

To be the sole cause of his dying there!

But, God knows, by no means could I stand by,

And see the man I love condemned to die.

Anglante’s lord must perish, in his stead,

And, thereby, he has kept my love alive;

Yet the Count, who loves me, will join the dead,

While he I love, of love, doth me deprive.

Thus, ill-conscience weighs heavy on my head,

And I do wrong, in this that I contrive.

Love’s is the fault, who rules his subjects so,

Obeys no laws, and wills both joy and woe.’

Book I: Canto XXVIII: 42-46: She instructs her lady’s-maid

And, with this, she called forth a lady’s-maid,

One who had been her lifelong companion,

That noble manners and sweet speech displayed.

She curtsied to her mistress, whereupon,

Angelica said: ‘A word I wish conveyed,

To that fair warrior-queen who wars upon

Our citadel, and, in her pride, maintains

This cruel siege, though my clear right obtains.

Mount your palfrey, and lead on Baiardo,

That noble charger, his reins in your hand.

Midst the tents, that o’er the field overflow,

Find Montalbano’s lord, you understand,

And offer him the steed, and say also,

That though he is pitiless, he doth command

My heart, and though I perish from desire,

I’d not retain his mount, nor rouse his ire.  

I could ne’er let the steed endure distress,

Much less his master, who opposes me

Unjustly, and does my poor realm oppress.

And yet mine is the right, as he must see;

If I’ve wronged him, tis by my own excess

In loving him, past all belief, as must be

While I possess heart, blood, life, this I know,

Whether I wish to feel such love, or no.

Speak to him in this manner, tell him this,

Return with his answer, if he’ll reply,

For so little sympathy, it seems, is his,

He may disdain to look you in the eye.

Yet, ere you return, go seek a promise,

From the queen, but honour her not, say I;

Approach Marfisa, yet not reverently,

Stay mounted, and make this request from me,

Say to her that I know Agricane,

Through his prowess in war, has roused great fear

Amongst the folk of many a country,

And so coerced them into fighting here.

If she’ll depart, of her true chivalry,

Her absence would lead folk, far and near,

To come hither, and help me with their aid,

While her presence has rendered them afraid.’

Book I: Canto XXVIII: 47-50: Astolfo seizes Baiardo

The maid descended from the citadel;

Soon, she found Rinaldo’s tent, midst the field.

She gave him the message, speaking well,

Both softly and courteously; there, she kneeled,

But naught good that I know of, thus, befell,  

For, if he understood aught, he concealed

The fact, and, on learning who had sent her,

He turned his back, disinclined to hear her.

With him, in his tent, was bold Astolfo,

Who, on seeing the lady’s-maid depart,

Still leading that noble mount, Baiardo,

To follow after her, at once, did start;

He insisted that, by right, she should know,

The horse, indeed, was his, since, for his part,

He’d brought the steed to that very country,

Which, therefore, must be his courser, clearly.

To conclude, the lady was powerless

To refuse him, and therefore dropped the rein,

Which the bold Astolfo seized with address,

And led Baiardo away, o’er the plain.

The lady’s maid now searched, nonetheless,

For the queen’s tent, her attention to gain,

And ceased not her quest, going to and fro,

Till she found Marfisa, and neither slow

To address her, nor afraid of the queen,

Pronounced her request in a clear manner,

Boldly but yet prudently, I mean.

Of ardent spirit, disinclined to suffer

Others gladly, Marfisa, the gist did glean,

And, with little patience, gave her answer:

‘Pleas are easily made, but once begun

Tis by action, not speech, that wars are won.’

Book I: Canto XXVIII: 51-54: Orlando encounters a knight, Uldarno

I’ll refrain from describing how the maid

Presented the matter to Angelica

On her return, and all you’ve heard conveyed.

But rather I’ll return, to consider

Orlando’s progress, who his passage made

Through a forest, o’er flowering fields after,

And, beyond the trees, on that open land,

Beheld a mounted knight, with lance in hand.

On a marble bridge o’er a river there,

The knight stood sentinel, as by design,

While above the stream, dangling by her hair

A woman hung from a nearby pine.

She made such sad lament, in her despair,

Twas like to make the passing flood repine.

She cried out for aid, she begged for pity,

And filled the air with her pleas for mercy.

Orlando felt compassion for her plight,

And so approached the pine-tree to free her,

But, from the marble bridge, the mounted knight,

Called out: ‘Move not, sir, but let her suffer!

Upon yourself, shame and woe must alight,

If you grant aid to that evil creature.

Never has any age, ancient or new,

Seen a woman so depraved, so untrue.

Through her malice and her wickedness

Seven knights have been sentenced to die.

But tis not needful I my thoughts express,

Tis a long and sorry tale; come, ride on by,

Attend to other things, seek not distress.’

Dear lords, and ladies, yield not a sigh,

Rest content with what you’ve heard, for now

This canto ends, and I will take my bow.

The End of Book I: Canto XXVIII of ‘Orlando Innamorato’

Boiardo: Orlando Innamorato: Book I, Canto XXVIII - End