Ludovico Ariosto

Here you will find the Long Poem Orlando Furioso Canto 2 of poet Ludovico Ariosto

Orlando Furioso Canto 2

A hermit parts, by means of hollow sprite, 
The two redoubted rivals' dangerous play; 
Rinaldo goes where Love and Hope invite, 
But is dispatched by Charles another way; 
Bradamont, seeking her devoted knight, 
The good Rogero, nigh becomes the prey 
Of Pinabel, who drops the damsel brave 
Into the dungeon of a living grave. 

Injurious love, why still to mar accord 
Between desires has been thy favourite feat? 
Why does it please thee so, perfidious lord, 
Two hearts should with a different measure beat? 
Thou wilt not let me take the certain ford, 
Dragging me where the stream is deep and fleet. 
Her I abandon who my love desires, 
While she who hates, respect and love inspires. 

Thou to Rinaldo show'st the damsel fair, 
While he seems hideous to that gentle dame; 
And he, who when the lady's pride and care, 
Paid back with deepest hate her amorous flame, 
Now pines, himself, the victim of despair, 
Scorned in his turn, and his reward the same. 
By the changed damsel in such sort abhorred, 
She would choose death before that hated lord. 

He to the Pagan cries: "Forego thy theft, 
And down, false felon, from that pilfer'd steed; 
I am not wont to let my own be reft. 
And he who seeks it dearly pays the deed. 
More -- I shall take from thee yon lovely weft; 
To leave thee such a prize were foul misdeed; 
And horse and maid, whose worth outstrips belief, 
Were ill, methinks, relinquished to a thief." 

"Thou liest," the haughty Saracen retorts, 
As proud, and burning with as fierce a flame, 
"A thief thyself, if Fame the truth reports: 
But let good deeds decide our dubious claim, 
With whom the steed or damsel fair assorts: 
Best proved by valiant deeds: though, for the dame, 
That nothing is so precious, I with thee 
(Search the wide world throughout) may well agree." 

As two fierce dogs will somtimes stand at gaze, 
Whom hate or other springs of strife inspire, 
And grind their teeth, while each his foe surveys 
With sidelong glance and eyes more red than fire, 
Then either falls to bites, and hoarsely bays, 
While their stiff bristles stand on end with ire: 
So from reproach and menace to the sword 
Pass Sacripant and Clermont's angry lord. 

Thus kindling into wrath the knights engage: 
One is on foot, the other on his horse: 
Small gain to this; for inexperienced page 
Would better rein his charger in the course. 
For such Baiardo's sense, he will not wage 
War with his master, or put out his force. 
For voice, nor hand, nor manage, will he stir, 
Rebellious to the rein or goading spur. 

He, when the king would urge him, takes the rest, 
Or, when he curbs him, runs in giddy rings; 
And drops his head beneath his spreading chest, 
And plays his spine, and runs an-end and flings. 
And now the furious Saracen distressed, 
Sees 'tis no time to tame the beast, and springs, 
With one hand on the pummel, to the ground; 
Clear of the restless courser at a bound. 

As soon as Sacripant, with well-timed leap, 
Is from the fury of Bayardo freed, 
You may believe the battle does not sleep 
Between those champions, matched in heart and deed. 
Their sounding blades such changeful measure keep, 
The hammer-strokes of Vulcan with less speed 
Descend in that dim cavern, where he heats, 
And Jove's red thunders on his anvil beats. 

Sometimes they lunge, then feign the thrust and parry: 
Deep masters of the desperate game they play; 
Or rise upon the furious stroke, and carry 
Their swords aloft, or stoop and stand at bay. 
Again they close, again exhausted tarry; 
Now hide, now show themselves, and now give way, 
And where one knight an inch of ground has granted, 
His foeman's foot upon that inch is planted. 

When, lo! Rinaldo, now impatient grown, 
Strikes full at Sacripant with lifted blade; 
And he puts forth his buckler made of bone, 
And well with strong and stubborn steel inlaid: 
Though passing thick, Fusberta cleaves it: groan 
Greenwood, and covert close, and sunny glade. 
The paynim's arm rings senseless with the blow, 
And steel and bone, like ice, in shivers go. 

When the fair damsel saw, with timid eye, 
Such ruin follow from the faulchion's sway, 
She, like the criminal, whose doom is nigh, 
Changed her fair countenance through sore dismay, 
And deemed that little time was left to fly 
If she would not be that Rinaldo's prey, 
Rinaldo loathed by her as much, as he 
Doats on the scornful damsel miserably. 

So turned her horse into the gloomy chase, 
And drove him through rough path and tangled ally 
And oftentimes bent back her bloodless face, 
And saw Rina