Orlando Furioso Canto 19

ARGUMENT
Medoro, by Angelica's quaint hand,
Is healed, and weds, and bears her to Catay.
At length Marphisa, with the chosen band,
After long suffering, makes Laiazzi's bay.
Guido the savage, bondsman in the land,
Which impious women rule with civil sway,
With Marphisa strives in single fight,
And lodges her and hers at full of night.

I
By whom he is beloved can no one know,
Who on the top of Fortune's wheel is seated;
Since he, by true and faithless friends, with show
Of equal faith, in glad estate is greeted.
But, should felicity be changed to woe,
The flattering multitude is turned and fleeted!
While he who loves his master from his heart,
Even after death performs his faithful part.

II
Were the heart seen as is the outward cheer,
He who at court is held in sovereign grace,
And he that to his lord is little dear,
With parts reversed, would fill each other's place;
The humble man the greater would appear,
And he, now first, be hindmost in the race.
But be Medoro's faithful story said,
The youth who loved his lord, alive or dead.

III
The closest path, amid the forest gray,
To save himself, pursued the youth forlorn;
But all his schemes were marred by the delay
Of that sore weight upon his shoulders born.
The place he knew not, and mistook the way,
And hid himself again in sheltering thorn.
Secure and distant was his mate, that through
The greenwood shade with lighter shoulders flew.

IV
So far was Cloridan advanced before,
He heard the boy no longer in the wind;
But when he marked the absence of Medore,
It seemed as if his heart was left behind.
'Ah! how was I so negligent,' (the Moor
Exclaimed) 'so far beside myself, and blind,
That I, Medoro, should without thee fare,
Nor know when I deserted thee or where?'

V
So saying, in the wood he disappears,
Plunging into the maze with hurried pace;
And thither, whence he lately issued, steers,
And, desperate, of death returns in trace.
Cries and the tread of steeds this while he hears,
And word and the tread of foemen, as in chase:
Lastly Medoro by his voice is known,
Disarmed, on foot, 'mid many horse, alone.

VI
A hundred horsemen who the youth surround,
Zerbino leads, and bids his followers seize
The stripling: like a top, the boy turns round
And keeps him as he can: among the trees,
Behind oak, elm, beech, ash, he takes his ground,
Nor from the cherished load his shoulders frees.
Wearied, at length, the burden he bestowed
Upon the grass, and stalked about his load.

VII
As in her rocky cavern the she-bear,
With whom close warfare Alpine hunters wage,
Uncertain hangs about her shaggy care,
And growls in mingled sound of love and rage,
To unsheath her claws, and blood her tushes bare,
Would natural hate and wrath the beast engage;
Love softens her, and bids from strife retire,
And for her offspring watch, amid her ire.

VIII
Cloridan who to aid him knows not how,
And with Medoro willingly would die,
But who would not for death this being forego,
Until more foes than one should lifeless lie,
Ambushed, his sharpest arrow to his bow
Fits, and directs it with so true an eye,
The feathered weapon bores a Scotchman's brain,
And lays the warrior dead upon the plain.

IX
Together, all the others of the band
Turned thither, whence was shot the murderous reed;
Meanwhile he launched another from his stand,
That a new foe might by the weapon bleed,
Whom (while he made of this and that demand,
And loudly questioned who had done the deed)
The arrow reached - transfixed the wretch's throat,
And cut his question short in middle note.

X
Zerbino, captain of those horse, no more
Can at the piteous sight his wrath refrain;
In furious heat, he springs upon Medore,
Exclaiming, 'Thou of this shalt bear the pain.'
One hand he in his locks of golden ore
Enwreaths, and drags him to himself amain;
But, as his eyes that beauteous face survey,
Takes pity on the boy, and does not slay.

XI
To him the stripling turns, with suppliant cry,
And, 'By thy God, sir knight,' exclaims, 'I pray,
Be not so passing cruel, nor deny
That I in earth my honoured king may lay:
No other grace I supplicate, nor I
This for the love of life, believe me, say.
So much, no longer, space of life I crave.
As may suffice to give my lord a grave.

XII
'And if you needs must feed the beast and bird,
Like Theban Creon, let their worst be done
Upon these limbs; so that by me interred
In earth be those of good
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Ludovico Ariosto

Ludovico Ariosto was an Italian poet. more…

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"Orlando Furioso Canto 19" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 28 May 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/26303/orlando-furioso-canto-19>.

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