Fiction > Harvard Classics > The Song of Roland
  PREVIOUS
CONTENTS · BOOK CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  The Song of Roland.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
Part III: The Reprisals
 
The Chastisement of the Saracens
 
 
CXCVIII

DEAD is Roland; his soul with God.
While to Roncesvalles the Emperor rode,
Where neither path nor track he found,
Nor open space nor rood of ground,
But was strewn with Frank or heathen slain,        5
“Where art thou, Roland?” he cried in pain:
“The Archbishop where, and Olivier,
Gerein and his brother in arms, Gerier?
Count Otho where, and Berengier,
Ivon and Ivor, so dear to me;        10
And Engelier of Gascony;
Samson the duke, and Anseis the bold;
Gerard, of Roussillon, the old;
My peers, the twelve whom I left behind?”
In vain!—No answer may he find.        15
“O God,” he cried, “what grief is mine
That I was not in front of this battle line!”
For very wrath his beard he tore,
His knights and barons weeping sore;
Aswoon full fifty thousand fall;        20
Duke Naimes hath pity and dole for all.
 
CXCIX

Nor knight nor baron was there to see
But wept full fast, and bitterly;
For son and brother their tears descend,
For lord and liege, for kin and friend;        25
Aswoon all numberless they fell,
But Naimes did gallantly and well.
He spake the first to the Emperor—
“Look onward, sire, two leagues before,
See the dust from the ways arise,—        30
There the strength of the heathen lies.
Ride on; avenge you for this dark day.”
“O God,” said Karl, “they are far away!
Yet for right and honor, the sooth ye say.
Fair France’s flower they have torn from me.”        35
To Otun and Gebouin beckoned he,
To Tybalt of Rheims, and Milo the count.
“Guard the battle-field, vale, and mount—
Leave the dead as ye see them lie;
Watch, that nor lion nor beast come nigh,        40
Nor on them varlet or squire lay hand;
None shall touch them, ’tis my command,
Till with God’s good grace we return again.”
They answered lowly, in loving strain,
“Great lord, fair sire, we will do your hest,”        45
And a thousand warriors with them rest.
 
CC

The Emperor bade his clarions ring,
Marched with his host the noble king.
They came at last on the heathens’ trace,
And all together pursued in chase;        50
But the king of the falling eve was ware:
He alighted down in a meadow fair,
Knelt on the earth unto God to pray
That he make the sun in his course delay,
Retard the night, and prolong the day.        55
Then his wonted angel who with him spake,
Swiftly to Karl did answer make,
“Ride on! Light shall not thee forego;
God seeth the flower of France laid low;
Thy vengeance wreak on the felon crew.”        60
The Emperor sprang to his steed anew.
 
CCI

God wrought for Karl a miracle:
In his place in heaven the sun stood still.
The heathens fled, the Franks pursued,
And in Val Tenèbres beside them stood;        65
Towards Saragossa the rout they drave,
And deadly were the strokes they gave.
They barred against them path and road;
In front the water of Ebro flowed:
Strong was the current, deep and large,        70
Was neither shallop, nor boat, nor barge.
With a cry to their idol Termagaunt,
The heathens plunge, but with scanty vaunt.
Encumbered with their armor’s weight,
Sank the most to the bottom, straight;        75
Others floated adown the stream;
And the luckiest drank their fill, I deem:
All were in marvellous anguish drowned.
Cry the Franks, “In Roland your fate ye found.”
 
CCII

As he sees the doom of the heathen host,
        80
Slain are some and drowned the most,
(Great spoil have won the Christian knights),
The gentle king from his steed alights,
And kneels, his thanks unto God to pour:
The sun had set as he rose once more.        85
“It is time to rest,” the Emperor cried,
“And to Roncesvalles ’twere late to ride.
Our steeds are weary and spent with pain;
Strip them of saddle and bridle-rein,
Free let them browse on the verdant mead.”        90
“Sire,” say the Franks, “it were well indeed.”
 
CCIII

The Emperor hath his quarters ta’en,
And the Franks alight in the vacant plain;
The saddles from their steeds they strip,
And the bridle-reins from their heads they slip;        95
They set them free on the green grass fair,
Nor can they render them other care.
On the ground the weary warriors slept;
Watch nor vigil that night they kept.
 
CCIV

In the mead the Emperor made his bed,
        100
With his mighty spear beside his head,
Nor will he doff his arms to-night,
But lies in his broidered hauberk white.
Laced is his helm, with gold inlaid,
Girt on Joyeuse, the peerless blade,        105
Which changes thirty times a day
The brightness of its varying ray.
Nor may the lance unspoken be
Which pierced our Saviour on the tree;
Karl hath its point—so God him graced—        110
Within his golden hilt enchased.
And for this honor and boon of heaven,
The name Joyeuse to the sword was given;
The Franks may hold it in memory.
Thence came “Montjoie,” their battle-cry,        115
And thence no race with them may vie.
 
CCV

Clear was the night, and the fair moon shone,
But grief weighed heavy King Karl upon;
He thought of Roland and Olivier,
Of his Franks and every gallant peer,        120
Whom he left to perish in Roncesvale,
Nor can he stint but to weep and wail,
Imploring God their souls to bless,—
Till, overcome with long distress,
He slumbers at last for heaviness.        125
The Franks are sleeping throughout the meads;
Nor rest on foot can the weary steeds—
They crop the herb as they stretch them prone.—
Much hath he learned who hath sorrow known.
 
CCVI

The Emperor slumbered like man forespent,
        130
While God his angel Gabriel sent
The couch of Carlemaine to guard.
All night the angel kept watch and ward,
And in a vision to Karl presaged
A coming battle against him waged.        135
’Twas shown in fearful augury;
The king looked upward to the sky—
There saw he lightning, and hail, and storm,
Wind and tempest in fearful form.
A dread apparel of fire and flame,        140
Down at once on his host they came.
Their ashen lances the flames enfold,
And their bucklers in to the knobs of gold;
Grated the steel of helm and mail.
Yet other perils the Franks assail,        145
And his cavaliers are in deadly strait.
Bears and lions to rend them wait,
Wiverns, snakes and fiends of fire,
More than a thousand griffins dire;
Enfuried at the host they fly.        150
“Help us, Karl!” was the Franks’ outcry,
Ruth and sorrow the king beset;
Fain would he aid, but was sternly let.
A lion came from the forest path,
Proud and daring, and fierce in wrath;        155
Forward sprang he the king to grasp,
And each seized other with deadly clasp;
But who shall conquer or who shall fall,
None knoweth. Nor woke the king withal.
 
CCVII

Another vision came him o’er:
        160
He was in France, his land, once more;
In Aix, upon his palace stair,
And held in double chain a bear.
When thirty more from Arden ran,
Each spake with voice of living man:        165
“Release him, sire!” aloud they call;
“Our kinsman shall not rest in thrall.
To succor him our arms are bound.”
Then from the palace leaped a hound,
On the mightiest of the bears he pressed,        170
Upon the sward, before the rest.
The wondrous fight King Karl may see,
But knows not who shall victor be.
These did the angel to Karl display;
But the Emperor slept till dawning day.        175
 
CCVIII

At morning-tide when day-dawn broke,
The Emperor from his slumber woke.
His holy guardian, Gabriel,
With hand uplifted sained him well.
The king aside his armor laid,        180
And his warriors all were disarrayed.
Then mount they, and in haste they ride,
Through lengthening path and highway wide
Until they see the doleful sight
In Roncesvalles, the field of fight.        185
 
CCIX

Unto Roncesvalles King Karl hath sped,
And his tears are falling above the dead;
“Ride, my barons, at gentle pace,—
I will go before, a little space,
For my nephew’s sake, whom I fain would find.        190
It was once in Aix, I recall to mind,
When we met at the yearly festal-tide,—
My cavaliers in vaunting vied
Of stricken fields and joustings proud,—
I heard my Roland declare aloud,        195
In foreign land would he never fall
But in front of his peers and his warriors all,
He would lie with head to the foeman’s shore,
And make his end like a conqueror.”
Then far as man a staff might fling,        200
Clomb to a rising knoll the king.
 
CCX

As the king in quest of Roland speeds,
The flowers and grass throughout the meads
He sees all red with our baron’s blood,
And his tears of pity break forth in flood.        205
He upward climbs, till, beneath two trees,
The dints upon the rock he sees.
Of Roland’s corse he was then aware;
Stretched it lay on the green grass bare.
No marvel sorrow the king oppressed;        210
He alighted down, and in haste he pressed,
Took the body his arms between,
And fainted: dire his grief I ween.
 
CCXI

As did reviving sense begin,
Naimes, the duke, and Count Acelin,        215
The noble Geoffrey of Anjou,
And his brother Henry nigh him drew.
They made a pine-tree’s trunk his stay;
But he looked to earth where his nephew lay,
And thus all gently made his dole:        220
“My friend, my Roland, God guard thy soul!
Never on earth such knight hath been,
Fields of battle to fight and win.
My pride and glory, alas, are gone!”
He endured no longer; he swooned anon.        225
 
CCXII

As Karl the king revived once more,
His hands were held by barons four.
He saw his nephew, cold and wan;
Stark his frame, but his hue was gone;
His eyes turned inward, dark and dim;        230
And Karl in love lamented him:
“Dear Roland, God thy spirit rest
In Paradise, amongst His blest!
In evil hour thou soughtest Spain:
No day shall dawn but sees my pain,        235
And me of strength and pride bereft.
No champion of mine honor left;
Without a friend beneath the sky;
And though my kindred still be nigh,
Is none like thee their ranks among.”        240
With both his hands his beard he wrung.
The Franks bewailed in unison;
A hundred thousand wept like one.
 
CCXIII

“Dear Roland, I return again
To Laon, to mine own domain;        245
Where men will come from many a land,
And seek Count Roland at my hand.
A bitter tale must I unfold—
‘In Spanish earth he lieth cold,’
A joyless realm henceforth I hold,        250
And weep with daily tears untold.
 
CCXIV

“Dear Roland, beautiful and brave,
All men of me will tidings crave,
When I return to La Chapelle.
Oh, what a tale is mine to tell!        255
That low my glorious nephew lies.
Now will the Saxon foeman rise;
Bulgar and Hun in arms will come,
Apulia’s power, the might of Rome,
Palermitan and Afric bands,        260
And men from fierce and distant lands.
To sorrow, sorrow must succeed;
My hosts to battle who shall lead,
When the mighty captain is overthrown?
Ah! France deserted now, and lone.        265
Come, death, before such grief I bear.”
Once more his beard and hoary hair
Began he with his hands to tear;
A hundred thousand fainted there.
 
CCXV

“Dear Roland, and was this thy fate?
        270
May Paradise thy soul await.
Who slew thee wrought fair France’s bane:
I cannot live, so deep my pain.
For me my kindred lie undone;
And would to Holy Mary’s Son,        275
Ere I at Cizra’s gorge alight,
My soul may take its parting flight:
My spirit would with theirs abide;
My body rest their dust beside.”
With sobs his hoary beard he tore.        280
“Alas!” said Naimes, “for the Emperor.”
 
CCXVI

“Sir Emperor,” Geoffrey of Anjou said,
“Be not by sorrow so sore misled.
Let us seek our comrades throughout the plain,
Who fell by the hands of the men of Spain;        285
And let their bodies on biers be borne.”
“Yea,” said the Emperor. “Sound your horn.”
 
CCXVII

Now doth Count Geoffrey his bugle sound,
And the Franks from their steeds alight to ground
As they their dead companions find,        290
They lay them low on biers reclined;
Nor prayers of bishop or abbot ceased,
Of monk or canon, or tonsured priest.
The dead they blessed in God’s great name,
Set myrrh and frankincense aflame.        295
Their incense to the dead they gave,
Then laid them, as beseemed the brave—
What could they more?—in honored grave.
 
CCXVIII

But the king kept watch o’er Roland’s bier
O’er Turpin and Sir Olivier.        300
He bade their bodies opened be,
Took the hearts of the barons three,
Swathed them in silken cerements light,
Laid them in urns of the marble white.
Their bodies did the Franks enfold        305
In skins of deer, around them rolled;
Laved them with spices and with wine,
Till the king to Milo gave his sign,
To Tybalt, Otun, and Gebouin;
Their bodies three on biers they set,        310
Each in its silken coverlet.
 
CCXIX

To Saragossa did Marsil flee.
He alighted beneath an olive tree,
And sadly to his serfs he gave
His helm, his cuirass, and his glaive,        315
Then flung him on the herbage green;
Came nigh him Bramimonde his queen.
Shorn from his wrist was his right hand good;
He swooned for pain and waste of blood.
The queen, in anguish, wept and cried,        320
With twenty thousand by her side.
King Karl and gentle France they cursed;
Then on their gods their anger burst.
Unto Apollin’s crypt they ran,
And with revilings thus began:        325
“Ah, evil-hearted god, to bring
Such dark dishonor on our king.
Thy servants ill dost thou repay.”
His crown and wand they wrench away,
They bind him to a pillar fast,        330
And then his form to earth they cast,
His limbs with staves they bruise and break:
From Termagaunt his gem they take:
Mohammed to a trench they bear,
For dogs and boars to tread and tear.        335
 
CCXX

Within his vaulted hall they bore
King Marsil, when his swoon was o’er;
The hall with colored writings stained.
And loud the queen in anguish plained,
The while she tore her streaming hair,        340
“Ah, Saragossa, reft and bare,
Thou seest thy noble king o’erthrown!
Such felony our gods have shown,
Who failed in fight his aids to be.
The Emir comes—a dastard he,        345
Unless he will that race essay,
Who proudly fling their lives away.
Their Emperor of the hoary beard,
In valor’s desperation reared,
Will never fly for mortal foe.        350
Till he be slain, how deep my woe!”
 
CCXXI

Fierce is the heat and thick the dust.
The Franks the flying Arabs thrust.
To Saragossa speeds their flight.
The queen ascends a turret’s height.        355
The clerks and canons on her wait,
Of that false law God holds in hate.
Order or tonsure have they none.
And when she thus beheld undone
The Arab power, all disarrayed,        360
Aloud she cried, “Mahound us aid!
My king! defeated is our race,
The Emir slain in foul disgrace.”
King Marsil turns him to the wall,
And weeps—his visage darkened all.        365
He dies for grief—in sin he dies,
His wretched soul the demon’s prize.
 
CCXXII

Dead lay the heathens, or turned to flight,
And Karl was victor in the fight.
Down Saragossa’s wall he brake—        370
Defense he knew was none to make.
And as the city lay subdued,
The hoary king all proudly stood,
There rested his victorious powers.
The queen hath yielded up the towers—        375
Ten great towers and fifty small.
Well strives he whom God aids withal.
 
CCXXIII

Day passed; the shades of night drew on,
And moon and stars refulgent shone.
Now Karl is Saragossa’s lord,        380
And a thousand Franks, by the king’s award,
Roam the city, to search and see
Where mosque or synagogue may be.
With axe and mallet of steel in hand,
They let nor idol nor image stand;        385
The shrines of sorcery down they hew,
For Karl hath faith in God the True,
And will Him righteous service do.
The bishops have the water blessed,
The heathen to the font are pressed.        390
If any Karl’s command gainsay,
He has him hanged or burned straightway.
So a hundred thousand to Christ are won;
But Bramimonde the queen along
Shall unto France be captive brought,        395
And in love be her conversion wrought.
 
CCXXIV

Night passed, and came the daylight hours,
Karl garrisoned the city’s towers;
He left a thousand valiant knights,
To sentinel their Emperor’s rights.        400
Then all his Franks ascend their steeds,
While Bramimonde in bonds he leads,
To work her good his sole intent.
And so, in pride and strength, they went;
They passed Narbonne in gallant show,        405
And reached thy stately walls, Bordeaux.
There, on Saint Severin’s alter high,
Karl placed Count Roland’s horn to lie,
With mangons filled, and coins of gold,
As pilgrims to this hour behold.        410
Across Garonne he bent his way,
In ships within the stream that lay,
And brought his nephew unto Blaye,
With his noble comrade, Olivier,
And Turpin sage, the gallant peer.        415
Of the marble white their tombs were made;
In Saint Roman’s shrine are the baron’s laid,
Whom the Franks to God and his saints commend.
And Karl by hill and vale doth wend,
Nor stays till Aix is reached, and there        420
Alighteth on his marble stair.
When sits he in his palace hall,
He sends around to his judges all,
From Frisia, Saxony, Loraine,
From Burgundy and Allemaine,        425
From Normandy, Brittaine, Poitou:
The realm of France he searches through,
And summons every sagest man.
The plea of Ganelon then began.
 
CCXXV

From Spain the Emperor made retreat,
        430
To Aix in France, his kingly seat;
And thither, to his halls, there came,
Alda, the fair and gentle dame.
“Where is my Roland, sire,” she cried,
“Who vowed to take me for his bride?”        435
O’er Karl the flood of sorrow swept;
He tore his beard and loud he wept.
“Dear sister, gentle friend,” he said,
“Thou seekest one who lieth dead:
I plight to thee my son instead,—        440
Louis, who lord of my realm shall be.”
“Strange,” she said, “seems this to me.
God and his angels forbid that I
Should live on earth if Roland die.”
Pale grew her cheek—she sank amain,        445
Down at the feet of Carlemaine.
So died she. God receive her soul!
The Franks bewail her in grief and dole.
 
CCXXVI

So to her death went Alda fair.
The king but deemed she fainted there.        450
While dropped his tears of pity warm,
He took her hands and raised her form.
Upon his shoulder drooped her head,
And Karl was ware that she was dead.
When thus he saw that life was o’er,        455
He summoned noble ladies four.
Within a cloister was she borne;
They watched beside her until morn;
Beneath a shrine her limbs were laid;—
Such honor Karl to Alda paid.        460
 
CCXXVII

The Emperor sitteth in Aix again,
With Gan, the felon, in iron chain,
The very palace walls beside,
By serfs unto a stake was tied.
They bound his hands with leathern thong,        465
Beat him with staves and cordage strong;
Nor hath he earned a better fee.
And there in pain awaits his plea.
 
CCXXVIII

’Tis written in the ancient geste,
How Karl hath summoned east and west.        470
At La Chapelle assembled they;
High was the feast and great the day—
Saint Sylvester’s, the legend ran.
The plea and judgment then began
Of Ganelon, who the treason wrought,        475
Now face to face with his Emperor brought.
 
CCXXIX

“Lords, my barons,” said Karl the king,
“On Gan be righteous reckoning:
He followed in my host to Spain;
Through him ten thousand Franks lie slain        480
And slain was he, my sister’s son,
Whom never more ye look upon,
With Olivier the sage and bold,
And all my peers, betrayed for gold.”
“Shame befall me,” said Gan, “if I        485
Now or ever the deed deny;
Foully he wronged me in wealth and land,
And I his death and ruin planned:
Therein, I say, was treason none.”
They said, “We will advise thereon.”        490
 
CCXXX

Count Gan to the Emperor’s presence came,
Fresh of hue and lithe of frame,
With a baron’s mien, were his heart but true.
On his judges round his glance he threw,
And on thirty kinsmen by his side,        495
And thus, with mighty voice, he cried:
“Hear me, barons, for love of God.
In the Emperor’s host was I abroad—
Well I served him, and loyally,
But his nephew, Roland, hated me:        500
He doomed my doom of death and woe,
That I to Marsil’s court should go.
My craft the danger put aside,
But Roland loudly I defied,
With Olivier, and all their crew,        505
As Karl, and these his barons, knew.
Vengeance, not treason, have I wrought.”
“Thereon,” they answered, “take we thought.”
 
CCXXXI

When Ganelon saw the plea begin,
He mustered thirty of his kin,        510
With one revered by all the rest—
Pinabel of Sorrence’s crest.
Well can his tongue his cause unfold,
And a vassal brave his arms to hold.
“Thine aid,” said Ganelon, “I claim;        515
To rescue me from death and shame.”
Said Pinabel, “Rescued shalt thou be.
Let any Frank thy death decree,
And, wheresoe’er the king deems meet,
I will him body to body greet,        520
Give him the lie with my brand of steel.”
Ganelon sank at his feet to kneel.
 
CCXXXII

Come Frank and Norman to council in,
Bavarian, Saxon, and Poitevin,
With all the barons of Teuton blood;        525
But the men of Auvergne are mild of mood—
Their hearts are swayed unto Pinabel.
Saith each to other, “Pause we well.
Let us leave this plea, and the king implore
To set Count Ganelon free once more,        530
Henceforth to serve him in love and faith:
Count Roland lieth cold in death:
Not all the gold beneath the sky
Can give him back to mortal eye;
Such battle would but madness be.”        535
They all applauded his decree,
Save Thierry—Geoffrey’s brother he.
 
CCXXXIII

The barons came the king before.
“Fair Sire, we all thy grace implore,
That Gan be suffered free to go,        540
His faith and love henceforth to show.
Oh, let him live—a noble he.
Your Roland you shall never see:
No wealth of gold may him recall.”
Karl answered, “Ye are felons all.”        545
 
CCXXXIV

When Karl saw all forsake him now,
Dark grew his face and drooped his brow.
He said, “Of men most wretched I!”
Stepped forth Thierry speedily,
Duke Geoffrey’s brother, a noble knight,        550
Spare of body, and lithe and light,
Dark his hair and his hue withal,
Nor low of stature, nor over tall:
To Karl, in courteous wise, he said,
“Fair Sire, be not disheartenèd.        555
I have served you truly, and, in the name
Of my lineage, I this quarrel claim.
If Roland wronged Sir Gan in aught,
Your service had his safeguard wrought.
Ganelon bore him like caitiff base,        560
A perjured traitor before your face.
I adjudge him to die on the gallows tree;
Flung to the hounds let his carcase be,
The doom of treason and felony.
Let kin of his but say I lie,        565
And with this girded sword will I
My plighted word in fight maintain.”
“Well spoken,” cry the Franks amain.
 
CCXXXV

Sir Pinabel stood before Karl in place,
Vast of body and swift of pace,—        570
Small hope hath he whom his sword may smite.
“Sire, it is yours to decide the right.
Bid this clamor around to pause.
Thierry hath dared to adjudge the cause;
He lieth. Battle thereon I do.”        575
And forth his right-hand glove he drew.
But the Emperor said, “In bail to me
Shall thirty of his kinsmen be;
I yield him pledges on my side:
Be they guarded well till the right be tried.”        580
When Thierry saw the fight shall be,
To Karl his right glove reacheth he;
The Emperor gave his pledges o’er.
And set in place were benches four—
Thereon the champions take their seat,        585
And all is ranged in order meet,—
The preparations Ogier speeds,—
And both demand their arms and steeds.
 
CCXXXVI

But yet, ere lay they lance in rest,
They make their shrift, are sained and blessed;        590
They hear the Mass, the Host receive,
Great gifts to church and cloister leave.
They stand before the Emperor’s face;
The spurs upon their feet they lace;
Gird on their corselets, strong and light;        595
Close on their heads the helmets bright.
The golden hilts at belt are hung;
Their quartered shields from shoulder swung.
In hand the mighty spears they lift,
Then spring they on their chargers swift.        600
A hundred thousand cavaliers
The while for Thierry drop their tears;
They pity him for Roland’s sake.
God knows what end the strife will take.
 
CCXXXVII

At Aix is a wide and grassy plain,
        605
Where met in battle the baron’s twain.
Both of valorous knighthood are,
Their chargers swift and apt for war.
They prick them hard with slackened rein;
Drive each at other with might and main.        610
Their bucklers are in fragments flung,
Their hauberks rent, their girths unstrung;
With saddles turned, they earthward rolled,
A hundred thousand in tears behold.
 
CCXXXVIII

Both cavaliers to earth are gone,
        615
Both rise and leap on foot anon.
Strong is Pinabel, swift and light;
Each striketh other, unhorsed they fight;
With golden-hilted swords, they deal
Fiery strokes on the helms of steel.        620
Trenchant and fierce is their every blow.
The Franks look on in wondrous woe.
“O God,” saith Karl, “Thy judgment show.”
 
CCXXXIX

“Yield thee, Thierry,” said Pinabel.
“In love and faith will I serve thee well,        625
And all my wealth to thy feet will bring,
Win Ganelon’s pardon from the king.”
“Never,” Thierry in scorn replied,
“Shall thought so base in my bosom bide!
God betwixt us this day decide.”        630
 
CCXL

“Ah, Pinabel!” so Thierry spake,
“Thou art a baron of stalwart make,
Thy knighthood known to every peer,—
Come, let us cease this battle here.
With Karl thy concord shall be won,        635
But on Ganelon be justice done;
Of him henceforth let speech be none.”
“No,” said Pinabel; “God forefend!
My kinsman I to the last defend;
Nor will I blench for mortal face,—        640
Far better death than such disgrace.”
Began they with their glaves anew
The gold-encrusted helms to hew;
Towards heaven the fiery sparkles flew.
They shall not be disjoined again,        645
Nor end the strife till one be slain.
 
CCXLI

Pinabel, lord of Sorrence’s keep,
Smote Thierry’s helm with stroke so deep
The very fire that from it came
Hath set the prairie round in flame;        650
The edge of steel did his forehead trace
Adown the middle of his face;
His hauberk to the centre clave.
God deigned Thierry from death to save.
 
CCXLII

When Thierry felt him wounded so,
        655
For his bright blood flowed on the grass below,
He smote on Pinabel’s helmet brown,
Cut and clave to the nasal down;
Dashed his brains from forth his head,
And, with stroke of prowess, cast him dead.        660
Thus, at a blow, was the battle won:
“God,” say the Franks, “hath this marvel done.”
 
CCXLIII

When Thierry thus was conqueror,
He came the Emperor Karl before.
Full fifty barons were in his train,        665
Duke Naimes, and Ogier the noble Dane,
Geoffrey of Anjou and William of Blaye.
Karl clasped him in his arms straightway
With skin of sable he wiped his face;
Then cast it from him, and, in its place,        670
Bade him in fresh attire be drest.
His armor gently the knights divest;
On an Arab mule they make him ride:
So returns he, in joy and pride.
To the open plain of Aix they come,        675
Where the kin of Ganelon wait their doom.
 
CCXLIV

Karl his dukes and his counts addressed:
“Say, what of those who in bondage rest—
Who came Count Ganelon’s plea to aid,
And for Pinabel were bailsmen made?”        680
“One and all let them die the death.”
And the king to Basbrun, his provost, saith,
“Go, hang them all on the gallows tree.
By my beard I swear, so white to see,
If one escape, thou shalt surely die.”        685
“Mine be the task,” he made reply.
A hundred men-at-arms are there:
The thirty to their doom they bear.
The traitor shall his guilt atone,
With blood of others and his own.        690
 
CCXLV

The men of Bavaria and Allemaine,
Norman and Breton return again,
And with all the Franks aloud they cry,
That Gan a traitor’s death shall die.
They bade be brought four stallions fleet;        695
Bound to them Ganelon, hands and feet:
Wild and swift was each savage steed,
And a mare was standing within the mead;
Four grooms impelled the coursers on,—
A fearful ending for Ganelon.        700
His every nerve was stretched and torn,
And the limbs of his body apart were borne;
The bright blood, springing from every vein,
Left on the herbage green its stain.
He died a felon and recreant:        705
Never shall traitor his treason vaunt.
 
CCXLVI

Now was the Emperor’s vengeance done,
And he called to the bishops of France anon
With those of Bavaria and Allemaine.
“A noble captive is in my train.        710
She hath hearkened to sermon and homily,
And a true believer in Christ will be;
Baptize her so that her soul have grace.”
They say, “Let ladies of noble race,
At her christening, be her sponsors vowed.”        715
And so there gathered a mighty crowd.
At the baths of Aix was the wondrous scene—
There baptized they the Spanish queen;
Julienne they have named her name.
In faith and truth unto Christ she came.        720
 
CCXLVII

When the Emperor’s justice was satisfied,
His mighty wrath did awhile subside.
Queen Bramimonde was a Christian made,
The day passed on into night’s dark shade;
As the king in his vaulted chamber lay,        725
Saint Gabriel came from God to say,
“Karl, thou shalt summon thine empire’s host
And march in haste to Bira’s coast;
Unto Impha city relief to bring,
And succor Vivian, the Christian king.        730
The heathens in siege have the town essayed,
And the shattered Christians invoke thine aid.”
Fain would Karl such task decline.
“God! what a life of toil is mine!”
He wept; his hoary beard he wrung.        735
 
So ends the lay Turoldus sung.
 

CONTENTS · BOOK CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  PREVIOUS
 
Loading
Click here to shop the Bartleby Bookstore.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2014 Bartleby.com · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors