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the ingenious Whistlecraft. The serious poems on Roncesvalles in the same language, and more particularly the excellent one of Mr. Merivale, are to be traced to the same source. It has never yet been decided entirely whether Pulci's intention was or was not to deride the religion which is one of his favourite topics. It appears to me, that such an intention would have been no less hazardous to the poet than to the priest, particularly in that age and country; and the permission to publish the poem, and its reception among the classics of Italy, prove that it neither was nor is so interpreted. That he intended to ridicule the monastic life, and suffered his imagination to play with the simple dulness of his converted giant, seems evident enough; but surely it were as unjust to accuse him of irreligion on this account, as to denounce Fielding for his Parson Adams, Barnabas, Thwackum, Supple, and the Ordinary in Jonathan Wild, or Scott, for the exquisite use of his Covenanters in the "Tales of my Landlord."

In the following translation I have used the liberty of the original with the proper names; as Pulci uses Gan, Ganellon, or Ganellone; Carlo, Carlomagno, or Carlomano; Rondel, or Rondello, &c., as it suits his convenience; so has the translator. In other respects the version is faithful to the best of the translator's

other did not mean to burlesque his heroes. It is a happy thing that, with regard to those two great writers, the war has ended by the fortunate intervention of the general body of readers, who, on such occasions, form their Judgment with less erudition and with less prejudice than the critics. But Pulci is little read, and his age is little known. We are told by Mr. Merivale, that the points of abstruse theology are discussed in the Morgante with a degree of sceptical freedom which we should imagine to be altogether remote from the spirit of the fifteenth century. Mr. Merivale follows M. Ginguéné, who follows Voltaire. And the philosopher of Ferney, who was always beating up in all quarters for allies against Christianity, collected all the scriptural passages of Puici, upon which he commented in his own way. But it is only since the Council of Trent, that any doubt which might be raised on a religious dogma exposed an author to the charge of impiety; whilst, in the fifteenth century, a Catholic might be sincerely derout, and yet allow himself a certain degree of latitude in theological doubt. At one and the same time the Florentines might well believe in the Gospel and laugh at a doctor of divinity: for it was exactly at this era that they had been spectators of the memorable controversies between the representatives of the eastern and western churches. Greek and Latin bishops from every corner of Christendom had assembled at Florence for the purpose of trying whether they could possibly understand each other; and when they separated, they hated each other worse than before. At the very time when Pulci was composing his Morgante, the clergy of Florence protested against the excommunications pronounced by Sixtus IV., and with expressions by which his holiness was anathematised in his turn. During these proceedings, an archbishop, convicted of being a papal emissary, was hanged from one of the windows of the government palace at Florence: this event may have suggested to Pulci the idea of converting another archbishop into a hangman. The romantic poets substituted literary and scientific observations for the trivial digressions of the storytellers. This was a great improvement; and although it was not well managed by Pulci, yet he presents us with much curious incidental matter. In quoting his philosophical friend and contemporary Matteo Palmieri, he explains the instinct of brutes by a bold hypothesis-he supposes that they are animated by evil spirits. This idea gave no offence to the theologians of the fifteenth century; but it excited much orthodox indignation when Father Bougeant, a French monk, brought it forward as a new theory of his own. Mr. Merivale, after observing that Pulci died before the discovery of America by Columbus, quotes a passage which will become a very interesting document for the philosophical historian.' We give it in his prose translation: The water is level through its whole extent, although, like the earth, it has the form of a globe. Mankind in those ages were much more ignorant than now. Hercules would blush at this day for having fixed his columns. Vessels will soon pass far beyond them. They may soon reach another hemisphere, because every thing tends to its centre; in like manner as, by a divine mystery, the earth is suspended in the midst of the stars; here below are cities and empires, which were ancient. The inhabitants of those regions were called Antipodes. They have plants and animals as well as you, and wage wars as well as you.'-Morgante, c. 11v. st. 279, &c.

"The more we consider the traces of ancient science, which break in transient flashes through the darkness of the middle ages, and which gra dually re-illuminated the horizon, the more shall we be disposed to adopt the hypothesis suggested by Bailly, and supported by him with seductive eloquence. He maintained that all the acquirements of the Greeks and Romans had been transmitted to them as the wrecks and fragments of the knowledge once possessed by primeval nations, by empires of sages and philosophers, who were afterwards swept from the face of the globe by Some overwhelming catastrophe. His theory may be considered as extravagant; but if the literary productions of the Romans were not yet extant, it would seem incredible, that, after the lapse of a few centuries, the civilisation of the Augustan age could have been succeeded in Italy by such barbarity. The Italians were so ignorant, that they forgot their family names; and before the eleventh century individuals were known only by their Christian names. They had an indistinct idea, in the middle ages, of the existence of the antipodes; but it was a reminiscence of ancient knowledge. Dante has indicated the number and position of the stars composing the polar constellation of the Austral hemisphere. At the sanie time he tells us, that when Lucifer was huried from the celestial regions, the arch-devil transfixed the globe; half his body remained on our side of

ability in combining his interpretation of the one language with the not very easy task of reducing it to the same versification in the other. The reader, on comparing it with the original, is requested to remember that the antiquated language of Pulci, however pure, is not easy to the generality of Italians themselves, from its great mixture of Tuscan proverbs; and he may therefore be more indulgent to the present attempt. How far the translator has succeeded, and whether or no he shall continue the work, are questions which the public will decide. He was induced to make the experiment partly by his love for, and partial intercourse with, the Italian language, of which it is so easy to acquire a slight knowledge, and with which it is so nearly impossible for a foreigner to become accurately conversant. The Italian language is like a capricious beauty, who accords her smiles to all, her favours to few, and sometimes least to those who have courted her longest. The translator wished also to present in an English dress a part at least of a poem never yet rendered into a northern language; at the same time that it has been the original of some of the most celebrated productions on this side of the Alps, as well as of those recent experiments in poetry in England which have been already mentioned.

the centre of the earth, and half on the other side. The shock given to the earth by his fail drove a great portion of the waters of the ocean to the southern hemisphere, and only one high mountain remained uncovered, upon which Dante places his purgatory. As the fall of Lucifer happened before the creation of Adam, it is evident that Danie did not admit that the southern hemisphere had ever been inhabited; hut, about thirty years afterwards, Petrarch, who was better versed in the ancient writers, ventured to hint that the sun shone upon mortals who were unknown to us.

'Nella s'agion che il ciel rapido inchina
Vers' occidente, e che il dì nostro vola
A gente che di là forse l' aspetta.'

"In the course of half a century after Petrarch, another step was gained. The existence of the antipodes was fully demonstrated. Pulci raises a devil to announce the fact; but it had been taught to him by his fellow-citizen Paolo Toscanelli, an excellent astronomer and mathematician, who wrote in his old age to Christopher Columbus, exhorting him to undertake his expedition. "A few stanzas have been translated by Mr. Merivale, with some slight variations, which do not wrong the original. They may be considered as a specimen of Pulci's poetry, when he writes with imagination and feeling, Orlando bids farewell to his dying horse.

His faithful steed, that long had served him well
In peace and war, now closed his languid eye,
Kneel'd at his feet, and seem'd to say Farewell!
I've brought thee to the destined port, and die.'
Orlando felt anew his sorrows swell
When he beheld his Brigliadoro lie
Stretch'd on the field, that crystal fount beside,
Stiffen'd his limbs, and cold his warlike pride:
And, O my much-loved steed, my generous friend,
Companion of my better years!' he said;

And have I lived to see so sad an end

Of all thy toils, and thy brave spirit fled.

O pardon me, if e'er I did offend

With hasty wrong that mild and faithful head!'

Just then, his eyes a momentary light

Flash'd quick; then closed again in endless night.'

"When Orlando is expiring on the field of battle, an angel descends to him, and promises that Alda his wife shall join him in paradise.

Bright with eternal youth and fadeless bloom,
Thine Aldabella thou shalt behold once more,
Partaker of a bliss beyond the tomb

With her whom Sinai's holy hills adore,

Crown'd with fresh flowers, whose colour and perfume
Surpass what Spring's rich bosom ever bore-

Thy mourning widow here she will remain,

And be in Heaven thy joyful spouse again.'

"Whilst the soul of Orlando was soaring to heaven, a soft and plaintive strain was heard, and angelic voices joined in celestial harmony. They sang the psalm, When Israel went out of Egypt; and the singers were known to be angels from the trembling of their wings.

'Poi si sentì con un suon dolce e fioca
Certa armonia con si soavi accenti
Che ben parea d' angelici stromenti.






In eritu Israel, cantar, de Egypto, Sentito fu dagli angeli solenne

Che si conobbe al tremolar le penne.'

"Dante has inserted passages from the Vulgate in his Divina Commedia ; and Petrarch, the most religious of poets, quotes Scripture even when he is courting. Yet they were not accused of impiety. Neither did Pulci incur the danger of a posthumous excommunication until after the Reformauon, when Pius V. (a Dominican, who was turned into a saint by a subsequent pope) promoted the welfare of holy mother church by burning a few wicked books, and hanging a few troublesome authors. The notion that Pulci was in the odour of heresy influenced the opinion of Milton, who only speaks of the Morgante as a sportful romance. Milton was anxious to prove that Catholic writers had ridiculed popish divines, and that the Bible

El Morgante Maggiore.



IN principio era il Verbo appresso a Dio ;
Ed era Iddio il Verbo, e 'l Verbo lui:
Questo era nel principio, al parer mio;
E nulla si può far sanza costui :
Però, giusto Signor benigno e pio,
Mandami solo un de gli angeli tui,

Che m'accompagni, e rechimi a memoria
Una famosa antica e degna storia.


E tu Vergine, figlia, e madre, e sposa
Di quel Signor, che ti dette le chiave
Del cielo e dell' abisso, e d'ogni cosa,
Quel dì che Gabriel tuo ti disse Ave!
Perchè tu se' de' tuo' servi pietosa,
Con dolce rime, e stil grato e soave,
Ajuta i versi miei benignamente,
E'nfino al fine allumina la mente.


Era nel tempo, quando Filomena
Con la sorella si lamenta e plora,
Che si ricorda di sua antica pena,
E pe' boschetti le ninfe innamora
E Febo il carro temperato mena,
Che 'l suo Fetonte l'ammaestra ancora ;
Ed appariva appunto all' orizzonte,
Tal che Titon si graffiava la fronte.

Quand' io varai la mia barchetta, prima
Per ubbidir chi sempre ubbidir debbe
La mente, e faticarsi in prosa e in rima,
E del mio Carlo Imperador m' increbbe ;
Che so quanti la penna ha posto in cima,
Che tutti la sua gloria prevarrebbe :
E stata quella istoria, a quel ch' i' veggio,
Di Carlo male intesa, e scritta peggio.


Diceva già Lionardo Aretino,

Che s'egli avesse avuto scrittor degno,
Com'egli ebbe un Ormanno il suo Pipino
Ch'avesse diligenzia avuto e ingegno;
Sarebbe Carlo Magno un uom divino;
Però ch'egli ebbe gran vittorie e regno,
E fece per la chiesa e per la fede

Certo assai più, che non si dice o crede.

had been subjected to private judgment, notwithstanding the popes had prohibited the reading of it. His ardour did not allow him to stop and examine whether this prohibition might not be posterior to the death of Pulci. Milton had studied Pulci to advantage. The knowledge which he ascribes to his devils, their despairing repentance, the lofty sentiments which he bestows upon some of them, and, above all, the principle that, notwith. standing their crime and its punishment, they retain the grandeur and perfection of angelic nature, are all to be found in the Morgante as well as in Paradise Lost. Ariosto and Tasso have imitated other passages. When great poets borrow from their inferiors in genius, they turn their acquisi tions to such advantage that it is difficult to detect their thefts, and still more difficult to blame them.

"The poem is filled with kings, knights, giants, and devils. There are many battles and many duels. Wars rise out of wars, and empires are conquered in a day. Pulci treats us with plenty of magic and enchantment. His love adventures are not peculiarly interesting; and, with the exception of four or five leading personages, his characters are of no moment. The fab'e turns wholly upon the hatred which Ganellon, the felon knight of Maganza, bears towards Orlando and the rest of the Christian Paladins. Charlemagne is easily practised upon by Ganellon, his prime confidant and man of business. So he treats Orlando and his friends in the most scurvy manner imaginable, and sends them out to hird service in the wars against France. Ganel on is despatched to Spain to treat with King Marsilius, being also instructed to obtain the cession of a kingdom for Orlando; but he concerts a treacherous device with the Spaniards, and Orlando is killed

The Morgante Maggiore.'



In the beginning was the Word next God;
God was the Word, the Word no less was he:
This was in the beginning, to my mode

Of thinking, and without him nought could be: Therefore, just Lord! from out thy high abode, Benign and pious, bid an angel flee,

One only, to be my companion, who
Shall help my famous, worthy, old song through.

And thou, oh Virgin! daughter, mother, bride
Of the same Lord, who gave to you cach key
Of heaven, and hell, and every thing beside,
The day thy Gabriel said "All hail!" to thee,
Since to thy servants pity's ne'er denied,
With flowing rhymes, a pleasant style and free,
Be to my verses then benignly kind,
And to the end illuminate my mind.


'Twas in the season when sad Philomel

Weeps with her sister, who remembers and Deplores the ancient woes which both befel, And makes the nymphs enamour'd, to the hand Of Phaeton by Phoebus loved so well

His car (but temper'd by his sire's command) Was given, and on the horizon's verge just now Appear'd, so that Tithonus scratch'd his brow:


When I prepared my bark first to obey,

As it should still obey, the helm, my mind, And carry prose or rhyme, and this my lay

Of Charles the Emperor, whom you will find By several pens already praised; but they Who to diffuse his glory were inclined, For all that I can see in prose or verse, Have understood Charles badly, and wrote worse.


Leonardo Aretino said already,

That if, like Pepin, Charles had had a writer Of genius quick, and diligently steady,

No hero would in history look brighter; He in the cabinet being always ready,

And in the field a most victorious fighter, Who for the church and Christian faith had wrought, Certes, far more than yet is said or thought.

at the battle of Roncesvalles. The intrigues of Ganellon, his spite, his patience, his obstinacy, his dissunulation, his affected humility, and his inexhaustible powers of intrigue, are admirably depicted; and his character constitutes the chief and finest feature in the poem. Charlemagne is a worthy monarch, but easily grilled. Orlando is a real hero, chaste and disinterested, and who fights in good earnest for the propagation of the faith. He baptizes the giant Morgante, who afterwards serves him like a faithful squire. There is another giant, whose name is Marguite. Morgante falls in with Margutte; and they become sworn brothers. Margutte is a very infidel giant, ready to confess his failings, and full of drolery. He sets all a-laughing, readers, giants, devils, and heroes; and he finishes his career by laughing till he bursts."]

1["About the Morgante Maggiore, I won't have a line omitted. It may circulate or it may not, but all the criticism on earth sha'n't touch a line, unless it be because it is badly translated. Now you say, and I say, and others say, that the translation is a good one, and so it shall go to press as it is. Pulci must answer for his own irreligion: I answer for the translation only." Lord Byron to Mr. Murray, 1820.Why don't you publish my Pulci, the best thing I ever wrote." '- Ib. 1821.]



Guardisi ancora a san Liberatore

Quella badía là presso a Manoppello,
Giù ne gli Abbruzzi fatta per suo onore,
Dove fu la battaglia e 'l gran flaggello
D'un re pagan, che Carlo imperadore
Uccise, e tanto del suo popol fello:
E vedesi tante ossa, e tanto il sanno,
Che tutte in Giusaffà poi si vedranno.


Ma il mondo cieco e ignorante non prezza
Le sue virtù, com' io vorrei vedere:
E tu, Fiorenza, de la sua grandezza
Possiedi, e sempre potrai possedere
Ogni costume ed ogni gentilezza
Che si potesse aquistare o avere

Col senno col tesoro o con la lancia
Dal nobil sangue e venuto di Francia.


Dodici paladini aveva in corte

Carlo; e'l più savio a famoso era Orlando :
Gan traditor lo condusse a la morte
In Roncisvalle un trattato ordinando;
Là dove il corno sonò tanto forte
Dopo la dolorosa rotta, quando

Ne la sua commedia Dante qui dice,
E mettelo con Carlo in ciel felice.


Era per Pasqua quella di natale:
Carlo la corte avea tutta in Parigi :
Orlando, com' io dico, il principale
Evvi, il Danese, Astolfo, e Ansuigi:
Fannosi feste e cose trionfale,

E molto celebravan San Dionigi ;
Angiolin di Bajona, ed Ulivieri
V'era venuto, e 'l gentil Berlinghieri.


Eravi Avolio ed Avino ed Ottone,

Di Normandía, Riccardo Paladino,
E'l savio Namo, e 'l vecchio Salamone,
Gualtier da Monlione, e Baldovino
Ch'era figliuol del tristo Ganellone.
Troppo lieto era il figliuol di Pipino;
Tanto che spesso d'allegrezza geme
Veggendo tutti i paladini insieme.


Ma la Fortuna attenta sta nascosa,
Per guastar sempre ciascun nostro effetto:
Mentre che Carlo così si riposa,
Orlando governava in fatto e in detto
La corte e Carlo Magno ed ogni cosa:
Gan per invidia scoppia il maladetto,
E cominciava un dì con Carlo a dire :
Abbiam noi sempre Orlando ad ubbidire?

Io ho creduto mille volte dirti :

Orlando ha in se troppa presunzione:
Noi siam qui conti, re, duchi a servirti,
E Namo, Ottone, Uggieri e Salamone,
Per onorarti ognun, per ubbidirti :
Che costui abbi ogni reputazione
Nol sofferrem; ma siam deliberati
Da un fanciullo non esser governati.


You still may see at Saint Liberatore
'The abbey, no great way from Manopell,
Erected in the Abruzzi to his glory,

Because of the great battle in which fell
A pagan king, according to the story,

And felon people whom Charles sent to hell: And there are bones so many, and so many, Near them Giusaffa's would seem few, if any.


But the world, blind and ignorant, don't prize
His virtues as I wish to see them: thou,
Florence, by his great bounty don't arise,

And hast, and may have, if thou wilt allow,
All proper customs and true courtesies:
Whate'er thou hast acquired from them till now
With knightly courage, treasure, or the lance,
Is sprung from out the noble blood of France.

Twelve paladins had Charles in court, of whom
The wisest and most famous was Orlando;
Him traitor Gan conducted to the tomb

In Roncesvalles, as the villain plann'd too, While the horn rang so loud, and knell'd the doom

Of their sad rout, though he did all knight can do; And Dante in his comedy has given

To him a happy seat with Charles in heaven..


'T was Christmas-day; in Paris all his court Charles held; the chief, I say, Orlando was, The Dane; Astolfo there too did resort,

Also Ansuigi, the gay time to pass

In festival and in triumphal sport,

The much-renown'd St. Dennis being the cause; Angiolin of Bayonne, and Oliver,

And gentle Belinghieri too came there:


Avolio, and Arino, and Othone

Of Normandy, and Richard Paladin, Wise Hamo, and the ancient Salamone, Walter of Lion's Mount and Baldovin, Who was the son of the sad Ganellone,

Were there, exciting too much gladness in The son of Pepin : - when his knights came hither, He groan'd with joy to see them altogether.


But watchful Fortune, lurking, takes good heed Ever some bar 'gainst our intents to bring: While Charles reposed him thus, in word and deed, Orlando ruled court, Charles, and every thing; Curst Gan, with envy bursting, had such need

To vent his spite, that thus with Charles the king One day he openly began to say,

"Orlando must we always then obey?


"A thousand times I've been about to say, Orlando too presumptuously goes on;

Here are we, counts, kings, dukes, to own thy sway, Hamo, and Otho, Ogier, Solomon,

Each have to honour thee and to obey;

But he has too much credit near the throne, Which we won't suffer, but are quite decided By such a boy to be no longer guided.


Tu cominciasti insino in Aspramonte

A dargli a intender che fusse gagliardo,
E facesse gran cose a quella fonte ;
Ma se non fusse stato il buon Gherardo,
Io so che la vittoria era d' Almonte :

Ma egli ebbe sempre l'occhio a lo stendardo :
Che si voleva quel dì coronarlo:
Questo è colui ch' ha meritato, Carlo.


Se ti ricorda già sendo in Guascogna,
Quando e' vi venne la gente di Spagna,
Il popol de' cristiani avea vergogna,
Se non mostrava la sua forza magna.
Il ver convien pur dir, quando e' bisogna:
Sappi ch' ognuno imperador si lagna:
Quant' io per me, ripasserò que' monti
Ch' io passai 'n qua con sessantaduo conti.


La tua grandezza dispensar si vuole,
E far che ciascun abbi la sua parte:
La corte tutta quanta se ne duole:
Tu credi che costui sia forse Marte?
Orlando un giorno udì queste parole,
Che si sedeva soletto in disparte:
Dispiacquegli di Gan quel che diceva;
Ma molto più che Carlo gli credeva.


E volle con la spada uccider Gano;
Ma Ulivieri in quel mezzo si mise,
E Durlindana gli trasse di mano,
E così il me' che seppe gli divise.
Orlando si sdegnò con Carlo Mano,
E poco men che quivi non l'uccise;
E dipartissi di Parigi solo,

E scoppia e 'mpazza di sdegno e di duolo.


Ad Ermellina moglie del Danese

Tolse Cortana, e poi tolse Rondello;
E'n verso Brara il suo cammin poi prese.
Alda la bella, come vide quello,
Per abbracciarlo le braccia distese.
Orlando, che ismarrito avea il cervello,
Com' ella disse: ben venga il mio Orlando:
Gli volle in su la testa dar col brando,


Come colui che la furia consiglia,
Egli pareva a Gan dar veramente:
Alda la bella si fe' maraviglia:
Orlando si ravvide prestamente:
E la sua sposa pigliava la briglia,
E scese dal caval subitamente:
Ed ogni cosa narrava a costei,
E riposossi alcun giorno con lei.

Poi si partì portato dal furore,

E terminò passare in Paganía;
E mentre che cavalca, il traditore
Di Gan sempre ricorda per la via:
E cavalcando d' uno in altro errore,
In un deserto truova una badía
In luoghi oscuri e paesi lontani,
Ch' era a' confin' tra cristiani e pagani.


"And even at Aspramont thou didst begin
To let him know he was a gallant knight,
And by the fount did much the day to win ;
But I know who that day had won the fight
If it had not for good Gherardo been:

The victory was Almonte's else; his sight He kept upon the standard, and the laurels In fact and fairness are his earning, Charles.


"If thou rememberest being in Gascony,

When there advanced the nations out of Spain,
The Christian cause had suffer'd shamefully,

Had not his valour driven them back again.
Best speak the truth when there's a reason why:
Know then, oh emperor! that all complain :
As for myself, I shall repass the mounts
O'er which I cross'd with two and sixty counts.

"'T is fit thy grandeur should dispense relief,
So that each here may have his proper part,
For the whole court is more or less in grief:
Perhaps thou deem'st this lad a Mars in heart?"
Orlando one day heard this speech in brief,

As by himself it chanced he sate apart:
Displeased he was witn Gan because he said it,
But much more still that Charles should give him credit.


And with the sword he would have murder'd Gan,
But Oliver thrust in between the pair,
And from his hand extracted Durlindan,

And thus at length they separated were.
Orlando, angry too with Carloman,

Wanted but little to have slain him there; Then forth alone from Paris went the chief, And burst and madden'd with disdain and grief.


From Ermellina, consort of the Dane,

He took Cortana, and then took Rondell, And on towards Brara prick'd him o'er the plain; And when she saw him coming, Aldabelle Stretch'd forth her arms to clasp her lord again: Orlando, in whose brain all was not well, As "Welcome, my Orlando, home," she said, Raised up his sword to smite her on the head,


Like him a fury counsels; his revenge

On Gan in that rash act he seem'd to take,
Which Aldabella thought extremely strange;
But soon Orlando found himself awake;
And his spouse took his bridle on this change,
And he dismounted from his horse, and spake
Of every thing which pass'd without demur,
And then reposed himself some days with her.

Then full of wrath departed from the place,
And far as pagan countries roam'd astray,
And while he rode, yet still at every pace

The traitor Gan remember'd by the way;
And wandering on in error a long space,

An abbey which in a lone desert lay, 'Midst glens obscure, and distant lands, he found, Which form'd the Christian's and the pagan's bound.


L'abate si chiamava Chiaramonte,

Era del sangue disceso d'Anglante:
Di sopra a la badía v'era un gran monte,
Dove abitava alcun fiero gigante,
De' quali uno avea nome Passamonte,
L'altro Alabastro, e 'l terzo era Morgante:
Con certe frombe gittavan da alto,
Ed ogni di facevan qualche assalto.


I monachetti non potieno uscire

Del monistero o per legne o per acque :
Orlando picchia, e non volieno aprire,
Fin che a l'abate a la fine pur piacque;
Entrato drento cominciava a dire,
Come colui, che di Maria già nacque
Adora, ed era cristian battezzato,
E com' egli era a la badía arrivato.


Disse l'abate: il ben venuto sia

Di quel ch'io ho volentier ti daremo,
Poi che tu credi al figliuol di Maria;
E la cagion, cavalier, ti diremo,
Acciò che non l'imputi a villania,
Perchè a l'entrar resistenza facemo,
E non ti volle aprir quel monachetto:
Così intervien chi vive con sospetto.


Quando ci venni al principio abitare
Queste montagne, benchè sieno oscure
Come tu vedi; pur si potea stare
Sanza sospetto, ch' ell' eran sicure:
Sol da le fiere t'avevi a guardare;
Fernoci spesso di brutte paure;
Or ci bisogna, se vogliamo starci,
Da le bestie dimestiche guardarci.


Queste ci fan piuttosto stare a segno
Sonci appariti tre fieri giganti,

Non so di quel paese o di qual regno,
Ma molto son feroci tutti quanti :
La forza e 'l malvoler giunt'a lo'ngegno
Sai che può'l tutto; e noi non siam bastanti;
Questi perturban sì l'orazion nostra,
Che non so più che far, s'altri nol mostra.


Gli antichi padri nostri nel deserto,

Se le lor opre sante erano e giuste,
Del ben servir da Dio n'avean buon merto;
Nè creder sol vivessin di locuste:
Piovea dal ciel la manna, questo è certo;
Ma qui convien che spesso assaggi e guste
Sassi che piovon di sopra quel monte,
Che gettano Alabastro e Passamonte.


El terzo ch'è Morgante, assai più fiero,
Isveglie e pini e faggi e cerri e gli oppi,
E gettagli infin qui: questo è pur vero;
Non posso far che d'ira non iscoppi.
Mentre che parlan così in cimitero,
Un sasso par che Rondel quasi sgroppi;
Che da' giganti giù venne da alto
Tanto, ch'e' prese sotto il tetto un salto.

XX. The abbot was call'd Clermont, and by blood Descended from Anglante: under cover Of a great mountain's brow the abbey stood, But certain savage giants look'd him over; One Passamont was foremost of the brood, And Alabaster and Morgante hover Second and third, with certain slings, and throw In daily jeopardy the place below.


The monks could pass the convent gate no more, Nor leave their cells for water or for wood; Orlando knock'd, but none would ope, before Unto the prior it at length seem'd good; Enter'd, he said that he was taught to adore

Him who was born of Mary's holiest blood, And was baptized a Christian; and then show'd How to the abbey he had found his road.


Said the abbot, "You are welcome; what is mine
We give you freely, since that you believe
With us in Mary Mother's Son divine;

And that you may not, cavalier, conceive
The cause of our delay to let you in

To be rusticity, you shall receive
The reason why our gate was barr'd to you:
Thus those who in suspicion live must do.


"When hither to inhabit first we came

These mountains, albeit that they are obscure, As you perceive, yet without fear or blame They seem'd to promise an asylum sure: From savage brutes alone, too fierce to tame, 'T was fit our quiet dwelling to secure ; But now, if here we'd stay, we needs must guard Against domestic beasts with watch and ward.


"These make us stand, in fact, upon the watch; For late there have appear'd three giants rough; What nation or what kingdom bore the batch

I know not, but they are all of savage stuff; When force and malice with some genius match, You know, they can do all- —we are not enough: And these so much our orisons derange,

I know not what to do, till matters change.


"Our ancient fathers living the desert in,
For just and holy works were duly fed;
Think not they lived on locusts sole, 't is certain
That manna was rain'd down from heaven instead ;
But here 't is fit we keep on the alert in [bread,

Our bounds, or taste the stones shower'd down for
From off yon mountain daily raining faster,
And flung by Passamont and Alabaster.


"The third, Morgante, 's savagest by far; he
Plucks up pines, beeches, poplar-trees, and oaks,
And flings them, our community to bury;
And all that I can do but more provokes."
While thus they parley in the cemetery,

A stone from one of their gigantic strokes,
Which nearly crush'd Rondell, came tumbling over,
So that he took a long leap under cover.

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