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Unto the leftward turned I, with that trust
Wherewith a little child his mother seeks,
To say to Vergil : “All my blood such gust
Of feeling moves as doth man's bravery tame;
Wilstach's Translation, Purgatorio, Canto XXX.
THE EXQUISITE BEAUTY OF BEATRICE.
While Dante and Beatrice rose from the Heaven of Primal Motion to the Empyrean, the poet turned his dazzled eyes from the heavens, whose sight he could no longer bear, to the contemplation of Beatrice.
Wherefore my love, and loss of other view,
Me back to Beatrice and her homage drew.
Were in one single eulogy grouped, 't would ill
The beauty which in her I now beheld
B'yond mortals goes; her Maker, I believe,
Hath power alone its fulness to receive.
Than in his labored theme was ever bard
Whose verses, light or grave, brought problems hard;
E'en so the exquisite memory of that smile
Not from that day when on this earth I first
Her face beheld, up to this moment, song
Have I e'er failed to strew her path along,
An artist sometimes finds his powers surpassed,
And mine succumbs to beauty's lance at last.
Than any that my trumpet gives, which sounds,
Wilstach's Translation, Paradiso, Canto XXX. THE ORLANDO FURIOSO.
UDOVICO ARIOSTO, author of the Orlando Furioso
was born in Reggio, Italy, Sept. 8, 1474. In 1503 he was taken into the service of the Cardinal Hippolito d'Este, and soon after began the composition of the Orlando Furioso, which occupied him for eleven years. It was published in 1516, and brought him immediate fame. Ariosto was so unkindly treated by his patron that he left him and entered the service of the cardinal's brother, Alfonso, Duke of Ferrara. By him he was appointed governor of a province, in which position he repressed the banditti by whom it was infested, and after a successful administration of three years, returned to Ferrara to reside. The latter part of his life was spent in writing comedies and satires, and in revising the Orlando Furioso. He died in Ferrara, June 6, 1533.
The Orlando Furioso is a sequel to Boiardo's Orlando Innamorata, Ariosto taking up the story at the end of that poem. Its historical basis is the wars of Charlemagne with the Moors, which were probably confused with those of Charles Martel. As the Orlando of the poem is the same Roland whose fall at Roncesvalles in 778 is celebrated in the Song of Roland, its events must have occurred before that time.
Although the poem is called Orlando Furioso, Orlando's madness occupies a very small part of it, the principal threads of the story being Orlando's love for Angelica and his consequent madness, the wars of Charlemagne, and the loves of Bradamant and Rogero. From this Rogero the family of Este claimed to be derived, and for this reason Ariosto made Rogero the real hero of the poem, and took
occasion to lavish the most extravagant praises upon his patron and his family.
With these principal threads are interwoven innumerable episodes which are not out of place in the epic, and lend variety to a story which would otherwise have become tiresome. The lightness of treatment, sometimes approaching ridicule, the rapidity of movement, the grace of style, and the clearness of language, the atmosphere created by the poet which so successfully harmonizes all his tales of magic and his occasional inconsistencies, and the excellent descriptions, have all contributed to the popularity of the poem, which is said to be the most widely read of the epics. These descriptions outweigh its faults, - the taking up the story of Boiardo without an explanation of the situation, the lack of unity, and the failure to depict character; for with the exception of Bradamant and Rogero, Ariosto's heroes and heroines are very much alike, and their conversation is exceedingly tiresome.
The Furioso is written in the octave stanza, and originally consisted of forty cantos, afterwards increased to forty-six.
The poem is the work of a practical poet, one who could govern a province. It is marred by an over-profusion of ornament, and contains no such lofty flights of fancy as are to be found in the Jerusalem Delivered. To this, no doubt, it owes, in part at least, its great popularity, for the poet's poem is never the people's poem.
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND CRITICISM, THE ORLANDO Furioso. Dublin University Magazine, 1845, xxvi., 187-201, 581-601, xxvii., 90-104; Retrospective Review, 1823, viii., 145-170, ix., 263–291; William T. Dobson's Classic Poets, 1879, pp. 186-238 ; Leigh Hunt's Stories from the Italian Poets, n. d. vol. ii., pp. 134-151 ; William Hickling Prescott's Italian Narrative Poetry. (See his Biographical and Critical Miscellanies, 1873, pp. 441-454); M. W. Shelley's Lives of the most eminent Literary and Scientific Men of Italy, Spain, and Portugal, 1835, pp. 239-255. (In Lardner's
Cabinet Cyclopedia, vol. i.) ; John Addington Symonds's Italian Literature, 1888, vol. i., pp. 493-522, vol. ii. pp. 1-50.
STANDARD ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS, THE ORLANDO FURIOSO. Orlando Furioso, Tr. from the Italian by Sir James Harrington, 1724; Orlando Furioso, Tr. by John Hoole, 1819; Orlando Furioso, Tr. into English verse by W. S. Rose, 2 vols., 1864-5.
THE STORY OF THE ORLANDO FURIOSO.
The Emperor Charlemagne was at war with the Moors and had camped near the Pyrenees with his host, determined to conquer their leaders, Marsilius of Spain and Agramant of Africa. To his camp came Orlando, the great paladin, with the beautiful Angelica, princess of Cathay, in search of whom he had roamed the world over. Orlando's cousin, Rinaldo, another of the great lords of Charlemagne, also loved Angelica, for he had seen her immediately after drinking of the Fountain of Love in the forest of Arden, and Charlemagne, fearing trouble between the cousins on her account, took Angelica from Orlando's tent and placed her in the care of Duke Nainus of Bavaria.
Angelica did not like Orlando and she loathed Rinaldo, for he had been the first to meet her after she had tasted the waters of the Fountain of Hate. So when the Christian forces were one day routed in battle and the tents forsaken, she leaped on her palfrey and fled into the forest. Here the first person she met was the hated Rinaldo; and fleeing from him she encountered the fierce Moor Ferrau, who, being also in love with her, drew his sword and attacked the pursuing paladin. But when the two discovered that Angelica had taken advantage of their duel to flee, they made peace and went in search of her.
As she fled, Angelica met Sacripant, an eastern lover who had followed her to France, and put herself under his protection. But when Sacripant was first defeated by Bradamant and then engaged in battle with the pursuing Rinaldo, she deemed herself safer without him and fled ; and presently a page appeared, a shade conjured there by a hermit magician whom Angelica had met, and announced to the warriors that Orlando had appeared and carried the maid to Paris.