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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

The Saving of Medoro

By Lodovico Ariosto (1474–1533)

From ‘Orlando Furioso,’ Canto 19

BY chance arrived a damsel at the place,

Who was (though mean and rustic was her wear)

Of royal presence and of beauteous face,

And lofty manners, sagely debonnair.

Her have I left unsung so long a space,

That you will hardly recognize the fair

Angelica: in her (if known not) scan

The lofty daughter of Catay’s great khan.

Angelica, when she had won again

The ring Brunello had from her conveyed,

So waxed in stubborn pride and haught disdain,

She seemed to scorn this ample world, and strayed

Alone, and held as cheap each living swain,

Although amid the best by fame arrayed;

Nor brooked she to remember a gallant

In Count Orlando or King Sacripant:

And above every other deed repented,

That good Rinaldo she had loved of yore;

And that to look so low she had consented,

(As by such choice dishonored) grieved her sore.

Love, hearing this, such arrogance resented,

And would the damsel’s pride endure no more.

Where young Medoro lay he took his stand,

And waited her, with bow and shaft in hand.

When fair Angelica the stripling spies,

Nigh hurt to death in that disastrous fray,

Who for his king, that there unsheltered lies,

More sad than for his own misfortune lay,

She feels new pity in her bosom rise,

Which makes its entry in unwonted way.

Touched was her naughty heart, once hard and curst,

And more when he his piteous tale rehearsed.

And calling back to memory her art,

For she in Ind had learned chirurgery,

(Since it appears such studies in that part

Worthy of praise and fame are held to be,

And, as an heirloom, sires to sons impart,

With little aid of books, the mystery,)

Disposed herself to work with simples’ juice,

Till she in him should healthier life produce.

And recollects an herb had caught her sight

In passing thither, on a pleasant plain:

What (whether dittany or pancy hight)

I know not; fraught with virtue to restrain

The crimson blood forth-welling, and of might

To sheathe each perilous and piercing pain.

She found it near, and having pulled the weed,

Returned to seek Medoro on the mead.

Returning, she upon a swain did light,

Who was on horseback passing through the wood.

Strayed from the lowing herd, the rustic wight

A heifer missing for two days pursued.

Him she with her conducted, where the might

Of the faint youth was ebbing with his blood:

Which had the ground about so deeply dyed

Life was nigh wasted with the gushing tide.

Angelica alights upon the ground,

And he, her rustic comrade, at her hest.

She hastened ’twixt two stones the herb to pound,

Then took it, and the healing juice exprest:

With this did she foment the stripling’s wound,

And even to the hips, his waist and breast;

And (with such virtue was the salve endued)

It stanched his life-blood, and his strength renewed.

And into him infused such force again,

That he could mount the horse the swain conveyed;

But good Medoro would not leave the plain

Till he in earth had seen his master laid.

He, with the monarch, buried Cloridane,

And after followed whither pleased the maid.

Who was to stay with him, by pity led,

Beneath the courteous shepherd’s humble shed.

Nor would the damsel quit the lowly pile

(So she esteemed the youth) till he was sound;

Such pity first she felt, when him erewhile

She saw outstretched and bleeding on the ground.

Touched by his mien and manners next, a file

She felt corrode her heart with secret wound;

She felt corrode her heart, and with desire,

By little and by little warmed, took fire.

The shepherd dwelt between two mountains hoar,

In goodly cabin, in the greenwood shade,

With wife and children; in short time before,

The brand-new shed had builded in the glade.

Here of his grisly wound the youthful Moor

Was briefly healed by the Catayan maid;

But who in briefer space, a sorer smart

Than young Medoro’s, suffered at her heart.

[She pines for love of him, and at length makes her love known. They solemnize their marriage, and remain a month there with great happiness.]

Amid such pleasures, where, with tree o’ergrown,

Ran stream, or bubbling fountain’s wave did spin,

On bark or rock, if yielding were the stone,

The knife was straight at work, or ready pin.

And there, without, in thousand places lone,

And in as many places graved, within,

Medoro and Angelica were traced,

In divers ciphers quaintly interlaced.

When she believed they had prolonged their stay

More than enow, the damsel made design

In India to revisit her Catay,

And with its crown Medoro’s head entwine.

She had upon her wrist an armlet, gay

With costly gems, in witness and in sign

Of love to her by Count Orlando borne,

And which the damsel for long time had worn.

No love which to the paladin she bears,

But that it costly is and wrought with care,

This to Angelica so much endears,

That never more esteemed was matter rare;

This she was suffered, in the isle of tears,

I know not by what privilege, to wear,

When, naked, to the whale exposed for food

By that inhospitable race and rude.

She, not possessing wherewithal to pay

The kindly couple’s hospitality,—

Served by them in their cabin, from the day

She there was lodged, with such fidelity,—

Unfastened from her arm the bracelet gay,

And bade them keep it for her memory.

Departing hence, the lovers climb the side

Of hills, which fertile France from Spain divide.