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Song of Roland
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READ STUDY GUIDE: Laisses 264-269

 
Section 11:
Laisses 264-269
 
CCLXIV
Great was the heat, the dust arose and blew;
Still pagans fled, and hotly Franks pursued.
The chase endured from there to Sarraguce.
On her tower, high up clomb Bramimunde,
Around her there the clerks and canons stood
Of the false law, whom God ne'er loved nor knew;
Orders they'd none, nor were their heads tonsured.
And when she saw those Arrabits confused
Aloud she cried: "Give us your aid, Mahume!
Ah! Noble king, conquered are all our troops,
And the admiral to shameful slaughter put!"
When Marsile heard, towards the wall he looked,
Wept from his eyes, and all his body stooped,
So died of grief. With sins he's so corrupt;
The soul of him to Hell live devils took.
CCLXV
Pagans are slain; the rest are put to rout
Whom Charles hath in battle overpowered.
Of Sarraguce the gates he's battered down,
For well he knows there's no defence there now;
In come his men, he occupies that town;
And all that night they lie there in their pow'r.
Fierce is that King, with 's hoary beard, and proud,
And Bramimunde hath yielded up her towers;
But ten ere great, and lesser fifty around.
Great exploits his whom the Lord God endows!
CCLXVI
Passes the day, the darkness is grown deep,
But all the stars burn, and the moon shines clear.
And Sarraguce is in the Emperour's keep.
A thousand Franks he bids seek through the streets,
The synagogues and the mahumeries;
With iron malls and axes which they wield
They break the idols and all the imageries;
So there remain no fraud nor falsity.
That King fears God, and would do His service,
On water then Bishops their blessing speak,
And pagans bring into the baptistry.
If any Charles with contradiction meet
Then hanged or burned or slaughtered shall he be.
Five score thousand and more are thus redeemed,
Very Christians; save that alone the queen
To France the Douce goes in captivity;
By love the King will her conversion seek.
CCLXVII
Passes the night, the clear day opens now.
Of Sarraguce Charles garrisons the tow'rs;
A thousand knights he's left there, fighters stout;
Who guard that town as bids their Emperour.
After, the King and all his army mount,
And Bramimunde a prisoner is bound,
No harm to her, but only good he's vowed.
So are they come, with joy and gladness out,
They pass Nerbone by force and by vigour,
Come to Burdele, that city of high valour.
Above the altar, to Saint Sevrin endowed,
Stands the olifant, with golden pieces bound;
All the pilgrims may see it, who thither crowd.
Passing Girunde in great ships, there abound,
Ev'n unto Blaive he's brought his nephew down
And Oliver, his noble companioun,
And the Archbishop, who was so wise and proud.
In white coffers he bids them lay those counts
At Saint Romain: So rest they in that ground.
Franks them to God and to His Angels vow.
Charles canters on, by valleys and by mounts,
Not before Aix will he not make sojourn;
Canters so far, on th'terrace he dismounts.
When he is come into his lofty house,
By messengers he seeks his judges out;
Saxons, Baivers, Lotherencs and Frisouns,
Germans he calls, and also calls Borgounds;
From Normandy, from Brittany and Poitou,
And those in France that are the sagest found.
Thereon begins the cause of Gueneloun.
CCLXVIII
That Emperour, returning out of Spain,
Arrived in France, in his chief seat, at Aix,
Clomb to th' Palace, into the hall he came.
Was come to him there Alde, that fair dame;
Said to the King: "Where's Rollanz the Captain,
Who sware to me, he'ld have me for his mate?"
Then upon Charles a heavy sorrow weighed,
And his eyes wept, he tore his beard again:
"Sister, dear friend, of a dead man you spake.
I'll give you one far better in exchange,
That is Loewis, what further can I say;
He is my son, and shall my marches take."
Alde answered him: "That word to me is strange.
Never, please God, His Angels and His Saints,
When Rollant's dead shall I alive remain!"
Her colour fails, at th' feet of Charlemain,
She falls; she's dead. Her soul God's Mercy awaits!
Barons of France weep therefore and complain.
CCLXIX
Alde the fair is gone now to her rest.
Yet the King thought she was but swooning then,
Pity he had, our Emperour, and wept,
Took her in's hands, raised her from th'earth again;
On her shoulders her head still drooped and leant.
When Charles saw that she was truly dead
Four countesses at once he summoned;
To a monast'ry of nuns they bare her thence,
All night their watch until the dawn they held;
Before the altar her tomb was fashioned well;
Her memory the King with honour kept.
AOI.
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