Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chapter 49

How Durin, Oriana's page, returned to his lady with the reply to her message that he had brought to Amadis, and how she wept at the news. 

[Portrait of a lady, painted in about 1460 in the workshop of Rogier van de Weyden.] 

After Durin left Amadis in the forest where Patin lay injured, as we have recounted, he took the road to London, where King Lisuarte was, and traveled as fast as he could so that Oriana would learn the unfortunate news about Amadis, because she might be able to do something to remedy all the ill that her letter had done. He rode so fast that in ten days he had arrived in London, dismounted at his lodging, and went to the palace of the Queen.

When Oriana saw him, her heart jumped and could not be still, so she immediately went to her room and lay on her bed, then ordered the Damsel of Denmark to call her brother Durin and make sure no one saw him. The damsel called him, then left to see to Mabilia.

Oriana told him:

"My friend, now tell me where thou hast traveled and where thou foundest Amadis, and what he did when thou gavest him my letter, and whether thou sawest Queen Briolanja. Tell me everything, and do not leave out anything."

"My lady," Durin said, "I shall tell all, although there is no little to recount, for I have seen many marvelous and amazing things. I tell you that I arrived in Sobradisa and saw Briolanja, who is so beautiful and gentle and graceful that, besides yourself, no woman in the world is as beautiful as she. And there I heard news about Amadis and his brothers. They had departed, and I followed their trail and learned that they had left the road and went with a damsel to Firm Island to test themselves with its amazing adventures. When I arrived there, Amadis had entered the Arch of Loyal Lovers, where no one can go if he has strayed from the first woman he has loved."

"What?" Oriana said. "He dared to attempt that adventure knowing he would not succeed?"

"It did not seem to me that is what happened," Durin said. "Instead he completed it proving greater loyalty than anyone ever had, because he was received with signs that until then had never been done."

When she heard this, her heart felt great joy to know that Amadis's loyalty was true and certain, just the opposite of what she had thought. Then he told her how Sir Galaor and Florestan and Agrajes, testing themselves in the adventure of the defended chamber, could not finish it and were left so stunned that they were as if dead, and then Amadis tried and completed the test, winning the lordship of the island, which was the most beautiful and best protected in the world. After that, everyone had entered the chamber, which was the most amazing and rich that could be found.

When Oriana heard this, she said:

"Be quiet a moment."

Raising her hands to Heaven, she began to beg God in his mercy to arrange that she could soon be in that chamber with the one who through his great skill had won it. Then she said:

"Now tell me what Amadis did when thou gavest him my letter."

Tears came to Durin's eyes, and he told her:

"My lady, I advise you that ye do not wish to know, for ye have done a greater cruelty and fiendishness that any other damsel in the world has ever done."

"Oh, Holy Mary, help me!" she said. "What dost thou say?"

"I tell you," Durin said, "that with your anger and with the worst injustice that could ever be, ye have killed the greatest and most loyal knight that any woman has had or will have as long as the world exists. Cursed be the hour in which such a thing was conceived, and cursed be Death for not killing me first, because there has never been such a vile message. If I had known what I carried, I would rather have disappeared from the world than come before him, for you by ordering it and I by carrying it were the cause of his death."

Then he told her what Amadis said and did when he gave him the letter, and how Amadis had left Firm Island and what he said in the hermitage, and how he left there alone and went to a mountain. He told how he and Gandalin, against Amadis's orders, had followed him and found him alongside a spring but did not dare appear before him, and how Patin passed along there singing and what he said, and the battle he did with Amadis. And then Amadis left, telling Gandalin not to prevent his death or else not to come with him. And so nothing remained that he did not recount about what had happened and what he had seen.

When Oriana heard this, it overcame her ire and wrath, and the bravado of her heart was broken, and she was subjected to a sorrow greater than her anger had been, due to the great power that truth has over lies. Thus her thoughts of her guilt, along with thoughts of what he was suffering without her, had such force that they left her almost dead and senseless, unable to utter a single word.

Durin, when he saw her like that, had pity on her but knew well that she deserved it, and went to Mabilia and the Damsel of Denmark and told them:

"Help Oriana, who truly needs it, for it seems to me that if she erred, she is paying for it."

He went to his lodging and they went to Oriana, and seeing her so senseless, they shut the door to her room and threw water on her face to make her come to. When she could speak, she said:

"Oh, ill-fated wretch, I have killed the thing I most loved in the world. Oh, my lord, I killed you unjustly, and rightly I shall die for you, although your death will be poorly avenged with mine, because you, my lord, being loyal, will not be satisfied with the death of one who was disloyal and ill-fated."

She said this with as much pain and anguish as if her heart were breaking to pieces, but her servants and friends, sent by Durin and knowing all that had happened, helped her with the medicine that both Oriana and Amadis needed for their remedy. After giving her consolation, they had her write a letter to Amadis with very humble words and most abject begging, as shall be told more extensively farther on, telling him to cease what he was doing and to come to her at her castle of Miraflores, where she would wait for him and her great error would be corrected.

She entrusted it to the Damsel of Denmark, who was very pleased to do all she could to set things right between the two people that she loved most. So that the Damsel could travel without causing the least suspicion and because Durin had said that Amadis, in his mourning, had made much mention of his tutor, Sir Gandales, they believed that he would more likely be there than anywhere else, the Damsel agreed to take gifts to the Queen of Scotland and to tell her news about Mabilia, her daughter, and to bring news from the Queen to her. Oriana spoke with the Queen, her mother, telling her how they were sending the Damsel on that errand, and she thought it was good and sent her own gifts with her.

Having agreed to this, and taking her brother Durin and a nephew of Gandales named Enil, who had recently arrived to look for his lord, she traveled to the port called Vegil, which is in Great Britain, and they boarded a ship to Scotland. After seven days of sailing, they arrived in Scotland at a town called Poligez, and from there they went straight to Gandales's castle. They learned that he was out hunting with his squires, and he was sent for. He came and greeted her, and when Sir Gandales heard her foreign accent, he asked her where she was from.

She told him:

"I am a messenger from some damsels who love you dearly and who sent some gifts with me for the Queen of Scotland."

"Good damsel," he said, "if you please, tell me who they are."

"Oriana, the daughter of King Lisuarte, and Mabilia, whom ye know."

"My lady," he said, "ye are very welcome, and we shall go to my home and ye shall rest, and then I shall take you to the Queen."

She held that as good and went with him, and speaking of various things, asked Gandales about Amadis, his ward, for she was very disappointed to learn that he was not there, but to avoid giving him sorrow, she did not tell him how he was lost, only that after he left the court to avenge Briolanja, he had not returned.

"When I left, they had thought that he had come here to this land with Agrajes, his cousin, to see you who had raised him and the Queen, his aunt. I have brought letters from Queen Brisena and others of his friends that he would have enjoyed."

She said this because if he were there secretly, when he learned what she had said, he would want to see her and speak to her, but Gandales knew nothing about him. The damsel rested there for two days, and she was very honored and well served by everyone and by Gandales's wife, who was a very noble lady, and then she left to where the Queen was and gave her the letters and gifts that had been sent with her.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Cathedral of Reims, in full color

Adorned with 2303 statues, the building is a medieval masterpiece. 

Photo by Jean-Christophe Hanche for the Ville de Reims. 

The Cathedral of Reims, where the kings of France were once crowned, is celebrating its 800th anniversary. Activities in October include spectacular light shows to reproduce the original bright paint of the facade.

If you can't get to France, you can visit the website:

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Chapter 48 [final part]

[What happened to Gandalin after he awoke.] 

[Detail of the Tower of Lozoya, built in the 1300s in Segovia. The shield belonged to the Aguilar family. Photo by Katheline Vernati-Finn.] 

So as ye hear Amadis was left with the name Beltenebros on that Poor Rock seven leagues in the sea, abandoning the world, honor, and the arms that had brought him such heights, and consumed his days with tears and continuous sorrow. He did not think about the brave Galpano, of the mighty King Abies of Ireland, or of the arrogant Dardan, who Amadis's mighty arm had defeated and killed, along with many others whom this story has told, nor of the famous Apolidon, who not in his own time nor for one hundred years after it had been exceeded by any knight in his skill.

And if Amadis were to be asked about the cause of such destruction, how would he respond? That it had no other cause than the ire and rage of a weak woman, in the same way that the mighty Hercules, brave Sampson, wise Virgil, and not forgetting among them King Solomon, were tormented and subjugated by the same passion, along with many others whom he could mention. With this, would he be forgiven? Certainly not, because the errors of others must be remembered not to repeat them but to avoid and be admonished by them.

Would it be right for such a knight who had been defeated and subjugated for such a trivial cause to find mercy so that he could recover and earn twice the victories than he had won in the past? I would say no, except that the things he did at his peril were of such great benefit to the welfare of others who, after God, had no other helper besides him.

And so God had greater compassion for them than for him, who had defeated all others but could not defeat nor subjugate himself. When he finally arrived at the point of death, the Lord of the world mercifully sent him aid.

But, in order to maintain the order of the story, first we will tell you something of what happened in the meantime. Gandalin, who had been left sleeping in the mountain when his lord Amadis departed, after a long while awoke, and looking everywhere, saw only his own horse. He got up quicky and began to call for Amadis, weeping and searching through the thick brush, but he did not find Amadis nor his horse, and then he was sure that he had departed, he returned to his horse to mount and ride off after him, but he could not find his saddle or reins.

Then he began to curse himself and his fate and the day he was born. Searching here and there, he found them hidden in some very thick brush. He saddled his horse and mounted it and rode five days sleeping in the open air and asking in towns about his lord, but it was all lost effort, and after six days fate guided him to the spring where Amadis had left his arms. He found a tent next to it with two damsels inside, and Gandalin dismounted and asked them if they had seek a knight who carried a shield of gold with two purple lions on it.

They said:

"We did not see such a knight, but that shield and all the exceptionally good arms that went with it we found next to this spring without anyone watching over them."

When he heard this, he said, tearing his hair:

"Oh Holy Mary help me! My lord, the best knight in the world, is dead or lost." He began to mourn, and the damsels felt great pity for him, and he began to say:

"My lord, how badly I protected you, and I ought to be hated by everyone in the world, and I should not even be in this world, since I failed you at such a time! You, my lord, were the one who aided everyone, and now they are without help because now the world and everyone in it is without you. By my failure to protect you, I left you without aid at the moment of your painful death."

And he fell face down on the ground as if dead. The damsels shouted:

"Holy Mary, this squire is dead!"

And they went to bring him to consciousness and they could not, for he fainted again and again, but they spent so much time with him throwing water on his face that they made him come to, and they told him:

"Good squire, do not lose hope for that which ye do not know for certain, for it would do no good for your lord. It would be better for you to search for him until you know if he is dead or alive, for good men with great anguish ought to be strong and not let themselves die of desperation."

Gandalin took strength from these word from the damsels and decided to look for him everywhere until death took him, and he said to the damsels:

"My ladies, where did ye see the arms?"

"We shall gladly tell you," they said. "Know that we were traveling in the company of Sir Guilan the Pensive, who took us and twenty other damsels and knights from the prison of Gandinos the Betrayer, and Guilan did such feats of arms that he defeated all the other protectors of his castle and finally Gandinos. He took us all from prison and made him swear that he would never do such a thing again. The knights and damsels went where they pleased, and we went with Guilan to the lands where we are from.

"Four days ago we arrived at this spring, and when Guilan saw the shield that ye ask about, he felt great sorrow, and dismounted from his horse and said that the shield of the best knight in the world should not be there like that. He picked it up from the ground, weeping, and put it on the branch of that tree and told us to guard it while he looked for who it belonged to. We had these tents brought and Sir Guilan traveled for three days for all this land and found nothing. That night very late he came here and in the morning gave the arms to his squires and he put the sword in his belt and took the shield and said:

" 'By God, shield, a bad exchange it is to leave your lord and go with me!'

"And he said that he was going to the court of King Lisuarte to give those arms to Queen Brisena and have her keep them. And we shall go there as will all those who were prisoners, the women to ask the Queen and the knights the King to reward Sir Guilan for what he did for us.

"Then may God be with you," Gandalin said, "and I, taking your comfort and advice, shall go look for the most wretched and unfortunate man who was ever born, for my life and death belong to him."