Monday, December 26, 2011

Chapter 53 [first part]

How Sir Galaor, Florestan and Agrajes left Firm Island in search of Amadis, and how they traveled a long time without finding any trace of him, so they arrived in complete despair at King Lisuarte's court. 

[Tomb of King Juan II of Castile (1406-1454) in Cartuja de Miraflores, a monastery near Burgos. Photo by Ecelan.] 

It has already been told to you how Sir Galaor and Sir Florestan and Agrajes left Firm Island to search for Amadis, and how they traveled through many lands separately, doing great deeds at arms in towns as well as in forests and mountains. But of them there will be no mention because they found nothing, as we have said.

Since at the end of a year they had learned nothing, they turned toward the place where they had agreed to meet, which was a hermitage a half-league from London, the city where King Lisuarte was, thinking that more likely at his court than anywhere else they could hear some news about their brother Amadis, since many diverse people always came there. The first to arrive at the hermitage was Sir Galaor and then Agrajes, and soon Sir Florestan with Gandalin.

When they were all together, they embraced with great pleasure, but when they learned that they had had no success, they began to weep fiercely because if they, with such good fortune in all other thing, had failed at this, then very little remedy and hope remained in the future. But Gandalin, who was no less sorry than any of the others to have lost Amadis, encouraged them to stop weeping, for it would do little or no good, and instead to begin to search again. He reminded them that their lord would do the same for any of them if they were in trouble, and how by losing him, they had lost a brother, the best knight in the world.

And so, taking his advice, they agreed first to go to court to see if they could find any news there, and then to look in every part of the world, on land and sea, until they knew if he was dead or alive.

With that agreement, having heard the Mass that the hermit said for them, they mounted their horses and rode toward London. It was the day of Saint John [June 25], and when they came close to the city, they saw before them the King, who was riding in the country with many knights to honor the day, both to celebrate the saint and because Lisuarte had taken the throne on that day.

When the King saw the three knights, he thought they might be knights-errant, and so he rode toward them, as one who honors and appreciates all such knights. When they saw him coming toward them, they took off their helmets and showed Sir Florestan which one was the King, for he had never seen him before.

When they got closer, many of the King's knights recognized Sir Galaor and Agrajes. Although they did not know Florestan, he seemed very handsome, and so before they arrived they believed he was Amadis. The King thought that his face resembled Amadis's more than any of his brothers.

When they reached the King, they had Florestan ride ahead to do him honor, and the King said to Galaor:

"I understand that this is your brother Sir Florestan."

"Yes he is, my lord," he said.

Florestan wanted to kiss the King's hands, but the King did not want to give them, and instead he embraced Florestan with great love, then the others, and with great pleasure he joined them to ride to the city. Gandalin and the dwarf, who saw them received in the same place where their lord had been received with honors and attention from everyone, felt great sorrow, so much so that the King and all others felt great pity for them and more for their lord, whom they all dearly loved.

The King asked the three companions if they had learned any news about Amadis, but they, with tears in their eyes, told him no, although they had traveled through many lands in search of him. The King consoled them by saying that the things of the world were like that, even for those who tried to protect themselves from great confrontations and danger by fleeing them, and even more so for others whose preference and duty was to seek them out and place their lives at the point of death a thousand times. He said they should place their hope in God, Who would not have given Amadis such good fortune in all things only to forsake him.

The news of the arrival of these knights reached the court of the Queen, and she and all the other women were very happy, especially the beloved of Agrajes, Olinda the Discrete, who already knew that he had successfully completed the test of the arch of loyal lovers, and Corisanda, beloved of Sir Florestan, who was waiting for him there, as has been told to you earlier.

Mabilia, who was very happy with the arrival of her brother Agrajes, went to Oriana, who was in her room sadly reading a book at the window. She told her:

"My lady, go to your mother, for Sir Galaor, Agrajes, and Florestan shall arrive there soon."

She responded weeping and sighing, as if her heartstrings were breaking:

"My dear, where do ye wish me to go, for I am not myself? In fact I am more dead than alive, with my face and eyes marked by tears, as ye see. And besides that, how could I see those knights in the company of whom I used to see my beloved lord Amadis? By God, ye wish to kill me, for this would be harder for me than death."

And then she said, weeping:

"Oh, Amadis, my dearly beloved! What shall this unfortunate wretch do when she does not see you among your brothers and friends, whom ye love so much and with whom ye used to see her? By God, my lord, this loneliness will be the cause of my death. And this shall be just, for I caused both our deaths."

She could not remain standing and fell on an estrado. Mabilia tried to raise her spirits and give her hope that her damsel would bring her good and happy news. Oriana told her:

"If these good knights-errant have searched for him so long and hard and have learned nothing, how shall the damsel, who is only going to one place, find him?"

"Do not think that way," Mabilia said, "For the way he left, he is probably fleeing from everyone, but he will come out of hiding for your damsel and be recognized, for she knows all the secrets of you and him, and can bring him the help that his life needs."

Oriana, somewhat encouraged and consoled by this, got up as best she could and washed her eyes and had Olinda called, and she went with them to where her mother the Queen was. When those three knights saw her, they felt great pleasure, and they went to her and were well received.

The King then said to Sir Galaor:

"See how your friend Oriana is beset and ill."

"My lord," he said, "I am very sorry for it, and rightly we all ought to serve her in whatever can bring her better health."

Oriana told him, laughing:

"My good friend Sir Galaor, God is the one who can remedy all illnesses and fates, and so, if it please Him, He shall help me and you, for ye have suffered such a great loss in losing your brother. May God help me, it would please me very much that the toils and dangers that ye have suffered in looking for him would come to the fruition ye wish, for by you and by him my lord the King has always been well-served."

"My lady," Sir Galaor said, "I have faith in God that we shall soon have good news, for he is not a man to fail before great trouble, and no other knight in the world knows how to maintain himself against all dangers."

Oriana felt greatly consoled by what Galaor had said. She took him and Sir Florestan with her and sat on an estrado, and she found great pleasure in looking at Sir Florestan, who greatly resembled Amadis, but who also made her very lonely for him, so much so that her heart broke.

Mabilia called her brother Agrajes and had him sit between her and Olinda, his beloved, who was very joyful and happy in knowing that for her love he had passed beneath the enchanted arch of lovers. She made him know well that she knew it by the loving reception she gave him, showing him great good will. Agrajes, who loved her more than he loved himself, thanked her with great humility, but he did not kiss her hands so that the secret of their love would not become known.

As they were thus speaking, they heard shouts and noise in the palace, and the King asked what it was. He was told him that Gandalin and the dwarf, when they saw the shield and arms of the famous knight Amadis, mourned deeply, and the other knights were consoling them.

"What," the King said, "is Gandalin here?"

"Yes, my lord," Sir Florestan said. "Fully two months ago I found him at the foot of Sanguin Mountain traveling in search of news about his lord, and I told him that I had already searched the entire mountain and had found nothing, and he agreed to travel with me because I asked him to."

The King said:

"I hold Gandalin to be one of the best squires in the world, and it would be right for us to console him."

Then he rose and went to Gandalin. And when Oriana heard Gandalin spoken of, she lost her color and she could not remain on her feet. But Sir Galaor and Sir Florestan held her up by her hands to go with the King. And Mabilia, who knew why she had fainted, came to her and put Oriana's arm around her neck.

Oriana said to Galaor and Sir Florestan:

"My good and loyal friends, if I do not see you and honor you as I ought, it is due not to my will, but the long illness I am suffering is the cause."

"My lady," they said, "this rightly ought to be believed, and because our great desire is to serve you in all things, it would not be right to believe that we seek some reward from your great virtue and goodness."

They left her and went to follow the King, and Oriana went to her room, where she lay on her bed, wracked with great groans and anguish, for she wished to see and be with him who by her will rather than any reason or agreement had gone away and disappeared. Oriana told Mabilia:

"My true friend, ever since we entered London, I have constantly suffered aches and anguish, so I think it would be good, if you agree, that we should go spend some time at my castle, Miraflores, which is a lovely place to stay. Although I firmly believe that my sad heart can find rest nowhere, there sooner than in another place I grant that it could be found."

"My lady," Mabilia said, "you should do so, both because of that and because if the Damsel of Denmark brings the news that we hope for, you may enjoy the pleasure of it right away and  so could he who ought to have it, since he has been so sad. Being here, neither you nor he could enjoy it."

"Oh, by God, my friend," Oriana said, "let us go there at once."

"First," Mabilia said, "you must speak with your father and mother, and since they desire your good health, they will do everything that ye wish."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chapter 52

How the Damsel of Denmark left to search for Amadis, and how by fortune and after much labor, she docked at Poor Rock, where Amadis had the name of Beltenebros, and how they came to see his lady Oriana. 

[Illustration from Le recueil des histoires de Troye (The Book of the History of Troy), a French courtly romance written by Raoul le Fèvre in about 1464. Le Fèver was chaplain to Philip III "the Good," Duke of Burgundy. The book is now in the Bibliothèque Nacionale de France.] 

The Damsel of Denmark was with the Queen of Scotland for ten days, not so much because it pleased her but because the sea was stormy and dangerous. In addition, she had not heard news about Amadis in that land, where she had come with much hope to learn something, and she thought that bringing a poor notice to her lady would result in her death.

She bid farewell, gathered the gifts the Queen was sending to Queen Brisena and Oriana and her daughter Mabilia, and took to the sea to return from her errand without good fortune, but not knowing what more to do.

But when people seem to be without hope and aid, the Lord of the world wishes to show something of His power to make it understood to all that no one, no matter how wise or discrete, cannot be helped without His help. He changed her voyage, to the great fear and tribulation of herself and all those in the ship, to give them the end she sought with joy and good fortune.

So it was that the sea became rough, and a storm without comparison befell them. They rode the waves without a rudder or course, with sailors' intuition completely lost, and they had no confidence their lives would be saved. Finally one morning, as dawn broke, they docked at the foot of Poor Rock, which the sailors recognized, and some of them knew of Andalod, the holy hermit who lived in the hermitage at the peak.

They told that to the Damsel of Denmark, and because the danger had passed and certain death had given way to life, she ordered that they take her to the top of the peak so that, hearing Mass from that good man, she could give thanks to the Virgin Mary for the mercy her glorious Son had given them.

At that time, Beltenebros was at the spring below the trees as ye have heard, where he spent the nights, and his health had reached such a point where he did not expect to live two weeks more. From so much weeping and loss of weight, his face was sunken and dark, more than it would have been from a grave illness, and as a result no one could have recognized him.

He looked at the ship for a while and saw that a damsel and two squires were climbing up the peak, but now his thoughts were only in seeking death, and everything that until then he would have taken great pleasure in, such as seeing new people and getting to know them and helping them in their fortune, and anything like it, was abhorred in his great desperation.

He went to the hermitage and said to the hermit:

"It seems people have left a ship and are coming to you."

And he knelt before the altar and prayed, begging God to have mercy on his soul, which soon would be given to His account. The hermit dressed to say Mass, and the Damsel with Durin and Enil entered the door, praying, and then they removed the veil she wore over her face.

Beltenebros, after praying a while, rose and turned toward them, and he recognized the Damsel and Durin. His alteration was so great that he could not remain on his feet and fell on the ground as if dead. When the hermit saw that, he thought Beltenebros was at the final point of his life and said:

"Oh, Lord almighty, why hast Thou not taken pity on this man who could do so much in Thy service?"

Many tears fell down his white beard, and he said:

"Good damsel, have these men help me take this man to his room, for this is the final good deed ye could do for him."

Then Enil and Durin, with the hermit, took him to the house where he stayed and put him in a poor and simple bed, and neither of them recognized him.

The Damsel heard Mass, and wishing to eat on land, for the sea was still rough, happened to ask the hermit who the man was who suffered from such a grave illness. The good man told her:

"He is a knight who is doing penance here."

"His guilt must be great," she said, "if he wished to do it in a place so difficult."

"It is as ye say," he said, "but he does it more for the vain and fleeting things of this world than for service to God."

"I wish to see him," the Damsel said, "for ye tell me that he is a knight, and I can give him some things I bring in the ship that may give him aid."

"Do so," the good man said, "but I believe that his death is so near that it shall save you the trouble."

Alone, the damsel entered the room where Beltenebros was. He was unable to decide what to do, for if he let her recognize him, he would be disobeying his lady, but if not, then she, who was the only remaining help for his life, would leave him with no hope at all if she left without recognizing him. In the end, thinking it worse to anger his lady than to suffer death, decided not to make himself known in any way.

The Damsel came close to the bed and said:

"Good man, according to the hermit ye are a knight, and because damsels are much obliged to all knights for the great dangers in which they place themselves for our defense, I thought to see you and leave everything here from the supplies on the ship that ye need for your health."

He did not respond, yet he sobbed and groaned such that the damsel thought his soul would leave his flesh, and she felt great sorrow. Because there was little light in the room, she opened a small window that was closed and came to the bed to see if he was dead and began to study him, and he her, still weeping and sobbing. She stood there a while but never recognized him because she did not think to find the one she sought in such a place as that.

But when she saw a scar on his face that Arcalaus the Sorcerer had caused with the blade of his lance when he had taken Oriana from him, as has been told to you in the first book, she was reminded of what she had never expected to see there, and she recognized him clearly as Amadis. She said:

"Why, Holy Mary, help me! What is this that I see! Oh, my lord, ye are the one for whom I have made so much effort!"

And she fell on her face against the bed, and knelt and kissed his hands again and again, and told him:

"My lord, now ye must have pity and forgiveness against she who wronged you, whose evil suspicions put you unjustly in such straits. Because of that, she is rightly suffering a life more bitter than death."

Beltenebros took her in his arms and held her without being able to speak. She gave him the letter and said:

"Your lady sent you this, and would have me tell you that if ye are the Amadis that ye were, that she loves you so much that if ye can forget what has passed, soon ye shall be with her in her castle in Miraflores, where with much pleasure she shall made amends. Her overwhelming love for you has caused your pain and anguish."

He took the letter, and after kissing it many times, he put it over his heart and said:

"Oh, tormented heart, for so long and with so much anguish thou has shed so many tears, yet thou hast been able to sustain yourself almost up to the straits of cruel death. Receive this medicine, for nothing else could save thy health. Disperse these clouds of great gloom that up to now have covered thee. Take strength in how thou canst serve thy lady to prepay her mercy for taking thee from death."

Then he opened the letter to read it, and it said:

Letter from Oriana to Amadis

"If great errors done with enmity are worthy to be pardoned when they are changed into humility, then what shall become of those that were caused by an excess of love? Even so, my true beloved, I admit that I do not deserve much pity. Just as one ought to consider that in prosperity and happiness lie the reversals of fortune to place one in poverty, I rightly ought to have considered your discretion and your honesty, which up until now have never erred in anything. And above all my sad heart surrenders, for it is nothing unless it is enclosed by yours, and if it senses that by chance some of your ardor has cooled, mine has been the cause for which the mortal desires that it desires have subsided.

"But I erred as those women whose good fortune and great certainty in those they love was too much for them to bear, and more willfully than reasonably they take the words of innocent or lying people of little truth and less virtue, and try to obscure their great joy with the cloud of little sufferance. So, my loyal lover, as a guilty person who recognizes her error with humility, receive my damsel, who besides the letter will give you news of the extremity that my life is in, for which, not because it deserves it but because it may aid your own, ye may have pity."

Having read the letter, Beltenebros's happiness was so extreme that, just as in the past he had fainted with sorrow, he fainted now, unable to feel the tears falling down his cheeks. He soon made it known to all that he wanted those who had came with the Damsel, as a service to God, to take him from that place, where he could not get care for his health. This was done, and within the hour they had returned to the ship and headed for the shore.

But first Beltenebros bid farewell to the hermit and told him how that Damsel, by the mercy of God and great fortune, was brought there for his recovery. He implored him to take charge of the reformation of the monastery that he had promised to make at the foot of the cliff on Firm Island. He agreed, and Amadis headed out to sea, and only the Damsel knew who he was.

They arrived at land and the sailors said farewell to the Damsel. She and her company began to travel toward where her lady was. They found a village on a riverbank with many fine and beautiful trees, and at the Damsel's request they rested there so that Beltenebros could recover somewhat from his weakness.

And if his longing for his lady had not tormented him, he could have had a more agreeable life for his health there than in other part of the world, because beneath those trees, at the feet of which the springs flowed, he had dinner and supper. They spent the nights in the lodgings they had in the village.

There Amadis and the Damsel spoke of things in the past, and there she told him how his lady Oriana wailed and mourned when Durin returned after bringing him the letter, and how neither she nor Mabilia had known what she had written in it.

Beltenebros told her about his sufferings and the life he had had on Poor Rock, and the many and diverse memories that occurred to him each day. He told how Corisanda had come, the lover of his brother Sir Florestan, and the great anguish she had suffered for him. When he saw how she was dying for her beloved and knew how he himself had been discarded and abhorred by his own lover for no reason, it made him approach death more quickly. He told how he had taught Corisanda's damsels the song that he had written and many other things that would be lengthy to recount.

And so, now being free of the cruel death that had awaited him, he felt such joy that after the ten days that they rested there, he was so improved that his heart ordered him to take up arms. He made himself known to Durin, and took Enil, a nephew of Sir Gandales, his foster father, as his squire, without Enil knowing who he was nor whom he served, though Enil was content with him for his kind words.

They left there and after traveling four days, they arrived at a monastery of lay sisters near a fine town, where they agreed that the Damsel and Durin would leave, and he would stay with Enil awaiting orders from his lady. And so they did, and the Damsel left Beltenebros with the money he would need for arms and a horse and clothing. She deliberately forgot some of the gifts with him so that, when it was noticed, Durin could return with the reply.

She went on her way straight to Miraflores, where she expected to find her lady Oriana, given what she had said before the Damsel had left.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Summary, Book II through Chapter 51

Amadis will obey his lady Oriana in all things, which may cause his undoing. 

View of Madrid from the west, created in 1562 by Antoon Van Den Wijngaerde for King Felipe II. In the foreground is the Manzanares River. The medieval walls are still standing guard around the city. At the left on the bluff is the royal castle, which burned down in 1734 and was replaced by the present-day palace.

Beginning of Book II

Apolidon is a wise and mighty young knight whose parents are the King of Greece and a sister of the Emperor of Constantinople. He defeats a giant and takes over Firm Island, where he lives in great pleasure with his beloved, the sister of the Emperor of Rome. But after many years, he is called to rule Constantinople.

Before he goes, he sets an enchantment so that no one shall rule the island if they do not equal his fortitude at arms, his beloved's great beauty, and both their loyalty in love. He creates a arch at the entry to a garden that no one can pass through if they have erred from their first love.

Then he erects magic barriers of invisible warriors ready to attack at the entrance to the chamber where they had lived; no knight can pass them unless he surpasses Apolidon's skill at arms. But if the knight reaches the chamber, he will become lord of the island.

Chapter 44

Amadis, Galaor, Florestan, and Agrajes leave Queen Briolanja in the Kingdom of Sobradisa to rejoin King Lisuarte's court, but as they travel, they meet a maiden from Firm Island and decide to go there to test its enchantments.

Agrajes and Amadis pass through the arch of the loyal lovers; Florestan and Galaor do not even try. Instead, they attempt to enter the chamber and fail. Amadis tries and succeeds and becomes lord of the island, to the joy of all.

But as ye will recall, Oriana has been given bad information and believes that Amadis loves Queen Briolanja instead of her, so she sends him a letter withdrawing her love and ordering him never to come before her again. She orders a page named Durin, brother of the Damsel of Denmark, to deliver it.

Chapter 45

Durin reaches Amadis just after he has won Firm Island, but Amadis's squire, Gandalin, makes him wait to deliver the letter until after the celebration has ended, knowing that Amadis will overreact to whatever it says. Indeed, to Durin's distress, when Amadis finally reads the letter, he weeps and faints repeatedly with grief.

Amadis has lost the will to live. He leaves the island as secretly as possible to wander desolate in the mountains.

Chapter 46

Gandalin and Durin follow Amadis and listen as he mourns his cruel fate in long speeches addressed to fate, Oriana, his father, and many other people whom he loves and esteems.

Meanwhile, a knight passes nearby singing of his love for Oriana. Gandalin goes to Amadis and urges him to attack this knight, and Amadis easily defeats him, then says goodbye to Durin and leaves with Gandalin.

Chapter 47

A flashback reveals that the singing knight is named Patin and had come to King Lisuarte's court to woo Oriana. The King did not wish to give her to him, so he responded with an ambiguous answer to avoid offending him. Patin, though, he was sure he had won her and rode off joyfully.

Durin speaks briefly with Patin after his defeat by Amadis, then leaves to tell Oriana how Amadis has reacted to her letter.

Chapter 48

Galaor, Florestan, and Agrajes learn that Amadis has left Firm Island in sorrow, although they do not know why, and they ride off to find him. They find Patin, then decide to split up to search more widely, and to meet again at King Lisuarte's court.

Gandalin tries to talk some sense into Amadis but fails, and while Gandalin sleeps, Amadis leaves him to wander the mountains again. He rides until he meets a hermit at a spring. He convinces the hermit to allow him to live at the hermitage on an island named Poor Rock, where he can pass what little time remains in his life. Grief is killing Amadis, despite the hermit's counsel to abandon his sorrow as a worldly vanity.

At Amadis's request, the hermit gives him a new name: Beltenebros, which could be translated as "Handsome Gloom."

Gandalin searches for Amadis and meets some damsels who had found his armor, which Amadis had abandoned at the spring when he left with the hermit. A knight named Guilan the Pensive has taken the armor to King Lisuarte's court. Gandalin resumes his search.

Chapter 49

Durin tells Oriana how her letter made Amadis want to die. She faints with sorrow and guilt, but soon sends the Damsel of Denmark to Scotland to look for Amadis, thinking he would go there to see his foster father. If the Damsel finds Amadis, she will tell him to meet Oriana at her castle, Miraflores. But the Damsel does not find him.

Chapter 50

Sir Guilan the Pensive meets an evil knight on his way to King Lisuarte's court, defeats him in a perilous adventure, and continues on to the court to deliver Amadis's arms to the Queen. Everyone is distressed at their sight and wonders what has happened to Amadis.

Chapter 51

While Beltenebros is at the hermitage at Poor Rock, he composes a sad song. He knows that he is faithful and that Oriana is wrong, but he will obey her at the cost of his life.

One night, he hears damsels singing, and discovers that his brother Florestan's lover, Corisanda, has stopped there on her way to King Lisuarte's court to look for Florestan. He teaches the song to her damsels before they leave.

When Corisanda arrives at the court, she tells about meeting the sad Beltenebros, and Oriana and her friends realize that he is Amadis.