Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chapter 56 [first half]

How Beltenebros, having accomplished the previous adventures, left for the Spring of the Three Streams, then arranged to go to Miraflores, where his lady Oriana was; and how a foreign knight brought some jewels for a test of faithful lovers to the court of the King; and how Beltenebros and his lady Oriana planned to go disguised to win the glory by proving themselves in the test of true love. 

[Daraxa's Garden in the Alhambra. Photo by Sue Burke. Here is a excellent tour of the Alhambra with 25 panoramic photos, an audio guide, photos, and videos: http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/200604/alhambra/default.htm

Beltenebros felt great pleasure in his soul for having won a battle like that, said goodby to the damsels and knights, and returned to the other damsels he had met at the fountain. They had already come out from the trees to greet him. He ordered Enil to go to London to see his cousin Gandalin and to have arms made like those he had worn into the battle, which were all broken and could offer no protection at all, and to buy a good sword, and in eight days to come to meet him at the Spring with Three Streams, where he would find him.

Then he said goodbye to the damsels and Enil, and entered the most dense part of the forest. Enil left to fulfill his orders, and the damsels went to Miraflores, where they told Oriana and Mabilia what they had seen. They described how a knight named Beltenebros had set everything right. The pleasure and joy of Oriana and Mabilia was without comparison, for they knew that Beltenebros was now very close to them with so much honor and prestige that no one could surpass him.

Beltenebros, hidden in the forest as ye hear, neared Miraflores, and found a river that flowed beneath some tall trees. Since it was still early, he dismounted and let his horse graze in the green grass. He took off his helmet, washed his face and hands, drank some water, and sat down, thinking about the fleeting things of this world.

He remembered the great desperation he had been in, and how of his own free will he had wished many times for death, for he had no hope for any remedy to his deep anguish and pain. But God, more out of His mercy than his own merit, had set it all right, not just returning him to what he had been but giving him even more glory and fame than he had ever had, above all the glory of being so close to seeing and enjoying his very beloved lady Oriana. When he had been absent in her heart, he had been placed in great sadness and tribulation.

That had led him to understand how little confidence men in this world ought to place in the things for which they labor and would die, expending so much effort and love that they forget how easily those things can be won and lost, and forgetting to serve the all-powerful Lord Who provides those things and Who can make them secure. And when men are most convinced that they have gained them, then those things are taken away to the great anguish of their souls and sometimes their lives, and if they have given their souls to those things, they lose their salvation.

And often having been lost that way, without any hope of redemption, their souls are returned by the Lord of the world to the state in which He had made them to show that they ought not put their trust in one thing or another; but, by doing what they ought to, they give their souls to Him, Who commands and reigns over them without any contradiction and without Whose hand nothing can be accomplished.

Oh ye who with such deceit acquire estates, how often and with what diligence ye ought to reflect that by gaining them, ye have forever lost your souls, and these estates will little serve to protect you from the perpetual suffering which the justice of eternal God has prepared for those like yourselves!

In these and other things his mind was transported in its meditations and ponderings. Thus Beltenebros was moved on the banks of that river to moderate his pride and glory about the great adventures that in just one day had happened to him, for he understood that in the space of another day, Fortune could turn that great joy into weeping, as so often in this world great achievements had been reversed.

When night came, he mounted his horse and went to Miraflores Castle, to the part of the garden where he found Gandalin and Durin, who took his horse. Oriana and Mabilia and the Damsel of Denmark were on top of the wall, and with the help of the squires and the damsels who gave him their hands, he climbed up to where they were and took his lady in his arms.

But who could be able to recount the loving embraces, the sweet kisses, the tears that were mixed on their lips as they met? Truly, no one who has not been subjected to the same passion and the same burning flames, with a heart tormented by love's wounds, could invoke it in those whose hearts that have now cooled, whose green youth has been lost, and who can no longer reach those heights. And so, in this regard, I shall not recount it more extensively.

And as they stood embraced, forgetting everything else, Mabilia, as if awakening them from deep sleep, took them with her to the castle. There Beltenebros was lodged in Oriana's room, where, in keeping with what ye have already heard, it can be believed that for him it was much more agreeable than Paradise itself.

He was there with his lady for eight days, which, except for the nights, were spent in a patio with the beautiful trees that we have told you about, out of their minds with delicious pleasure, where they could say and do all the things of this world. Gandalin came there many times, from whom they learned all the news of the court. Gandalin had his cousin Enil in his rooms, who was having the arms made as Beltenebros had ordered.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Don Quixote fights giants

The giants win, of course.

Illustration by Gustave Doré for Don Quixote de La Mancha, 1863.


Translation by John Ormsby, 1885. At Project Gutenberg.


From Chapter VIII of Don Quixote de La Mancha, by Miguel de Cervantes: Of the good fortune which the valiant Don Quixote had in the terrible and undreamt-of adventure of the windmills, with other occurrences worthy to be recorded.

At this point they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that there are on that plain, and as soon as Don Quixote saw them he said to his squire, "Fortune is arranging matters for us better than we could have shaped our desires ourselves, for look there, friend Sancho Panza, where thirty or more monstrous giants present themselves, all of whom I mean to engage in battle and slay, and with whose spoils we shall begin to make our fortunes; for this is righteous warfare, and it is God's good service to sweep so evil a breed from off the face of the earth."

"What giants?" said Sancho Panza.

"Those thou seest there," answered his master, "with the long arms, and some have them nearly two leagues long."

"Look, your worship," said Sancho; "what we see there are not giants but windmills, and what seem to be their arms are the sails that turned by the wind make the millstone go."

"It is easy to see," replied Don Quixote, "that thou art not used to this business of adventures; those are giants; and if thou art afraid, away with thee out of this and betake thyself to prayer while I engage them in fierce and unequal combat."

So saying, he gave the spur to his steed Rocinante, heedless of the cries his squire Sancho sent after him, warning him that most certainly they were windmills and not giants he was going to attack. He, however, was so positive they were giants that he neither heard the cries of Sancho, nor perceived, near as he was, what they were, but made at them shouting, "Fly not, cowards and vile beings, for a single knight attacks you."

A slight breeze at this moment sprang up, and the great sails began to move, seeing which Don Quixote exclaimed, "Though ye flourish more arms than the giant Briareus, ye have to reckon with me."

So saying, and commending himself with all his heart to his lady Dulcinea, imploring her to support him in such a peril, with lance ready and covered by his buckler, he charged at Rocinante's fullest gallop and fell upon the first mill that stood in front of him; but as he drove his lance-point into the sail, the wind whirled it round with such force that it shivered the lance to pieces, sweeping with it horse and rider, who went rolling over on the plain in a sorry condition. Sancho hastened to his assistance as fast as his ass could go, and when he came up found him unable to move, for with such a shock had Rocinante fallen with him.

"God bless me!" said Sancho, "did I not tell your worship to mind what you were about, for they were only windmills? and no one could have made any mistake about it but one who had something else in his head."

"Hush, friend Sancho," replied Don Quixote, "the fortunes of war more than any other are liable to frequent fluctuations; and moreover I think, and it is the truth, that that same sage Friston who carried off my study and books, has turned these giants into mills in order to rob me of the glory of vanquishing them, such is the enmity he bears me; but in the end his wicked arts will avail but little against my good sword."

"God order it as He may," said Sancho Panza, and helping him to rise got him up again on Rocinante, whose shoulder was half out; and then, discussing the late adventure, they followed the road to Puerto Lapice, for there, said Don Quixote, they could not fail to find adventures in abundance and variety, as it was a great thoroughfare.[...]

Finally they passed the night among some trees, from one of which Don Quixote plucked a dry branch to serve him after a fashion as a lance, and fixed on it the head he had removed from the broken one. All that night Don Quixote lay awake thinking of his lady Dulcinea, in order to conform to what he had read in his books, how many a night in the forests and deserts knights used to lie sleepless supported by the memory of their mistresses.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Chapter 55 [final part]

[Which tells how Beltenebros challenged the giants Basagante and Famongomadan.] 

[A helmet on display at Prague Castle. Photo by Sue Burke.]


Beltenebros took his arms from Enil, who was sobbing, and rode down the hillside toward the giant. But before he arrived, he looked toward Miraflores and said:

"Oh, my lady Oriana, wherever I have been, I have never begun a great deed with my own strength, but with yours. Now, my good lady, help me, for I shall need it dearly."

With that it seemed to him that great strength came over him and made him lose all fear. He told the dwarfs to halt. When the giant heard this, he turned toward him with such rage that smoke came out of the visor of his helmet, and he shook the spear in his hands so that it bent double, and he said:

"Luckless wretch, who gave thee such courage that ye dare to appear before me?"

"The Lord Whom thou hast offended," Beltenebros said, "and Who will give me the strength today to break thy great arrogance."

"Then come, come," said the giant, "and ye shall see if your strength is enough to protect you from mine."

Beltenebros held the lance tightly under his arm and charged as fast as his horse could gallop, and he struck the strong plate armor beneath the giant's belt so hard that the force broke the plates, and the lance entered the giant's belly and came out the other side. The blow was so strong that the lance struck the back of the saddle and broke the girths, so that the saddle turned with the giant on it underneath his horse, and the giant had a piece of the lance stuck in his body. But before he fell, he threw the spear, and it struck the hindquarters of his horse and came out between its legs.

Beltenebros left the encounter as fast as he could and put his hand on his sword, but the giant was fatally injured, and the horse dragged him along beneath it, to his great injury. But with his strength, the giant quickly got out, removed the piece of lance and threw it at Beltenebros and hit him on the helmet and shield with such a blow that it almost knocked him to the earth. But with the force that the giant had used to throw it, the rest of his entrails came out of his wound, and he fell to the ground shouting:

"Help me, my son Basagante, and come quickly, for I am dead!"

With these shouts, Basagante arrived as fast as his horse could run, and he brought a heavy steel axe. He came at Beltenebros to strike him and chop him in two, but Beltenebros, with his great valor, protected himself from the blow with his shield. As he passed, he tried to injure the giant's horse but could not, and reached out with the point of his sword and cut the stirrup strap and part of the giant's leg.

The giant, in his great anger, did not feel it, although he felt that he had lost the stirrup, and turned toward him. Beltenebros took the shield from his neck and held it by the arm straps. The giant struck a great blow on it with his axe and knocked it to the earth, and Beltenebros struck him on the arm with his sword and cut plate armor and flesh, and the sword went under the fine steel plates and broke so that all that remained for Beltenebros was the hilt.

But this did not make him faint or lose his great heart. Instead he saw that the giant was trying to take the axe from the shield but could not no matter how hard he tried. Beltenebros's good fortune guided him to the side missing the stirrup, and as they both fought for the shield, the giant was turned around, and his horse bucked and ran off, so the giant fell to the ground.

The axe remained Beltenebros's hand. The giant got up with great effort and drew a long sword that he carried, wishing to charge at Beltenebros, but he could not because the nerves in his leg were cut, and he fell to his knee on the ground. Beltenebros struck him with the axe on the top of his helmet with such a great blow that the force broke all its laces and made it fly off his head.

Basagante, who saw Beltenebros so close, thought to cut off his head, but he struck him toward the top of his helmet and cut off its crest and the hair beneath it, but did not reach the flesh. Beltenebros pulled back, and the helmet, with nothing to support it, fell to his shoulders, and Basagante's sword fell to the ground, struck some stones, and was broken in two.

Those who watched thought that Beltenebros's head had been cut in half, and they began to mourn, especially Leonoreta and her girls and damsels, who were on their knees in the cart, raising their hands to the heavens and begging God to free them from danger. They tore their hair and screamed and shouted to the Virgin Mary.

But Beltenebros took off the helmet and felt his head with his hand to see if he was mortally wounded and felt nothing. He charged at the giant with the axe, and although Basagante was very strong, when he saw him coming, his heart weakened and he could not protect himself. Beltenebros gave him a great blow on the top of the head, and an ear and jawbone fell to the ground. The giant struck him with the half-sword and cut him a little on the leg, then fell back, thrashing in the field in the throes of death.

By then Famongomadan had taken the helmet from his head and put his hands in the wounds to stop the bleeding. When he saw his son dead, he began to blaspheme God and His mother Holy Mary, saying that he regretted dying only because he had not destroyed His churches and monasteries and because They had allowed him and his son to be defeated and killed by a single knight, when they had not expected to be defeated by a hundred.

Beltenebros knelt on the ground, gave thanks to God for the great mercy He had done, and told Famongomadan:

"Having abandoned God and His blessed Mother, now thou shalt pay for thy great cruelties." He made him take his hands from the wound and told him, "Pray to thy idol for all the innocent blood that thou hast offered to it, and ask it to keep this blood from leaving thee, which shall take thy life."

The giant only cursed God and His saints. Beltenebros took the spear from the horse and thrust it into the giant's mouth so that a full palm-length passed out the other side and into the soil. He took Basagante's helmet and put it on his head so he would not be recognized, and mounting Famongomadan's horse, which Enil gave him, he went to the cart. The knights and damsels and girls knelt, thanking him for the help he had given them. He had the knights' chains removed and asked them to mount their horses, which had been tethered to the cart, and to put the giants into the cart, and Leonoreta and her damsels on the palfreys of the squires, who had also been taken prisoner. He told them to bring the giants to King Lisuarte on behalf of an unknown knight named Beltenebros, who wished to serve him, and tell him why he had killed them. And he asked them to give Basagante's large and handsome horse to the King on his behalf to use in the battle with King Cildadan.

The knights were very happy to do what he had ordered, and they put the giants in the cart, and although it was big, they had to double their legs at the knees to make them fit, the giants were so tall. Leonoreta and the girls and damsels made garlands out of flowers from the forest for their heads, and with much joy, laughing and singing, went to London where all were astounded to see them enter the town like that, and to see the horrible things that the giants were.

When the King learned of the great danger his daughter had been in and how Beltenebros had freed her at his great peril and danger, Sir Cuadragante had already arrived and presented himself before the King as someone who had been defeated by Beltenebros. The King wondered who the knight could be who had just done such amazing feats at arms beyond what all those in his land could do

He praised him for some time, asking everyone if they knew him, but no one could tell him anything except that Corisanda, the beloved of Sir Florestan, had spoken of finding a suffering knight named Beltenebros at Poor Rock.

"May it please God to have such a man among us," the King said. "I would give him anything he asked that I could."