Lord of Valtierra was
Saracen he, and the region his;
He cried to Marsil, amid the throng,
“Unto Roncesvalles I spur along,
The pride of Roland in dust to tread,
Nor shall he carry from thence his head;
Nor Olivier who leads the band.
And of all the twelve is the doom at hand.
The Franks shall perish, and France be lorn,
And Karl of his bravest vassals shorn.”
Estorgan next to Marsil
With Estramarin his mate beside.
Hireling traitors and felons they.
Aloud cried Marsil, “My lords, away
Unto Roncesvalles, the pass to gain,
Of my people’s captains ye shall be twain.”
“Sire, full welcome to us the call,
On Roland and Olivier we fall.
None the twelve from their death shall screen,
The swords we carry are bright and keen;
We will dye them red with the hot blood’s vent
The Franks shall perish and Karl lament.
We will yield all France as your tribute meet.
Come, that the vision your eyes may greet;
The Emperor’s self shall be at your feet.”
With speed came Margaris—lord
Of the land of Sibilie to the sea;
Beloved of dames for his beauty’s sake,
Was none but joy in his look would take,
The goodliest knight of heathenesse,—
And he cried to the king over all the press,
“Sire, let nothing your heart dismay;
I will Roland in Roncesvalles slay,
Nor thence shall Olivier scathless come,
The peers await but their martyrdom.
The Emir of Primis bestowed this blade;
Look on its hilt, with gold inlaid:
It shall crimsoned be with the red blood’s trace:
Death to the Franks, and to France disgrace!
Karl the old, with his beard so white,
Shall have pain and sorrow both day and night;
France shall be ours ere a year go by;
At Saint Denys’ bourg shall our leaguer lie.”
King Marsil bent him reverently.
Chernubles is there,
from the valley black,
His long hair makes on the earth its track;
A load, when it lists him, he bears in play,
Which four mules’ burthen would well outweigh.
Men say, in the land where he was born
Nor shineth sun, nor springeth corn,
Nor falleth rain, nor droppeth dew;
The very stones are of sable hue.
’Tis the home of demons, as some assert.
And he cried, “My good sword have I girt,
In Roncesvalles to dye it red.
Let Roland but in my pathway tread,
Trust ye to me that I strike him dead,
His Durindana beat down with mine.
The Franks shall perish and France decline.”
Thus were mustered King Marsil’s peers,
With a hundred thousand heathen spears.
In haste to press to the battle on,
In a pine-tree forest their arms they don.