They don their hauberks
of Saracen mould,
Wrought for the most with a triple fold;
In Saragossa their helms were made;
Steel of Vienne was each girded blade;
Valentia lances and targets bright,
Pennons of azure and red and white.
They leave their sumpters and mules aside,
Leap on their chargers and serried ride.
Bright was the sunshine and fair the day;
Their arms resplendent gave back the ray.
Then sound a thousand clarions clear,
Till the Franks the mighty clangor hear,
“Sir Comrade,” said Olivier, “I trow
There is battle at hand with the Saracen foe.”
“God grant,” said Roland, “it may be so.
Here our post for our king we hold;
For his lord the vassal bears heat and cold,
Toil and peril endures for him,
Risks in his service both life and limb.
For mighty blows let our arms be strung,
Lest songs of scorn be against us sung.
With the Christian is good, with the heathen ill:
No dastard part shall ye see me fill.”
The prelude of the great
Olivier clomb to a mountain
Glanced through the valley that stretched to right;
He saw advancing the Saracen men,
And thus to Roland he spake agen:
“What sights and sounds from the Spanish side,
White gleaming hauberks and helms in pride?
In deadliest wrath our Franks shall be!
Ganelon wrought this perfidy;
It was he who doomed us to hold the rear.”
“Hush,” said Roland; “O Olivier,
No word be said of my stepsire here.”
[Footnote 1: The stanzas of the translation not found in the Oxford Ms., but taken from the stanzas inserted from other versions by M. Gautier, are, as regards Part II, the following: Stanzas 113, 114, 115, 118, 119, 120, 122, 123, 126, 127, 139, 143, 144, 145, 146, 163.]
Sir Olivier to the peak
Looks far on the realm of Spain therefrom;
He sees the Saracen power arrayed,—
Helmets gleaming with gold inlaid,
Shields and hauberks in serried row,
Spears with pennons that from them flow.
He may not reckon the mighty mass,
So far their numbers his thought surpass.
All in bewilderment and dismay,
Down from the mountain he takes his way,
Comes to the Franks the tale to say.
“I have seen the
paynim,” said Olivier.
“Never on earth did such host appear:
A hundred thousand with targets bright,
With helmets laced and hauberks white,
Erect and shining their lances tall;