He smote anew on the
It grated, but breach nor notch was there.
When Roland found that it would not break,
Thus began he his plaint to make.
“Ah, Durindana, how fair and bright
Thou sparklest, flaming against the light!
When Karl in Maurienne valley lay,
God sent his angel from heaven to say—
‘This sword shall a valorous captain’s be,’
And he girt it, the gentle king, on me.
With it I vanquished Poitou and Maine,
Provence I conquered and Aquitaine;
I conquered Normandy the free,
Anjou, and the marches of Brittany;
Romagna I won, and Lombardy,
Bavaria, Flanders from side to side,
And Burgundy, and Poland wide;
Constantinople affiance vowed,
And the Saxon soil to his bidding bowed;
Scotia, and Wales, and Ireland’s plain,
Of England made he his own domain.
What mighty regions I won of old,
For the hoary-headed Karl to hold!
But there presses on me a grievous pain,
Lest thou in heathen hands remain.
O God our Father, keep France from stain!”
His strokes once more
on the brown rock fell,
And the steel was bent past words to tell;
Yet it brake not, nor was notched the grain,
Erect it leaped to the sky again.
When he failed at the last to break his blade,
His lamentation he inly made.
“Oh, fair and holy, my peerless sword,
What relics lie in thy pommel stored!
Tooth of Saint Peter, Saint Basil’s blood,
Hair of Saint Denis beside them strewed,
Fragment of holy Mary’s vest.
’Twere shame that thou with the heathen rest;
Thee should the hand of a Christian serve
One who would never in battle swerve.
What regions won I with thee of yore,
The empire now of Karl the hoar!
Rich and mighty is he therefore.”
That death was on him he knew full well; Down from his head to his heart it fell. On the grass beneath a pine-tree’s shade, With face to earth, his form he laid, Beneath him placed he his horn and sword, And turned his face to the heathen horde. Thus hath he done the sooth to show, That Karl and his warriors all may know, That the gentle count a conqueror died. Mea Culpa full oft he cried; And, for all his sins, unto God above, In sign of penance, he raised his glove.
Roland feeleth his hour
On a knoll he lies towards the Spanish land.
With one hand beats he upon his breast:
“In thy sight, O God, be my sins confessed.
From my hour of birth, both the great and small,
Down to this day, I repent of all.”
As his glove he raises to God on high,
Angels of heaven descend him nigh.