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The Harvard Classics, Volume 49, Epic and Saga With Introductions And Notes

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PART ITHE TREASON OF GANELONSARAGOSSA. THE COUNCIL OF KING MARSIL IThe king our Emperor Carlemaine,Hath been for seven full years in Spain.From highland to sea hath he won the land;City was none might his arm withstand;Keep and castle alike went down--Save Saragossa, the mountain town.The King Marsilius holds the place,Who loveth not God, nor seeks His grace:He prays to Apollin, and serves Mahound;But he saved him not from the fate he found. IIIn Saragossa King Marsil madeHis council-seat in the orchard shade,On a stair of marble of azure hue.There his courtiers round him drew;While there stood, the king before,Twenty thousand men and more.Thus to his dukes and his counts he said,"Hear ye, my lords, we are sore bested.The Emperor Karl of gentle FranceHither hath come for our dire mischance.Nor host to meet him in battle line,Nor power to shatter his power, is mine.Speak, my sages; your counsel lend:My doom of shame and death forefend."But of all the heathens none spake wordSave Blancandrin, Val Fonde's lord. IIIBlancandrin was a heathen wise,Knightly and valiant of enterprise,Sage in counsel his lord to aid;And he said to the king, "Be not dismayed:Proffer to Karl, the haughty and high,Lowly friendship and fealty;Ample largess lay at his feet,Bear and lion and greyhound fleet.Seven hundred camels his tribute be,A thousand hawks that have moulted free.Let full four hundred mules be told,Laden with silver enow and goldFor fifty waggons to bear away;So shall his soldiers receive their pay.Say, too long hath he warred in Spain,--Let him turn to France--to his Aix--again.At Saint Michael's feast you will thither speed,Bend your heart to the Christian creed,And his liegeman be in duty and deed.Hostages he may demandTen or twenty at your hand.We will send him the sons whom our wives have nursed;Were death to follow, mine own the first.Better by far that they there should dieThan be driven all from our land to fly,Flung to dishonor and beggary." IV"Yea," said Blancandrin, "by this right hand,And my floating beard by the free wind fanned,Ye shall see the host of the Franks disbandAnd hie them back into France their land;Each to his home as beseemeth well,And Karl unto Aix--to his own Chapelle.He will hold high feast on Saint Michael's dayAnd the time of your tryst shall pass away.Tale nor tidings of us shall be;Fiery and sudden, I know, is he:He will smite off the heads of our hostages all:Better, I say, that their heads should fallThan we the fair land of Spain forego,And our lives be laden with shame and woe.""Yea," said the heathens, "it may be so." VKing Marsil's council is over that day,And he called to him Clarin of Balaguet,Estramarin, and Eudropin his peer,Bade Garlon and Priamon both draw near,Machiner and his uncle Maheu--with theseJoïmer and Malbien from overseas,Blancandrin for spokesman,--of all his menHe hath summoned there the most felon ten."Go ye to Carlemaine," spake their liege,--"At Cordres city he sits in siege,--While olive branches in hand ye press,Token of peace and of lowliness....