The Northern Way

Song and Legend From the Middle Ages

Spanish Literature

Page 2

To vindicate the first affront to Layn Calvo's state;

Then calls on Heaven for justice, and on the earth for space,

Craves strength of honor injured, and of his father grace,

Nor heeds his youthful bearing, for men of rank like he

Are wont from birth to prove their worth by deeds of chivalry.

Next, from the wainscot took he down an ancient sword and long:

Once it had been Mudarra's, but now had rusty grown,

And, holding it sufficient to achieve the end he sought,

Before he girt it on him, he addressed the fitting thought:

"Consider, valiant claymore, that Mudarra's arm is mine,

And the cause wherein ye wrestle is Mudarra's cause and thine;

But if, forsooth, thou scornest to be grasped by youthful hand,

Think not 'twill lead the backward e'en a jot from the demand;

For as firm as thine own steel thou wilt find me in the fray,

And as good as e'er the best man---Thou hast gained a lord to-day;

And if perchance they worst thee, enraged at such a stain,

I shall plunge thee to the cross in my breast for very shame.

Then on the field away, for the hour to fight is come,

To requite on Count Lozano all the mischief he has done."

So, full of courage and emprise the Cid rode forth to war,

And his triumph was accomplished in the space of one short hour.

------Tr. by Knapp.


(On the Field)

"It is not meet for men of brain, nor yet for champion true,

To offer insult to a man of better blood than you!

The brawny warrior, howe'er fierce and valiant he may be,

Was never wont to test his power on aged infirmity.

The men of Leon need not boast of high enterprise, forsooth,

Who craven smite the face of age, and not the breast of youth.

Ye should have known who was my sire, and Layn Calvo's line,

A breed that never brook offence, nor challenge fit decline;

How dared ye thus provoke a man whom only Heaven may,

And not another, while the son lives to avenge the day!

Ye cast about his noble face dishonor's sombre pall,

But I am here to strip it off and expiate it all;

For only blood will cleanse the stain attainted honor brings,

And valid blood is that alone which from the aggressor springs;

Yours it must be, Oh tyrant, since by its overplay

It moved ye to so foul a deed and robbed your sense away;

On my father ye laid hand, in the presence of the king,

And I, his son, am here to-day atonement full to bring.

Count, ye did a craven business and I call ye coward here!

Behold, if I await you, think not I come with fear,

For Diego Laynez wrought me well set in his own mould,

And while I prove my birthright I your baseness shall unfold.

Your valor as a crafty blade will not avail ye more,

For to my needs I bring a sword and charger trained to war."

Thus spake to Count Lozano Spain's champion, the Cid,

(Ere long he won the title by achievements which he did);

That day he slew his enemy and severing quick the head,

Bore high the bleeding trophy as he homeward proudly sped.

-----Tr. by Knapp.


(The Triumph)

Weeping sat Diego Laynez still o'er his untasted meal;

Still o'er his shame was brooding, the tears his thoughts reveal;

Beset with a thousand fancies, and crazed with honest care,

Sensitive to a footfall lest some foe were lurking there,

When Rod'rick, bearing by the locks the Count's dissevered poll,

Tracking the floor with recent gore, advanced along the hall.

He touched his father's shoulder and roused him from his dream,

And proudly flaunting his revenge he thus addresses him:

"Behold the evil tares, sir, that ye may taste the wheat;

Open thine eyes, my father, and lift thy head, 'tis meet,

For this thine honor is secure, is raised to life once more,

And all the stain is washed away in spite of pride and power:

For here are hands that are not hands, this tongue no tongue is now,

I have avenged thee, sir, behold, and here the truth avow."

The old man thinks he dreams; but no, no dream is there;

'Twas only his long grieving that had filled his heart with care.

At length he lifts his eyes, spent by chivalrous deeds,

And turns them on his enemy clad in the ghastly weeds:

"Roderick, son of my soul, mantle the spectre anon,

Lest, like a new Medusa, it change my heart to stone,

And leave me in such plight at last, that, ere I wish ye joy,

My heart should rend within me of bliss without alloy.

Oh, infamous Lozano! kind heaven hath wrought redress,

And the great justice of my claim hath fired Rodrigo's breast!

Sit down, my son, and dine, here at the head with me,

For he who bringest such a gift, is head of my family."

--------Tr. by Knapp

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