A judicial combat ensues between Pinabel, the " friend and peer" of Ganelon, and Thierry of Anjou, the king's champion. Thierry at the last is victor ; Ganelon is torn in pieces by wild horses, and thirty of his kindred who had been his bailsmen are hanged. Queen Bramimonde is converted to Christianity ; the angel appears again to Charlemagne, commanding him to undertake a new expedition to the East ; the emperor tearing his beard to think " what an unresting life is his.
It is the epi- Emir sode of the Emir Baligant Baiigant. In the year that Charlemagne had invaded Spain, King Marsil, foreseeing the disaster which might befall him, had sent an embassy to his suzerain Baligant, the Emir of Babylon, imploring succour. The distance was so great, and the delay so long, that it was not until the seventh year that Baligant reached Spain with an immense army formed of innumerable heathen nations.
Among these it is curious to find the Prussians and Sclavonians. The ravages of the wild Borussian pagans had reached the ear of the trouvere; and,- heathen for heathen, he recked of little difference between north and east. However, Baligant arrives before Saragossa, only in time to learn of the calamity that had befallen his vassal True, the rear-guard of the Christians, and all the twelve peers, had been slain ; but the emperor had taken fearful vengeance, and the whole army of Marsil was annihilated.
His son Jurfalez was slain, and he himself lay in anguish, maimed of his right hand. The queen was already abjuring her gods as faithless and impotent The Emir promises a speedy reprisal, and marches out with his army against Karl. They met in an open plain. Hidden they might not be. It may be interesting to state them, as indicating the conceived extent of the dominion of Charlemagne. The first two were of Franks, each of fifteen thou- sand men ; the third, Bavarians ; the fourth, Almains of the Marches ; the fifth, the Normans with Count Richard at their head ; the sixth are Bretons ; the seventh, the men of Poitou and Auvergne ; the eighth, Flemings and Frisians; the ninth, Burgundians and Lorrainers; the tenth, a hundred thousand of the warriors of France ; and at the head Geoffrey of Anjou, who bore the oriflamme.
In the battle the heathens, I need hardly say, are routed with slaughter, Charlemagne slaying the Emir with his own hand. After this battle he captures Saragossa. Marsil dies of anguish. The inhabitants have the choice of baptism or the sword, and the queen is led off a prisoner. It has been much disputed whether this episode is a part of the original poem or a subsequent interpola- tion.
Le'on Gautier, whose labours on the subject of this poem are beyond price, adopts the former view, and slow indeed should I be to venture to differ from him. But, in any case, I cannot help regarding it as a blemish. It interrupts the natural march of the narrative, and there is a good deal of it that resembles a mere variation of the incidents of the battle of Roncesvalles.
Indeed, at Roncesvalles itself, the details of the killing, though undoubtedly Homeric, become a little monotonous; and it would, I fear, be wearisome to the English reader to have them repeated in the Digitized by L. I have not, I think, done great wrong in omitting it. To turn now to what I may call the external history and features of this poem. The manu- The MS. A small octavo, the leaves vellum, the writing mediocre enough, without a pretence to caligraphy ; it formed a volume suitable to be carried in the pocket of a jongleur, to read from or refresh his memory by.
It had belonged to the famous Sir Kenelm Digby, and was given by him to the Bodleian in , with over two hundred other manuscripts. Surely the French owe a debt of im- mortal gratitude to Sir Kenelm, who was the means of preserving the solitary copy known to exist of what they now claim as their true epic. It lay for two centuries in the Bodleian, forgotten and un- noticed. Tyrwhitt, the editor of Chaucer, saw it, and there is a passing reference to it in a note to his edition.
In 7 Mr. Conybeare, in the Gen- tleman's Magazine, referred to it as the earliest speci- men of the chansons de geste known to exist among the manuscript treasures of our libraries. But it' was not given to the world until It was transcribed and edited by M. Francisque Michel, who had been sent over to Oxford by M.
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Guizot with that mission. Its publication was an era in French literature. Of this photographic edition he has published a limited number of copies. Other editors in Germany are Ed.
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Boehmer and Th. It would be wearisome to detail the several French editions.
The Song of Roland Retold in Modern Engish Prose (Annotated)
First amongst them all may be named the edition of M. The language of the " Roland " is the langue Toil The lan- — tne language of the north and centre of guage.
The precise date of its composition is unsettled. Many have assumed that it was a portion of this very poem which Taillefer, the jongleur, chanted when he leaped ashore, and when he flung his sword into the air at the beginning of the battle of Hastings. Heilbronn, The passage from Wace is as follows : — " Taillefer qui moult bien cantoit Sur un roncier qui tost aloit Devant eux s'en aloit cantant De Carlemagne et de Rolant, Et d'Olivier et des Vassaux Qui moururent en Roncesvaux.
Pur tut guerredun vus requier Et si vos voil forment preier, Otriez me ke jeo n'y faille Le premier colp de la bataille.
Et li due respunt jeo l'otrei. I have served you long. You owe me a debt for all my service; and you can repay it to me this day. It is all I ask of you for guerdon, and earnestly I beseech it. Grant, and deny me not, to strike the first stroke in the battle. Taillefer may, of course, have chanted some earlier lay of Roland. His chief reason for believing him to have been a Norman is the great prominence given to Saint Michael the Archangel, under the name of " Saint Michael of Peril. Michel, on the Norman coast, where the feast of the apparition of the archangel to St. Aubert is kept on the 1 6th of October.
The pilgrimages to this shrine are termed in the Chronicles contemporary with our poem, "Ad montem Sancti Michaelis de Periculo Maris! Gautier thinks, would never have occurred to any writer other than a Norman. The grounds for supposing him to be an Anglo-Norman are the references to England in the poem; the fact of the solitary manuscript which exists having been found in England ; of two copies of a poem on Roncesvalles having been formerly in the cathedral of Peterborough, as appears by a catalogue which has been preserved ; and by the use of the word "algier" for javelin, which is supposed to have been derived from the Anglo-Saxon ategar.
All this, it must be owned, is very slight and con- jectural. The last line of the poem is — "Ci fait la geste que Turoldus declinet. The similarity of name, coupled with the fact which I have referred to,, of a poem on Roncesvaux having been once in the library of Peter- borough, have led M. Accepting, then, implicitly the conclusion drawn by critics, who have devoted the most con- scientious labour to this task, that the language shows the date to have been the end of the eleventh or the beginning of the twelfth century, we are absolutely in the dark as to the author.
SparkNotes: Song of Roland: Overall Analysis and Themes
One thing, however, I may say; with all respect for M. Genin, I doubt whether the poem was the work of an ecclesiastic. Devout it is, and displays a deep and tender faith ; but it is absolutely untheological. Let any one read the beginning of the " Pseudo-Turpin," and he will feel clearly what I mean. A cleric would not have been likely to give such prominence to the fighting over the preaching qualities of the archbishop.
We should have had more matter tending directly to edification; and the reasons by which the Saracen queen was converted to Christianity would hardly have been omitted. The Scriptural allusions, and the references to saints and angels, are nothing more than would have been elementary knowledge with laymen of that age. Texte critique accompagne d'une traduction d'une introduction et de notes," par F.
Paris, The metre is decasyllabic, the same as in Chaucer ; the same which we have preserved in our heroic measure, but which the French, un- fortunately, as many have thought, afterwards discarded for the longer Alexandrine.
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Of the grammar, I think it out of place to speak. Those who may take a philological interest in the poem will find abundant and superabundant materials in what has been written on this theme in France and Germany.
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- The Song of Roland?
The poem is divided into stanzas or leashes laisses of very unequal length, each stanza having the same rhyme throughout. The rhyme is not a perfect rhyme The in our sense ; it is the assonant, or vowel assonant rhyme ; " Vele," for example, rhyming with rhyme. It is almost the only species of rhyme known in Celtic poetry, and it long remained a feature even of Irish ballads written in the English tongue. The " Groves of Blarney" is, of course, a burlesque, but even as a burlesque it gives a specimen of the kind of rhyme existing in the compositions which it ridiculed. But it is in Spanish that the use of the assonant rhyme became most domesticated, for it was adopted by the authors who are their recognized classics.
The greater part of Calderon is written in assonants. Upon this subject I need only refer to Mr. Ticknor bore the following testimony : — " In this point of view, your volume seems to me little less than marvellous. If I had not read it — if I had not carefully gone through with the Dhocion de la Cruz, I should not have believed it possible to do what you have done.
Titian, they say, and some others of the old masters, laid on colours for their groundwork wholly different from those they used afterwards, but which they counted upon to shine through and. So in your translations, the Spanish seems to come through to the surface; the original air is always perceptible. It is like a family likeness coming out in the next generation, yet with the fresh- ness of originality. But the rhyme is as remarkable as the verse and the translation ; not that you have made the asonante as perceptible to the English ear as it is to the Spanish — our cumbersome consonants make that impossible.
But the wonder is that you have made it perceptible at all. And the envious Nymph of Air, Seeing earth so richly studded With the flowers of many springs, Joined in this that is the youngest.
Literary Devices in Song of Roland
Has unto her azure plain, Flowers of other kinds conducted ; Which, upborne on myriad wings, Living nosegays 'float and flutter. It is a very remarkable French achievement, and must have cost a world of assonants. Gautier, M. Genin, or M. I give one of M.