Fiction > Harvard Classics > The Song of Roland
  The Song of Roland.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Part II: The Prelude of the Great Battle

OLIVIER 1 clomb to a mountain height,
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,        5
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,        10
No word be said of my stepsire here.”

Sir Olivier to the peak hath clomb,
Looks far on the realm of Spain therefrom;
He sees the Saracen power arrayed,—
Helmets gleaming with gold inlaid,        15
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,        20
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,        25
With helmets laced and hauberks white,
Erect and shining their lances tall;
Such battle as waits you did ne’er befall.
My Lords of France, be God your stay,
That you be not vanquished in field to-day.”        30
“Accursed,” say the Franks, “be they who fly
None shall blench from the fear to die.”
Note 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.] [back]


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