By Esaias Tegne’r
NOTE BY THE TRANSLATORS
Tegne’r’s poem, “Fridthjof’s Saga,” has been printed in Sweden in many large editions and in almost every possible style. It has been illustrated, and it has been set to music. It has been translated into nearly all the modern European languages. Moreover it has been rendered into English by eighteen different translators, and has been twice reprinted in America. Bayard Taylor edited an American edition of a translation by Rev. William L. Blackley of Dublin, and published it about ten years ago. Professor R. B. Anderson has just published in his “Viking Tales,” a translation made by Professor George Stephens of Copenhagen, and which received the sanction of Bishop Tegne’r himself.
And yet we venture to add another, and present here the _first_complete_ American translation. Mr. Taylor said in his preface to Blackley’s version that there had never been an English Fridthjof’s Saga which was satisfactory to Swedes. This is probably owing to the fact that the Swedes have become so familiar with its original measures and so accustomed to its peculiar rhythm, that they cannot willingly dispense with any part of the form which Tegne’r gave it. Several of the metres employed by him were unknown to Swedish readers until they appeared in this poem. Tegne’r’s experiment of introducing them was a successful one; and they are now, in the minds of Swedes, as much a part of the work as the story itself. The feminine rhymes, occurring in fifteen of the twenty-four cantos, are so melodious that no one who had heard the original, even if he did not understand a word of it, could be quite satisfied with a version which does not reproduce them. The feminine rhymes and the alliteration of Canto XXI have presented obstacles which no single translation has hitherto overcome.
The original measures the feminine rhymes and the alliteration of “Ring’s Drapa,” are, in our estimation, essential features of a good rendering of the poem, and if we have done our work well we do not fear that any one will think there are too many translations.
For a fuller history of “Fridthjof ‘s Saga” than can be given in this note, we refer the reader to Anderson’s “Viking Tales,” where the sagas on which this story is founded appear in full.
The preparation of this translation has been a home work which has brightened for us the firelight of many a pleasant evening. We publish it in full faith that it will have a like happy effect in whatever home it may be read.
Canto I. Fridthjof and Ingeborg
Canto II. King Bele and Thorstein
Canto III. Fridthjof’s Inheritance
Canto IV. Fridthjof’s Courtship
Canto V. King Ring
Canto VI. Fridthjof Plays Chess
Canto VII. Fridthjof’s Happiness
Canto VIII. The Parting
Canto IX. Ingeborg’s Lament
Canto X. Fridthjof at Sea
Canto XI. Fridthjof with Angantyr
Canto XII. The Return
Canto XIII. Balder’s Funeral Pile
Canto XIV. Fridthjof Goes Into Exile
Canto XV. The Viking Code
Canto XVI. Fridthjof and Bjorn
Canto XVII. Fridthjof Comes to King Ring
Canto XVIII. The Ride on the Ice
Canto XIX. Fridthjof’s Temptation
Canto XX. King Ring’s Death
Canto XXI. Ring’s Drapa
Canto XXII. The King’s Election
Canto XXIII. Fridthjof at his Father’s Grave
Canto XXIV. The Reconciliation
Bele. (Pronounced Bay’-lay.) King of Sogn, in Norway.
Helge (Hel’-gay) and Halfdan. His sons.
Ingeborg. (Ing’-e-borg.) His daughter.
Thorstein. (Tor’-stine.) A peasant, -friend and companion-in-arms of King Bele.
Fridthjof. (Freet’-yof.) Son of Thorstein.
Hilding. Foster-father and teacher of Fridthjof and Ingeborg.
Bjorn. (B’yorn.) A sworn foster-brother of Fridthjof.
Ring. King of Ringric, in Norway.
Angantyr. (Ang’-an-teer.) Ruler of the Orkney Islands.
Atle. (At’-lay.) A berserk, and one orf Angantyr’s warriors.
SCENE–Northern Norway and the Orkney Islands.
Fridthjof and Ingeborg.
In Hilding’s garden, green and fair,
Protected by his fostering care,
Two rare and stately plants were growing, Unequaled grace and beauty showing.
The one a sturdy oak tree grew,
With lance-like stem so straight and true, Its crown in northern tempests shaking
Like helmet plume in battle quaking.
The other like a rose sprang forth
When tardy winter leaves the north, And spring, which in the buds lies dreaming, Still waits with gems to set them gleaming.
Around the earth the storm-king raves, The wrestling oak its anger braves;
The sun dissolves frost’s mantle hoary, The buds reveal their hidden glory.
So they grew up in joy and glee,
And Fridthjof was the young oak tree; Unfolding in the vale serenely,
The rose was Ingeborg the queenly.
Saw you those two by light of day
You seem in Freyja’s house to stay, Where bride-pairs, golden-haired, were swinging, Their way on rosy pinions winging.
But seeing them by moonlight pale
Round dancing in the leafy vale,
You’d think: The elf-king now advances, And leads his queen in fairy dances.
How joyful ’twas, how lovely too,
When firs[ he learned his futhorc through; No kings had e’er such honor brought them As when to Ingeborg he taught them.
How joyously his boat would glide
With those two o’er the dark blue tide: While he the driving sail was veering,
Her small white hands gave hearty cheering.
No bird’s nest found so high a spot,
That he for her could find it not;
The eagle’s nest from clouds he sundered, And eggs and young he deftly plundered.
However swift, there ran no brook,
But o’er it Ingeborg he took;
How sweet when roaring torrents frighten, To feel her soft arms round him tighten.
The first; spring flowers by sunshine fed, The earliest berries turning red,
The first of autumn’s golden treasure, He proffered her with eager pleasure.
But quickly sped are childhood’s days,– There stands a youth whose ardent gaze
With pleading and with hope is laden, And there, with budding charms, a maiden.
Young Fridthjof followed oft the chase, Which led to many a fearful place;
With neither spear nor lance defended, The wild bear’s life he quickly ended.
When, struggling, met they breast to breast, The hunter won, though hardly pressed,
And brought the bearskin home; such prizes, Think you, a maiden e’er despises?
For woman values courage rare;
The brave alone deserves the fair,
Each one the other’s grace completing, As brow and helmet fitly meeting.
And when in winter evenings long,
By firelight reading, in a song,
Of fair abodes in radiant heaven
To every god and goddess given,
He thought: “Of gold is Ing’borg’s hair, A net for rose and lily fair:
Like Freyja’s bounteous golden tresses, A wheat-field which the breeze caresses.
Fair Idun’s beauteous bosom beats
Beneath the green silk’s safe retreats,– I know a silk whose sheen encloses
Light; fairies two, with buds of roses.
And Frigg’s mild eyes are blue and clear As heaven, when no clouds appear,–
But I know eyes beside whose sparkles A light, blue spring day quickly darkles.
And Gerd’s fair cheeks, why praise them so? The northern-lights, on new fall’n snow,– I know of cheeks whose rosy warnings
Portray at once two ruddy mornings.
I know a heart affection-crowned
Like Nanna’s, though not so renowned And Nanna’s love, in song and story,
is justly reckoned Balder’s glory.
For oh, what joy when death appears,
To have a faithful maiden’s tears!
To prove a love so strong and tender, With Hel’s grim shades I’d gladly wander.”
Meanwhile the princess gayly wove
In cloth, blue wave and greenest grove; And as she sang a hero’s story,
She also wove a hero’s glory.
For soon there grew in snow-white wool Bright shields from off the golden spool, Here, red prevail the battle lances,
There, silver-stiffened armor glances.
Anon her fingers deftly trace
A hero,–see, ’tis Fridthjof’s face; And though at first almost affrighted,
She blushes, smiles and is delighted.
The birch tree’s stem where Fridthjof went Showed I and F in beauty blent;
As grew those runes in one, delighted, So too those hearts in one united.
When Day invests the upper air,
The world-king with the golden hair, When men to action urge each other,
They think alone of one another.
When Night pervades the upper air,
The world-queen with the raven hair, When stars in silence greet each other,
They dream alone of one another.
“Thou Earth, who in the spring-time fair, Bedeck’st with flowers thine emerald hair, Give me the best; in wreaths I’ll wind them, And round my Fridthjof’s brow will bind them.”
“Thou sea, who mak’st thy dark caves bright With myriad pearls’ refulgent light,
Give me the best; I’ll weave the clearest A necklace for my Ing’borg dearest.”
“Thou ornament of Odin’s throne,
Eye of the world, O golden sun,
Wert thou but mine, thy blazing splendor I’d give a shield to my defender.”
“Thou guide in Odin’s house at night, Thou pale moon with thy lovely light,
Were thou but mine, thy pearly lustre ‘Mid Ing’borg’s golden hair should cluster.”
But Hilding said: “My foster-son,
Your reason is by love outrun;
The norns are partial in bestowing
The blood that in her veins is flowing.
To Odin high, where bright stars shine, Ascendeth her ancestral line;
No hope may son of Thorstein nourish, For like with like alone can flourish.”
But Fridthjof smiled: “My race,” he said, “Goes down unto the valiant dead;
The forest-king I slew, and merit
Thereby, the honor kings inherit.
“The free-born man will never yield,
He owns the world’s unconquered field; For fate can bind what she has broken,
And hope is crowned with kingly token.
“All power is noble; Thor presides
In Thrudvang, where all strength abides; There worth, and not descent, is leader,– The sword is e’er a valiant pleader.
“I’d fight the world for my sweet bride, Yea, though the thunder-god defied.
Be glad and brave, my lily, never
Shah mortal dare our lives to sever.”
King Bele And Thorstein.
King Bele, sword-supported, in the palace stood; And with him Thorstein, Viking’s son, the peasant good. His ancient war companion, grown old in glory, His brow was scarred like rune-stones, his hair was hoary.
They stood, as on the mountain two temples stand To honored gods devoted, now half in sand; And many words of wisdom the walls are saying, And holy recollections through domes are straying.
“The evening steals upon me,” king Bele said, “The helmet now is heavy, and stale the mead; The fate of man grows darker, but all the clearer High Valhal shines before me, as death draws nearer.
“My sons I here have summoned, and Thorstein’s son For they should cling together, as we have done; But I would give the eaglets some words of warning– Words may in death be sleeping ere dawns the morning.”
Obedient to the mandate, the three advance– First, Helge, dark and gloomy, with sullen glance; He dwelt amid diviners; the hand he proffered Was red with blood of victims, on altars offered.
The next who came was Halfdan, a light-haired swain: His countenance was noble, but weak and vain; He gaily bore a falchion, with which he gestured, And seemed a youthful maiden, in armor vestured.
And after them came Fridthjof, in mantle blue; He was stronger than the others, and taller, too; He stood between the brothers, by contrast seeming Like noon ‘twixt night and morning, in splendor beaming.
“Ye sons,” the king said gently, “my son goes down; Together rule the kingdom and take the crown; For unity is power, and no endeavor,
While lance with ring is circled, its stem can sever.
“Let power stand as sentry on every hand, And freedom bloom protected throughout the land: The sword is for protection, and not for plunder. And shields are locks for peasants no foe can sunder.
“How foolish is the ruler his land to oppress, For the people give the power which kings possess; The crown of leafy verdure which decks the mountain Will wither if the sunshine dries up the fountain.
“On four gigantic pillars is heaven’s throne– The throne of nations resteth on law alone! Destruction waits on judgment; if misdirected; By right are men ennobled and kings perfected.
“In Disarsal, O Helge, the high gods dwell– Not pinioned as the snail is within his shell; As far as daylight flieth, or thought’s swift pinion, Far as resound the echoes, is gods’ dominion.
The offered hawk gives tokens which oft deceive. Not all runes monumental can we believe: But an honest heart, O Helge, of pure endeavor, With Odin’s runes is written, misleading never.
“Be not severe, king Helge, but firm and staid; The sword that bites the sharpest has the limberest blade. Kings are adorned by mercy, as shields by flowers, And spring can more accomplish than winter’s powers.
“A man, however mighty, deprived of friends, Like tree of bark denuded, how soon life ends! But he by friends surrounded, like trees shall flourish, Whose crowns, in groves protected, the brooklets nourish.
“Boast not ancestral wisdom; each man alone A single bowstring uses, and that his own; What matters it to any the worth that’s buried? By its own waves the current o’er seas is carried.
“A joyous spirit, Halfdan, advantage brings, But idle talk is needless, and most, to kings; Of hops, as well as honey, is mead compounded, Let sports on vigor, lances on steel, be founded.
“No man has too much wisdom, though learned he be, And much too little, many less learned than he; To fools, though high in station, no praise is meted, The wise hy all are honored, though lowly seated.
“The steadfast friend, O Halfdan! of mingled blood, Lives near indeed, though distant be his abode; But to thy foeman’s dwelling the way is weary,– Though standing by thy pathway, ’tis far and dreary.
“For friend choose not the first one that’s so disposed,– An empty house stands open, a full one closed; Choose one, the best, O Halfdan, nor seek another, The world soon knows the secrets of three together.”
These words then Thorstein uttered in clearest tone: “King Bele unto Odin goes not alone;
We’ve always stood together, whatever tried us, And death, now drawing near, shall not divide us.
“Fridthjof, old age hath whispered in my rapt ear Full many words of wisdom, which thou must hear. Birds fly from graves to Odin, with wisdom freighted, The words by old men spoken, should not be slighted.
“First, give the high gods honor; for good or ill, Storms come as well as sunshine, by Heaven’s will. The gods perceive the secrets in thy possession. And years must make atonement for each transgression.
“Obey the king: most wisely rules one alone, The eyes of night are many, day has but one. The better are contented by best directed,– The blade must have a handle to be perfected.
Great strength is heaven’s dower; but, Fridthjof, learn That power devoid of wisdom, can little earn. Strong bears by one are taken,–one man of reason; Set shields to turn the sword stroke, let law stop treason.
“A few may fear the haughty, whom all despise, And with the proud in spirit, destruction lies: Those once flew high, who’re now on crutches creeping; The winds rule fortune, weather, time of reaping.
“The day thou’lt rightly prize, whose sun has sunk, Advice when it is followed, and ale when drunk. The hopes of youth on shadows are often rested, But strength of sword and friendship, by use are ‘tested.
“Trust not the snow of spring-time, nor night-old ice; The serpent when he sleepeth, nor girl’s advice; The mind of changeful woman not long abideth, And fickleness of spirit, ‘neath flower-tints hideth.
“All men will surely perish with all they prize, But one thing know I, Fridthjof, which never dies,– And that is reputation’, therefore, ever The noble action strive for, the good endeavor.”
So warned the aged chieftains in the palace hall. As since the skald has chanted in Ha’vama’l, So passed these sayings pithy through generations; And still from graves they whisper ‘mid northern nations.
Then many words and heartfelt, these warriors found To tell their lasting friendship, so wide renowned. How friends till death, if fortune or frowned or slighted. Like two hands clasped together they stood united.
“And back to back in battle we held the field, And which way norns did threaten, they smote a shield; Before you now to Valhal we old men hasten, And may their fathers’ spirit our children’s chasten.”
The king said much concerning brave Fridthjof’s worth, Heroic power surpassing all royal birth; And much was said by Thorstein, how graces cluster Round Northland’s honored monarchs, with Asa-lustre.
“But hold ye fast together, ye children three, The Northland then your conqueror shall never see; For royalty and power, when duly ordered, Are like a bright shield golden, by blue steel bordered.
“Salute my daughter Ing’borg, the rosebud sweet, In quiet was she nurtured, as seemed meet: Protect her, lest the storm-king, with cruel power, Should fasten in his helmet my tender flower.
“I lay on thee, king Helge, a father’s care, Love Ing’borg as a daughter, the jewel rare! Restraint galls noble spirits, but gentle manner Will lead both man and woman to right and honor.
“But lay us now, ye children, in two mound-graves. Close where the blue gulf tosses its ceaseless waves; Our souls shall then forever enjoy the ringing Of dirges which in breaking the waves are singing.
“When the moon’s pale beams the mountains and valleys fill, And midnight’s dew is falling on grove and hill; Then will we sit, O Thorstein, above our pillows, And talk about the future, across the billows.
“And now, farewell, ye children, our work is done; Unto the Allfather gladly we hasten on,
Like weary rivers longing for sea’s caressing; On you be Thor’s and Odin’s and Frey’s rich blessing.”
Buried were Bele and Thorstein together, as they had commanded; High rose their grave-mounds on each side the gulf by the blue rolling water, Death having sundered the hearts that in life were so closely united. Helge and Halfdan, by will of the people, took jointly the kingdom Left by their father; but Fridthjof, an only son, heired alone Framness, Took unmolested possession, and settled himself there in quiet.
Stretching around him for twelve miles unbroken his acres extended; Three sides were dale, hill and mountain, the fourth side looked out on the ocean;
Crowned were the hill-tops with forests of birch-wood, but, on their sides sloping,
Golden corn plentiful grew, and like billows the tall rye was waving. Many in number the lakes which their mirrors held up for the mountains; Held them up, too, for the woods in whose thickets the high-horned elks wandered,
Making there kingly roads, drinking from running brooks counted by hundreds. But in the valleys wide, on the smooth greensward were quietly grazing Glossy-skinned herds, which with udders distended now long for the milk-pail. Scattered among them were myriads of white-wooled sheep, constantly moving, Looking like fleecy clouds sailing serenely across the blue heavens, Wafted now hither now thither in crowds by the winds in the spring-time.
Twelve times two coursers, fierce whirlwinds, defiant though fettered, Stood in the rows of stalls, stamping and restless, the meadow-hay chewing, Knotted their long manes with red, and their hoofs were with iron shoes glistening.
Standing apart was the drinking-hall, built of the choicest fir timber; Counting ten twelves to the hundred, not five hundred warriors assembled Filled up the spacious apartment, when all met to drink mead at Yule-time. Down through the middle, from end to end, ran a strong table of stone-oak, Polished with wax and like steel shining; carved on two pillars of elm-wood, Far at one end, Frey and Odin supported the dais of honor, Odin with lordly look, Frey with the sun for a crest on his bonnet.
‘Twixt the two, on a bear-skin (black as a coal was this bear-skin, Scarlet the mouth, while the tips of the claws were with bright silver shining),
Thorstein among his friends sat–hospitality ministering to Gladness.
Oft when the moon in the heavens was riding, the old man related Wonders of foreign lands seen by him when as a viking he journeyed, Far on the waves of the Baltic, the White, and the Northern seas tossing. Mutely the company listened. Fixed were their eyes on the speaker, Even as bees upon roses; the poet was thinking of Brage,*
Brage with silver beard flowing, and tongue clothed in wisdom the choicest, Sitting ‘neath shadowy birches, telling a story by Mimer’s Unceasingly murmuring fountain, he too a saga unending. Covered with straw was the floor, and upon a walled hearth in the center, Constantly burned, warm and cheerful, a fire, while down the wide chimney Twinkling stars, heavenly friends, glanced upon guest and hall, quite unforbidden.
Studded with nails were the walls, and upon them were hanging Helmets and coats-of-mail closely together; also between them Here and there flashed down a sword, like a meteor shooting at evening. Brighter than helmet or sword were the sparkling shields ranged round the chamber;
Bright as the time of the sun were they, clear as the moon’s disc of silver. Oft as the horns needed filling, there passed round the table a maiden; Modestly blushing she cast down her eyes, her beautiful image Mirrored appeared in the shields, and gladdened the heart of each warrior.
Rich was the house, and the eye of the stranger, whichever way gazing, Rested on cellar well filled, or on pantry or press overflowing. Jewels the rarest, trophies of conquest, gleamed in profusion; Gold carved in runes with great skill, and wonderful things wrought in silver. Chief in this limitless treasure three things were most of all valued.
First of the three was a sword, which from sire and from grandsire descended. Called Angervadil, or grief-wader, sometimes, too, brother of lightning. Far, far away in the East it was forged–so at least says the story– Tempered in fire by the dwarfs. Bjorn Bluetooth the first one who bore it.
Bjorn lost at once both the sword and his life in a bravely-fought battle, Southward in Groning Sound, where he struggled with Vifil the powerful. Vifil’s possessions descended to Viking.
Old and infirm, there lived a great king with a beautiful daughter. See, from the depths of the forest there cometh a giant misshapen, Higher in stature than man, a monster ferocious and shaggy, Boldly demanding a hand-to-hand combat, or kingdom and daughter.
No one, however, accepted the challenge, for none had a weapon Able his hard skull to pierce, and therefore they called him the Iron-skull.
Viking, whose winters scarce fifteen had numbered, nobly advancing, Entered the fray, secure in his strong arm and good Angervadil. Cleft at one blow the hideous goblin, and rescued the maiden. Viking bequeathed the good weapon to Thorstein, his son, and Thorstein, To Odin ascended, bequeathed it to Fridthjof. Whenever he drew it, Light filled the hall as when northern lights entered, or lightning flashed through it.
Hammered of gold was the hilt, with strange letters ’twas covered; Wonderful mysteries were they in Northland, but known to the people Who dwell near the gates of the sun, where our fathers lived ere they came hither.
Faint were the runes when the land was in quiet throughout all its borders; But when the followers of Hild were summoned, then were they burning Red as the comb of a cock when he fighteth. Lost was the warrior Who met, on the field of encounter, the blade with its red letters glowing. Highly renowned was that sword, and of swords was the chief in the Northland.
Next highly prized was the ponderous arm-ring, widely notorious, Forged by the Vulcan of northern tradition, the halting smith Volund; Three marks it weighed, and gold was the metal of which it was fashioned; Carved were the heavens with twelve towering castles, where dwell the immortals,–
Emblem of changing months, called by the poets the sun’s glorious dwelling. First there was Frey’s castle Alfheim, that is the sun, which born newly, Starts once again to ascend the steep pathway of Heaven at Yule-time. There too was Sokvabek; seated within it were Odin and Saga Drinking together their wine from a gold shell,–that shell is the Ocean, Colored with gold from the glow of the morning. Saga is Spring-time, Writ on the green of the fresh springing field, with flowers for letters. Balder, the kingly, is pictured there, throned on the sun at midsummer, Which pours from the firmament riches untold,– personified goodness; For lights are the good, radiant, resplendent, but the evil are darkness. Constantly rising the sun groweth weary; the good also falter, Giddy with walking precipitous heights; sighing they downward Sink to the land of the shades,–down to Hel. That is of Balder The funeral pile. Glitner, the castle of Peace, is there; seated Within it was Forse’te’,* scales in hand, meting out justice.
Many more pictures with these there engraven, betoken the conflict Waged against darkness, on earth and in heaven; bright were they shining, Wrought by a master’s hand on the broad arm-ring. Clustering rubies Crown its high center, e’en as in summer the sun crowns the heavens. Long was the circlet a family heir-loom. On the side of the mother Traced they their pedigree back to old Volund, ancestor mighty. Once, says tradition, the jewel was stolen by robber named Soti, Roaming abroad through the seas. Long was it ere ’twas recovered. Finally (so runs the story) ’twas said that the robber had buried Himself with his ship, and. his treasure, deep on the far coast of Britain. Pleasure or quiet he found not, a ghost was his irksome companion. Hearing the rumor, Thorstein with Bele the dragon ship mounted, Dashed through the foaming waves, straight to the place of the sepulcher steering.
Wide as a temple’s arch, or a king’s gateway, bedded in gravel, Covered with grassy turf, arched to the top, the tomb rose forbidding. Light issued from it. Through a small crevice within the closed portal, Peered the two champions. There the pitched viking ship Stood with its masts, its yards and its anchor. High in the stern sheets Was seated a terrible figure, clad in a mantle all flaming, Furious demon scouring a blade that with blood spots was covered. Vain was his labor, naught could remove them. All his rich booty Round him was scattered, and on his arm was the ring he had stolen.
“Go we,” said Bele, “down thither and fight with the hideous goblin, Two ‘gainst a spirit of fire.” But Thorstein half angrily answered: “One against one is the rule of our fathers. I fight well singly.” Long they contended which first of the two the encounter should venture, Proving the perilous journey. Bele at last took his helmet, Shaking two lots therein. Watched by the stars Thorstein saw by their shimmer His was the lot first appearing. A blow from his javelin of iron Cleft the huge bolts and strong locks. He descended. Did any one question What was revealed in the cavern, then was he silent and shuddered. Bele at first heard strange music. It rang like the song of a goblin; Then was a clattering noise, like the clashing of blades in a combat, Lastly a hideous shriek,–then silence. Out staggered Thorstein, Confounded, bewildered, all pale was his face, for with death had he battled; Yet bore he the arm-ring a trophy. “‘Twas dear bought,” he often said frowning;
“Once in my life was I frightened; ’twas when I recovered that arm-ring.” Widely renowned was that ring, and of rings was the chief in the Northland.
Lastly the ship, called Ellide, was one of the family jewels. Viking, so say they, returning triumphant from venturesome journeys, Sailed along coasting near Framness. There he espied on a shipwreck, Carelessly swinging, a sailor, sporting as ’twere with the billows. Noble of figure, tall in his stature, joyful his visage, Changeable too, like the waves of the sea when they sport ill the sunshine,– Blue was his mantle, golden his girdle and studded with corals; Sea-green his hair, but his beard was as white as the foam of the ocean. Viking his serpent steered thither to rescue the unfortunate stranger,– Took him half frozen to Framness, and there as a guest entertained him. When by his host to repose he was bidden, smiling he answered: “Fair sits the wind, and my ship which you boarded, is not yet disabled; Long ere the morning I trust she will hear me a hundred miles seaward. Thanks for thy bidding, ’twas well meant and kindly. Ah! could I only Leave thee a gift to remind thee of me! but afar on the ocean Lieth my kingdom. Perhaps in the morning ’twill waft thee a token.” Viking next day by the sea-shore was standing, when lo! like an eagle Madly pursuing its prey, a dragon ship sailed into harbor. Nowhere was visible sailor or captain, or even a steersman; Winding ‘mid rocks and through breakers, the rudder a path sought unaided; When the firm strand it was nearing, sudden, as ruled by a spirit, Reefed were the sails unassisted. Untouched by finger of mortal, The anchor sped through the clear water and fastened its barbs in the bottom. Viking gazed, speechless with wonder; the sportive winds sang in low cadence: “AEger the rescued forgetteth no kindness, he gives thee the dragon.” Kingly the gift to behold. The heavy curved planks of oak timber Matched not together like others, but grew in one broad piece united. It stretched its huge form in the sea like a dragon, its stem proudly lifted, A stately head high in the air. Its throat with red gold was all blazing; Sprinkled its belly with yellow and azure, and back of the rudder, Covered with scales of pure silver, its tail lashed the waves in a circle. Bordered with red were its inky black pinions. When all unfolding, It flew in a race with the whirlwind, and left far behind the swift eagle. When it was filled with armed warriors, you’d fancy you were beholding A citadel swimming the billows, or palace o’er ocean ave flying. Widely renowned was that ship, and of ships was the chief in the Northland.
All this and other vast treasures did Fridthjof receive from his father. Scarce was there found in the Northland any with richer possessions, Save were he heir of a kingdom, for of kings is the wealth always greatest. Though from no king he descended, yet was his mind truly royal, Courteous, noble and kind. Daily became he more famous. Twelve gray-haired champions, valorous chieftains, sat at his table, Thorstein’s steel-breasted companions, whose brows were with scars deeply furrowed.
Next to the warriors was seated a youth of the same age as Fridthjof,–
Like a fresh rose ‘mid the dry leaves of autumn; Bjorn was this blossom. Grown up with Fridthjof, in days of their boyhood their blood they commingled, Brothers becoming in good northern fashion, sworn to each other In joy and in grief, the survivor avenging the death of his comrade.
In the midst of the warriors and guests who had come to the funeral banquet, Fridthjof, a sorrowing host, his eyelids with tears overflowing Drank in accordance with ancestral usage, a skoal to his father, Heard the old minstrels sing loudly his praises, a thundering drapa, Rightfully took of his late father’s seat undisputed possession, And sat between Odin and Frey. So sitteth Thor up in Valhal.
Loud sounded the music in Fridthjof’s hall, His ancestors’ praises sang poets all.
O’erwhelmed with sadness
Is Fridthjof, he hears not their songs of gladness.
The earth has again donned her mantle of green And dragon-ships breasting the waves are seen But Fridthjof, pondering,
Is at the moon gazing or in the woods wandering.
How fortunate was he but lately, and glad, For Helge and Halfdan as guests he had;
And with the brothers,
Came Ingeborg; Fridthjof scarce saw the others.
He sat by her side and her soft hand he pressed; He felt in the pressure returned him thrice blest, Enraptured gazing
On her whom he honored beyond all praising.
In glad conversation recalling their plays, When life’s morning dew presaged bright future days For memory truthful
Keeps life’s rosy gardens in noble minds youthful.
How fondly she greets him from dale and from park, From loving names growing in White birchen bark, From hills where flourish
The oaks which the ashes of heroes nourish.
“‘Tis never so pleasant at home as here, For Halfdan is childish and Helge severe; Tho kings attending
To nothing but prayers and praise unending.
“And no one (nor could she her blushes hide) To whom my complainings I may confide.
The palace building,
How stifling compared with the groves of Hilding.
“The doves that we petted, and tamed and fed,
By hawks oft affrighted away have fled; One pair remaineth,
Let Fridthjof take one, one Ing’borg retaineth.
“She’ll long like another her friend to see,– And homeward returning will fly to me:
Your message, bind it
Beneath her flee pinion,–there none will find it.”
All day they sat whispering side by side, Nor ceased the low murmur at eventide;
So breathe in whispers
The zephyrs through lindens at twilight vespers.
But now she has gone, and his joy forsooth Has gone with the maiden. The blood of youth His cheek is mounting,
He silently sighs while the past recounting.
His grief at her absence he sent by the dove, Which joyous set out with its message of love; But oh! new sorrow,
It stayed with its mate, nor returned on the morrow.
His conduct to Bjorn was displeasing; said he: “What ails our young eagle, he seems to be Like some shy sparrow,–
Has his breast or his pinion been pierced by an arrow?
“What wilt thou, Fridthjof? We have for need The yellow bacon, and the good, brown mead; And poets singing,
Their jubilant music forever ringing.
“The steeds impatiently stamp in the stalls,– To the chase! to the chase! the falcon calls; But Fridthjof retaineth
His gloom. He hunteth in clouds and complaineth.
“Ellide is restless upon the main,–
She frets and she chafes at her cable chain; Lie still my treasure!
Our Fridthjof is peaceable. Strife is no pleasure.
“Who dies on his pallet,, is dead indeed; By the lance, as did Odin, we’ll die, if need,– And thus ensure us
A welcome to Hel, and heaven secure us.”
Then Fridthjof unloos’d the dragon,–and proud, With full swelling canvas, the waves she plowed, And swiftly over
The bay to the palace she bore the lover.
The kings were at Bele’s grave met that day,– To administer justice and counsel weigh; Fridthjof advances,–
His voice sounds afar like clashing lances.
“Ye kings, lovely Ing’borg, the people’s pride, I choose, from all women, to be my bride; The king intended
Our lives thus united in one should be blended.
“He reared us together in Hilding’s sight,– As two forest saplings whose tops unite,– A golden cover
Of lace bindeth Freyja the green tops over.
“My sire was a peasant, no earl nor king,– Yet his memory will live while the poets sing; In runic story
The grave-mounds are telling my ancestors’ glory.
“I could easily win me a crown and land, But choose to remain on my native strand: In battle wielding
My sword for the king, and the peasant shielding.
“On king Bele’s grave we are standing now, He hears every word in the grave below,
With me he pleadeth,–
A dead father’s counsel a wise son heedeth.”
Then Helge uprose, and replied with scorn, “Our sister was not for a peasant born,
To kings ’tis given
To strive for our Ingeborg, daughter of heaven.
“You boastfully call yourself chief of swords,– Win men by violence, women bv words;
Boast not of slaughter,
For arrogance winneth not Odin’s daughter.
“My kingdom doth not seek protection from thee, I shield it myself. My man wouldst thou be,– A situation
Among my domestics befits thy station.”
“Thy servant! no, never!” was Fridthjof’s reply, “My father had never a master–shall I?
From thy silver dwelling
Now fly, Angervadil, the insult repelling.”
In sunshine now glitters the blue steel blade,– Displaying its letters in flaming red.
“My good sword loyal,
Thy lineage at least,” said Fridthjof, “is royal.
“And were it not now for the high grave’s renown, Right here would I hew thee, swarthy king, down: Yet will I teach thee
To come not again where my sword can reach thee.”
So saying, be severed at one fell blow The gold shield of Helge which hung on a bough. It fell asunder,–
Its clang on the grave-mound was echoed under.
“Well done, Angervadil. lie still and dream Of high achievements,– meanwhile the gleam Of rune-fires paling!
And now we’ll go home o’er the blue waters sailing.”
King Ring moved his gold-stool back. Then uprose Champion and dreamer;–
For where in the North does such goodness repose? His word o’erflows
With the wisdom which dwells in god Mimer.
Like the groves of the peaceful gods was his land,– War’s sable pinion
Cast not a shadow where on every hand Flowers expand
Through the length of his quiet dominion.
Here Justice alone on the judgment-seat With Right presided;
And Peace every year paid its tribute meet,– While golden wheat
With plenty the harvest provided.
And swarthy-prowed ships to this favored shore, With snowy pinions
The products of numberless nations bore,– A varied store
Of riches for fortune’s rich minions.
Here freedom and peace did in concord dwell, Kindly united;
And all loved their father, the king, full well, For each might tell
His mind in the thing,* none were slighted.
Supreme in the Northland through thirty years His reign extended;
Contented each went to his daily cares; At evening prayers
The king’s name in blessings ascended.
King Ring moved his gold-stool back. From the board All there assembled
Arose to attend on the royal word,– Renowned where heard:
But he sighed, and in accents that trembled,
He said: “My lost queen is in Folkvang-hall On purple seated;
But here on her grave is a grassy pall, While breathe o’er all
The flowers with sweet odor freighted.
“So queenly, so honored, so good and so fair, There’s not another.
Immortal she dwelleth in Valhal’s care, But the people’s prayer,
The children’s desire, is a mother.
“King Bele oft sat as a guest at my side When winter ended;
The daughter he left I would choose for my bride,– Her father’s pride,
In whose cheeks rose and lily are blended.
“I know she is young, and in youth sublime. Would gather flowers;
My flower is past and my early prime; My locks has Time
Besprinkled with snowy showers.
Oh, could she but honor the withered tree Which age has blighted;
And could she a friend to the motherless be, Then should you see
To the throne Spring by Autumn invited.
“Take gold froth my coffers, take jewels rare, Unstinted measure
Let minstrels attending the way prepare To win the fair,–
For song heralds wooing and pleasure.”
With gold and petitions, a noisy throng, The young men speeded;
And minstrels and skalds, in procession long, With hero-song
To the sons of King Bele proceeded.
The feast, where with wassail they drink and sing, For three days lasted,
But they sought the fourth morning what answer they’d bring From Helge king,–
For now their return must be hasted.
In the grove Helge offered both bird and beast,– A sacred duty;
Asked counsel of vala, consulted the priest What answer was best
For the queen of affection and beauty.
The offerings and vala and priest denied The wished-for token;
And Helge, affrighted by signs he’d tried, With “No,” replied,
For men must obey when the gods have spoken.
But merry king Halfdan laughed gayly, and said, “The feast is ended,
King Gray-beard himself should have come instead, I’d glad have led
His beast, and his mounting attended.”
Indignant the embassy went away,
Nor longer tarried;
“King Graybeard his honor’ll avenge one day,” Is Ring heard to say,
When to him the curt message is carried.
He strikes his bright shield hanging high on a bough,– His weapon seizes;
And many a dragon is hurrying now,
With blood-red prow,
And helmet plumes wave in the breezes.
The tidings flew swiftly to Helge king, Who answered slowly:
“The strife will be bloody, for mighty is Ring; My sister bring
To the temple of Balder, the holy.”
There sitteth the loving one, full of woes, Though safe abiding:
She weeps, while with silk and with god she sews A tear overflows,–
The dew ‘mid the lilies is hiding.
Fridthjof Plays Chess
Bjorn and Fridthjof chess were playing On a board, whose squares displaying
Gold and silver deftly fitted,
Skill and beauty both combined.
Then stepped Hilding in. “Come nigher,” Fridthjof said, “and sit thee higher
‘Till our game shall be completed,– Foster-father kind.”
Hilding answered: “From the palace
I am come to you for solace.
Evil are the times at present,
You are all the people’s hope.”
Fridthjof said: “The foe encroaches, Danger, Bjorn, your king approaches;
You can save him by a peasant.–
He is nothing, give him up.
“Fridthjof, anger kings no longer,
Lo, the eagle’s young grow stronger; Ring may thwart, their weak endeavor,
Thou wilt surely find it hard.”
“Bjorn, I see you storm the tower.
And in vain your threatening power
‘Gainst the castle is; it ever
Safety seeks behind its guard.”
“Ing’borg sits in Balder’s dwelling,
Grief her constant tears compelling: She should make thee seize thy armor
She with tearful eyes of blue.”
“Vain you strive my queen to capture, Dear from childhood’s days of rapture;
Best of all, there’s nought shall harm her Come what may, to her I’m true.”
“Fridthjof, art thou still unheeding
All thy foster-father’s pleading?
For thy foolish game art ready
I should go without a word?”
Fridthjof then arises, laying
Hilding’s hand in his, and saying:
“My resolve is firm and steady,
And my answer you have heard.
“Go to Bele’s sons and warn them,
Peasants love not those who scorn them; To their power I bid defiance,
Their behests will not obey.”
“In thy chosen way abide thee,
For thy wrath I can not chide thee; Odin must be our reliance,”
Hilding said, and went his way.
King Bele’s sons may go requesting
From dale to dale the peasants’ aid, In Balder’s grove my world is resting,
For them I will not draw my blade. Then on king’s vengeance or earth’s sadness, I will no longer look or think,
But only will the high gods’ gladness, From out one cup with Ing’borg drink.
While yet the hazy sunshine sendeth
Its purple rays on flowers at rest, Like rosy gossamer which lendeth
An added charm to Ing’borg’s breast, With sighs along the strand I wander,
My soul with longing all aflame,
Upon the sand I gaze and ponder
And with my sword write Ing’borg’s name.
How slowly go the lonesome hours!
Thou Delling’s son, why stayest thou? Hast thou not seen our mountain bowers,
Our lakes and islands until now?
Dwells there in western halls no maiden Who waits since morn first kissed the sea, Upon thy breast her joys to unladen,
Whose whole of life is love and thee?
At last thy footsteps grow uncertain, Thy weary journey thou must close,
Now evening draws the rosy curtain, Behind whose folds the gods repose.
The brooks and breezes to each other In softest whispers love express;
O! welcome Night, of gods the mother, With pearls upon thy wedding dress.
The stars are gliding like a lover
On tiptoe to a maiden true;
Ellide! fly the deep gulf over,
Roll on, roll on, ye billows blue. Yon sacred grove a temple hideth,
Good Balder’s temple, doubly dear, For there love’s goddess safe abideth,
Unto the gods our course we steer.
Thy shores I tread with joyous measure, I kiss thy brown cheek, smiling earth,
And all ye little flowers, with treasure Of white and red, that edge my path.
I hail thee, moon, with pale light streaming On temple-grove and flowers at rest,
How beautiful thou sittest dreaming Like Saga at a wedding feast.
To speak with flowers, O, brook, who taught thee The feeling in my heart a guest?
Ye northern nightingales, where caught ye The wailing stolen from my breast?
With evening’s red the fairies playing, In clouds my Ing’borg’s form disclose,
But Freyja, jealousy displaying.
Away the image quickly blows.
Though changing clouds lose her resemblance, Like radiant hope herself appears,
As true as childhood’s sweet remembrance, She comes, my love’s reward she bears.
Come, loved one, come, and let me press thee Unto the heart that holds thee dear,
My soul’s desire, through life, I’ll bless thee, Come to my arms, and rest thee here.
Frail as the lily’s stem so slender,
Yet like spring roses fresh and fair, As Freyja’s troth-plight, warm and tender, Thou as the will of gods art pure.
Kiss me, and let my burning passion Kindle thy soul to perfect bliss,
Of earth and heaven I lose the vision, Enraptured by thy melting kiss.
Fear not, for here can come no stranger, Without stands Bjorn. his sword in hand, His champions guarding ns from danger,
If need be, can the world withstand; And I, if fighting for my treasure,
Whose form I on my bosom bear,
To Valhal now would go with pleasure, Could’st then be my valkyrie there.
And why fear Balder’s fierce resentment, The pious god to whom we pray?
He looks on us with calm contentment, For, loving, we his law obey.
The god whose brow with sunshine beameth, With whom all truth abideth sure,
His love unto his Nanna seemeth
Like mine to thee, so warm, so pure.
There stands his image, not indignant, But mild and soft as sunset ray,
Upon this shrine of god benignant,
My heart a sacrifice I lay.
Together let us kneel before him,
No better offering can be found
Than two fond hearts which both adore him, With love like his together bound.
Scorn not my love, my blossom cherished, Which more to heaven than earth belongs, In heaven itself that love was nourished, And for that glorious home it longs.
Oh! that my weary soul releasing,
The gods would take me up above;
Triumphantly, with joy unceasing,
I’d go, embraced by my dear love.
When bugle-notes the champions rally, From out the silver gates they ride;
But I alone join not the sally,
I linger gladly by thy side.
When Valhal’s maidens pass me, smiling, The mead-horn with its rim of gold;
Thee, only thee, my love beguiling, My tender, loving arms enfold.
A leafy cottage near the meadow
I’d build us by the dark-blue sea, And there we’d rest us ‘neath the shadow Of many a golden-fruited tree;
And when bright Valhal’s sun each morning, With his clear torch in splendor rose,– We’d hasten to the gods returning,
Yet longing for our home’s repose.
Thy golden locks, with sunshine flushing, Wreathed with a starry crown should be; So my pale lily, rosy blushing,
In Vingolf-hall should dance with me. Then, by my love from danger guarded,
I’d with thee to our home repair,– Where singeth Brage, silver-bearded,
Our wedding song each evening fair.
How sweet the evening song-bird’s vesper! It cometh forth from Valhal’s shore;
How soft the moon-beams’ gentle whisper, From where the dead live evermore!
They tell of light and love unbroken, In homes devoid of care and pain;
Where joyous words alone are spoken, There thou my love shalt ever reign.
Oh, weep not, love, those tears regretful, While through my heart the life-blood streams; But sweetly sleep,–of grief forgetful
May love and Fridthjof fill thy dreams. Oh! when thine arms thou foldest round me, When thy dear eyes but look on me,
How quickly breaks the spell that bound me, How turn my thoughts from heaven to thee!
“List to the lark’s melodious numbers.” Nay, ’tis a dove his love-song sings,
The lark on yonder hillock slumbers, Beside his mate with folded wings.
How happy they, always together,
As free their life as wings that bear Through cheerless storm or sunny weather, Above the clouds, that happy pair.
“See, daybreak comes.” Nay, but ascended From some far beacon is the light;
Our happy talk is not yet ended,
Nor yet so soon the lovely night.
Bright morning stat sleep till to-morrow, And when night cometh, slumber still,
Your waking brings to Fridthjof sorrow,– So sleep till doomsday, if you will.
Vain hope! No longer earth reposes,
The morning breeze new pleasure seeks; Already bud the eastern roses,
As fresh as those on Ing’borg’s checks. I hear the winged songsters twitter,
A thoughtless throng in the opening sky; All life’s astir, the wavelets glitter,
And lover must with shadows fly.
Ah! there he comes, in glory beaming; Forgive, O golden sun, my prayer.
How beautiful, in splendor gleaming! I feel–I know a god is near.
Oh! who could, in thy path advancing, With equal grace and power tread,
All hearts with light and joy entrancing, A life like thine victorious lead!
Here, ‘neath thy watchful eye I leave her– My peerless beauty of the North!
Let not the rough world’s troubles grieve her, Thy likeness on the green-clad earth.
Her soul is pure as rays of morning, Her eyes as blue as thine own sky,
The same rich tints thy crown adorning Among her golden tresses lie.
Farewell, my love, be not forgetful,
Some longer night again we’ll meet; I, lingering, kiss thy brow, regretful,
One kiss I give thy lips so sweet. Sleep now, beloved; in thy slumber,
May dreams of me thy bosom swell,
At mid-day wake, and with me number Each absent hour: farewell, farewell.
The day breaks clear, and Fridthjof cometh not, Though yesterday the council was proclaimed At Bele’s grave. The place was rightly chosen, His daughter’s fate should be determined there. How many supplications hath it cost me,
How many tears by Freyja counted o’er, To melt the ice of hate around Fridthjof’s heart. And gain a promise from his haughty lips To give his hand in reconciliation.
Alas! how hard is man! And for his honor, So calleth he his pride, he counts it not, Or lightly counts it, if he rudely break, Of true and faithful hearts one more or less. But wretched woman, leaning on his breast, Is like the moss-growth blooming on the cliff,– With faded tints, it difficultly holds
Itself unnoticed fast unto the rock, Is only nourished by the dews of night.
But yesterday, indeed, my fate was fixed, And now the evening sun hath set upon it, Still Fridthjof cometh not. The pallid stars Die one by one, and sadly disappear,
And with each one of them a hope is quenched And goes from out my heart unto its grave. Ah! wherefore still to hope? Valhal’s gods No longer love me; I’ve offended them.
And Balder, ‘neath whose shelter I reside, Is wroth with me, because a human love
Is too unholy for the sight of gods, And earthly joy must never risk itself
Beneath the temple-arch in which the grave, The haughty powers have fixed their dwelling-place. And yet what fault is mine? and wherefore frowns The pious god upon a maiden’s love?
Is it not pure as Urd’s bright sparkling fount, And innocent as Gefjon’s morning dream?
The shining sun doth never turn away From loving ones, its pure and watchful eyes. And daylight’s widow, starry night, doth hear With gladness, in her sorrow, all their vows. That which is worthy under heaven’s vault, Can that be guilty ‘neath the temple’s dome? I love my Fridthjof. Oh! through all the past, As far as memory runs, I loved him well,– A holy feeling twin-born with my soul,
I know not whence it came, nor comprehend The dismal thought that it was ever gone. As fruit is timely set about the stone
And groweth up, and round about it all In summer sunshine wraps its cloth of gold, So, too, indeed, have I maturing grown
About this stone, and my existence is Of my affection but the outer shell.
Forgive me, Balder! With a faithful heart Thy hall I sought, and with a faithful one Will I go hence; I’ll take it with me now Out over Bifrost-bridge, and place myself With all my love before great Valhal’s gods. And there my love, like them an Asa-child, Shall see itself reflected in the shields, And fly with loosened dove-wings through the blue Unending space unto the Allfather’s bosom, From whence it came. Oh! wherefore is the frown, In morning’s twilight, on thy brow so fair? There floweth in my veins, as flows in thine, Old Odin’s blood. What wilt thou, kinsman dear? My ardent love I cannot offer thee,
Nor would I offer it, worth all thy joys; But I can offer thee my life’s delight,– Can cast it from me as the stately queen Her mantle flings aside, and still remains Her queenly self. But my resolve is taken, And Valhal high shall never be ashamed
To own me kindred. I will meet my fate As meets the hero his. Ah! here he comes! How wild he seems, how pale! ‘Tis done, ’tis done! My angry norn she comes beside him now:
Be strong, my soul! At last I welcome thee. Our fate is fixed; ’tis plain to read it where Upon thy brow it stands.
And stand not there
As well the blood-red runes, which speak of shame, And scorn and banishment?
Oh, Fridthjof; think! Relate what passed, for I have long foreseen The worst, and am prepared for all.
I found the council at our fathers’ graves. Around the grassy mounds, shield meeting shield, Stood many Northland sons with swords in hand, One circle standing close within another Unto the top. Upon the judgment seat,
A thunder cloud, thy brother Helge sat,– A pallid headsman with a dusky look.
And next to him, a seeming grown up child, Sat Halfdan,—thoughtless, playing with his sword. Then I arose, and, said: “War waiting stands Within thy borders, beating on the shield,– Thy kingdom now, king Helge, is in peril; Give me my sister, and I’ll give to thee Mine arm, it may be usefu] in this strife. Between us let ill will forgotten be,–
I would not cherish it ‘gainst Ing’borg’s brother. To reason listen, king, and save at once Thy golden crown, thy purest sister’s heart. Here is my hand. By Asa-Thor, I swear,
I’ll never offer it again to thee.” An uproar shook the thing. A thousand swords Approval hammered on a thousand shields. The clang of weapons flew to heaven, which heard With joy the assent of freemen to the right. “To him give Ingeborg, the slender lily, Most beautiful our dales have ever grown; No better sword our favored land can boast,– To him give Ingeborg.” Our foster-father, The reverend Hilding, with his silver-beard, Stood forth and spoke in words of wisdom full, Short apothegms, as keen as sharpened swords. And Halfdan, too, from off of royal seat Arose, with pleading words and pleading looks,– But it was all in vain; each prayer was wasted,– Like sunshine lavished on a barren rock, No growth alluring from his stony heart. King Helge’s sullen countenance was like His heart,–a pale-faced “No” to human prayers. “A peasant’s son,” said he, contemptuously, “Could Ing’borg gain, but who profanes the temple Ill-suited seems to holy Valhal’s daughter. Hast thou not, Fridthjof, broken Balder’s peace? Hast thou not seen my sister in his temple When day had hid itself from your communion? Say yes, or no!” A deafening shout resounded From all those rings of men: “Say no, say no, We take thee at thy word, we sue for thee,– Thou son of Thorstein, equal to a king;
Say no, say no, and Ingeborg is thine!” “My life’s delight hangs on a feeble word,” Said I, “but fear it not, king Helge!
I would not lie myself to Valhal’s joy, Much less to earth’s. Thy sister I have seen, Have talked with her beneath the temple’s night, But Balder’s peace I have not therefore broken.” They let me say no more. Abhorrent cries Flew through the thing, and those who nearest stood Drew back as from a pestilent disease;
And when I looked around, their superstition Had palsied every tongue, and blanched each cheek So lately glowing with expectant joy.
And then king Helge triumphed. With a voice As sad, as awful as the ghostly vala’s
In Vegtam’s song, when she for Odin sung Of asas’ fate and grim Hel’s victory,
So sad he spoke: “Though banishment or death I could decree, by our ancestral laws
Against this crime, yet I’ll be mild as Balder, Whose sacred dwelling thou hast so profaned. The western sea a wreath of islands holds, Where Angantyr, the earl, is governor.
As long as Bele lived the earl each year His tribute paid, but ceased when Bele died. Go o’er the sea and drive this tribute in; This penance thy audacity demands.
‘Tis said,” sneered he, with meanest mockery, “That Angantyr hard-fisted is, and broods Like dragon Fafner o’er his gold: but who Can stand ‘gainst our new Sigurd, Fafner’s bane? Exploits more manly must thou undertake
Than luring maidens under Balder’s roof. When summer comes shall we expect you here With all thy honor, first of all the tribute. If not, thou art to every man a felon,
And during life art outlawed through the land.” His judgment rendered, he dissolved the thing.
And your decision?
Have I aught to choose?
Is not mine honor bound by his decree? And that will I redeem though Angantyr
His paltry gold doth hide in Nastrand’s flood. To-day will I depart.
And Ing’borg leave?
Nay, nay, I leave thee not, thou goest too.
O! hear me, ere thou answerest. Thy crafty brother seemeth to forget,
That Angantyr was my dear father’s friend, As well as Bele’s. Perhaps he’ll give
Without constraint what I demand; if not A worthy advocate, a sharp one too,
Have I. ‘Tis always ready at my side. The gold he covets I’ll to Helge send,
And thus will I from sacrificial knife Of this crowned hypocrite redeem us both. But we, my beauteous Ingeborg, will spread O’er seas unknown Ellide’s willing sail, She’ll kindly bear us to a friendlier strand Where exiled love may safe asylum find.
What is the North to me? And what a race, Which pales at every word of priest or king, Whose shameless hands would pluck the living rose From out the sanctuary of my heart?
So, Freyja help, it shall not prosper them! The wretched slave is bound unto the turf Where he was born, hut I will still be free, Free as the mountain winds. A little earth From Bele’s grave and from my father’s taken, Can find a place ,upon our ship, and that Is all of fatherland that we can need.
My loved one, there another sun is found Than that which pales above these hills of snow, And there another sky, more bright than this; And milder stars with god-like glance adorned, Look down therefrom in balmy summer nights On lovers wandering in the laurel groves. My father, Thorstein, Viking’s son, in wars Had journeyed far, and oft I’ve heard him tell, By fireside light in winter evenings long, About the Grecian sea with islands filled,– Fresh groves of green in brightly shining waves. A powerful race once had its dwelling there,– And holy gods the marble temples graced. But now they stand deserted; grasses thrive In paths left desolate, and flowers grow From out the runes that tell of ancient lore; The slender columns stand like budding trees Entwined by graceful stems of southern vines. Throughout the year the earth spontaneous yields, In unsown harvests, all that men require. There golden apples glow between the leaves, And blushing grapes from every bough hang down And, ripening, swell luxurious as thy lips. There, Ing’borg, there we’ll build us near the wave A little North, more beautiful than this; And with our ever faithful love we’ll fill The radiant temple vaults, and thus delight With human fondness the forgotten gods.
And when, with loosened sheets (no storms are there) The sailor idly floats along our isle
In twilight’s glow, and turns his joyous glance From rosy-colored ripples to the strand,– Upon the temple’s threshold shall he see A second Freyja, Aphrodite called
In southern tongue, and he shall wonder at The golden locks, seen flowing in the breeze, And eyes which brighter gleam than southern skies. And one by one around her groweth up
A little temple-dwelling race of fairies, With cheeks where yon might see the south had set, In Northern snowdrifts, freshly blooming roses. Ah! Ingeborg, how beautiful, how near.
Stands earthly happiness to faithful hearts; If they are brave enough to seize it when disposed,
It follows willingly and builds for them A Vingolf even here beneath the clouds.
O come, let’s haste away, each spoken word A moment shorter makes our waiting joy.
Come, all’s prepared! Ellide stretches now Her shadowy eagle wings for eager flight,– And freshly blowing winds now guide the way Henceforth from this inconstant land forever. Why tarriest thou?
I cannot follow thee.
Not follow me?
Ah! Fridthjof, thou art blest! Thou followest none, but always in the front, The stem of thy good dragon ship, dost place Thy will beside the helm, to steer the way With steady hand above the wrathful waves. How widely different the case with me!
My cruel fate is held in other’s hands, Which loosen not the prey although it bleed; And sacrifice, lament and lonesome pining, Is all king Bele’s daughter knows of freedom.
Art thou not free, if so thou willest? In the grave Thy father sits.
No, Helge is my father,
Is in my father’s stead; on his consent My hand depends, and Ing’borg will not steal Her happiness, however near it stands.
Ah! what would woman be if she cut loose The sacred band with which the Allfather binds Unto the stronger power her gentle being? The water-lily pale resembles her;
It rises with the wave and with it falls. The sailor’s keel goes forward over it
And marks it not although it cut the stem. Such is indeed her fate! And yet the flower, As long as clings the root unto the sand, Its growth increases, borrowing color pure From its pale sister stars which shine above,– Itself a star upon the waters blue.
But rudely broken loose, it ceaseless drives, A withered leaf along deserted waves.
Last night,–that was indeed a fearful night, An unrewarded watch I kept for thee,
And children of the night, the serious thoughts, With raven locks went thronging closely by My ever watchful, burning, tearful eyes; And Balder too, the bloodless god looked down On me with frowning glances full of threats. Last night I pondered o’er my wretched fate. My resolution’s taken; I remain
Obedient victim at my brother’s altar. Yet it is well I did not hear thee then, With fabled islands floating in the clouds Where evening’s glowing twilights always show A flowery world of peace and happy love. Who knows how weak one is? My childhood dreams Though silent long, with joy rise up again, And whisper in my anxious ear with voice Familiar as a sister’s kindly tones,
As tender as a lover’s ardent praise. I hear ye not! ah, no, I hear ye not,
Alluring accents once so fondly loved! A child of Northland cannot elsewhere dwell; Too pale am I for those bright summer roses;- Too colorless my mind for that deep glow; The scorching sun would quite consume me there. Of anxious longing full, my eyes would seek The northern star which always watchful stands A heavenly sentry o’er our fathers’ graves. My noble Fridthjof shall not now desert
The cherished hind that he was born to guard; He shall not fling away his honored name To gain so poor a thing, a maiden’s love. A life where spins the sun from year to year, And where each day is ever like the next– A beauteous but unending sameness, is
For woman only, but for manly souls, And most for thine, it’s quiet, weary dullness. Thou thrivest best where storms are raging round. On foaming pacers o’er the heaving sea,
And on thy tossing plank, come life or death, Thou mayest fight with peril for thine honor. The beauteous desert thou dost paint, would be A grave for high achievements, not yet born; And like thy shield, with rust would be dissolved, Thine independent mind. It shall not be! I will not steal away my Fridthjof’s name From poet’s storied song; I will not quench My hero’s glory in its morning dawn.
Be wise, my Fridthjof; let us yield unto The haughty norn; let us rescue yet
Our cherished honor from this wreck of life; Our happiness we cannot save, ’tis gone, And separate we must!
And wherefore must?
Because a sleepless night disturbed thy mind?
Because my honor must be saved, and thine.
A woman’s honor rests on manly love.
Not long loves he whom he cannot respect.
Respect is not by fickle fancy gained.
A sense of justice is a noble fancy.
Our love strove not with justice yesterday.
Nor love to day, but all the more our flight.
Necessity commands our flight,–Oh, come!
What’s right and noble, that’s necessity.
High rides the sun and time is fleeting by.
Ah, me, it has gone by, gone by forever!
Consider well. Is that thy last resolve?
I have considered well; it is my last.
Farewell then, fare thee well, king Helge’s sister.
Oh, Fridthjof! Fridthjof! must we separate thus? Hast thou indeed no friendly glance to give Thy childhood’s friend; no kindly hand to reach To the unfortunate, once so beloved?
Think’st thou I stand on roses here, and turn Away with smiles my happiness for life?
And that I pangless tear from out my breast A hope that hath with my affections grown?
Oh! wert thou not my heart’s own morning dream? Each joy that I have known was Fridthjof named, And all of life that great or noble seemed, Did Fridthjof’s likeness take before mine eyes. Bedim the image not: oh, do not meet
With cruelty the weak one offering up The dearest thing upon the face of earth. The dearest thing that Valhal’s gods can give! That offering, Fridthjof, is severe enough. And words of consolation well deserves.
I know thou lovest me–that I have known E’er since my being first began to dawn; And Ing’borg’s thoughts will surely follow thee For years to come wherever thou may’st go. The clang of warlike weapons deadens grief. ‘Tis blown away upon the wild, wild waves, Nor ventures to return when champions all Their victory celebrate with drinking horn. Yet sometimes, then, when in the peace of night, Thy thoughts review again forgotten days, There will among them glide an image pale, Thou knowest well; it fondly greeteth thee From regions dear; it is the image of
That virgin pale in Balder’s holy grove. Thou must not drive it thence away, although It looketh sorrowful, but whisper kind
Into its ear a friendly word; the winds Of night on faithful wings will bear it me; One comfort yet, I have none else beside. For me there’s naught to dissipate my grief; In all surrounding me it hath a tongue;
The holy temple vaults speak but of thee: The temple’s God, which should all threatening seem, Thy likeness takes when shines the streaming moon. Behold the sea–there swam thy keel through foam To her who on the strand awaited thee;
Behold the woods–there stand so many stems With Ing’borg’s runes engraven in the bark; Now grows the bark and wears away my name, And that betokens death, the sagas say.
I ask the day when last it saw thy form, I ask the night, but both are silent still: And e’en the sea which bears thee, gives reply But with a solemn sigh along the shore.
With evening’s ruddy glow I’ll send to thee A greeting, when it sinks into thy waves. And heaven’s long ship, the fleeting cloud, shall take On board the wail of the abandoned one.
So shall I sit within my virgin bower, In mourning clad, of all life’s joy bereft, And broken lilies sew into the cloth,
Until the Spring its cloth doth weave, and sew It full of better lilies on my grave.
And when I sadly take the harp to sing Unending sorrow in profoundest tones,
Then burst the burning tears as now–
Thou conquerest, Bele’s daughter, weep no more! Forgive my wrath, it was alone my sorrow Which for a moment took a wrathful dress, – A wrathful dress it cannot long endure.
Thou art my kindest norn, my Ingeborg. A noble mind best teaches what is noble. Necessity’s real wisdom cannot have
A fairer, better advocate than thou, Thou beauteous vala with the rosy lips!
I yield indeed unto necessity;
I part with thee but part not with my hope; I’ll take it with me over western waves, I’ll take it with me to the gates of death. The nearest spring-day sees me here again: King Helge, so I hope, shall see me too. Then from my promise freed, his bidding done, The calumny against me, too, atoned,
Then I’ll request thee,–nay but I’ll demand In open council and with naked swords,
And not of Helge but of Northland’s sons. Who only can dispose a princess’ hand;
I have a word for him who dare refuse. Farewell till then; be true, forget me not, And take in memory of our childhood’s love, My arm-ring here, a beauteous Volund-work, With heaven’s wonders graven in the gold; The best of wonders is a faithful heart. How well it suits thine arm so snowy-white– A glow-worm coiled around the lily’s stem! Farewell, my bride, my loved one, fare thee well. Ere many moons our mournful lot will change.
How glad, how trusting, and of hope how full! He sets the glittering point of his good sword Against the norns, and says: “Ye must retreat!” Thou wretched Fridthjof, the norns will ne’er retreat; They go their way and laugh at Angervadil. How little knowest thou my gloomy brother. Thy brave, heroic temper fathoms not
The awful depths of his, nor understands The hate that in his envious bosom burns. His sister’s hand he’ll never give to thee; He’d sooner give his crown, pour out his life, Of me an offering make to Odin old,
Or to old Ring, whom now he fights against. Wherever I may look, no hope is found,– Yet am I glad hope lives within thy breast. In secret will I keep my poor heart’s wound, And pray that all the good gods follow thee. Here on thine arm-ring can I reckon up
Each separate month of all this lonesome sorrow. In two, four, six,–then can’st thou come again, But can’st not find again thine Ingeborg.
Autumn has come;
Storming now heaveth the deep sea with foam, Yet would I gratefully lie there,
Willingly die there.
Long gleamed his sail,
Flying to westward before the fierce gale; Fortunate, Fridthjof to follow
O’er the wild billow.