The Northern Way

Sigurd the Dragon-Slayer

146       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

55.
Strong, I wis, was that warrior!
He entered in the hall,
And the thrall was out of the high-seat
Ere a moment well was o' er.
56.
Minded to do him a mischief,
Uprose the angry King-
But none in hall beheld that thrall,
So swift his vanishing!
57.
It was brave King Ragnar
That fell upon his knee,
And prayed fair Tora Borgarhjort
Eftsoon his bride to be.
58.
Abed they were laid together,
King Ragnar and his wife;
Blithely went the bridal,
And merry was their life.
      ·       ·       ·
59.
Oft doth it chance with men's joyance
That sorrow followeth!
Yet young, I ween, was Ragnar's Queen,
When she fell sick to death.
60.
Right woefully she up and spake
All in the midnight drear:
" Shalt woo that maiden for thy wife
Who best my garb may wear. "

THE BALLAD OF Ragnar       147

61.
Faint she grew, that lady fair,
All on her sore sick-bed:
And 'Never, ah never,' King Ragnar cried,
" Shall I that maiden wed! "
62.
Wan she grew, that lady bright,
All on her bed of pain,
And: 'Never, ah never,' King Ragnar cried,
" Shall I woo maid again! "
63.
" Now nay, thou shalt wed that maiden
Who dwells by the Southland sea;
Her birth befits thy station,
Tho' small her kingdom be. "
64.
All in the morning early
When red was the sunrise sheen,
King Ragnar fared forth from the castle,
And with him his dead young Queen.
65.
Under the howe that the henchmen
Had heaped upon the wold, (1)
" 'Twas there they laid her bright bodye,
Down in the darksome mould.
66.
All by the howe on the heathland
They spake with weeping eye:
" Doleful it is on sunbright day
In darksome mould to lie. "

1. wold = tract of open rolling country

148       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

67.
Up and spake King Ragnar
That stood by the dark graveside:
" Never, ah never while I live
Shall I woo another bride! "
      ·       ·       ·
68.
No peace he got, King Ragnar,
Neither by night nor day;
He bade them build him a gallant ship
To sail so faraway.
69.
Now certain swains that bread should bake
Went riding here and there,
Till they met with a wight that Haki hight,
And he had a daughter fair.
70.
Right swiftly did those swains return
(Small was their work, I ween!):
" Behold, we have found a maiden fair
Whose like was never seen.
71.
" Behold, we have met with a maiden,
Both joyous and wise is she;
Had Tora the Queen been like her,
Like Tora that maid would be! "
72.
Up and spake King Ragnar,
And answered those swains so free:
" Little reck I of her beauty,
Tho' beauteous she well may be!

THE BALLAD OF Ragnar       149

73.
" Bid ye that maid come hither
With a young swain by her side,
A swain that yet no swain may be,
And thus come boun to bide. (1)
74.
" Bid ye that maid come hither
All in a garb of pride,
A garb that yet no garb may be,
And thus come boun to bide! "
75.
And now those swains that bake the bread
Go riding here and there,
Till they meet with the wight that Haki hight, .
Who hath a daughter fair.
76.
" Our king doth bid the maiden come
With a young swain by her side,
A swain that never a swain may be,
And thus come boun to bide.
77.
" Our King doth bid the maiden come
All in a garb of pride,
And yet that garb no garb must be,
And thus come boun to bide. "
78.
Her locks of gold the maid did fold
Her body white around,
And, all for a swain to run beside,
She called her faithful hound.

1. boun = ready

150       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

79.
She went her way where the good ship lay
Down by the salt sea-shore;
And the Serpent-sign within her eyne
Was the same that Sigurd bore.
80.
Up and spake King Ragnar
A word so blithe and free:
" Thy father's name, thou maiden,
I fain would ask of thee. "
81.
" Haki I call my father,
& Kráka he calleth me;
To ward the goats beside the way
My daily toil must be. "
82.
Silken sark & scarlet robe
All in a pile he pressed:
" Now take them, Kráka, thou churl's daughter,
& wear them as likes thee best! "
83.
Scarlet robe & silken shoon (1)
He rolleth all in haste:
" Now take them, Kdka, thou churl's daughter,
& bear them as best thou mayest! "
84.
Silken sark & scarlet robe
In wrath she cast away:
" More wont am I the goats to ward
Than walk in garments gay! "

1. shoon = shoes

THE BALLAD OF Ragnar       151

85.
Oh fair, so fair her golden hair,
& light her dancing tread!
King Ragnar's cheek grew white & wan,
& then again grew red.
86.
" No churl, no churl was sire o' thine,
Whate'er thy tale, I trow!
That thou art come of high degree
Is told by blee & brow.' (1)
87.
Again he spake, King Ragnar:
" Now fear nor ban nor blame,
But speak thou sooth, fair maiden,
& name thy father's name. "
88.
" My sire was Sigurd the Valiant
That slew the Worm langsyne;
Queen Brynhild she that bore me,
And Asla name o' mine. "
89.
Down came the churl to the sea-shore,
& cried both loud & long:
" Behold, ye have seized on my daughter,
& done me right grievous wrong! "
90.
Oh, they've lifted her high on the gallant ship,
Queen of those Sea-kings bold,
& they've given the churl, his grief to 'suage, <'suage=assuage>
Great store of the red, red gold.

1. blee = complexion

152       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

91.
The maiden sat on the high-seat,
& the King his swains among;
But the end of the tale hath ne'er been told,
& so I cease my song.

Index  |  Previous page  |  Next page