The Northern Way

Song and Legend From the Middle Ages

Spanish Literature

Page 3


Now rides Diego Laynez, to kiss the good King's hand,

Three hundred men of gentry go with him from his land,

Among them, young Rodrigo, the proud Knight of Bivar;

The rest on mules are mounted, he on his horse of war.

They ride in glittering gowns of soye---He harnessed like a lord;

There is no gold about the boy, but the crosslet of his sword;

The rest have gloves of sweet perfume,----He gauntlets strong of mail;

They broidered cap and flaunting plume, ----He crest untaught to quail.

All talking with each other thus along their way they passed,

But now they've come to Burgos, and met the King at last;

When they came near his nobles, a whisper through them ran,----

"He rides amidst the gentry that slew the Count Lozan."

With very haughty gesture Rodrigo reined his horse,

Right scornfully he shouted, when he heard them so discourse,---

"If any of his kinsmen or vassals dare appear,

The man to give them answer, on horse or foot, is here."---

"The devil ask the question!" thus muttered all the band;---

With that they all alighted, to kiss the good King's hand,---

All but the proud Rodrigo, he in his saddle stayed,----

Then turned to him his father (you may hear the words he said).

"Now, light, my son, I pray thee, and kiss the good King's hand,

He is our lord, Rodrigo; we hold of him our land,"----

But when Rodrigo heard him, he looked in sulky sort,----

I wot the words he answered they were both cold and short.

"Had any other said it, his pains had well been paid,

But thou, sir, art my father, thy word must be obeyed."----

With that he sprung down lightly, before the King to kneel,

But as the knee was bending, out leapt his blade of steel.

The King drew back in terror, when he saw the sword was bare;

"Stand back, stand back, Rodrigo, in the devil's name beware;

Your looks bespeak a creature of father Adam's mould,

But in your wild behaviour you're like some lion bold."

When Rodrigo heard him say so, he leapt into his seat,

And thence he made his answer, with visage nothing sweet,---

"I'd think it little honour to kiss a kingly palm,

And if my fathers kissed it, thereof ashamed I am."----

When he these words had uttered, he turned him from the gate.

His true three hundred gentles behind him followed straight;

If with good gowns they came that day, with better arms they went;

And if their mules behind did stay, with horses they're content.

------Tr. by Lockhart.


Now, of Rodrigo de Bivar great was the fame that run,

How he five Kings he vanquished, proud Moormen every one;

And how, when they consented to hold of him their ground,

He freed them from the prison wherein they had been bound.

To the good King Fernando, in Burgos where he lay,

Came then Ximena Gomez, and thus to him did say:----

"I am Don Gomez' daughter, in Gormaz Count was he;

Him slew Rodrigo of Bivar in battle valiantly.

"Now am I come before you, this day a boon to crave,

And it is that I to husband may this Rodrigo have;

Grant this, and I shall hold me a happy damosell,

Much honoured shall I hold me, I shall be married well.

"I know he's born for thriving, none like him in the land;

I know that none in battle against his spear may stand;

Forgiveness is well pleasing in God our Saviour's view,

And I forgive him freely, for that my sire he slew."----

Right pleasing to Fernando, was the thing she did propose;

He writes his letter swiftly, and forth his foot-page goes;

I wot, when young Rodrigo saw how the King did write,

He leapt on Bavieca---I wot his leap was light.

With his own troop of true men forthwith he took the way,

Three hundred friends and kinsmen, all gently born were they;

All in one colour mantled, in armour gleaming gay,

New were both scarf and scabbard, when they went forth that day.

The King came out to meet him, with words of hearty cheer;

Quoth he, "My good Rodrigo, you are right welcome here;

This girl Ximena Gomez would I have ye for her lord,

Already for the slaughter her grace she doth accord.

"I pray you be consenting, my gladness will be great;

You shall have lands in plenty, to strengthen your estate."

"Lord King," Rodrigo answers, "in this and all beside,

Command, and I'll obey you. The girl shall be my bride."---

But when the fair Ximena came forth to plight her hand,

Rodrigo, gazing on her, his face could not command:

He stood and blushed before her;---thus at the last said he---

"I slew thy sire, Ximena, but not in villany:---

"In no disguise I slew him, man against man I stood;

There was some wrong between us, (1) and I did shed his blood.

I slew a man, I owe a man; fair lady, by God's grace,

An honoured husband thou shalt have in thy dead father's place."

------Tr. by Lockhart


1. See the account of this quarrel, pp. 59, 60.  (back)

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