Tegnér's Fridthjof's Saga
King Bele and Thorstein, Viking’s Son.
In regal hall king Bele stood,
His sword a staff of light,
And near him lean’d that yeoman good,
Thorstein, Viking’s son hight.
His weapon-brother, old was he,
A hundred years well nigh,
And Scarr’d all o’er as rune-stones be,
And silver-hair’d on high.
They stood as up and down a hill
Two off’ring-houses stand;
Once shrines for heathen gods to fill,
Now ruin’d in the land.
But widsom’s runes, carv’d deep and fast,
Those broken walls still hide,
And high traditions of the past
On each arch’d vault reside.
“The shades of ev’ning hasten on,”
So speaketh Bele now;
“My mead-cup’s flavor is all gone.
The helm weighs down by brow;
My vision fails to trace the lines
Of human weal or woe,
But nearer, brighter, Valhal shines, —
My death’s at hand, I trow!
“My children have I call’d: and, friend,
Thy son is summon’d too:
For still together should they wend.
As we were wont to do.
A warning shall they have to-day,
Those eagles proud and young.
Before all counsel sleeps for aye
Upon the dead man’s tongue!”
Then, as the king’s commandments ran,
Advanc’d they up the hall:
The first was Helge, pale and wan.
and gloomiest of them all.
He, where yond’ altar-circle lies,
‘Mong spaeman (1) lov’d to stand,
and came from groves of sacrifice
With blood upon his hand.
Halfdan appear’d the next, a youth,
With locks as bright as gold;
Noble his features were, in sooth,
Though womanly their mould.
His sword was belted round about
For sport, apparently,
And in the guise of hero stout,
Some girl resembled he.
But close behind them Fridthjof goes,
Wrapp’d in his mantle blue:
His height a whole head taller rose
Than that of both the two.
He stands, between the brothers there,
As though the ripe day stood
Atween young morning, rosy-fair,
And night within the wood.
“My children,” saith the dim-eyed king,
“Soon sets my ev’ning’s sun:
Govern the realm in peace, nor bring
Discord ‘mid union,
For union all in one infolds;
The ring she likens most
Which grasps the lance; — where no ring holds,
The lance’s strength is lost.
“Let force stand like s sentinel
Before the country’s gate:
Let peace within the hedg’d land dwell.
Blooming and consecrate.
The sword defense alone should yield,
Else it its steel too hard;
Forg’d for a padlock was the shield,
The peasant’s barn to guard.
“ His own good land who’d fain oppress
Is but a simple man;
for kings can do, as all confess.
But what their people can:
When, on the rocky mountain’s side.
The sapless trunk is dead.
the thick-leav’d crown that was it’s pride
Soon, too, is withered.
“On pillars four of up-heap’d stone
Stands high heavn’s lofty round:
The throne can only rest upon
Just laws all-holy ground.
When diets sanction fear’d king’s wrong.
Stands ruin near at hand;
But glory to the king belongs,
And good unto his land.
“Full well in Disarsal (2) reside
The gods, O Helge: but
Not as weak snails, that still abide
Within their shells close shut:
Far as bright day-light shines on high.
Far as the voice can sound.
Far as mans thought can upward fly.
The mighty gods are found!
(1) Spaemen – sacrificers, prophets. Back
(2) The hall of the dieses, or goeddesses. Back