The Northern Way

The Norse King's Bridal


Glad was Sir Kaall in the winter,
        All up in the northern land;
Unto the King of Norroway
        He's given his daughter's hand.
(Woe was her heart in the winter!)

All for the King of Norroway
        They spread the bridal-feast---
But it was young Sir Biörn
        The maiden loved the best.

Up spake the King of Norroway
        Before the blithe bridàle---
"Why weeps she, haughty Hyldelil?
        Why is her cheek so pale?"

He spake, the King of Norroway,
        Unto his pages three----
"Now bid him come, the young Sir Biörn,
        And speak a word to me."

In came he, young Sir Biörn,
        And stood before the board:
"What wilt thou, King of Norroway,
        That thou hast sent me word?"

"Now hearken, young Sir Biörn,
        Thou knight so fair and fine!
Say, wilt thou be my seneschal,
        And pour my bridal wine?"

"Yea, fain will I be seneschal
        All at thy bridal fair,
If I may pour the red, red wine,
        Before the bride to bear."

Sir Biörn poured the mead so brown,
        And poured the red, red wine;
The bride she sat full sorrowful,
        And wept for dule and pine.
It was the young Sir Biörn
        That leaned across the board,
And whispered to that weeping bride
        Full many a wooing word:

"Dost mind now, haughty Hyldelil,
        What passed between us both,
When, sitting in thy maiden's bower,
        Thou plightedst me thy troth?"

The bride she sat so sorrowful,
        And ne'er a word she said---
But her fair face grew white and wan,
        That as a rose was red.

Up spake the King of Norroway
        In purple wrapped and vair;
"What sayest thou, oh young Sir Biörn,
        Unto my bride so fair?"

"Away, thou young Sir Biörn!
        Let be thy cozening tale!
Her face that as a rose was red
        Is now grown wan and pale."

"There sitt'st thou, King of Norroway,
        A-drinking red, red wine!
The lady that thou lovest
        Was first true love o' mine!"

"And if the lady that I love
        Has plighted troth to thee,
Then never will I bear her home
        To Norroway with me.

"Now tell me on thy faith and troth,
        What I shall ask, my bride!
Wilt reign a queen in Norroway,
        or a dame in Denmark bide?"

"Liefer I'd bide a simple dame
        A good knight's name to bear,
Than go with thee to Norroway,
        A queenly crown to wear!"

It was the King of Norroway
        Smote hand upon the board---
"Ne'er have I known a knight's daughter
        That e'er spake such a word!"

It was the King of Norroway
        That laughed, and made right merry---
"And dost thou love him more than me,
        With him I trow shalt tarry!"

They rode away, the King his men,
        So sadly over the land,
All but the young Sir Biörn
        That won the maiden's hand.

They rode away, the King his men,
        So sadly over the ice---
All but the young Sir Biörn
        For he has won the prize!

(Woe was her heart in the winter.)

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