The Northern Way

The Norse King's Bridal

THE DROWNING OF JOHN REMORSSON

The good ship lies on the lee-land,
        And under her grows the grass,
Oh never so rash a steersman
        As Sir John Remorsson was!
(For the sea she taketh so many.)

The King sits up in Ribe
        And a letter writeth he;
He bids his gallant captians
        Make ready for the sea.

It was Sir John Remorsson
        Put on his armour bright---
"The man is faithless to his king
        That will not sail to-night!"

It was Sir John Remorsson
        That girt him with his sword---
"The man who will not sail to-day
        Is faithless to his lord!

"To-night will we make merry
        And drink the foaming ale,
And if the favouring weather hold,
        To-morrow we'll set sail."

It was the skipper Hogen
        Looked to the sky amain---
"He that will sail the sea to-day
        Will ne'er come home again!"

It was Sir John Remorsson
        To the haven cried aloud---
"Up with your sails, ye Danish men,
        In the great name of God!"

They had not sailed from land a league---
        The waves they ran so high---
All sad sat skipper Hogen
        With the salt tear in his eye.
They had not sailed from land a league---
        The waves they ran so deep---
All sad sat skipper Hogen,
        And sorely did he weep.

"Where is the doughty champion
        Yestre'en that talked so gay?
Let him now take the helm in hand,
        For the anchor is reft away.

"Where is the doughty champion
        That talked so loud last even?
Let him now take the helm in hand,
        For the sail is rent and riven.

"Now we will cast the lots around,
        And bide by heaven's word;
Is there a man of evil life,
        We'll heave him overboard."

And straight they cast the lots around
        To see who worked them woe;
And the lot has fallen on good Sir John
        All overboard to go.

"So far, so far from land are we,
        With never a priest anear!
But I will make my shrift aloud,
        And trust that God will hear."

It was Sir John Remorsson
        Fell on his bended knee,
And there he made his shrift aloud
        Before the mainmast tree.

"Full many a wife have I beguiled,
        And maidens bright of lee---
But never, ah never, good soth, I thought
        That I should die by sea!

Many a maiden have I beguiled,
        And many a loving wife---
But never, ah never, good sooth, I thought
        That the sea would have my life!

"The merciful Christ in heaven above
        I pray to pity me,
For well I wot my sinful soul
        A heavy weird must dree.

"If ever a one of you comes to land,
        And meets my love of yore,
Tell her to wed whene'er she may---
        She'll see my face no more.

"If ever a one of you comes to land
        And meets my mother dear,
Tell her I dwell in the king his court
        In mirth and goodly cheer!"

Seven and seventy there they sailed
        Over the billows blue;
And only five came home again
        Of those liege-men tall and true.

Now we will up to the goodly kirk,
        High God His grace to pray
All for the soul of good Sir John,
        For his corse is cast away.

All out, all out by Boringholm
        The tides they run amain,
And there floats many a goodly corse
        Will ne'er come home again!

(For the sea she taketh so many.)

Index  |  Previous page  |  Next page