The Northern Way

Grimm Centenary: Sigfred-Arminivs and Other Papers

Page 2

In the 2nd line of the 7th verse one might read ---
                        For naught else might he win.

But the incident of rapping with the dagger-hilt on the door is one that suits the place and time, as well as the chappin at the chain of Glenkindie. The obscure Danish word skind may be a loan word here and stand for the Gaelic scian, though it is needless to say that skene does not occur in the Lowland Ballad speech.

It was the coincidences of this Ballad of Sir Ogie and our 'Clerk Saunders' with the lay of Helgi and Sigrun that made us draw attention to it. Before leaving it, one notes that in his Popular Ballads, 1806, vol. i. p. 193, Jamieson mentions a Ballad called Peggy Baun, a silly ditty, he says, of a young man, who returning homeward from shooting with his gun, saw his sweetheart and shot her for a swan. This recalls the scene in the lost Helgi and Cara Lay, which we know from the prose paraphrase in Hromund Gripsson's Saga, where the hero loses his luck by striking the Walcyrie that protects him, as she flies above him in swan-shape.

There is in the same book, vol. ii. p. 387, a Lowland parallel to the famous lines in the one fragment of a lost Sigurdar Kuida. C. P. B. i. 315.


                        út gecc Sigurðr ann-spilli frá
                        holl-uinr lofða, oc hnipnaði
                        sua-at ganga nam gunnar fúsom
                        sundr of síðor sercr iarn-ofinn.

A passage which is repeated in the prose of Egil's Saga, when the laced hose and fustian kirtle of the poet are riven upon him by the swelling of his grief, the day they buried his son Beadwere.

The Aage-Ogie of this Ballad is nearer the original Holge than the Icelandic form.

                        How well the Wheel becomes it.
        I add here a few of the refrains of medieval Ballades or Dancing Songs which have come down to us in Icelandic --- Englished as nearly as may be. (C. P. B. ii. 391).

        Fair blooms the world, but its fairness grows old---
        It is long since my joy was laid low in the mould.

        I loved a man dearly, until we did part,
        But now I must hide up my woe in my heart.

        I heard the fair songs from the Niflungs' house ring,
        And I sleep not for joy of the songs that they sing.

        All that is, must wither and fade away:
        All flesh is dust, deck it howe'er ye may.

        So fair sings the swan throught he long summer day
        'Tis the season, sweet lily, for dancing and play.

        Loft out in the islands picks the puffin-bone:
        Sæmund in the highlands berries eats alone.

        But ever I love her as dear as before!

        Thou art on the dark blue sea, but I am here at Drong:
        I'm calling long, I'm calling for thee long!

The last is from the Faroes (C. P. B. ii. 392).

        Faster let us tread the floor, and never spare our shoes!
        Where we drink the next year's Yule God alone can choose.

                                                                                F. Y. P.

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