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Havbor was hanged and dead.

55
" Oh, had I known but yesternight

How deep in love were they,
I would not ha' done for all Denmark

The deed I ha' done this day ! "

56

Now woe is me for the gallows-tree,
And the bower in ashes laid !

They've buried her in the earth alive,
The cruel serving-maid.

Ne'er wilt thou win such a fair one.



XI
EBBE SKAMMELSON

THIS ballad of a brother's treachery (which may
be compared with our own " Childe Vyet ") dates
from circa 1 300, and is considered by Olrik as the
best produced in Denmark during the mediaeval
period. In character-drawing it yields to none.
Proud Adelus, " strong in will and true in troth,"
is the ideal noble lady ; the hot-blooded hero, the
cowardly brother, and the mother with her un-



LEGENDARY BALLADS 77

availing attempt at smoothing things over, are
all well individualized. The burden, too, is
peculiarly haunting and picturesque.

Tradition points to the Nordentoft homestead
in North Jutland (Ty) as the scene of the tragedy ;
and the great Strangeson family claims Ebbe as
its founder.



XI

EBBE SKAMMELSON

i

SKAMMEL he dwells up north in Ty,

And Skammel is rich and gay ;
Five sons hath he both fair and tall,

But two went an evil way.
Therefore roams Ebbe Skammelson so many
a lonely way.



Sir Ebbe serves for fame and fee

The royal court within,
While Peter his brother that bides at home

His true-love's troth would win.

3
" Dost sit at home, proud Adelus,

And broider my brother's gear ?
Ebbe he serves in the King's own court,

And scorns thee, nor holds thee dear ! "



78 DANISH BALLADS

4
" Full well do I know him, Ebbe,

And Ebbe his heart knows he ;
And scorns he never a maiden proud

The less hath he scorn for me ! "

5
" Now lithe and listen, proud Adelus,

And be my plighted maid !
For true I tell thee the tidings

That Ebbe my brother is dead."

6

All on the self-same evening

They drank to the plighted pair ;

All on the Monday after
To bridal-feast they fare.

7
It was Ebbe Skammelson

At midnight did awake,
And he up and called to the nearest swam

And of his dream he spake.

8
" Methought that my stone-built tower

Stood all in a leaping lowe,
And Peter my brother burned therein,

And my fair love als6."

9

" And didst thou dream thy tower of stone

Stood all in a lowe so red,
Then know, that Peter thy brother

Thine own fair love doth wed."



LEGENDARY BALLADS 79

IO

It was Ebbe Skammelson

That girt his sword by his side,
And leave he won, Sir Ebbe,

Homeward in haste to ride.

1 1

It was Ebbe Skammelson

That paused not on his way ;
He came to his father's castle

All on the bridal-day.

12
Forth they come, his sisters twain,

With bracelets on either hand :
" Now welcome, Ebbe our brother,

Home to thy father's land ! "

'3
" Now lithe and listen, my sisters twain,

And look that ye do not lie !
Say wherefore are gathering hither

This goodly companie ? "

<4

Up spake his youngest sister,

For needs must the words be said :

" Lo ! 'tis Peter thy brother

Thine own true-love doth wed ! "

'5

To one he has given a brooch for her breast,
To the other a ring for her hand :

" Oh, I brought them both to my own true-love
Out of the strangers' land ! "



8o DANISH BALLADS

16

The one she has bidden him bide at home,
The other has bidden him go :

" For dost thou tarry here o'er this night
Be sure it will work us woe ! "



Ebbe he turned his horse's head

Forth from the hold to ride,
But his mother she seized the bridal-rein

And begged him at home to bide.

18
His mother all to the highest place

Hath brought him cushion and chair,
His father hath brought him a cup of wine

To pledge the bridal-pair.

19

He pledged them in the mead so brown

And in the red, red wine,
But when he looked upon the bride

The tears ran from his eyne.

20
Now when the dew was falling

And even was well-nigh sped,
Up she rose, the beauteous bride,

To seek the bridal-bed.

21

They followed her, the beauteous bride,

All to her chamber door ;
Foremost went Ebbe Skammelson

To hold the torch before.



LEGENDARY BALLADS 81

22

All to the door of the upper room

Ebbe the bride led he :
" Hast thou forgot, proud Adelus,

The troth thou didst plight to me ? "

23
"All the troth I plighted thee

Is given to Peter thy brother ;
But each and every day I live

I'll be to thee e'en as a mother ! "

H
" I wooed thee not for my mother,

I wooed thee for my wife !
For this shall Peter Skammelson

Yield up to me his life !

2 5
" Lithe and listen, proud Adelus,

And fly from the land with me !
Peter my brother I'll slay eftsoon,

And bear the blame for thee."

26

f

" And wilt thou slay Peter thy brother eftsoon

I never will be thy wage !
And thou shalt sorrow thyself to death

Like a wild bird in a cage."

27
It was Ebbe Skammelson

That drew his brand so brown ;
It was haughty Adelus

That he to earth struck down.



82 DANISH BALLADS

28

Oh, he has hidden the bloody brand

Beneath his cloak of pall ;
He's sought his brother Sir Peter

That sat in the stone-built hall.

29

" Now harken, Peter Skammelson,

A laggard art thou to wed !
The bride is longing after thee

All in the bridal-bed."

30
It was Peter his brother

Spake up with mickle spite :
" I give thee leave with right good-will

To sleep by the bride to-night ! "

3'

It was Ebbe Skammelson

That drew his brand so brown ;

It was Peter his brother

That he to earth struck down.

32

Oh, he has wounded his father sore,
And struck off his mother's hand ;
And so must he roam, Ebbe Skammelson,

The wild ways of the land !

Therefore roams Ebbe Skammelson so many a
lonely way.



LEGENDARY BALLADS 83

XII, XIII

OH, SEVENTY-SEVEN TWICE-TOLD

WERE THEY
HOLGER DANSKE AND STOUT DIDRIK

THESE Ballads are two of a large group cele-
brating popular legendary heroes. Those con-
cerned with Didrik all jovial ones with happy
endings were adapted or translated from the
work of the wandering German minstrels known
as the "Saxon Singers," who visited Denmark
during the time of Knud Lavard and Sven Grade
(1131-57). Part of this poetry, ' : moreover, ap-
parently trickled into Scandinavia by circuitous
routes, since a lengthy " Didrikssaga " was com-
posed during the thirteenth century at Bergen.

There are those who consider Didrik as a mere
Mrs. Harris, and derive his name from the vague
appellation ])io*&reke = folk-king. But most author-
ities believe that he had a flesh-and-blood original
in Theoderic, King of the East Goths, and con-
queror of Italy, whose royal seat was at " Bern,"
/. e. Verona. Be that as it may, this kingly shade
enlisted his champions among the most august
phantoms of the North. Sivord Snarensvend, for
example, is no less a personage than Sigurd
Fafnirsbane ; while Helled Haagen is Hogne the
Hero, Sigurd's slayer. Raadengaard may (or may



84 DANISH BALLADS

not) be the Hrothgar of u Beowulf," and the " Sir
Aldingar" of British ballad. Most of the other
figures may be pursued through the mazes of
legend ; but Falkvor the Fiddler is a creation of the
" fiddling " minstrel's ; and he or his translator in-
serted Tetlev Danske as a compliment to the Danes.

As for Holger Danske, he is the French hero
Ogier le Danois, originally one of Charlemagne's
champions, who fought for Christendom against
the infidel. The oldest Danish ballad of Holger
describes his victory over Burmand, an amorous
Troll, who would fain carry off the Lady Gloriant,
the King of Hungary's daughter, from her right-
ful lover King Karvel. This chivalrous deed of
Holger's captivated the popular fancy, which
adopted him henceforth as national hero, crowned
him with the " red, red gold " and pictured him
as defending Denmark against the power of the
German Empire, personified in the giants Sverting
and Bermer-Ris. "Holger Danske and Stout
Didrik may," says Olrik, " be considered Den-
mark's first patriotic song."

Verses 4 and 5 find a parallel in " The Battle
of Otterburn " (English version).

" Up spake a berne upon the bent
Of comfort that was not cold,
And said : We have brente Northumberland,
We have all wealth in hold.



LEGENDARY BALLADS 85

" Now we have harried all Bambroughshire,
All the wealth in the world have we ;
I rede we ride to Newcastle
So still and stalworthlie ! "



XII

OH, SEVENTY-SEVEN TWICE-TOLD
WERE THEY

i

OH, seventy-seven twice-told were they
When out from Hald they went,

And when they came to Brattingsborg
They pitched the silken tent.

There sounds thunder the captains under,
when they ride forth.

2
King Isung stands on high watch-tower,

And looks forth far and wide :
" Oh, little care for their lives have they

That hither list to ride !

3
" Now harken, Sivord Snarensvend,

Hast wandered here and there ;
Tell me what warriors are they

These golden shields that bear ? "

4
" There shineth on the foremost shield

A lion all so bold ;
The bearing of Didrik the King it is,

With a crown of ruddy gold-



86 DANISH BALLADS

5
" And shining on the second shield

Hammer and tongs appear ;
The sign of Vidrik Verlandson

That takes no prisoner.

6

" And on the third shield shining see

A golden serpent, bound ;
That beareth Master Hildebrand,

Cunning in counsel found.

7
"And on the fourth shield, see where shines

A leafy linden-tree ;
That beareth youthful Humlunger,

Earl Hornbook's son is he.



" There shineth on the following shield

. A wolf in a wild wood,
The sign of Ulv van Jaern the young
Who is a warrior good.

9

" And on the sixth there shineth still

A vulture red as gold ;
And that bears Helled Haagen
Who is a champion bold.

10
" And see, the seventh shining shield

Fiddle and bow doth keep,
The sign of Falkvor Minstrel-Man

Would liefer drink than sleep.



LEGENDARY BALLADS 87

ii

"And on the eighth an elephant

Is pictured with a swain,
The sign of Tetlev Danske

That swings his sword amain.

12

" All on the ninth shield shining, lo

A swarthy vulture shows,
The sign of young Sir Raadengaard

Full many a rune who knows.

13
"And on the tenth shield, lo there shine

Two arrows wan and white,
He bears them, Hvitting Hermandson,

Is foremost still in fight.



" There shines on the eleventh shield
Nought but a burning brand ;

That bears Sir Brand Vidfaerling
Against all lordling's land.

'5

"And on the twelfth shield shining, see,
There stands a cowl so grey ;

That bears the monk, Brother Alsing,
Would follow fain the fray ! "

16
" Now harken, Sivord Snarensvend,

Thou art a warrior free !
Shalt fight with one of Didrik's men

For all my land and me ! "



DANISH BALLADS

17

Up stood Sivord Snarensvend,

And to the tents he hied :
"Now is there ever a warrior stout

A joust with me will ride ? "

18-
Oh, on the board they cast the dice

That fell both far and wide,
And the lot it was young Humlunger's

With Sivord there to ride.

'9
It was he, young Humlunger,

Did forth to Vidrik speed :
"Now I will give thee a pledge to hold

Wilt lend me Skemming thy steed."

20
" Oh, Sivord sees not the point of his spear,

Because his sight is dim,
And if my Skemming to-day wins scathe

Nor thou nor thy kinsfolk can pay for him ! "

21
" But I, I have a sister

Is fairer than maidens all ;
And if thy Skemming wins scathe to-day

I'll pay it her hand withal."



" Oh, nought of Skemming thou'lt see to-day
Unless thy surety firm doth stand ;

The hand I'll have of thy sister fair,
And seven castles in Birtingsland ! "



LEGENDARY BALLADS 89

23

" Seven castles in Birtingsland

Thy surety they shall be ;
Thereto the maid my sister,

A pledge of price for thee ! "

24
Oh, he has backed that steed so bold,

And gaily ridden away ;
Good sooth, but Skemming thought it strange

To feel the spur that day !

25
The gold did shine upon his shield

Like the sun in summer-tide :
" GOD help me now, a simple swain,

The brunt to bear and bide ! "

26
The first course that they ran together

Would neither champion yield ;
And both their shields were shattered there,

And hurled so far afield.

27
" Methinks thou art a fair young swain,

That well can run and ride !
Go now and take thy shield again,

And I the brunt will bide."

28
And when they ran the second course,

Then one of them must yield ;
Young Humlunger was stricken,

And hurled so far afield.



90 DANISH BALLADS

29

" Oh, I have struck thee down to earth,

And wounded thy steed als6 ;
Now whence thou comest, thou fair young swain,

Full fain am I to know."

30
" Oh, Hornbook hight my father,

In Birtingsland is lord,
And I am called young Humlunger

Whenas I ride abroad."

31
"Full well I know thy father,

For comrades kind we were ;
Now take thy shield and mount again,

Son of my sister dear !

32
" And take thou up my shattered shield,

Bind me to oaken tree ;
Then ride and tell the champions

The game is won by thee ! "

33
Forth to the tents fared Humlunger,

Cast blade upon the board :
" Now have I bound the grey-beard carle

That spake the vaunting word ! "

34

"Now hold thy peace, young Humlunger,

That aye must prate thy fill !
If thou hast bound him, Sivord,

'Tis with his own good-will ! "



LEGENDARY BALLADS 91

35
Up stood Vidrik Verlandson,

Bade saddle his steed so free :
"I will fare forth to the forest,

This conquered carle to see ! "

36
Oh, Sivord all in the greenwood

Saw where the knight did ride ;
Up by the roots he reft the oak,

For he might not his bonds abide.

37
Up by the roots he reft the oak,

For he might not his bonds abide :
" If Vidrik Verlandson comes here

My ribs he'll hew from my side ! "

38
The Queen stood in the lofty bower,

And looked both up and down :
" Oh, hither comes Sivord Snarensvend

A-bearing summer to town ! "

39
The Queen looked out with her ladies

All from the lofty bower :
" Sivord hath been in good greenwood
And gathered a gallant flower ! "

40
Gay went the dance at Brattingsborg,

Where champions danced amain ;
There danced with oak-tree in his belt

Sivord the purblind swain !

There sounds thunder the captains under, when
they ride forth.



92 DANISH BALLADS

XIII
HOLGER DANSKE AND STOUT DIDRIK

i
STOUT Didrik dwells in Berneland

With brethren eight all told,
And each of them twelve sons hath got,

All doughty knights and bold.
But the battle is raging northward up in Jutland.



Stout Didrik dwells in Berneland

With fifteen sisters bright,
And each of them hath twelve fair sons

That hold their lives full light.

3
And when they rode out all by Bern,

A goodly companie,
Sooth to say, each warrior

Was tall as a beechen tree.

4
" Now we have fought o'er all the world

And conquered far and wide,
And we have heard of Holger Dansk

That doth in Denmark bide.

5
" We have heard tell of Holger Dansk,

In Jutland doth abide,
And he is crowned with the red, red gold.

And ne'er will bate his pride."



LEGENDARY BALLADS 93

6

Oh, Sverting seized a pike of steel,

And spake up loud and high :
"A hundred of Holger Danske's men

I count them not a fly ! "

7
" Oh, harken, Sverting, thou swarthy swain,

Or ever thou rue the day !
We ha' heard of Holger Danske's men,

And bold young blades are they ! "



Up and spake tall Bermer-Ris,
And a vaunting word spake he :

" Oh, we will fare to Denmark,
And try if the King will flee ! "

9

Now all with eighteen thousand steeds

From Berneland they fare,
And they've drawn up to Denmark

To see King Holger there.

10
Stout Didrik hath sent a messenger

And bidden King Holger yield,
To pay him scot and lot for aye,

Or meet him in the field.

1 1

Up spake Vidrik Verlandson,
He spake a word so stout :

" And come they in to Denmark thus,
They shall not thus go out ! "



94 DANISH BALLADS

12

Oh, they have met, a mighty host,

All on the darksome heath ;
And that was a woeful trysting-place

Where warriors fought till death.

13

They've fought for a day, for three they've fought,

And stiff in stower they stand ;
Holger the King and his mighty men

Slew many from Berneland.

4

Oh, mild of mood was Bermer-Ris,

And softly spake he then :
" Now how shall we conquer Holger Dansk

With scarce a hundred men ? "

15

It was doughty Didrik

Looked upward to the sky :
" No help is here for us, I ween,

*'Tis time to turn and fly ! "

16
Stout Didrik took to both his legs,

To fly o'er hill and dale,
And Sverting went the self-same way

For all his boastful tale.

17
Up spake little Iron-Wolf,

That held the hill beside :
" Oh, they that are come to fight the Danes

Have little praise or pride ! "



LEGENDARY BALLADS 95

18
When they rode out of Berneland

They were eighteen thousand men ;
'Twas scarce a tithe of all that host

That won back home again.

'9
Oh, stern the stream of red, red blood

Ran o'er land and lea !
The reek of it rose up to heaven

Till the sun was bloody and red to see.
But the battle is raging northward up in Jutland.



BALLADS OF MAGIC

XIV
YOUNG SVEJDAL

A CERTAIN number of Ballads borrowed their
subjects from the Old Norse Lays, making of
them, not translations, but fresh creations ; for
the Lays tower above the many-coloured ballad-
world like ice-peaks that loom over flowery
meads. The story of Young Svejdal is derived
from two Lays dealing with the adventures of
Svipdag, who wakes Menglad from her trance
on the magic mountain ; but

" there is a vast difference between the simplicity of the
Ballad and the stately measure and rhetorical pomp of the
original :

' Svipdag is my name ; Sunbright was my father's name ;
The winds have driven me far, along cold ways ;
No one can gainsay the word of Fate,
Though it be spoken to his own destruction.'

" The difference is as great as the difference between the
ballad of the * Marriage of Gawayne ' and the same story as
told in the Canterbury Tales ; or the difference between Homer's

96



BALLADS OF MAGIC 97

way of describing the recovery of lifted cattle and the ballad
of < Jannie Telfer of the Fair Dodhead ' " (W. P. Ker's Epic
andRomance, chap, ii., section 3).

This Ballad, indeed, brings down the story
from the misty peaks of Valhalla into the garrulous
region of fairy-tale. It is faithful to the primitive
tradition which depicts the dead as waking un-
willingly from their slumbers. Svejdal's mother
speaks as does the dead Vala in the nameless
Lay called " Baldr's Doom " by the editors of
the Corpus Poeticum Boreale :

" Hvat es manna J?at mer okunnra
es mer hefir aukit ervitt sinni ?
Vas-ek snivin sniovi ok slegin regni,
ok drifin doeggo ; dairS vas-ek lengi."

(Who is the man unknown to me that has put
me to this weary journey ? I was snowed on
with snow, and smitten with rain, and dripped
on with dew ; dead was I lang syne.)

The refrain is :

" Nauftig sag^ak. Nii mun-ek ]?egja ! "

(Loath have I spoken. Now must I be silent !)
Gray, in his translation, " The Descent of Odin,"
puts it with eighteenth-century elegance :

" Again my wearied eyes I close,
Leave me, leave me to repose ! "

and readers of Mansfield Park will remember
how fitly these words are applied to the languid



98 DANISH BALLADS

speech of Lady Bertram. A " clever fancy " on
the part of the Norns, to spin this slender thread
connecting Jane Austen (of all people !) with the
" Runick savages boozing ale ! " Had she known
more of them, she would doubtless have agreed
with Frederick the Great, that all their works
were not worth a charge of powder, and that she
would have no such stuff in her library.



XIV
YOUNG SVEJDAL

i
IT was he, young Svejdal,

Was playing at the ball ;
The ball flew into the maiden's breast,

And her cheeks grew white withal.
Choose thy words well !

2

The ball flew into the maiden's bower,

And after went the swain,
And or ever he left the bower behind

She dreed full bitter pain.

3
" Oh, never shouldst thou venture

To throw thy ball to me !
There sits a maid in a far-off land

A-longing after thee.



BALLADS OF MAGIC 99

4
"Oh, ne'er shalt thou seek slumber,

And never rest shalt know,
Until thou hast loosed the lovely maid

That long hath lain in woe ! "

5
It was he, young Svejdal,

Wrapped him in cloak of vair,
And to the hall betook him

To seek the captains there.

6
" Now sit in peace, my captains,

And pledge your healths in mead,
Whiles I fare forth to the grave-mound

To seek my mother's rede ! "

7
It was he, young Svejdal,

That loud did cry and call,
Till the marble-stone was rent and riven

And the mound was nigh to fall.

8
" Oh, who is it that wakes me r

Who calls with cry so bold ?
May I not lie and sleep in peace

All under darksome mould ? "

9

" It is I, young Svejdal,

Only son o' thine !
And all I ask is counsel good

From thee, dear mother mine.



ioo DANISH BALLADS

10

" My sister and my stepmother
Have made me pale and pine,

All for a lovely lady

That ne'er I saw with eyne."

1 1

" I will give thee a palfrey
Shall serve thy need, I ween !

He can go as well o'er the salt sea-swell
As over the land so green.

12

" A sword I will give thee also,
Is tempered in dragon's blood,

And it will shine like a burning brand
When thou ridest the darksome wood."

13
It was he, young Svejdal,

That spurred his steed so free ;
Forth he rode thro' darksome wood

And over the wide sea.

H
It was he, young Svejdal,

That rode 'twixt sea and land ;
And he was 'ware of a herdsman there

That drove his flock to the strand.

15

" Lithe and list, good herdsman,
And speak thou sooth to me !

Who is it owns the flock so fair
Thou drivest down to the sea ? "



BALLADS OF MAGIC 101

16

" Oh, a maiden there is in this countrie

Lies spellbound in dule and pine,
All for a swain hight Svejdal

That never she saw with eyne."

17
" And knowest thou where the maiden dwells,

Then hide it not from me !
Whenas I am king of all this land

A knight I'll make of thee."

18
" Oh, yonder under the linden green

There stands my lady's hold ;
The towers are all of the marble grey,

And the doors are decked with gold !

'9
" The towers are all of the marble grey,

And the doors are decked with gold !
Full seven years are over and gone

Since she did sun behold.

20
"There stands a bear by my lady's bower,

And a lion so fell to see,
But art thou Svejdal in very sooth

Thou shalt pass by them free."

21

Forth he fared, young Svejdal,

And up to the hold he went ;
All the locks that held it

Were riven asunder and rent.



1 02 DANISH BALLADS

22

The bear and the lordly lion

They followed him from the door ;

The linden with all its silvery leaves
Bowed down to earth before.

23
The linden bowed adown to earth

With every silver leaf :
And up she stood, the maiden proud,

That long had lain in grief.

24
Up she waked, the maiden proud,

When she heard the spurs a-ringing :
" Now thanks be unto GOD in heaven

Who help to me is bringing!"

25
In he went, Sir Svejdal,

That was both young and fair ;
It was the haughty maiden

That hailed his entrance there.

26
" Welcome to thee, young Svejdal,

Thou noble lord of mine !
Now praised be GOD in heaven

Hath loosed us from pain and pine ! '
Choose thy words well !



BALLADS OF MAGIC 103




HERE we have the Old Norse Lay of Thrym
(ftrymskvi'Sa) recast and trolled forth by a medi-
aeval minstrel. He has been faithful to the grim
jollity of the original poem ; but, as his lilting
verse has lost the trenchant battle-axe swing of
the old alliterative metre, so the tale he tells is
shorn of the epic dignity surrounding Valhalla
and the gods. On the restoration of the
Thunderer's hammer hangs the fate of the
/Esir in their endless warfare with the Frost
Giants ; its loss is a calamity such as was never
known in heaven nor earth. When Freyja is
asked to play the Bride, her stamp shakes the
celestial floor. When Thor drives to the wedding
feast, earth burns under his chariot wheels.
Whereas the Thord of the Ballad might, for
aught we are told, be a mere bonnet-laird ; and
it is only by implication that we gather any idea
of his hammer's importance.

The erudite M. Pineau (Etude sur les Chants
Populaires Scandinaves) is puzzled and pained
by these variations and omissions notably that
of the ^sir's council, and of Thor's indignation
at the idea of assuming bridal attire. " Don't



io 4 DANISH BALLADS

tell me," he exclaims indignantly, " that this
scene of all others could be forgotten by the
popular imagination ! " The Eddie Lays, ac-


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