Esaias Tegner.

Frithiof, a Norwegian story online

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$&dY>Jin dV/dM S>ee/VVf











iLonnon :





THOSE who wish to pronounce the name
of the heroine with becoming harmony are
advised, that the g in Ingebore belongs to
the first syllable, and that it is pronounced,
not as in got, nor as in gibbet, but as in king.
Ing-ebore is the lady's name, not In-gebore,
nor Ing-gebore ; still less In-jebore. Frithiof
himself would never have known her by a
name so un-Norwegian as the last.


THE following Poem is a paraphrase,
rather than a translation, of the most
admired production of Esaias Tegner,
Bishop of Vexio, and Swedens most
favoured minstrel. The scene is laid chiefly
in the district of Sogne, on the south-west
coast of Norway; and the events are sup-
posed to have taken place in or about the
eighth century. The incidents and characters
are drawn from the two histories, or Sagas,
of Frithiof, and of Thorsten Vikingsson.

I have called the work a paraphrase,
rather than a translation. What part of it
approaches most closely to the original I am
unable to say ; but, assuredly, the greatest
liberty is taken with some lines in the eighth
canto. That canto is in the original written

a 3


in blank verse. Those who have read
the Essay on Translated Verse by Lord
Roscommon, where, in the midst of a series
of rhyming heroics, a paragraph in blank
verse is inserted, well know how inhar-
monious is its mixture with the more lyrical
measures ; this consideration, combined
with some natural fastidiousness in the
matter of the Miltonic metre, induced me to
render the meeting of Frithiof and Ingebore
in rhyme. Now, in the Swedish, there is a
certain part of that canto, where that quick
kind of dramatic dialogue, consisting of a
reciprocation of objections and rejoinders, in
alternate sentences of one line each, a true
stikhomuthia takes place. This, although
admirably adapted for the Swedish, is in
no degree suited to the English poem ; so
that in the latter the dialogue is omitted,
and the matter of it only given in the lines

" Harsh and unkind, &c. &c."

This is written by way of illustration, as
an example of the license I have allowed


The present is not the only appearance of
Frithiof in an English dress. The Reverend
Mr. Strong, after whom I should, assuredly,
have never entered the field, had I not
allowed myself greater latitude than that
author chose to take, was the first who made
his country familiar with the genius of
Tegner. A second translation soon followed,
apparently the production of a variety of

Since the commencement of my own
version, a change has gone over the fortunes
of the Scandinavian Muses. True it is, that
they have sought Lavinian shores, and have
been transplanted to the more hospitable
clime of Britain. But the more honourable
escort that they might (if Muses hope) have
once hoped would conduct their emigration,
they have lost. A bard, worthier of them
than myself, was to have been my coadjutor
in rendering Frithiof; whom, however, he
deserted for severer studies, early indeed,
but not entirely ; since, in the forthcoming
pages, several passages are more his than
mine, and several entirely his own, purpurei
panni, on a more ignoble texture.







Or following production



Cambridge, May 10, 1838.



IN Hildings hut, and Norways clime,
Grew two sweet plants, in perfect prime ;
And ne'er before were fairer given,
To smile on earth, or gaze at heaven.

There grew the sturdiest of them,
Like sapling oak with spear-shaped stem ;
Whose crest, as e'en a helmets, glancing
Wooed each wild wind to keep it dancing.

And one was like a rose, the day
That Christmas chills have pass'd away ;
And spring, within its burning bosom,
Dreams of its fast unfolding blossom.

When storms shall drive where winds may bl our
The oak shall brave both wind and snow ;
But summers sun, and springtides shower,
Shall help to ope that roses flower.

I say, they grew towards flowers and fruit,
And Frithiof was the sapling shoot ;
And Ingebore the rose that vied it,
The lovely rose that blushed beside it.

Who sees the pair while sunbeams shine,
May deem himself l in Freyas shrine;
Where urchin loves be deftly going
With wings of light, and tresses flowing.

Who sees them with the pale moonlight,
To lead their dancing steps aright,
May deem there trips it, light and airy,
The Elfin king, and queen of faery.

What Frithiof learned the day before,
He taught the next to Ingebore ;
And proud was he, when Beles daughter
Had learned the letters Frithiof taught her.

If long and late they sat afloat,

On dark blue sea, in open boat,

It pleased as the sails were filling,

To clap her hands, and help their swelling.

Oft as he clomb to steal her nests,
From tops of trees or mountain crests,
The ravished eagle screaming, clanging,
Bewailed their nestlings airy hanging.

When floods were deep, and streams ran hoarse,
He bore his tender charge across ;
Pleased if the currents lashed around him,
And her small arms the tightlier bound him.

When springtide came with springtides host,
He plucked the flowers she loved the most ;
The ears of corn that first turned yellow,
And strawberries, as each grew mellow.

But childhoods hours fleet away,

And then there comes, in later day,

Those looks of fire that youths who sue have,

And budding breasts, as maids they woo have.

Then Frithiof hunted, day by day,
And brought the forest spoils away ;
Yet few before had e'er attended,
Such chase unscathed, and undefended.

For bears and he, in battle brunt,
Oft hugg'd each other front to front ;
The stripling won, and on the morrow
Displayed their spoils to Ingeborow.

Yes ! heart of man, and female breast,
Suit each to each, like helm and crest,
When bravest hearts deserve the dearest,
And strongest hands may win the fairest.

In winters evenings each gave heed,
To runic rhymes they wont to read ;
How gods had loved, and heroes striven,
And how 2 Valhallas halls were heaven.

The locks o'er Freyas front of snow,
May wave like corn when breezes blow ;
One tress of one, he valued higher,
Than all the vaunted curls of Freya.

Idunas rich and regal breast,
May beat beneath her silken vest,
And white it was ; yet scarcely vying -
With that which heaved at Frithiofs sighing

Though Friggas eyelids, like the morn,
Were blue as heaven to look upon,
He knew of other eyes, whose brightness
Might half mislead the mornings lightness.

And what if Gerdas cheeks could show,
Like northern lights on drifted snow;
He knew cheeks whose faintest flushes,
Bemock'd the burning sunsets blushes.

If 3 Nannas heart was warm and true,
Young Frithiof had a Nanna too ;
If oldest bards had spoken duly,
Bright Balder loved his Nanna truly.

O Balder ! could I die like thee,
With one sweet maid to weep for me,
Like thine own Nanna melancholy,
I'd hie me down to hell unholy.

But she, the fair one, sat to see
What songs might suit for tapestry,
What hues of earth, or shades of ocean,
With words in leaf, and waves in motion.

She changed her hand, and taught the woof,
To show like brunt and battle proof,
With silver bucklers, lances flying,
.Golden helms, and foemen dying.

In all her heroes all might trace

Young Frithiofs familiar face ;

As each true trait grew strong and stronger,

She turned and blush'd, and wove the longer.

On birch-tree smooth, and aspen high,
Did Frithiof carve an F and I,
And watch them grow, and see them mingle,
As youthful hearts that once were single.

When night was o'er, and day took birth,
The bright haired day, to rouse the earth,
And men were out, and nought was lonely,
They thought about each other only.


When day was down, and night took birth,
The dark-hair'd night, to still the earth,
And stars were out, and all was lonely,
They dream'd about each other only.

She pray'd the green hair'd earth, which spring
Did deck with all its blossoming,
To lead her feet to find the bower,
Where flourish'd Frithiofs favourite flow'r.

And he besought the sea to show
Its thousand pearls that lay below ;
That he might choose for Ingebore
The fairest ones, and string them for her.

Thought Ingebore yon golden sun,
The eye of all it smileth on,
With all its pride and all its bearing,
Might make a shield for Frithiofs wearing.

Thought Frithiof if the moon were mine,
The maiden moon that loves to shine.
Its pale bright orb, would first be given
To Ingebore, and next to heaven.

But Hilding chid him, " Foster son,
" This early love is ill begun,
" The chance of birth has left her laden
" With pow'r and pride, a royal maiden.

" Her line," he said, " of high degree,

" Ascends to Odins ancestry,

" Unequal love is ill requited,

" And like and like are best united."

" My line more lowly," Frithiof said,
" Goes downward to the mighty dead ;
" I slew the forest kings, and bound me,
" Their hides and ancestry round me.

" The freeborn man is ill to yield
" Since all the world is freedom's field ;
" Of what has chance of birth bereft me,
" With best of birthrights, freedom, left me ?

" All strength has noble blood and more,
" Its ancestry ascends to Thor, 4
" To lineage true, to boldness truer,
" He holds the sword the safest wooer.

" 111 combat for my youthful bride,
" With thunder and its gods beside ;
" Wax fresh my flow'r, and fair as ever
" Woe to the hands that would us sever."





KING Bele stood in council-hall, he leaned him on

his glaive ;
Beside him Thorsten Vikingsson, that yeoman bold

and brave ;

His aged warrior-brother ; a hundred years had he,
With scars like runes, and hoary hair, so silver

white to see.

They stood within the presence-hall, their looks

were haught and high,
Were like two ancient heathen shrines, that half

in ruins lie :

Along whose walls are carven lines of legendary lore,
And old heroic histories that speak to days of yore,


Then Bele king was first to speak, " My days are

" well-nigh sped,
" The sweetest mead is tasteless now, the helm

" weighs down my head ;

" But ever as each earthly bliss is fading into gloom,
" Valhalla seems more bright and clear, I turn me

" towards the tomb.

" And hither have I called my sons, and called me

" also thine,
" That each may hear in needfulness, these latest

" words of mine,
" That I may speak, admonishing, before those

" eagles young,
" Ere voice and breath be lull'd asleep, upon this

" falt'ring tongue.""

So as that king had bidden them, they entered in

the room ;
The first and foremost Helge came, a man of craft

and gloom ;
He loved to live with priest and seer, and by their

altars stand ;
He came from groves of sacrifice, and blood was on

his hand.

B 5


And after him came Halfdan, a light-haired youth

was he,
His looks had come of noble blood, yet he look'd

womanly ;
It seemed as though the sword he wore, had but

been donned in jest,
He looked like maiden fair, disguised beneath a

heros vest.

The last of all came Frithiof, he wore a garb of

Was taller, by a heads height, than the tallest of
the two,

He stood between the royal pair, as day, so calm
and bright,

May stand between the ruddy morn and dark dis-
coloured night.

" O children dear, 11 said Bele king, " my sun is

" sinking fast,

" But keep ye true in unity, be brethren to the last ;
" For unity keeps fast and firm the kingdoms it

" hath bound,
" As lances points are best held on, by rings that

" lap around.


" Let valour stand before the state, and centinel its

" door,
" While peace may flourish inwardly, in sanctity

" and store ;
" Our swords were made for self-defence, and not

" for injuries,
" And bucklers broad may best be hung, as locks

" on granaries.

" None presseth on his people but the vain and

" foolish man ;
" For rulers may but hope to do, e'en what their

" subjects can;
" And sure I am, that greenest crests of tallest trees

" do die,
" As all their pith gets sapped away, and all their

" bark grows dry.

" On pillars four, supporting it, the blue broad

" heaven rests,
" So thrones on earth are holden up, by govern-

" ments behests ;
" Where rapine sits as councillor, are pain and fear

" and grief,
" But righteousness exalts the land, and glorifies

" the chief.


" The godheads great, O Helge king, in Disarsala

" But not as snails or limpets do, in close and shut-

" up shell ;
" As far as days glad light may shine, as far as

" sound may fly,
" As far as thought may wing itself, are godheads

" great and high.

" The wizard signs, in falcons lungs, may lead the

" seer astray,
" And runic staffs may fail to teach the best and

" safest way ;
" But heart of truth, and mood of might, and soul

" devoid of fear,
" Hath Odins self engraven deep, with runes both

" bright and clear.

" Be not too stern, O Helge king, yet ready to

" defend ;
" The swords that be the best to bite, are aye the

" best to bend:
" A kindly king is like a shield with flowVy wreaths

" entwined,
" And springs mild breath bring fairer buds than

" winters chilling wind.


" A friendless man must fall full soon, all stalwart

" though he be,
" So peeling off protecting bark, will kill the tallest

" tree ;
" Befriended men are best to do, like lithe and

" lively shoots,
" With winds to wind beneath their leaves, and

" brooks around their roots.

" Let no man boast his father's fame, the hero earns

" his own ;
" The arm that cannot span the bow, should leave

" the bow alone ;
" Why seek to deck thee with the wreaths that

" lie within the grave ?
" When streams are strong they cleave the sea,

" with e'en their own good wave.

" O Halfdan, mark ! a joyful mind is e'en a joyful

" thing ;

" But levity befitteth no one, least of all a king;
" With hops and honey, each combined, the hy-

" dromel is made,
" Put greatness in thy sports, my son, and steel into

" thy blade.


" The wisest men the world has seen, have rarely

" known too much ;
" Right little knows the foolish man, that knows

" not he is such ;
" The weak, vain man is held as nought, for all he

" sit on high,
" While wisdoms words from lowly seats are heard

" most reverently.

" The man that seeks a foster-brother, seeks a

" friend to greet,
" Then longest roads are peacefulness, and all their

" paths are sweet ;
" To those who seek a foemans hearth, for all it

" seemeth near,
" The shortest road is bitterness, and all its paths

" are fear.

" Nor tell your tale to every one that lends an

" ear to thee ;
" The empty house stands open wide, the full one

" under key ;
" Trust to a friend the secret thoughts, that in

" thy bosom flow,
" But tell thy tale to one beside, and all the world

" may know."


Thereafter uprose Vikingsson he spoke in manly

tone :
" It seemeth ill that Bele king must pass away

" alone;
" We twain have shared the chances of lifes ad-

" venturous game,
" And time is coming fast, when we may share our

" death the same.

" And length of days, son Frithiof, hath told a

" tale to me,
" And whispered many warnings, which now I give

" tothee;
" As Odins 6 black wing'd messengers descend

" upon the tomb,
" So on the lips of aged men there sits the surest

" doom.

" First hold the holy gods in awe, in awe for good

" and ill,
" Like storm and sunshine come of heaven, visiting

" at will ;
" The eye of heaven sees the thoughts that dwell

" within our mind,
" And later days repay the sins of years that lie

" behind.


" Obey the king ; who rules the land, can rule at

" best alone ;
" Dimvisaged night has many eyes, the bright blue

" day but one ;
" The boldest of the company, is captain of the

bold ;
" The sword may need an edge to cut, yet needs a

" hilt to hold.

" All strength of arm is heavens gift, it dwells by

" Odins side ;
" But strength of arm is helplessness, that wants

" the wit to guide ;
" The shaggy bear, with twelve mens strength, is

" slain by only one ;
" And shields there be to stop the sword, and laws

" to stay the strong.

" Though pride may win the fear of some, it earns

" the hate of all ;
" Each haughty deed, son Frithiof, is father of a

" Who once have flown the loftiest, now lean upon

" their crutch,
" For fortune's smile is as the wind, it changes

" overmuch.


" And praise the day, that passes by, but when the

" sun is fled,
" And ale when it is drunken, advice when it has

" sped ;
" For lightest causes youthful friends will leave

" their mates afar ;
" Misfortune tries the comrade, as swords are tried

" in war.

" Nor trust the ice but one night old, nor snow that

" falls in spring,
" Nor maiden seated on your knee, nor serpent

" slumbering ;
" For female hearts are fickle things, like wheels

" that know no rest,
" And most inconstant spirits dwell, beneath the

" whitest breast.

" Thyself shall die, and all shall die, belonging

" unto thee,
" But one thing, mark me, Frithiof, shall live

" eternally
" The judgement over dead men; so strive both

" day and night,
" To think the thoughts of noble minds, and do the

" thing that's right."


So spoke the two old veterans, within the royal

As Scalds of old have spoken since in lays of 7

Havamal :
From race to race descended deep, those sayings

fraught with doom,
And Norway still reveres the same, as voices from

the tomb.

And after that they changed their speech, and

dwelt in tender tone,
Upon the truest friendship, that all Norways land

had known;
In pleasure and misfortune, in calm and stormy

They held to each, through life and death, like

clasped hands together.

" With back to back, and heel to heel, we stood in

" battle field,
" That Norna, 8 whence soe'er she came, should

" light upon a shield ;
" And now go hence to pray the Gods, that when

" the sire is gone,
" Their guardian spirits still may brood, protective

" o'er the son."


And much did aged Bele speak, of Frithiofs

That far outweigheth kingly pride, and Odins

boasted blood ;
And much his comrade spoke upon the splendour

shining o'er
The royal kings of Norway, the line of Asa-Thor.

" Now only hold together fast, ye firm unconquered

" three,
" And foreign foe o'erpowering, shall never Norway

" see;
" For strength of arm and kingly pride, indisso-

" lubly bound,
" Are like a good and golden targe with iron hoops

" around.

"And greet from me my daughter fair," the sinking

" Bele said,
" The rosebud blown in privacy, that these befit a

" maid ;
" Encircle her with safety, let neither storm nor

" shower,
" Attack in their ungentleness, that frail and fairy

" flower.


" Thee, charge I most, King Helge, to stretch pro-

" tection o'er
" A fathers fond protection for thy sister Inge-

" bore ;
" Compulsion chills the noble heart, that strives

" the best it can,
" But gentleness directeth well the maiden and the

" man.

" Now when our life is ended here, we hope our

" graves may be,
" Within the mounds that rise aloft, on either side

" the sea,
" For pleasantly its voice will sound, and pleasantly

" its surge
" Will soothe our spirits resting there, soft-singing,

" like a dirge.

" When moonlight flaunts, with silent light, the

" shore she shines upon,
" We twain will sit at noon of night, upon our

" Bautastone,
" Aye seat us there, old Thorsten, within our

" shrouds so high,
" And gossip o'er the sleeping sea, of time that

" passes by.


" And now farewell, our noble sons, our last advice

" is given,
" We hasten hence Allfaderward, to sit within his

" heaven,
" As weary currents run to rest them in their ocean

" beds ;
" But Thors and Freys and Odins blessing rest

" upon your heads. 11



THE warrior brothers slept within their grave,
Bele the king, and Vikingsson the brave :
Each where he chose his own sepulchral mound,
On beetling cliffs on either side the sound ;
Two hearts in unity, that only death unbound.

Helge and Hafdan shared the throne, that day:
The people gave them each an equal sway ;
And when the people choose, their kings obey.
But Frithiof took no partner, ruled alone,
And called the whole inheritance his own.
Round as a ring, oer hill and dale and plain,
In three directions spread his wide domain ;
'Twas six Norwegian miles from side to side :
The fourth was bounded by the ocean tide.
There, shining bright, on every hill-top stood,
Of smooth-skinned birch, a venerable wood,
And golden wheat and waving rye did grow,
Tall as their reapers, on the slopes below.



And, lying lower, countless crystal floods
Spread out their mirrors to the o'er arching woods ;
Athwart their allies moved, with stately pace,
High-antlered elks, the sovereigns of the place ;
They drank the thousand brooks that warbled there;
Fb'nging their coolness through the noontide air ;
Vast herds of oxen in the woods were reared ; ^
They bit their fill from its unshaven sward ;
With dappled hides, and udders overstored. J
Fleck'd where the grass was short, and shadeless deep,
With milkwhite fleeces of uncounted sheep,
Lying like clouds on heaven's azure floor :
Themselves like fleeces when the storms are o'er.
Twice twenty steeds in well aired stables lay,
Stamped at the rack, and snorted o'er their hay,
(The short sweet hay that, every August, was
Shorn from their paddocks, prodigal of grass ;)
With knots of scarlet in their braided manes,
And shod with steel, insulting to the plains ;
Fiery and fierce, their pace
Matched with the hurricanes, and well nigh won
the race.

The drinking chamber, with its firtree wall,
Seemed like a house, it was so broad and tall ;
Roomy enow for twice three hundred men
(For every hundred reckoning twelve times ten),
To drink their Christmas ale, and make it ring


Right in its middle ran an oaken board,

Hard as a stone, and polished as a sword ;

Each side the mirror at its end there stood,

Two elmtree figures of the native wood,

The ancient Odin, with his looks of might,

And bright haired Freyer, 9 bonneted with light.

A bearskin, black, with yawning bloodred jaws,

And sheaths of silver pendant on its paws,

Was Thorstens seat ; amidst his friends sat he,

Like wealth encompassed by jollity.

At times that hero, when the day was done,

Related perils that himself had run,

In pilgrimages o^er the western sea,

And, more unknown, the wilds of Muscovy.

The listening audience hung on every word

Like bees on buds, so reverently they heard ;

And seers have said, that hoary man appeared,

Like ancient Braga, 10 with the silver beard,

Recounting chronicles, none knew but he,

With runic tongue, beneath the beechen tree,

Overhanging ever murrn'ring Mimers well ;

Himself a more experienced chronicle.

The floor was polished bright, and strewn with


And firtree faggots forced it to be warm.
The roof was bored, the smoke ascended so ;
The stars peeped through it, on the guests below.
On nails of steel there hung, in ordered rows,
Helmets and harness for the battles blows,

And slanted swords at intervals, with light

Like that of meteors in a wintry night :

And more than these, the shields of silver shone,

Round as the moon, and gleamy like the sun.

At equal distances a maid went round :

The beakers that the champions drained, she

crowned :

With blushing burning cheeks, and eyes askance ;"\
The shields reflected each inconstant glance ;
The chieftains loved to watch that changeful f

countenance. x

Rich were the rooms, where'er you turned your eye,
Was wealth, and larders stocked abundantly ;
The treasures were in careful order stored,
Purchased by peril, victories reward ;
Gold with the coinage of a distant land,
And silver chastened by the gravers hand.
Of all the prizes that large house possest,

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