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The Expedition to Birting's Land and other ballads   By: (1859-1937)

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THE EXPEDITION TO BIRTING’S LAND AND OTHER BALLADS

BY GEORGE BORROW

LONDON: PRINTED FOR PRIVATE CIRCULATION

1914

Copyright in the United States of America by Houghton , Mifflin & Co. for Clement Shorter .

THE EXPEDITION TO BIRTING’S LAND

The King he o’er the castle rules, He rules o’er all the land; O’er many a hardy hero too, With naked sword in hand.

Let the courtier govern his steed, The boor his thatchèd cot, But Denmark’s King o’er castles rules, For nobler is his lot.

King Diderik sits on Brattingsborg, And round he looks with pride: “No one I know of in the world Would me in fight abide.”

Then answered Brand Sir Viferlin, Had been in many a land: “Methinks I know a warrior stout Would thee in fight withstand.

“He’s Ifald call’d, a king is he, In Birting’s land afar; And he has fellows following him With savage wolves who war.

“O he has fellows following him ’Gainst teeth of bears who fight; The food in which he most delights Is flesh of Christian wight.

“Every day in the East that dawns His mouth he’s wont to cool With serpents, toads, and other filth, That come from the hellish pool.”

As Ifald sat on his throne that day He thus was heard to cry: “Let some one bid my little foot page To come to me instantly.

“Now list to me, thou little foot page, On my errand thee I’ll send Unto the King of Brattingsborg, To whom I am no friend.

“Tell him that he must tribute pay, Or for bloody war prepare; Forsooth if him in the field I meet I him will little spare.”

Then answered straight the little foot page And a gallant answer he gave: “My Lord thy message I’ll carry forth, Though they lay me in my grave.”

In came he, the little foot page, And stood before the board: “Now list to me, King Diderik, My master has sent you word.

“Either tribute thou shalt pay, As thou didst last year agree, Or thou shalt meet us in the field, And bloodshed there shall be.”

“I will not tribute pay, forsooth, I scorn to stoop so low; Nay, rather unto Birting’s land With sword unsheathed I go.”

Then answer’d Vitting Helfredson, And loud he laughed with glee: “If ye fare this year into Birting’s land I too of the troop shall be.

“Last year wast thou in Birting’s land, And there didst lose thy steed; Thou hadst better stay in Brattingsborg Than again seek Birting’s mead.”

“On me, if I stay in Brattingsborg, Be every malison; If I have no horse on which to ride I have legs on which to run.”

There rode out from Brattingsborg So many a knight renown’d; The rocks were split ’neath the coursers’ feet, And quaked the startled ground.

There rode forth King Diderik, The lion upon his shield; And there too glittered the golden crown So far across the field.

There rode Vidrik Verlandson, The hammer and tongs he bore; And there rode good King Esmer’s sons, All men of wondrous power.

There rode the rich Count Rodengard, A warrior stout and fine; And there rode King Sir Sigfred, who Displayed a monarch’s sign.

Then followed Siward Snarenswayne, With many arrows white; And then came Brand Sir Viferlin, Who never fled from fight.

And next rode Hero Hogen, He looked a rose so brave; And then rode Folker Spillemand, In his hand a naked glaive.

Then rode the bold young Ulf Van Yern, A glorious horse upon; Behind him young Sir Humble rode, And then Sir Sigfredson.

And then rode Gunther and Gernot, With arrow on bended bow; And there rode Sonne Tolkerson, With courage upon his brow.

There rode the little Grimmer, In golden acton dight; And there rode Seyer the active, Who yields to none in might.

And then came master Hildebrand, As though to his courser fixt; The stalwart friar Alsing rode The ancient hero next... Continue reading book >>




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