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~ Historical & Classical Poetry ~

The Ballad of Arngrim´s Sons     Sheet music    MP3 (instrumental)

1. High on a lofty mountain
Does Arngrim his castle hold;
he has eleven noble sons,
And his twelfth is a champion bold.

Refrain:
Noble men are sailing now from Norway,
And a fair breeze bears them o'er the wave.

2. He has eleven nobles sons,
Each skilled to wield his brand;
And mightiest of all is Angantyr
Who comes from Bjarnaland.

3. He has eleven noble sons,
Beneath oak-trees live they;
And Angantyr lives with them there
And a warrior bold is he.

4. Arngrim and the Earl's lady,
Children so fine had they—
Their daughter was named Hervik,
Who governed land and fee.

5. This maiden was named Hervik,
'Fore all men I declare,
She tilted in the tourney
When the lads were playing there.

6. She tilted in the tourney
Among the lads so strong.
Then blood was up and blood was shed
Ere she had played her long.

7. Down then sat the lads there;
Angry were they each one.—
"Better than fighting us so fiercely
Go 'venge thy father anon!"

8. Water she cast on her armour;
She list no longer to fight,
But went and stood before her mother,
With cheeks all red and white.

9. "O hearken, hearken my Mother dear,
The truth from thee would I know.—
Was my father slain in battle
Or did he die on straw>"

10. "No truer tale can I tell to thee,
My daughter whom I love;
He fell before the bold Örvarodd
To the South in Isan's Grove.

11. "I can tell thee no truer, my daughter dear
Than I tell as here I stand;—
He fell before the bold Örvarodd
To the South in Isan's Land."

12. She took her quickly to a chest
Which guarded gold and fee;
She drew a shirt from out the chest;
And flung it on Hervik's knee.

13. She drew a shirt from out the chest,
All bloodstained where it had lain.—
"Here may'st thou see the very same shirt
In which thy father was slain."

14. Up then rose Hervik the Earl's daughter,
And manned ship hastily,
Its cables were of shining gold,
All twisted cunningly.

15. Up then rose Hervik the Earl's daughter,
And decked her ship so fine,
And bade them store within the hold
Both ale and costly wine.

16. Tarred were the masts,
And black was the ship in hue;
The masthead was of the red, red gold,
And the sun shone on it too.

17. Tarred were the masts;
The ship it was quite new;
The golden weather-cock spun aloft,
And shone amid Heaven's own blue.

18. Tarred were the masts,
The beams scored wondrously;
Stem and stern were of red, red gold,
And so was the sail on high.

19. All in the middle of the ship's deck
The colour shone so fair
Where Hervik, the Earl's daughter,
Sat on the platform there.

20. She hoists aloft her silken sail,
Striped gold on a scarlet ground,
Nor ever once does she strike it again
Till she comes to Isan's Land.

21. She hoists aloft her silken sail,
(The like will scarce be found)
Nor ever once does she strike it again
Till she comes to Isan's ground.

22. Forth when Hervik's frigate
Touched the fair land,
Cast she forth her anchor
Into the white, white sand.

23. Cast she down her anchor
Into the white, white sand;
And the first was Hervik the Earl's daugher
To spring with her foot to land.

24. The first was Hervik the Earl's daughter
To spring with her foot to land,
And with her Hjalmar her brother
Close at her right hand.

25. There a huntsman met her;
He had hunted herd and fee:
"O why art thou so sorrowful,
As a troll had been hunting thee?"

26. Then up stood Hervik the Earl's daughter,
her good sword out she drew,
And with it she clove the huntsman
And him in sunder slew

27. < Three cross roads are bending,
And one can she descry;
Hervik has gone straight for the barrow
Wherin her father doth lie.

28. Hervik has gone straight forth to the barrow
Where her father lies dead and cold.
Little recks she of fear or favour,
Though quake now fell and fold.

29. Then up and spake the voice of Arngrim;
And these words first spake he;—
"O where are my eleven sons gone,
Since daughters are visiting me?"

30. "I pass not for my eleven brothers,
Or where they share their fee.
No treasure have I, save only Hjalmar,
Hither brought with me.

31. "O haste thee, haste the, my noble Father
The good brand to give me;
Or shall I set fire here to this barrow,
And burn it over thee?"

32. Full woe was the champion Arngrim
That she should wreck his grave.
He seizèd Tyrfing in both his hands
And to his daughter gave.

33. He gave to her the sword then
Was wonderfully made.—
The length of it was eighteen ells,
And poisoned was its blade.

34. He gave to her the sword then
Was wonderfully made.
No leechcraft could avail the man
Was wounded by its blade.

35. All in the middle of the garden
She clad her in cloak of skin;
She busked her in a cloak of fur,
And entered the high hall within.

36. She busked her in her cloak of fur
And entered the high hall belive,
Where Örvarodd sat before the board
With a hundred men and five.

37. "O welcome, welcome, Hervrik,
Hither now to me
Mead or wine shalt thou have to drink
As liefest is to thee."

38. "O little to me is thy mead, Örvarodd,
And little to me thy wine.
Today I have com to thy high hall,
And a different errand is mine.

39. "O little to me is thy mead, Örvarodd,
And little to me thy beer;
For a different errand did I busk me
When I left my home to come here.

40. "I busked me and came from Sweden
To fight in this thy land.
Stand up! Stand up! Thou bold Örvarodd,
Stand up, and arm thy band!"

41. It fell full early on a morning tide,
Before the sun rose high,
Bold Örvarodd had a hundred men and twelve
Accounted royally.

42. Bold Örvarodd had a hundred men and twelve
Accoutred royally.
Then up rose Hervik, the Earl's daughter,
To meet them gallantly.

43. Up then rose Hervik, the Earl's daughter,
So doughty in the fight.
She blew a blast on her golden horn,
And struck to left and right.

44. It was Hervik, the Earl's daughter,
So gallantly she rode;—
She clove to the shoulders every knight
Who forth against her strode.

45. She clove to the shoulders every knight
Who forth against her strode,
Till only Örvarodd and his two companions
Survivors of the army stood.

46. Under the castle gateway
The King crept fearfull.—
"Now mercy, mercy, sweet Hervik,
I pray thou'lt give to me!"

47. "Just so much is the sweet mercy
Thou now shalt get of me
As thou gavest to my noble Father
When thou slew'st him felonly!"

48. "Just so much is the sweet mercy
Thou now shalt win of me
As thou gavest to my noble Father
When thou slew'st him cruelly!"

49. That was Hervrik, the Earl's daughter,
To draw her sword was fain.
She has slain the warrior Örvarodd
And cut him in pieces twain.

50. She has slain the warrior Örvarodd
And cut him in pieces twain,
And all his men so brave and true
She has heaped on his corse amain.

51. Up then rose Hervik, the Earl's daughter;
Through the greenwood gan she ride;
But hawk or hound made never a cry
In the greenwood by her side.

52. She hoists aloft her silken sail,
Striped gold on a scarlet ground;
Nor ever once does she strike it again
Till she reaches far Uppland.

53. Forth when Hervik's frigate
Touched the fair land,
Cast she forth her anchor
Into the white, white sand.

54. Cast she forth her anchor
Into the white, white sand;
And forthwith her brother Angantyr
Came riding down the strand.

55. She gave to him the sword then
Was wonderfully made.—
The length of it was eighteen ells,
And poisoned was its blade.

56. She gave to him the sword then
Was wonderfully made.—
No leechcraft could avail the man
Was wounded by its blade.

57. Angantyr sits in his high seat,
And with his men spake he!—
"O where will I get a make to myself?
This thought has been long with me."

58. One and all they hung their heads,
And never a word spake they,
Save Hjalmar his brother, and better were it
he had held his peach that day.

59. "I can no truer tell thee,
But and thou list to hear:
the King of Upsala has a daughter,
And she is passing fair.

60. "The King of Upsala has a daughter
As lovely as the sun.
Her cheeks they are as red and white
As blood on driven snow.

61. "The King of Upsala has a daughter:
Of many is her fame the word.
Her throne it is of the red, red gold.
And stands at the King's own board."

62. "O gin the maiden be so fair,
And gin she be so fine,
I swear an oath, though ill betide,
to call that maiden mine.

63. "O long and long will the journey be
O'er breaker but and billow;
But I go forth to Upsala, Hjalmar,
And thou, my brother, must follow."

64. Then up spake Hjalmar the warrior,
And straightway answered he:
"The bird feels joy when he spies a corpse,
And so do I follow thee!

65. Up then rose him Angantyr,
And manned ship hastily.
Its cables were of shining gold
All twisted cunningly.

66. Up then rose him Angantyr,
And decked his ship so fine,
And bade them store within the hold
Both ale and costly wine.

67. He hoists aloft his silken sail,
Striped gold on a scarlet ground
Nor ever once does he strike it again
Till he comes to Uppsaland.

68. Forth then when his frigate
Touched the fair land,
Cast he down his anchor
Into the white, white sand.

69. Cast he down his anchor
Into the white, white sand.
And Angantyr was the first to light
With his foot to land.

70. Angantyr was the first to light
With his foot to land,
And by him Hjalmar his brother,
Close at his right hand.

71. By him Hjalmar his brother,
Close at his right hand.
Truly is it told to me
He sank to his knees in sand.

72. Up they went from the sea-shore,
Those men of wealth and worth;
The rollers brake, and the earth it shook
As they set their ships in berth.

73. Up they went from the sea-shore,
In their clothes of scarlet so fair;
Their helmets were of burnished gold,
And no man did they fear.

74. All in the middle of the garden
They clad them in cloaks of skin;
They busked them in their cloaks of fur
And entered the high hall within.

75. They busked them in their cloaks of fur
And entered the high hall belive,
Where the King of Uppland sat at the board
With a hundred men and five.

76. Hjalmar went into the high hall
With silk embroidered hood.
His cheeks were red as lobster's claws.
His eyes were like the dove.

77. Angantyr hass do'en him to the high hall,
'Twas the custom in days gone by;
And all in a word did he hail the King
And ask for the maid truly.

78. Angantyr stands on the hall floor,
Offers him greeting there;—
"Now hail be to thee, bold King of Uppsaland,
Give me thy daughter fair!"

79. Then up and spake the bold Hjalmar,
Before the broad board he stood:—
"O King, I pray thee, give me thy daughter
Who is so fair and good."

80. Up then rose the bold Hjalmar,
Before the broad board sat he:—
"O King, I pray thee, give me thy daughter
Who is so wise and fair to see."

81. Long in sorrow sat the King
And silently pondered.
What he should answer the two fierce warriors,
Who stood before the board.

82. Up then rose the King of Uppsaland;
Angry and wroth was he:
"My lady daughter shall come to the hall
And for herself reply."

83. They have led his daughter to the hall,
Attended fittingly;
And Hjalmar7s face grew red and pale
As in the high-seat sat he.

84. "Now thanks and thanks to my noble father
Who gave this choice to me.
Hjalmar the champion from Uppland,
He shall my husband be.

85. "I will not wed me to Angantyr:
He is so vile a troll;
So is his father and so his mother,
And so are his kinsfolk all."

86. "Come forth, come forth, thou bold Hjalmar
For ne'er so brief a tide.
To battle on an island make thee bowne;
She shall not be thy bride.

87. Then up and answered Odd the Young:
"Once more we are fighting here.
You shall go against Arngrim's Sons,
And I against Angantyr."

88. "We two, Angantyr and I,
Shall meet in a mighty gripe,
And long will lady Ingibjörg wait
Ere she hear that I shrank for my life."

89. "We two, Angantyr and I,
Shall meet in a mighty gripe,
And long will lady Ingibjörg wait
Ere she hear that I shrank for my life."

90. Out then spake the Young Odd,
And pondered heavily;
"O gin thou go'est against Anganatyr,
Thou choosest thy death truly."

91. All the sons of Arngrim
Rode up the river shore
A-tightening of their shield-straps
Till they could tighten them no more.

92. All the sons of Arngrim
Rode through the plain so green;
A league and a league you could hear on the stones
The clang of their spears so keen.

93. All the sons of Arngrim,
Angry were they in mood.
Little recked they for weapons,
But tore up clubs of stout oakwood.

94. All the sons of Arengrim
Rode up the river strand.
It is the young Odd will lose his life,
For Hjalmar is not at hand.

95. Odd rode against the Sons of Arngrim,
His noble weapons proved he so,
And he slew all the eleven brothers
Yet never dealt he a second blow.

96. Angantyr and the bold Hjalmar
On the island combated.
All their followers who manned the ship
Are lying now stone dead.

97. Hjalmar then struck Angantyr,
So lay he at his feet.
"O Hjalmar, give me now a drink,
For it comforts the meanest wight."

98. "A drink from out my drinking horn
I give thee willingly;
But hearken, Angantyr my brother,
Today have I surely conquered thee."

99. O he held the horn before his lips,
—He the noble warrior,—
And O it was the heathen dog
Who stabbed him under the helmet there.

100. It was the warrior Hjalmar,
He drew his sword amain;
He has cleft his brother Angantyr
And cut him in pieces twain.

101. Odd came home at eventide
A-riding on the strand,
And saw where Hjalmar had sat him there,
Marred by the poisoned brand.

102. Odd came home at eventide,
Where Hjalmar leant his back on a stone;
"O why art thou so wondrous pale,
And what has brought thee to make such moan?"

103. "My corslet he has piercéd,
He has scathed my skin so white;
The poison smeared upon the blad
My heart will surely smite."

104. "Thou didst put thy faith in thy corslet,
All made of shining steel;
But here stand I in my shirt only,
And yet no wound I feel.

105. "Thou didst put thy trust in thy corslet,
All made of silver bright;
But here stand I in my shirt only,
And got no wound in the fight.

106. "Thou did'st put thy trust in thy corslet,
All made of silver white;
But here stand I in my shirt only,
Which sword could never bite.".

107. Then up and spake the Warrior Hjalmar.
The first word he did say
Was "Hearken and hearken now Young Odd,
And bear me hence away."

108. Then up and answered the Young Odd,
He gazed on the rocky ravine:
"This fight, O Hjalmar, if thou list to hear
Has gone as I had forseen."

109. He drew the gold ring from his arm;
Speech could he utter still;
Bade carry it to the lady Ingibjörg,
And bade him fare him well

110. He drew the gold ring from his arm;
All floating was he in blood.
He sent it to the lady Ingibjorg,
That maid so fair and good.

111. She died of grief for Hjalmar,
She the noble maid;
I swear an oath upon my honour
There lives none of whom the like can be said.

Nora Kershaw, from: "Stories and Ballads of the Far Past. Translated from the Norse
(Icelandic and Faroese) by N. Kershaw." Cambridge, at the University Press, 1921

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