Fridthjof's Saga, by Esaias Tegnér

XXII.

The King’s Election.

“To thing! to thing!” from dale to hill

The cry arose.

“King Ring is dead; his place to fill

A king we’ll choose.”

From off the wall the peasant moves

His steel sword blue;

Its edge his practiced finger proves,

It biteth true.

The boys admire in pleased surprise

The gleaming blue:

To lift the sword one vainly tries,

It needeth two.

The daughter scours the helmet clean,

Bright shall it be.

And blushes, in its silvery sheen

Her face to see.

At last he takes his shield so round.

A sun in blood;

“Hail! iron man, so strong and sound,

Thou peasant good!

Renown and power which nations wield

From thee they draw,

In war thou art thy country’s shield,

In peace its law.”

The assembly met, while sounding high

Were arms and shields,

In open thing, ‘neath heaven’s sky,

In fair green fields.

Upon the thing-stone Fridthjof stands,

And with him there

A little one with shining bands

Of golden hair.

Then rose the cry on every hand:

“Too small indeed

The king’s son is to rule our land,

Our wars to lead.”

But Fridthjof on his shield raised up

The little boy:

“Ye Norsemen, here behold your hope,

Your king, your joy.

“High Odin’s race embodied here

In image see,

As much at home ‘mid shield and spear,

As fish in sea.

“I swear my lance and sword to set

Round land and throne,

And with the father’s coronet

To crown the son.

“The oath I make to Balder’s son4

Of high renown,

And if I fail, may he not shun

To strike me down.”

4 Forsete

The boy sat on the shield so high

As ’twere a throne~

Undaunted as the eaglet’s eye

Looks toward the sun.

At last impatient grew his blood,

And to the ground,

The child leaped down and fearless stood; —

A kingly bound!

Then rose the cry from all the thing:

“We of the North,

We choose but thee, be like king Ring,

Thou shield-borne youth.

“And Fridthjof shall a guardian be,

Thy youth to guide;

His mother, earl, we give to thee,

To be thy bride.”

But Fridthjof frowned: “To-day,” said he,

“Election make,

But not a bridal; leave to me

A bride to take.

“To Balder’s temple I’ll repair,

I go to see

The norns who are already there

Awaiting me.

“With them a council I have willed,

The shield-maids true, —

Beneath the tree of time they build,

Above it too.

“Against me Balder’s anger sore

Doth still abide;

He took, he only can restore

My cherished bride.”

Saluting then the monarch new,

He kissed his brow.

And o’er the broom-heath passed from view,

Silent and slow.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/t/tegner/esaias/fridthjof/canto22.html

Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 20:12