Fridthjof's Saga, by Esaias Tegnér


Fridthjof at Sea.

On shore king Helge stood,

By turns he sang and prayed,

And in embittered mood

Besought the goblins’ aid.

See! the heavens with darkness toiling,

Empty space with thunders boom,

Lo, the furious waves are boiling,

Ocean’s surface hid with foam.

Lightnings now the clouds are streaking,

Here and there a bloody rand,

All the sea-fowls now are shrieking.

Hasting to the safer strand.

“Hard’s the weather, brothers!

Hear the stormy pinions

Flapping in the distance,

Yet we do not pale.

Sit within the temple,

Think on me with longing,

Beauteous in thy weeping,

Beauteous Ingeborg.”

‘Gainst Ellide’s stem,

Two goblins warfare made.

One was wind-cold Ham,

One was snowy Heyd.

Now the storm-wind wildly drifts them

O’er the deep, and madly down;

Now it beating, whirling lifts them,

Upward where the heavens frown.

All the powers of evil coming,

Riding on the billows’ top,

From the bottomless, the foaming,

From the wide graves up.

“Brighter was the journey

By the pale moon’s glimmer,

Over mirrored waters

Unto Balder’s grove;

Warmer was it, nearer

Ing’borg’s heart reposing;

Whiter than the sea-foam

Swelled her bosom fair.”

Solund island fair

Above the waves so white!

Stiller seas are there,

Harbors safe invite.

But the bold sea-rover feareth

Less upon the trusted oak,

Mans the helm himself and jeereth

At the wild wind’s sportive stroke.

Tighter now the sail he fastens,

Fleeter o’er the water skims,

Straight to westward fearless hastens,

Goes where’er the billow swims.

“Fighting for a moment

With the storm delighteth:

Storm and Northman prosper

Well upon the wave.

Ingeborg would redden

Should her sea-eagle fly with

Slackened wings, affrighted

By a passing breeze.”

Higher rise the waves,

Deeper furrows plow,

Cordage madly raves,

Creak both keel and prow.

Waves whichever way contending,

With or ‘gainst Ellide’s form,

Meet good timbered sides, defending

Menaced ship, defying storm.

Like an evening meteor sweeping,

Joyful glides she through the night,

Like an Alpine roebuck leaping

Over precipice and height.

“Better was it kissing

her in Balder’s temple,

Than to stand here tasting

Salt-foam as it whirls.

Better ’twas embracing

Bele’s royal daughter

Than to stand here gripping

Fast the rudder’s helm.”

From the cold sky’s field

Snows intense prevail,

And on deck and shield

Rattling storms of hail.

Lo, o’er all the vessel flying

Night has placed her sable pall,

As in rooms where dead are lying,

Gloomy darkness covers all.

Wave implacable now lashes

Toward his doom the sailor brave

White-gray as with sifted ashes

Frightful yawns a boundless grave.

“Pillows Ran is making,

Luring us to quiet;

Thine I know are waiting,

Ingeborg, for me.

Faithful men are plying

Oars of good Ellide;

Gods the keel have made us,

Bear us yet awhile.”

See the sea advances,

Seeking now a wreck,

Ere the eye can glance,

Clears the starboard deck.

Fridthjof’s sinewy arm adorning,

Shone a massive golden ring,

Bright its rays of early morning,

’Twas the gift of Bele, king.

This in many pieces broken, —

Made by dwarfs with skillful art, —

Gives to all on board a token.

Every man receives a part.

“Gold is good to carry

When you go a-wooing,

Empty-handed no one

Comes to sea-blue Ran.

Cold is she to kisses,

Flee’th from embraces,

But the sea-bride yieldeth

Met with shining gold.”

Now with threatenings new

Falls the frozen storm,

Rends his sail in two,

Snaps the brittle arm.

O’er Ellide’s side prevailing

Entering rolls the mountain wave,

Men of giant strength are bailing,

‘Gainst, the sea make battle brave.

Fridthjof cannot fail discerning

That he carries death on board;

Then above the billows storming

Rises his commanding word.

“Bjorn, attend the rudder,

Grip it with a bear’s paw;

Valhal’s holy powers

Never sent such storm.

Goblins rule the voyage;

Coward Helge chanted

Safety o’er the waters;

I will up and see.”

Like a bird he flew

Up the icy spar,

Sat on high to view

Fiendish goblins war.

See, before Ellide gliding,

Like an island floating free,

Sea-whale on whose back are riding,

Loathsome goblins of the sea.

Heyd a snowy pelt, doth cover,

Figure like a polar bear;

Ham hath wings which, waving hover

Eagle-like in stormy air.

“Now. Ellide, ready!

Show if hero temper

Dwells within your banded

Convex breast of oak.

Listen to my order;

Are you Valhal’s daughter?

Strike with keel of copper,

Gore the conjured whale!”

Brave Ellide hears

Fridthjof’s proud behest.

With a spring she rears

‘Gainst the monster’s breast.

From the wound a stream is driving,

To the skies ’tis quickly sped,

Now the wounded monster diving,

Roaring seeks his miry bed.

Fridthjof’s giant strength then casteth

Lances at the goblins bold,

One in Ice-bear’s bosom fasteneth,

One Storm-eagle’s breast doth hold.

“Bravely done, Ellide!

Not so quickly riseth

Helge’s magic dragon

Up from out the mire.

Ham and Heyd no longer

Rule the sea together;

Bitter is it biting

‘Gainst the dark-blue steel.”

Quickly disappears

Storm from sea and land,

Gentle wavelet steers

Toward the nearing strand.

All at once the sun advances,

Like a king doth he unveil,

All enlivens, all entrances,

Ship and billow, mount and dale.

Last rays, gleaming now like amber,

Tops of cliff and forest bound,

Now each sailor well remembers

The emerald shores of Efje Sound.

“Ingeborg, pale maiden,

Prayers sent unto Valhal;

Lily-white she bowed her

Knees on sacred gold.

Light-blue eyes in weeping,

Breast of swan’s down, sighing,

Moved the hearts of asas;

Let us give them thanks.”

Now Ellide leaks,

Faithful dragon ship,

Shallow water seeks. —

Wearied of the trip.

Still more tired by labor dreary,

Fridthjof’s men desire the land;

But enfeebled, faint and weary,

Sword-supported, scarce can stand.

Bjorn, on powerful shoulders, beareth

Four of them and safely lands;

Fridthjof, too, the labor shareth,

Eight sets round the burning brands.

“Do not bhtsh, pale heroes!

Waves are sturdy vikings;

Hard indeed is fighting

‘Gainst the ocean’s bride.

See, there comes the mead-horn,

Gold the feet that bear it.

Warm your frozen members;

Skoal to Ingeborg!

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00