Fridthjof's Saga, by Esaias Tegnér


Fridthjof goes into Exile

On deck at night

In summer bright,

Sat Fridthjof grieving;

Like billows heaving,

Now wrath, now grief,

In his heart was chief;

And shoreward turning

Saw fires still burning.

“Thou temple reek

Fly up and seek

High Valhal’s towers;

The White God’s powers

Call down on me

With wrath’s decree.

And tell, swift bounding,

The vault resounding,

The temple burned

To dust is turned;

The imaged glory

But lives in story.

Quick burned the god

Like common wood.

The grove protected

Nor once neglected

Since men swords bore

Is now no more;

By fire the slaying

Not time’s decaying.

Forget no word

Thou hast seen or heard,

In Balder’s dwelling

The story telling,

Thou message cloud

Of gods the shroud.

Long live in story

King Helge’s glory,

Who exiled me

From him and thee,

My father’s nation.

We’ll roam creation

Where blue is king,

Where wild waves sing.

Thou canst not rest thee

Ellide, haste thee;

Earth’s farthest bound

We’ll sail around.

Soon thou’lt be rocking,

The sea-foam mocking,

My dragon good;

A drop of blood

Will nothing hinder

As on we wander.

In fiercest storm

Art thou my home; —

The one I cherished

By Helge perished.

Thou art my North

My foster-earth, —

The other leaving

I wander grieving:

My bride caressed

In black robes dressed;

The one in lustre

I could not trust her.

Thou ocean free,

Unknown to thee

Is king oppressive,

Untrue, aggressive.

Thy king is he

Among the free

Who trembles never

How high soever,

With wrath oppressed,

Heaves thy white breast.

Blue fields are charming

And not alarming;

There heroes plow

With keel and bow,

And blood-rain showers

In oaken bowers.

The good steel blade

Is seed-corn made.

The fields bring yearly

Not honor merely,

But gold as well.

Oh, kindly swell,

Thou ocean billow!

Thee will I follow.

My father’s grave

Calm waters lave

(How still he sleepeth

Where green grass creepeth).

Mine blue shall be,

Flecked like the sea;

Forever floating,

On tempest gloating,

And fathoms deep

Draw men to sleep;

To me thou’rt given

For life a haven;

My grave thou’lt be,

Thou ocean free.”

Thus inly burning

Sang Fridthjof, turning

His prow so true

From seas he knew,

And slowly creeping

‘Mid rocks still keeping

Their faithful ward

O’er shallow fjord.

But vengeance watcheth;

King Helge fetcheth

Ten dragons out.

Thh people shout,

With breath abated:

“The king is fated;

He offers fight,

We scorn his might;

Though heaven-descended,

His reign is ended;

From earth we know

He now must go,

The blood god-given

Now longs for heaven.”

Scarce was it spoke

Ere keels of oak

By unseen power

Began to lower;

Then on and on

Are downward drawn

To Ran’s safe keeping.

King Helge, leaping,

Is glad to swim

From the sinking stem.

And Bjorn, none blaming,

Laughed loud, exclaiming:

“Thou asa-blood,

The art was good;

No one detected,

Or e’en suspected,

I bored so quick, —

A worthy trick!

May waves enfold them

And Ran still hold them

As heretofore.

It grieves me sore

That Helge misses

False Ran’s cold kisses.”

In wrathful mood

King Helge stood

From death delivered;

His round bow quivered,

Though made of steel,

As toward the shoal

So hard he drew it,

Though scarce he knew it,

It clanging broke.

Then Fridthjof spoke,

His lance well aiming,

While loud exclaiming:

“A death-bird here,

Enchained I bear:

If once set; flying,

Then low is lying

Thy coward head.

By Loke led

Thy fear abuseth;

My lance, refuseth

A coward’s blood;

It is too good

For food so craven;

Its worth be graven

On funeral stone,

But not upon

A name which beareth

The stain thine weareth.

One exploit brave

Sank ‘neath the wave;

The next one failed thee,

Nor aught availed thee;

Thy bow rust broke,

Not thou. The stroke,

When I aspire,

Is set much higher,

As thou mayst see

’Tis far from thee.”

His carved oar limber

Was fir-tree timber, —

A mast-fir tall,

From Gudbrand’s dale.

Taking another,

With both together

He rowed amain;

Like arrowy cane

Or steel blade brilliant

Were the oars resilient.

The sun climbs up

The mountain slope,

The winds, advancing

From land, to dancing

In morning’s light

The waves invite.

Where foam-crest swimmeth

Ellide skimmeth

On joyous wings;

But Fridthjof sings:

“Thou front of creation,

Exalted North!

I have no station

On thy green earth.

Thy lineage sharing

My pride doth swell,

Thou home of daring!

Farewall, farewell!

Farewell thou royal


Thou night’s-eye loyal,

Midsummer sun!

Thou sky unclouded

As hero’s soul!

Thou vault star-crowded!

Farewell, farewell!

Ye mountain ranges

Where honor dwells,

Creation’s changes

Your rune-face tells.

Ye lakes and highlands

I knew so well,

Ye rocks and islands,

Farewell, farewell!

Farewell ye grave-mounds

Where the linden showers

Near azure wave bounds

The dust of flowers!

But time revealeth

And judgeth well

What earth concealeth;

Farewell, farewell!

Farewell ye bowers,

Beneath whose shade

So many hours

By brooks I’ve played;

Ye friends of childhood

Ye meant me well,

I love your wildwood;

Farewell, farewell!

My love is cheated,

My home is burned,

My shame completed,

I’m exiled, spurned.

From land appealing

To ocean’s swell,

Life’s joyous feeling,

Farewell, farewell!

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