Fridthjof's Saga, by Esaias Tegnér


King Ring.

King Ring moved his gold-stool back. Then uprose

Champion and dreamer; —

For where in the North does such goodness repose?

His word o’erflows

With the wisdom which dwells in god Mimer.

Like the groves of the peaceful gods was his land, —

War’s sable pinion

Cast not a shadow where on every hand

Flowers expand

Through the length of his quiet dominion.

Here Justice alone on the judgment-seat

With Right presided;

And Peace every year paid its tribute meet, —

While golden wheat

With plenty the harvest provided.

And swarthy-prowed ships to this favored shore,

With snowy pinions

The products of numberless nations bore, —

A varied store

Of riches for fortune’s rich minions.

Here freedom and peace did in concord dwell,

Kindly united;

And all loved their father, the king, full well,

For each might tell

His mind in the thing,3 none were slighted.

3 See glossary.

Supreme in the Northland through thirty years

His reign extended;

Contented each went to his daily cares;

At evening prayers

The king’s name in blessings ascended.

King Ring moved his gold-stool back. From the board

All there assembled

Arose to attend on the royal word, —

Renowned where heard:

But he sighed, and in accents that trembled,

He said: “My lost queen is in Folkvang-hall

On purple seated;

But here on her grave is a grassy pall,

While breathe o’er all

The flowers with sweet odor freighted.

“So queenly, so honored, so good and so fair,

There’s not another.

Immortal she dwelleth in Valhal’s care,

But the people’s prayer,

The children’s desire, is a mother.

“King Bele oft sat as a guest at my side

When winter ended;

The daughter he left I would choose for my bride, —

Her father’s pride,

In whose cheeks rose and lily are blended.

“I know she is young, and in youth sublime.

Would gather flowers;

My flower is past and my early prime;

My locks has Time

Besprinkled with snowy showers.

Oh, could she but honor the withered tree

Which age has blighted;

And could she a friend to the motherless be,

Then should you see

To the throne Spring by Autumn invited.

“Take gold froth my coffers, take jewels rare,

Unstinted measure

Let minstrels attending the way prepare

To win the fair, —

For song heralds wooing and pleasure.”

With gold and petitions, a noisy throng,

The young men speeded;

And minstrels and skalds, in procession long,

With hero-song

To the sons of King Bele proceeded.

The feast, where with wassail they drink and sing,

For three days lasted,

But they sought the fourth morning what answer they’d bring

From Helge king, —

For now their return must be hasted.

In the grove Helge offered both bird and beast, —

A sacred duty;

Asked counsel of vala, consulted the priest

What answer was best

For the queen of affection and beauty.

The offerings and vala and priest denied

The wished-for token;

And Helge, affrighted by signs he’d tried,

With “No,” replied,

For men must obey when the gods have spoken.

But merry king Halfdan laughed gayly, and said,

“The feast is ended,

King Gray-beard himself should have come instead,

I’d glad have led

His beast, and his mounting attended.”

Indignant the embassy went away,

Nor longer tarried;

“King Graybeard his honor’ll avenge one day,”

Is Ring heard to say,

When to him the curt message is carried.

He strikes his bright shield hanging high on a bough, —

His weapon seizes;

And many a dragon is hurrying now,

With blood-red prow,

And helmet plumes wave in the breezes.

The tidings flew swiftly to Helge king,

Who answered slowly:

“The strife will be bloody, for mighty is Ring;

My sister bring

To the temple of Balder, the holy.”

There sitteth the loving one, full of woes,

Though safe abiding:

She weeps, while with silk and with god she sews

A tear overflows, —

The dew ‘mid the lilies is hiding.

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