THE WORKS OF GEORGE BORROW, VOL.7
* "Ulf van Yern."
* The base text is a redacted version of DgF 10G "Ulv van Jærn".
* The G-version (DgF G) is Vedel's I, Nr. 11, entitled "Vlff Van Jern" available at Kalliope.
* Ulf van Yern has been explained as a corruption of "Wolfhart von Garte".
ULF VAN YERN
IT was youthful Ulf Van Yern
Goes before the King to stand :
' To avenge my father's death2.
Lend me warriors of thy band.'
' Of my kemps I'll lend thee them
Who to follow thee consent;
Ask'st thou Vidrik Verlandson,3.
Thou wilt further thy intent.
' I will lend thee of my men,
Thou shalt have the very flower ;
Vidrik, and stark Diderik,4.
Many kemps have felt their power.
' They are heroes strong and bold
Who have battles often won ;
Feared are they in every land5.
Where their names' renown has gone.'
In walked he, the good Dane King,
Glittering like the morning star :
' Which of ye, my Danish swains,
Will attend my friend to war ? '
33( ⇒ )
Stalked the King along the floor,
Bore a gold cup in his hand :
' Which of ye, my courtmen, will7.
Follow Wolf with shield and brand ? '
To their mouths their hats they held,
None to answer him made haste,
Save bold Vidrik Verlandson,8.
Of them all he made a jest.
It was Vidrik Verlandson
Of his comrades made a sport:
' Sure 'tis but to guzzle mead9.
We are gathered here at court.'
Wrathful Diderik straight became,
Frantic at that word he grew ;
Off he smote two warriors' heads,10.
At the King's foot them he threw.
Then spake Vidrik Verlandson,
His whole thought on honor lies :
' We'll dispatch our messenger11.
And not go in stealthy guise.'
It was youthful Hammergray
Hurried from the city gate ;
Every one on him that looked12.
Lost his voice and colour straight.
Hark away, young Hammergray,
Gold is glittering on thy breast;
Ne'er was found or hawk or hound
Could with Hammer's speed contest.
34( ⇒ )
Pearls upon his bosom shone,
Folks thereat astounded gaze :
Fowl was none beneath the sun14.
Could with youthful Hammer race.
Swift into the King's high hall
Bounded youthful Hammergray :
He was nimble at the tongue,15.
And could speak in gallant way.
' King of Brattens Vendel, hail!
And the rest that fill your hall;
Ulf Van Yern to-morrow comes16.
To avenge his father's fall.'
' Better had he be at home
Tending sheep beneath the height,
Better than a message send17.
That he hither comes to fight.
' Better had he crawl at home
Like a worm the rock beneath,
Than the war-like struggle dare18.
Where his father sank in death.
' He at home had better stay,
Crouch and shake the bush below ;
One blow only stood his sire,19.
He'll not stand me half a blow.'
' King of Brattens Vendel, hear,
Keep your tongue behind your tooth ;
Quickly grows the young whelp up,
Full of threatening fangs his mouth.'
35( ⇒ )
' In the world no warrior wight
Lives for whom I need to care,
Save 'tis Vidrik Verlandson,21.
And I trow he'll not be there.'
Answered then the Hammergray,
Answered to the Monarch's fright:
' It is Vidrik Verlandson22.
Will our army lead in fight.'
Rose a Brattens Vendel kemp,
And he shouted lustily :
' Well, full well, I Vidrik know,23.
Offspring of a blacksmith he.
' Once was I at Birtingsborg
As the kempions drank their fill,
There he played a play which lives24.
In my mind, and ever will.
' Fifteen kemps to death he smote,
And he deemed it but as game ;
Nigh at hand I gazing stood,25.
Ashy pale my cheeks became.
' Listen now, young Hammergray,
Strongly I entreat of thee,
If of Vidrik aught thou know,26.
Not to keep it hid from me.
' Sick in bed if Vidrik lay,
Nor could sword nor buckler wield,
Many a Danish swain you'd find
Would await you in the field.'
36( ⇒ )
Loudly answered then the King,
Through his veins rushed courage warm :
' I'll to-morrow, if I live,28.
Meet ye in the battle's storm.'
From beside the King's right hand
Rose a kemp, a stalwart one :
' What care we for such like foes ?29.
Vidrik 's but a blacksmith's son ? '
It was the young Hammergray,
At that word his wrath boiled o'er ;
Straight he smote the kempion dead,30.
Dead he tumbled on the floor.
Said the Monarch with a cry,
While with rage his cheek grew white :
' Why hast thou my bravest kemp31.
Smit to death before my sight ? '
Thereto answered Hammergray,
As the King he fiercely eyed :
' I could ne'er with patience hear32.
Verland's valiant son decried.'
Straight away rushed Hammergray,
Soon he stood by Vidrik knight:
' Whet your spears, and sharp your swords,33.
For the King is bent on fight.'
All the mirky night they rode
O'er the dusky heathery down,
Still a light like that of day
From their polished weapons shone.
37( ⇒ )
Over Birting's moor they rode,
And through Birting's swamp in haste ;
Full seven hundred were the kemps,35.
All in hard cuirasses cas'd.
Towards Birting on they rode,
Birting's city they rode through ;
Then they formed them in a ring,36.
And made Vidrik chief anew.
On the down their flag they pitched,
Therein you a lion may spy ;
Now must many an innocent man37.
Bid to life a long good-bye !
Long they fought with sword and bow,
Each essayed his best to do ;
From their brows burst ruddy sweat,38.
From their bucklers fire out flew.
It was then the Vendel King,
From his helm a glance he cast:
' Say, who leads that band to-day,39.
That my people fall so fast ? '
Straight replied the little page,
To the King rode next of all:
' Sir, 'tis Vidrik Verlandson,40.
Sits upon his courser tall.'
Answered one of the King's kemps,
Who had been in many fields :
' Yes, 'tis Vidrik Verlandson,
Mimmering 1 in his hand he wields.'
1 Vidrik's sword.
38( ⇒ )
Thereto made the King reply,
As another glance he throws :
' 'Gainst the shield I ill shall fight42.
Which the tongs and hammer shows.
' 'Gainst the shield I ill shall fight
Which the tongs and hammer bears,
This day I am doomed to die,43.
For fierce Vidrik no one spares.
' Heathen wight, and Christian knight,
I would fight with glad and fain ;
Only not with Verland's son,44.
For from him I scathe must gain.'
Ha ! Hurrah ! the Vendel King
In his steed the rowels drove ;
Desperate he at Vidrik went,45.
Desperate he to fell him strove.
Bravely done, thou Vendel King,
Fast and hard thy strokes are plied,
E'en, to his good saddle bow46.
Vidrik stoops his helm of pride.
' I've from thee borne eighteen blows,
They are, Sir, nor more nor fewer,
For thy kingly honor now47.
But one blow from me endure.'
' If thou eighteen blows hast borne,
Be they fewer or be they more,
I'll the self-same number take,
Gift of love can break their power.'
39( ⇒ )
Forth a silken thread he drew,
Tied it round his helm of gold :
' My heart's dear shall never hear49.
Blow of blacksmith laid me cold.'
Vidrik spake to Mimmering :
' Show thou 'rt yet for something good ;
I can say for fifteen years50.
I more fiercely have not hew'd.'
Grasped he then the hilt so hard
From his nails that blood outstarted,
On the Monarch's helm he hew'd,51.
To the navel him he parted.
Shouted Vidrik Verlandson,
Standing on the verdant height:
' Be there one of all your host52.
Who has further wish to fight ? '
Now the Brattens Vendel King
Lies out pouring blood like water :
Vengeance now has Ulf Van Yern,53.
Vengeance for his father's slaughter.
It was youthful Hammergray
Glanced around the bloody field :
' So like mice in their first sleep54.
Hushed the foemen lie, and still'd.'
Gladly back with Ulf Van Yern
Rode the Dane King's chivalry ;
For his sire avenged he thanked
Vidrik oft and fervently.
40( ⇒ )