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Marsk Stig's Daughters and other Songs and Ballads

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Two daughters fair the Marshal had,O grievous was their fate and sad.

The eldest she took her sister’s handAnd away they went to Sweden’s land.

Home from the Stevn King Byrgye rode;Up to him Marsk Stig’s daughters trode.

“What women ye who beset my gate?What brings ye hither at eve so late?”

“Daughters of Stig, the Marshal brave,So earnestly thee for help we crave.”

“Hence, hence away, ye outcasts two,Your sire accurst my uncle slew.”

“Guiltless are we of Erik’s blood,So wide we wander in quest of food.”

The eldest she takes her sister’s hand,And away they went into Norway’s land.

Home from the Ting King Erik rodeUp to him Marsk Stig’s daughters trode.

“What women are ye whom here I view,And what may ye in my country do?”

“Daughters of Stig, the Marshal braveSo earnestly thee for help we crave.”

“To brew and bake full well ye know”—“Alas, Sir King, not so, not so.

“To brew and bake we do not know,We never stoop’d to employ so low.

“To spin red gold that is our pride,Our mother taught us ere she died.

“And we can weave galloon as wellAs the maidens with the Queen that dwell.

“We can weave red gold with wool,But oh, our hearts with grief are full.

“Had Marsk Stig stay’d in Denmark green,Different far our fate had been.

“Had Ingeborg not chanc’d to die,We had not borne this misery.”

King Erik replied in gentle tone:“I knew your father like my own;

“He was a man in heart and hand,Whose like lives not in any land.”

O’er them he threw his mantle red,To the ladies’ chamber them he led.

He bade them no more tears to shed,For he would stand in their father’s stead.

The eldest sister began the weft,The youngest finished what she left.

In the first lace she wove so trueThe Virgin Mary and Christ Jesu.

And in the second of Norway landShe wove the Queen and her maiden band.

Of the antler’d hart they wove the chase,They wove themselves with pallid face.

They wove with nimble fingers smallOf God the holy Angels all.

The youngest sister the woof up caught,And that before the Queen she brought.

Then into her eyes the tears they came,“Thou art not our Mother, Queenly Dame.

“Wert thou our mother or sister dear,With praises thou our hearts wouldst cheer.

“But in thine eye no praise I see,Misfortune is our destiny.”

The eldest sicken’d, and sick she lay,The youngest tended her night and day.

The eldest died of grief of heart,The youngest liv’d with sorrow and smart.


There are three for my death that now pine,   Though one and all wondrous civil;Would that all of them hung on a line,   My children, the worms, and the Devil.

My body, my soul, and my gear,   When down to the grave I descend,The three hope among them to share,   And to revel on time without end.

But there is not one of the three,   To the others though kindly affected,For both of their shares would agree   To resign his own portion expected.

The Devil, so harsh and austere,   Who only in evil hath joy,Would scorn to take body and gear   For my soul, that sweet beautiful toy.

My children would rather possess   The gear I have toil’d so to gather,Though for me fervent love they profess,   Than the body and soul of their father.

The worms, though my children will make   A lament when I’m laid in the hole,Would my body in preference take   To my gear or my beautiful soul.

Oh, Christ!...