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The Verner Raven; The Count of Vendel's Daughter and Other Ballads

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The Raven he flies in the evening tide,   He in day dares not intrude;Whoever is born to have evil luck   In vain may seek for good.

Lustily flies the Verner Raven,   High o’er the wall he’s flown,For he was aware that Irmindlin fair   Sate in her bower alone.

He southward flew, and he northward flew,   He flew high up in the cloud;And he beheld May Irmindlin   Who sorrowing sate and sew’d.

“Now hear me, little Irmindlin,   Why weep in this piteous way?For father or mother, or is it for brother,   That adown thy cheek tears stray?”

It was Damsel Irmindlin,   Swift out of the window looked she:“O who is he that will comfort me,   And list to my misery?

“Hear thou, wild Raven, bird of Death,   Fly thou hither down to me;And all my trouble and all my care   I’ll straight relate to thee.

“My father gave me the son of a king,   We were fitted the one for the other,But he was into the Austrian land   Dispatched by my cruel step-mother.

“So happily we should together have lived,   For he my whole love won;But she wished to give me her sister’s son,   Who was liker a fiend than a man.

“I had a gallant brother once,   Sir Verner by name was he,But he was transformed by my cruel step-dame   And driven to a strange countrie.”

“Hear thou, Damsel Irmindlin,   What wilt thou give me, say?I’ll carry thee straight to thy plighted youth,   If with me thou wilt fly away.”

“Thou shalt from me the ruddy gold,   And the silver white receive;If thou bear me to my Bridegroom bold,   And me from my woe relieve.”

“Keep thou thyself thy silver and gold,   Such gifts I do not crave;The first son thou conceivest of him,   That, that from thee I’ll have.”

Then straight she took the Raven’s foot,   Laid that her white hand upon;She swore to him by her Christian faith,   That he should have the son.

Then took he Damsel Irmindlin,   He placed her on his back;Then flew he over the wild sea waves   As fast as he could track.

It was the Verner Raven wild,   On the turret he alighted:“Now sit we, Damsel, upon the house,   Where dwells thy Bridegroom plighted.”

Out came bold Sir Nilaus,   A silver cup in his hand:“Be welcome, Damsel Irmindlin,   Here to this foreign land!

“What shall I give to thee, Raven wild,   That hast brought to me my Bride?No better tidings I have heard,   Since from Denmark forth I hied.”

Thanks be to brave Sir Nilaus,   He kept his faith so well;The Monday next that followed,   His bridal it befell.

They their bridal solemnised   With glee and utmost joy;When forty weeks away had flown   She brought into the world a boy.

It was the Verner Raven,   Perched on the turret tall:“What thou did’st promise me, Irmindlin,   To thy mind I’d have thee call.”

So sorely she wept, and her hands she smote,   Because it a girl was not:“Thee shall the wild Death Raven have,   That will cost thee thy life, I wot!”

There came flying over the house   The Raven, with looks to scare;So sorely then wept both Maidens and Dames,   And their hands wrung in despair.

Sir Nilaus went, and proffered the bird   Proud castles many a one;He proffered him even the half of his land   If he only might keep his son.

“If I get not the little babe,   Thou sorely shall rue it straight,Thee I limb from limb will tear   And thy kingdom devastate.”

She has taken the babe, and in linen white   Hath wrapped it tenderly;“Farewell, farewell, my dearest son,   Thou owest thy death to me.”

Then bore they out the little babe,   On its mother’s breast that lay;O’er the cheeks of all did big tears fall,   Such woe was and wail that day....