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Ulf Van Yern and Other Ballads

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It was youthful Ulf Van Yern   Goes before the King to stand:“To avenge my father’s death   Lend me warriors of thy band.”

“Of my kemps I’ll lend thee them   Who to follow thee consent;Ask’st thou Vidrik Verlandson   Thou wilt further thy intent.

“I will lend thee of my men,   Thou shalt have the very flower;Vidrik, and stark Diderik,   Many kemps have felt their power.

“They are heroes strong and bold   Who have battles often won;Feared are they in every land   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?”

Stalked the King along the floor,   Bore a gold cup in his hand:“Which of ye, my courtmen, will,   Follow Wolf with shield and brand?”

To their mouths their hats they held,   None to answer him made haste,Save bold Vidrik Verlandson,   Of them all he made a jest.

It was Vidrik Verlandson   Of his comrades made a sport:“Sure ’tis but to guzzle mead   We are gathered here at court.”

Wrathful Diderik straight became,   Frantic at that word he grew;Off he smote two warriors’ heads,   At the King’s foot them he threw.

Then spake Vidrik Verlandson,   His whole thought on honor lies:“We’ll dispatch our messenger   And not go in stealthy guise.”

It was youthful Hammergray   Hurried from the city gate;Every one on him that looked   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.

Pearls upon his bosom shone,   Folks thereat astounded gaze:Fowl was none beneath the sun   Could with youthful Hammer race.

Swift into the King’s high hill   Bounded youthful Hammergray:He was nimble at the tongue,   And could speak in gallant way.

“King of Brattens Vendel, hail!   And the rest that fill your hall;Ulf Van Yern to-morrow comes   To avenge his father’s fall.”

“Better had he be at home   Tending sheep beneath the height,Better than a message send   That he thither comes to fight.

“Better had he crawl at home   Like a worm the rock beneath,Than the war-like struggle dare   Where his father sank in death.

“He at home had better stay,   Crouch and shake the bush below;One blow only stood his sire,   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.”

“In the world no warrior wight   Lives for whom I need to care,Save ’tis Vidrik Verlandson,   And I trow he’ll not be there.”

Answered then the Hammergray,   Answered to the Monarch’s fright:“It is Vidrik Verlandson   Will our army lead in fight.”

Rose a Brattens Vendel kemp,   And he shouted lustily:“Well, full well, I Vidrik know,   Offspring of a blacksmith he.

“Once was I at Birtingsborg   As the kempions drank their fill,There he played a play which lives   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,   Ashy pale my cheeks became.”

“Listen now, young Hammergray,   Strongly I entreat of thee,If of Vidrik aught thou know,   Not to keep it hid from me.”

“Sick in bed if Vidrik lay,   Nor could sword nor buckler yield,Many a Danish swain you’d find   Would await you in the field.”

Loudly answered then the King,   Through his veins rushed courage warm:“I’ll to-morrow, if I live,   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...?