* "The Expedition to Birting's Land."
* The base text is a redacted version of DgF 8 Bb "Kong Dideik i Bertingsland".
* The b-version (DgF 8b) is Vedel's I, Nr. 20, entitled "Huitting Helfredssøn oc Isald Konning" available online.
THE EXPEDITION TO BIRTING'S LAND
THE King he o'er the castle rules,
He rules o'er all the land ;
O'er many a hardy hero too,2.
With naked sword in hand.
Let the courtier govern his steed,
The boor his thatched cot,
But Denmark's King o'er castles rules,3.
For nobler is his lot.
' No one I know of in the world4.
Would me in fight abide.'
Then answered Brand Sir Viferlin,
Had been in many a land :
' Methinks I know a warrior stout5.
Would thee in fight withstand.
' He 's Isald call'd, a king is he,
In Birting's land afar ;
And he has fellows following him
With savage wolves who war.
' O he has fellows following him
'Gainst teeth of bears who fight;
The food in which he most delights7.
Is flesh of Christian wight.
' Every day in the East that dawns
His mouth he's wont to cool
With serpents, toads, and other filth,8.
That come from the hellish pool.'
As Isald sat on his throne that day
He thus was heard to cry :
' Let some one bid my little foot page9.
To come to me instantly.
' Now list to me, thou little foot page,
On my errand thee I'll send
Unto the King of Brattingsborg,10.
To whom I am no friend.
' Tell him that he must tribute pay,
Or for bloody war prepare ;
Forsooth if him in the field I meet11.
I him will little spare.'
Then answered straight the little foot page,
And a gallant answer he gave :
' My Lord, thy message I'll carry forth,12.
Though they lay me in my grave.'
In came he, the little foot page,
And stood before the board :
Now list to me, King Diderik,
My master has sent you word.
' Either tribute thou shalt pay,
As thou didst last year agree,
Or thou shalt meet us in the field,14.
And bloodshed there shall be.'
' I will not tribute pay, forsooth,
I scorn to stoop so low ;
Nay, rather unto Birting's land15.
With sword unsheathed I go.'
Then answer'd Vitting Helfredson,
And loud he laughed with glee :
' If ye fare this year into Birting's land16.
I too of the troop shall be.'
' Last year wast thou in Birting's land,
And there didst lose thy steed ;
Thou hadst better stay in Brattingsborg17.
Than again seek Birting's mead.'
' On me, if I stay in Brattingsborg,
Be every malison;
If I have no horse on which to ride,18.
I have legs on which to run.'
There rode out from Brattingsborg
So many a knight renown'd ;
The rocks were split 'neath the coursers' feet,19.
And quaked the startled ground.
There rode forth King Diderik,
The lion upon his shield ;
And there too glittered the golden crown
So far across the field.
And there rode good King Esmer's sons,21.
All men of wondrous power.
There rode the rich Count Rodengard,
A warrior stout and fine;
And there rode King Sigfred, who22.
Displayed a monarch's sign.
Then followed Siward Snarenswayne,
With many arrows white ;
And then came Brand Sir Viferlin,23.
Who never fled from fight.
And next rode Hero Hogen,
He looked a rose so brave ;
And then rode Folker Spillemand,24.
In his hand a naked glaive.
Then rode the bold young Ulf Van Yern
A glorious horse upon ;
Behind him young Sir Humble rode,25.
And then Sir Sigfredson.
And then rode Gunther and Gernot,
With arrow on bended bow ;
And there rode Sonne Folkerson,26.
With courage upon his brow.
And there rode Seyer the active,
Who yields to none in might.
And then came master Hildebrand,
As though to his courser fixt;
The stalwart friar Alsing rode,28.
The ancient hero next.
There rode Orm the Ungerswayne,
So bold of heart was he ;
So joyous were they every one,29.
And sure of victory.
Out galloped they all from Brattingsborg,
As fast as they could speed ;
But Vitting bold came running behind,30.
Because he had no steed.
It was hardy Angelfyr,
To Guncelin he cried :
' O, he must on his bare legs run31.
Who has no horse to ride ! '
And still ran Vitting, and still ran he,
Till with wrath he nigh was wode ;
Then he struck a warrior from his horse32.
And sat himself on, and rode.
It was Sir King Diderik,
He back a glance did throw :
' O yonder I see the courtier ride33.
Who on foot was wont to go.
' Hear thou, Vitting Helfredson,
Thou art a warrior bold ;
Thou shalt hie forward to Birting's land,
And demand the tribute gold.
' With thee shall Vidrik Verlandson,
And Diderik knight of Bern ;
Of all my troop they are best at blows,35.
And most for battle yearn.'
They set themselves upon their steeds,
And away they rode like wind ;
The knights they roared, and their steeds they gored,36.
For wroth were they in mind.
The watchman stood on the battlement
From whence he far could see :
' Yonder I warriors three espy37.
Who wrathful seem to be.
' The one is Vitting Helfredson
Who lost his steed last year ;
That a rugged guest he'll prove to us38.
We have full cause to fear.
' The second is Vidrik Verlandson,
As the tongs and hammer shew ;
The third is Diderik Van Bern,39.
All warriors good, I trow.'
They left their steeds in the castle yard,
To the castle strode they in ;
Then might each man by their faces see40.
A fray would soon begin.
Upon the porter they laid their hands,
And him to pieces hew'd ;
Then in they strode to the high, high hall,
And before the King they stood.
Then up rose Isald the King in rage,
And thus the King did cry :
' Our sharp spears, if we ply them well,43.
Will drive them out with speed.'
It was Vitting Helfredson,
By the beard the skinker has ta'en ;
He smote him a blow the ear below,44.
Which dashed out half his brain.
He flung the dead corse on the board,
And a merry jest had he :
' Who'll baste,' said Vitting Helfredson,45.
' This precious roast for me ? '
Then forth stepped Diderik Van Bern,
And, brandishing his glaive,
He hewed upon King Isald's head,46.
And him to the navel clave.
And forth stepped Vidrik Verlandson,
And round began to hew ;
Heads and arms were smitten off47.
As round and round he flew.
In came King Isald's mother grey,
With an eldritch scream she came ;
I tell to ye in verity
There ensued a wondrous game.
Vitting struck her with his sword,
A very fearful stroke ; But she kissed
asunder the good sword,49.
Into pieces three it broke.
With a single kiss of the witch's mouth
Was shivered the trusty sword ;
Vitting the hag by the weazand seized,50.
Without a single word.
The beldame changed herself to a crane,
And flew to the clouds on high ;
But Vitting donned a feather robe,51.
And pursued her through the sky.
They flew for a day, they flew for three,
Bold Vitting and the crane ;
Then Vitting seized the crane by the legs,52.
And her body rent in twain.
Homeward now, with sword in hand,
The valiant comrades wended :
All the Birting kemps are dead,53.
And the adventure ended.
8( ⇒ )