THE WORKS OF GEORGE BORROW, VOL.7
* "Diderik and Olger the Dane."
* The base text is a redacted version of DgF 17 Bb "Kong Dideik og Holger Danske".
* The b-version (DgF 8b) is Vedel's I, Nr. 12, entitled "Sterck Tiderich oc Olger Danske" available online at Kalliope
DIDERIK AND OLGER THE DANE
WITH his eighteen brothers Diderik stark
Dwells in the hills of Bern ;
And each I wot twelve sons has got,2.
For manly feats they yearn.
He has twelve sisters, each of them
A dozen sons can show ;
Thirteen the youngest, gallant lads,3.
Of fear who nothing know.
To stand before the King a crowd
Of giant bodies move ;
I say to ye forsooth their heads4.
O'ertopped the beechen grove.
' With knights of pride we war have plied
For many, many a year ;
Of Olger, who in Denmark reigns,5.
Such mighty things we hear.
' Men talk so fain of Olger Dane
Who dwells in Jutland's fields ;
Crowned is his head with gold so red,
No tribute us he yields.'
9 ( ⇒ )
Then Swerting took a mace, and shook
That mace right furiously :
From ten times ten of Olger's men7.
I would not look to flee ! '
' Hark, Swerting, hark, of visage dark,
Esteem them not so little ;
I 'd have thee ken that Olger's men8.
Are knights of gallant mettle.
' They feel no fright for faulchions,
For arrows no dismay ;
The desperate fight is their delight,9.
They deem it children's play.'
Then cried the mighty man of Bern,
When pondered long had he :
' To Denmark we will wend, and learn10.
At home if Olger be.'
They took their route from Berner land,
They eighteen thousand were :
King Olger good they visit would,11.
And to Denmark all repair.
A messenger by Diderik sent
To Danish Olger goes :
' Say, will ye tribute pay to us,12.
Or with us bandy blows ? '
Then full of wrath King Olger grew,
Such speech he could not bear :
' Let Diderik meet us on the wold,
We'll battle with him there.
10( ⇒ )
' Tribute to pay each Dane would scorn,
He's wont himself to take it;
Our tribute ye will like but ill,14.
If ye come here to seek it.'
His kemps then gathering in a ring
The news to them he told :
' Bern's haughty lord has sent us word15.
That he'll have tribute-gold.
' He'll either tribute have, or hold
With us a bloody feud ;
But the first King he will not be16.
We have this year subdued.'
Then cried in scorn a kempion good,
King Diderik's envoy to :
' To waste our home if Berners come17.
They all hence out won't go.'
Soon as the news he heard, full glad
Was Ulf Van Yern, and gay ;
Then laughed outright bold Hogen knight18.
' Too long do they delay.'
It was Vidrik Verlandson,
High beat with joy his heart;
Then said amain Orm Ungerswayne :19.
' To meet them let us start.'
' The first man I'll be in the van,'
Sir Ivor Blue he cried :
' Nor shall ye say that I was last,'
Sir Kulden Gray replied.
11( ⇒ )
King Olger on the verdant wold
With Diderik battle join'd;
To fight they went, no jest they meant,21.
So wroth were they in mind.
Endured for three long days the fray,
And flinch would neither side ;
To help his lord each Dane his sword22.
In desperation plied.
Down ran the blood, like raging flood
Which 'neath steep hills doth pour;
Then tribute they were forced to pay23.
Who tribute asked before.
Rose in the sky the blood-reek high,
And dimmed the lustrous sun ;
'Twas sad to spy the brave men lie24.
So thick the earth upon.
In gore lay thick both men and steeds,
Dear friends were parted there ;
All did not laugh the feast who sought,25.
Too hot they found the fare.
Now tamer grown, the Berner Jutt
Thought thus himself within :
' Of us a hundred scarce remain,26.
We cannot hope to win.'
Then took he to his heels and ran,
Not often back looked he ;
To say good night forgot Swerting quite,
For Bern, for Bern they flee.
12( ⇒ )
Then Diderik turned him with a shout
That shook the vaulted skies :
' Bern, Bern 's the place for us, I guess,28.
For here no refuge lies !'
Then answered 'neath the green hill's side
The son of Verland keen :
' Ye and your host will little boast29.
Ye have in Denmark been.'
Full eighteen thousand knights were they
When out they marched from Bern ;
Wounded and worn but seventy-five
With drooping crests, return.
13( ⇒ )