THE WORKS OF GEORGE BORROW, VOL.7


* "King Diderik and the Lion's Fight with the Dragon."
* The base text is a redacted version of DgF 9G "Kong Dideik og Løven".
* The G-version (DgF G) is Vedel's I, Nr. 13, entitled "Løvens og Kong Tiderichs Kamp " available at Kalliope.
 
THE SONGS OF SCANDINAVIA
 
KING DIDERIK AND THE LION'S
FIGHT WITH THE DRAGON
1.
FROM Bern rode forth King Diderik,
A stately warrior form ;
Engaged in fray he found in the way
A lion and laidly worm.1

2.
They fought for a day, they fought for two,
But ere the third was flown,
The worm outfought the beast, and brought
To earth the lion down.

3.
Then cried the lion in his need
When he the warrior saw :
' O aid me quick, King Diderik,
To 'scape the Dragon's claw.

4.
' O aid me quick, King Diderik,
For the mighty God thou fearest;
A lion save for the lion brave,
Which on thy shield thou bearest.

5.
' Come to my rescue, thou noble King,
Help, help me for thy name ;
Upon thy targe I stand at large,
Glittering like a flame.'

1 Dragon.

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AND OTHER POEMS AND BALLADS
 
6.
Long, long stood he, King Diderik,
Deep musing thereupon;
At length he cried : ' Whate'er betide,
I'll help thee, noble one.'

7.
It was Sir King Diderik,
His good sword bare he made :
With courage fraught, the worm he fought,
Till blood tinged all the blade.

8.
The gallant lord would not delay,
So fast his blows he dealt;
He hacked and gored until his sword
Was sundered at the hilt.

9.
The Lindworm took him upon her back,
The horse beneath her tongue ;
To her mountain den she hurried then
To her eleven young.

10.
The horse she cast before her young,
The man in a nook she throws :
' Assuage your greed upon the steed,
But I will to repose.

11.
' I pray ye feed upon the steed,
At present no more I can ;
When I upleap, refreshed, from sleep,
We'll feast upon the man.'

12.
It was Sir King Diderik,
In the hill he searched around ;
Then, helped by the Lord, the famous sword
Called Adelring he found.

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THE SONGS OF SCANDINAVIA
 
13.
Aye, there he found so sharp a sword,
And a knife with a golden heft:
' King Sigfred be God's grace with thee,
For here thy life was reft!

14.
' I 've been with thee in many a fight,
In many an inroad too,
But that thy doom had been in this tomb
I never, never knew.'

15.
It was Sir King Diderik
Would prove the faulchion's might;
He hewed upon the flinty stone
Till all around was light.

16.
It was the youngest Lindworm saw
The sparks the hill illume :
Who dares awake the fiery snake
In her own sleeping room ? '

17.
The Lindworm gnashed its teeth with rage,
Its grinning fangs it show'd :
' Who dares awake the mother snake
Within her own abode ? '

18.
Then spake the other little ones,
From the dark nooks of the hill:
' If from her sleep the old one leap,
'Twill fare with thee but ill.'

19.
Then answered Sir King Diderik,
His eyes with fury gleam :
' I will awake your mother snake
With chilly, chilly dream.

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AND OTHER POEMS AND BALLADS
 
20.
' Your mother she King Sigfred slew,
A man of noble line ;
I 'll on ye all avenge his fall
With this good hand of mine.'

21.
And then awaked the Lindworm old,
And on her fell such fear :
' Who thus with riot disturbs my quiet ?
What noise is this I hear ? '

22.
Then said King Diderik : 'Tis I,
And this have I to say :
O'er hill and dale, 'neath thy crooked tail,
Thou brought'st me yesterday.'

23.
' O hew me not, King Diderik,
I'll give thee all my hoard ;
'Twere best that we good friends should be,
So cast away thy sword.'

24.
' I pay no trust to thy false device,
Befool me thou wouldst fain ;
Full many hast thou destroyed ere now,
Thou never shalt again.'

25.
' Hear me, Sir King Diderik,
Forbear to do me ill,
And thee I'll guide to thy plighted bride,
She's hidden in the hill.

26.
Above by my head, King Diderik,
Is hung the little key ;
Below by my feet to the maiden sweet
Descend thou fearlessly.'

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THE SONGS OF SCANDINAVIA
 
27.
' Above by thy head, thou serpent curst,
To begin I now intend ;
Below by thy feet, as is full meet,
I soon shall make an end.'

28.
Then first the laidly worm he slew,
And then her young he smote ;
But in vain did he try from the mountain to fly,
For tongues of snakes thrust out.

29.
So then with toil in the rocky soil
He dug a trench profound,
That in the flood of serpent blood
And bane he might not be drowned.

30.
Then bann'd the good King Diderik,
On the lion he wroth became :
' Bann'd, bann'd,' said he, ' may the lion be,
Confusion be his and shame.

31.
' With subtle thought the brute has brought
On me this grievous risk ;
Which I ne'er had seen had he not been
Graved on my buckler's disk.'

32.
And when the gallant lion heard
The King bewail his hap :
' Stand fast, good lord,' the lion roared,
' While with my claws I scrap.'

33.
The lion scrapp'd, King Diderik hewed,
Bright sparks the gloom relieved ;
Unless the beast had the knight released
He 'd soon to death have grieved.

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AND OTHER POEMS AND BALLADS
 
34.
So when he had slain the laidly worm,
And her offspring all had kill'd,
Escaped the knight to the morning light,
With heavy cuirass and shield.

35.
And when he had now come out of the hill,
For his gallant courser he sighed ;
With reason good he trust him could,
For they had each other tried.

36.
'O there's no need to bewail the steed,
Which thou, Sir King, hast miss'd ;
I am thy friend, my back ascend,
And ride where'er thou list.'

37.
So he rode o'er the deepest dales,
And o'er the verdant meads ;
The knight he rode, the lion strode,
Through the dim forest glades.

38.
The lion and King Diderik
Together thenceforth remain ;
Each death had braved, and the other saved
From peril sore and pain.

39.
Where'er King Diderik rode in the fields
The lion beside him sped ;
When on the ground the knight sat down,
In his bosom he laid his head.

40.
Wherefore they call him the lion knight,
With fame that name he bore ;
Their love so great did ne'er abate
Until their dying hour.

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