THE WORKS OF GEORGE BORROW, VOL.7


* "Rosmer Mereman."
* The base text is a redacted version of DgF 41 Ab "Rosmer".
* The A-version (DgF 41A,b is Vedel's II, Nr. 6, entitled "Rosmer Haffmand " available online at Kalliope.
 
AND OTHER POEMS AND BALLADS
 
ROSMER MEREMAN
IN Denmark once a lady dwelt,
Hellelil the name she bore ;
A castle new that lady built,
It shone all Denmark o'er.

Her daughter dear was stolen away,
She sought for her far and near ;
The more she sought the less she found,
To her great distress and care.

She bid a noble ship be built,
Therein gilt masts did stand ;
With valiant knights and courtmen bold
She caused it to be manned.

Her sons she followed to the strand,
With many a fond caress ;
For eight long years they sailed away,
Enduring much distress.

For eight long years had they sailed away,
So long they thought the tide,
When they sailed before a lofty hill,
And straight to land they hied.

133( ⇒ )

 
THE SONGS OF SCANDINAVIA
 
Then peeped the Damsel Swanelil
Forth from the mountain brow :
' O whence can be these stranger swains,
As guests that seek us now ? '

The youngest brother then replied,
So ready of speech was he :
' A widow's three poor sons we are,
So long we 've sailed the sea.

' Dame Hellelil our mother is,
We were born on Denmark's ground ;
From us our sister stolen was,
And her we have yet not found.'

' If thou wert born on Danish ground,
And Dame Hellelil be thy mother,
Then I thy beloved sister am
And thou art my youngest brother.

' Now do thou hear, my youngest brother,
Why didst not at home remain ?
If thou hadst a thousand thousand lives
Thou none of them couldst retain.'

She placed him in the smallest nook
She could in the house espy :
She bade him for sake of the highest God,
Neither to laugh nor cry.

Rosmer came from the ocean home,
And straight he fell to bann :
' O I can smell by my right hand
That here is a Christian man.'

134( ⇒ )

 
AND OTHER POEMS AND BALLADS
 
' A Bird with a dead man's shank in its mouth
Chanced over our house to fly ;
He cast it in, I cast it out,
And that full speedily.'

A noble meal she then prepared,
And she gave him many a kiss :
' O here is come my sister's son,
It would grieve me him to miss.

' My sister's son is here arrived
From the land where I first drew breath ;
Now give him, my lord, thy firm, firm oath,
Thou'lt do unto him no scathe.'

' If here has come thy sister's son
From the native land of both,
To do him ne'er any kind of hurt,
I swear by my highest oath.'

It was the lofty Rosmer King
To two serving swains did call:
' Bid ye proud Swanelil's sister's son .
Attend me in the hall.'

It was Swanelil's sister's son,
Before Rosmer should appear ;
His heart it fluttered, his body it shivered,
He stood in such mighty fear.

Then took Rosmer her sister's son,
Placed him upon his knee ;
He stroked him so tenderly on the face
That 'twas yellow and blue to see.

135( ⇒ )

 
THE SONGS OF SCANDINAVIA
 
Then answered proud Dame Swanelil:
' Thou forget'st, Sir Rosmer, mayhap,
Thou hast not fingers small enough
To stroke so little a chap.'

And he was there till the years were five,
Then he longed for his native land :
' Now cause, O sister Swanelil,
That I 'm set on the yellow strand.'

It was proud Dame Swanelil
'Fore Rosmer goes to stand :
' The swain so long has been by the sea,
That he sighs for his native land.'

' If the swain has been so long by the sea
That he sighs for his native land,
I will give him a chest of gold,
To be subject to his hand.'

' Wilt thou give him a chest of gold,
To be subject to his hand ?
Hear thou now, my noble heart's dear,
Take him to his native land.'

It was proud Dame Swanelil,
So cunning a trick she played ;
She took thereout the ruddy gold all,
And herself in the chest she laid.

He took the man upon his back,
And the chest in his mouth he's ta'en ;
And so he went the long, long way
Across the land and the main.

136( ⇒ )

 
AND OTHER POEMS AND BALLADS
 
' Now have I borne thee to thy land,
Thou seest both sun and moon ;
I conjure thee by the highest God
Name Swanelil to none.'

Rosmer sprang into the sea amain,
The water splashed to the sky ;
And when he came to the mountain home
No Swanelil could he spy.

When he came to the mountain home,
Gone was the belov'd of his heart;
He sprang so wild about the hill,
And changed to a flint rock swart.

There was rejoicing in Hellelil's court,
They rejoiced in many a way ;
Back to their friends her children are come,
Who had been so long away.

137( ⇒ )


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