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~ Historical & Classical Poetry ~

The underlying Faroese text of "Part the First" is "Skrímsla",
of "Part the Second" it is "Loka táttur".

The Lay of Skrymner

PART THE FIRST

'Twas early in the morning tide,
The truth my friends I 'm speaking,
To the green wood the boor he went
Wild roots and apples seeking.

Then rose a murky cloud amain
The merry sun retreated,
Then gladly would the boor have been
By his own chimney seated.

Then rose a murky cloud amain,
The morning turn'd to even ;
Then what would not the boor to be
By his own blaze have given.

The murky vapour's bosom booms,
Bright flashes forth are breaking ;
The boor sees Skrymner in the wood
Towards him swiftly making.

Skrymner with Odin's fury fill'd
From out the earth him reareth,
A chess-board holding in his hand
Towards the boor he steereth.

An ivory chess-board in his band
He holds of snowy whiteness,
The dies for gaming were of gold,
Of gold of ruddy brightness.

Began the Giant in this guise,
A wayward fiend accounted :
' Sit down, my friend, at chess we'll play,
To prove thy skill I Ye mounted.'

The boor replied : ' In scoff you speak,
I 'm skilled, 'tis true, in ploughing,
But chess to play I can't attempt,
Am of all games unknowing.'

The boor he fell to playing, though
He'd liefer still have bided,
And with the game it so turned out,
That victory with him sided.

These fellows they at tables play
For goods not, nor for houses,
His life, his tough neck and his neck
The Skrymner Giant loses.

' At tables me them conquer'd hast,
'Twill bring thee profit handsome ;
For with whatever thou mayst choose
My forfeit life I 'll ransom.'

' If thou from me thy life wouldst buy.
First bring me brown ale nappy,
And also wine and oldenswine,
Whate'er can make life happy.'

' Thou shalt convey to where I dwell
A castle huge of stature,
With vine-yards and with hop-grounds too
Immortal in their nature.

' The courts shall tile-ston'd be, e'en like
The pinnacle of the building,
The roof thackt o'er with lead so blue.
The best the earth is yielding.

' Of marble-stone, white marble-stone
Shall be the castle's flooring,
The walls of ivory-bone, the roof
Of cedar wood enduring.

' And there shall giant beds be seen
Upon the wide floor maden,
With phoenix feathers stuff'd, and all
With cloths and carpets laden.

' And there shall giant beds be seen,
With swan-down stuff'd and furnish'd,
With coverlets of purple cloth
And all with red gold garnish'd.

A lovely tanqué there shall be,
Good-Grip its appellation,
With sweet and costly liquors fill'd,
Renowned through every nation.

' A lovely bason there shall be
Beset with trees so thickly.
Within this place none living shall
Ailing become or sickly.

' And there no one shall sickness feel,
Till bent himself on dying,
Or I thy head dissever will,
Like hound that mad is hieing.

' And there shall no one sickness feel,
Until for death he's yearning,
Or I dissever will thy head,
Like hound that mad is turning.

' Both meats and drinks the table shall
Fast as required proffer.
' The Jutt consents to every word,
That death he might not suffer.

The boor embraced his wife, when home
He came at evening hour ;
' I've reason now to think my state
Will soon increase in power.'

The boor's wife in this guise replied,
She of her tears was lavish :
' Skrymner with thee will soon be quits,
The life from thee he'II ravish.'

The boor so peaceful slept and sound
Beside his bosom's dearie :
The Giant fell to gathering gold,
Till heart and limb were weary.

Skrymner he sped round sea and land,
He empties mines and quarries ;
A castle fill'd with precious things
To the boor's house he carries.

To where the lucky boor resides
First brings he brown ale nappy,
And also wine and oldenswine
Whate'er can make life happy.

Next he conveys to where he dwelt
A castle huge of stature,
With vine-yards and with hop-grounds too
Immortal in their nature.

The courts were tile-ston'd, even like
The pinnacle of the building,
The roof was thackt with blue, blue lead,
The best the earth was yielding.

Of marble-stone, white marble-stone
Constructed was the flooring,
The walls of ivory-bone, the roof
Of cedar wood enduring.

And there gigantic beds were seen,
Upon the wide floor maden,
With phoenix feathers stuff'd, and all
With cloths and coverlets laden.

And there gigantic beds were seen,
Stuff'd with swan-down, and furnish'd
With coverlets of purple cloth
And all with red gold garnish'd.

A lovely tanqué there was seen,
Good-Grip its appellation,
With sweet and costly liquors fill'd,
Renowned through every nation

A lovely tanqué there was seen,
With trees beset so thickly.
Within this place none living could
Ailing become or sickly.

Both meats and drinks the tablet, would
Fast at required tender.
His word the Giant did perform
Rather than life surrender.

The boor at early morn goes out.
His heart with pleasure swelling,
He sees a mighty Castle stand
Beside his humble dwelling.

The boor at early morn goes out.
Looks round him without sadness ;
The Jutt looked glum and to the bone
He scratched himself for madness.

The boor stands on the verdant field,
So plump is he and ruddy ;
They led him to the castle in,
No fault discover could he.

The boor embraced his wife, when home
He came at evening hour ;
There art ten kings, and maybe twelve,
Have less of pomp and power.

The boor was kind and free, the weak
Found shelter 'neath his pinion ;
There are ten kings, and maybe twelve,
Have less wealth and dominion.

The boor's wife is in children rich
In gold-clotb-weed and scarlet:
' O much I dread the Giant yet
Thy death yet broods, the varlet !'

Within and out all he can wish
Possesses now the peasant,
But weary, weary grows my tongue,
I 'll sing no more at present.

 

PART THE SECOND

The boor and Giant play'd game,
The Giant now the boor o'ercame.

Chorus:
O why should I bear the harp in my hand,
If the gallant won't follow me to another land ?
O why should I bear the harp in my hand,
If the gallant won't follow me to another land ?

' From thee the victory I have won,
Now I will have thy darling son.

' 'I'll have, I swear, the son from thee,
Except thou him canst hide from me. '

The boor two serving swains addrest:
' Odin to come to me request.

' Fetch Odin, King of Asa race,
He may assist us in this case.

' O would that Odin I could view,
He'd tell us what herein to do. '

Scarce, scarce had he pronounc'd the word,
When Odin stood before the board.

' O Odin, Odin ! list to me,
Conceal my darling son for me.'

Odin departed with the lad,
The boor and his wife remained so sad.

Odin lie caus'd. through Asa might,
A field to rise in one short night.

Then Odin to the stripling cried
Amidst the corn himself to hide.

Amidst the ears himself to hide,
A tiny barley corn inside.

' Remain therein, withouten care,
And when I call, to me repair.

' Remain therein and quiet be,
but when I call, come out to me.'

A head has Skrynmer, hard as horn,
A handlful seizes he of corn.

Of corn a handful off he tears.
A faulchion in his hand he bears.

Within his hand a faulchion shines,
To slay the stripling he designs.

When the lad's safety seem'd in doubt,
From the fist crept the corn grain out.

When the poor lad felt sore distrest,
Good Odin call'd him to his breast,

Odin conducted home the boy ;
The boor and wife shed tears of joy.

Behold ! I've brought ye back your son,
Now with my guardianship I 've done.'

The boor his servants two addrest :
' Haner to come to me request.

Were Haner here, he us might rede,
How with this hiding to proceed.'

Scarce, scarce had he pronounce'd the word,
When Haner stood before the hoard.

' Hear, Haner, what I say to thee :
Thou shall conceal my son for me.'

Haner departed with the lad,
The boor and wife remain'd so sad.

Haner walk'd on the verdant ground,
He saw three swans fly o'er the sound.

Eastward they flew across the tide,
They sate them down by Haner's side

Then Haner good the stripling dooms
To lie within the swan's neck-plumes.

' Lie thou therein, be not distrest,
But when I call, then seek my breast.

' Lie there, nor of thy safety doubt,
But when I call thee, straight come out.'

Skrymner strides o'er the verdant ground,
He sees three swans fly o'er the sound.

The Giant sank his knee upon,
Seiz'd of the swans the foremost one.

The foremost swan's head off he bites,
Where with the shoulders it unites.

When the poor boy began to doubt,
Fell from the mouth the feather out.

When the poor lad felt sore alarms,
Good Haner call'd him to his arms.

Haner conducted home the boy,
The boor and wife shed tears of joy.

' I bring ye back your darling son,
Now with my guardianship I 've done.'

The boor his servants two addrest:
' Lokč to come to me request.

' Were Lokč here, he us might rede
How with this hiding to proceed.'

Scarce, scarce had he pronounc'd the word,
When Lokč stood before the board.

' Ah ! little knowest thou of my need,
My son's death Skrymner has decreed.

' Hear, Lokč, what I say to thee :
Thou shalt conceal my son for me.

' Concealment for my son devise,
Let him not be the Skrymner's prize.'

' Wouldst have me save thy son from ill,
What I enjoin thou must fulfil.

' Whilst I 'm away, have thou erected,
A boat-house such as I 've projected.

' Make thou therein a window wide
And an iron club hang by its side.'

Lokč departed with the lad,
The boor and wife remain'd so sad.

To the strand Lokč took his way,
Where floating, the light shallops lay.

To the far Klak now Lokč rows,
For so the ancient story goes.

Lokč he spake not many a word,
But line and hook he cast o'erboard.

Line and hook sank in the sea,
He drew up flounders speedily.

He drew up one, he drew up two,
To catch the third cost much ado.

Lokč he bade the lad inside
One of the roe's eggs straight to hide.

' Lie thou therein, and have no cure,
But when I call, to me repair.

' Lie thou therein, and quiet be.
But when I call, come out to me.'

Lokč now rows again to land,
The Giant stood upon the strand.

The Giant spake with angry mien :
' Say, Lokč, where this night you've been.'

' I have no rest, I have no ease,
So wide 1 roam about the seas.'

Skrymner 'gan launch his iron barge,
Says Lokč : ' The surf breaks loud and large.'

Then Lokč to the Giant cries :
' I'll share with thee the enterprise.'

The Giant takes the helm in hand,
And Lokč rows now away from land.

Lokč began to row full hard,
The barge it would not move a yard.

Now by his troth good Lokč swore :
' I 'm better for the helm than oar.'

The Giant takes the oar so large.
Flies through the sea the iron barge.

The Giant rows with lusty tug,
Whilst at the helm sate Lokč sang.

To the far Klak the Giant rows,
For so the ancient story goes.

The Giant spake not many a word,
But hook and weight he cast o'erboard,

The hook and weight sunk in the sea,
He drew up flounders speedily.

He drew up one, he drew up two,
The third she cost him much ado.

Then Lokč cried with subtle thought:
' Give me the fish thou hast caught.'

The Giant answer'd : ' I know better,
No, Lokč, dear, thou slalt not get her.'

He set the fish his knees between,
Told every egg the roe within.

Told every egg the roe within,
He now made sure the swain to win.

When the poor lad began to doubt.
From the list crept the egglet out.

When the poor lad fell sore distrest,
Good Lokč call'd him to his breast :

Now sit thee down in rear of me.
Beware lest thee the Giant see.

' So lightly must thou run on land.
As to leave no trace on the sand.'

The Giant roweth to the land.
Right, right towards the yellow sand.

The Giant strains ashore to come,
Sly Lokč turn'd the prow therefrom.

The Giant push'd the stern astrand.
So lightly leapt the swain to land.

The Giant gaz'd up. up the land.
The swain was running on the sand.

The swain so light runs o'er the land.
He left no trace upon the sand.

Not so the Giant ran on land.
Knee-deep he sank within the sand.

The swain ran fast, as fast might be,
Through his sire's boat-house bounded he.

Right through the house he bounds like wind.
The Giant follow'd fast behind.

The Giant stuck in the window hole
Arid 'gainst the iron bar broke his poll.

Not idle then sly Lokč stood,
Of Skrymner's legs one off he hew'd.

The Giant made light of the matter,
Straight the wound clos'd like parted water.

Not idle crafty Lokč stood,
The other leg straight off he hew'd

Hew'd off the other leg anon
And cast between both stock and stone.

The boy beheld with joyous eyes,
The Giant sink no more to rise.

Lokč conducted home the boy,
The boor and wife shed tears of joy.

' I here return your darling son.
Now with my guardianship I've done.

' Now of my guardianship I 'm rid.
I have perform'd, as by thee bid.

' Full gallantly I 've kept my faith.
The Giant's met a bloody death.'

Translation by Henry Borrow (1803–1881), writer and traveller.

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