King's daughter sitting in tower so high,
Fair summer is on many a shield.
Why weepest thou as the clouds go by?
Fair sing the swans 'twixt firth and field.
Why weepest thou in the window-seat
Till the tears run through thy fingers sweet?

The King's Daughter.

I weep because I sit alone
Betwixt these walls of lime and stone.
Fair folk are in my father's hall,
But for me he built this guarded wall.
And here the gold on the green I sew
Nor tidings of my true-love know.

The Raven.

King's daughter, sitting above the sea,
I shall tell thee a tale shall gladden thee.
Yestreen I saw a ship go forth
When the wind blew merry from the north.
And by the tiller Steingrim sat,
And O, but my heart was glad thereat!
For 'twixt ashen plank and dark blue sea
His sword sang sweet of deeds to be.

The King's Daughter.

O barren sea, thou bitter bird,
And a barren tale my ears have heard.

The Raven.

Thy father's men were hard thereby
In byrny bright and helmet high.

The King's Daughter.

O worser waxeth thy story far,
For these drew upon me bolt and bar.
Fly south, O fowl, to the field of death
For nothing sweet thy grey neb saith.

The Raven.

O, there was Olaf the lily-rose,
As fair as any oak that grows.

The King's Daughter.

O sweet bird, what did he then
Among the spears of my father's men?

The Raven.

'Twixt ashen plank and dark blue sea,
He sang: My true love waiteth me.

The King's Daughter.

As well as this dull floor knows my feet,
I am not weary yet, my sweet.

The Raven.

He sang: As once her hand I had,
Her lips at last shall make me glad.

The King's Daughter.

As once our fingers met, O love,
So shall our lips be fain thereof.

The Raven.

He sang: Come wrack and iron and flame,
For what shall breach the wall but fame?

The King's Daughter.

Be swift to rise and set, O Sun,
Lest life 'twixt hope and death be done.

The Raven.

King's daughter sitting in tower so high,
A gift for my tale ere forth I fly,
The gold from thy finger fair and fine,
Thou hadst it from no love of thine.

The King's Daughter.

By my father's ring another there is,
I had it with my mother's kiss.
Fly forth, O fowl, across the sea
To win another gift of me.
Fly south to bring me tidings true,
Fair summer is on many a shield.
Of the eve grown red with the battle-dew,
Fair sing the swans 'twixt firth and field.

The Raven.

King's daughter sitting in tower so high,
Fair summer is on many a shield.
Tidings to hearken ere thou die,
Fair sing the swans 'twixt firth and field.
In the Frankish land the spear points met,
And wide about the field was wet.
And high ere the cold moon quenched the sun,
Blew Steingrim's horn for battle won.

The King's Daughter.

Fair fall thee fowl! Tell tidings true
Of deeds that men that day did do.

The Raven.

Steingrim before his banner went,
And helms were broke and byrnies rent.

The King's Daughter.

A doughty man and good at need;
Tell men of any other's deed?

The Raven.

Where Steingrim through the battle bore
Still Olaf went a foot before.

The King's Daughter.

O fair with deeds the world doth grow!
Where is my true-love gotten now?

The Raven.

Upon the deck beside the mast
He lieth now, and sleepeth fast.

The King's Daughter.

Heard'st thou before his sleep began
That he spake word of any man?

The Raven.

Methought of thee he sang a song,
But nothing now he saith for long.

The King's Daughter.

And wottest thou where he will wend
With the world before him from end to end?

The Raven.

Before the battle joined that day
Steingrim a word to him did say:
"If we bring the banner back in peace,
In the King's house much shall my fame increase;
Till there no guarded door shall be
But it shall open straight to me.
Then to the bower we twain shall go
Where thy love the golden seam doth sew.
I shall bring thee in and lay thine hand
About the neck of that lily-wand.
And let the King be lief or loth
One bed that night shall hold you both."
Now north belike runs Steingrim's prow,
And the rain and the wind from the south do blow.

The King's Daughter.

Lo, fowl of death, my mother's ring,
But the bridal song I must learn to sing.
And fain were I for a space alone,
For O the wind, and the wind doth moan.
And I must array the bridal bed,
Fair summer is on many a shield.
For O the rain, and the rain drifts red!
Fair sing the swans 'twixt firth and field.

Before the day from the night was born,
Fair summer is on many a shield.
She heard the blast of Steingrim's horn,
Fair sing the swans 'twixt firth and field.
Before the day was waxen fair
Were Steingrim's feet upon the stair.
"O bolt and bar they fall away,
But heavy are Steingrim's feet to-day."
"O heavy the feet of one who bears
The longing of days and the grief of years!
Lie down, lie down, thou lily-wand
That on thy neck I may lay his hand.
Whether the King be lief or loth
To-day one bed shall hold you both.
O thou art still as he is still,
So sore as ye longed to talk your fill.
And good it were that I depart,
Now heart is laid so close to heart.
For sure ye shall talk so left alone
Fair summer is on many a shield.
Of days to be below the stone."
Fair sing the swans 'twixt firth and field.

References

This Project Gutenberg etext [number 3468] was produced by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk, from the 1896 Longmans, Green and Co. edition. GPL converted it to HTML for the Victorian Web in August 2004 and to CSS in December 2006.


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Last modified 27 August 2004