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IF THE Lay of Eric was “made to order” by an unknown poet, as the eulogium of an unpopular, though brave, king, the Lay of Hákon is composed by the best-known of Norwegian skalds, unquestionably of his own accord, to commemorate his generally beloved leader. Hence the warmth of feeling, the note of personal loss, which pervades this splendid poem.
Hákon, surnamed the Good, a child of Harold Hairfair’s old age, had been fostered by King Æthelstan of England, and thus brought up a Christian. After overthrowing his half brother Eric he tried to introduce the new faith, but met with stubborn opposition and had to desist in order to keep his throne. He is described as an ideal ruler for the times, handsome, generous, warlike though not aggressive, during whose reign of twenty-six years Norway enjoyed comparative peace and good harvests. He repelled several attempts of the sons of Eric to repossess themselves of the kingdom with the help of the Danes, but was wounded in a (victorious) battle against them on the island of Storth in southwest Norway (961) and died soon thereafter.
The poet Eyvind Finnsson was himself a distant relative of the king. We know that he lived in moderate circumstances and was a man of character. His (much-debated) epithet of skáldaspillir seems to mean “despoiler of skalds”; and if so, must have been given him by his enemies who readily fastened on the fact that his best works, Hákonarmól and Háleygiatal—the latter a long genealogical poem—are quite evidently patterned, the one after Eiriksmól, the other, after Ynglingatal, by the earlier poet, Thióthólf of Hvin.
If, notwithstanding this lack of original inspiration, the Lay of Hákon has been generally admired, then as well as now, this is due, not only to the genuine warmth and sincerity, but also to the superior artistry which makes it, all in all, perhaps the finest monument of its kind erected by Northern antiquity.
Central, and similar down to details, in both Eiriksmól and Hákonarmól, is the hero-king’s advent in Valholl; but whereas the former does not change scene (and thus achieves greater unity) the latter, with richer content, shifts from earth to heaven and back again to earth as it ebbs in the poet’s plaint over the loss of the peerless king. Also in style Hákonarmól shows more variety—consciously striven for. Thus, the straightforward and sober style of the narrative stanzas contrasts with the typically skaldic, baroque overloading of the battle-scene, clamorous with gorgeous and bizarre kennings, and that again with the highly charged dramatic force of the dialogues and the elegiac sorrow of the final dirge. The meter likewise shows a carefully considered correspondence to the style and theme—simple, impressive lióthaháttr for the epic-dramatic and lyric portions, against the martial tramp and blare of málaháttr descriptive of the carnage.
Eyvind had no doubt both a political and an apologetic aim with his poem: it was to be a counterblast to Eiriksmól and outdo it in splendor, but also to save the king’s good heathen reputation. If Hákon at his entrance in Valholl is suspicious of Óthin’s attitude and refuses to abandon his arms, he has abundant cause to fear the god’s wrath—his abortive defection from the heathen cause. And the good reception accorded him because he had “protected” the heathen fanes which, in fact, he had been powerless to destroy, may not have been altogether convincing to his contemporaries.1 Also the heathen trappings, the copious reminiscences from such arch heathen poems as Voluspó and Hóvamól, the interest in the king shown by the valkyries, the delegation to receive him composed of the gods Bragi and Hermóth—the same who was to fetch Baldr back from Hel2—all seem deliberately chosen to link the king with the old religion and to rehabilitate him in the eyes of his people.
The complete poem is found in Snorri Sturlason’s History of the Norwegian Kings (Heimskringla), at the end of Hákonarsaga gótha. Portions of it are transmitted also in Fagrskinna.
Note: There are numbered references in the following Lay. The explanations for these can be found in the FOOTNOTES section
1 Gautatýr3 sent forth Gondul and Skogul4 to choose among kings’ kinsmen: who of Yngvi’s offspring5 should with Óthin dwell,and wend with him to Valholl.
2 They found Biorn’s brother6 his byrnie donning, under standard standing the stalwart leader—were darts uplifted and spearshafts lowered; up the strife then started.
3 Called on Hálogaland’s7 heroes and Horthaland’s wordsmen the Northmen’s folkwarder, ere he fared to battle: a good host had he of henchmen from Norway—the Danes’-terror donned his bronze-helm.8
4 Threw down his war-weeds, thrust off his byrnie9 the great-hearted lord, ere began the battle—laughed with his liege-men; his land would he shield now,10 the gladsome hero ’neath old-helm standing.
5 Cut then keenly the king’s broadsword through foemen’s war-weeds, as though water it sundered.11 Clashed then spear-blades, cleft were war-shields; did ring-decked12 war-swords rattle on helmets.
6 Were targes trodden by the Týr-of-shields,13 by the hard-footed hilt-blade, and heads eke of Northmen; battle raged on the island,14 athelings reddened the shining shield-castles15 with shedded life-blood,
7 Burned the wound-fires16 in bloody gashes, were the long-beards17 lifted against the life of warriors—the sea-of-wounds18 surged high around the swords’ edges,ran the stream-of-arrows18 on the strand of Storth-isle.
8 Reddened war-shields rang ’gainst each other, did Skogul’s-stormblasts19 scar red targes; billowed blood-waves in the blast-of-Óthin20—was many a man’s son mowed down in battle.
9 Sate21 then the liege-lords with swords brandished, with shields shattered and shredded byrnies: not happy in their hearts was that host of men, and to Valholl wended their way.
10 Spoke then Gondul, on spearshaft leaning: “groweth now the gods’ following,22 since Hákon hath been with host so goodly hidden home by holy gods.”
11 Heard the war-lord what the valkyries spoke of, high-hearted, on horsehack—wisely they bore them, sitting war- helmeted, and with shields them sheltering.
12 “Why didst Geirskogul,23 grudge us victory? Yet worthy were we that the gods granted it.”
13 “ ’Tis owing to us that the issue was won and your foemen did flee.
14 Ride forth now shall we,” said fierce Skogul, “to the green homes of the godheads,—there to tell Óthin that the atheling will now come to see him himself.”
15 “Hermóth and Bragi!” called out Hróptatýr:24 “Go ye to greet the hero; for a king cometh who hath keenly foughten, to our halls hither.”
16 Said the war-worker, wending from battle—was his byrnie all bloody: “Angry-minded Óthin meseemeth.Be we heedful of his hate!”
17 “All einheriar shall swear oaths to thee: share thou the æsir’s ale, thou enemy-of-earls!25 Here within hast thou brethren eight,” said Bragi.
18 “Our gear of war,” said the goodly king, “we mean to keep in our might. helmet and hauberk one should heed right well: ’tis good to guard one’s spear.”26
19 Then was it seen how that sea-king had upheld the holy altars, since Hákon all did hail with welcome, both gods and heavenly hosts.
20 On a good day is born that great-souled lord who hath a heart like his; aye will his times be told of on earth, and men will speak of his might.27
21 Unfettered will fare the Fenriswolf, and fall on the fields of men, ere that there cometh a kingly lord as good, to stand in his stead.28
22 Cattle die and kinsmen die,29 land and lieges are whelmed; since Hákon to the heathen gods fared many a host is harried.30
From OLD NORSE POEMS
URL: @ Publisher’s Discount http://abelapublishing.com/old-norse-poems_p31498693.htm
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1 Though we may in this stanza also see a reflection on his successors who ravaged the sanctuaries and hid the gold.
2 Cf. Baldr’s Dreams.
3 “The God of the Gauts.” i.e., Óthin.
5 Yngvi generally stands for Freyr in his capacity of progenitor of the Swedish kings. Here, however, he stands for Óthin, the progenitor of the royal race of Norway.
6 Hákon. Biorn was one of the many sons of Harold Fairhair.
7 Cf. Haraldskvæthi, note 37. Horthaland is here substituted for the Rogaland of the text. It is directly south of the latter.
8 The change to the golden helmet (in the next stanza) has been referred to an episode of the battle as told by Snorri: “Hákon was more easily recognized than other men, and his helmet glittered when the sun shone on it. He always was in the thick of the fray. Then Eyvind Finnsson (our poet) drew a hood over it. Whereupon Eyvind skreya (one of the enemy) cried out: ‘Is the king of Norway hiding now, or has he fled—else where is his golden helmet?’ The king shouted: ‘Come forward hither if you would find the King of Norway,’ and in the ensuing hand-to-hand fight cleft his skull with his sword.”
9 This was not uncommon with fierce warriors, in the heat of battle.
10 Viz., against the sons of Eric.
11 At his departure from England, his foster father, King Æthelstan, gave him the sword Quernbiter with which Hákon is said to have cut a millstone in two.
12 Swords frequently had rings on the hilt, for carrying.
13 The following stanzas are examples of Skaldic style overloaded with kennings; though not as complicated and disjointed as was believed until recently. The Týr (god)-of-shields (or rings) is a kenning for “warrior.” In ordinary language the first part of the stanza says that the shields and the heads of Northmen were trodden (hewed) by the hardened steel of the king (Kock).
14 Viz., of Storth.
15 The serried shields thrown about the king.
16 Kenning for “sword.”
17 Kenning for “battle-axe.”
18 Kenning for “blood.”
19 I.e., the mutual attacks. The difficulties, both of interpretation and translation, are considerable.
20 Kenning for “battle.”
21 Viz., dying.
22 Cf. Eiriksmól, 7, note, for the conception implied.
23 I.e., Spear-Skogul.
24 “God of gods,” i.e., Óthin.
26 Cf. Hovamól, 1. I follow Kock’s suggestion.
27 There is reference here, probably, to his favor with the gods, manifest in good harvests and general prosperity.
28 Cf. Voluspó 36, 54: not till the end of the world will a better ruler come.
29 Patently, a reminiscence of the famous stanzas 77, 78 of Hóvamól.
30 This is, very likely, an allusion to the lawless times that followed the reign of Hákon.
Herein are 32 Victorian Christmas poems and stories for children. The 16 stories are drawn from that bountiful library of French, Spanish and English authors. You will find stories like:
THE CHRISTMAS CUCKOO,
THE PRINCESS AND THE RAGAMUFFIN and
THE YULE LOG.
There are even three relatively unknown Christmas stories from the pen of that master of storytelling – CHARLES DICKENS.
The 16 Christmas poems are an extract from THE BELLS OF CHRISTMAS by various poets collated by Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora Archibald Smith originally published in 1906 with poems like Let the Holly Be Hung by Frank Dempster Sherman, The Adoration of the Wise Men by Cecil Frances Alexander and The Christmas Silence by Margaret Deland.
So download and read this volume of festive goodwill which brings out the real meaning of Christmas.
eBook Link on Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Various_A_VICTORIAN_CHRISTMAS?id=3JikDQAAQBAJ
Below is a FREE excerpt:
CHRISTMAS IN THE FOREST.
From the French of André Theuriet.
Christmas Eve that year was bleak and cold, and the village seemed benumbed. The houses were closed hermetically, and so were the stables, from which came the muffled sound of animals chewing the cud. From time to time the clacking of wooden shoes on the hardened ground resounded through the deserted streets, then a door was hastily opened and closed, and all relapsed into silence. It was evident from the thick smoke rising through the chimneys into the gray air that every family was huddled around its hearth while the housewife prepared the Christmas supper. Stooping forward, with their legs stretched out to the fire, their countenances beaming with pleasure at the prospect of the morrow’s festival and the foretaste of the fat and juicy blood-sausages, the peasants laughed at the north wind that swept the roads, at the frost that powdered the trees of the forest, and the ice that seemed to vitrify the streams and the river. Following their example, my friend Tristan and I spent the livelong day in the old house of the Abbatiale at the corner of the hearth, smoking our pipes and reading poetry. At sundown we had grown tired of seclusion and determined to venture out.
“The forest must be a strange sight with this heavy frost,” said I to Tristan. “Suppose we take a turn through the wood after supper; besides, I must see the sabotiers from Courroy about a little matter.”
So we pulled on our gaiters, stuffed our pipes, wrapped ourselves in our cloaks and mufflers, and penetrated into the wood.
We walked along cheerfully over the rugged, hardened soil of the trenches furrowed with deep, frozen ruts. Through the copse on either side we saw mysterious white depths. After a damp night the north wind had transformed the mists and vapors that overhung the branches into a tangle of snowy lace. In the half light of the gloaming we could still distinguish the sparkling needles of the junipers, the frosted puffs of the clematis, the bluish crystallizations of the beech, and the silver filigree of the nut-trees. The silence was broken by the occasional creaking of the frozen limbs, and every now and then a breath of impalpable white dust dampened our cheeks as it melted there.
We walked along at a steady pace, and in less than an hour caught sight of the red and flickering glow of the sabotiers’ camp pitched on the edge of the forest above a stream that flowed down toward the valley of Santonge. The settlement consisted of a spacious, cone-shaped, dirt-coated hut and a cabin with board walls carefully sealed with moss. The hut answered the combined purposes of dormitory and kitchen; the cabin was used for the stowing away of tools and wooden shoes, and also for the two donkeys employed in the transportation of goods. The sabotiers, masters, apprentices, friends, and children were seated on beech logs around the fire in front of the hut, and their mobile silhouettes formed intensely black profiles against the red of the fire. Three short posts driven into the ground and drawn together at the top formed the crane, from which hung an iron pot that simmered over the coals. An appetizing odor of stewed hare escaped from the tin lid as it rose and fell under the puffs of vapor. The master, a lively, nervous, hairy little man, welcomed us with his usual cordiality.
“Sit down and warm yourselves,” said he. “You find us preparing the Christmas supper. I’m afraid we’ll not sleep over soundly to-night. My old woman is ill. I’ve fixed her a bed in the cabin where she’ll be more comfortable, and warmer on account of the animals. My boy has gone to Santonge to get the doctor. There’s no time to be lost. My little girl is kept busy running from the cabin to the hut.”
We had no sooner taken our seats around the fire than the snowflakes began to whirl about in the stillness above us. They fell so thick and fast that in less than a quarter of an hour we were compelled to protect the fire with a hurdle covered with sackcloth.
“By my faith! gentlemen,” said the sabotier, “you’ll not be able to start out again in this storm. You’ll have to stay and have your Christmas supper with us,—and taste of our stew.”
The weather was certainly not tempting, and we accepted the invitation. Besides, the adventure amused us, and we were delighted at the prospect of a Christmas supper in the heart of the forest. An hour later we were in the hut, and by the light of a miserable little candle-end we had our Christmas supper, devouring our hare-stew with a sharp appetite and washing it down with a draught of unfermented wine that scraped our throats. The snow fell thicker and thicker, wrapping the forest in a soft white wadding that deadened every sound. Now and then the sabotier rose and went into the cabin, then came back looking worried, listening anxiously for the good woman from Santonge. Suddenly a few metallic notes, muffled by the snow, rose softly from the depth of the valley. A similar sound from an opposite direction rang out in answer, then followed a third and a fourth, and soon a vague confusion of Christmas chimes floated over the forest.
Our hosts, without interrupting the process of mastication and while they passed around the wine-jug, tried to recognize the various chimes by the fulness of the sounds.
“Those—now—those are the bells from Vivey. They are hardly any louder than the sound of the donkey’s hoofs on the stones.”
“That is the bell of Auberive!”
“Yes; and that peal that sounds like the droning of a swarm of beetles, that’s the Grancey chimes.”
During this discussion Tristan and I began to succumb to the combined action of warmth and fully satisfied appetite. Our eyes blinked, and before we knew it we fell asleep on the moss of the hut, lulled by the music of the Christmas chimes. A piercing shriek followed by a sound of joyful voices woke us with a start.
It had ceased snowing. The night was growing pale, and through the little skylight we could see above the fleecy trees a faint light in the sky, where a belated star hung quivering.
“It is a boy!” shouted the master, bursting in upon us. “Gentlemen, if you think you would like to see him, why, I should be very glad; and it might bring him luck.”
We went crunching over the snow after him to the cabin, lighted by a smoky lamp. On her bed of laths and moss lay the young mother, weak and exhausted, her head thrown back, her pale face framed in by a mass of frowzy auburn hair. The “good woman,” assisted by the little girl, was bundling up the new-comer, who wailed feebly. The two donkeys, amazed at so much stir and confusion, turned their kindly gray faces toward the bed, shook their long ears, and gazed around them with wide, intelligent eyes, blowing through their nostrils puffs of warm vapor that hung like a thin mist on the air. At the foot of the bed stood a young shepherd, with a black and white she-goat and a new-born kid.
“I have brought you the she-goat, Ma’am Fleuriot,” said he, in his Langrois drawl. “You can have her for the boy as long as you wish.”
The goat was baaing, the new-born child wailed, and the donkeys breathed loudly. There was something primitive and biblical about the whole scene.
Without, in the violet light of the dawn, while a distant church-bell scattered its early notes through the air, one of the young apprentices, dancing in the snow to keep warm, sang out at the top of his lungs that old Christmas carol, which seemed then full of new meaning and poetry,—
“He is born, the little Child.
Ring out, hautbois! ring out, bagpipes!
He is born, the little Child;
Let us sing the happy news.”
ISSN: 2397-9607 Issue 40
In Issue 40 of the Baba Indaba Children’s Stories, Baba Indaba narrates the Armenian legend of ARTASHES AND SATENIK and a famous battle between the Alans and the Armenians which had an altogether more peaceful outcome. He also recites the Armenian poem, THE TEARS OF THE ARAXES, a famous poem about the Araxes river and how it weeps tears for the lost people of Armenia.
This issue also has a “Where in the World – Look it Up” section, where young readers are challenged to look up a place on a map somewhere in the world. The place, town or city is relevant to the story, on map. HINT – use Google maps.
Baba Indaba is a fictitious Zulu storyteller who narrates children’s stories from around the world. Baba Indaba translates as “Father of Stories”.
It is believed that folklore and tales are believed to have originated in India and made their way overland along the Silk and Spice routes and through Central Asia before arriving in Europe. Even so, this does not cover all folklore from all four corners of the world. Indeed folklore, legends and myths from Africa, Australia, Polynesia, and some from Asia too, are altogether quite different and seem to have originated on the whole from separate reservoirs of lore, legend and culture.
Low and brown barns, thatched and repatched and tattered,
Where I had seven sons until to-day—
A little hill of hay your spur has scattered….
This is not Paris. You have lost the way.
You, staring at your sword to find it brittle,
Surprised at the surprise that was your plan,
Who shaking and breaking barriers not a little,
Find never more the death-door of Sedan.
Must I for more than carnage call you claimant,
Paying you a penny for each son you slay?
Man, the whole globe in gold were no repayment
For what you have lost. And how shall I repay?
What is the price of that red spark that caught me
From a kind farm that never had a name?
What is the price of that dead man they brought me?
For other dead men do not look the same.
How should I pay for one poor graven steeple
Whereon you shattered what you shall not know?
How should I pay you, miserable people,
How should I pay you everything you owe?
Unhappy, can I give you back your honour?
Though I forgave, would any man forget?
While all the great green land has trampled on her
The treason and terror of the night we met.
Not any more in vengeance or in pardon,
One old wife bargains for a bean that’s hers.
You have no word to break: no heart to harden.
Ride on and prosper. You have lost your spurs.
G. K. Chesterton 1917
From POEMS of the GREAT WAR raising funds for the Royal British Legion (the equivalent of the Returned Servicemen’s Association or Veterans Association)
The cry of “STOP THE WAR” is not new. It was happening as far back as 1900…..
1886 – gold had been discovered in South Africa and the dominant nation on earth wanted it! Sound familiar…..?
The Boer War (1899 – 1902) was but a dress-rehearsal for WWI – when forces from across the world were mobilised to ensure that a precious commodity “stayed in the right hands”.
But just as soldiers who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan have written poetry about the conflict, so too did soldiers who fought in the Boer War. This volume contains 26 poems about the conflict, the men and the leaders from both sides.
Download your free copy at http://abelapublishing.com/boer-war-lyrics–a-free-ebook_p26851983.htm
SARU MARU, A SHINTO OFFICIAL or SARU MARU TAIU
Oku yama ni
Momiji fumi wake
Naku shika no
Koe kiku toki zo
Aki wa kanashiki.
HEAR the stag’s pathetic call
Far up the mountain side,
While tramping o’er the maple leaves
Wind-scattered far and wide
This sad, sad autumn tide.
NOTE: Very little is known of this writer, but he probably lived not later than A.D. 800. Stags and the crimson leaves of the maple are frequently used as the symbolism of autumn.
NAKAMARO ABE or ABE NO NAKAMARO
Ama no hara
Mikasa no yama ni
Ideshi tsuki kamo.
WHILE gazing up into the sky,
My thoughts have wandered far;
Methinks I see the rising moon
Above Mount Mikasa
At far-off Kasuga.
NOTE: The poet, when sixteen years of age, was sent with two others to China, to discover the secret of the Chinese calendar, and on the night before sailing for home his friends gave him a farewell banquet. It was a beautiful moonlight night, and after dinner he composed this verse. Another account, however, says that the Emperor of China, becoming suspicious, caused him to be invited to a dinner at the top of a high pagoda, and then had the stairs removed, in order that he might be left to die of hunger. Nakamaro is said to have bitten his hand and written this verse with his blood, after which he appears to have escaped and fled to Annam. Kasuga, pronounced Kasunga, is a famous temple at the foot of Mount Mikasa, near Nara, the poet’s home; the verse was written in the year 726, and the author died in 780
From: A HUNDRED VERSES FROM OLD JAPAN
A percentage of the profits will be donated to the CHRISTCHURCH EARTHQUAKE APPEAL.
Today we take a brief branch away from our usual folkore and fairy tales and have a look at three poems from the book WHEN HEARTS ARE TRUMPS. The verse in this volume were selected from works that had appeared in various periodicals, LIFE, TRUTH, TOWN TOPICS, VOGUE, and MUNSEY’S MAGAZINE during the five years 1893-1898 and whose editors kindly gave Tom Hall permission to republish them. So popular was this collection of poetry, that it had at least six editions. Read on and enjoy……….
THE OLD-FASHIONED GIRL.
There’s an old-fashioned girl in an old fashioned street,
Dressed in old-fashioned clothes from her head to her feet;
And she spends all her time in the old-fashioned way
Of caring for poor people’s children all day.
She never has been to cotillon1 or ball,
And she knows not the styles of the Spring or the Fall;
Two hundred a year will suffice for her needs,
And an old-fashioned Bible is all that she reads.
And she has an old-fashioned heart that is true
To a fellow who died in an old coat of blue,
With its buttons all brass,—who is waiting above
For the woman who loved him with old-fashioned love.
1 The Cotillion was a popular 18th and 19th century dance in the French Courts that preceded the Quadrille style of dancing.
– – – – – – –
A RHYMING REVERIE.
It was a dainty lady’s glove;
A souvenir to rhyme with love.
It was the memory of a kiss,
So called to make it rhyme with bliss.
There was a month at Mt. Desert,
Synonymous and rhymes with flirt.
A pretty girl and lots of style,
Which rhymes with happy for a while.
There came a rival old and bold,
To make him rhyme with gold and sold.
A broken heart there had to be.
Alas, the rhyme just fitted me.
– – – – – – –
Oh, whence, oh, where
Is Vanity Fair?
I want to be seen with the somebodies there.
I’ve money and beauty and college-bred brains;
Though my ‘scutcheon’s not spotless, who’ll mind a few stains?
To caper I wish in the chorus of style,
And wed an aristocrat after a while
So please tell me truly, and please tell me fair,
Just how many miles it’s from Madison Square.
It’s here, it’s there,
Is Vanity Fair.
It’s not like a labyrinth, not like a lair.
It’s North and it’s South, and it’s East and it’s West;
You can see it, oh, anywhere, quite at its best.
Dame Fashion is queen, Ready Money is king,
You can join it, provided you don’t know a thing.
It’s miles over here, and it’s miles over there;
And it’s not seven inches from Madison Square.
– – – – – – –
From WHEN HEARTS ARE TRUMPS compiled by Tom Hall
Click on the URL for more info, a table of contents and to order in USD or GBP.
A percentage of the profits will be donated to The BRITISH HEART FOUNDATION.
There were two lasses, daughters of one mother, and as they came from the fair, they saw a right bonny young man stand at the house-door before them. They never saw such a bonny man before. He had gold on his cap, gold on his finger, gold on his neck, a red gold watch-chain — eh! but he had brass. He had a golden ball in each hand. He gave a ball to each lass, and she was to keep it, and if she lost it, she was to be hanged. One of the lasses, ’twas the youngest, lost her ball. I’ll tell thee how. She was by a park paling, and she was tossing her ball, and it went up, and up, and up, till it went fair over the paling; and when she climbed up to look, the ball ran along the green grass, and it went right forward to the door of the house, and the ball went in and she saw it no more.
So she was taken away to be hanged by the neck till she was dead because she’d lost her ball.
But she had a sweetheart, and he said he would go and get the ball. So he went to the park gate, but ’twas shut; so he climbed the hedge, and when he got to the top of the hedge, an old woman rose up out of the dyke before him, and said, if he wanted to get the ball, he must sleep three nights in the house. He said he would.
Then he went into the house, and looked for the ball, but could not find it. Night came on and he heard bogles move in the courtyard; so he looked out o’ the window, and the yard was full of them.
Presently he heard steps coming upstairs. He hid behind the door, and was as still as a mouse. Then in came a big giant five times as tall as he, and the giant looked round but did not see the lad, so he went to the window and bowed to look out; and as he bowed on his elbows to see the bogles in the yard, the lad stepped behind him, and with one blow of his sword he cut him in twain, so that the top part of him fell in the yard, and the bottom part stood looking out of the window.
There was a great cry from the bogles when they saw half the giant come tumbling down to them, and they called out, ‘There comes half our master; give us the other half.’
So the lad said, ‘It’s no use of thee, thou pair of legs, standing alone at the window, as thou hast no eye to see with, so go join thy brother’; and he cast the lower part of the giant after the top part. Now when the bogles had gotten all the giant they were quiet.
Next night the lad was at the house again, and now a second giant came in at the door, and as he came in the lad cut him in twain, but the legs walked on to the chimney and went up it. ‘Go, get thee after thy legs,’ said the lad to the head, and he cast the head up the chimney, too.
The third night the lad got into bed, and he heard the bogles striving under the bed, and they had the ball there, and they were casting it to and fro.
Now one of them has his leg thrust out from under the bed, so the lad brings his sword down and cuts it off. Then another thrusts his arm out at other side of the bed, and the lad cuts that off. So at last he had maimed them all, and they all went crying and wailing off, and forgot the ball, but he took it from under the bed, and went to seek his true-love.
Now the lass was taken to York to be hanged; she was brought out on the scaffold, and the hangman said, ‘Now, lass, thou must hang by the neck till thou be’st dead.’ But she cried out:
‘Stop, stop, I think I see my mother coming!
O mother, hast brought my golden ball
And come to set me free?’
‘I’ve neither brought thy golden ball
Nor come to set thee free,
But I have come to see thee hung
Upon this gallows-tree.’
Then the hangman said, ‘Now, lass, say thy prayers, for thou must die.’ But she said:
‘Stop, stop, I think I see my father coming!
O father, hast brought my golden ball
And come to set me free?’
‘I’ve neither brought thy golden ball
Nor come to set thee free,
But I have come to see thee hung
Upon this gallows-tree.’
Then the hangman said, ‘Hast thee done thy prayers? Now, lass, put thy head into the noose.’
But she answered, ‘Stop, stop, I think I see my brother coming!’ And again she sang, and then she thought she saw her sister coming, then her uncle, then her aunt, then her cousin; but after this the hangman said, ‘I will stop no longer; thou’rt making game of me. Thou must be hung at once.’
But now she saw her sweetheart coming through the crowd, and he held over his head in the air her own golden ball; so she said:
‘Stop, stop, I see my sweetheart coming!
Sweetheart, hast brought my golden ball
And come to set me free?’
‘Aye, I have brought thy golden ball
And come to set thee free,
I have not come to see thee hung
Upon this gallows-tree.’
And he took her home, and they lived happy ever after.
From More English Fairy Tales