Bergliot Poem by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson


Rating: 2.9

(In her lodgings)

To-day King Harald
Must hold his ting-peace;
For Einar has here
Five hundred peasants.

Our son Eindride
Safeguards his father,
Who goes in fearless
The King defying.

Thus maybe Harald,
Mindful that Einar
Has crowned in Norway
Two men with kingship,

Will grant that peace be,
On law well grounded;
This was his promise,
His people's longing.-

What rolling sand-waves
Swirl up the roadway!
What noise is nearing!
Look forth, my footboy!

-The wind's but blowing!
Here storms beat wildly;
The fjord is open,
The fells low-lying.

The town's unchanged
Since child I trod it;
The wind sends hither
The snarling sea-hounds.

-What flaming thunder
From thousand voices!
Steel-weapons redden
With stains of warfare!

The shields are clashing!
See, sand-clouds rising,
Speer-billows rolling
Round Tambarskelve!

Hard is his fortune!-
Oh, faithless Harald:
Death's ravens roving
Ride o'er thy ting-peace!

Fetch forth the wagon,
Drive to the fighting!
At home to cower
Would cost my life now.

(On the way)

O yeomen, yield not,
Circle and save him!
Eindride, aid now
Thine aged father!

Build a shield-bulwark
For him bow-bending!
Death has no allies
Like Einar's arrows!

And thou, Saint Olaf,
Oh, for thy son's sake!
Help him with good words
In Gimle's high hall!

( Nearer )

Our foes are the stronger…
They fight now no longer…
They press to the river,-
What is it that's done?
What makes me thus quiver?
Will fortune us shun?
What stillness astounding!
The peasants are staying,
Their lances now grounding,
Two dead men surrounding,
Nor Harald delaying!
What throngs now enwall
The ting-hall's high door!…
Silent they all
Let me pass o'er!

Where is Eindride
Glances of pity

Fear lest they show it,
Flee lest they greet me…
So I must know it:
Two deaths there will meet me!-
Room! I must see:
Oh, it is they!-
Can it so be?-
Yes, it is they!

Fallen the noblest
Chief of the Northland;
Best of Norwegian
Bows is broken.

Fallen is Einar
Our son beside him,-

Murdered with malice,
He, who to Magnus
More was than father,
King Knut the Mighty's
Son's counselor good.

Slain by assassins
Svolder's sharp-shooter,
The lion that leaped on the
Heath of Lyrskog!

Pride of the peasants
Snared in a pitfall,
Time-honored Tronder,

White-haired and honored,
Hurled to the hounds here,-
Our son beside him,

Up, up, ye peasants, he has fallen,
But he who felled him is living!
Have you not known me? Bergliot,
Daughter of Haakon from Hjörungavaag;-
Now I am Tambarskelve's widow.

To you I appeal, peasant-warriors:
My aged husband has fallen.
See, see, here is blood on his blanching hair,
Your heads shall it be on forever,
For cold it becomes, while vain is your vengeance.

Up, up, warriors, your chieftain has fallen,
Your honor, your father, the joy of your children,
Legend of all the valley, hero of all the land,-
Here he has fallen, will you not avenge him?

Murdered with malice within the king's hall,
The ting-hall, the hall of the law, thus murdered,
Murdered by him whom the law holds highest,-
From heaven will lightning fall on the land,
If thus left unpurged by the flames of vengeance.

Launch the long-ships from land
Einar's nine long-ships are lying here,
Let them hasten vengeance on Harald!

If he stood here, Haakon Ivarson,
If he stood here on the hill, my kinsman,
The fjord should not save the slayer of Einar,
And I should not seek you cowards who flinch!

Oh, peasants, hear me, my husband has fallen,
The high-seat of my thoughts through years half a hundred!
Overthrown it now is, and by its right side,
Our only son fell, oh, all our future!
All is now empty between my two arms;
Can I ever again lift them up in prayer?
Or whither on earth shall I betake me?
If I go and stay in the places of strangers,-
I shall long for those where we lived together.
But if I betake me thither,-
Ah, them, themselves I shall miss.

Odin in Valhall I dare not beseech;
For him I forsook in days of childhood.
But the great new God in Gimle?-
All that I had He has taken!

Vengeance? Who speaks of vengeance?
Can vengeance the dead awaken,
Or cover me warm from the cold?
Find I in it a widow's seat sheltered,
Solace to cheer a childless mother?

Away with your vengeance! Let me alone!
Lay him on the wagon, him and our son!
Come, we will follow them home.
That God in Gimle, new and fearful, who all has taken,
Let Him now also take vengeance! Well He knows how!
Drive slowly! For so drove Einar always;
-Soon enough we shall come home.

The dogs to-day will not greet us gladly,
But drearily howl with drooping tails.
And lifting their heads the horses will listen;
Neighing they stand, the stable-door watching,
Eindride's voice awaiting.

In vain for his voice will they hearken,
Nor hears the hall the step of Einar,
That called before him for all to arise and stand,
For now came their chieftain.

Too large the house is; I will lock it;
Workmen, servants send away;
Sell the cattle and the horses,
Move far hence and live alone.
Drive slowly!
-Soon enough we shall come home.

Susan Williams 30 October 2015

What generation didn't love sagas- -the thrilling stories of brave deeds done so well against dragons bloodthirsty or battlefield foes? .

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