THE GIANT OF BERN
AND ORM UNGERSWAYNE
a ballad

by
GEORGE BORROW

London:
printed for private circulation
1913

THE GIANT OF BERN
AND ORM UNGERSWAYNE

It was the lofty Jutt of Bern
   O’er all the walls he grew;
He was mad and ne’er at rest,
   To tame him no one knew.

He was mad and ne’er at rest,
   No lord could hold him in;
If he had long in Denmark stayed
   Much damage there had been.

It was the lofty Jutt of Bern
   Bound to his side his glaive,
And away to the monarch’s house he rode
   With the knights a fray to have.

Now goes the lofty Jutt of Bern
   Before the King to stand:
“Thou shalt to me thy daughter give,
   And a brief for half thy land.

“Here as thou sitt’st at thy wide board,
   Hail Monarch of the Danes!
Thou shalt to me thy daughter give,
   And the half of thy domains.

“Thou shalt to me thy daughter give,
   And divide with me thy land,
Or thou shalt find a kempion good
   In the ring ’gainst me to stand.”

“O thou shalt ne’er my daughter get,
   Nor a brief for half my land,
I’ll quickly find a kempion good
   Shall fight thee hand to hand.”

Then strode the Monarch of the Danes
   To his castle hall amain:
“Now which of ye, my courtiers, will
   The lovely Damsel gain?

“Here sit ye all my Danish swains
   On whom I bread bestow,
Now which of ye will risk his life
   To lay the Berner low?

“I’ll give to him my daughter dear,
   The wondrous lovely may,
Who in the ring with Jutt of Bern
   Shall dare the desperate fray.”

In silence all the kempions sat,
   None dared reply a word,
Except alone Orm Ungerswayne,
   The lowest at the board.

Except alone Orm Ungerswayne,
   He bounded o’er the board:
I tell to ye in verity
   He spake a manly word.

“Wilt thou to me thy daughter give,
   And divide with me thy land?
O then will I the kempion be,
   Against the Jutt to stand.

“And well will I your daughter win,
   And the prize alone will earn;
I am the lad to dare the fray
   In the ring with the Jutt of Bern.”

It was the lofty Jutt of Bern
   He o’er his shoulder glar’d:
“O who may yonder mouseling be,
   From whom those words I heard?”

“No mouseling I, though call me, Jutt,
   A mouseling if you will,
My father was good Sigurd King
   Who slumbers in his hill.”

“Ha! was thy sire good Sigurd King?
   Thou’st something of his face,
Thou hast sprung up full wondrously
   In fifteen winter’s space.”

It was so late at evening tide
   The sun had reached the wave,
When Orm the youthful swain set out
   To seek his father’s grave.

It was the hour when grooms do ride
   The coursers to the rill,
That Orm set out resolved to wake
   The dead man in the hill.

Now strikes the bold Orm Ungerswayne
   The hill with such a might,
It was I ween a miracle
   It tumbled not outright.

Then stamped upon the hill so hard
   Young Orm with heavy foot,
The arch was broke within the hill
   Which trembled to its root.

Then from the hill Orm’s father cried,
   Where he so long had lain:
“O cannot I in quiet lie
   Within my murky den?

“Who dares so early break my rest,
   And troubleth thus my bones?
Cannot I in quiet lie
   Beneath my roof of stones?

“Who seeks at night the dead man’s hill
   And works this ruin all?
Let him fear for now I swear
   By Birting he shall fall.”

“I am thy son, thy youngest son,
   Thy Orm, O father dear;
To beg a boon in mighty need
   I come to seek thee here.”

“If thou art Orm my youngest son,
   The kempion bold and brave,
Last year I gave to thee of gold,
   All, all thy heart could crave.”

“Last year you gave me store of gold
   On which I set no worth,
Now I this year must Birting have,
   The bravest sword on earth.”

“Never shalt thou Birting get
   To win the Monarch’s daughter,
Until to Ireland thou hast been
   To ’venge thy father’s slaughter.”

“Give to me the Birting sword,
   And with it bid me thrive,
Or I the hill above thee will
   To thousand pieces rive.”

“Stretch thou down thy hand and take
   My Birting from my side,
But if thou break thy father’s hill
   Much woe will thee betide.”

He cast to him the sword, its point
   Appeared above the mould:
“Save good fate on thee shall wait
   I ne’er shall be consol’d.”

He reached to him the sword, and placed
   Its hilt within his grasp:
“Beneath its blows may all thy foes
   Before thee sink and grasp.”

Then took the sword Orm Ungerswayne,
   And on his shoulder plac’d;
And to the Monarch’s hall he sped,
   As fast as he could haste.

It was the lofty Jutt of Bern
   With wrath was nearly wild:
“It ill becomes a man like me
   To battle with a child.”

“Although I be but little, Jutt,
   A fearless heart I keep,
And oftentimes a little hand
   O’erturns a mighty heap.”

For two long days they fought, and when
   The third to evening tended,
“Methinks,” exclaim’d the Berner Jutt,
   “This fight will ne’er be ended.”

It was bold Orm Ungerswayne
   His good sword brandish’d he,
And of the lofty Berner Jutt
   Asunder cut the knee.

Loud bellowed then the Berner Jutt,
   And loud he fell to ban:
“It ne’er was warrior custom yet
   So low to strike one’s man.”

“I was small, and thou wast tall,
   Thy prowess I admire;
I only struck thy knee because
   I could not reach thee higher.”

Then took the bold Orm Ungerswayne
   His faulchion on his back,
And to the ocean strand he goes
   As fast as he could make.

It was bold Orm Ungerswayne
   He paced the yellow sand,
And lo! Sir Tord of Valland came
   Swift sailing to the land.

Foremost upon the gilded prow
   The Tord of Valland stands:
“O who is yonder little man
   That walks upon the sands?”

“O I am Orm, the youthful swain,
   A kempion bold and fine;
’Twas I that slew the Berner Jutt,
   That uncle dear of thine.”

“If thou hast slain the Berner Jutt,
   That uncle dear of mine,
’Twas I the King of Ireland slew,
   Beloved father thine.”

It was Tord of Valland then
   With faulchion struck the earth:
“Never will I make amends
   By gold or money’s worth.”

It was bold Orm Ungerswayne,
   He grasped his faulchion’s hilt:
“In vengeance for my father then
   Shall valiant blood be spilt.”

It was the bold Orm Ungerswayne
   He drew his trusty sword,
And at a single blow smote off
   The head of Valland’s Tord.

Valland’s Tord he slew, and then
   His followers every one;
Then speeds he to the monarch’s house
   To claim the maid he’d won.

Then took the bold Orm Ungerswayne
   The Atheling in his arm:
“Thou art my own, fair maid, for thee
   I have confronted harm.”

O’er Helmer Isle the tidings run
   As fast as levin fire,
That Orm the lovely maid has won,
   And has avenged his sire.

* * * * *

London:
Printed for THOMAS J. WISE, Hampstead, N.W.
Edition limited to thirty Copies.