MARSK STIG’S
DAUGHTERS
and other
SONGS AND BALLADS

by
GEORGE BORROW

London:
printed for private circulation

1913

CONTENTS

MARSK STIG’S DAUGHTERS

Two daughters fair the Marshal had,
O grievous was their fate and sad.

The eldest she took her sister’s hand
And away they went to Sweden’s land.

Home from the Stevn King Byrgye rode;
Up to him Marsk Stig’s daughters trode.

“What women ye who beset my gate?
What brings ye hither at eve so late?”

“Daughters of Stig, the Marshal brave,
So earnestly thee for help we crave.”

“Hence, hence away, ye outcasts two,
Your sire accurst my uncle slew.”

“Guiltless are we of Erik’s blood,
So wide we wander in quest of food.”

The eldest she takes her sister’s hand,
And away they went into Norway’s land.

Home from the Ting King Erik rode
Up to him Marsk Stig’s daughters trode.

“What women are ye whom here I view,
And what may ye in my country do?”

“Daughters of Stig, the Marshal brave
So earnestly thee for help we crave.”

“To brew and bake full well ye know”—
“Alas, Sir King, not so, not so.

“To brew and bake we do not know,
We never stoop’d to employ so low.

“To spin red gold that is our pride,
Our mother taught us ere she died.

“And we can weave galloon as well
As the maidens with the Queen that dwell.

“We can weave red gold with wool,
But oh, our hearts with grief are full.

“Had Marsk Stig stay’d in Denmark green,
Different far our fate had been.

“Had Ingeborg not chanc’d to die,
We had not borne this misery.”

King Erik replied in gentle tone:
“I knew your father like my own;

“He was a man in heart and hand,
Whose like lives not in any land.”

O’er them he threw his mantle red,
To the ladies’ chamber them he led.

He bade them no more tears to shed,
For he would stand in their father’s stead.

The eldest sister began the weft,
The youngest finished what she left.

In the first lace she wove so true
The Virgin Mary and Christ Jesu.

And in the second of Norway land
She wove the Queen and her maiden band.

Of the antler’d hart they wove the chase,
They wove themselves with pallid face.

They wove with nimble fingers small
Of God the holy Angels all.

The youngest sister the woof up caught,
And that before the Queen she brought.

Then into her eyes the tears they came,
“Thou art not our Mother, Queenly Dame.

“Wert thou our mother or sister dear,
With praises thou our hearts wouldst cheer.

“But in thine eye no praise I see,
Misfortune is our destiny.”

The eldest sicken’d, and sick she lay,
The youngest tended her night and day.

The eldest died of grief of heart,
The youngest liv’d with sorrow and smart.

THE THREE EXPECTANTS

There are three for my death that now pine,
   Though one and all wondrous civil;
Would that all of them hung on a line,
   My children, the worms, and the Devil.

My body, my soul, and my gear,
   When down to the grave I descend,
The three hope among them to share,
   And to revel on time without end.

But there is not one of the three,
   To the others though kindly affected,
For both of their shares would agree
   To resign his own portion expected.

The Devil, so harsh and austere,
   Who only in evil hath joy,
Would scorn to take body and gear
   For my soul, that sweet beautiful toy.

My children would rather possess
   The gear I have toil’d so to gather,
Though for me fervent love they profess,
   Than the body and soul of their father.

The worms, though my children will make
   A lament when I’m laid in the hole,
Would my body in preference take
   To my gear or my beautiful soul.

Oh, Christ! who wast hung on a tree,
   And wast pierc’d by a fool in his madness;
Since each of them plund’ring would be,
   Send each disappointment and sadness.

TRANSLATION

One summer morn, as I was seeking
   My ponies in their green retreat,
I heard a lady sing a ditty
   To me which sounded strangely sweet.

I am the ladye, I am the ladye,
   I am the ladye loving the knight;
I in the green wood ’neath the green branches
   In the night season sleep with the knight.

Since yonder summer morn of beauty
   I’ve seen many a gloomy year;
But in my mind still lives the ditty
   That in the green wood met my ear.

I am the ladye, I am the ladye,
   I am the ladye loving the knight;
I in the green wood ’neath the green branches
   In the night season sleep with the knight.

THE ENGLISH GIPSY

He

As I to the town was going one day
My Roman lass I met by the way.
Said I, “Young maid, will you share my lot?”
Said she, “Another wife you’ve got.”
“Ah, no!” to my Roman lass I cried,
“No wife have I in the world so wide;
And you my wedded wife shall be,
If you will consent to come with me.”

She

As I to the town was going one day
I met a young Roman upon the way.
Said he, “Young maid will you share my lot?”
Said I, “Another wife you’ve got.”
“No, no!” the handsome young Roman cried.
“No wife have I in the world so wide;
And you my wedded wife shall be,
If you will share my lot with me.”

GIPSY SONG

Up, up, brothers,
   Cease your revels!
The Gentile’s coming—
   Run like devils.

I do not like your way of life
   Ye men of Christian creed;
I’d rather live the kind of life
   Which forest foxes lead.

OUR HEART IS HEAVY, BROTHER

The strength of the ox,
The wit of the fox,
   And the leveret’s speed;
All, all to oppose
Their numerous foes
   The Romany need.

Our horses they take,
Our wagons they break,
   And us they seize
In their prisons to coop,
Where we pine and droop
   For want of breeze.

When the dead swallow
The fly shall follow
   Across the sea,
We’ll then forget
The wrongs we have met,
   And forgiving be—
      Brother, of that be certain.

SONG

Nastrond’s blazes,
   How fierce ye roar!
The deepmost deeps feel
   Valhal’s power.

Sulphurous blazes,
   Which with dismay
Strike e’en the Aser,
   Our voice obey!

Poisonous blazes,
   Harden a spear
      For Valhal’s may!

Poisonous blazes.
   Harden a spear
      For Valhal’s may!

Poisonous blazes,
   Harden a spear
      For Valhal’s may!

In juice of rue
And trefoil too,
   In marrow of bear
      And blood of trold,
   Be cool’d the spear,
      Three times cool’d,
When hot from fire
Of Nastrond dire,
   For Valhal’s may.

Whom it woundeth
   It shall slay.

Whom it woundeth
   It shall slay.

Whom it woundeth
   It shall slay.

LINES

To read the great mysterious Past
   They are yearning;
But to mist the writings old fast, fast
   Are turning.

O, how inviting
   The deeds of yore!
But the ancient writing
   Mist sweeps o’er.

* * * * *

London:
Printed for THOMAS J. WISE, Hampstead, N.W.

Edition limited to Thirty Copies.