how certain Knights of Norway, moved
western sea and what happened to them there.
by a dream sailed to find the Earthly Paradise
And how they first came to land in the
How they came to a land of the blacks
and how they fought with them & how they
escaped out of their hands.
Of a storm and of the loss of the Fighting Man.
How they came to the valley of the lions
and of the damsels they saw there
How they arrived in the land of ladies
and saw their Queen
Of the great King whom they fought
with & slew, and how they lived long in
the land of ladies.
How when they were now getting old
they sailed from the land of Ladies on
how they came to the city of the stony
men and what happened to them
how they escaped from some men
and sailing by strange places came
at last to the land where they had
dreamed, and of what kind it was
Oho! oho! whence come ye, Sirs,
Drifted to usward in such guise,
In ship unfit for mariners,
Such heavy sorrow in your eyes?
O masters of this outland shore,
When first we hoisted up our sail
We were all furnished with good store
Of swords and spears and gilded mail:
Yea then, of minstrels, many an one Stood on the deck with harp in hand,
And many a dame bright as the sun
Cried farewell to us from the land.
See now our hair as white as snowSmooth men we were when long ago
On head and cheek, and chin and lip;
We drew the gangway to the ship.
A summer cruise we went that tideThe Lion with the Golden Axe.
To take of merchants toll and tax;
Out from our tops there floated wide
Five ships we were; the Fighting Man
Ah, must we tell our tale again
That bore our chiefest in command,
The Boar, the Bear, the Gold-crowned Swan,
And we last in the Rose Garland.
This once! and still we pray you, Sirs,
Once only now! So had we fain
Forget it for these last few years
We walk about above the ground. In few words – that time as I say
We swept both narrow seas and sound
Of all the ships that came our way.
Our holds were full of bales of goods Homeward we turned, counting the roods
Worth many a florin, so perdie
Of land we should buy presently.
Alas! The slip ’twixt lip and cup: Within a bay we knew full well.
For on a time, as it befell
We wanted water, so brought up
There, when the hawsers were made fast
But as it drew to the twilight
Ashore we went, feast did we keep,
Then filled our water-casks; at last
There in our tents we fell asleep.
In the grey dawn, we heard a shout
Come from the captain’s tent: forthright
From the fringed doorway he came out.
Straight ran we to him: “Have no fear Fellows,” he said; “from a strange dream,
Or something more, as ye shall hear,
Have I just waked; thus did it seem:
I stood upon a certain land Above; a sea-beat yellow strand
Hard by the sea, a white city
Furrowed by keels was under me.
And as I stood, it seemed, perdie! Each as a lion with a crown
A yellow lion was I grown;
Of you some forty were with me,
Each one of us a great axe had
In his right paw; and blithe we seemed
And thereat nothing mazed or sad:
And furthermore, fellows, I dreamed
That folk kept passing to and fro
Nor saw us: all were fair and young,
Laughing and merry did they go,
And many were the songs they sung.
Forth to the city then we went, The fairest houses there we saw
With walls about green gardens bent,
And in the midst, without a flaw
Rose up a temple of green stone As of Diana, burd-alone,
Like glass: therein were images
Trim-shod, with dainty naked knees.
Jupiter saw I, furthermore, Set in a corner of the place.
Without a frown upon his face:
And Pallas with her book of lore
There was the Ruler of the Sea,
And midmost there, with wings that met
And Juno still in wrathful mood,
Bacchus we saw, and Mercury;
With downcast eyes there Pluto stood.
Over his head, was mighty Love,
And there beside was Venus set,
Fresh, soft, and naked, with her dove
Brushing his wings against her feet.Now in this temple, Sirs, I say,
I dreamed I saw two fellows meet
And talk together such a way:
‘Ah!’ said the first, ‘if folk but knewNo longer should we be a few,
The merry days we live in here,
Full many a keel would hither steer.’
‘Yea’ quoth the other, ‘did they know And never after suffers pain;
That every man grows young again
That underneath our gates doth go,
No war, no winter, no disease,
When this heard, soloud my heart
No storm nor famine reach us here,
Ever we live ’mid rest and case
And no man doth another fear!’
’Gan beat that scarce heard one say:
‘But far this sweet land is apart
From all the world! Yet is the way
Not altogether hard to findIt still you steer west hardily
Beseeching Venus to be kind.’
This said, they passed on presently.
No longer was I lion then, straightAnd ye were gone, as oft to men
But man again, old, near my death,
In helpless dreams it happeneth.
Down fell I straight upon my knees,And fearless life, my lady sweet,’
And holding Venus by the feet,
‘I pray thee give me rest and peace
Said I, and therewithal I wept;
Muttering out prayers; till suddenly
Nearer and nearer to my death
I grew, yet still my hands I kept
Upon the image, with weak breath
As happed once to Pygmalion
So dreamed I that it happed to me;
The stone my hands were laid upon
Grew into soft flesh, the fair leg Drew back a little as she said,
‘My knight, I grant you that you beg,’
And laid her hands upon my head.
Then shuddering my head I bent As through my veins the new blood went
Before the Goddess, with shut eyes,
Filling my heart with ecstasies
Forgotten long; within a whileAnd colourless with gilded hair.
I raised my eyes and looked and there
Still stood the image with set smile
Then suddenly aware I was
Where first I found myself, and then
All was a dream; yet woke I not
But passed from out that house of glass,
And went again to that same spot
I woke indeed, but, fellows mine,
Waking, I saw two ancient men
There in the corners; of gold fine
One wore a crown; about his head Shone rings of light, all armed was he
And all his raiment was of red;
He held a great axe handily.
The other man was clad in blueOlaf and Odin straight I knew
One-eyed he was and held a spear:
And cried the cry that you did hear.
Straightway they vanished, but each one Say, fellows, what these wonders meant.”
Beckoned me westward as he went;
Then to the tent I heard you run –
All waited till the mass-priest said:
Such things were possible to be
“The Devil well such dreams might send,
When one lay helpless on his bed,
To tempt a man to evil end.”
He doubted not, a little while,
“Hell-fire afterwards,” said he;
I broke in with a certain smile,
“Yea also here St Olaf came.”He said, “The Devil, oh my son,
Having no body but a flame
Can just as well be two as one,
Olaf as Odin for the nonce,”I heard a tale of men who once
Said John our mass-priest, “yea, and know
Sought for this land ye seek of now,
And to some isle far in the West But as upon the grass they lay
Outside the world they came one day
And there they went ashore to rest
Devils set on them and to shreds
When he had done Sir Rolf the Old
Tore many, but some got away
And years thereafter with white heads
Came broken-hearted to Norway.”
Next said: “Captain, it seems to me
You plan a voyage overbold –
Now such a thing as this might be
If we were sitting poor at home – But I am rich and old and bent
And think no more at last to roam.
I think, that westward if ye went,
Many a strange thing might ye secMore than a month or two; for me
Nor yet come home again, or live
At home henceforth I think to thrive.”
“Yea too,” quoth one, “the western seasAnd wingless birds and fish with wings.”
Are all alive with fearful things,
Great rolling waves without a breeze
Then I hot-headed and aflame
Or by the loom do men there sit
To seek new things, at such-like words
Cried, “In that place from whence you came
Do folk perchance sell spears and swords?
Watching the women's shuttle fly
From side to side, not touching it
With any finger? Do they die
And of that great renown think nought Our fathers won in other days
Who over strange seas strange things sought,
Nor bore to die with little praise?
Let whoso will of these go homeGreat lies about him, the beer-foam
And sit there while the minstrels sing
Still on their beards, and sea-roving
In words alone: but we will goAnd gain all things that men love best.”
Follow our fortunes to the West,
And leave the winter and the snow
The young men shouted thereupon;
Or cinnamon-fires burning bright
For through their hearts the thoughts did pass,
Warm days, ripe fruit, the merry sun,
And sweet fair ladies on the grass,
In the cool autumn evening,
And gold-gowns fairer to the sight
Than raiment of the Greekish king.
But there were old men there, and men Not old, but fain enow to live
Without risk three score years and ten
With what delights that land could give;
So there rose up a murmuringThere was said many a foolish thing –
And earnest talk ’twixt man and man;
yea, some of us indeed began
Within our sheaths to loose the swords, Nor do I bid you on this cast
Until the Captain cried at last,
“O fellows, you have heard my words,
To venture all but if your hearts
Then with his sword he drew a line
Are firm thereon as mine today,
Then let those go who for their parts
Would still live on in their old way.”
Deep in the sand and said, “Fellows,
Whoso from henceforth will be mine
To sail in seas no shipman knows.”
Two hundred of us followed him –The Captain said: “Good fellows mine,
Sell me two ships for these my men
And for our gold and cloth your wine,
Stockfish and salt-meat; and farewell,“Which,” said they, “would you have us sell?”
God prosper all things to your hand,
“The Fighting Man and Rose Garland,”
Said he. So all was straightway done, And they sailed eastward with their pelf.
And each man happy thought himself
As we went westward with the sun
Alas! we left that merry shore,
For twenty days we sailed away,
And never to come back again,
And never see our own folk more,
And suffer many and many a pain.
Due west past many lands we knew,
Till at the last before us lay
Stretched out, the landless sea and blue.
Still west we went, till the north-wind Came on us, amid clouds and rain;
And so no longer could we find
Our true course, therefore were we fain
To strike sail, as we drove beforeWe thought we ne’er should see the shore
The wind that yet kept rising till
In life again, for good or ill.
Till as it happened the great wind fellDipping into our yard-arm; then at last
Even at its highest, and that past
We rode becalmed, and in the swell
We saw stars, and as the wind
So passed ten days and it grew warm,
Rose light and fair, we steered north-west:
Then was the weather sweet and kind
As unto sailors at the best.
And warmer ever as we sailed;
And no man yet had come to harm
Spite of the storm. Now the wind failed
One evening just as the night fell,And rose again about midnight,
And blew till morning fair and well,
Then saw we land as it grew light.
A long green coast dipped in the sea, Under our ship’s sides certainly
A wall of trees behind there was,
Clear showed the water green as glass.
Ah, how we sang and shouted then!Never again could we be sad.
Never before such joy we had,
We were the happiest of all men,
Most grievous of all times is this
For ever as we coasted there
For wretches to remember now,
We thought then, Here begins our bliss –
Alas! for then began sorrow:
The fair young folk we looked to see
Our fellow dreamed of, and the fair
Long yellow beach and white city:
But we saw nought but trees and grassAnd there upon wild things playing
Around the sea as green as glass
And fish with many a scarlet ring.
Then doubting drew we near to landWith iron chain and hempen band
With fainter hearts than heretofore;
We made the ships fast to the shore.
Then said the Captain: “Good fellows,And birds singing in every tree.
This is a right fair land to see,
Deep grass, sweet streams and trees in rows,
And yet no sign of man there is;
Without a man or house thereon!”
How good the sweet land of my dream
Must be, when such a land as this
Is left untilled of any team,
“Yet in land, Captain, let us go
And seek thereafter,” called out one,
“And sail at last if it be so
There are no folk. A grievous thingIt would be to sail back again
A year hence for this land seeking;
And well it might be then in vain.”
Yea, said we all, so it shall he,And sent them out by three and three
And chose by lot nine of our men,
Well armed and victualled; said we then:
“A month here do we wait for you This done we built our camp beside
Then sail away whate’er betide,
But that ye light on something new.”
That warm sea, and there many a day
Or in the woods went wandering
We swam among the purple fish
And sported there in every way
That any man could think or wish.
And lay beneath outlandish trees,
Heard strange new birds new carols sing
And thought of coming voyages.
Moreover there we held great feastsBecause the place was furnished well
With deer and goats and such like beasts
Whereof full many a head there fell;
Thereof also we made good storeSo passed the month along the shore
Of salt meat for our voyages.
Nor saw we ought of those same threes.
Until one day, the time being pastThree men came running hastily.
We hauled the ships down to the sea
And broke the camp up, then at last
Far had they gone, but nothing seen
Hurtful or evil did they see,
But trees and meadows fair enough,
And such beasts as with us had been.
No lion or bear, and nothing rough,
Nothing but still the quiet land,
But of all fruits right great plenty
Whereof they carried some in hand.
A great river they came unto And went along its bank, until
On the fifth day they saw it go
Into a cavern in a hill
With a great roar, as well might be.Looked landward but did nothing see
Then up that hill they clomb and thence
But trees and meads until a fence
Of mountains rose against the sky.Thence seaward could they see the shore,
They went thereto for three days more.
Then clomb the mountains easily;
Landward a fairer place than all
Therefore they crossed the plain, but when
They yet had seen, a fair green plain
With trees and streams, yet like a wall
Far off the mountains rose again.
They reached the top of this third range,
And saw no signs of any men
And saw the land with little change
Spread out beneath them as before,They thought it good to turn straightway
Back to the ships. So to the shore
They came upon the thirtieth day.
“Fellows,” they said, “the land is good,We are the first that have spilled blood
Nor is there anything to fear.
Even of beasts; none dwelleth here.”
But as they spoke a certain oneHolding a basket made of rush.
Came towards us between bush and bush
Out from the forest to the sun,
Thereto his hair was white as snow
Who went from us both young and fair
And bent he walked as if with pain,
Yet as he neared us, did we know
Our fellow John the Long again
And merry-hearted, a stout man,
Broad-shouldered and with yellow hair:
Half-dead he stood there bent and wan.
We pressed around him, but he said No word, but stooping opened wide
The rushen basket, then as dead
Our hearts grew, when we saw inside
The heads of our two fellows lie Then straight some cried out angrily
Bloody and cut off at the neck;
To have him forthwith to the deck
Of the chief ship and judge him there;And that he stood like one long dead,
Some clashed their axes o’er his head;
But then beholding his white hair
Upright, but looking at nothing,
Outside the world where devils be.
Their clamour died out suddenly.
For in our ears the words did ring
The priest spoke, of the isles that lie
We thought, our fellows have been slain
And damned perchance most piteously,
And this one has been raised again
And sent to frighten us to death – And little of that did it fail:
We stood scarce daring to draw breath
Or look around us, while the sail
Kept flapping in the rising wind,Till this thought came into my mind,
And the noon sun was shining fair,
What if the night should find us here?
Then gasping to the ship I ran Was on the shore but only he.
And straight the others followed me
As sheep their leader, till no man
No heed at all he seemed to take
Inhabited by fiends of Hell;
As we the hawsers cut, and as
Some way the ships began to make
Leaving that land of trees and grass
Nor did we ever after know
What things the other three befell
That erewhile with the rest did go.
Three days we sailed that land along Ever with hearts right sore afraid
Till from the land the wind blew strong
And so the open sea we made.
This was the first day of those days Far off from the green land-locked bays
When we were sorry we had come
And white-wood houses of our home.
But whitherward now should we steer,No way but onward could we go.
What star should lead us now thereto?
Yea though our hearts should die with fear
Yea call it onward if you will:
Westward so far as we could tell
Whereto the wind blew there went we,
There was no use for strength or skill,
We were as boys blown out to sea.
With a fair wind twelve days we sailed,
And nothing evil us befell;
Till as before the sea-breeze failed
At night-fall, therefore watch and wardWe kept with little sleep that night;
The low land, covered with green sward
We saw at the first streak of light.
Above, the tall trees as before,Playing together on the shore –
And all about, the goats and deer
Masters, then sunk our hearts with fear.
To leave that evil land behind And still in the same place to be
Twelve days to sail upon the sea
Before the merry Eastern wind
As to our eyes it verily seemed:
Those evil things that there befell,
Almost we thought to see laid there
Our fellow’s body-had we dreamed
At sight of that still land so fair
Or was there such another place
Inhabited by fiends from Hell
And otherwise in goodly case?
Now as the wind blew on the landA furlong from the land we rode,
An anchor out on either hand;
And many an evil we forbode.
This happed: about the dead of nightLooked landward, and saw many a light
The watch gave warning, and we all
Pass to and fro, and therewithal
Strange cries we heard come from the shore, Until the rising of the sun.
And still the lights came one by one,
And kept increasing more and more
But in the twilight we saw there
We said, we sought for Heaven on earth
A multitude of moving things
Black on the green shore: many a prayer
We muttered hearing their cryings.
But now at last have come to Hell;
These things that make such sort of mirth
With these for ever shall we dwell.
Alas the merry merchant-town, Alas the farms at home, we said,
The crossed tombs on the grassy down
Around the church when we [ ] dead.
But now hereafter shall they sayForgetting God they sailed away
To those that in our houses dwell,
And drove into the mouth of Hell.
Yet God was good to us, fair Sirs;And soon within their grip to be;
As day-light spread we looked to sec
Uncertain forms of great monsters,
Nevertheless as the day rose
Black men such as our people bring
With fainting hearts we armed us clean
And saw the faces of our foes,
Such folk as we had often seen;
With ivory and spices rare,
When southward they go sea-roving,
Or like the Greek kings’ eunuchs are.
They offered battle by their guise,As crowding on the grassy strand
They hailed us with outlandish cries
And shook their weapons in their hand.
Right ugly staves they had with them Skin coats with gaudy painted hem,
Set round with many a spiky bone,
And axes evil made of stone.
And bows they had but weak enough,They had no boat to come from thence.
They had no raiment of defence
But furry skins, and targets rough;
Therefore our hearts again grew light
And loud the Captain shouted: “Sirs
And little heeded we their noise,
But that it stirred in us forthright
Remembrance of old battle Joys.
Here is a good game to your hand I
Ye are no merchant mariners
To buy and sell from land to land.
Up anchors, man the oars forthright,Get ready axes to the hand;
Blow horns, for we shall hear ere night
New tidings of our promised Land!”
Joyous our hearts grew and merry;Out went the banner suddenly,
We cried our cries, while overhead
And down the wind went long and red.
Out ran the forty oars like one,Forgotten were our troubles then,
While from the stern the minstrel men
Struck up The King of England’s Son.
As towards the shore we drove, singing,
There in their midst ashore we leapt,
Amid the stones and sharp arrows –
We counted that a little thing,
So fain we were to come to blows.
And great and grim the slaughter was,
In their skin coats their bodies kept,
The great stone axes broke like glass.
There on the shore in heap on heap They fell upon the trodden grass,
Or from the beach they fled like sheep
By such wild ways as they might pass,
And these we followed after straight,To guard our passage, if ill fate
But left behind some fifty there,
Betid, for still we feared a snare.
But nought within the woods that dayThese strangers may not be bested.
We saw but dying men and dead,
They had no rede, but, get away,
Soon we pressed till at noontide
A poor place built of reeds and wood
We came unto a clearer space
Where stood their town, and there beside
A little river ran apace.
And no man there to make defence;
Ajar the gates of wattle stood,
Both men and women had gone thence.
Natheless their beasts were left behind, And, namely, pigs and beasts like goats
But bigger far than are our kind;
And geese swam all about their moats.
But iron or silver, brass or gold But stout staves certain flints did hold
Nor any metal, found we there,
Brought to a sharp edge and a fair.
And nothing woven there we foundWe saw with evil drink therein.
For all their raiment was of skin,
And pots but neither glazed or round
And in the midst we saw a hall
Wherein their filthy God they keep,
Who had on him, for royal pall,
The skins of some beast like a sheep,
Set round with many a coloured shell.
So there our helmets we did off,’
And on their swine we feasted well
Then burnt their God with jeer and scoff.
Thereafter all the place we burned,Then got together some poor spoil,
And back toward our ships returned
At undern. Now with care and toil
Had we come through the woods before; Driving our cattle us before;
Much more we laboured coming back,
Nought was it now but hew and hack
And stumble; till the night-fall came And scattered shepherding our goods.
And found us still deep in the woods
Forewearied with our arms, foot-lame,
Therefore we made a barrier,
Wherein we laid us down to sleep
And wait; nor had we any fear
Of miscreants and such Devil’s sheep.
But in the dead of night I woke,
And heard a sharp and bitter cry,
And there saw, struck with a great stroke,
Lie dead, Sir John of Hederby.
We armed us with what speed we might,As thick and fast the arrows came,
Nor did we any more lack light,
For all the woods were red with flame.
Straight we set forward valiantly A woful night to us befell.
While all about the blacks lay hid,
Who never spared to yell and cry –
For some within the fire fell,
And some with shafts were smitten dead,
Neither could any see right well
Which side to guard, nor by my head
Did we strike stroke at all that night,
Forever onward as we drew
So drew they back from out our sight;
Thus we went on as men might do
In evil dreams, until we felt
The sea-breeze push the smoke away,
And of the sea the savour smelt
Sweeter than roses by my fay!
Now when we were all met, some badeTo turn again and smite these thieves,
Yet were the more part now afraid
Nor list to die like shrivelled leaves.
Soon we should all be more than kings,From these but hogs and such-like things,
Nor was there anything to gain
And folly was it to be slain
Upon the eve of Paradise. More wary travellers than we.
Therefore we put again to sea
Leaving a land that might entice
We coasted by cape after cape
Until the wind blew easterly,
Then due west we our course did shape,
Withal was but a gentle sea.
Our hearts upon the end were set
As fair we sailed before the wind,
All things behind did we forget
In sweet hope happy life to find.
The third day came Sir Nicholas, Our Captain, to the Rose Garland.
And coming up to where I was,
Spoke to me, holding up his hand:
“Sir Rafe, I deem you wise and trueWhich spoken we may not undo
Nor given unto babbling words,
And make worse wounds than grinded swords.
Now I am heavy in my heart,Of this my burden: I am brought
And all my hope is fallen to nought,
Fain would I you should have a part
Night after night in lifelike dreams
To that land where we wish to go;
Alas none ever happy seems
Of all the folk I meet there now.
And tombs are in the fair church set,
No man adores the Goddesses,
The palace steps with blood are wet,
And weeds grow up between the trees.
Last night I saw my father there, My mother whom I left alive
In Norway, and my daughter fair,
No one of them did seem to thrive
At last this question came from me,‘Do folk die here?’ Then piteously
That long unto my tongue did cling:
They answered me with sore weeping.
‘Alas! fair son,’ my father said, And therewith he lift up his face.
‘None comes to this unhappy place
Unless for ever they are dead;
O, well do I remember, Rafe,
My father, when from sea we came,
And thought to see our homestead safe,
And saw, instead, its last thin flame
Die out above my dead mother;
His face was not so wretched then
As that the shade did show me there –
O, Rafe, we are but ruined men!
A dream has sent us on this quest,
And certain half-forgotten tales:
To live for ever is the best
That haps to us; but if all fails
What is the worst of all?” Said I,
“It is well seen, friend, by my head,
We shall find some good way to die;
Then are we, as our fathers, dead,
Who fell upon the English shore,
Or sunk below the sandy Seine,
Or back from Russia came no more,
Or got no mercy from the Dane.
Yea, also, ere we come to this
Doubt not that we shall find some way
To pass our life in worldly bliss
In some sweet isle with game and play.
And shall we now curse God and die
If following some minstrels’ dream,
As boys a painted butterfly,
We find it lead us down the stream
Of circumstance, to a strange life
Wherein more wonders we shall see
Than if we lived at home in strife
Thirty men’s lives, as men now be?
I say a dream has brought us here,
Let us now go where it may lead,
For no dream shall we ever steer
Back eastward, Captain, by my rede.
Yea, are we now as like to find
This very Earthly Paradise,
As any land I bear in mind.
Needs must we on in any wise –
Or will the wind that ever blew
From some point east, as we came here,
Be unto us so and true
As back at our command to steer?”
“I would the wind would rise,” said he,
“And blow us to some Christian shore
Through howsoever wild a sea,
Thence would I never wander more.
There should we find some fair abbey
Where long in penance should I dwell
And ever to the great God pray,
And say my psalter fair and well.
For now have we sinned Adam’s sin,
To make us Gods who are but men,
To find a heaven and dwell therein
Whose years are but three score and ten.
Yea, almost are we fain to have
Such Gods as we ourselves have made,
For if they be not strong to save
Of them is no man much afraid.
This is the thing I fear therefore,
That we our journey end too well,
And reach the much desired shore,
And without dying come to Hell.
I pray rather that God may stay
Our ship in the mid-ocean now,
Until our flesh fall all away;
Or else that some great wind may blow,
And drive us underneath the sea –
There shall [ ] do what seemeth best
Unto our bodies, that shall be
Until the Day of Doom at rest.”
Now even as he spake to me,
Dead fell the wind, the sails did flap,
And all our way stopped suddenly,
Just as he wished that it might hap.
Thereat a terror seized my heart
He was foredoomed: and I was wise
And wished a long life for my part
Should we fail of our paradise
With joyous tilts and ladies’ love,
Fair things, and flower-crowned revelry:
And were we never hence to move,
God’s martyrs in the middle sea.
The Captain looked up in my face
Amazed and blank, then slunk away
And went about from place to place
Nor spoke to me again that day.
The next day twice he passed me by
Then turned, and said, “My words were nought:
Why do you look so bitterly
As if some evil I had wrought?
This is a calm such as might chance
In any sea that you could find.”
Yet here withal he looked askance
Eastward, as though he prayed for wind.
I said, “They say that God hears prayer,
And, by the Saints I deem it true;
You asked a small thing, and a fair:
Suppose that God has given it you.
To die in war, when all is said,
You and your fellows, this you asked:
God is a great God, by my head,
And is not lightly overtasked.
Pray again, Captain, as before
And we shall see that abbey fair
Clean standing on some grassy shore;
And well I wish that I was there.
O for another draught of life
I would endure their lazy hum
And snatch some flower from their strife –
Cucullus non facit monachum.”
He said no more but slouched his hat
And went, and soon I heard him sing,
And saw his flushed face, as he sat
With our fellows, carolling.
Within a while they sang no more,
For many a day we hung there still,
And want of water grieved us sore,
To cat our meat we had no will.
And now Sir Nicholas sat silent,
Although his lips were still moving,
So that men deemed a spell he meant
To call up some unholy thing.
Thus lay we till the twentieth night,
Which was with moon and clear enow,
The Fighting Man lay in our sight
Some half a furlong from our bow.
Between her masts in the moonlight
We saw a small black cloud arise;
We were as joyous at that sight
As we had found our paradise.
Straightway the Captain cried aloud,
“Man oars and sails I here cometh wind!”
But so increased on us that cloud,
His words we had no time to mind,
When no man now could see his hand,
And the green seas rolling in;
Then neither had we place to stand,
And but if one some hope could win
Straight were his troubles at an end.
In rags the sails went, weak and strong,
The masts like withy twigs did bend
And through the dark we went headlong.
At night we drove before the gale,
And fain we were, that tide, of light;
The leaden day came dull and pale
And little clearer than the night.
Four days the Rose Garland was cast
From hill to hill of inky sea,
And then the wind gave out at last
And from the west blew easily.
And we, storm-tossed and battered men,
Could count our losses, who were now
But threescore rusty folk, and ten,
Who were two hundred, brave enow
Of gold and silver – What betid
That night unto the Fighting Man
From us for ever will be hid;
The dying moon with mist was wan,
Across that light we saw her men
Run hurrying to sail and oar,
We saw her sails flap downward; when
The dark came and we saw no more.
We came unto another land
With gentle winds in two days more;
But all unlike the fair green strand,
This was a brown and dreadful shore.
Natheless of water were we fain
So sent some twenty fellows tall
To fetch it at whatever pain
And what flesh they might meet withal.
Of flesh indeed we had some store
So cared the less: in half a day
Back came our hunters to the shore,
Two less than they had gone away.
Water they had with them enow,
For flesh two lions dead they bore
Smitten with many a stab and blow,
And somewhere had the fight been sore
For many of our folk were torn:
Thus said they, that the land was bad,
Never was land so foul, forlorn
And crossed and evil, dull and sad,
Until a small vale fair and green
Betwixt two rugged hills they found,
As fair a place as man has seen
Where streams and wells did much abound,
Set all about with orange trees
And heavy-hung pomegranates fair;
They shouted, setting eyes on these,
And made haste to be quickly there.
But as they stooped by the full brook
And drank great draughts upon their knees,
Or down from off the fair trees shook
Pomegranates, and great oranges,
Lions set on them, two were slain
At unawares, and many a wound
The others had, but with great pain
They slew two, chased the rest, and bound
The slain beasts upon boughs. This tale
Set all of us afire to go
And see this dangerous and fair vale
And slay the beasts that plagued it so.
We chose a twenty men to stay
And guard the ship, that now lay hid
Under a ness; then went away
All armed; and strange things straight betid.
For as we came just at the head
Of that rough pass that reached the place,
The foremost man stopped short and said,
Turning on us a mazed face,
“Hold! hold! for many well-armed men
Be in the valley, by God’s blood!”
Softly enough we crawled on then
Unto a rock near where we stood,
Behind which many a man might hide
Then through the valley in our sight
Five hundred soldiers straight did ride,
All featly armed in armour bright,
Not loathly black men, by my head,
But white and fair as men might be;
And soon two ways they opened
And then a new thing did we see.
There in the midst of carven stone
An altar, built in ancient wise,
A white bull that did stamp and moan,
And two priests dight for sacrifice;
Behind ten damsels who were clad
More richly than the tongue can say,
Gold crowns upon their heads they had,
Gold copes their kirtles overlay.
So delicate their beauty was
With open mouths we lay and stared;
But with a frown Sir Nicholas
His trenchant shining sword half bared,
Muttering,” Some Moloch’s sacrifice!”
But I thought, well with one of these
Could I make me a paradise
Among these flowers and sweet trees.
Natheless their eyes were full of woe,
And heavily they hung the head;
So that I deemed it might be so
Even as Sir Nicholas had said.
Now did the priests move presently
And slew the white bull where he stood,
And on the people standing by
Threw up in showers the dark red blood.
Then came the maidens up, and cast
White lilies on the altar stone,
Then to the other side they passed,
Towards us and there stood alone
And seemed half-fainting with some grief
But none said ought; and then there came
An armed man crowned with oaken leaf,
And underneath the bull set flame
When on the altar it was laid,
Then as the flames shot up on high
Outlandish horns and trumpets made
A strange and solemn melody.
And this being done, there came again
The priests to where the maids did stand,
And seemed in words we heard not plain
To give to them some straight command
The meaning whereof soon we knew,
For forthwith all their golden crowns
And gold copes on the ground they threw,
Then set their fair hands to their gowns,
Then on the green grass piteously
The silken garments down did rain,
The soft smocks slipped from breast and thigh
They never now should hide again.
And if for shame and sore trembling
A little while a damsel stayed
The priest cried out at that fair thing
Till mother-naked she was made.
So mid their raiment there a space
Naked they stood nor word did say,
Nor of those men asked any grace
Knowing full well the bitter play
That should be played: for thither drew
The priest and with cold sour face
Set them in order two and two
And moved them slowly from that place.
Led by the priests and minstrelsy
To a huge rock they came at last,
Over against where we did lie.
Then to each side the minstrels passed
Adown the vale, and the wind sent
This way and that their golden hair
About their bodies as they went
With fainting feet through flowers fair.
And then came forth four sturdy men
With brazen chains that foot and hand
They did upon the damsels ten;
And when so bound they all did stand
Unto the rock they made them fast.
And when we saw them side by side
Wailing and naked, then at last
Scarce in our place could we abide.
But Nicholas said: “Bide, fair fellows,
And see some further felony
Before we come to handy blows
And die like men if needs must be.
For this I think to be their case,
And with the thought is my soul sick,
That chaining them in this wild place
They leave them to be eaten quick
Of those same beasts that fell on you.
Now if things be thus as I say,
Since they are many we are few;
Bide here until they go away,
Which needs they must ere the beasts come –
Small help shall we be being rash!”
Straightway we heard the burr and hum
Of their great horns and cymbals’ clash,
That drowned the poor lost maids’ wailing.
Then turned the felons hastily,
And got them gone with horns sounding
From out the vale; yet abode we
Behind the rock, lest, to our cost
Some one might turn upon his tracks
To seek some thing he might have lost,
And bring the others on our backs.
But as we waited, with dull roar
We saw steal forth a yellow beast,
And then another, then three more,
Then many flocked toward the feast.
Judge if we griped the sword hilt then
Or of the axe the plated haft,
Or if those few that were bowmen
Drew to the head of the long shaft.
And out we broke with a great shout,
And ran toward the rock with speed;
There did we ring those maids about,
And unto our defence took heed.
And soothly there was a grim fight,
So many were the beasts and fell
That we had liefer men of might
Had been before us; truth to tell
Here was no talk of ransoming,
The fallen man to shreds was rent.
There happed full many a grievous thing,
But in the end the beasts were shent,
And all were slain; yet did they tear
Ten of our folk, so stout they fought.
Fain were they of the feast so fair
The felons for their maws had brought.
Then from the rock all tenderly
We loosed those ladies; and full oft
Deliciously our hearts beat high
At touching the round limbs so soft,
The dainty hands and naked feet.
Long was it doing, but at last
An end it had; then as was meet
We brought them all the raiment cast
Down by the altar: and all mazed
They decked themselves in these again,
And in their country tongue they praised,
Or so we deemed, our care and pain.
Then said one, “This is the Greek tongue
That erst at Micklegarth I heard
By the Greek king when I was young,
Yet lacks it something, by my beard.”
Then by our fellow that knew Greek
We bade them have no fear at all,
For we their proper land would seek,
Being masters of a dromond tall.
Thereto they said, that in short space
Their country folk would thither come
To take their crushed bones from that place
And bury them with tears at home;
That overland their country lay,
Our dromond was no skill therefore;
But prayed us with them still to stay
And with them leave this cursed shore.
At home ye shall be kings,” they said,
“When that they know your noble deed
And nothing, by Diana’s Head,
Shall be denied that ye may need.”
Then did we ask them whence we came
And how they were in such a case
And if their country was of fame
And if they were of Grecian race
Sirs of the ladies land we be
They said and such-like are our folk
That ladies there have sovreignty
And men be underneath the yoke
Now of the race whereof ye speak
Our country was of noble fame
Yet know we not this word of Greek
And have not even heard the name
Needs must we say our country was
For now are we in servage base
Being but poor conquered folk alas
Therefore are we in bitter case
For now this tribute must he pay
Each year unto the Emperor
Ten maids of us must die this year
In honour of his ancestor
Who was a God called Hercules
Yea Sirs & even now we fear
His wrath not lightly to appease
When of this slaughter he shall hear
have no fear fair maidens we said
“We do not greatly doubt his might
And for his God now is he dead
And hidden up from all men’s sight
And some of us have fought in France
And some in wild Prussia have been
And some in Spain have led the dance
And unafraid the moors have seen
Or else to some isle will we flee
And there our bodies from him hide
And live long lives there if so be
That our should prove the weaker side
Now as we spoke together thus
We heard a great horn sound afar
With a long wail & piteous
And blown unlike a point of war
And then we saw where came riding
Folk all in black but armed nobly
A sad song did their music sing
And ever went they heavily.
Over their heads a great banner
Wherein was painted royally
Diana with her snooded hair
And fair legs naked to the knee
And in the midst a great black bier
All wrought about with cypress trees
And ever as they drew anear
We saw that they were all ladies
Now when they saw us still they stood
And leaping down amid the blood
Amazed a while then spurred forward
Of men & beasts upon the sward
And caught in arms those maidens fair
And nestled in their bosoms soft
Weeping aloud, and kissed them oft
Upon the lips & yellow hair
Then in a while they turned to us
And seeing the dead men who lay
All rent & torn & piteous
They said we thought to take away
Some little bones of poor damsels
Therefore at home a tomb there is
Well built mid trees and sounding wells
Unto your dead men will we give this.
And unto you that be alive
Will we give whatsoeer ye ask
And evermore Sirs will we strive
To be your handmaidens no task
Shall be too much for our good will
For soothly would we gaze our fill
Now come with us to our country
On such men if no Gods ye be
We have some fair fellows we said
There have we many a full fair thing
Left in our ship, these would we bring
And other matters – by Gods head
May be to you both strange & new
Thus said we and went all away
Toward the ship except we few
Who with the ladies there did stay
There when we met our fellows we
From out the ship did quickly take
What we could carry easily
And chiefly for the ladies sake
As for ourselves we thought that there
Of nothing would there be a lack
So needed nought but some poor fare
And the good armour on the back
There did we leave the Rose Garland
A fair spoil to some Heathen land
God wot if she were borne away
Or slowly rotted where she lay!
So when we were all met again
Nor were we any more afraid
The dead men on the bier we laid
And crossed the desert with much pain
Of anything that we might meet
Being now a goodly company
All armed for every maiden sweet
Rode girt with sword about the thigh
The land was desolate & rough
And waterless till the 4th day
Then came a green plain fair enough
Where many a head of neat did play.
For two days more we travelled on
And rich & fair the land was still
The third at early morn we won
The top of a round-headed hill
Then showed the ladies how their town
A river toward the sea ran down
Lay in the valley & thereby
Where many a keel we did espy
Then did we send a messenger
To show her lightly all the case
One of the ladies from that place
Off to their Queen upon the spur
And as we drew anigh thereto
The folk came thronging thick & fast
Or out upon the walls they drew
Until through the great gate we past
Great was the town & built nobly
And all with black was hung about
Which down they tore as we went by
And hung rich golden carpets out.
Soon to a mighty hall we came
And there upon a throne of gold
In raiment a noble dame
Ancient & grey we did behold
Then on their knees the ladies fell
And shown her reverence full
And fain we would have done the same
But there from off her throne she came
And took us by the hands & said
And make him king while he shall live
Which is your lord that I may give
My crown to him from off my head
And you Sirs ask for heaps of gold
And lands & houses do not fear
In anything to be too bold –
Now when this saying I did hear
And saw our knights with wild eyes gaze
Upon those maids fit to entice
A wise man into foolish ways
I thought here ends our paradise
Then spoke Sir Nicholas & said
0 Queen it seemeth unto me
I ask a great gift by my head
The body of this fair lady
Therewith the leader of the band
Did he lead forward by the hand
Who came that day into the vale
And she by turns both red & pale
Her head upon his shoulder leant
While from our knights there rose a humm
And of the other maidens some
blushing their dear eyes downward bent
And some stood all pale & upright
Looking aloof with troubled eyes
Sirs there can be no fairer sight
In any hall of paradise
Then did the Queen laugh out & say
O Sir your boon seems small enow
To ancient folk like me and grey
Have here this crown upon your brow
Yea no light thing therewith ye have
For ye shall lead us all in the war
And from our foes this city save
Many & grievous foes they are
Then answered Nicholas again
We were well paid for all our pain
O Queen ye make too much of this
With no more guerdon than a kiss
But if of us ye please to make
For neither are we borel men
Your knight & soldiers will we then
Do noble battle for your sake
From Harald fair hair am I sprung
And thence from Odin in right line
Who was a God as skalds have sung
Ye see this jewelled collar shine
About my armour this to me
The King of England with his hand
Did give me in his own galley
By Sleuse town in the Flemish land
And these are knights & gentlemen
That know not fear well skilled in war
And each a worthy match for ten
Of such folk as your foemen are
With these men and your country folk
And save you from this false king’s yoke
Will I well guard this fair walled town
But never will I wear your crown
For of your law I know not ought
And have been used long time to sit
And ye are old and ripe in wit
On many a hard thing have ye thought
Judging the people day by day
Sir said the Queen so be it then
Yet am I bondwoman alway
To you & to your noble men
And for your ancestor Odin
A noble temple shall he have
And a gold altar set therein
That many a skillful man shall grave
Lady he said by no dead man
Were we brought to the lions jaws
Through many waters wild & wan
I read you learn our holy laws
And learn to know the Trinity
And leave your false Gods – silently
The Mother of God and all Hallows
She stood and listened with bent brows
While our mass priest took up the word
And what the holy Gospel saith
And showed her much about our faith
And many things about the Lord
At last she said Sir Holy Man
Too many things at once ye show
I will believe all that I can
But pray you cease for a while now
Truly it makes the senses reel
To hear all this all so suddenly
The Gods we sought in woe & weal
Devils or else a painted lie.
And many things we must believe
That now for the first time we know
And from you by mere chance receive
Or lie in endless fiery woe
Sirs ye are noble & we think
Or from a muddied river well head drink
Ye would not bid us trust a lie
Your God has served you faithfully
So in some fountain wash away
Faith an ill deed he did therein-
if so ye please our forebear’s sin
Who stole the apple as ye say
And that good Lord of whom you tell
Who all his days did nought but good
And loved the people passing well
And whom upon a cross of wood
For his reward they foully hung
Would God I had been there that day
Another song ye might have sung
Your faith been turned another way
Now for a while let these things be
And for the rest I dare well say
That whoso choses foolishly
As your chief none will say him nay
And therewithal Sirs will we give
To each that while with us ye
Some house and goods & needful weed
Such common things ye may not need
Then from the presence did we go
If my maids eyes were on me bent
And over my shoulder as we went
I looked full oft that I might know
But she held ever down her head
Toward the ground & smiled gently
Moving her lips as if she said
Some little ballad inwardly
Then to a chamber did we come
Where being unarmed on us they did
Such gowns as there were none in Rome
Ere of the Cesars they were rid
Then came we to another hall
Spread for a feast and hung around
With histories where ladies -~all
In strife with men full many a wound
Both gave & took and there we met
With gems in white bosoms set
Unarmed & gay the ladies sweet
And naked arms and naked feet
Not half so sweet the west wind smells
The coming summer or the thrush
That blows in spring through the may bush
Sweeter their voice than he that tells
Or Philomela that bewails
The wrongs of many hundred years
And fills our hearts with speechless tales
Our eyes with-sweet & causeless tears
Softly they bid us to the feast
Which was full noble & withal
Was many a pageant & strange beast
Brought for our pleasure through the hall
There saw we how that Theseus slew
The bea’st by aid of a poor may
To whom not long abode he true
There saw we the Knight Perseus slay
The evil thing by the sea side
Of those good knights that wandered wide
There was the noble story told
With Jason for the fleece of gold
O love wither do you go
To put your golden hair above
Spear in hand & belted so
I go to win a crown my love
I go to fight & travail sore
That you may cling to-me the more
I will wear a crown of green
With red roses set between
If it be not rich enow
Then sweet kisses shall you sow
In between the flowers red
Round about my golden head
I will cling so hardily
You shall never go from me
O my love soon goes the day
O my Love soon comes the night
All my glory goes away
Comes my hour of delight
Thereafter all the feast being done
We wandered in a garden green
And I for my part went alone
With her that was my joy & Queen
Sweet follies there we said & did
I list not tell off now being old
Only I know her face half hid
Among her rippled hair of gold
She burst out singing suddenly
And of the land we thought to see
While I was telling of our quest
In some far ocean of the west
O God how sweet the kisses were
Upon her lips & breast & brow
Amid the glory of her hair
Ah folly to remember now
When I am old and soon to die
Sirs to my tale. So went away
The golden days most happily
In many a quaint disport and play
For there were tiltings with the spear
Music in gardens & in halls
Sweet converse with our ladies dear &
Dancing between gilded walls
And beautiful old tales were sung
By minstrels that were well beseen
On fair long wooden stages hung.
With palaces & gardens green
And soon the maids were christened
Full richly were we fellows wed
With much pomp in the great church, then
And were the happiest of all
And amid all these pleasant days
Lest the Great King should come thereto
Sir Nicholas went to & fro
Strengthening the city by all ways
In time indeed for on a day
His Herald to the city came
With a foul message by my fay
Whose best word was but blood & flame
That he would sow the place with salt
And yoke young maidens to his plough
And take such vengeance for their fault
That no grass any more should grow
In all the land that those that fell
By the sharp sword should fare the best
That when the scourge & had torn them well
Fierce fire should burn up the rest
But first a great drove would he drive
Might see them naked, and alive
Unto his country that his men
Into the fire send them then
That for the strangers who had come
With great stones tied their necks about
By water when their eyes were out
By water he would send them home
Now we when this thief we had heard
Went near to slay him evilly
But at the last his hair & beard
We shaved, and ugly devils three
Upon his tabard did we paint
And sent him back, and by my head
Now was no time for us to faint
For then were we as good as dead
If my tale here could have an end
1460 O my masters I might say now
That though our lives we well might mend
Yet were we happy men enough
Further afield our story goes
And woes past all our other woes
And drags us through most evil ways
Unbearable & heavy days
For there we all lived happily
Then on a day I walked alone
Until our youth was wholly gone
And wives & friends began to die
And as I walked there all about
The merry children at their play
Ran by with many an earnest shout
And there went singing many a may
Thereby a house was built richly
Behind a garden walled with stone
Therein upon the grass did lie
A fair maid singing all alone
In the white-flowered hawthorn brake
Sweet be merry for my sake
Twine the flowers in my hair
Kiss me where I am most fair
Ah kiss me love for who knoweth
What thing cometh after death
Love hold back the golden hair
That hides you where you are most fair
1479-1502 In ... death? [The original version of this song was written as Helen’s arming song for Paris in “Helen’s Chamber” from “Scenes from the Fall of Troy” (1856-61)]. Its four quatrains roughly correspond to the twenty-four lines written for “The Wanderers” and as “Song” in the “Ogier the Dane” tale in volume 1 of The Earthly Paradise (1868; revised by Morris, resulting in two variants in punctuation, for his Kelmscott edition in 1896) and “Love and Death” in A Book of Verse 1870]. There are two manuscripts of “Helen’s Chamber,” the first is on paper watermarked “1856”; similar to the second copy, its variants are cited beneath this second copy:
Love, within the hawthorn brake
How near I may be my death.
Pray you be merry for my sake
While I last, for who knoweth
Sweet, be long in growing old
Life and love in age grow cold,
Hold fast to life, for who knoweth
What thing cometh after death.
Trouble must be kept afar
Therefore go I to the war;
Less trouble, love, among the spears
Than with harsh words about your ears.
Love me then, my sweet and fair
And curse the folk that drive me there,
Kiss me sweet, for who knoweth
What thing cometh after death. SFT2
Let me kiss the rose tinged snow
What thing cometh after death
Ah! the time goes fast or slow
Kiss me sweet for who knoweth
Shall we weep for a dead days
Or set sorrow in our way
Will you weep that the days wear
Hidden in my golden hair
Kiss me love etc
O Love weep that the days flit
As on my neck I feel your breath
That I may then remember it
When I am old & near my death
Kiss me sweet &ce
Whether with music or with pain
I know not but like summer rain
Of moody thought touched to the quick
My tears upon the dust fell thick
And far away my thoughts were brought
But only on some coming day
When I was but a boy at play
Nor yet on life or death had thought
The great hall where the people ate
The church half hidden by the hill
The pier where in the evening late
The covered ship lay grim & still
The gold coped chanters in the quire
My mothers hand upon my head
The stories round the big yule fire
The snow upon the tower lead
The rough old vassels cap in hand
Unto the master of the house,
The steward with his silver wand
Yea even many a bird or mouse
Rose up before my swimming eyes
Like some lark in her extasies
And still that maid sang loud & clear
That half pierced to my muffled ear
But from the house’came suddenly
And shrill voice did the damsel chide
An old crone propped with crutches tied
With many a bandage that with high
Till she arose & entered in
She and her singing gone away
My dreams fled as-a saint flees sin
And all the sunlight left the day
Then on I went distraught moody
Doubtful unhappy in my heart
Counting the few years left to me
The fair things death would from me part
In this mood came I to the quay
Where lay the ships both great & small
Some just at point to go away
Some just letting their anchors fall
There did I find Sir Nicholas
Yet moody of speech he was
Whose wife was dead now for this year
He saw me not as I drew near
For at a ship he was gazing
That bound her to the shore but now
Whose folk were loosening her prow
From the great: cable of the ring
At my touch round he turned to me
And for awhile along the quay
We walked together silently
Till I found heart at last to say
Now was it but a word and blow
For the 3rd day we saw the smoke
Of the burnt homesteads upward go
All round the city & poor folk
Came hurrying within the gates
Men ancient folks and maids weeping
Then did we arm us with our mates
And go to look upon the King
Soon met we certain of his folk
We slew some 100 in the smoke
Burning a village & at first
And afterwards put to the worse
Another band more orderly
Leaving but two of all our men
And as the foe came thicker then
We gat us’ back to the city
And at our heels a rabble came
At whom so well the archers shot
They scattered with no little shame
And with our walls they meddled not
Whom straight as afterwards we learned
The Great King met as fast they fled
And caused some of them to be burned
Some to be scourged till they were dead
Then soon with much folk & great show
And cymbals and great horns sounding
There came one whom the maids did know
By his apparel for the King.
Who having sacrificed a bull
To some dead dog gave straightly word
That they should take that city full
Of living souls & to the sword
Put all the men and old women
A fierce assault then did they give
But take the young women alive
And shut them fettered in a pen
But nothing won but loss & harm
So past the next day & the next
Nor any day without alarm
With all day long their camp we vext
With flights & arrows and of stones
And oft they shot wild fire forth
That burnt the marrow & bones
At last Sir Nicholas grew wrath,
And swore to end the thing or die
So the tenth night from a small gate
We issued out we fellows only
When moonless was the night & late
Then to the Kings tent did we go
And found him drunk amid his men
The People of the Shore
Alas! my masters, by my head Your hope was but a rotten reed.
What I and are not our fathers dead
Who battled once against the Mede
Yet overlived it? Coming here,Oft were their hearts fulfilled of fear,
Through many and many a woe they passed,
Yet found they rest and ease at last
Here in this land; great deeds they did No man among them but found death.
As many an ancient story saith;
Yet these also the earth has hid,
No doubt the Gods have sent you then
To a fair land and plenteous;
Of all the gifts they give to men
Not one have they withheld from us.
No doubt our gardens might entice
The very Gods themselves to leave
The happy woods of Paradise,
Nor once again thereafter grieve.
Their fields bright with unchanging May,Pressed by the feet of Goddesses,
Arc scarce more fair than are today
Our meadows set about with trees.
Here fields of corn and pleasant hillsAnd sweet streams turning many mills,
Dotted with orchards shall ye see,
And of all fruits right great plenty.
By our fair-painted palaces Run bubbling up the slopes of grass.
The green white-flowered rivers pass;
About our coasts the summer seas
Oxen and sheep and horses go
About the merry water-meads,
Where herons, and long cranes thereto,
Lie hidden in the whispering reeds.
Among all these the maidens play;
The fair white Goddess of the sea
Is little fairer made than they
In all her members certainly.
Like you, Sirs, am I chilled with eldYet still I look on them with joy,
As Priam’s Lord erewhile beheld
Fair Helen on the walls of Troy.
Thereto our men are strong and brave Many a good archer we have,
And hale and seldom wanting wit,
A little mark who well can hit,
And cunning folk to make for usAnd men to make us music, when
The images of Gods and men,
And painted walls right beauteous,
Our hearts are full, and men to write
The stories of the past again,
And grave philosophers in white,
Leeches to heal us of our pain.
Thus under gentle laws we live
Well guarded, and in rest and peace,
And ever more and more we thrive,
And ever do our goods increase.
All things the Gods give to our hands, Wisdom and strength, skill, great beauty,
A land that is the crown of lands –
Yet, there withal, at last to die.
O masters, here as everywhere,That groweth ugly that was fair,
All things begin, grow old, decay;
The storm blots out the summer day.
The merry shepherd’s lazy song Half-dead with fear splash toward the shore
Breaks off before the lion’s roar;
The bathing girls, white-limbed and long,
At rumour of the deadly shark;
Over the corn, ripe and yellow
The hobby stoops upon the lark,
The kestrel eyes the shrew below.
The green snake in the apple-tree
Sits watching, as the shadows pass,
The feet of some Eurydice
Half-hidden by caressing grass.
The hoar frosts cut the flowers down,The cold north wind dries up the blood;
The glassy streams grow dull and brown,
Tormented by the winter food.
And friends fall off and pleasures ceaseAnd weariness doth so increase
As grey hairs grow upon the head,
We have the heart to wish us dead –
Masters, your hope that this could be,Sad thoughts, my heart can hardly bear.
To live forever anywhere
Has brought sad longings strange to me,
And sad words from my lips have gone
Unmeet for ancient folk to say;
Pray you forget them, ye have won
Life sweet and peaceful from today.
The Gods have sent you here to us -
The land you sought for, did you know,
A fair land and a plenteous:
Henceforth ye shall not reap nor sow,
Nor spin nor weave, nor labour aught,But ever all things shall ye have
That can by any man be sought;
And may the Gods your dear lives save
Many a year yet; and as priestsAnd sit with us at all our feasts,
Of some revered God shall ye be,
And houses have in our city
With most fair gardens. Ye shall tell And how lands great are grown to be
What lore ye have of your country,
And other things ye know as well;
Our fathers knew not, when they fled
Before the face of the Great King:
And what lands are become as dead
That in their time were flourishing.
Yea, and fair Sirs, we fain would know
Who is your God of whom ye speak;
And of the Romans shall ye show,
And ye shall tell us of the Greek
Who reigns at Byzant, as ye say;And what of Sparta is become
And Athens, and the lands that lay
In ancient days about our home.
And then in answer will we tellOf towns, that having long stood well,
Of countries that ye never knew,
The Gods in anger overthrew;
Of kings, who in their tyrannyAnd yet one day their wealth was past.
Were mighty once, but fell at last;
Of merchants rich as men could be,
The voyage for the Golden Fleece,
The Doom of King Acrisius
And how the Gods gave Psyche peace –
These stories shall ye hear from us;
And many another, that shall make
Your life seem but a story too,
So that no more your hearts shall ache
With thought of all ye might not do.
Ye shall be shown how vain it isTo strive against the Gods and Fate,
And that no man may look for bliss
Without an ending soon or late.
But what is in our hands to giveWe pray the Gods, long may ye live,
That shall ye have: and now again
And fall asleep with little pain.
Now, Sirs, go rest you from the sea, Such as ye wot of, shall be told.
And soon a great feast will we hold,
Whereat some pleasant history