Little Engel - a ballad with a series of epigrams from the Persian - - - Translator: George Borrow
by Thomas J. Wise
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Transcribed from the 1913 Thomas J. Wise pamphlet by David Price, email






It was the little Engel, he So handsome was and gay; To Upland rode he on a tide And bore a maid away.

In ill hour he to Upland rode And made a maid his prize; The first night they together lay Was down by Vesteryse.

It was the little Engel he Awoke at black midnight, And straight begins his dream to state In terror and affright.

Methought the wolf-whelp and his dam, The laidly she-wolf gray, Tore out my heart, and twixt their teeth Did hold it as I lay.

That thou dreamst little Engel thus Can cause slight wonderment, When me thoust taen by might and main Nor asked my friends consent.

In came Solwey Johnsen then And stood before the table; He was I ween, a clever lad, And well to speak was able.

Hear thou, my lord, Little Engel, Rise up and straight begone; For here Sir Godey Loumand comes By four ways to the town.

I fear not four, Solwey Johnsen, Nor five fear I, nor ten! I fear not Godey Sir Loumand, though He come with thirty men.

O there are more than four, Sir, Or five, Sir, or than ten; Here cometh Godey Sir Loumand with A hundred armed men.

It was the little Engel, he Took Malfred in his arm: Now, dearest heart, some counsel give May free us from this harm.

It was the little Engel, her Upon the white cheek kissd: Now do thou hear, my bosoms dear, With counsel us assist.

The best advice that I can give Ill give thee in this case; To Marys Church we will retire, Theyll neer destroy that place.

Well gold and silver take, and on The scale well pile them high; To-morrow from the Churchmen we The holy place will buy.

Around you call your merry men all To whom youve given bread; For refuge we to the Kirk will flee Since we are thus bestead.

Do you take all your merry men who Your coursers backs have prest; Well hie us to our Ladys church, And set our hearts at rest.

Thats the best counsel, love, I know, A simple woman I; In Marys house well lock ourselves, And there our foes defy.

It was the little Engel, Into the church he went: Sir Loumand to beleaguer him A hundred men has sent.

Before the kirk his men they lay Till full five months were past; It was Godey Sir Loumand So wrathful grew at last.

Then spake the mother of little Malfred, With hate gainst her was filld: The Kirk of Maria burn with fire, And it with gold rebuild.

The fire began to burn, to burn, The sparkles in they flew; At that adread was little Malfred, And ashy pale she grew.

It was so hot in the Kirk yard when Abroad the blazes sped; But in the Kirk still hotter when In poured the melted lead.

It was the little Malfred, So frantic was her mood: O let us quick the horses stick, And cool us with their blood.

Then little Engel answer made, As on the floor he stood: But coolness small shall we derive From our good coursers blood.

Answered the groom who loved the steeds As dearly as his breath: Yed better little Malfred stick, She well deserveth death.

It was the little Engel, His arms round Malfred twind: No death hast thou deserved from us, And none from us shalt find.

My little Malfred, do thou hear What I now say to thee; If a son this year thou chance to bear, That son name after me.

They placed her on a buckler, They placed their spears below, And through the window lifted her With hearts so full of woe.

It was the little Malfred round The church goes staggering now, Scorched were her scarlet robes, and scorched The ringlets on her brow.

It was the little Malfred fell Upon her white bare knee: O may I bear a son this year, The avenger of this to be.

So they the little Malfred took And in a mantle rolld, And sorrowfully lifted her Upon a courser bold.

Outspake the little Malfred when She reached the verdant plain: Burnt is our Ladys house this day, And burnt so bold a swain.

Burnt is our Ladys house, and burnt Therein so brave a swain; His equal till the day of doom We neer shall see again.

It happened in the autumn tide, The autumn of that year, That she within her secret bower, A beauteous boy did bear.

To the holy Kirk they carried him, They christened him at night; They called him little Engel, and Concealed him whilst they might.

They fostered him for winter one, And so on, till he grew The fairest knight beneath the sun That you did ever view.

So well he grew and throve until Seven years had passed away: Thy uncle slew thy sire, my boy, For the first time, that I say.

Still with his mother he remained Till five more years were sped: Thy uncle slew thy father, boy, He heard most often said.

Now do thou hear, my mother dear, Who sittest clad in pall; Up under Oe Ill riding go, And serve in the Monarchs hall.

Yes, ride thee hence to Court, and there To win thee honor try; Forget not who thy father slew, For the last time I cry.

He served so long at court that he His friend the Dane King made; With heavy heart hed sit apart Whilst others laughd and playd.

The Danish King observed at last He grieved at seasons all: Now hear, good youth, Id know forsooth Why thou art sorrows thrall.

Thou grievest like the little bird The greenwood bough upon; Thou seemest like the lonely wight Whose friends are dead and gone.

Now do thou hear, thou King of the Danes, With grief I down am weighd; My uncle slew my sire of old, And no atonement made.

If thou wilt up of the country ride, And well avenge that deed, As many of my men to thee Ill lend, as thou shalt need.

If thoult avenge thy fathers death, Thou shalt have fitting aid; Three hundred of my men to thee Ill lend, in steel arrayd.

It was the little Engel, he Rides in the greenwood shade; He marshals there his good men all, And sets him at their head.

In haste came in the little footboy, And stood before the table; He was I ween a clever lad, And well to speak was able.

Now hear, Sir Godey Loumand, hear, Arise and straight begone; Little Engels coming with his troop By four ways to the town.

Little Engels coming with his troop, And hell be on us soon; And wroth is he, as wroth can be, His war-lance scrapes the moon.

At Stevn and Ting, my boy, Ive been, And wherever people mingle; But neer, I swear, have I been where Ive heard of little Engel.

It was Godey Sir Loumand, He stroked the pages cheek; If thou canst give any good advice, My pretty footboy, speak.

If I can give any good advice Most certainly I will; In your stone bower yourself immure From the approaching ill.

The walls they are of marble stone, The doors they are of lead; Twill wondrous be, my lord, if we Therein are prisoners made.

It was the little Engel, he Halted a while to gaze: O there doth lie the Kirk, where died My sire in smoke and blaze.

And there doth stand the castle, where My uncle doth reside; The amends that he shall pay this day The Lord in heaven decide.

By four ways they the bower beset, And for admission call: The little Engel, sprightly elf, Was foremost of them all.

It was Godey Sir Loumand, through The casement out looked he: Now hark, ye knaves, bid your captain tell Why ye bawl so furiously?

Then answered little Engel straight Beneath his mantle ruddy: Engel hes stiled, your sisters child, And I am he, Sir Godey.

Then answered Godey Sir Loumand, he Was surely wroth thereat: Ride hence, and boast not of thy birth, Thou art a bastard brat.

And though a bastard brat I be, My fortunes not the worse; Enough I hold of silver and gold, And ride on a gallant horse.

And if a bastard brat I be, Thou madst me that I trow; But still Ive towers, and pleasant bowers, And of green woods enow.

My sire thou slewst, and no amends To me didst ever make; Now scoff thou hast upon me cast, For which thy life Ill take.

Bring gold, my merry men, and that Before the threshold lay; Well burn the bower this very hour, We well for it can pay.

Twas hot within the foreroom when The fire began to roar; But hotter in the stone bower, when The lead began to pour.

It was the little Engel, he His courser never turned To ride away from the castelaye Before the bower was burned.

Away at last he rode, and waved His hand in exultation, Upon espying his uncle lying Amidst the conflagration.

Said little Engel, when he saw His uncles body shrink: Now thou hast quaffed the self same draught Thou madst my father drink.

It was the little Engel, rode Home to his mothers hall; Before it stood his mother good, So fair arrayed in pall.

Here dost thou stand, my mother dear, Arrayed in robes of pall; Ive ridden up the land, and well Avenged my fathers fall.

It was the fair Dame Malfred, wrung Her hands and wept amain: Id but one care before to bear, And now, alas, have twain!

Dear mother, thou wouldst have it so, Now thee in tears I find, When duteously thy will Ive done: How strange is womans mind!

He turned his steed and rode away, His face with anger red; With dishevelled hair, the Dame stood there, Such woeful tears she shed.

The little Engel hied him to The King his masters court; Abroad the Dane King stood, and hailed The youth in kindest sort.

Into the hall Sir Engel then With the good monarch went: My choicest thanks, thou noble King, For thy brave warriors lent.

Now Ive avenged my fathers death, Burnt is Sir Godeys bower; And he therein has found a tomb, Who slew my sire of yore.


Where shall I rest my hapless head, Heavy with grief? how plenteously Must I the briny torrents shed Alack and woe is me!

Our chief is gone, at last, at last, The safeguard of our nation he; The glory of our age is past Alack and woe is me!

Unto the swords, O father dear, Of foemen thirsting horribly For blood, why leave thy children here? Alack and woe is me!

Of justice is the fountain dried, And mute the laws high symphony; Fallen is Europas brightest pride Alack and woe is me.

There is a change of times and things That passeth on eternally. Decreed by Him, the King of Kings _Tis right_but woe is me_!

Now is the earth with violets gay, And flowers manifold to see; Now frozen neath the winters sway How brief the roses be!

Now shews the sun his head of gold With a superior brilliancy; Now hides as were he dead and cold Alack and woe is me.

O father! I will lave thy tomb With tear-drops well becoming me; Thy tomb with flowery herbs perfume How brief the roses be!

EPIGRAMS. From the Persian.


Hear what once the pigmy clever To the stupid giant said: Things are not of highest value Which do highest rear their head; The sluggish horse is nothing better Than the donkey lowest bred.


The man who of his words is sparing His strength and weakness hidden keeps; Think not every thicket empty, Perchance in one a tiger sleeps.


If thou wouldst ruin scape, and blackest woe, Unto these words, these precious words attend: Never be heedless of a mortal foe, Nor choose a proud and envious man for friend.


Sit down with your friends in delightful repose When war and contention you see midst your foes; But when to an end their contentions they bring, Then, then seize the bow, and get ready the sling.


The hungry hound upon the bone will pounce He prowling finds, and not mistrustful pass; He asks not whom it did belong to once, The prophets camel or the sinners ass.


Great Aaroun is dead, and is nothing, the man Who left forty castles replete with gold store; But living though dead is the great Nourshwan, In the good name he left he has death triumphed oer.


Though God provides our daily bread, Yet all must seek that bread I ween; Though all must die, there is no need To rush the dragons jaws between.


If in the boors garden the King eats a pear, His servants rapacious the tree will uptear; For every five eggs he gives bounteously, more Than five hundred fowls will his armies devour.


If the half of a loaf the devout man receives, The half of that half to the wretched he gives; But no sooner a tyrant one kingdom has taen, Than the wish of his heart is another to gain.


If a cat could the power of flying enjoy, She all the worlds sparrows would quickly destroy; If power in the hands of a beggar you place, No mercy hell show to the beggarly race.


The taylor who travels in far foreign lands, Can always get bread by the work of his hands; But the King who from throne and from country has fled, Must oft without supper go sighing to bed.


Of the children of wisdom how like is the face To pure gold thats accepted in every place; But the ignorant great are much like leather cash, At home which though current, abroad is but trash.


So much like a friend with your foe ever deal, That you never need dread the least scratch from his steel; But neer with your friend deal so much like a foe, That you ever must dread from his faulchion a blow.

* * * * *

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

Edition limited to Thirty Copies.


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