King Hacon's Death and Bran and the Black Dog - two ballads - - - Translator: George Borrow
by Thomas J. Wise
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Transcribed from the 1913 Thomas J. Wise pamphlet by David Price, email






And now has happened in our day What was in ancient time foretold: Beneath his hand all Norroways land Has Hacon brought, the wise and bold.

Full many a warrior summons he From all the country far and near; To Scotlands realm, with shield and helm, Across the sea the King will steer.

As many as sword and helm can bear With him must sail across the foam; All of fit age must follow their liege, Those who are not may tarry at home.

It was Hacon, Norroways King, Surveyd the gallant band with pride: Im missing onemy Andfindson, O where does Olaf the stripling bide?

Then answerd him the little footboy, Not far that stood from the Monarchs knee: Olaf, my Lord, will come on board As soon as weighd the anchors be.

Then out they stood from Bergen town, And out from Bergens mole, I trow; Silk is the sail they spread in the gale, Painted with blue is the deck below.

Now Magnus hear, my son so dear, At home I tell thee thou must stay: Aarhus to ward and Bergen to guard, For the keys of Norroways land are they.

Listen all dearest father mine, Recall thy word I entreat of thee; To rule rough earls and Norroway churls Too ignorant far and too young I be.

Then clothe thee straight and clothe thee well, Since thou wilt follow me, my child: But much I fear thou canst not bear The toss of the sea and its billows wild.

So out they stood from Bergen town, And twas at fall of evening grey; The folk on the shore they grievd full sore As that brave armament saild away.

And when they came to Lindeness, And the mounting billow the sail besprayd, In the breeze so fair the ship stood there As though to the bottom it fast were made.

Then said the King as he leand upon His trusty faulchions hilt of gold: Im here in the dark, is there any clerk Or layman here can this thing unfold?

Then out spoke Nilaus Noderness, As a glance he flung upon the deep: Doomd men on board, have we my Lord, The truth from thee I cannot keep.

It was our Norroway Hacon then Thereat so sorely troubled grew: Im missing one, my Andfindson, Why meets not Olaf his fathers view?

Then answerd him the little footboy, As apart he stood from the Norway King: Beneath the deck lies Olaf sick, And much I fear hes suffering.

It was Hacon the Norway King To visit Olaf with speed he goes: What cheer, what cheer, my Olaf dear? Thy state to thy father straight disclose.

I feel no rest within my breast, Methinks my very heart will rend: Would God, the King of all, would bring This horrible night to a speedy end.

They watched oer Olaf Andfindson, They watched oer Olaf long nights twain; And Hacon I say, of Norroway, By watching thus his death did gain.

It was Olaf Andfindson, He yielded up his gentle sprite; Twas Hacon grey of Norroway Before him held the big wax light.

O then King Hacon distrest he grew, The striplings corse he would not leave: He pind away and sick he lay, His hoary Counsellors how they grieve.

Cheer up, they said. Weve fought and bled, And almost won these foreign shores; But if thou now from us shouldst go A sad and dreary fate were ours.

My time is come, I cant survive; Write ye my testament, I pray, When I am gone do ye see done What with my dying breath I say:

My son, King Magnus, I advise Ever the law of God to heed; Justice above all things to love, And well, full well, with him twill speed.

Priests and widows let him defend, And his reign, I trow, will not be brief; The outlaw crew let him pursue, And hang unpitying every thief.

These are the first things I request, And now Ill crave another thing; Yell bury me with my ancestry In our Ladys Church as beseems your King.

To Bergens shore came tidings oer Which made the hearts of the dauntless faint: Hacon is dead, our regal head, Relation near to Olaf Saint.

In Orkney isle expird the King, On a Thursday morning that befell; Twas Pentecost when the King they lost, The mighty King whom they lovd so well.

From high Kirkwall now saild they all, And to Bergen oer their course they ply; They laid in grave the Monarch brave, In the spot where the Monarch wishd to lie.

A braver heart neer playd a part, And never shone in Minstrels lay; No King on earth can vie in worth With Hacon the Good of Norroway.


The day we went to the hills to chase Of dogs we had a brave company; There heard we the songs of the featherd race, The blare of the elk, and the roebucks cry.

In the hills we had no common sport, With our dogs and our arms many deer we slew; When at noon we returnd to our silvan court, We were a well-pleasd, laughing crew.

That night the house of the Fenian king With a band of joyous guests was filld; The manner we sang, whilst we plied the string, In which the buck and the elk we killd.

The valiant Finn arose next day, Just as the sun rose above the foam; And he beheld up the Lairgo way, A man clad in red with a black dog come.

Ill tell ye what was the strangers mien: His complexion was that of the strawberrie; White as the canach was his skin, Though black his hair, as black could be.

He came up with a lofty gait, Said not for shelter he sought our doors; And wanted neither drink nor meat, But would match his dog gainst the best of ours.

We brought gainst that of the stranger youth The very best dogs within our bounds; But the stranger dog had a desperate tooth, And quickly despatchd for us fifty hounds.

A strange fight this, the great Finn said, As he turnd his face towards his clan; Then his face with rage grey fiery red, And he struck with his fist his good dog Bran.

Bran lookd at his master with much surprise, That his master should strike him surprise he felt I could hew from the shoulder the hand, Finn cries, With which my dog that blow I dealt.

Then Bran he shook his collar of gold, The mountains echoed with his bay; His terrible eyes like fire-balls rolld, And his mind was bent upon canine fray.

Take off from his neck the collar of gold, Not right for him now such a thing to bear; And a free good fight we shall behold Betwixt my dog and his black compeer.

Now a likeness Ill draw of my good dog Bran: His head was coverd with shaggy hair, His breast was broad and its colour tan, His houghs were crookd, his quarters square.

Four yellow feet had he I ween, His sides were black but his belly fair; A tinge of green on his back was seen, Of blood-red ears hed a pointed pair.

The dogs their noses together placed, Then their blood was scatterd on every side; Desperate the fight, and the fight did last Till the brave black dog in Brans gripe died.

O sure was I, did Ossian cry, From the pillar of the dogs with stern delight, There was no dog in the Finn country Could inflict upon Bran the mortal bite.

O Bran was a stag-hound Morong bred, And possessd each canine guile and sleight; There was no dog in leash eer led Could consign our dog to the Western height.

Theres many a damsel, heavenly bright, With azure eye and yellow hair, In the land of the son of King Torc this night Would be proud with my dog her supper to share.

A grave the valiant hero made For his good black dog in the fields green breast; Full fifty dogs the Fenians laid To the pibrochs blast in the hill to the west.

We went to the dwelling of high MacCuol, With the king to drink, and dice, and throw; The king was joyous, his hall was full, Though empty and dark this night I trow.

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

Edition limited to Thirty Copies.


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