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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Frithiof and Ingeborg
By Esaias Tegnér (1782–1846)
 
        
From ‘Frithiof’s Saga’
  
  [Ingeborg, daughter of Bele, King of Sygua-fylke in Norway, having lost her mother, is brought up by her foster-father Hilding, who also rears Frithiof. Frithiof and Ingeborg become lovers; but her brothers refuse her to Frithiof, because they are jealous of his superior valor and fame.]

TWO plants, in Hilding’s garden fair,
Grew up beneath his fostering care;
Their match the North had never seen,
So nobly towered they in the green!
 
The one shot forth like some broad oak,        5
Its trunk a battle lance unbroke;
But helmet-like the top ascends,
As heaven’s soft breeze its arched round bends.
 
Like some sweet rose,—bleak winter flown,—
That other fresh young plant y-shone;        10
From out this rose spring yet scarce gleameth,
Within the bud it lies and dreameth.
 
But cloud-sprung storm round th’ earth shall go,—
That oak then wrestles with his foe;
Her heavenly path spring’s sun shall tread,—        15
Then opes that rose her lips so red!
 
Thus sportful, glad, and green they sprung:
And Frithiof was that oak the young;
The rose so brightly blooming there,
She hight was Ingeborg the fair.        20
 
Saw’st thou the two by gold-beamed day,
To Freja’s courts thy thoughts would stray;
Where, bright-haired and with rosy pinions,
Swings many a bride pair, Love’s own minions.
 
But saw’st thou them, by moonlight’s sheen,        25
Dance round beneath the leafy green,
Thou’dst say, In yon sweet garland grove
The king and queen of fairies move.
 
How precious was the prize he earned
When his first rune the youth had learned!        30
No king’s could his bright glory reach,—
That letter would he Ing’borg teach.
 
How gladly at her side steered he
His barque across the dark blue sea!
When gaily tacking Frithiof stands,        35
How merrily clap her small white hands!
 
No birds’ nests yet so lofty were,
That thither he not climbed for her;
E’en th’ eagle, as he cloudward swung,
Was plundered both of eggs and young.        40
 
No streamlet’s waters rushed so swift,
O’er which he would not Ing’borg lift;
So pleasant feels, when foam-rush ’larms,
The gentle cling of small white arms!
 
The first pale flower that spring had shed,        45
The strawberry sweet that first grew red,
The corn-ear first in ripe gold clad,
To her he offered, true and glad.
 
But childhood’s days full quickly fly:
He stands a stripling now, with eye        50
Of haughty fire which hopes and prayeth;
And she, with budding breast, see! strayeth.
 
The chase young Frithiof ceaseless sought;
Nor oft would hunter so have fought:
For, swordless, spearless all, he’d dare        55
With naked strength the savage bear;
 
Then breast to breast they struggled grim;—
Though torn, the bold youth masters him!
With shaggy hide now see him laden:
Such spoils refuse, how can the maiden?        60
 
For man’s brave deeds still women wile;
Strength well is worth young beauty’s smile:
Each other suit they, fitly blending
Like helm o’er polished brows soft bending!
 
But read he, some cold winter’s night,        65
(The fire-hearth’s flaming blaze his light,)
A song of Valhall’s brightnesses,
And all its gods and goddesses,—
 
He’d think, “Yes! yellow’s Freja’s hair,
A cornland sea, breeze-waved so fair;        70
Sure Ing’borg’s, that like gold-net trembles
Round rose and lily, hers resembles!
 
“Rich, white, soft, clear is Idun’s breast;
How it heaves beneath her silken vest!
A silk I know, whose heave discloses        75
Light-fairies two with budding roses.
 
“And blue are Frigga’s eyes to see,
Blue as heaven’s cloudless canopy!
But I know eyes, to whose bright beams
The light-blue spring day darksome seems.        80
 
“The bards praise Gerda’s cheeks too high,
Fresh snows which playful north-lights dye!
I cheeks have seen whose day lights, clear,
Two dawnings blushing in one sphere.
 
“A heart like Nanna’s own I’ve found,        85
As tender—why not so renowned?
Ah! happy Balder: ilk breast swelleth
To share the death thy scald o’ertelleth.
 
“Yes! could my death like Balder’s be,—
A faithful maid lamenting me,—        90
A maid like Nanna, tender, true,—
How glad I’d stay with Hel the blue!”
 
But the king’s child—all glad her love—
Sat murmuring hero-songs, and wove
Th’ adventures that her chief had seen,        95
And billows blue, and groves of green;
 
Slow start from out the wool’s snow-fields
Round, gold-embroidered, shining shields,
And battle’s lances flying red,
And mail-coats stiff with silver thread:        100
 
But day by day her hero still
Grows Frithiof like, weave how she will;
And as his form ’mid th’ armed host rushes,—
Though deep, yet joyful, are her blushes!
 
And Frithiof, where his wanderings be,        105
Carves I and F i’ th’ tall birch-tree;
The runes right gladly grow united,
Their young hearts like by one flame lighted.
 
Stands Day on heaven’s arch,—throne so fair!—
King of the world, with golden hair,        110
Waking the tread of life and men,—
Each thinks but of the other then!
 
Stands Night on heaven’s arch,—throne so fair!—
World’s mother with her dark-hued hair,
While stars tread soft, all hushed ’mong men,—        115
Each dreams but of the other then!
 
“Thou Earth! each spring through all thy bowers
Thy green locks jeweling thick with flowers,—
Thy choicest give! fair weaving them,
My Frithiof shall the garland gem.”        120
 
“Thou Sea! in whose deep gloomy hall
Shine thousand pearls,—hear Love’s loud call!
Thy fairest give me, to bedeck
That whiter pearl, my Ing’borg’s neck!”
 
“O crown of Oden’s royal throne,        125
Eye of the world, bright golden Sun!
Wert thou but mine, should Frithiof wield
Thy shining disk, his shining shield.”
 
“O lamp of great All-father’s dome,
Thou Moon, whose beams so pale-clear roam!        130
Wert thou but mine, should Ing’borg wear
Thy crescent-orb among her hair.”
 
Then Hilding spoke:—“From this love-play
Turn, foster-son, thy mind away:
Had wisdom ruled, thou ne’er hadst sought her,        135
‘The maid,’ Fate cries, ‘is Bele’s daughter!’
 
“To Oden, in his starlit sky,
Ascends her titled ancestry;
But Thorsten’s son art thou: give way!
For ‘like thrives best with like,’ they say.”        140
 
But Frithiof smiling said:—“Down fly
To death’s dark vale my ancestry:
Yon forest’s king late slew I; pride
Of high birth heired I with his hide.
 
“The free-born man yields not; for still        145
His arm wins worlds where’er it will:
Fortune can mend as well as mar,—
Hope’s ornaments right kingly are!
 
“What is high birth for force? Yes! Thor,
Its sire, in Thrudvang’s fort gives law:        150
Not birth, but worth, he weighs above;
The sword pleads strongly for its love!
 
“Yes! I will fight for my young bride,
Though e’en the thundering god defied.
Rest thee, my lily, glad at heart;        155
Woe him whose rash hand would us part!”
 
 
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