This poem is based on part of a story from old Norway. I found the story in Snorri Sturluson’s Heimskringla or Chronicles of the Kings of Norway in the Saga of Halfdan the Black. .
The metre of the is very particular and I’m not sure how well the poem comes off if not read with the right rhythm. The middle two lines of each stanza are straightforward, but in lines one and four after the first 3 or 4 syllables, the last six syllables are at a little brisker tempo. It’s close to the rhythm of the first line of the song from Tangled “I See the Light” (here in French, cause it’s prettier in French.) In musical notation the rhythm of the first line of this poem would be quarter, quarter, half, eighth, eighth, eighth, eighth, quarter, quarter. DUM-dum DUUM, deedle-eedle dum dum
The 4th line is always DUM-dum DUM-dum, deedle-eedle dum dum, whereas the 1st alternates between that and DUM-dum DUUM, deedle-eedle dum dum, as already described. The final e’s in names such as Ringerike, Hake, and Hvasse, are pronounced.
If you are still interested in this little poem be warned, it’s a dark and nasty small tableau from old Norway.
Sigurd Hjort, King in Ringerike,
Matchless man in strength and size
Matchless son of Helgi Hvasse,
And of Aslaug (child of Sigurd snake-eyes)
Loved the wild and desolate dark woodland
Where alone he often rode
Where the bear and red-toothed wolf ran
From his eager, eagle-feathered arrows.
Thorny, child of Klakharald of Jutland,
Ragnhild to Sigurd bore
Ragnhild in all the northland
Was most fair and fetching, so the world swore.
All alone the King of Ringerike
Rode one day far through the woods
Rode to where the fearsome Hake,
Brave berserk, with thirty of his men stood
In a clearing waiting, close to Hadeland,
Armed with black steel, keen and grim
Armed to kill the hunter king and
With fresh steeds in hand if they must hunt him.
Sigurd Hjort, drawing forth his yew-bow,
Sent six death-shafts through the air
Sent six singing iron arrows
And six warriors tumbled down in death there.
All around the King of Ringerike,
Came those men with sword and shield
Came with shouting, led by Hake
While above the waiting woodland kite wheeled.
Sun was setting o’er the son of Hvasse;
Sigurd’s sword did loudly ring,
Sigurd struck a hand off Hake,
Yet he fell before him in the clearing.
“Men, of Hadeland, mount up on your horses!
To Hjort’s house!” fierce Hake roared.
To the house he led his forces
Even as hot blood from out his wounds poured.
All was dark, there in Ringerike,
In dead Sigurd’s lonely house;
In her dreams fair Sigurd’s daughter
Saw her father standing by the windows.
Ragnhild, waking from the nightmare
Heard the voice of Hake then,
Heard the horses, saw the torch-glare
Of berserker Hadelander horsemen.
As the land is licked up by the sea-waves,
Breaking, breaking on the shore,
Breaking through the door the axe-thieves,
Seized bright silver — stole dead Sigurd’s gold-store.
But the brightest gem in Ringerike
Was not set in brooch or ring,
‘Twas the treasure one-hand Hake
Rode that night to Ringerike seeking.
Ragnhild, matchless maid of Norway
Hake sought and seized that night,
Hake bore her through the doorway
Bore her home in bloody arms by star-light.