The Project Gutenberg eBook of Finnish Arts; Or, Sir Thor and Damsel Thure, a Ballad

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Title: Finnish Arts; Or, Sir Thor and Damsel Thure, a Ballad

Editor: Thomas James Wise

Translator: George Borrow

Release date: May 12, 2009 [eBook #28774]

Language: English


Transcribed from the 1913 Thomas J. Wise pamphlet by David Price, email  Many thanks to Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library, UK, for kindly supplying the images from which this transcription was made.

Manuscript of Finnish Arts

sir thor and damsel thure
a ballad


printed for private circulation

p. 6Copyright in the United States of America
by Houghton, Mifflin & Co. for Clement Shorter.


Sir Thor was a knight of prowess tried,
The son of a king he was beside.

He was a knight excelled by none,
At home such deeds of might he’d done.

And not alone in his native home,
But manhood had he displayed at Rome.

He faithfully served the emperor,
And hatred to all his foes he bore.

King of Norroway was his sire,
His fame spreads over the world entire.

He was a King both aged and grey,
So he summoned his son from Rome away.

He summoned his son from Rome away,
To help him Norway’s land to sway.

p. 8As soon as the tidings reached Sir Thor,
He hied to the Roman Emperor.

“Hail, Emperor Ludvig, great and brave!
Thy leave to return to my sire I crave.”

“Freely shalt thou permission gain,
And thy post shall vacant for thee remain.”

He greeted all the knightly train,
They begged him quickly return again.

When from Rome he came to his own countrie,
His father welcomed him heartilie.

His dear son married he fain would see,
And divide with him his domain would he.

He envoys sends with all despatch
To seek a maid with his son to match.

They travelled wide with unwearied mind
Before his equal they could find.

O’er land and sea so wide they speed,
Until they reached the land of Swede.

p. 9And when they reached the Swedish State,
They found one worthy to be his mate.

Damsel Thura the maiden hight,
In Swedish land was none so bright.

The loveliest maiden in all the land,
Her father was high Sir Sallemand.

He was a noble rich and great,
His equal was not in Sweden’s State.

So glad to Norroway back they wend,
That the matter be brought to a happy end.

They the tidings to their lord declare
That they had found a damsel rare.

No fairer was in the Swede countrie,
Nor in all the isles there round that be.

The heart of Sir Thor with joy beat loud
When they described the damsel proud.

He spoke to his men, so gallant and stout,
Who were to attend him in his rout:

p. 10“We must quickly away, so ready make,
I’ve sworn an oath I dare not break,

“As soon as the lovely rose was found,
To her o’er land and sea to bound.”

They hoisted their sails on the yard so high,
And out of the haven away they fly.

So gay thence sailed they every one,
To Sweden in less than a month they won.

The noble he steered his ship to the land,
Sir Thor was the first who stepped on the sand.

The knight he sprang on his courser red:
“God help us now to this lovely maid.”

As they through the land of Sweden hied,
The folks received them with joy and pride.

To Sir Sallemand’s house came Sir Thor on his steed,
Erect in his sables stood the Swede.

“Here stand’st thou, Sir Sallemand, gallantly dight,
Say, wilt thou house me with thee to-night?”

p. 11“As one from God thou shalt welcome be,
Respect and honour I pay to thee.”

To the hall of the women Sir Thor led they,
His eyes fell straight on the lovely may.

They washed their hands and to table went,
With the music and talk were they well content.

And when they had feasted all so free,
They cried for chess to increase their glee.

“Sir Sallemand, listen to what I say,
May I at chess with thy daughter play?”

“Yes, thou to play with her art free,
Whether within or without I be.”

The young Sir Thor and Thure the maid,
A game of chess at the table played.

The longer they played, they happier grew,
Full pleased with each other were the two.

“Hear thou, May Thure, thou lily bright,
Wilt thou with thy white hand thyself to me plight?”

p. 12“Hear thou, Sir Thor, I tell thee plain,
My faith and troth thou may’st obtain.

“My faith and troth I would plight to thee
If I knew thou would’st be true to me.”

“May Christ destroy the dastard vile
Who a noble maid would ever beguile!”

She gave him her troth with her hand so fair,
But what she did more there was none aware.

From his hand a gold bracelet he unbound,
And placed it the Damsel’s arm around.

“Hear me, May Thure,” then said he,
“How long wilt thou tarry a maid for me?”

“I will, Sir Thor, if need there be,
For eighteen winters wait for thee.”

“So long a time thou need’st not wait,
No longer a time than winters eight.”

When the eight winters they were o’er
The damsel began to grieve so sore.

p. 13The damsel began to grieve so sore,
And briny tears from her eyes to pour.

A noble Duke has paid her his suit,
A hero was he, on horse and on foot.

The Duke to her royal father said:
“Wilt give me counsel thy daughter to wed?

“And she I’ll hold, till life depart,
As the only lady of my heart.”

So rash a man was Sir Sallemand,
To the Duke he promised his daughter’s hand.

“I’ll give my daughter to thy good hand,
She never shall go into Norroway land.

“Sir Thor shall never behold the day,
That he with her shall Norway sway.”

The Damsel Thure pined so sore,
And the tears afresh down her cheeks did pour.

To the castle bridge she wends her way,
And watches the ships in the sound that lay.

p. 14Their sails both brown and white she viewed,
And them with her fingers small she sewed.

“I sewed like sails with these fingers of mine,
Perhaps Sir Thor yonder ploughs the brine.”

So she lamented in piteous guise,
But no one heard the maiden’s cries.

“To his true love each lad comes home,
And why not mine across the foam?

“O would to Christ I had a friend,
That I to the shore a message might send.

“I’d give him presents rich and fair,
If he would in secret my message bear.”

Straight then answered the little foot-boy:
“Thy message I’ll bear to the strand with joy.”

The boy he ran to the yellow sand,
Sir Thor was steering his ship to the land.

Sir Thor was the first who stepped to shore,
To him his message the foot-boy bore.

p. 15“How speed the folk on this island, say?
How speeds fair Thure, my plighted may?”

“O well doth she speed through heaven’s grace,
To-morrow her bridal will take place.

“She’s betrothed to a Duke of high degree,
Live and die with her will he.”

“Ere he shall gain my betrothèd may,
I’ll have with that Duke a bloody fray.”

His cloak of sable he o’er him throws,
And unto Sir Sallemand’s hall he goes.

He took the shining chess-table of gold,
And into the high hall strode he bold.

“Is there any man this hall within,
Who at chess with me a game can win?

“Who a game at chess can skilfully play,
And win a foreigner’s gold away?”

All then sate so hushed and still,
None save May Thure would prove their skill.

p. 16But Damsel Thure, she answered free:
“Yes, I will at chess-table play with thee.”

May Thure covered her golden head,
And unto her father she is sped.

“Here thou sitt’st and drink’st wine from the shell,
And may I sit down at chess-table?

“At the table a game of chess to play,
Will help to beguile the longsome day.”

“Yes, by the Saints! my daughter bright,
At chess thou may’st play from now till night.

“At chess to play thou, my girl, art free,
Whether within or without I be.”

Thereto her mother answer made,
In evil arts she was deeply read:

“Of Sir Thor the powerful have thou care,
Lest he at chess-table thee ensnare.

“Do thou with thy maids in thy bower stay,
At tables of gold thou shalt not play.”

p. 17But the maid no ear to her mother lent,
To play at tables away she went.

The first game on the board they played
Was won by Thure, the lily maid.

“The eagle flies across the moor,
He heeds but little the tempest’s roar.

“All that he findeth he swalloweth,
How like to a woman devoid of faith!”

“O do not cast such reproach at me,
Remember I waited eight years for thee.”

“Hear thou, Damsel, what word I say
Wilt follow me now to Norroway?”

“I’ll follow thee gladly to Norroway’s land,
If I with thee can reach the strand.”

The Damsel she was a lily flower,
She followed Sir Thor to the rugged shore.

He took her tenderly by the waist,
And on the gilt prow the Damsel placed.

p. 18Sir Thor spread his sail on the yard-arm good,
And out to the open sea he stood.

The wind filled bravely the silken sail,
The ship sprang lightly before the gale.

Sir Thor he waved his hat with delight,
“Bid ye, Sir Sallemand, a long good night

“And tell the Duke, when he comes to wed,
That Thor has taken his plighted maid.”

A messenger swift Sir Sallemand hailed:
“Away with thy daughter Sir Thor has sailed!”

To that Sir Sallemand replied:
“She was his own betrothed bride.”

But her mother said with a grimly frown:
“They soon shall sink to the bottom down.

“For I will cause a storm to blow,
Shall make them both to the bottom go.”

Proud Mette and her nine witches hoar,
They hurried screaming to the shore.

p. 19She waked on the sea a tempest blast,
The sand from the bottom the waves upcast.

For seven long days, and long nights seven,
Together were blended earth and heaven.

But all the mother could send for their hurt,
With ease the daughter could avert.

“O woe is me, how rash my part,
When I taught her all my secret art!”

There was none on board that tide
Who was able the ship to guide,

Save Damsel Thure, save her alone,
And of her little pages one.

“Thou little page, if thou’lt stand by me,
Full fairly I reward will thee.

“The best of scarlet thou shalt don,
And ride a noble horse upon.”

“I will faithfully by thee stand,
Until in safety we gain the land.”

p. 20Answers Sir Thor in the hold as he lies:
“Many suffer yet promise not in that guise.

“And many as brilliant promises give,
Yet never perform them whilst they live.”

“Climb, little boy, on the mast so high,
And see if to land we are drawing nigh.

“But whether thou steppest aft or afore,
Step not, I pray, on my bridegroom Thor.”

“O lady, no more of the land I see
Than the topmost bough of the good pine tree.

“No more of the pomp of the world can I
Than just the top of the oak espy.”

“If the top of a tree salute thine eyes,
’Tis time to bid my bridegroom rise.

“Sir Thor, arise, and stand on the prow,
The Lord to the haven brings us now.”

She steered the vessel towards the land,
Sir Thor stepped first upon the sand.

p. 21The people of Norway thronged the shore,
They welcomed so well their King, Sir Thor.

They welcomed and blest their King, Sir Thor,
But they welcomed and blest his lady more.

The Damsel he took in such gallant way,
He lifted her up on his courser gray.

He bore her to his own castle fair,
Where they did dwell devoid of care.

His bridal with speed and with joy held he,
To his own repose and to her great glee.

He embraced so fondly her dainty frame,
The crown he gave her and Queenly name.

His palace she enters to wone therein,
She dons the scarlet and ermine skin.

The scarlet she wears, and the gold-laced shoe;
May every knight as Sir Thor prove true!

Sir Thor to his faith was steady and true,
And true to her troth was the lady too.


Who starves his wife,
   And denies her clothing?
Bright the Shaker,
   The humbug Quaker!

Merrily danced the Quaker’s wife,
   Merrily danced the Quaker;
But the wife of Bright is too starved to dance,
   And he’s too fat to caper.

He grudges the wretch a morsel of food,
   He grudges her even clothing;
Once, ’tis said, to the cupboard she stole,
   But there to steal found nothing.

p. 23But Bright’s as fat as a bacon hog,
   The old outrageous sinner;
For he will stuff at any fool’s cost,
   Who’ll ask him home to dinner.

Merrily danced the Quaker’s wife,
   Merrily danced the Quaker;
But the wife of Bright is too starved to dance,
   And he’s too fat to caper.

Who starves his wife,
   And denies her clothing?
Bright the Shaker,
   The humbug Quaker!

p. 24ODE

The earth to drink does not disdain,
The trees drink of the earth full fain.

Of the light air the sea drinks free,
The red sun drinketh from the sea,

And the red sun, at pride of noon,
I’ve seen drunk up by the pale moon.

Then why, friend, with me prove in ire,
That I to drink too feel desire?

p. 25LINES

“Repent, O repent!” said a Friar one day
To a reprobate wretch, as expiring he lay;

“As I came up the stairs, I was frightened to see
The devil who’s waiting to seize upon thee.”

“You saw him then truly?”  “Too truly, alas!”
“And under what shape?”  “Under that of an ass.”

“Well, well!” cried the sinner, “I am not afraid,
You’ve only been terrified by your own shade.”


O how my breast is glowing
   When I am drinking wine;
And how my verse is flowing
   In honour of the nine.

How vanish grief and sorrow
   When I am drinking wine;
Each thought about the morrow,
   Each project and design.

Through roseate space I’m gliding
   When I am drinking wine;
My spirit ’neath the guiding
   Of Bacchus, the divine.

p. 27I crown my head with flowers
   When I am drinking wine,
And say: “Almighty powers,
   A quiet life be mine!”

The air with sweets perfuming,
   When I am drinking wine,
I sit with damsel blooming
   Beneath a spreading vine.

No thought am I concealing
   When I am drinking wine;
My bosom’s all revealing,
   I sit beneath the vine.

My tongue I watch not over
   When I am drinking wine;
My heart I all discover,
   And naught within confine.

* * * * *

p. 28London:
Printed for THOMAS J. WISE, Hampstead, N.W.
Edition limited to Thirty Copies.