Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Scotland
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Scotland: Vols. VI–VIII.  1876–79.
 
Norway: Romsdal
Sinclair’s Song
Edvard Storm (1749–1794)
 
Translated by William Sidney Walker

ACROSS the sea came the Sinclair brave,
  And he steered for the Norway border;
In Gulbrand valley he found his grave,
  Where his merrymen fell in disorder.
 
Across the sea came the Sinclair brave,        5
  To fight for the gold of Gustavus;
God help thee, chief! from the Norway glaive
  No other defender can save us.
 
The moon rode high in the blue night-cloud,
  And the waves round the bark rippled smoothly;        10
When the mermaid rose from her watery shroud,
  And thus sang the prophetess soothly:
 
“Return, return, thou Scottish wight!
  Or thy light is extinguished in mourning;
If thou goest to Norway, I tell thee right,        15
  No day shall behold thy returning.”
 
“Now loud thou liest, thou sorceress old!
  Thy prophecies ever are sore;
If once I catch thee within my hold,
  Thou never shalt prophesy more.”        20
 
He sailed three days, he sailed three nights,
  He and his merrymen bold;
The fourth he neared old Norway’s heights,—
  I tell you the tale as ’t is told.
 
On Romsdale coast has he landed his host,        25
  And lifted the flag of ruin;
Full fourteen hundred, of mickle boast,
  All eager for Norway’s undoing.
 
They scathe, they ravage, where’er they light,
  Justice or ruth unheeding;        30
They spare not the old for his locks so white,
  Nor the widow for her pleading.
 
They slew the babe on his mother’s arm,
  As he smiled so sweet on his foemen:
But the cry of woe was the war-alarm,        35
  And the shriek was the warrior’s omen.
 
The Baun 1 flamed high, and the message-wood ran
  Swiftly o’er field and o’er furrow;
No hiding-place sought the Gulbranders then,
  As the Sinclair shall find to his sorrow.        40
 
“Ye men of Norway, arise, arise!
  Fight for your king and your laws;
And woe to the craven wretch that flies,
  And grudges his blood in the cause!”
 
And all of Lesso, and Vog, and Lon,        45
  With axes full sharp on their shoulders,
To Bredeboyd in a swarm are gone,
  To talk with the Scottish soldiers.
 
Close under Lid lies a pathway long,
  The swift-flowing Laugen runs by it;        50
We call it Kring in our northern tongue;
  There wait we the foemen in quiet.
 
No more on the wall hangs the rifle-gun,
  For the gray marksman aims at the foemen;
Old Nokken mounts from the waters dun,        55
  And waits for the prey that is coming.
 
The first shot hit the brave Sinclair right,
  He fell with a groan full grievous;
The Scots beheld the good colonel’s plight,
  Then said they, “Saint Andrew receive us!”        60
 
“Ye Norway men, let your hearts be keen!
  No mercy to those who deny it.”
The Scots then wished themselves home, I ween;
  They liked not this Norway diet.
 
We strewed with bodies the long pathway,        65
  The ravens they feasted full deep;
The youthful blood that was spilt that day
  The maidens of Scotland may weep.
 
No Scottish flower was left on the stem,
  No Scotsman returned to tell        70
How perilous ’t is to visit them
  Who in mountains of Norway dwell.
 
And still on the spot stands a statue high,
  For the foemen of Norway’s discerning;
And woe to him who that statue can spy,        75
  And feels not his spirit burning!
 
Note 1. A heap of wood raised in the form of a cone on the summits of the mountains, and set on fire to give notice of invasion. [back]
 
 
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