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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Scotland: Vols. VI–VIII. 1876–79.

Introductory to Norway

King Oluf the Saint

By Anonymous

KING OLUF and his brother bold

’Bout Norroway’s rocks a parley hold.

“The one of the two who best can sail

Shall rule o’er Norroway’s hill and dale.

“Who first of us reaches our native ground

O’er all the region shall king be crowned.”

Then Harald Haardrode answer made:

“Ay, let it be done as thou hast said.

“But if I to-day must sail with thee,

Thou shalt change thy vessel, I swear, with me.

“For thou hast got the Dragon of speed;

I shall make with the Ox a poor figure indeed.

“The Dragon is swift as the clouds in chase;

The Ox, he moveth in lazy pace.”

“Hear, Harald, what I have to say to thee,

What thou hast proposed well pleaseth me.

“If my ship in aught be better than thine,

I ’ll readily, cheerfully, lend thee mine.

“Do thou the Dragon so sprightly take,

And I with the Ox will the journey make.

“But first to the church we ’ll bend our way,

Ere our hand on sail or on oar we lay.”

And into the church Saint Oluf trode,

His beautiful hair like the bright gold glowed.

But soon, out of breath, there came a man:

“Thy brother is sailing off fast as he can.”

“Let them sail, my friend, who to sail may choose;

The word of our Lord we will not lose.

“The mass is the word of our blessed Lord.

Take water, ye swains, for our table board.

“We will sit at board, and the meat we will taste,

Then unto the sea-shore quietly haste.”

Now down they all speed to the ocean-strand,

Where the Ox lay rocking before the land.

And speedily they to the ocean bore

The anchor, and cable, and sail, and oar.

Saint Oluf he stood on the prow when on board:

“Now forward, thou Ox, in the name of the Lord!”

He grappled the Ox by the horn so white:

“Hie now, as if thou went clover to bite!”

Then forward the Ox began to hie,

In his wake stood the billows boisterously.

He hallooed to the lad on the yard so high:

“Do we the Dragon of Harald draw nigh?”

“No more of the pomps of the world I see

Than the uppermost top of the good oak-tree.

“I see near the land of Norroway skim

Bright silken sails with a golden rim.

“I see ’neath Norroway’s mountains proud

The Dragon bearing of sail a cloud.

“I see, I see, by Norroway’s side,

The Dragon gallantly forward stride.”

On the Ox’s ribs a blow he gave:

“Now faster, now faster, over the wave!”

He struck the Ox on the eye with force:

“To the haven much speedier thou must course.”

Then forward the Ox began to leap,

No sailor on deck his stand could keep.

Then cords he took, and his mariners fast

He tied to the vessel’s rigging and mast.

’T was then, ’t was then, the steersman cried:

“But who shall now the vessel guide?”

His little gloves off Saint Oluf throws,

And to stand himself by the rudder he goes.

“O, we will sail o’er cliff and height,

The nearest way, like a line of light!”

So o’er the hills and dales they career,

To them they became like water clear.

So they sailed along o’er the mountains blue,

Then out came running the Elfin crew.

“Who sails o’er the gold in which we joy?

Our ancient father who dares annoy?”

“Elf, turn to stone, and a stone remain

Till I by this path return again!”

So they sailed o’er Skaaney’s mountains tall,

And stones became the little Elves all.

Out came a Carline with spindle and rock:

“Saint Oluf! why sailest thou us to mock?

“Saint Oluf, thou who the red beard hast!

Through my chamber wall thy ship hath passed.”

With a glance of scorn did Saint Oluf say:

“Stand there a flint-rock forever and aye.”

Unhindered, unhindered, they bravely sailed on,

Before them yielded both stock and stone.

Still onward they sailed in such gallant guise,

That no man upon them could fasten his eyes.

Saint Oluf a bow before his knee bent,

Behind the sail dropped the shaft that he sent.

From the stern Saint Oluf a barb shot free,

Behind the Ox fell the shaft in the sea.

Saint Oluf he trusted in Christ alone,

And therefore first home by three days he won.

And that made Harald with fury storm,

Of a laidly dragon he took the form.

But the Saint was a man of devotion full,

And the Saint got Norroway’s land to rule.

Into the church Saint Oluf trode,

He thanked the Saviour in fervent mood.

Saint Oluf walked the church about,

There shone a glory his ringlets out.

Whom God doth help makes bravely his way,

His enemies win both shame and dismay.