Saturday, July 29, 2023

Rex Perpetuus Norvegiae

Today is the feast of Saint Olaf, Perpetual King of Norway.

Dirge of Saint Ólaf 
After Sighvat
by Beatrice Helen Barmby

Upon the Mount I stood,
 Anear the towns at morn,
 And thought how targets good
 And breastplates broad were torn.
 My lord remembering,
 Amid the dawning grey,
 How high he sat as king
 In Thórd my father's day. 

 He who his love hath lost
 Is fain of death's long sleep;
 Too dearly love hath cost
 When o'er the dead we weep.
 And bitter tears must fall
 For a brave warrior's end;
 Our loss is more than all,
 To lose our king and friend. 

 The henchmen in the court
 Were joyous as I passed,
 I turned me from their sport,
 My cheek grew pale as bast.
 I thought of years gone by,
 Of many a merry day
 When my dear lord and I
 Were fain of sport and play. 

 All laughing seemed the coast,
The hills round Norroway;
I knew them, least and most,
Ere Ólaf passed away.
 I miss my leader good,
 In whom all joy I had,
 And now to match my mood
 The very hills grow sad.

Sighvat, or Sigvatr, was St. Olaf's court poet, and much of the surviving poetry about Olaf that is contemporary to the king is from him. Beatrice Helen Barmby was a Victorian author who played a signfiicant, if not always remembered, role in translating, paraphrasing, and adapting Old Norse works into English.