BALLAD OF HILDINA

STORIES AND BALLADS OF THE FAR PAST
TRANSLATED FROM THE NORSE (ICELANDIC AND FAROESE) BY N. KERSHAW CAMBRIDGE AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS 1921

BALLAD OF HILDINA 
This ballad has been discussed above, pp. 39 and 164f. It was taken down by George Low in the course of a visit made by him to the island of Foula in the Shetlands in 1774. He was entirely ignorant of the language, and had apparently no idea as to the meaning of the actual words, though the general drift of the ballad was explained to him by the islander, William Henry, from whom he obtained it (cf. p.164). As very few remains of the dialect have been preserved, apart from the ballad, the interpretation presents great difficulties. The following translation of the first twelve stanzas is made from the corrected text given by Dr M. Hægstadin his edition of the Hildina contained in Skrifter udgivne af Videnskabsselskabet i Christiania, 1900 (Historisk-Filosofiske Klasse, II).
THE SHETLAND BALLAD OF HILDINA

1. It was the Earl from Orkney,
And counsel of his kin sought he,
Whether he should the maiden
Free from her misery.

2. "If thou free the maid from her gleaming hall,
O kinsman dear of mine,
Ever while the world shall last
Thy glory still shall shine."

3. Home came the king,
Home from the ship's levy
The lady Hildina she was gone,
And only her stepmother there found he.

4. "Be he in whatever land,
This will I prove true,
He shall be hanged from the highest tree
That ever upward grew."

5. "If the Earl but come to Orkney,
Saint Magnus will be his aid,
And in Orkney ever he will remain—
Haste after him with speed."

6. The King he stood before his lady,
And a box on her ear gave he,—
And all adown her lily white cheeks
The tears did flow truly.

7. The Earl he stood before Hildina,
And a pat on her cheek gave he,—
"O which of us two wouldst thou have lie dead,
Thy father dear of me?

8. "I would rather see my father doomed,
And all his company,
If so my own true lord and I
May long rule in Orkney.

9. "Now do thou take in hand thy steed,
And ride thou down to the strand;
And do thou greet my sire full blithely,
And gladly will he clasp thy hand."

10. The King he now made answer—
So sore displeased was he—
"In payment for my daughter
What will thou give to me."

11. "Thirty marks of the red gold,
This to thee will I give,
And never shalt thou lack a son
As long as I may live."

12. Now long stood the King,
And long on the Earl gazed he:—
"O thou art worth a host of sons;
Thy boon is granted thee."

It will be seen that up to this point, in spite of the loss of the names, there can be little doubt that the subject of the ballad is the story of Hethin and Högni. After this however the narrative deviates from any other known version of the story. It would rather seem that—as in the German Kudrun—two stories, originally distinct, have been brought together in one poem.

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About Gaby F

lectora, estudiosa de la historia antigua, especialmente la mitología germánica, indoeuropea. ".
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