Treasure Island

George Borrow

(1803-1881 / England)

Elvir Hill (From The Old Danish)


I rested my head upon Elvir Hill’s side, and my eyes were
beginning to slumber; That moment there rose up before me
two maids, whose charms would take ages to number.

One patted my face, and the other exclaim’d, while loading
my cheek with her kisses, “Rise, rise, for to dance with you
here we have sped from the undermost caves and abysses.

“Rise, fair-headed swain, and refuse not to dance; and I and
my sister will sing thee The loveliest ditties that ever
were heard, and the prettiest presents will bring thee.”

Then both of them sang so delightful a song, that the
boisterous river before us Stood suddenly quiet and placid,
as though ‘t were afraid to disturb the sweet chorus.

The boisterous stream stood suddenly still, though
accustom’d to foam and to bellow; And, fearless, the trout
play’d along with the pike, and the pike play’d with him as
his fellow.

The fishes, whose dwelling was deep in the flood, up, up
from their caverns did sally; The gay little birds of the
forest began to warble, forthwith, in the valley.

“Now, listen thou fair-headed swain, and if thou wilt stand
up and dance for a minute, We’ll teach thee to open the
sorcerer’s book, and to read all the Runic that’s in it.

“The bear and the wolf thou shalt trammel, unto the thick
stem of the oak, at thy pleasure; Before thee the dragon
shall fly from his nest, and shall leave thee sole lord of
his treasure.”

Then about and around on the moonlight hill, in their fairy
fashion they sported, While unmov’d sat the gallant and fair
young swain, whom they, in their wantonness, courted.

“And wilt thou not grant us our civil request, proud
stripling, and wilt thou deny it? By hell’s ruddy blazes,
our gold-handled knife shall lay thee for ever in quiet.”

And if my good luck had not manag’d it so, that the cock
crew out, then, in the distance, I should have been murder’d
by them, on the hill, without power to offer resistance.

‘T is therefore I counsel each young Danish swain, who may
ride in the forest so dreary, Ne’er to lay down upon lone
Elvir Hill though he chance to be ever so weary.

Submitted: Wednesday, October 13, 2010

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