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The King of Denmark's ride

Language: English after the Danish (Dansk)

Word was brought to the Danish king
That the love of his heart lay suffering,
And pined for the comfort his voice would bring.
      (Oh, ride as though you were flying!)
Better he loves each golden curl
On the brow of that Scandinavian girl,
Than his rich crown jewels of ruby and pearl;
     And his Rose of the Isles is dying!

Thirty nobles saddled with speed;
Each one mounting a gallant steed
Which he kept for battle and days of need.
      (Oh, ride as though you were flying!)
Spurs were struck in the foaming flank;
Worn-out chargers [staggered]1 and sank;
Bridles were [slackened]2 and girths were burst,
But, ride as they would, the king rode first,
     For his Rose of the Isles lay dying!

His nobles are beaten one by one;
They have fainted and [faltered]3 and homeward gone;
His little fair page now follows alone,
     For strength and for courage trying!
The king looked back at that faithful child;
Wan was the face that answering [smiled]4;
They passed the drawbridge with clattering din,
Then he [dropped]5; and only the king [rode]6 in
     Where his Rose of the Isles lay dying!

The king blew a blast on his bugle-horn;
No answer came, but faint and forlorn
An echo [returned]7 on the cold, gray morn,
     Like the breath of a spirit sighing.
The castle portal stood grimly wide --
None [welcomed]8 the king from that weary ride;
For dead, in the light of the dawning day,
The pale, sweet form of [the welcomer]9 lay,
     Who had [yearned]10 for his voice while dying.

The panting steed, with a drooping crest,
     Stood weary.
The king [returned]7 from her chamber of rest,
The thick sobs choking in his breast;
     And, that dumb companion eying,
The tears gushed forth which he strove to check;
He [bowed]11 his head on his charger's neck;
"O steed, that every nerve didst strain--
Dear steed, our ride hath been in vain
     To the halls where my love lay dying!"

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Carmichael: "stagger'd"
2 Carmichael: "slacken'd"
3 Carmichael: "falter'd"
4 Carmichael: "smil'd"
5 Carmichael: "dropp'd"
6 Carmichael: "went"
7 Carmichael: "return'd"
8 Carmichael: "welcom'd"
9 Carmichael: "his true love"
10 Carmichael: "yearn'd"
11 Carmichael: "bow'd"

Submitted by Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]


Based on

Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Text added to the website: 2013-02-10.
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:05:08
Line count: 49
Word count: 333

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