Stanza 21

Of Dag, the Wise

King Dygve's son, called Dag, succeeded to him and was so wise a man that he understood the language of birds. He had a sparrow which told him much news, and flew to different countries. Once the sparrow flew to Reidgotaland, to a farm called Varva, where he flew into the peasant's corn-field and took his grain. The peasant came up, took a stone, and killed the sparrow. King Dag was ill-pleased that the sparrow did not come home; and as he, in a sacrifice of expiation, inquired after the sparrow, he got the answer that it was killed at Varva. Thereupon he ordered a great army and went to Gotland, and when he came to Varva he landed with his men and plundered, and the people fled away before him. King Dag returned in the evening to his ships, after having killed many people and taken many prisoners. As they were going across a river at a place called Skjotan's [the Weapon's] Ford, a laboring thrall came running to the river-side, and threw a hay- fork into their troop. It struck the king on the head so that he fell instantly from his horse and died. In those times the chief who ravaged a country was called Gram, and the men-at-arms under him Gramer. Thjodolf sings of it thus: --

What news is this that the king's men,
Flying eastward through the glen,
Report? That Dag the Brave, whose name
Is sounded far and wide by Fame --
That Dag, who knew so well to wield
The battle-axe in bloody field,
Where brave men meet, no more will head
The brave -- that mighty Dag is dead!

Varva was wasted with the sword,
And vengeance taken for the bird --
The little bird that used to bring
News to the ear of the great king.
Varva was ravaged, and the strife
Was ended, when the monarch's life
Was ended too -- the great Dag fell
By the hay-fork of a base thrall!