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A poem by George Borrow


Title:     Allegast
Author: George Borrow [More Titles by Borrow]

The Count such a store of gold had got,
His equal for wealth in the land was not.

But the Count he had of a hare the heart,
At the slightest thing he with fear would start.

Yet at last he grew of courage so rife,
That he wooed the King's daughter to be his wife.

Then answer made Carl, the son of the King:
I ne'er will consent to such shameful thing.

"For he served my father like a knave,
He'll not bear on his helm the stroke of a glaive.

"Last year the King's coursers he helped to groom,
This year he'll to wed the King's daughter presume."

Nought booted all Carl, the King's son, could say;
'Gainst the wish of her brother they gave her away.

Dreamt Carl, the King's son, on his night-couch laid,
That he would take up the thieving trade.

"May the Lord God grant I the man may find,
Who best can steal of the thieving kind.

"God grant that I in with Allegast fall,
Who best can steal of the world's thieves all."

Early at morn the day shone clear,
From the house Carl, the King's son, rode in career.

And when to the castle gate he had won,
There Allegast stood, and leaned thereupon.

"What kind of man, my friend, may you be,
Whom loitering here by the gate I see?"

"The folks, young Sir, me Allegast call,
I am the best thief of the world's thieves all."

"Then we'll to each other a solemn oath give,
To steal and to thieve all the days that we live.

"Now we will away to the house of the Count,
And the courser we'll steal which to ride he is wont."

And when they arrived on the verdant plain,
Into hot dispute fell the comrades twain.

They disputed which should break the wall,
They disputed which therethrough should crawl.

But Allegast he should break down the wall,
And Allegast he should creep through withall.

"But how shall we bear the Count's saddle away?
So many bells that saddle array."

The Count to his page that evening said:
"My saddle wipe, ere thou get thee to bed.

"For to-morrow I'm bent to ride to the Ting,
I'll have Carl hanged, the son of the King."

Then the Countess in bitter grief answer made:
"You'll ne'er live so long as to see him dead.

"My father's servant last year thou wast,
Now to sleep with his daughter the honour thou hast."

The Count at that word so ireful grew,
He smote his wife that the blood out-flew.

At hand was Sir Carl, heard all they spake:
"I soon of this matter an end will make."

Then Carl he entered through the door,
And a naked sword in his hand he bore.

"Thou dog, thou shalt never more have the might
The gentle daughters of Kings to smite.

"Thou dog, thou shalt never more have the power
To threaten Kings' children within thy bower."

The Count by his long yellow locks he took,
And by the bed's side his head off strook.

"Do thou lie there, and for ever be banned,
I'll bestow on another my sister's hand.

"I'll give her Sir Allegast, he is a knight
So true and trusty and valiant in fight."

The King's sweet daughter has Allegast wed,
For her infamous husband unwept lies dead.

These gallants were thieves in no other way,
Than that they a trick on the Count would play.

But could all thieving come to so fair an end,
There's many, I trow, would a-thieving wend!

[The end]
George Borrow's poem: Allegast