J. Ludwig Uhland: King Charles’s Sea-Voyage

Excerpt, “Gems of German Poetry:  A Collection of the Choicest German Songs and Ballads.” Translated into English by the Most Eminent Authors. 1896. Translated by Walter William Skeat.


King Charles’s Sea-Voyage


King Charles with all his douciperes
Across the ocean sailed;
Towards the Holy Land he steers —
A dreadful storm prevailed.

Out spake Sir Roland, hero brave:
” I well can fence and fight;
Yet little may such arts avail
Against the tempest’s might. ”

Next spake Sir Holgar, Denmark’s pride:
” I’ve skill with harp and song;
What ‘vails me this, when thus contends
The blast with billows strong? ” 

Sir Oliver felt little cheer;
He viewed his weapons keen:
” It is not for my life I fear,
But Alta Clara’s sheen! ”

Next spake the treach’rous Ganelon —
In undertone he spake: —
” Were I but far from hence on land,
The rest the fiend might take! ”

Archbishop Turpin sighed aloud:
” God’s champions stout are we;
Come, Saviour dear, from Holy Land,
And guide us o’er the sea. “

Next Richard — Dauntless named — ‘gan say:
” Ye powers and imps of hell;
Now help me in my need, I pray,
I oft have served you well. ”

Sir Naime next his rede began: —
” I’ve counselled much this year;
But water sweet and counsel good
On shipboard oft are dear. ”

Then spake Rioul, a veteran brave: —
” A warrior old am I,
And fain would hope my corse at last
In good dry ground may lie. “

Sir Guy, a young and gallant knight,
Right gaily ‘gan to sing:
” I would I were a lightsome bird,
I’d to my love take wing! ”

Then spake Guarine, that noble knight:
” May God our succour be!
I’d rather drink the good red wine
Than water from the sea. ”

Sir Lambert next, brave youngster, cried:
” God our protection be!
I’d rather eat the dainty fish
Than that the fish ate me! ”

Last spake Sir Godfrey, far renowned:
” What matters what befal?
Whatever fate myself o’ertakes
Shall whelm my brethren all. ”

King Charles beside the rudder sat,
No word his lips would vent;
With sure control the ship he steered
Until the storm was spent.