A harper came over the Danube so wide,
And he came into Alaric’s hall,
And he sang the song of the little Baltung
To him and his heroes all.
How the old old Balt and the young young Balt
Rode out of Caucaland,
With the royal elephant’s trunk on helm
And the royal lance in hand.
Thuringer heroes, counts and knights,
Pricked proud in their meinie;
For they were away to the great Kaiser,
In Byzant beside the sea.
And when they came to the Danube so wide
They shouted from off the shore,
‘Come over, come over, ye Roman slaves,
And ferry your masters o’er.’
And when they came to Adrian’s burgh,
With its towers so smooth and high,
‘Come out, come out, ye Roman knaves,
And see your lords ride by.’
But when they came lo the long long walls
That stretch from sea to sea,
That old old Balt let down his chin,
And a thoughtful man grew he.
‘Oh oft have I scoffed at brave Fridigern,
But never will I scoff more,
If these be the walls which kept him out
From the Micklegard there on the shore.’
Then out there came the great Kaiser,
With twice ten thousand men;
But never a Thuring was coward enough
To wish himself home again.
‘Bow down, thou rebel, old Athanarich,
And beg thy life this day;
The Kaiser is lord of all the world,
And who dare say him nay?’
‘I never came out of Caucaland
To beg for less nor more;
But to see the pride of the great Kaiser,
In his Micklegard here by the shore.
‘I never came out of Caucaland
To bow to mortal wight,
But to shake the hand of the great Kaiser,
And God defend my right.’
He shook his hand, that cunning Kaiser,
And he kissed him courteouslie,
And he has ridden with Athanarich
That wonder-town to see.
He showed him his walls of marble white–
A mile o’erhead they shone;
Quoth the Balt, ‘Who would leap into that garden,
King Siegfried’s boots must own.’
He showed him his engines of arsmetrick
And his wells of quenchless flame,
And his flying rocks, that guarded his walls
From all that against him came.
He showed him his temples and pillared halls,
And his streets of houses high;
And his watch-towers tall, where his star-gazers
Sit reading the signs of the sky.
He showed him his ships with their hundred oars,
And their sides like a castle wall,
That fetch home the plunder of all the world,
At the Kaiser’s beck and call.
He showed him all nations of every tongue
That are bred beneath the sun,
How they flowed together in Micklegard street
As the brooks flow all into one.
He showed him the shops of the china ware,
And of silk and sendal also,
And he showed him the baths and the waterpipes
On arches aloft that go.
He showed him ostrich and unicorn,
Ape, lion, and tiger keen;
And elephants wise roared ‘Hail Kaiser!’
As though they had Christians been.
He showed him the hoards of the dragons and trolls,
Rare jewels and heaps of gold–
‘Hast thou seen, in all thy hundred years,
Such as these, thou king so old?’
Now that cunning Kaiser was a scholar wise,
And could of gramarye,
And he cast a spell on that old old Balt,
Till lowly and meek spake he.
‘Oh oft have I heard of the Micklegard,
What I held for chapmen’s lies;
But now do I know of the Micklegard,
By the sight of mine own eyes.