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Esbern Snare

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  • postodave
    Citizen of Tanelorn
    • Jul 2011
    • 235

    Esbern Snare

    Last summer while on holiday I bought a second hand book called Ballads Ancient and Modern published in 1929. In the collection of modern ballads it included one the last two verses of which were familiar. The Ballad was called Kallundborg Church and was acredited to J G Whittier. That would be the quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier perhaps best known as the author of the hymn 'Dear Lord and Father of Mankind.' The last two verses read:

    Of the Troll of the Church they sing the rune
    By the Northern Sea in the harvest moon;
    And the fishers of Zealand hear him still
    Scolding his wife in Ulshoi hill.

    And seaward over its groves of birch
    Still looks the tower of Kallundborg church
    Where, first at its altar, a wedded pair,
    Stood Helva of Nesvek and Esbern Snare!

    As Moorcock readers will know these verses are found, attributed to Wheldrake as the intro to part two of The Revenge of the Rose. When I first read The End of All Songs I assumed Wheldrake was an actual 19th Century poet who I had never heard of, as is implied in the acknowledgements. I realised later that the verses in question, including the one from which the title is taken, were the work of Moorcock. So now I assumed this one was. As far as I know the other verses quoted in The Revenge are not the works of existing authors.