Music Of The Waters - online book

Sailors' Chanties, Songs Of The Sea, Boatmen's, Fishermen's,
Rowing Songs, & Water Legends with lyrics & sheet music

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Music of the Waters.              209
somewhat difficult matter to discriminate between the mythological and historical, so closely are they blended in the narratives of the Northern countries.
There is a curious tale about herrings mentioned in one, Saga Eyvind. Skaldespiller, a poet, composed a poem about the people of Iceland, for which they re­warded him by each peasant giving him three silver pennies of full weight. These pennies were purified and made into a row of silver clasps, and valued at fifty marks Eyvind on receiving these clasps (which, by the way. resembled the rows of buttons still used by the Friesland fishermen for ornaments on their jackets), was obliged to separate them and sell them to defray his household expenses ; a proceeding which must have seemed the reverse of dignified. But the same spring a shoal of herrings set in upon the fishing-ground beyond the coast-side, and Eyvind manned a ship's boat with his house-servants and cotters, and rode to where the herrings were come, singing:—
" Now let the steed of ocean bound O'er the North Sea with dashing sound ; Let nimble bird and screaming gull Fly round and round, our net is full. Fain would I know if fortune sends A like provision to my friends. Welcome provision, it is, I wot, That the whale drives to our cook's pot."
So entirely were his movable goods exhausted that he was obliged to sell his arrows to buy herrings, or other meat for his table :—
" Our arms and ornaments of gold To buy us food we gladly sold ; The arrows of the bow gave we For the bright arrows of the sea."
Herrings, from their swift darting along, are called the
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