En 07a Before Bad Times

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    7. On all Burgs 1

    7a. Before the Bad Times

    [047/05] This is inscribed on all burgs:

    Before the bad times came, our land was the most beautiful in Wralda. Sun rose higher and there was seldom frost. On the trees and shrubs grew fruits and nuts which are now lost. Among the grains, not only did we have ‘choice’, ‘favored’, and ‘blithe’, but also ‘sweet’,[1] which shone like gold and could be baked in the sun’s rays. Years were not counted, for one year was as joyous as the next.

    On one side, we were enclosed by Wralda’s Sea, upon which no folk but us had the means nor skills to fare; on the other side, we were hedged by the broad Twiskland, through which the Finda folk dared not come, on account of the thick forests and the wild beasts. Toward the sunrise, our borders reached to the utmost limits of the East Sea; toward sunset,[2] to the gates of the Middle Sea. Thus, we had — in addition to the smaller ones — no fewer than twelve great freshwater rivers given us by Wralda to keep our land healthy and to show our adventurous folk the way to his sea.

    The banks of these rivers were almost entirely inhabited by our folk, [048] as were the plains and the whole Rhine from beginning to end. Opposite the Denmarks and the Jutterland,[3] we had colonies with a burgmaid, whence we obtained copper and iron, plus tar, pitch, and some other necessities. Opposite our former Westland, we had Britannia with its tin mines (Britannia was the land of the banished, who were ‘brit’ away with the help of their burgmaid to spare their lives. But in order that they should never come back, a ‘B’ was first tattooed on their foreheads; murderers with blood-red dye and other criminals with blue dye). Furthermore, our steersmen and traders had many warehouses in the Near Greeklands and in Lydia. (In Lydia is where the black people live.)

    As our land was so great and extensive, we had many different names: Those who lived in the east of the Denmarks were called ‘Jutters’, because almost all they did was to ‘jut’ (or: collect) amber on the shores. Those who lived on the islands were called ‘Lets’ (or: ‘the Absent’), because they mostly lived in remote locations.[4] All inhabitants of beaches and shores, from the Denmarks to the Sandfal — now Scheldt — were called ‘Stiurar’ (steersmen), ‘Seakampar’ (sea campaigners) and ‘Angelara’ (fishermen). Angelara was the name given chiefly to the fishermen at sea, because they fished only with an ‘angle’, or pole, [049] and never used nets.[5] Those who lived further off, down to the Near Greeklands, were simply called ‘Kaedhomer’ (coast-dwellers), because they never fared out to sea. Those who lived in the highmarks that border the Twisklands were called ‘Saxmen’, because they were always armed (with a ‘sax’: knife) against the wild animals and the savage ‘Brits’ (banished). Moreover, we had the names ‘Land-dwellers’, ‘Lake-dwellers’, and ‘Holt-’ or ‘Wood-dwellers’.


    1. KÉREN (lit.: ‘chosen’) and LJAVER lit.: ‘more dear’) have their modern cognates ‘corn/koren’ (wheat, rye or barley) and ‘oats/haver’, but it remains uncertain precisely what was meant. Therefore, a more literal translation was given.
    2. ‘Toward the sunrise... sunset’ — lit.: ‘in the morning... in the evening’.
    3. ‘Denmarks ... Jutterland’ (DÉNA.MARKA ... JUTTAR LÁND) — or: ‘low marks ... land of the beachcombers’.
    4. ‘desolate’ (VRLÉTEN) — lit.: ‘left over’ or ‘left behind’ (Dutch: verlaten; German: verlassen).
    5. ‘angle or pole’ (ANGEL JEFTA KOL) — or: ‘hook’, ‘angling rod’.

    Sandbach 1876

    [p.67 cont.] This stands inscribed upon all Citadels.

    Before the bad time came our country was the most beautiful in the world. The sun rose higher, and there was seldom frost. The trees and shrubs produced various fruits, which are now lost. In the fields we had not only barley, oats, and rye, but wheat which shone like gold, and which could be baked in the sun's rays. The years were not counted, for one was as happy as another.

    On one side we were bounded by Wr-alda's Sea, on which no one but us might or could sail; on the other side we were hedged in by the broad Twiskland (Tusschenland, Duitschland), through which the Finda people dared not come on account of the thick forests and the wild beasts.

    Eastward our boundary went to the extremity of the East Sea, and westward to the Mediterranean [p.69] Sea; so that besides the small rivers we had twelve large rivers given us by Wr-alda to keep our land moist, and to show our seafaring men the way to his sea.

    The banks of these rivers were at one time entirely inhabited by our people, as well as the banks of the Rhine from one end to the other. Opposite Denmark and Jutland we had colonies and a Burgtmaagd. Thence we obtained copper and iron, as well as tar and pitch, and some other necessaries. Opposite to us we had Britain, formerly Westland, with her tin mines.

    Britain was the land of the exiles, who with the help of their Burgtmaagd had gone away to save their lives; but in order that they might not come back they were tattooed with a B on the forehead, the banished with a red dye, the other criminals with blue. Moreover, our sailors and merchants had many factories among the distant Krekalanders and in Lydia. In Lydia (Lybia) the people are black. As our country was so great and extensive, we had many different names. Those who were settled to the east of Denmark were called Jutten, because often they did nothing else than look for amber (jutten) on the shore. Those who lived in the islands were called Letten, because they lived an isolated life. All those who lived between Denmark and the Sandval, now the Scheldt, were called Stuurlieden (pilots),[1] Zeekampers (naval men),[2] and Angelaren (fishermen).[3] The Angelaren were men who fished in the sea, and were so named because they used lines and hooks instead of nets. From there to the nearest part of Krekaland the inhabitants were called Kadhemers, because they never went to sea but remained ashore.

    Those who were settled in the higher marches bounded by Twisklanden (Germany) were called Saxmannen, because they were always armed against the wild beasts and the savage Britons. Besides [p.71] these we had the names Landzaten (natives of the land), Marzaten (natives of the fens),[4] and Woud or Hout zaten (natives of the woods).

    Notes Sandbach

    1. Stjurar, in Latin Sturii.
    2. Sêkâmpar, in Latin Sicambri.
    3. Angelara, in Latin Angli.
    4. Mârsata, in Latin Marsacii.

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