En 13d Ode to Adela

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    13d. Ode to Adela

    [095/20] “Ode to the Burgmaid”

    Yes, comrade from afar. Thousands have already come , and yet more are on their way.
    Why? They come to honor Adela’s wisdom.
    Assuredly, she is chief among us, for she always was foremost.
    Say, o wall[1] — to what shall they attend? Her shirt is of linen, her tunic of wool, which she spun and wove herself. What could they add [096] to heighten her beauty? Not pearls, for her teeth were whiter. Not gold, for her hair shone brighter. Not jewels, for her eyes, though soft as a lamb’s, blazed such that one scarce dared hold their gaze.
    What prattle I though of beauty? Frya herself was surely no fairer. Yea, comrade. Frya, who had seven gifts of beauty, of which her daughters gained each but one, or three at the most. Yet, even were she unlovely, Adela would have been no less dear to us.
    Was she heroic? Hark, comrade. Adela was our reeve’s only child, seven feet tall she was, and yet greater than her stature was her wisdom — and her courage was like both combined.
    Behold! There once was a peat fire, and three children had climbed onto a gravestone to escape it. A fell wind blew. They screamed and their mothers were desperate. Then came Adela, calling out: “Why do you stand and wince? Try to help them and Wralda shall give you strength!” She hurried to the thicket,[2] grabbed some alder trunks [097] to build a bridge. Then the others came to help and the children were saved. The children returned here every year with flowers.
    Once, three Phoenician sailors were about and sought to harass them. But Adela heard their cries and came. She knocked the molesters into a swoon and, to teach them what unworthy men they were, she bound them all fast together to a distaff. Their foreign masters came to look for them and, seeing how they had been humiliated, became furious. But we told them how it had happened. And what did they then do? They bowed before Adela and kissed the fringe of her tunic.
    But come, distant comrade! The forest birds flee from the many attendants. Come so you may hear of her wisdom!

    Nearby the gravestone mentioned in the ode, my mother’s remains were buried. And upon her own gravestone, these words were written: “Pass by not too hastily, for here lies Adela.”


    1. ‘O wall’ (O WÁCH) — translated literally (compare ch. 14e, Demetrius and Friso [126/30]). Perhaps the tradition of prayer at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem harkens back to the practice of bewailing a (real or imagined) wall.
    2. 'thicket' (KRÍL.WOD) — or: Creil Woods; compare ch. 11c, Death of the Magy [087/06] and ch. 19d, Idolatry and Superstition [206/10].

    Sandbach 1876

    [p.133 cont.] The Elegy of the Burgtmaagd.

    Yes, departed friend, thousands are arrived, and more are coming. They wish to hear the wisdom of Adela. Truly, she was a princess, for she had always been the leader. O Sorrow, what good can you do!

    Her garments[1] of linen and wool she spun and wove herself. How could she add to her beauty? Not with pearls, for her teeth were more white; not with gold, for her tresses were more brilliant; not with precious stones, for her eyes, though soft as those of a lamb, were so lustrous that you could scarcely look into them. But why do I talk of beauty? Frya was certainly not more beautiful; yes, my friends, Frya, who possessed seven perfections, of which each of her daughters inherited one, or at most three. But even if she had been ugly, she would still have been dear to us. Is she warlike? Listen, my friend. Adele was the only daughter of our Grevetman. She stood seven feet high. Her wisdom exceeded her stature, and her courage was equal to both together. Here is an instance. There was once a turf-ground on fire. Three children got upon yonder gravestone. There was a furious wind. The people were all shouting, and the mother was helpless. Then came Adela. What are you all standing still here for? she cried. Try to [p.135] help them, and Wr-alda will give you strength. Then she ran to the Krylwood and got some elder branches, of which she made a bridge. The others then came to assist her, and the children were saved. The children bring flowers to the place every year. There came once three Phœnician sailors, who began to ill-treat the children, when Adela, having heard their screams, beat the scoundrels till they were insensible, and then, to prove to them what miserable wretches they were, she tied them all three to a spindle.

    The foreign lords came to look after their people, and when they saw how ridiculously they had been treated they were very angry, till they were told what had happened. Upon that they bowed themselves before Adele, and kissed the hem of her garment. But come, distant living friend. The birds of the forest fled before the numerous visitors. Come, friend, and you shall hear her wisdom. By the gravestone of which mention has already been made her body is buried. Upon the stone the following words are inscribed:—

    Tread softly, for here lies Adela.

    Note Sandbach

    1. To hnekka, a high petticoat reaching up to the neck.

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    En 13c Death of Adela ᐊ previous/next ᐅ En 13e Teachings 1

    In alternative order:

    En 13c Death of Adela ᐊ previous/next ᐅ En 13a Adel-Bond

    Nl 13d Lofrede op Adela