Harold the Herald

©Ulf Gunnarson (John Ruble)

   Harold was a herald, a fitting job they say.
   His honor was his sword and shield, his armor in a fray.
   He never once betrayed a trust, he never broke his word,
   For Harold was a herald, a warrior without sword.

The king did bid him serve him, and Harold gave his all
by calling list rolls at the field, reciting Kingdom Law.
And when in privy council he secrets overheard,
he kept his tongue soft in his head and never said a word.

The king was fair and noble and the people loved him well.
But 'cross the water lived a duke, both terrible and fell.
Greed his only council, great envy filled his mind.
So with war banner he journeyed forth and his army marched behind.

The sentries saw this movement so they sent the king their news,
"Your army must assemble quick or half your lands to lose."
So the king did send his summons his men to arm and go
And he sent his herald swift ahead to parley with the foe.


Harold found the foemen's camp and before the Duke was brought,
to try to stem the battle e'er it could be fought.
But the duke refused to hear him 'til he swore an oath so dear
to not reveal the strategies that he might overhear.

Harold gladly swore this oath and his congress then ensued.
On behalf of his liege an armistice, he sued.
The duke did give his answer, a meeting there would be
in two days time, 'tween him and King, to form a new treaty.

Harold bowed agreement then he mounted on his horse
to journey back to his own king and tell of his discourse.
But as he rode out of that camp, he heard the order passed,
"Make ready for the ambush in the forest path."

Harold rode unflinching as if he had not heard.
but now began the struggle with his given word
and of his oath of loyalty unto his king and liege.
How can he keep his honor and keep his kingdom free?


He met up with the army at twilight the next day
and told the King word for word of what the Duke did say.
And of the ambush, nothing; his given word he'd keep.
But by the fires of the night, to the King's tent he did creep.

The pages all were sleeping as he drew the armor out,
the golden surcoat and the helm, renowned in every bout.
And by the dawning of the sun, the sentries seemed to see
the King ride out in silence to sign the new treaty.

The archers of the Duke were set and ready for their plan.
The sentries saw their arrows buzz like bees to slay the man.
The camp aroused in anguish, 'til from his tent the King
Did come to them and rally them, and how their swords did sing!

The ambush had been sprung too soon and so was saved the day.
The Duke's own troops were routed and whipped along their way.
And of the golden surcoat... in a pool of blood it lay.
The king lifted the body, and this they heard him say:

"Harold was a warrior, a hero died this day
He donned my armor and my helm to walk where ambush lay.
He never once betrayed a trust, he never broke his word.
For Harold was a herald, a warrior without sword."