The Dice Game of the Two Olafs

Words: Debra Doyle ©1979
Music: Irish traditional, "Sullivan's John."

When Olaf the Stout was Norway's king
Of Harald the Fair-Haired's race,
And Olaf the Swede of the Uppsala breed
Then ruled in his father's place,
No love was lost between the two
Although they shared a name,
And they went to war for many a year
Over land that they both did claim.

A farmstead sat in the border lands,
Right on the boundary line.
Each king his claim would loud proclaim,
Insisting, "This land is mine!"
The years went by and no settlement stuck,
So they hit on a fair device:
The kings would settle who owned the farm
By casting a pair of dice.

First Olaf the Swede, he throws a twelve,
And thinks this can't be beat.
But Norway says, "No, to equal your throw
Is not an impossible feat."
He shakes the dice, and he throws them straight,
And uses no sleights or tricks,
And they roll across the table top,
And come up with a double six!

Says Olaf the Swede, "Let's try once more,"
And throws a twelve straightway.
"I've won!" he cries out, but Olaf the Stout
Says, "Wait, there's my turn to play."
And he breathed a prayer as he shook the dice,
And onto the table they spun,
And one showed a six, but the other broke—
And the halves came up six and one!

Now Olaf the Stout was a Christian king,
And later was called a saint—
By which we may see that sanctity
Isn't always what monks would paint.
May he send us luck when we need it sore,
For an edge when the times get lean,
Let a toast be a prayer to Olaf the Stout,
The gambler who threw thirteen!

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