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Glittering lances are the loom,

Where the dusky warp we strain,
Weaving many a soldier's doom,

Orkney's1 woe, and Randver's bane.

See the grisly texture grow!

('Tis of human entrails made,)
And the weights that play2 below,

Each a gasping warrior's head.
Shafts for shuttles, dipt in gore,

Shoot the trembling cords along,
Sword, that once a monarch bore,

Keep the tissue close and strong.
Mista, black terrific maid,

Sangrida, and Hilda,“ see !
Join the wayward work to aid ;

'Tis the woof 6 of victory.
Ere the ruddy sun be set,

Pikes 6 must shiver, javelins sing,
Blade with clattering buckler 7 meet,

Hauberk 8 crash, and helmet ring.
(Weave the crimson web of war)

Let us go, and let us fly,
Where our friends the conflict share,

Where they triumph, where they die.

1 Said to signify in old Gaelic, island of whales.

2 Attached to keep the “strain” or tightness upon the threads. Play - Perform their part.

3 Arrows; A.-S., scafan, to smooth as with a plane. Shuttles-Lite rally that which shoots; A.-8., sceotan, to shoot.

4 Three of the Valkyrmir.
5 Has affinity with weave.
6 French, pique, a long wooden shaft with a steel head.

7 French, buuclier, a shield with a projecting bockle or bos in the centre.

8 See note 2 to “The Bard,” p. 16. Helm, wid.

As the paths of fate we tread,

Wading through the ensanguined field,
Gondula and Geira 2 spread

O'er the youthful king your shield.
We the reins to slaughter give,

Ours to kill, and ours : to spare,
Spite of danger he shall live.

(Weave the crimson web of war.)
They whom once the desert-beach

Pent 4 within its bleak domain,
Soon their ample sway shall stretch 5

O'er the plenty of the plain,
Low the dauntless earl 6 is laid,

Gored with many a gaping wound :
Fate demands a nobler head;

Soon a king shall bite the ground.7
Long his loss shall Eirin 8 weep,

Ne’er again his likeness see ;
Long her strains in sorrow steep,

Strains of immortality !
Horror covers all the heath,

Clouds of carnage blot the sun :
Sisters, weave the web of death

Sisters, cease; the work is done.


1 Two more of the Valkyrmir.

2 “Sigtryg with the silken beard," mentioned in the introductory note.

3 It is ours. The predicative form of the pronoun.
4 Preterite of the verb to pen, in the sense of to coop up.

5 Paraphrase. Shortly those pent up in the bleak domain of the Shetland Isles, shall invade and extend their sway over certain of the fruitful plains of the mainland of Britain.

6 Sigard of the introductory note.
7 The poetic commonplace for death in battle.
8 Erin, the Erse name for Ireland.

Hail the task, and hail the hands !

Songs of joy and triumph sing !
Joy to the victorious bands ;

Triumph to the younger king.
Mortal, thou that hear'st the tale,

Learn the tenour of our song ;
Scotland, through each winding vale,

Far and wide the notes prolong.
Sisters, hence with spurs of speed :

Each her thundering falchion wield ;
Each bestride her sable steed ;

Hurry, hurry to the field.




[This is a vigorous and powerful ode; but perhaps a little too polished to be considered a very truthful reflex of the Norse Saga. The translation was made in 1769.]

UP rose the King of Men with speed,
And saddled straight his coal-black steed : 2
Down the yawning steep he rode,
That leads to Hela’s 3 drear abode.
Him the Dog of Darkness 4 spied ;
His shaggy throat he opened wide,
While from his jaws, with carnage filled,
Foam and human gore distilled :
Hoarse he bays, with hideous din,

Eyes that glow, and fangs that grin ; 1 Odin. 2 Sleipner, a horse with eight legs. 3 The goddess who presided over the nine concentric circles of ice which formed Niflheim, the Scandinavian hell.

Managazmar, the Cerberus of the Scandinavian mythology.

And long pursues, with fruitless yell,
The Father of the powerful spell.
Onward still his way he takes
(The groaning earth before him shakes),
Till full before his fearless eyes
The portals nine of Hell arise.

Right against the eastern gate,
By the moss-grown pile he sate,
Where long of yore to sleep was laid
The dust of the prophetic Maid.
Facing to the Northern clime,
Thrice he traced the Runic ? rhyme ;
Thrice pronounced in accents dread
The thrilling verse that wakes the dead ; 2
Till from out the hollow ground
Slowly breathed a sullen sound.
Prophetess. What call unknown, what charms

To break the quiet of the tomb ?
Who thus afflicts my troubled sprite, 3
And drags me from the realms of night ?
Long on these mouldering bones have beat
The winter's snow, the summer's heat,
The drenching dews, and driving rain. 4
Let me, let me sleep again.
Who is he, with voice unblest,
That calls me from the bed of rest ?

Odin. A traveller, to thee unknown,
Is he that calls, a warrior's son.
Thou the deeds of light shalt know;
Tell me what is done below,

1 Three and nine have ever been cabalistic numbers in matters of demonology and incantation. Runic, belonging to the runes or Scandinavian letters. A.-S., rûn; Norse, runa, meaning mystery.

2 In the original, vallgaldr, from VALR_mortuus, dead, and galdrincantatio, a charm.

3 Spirit. 4 A.-S., drencan, soaking, saturating.

For whom yon glittering board is spread,
Drest for whom yon golden bed.

Prophetess. Mantling in the goblet see
The pure beverage of the bee :1
O’er it hangs the shield of gold ;
'Tis the drink of the Balder 2 bold :
Balder's head to death is given.
Pain can reach the Sons of Heaven !
Unwilling I my lips unclose :
Leave me, leave me to repose.

Odin. Once again my call obey,
Prophetess, arise, and say,
What dangers Odin's child await,
Who the author of his fate.

Prophetess. In Hoder's hand the Hero's doom ;
His brother sends him to the tomb.
Now my weary lips I close :


leave me to repose.
Odin. Prophetess, my spell obey,
Once again arise, and say,
Who the avenger of his guilt,
By whom shall Hoder's blood be spilt.

Prophetess. In the caverns of the west,
By Odin's fierce embrace comprest,
A wondrous Boy shall Rinda bear,
Who ne'er shall comb his raven-hair,
Nor wash his visage in the stream,
Nor see the sun's departing beam,
Till he on Hoder's corse shall smile
Flaming on the funeral pile.
Now my weary lips I close :

Leave me, leave me to repose. 1 Mead (A.-S., meth), a drink prepared from honey, which the warrior shades in the Norse Valhalla, or heaven, are represented as drinking out of the skulls of the foemen they had slain in battle upon earth.

2 Odin's son, who had dreamed of his own impending death. He was slain by Hoder, who afterwards fell by the hand of Vali, the son of Odin and Rhinda, c. 65.


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