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Title: Tales of a Wayside Inn
Author: Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Tales of a Wayside Inn" ***

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                            [Illustration]



                                TALES

                                 OF A

                             WAYSIDE INN


                                  BY

                     HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.


                            [Illustration]


                               BOSTON:
                         TICKNOR AND FIELDS.
                                1863.



      Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1863, by
                     HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW,
    in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of
                            Massachusetts.


                          UNIVERSITY PRESS:
                     WELCH, BIGELOW, AND COMPANY,
                              CAMBRIDGE.



CONTENTS.


TALES OF A WAYSIDE INN.

                                                          PAGE
  PRELUDE.

      THE WAYSIDE INN                                        1

  THE LANDLORD'S TALE.

      PAUL REVERE'S RIDE                                    18

  INTERLUDE                                                 26

  THE STUDENT'S TALE.

      THE FALCON OF SER FEDERIGO                            30

  INTERLUDE                                                 46

  THE SPANISH JEW'S TALE.

      THE LEGEND OF RABBI BEN LEVI                          49

  INTERLUDE                                                 53

  THE SICILIAN'S TALE.

      KING ROBERT OF SICILY                                 55

  INTERLUDE                                                 69

  THE MUSICIAN'S TALE.

      THE SAGA OF KING OLAF                                 71

          I. The Challenge of Thor                          71
         II. King Olaf's Return                             74
        III. Thora of Rimol                                 79
         IV. Queen Sigrid the Haughty                       83
          V. The Skerry of Shrieks                          88
         VI. The Wraith of Odin                             94
        VII. Iron-Beard                                     98
       VIII. Gudrun                                        103
         IX. Thangbrand the Priest                         106
          X. Raud the Strong                               111
         XI. Bishop Sigurd at Salten Fiord                 114
        XII. King Olaf's Christmas                         120
       XIII. The Building of the Long Serpent              125
        XIV. The Crew of the Long Serpent                  130
         XV. A Little Bird in the Air                      134
        XVI. Queen Thyri and the Angelica Stalks           137
       XVII. King Svend of the Forked Beard                144
      XVIII. King Olaf and Earl Sigvald                    149
        XIX. King Olaf's War-Horns                         152
         XX. Einar Tamberskelver                           156
        XXI. King Olaf's Death-drink                       160
       XXII. The Nun of Nidaros                            165

  INTERLUDE                                                169

  THE THEOLOGIAN'S TALE.

      TORQUEMADA                                           173

  INTERLUDE                                                187

  THE POET'S TALE.

      THE BIRDS OR KILLINGWORTH                            189

  FINALE                                                   205


BIRDS OF PASSAGE.

FLIGHT THE SECOND.

  THE CHILDREN'S HOUR                                      209

  ENCELADUS                                                212

  THE CUMBERLAND                                           215

  SNOW-FLAKES                                              218

  A DAY OF SUNSHINE                                        220

  SOMETHING LEFT UNDONE                                    222

  WEARINESS                                                224



TALES OF A WAYSIDE INN.



PRELUDE.


THE WAYSIDE INN.

  One Autumn night, in Sudbury town,
  Across the meadows bare and brown,
  The windows of the wayside inn
  Gleamed red with fire-light through the leaves
  Of woodbine, hanging from the eaves
  Their crimson curtains rent and thin.

  As ancient is this hostelry
  As any in the land may be,
  Built in the old Colonial day,
  When men lived in a grander way,
  With ampler hospitality;
  A kind of old Hobgoblin Hall,
  Now somewhat fallen to decay,
  With weather-stains upon the wall,
  And stairways worn, and crazy doors,
  And creaking and uneven floors,
  And chimneys huge, and tiled and tall.

  A region of repose it seems,
  A place of slumber and of dreams,
  Remote among the wooded hills!
  For there no noisy railway speeds,
  Its torch-race scattering smoke and gleeds;
  But noon and night, the panting teams
  Stop under the great oaks, that throw
  Tangles of light and shade below,
  On roofs and doors and window-sills.
  Across the road the barns display
  Their lines of stalls, their mows of hay,
  Through the wide doors the breezes blow,
  The wattled cocks strut to and fro,
  And, half effaced by rain and shine,
  The Red Horse prances on the sign.

  Round this old-fashioned, quaint abode
  Deep silence reigned, save when a gust
  Went rushing down the county road,
  And skeletons of leaves, and dust,
  A moment quickened by its breath,
  Shuddered and danced their dance of death,
  And through the ancient oaks o'erhead
  Mysterious voices moaned and fled.

  But from the parlor of the inn
  A pleasant murmur smote the ear,
  Like water rushing through a weir;
  Oft interrupted by the din
  Of laughter and of loud applause,
  And, in each intervening pause,
  The music of a violin.
  The fire-light, shedding over all
  The splendor of its ruddy glow,
  Filled the whole parlor large and low;
  It gleamed on wainscot and on wall,
  It touched with more than wonted grace
  Fair Princess Mary's pictured face;
  It bronzed the rafters overhead,
  On the old spinet's ivory keys
  It played inaudible melodies,
  It crowned the sombre clock with flame,
  The hands, the hours, the maker's name,
  And painted with a livelier red
  The Landlord's coat-of-arms again;
  And, flashing on the window-pane,
  Emblazoned with its light and shade
  The jovial rhymes, that still remain,
  Writ near a century ago,
  By the great Major Molineaux,
  Whom Hawthorne has immortal made.

  Before the blazing fire of wood
  Erect the rapt musician stood;
  And ever and anon he bent
  His head upon his instrument,
  And seemed to listen, till he caught
  Confessions of its secret thought,--
  The joy, the triumph, the lament,
  The exultation and the pain;
  Then, by the magic of his art,
  He soothed the throbbings of its heart,
  And lulled it into peace again.

  Around the fireside at their ease
  There sat a group of friends, entranced
  With the delicious melodies;
  Who from the far-off noisy town
  Had to the wayside inn come down,
  To rest beneath its old oak-trees.
  The fire-light on their faces glanced,
  Their shadows on the wainscot danced,
  And, though of different lands and speech,
  Each had his tale to tell, and each
  Was anxious to be pleased and please.
  And while the sweet musician plays,
  Let me in outline sketch them all,
  Perchance uncouthly as the blaze
  With its uncertain touch portrays
  Their shadowy semblance on the wall.

  But first the Landlord will I trace;
  Grave in his aspect and attire;
  A man of ancient pedigree,
  A Justice of the Peace was he,
  Known in all Sudbury as "The Squire."
  Proud was he of his name and race,
  Of old Sir William and Sir Hugh,
  And in the parlor, full in view,
  His coat-of-arms, well framed and glazed,
  Upon the wall in colors blazed;
  He beareth gules upon his shield,
  A chevron argent in the field,
  With three wolf's heads, and for the crest
  A Wyvern part-per-pale addressed
  Upon a helmet barred; below
  The scroll reads, "By the name of Howe."
  And over this, no longer bright,
  Though glimmering with a latent light,
  Was hung the sword his grandsire bore,
  In the rebellious days of yore,
  Down there at Concord in the fight.

  A youth was there, of quiet ways,
  A Student of old books and days,
  To whom all tongues and lands were known,
  And yet a lover of his own;
  With many a social virtue graced,
  And yet a friend of solitude;
  A man of such a genial mood
  The heart of all things he embraced,
  And yet of such fastidious taste,
  He never found the best too good.
  Books were his passion and delight,
  And in his upper room at home
  Stood many a rare and sumptuous tome,
  In vellum bound, with gold bedight,
  Great volumes garmented in white,
  Recalling Florence, Pisa, Rome.
  He loved the twilight that surrounds
  The border-land of old romance;
  Where glitter hauberk, helm, and lance,
  And banner waves, and trumpet sounds,
  And ladies ride with hawk on wrist,
  And mighty warriors sweep along,
  Magnified by the purple mist,
  The dusk of centuries and of song.
  The chronicles of Charlemagne,
  Of Merlin and the Mort d'Arthure,
  Mingled together in his brain
  With tales of Flores and Blanchefleur,
  Sir Ferumbras, Sir Eglamour,
  Sir Launcelot, Sir Morgadour,
  Sir Guy, Sir Bevis, Sir Gawain.

  A young Sicilian, too, was there;--
  In sight of Etna born and bred,
  Some breath of its volcanic air
  Was glowing in his heart and brain,
  And, being rebellious to his liege,
  After Palermo's fatal siege,
  Across the western seas he fled,
  In good King Bomba's happy reign.
  His face was like a summer night,
  All flooded with a dusky light;
  His hands were small; his teeth shone white
  As sea-shells, when he smiled or spoke;
  His sinews supple and strong as oak;
  Clean shaven was he as a priest,
  Who at the mass on Sunday sings,
  Save that upon his upper lip
  His beard, a good palm's length at least,
  Level and pointed at the tip,
  Shot sideways, like a swallow's wings.
  The poets read he o'er and o'er,
  And most of all the Immortal Four
  Of Italy; and next to those,
  The story-telling bard of prose,
  Who wrote the joyous Tuscan tales
  Of the Decameron, that make
  Fiesole's green hills and vales
  Remembered for Boccaccio's sake.
  Much too of music was his thought;
  The melodies and measures fraught
  With sunshine and the open air,
  Of vineyards and the singing sea
  Of his beloved Sicily;
  And much it pleased him to peruse
  The songs of the Sicilian muse,--
  Bucolic songs by Meli sung
  In the familiar peasant tongue,
  That made men say, "Behold! once more
  The pitying gods to earth restore
  Theocritus of Syracuse!"

  A Spanish Jew from Alicant
  With aspect grand and grave was there;
  Vender of silks and fabrics rare,
  And attar of rose from the Levant.
  Like an old Patriarch he appeared,
  Abraham or Isaac, or at least
  Some later Prophet or High-Priest;
  With lustrous eyes, and olive skin,
  And, wildly tossed from cheeks and chin,
  The tumbling cataract of his beard.
  His garments breathed a spicy scent
  Of cinnamon and sandal blent,
  Like the soft aromatic gales
  That meet the mariner, who sails
  Through the Moluccas, and the seas
  That wash the shores of Celebes.
  All stories that recorded are
  By Pierre Alphonse he knew by heart,
  And it was rumored he could say
  The Parables of Sandabar,
  And all the Fables of Pilpay,
  Or if not all, the greater part!
  Well versed was he in Hebrew books,
  Talmud and Targum, and the lore
  Of Kabala; and evermore
  There was a mystery in his looks;
  His eyes seemed gazing far away,
  As if in vision or in trance
  He heard the solemn sackbut play,
  And saw the Jewish maidens dance.

  A Theologian, from the school
  Of Cambridge on the Charles, was there;
  Skilful alike with tongue and pen,
  He preached to all men everywhere
  The Gospel of the Golden Rule,
  The New Commandment given to men,
  Thinking the deed, and not the creed,
  Would help us in our utmost need.
  With reverent feet the earth he trod,
  Nor banished nature from his plan,
  But studied still with deep research
  To build the Universal Church,
  Lofty as is the love of God,
  And ample as the wants of man.

  A Poet, too, was there, whose verse
  Was tender, musical, and terse;
  The inspiration, the delight,
  The gleam, the glory, the swift flight,
  Of thoughts so sudden, that they seem
  The revelations of a dream,
  All these were his; but with them came
  No envy of another's fame;
  He did not find his sleep less sweet
  For music in some neighboring street,
  Nor rustling hear in every breeze
  The laurels of Miltiades.
  Honor and blessings on his head
  While living, good report when dead,
  Who, not too eager for renown,
  Accepts, but does not clutch, the crown!

  Last the Musician, as he stood
  Illumined by that fire of wood;
  Fair-haired, blue-eyed, his aspect blithe,
  His figure tall and straight and lithe,
  And every feature of his face
  Revealing his Norwegian race;
  A radiance, streaming from within,
  Around his eyes and forehead beamed,
  The Angel with the violin,
  Painted by Raphael, he seemed.
  He lived in that ideal world
  Whose language is not speech, but song;
  Around him evermore the throng
  Of elves and sprites their dances whirled;
  The Strömkarl sang, the cataract hurled
  Its headlong waters from the height;
  And mingled in the wild delight
  The scream of sea-birds in their flight,
  The rumor of the forest trees,
  The plunge of the implacable seas,
  The tumult of the wind at night,
  Voices of eld, like trumpets blowing,
  Old ballads, and wild melodies
  Through mist and darkness pouring forth,
  Like Elivagar's river flowing
  Out of the glaciers of the North.

  The instrument on which he played
  Was in Cremona's workshops made,
  By a great master of the past,
  Ere yet was lost the art divine;
  Fashioned of maple and of pine,
  That in Tyrolian forests vast
  Had rocked and wrestled with the blast:
  Exquisite was it in design,
  Perfect in each minutest part,
  A marvel of the lutist's art;
  And in its hollow chamber, thus,
  The maker from whose hands it came
  Had written his unrivalled name,--
  "Antonius Stradivarius."

  And when he played, the atmosphere
  Was filled with magic, and the ear
  Caught echoes of that Harp of Gold,
  Whose music had so weird a sound,
  The hunted stag forgot to bound,
  The leaping rivulet backward rolled,
  The birds came down from bush and tree,
  The dead came from beneath the sea,
  The maiden to the harper's knee!

  The music ceased; the applause was loud,
  The pleased musician smiled and bowed;
  The wood-fire clapped its hands of flame,
  The shadows on the wainscot stirred,
  And from the harpsichord there came
  A ghostly murmur of acclaim,
  A sound like that sent down at night
  By birds of passage in their flight,
  From the remotest distance heard.

  Then silence followed; then began
  A clamor for the Landlord's tale,--
  The story promised them of old,
  They said, but always left untold;
  And he, although a bashful man,
  And all his courage seemed to fail,
  Finding excuse of no avail,
  Yielded; and thus the story ran.



THE LANDLORD'S TALE.


PAUL REVERE'S RIDE.

  Listen, my children, and you shall hear
  Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
  On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
  Hardly a man is now alive
  Who remembers that famous day and year.

  He said to his friend, "If the British march
  By land or sea from the town to-night,
  Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
  Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
  One, if by land, and two, if by sea;
  And I on the opposite shore will be,
  Ready to ride and spread the alarm
  Through every Middlesex village and farm,
  For the country-folk to be up and to arm."

  Then he said, "Good night!" and with muffled oar
  Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
  Just as the moon rose over the bay,
  Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
  The Somerset, British man-of-war;
  A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
  Across the moon like a prison bar,
  And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
  By its own reflection in the tide.

  Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street,
  Wanders and watches with eager ears,
  Till in the silence around him he hears
  The muster of men at the barrack door,
  The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
  And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
  Marching down to their boats on the shore.

  Then he climbed to the tower of the church,
  Up the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
  To the belfry-chamber overhead,
  And startled the pigeons from their perch
  On the sombre rafters, that round him made
  Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
  Up the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
  To the highest window in the wall,
  Where he paused to listen and look down
  A moment on the roofs of the town,
  And the moonlight flowing over all.

  Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
  In their night-encampment on the hill,
  Wrapped in silence so deep and still
  That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
  The watchful night-wind, as it went
  Creeping along from tent to tent,
  And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
  A moment only he feels the spell
  Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
  Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
  For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
  On a shadowy something far away,
  Where the river widens to meet the bay,--
  A line of black that bends and floats
  On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.

  Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
  Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
  On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
  Now he patted his horse's side,
  Now gazed at the landscape far and near,
  Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
  And turned and tightened his saddle-girth;
  But mostly he watched with eager search
  The belfry-tower of the Old North Church,
  As it rose above the graves on the hill,
  Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
  And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
  A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
  He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
  But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
  A second lamp in the belfry burns!

  A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
  A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
  And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
  Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
  That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
  The fate of a nation was riding that night;
  And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
  Kindled the land into flame with its heat.

  He has left the village and mounted the steep,
  And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
  Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
  And under the alders, that skirt its edge,
  Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
  Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

  It was twelve by the village clock
  When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
  He heard the crowing of the cock,
  And the barking of the farmer's dog,
  And felt the damp of the river fog,
  That rises after the sun goes down.

  It was one by the village clock,
  When he galloped into Lexington.
  He saw the gilded weathercock
  Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
  And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare,
  Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
  As if they already stood aghast
  At the bloody work they would look upon.

  It was two by the village clock,
  When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
  He heard the bleating of the flock,
  And the twitter of birds among the trees,
  And felt the breath of the morning breeze
  Blowing over the meadows brown.
  And one was safe and asleep in his bed
  Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
  Who that day would be lying dead,
  Pierced by a British musket-ball.

  You know the rest. In the books you have read,
  How the British Regulars fired and fled,--
  How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
  From behind each fence and farm-yard wall,
  Chasing the red-coats down the lane,
  Then crossing the fields to emerge again
  Under the trees at the turn of the road,
  And only pausing to fire and load.

  So through the night rode Paul Revere;
  And so through the night went his cry of alarm
  To every Middlesex village and farm,--
  A cry of defiance and not of fear,
  A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
  And a word that shall echo forevermore!
  For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
  Through all our history, to the last,
  In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
  The people will waken and listen to hear
  The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
  And the midnight message of Paul Revere.



INTERLUDE.


  The Landlord ended thus his tale,
  Then rising took down from its nail
  The sword that hung there, dim with dust,
  And cleaving to its sheath with rust,
  And said, "This sword was in the fight."
  The Poet seized it, and exclaimed,
  "It is the sword of a good knight,
  Though homespun was his coat-of-mail;
  What matter if it be not named
  Joyeuse, Colada, Durindale,
  Excalibar, or Aroundight,
  Or other name the books record?
  Your ancestor, who bore this sword
  As Colonel of the Volunteers,
  Mounted upon his old gray mare,
  Seen here and there and everywhere,
  To me a grander shape appears
  Than old Sir William, or what not,
  Clinking about in foreign lands
  With iron gauntlets on his hands,
  And on his head an iron pot!"

  All laughed; the Landlord's face grew red
  As his escutcheon on the wall;
  He could not comprehend at all
  The drift of what the Poet said;
  For those who had been longest dead
  Were always greatest in his eyes;
  And he was speechless with surprise
  To see Sir William's plumed head
  Brought to a level with the rest,
  And made the subject of a jest.

  And this perceiving, to appease
  The Landlord's wrath, the others' fears,
  The Student said, with careless ease,
  "The ladies and the cavaliers,
  The arms, the loves, the courtesies,
  The deeds of high emprise, I sing!
  Thus Ariosto says, in words
  That have the stately stride and ring
  Of armed knights and clashing swords.
  Now listen to the tale I bring;
  Listen! though not to me belong
  The flowing draperies of his song,
  The words that rouse, the voice that charms.
  The Landlord's tale was one of arms,
  Only a tale of love is mine,
  Blending the human and divine,
  A tale of the Decameron, told
  In Palmieri's garden old,
  By Fiametta, laurel-crowned,
  While her companions lay around,
  And heard the intermingled sound
  Of airs that on their errands sped,
  And wild birds gossiping overhead,
  And lisp of leaves, and fountain's fall,
  And her own voice more sweet than all,
  Telling the tale, which, wanting these,
  Perchance may lose its power to please."



THE STUDENT'S TALE.


THE FALCON OF SER FEDERIGO.

  One summer morning, when the sun was hot,
  Weary with labor in his garden-plot,
  On a rude bench beneath his cottage eaves,
  Ser Federigo sat among the leaves
  Of a huge vine, that, with its arms outspread,
  Hung its delicious clusters overhead.
  Below him, through the lovely valley, flowed
  The river Arno, like a winding road,
  And from its banks were lifted high in air
  The spires and roofs of Florence called the Fair:
  To him a marble tomb, that rose above
  His wasted fortunes and his buried love.
  For there, in banquet and in tournament,
  His wealth had lavished been, his substance spent,
  To woo and lose, since ill his wooing sped,
  Monna Giovanna, who his rival wed,
  Yet ever in his fancy reigned supreme,
  The ideal woman of a young man's dream.

  Then he withdrew, in poverty and pain,
  To this small farm, the last of his domain,
  His only comfort and his only care
  To prune his vines, and plant the fig and pear;
  His only forester and only guest
  His falcon, faithful to him, when the rest,
  Whose willing hands had found so light of yore
  The brazen knocker of his palace door.
  Had now no strength to lift the wooden latch,
  That entrance gave beneath a roof of thatch.
  Companion of his solitary ways,
  Purveyor of his feasts on holidays,
  On him this melancholy man bestowed
  The love with which his nature overflowed.
  And so the empty-handed years went round,
  Vacant, though voiceful with prophetic sound,
  And so, that summer morn, he sat and mused
  With folded, patient hands, as he was used,
  And dreamily before his half-closed sight
  Floated the vision of his lost delight.
  Beside him, motionless, the drowsy bird
  Dreamed of the chase, and in his slumber heard
  The sudden, scythe-like sweep of wings, that dare
  The headlong plunge thro' eddying gulfs of air,
  Then, starting broad awake upon his perch,
  Tinkled his bells, like mass-bells in a church,
  And, looking at his master, seemed to say,
  "Ser Federigo, shall we hunt to-day?"

  Ser Federigo thought not of the chase;
  The tender vision of her lovely face,
  I will not say he seems to see, he sees
  In the leaf-shadows of the trellises,
  Herself, yet not herself; a lovely child
  With flowing tresses, and eyes wide and wild,
  Coming undaunted up the garden walk,
  And looking not at him, but at the hawk.
  "Beautiful falcon!" said he, "would that I
  Might hold thee on my wrist, or see thee fly!"
  The voice was hers, and made strange echoes start
  Through all the haunted chambers of his heart,
  As an æolian harp through gusty doors
  Of some old ruin its wild music pours.

  "Who is thy mother, my fair boy?" he said,
  His hand laid softly on that shining head.
  "Monna Giovanna.--Will you let me stay
  A little while, and with your falcon play?
  We live there, just beyond your garden wall,
  In the great house behind the poplars tall."

  So he spake on; and Federigo heard
  As from afar each softly uttered word,
  And drifted onward through the golden gleams
  And shadows of the misty sea of dreams,
  As mariners becalmed through vapors drift,
  And feel the sea beneath them sink and lift,
  And hear far off the mournful breakers roar,
  And voices calling faintly from the shore!
  Then, waking from his pleasant reveries,
  He took the little boy upon his knees,
  And told him stories of his gallant bird,
  Till in their friendship he became a third.

  Monna Giovanna, widowed in her prime,
  Had come with friends to pass the summer time
  In her grand villa, half-way up the hill,
  O'erlooking Florence, but retired and still;
  With iron gates, that opened through long lines
  Of sacred ilex and centennial pines,
  And terraced gardens, and broad steps of stone,
  And sylvan deities, with moss o'ergrown,
  And fountains palpitating in the heat,
  And all Val d'Arno stretched beneath its feet.
  Here in seclusion, as a widow may,
  The lovely lady whiled the hours away,
  Pacing in sable robes the statued hall,
  Herself the stateliest statue among all,
  And seeing more and more, with secret joy,
  Her husband risen and living in her boy,
  Till the lost sense of life returned again,
  Not as delight, but as relief from pain.
  Meanwhile the boy, rejoicing in his strength,
  Stormed down the terraces from length to length;
  The screaming peacock chased in hot pursuit,
  And climbed the garden trellises for fruit.
  But his chief pastime was to watch the flight
  Of a gerfalcon, soaring into sight,
  Beyond the trees that fringed the garden wall,
  Then downward stooping at some distant call;
  And as he gazed full often wondered he
  Who might the master of the falcon be,
  Until that happy morning, when he found
  Master and falcon in the cottage ground.

  And now a shadow and a terror fell
  On the great house, as if a passing-bell
  Tolled from the tower, and filled each spacious room
  With secret awe, and preternatural gloom;
  The petted boy grew ill, and day by day
  Pined with mysterious malady away.
  The mother's heart would not be comforted;
  Her darling seemed to her already dead,
  And often, sitting by the sufferer's side,
  "What can I do to comfort thee?" she cried.
  At first the silent lips made no reply,
  But, moved at length by her importunate cry,
  "Give me," he answered, with imploring tone,
  "Ser Federigo's falcon for my own!"

  No answer could the astonished mother make;
  How could she ask, e'en for her darling's sake,
  Such favor at a luckless lover's hand,
  Well knowing that to ask was to command?
  Well knowing, what all falconers confessed,
  In all the land that falcon was the best,
  The master's pride and passion and delight,
  And the sole pursuivant of this poor knight.
  But yet, for her child's sake, she could no less
  Than give assent, to soothe his restlessness,
  So promised, and then promising to keep
  Her promise sacred, saw him fall asleep.

  The morrow was a bright September morn;
  The earth was beautiful as if new-born;
  There was that nameless splendor everywhere,
  That wild exhilaration in the air,
  Which makes the passers in the city street
  Congratulate each other as they meet.
  Two lovely ladies, clothed in cloak and hood,
  Passed through the garden gate into the wood,
  Under the lustrous leaves, and through the sheen
  Of dewy sunshine showering down between.

  The one, close-hooded, had the attractive grace
  Which sorrow sometimes lends a woman's face;
  Her dark eyes moistened with the mists that roll
  From the gulf-stream of passion in the soul;
  The other with her hood thrown back, her hair
  Making a golden glory in the air,
  Her cheeks suffused with an auroral blush,
  Her young heart singing louder than the thrush.
  So walked, that morn, through mingled light and shade,
  Each by the other's presence lovelier made,
  Monna Giovanna and her bosom friend,
  Intent upon their errand and its end.

  They found Ser Federigo at his toil,
  Like banished Adam, delving in the soil;
  And when he looked and these fair women spied,
  The garden suddenly was glorified;
  His long-lost Eden was restored again,
  And the strange river winding through the plain
  No longer was the Arno to his eyes,
  But the Euphrates watering Paradise!

  Monna Giovanna raised her stately head,
  And with fair words of salutation said:
  "Ser Federigo, we come here as friends,
  Hoping in this to make some poor amends
  For past unkindness. I who ne'er before
  Would even cross the threshold of your door,
  I who in happier days such pride maintained,
  Refused your banquets, and your gifts disdained,
  This morning come, a self-invited guest,
  To put your generous nature to the test,
  And breakfast with you under your own vine."
  To which he answered: "Poor desert of mine,
  Not your unkindness call it, for if aught
  Is good in me of feeling or of thought,
  From you it comes, and this last grace outweighs
  All sorrows, all regrets of other days."

  And after further compliment and talk,
  Among the dahlias in the garden walk
  He left his guests; and to his cottage turned,
  And as he entered for a moment yearned
  For the lost splendors of the days of old,
  The ruby glass, the silver and the gold,
  And felt how piercing is the sting of pride,
  By want embittered and intensified.
  He looked about him for some means or way
  To keep this unexpected holiday;
  Searched every cupboard, and then searched again,
  Summoned the maid, who came, but came in vain;
  "The Signor did not hunt to-day," she said,
  "There's nothing in the house but wine and bread."

  Then suddenly the drowsy falcon shook
  His little bells, with that sagacious look,
  Which said, as plain as language to the ear,
  "If anything is wanting, I am here!"
  Yes, everything is wanting, gallant bird!
  The master seized thee without further word,
  Like thine own lure, he whirled thee round; ah me!
  The pomp and flutter of brave falconry,
  The bells, the jesses, the bright scarlet hood,
  The flight and the pursuit o'er field and wood,
  All these forevermore are ended now;
  No longer victor, but the victim thou!

  Then on the board a snow-white cloth he spread,
  Laid on its wooden dish the loaf of bread,
  Brought purple grapes with autumn sunshine hot,
  The fragrant peach, the juicy bergamot;
  Then in the midst a flask of wine he placed,
  And with autumnal flowers the banquet graced.
  Ser Federigo, would not these suffice
  Without thy falcon stuffed with cloves and spice?

  When all was ready, and the courtly dame
  With her companion to the cottage came,
  Upon Ser Federigo's brain there fell
  The wild enchantment of a magic spell;
  The room they entered, mean and low and small,
  Was changed into a sumptuous banquet-hall,
  With fanfares by aerial trumpets blown;
  The rustic chair she sat on was a throne;
  He ate celestial food, and a divine
  Flavor was given to his country wine,
  And the poor falcon, fragrant with his spice,
  A peacock was, or bird of paradise!

  When the repast was ended, they arose
  And passed again into the garden-close.
  Then said the lady, "Far too well I know,
  Remembering still the days of long ago,
  Though you betray it not, with what surprise
  You see me here in this familiar wise.
  You have no children, and you cannot guess
  What anguish, what unspeakable distress
  A mother feels, whose child is lying ill,
  Nor how her heart anticipates his will.
  And yet for this, you see me lay aside
  All womanly reserve and check of pride,
  And ask the thing most precious in your sight,
  Your falcon, your sole comfort and delight,
  Which if you find it in your heart to give,
  My poor, unhappy boy perchance may live."

  Ser Federigo listens, and replies,
  With tears of love and pity in his eyes:
  "Alas, dear lady! there can be no task
  So sweet to me, as giving when you ask.
  One little hour ago, if I had known
  This wish of yours, it would have been my own.
  But thinking in what manner I could best
  Do honor to the presence of my guest,
  I deemed that nothing worthier could be
  Than what most dear and precious was to me,
  And so my gallant falcon breathed his last
  To furnish forth this morning our repast."

  In mute contrition, mingled with dismay,
  The gentle lady turned her eyes away,
  Grieving that he such sacrifice should make,
  And kill his falcon for a woman's sake,
  Yet feeling in her heart a woman's pride,
  That nothing she could ask for was denied;
  Then took her leave, and passed out at the gate
  With footstep slow and soul disconsolate.

  Three days went by, and lo! a passing-bell
  Tolled from the little chapel in the dell;
  Ten strokes Ser Federigo heard, and said,
  Breathing a prayer, "Alas! her child is dead!"
  Three months went by; and lo! a merrier chime
  Rang from the chapel bells at Christmas time;
  The cottage was deserted, and no more
  Ser Federigo sat beside its door,
  But now, with servitors to do his will,
  In the grand villa, half-way up the hill,
  Sat at the Christmas feast, and at his side
  Monna Giovanna, his beloved bride,
  Never so beautiful, so kind, so fair,
  Enthroned once more in the old rustic chair,
  High-perched upon the back of which there stood
  The image of a falcon carved in wood,
  And underneath the inscription, with a date,
  "All things come round to him who will but wait."



INTERLUDE.


  Soon as the story reached its end,
  One, over eager to commend,
  Crowned it with injudicious praise;
  And then the voice of blame found vent,
  And fanned the embers of dissent
  Into a somewhat lively blaze.

  The Theologian shook his head;
  "These old Italian tales," he said,
  "From the much-praised Decameron down
  Through all the rabble of the rest,
  Are either trifling, dull, or lewd;
  The gossip of a neighborhood
  In some remote provincial town,
  A scandalous chronicle at best!
  They seem to me a stagnant fen,
  Grown rank with rushes and with reeds,
  Where a white lily, now and then,
  Blooms in the midst of noxious weeds
  And deadly nightshade on its banks."

  To this the Student straight replied,
  "For the white lily, many thanks!
  One should not say, with too much pride,
  Fountain, I will not drink of thee!
  Nor were it grateful to forget,
  That from these reservoirs and tanks
  Even imperial Shakspeare drew
  His Moor of Venice and the Jew,
  And Romeo and Juliet,
  And many a famous comedy."

  Then a long pause; till some one said,
  "An Angel is flying overhead!"
  At these words spake the Spanish Jew,
  And murmured with an inward breath:
  "God grant, if what you say is true
  It may not be the Angel of Death!"

  And then another pause; and then,
  Stroking his beard, he said again:
  "This brings back to my memory
  A story in the Talmud told,
  That book of gems, that book of gold,
  Of wonders many and manifold,
  A tale that often comes to me,
  And fills my heart, and haunts my brain,
  And never wearies nor grows old."



THE SPANISH JEW'S TALE.


THE LEGEND OF RABBI BEN LEVI.

  Rabbi Ben Levi, on the Sabbath, read
  A volume of the Law, in which it said,
  "No man shall look upon my face and live."
  And as he read, he prayed that God would give
  His faithful servant grace with mortal eye
  To look upon His face and yet not die.

  Then fell a sudden shadow on the page
  And, lifting up his eyes, grown dim with age,
  He saw the Angel of Death before him stand,
  Holding a naked sword in his right hand.
  Rabbi Ben Levi was a righteous man,
  Yet through his veins a chill of terror ran.

  With trembling voice he said, "What wilt thou here?"
  The angel answered, "Lo! the time draws near
  When thou must die; yet first, by God's decree,
  Whate'er thou askest shall be granted thee."
  Replied the Rabbi, "Let these living eyes
  First look upon my place in Paradise."

  Then said the Angel, "Come with me and look."
  Rabbi Ben Levi closed the sacred book,
  And rising, and uplifting his gray head,
  "Give me thy sword," he to the Angel said,
  "Lest thou shouldst fall upon me by the way."
  The Angel smiled and hastened to obey,
  Then led him forth to the Celestial Town,
  And set him on the wall, whence, gazing down,
  Rabbi Ben Levi, with his living eyes,
  Might look upon his place in Paradise.

  Then straight into the city of the Lord
  The Rabbi leaped with the Death-Angel's sword,
  And through the streets there swept a sudden breath
  Of something there unknown, which men call death.
  Meanwhile the Angel stayed without, and cried,
  "Come back!" To which the Rabbi's voice replied,
  "No! in the name of God, whom I adore,
  I swear that hence I will depart no more!"

  Then all the Angels cried, "O Holy One,
  See what the son of Levi here has done!
  The kingdom of Heaven he takes by violence,
  And in Thy name refuses to go hence!"
  The Lord replied, "My Angels, be not wroth;
  Did e'er the son of Levi break his oath?
  Let him remain; for he with mortal eye
  Shall look upon my face and yet not die."

  Beyond the outer wall the Angel of Death
  Heard the great voice, and said, with panting breath,
  "Give back the sword, and let me go my way."
  Whereat the Rabbi paused, and answered, "Nay!
  Anguish enough already has it caused
  Among the sons of men." And while he paused
  He heard the awful mandate of the Lord
  Resounding through the air, "Give back the sword!"

  The Rabbi bowed his head in silent prayer;
  Then said he to the dreadful Angel, "Swear,
  No human eye shall look on it again;
  But when thou takest away the souls of men,
  Thyself unseen, and with an unseen sword,
  Thou wilt perform the bidding of the Lord."

  The Angel took the sword again, and swore,
  And walks on earth unseen forevermore.



INTERLUDE.


  He ended: and a kind of spell
  Upon the silent listeners fell.
  His solemn manner and his words
  Had touched the deep, mysterious chords,
  That vibrate in each human breast
  Alike, but not alike confessed.
  The spiritual world seemed near;
  And close above them, full of fear,
  Its awful adumbration passed,
  A luminous shadow, vague and vast.
  They almost feared to look, lest there,
  Embodied from the impalpable air,
  They might behold the Angel stand,
  Holding the sword in his right hand.

  At last, but in a voice subdued,
  Not to disturb their dreamy mood,
  Said the Sicilian: "While you spoke,
  Telling your legend marvellous,
  Suddenly in my memory woke
  The thought of one, now gone from us,--
  An old Abate, meek and mild,
  My friend and teacher, when a child,
  Who sometimes in those days of old
  The legend of an Angel told,
  Which ran, if I remember, thus."



THE SICILIAN'S TALE.


KING ROBERT OF SICILY.

  Robert of Sicily, brother of Pope Urbane
  And Valmond, Emperor of Allemaine,
  Apparelled in magnificent attire,
  With retinue of many a knight and squire,
  On St. John's eve, at vespers, proudly sat
  And heard the priests chant the Magnificat.
  And as he listened, o'er and o'er again
  Repeated, like a burden or refrain,
  He caught the words, "_Deposuit potentes
  De sede, et exaltavit humiles_";
  And slowly lifting up his kingly head
  He to a learned clerk beside him said,
  "What mean these words?" The clerk made answer meet,
  "He has put down the mighty from their seat,
  And has exalted them of low degree."
  Thereat King Robert muttered scornfully,
  "'Tis well that such seditious words are sung
  Only by priests and in the Latin tongue;
  For unto priests and people be it known,
  There is no power can push me from my throne!"
  And leaning back, he yawned and fell asleep,
  Lulled by the chant monotonous and deep.

  When he awoke, it was already night;
  The church was empty, and there was no light,
  Save where the lamps, that glimmered few and faint,
  Lighted a little space before some saint.
  He started from his seat and gazed around,
  But saw no living thing and heard no sound.
  He groped towards the door, but it was locked;
  He cried aloud, and listened, and then knocked,
  And uttered awful threatenings and complaints,
  And imprecations upon men and saints.
  The sounds re-echoed from the roof and walls
  As if dead priests were laughing in their stalls!

  At length the sexton, hearing from without
  The tumult of the knocking and the shout,
  And thinking thieves were in the house of prayer,
  Came with his lantern, asking, "Who is there?"
  Half choked with rage, King Robert fiercely said,
  "Open: 'tis I, the King! Art thou afraid?"
  The frightened sexton, muttering, with a curse,
  "This is some drunken vagabond, or worse!"
  Turned the great key and flung the portal wide;
  A man rushed by him at a single stride,
  Haggard, half naked, without hat or cloak,
  Who neither turned, nor looked at him, nor spoke,
  But leaped into the blackness of the night,
  And vanished like a spectre from his sight.

  Robert of Sicily, brother of Pope Urbane
  And Valmond, Emperor of Allemaine,
  Despoiled of his magnificent attire,
  Bare-headed, breathless, and besprent with mire,
  With sense of wrong and outrage desperate,
  Strode on and thundered at the palace gate;
  Rushed through the court-yard, thrusting in his rage
  To right and left each seneschal and page,
  And hurried up the broad and sounding stair,
  His white face ghastly in the torches' glare.
  From hall to hall he passed with breathless speed;
  Voices and cries he heard, but did not heed,
  Until at last he reached the banquet-room,
  Blazing with light, and breathing with perfume.

  There on the dais sat another king,
  Wearing his robes, his crown, his signet-ring,
  King Robert's self in features, form, and height,
  But all transfigured with angelic light!
  It was an Angel; and his presence there
  With a divine effulgence filled the air,
  An exaltation, piercing the disguise,
  Though none the hidden Angel recognize.

  A moment speechless, motionless, amazed,
  The throneless monarch on the Angel gazed,
  Who met his looks of anger and surprise
  With the divine compassion of his eyes;
  Then said, "Who art thou? and why com'st thou here?"
  To which King Robert answered, with a sneer,
  "I am the King, and come to claim my own
  From an impostor, who usurps my throne!"
  And suddenly, at these audacious words,
  Up sprang the angry guests, and drew their swords;
  The Angel answered, with unruffled brow,
  "Nay, not the King, but the King's Jester, thou
  Henceforth shalt wear the bells and scalloped cape,
  And for thy counsellor shalt lead an ape;
  Thou shalt obey my servants when they call,
  And wait upon my henchmen in the hall!"

  Deaf to King Robert's threats and cries and prayers,
  They thrust him from the hall and down the stairs;
  A group of tittering pages ran before,
  And as they opened wide the folding-door,
  His heart failed, for he heard, with strange alarms,
  The boisterous laughter of the men-at-arms,
  And all the vaulted chamber roar and ring
  With the mock plaudits of "Long live the King!"

  Next morning, waking with the day's first beam,
  He said within himself, "It was a dream!"
  But the straw rustled as he turned his head,
  There were the cap and bells beside his bed,
  Around him rose the bare, discolored walls,
  Close by, the steeds were champing in their stalls,
  And in the corner, a revolting shape,
  Shivering and chattering sat the wretched ape.
  It was no dream; the world he loved so much
  Had turned to dust and ashes at his touch!

  Days came and went; and now returned again
  To Sicily the old Saturnian reign;
  Under the Angel's governance benign
  The happy island danced with corn and wine,
  And deep within the mountain's burning breast
  Enceladus, the giant, was at rest.

  Meanwhile King Robert yielded to his fate,
  Sullen and silent and disconsolate.
  Dressed in the motley garb that Jesters wear,
  With looks bewildered and a vacant stare,
  Close shaven above the ears, as monks are shorn,
  By courtiers mocked, by pages laughed to scorn,
  His only friend the ape, his only food
  What others left,--he still was unsubdued.
  And when the Angel met him on his way,
  And half in earnest, half in jest, would say,
  Sternly, though tenderly, that he might feel
  The velvet scabbard held a sword of steel,
  "Art thou the King?" the passion of his woe
  Burst from him in resistless overflow,
  And, lifting high his forehead, he would fling
  The haughty answer back, "I am, I am the King!"

  Almost three years were ended; when there came
  Ambassadors of great repute and name
  From Valmond, Emperor of Allemaine,
  Unto King Robert, saying that Pope Urbane
  By letter summoned them forthwith to come
  On Holy Thursday to his city of Rome.
  The Angel with great joy received his guests,
  And gave them presents of embroidered vests,
  And velvet mantles with rich ermine lined,
  And rings and jewels of the rarest kind.
  Then he departed with them o'er the sea
  Into the lovely land of Italy,
  Whose loveliness was more resplendent made
  By the mere passing of that cavalcade,
  With plumes, and cloaks, and housings, and the stir
  Of jewelled bridle and of golden spur.

  And lo! among the menials, in mock state,
  Upon a piebald steed, with shambling gait,
  His cloak of fox-tails flapping in the wind,
  The solemn ape demurely perched behind,
  King Robert rode, making huge merriment
  In all the country towns through which they went.

  The Pope received them with great pomp, and blare
  Of bannered trumpets, on Saint Peter's square,
  Giving his benediction and embrace,
  Fervent, and full of apostolic grace.
  While with congratulations and with prayers
  He entertained the Angel unawares,
  Robert, the Jester, bursting through the crowd,
  Into their presence rushed, and cried aloud,
  "I am the King! Look, and behold in me
  Robert, your brother, King of Sicily!
  This man, who wears my semblance to your eyes,
  Is an impostor in a king's disguise.
  Do you not know me? does no voice within
  Answer my cry, and say we are akin?"
  The Pope in silence, but with troubled mien,
  Gazed at the Angel's countenance serene;
  The Emperor, laughing, said, "It is strange sport
  To keep a madman for thy Fool at court!"
  And the poor, baffled Jester in disgrace
  Was hustled back among the populace.

  In solemn state the Holy Week went by,
  And Easter Sunday gleamed upon the sky;
  The presence of the Angel, with its light,
  Before the sun rose, made the city bright,
  And with new fervor filled the hearts of men,
  Who felt that Christ indeed had risen again.
  Even the Jester, on his bed of straw,
  With haggard eyes the unwonted splendor saw,
  He felt within a power unfelt before,
  And, kneeling humbly on his chamber floor,
  He heard the rushing garments of the Lord
  Sweep through the silent air, ascending heavenward.

  And now the visit ending, and once more
  Valmond returning to the Danube's shore,
  Homeward the Angel journeyed, and again
  The land was made resplendent with his train,
  Flashing along the towns of Italy
  Unto Salerno, and from there by sea.
  And when once more within Palermo's wall,
  And, seated on the throne in his great hall,
  He heard the Angelus from convent towers,
  As if the better world conversed with ours,
  He beckoned to King Robert to draw nigher,
  And with a gesture bade the rest retire;
  And when they were alone, the Angel said,
  "Art thou the King?" Then bowing down his head,
  King Robert crossed both hands upon his breast,
  And meekly answered him: "Thou knowest best!
  My sins as scarlet are; let me go hence,
  And in some cloister's school of penitence,
  Across those stones, that pave the way to heaven,
  Walk barefoot, till my guilty soul is shriven!"
  The Angel smiled, and from his radiant face
  A holy light illumined all the place,
  And through the open window, loud and clear,
  They heard the monks chant in the chapel near,
  Above the stir and tumult of the street:
  "He has put down the mighty from their seat,
  And has exalted them of low degree!"
  And through the chant a second melody
  Rose like the throbbing of a single string:
  "I am an Angel, and thou art the King!"

  King Robert, who was standing near the throne,
  Lifted his eyes, and lo! he was alone!
  But all apparelled as in days of old,
  With ermined mantle and with cloth of gold;
  And when his courtiers came, they found him there
  Kneeling upon the floor, absorbed in silent prayer.



INTERLUDE.


  And then the blue-eyed Norseman told
  A Saga of the days of old.
  "There is," said he, "a wondrous book
  Of Legends in the old Norse tongue,
  Of the dead kings of Norroway,--
  Legends that once were told or sung
  In many a smoky fireside nook
  Of Iceland, in the ancient day,
  By wandering Saga-man or Scald;
  Heimskringla is the volume called;
  And he who looks may find therein
  The story that I now begin."

  And in each pause the story made
  Upon his violin he played,
  As an appropriate interlude,
  Fragments of old Norwegian tunes
  That bound in one the separate runes,
  And held the mind in perfect mood,
  Entwining and encircling all
  The strange and antiquated rhymes
  With melodies of olden times;
  As over some half-ruined wall,
  Disjointed and about to fall,
  Fresh woodbines climb and interlace,
  And keep the loosened stones in place.



THE MUSICIAN'S TALE.


THE SAGA OF KING OLAF.


I.

THE CHALLENGE OF THOR.

  I am the God Thor,
  I am the War God,
  I am the Thunderer!
  Here in my Northland,
  My fastness and fortress,
  Reign I forever!

  Here amid icebergs
  Rule I the nations;
  This is my hammer,
  Miölner the mighty;
  Giants and sorcerers
  Cannot withstand it!

  These are the gauntlets
  Wherewith I wield it,
  And hurl it afar off;
  This is my girdle;
  Whenever I brace it,
  Strength is redoubled!

  The light thou beholdest
  Stream through the heavens,
  In flashes of crimson,
  Is but my red beard
  Blown by the night-wind,
  Affrighting the nations!

  Jove is my brother;
  Mine eyes are the lightning;
  The wheels of my chariot
  Roll in the thunder,
  The blows of my hammer
  Ring in the earthquake!

  Force rules the world still,
  Has ruled it, shall rule it;
  Meekness is weakness,
  Strength is triumphant,
  Over the whole earth
  Still is it Thor's-Day!

  Thou art a God too,
  O Galilean!
  And thus single-handed
  Unto the combat,
  Gauntlet or Gospel,
  Here I defy thee!


II.

KING OLAF'S RETURN.

  And King Olaf heard the cry,
  Saw the red light in the sky,
    Laid his hand upon his sword,
  As he leaned upon the railing,
  And his ships went sailing, sailing
    Northward into Drontheim fiord.

  There he stood as one who dreamed;
  And the red light glanced and gleamed
    On the armor that he wore;
  And he shouted, as the rifted
  Streamers o'er him shook and shifted,
    "I accept thy challenge, Thor!"

  To avenge his father slain,
  And reconquer realm and reign,
    Came the youthful Olaf home,
  Through the midnight sailing, sailing,
  Listening to the wild wind's wailing,
    And the dashing of the foam.

  To his thoughts the sacred name
  Of his mother Astrid came,
    And the tale she oft had told
  Of her flight by secret passes
  Through the mountains and morasses,
    To the home of Hakon old.

  Then strange memories crowded back
  Of Queen Gunhild's wrath and wrack,
    And a hurried flight by sea;
  Of grim Vikings, and their rapture
  In the sea-fight, and the capture,
    And the life of slavery.

  How a stranger watched his face
  In the Esthonian market-place,
    Scanned his features one by one,
  Saying, "We should know each other;
  I am Sigurd, Astrid's brother,
    Thou art Olaf, Astrid's son!"

  Then as Queen Allogia's page,
  Old in honors, young in age,
    Chief of all her men-at-arms;
  Till vague whispers, and mysterious,
  Reached King Valdemar, the imperious,
    Filling him with strange alarms.

  Then his cruisings o'er the seas,
  Westward to the Hebrides,
    And to Scilly's rocky shore;
  And the hermit's cavern dismal,
  Christ's great name and rites baptismal,
    In the ocean's rush and roar.

  All these thoughts of love and strife
  Glimmered through his lurid life,
    As the stars' intenser light
  Through the red flames o'er him trailing,
  As his ships went sailing, sailing,
    Northward in the summer night.

  Trained for either camp or court,
  Skilful in each manly sport,
    Young and beautiful and tall;
  Art of warfare, craft of chases,
  Swimming, skating, snow-shoe races,
    Excellent alike in all.

  When at sea, with all his rowers,
  He along the bending oars
    Outside of his ship could run.
  He the Smalsor Horn ascended,
  And his shining shield suspended
    On its summit, like a sun.

  On the ship-rails he could stand,
  Wield his sword with either hand,
    And at once two javelins throw;
  At all feasts where ale was strongest
  Sat the merry monarch longest,
    First to come and last to go.

  Norway never yet had seen
  One so beautiful of mien,
    One so royal in attire,
  When in arms completely furnished,
  Harness gold-inlaid and burnished,
    Mantle like a flame of fire.

  Thus came Olaf to his own,
  When upon the night-wind blown
    Passed that cry along the shore;
  And he answered, while the rifted
  Streamers o'er him shook and shifted,
    "I accept thy challenge, Thor!"


III.

THORA OF RIMOL.

  "Thora of Rimol! hide me! hide me!
  Danger and shame and death betide me!
  For Olaf the King is hunting me down
  Through field and forest, through thorp and town!"
      Thus cried Jarl Hakon
      To Thora, the fairest of women.

  "Hakon Jarl! for the love I bear thee
  Neither shall shame nor death come near thee!
  But the hiding-place wherein thou must lie
  Is the cave underneath the swine in the sty."
      Thus to Jarl Hakon
      Said Thora, the fairest of women.

  So Hakon Jarl and his base thrall Karker
  Crouched in the cave, than a dungeon darker,
  As Olaf came riding, with men in mail,
  Through the forest roads into Orkadale,
      Demanding Jarl Hakon
      Of Thora, the fairest of women.

  "Rich and honored shall be whoever
  The head of Hakon Jarl shall dissever!"
  Hakon heard him, and Karker the slave,
  Through the breathing-holes of the darksome cave.
      Alone in her chamber
      Wept Thora, the fairest of women.

  Said Karker, the crafty, "I will not slay thee!
  For all the king's gold I will never betray thee!"
  "Then why dost thou turn so pale, O churl,
  And then again black as the earth?" said the Earl.
      More pale and more faithful
      Was Thora, the fairest of women.

  From a dream in the night the thrall started, saying,
  "Round my neck a gold ring King Olaf was laying!"
  And Hakon answered, "Beware of the king!
  He will lay round thy neck a blood-red ring."
      At the ring on her finger
      Gazed Thora, the fairest of women.

  At daybreak slept Hakon, with sorrows encumbered,
  But screamed and drew up his feet as he slumbered;
  The thrall in the darkness plunged with his knife,
  And the Earl awakened no more in this life.
      But wakeful and weeping
      Sat Thora, the fairest of women.

  At Nidarholm the priests are all singing,
  Two ghastly heads on the gibbet are swinging;
  One is Jarl Hakon's and one is his thrall's,
  And the people are shouting from windows and walls;
      While alone in her chamber
      Swoons Thora, the fairest of women.


IV.

QUEEN SIGRID THE HAUGHTY.

  Queen Sigrid the Haughty sat proud and aloft
  In her chamber, that looked over meadow and croft.
        Heart's dearest,
        Why dost thou sorrow so?

  The floor with tassels of fir was besprent,
  Filling the room with their fragrant scent.

  She heard the birds sing, she saw the sun shine,
  The air of summer was sweeter than wine.

  Like a sword without scabbard the bright river lay
  Between her own kingdom and Norroway.

  But Olaf the King had sued for her hand,
  The sword would be sheathed, the river be spanned.

  Her maidens were seated around her knee,
  Working bright figures in tapestry.

  And one was singing the ancient rune
  Of Brynhilda's love and the wrath of Gudrun.

  And through it, and round it, and over it all
  Sounded incessant the waterfall.

  The Queen in her hand held a ring of gold,
  From the door of Ladé's Temple old.

  King Olaf had sent her this wedding gift,
  But her thoughts as arrows were keen and swift.

  She had given the ring to her goldsmiths twain,
  Who smiled, as they handed it back again.

  And Sigrid the Queen, in her haughty way,
  Said, "Why do you smile, my goldsmiths, say?"

  And they answered: "O Queen! if the truth must be told,
  The ring is of copper, and not of gold!"

  The lightning flashed o'er her forehead and cheek,
  She only murmured, she did not speak:

  "If in his gifts he can faithless be,
  There will be no gold in his love to me."

  A footstep was heard on the outer stair,
  And in strode King Olaf with royal air.

  He kissed the Queen's hand, and he whispered of love,
  And swore to be true as the stars are above.

  But she smiled with contempt as she answered: "O King,
  Will you swear it, as Odin once swore, on the ring?"

  And the King: "O speak not of Odin to me,
  The wife of King Olaf a Christian must be."

  Looking straight at the King, with her level brows,
  She said, "I keep true to my faith and my vows."

  Then the face of King Olaf was darkened with gloom,
  He rose in his anger and strode through the room.

  "Why, then, should I care to have thee?" he said,--
  "A faded old woman, a heathenish jade!"

  His zeal was stronger than fear or love,
  And he struck the Queen in the face with his glove.

  Then forth from the chamber in anger he fled,
  And the wooden stairway shook with his tread.

  Queen Sigrid the Haughty said under her breath,
  "This insult, King Olaf, shall be thy death!"
        Heart's dearest,
        Why dost thou sorrow so?


V.

THE SKERRY OF SHRIEKS.

  Now from all King Olaf's farms
        His men-at-arms
  Gathered on the Eve of Easter;
  To his house at Angvalds-ness
        Fast they press,
  Drinking with the royal feaster.

  Loudly through the wide-flung door
        Came the roar
  Of the sea upon the Skerry;
  And its thunder loud and near
        Reached the ear,
  Mingling with their voices merry.

  "Hark!" said Olaf to his Scald,
        Halfred the Bald,
  "Listen to that song, and learn it!
  Half my kingdom would I give,
        As I live,
  If by such songs you would earn it!

  "For of all the runes and rhymes
        Of all times,
  Best I like the ocean's dirges,
  When the old harper heaves and rocks,
        His hoary locks
  Flowing and flashing in the surges!"

  Halfred answered: "I am called
        The Unappalled!
  Nothing hinders me or daunts me.
  Hearken to me, then, O King,
        While I sing
  The great Ocean Song that haunts me."

  "I will hear your song sublime
        Some other time,"
  Says the drowsy monarch, yawning,
  And retires; each laughing guest
        Applauds the jest;
  Then they sleep till day is dawning.

  Pacing up and down the yard,
        King Olaf's guard
  Saw the sea-mist slowly creeping
  O'er the sands, and up the hill,
        Gathering still
  Round the house where they were sleeping.

  It was not the fog he saw,
        Nor misty flaw,
  That above the landscape brooded;
  It was Eyvind Kallda's crew
        Of warlocks blue,
  With their caps of darkness hooded!

  Round and round the house they go,
        Weaving slow
  Magic circles to encumber
  And imprison in their ring
        Olaf the King,
  As he helpless lies in slumber.

  Then athwart the vapors dun
        The Easter sun
  Streamed with one broad track of splendor!
  In their real forms appeared
        The warlocks weird,
  Awful as the Witch of Endor.

  Blinded by the light that glared,
        They groped and stared
  Round about with steps unsteady;
  From his window Olaf gazed,
        And, amazed,
  "Who are these strange people?" said he.

  "Eyvind Kellda and his men!"
        Answered then
  From the yard a sturdy farmer;
  While the men-at-arms apace
        Filled the place,
  Busily buckling on their armor.

  From the gates they sallied forth,
        South and north,
  Scoured the island coast around them,
  Seizing all the warlock band,
        Foot and hand
  On the Skerry's rocks they bound them.

  And at eve the king again
        Called his train,
  And, with all the candles burning,
  Silent sat and heard once more
        The sullen roar
  Of the ocean tides returning.

  Shrieks and cries of wild despair
        Filled the air,
  Growing fainter as they listened;
  Then the bursting surge alone
        Sounded on;--
  Thus the sorcerers were christened!

  "Sing, O Scald, your song sublime,
        Your ocean-rhyme,"
  Cried King Olaf: "it will cheer me!"
  Said the Scald, with pallid cheeks,
        "The Skerry of Shrieks
  Sings too loud for you to hear me!"


VI.

THE WRAITH OF ODIN.

  The guests were loud, the ale was strong,
  King Olaf feasted late and long;
  The hoary Scalds together sang;
  O'erhead the smoky rafters rang.
      Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

  The door swung wide, with creak and din;
  A blast of cold night-air came in,
  And on the threshold shivering stood
  A one-eyed guest, with cloak and hood.
      Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

  The King exclaimed, "O graybeard pale!
  Come warm thee with this cup of ale."
  The foaming draught the old man quaffed,
  The noisy guests looked on and laughed.
      Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

  Then spake the King: "Be not afraid;
  Sit here by me." The guest obeyed,
  And, seated at the table, told
  Tales of the sea, and Sagas old.
      Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

  And ever, when the tale was o'er,
  The King demanded yet one more;
  Till Sigurd the Bishop smiling said,
  "'Tis late, O King, and time for bed."
      Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

  The King retired; the stranger guest
  Followed and entered with the rest;
  The lights were out, the pages gone,
  But still the garrulous guest spake on.
      Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

  As one who from a volume reads,
  He spake of heroes and their deeds,
  Of lands and cities he had seen,
  And stormy gulfs that tossed between.
      Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

  Then from his lips in music rolled
  The Havamal of Odin old,
  With sounds mysterious as the roar
  Of billows on a distant shore.
      Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

  "Do we not learn from runes and rhymes
  Made by the gods in elder times,
  And do not still the great Scalds teach
  That silence better is than speech?"
      Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

  Smiling at this, the King replied,
  "Thy lore is by thy tongue belied;
  For never was I so enthralled
  Either by Saga-man or Scald."
      Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

  The Bishop said, "Late hours we keep!
  Night wanes, O King! 'tis time for sleep!"
  Then slept the King, and when he woke
  The guest was gone, the morning broke.
      Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

  They found the doors securely barred,
  They found the watch-dog in the yard,
  There was no footprint in the grass,
  And none had seen the stranger pass.
      Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

  King Olaf crossed himself and said:
  "I know that Odin the Great is dead;
  Sure is the triumph of our Faith,
  The one-eyed stranger was his wraith."
      Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.


VII.

IRON-BEARD.

      Olaf the King, one summer morn,
      Blew a blast on his bugle-horn,
  Sending his signal through the land of Drontheim.

      And to the Hus-Ting held at Mere
      Gathered the farmers far and near,
  With their war weapons ready to confront him.

      Ploughing under the morning star,
      Old Iron-Beard in Yriar
  Heard the summons, chuckling with a low laugh.

      He wiped the sweat-drops from his brow,
      Unharnessed his horses from the plough,
  And clattering came on horseback to King Olaf.

      He was the churliest of the churls;
      Little he cared for king or earls;
  Bitter as home-brewed ale were his foaming passions.

      Hodden-gray was the garb he wore,
      And by the Hammer of Thor he swore;
  He hated the narrow town, and all its fashions.

      But he loved the freedom of his farm,
      His ale at night, by the fireside warm,
  Gudrun his daughter, with her flaxen tresses.

      He loved his horses and his herds,
      The smell of the earth, and the song of birds,
  His well-filled barns, his brook with its watercresses.

      Huge and cumbersome was his frame;
      His beard, from which he took his name,
  Frosty and fierce, like that of Hymer the Giant.

      So at the Hus-Ting he appeared,
      The farmer of Yriar, Iron-Beard,
  On horseback, with an attitude defiant.

      And to King Olaf he cried aloud,
      Out of the middle of the crowd,
  That tossed about him like a stormy ocean:

      "Such sacrifices shalt thou bring;
      To Odin and to Thor, O King,
  As other kings have done in their devotion!"

      King Olaf answered: "I command
      This land to be a Christian land;
  Here is my Bishop who the folk baptizes!

      "But if you ask me to restore
      Your sacrifices, stained with gore,
  Then will I offer human sacrifices!

      "Not slaves and peasants shall they be,
      But men of note and high degree,
  Such men as Orm of Lyra and Kar of Gryting!"

      Then to their Temple strode he in,
      And loud behind him heard the din
  Of his men-at-arms and the peasants fiercely fighting.

      There in the Temple, carved in wood,
      The image of great Odin stood,
  And other gods, with Thor supreme among them.

      King Olaf smote them with the blade
      Of his huge war-axe, gold inlaid,
  And downward shattered to the pavement flung them.

      At the same moment rose without,
      From the contending crowd, a shout,
  A mingled sound of triumph and of wailing.

      And there upon the trampled plain
      The farmer Iron-Beard lay slain,
  Midway between the assailed and the assailing.

      King Olaf from the doorway spoke:
      "Choose ye between two things, my folk,
  To be baptized or given up to slaughter!"

      And seeing their leader stark and dead,
      The people with a murmur said,
  "O King, baptize us with thy holy water!"

      So all the Drontheim land became
      A Christian land in name and fame,
  In the old gods no more believing and trusting.

      And as a blood-atonement, soon
      King Olaf wed the fair Gudrun;
  And thus in peace ended the Drontheim Hus-Ting!


VIII.

GUDRUN.

  On King Olaf's bridal night
  Shines the moon with tender light,
  And across the chamber streams
      Its tide of dreams.

  At the fatal midnight hour,
  When all evil things have power,
  In the glimmer of the moon
      Stands Gudrun.

  Close against her heaving breast,
  Something in her hand is pressed;
  Like an icicle, its sheen
      Is cold and keen.

  On the cairn are fixed her eyes
  Where her murdered father lies,
  And a voice remote and drear
      She seems to hear.

  What a bridal night is this!
  Cold will be the dagger's kiss;
  Laden with the chill of death
      Is its breath.

  Like the drifting snow she sweeps
  To the couch where Olaf sleeps;
  Suddenly he wakes and stirs,
      His eyes meet hers.

  "What is that," King Olaf said,
  "Gleams so bright above thy head?
  Wherefore standest thou so white
      In pale moonlight?"

  "'Tis the bodkin that I wear
  When at night I bind my hair;
  It woke me falling on the floor;
      'Tis nothing more."

  "Forests have ears, and fields have eyes;
  Often treachery lurking lies
  Underneath the fairest hair!
      Gudrun beware!"

  Ere the earliest peep of morn
  Blew King Olaf's bugle-horn;
  And forever sundered ride
      Bridegroom and bride!


IX.

THANGBRAND THE PRIEST.

  Short of stature, large of limb,
    Burly face and russet beard,
  All the women stared at him,
    When in Iceland he appeared.
        "Look!" they said,
        With nodding head,
  "There goes Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest."

  All the prayers he knew by rote,
    He could preach like Chrysostome,
  From the Fathers he could quote,
    He had even been at Rome.
        A learned clerk,
        A man of mark,
  Was this Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest.

  He was quarrelsome and loud,
    And impatient of control,
  Boisterous in the market crowd,
    Boisterous at the wassail-bowl,
        Everywhere
        Would drink and swear,
  Swaggering Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest.

  In his house this malecontent
    Could the King no longer bear,
  So to Iceland he was sent
    To convert the heathen there,
        And away
        One summer day
  Sailed this Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest.

  There in Iceland, o'er their books
    Pored the people day and night,
  But he did not like their looks,
    Nor the songs they used to write.
        "All this rhyme
        Is waste of time!"
  Grumbled Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest.

  To the alehouse, where he sat,
    Came the Scalds and Saga-men;
  Is it to be wondered at,
    That they quarrelled now and then,
        When o'er his beer
        Began to leer
  Drunken Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest?

  All the folk in Altafiord
    Boasted of their island grand;
  Saying in a single word,
    "Iceland is the finest land
        That the sun
        Doth shine upon!"
  Loud laughed Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest.

  And he answered: "What's the use
    Of this bragging up and down,
  When three women and one goose
    Make a market in your town!"
        Every Scald
        Satires scrawled
  On poor Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest.

  Something worse they did than that;
    And what vexed him most of all
  Was a figure in shovel hat,
    Drawn in charcoal on the wall;
        With words that go
        Sprawling below,
  "This is Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest."

  Hardly knowing what he did,
    Then he smote them might and main,
  Thorvald Veile and Veterlid
    Lay there in the alehouse slain.
        "To-day we are gold,
        To-morrow mould!"
  Muttered Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest.

  Much in fear of axe and rope,
    Back to Norway sailed he then.
  "O, King Olaf! little hope
    Is there of these Iceland men!"
        Meekly said,
        With bending head,
  Pious Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest.


X.

RAUD THE STRONG.

  "All the old gods are dead,
  All the wild warlocks fled;
  But the White Christ lives and reigns,
  And throughout my wide domains
  His Gospel shall be spread!"
      On the Evangelists
      Thus swore King Olaf.

  But still in dreams of the night
  Beheld he the crimson light,
  And heard the voice that defied
  Him who was crucified,
  And challenged him to the fight.
      To Sigurd the Bishop
      King Olaf confessed it.

  And Sigurd the Bishop said,
  "The old gods are not dead,
  For the great Thor still reigns,
  And among the Jarls and Thanes
  The old witchcraft still is spread."
      Thus to King Olaf
      Said Sigurd the Bishop.

  "Far north in the Salten Fiord,
  By rapine, fire, and sword,
  Lives the Viking, Raud the Strong;
  All the Godoe Isles belong
  To him and his heathen horde."
      Thus went on speaking
      Sigurd the Bishop.

  "A warlock, a wizard is he,
  And lord of the wind and the sea;
  And whichever way he sails,
  He has ever favoring gales,
  By his craft in sorcery."
      Here the sign of the cross made
      Devoutly King Olaf.

  "With rites that we both abhor,
  He worships Odin and Thor;
  So it cannot yet be said,
  That all the old gods are dead,
  And the warlocks are no more,"
      Flushing with anger
      Said Sigurd the Bishop.

  Then King Olaf cried aloud:
  "I will talk with this mighty Raud,
  And along the Salten Fiord
  Preach the Gospel with my sword,
  Or be brought back in my shroud!"
      So northward from Drontheim
      Sailed King Olaf!


XI.

BISHOP SIGURD AT SALTEN FIORD.

  Loud the angry wind was wailing
  As King Olaf's ships came sailing
  Northward out of Drontheim haven
      To the mouth of Salten Fiord.

  Though the flying sea-spray drenches
  Fore and aft the rowers' benches,
  Not a single heart is craven
      Of the champions there on board.

  All without the Fiord was quiet,
  But within it storm and riot,
  Such as on his Viking cruises
      Raud the Strong was wont to ride.

  And the sea through all its tide-ways
  Swept the reeling vessels sideways,
  As the leaves are swept through sluices,
      When the flood-gates open wide.

  "'Tis the warlock! 'tis the demon
  Raud!" cried Sigurd to the seamen;
  "But the Lord is not affrighted
      By the witchcraft of his foes."

  To the ship's bow he ascended,
  By his choristers attended,
  Round him were the tapers lighted,
      And the sacred incense rose.

  On the bow stood Bishop Sigurd,
  In his robes, as one transfigured,
  And the Crucifix he planted
      High amid the rain and mist.

  Then with holy water sprinkled
  All the ship; the mass-bells tinkled;
  Loud the monks around him chanted,
      Loud he read the Evangelist.

  As into the Fiord they darted,
  On each side the water parted;
  Down a path like silver molten
      Steadily rowed King Olaf's ships;

  Steadily burned all night the tapers,
  And the White Christ through the vapors
  Gleamed across the Fiord of Salten,
      As through John's Apocalypse,--

  Till at last they reached Raud's dwelling
  On the little isle of Gelling;
  Not a guard was at the doorway,
      Not a glimmer of light was seen.

  But at anchor, carved and gilded,
  Lay the dragon-ship he builded;
  'Twas the grandest ship in Norway,
      With its crest and scales of green.

  Up the stairway, softly creeping,
  To the loft where Raud was sleeping,
  With their fists they burst asunder
      Bolt and bar that held the door.

  Drunken with sleep and ale they found him,
  Dragged him from his bed and bound him,
  While he stared with stupid wonder,
      At the look and garb they wore.

  Then King Olaf said: "O Sea-King!
  Little time have we for speaking,
  Choose between the good and evil;
      Be baptized, or thou shalt die!"

  But in scorn the heathen scoffer
  Answered: "I disdain thine offer;
  Neither fear I God nor Devil;
      Thee and thy Gospel I defy!"

  Then between his jaws distended,
  When his frantic struggles ended,
  Through King Olaf's horn an adder,
      Touched by fire, they forced to glide.

  Sharp his tooth was as an arrow,
  As he gnawed through bone and marrow;
  But without a groan or shudder,
      Raud the Strong blaspheming died.

  Then baptized they all that region,
  Swarthy Lap and fair Norwegian,
  Far as swims the salmon, leaping,
      Up the streams of Salten Fiord.

  In their temples Thor and Odin
  Lay in dust and ashes trodden,
  As King Olaf, onward sweeping,
      Preached the Gospel with his sword.

  Then he took the carved and gilded
  Dragon-ship that Raud had builded,
  And the tiller single-handed,
      Grasping, steered into the main.

  Southward sailed the sea-gulls o'er him,
  Southward sailed the ship that bore him,
  Till at Drontheim haven landed
      Olaf and his crew again.


XII.

KING OLAF'S CHRISTMAS.

  At Drontheim, Olaf the King
  Heard the bells of Yule-tide ring,
      As he sat in his banquet-hall,
  Drinking the nut-brown ale,
  With his bearded Berserks hale
      And tall.

  Three days his Yule-tide feasts
  He held with Bishops and Priests,
      And his horn filled up to the brim;
  But the ale was never too strong,
  Nor the Saga-man's tale too long,
      For him.

  O'er his drinking-horn, the sign
  He made of the cross divine,
      As he drank, and muttered his prayers;
  But the Berserks evermore
  Made the sign of the Hammer of Thor
      Over theirs.

  The gleams of the fire-light dance
  Upon helmet and hauberk and lance,
      And laugh in the eyes of the King;
  And he cries to Halfred the Scald,
  Gray-bearded, wrinkled, and bald,
      "Sing!"

  "Sing me a song divine,
  With a sword in every line,
      And this shall be thy reward."
  And he loosened the belt at his waist,
  And in front of the singer placed
      His sword.

  "Quern-biter of Hakon the Good,
  Wherewith at a stroke he hewed
      The millstone through and through,
  And Foot-breadth of Thoralf the Strong,
  Were neither so broad nor so long,
      Nor so true."

  Then the Scald took his harp and sang,
  And loud through the music rang
      The sound of that shining word;
  And the harp-strings a clangor made,
  As if they were struck with the blade
      Of a sword.

  And the Berserks round about
  Broke forth into a shout
      That made the rafters ring:
  They smote with their fists on the board,
  And shouted, "Long live the Sword,
      And the King!"

  But the King said, "O my son,
  I miss the bright word in one
      Of thy measures and thy rhymes."
  And Halfred the Scald replied,
  "In another 'twas multiplied
      Three times."

  Then King Olaf raised the hilt
  Of iron, cross-shaped and gilt,
      And said, "Do not refuse;
  Count well the gain and the loss,
  Thor's hammer or Christ's cross:
      Choose!"

  And Halfred the Scald said, "This
  In the name of the Lord I kiss,
      Who on it was crucified!"
  And a shout went round the board,
  "In the name of Christ the Lord,
      Who died!"

  Then over the waste of snows
  The noonday sun uprose,
      Through the driving mists revealed,
  Like the lifting of the Host,
  By incense-clouds almost
      Concealed.

  On the shining wall a vast
  And shadowy cross was cast
      From the hilt of the lifted sword,
  And in foaming cups of ale
  The Berserks drank "Was-hael!
      To the Lord!"


XIII.

THE BUILDING OF THE LONG SERPENT.

  Thorberg Skafting, master-builder,
      In his ship-yard by the sea,
  Whistled, saying, "'Twould bewilder
  Any man but Thorberg Skafting,
      Any man but me!"

  Near him lay the Dragon stranded,
      Built of old by Raud the Strong,
  And King Olaf had commanded
  He should build another Dragon,
      Twice as large and long.

  Therefore whistled Thorberg Skafting,
      As he sat with half-closed eyes,
  And his head turned sideways, drafting
  That new vessel for King Olaf
      Twice the Dragon's size.

  Round him busily hewed and hammered
      Mallet huge and heavy axe;
  Workmen laughed and sang and clamored;
  Whirred the wheels, that into rigging
      Spun the shining flax!

  All this tumult heard the master,--
      It was music to his ear;
  Fancy whispered all the faster,
  "Men shall hear of Thorberg Skafting
      For a hundred year!"

  Workmen sweating at the forges
      Fashioned iron bolt and bar,
  Like a warlock's midnight orgies
  Smoked and bubbled the black caldron
      With the boiling tar.

  Did the warlocks mingle in it,
      Thorberg Skafting, any curse?
  Could you not be gone a minute
  But some mischief must be doing,
      Turning bad to worse?

  'Twas an ill wind that came wafting,
      From his homestead words of woe;
  To his farm went Thorberg Skafting,
  Oft repeating to his workmen,
      Build ye thus and so.

  After long delays returning
      Came the master back by night;
  To his ship-yard longing, yearning,
  Hurried he, and did not leave it
      Till the morning's light.

  "Come and see my ship, my darling!"
      On the morrow said the King;
  "Finished now from keel to carling;
  Never yet was seen in Norway
      Such a wondrous thing!"

  In the ship-yard, idly talking,
      At the ship the workmen stared:
  Some one, all their labor balking,
  Down her sides had cut deep gashes,
      Not a plank was spared!

  "Death be to the evil-doer!"
      With an oath King Olaf spoke;
  "But rewards to his pursuer!"
  And with wrath his face grew redder
      Than his scarlet cloak.

  Straight the master-builder, smiling,
      Answered thus the angry King:
  "Cease blaspheming and reviling,
  Olaf, it was Thorberg Skafting
      Who has done this thing!"

  Then he chipped and smoothed the planking,
      Till the King, delighted, swore,
  With much lauding and much thanking,
  "Handsomer is now my Dragon
      Than she was before!"

  Seventy ells and four extended
      On the grass the vessel's keel;
  High above it, gilt and splendid,
  Rose the figure-head ferocious
      With its crest of steel.

  Then they launched her from the tressels,
      In the ship-yard by the sea;
  She was the grandest of all vessels,
  Never ship was built in Norway
      Half so fine as she!

  The Long Serpent was she christened,
      'Mid the roar of cheer on cheer!
  They who to the Saga listened
  Heard the name of Thorberg Skafting
      For a hundred year!


XIV.

THE CREW OF THE LONG SERPENT.

  Safe at anchor in Drontheim bay
  King Olaf's fleet assembled lay,
    And, striped with white and blue,
  Downward fluttered sail and banner,
  As alights the screaming lanner;
  Lustily cheered, in their wild manner,
    The Long Serpent's crew.

  Her forecastle man was Ulf the Red;
  Like a wolf's was his shaggy head,
    His teeth as large and white;
  His beard, of gray and russet blended,
  Round as a swallow's nest descended;
  As standard-bearer he defended
    Olaf's flag in the fight.

  Near him Kolbiorn had his place,
  Like the King in garb and face,
    So gallant and so hale;
  Every cabin-boy and varlet
  Wondered at his cloak of scarlet;
  Like a river, frozen and star-lit,
    Gleamed his coat of mail.

  By the bulkhead, tall and dark,
  Stood Thrand Rame of Thelemark,
    A figure gaunt and grand;
  On his hairy arm imprinted
  Was an anchor, azure-tinted;
  Like Thor's hammer, huge and dinted
    Was his brawny hand.

  Einar Tamberskelver, bare
  To the winds his golden hair,
    By the mainmast stood;
  Graceful was his form, and slender,
  And his eyes were deep and tender
  As a woman's, in the splendor
    Of her maidenhood.

  In the fore-hold Biorn and Bork
  Watched the sailors at their work:
    Heavens! how they swore!
  Thirty men they each commanded,
  Iron-sinewed, horny-handed,
  Shoulders broad, and chests expanded,
    Tugging at the oar.

  These, and many more like these,
  With King Olaf sailed the seas,
    Till the waters vast
  Filled them with a vague devotion,
  With the freedom and the motion,
  With the roll and roar of ocean
    And the sounding blast.

  When they landed from the fleet,
  How they roared through Drontheim's street,
    Boisterous as the gale!
  How they laughed and stamped and pounded,
  Till the tavern roof resounded,
  And the host looked on astounded
    As they drank the ale!

  Never saw the wild North Sea
  Such a gallant company
    Sail its billows blue!
  Never, while they cruised and quarrelled,
  Old King Gorm, or Blue-Tooth Harald,
  Owned a ship so well apparelled,
    Boasted such a crew!


XV.

A LITTLE BIRD IN THE AIR.

  A little bird in the air
  Is singing of Thyri the fair,
    The sister of Svend the Dane;
  And the song of the garrulous bird
  In the streets of the town is heard,
    And repeated again and again.
      Hoist up your sails of silk,
      And flee away from each other.

  To King Burislaf, it is said,
  Was the beautiful Thyri wed,
    And a sorrowful bride went she;
  And after a week and a day,
  She has fled away and away,
    From his town by the stormy sea.
      Hoist up your sails of silk,
      And flee away from each other.

  They say, that through heat and through cold,
  Through weald, they say, and through wold,
    By day and by night, they say,
  She has fled; and the gossips report
  She has come to King Olaf's court,
    And the town is all in dismay.
      Hoist up your sails of silk,
      And flee away from each other.

  It is whispered King Olaf has seen,
  Has talked with the beautiful Queen;
    And they wonder how it will end;
  For surely, if here she remain,
  It is war with King Svend the Dane,
    And King Burislaf the Vend!
      Hoist up your sails of silk,
      And flee away from each other.

  O, greatest wonder of all!
  It is published in hamlet and hall,
    It roars like a flame that is fanned!
  The King--yes, Olaf the King--
  Has wedded her with his ring,
    And Thyri is Queen in the land!
      Hoist up your sails of silk,
      And flee away from each other.


XVI.

QUEEN THYRI AND THE ANGELICA STALKS.

  Northward over Drontheim,
  Flew the clamorous sea-gulls,
  Sang the lark and linnet
    From the meadows green;

  Weeping in her chamber,
  Lonely and unhappy,
  Sat the Drottning Thyri,
    Sat King Olaf's Queen.

  In at all the windows
  Streamed the pleasant sunshine,
  On the roof above her
    Softly cooed the dove;

  But the sound she heard not,
  Nor the sunshine heeded,
  For the thoughts of Thyri
    Were not thoughts of love.

  Then King Olaf entered,
  Beautiful as morning,
  Like the sun at Easter
    Shone his happy face;

  In his hand he carried
  Angelicas uprooted,
  With delicious fragrance
    Filling all the place.

  Like a rainy midnight
  Sat the Drottning Thyri,
  Even the smile of Olaf
    Could not cheer her gloom;

  Nor the stalks he gave her
  With a gracious gesture,
  And with words as pleasant
    As their own perfume.

  In her hands he placed them,
  And her jewelled fingers
  Through the green leaves glistened
    Like the dews of morn;

  But she cast them from her,
  Haughty and indignant,
  On the floor she threw them
    With a look of scorn.

  "Richer presents," said she,
  "Gave King Harald Gormson
  To the Queen, my mother,
    Than such worthless weeds;

  "When he ravaged Norway,
  Laying waste the kingdom,
  Seizing scatt and treasure
    For her royal needs.

  "But thou darest not venture
  Through the Sound to Vendland,
  My domains to rescue
    From King Burislaf;

  "Lest King Svend of Denmark,
  Forked Beard, my brother,
  Scatter all thy vessels
    As the wind the chaff."

  Then up sprang King Olaf,
  Like a reindeer bounding,
  With an oath he answered
    Thus the luckless Queen:

  "Never yet did Olaf
  Fear King Svend of Denmark;
  This right hand shall hale him
    By his forked chin!"

  Then he left the chamber,
  Thundering through the doorway,
  Loud his steps resounded
    Down the outer stair.

  Smarting with the insult,
  Through the streets of Drontheim
  Strode he red and wrathful,
    With his stately air.

  All his ships he gathered,
  Summoned all his forces,
  Making his war levy
    In the region round;

  Down the coast of Norway,
  Like a flock of sea-gulls,
  Sailed the fleet of Olaf
    Through the Danish Sound.

  With his own hand fearless,
  Steered he the Long Serpent,
  Strained the creaking cordage,
    Bent each boom and gaff;

  Till in Vendland landing,
  The domains of Thyri
  He redeemed and rescued
    From King Burislaf.

  Then said Olaf, laughing,
  "Not ten yoke of oxen
  Have the power to draw us
    Like a woman's hair!

  "Now will I confess it,
  Better things are jewels
  Than angelica stalks are
    For a Queen to wear."


XVII.

KING SVEND OF THE FORKED BEARD.

  Loudly the sailors cheered
  Svend of the Forked Beard,
  As with his fleet he steered
    Southward to Vendland;
  Where with their courses hauled
  All were together called,
  Under the Isle of Svald
    Near to the mainland.

  After Queen Gunhild's death,
  So the old Saga saith,
  Plighted King Svend his faith
    To Sigrid the Haughty;
  And to avenge his bride,
  Soothing her wounded pride,
  Over the waters wide
    King Olaf sought he.

  Still on her scornful face,
  Blushing with deep disgrace,
  Bore she the crimson trace
    Of Olaf's gauntlet;
  Like a malignant star,
  Blazing in heaven afar,
  Red shone the angry scar
    Under her frontlet.

  Oft to King Svend she spake,
  "For thine own honor's sake
  Shalt thou swift vengeance take
    On the vile coward!"
  Until the King at last,
  Gusty and overcast,
  Like a tempestuous blast
    Threatened and lowered.

  Soon as the Spring appeared,
  Svend of the Forked Beard
  High his red standard reared,
    Eager for battle;
  While every warlike Dane,
  Seizing his arms again,
  Left all unsown the grain,
    Unhoused the cattle.

  Likewise the Swedish King
  Summoned in haste a Thing,
  Weapons and men to bring
    In aid of Denmark;
  Eric the Norseman, too,
  As the war-tidings flew,
  Sailed with a chosen crew
    From Lapland and Finmark.

  So upon Easter day
  Sailed the three kings away,
  Out of the sheltered bay,
    In the bright season;
  With them Earl Sigvald came,
  Eager for spoil and fame;
  Pity that such a name
    Stooped to such treason!

  Safe under Svald at last,
  Now were their anchors cast,
  Safe from the sea and blast,
    Plotted the three kings;
  While, with a base intent,
  Southward Earl Sigvald went,
  On a foul errand bent,
    Unto the Sea-kings.

  Thence to hold on his course,
  Unto King Olaf's force,
  Lying within the hoarse
    Mouths of Stet-haven;
  Him to ensnare and bring,
  Unto the Danish king,
  Who his dead corse would fling
    Forth to the raven!


XVIII.

KING OLAF AND EARL SIGVALD.

  On the gray sea-sands
  King Olaf stands,
  Northward and seaward
  He points with his hands.

  With eddy and whirl
  The sea-tides curl,
  Washing the sandals
  Of Sigvald the Earl.

  The mariners shout,
  The ships swing about,
  The yards are all hoisted,
  The sails flutter out.

  The war-horns are played,
  The anchors are weighed,
  Like moths in the distance
  The sails flit and fade.

  The sea is like lead,
  The harbor lies dead,
  As a corse on the sea-shore,
  Whose spirit has fled!

  On that fatal day,
  The histories say,
  Seventy vessels
  Sailed out of the bay.

  But soon scattered wide
  O'er the billows they ride,
  While Sigvald and Olaf
  Sail side by side.

  Cried the Earl: "Follow me!
  I your pilot will be,
  For I know all the channels
  Where flows the deep sea!"

  So into the strait
  Where his foes lie in wait,
  Gallant King Olaf
  Sails to his fate!

  Then the sea-fog veils
  The ships and their sails;
  Queen Sigrid the Haughty,
  Thy vengeance prevails!


XIX.

KING OLAF'S WAR-HORNS.

  "Strike the sails!" King Olaf said;
  "Never shall men of mine take flight;
  Never away from battle I fled,
  Never away from my foes!
      Let God dispose
  Of my life in the fight!"

  "Sound the horns!" said Olaf the King;
  And suddenly through the drifting brume
  The blare of the horns began to ring,
  Like the terrible trumpet shock
      Of Regnarock,
  On the Day of Doom!

  Louder and louder the war-horns sang
  Over the level floor of the flood;
  All the sails came down with a clang,
  And there in the mist overhead
      The sun hung red
  As a drop of blood.

  Drifting down on the Danish fleet
  Three together the ships were lashed,
  So that neither should turn and retreat;
  In the midst, but in front of the rest
      The burnished crest
  Of the Serpent flashed.

  King Olaf stood on the quarter-deck,
  With bow of ash and arrows of oak,
  His gilded shield was without a fleck,
  His helmet inlaid with gold,
      And in many a fold
  Hung his crimson cloak.

  On the forecastle Ulf the Red
  Watched the lashing of the ships;
  "If the Serpent lie so far ahead,
  We shall have hard work of it here,"
      Said he with a sneer
  On his bearded lips.

  King Olaf laid an arrow on string,
  "Have I a coward on board?" said he.
  "Shoot it another way, O King!"
  Sullenly answered Ulf,
      The old sea-wolf;
  "You have need of me!"

  In front came Svend, the King of the Danes,
  Sweeping down with his fifty rowers;
  To the right, the Swedish king with his thanes;
  And on board of the Iron Beard
      Earl Eric steered
  On the left with his oars.

  "These soft Danes and Swedes," said the King,
  "At home with their wives had better stay,
  Than come within reach of my Serpent's sting:
  But where Eric the Norseman leads
      Heroic deeds
  Will be done to-day!"

  Then as together the vessels crashed,
  Eric severed the cables of hide,
  With which King Olaf's ships were lashed,
  And left them to drive and drift
      With the currents swift
  Of the outward tide.

  Louder the war-horns growl and snarl,
  Sharper the dragons bite and sting!
  Eric the son of Hakon Jarl
  A death-drink salt as the sea
      Pledges to thee,
  Olaf the King!


XX.

EINAR TAMBERSKELVER.

  It was Einar Tamberskelver
    Stood beside the mast;
  From his yew-bow, tipped with silver,
    Flew the arrows fast;
  Aimed at Eric unavailing,
    As he sat concealed,
  Half behind the quarter-railing,
    Half behind his shield.

  First an arrow struck the tiller,
    Just above his head;
  "Sing, O Eyvind Skaldaspiller,"
    Then Earl Eric said.
  "Sing the song of Hakon dying,
    Sing his funeral wail!"
  And another arrow flying
    Grazed his coat of mail.

  Turning to a Lapland yeoman,
    As the arrow passed,
  Said Earl Eric, "Shoot that bowman
    Standing by the mast."
  Sooner than the word was spoken
    Flew the yeoman's shaft;
  Einar's bow in twain was broken,
    Einar only laughed.

  "What was that?" said Olaf, standing
    On the quarter-deck.
  "Something heard I like the stranding
    Of a shattered wreck."
  Einar then, the arrow taking
    From the loosened string,
  Answered, "That was Norway breaking
    From thy hand, O king!"

  "Thou art but a poor diviner,"
    Straightway Olaf said;
  "Take my bow, and swifter, Einar,
    Let thy shafts be sped."
  Of his bows the fairest choosing,
    Reached he from above;
  Einar saw the blood-drops oozing
    Through his iron glove.

  But the bow was thin and narrow;
    At the first assay,
  O'er its head he drew the arrow,
    Flung the bow away;
  Said, with hot and angry temper
    Flushing in his cheek,
  "Olaf! for so great a Kämper
    Are thy bows too weak!"

  Then, with smile of joy defiant
    On his beardless lip,
  Scaled he, light and self-reliant,
    Eric's dragon-ship.
  Loose his golden locks were flowing,
    Bright his armor gleamed;
  Like Saint Michael overthrowing
    Lucifer he seemed.


XXI.

KING OLAF'S DEATH-DRINK.

  All day has the battle raged,
  All day have the ships engaged,
  But not yet is assuaged
    The vengeance of Eric the Earl.

  The decks with blood are red,
  The arrows of death are sped,
  The ships are filled with the dead,
    And the spears the champions hurl.

  They drift as wrecks on the tide,
  The grappling-irons are plied,
  The boarders climb up the side,
    The shouts are feeble and few.

  Ah! never shall Norway again
  See her sailors come back o'er the main;
  They all lie wounded or slain,
    Or asleep in the billows blue!

  On the deck stands Olaf the King,
  Around him whistle and sing
  The spears that the foemen fling,
    And the stones they hurl with their hands.

  In the midst of the stones and the spears,
  Kolbiorn, the marshal, appears,
  His shield in the air he uprears,
    By the side of King Olaf he stands.

  Over the slippery wreck
  Of the Long Serpent's deck
  Sweeps Eric with hardly a check,
    His lips with anger are pale;

  He hews with his axe at the mast,
  Till it falls, with the sails overcast,
  Like a snow-covered pine in the vast
    Dim forests of Orkadale.

  Seeking King Olaf then,
  He rushes aft with his men,
  As a hunter into the den
    Of the bear, when he stands at bay.

  "Remember Jarl Hakon!" he cries;
  When lo! on his wondering eyes,
  Two kingly figures arise,
    Two Olafs in warlike array!

  Then Kolbiorn speaks in the ear
  Of King Olaf a word of cheer,
  In a whisper that none may hear,
    With a smile on his tremulous lip;

  Two shields raised high in the air,
  Two flashes of golden hair,
  Two scarlet meteors' glare,
    And both have leaped from the ship.

  Earl Eric's men in the boats
  Seize Kolbiorn's shield as it floats,
  And cry, from their hairy throats,
    "See! it is Olaf the King!"

  While far on the opposite side
  Floats another shield on the tide,
  Like a jewel set in the wide
    Sea-current's eddying ring.

  There is told a wonderful tale,
  How the King stripped off his mail,
  Like leaves of the brown sea-kale,
    As he swam beneath the main;

  But the young grew old and gray,
  And never, by night or by day,
  In his kingdom of Norroway
    Was King Olaf seen again!


XXII.

THE NUN OF NIDAROS.

  In the convent of Drontheim,
  Alone in her chamber
  Knelt Astrid the Abbess,
  At midnight, adoring,
  Beseeching, entreating
  The Virgin and Mother.

  She heard in the silence
  The voice of one speaking,
  Without in the darkness,
  In gusts of the night-wind
  Now louder, now nearer,
  Now lost in the distance.

  The voice of a stranger
  It seemed as she listened,
  Of some one who answered,
  Beseeching, imploring,
  A cry from afar off
  She could not distinguish.

  The voice of Saint John,
  The beloved disciple,
  Who wandered and waited
  The Master's appearance,
  Alone in the darkness,
  Unsheltered and friendless.

  "It is accepted
  The angry defiance,
  The challenge of battle!
  It is accepted,
  But not with the weapons
  Of war that thou wieldest!

  "Cross against corslet,
  Love against hatred,
  Peace-cry for war-cry!
  Patience is powerful;
  He that o'ercometh
  Hath power o'er the nations!

  "As torrents in summer,
  Half dried in their channels,
  Suddenly rise, though the
  Sky is still cloudless,
  For rain has been falling
  Far off at their fountains;

  "So hearts that are fainting
  Grow full to o'erflowing,
  And they that behold it
  Marvel, and know not
  That God at their fountains
  Far off has been raining!

  "Stronger than steel
  Is the sword of the Spirit;
  Swifter than arrows
  The light of the truth is,
  Greater than anger
  Is love, and subdueth!

  "Thou art a phantom,
  A shape of the sea-mist,
  A shape of the brumal
  Rain, and the darkness
  Fearful and formless;
  Day dawns and thou art not!

  "The dawn is not distant,
  Nor is the night starless;
  Love is eternal!
  God is still God, and
  His faith shall not fail us;
  Christ is eternal!"



INTERLUDE.


  A strain of music closed the tale,
  A low, monotonous, funeral wail,
  That with its cadence, wild and sweet,
  Made the long Saga more complete.

  "Thank God," the Theologian said,
  "The reign of violence is dead,
  Or dying surely from the world;
  While Love triumphant reigns instead,
  And in a brighter sky o'erhead
  His blessed banners are unfurled.
  And most of all thank God for this:
  The war and waste of clashing creeds
  Now end in words, and not in deeds,
  And no one suffers loss, or bleeds,
  For thoughts that men call heresies.

  "I stand without here in the porch,
  I hear the bell's melodious din,
  I hear the organ peal within,
  I hear the prayer, with words that scorch
  Like sparks from an inverted torch,
  I hear the sermon upon sin,
  With threatenings of the last account.
  And all, translated in the air,
  Reach me but as our dear Lord's Prayer,
  And as the Sermon on the Mount.

  "Must it be Calvin, and not Christ?
  Must it be Athanasian creeds,
  Or holy water, books, and beads?
  Must struggling souls remain content
  With councils and decrees of Trent?
  And can it be enough for these
  The Christian Church the year embalms
  With evergreens and boughs of palms,
  And fills the air with litanies?

  "I know that yonder Pharisee
  Thanks God that he is not like me;
  In my humiliation dressed,
  I only stand and beat my breast,
  And pray for human charity.

  "Not to one church alone, but seven,
  The voice prophetic spake from heaven;
  And unto each the promise came,
  Diversified, but still the same;
  For him that overcometh are
  The new name written on the stone,
  The raiment white, the crown, the throne,
  And I will give him the Morning Star!

  "Ah! to how many Faith has been
  No evidence of things unseen,
  But a dim shadow, that recasts
  The creed of the Phantasiasts,
  For whom no Man of Sorrows died,
  For whom the Tragedy Divine
  Was but a symbol and a sign,
  And Christ a phantom crucified!

  "For others a diviner creed
  Is living in the life they lead.
  The passing of their beautiful feet
  Blesses the pavement of the street,
  And all their looks and words repeat
  Old Fuller's saying, wise and sweet,
  Not as a vulture, but a dove,
  The Holy Ghost came from above.

  "And this brings back to me a tale
  So sad the hearer well may quail,
  And question if such things can be;
  Yet in the chronicles of Spain
  Down the dark pages runs this stain,
  And naught can wash them white again,
  So fearful is the tragedy."



THE THEOLOGIAN'S TALE.


TORQUEMADA.

  In the heroic days when Ferdinand
  And Isabella ruled the Spanish land,
  And Torquemada, with his subtle brain,
  Ruled them, as Grand Inquisitor of Spain,
  In a great castle near Valladolid,
  Moated and high and by fair woodlands hid,
  There dwelt, as from the chronicles we learn,
  An old Hidalgo proud and taciturn,
  Whose name has perished, with his towers of stone,
  And all his actions save this one alone;
  This one, so terrible, perhaps 'twere best
  If it, too, were forgotten with the rest;
  Unless, perchance, our eyes can see therein
  The martyrdom triumphant o'er the sin;
  A double picture, with its gloom and glow,
  The splendor overhead, the death below.

  This sombre man counted each day as lost
  On which his feet no sacred threshold crossed;
  And when he chanced the passing Host to meet,
  He knelt and prayed devoutly in the street;
  Oft he confessed; and with each mutinous thought,
  As with wild beasts at Ephesus, he fought.
  In deep contrition scourged himself in Lent,
  Walked in processions, with his head down bent,
  At plays of Corpus Christi oft was seen,
  And on Palm Sunday bore his bough of green.
  His only pastime was to hunt the boar
  Through tangled thickets of the forest hoar,
  Or with his jingling mules to hurry down
  To some grand bull-fight in the neighboring town,
  Or in the crowd with lighted taper stand,
  When Jews were burned, or banished from the land.
  Then stirred within him a tumultuous joy;
  The demon whose delight is to destroy
  Shook him, and shouted with a trumpet tone,
  "Kill! kill! and let the Lord find out his own!"

  And now, in that old castle in the wood,
  His daughters, in the dawn of womanhood,
  Returning from their convent school, had made
  Resplendent with their bloom the forest shade,
  Reminding him of their dead mother's face,
  When first she came into that gloomy place,--
  A memory in his heart as dim and sweet
  As moonlight in a solitary street,
  Where the same rays, that lift the sea, are thrown
  Lovely but powerless upon walls of stone.

  These two fair daughters of a mother dead
  Were all the dream had left him as it fled.
  A joy at first, and then a growing care,
  As if a voice within him cried, "Beware!"
  A vague presentiment of impending doom,
  Like ghostly footsteps in a vacant room,
  Haunted him day and night; a formless fear
  That death to some one of his house was near,
  With dark surmises of a hidden crime,
  Made life itself a death before its time.
  Jealous, suspicious, with no sense of shame,
  A spy upon his daughters he became;
  With velvet slippers, noiseless on the floors,
  He glided softly through half-open doors;
  Now in the room, and now upon the stair,
  He stood beside them ere they were aware;
  He listened in the passage when they talked,
  He watched them from the casement when they walked,
  He saw the gypsy haunt the river's side,
  He saw the monk among the cork-trees glide;
  And, tortured by the mystery and the doubt
  Of some dark secret, past his finding out,
  Baffled he paused; then reassured again
  Pursued the flying phantom of his brain.
  He watched them even when they knelt in church;
  And then, descending lower in his search,
  Questioned the servants, and with eager eyes
  Listened incredulous to their replies;
  The gypsy? none had seen her in the wood!
  The monk? a mendicant in search of food!

  At length the awful revelation came,
  Crushing at once his pride of birth and name,
  The hopes his yearning bosom forward cast,
  And the ancestral glories of the past;
  All fell together, crumbling in disgrace,
  A turret rent from battlement to base.
  His daughters talking in the dead of night
  In their own chamber, and without a light,
  Listening, as he was wont, he overheard,
  And learned the dreadful secret, word by word;
  And hurrying from his castle, with a cry
  He raised his hands to the unpitying sky,
  Repeating one dread word, till bush and tree
  Caught it, and shuddering answered, "Heresy!"

  Wrapped in his cloak, his hat drawn o'er his face,
  Now hurrying forward, now with lingering pace,
  He walked all night the alleys of his park,
  With one unseen companion in the dark,
  The Demon who within him lay in wait,
  And by his presence turned his love to hate,
  Forever muttering in an undertone,
  "Kill! kill! and let the Lord find out his own!"

  Upon the morrow, after early Mass,
  While yet the dew was glistening on the grass,
  And all the woods were musical with birds,
  The old Hidalgo, uttering fearful words,
  Walked homeward with the Priest, and in his room
  Summoned his trembling daughters to their doom.
  When questioned, with brief answers they replied,
  Nor when accused evaded or denied;
  Expostulations, passionate appeals,
  All that the human heart most fears or feels,
  In vain the Priest with earnest voice essayed,
  In vain the father threatened, wept, and prayed;
  Until at last he said, with haughty mien,
  "The Holy Office, then, must intervene!"

  And now the Grand Inquisitor of Spain,
  With all the fifty horsemen of his train,
  His awful name resounding, like the blast
  Of funeral trumpets, as he onward passed,
  Came to Valladolid, and there began
  To harry the rich Jews with fire and ban.
  To him the Hidalgo went, and at the gate
  Demanded audience on affairs of state,
  And in a secret chamber stood before
  A venerable graybeard of fourscore,
  Dressed in the hood and habit of a friar;
  Out of his eyes flashed a consuming fire,
  And in his hand the mystic horn he held,
  Which poison and all noxious charms dispelled.
  He heard in silence the Hidalgo's tale,
  Then answered in a voice that made him quail:
  "Son of the Church! when Abraham of old
  To sacrifice his only son was told,
  He did not pause to parley nor protest,
  But hastened to obey the Lord's behest.
  In him it was accounted righteousness;
  The Holy Church expects of thee no less!"

  A sacred frenzy seized the father's brain,
  And Mercy from that hour implored in vain.
  Ah! who will e'er believe the words I say?
  His daughters he accused, and the same day
  They both were cast into the dungeon's gloom,
  That dismal antechamber of the tomb,
  Arraigned, condemned, and sentenced to the flame,
  The secret torture and the public shame.

  Then to the Grand Inquisitor once more
  The Hidalgo went, more eager than before,
  And said: "When Abraham offered up his son,
  He clave the wood wherewith it might be done.
  By his example taught, let me too bring
  Wood from the forest for my offering!"
  And the deep voice, without a pause, replied:
  "Son of the Church! by faith now justified,
  Complete thy sacrifice, even as thou wilt;
  The Church absolves thy conscience from all guilt!"

  Then this most wretched father went his way
  Into the woods, that round his castle lay,
  Where once his daughters in their childhood played
  With their young mother in the sun and shade.
  Now all the leaves had fallen; the branches bare
  Made a perpetual moaning in the air,
  And screaming from their eyries overhead
  The ravens sailed athwart the sky of lead.
  With his own hands he lopped the boughs and bound
  Fagots, that crackled with foreboding sound,
  And on his mules, caparisoned and gay
  With bells and tassels, sent them on their way.

  Then with his mind on one dark purpose bent,
  Again to the Inquisitor he went,
  And said: "Behold, the fagots I have brought,
  And now, lest my atonement be as naught,
  Grant me one more request, one last desire,--
  With my own hand to light the funeral fire!"
  And Torquemada answered from his seat,
  "Son of the Church! Thine offering is complete;
  Her servants through all ages shall not cease
  To magnify thy deed. Depart in peace!"

  Upon the market-place, builded of stone
  The scaffold rose, whereon Death claimed his own.
  At the four corners, in stern attitude,
  Four statues of the Hebrew Prophets stood,
  Gazing with calm indifference in their eyes
  Upon this place of human sacrifice,
  Round which was gathering fast the eager crowd,
  With clamor of voices dissonant and loud,
  And every roof and window was alive
  With restless gazers, swarming like a hive.

  The church-bells tolled, the chant of monks drew near,
  Loud trumpets stammered forth their notes of fear,
  A line of torches smoked along the street,
  There was a stir, a rush, a tramp of feet,
  And, with its banners floating in the air,
  Slowly the long procession crossed the square,
  And, to the statues of the Prophets bound,
  The victims stood, with fagots piled around.
  Then all the air a blast of trumpets shook,
  And louder sang the monks with bell and book,
  And the Hidalgo, lofty, stern, and proud,
  Lifted his torch, and, bursting through the crowd,
  Lighted in haste the fagots, and then fled,
  Lest those imploring eyes should strike him dead!

  O pitiless skies! why did your clouds retain
  For peasants' fields their floods of hoarded rain?
  O pitiless earth! why opened no abyss
  To bury in its chasm a crime like this?

  That night, a mingled column of fire and smoke
  From the dark thickets of the forest broke,
  And, glaring o'er the landscape leagues away,
  Made all the fields and hamlets bright as day.
  Wrapped in a sheet of flame the castle blazed,
  And as the villagers in terror gazed,
  They saw the figure of that cruel knight
  Lean from a window in the turret's height,
  His ghastly face illumined with the glare,
  His hands upraised above his head in prayer,
  Till the floor sank beneath him, and he fell
  Down the black hollow of that burning well.

  Three centuries and more above his bones
  Have piled the oblivious years like funeral stones;
  His name has perished with him, and no trace
  Remains on earth of his afflicted race;
  But Torquemada's name, with clouds o'ercast,
  Looms in the distant landscape of the Past,
  Like a burnt tower upon a blackened heath,
  Lit by the fires of burning woods beneath!



INTERLUDE.


  Thus closed the tale of guilt and gloom,
  That cast upon each listener's face
  Its shadow, and for some brief space
  Unbroken silence filled the room.
  The Jew was thoughtful and distressed;
  Upon his memory thronged and pressed
  The persecution of his race,
  Their wrongs and sufferings and disgrace;
  His head was sunk upon his breast,
  And from his eyes alternate came
  Flashes of wrath and tears of shame.

  The student first the silence broke,
  As one who long has lain in wait,
  With purpose to retaliate,
  And thus he dealt the avenging stroke.
  "In such a company as this,
  A tale so tragic seems amiss,
  That by its terrible control
  O'ermasters and drags down the soul
  Into a fathomless abyss.
  The Italian Tales that you disdain,
  Some merry Night of Straparole,
  Or Machiavelli's Belphagor,
  Would cheer us and delight us more,
  Give greater pleasure and less pain
  Than your grim tragedies of Spain!"

  And here the Poet raised his hand,
  With such entreaty and command,
  It stopped discussion at its birth,
  And said: "The story I shall tell
  Has meaning in it, if not mirth;
  Listen, and hear what once befell
  The merry birds of Killingworth!"



THE POET'S TALE.


THE BIRDS OF KILLINGWORTH.

  It was the season, when through all the land
    The merle and mavis build, and building sing
  Those lovely lyrics, written by His hand,
    Whom Saxon Cædmon calls the Blithe-heart King;
  When on the boughs the purple buds expand,
    The banners of the vanguard of the Spring,
  And rivulets, rejoicing, rush and leap,
  And wave their fluttering signals from the steep.

  The robin and the blue-bird, piping loud,
    Filled all the blossoming orchards with their glee;
  The sparrows chirped as if they still were proud
    Their race in Holy Writ should mentioned be;
  And hungry crows assembled in a crowd,
    Clamored their piteous prayer incessantly,
  Knowing who hears the ravens cry, and said:
  "Give us, O Lord, this day our daily bread!"

  Across the Sound the birds of passage sailed,
    Speaking some unknown language strange and sweet
  Of tropic isle remote, and passing hailed
    The village with the cheers of all their fleet;
  Or quarrelling together, laughed and railed
    Like foreign sailors, landed in the street
  Of seaport town, and with outlandish noise
  Of oaths and gibberish frightening girls and boys.

  Thus came the jocund Spring in Killingworth,
    In fabulous days, some hundred years ago;
  And thrifty farmers, as they tilled the earth,
    Heard with alarm the cawing of the crow,
  That mingled with the universal mirth,
    Cassandra-like, prognosticating woe;
  They shook their heads, and doomed with dreadful words
  To swift destruction the whole race of birds.

  And a town-meeting was convened straightway
    To set a price upon the guilty heads
  Of these marauders, who, in lieu of pay,
    Levied black-mail upon the garden beds
  And corn-fields, and beheld without dismay
    The awful scarecrow, with his fluttering shreds;
  The skeleton that waited at their feast,
  Whereby their sinful pleasure was increased.

  Then from his house, a temple painted white,
    With fluted columns, and a roof of red,
  The Squire came forth, august and splendid sight!
    Slowly descending, with majestic tread,
  Three flights of steps, nor looking left nor right,
    Down the long street he walked, as one who said,
  "A town that boasts inhabitants like me
  Can have no lack of good society!"

  The Parson, too, appeared, a man austere,
    The instinct of whose nature was to kill;
  The wrath of God he preached from year to year,
    And read, with fervor, Edwards on the Will;
  His favorite pastime was to slay the deer
    In Summer on some Adirondac hill;
  E'en now, while walking down the rural lane,
  He lopped the wayside lilies with his cane.

  From the Academy, whose belfry crowned
    The hill of Science with its vane of brass,
  Came the Preceptor, gazing idly round,
    Now at the clouds, and now at the green grass,
  And all absorbed in reveries profound
    Of fair Almira in the upper class,
  Who was, as in a sonnet he had said,
  As pure as water, and as good as bread.

  And next the Deacon issued from his door,
    In his voluminous neck-cloth, white as snow;
  A suit of sable bombazine he wore;
    His form was ponderous, and his step was slow;
  There never was so wise a man before;
    He seemed the incarnate "Well, I told you so!"
  And to perpetuate his great renown
  There was a street named after him in town.

  These came together in the new town-hall,
    With sundry farmers from the region round.
  The Squire presided, dignified and tall,
    His air impressive and his reasoning sound;
  Ill fared it with the birds, both great and small;
    Hardly a friend in all that crowd they found,
  But enemies enough, who every one
  Charged them with all the crimes beneath the sun.

  When they had ended, from his place apart,
    Rose the Preceptor, to redress the wrong,
  And, trembling like a steed before the start,
    Looked round bewildered on the expectant throng;
  Then thought of fair Almira, and took heart
    To speak out what was in him, clear and strong,
  Alike regardless of their smile or frown,
  And quite determined not to be laughed down.

  "Plato, anticipating the Reviewers,
    From his Republic banished without pity
  The Poets; in this little town of yours,
    You put to death, by means of a Committee,
  The ballad-singers and the Troubadours,
    The street-musicians of the heavenly city,
  The birds, who make sweet music for us all
  In our dark hours, as David did for Saul.

  "The thrush that carols at the dawn of day
    From the green steeples of the piny wood;
  The oriole in the elm; the noisy jay,
    Jargoning like a foreigner at his food;
  The blue-bird balanced on some topmost spray,
    Flooding with melody the neighborhood;
  Linnet and meadow-lark, and all the throng
  That dwell in nests, and have the gift of song.

  "You slay them all! and wherefore? for the gain
    Of a scant handful more or less of wheat,
  Or rye, or barley, or some other grain,
    Scratched up at random by industrious feet,
  Searching for worm or weevil after rain!
    Or a few cherries, that are not so sweet
  As are the songs these uninvited guests
  Sing at their feast with comfortable breasts.

  "Do you ne'er think what wondrous beings these?
    Do you ne'er think who made them, and who taught
  The dialect they speak, where melodies
    Alone are the interpreters of thought?
  Whose household words are songs in many keys,
    Sweeter than instrument of man e'er caught!
  Whose habitations in the tree-tops even
  Are half-way houses on the road to heaven!

  "Think, every morning when the sun peeps through
    The dim, leaf-latticed windows of the grove,
  How jubilant the happy birds renew
    Their old, melodious madrigals of love!
  And when you think of this, remember too
    'Tis always morning somewhere, and above
  The awakening continents, from shore to shore,
  Somewhere the birds are singing evermore.

  "Think of your woods and orchards without birds!
    Of empty nests that cling to boughs and beams
  As in an idiot's brain remembered words
    Hang empty 'mid the cobwebs of his dreams!
  Will bleat of flocks or bellowing of herds
    Make up for the lost music, when your teams
  Drag home the stingy harvest, and no more
  The feathered gleaners follow to your door?

  "What! would you rather see the incessant stir
    Of insects in the windrows of the hay,
  And hear the locust and the grasshopper
    Their melancholy hurdy-gurdies play?
  Is this more pleasant to you than the whirr
    Of meadow-lark, and its sweet roundelay,
  Or twitter of little field-fares, as you take
  Your nooning in the shade of bush and brake?

  "You call them thieves and pillagers; but know
    They are the winged wardens of your farms,
  Who from the cornfields drive the insidious foe,
    And from your harvests keep a hundred harms;
  Even the blackest of them all, the crow,
    Renders good service as your man-at-arms,
  Crushing the beetle in his coat of mail,
  And crying havoc on the slug and snail.

  "How can I teach your children gentleness,
    And mercy to the weak, and reverence
  For Life, which, in its weakness or excess,
    Is still a gleam of God's omnipotence,
  Or Death, which, seeming darkness, is no less
    The selfsame light, although averted hence,
  When by your laws, your actions, and your speech,
  You contradict the very things I teach?"

  With this he closed; and through the audience went
    A murmur, like the rustle of dead leaves;
  The farmers laughed and nodded, and some bent
    Their yellow heads together like their sheaves;
  Men have no faith in fine-spun sentiment
    Who put their trust in bullocks and in beeves.
  The birds were doomed; and, as the record shows,
  A bounty offered for the heads of crows.

  There was another audience out of reach,
    Who had no voice nor vote in making laws,
  But in the papers read his little speech,
    And crowned his modest temples with applause;
  They made him conscious, each one more than each,
    He still was victor, vanquished in their cause.
  Sweetest of all the applause he won from thee,
  O fair Almira at the Academy!

  And so the dreadful massacre began;
    O'er fields and orchards, and o'er woodland crests,
  The ceaseless fusillade of terror ran.
    Dead fell the birds, with blood-stains on their breasts,
  Or wounded crept away from sight of man,
    While the young died of famine in their nests;
  A slaughter to be told in groans, not words,
  The very St. Bartholomew of Birds!

  The Summer came, and all the birds were dead;
    The days were like hot coals; the very ground
  Was burned to ashes; in the orchards fed
    Myriads of caterpillars, and around
  The cultivated fields and garden beds
    Hosts of devouring insects crawled, and found
  No foe to check their march, till they had made
  The land a desert without leaf or shade.

  Devoured by worms, like Herod, was the town,
    Because, like Herod, it had ruthlessly
  Slaughtered the Innocents. From the trees spun down
    The canker-worms upon the passers-by,
  Upon each woman's bonnet, shawl, and gown,
    Who shook them off with just a little cry;
  They were the terror of each favorite walk,
  The endless theme of all the village talk.

  The farmers grew impatient, but a few
    Confessed their error, and would not complain,
  For after all, the best thing one can do
    When it is raining, is to let it rain.
  Then they repealed the law, although they knew
    It would not call the dead to life again;
  As school-boys, finding their mistake too late,
  Draw a wet sponge across the accusing slate.

  That year in Killingworth the Autumn came
    Without the light of his majestic look,
  The wonder of the falling tongues of flame,
    The illumined pages of his Doom's-Day book.
  A few lost leaves blushed crimson with their shame,
    And drowned themselves despairing in the brook,
  While the wild wind went moaning everywhere,
  Lamenting the dead children of the air!

  But the next Spring a stranger sight was seen,
    A sight that never yet by bard was sung,
  As great a wonder as it would have been
    If some dumb animal had found a tongue!
  A wagon, overarched with evergreen,
    Upon whose boughs were wicker cages hung,
  All full of singing birds, came down the street,
  Filling the air with music wild and sweet.

  From all the country round these birds were brought,
    By order of the town, with anxious quest,
  And, loosened from their wicker prisons, sought
    In woods and fields the places they loved best,
  Singing loud canticles, which many thought
    Were satires to the authorities addressed,
  While others, listening in green lanes, averred
  Such lovely music never had been heard!

  But blither still and louder carolled they
    Upon the morrow, for they seemed to know
  It was the fair Almira's wedding-day,
    And everywhere, around, above, below,
  When the Preceptor bore his bride away,
    Their songs burst forth in joyous overflow,
  And a new heaven bent over a new earth
  Amid the sunny farms of Killingworth.



FINALE.


  The hour was late; the fire burned low,
  The Landlord's eyes were closed in sleep,
  And near the story's end a deep
  Sonorous sound at times was heard,
  As when the distant bagpipes blow.
  At this all laughed; the Landlord stirred,
  As one awaking from a swound,
  And, gazing anxiously around,
  Protested that he had not slept,
  But only shut his eyes, and kept
  His ears attentive to each word.

  Then all arose, and said "Good Night."
  Alone remained the drowsy Squire
  To rake the embers of the fire,
  And quench the waning parlor light;
  While from the windows, here and there,
  The scattered lamps a moment gleamed,
  And the illumined hostel seemed
  The constellation of the Bear,
  Downward, athwart the misty air,
  Sinking and setting toward the sun.
  Far off the village clock struck one.



BIRDS OF PASSAGE.

FLIGHT THE SECOND.



THE CHILDREN'S HOUR.


  Between the dark and the daylight,
    When the night is beginning to lower,
  Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
    That is known as the Children's Hour.

  I hear in the chamber above me
    The patter of little feet,
  The sound of a door that is opened,
    And voices soft and sweet.

  From my study I see in the lamplight,
    Descending the broad hall stair,
  Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
    And Edith with golden hair.

  A whisper, and then a silence:
    Yet I know by their merry eyes
  They are plotting and planning together
    To take me by surprise.

  A sudden rush from the stairway,
    A sudden raid from the hall!
  By three doors left unguarded
    They enter my castle wall!

  They climb up into my turret
    O'er the arms and back of my chair;
  If I try to escape, they surround me;
    They seem to be everywhere.

  They almost devour me with kisses,
    Their arms about me entwine,
  Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
    In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

  Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
    Because you have scaled the wall,
  Such an old moustache as I am
    Is not a match for you all!

  I have you fast in my fortress,
    And will not let you depart,
  But put you down into the dungeon
    In the round-tower of my heart.

  And there will I keep you forever,
    Yes, forever and a day,
  Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
    And moulder in dust away!



ENCELADUS.


  Under Mount Etna he lies,
    It is slumber, it is not death;
  For he struggles at times to arise,
  And above him the lurid skies
    Are hot with his fiery breath.

  The crags are piled on his breast,
    The earth is heaped on his head;
  But the groans of his wild unrest,
  Though smothered and half suppressed,
    Are heard, and he is not dead.

  And the nations far away
    Are watching with eager eyes;
  They talk together and say,
  "To-morrow, perhaps to-day,
    Enceladus will arise!"

  And the old gods, the austere
    Oppressors in their strength,
  Stand aghast and white with fear
  At the ominous sounds they hear,
    And tremble, and mutter, "At length!"

  Ah me! for the land that is sown
    With the harvest of despair!
  Where the burning cinders, blown
  From the lips of the overthrown
    Enceladus, fill the air.

  Where ashes are heaped in drifts
    Over vineyard and field and town,
  Whenever he starts and lifts
  His head through the blackened rifts
    Of the crags that keep him down.

  See, see! the red light shines!
    'Tis the glare of his awful eyes!
  And the storm-wind shouts through the pines
  Of Alps and of Apennines,
    "Enceladus, arise!"



THE CUMBERLAND.


  At anchor in Hampton Roads we lay,
    On board of the Cumberland, sloop-of-war;
  And at times from the fortress across the bay
      The alarum of drums swept past,
      Or a bugle blast
    From the camp on the shore.

  Then far away to the south uprose
    A little feather of snow-white smoke,
  And we knew that the iron ship of our foes
      Was steadily steering its course
      To try the force
    Of our ribs of oak.

  Down upon us heavily runs,
    Silent and sullen, the floating fort;
  Then comes a puff of smoke from her guns,
      And leaps the terrible death,
      With fiery breath,
    From each open port.

  We are not idle, but send her straight
    Defiance back in a full broadside!
  As hail rebounds from a roof of slate,
      Rebounds our heavier hail
      From each iron scale
    Of the monster's hide.

  "Strike your flag!" the rebel cries,
    In his arrogant old plantation strain.
  "Never!" our gallant Morris replies;
      "It is better to sink than to yield!"
      And the whole air pealed
    With the cheers of our men.

  Then, like a kraken huge and black,
    She crushed our ribs in her iron grasp!
  Down went the Cumberland all a wrack,
      With a sudden shudder of death,
      And the cannon's breath
    For her dying gasp.

  Next morn, as the sun rose over the bay,
    Still floated our flag at the mainmast-head.
  Lord, how beautiful was thy day!
      Every waft of the air
      Was a whisper of prayer,
    Or a dirge for the dead.

  Ho! brave hearts that went down in the seas!
    Ye are at peace in the troubled stream,
  Ho! brave land! with hearts like these,
      Thy flag, that is rent in twain,
      Shall be one again,
    And without a seam!



SNOW-FLAKES.


  Out of the bosom of the Air,
    Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
  Over the woodlands brown and bare
    Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
        Silent, and soft, and slow
        Descends the snow.

  Even as our cloudy fancies take
    Suddenly shape in some divine expression,
  Even as the troubled heart doth make
    In the white countenance confession,
        The troubled sky reveals
        The grief it feels.

  This is the poem of the air,
    Slowly in silent syllables recorded;
  This is the secret of despair,
    Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,
        Now whispered and revealed
        To wood and field.



A DAY OF SUNSHINE.


  O gift of God! O perfect day:
  Whereon shall no man work, but play;
  Whereon it is enough for me,
  Not to be doing, but to be!

  Through every fibre of my brain,
  Through every nerve, through every vein,
  I feel the electric thrill, the touch
  Of life, that seems almost too much.

  I hear the wind among the trees
  Playing celestial symphonies;
  I see the branches downward bent,
  Like keys of some great instrument.

  And over me unrolls on high
  The splendid scenery of the sky,
  Where through a sapphire sea the sun
  Sails like a golden galleon,

  Towards yonder cloud-land in the West,
  Towards yonder Islands of the Blest,
  Whose steep sierra far uplifts
  Its craggy summits white with drifts.

  Blow, winds! and waft through all the rooms
  The snow-flakes of the cherry-blooms!
  Blow, winds! and bend within my reach
  The fiery blossoms of the peach!

  O Life and Love! O happy throng
  Of thoughts, whose only speech is song!
  O heart of man! canst thou not be
  Blithe as the air is, and as free?

      1860.



SOMETHING LEFT UNDONE.


  Labor with what zeal we will,
    Something still remains undone,
  Something uncompleted still
    Waits the rising of the sun.

  By the bedside, on the stair,
    At the threshold, near the gates,
  With its menace or its prayer,
    Like a mendicant it waits;

  Waits, and will not go away;
    Waits, and will not be gainsaid;
  By the cares of yesterday
    Each to-day is heavier made;

  Till at length the burden seems
    Greater than our strength can bear,
  Heavy as the weight of dreams,
    Pressing on us everywhere.

  And we stand from day to day,
    Like the dwarfs of times gone by,
  Who, as Northern legends say,
    On their shoulders held the sky.



WEARINESS.


  O little feet! that such long years
  Must wander on through hopes and fears,
    Must ache and bleed beneath your load;
  I, nearer to the wayside inn
  Where toil shall cease and rest begin,
    Am weary, thinking of your road!

  O little hands! that, weak or strong,
  Have still to serve or rule so long,
    Have still so long to give or ask;
  I, who so much with book and pen
  Have toiled among my fellow-men,
    Am weary, thinking of your task.

  O little hearts! that throb and beat
  With such impatient, feverish heat,
    Such limitless and strong desires;
  Mine that so long has glowed and burned,
  With passions into ashes turned
    Now covers and conceals its fires.

  O little souls! as pure and white
  And crystalline as rays of light
    Direct from heaven, their source divine;
  Refracted through the mist of years,
  How red my setting sun appears,
    How lurid looks this soul of mine!


THE END.


Cambridge: Stereotyped and Printed by Welch, Bigelow, & Co.



[Illustration]

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Transcriber's Notes: Variant spellings of cornfields and corn-fields are
as in the original. The word "Phoebe" has an oe ligature in the
original.





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