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34

LAYS OF MANY LANDS.

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** There is laid a sword in thy father's tomb,
Ånd its edge is fraught with thy foeman's doom,
But soft be thy step through the silence deep,
And move not the urn in the house of sleep,
For the viewless have fearful might!"

Then died the solemn lay,
As a trumpet's music dies,
By the night-wind borne away

Through the wild and stormy skies.
The fir-trees rock'd to the wailing blast,
As on through the forest the warrior pass'd,

Through the forest of Odin, the dim and old, The dark place of visions and legends, told

By the fires of Northern pine.
The fir-trees rock'd, and the frozen ground
Gave back to his footstep a hollow sound;
And it seem'd that the depths of those awful shades,
From the dreary gloom of their long arcades,
Gave warning, with voice and sign.

But the wind strange magic knows
To call wild shape and tone
From the gray wood's tossing boughs

When night is on her throne.
The pines clos'd o'er him with deeper gloom,
As he took the path to the monarch's tomb;
The pole star shone, and the heavens were bright
With the arrowy streams of the northern light,

But his road through dimness lay!
He pass’d, in the heart of that ancient wood,
The dark shrine stain'd with the victim's blood :
Nor paused, till the rock where a vaulted bed
Had been hewn of old for the kingly dead,
Arose on his midnight way.

Then first a moment's chill
Went shuddering through his breast,
And the steel-clad man stood still

Before that place of rest.
But he cross'd at length, with a deep-drawn breath,
The threshold-foor of the hall of Death,
And look'd on the pale mysterious fire
Which gleam'd from the uru of his warrior-sire,

With a strange and solemn-light:

LAYS OF MANY LANDS.

35

Then darkly the words of the boding strain
Like an omen rose on his soul again,
-"Sost be thy step through the silence deep,
And move not the urn in the house of sleep,
For the viewless have fearful might !"

But the gleaming sword and shield
Of many a battle-day
Hung o'er that urn, reveal'd

By the tomb-fire's waveless ray.
With a faded wreath of oak-leaves bound,
They bung o'er the dust of the far renown'd,
Whom the bright Valkyriur's warning voice
Had call'd to the banquet where gods rejoice,

And the rich mead flows in light.
With a beating heart his son drew near,
And still rang the verse in his thrilling ear,
-Soft be thy step through the silence deep,
And move not the urn in the house of sleep,
For the viewless have fearful might ! **

And many a Saga's rhyme,
And legend of the grave,
That shadowy scene of time

Call'd back, to daunt the brave.
But he rais'd his arm--and the flame grew dim,
And the sword in its light seem'd 10 wave and swin,
And his faltering hand could not grasp it well-
From the pale oak-wreath, with a clash it fell

Through the chamber of the dead!
The deep tomb rang with a heavy sound,
And the urn lay shiver'd in fragments round;
And a rush, as of tempests, quench'd the fire,
And the scatter'd dust of his warlike sire
Was strewn on the Champion's bead.

One moment and all was still
In the slumberer's ancient ball,
When the rock had ceas'd ot thrill

With the mighty weapon's fall.
The stars were just fading, one by one,
The clouds were just ting'd by the early sun,
When there stream'd through the cavern a torch's flame,
And the brother of Sigurd the valiant came

To seek him in the tomb
Stretch'd on his shield, like the steel-girt slain
By moonlight seen on the battle-plain.

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LAYS OF MANY LANDS.

In a speechless trance lay the warrior there,
But he wildly woke when the torch's glare
Burst on him through the gloom.

“ The morning wind blows free,
And the hour of chase is near:
Come forth, come forth, with me!

What dost thou, Sigurd, here ?"
“I have put out the holy sepulchral fire,
I have scatter'd the dust of my warrior.sire !
It burns on my head, and it weighs down my heart;
But the winds shall not wander without their part

To strew o'er the restless deep!
“ In the mantle of death he was here with me now,-
There was wrath in his eye, there was gloom on his brow ;
And his cold still glance on my spirit fell
With an icy ray and a withering spell-
Oh! chill is the house of sleep!"

“ The morning wind blows free,
And the reddening snn shines clear ;
Come forth, come forth, with me!

It is dark and fearful here!"
" He is there, he is there, with his shadowy frown!
But gone from his head is the kingly crown,

The crown from his head, and the spear from his hand, -
They have chased him far from the glorious land

Where the feast of the gods is spread!
"He must go forth alone on his phantom steed,
He must ride o'er the grave-hills with stormy speed;
His place is no longer at Odin's board,
He is driven from Valhalla without his sword !
But the slayer shall avenge the dead!"

That sword its fame had won
By the fall of many a crest,
But its fiercest work was done
In the tomb, on Sigurd's breast !

LAYS OF MANY LANDS.

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VALKYRIUR SONG.

The Valkyriur,or Fatal Sisters of Northern Mythology, were supposed to single out the warriors who were to die in battle, and be received into the halls of Odin.

When a northern chief fell gloriously in war, his obsequies were konoured with all possible magnificence. His arms, gold and silver, war-horse, domestic attendants, and whatever else he held most dear, were placed with him on the pile, His dependants and friends frequently made it a point of honour to die with their leader, in order to attend on his shade in Valhalla, or the Palace of Odin. And lastly. his wife was generally consumed with him on the same pile.

See Mallet's Northern Antiquities, Herbert's Helga, &c.

Tremblingly flash'd th' inconstant meteor light,
Showing thin forms like virgins of this earth,
Save that all signs of human joy or grief,
The flush of passion, smile or tear, had seem'd
On the fix'd brightness of each dazzling check
Strange and ungatural.

Milinan.

The Sea-king woke froin the troubled sleep

Of a vision-haunted night,
And he look'd from bis bark o'er the gloomy deep,
And counted the streaks of light;

For tbe red sun's earliest ray

Was to rouse bis bands that day,
To the stormy joy of fight!
But the dreams of rest were still on earth,

And the silent stars on high,
And there waved not the smoke of one cabin-hearth
'Midst the quiet of the sky;

And along the twilight bay

In their sleep the hamlets lay,
For they knew not the Norse were nigh!
The Sea-king look'd o'er the brooding wave :

He turn'd to the dusky sbore,
And there seem'd, through the arch of a tido-worn CAVE,
A gleam, as of snow, to pour ;

And forth, in watery light,

Moved phantoms, dimly white, Wbich the garb of woman bore. VOL. II.

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LAYS OF MANY LANDS.

Slowly they moved to the billow side;

And the formos, as they grew more clear, Seena'd each on a tall pale steed to ride, And a shadowy crest to rear,

And to beckon with faint hand

From the dark and rocky strand,
And to point a gleaming spear.
Then a stillness on his spirit fell,

Before th' unearthly train,
For he knew Valhalla's daughters well,
The choosers of the slain!

And a sudden rising breeze

Bore across the moaning seas
To his ear their thrilling strain :

“There are songs in Odin's Hall,
For the brave, ere night to fall!
Doth the great sun bide his ray?
He must bring a wrathful day !
Sleeps the falchion in its sheath?
Swords must do the work of death!
Regner!-Sea-king!-thee we call!
There is joy in Odin's Hall.
« At the feast and in the song,
Thou shall be remember'd long!
By the green isles of the flood
Thou hast left thy track in blood !
On the earth and on the sea,
There are those will speak of thee!
'Tis enough-the war-gods call
There is mead in Odin's Hall !
" Regner! tell thy fair-hair'd bride
She must slumber at thy side !
Tell the brother of thy breast
Ev'n for him thy grave hath rest!
Tell the raven-steed which bore thee,
When the wild wolf fled before thee,
He too with his lord must fall
There is room in Odin's Hall !
“Lo! the mighty sun looks forth
Arm! thou leader of the north !
Lo! the mists of twilight fly-
We must' vanish, thou must die!
By the sword and by the spear,
By the hand that knows not fear,
Sea-king! nobly shalt thou fall!
There is joy in Odin's Hall !"

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