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Thy liberal heart, thy judging eye,
"Lo! Granta waits to lead her blooming band, Not obvious, not obtrusive, she
No vulgar praise, no venal incense flings;
With modest pride to grace thy youthful brow, The laureate wreath, that Cecil wore, she brings,
And to thy just, thy gentle hand,
While spirits bless'd above and men below Join with glad voice the loud symphonious lay.
"Through the wild waves as they roar,
Ver. 84. The laureate wreath, that Cecil wore, she brings] Lord Treasurer Burleigh was chancellor of the University in the reign of Queen Elizabeth.
THE FATAL SISTERS.
FROM THE NORSE TONGUE.
To be found in the Orcades of Thormodus Torfæus; Hafnice, 1697, folio: and also in Bartholinus, p. 617. lib. 3. c. 1. 4to.
Vitt er orpit fyrir valfalli, &c.
In the eleventh century Sigurd, earl of the Orkney islands, went with a fleet of ships and a considerable body of troops into Ireland, to the assistance of Sictryg with the silken beard, who was then making war on his father-in-law Brian, king of Dublin: the earl and all his forces were cut to pieces, and Sictryg was in danger of a total defeat; but the enemy had a greater loss by the death of Brian, their king, who fell in the action. On Christmas day (the day of the battle), a native of Caithness in Scotland, saw at a distance a number of persons on horseback riding full speed towards a hill, and seeming to enter into it. Curiosity led him to follow them, till looking through an opening in the rocks he saw twelve gigantic figures resembling women: they were all employed about a loom; and as they wove they sung the following dreadful song; which when they had finished, they tore the
web into twelve pieces, and (each taking her portion) galloped six to the north, and as many to the south. These were the Valkyriur, female divinities, servant of Odin (or Woden) in the Gothic mythology. Their name signifies Choosers of the slain. They were mounted on swift horses, with drawn swords in their hands: and in the throng of battle selected such as were destined to slaughter, and conducted them to Valkalla, the hall of Odin, or paradise of the brave: where they attended the banquet, and served the departed heroes with horns of mead and ale.
Now the storm begins to lower,
Glittering lances are the loom,
Where the dusky warp we strain,
Orkney's woe and Randver's bane.
See the grisly texture grow!
('Tis of human entrails made) And the weights, that play below, Each a gasping warrior's head.
Shafts for shuttles, dipp'd in gore,
Shoot the trembling cords along.
Keep the tissue close and strong.
Mista, black terrific maid,
Ere the ruddy sun be set,
Pikes must shiver, javelins sing, Blade with clattering buckler meet, Hauberk crash, and helmet ring. (Weave the crimson web of war)
Let us go, and let us fly, Where our friends the conflict share, Where they triumph, where they die. As the paths of Fate we tread,
Wading through the ensanguined field, Gondula, and Geira, spread
O'er the youthful king your shield.
We the reins to slaughter give,
Ours to kill, and ours to spare:
(Weave the crimson web of war.)
Long his loss shall Erin weep,
Horror covers all the heath,
Clouds of carnage blot the sun. Sisters, weave the web of death.
Sisters, cease; the work is done.
Hail the task, and hail the hands!
Songs of joy and triumph sing! Joy to the victorious bands;
Triumph to the younger king.
Mortal, thou that hearest the tale, Learn the tenour of our song. Scotland, through each winding vale Far and wide the notes prolong.
Sisters, hence with spurs of speed: