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With modest pride to grace thy youthful brow,
While Spirits bless'd above, and Men below,
Through the wild waves as they roar
Thy steady course of honour keep,
*Lord Treasurer Burleigh was Chancellor of the University in the reign of Queen Elizabeth.
THE FATAL SISTERS;*
FROM THE NORSE TONGUE.
Now the storm begins to lower,
Hurtles in the darken'd air.‡
*To be found in the Orcades of Thormodus Torfæus; Hafnia, 1697, folio: and also in Bartholinus.
Vut et 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, Servants 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.
+ How quick they wheel'd, and, flying, behind them, shot Sharp sleet of arrowy show.r.
Milton's Paradise Regained.
The noise of battle hurtled in the air.
Shakspeare's Julius Cæsar.
Glittering lances are the loom
See the grisly texture grow!
Shafts for shuttles, dipt in gore,
Shoot the trembling cords along. Sword, that once a monarch bore, Keep the tissue close and strong.
Mista, black terrific maid,
Join the wayward work to aid:
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 th' ensanguin'd field, Gondula, and Geira, spread
O'er the youthful king your shield.
We the reins to slaughter give,
They, whom once the desert-beach Pent within its bleak domain, Soon their ample sway shall stretch O'er the plenty of the plain.
Low the dauntless Earl is laid,
Soon a King shall bite the ground.
Long his loss shall Eirin* 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!
Mortal thou, that hear'st the tale,
Sisters, hence with spurs of speed:
THE DESCENT OF ODIN.*
FROM THE NORSE TONGUE.
UPROSE the King of Men with speed,
*The original is to be found in Bartholinus, de Causis contemnendæ Mortis; Hafniæ, 1689, quarto.
Upreis Odinn allda gautr, &c. † Niflheimr, the Hell of the Gothic nations, consisted of nine worlds, to which were devoted all such as died of sickness, old age, or by any other means than in battle. Over it presided Hela, the Goddess of Death.