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Count Harold's frenzied rage is high,
And cried, "In mercy spare!
Grant mercy-or despair!" This word suspended Harold's mood, Yet still with arm upraised he stood, And visage like the headsman's rude
That pauses for the sign.
"O mark thee with the blessed rood,"
He signed the cross divine-
He granted to his prey.
Yet still of forbearance one sign hath he given, And fierce Witikind's son made one step towards heaven.
But though his dreaded footsteps part, Death is behind and shakes his dart:
So fearful was the sound and stern,
The fox and famish'd wolf replied,
The sorceress on the ground lay dead.
Such was the scene of blood and woes,
But oft, when dawning 'gins to spread,
Ere, bright and fair, upon his road
As if a bridal there of late had been,
Deck'd stood the table in each gorgeous hall; And yet it was two hundred years, I ween, Since date of that unhallow'd festival. Flagons, and ewers, and standing cups, were all Of tarnish'd gold, or silver nothing clear, With throne begilt, and canopy of pall,
And tapestry clothed the walls with fragments
For whom the bride's shy footstep, slow and light, Was changed ere morning to the murderer' tread.
For these were they who, drunken with delight, On pleasure's opiate pillow laid their head,
For human bliss and wo in the frail thread
Of human life are all so closely twined, That till the shears of fate the texture shred, The close succession cannot be disjoin'd, Nor dare we from one hour "udge that which comes behind.
But where the work of vengeance had been done, In that seventh chamber was a sterner sight, There of the witch-brides lay each skeleton,
Still in the posture as to death when dight. For this lay prone, by one blow slain outright; And that, as one who struggled long in dying; One bony hand held knife as if to smite;
One bent on fleshless knees as mercy crying; One lay across the door, as kill'd in act of flying. The stern Dane smiled this charnel-house to see
For his chafed thought return'd to Metelill; And, "Well," he said, "hath woman's perfidy, Empty as air, as water volatile, Been here avenged.-The origin of ill
Thro' woman rose, the christian doctrine saith; Nor deem 1, Gunnar, that thy minstrel skill Can show example where a woman's breath Hath made a true-love vow, and tempted, kept her
Frail as the spider's mesh did that rich woof ap-
Vests twined with gold, and chains of precious
And golden circlets, meet for monarch's head; While grinn'd, as if in scorn amongst them thrown,
The wearer's fleshless scull, alike with dust bestrown.
The minstrel boy half smiled, half sigh'd,
"Thou art a wild enthusiast," said
Because the dead are by.
"With haggard eyes and streaming hair,
Sable their harness, and there came
That says the headsman's sword is bare,
Commands them quit their cell. I felt resistance was in vain, My foot had that fell stirrup ta'en, My hand was on the fatal mane, When to my rescue sped That palmer's visionary form, And, like the passing of a storm, The demons yell'd and fled!
"His sable cowl, flung back, reveal'd
In him whose counsels strove to stay
Doom'd for his sins, and doom'd for mine,
Gunnar, he must not haunt in vain
XII. Trembling at first, and deadly pale, Had Gunnar heard the vision'd tale; But when he learn'd the dubious close, He blushed like any opening rose, And, glad to hide his tell-tale cheek, Hied back that glove of mail to seek; When soon a shriek of deadly dread Summon'd his master to his aid.
What sees count Harold in that bowes,
Odin in living form stood there,
"Harold," he said, "What rage is the
And glimmer'd in her eye.
O, dull of heart, through wild and wave
XVIII. Then in the mirror'd pool he peer'd, Blamed his rough locks and shaggy beard, The stains of recent conflict clear'd-And thus the champion proved, That he fears now who never fear'd,
And loves who never loved. And Eivir-life is on her cheek, And yet she will not move or speak, Nor will her eyelid fully ope; Perchance it loves, that half-shut eye, Through its long fringe, reserved and shy, Affection's opening dawn to spy; And the deep blush, which bids its dye O'er cheek, and brow, and bosom fly, Speaks shame-facedness and hope. XIX.
But vainly seems the Dane to seek
To morrow is saint Cuthbert's tide,
A christian knight and christian bride;
And now, Ennui, what ails thee, weary maid? And why these listless looks yawning sorrow. No need to turn the page, as if 'twere lead,
Or fling aside the volume till to-morrow. Be cheer'd-'tis ended-and I will not borrow, To try thy patience more, one anecdote From Bartholine, or Perinskiold, or Snorro.
Then pardon thou thy minstrel, who hath wrote A tale six cantos long, yet scorn'd to add a note.
It is in this situation that those epics are found In the Edinburgh Annual Register for the year which have been generally regarded the standards 1809, three fragments were inserted, written in of poetry; and it has happened somewhat strangeimitation of living poets. It must have been ap-ly, that the moderns have pointed out, as the cha parent, that by these prolusions, nothing burlesque racteristics and peculiar excellences of narrative or disrespectful to the authors was intended, but poetry, the very circumstances which the authors that they were offered to the public as serious, themselves adopted, only because their art involve though certainly very imperfect, imitations of thated the duties of the historian as well as the poet. style of composition, by which each of the writers It cannot be believed, for example, that Homer is supposed to be distinguished. As these exer-selected the siege of Troy as the most appropriate cises attracted a greater degree of attention than subject for poetry; his purpose was to write the the author auticipated, he has been induced to early history of his country: the event he has complete one of them, and present it as a separate chosen, though not very fruitful in varied incident, publication. nor perfectly well adapted for poetry, was nevertheless combined with traditionary and genealogical anecdotes extremely interesting to those who were to listen to him; and this he has adorned by
It is not in this place that an examination of the works of the master whom he has here adopted as his model can, with propriety, be introduced; since his general acquiescence in the favourable the exertions of a genius, which, if it has been suffrage of the public must necessarily be inferred equalled, has certainly never been surpassed. It from the attempt he has now made. He is induced, was not till comparatively a late period that the by the nature of his subject, to offer a few remarks general accuracy of his narrative, or his purpose on what has been called Romantic Poetry,--the in composing it, was brought into question. Aczu popularity of which has been revived in the pre- πρώτος ὁ Αναξαγορας (καθα φης: Φαβορινος εν παρ sent day, under the auspices, and by the unparal-|τόδιπη Ιστορία) την Ομηρου ποίησιν ἀποθνασθαι ειναν αρετης και δικαιοσύνης.
leled success of one individual.
But whatever the
The original purpose of poetry is either reli-ories might be framed by speculative men, his gious or historical, or, as must frequently happen, work was of an historical, not of an allegorical naa mixture of both. To modern readers, the poems ture. of Homer have many of the features of pure roΕναυτίλλετο μετά του Μοντεως, και όπου mance; but, in the estimation of his contemporaέκαστοτε αφίκοιτο, παντα τα επιχωρια διεματαries, they probably derived their chief value from του και ίστορευαν επυνθάνετο εικός δε μιν ἐν και their supposed historical authenticity. The same poorva Tarty & pœptobal.† Instead of remay be generally said of the poetry of all early commending the choice of a subject similar to that ages. The marvels and miracles which the poet of Homer, it was to be expected that critics should blends with his song do not exceed in number or have exhorted the poets of these later days to adopt extravagance the figments of the historians of the or invent a narrative in itself more susceptible of same period of society; and, indeed, the difference poetical ornament, and to avail themselves of that betwixt poetry and prose, as the vehicles of his-advantage in order to compensate, in some degree, torical truth, is always of late introduction. Poets, the inferiority of genius. The contrary course has under various denominations of Bards, Scalds, been inculcated by almost all the writers upon the Chroniclers, and so forth, are the first historians Epopeia; with what success, the fate of Homer's of all nations. Their intention is to relate the numerous imitators may best show. The ultimum events they have witnessed, or the traditions that supplicium of criticism was inflicted on the author have reached them; and they clothe the relation if he did not choose a subject which at once dein rhyme, merely as the means of rendering it prived him of all claim to originality, and placed more solemn in the narrative, or more easily com- him, if not in actual contest, at least in fatal committed to memory. But as the poetical historian parison, with those giants in the land, whom it improves in the art of conveying information, the was most his interest to avoid. The celebrated authenticity of his narrative unavoidably declines. recipe for writing an epic poem, which appeared He is tempted to dilate and dwell upon the events in the Guardian, was the first instance in which that are interesting to his imagination, and, con- common sense was applied to this department of scious how different his audience is to the naked poetry; and indeed, if the question be considered truth of his poem, his hiry gradually becomes on its own merits, we must be satisfied that narra. Diogenes Laertius, 1. xi, p. 8. + Homeri Vita,