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Count Harold's frenzied rage is high,
There is a death-fire in his eye,
Deep furrows on his brow are trench'd,
His teeth are set, his hand is clench'd,
The foam upon his lip is white,
His deadly arm is up to smite!
But, as the mace aloft he swung,
To stop the blow young Gunnar sprung,
Around his master's knees he clung,

And cried, "In mercy spare!
O, think upon the words of fear
Spoke by that visionary seer,
The crisis he foretold is here-

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,"
The page implored: "Speak word of good,
Resist the fiend, or be subdued!"

He signed the cross divine-
Instant his eye hath human light,
Less red, less keen, less fiercely bright;
His brow relax'd the obdurate frown,
The fatal mace sinks gently down,
He turns and strides away;
Yet oft, like revellers who leave
Unfinish'd feast, looks back to grieve,
As if repenting the reprieve

He granted to his prey.

Yet still of forbearance one sign hath he given, And fierce Witikind's son made one step towards heaven.

XVIII.

But though his dreaded footsteps part, Death is behind and shakes his dart:

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So fearful was the sound and stern,
The slumbers of the full-gorged erne
Were startled, and from furze and fern,
Of forest and of fell,

The fox and famish'd wolf replied,
(For wolves then prowl'd the Cheviot side,}
From mountain head to mountain head
The unhallow'd sounds around were sped;
But when their latest echo fled,

The sorceress on the ground lay dead.
XIX.

Such was the scene of blood and woes,
With which the bridal morn arose
Of William and of Metelill;

But oft, when dawning 'gins to spread,
The summer-morn peeps dim and red
Above the eastern hill,

Ere, bright and fair, upon his road
The king of splendour walks abroad;
So, when this cloud had pass'd away,
Bright was the noon-tide of their day,
And all serene its setting ray.

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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.

VI.

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

faith."

sear,

Frail as the spider's mesh did that rich woof ap-
pear.
V.
In every bower, as round a hearse, was hung
A dusky crimson curtain o'er the bed,
And on each couch in ghastly wise were flung
The wasted relics of a monarch dead;
Barbaric ornaments around were spread,

Vests twined with gold, and chains of precious
stone,

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.

VII.

The minstrel boy half smiled, half sigh'd,
And his half filling eyes he dried,
And said, "The theme I should but wrong,
Unless it were my dying song,
(Our scalds have said in dying hour
The northern harp has treble power,)
Else could I tell of woman's faith
Defying danger, scorn, and death.
Firm was that faith-as diamond stone
Pure and unflaw'd-her love unknown,
And unrequited; firm and pure,
Her stainless faith could all endure;
From clime to clime-from place to place-
Through want, and danger, and disgrace,
A wanderer's wayward steps could trace.
All this she did, and guerdon none
Required, save that her burial-stone
Should make at length her secret known:
Thus hath a faithful woman done.
Not in each breast such truth is laid,
But Eivir was a Danish maid."

VIII.

"Thou art a wild enthusiast," said
Count Harold," for thy Danish maid;
And yet, young Gunnar, 1 will own
Her's were a faith to rest upon.
But Eivir sleeps beneath her stone,
And all resembling her are gone.
What maid e'er show'd such constancy
In plighted faith, like thine to me?
But couch thee, boy; the dark some shade
Falls thickly round, nor be dismay'd

Because the dead are by.
They were as we; our little day
O'erspent, and we shall be as they.
Yet near me, Gunnar, be thou laid,
Thy couch upon my mantle made,
That thou may'st think, should fear invade,
Thy master slumbers nigh."
Thus couch'd they in that dread abode
Until the beams of dawning glow'd.

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X.

"With haggard eyes and streaming hair,
Jutta, the sorceress, was there,
And there pass'd Wulfstane, lately slain,
All crush'd and foul with bloody stain.
More had I seen, but that uprose
A whirlwind wild, and swept the snows;
And with such sound as when at need
A champion spurs his horse to speed,
Three armed knights rush on, who lead
Caparison'd a sable steed.

C

Sable their harness, and there came
Through their closed visors sparks of flame.
The first proclaim'd, in sounds of fear,
Harold the Dauntless, welcome here!
The next cried, Jubilee! we've won
Count Witikind the Waster's son!'
And the third rider steraly spoke,
'Mount, in the name of Zernebock!
From us, O Harold, were thy powers,
Thy strength, thy dauntlessness, are ours;
Nor think, a vassal thou of hell,
With hell canst strive.' The fiend spoke true!
My inmost soul the summons knew,
As captives know the knell,

That says the headsman's sword is bare,
And with an accent of despair

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!

XI.

"His sable cowl, flung back, reveal'd
The features it before conceal'd;
And, Gunnar, I could find

In him whose counsels strove to stay
So oft my course on wilful way,
My father Witikind!

Doom'd for his sins, and doom'd for mine,
A wanderer upon earth to pine,
Until his son shall turn to grace,
And smooth for him a resting-place!

Gunnar, he must not haunt in vain
This world of wretchedness and pain:
I'll tame my wilful heart to live
In peace-to pity and forgive--
And thou, for so the vision said,
Must in thy lord's repentance aid.
Thy mother was a prophetess,"
He said, "who by her skill could guess
How close the fatal textures join
Which knit that thread of life with mine,
Then, dark, he hinted of disguise
She framed to cheat too curious eyes,
That not a moment might divide
Thy fated footsteps from my side.
Methought, while thus my sire did teach,
I caught the meaning of his speech,
Yet seems its purport doubtful now.'
His band then sought his thoughtful brow,
Then first he mark'd, that in the tower
His glove was left at waking hour.

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.

XIII.

What sees count Harold in that bowes,
So late his resting place?
The semblance of the Evil Power,
Adored by all his race!

Odin in living form stood there,
His cloak the spoils of polar bear;
For plumy crest, a meteor shed
Its gloomy radiance o'er his head,
Yet veil'd its haggard majesty
To the wild lightnings of his eye.
Such height was his, as when in stone
O'er Upsal's giant altar shown;
So flow'd his hoary beard;
Such was his lance of mountain-pine,
So did his sevenfold buckler shine;
But when his voice he rear'd,
Deep, without harshness, slow and strong,
The powerful accents roll'd along,
And, while he spoke, his hand was laid
On captive Gunnar's shrinking head.

XIV.

"Harold," he said, "What rage is the
To quit the worship of thy line,
To leave thy warrior god?
With me is glory or disgrace,
Mine is the onset and the chase,
Embattled hosts before my face
Are withered by a nod.
Wilt thou then forfeit that high seat,
Deserved by many a dauntless feat
Among the heroes of thy line,
Eric and fiery Thorarine?
Thou wilt not. Only I can give
The joys for which the valiant live,
Victory and vengeance--only I
Can give the joys for which they die,
The immortal tilt-the banquet full,
The brimming draught from foeman's skull.
Mine art thou, witness this thy glove,
The faithful pledge of vassal's love."

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And glimmer'd in her eye.
Inly he said, "That silken tress,
What blindness mine that could not guess,
Or how could page's rugged dress
That bosom's pride belie?

O, dull of heart, through wild and wave
In search of blood and death to rave,
With such a partner nigh!"

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
For terms his new-born love to speak,-
For words, save those of wrath and wrong,
Till now were strangers to his tongue;
So, when he raised the blushing maid,
In blunt and honest terms he said,-
('Twere well that maids, when lovers woo,
Heard none more soft, were all as true,)
"Eivir! since thou for many a day
Hast followed Harold's wayward way,
It is but meet that in the line
Of after-life 1 follow thine.

To morrow is saint Cuthbert's tide,
And we will grace his altar's side,

A christian knight and christian bride;
And of Witikind's son shall the marvel be said,
That on the same morn he was christen'd and wed.

CONCLUSION.

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.

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PREFACE.

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,

a romance.

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