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Then darkly the words of the boding strain
Like an omen rose on his soul again,
"Soft be thy step through the silence deep,
And move not the irn in the house of sleep,
For the viewless have fearful mighi!”
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 hung o'er the dust of the far renown'd,
Whom the brighi 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,
-- Sost be ihy step through the silence deep,
And move not the urn in the house of sleep,
For the viewiess bave fearful might!"
And many a Saga's rhyme,
And legend of the grave,
That shadowy scene of time
Callid back, io daunt the brave.
But le rais'd his arm-and the flame grew dim,
And the sword in its light seem'd to wave and swim,
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 head.
One moment and all was still
In the slumberer's ancient hall,
When the rock had ceased to 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-plair,
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 rth, 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 sun 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 !
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 honored with all possible magnificence. His arms, gold and silver, war-horse, domestic attendants, and whatever else he held must dear, were placed with him on the pile. His dependants and friends frequently made it a point of honor to die with their leeder, 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 cheek
Strange and unnatural.
THE Sea-king woke from the troubled sleep
Of a vision-haunted night,
And he look'd from his bark o'er the gloomy deep,
And counted the streaks of light;
For the red sun's earliest ray
Was to rouse his 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 Irearth
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 shore,
And there seem'd, through the arch of a tide-worn cave,
A gleam, as of snow,
to pour; And forth, in watery light, Moved phantoms, dimly white, Which the garb of woman bore,
Slowly they moved to the billow side;
And the forms, as they grew more clear, Seem'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 :
6 There are songs in Odin's Hall,
For the brave, ere night to fall!
Doth the great sun hide 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 shalt 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—he 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!"
There was arming heard on land and wave,
When afar the sunlight spread,
And the phantom forms of the tide-worn cave
With the mists of morning fed.
But at eve, the kingly hand
Of the battle-axe and brand, Lay cold on a pile of dead!
THE CAVERN OF THE THREE TELLS,
The three founders of the Helvetic Confederacy are thought to sleep in a cavern near the lake of Lucerne. The herdsmen call them the Three Tells; and say that they lie there in their antique garb, in quiet sluniber; and when Switzerland is in her utmost need, they will awaken and regain the liberties of the land.
See Quarterly Review, No. 44. The Grutli, where the confederates held their nightly meetings, is a meadow on the shore of the Lake of Lucerne, or Lake of the Forest-cantons, here called the Forest-sea.
Oh! enter not yon shadowy cave
Seek not the bright spars there,
Though the whispering pines that o'er it wave,
With freshness fill the air :
For there the Patriot Three,
In the garb of old array'd,
By their native Forest-sea
On a rocky couch are laid,
The Patriot Three that met of yore
Beneath the midnight sky,
And leagued their hearts on the Grulli shore,
In the name of liberty !
Now silently they sleep
Amidst thie hills they freed;
But their rest is only deep,
Till their country's hour of need.
They start not at the hunter's call,
Nor the Lammer-geyer's cry,
Nor the rush of a sudden torrent's fall,
Nor the Lauwine thundering by!