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Peasants fled inward his fury to 'scape,
He kneel'd before Saint Cuthbert's shrine,
UU. He liked the wealth of fair England so well, That he sought in her bosom as native to dwell. He enter'd the Humber in fearful hour, And disembark'd with his Danish power. Three earls came against him with all their train,Two hath he taken, and one hath he slain : Count Witikind left the Humber's rich strand, And he wasted and warr'd in Northumberland. But the Saxon king was a sire in age, Weak in battle, in council sage; Peace of that heathen leader he sought, Gifts he gave, and quiet he bought; And the count took upon him the peaceable style, Of a vassal and liegeman of Britain's broad isle.
Up then arose that grim convertite,
IV. Time will rust the sharpest sword, Time will consume the strongest cord; That which moulders hemp and steel, Mortal arm and nerve must feel. Of the Danish band, whom Count Witikind led, Many wax'd aged, and many were dead; Himself found his armour full weighty to bear, Wrinkled his brows grew, and hoary his hair ; He lean'd on a staff, when bis step went abroad, And patient his palfrey, when steed he bestrode; As he grew feebler bis wildness ceased, He made himself peace with prelate and priest, Made his peace, and, stooping his head, Patiently listed the counsel they said; Saint Cuthbert's bishop was holy and grave, Wise and good was the counsel he gave.
VIII. Young Harold was feard for his hardihood, His strength of frame, and his fury of mood; Rude he was and wild to behold, Wore neither collar nor bracelet of gold, Cap of vair, nor rich array, Such as should grace that festal day: His doublet of bull's hide was all unbraced, Uncover'd his head, and his sandal unlaced : His shagey black locks on his brow hung low, And his eyes glanced through them a swarthy plos: A Danish club in his hand he bore, The spikes were clotted with recent gore ; At his back a she-wolf, and her wolf-cubs twain, In the dangerous chase that morning slain. Rude was the greeting to his father he made, None to the bishop, while thus he said:
« Thou hast murder'd, robb'd, and spoil'd,
IX. « What priest-led hypocrite art thon, With thy humbled look and thy monkish brow, Like a shaveling who studies to cheat his vox! Canst thou be Witikind the Waster known, Royal Eric's fearless son, Haughty Gunhilda's baughtier lord, Who won his bride by the axe and sword; From the shrine of St Peter the chalice who tore, And melted to bracelets for Freya and Thor; With ove blow of his gauntlet who burst the skull, Before Odin's stone, of the Mountain Bull: Then ye worshipp'd with rites that to war-gods bebaran With the deed of the brave, and the blow of the struar And now, in thine age to dotage sunk, Wilt thou patter thy crimes to a shaven monk, Lay down thy mail-shirt for clothing of hair, Fasting and scourge, like a slave, wilt thou bear? Or, at best, be admitted in slothful bower To batten with priest and with paramour ! 0! out upon thine endless shame! Each scald's high harp shall blast thy fame, And thy son will refuse thee a father's name!-
VI. Broad lands he gave him on Tyne and on Wear, To be held of the church by bridle and spear; Part of Monk wearmouth, of Tynedale part, To better his will, and to soften his heart : Count Witikind was a joyful man, Less for the faith than the lands that he wan. The high church of Durham is dress'd for the day, The clergy are rankd in their solemn array; There came the count, in a bear-skin warm, Leaning on Hilda his concubine's arm;
And the tempest within, having ceased its wild rout,
Gave place to the tempest that thunder'd withoùt.
XIV. « Hear me, Harold, of harden'd heart!
Apart from the wassail, in turret alone, Stubborn and wilful ever thou wert.
Lay flaxen-hair'd Gunnar, old Ermengarde's son; Thiae outrage insane I command thee to cease, In the train of Lord Harold the page was the first, Fear my wrath and remain at peace :
For Harold in childhood had Ermengarde nursed; Jast is the debt of repentance I 've paid,
And grieved was young Gunnar his master should Richly the church has a recompense made,
roam, And the truth of her doctrines I prove with my blade. Unhoused and unfriended, an exile from home. But reckoning to none of my actions I owe,
He heard the deep thunder, the plashing of rain, And least to my son such accounting will show. He saw the red lightning through shot-hole and pane; Why speak I to thee of repentance or truth,
« And oh!» said the page, « on the shelterless wold Who ne'er from thy childhood knew reason or ruth? Lord Harold is wandering in darkness and cold! Hence! to the wolf and the bear in her den;
What though he was stubborn, and wayward, and wild, These are thy mates, and not rational men.»
He endured me because I was Ermengarde's child,
In the chase, by his stirrup, unchidden I run:
I would I were older, and knighthood could bear, * We must honour our sires, if we fear when they I would soon quit the banks of the Tyne and the Wear; chide.
For my mother's command with her last parting For me, I am yet what thy lessons have made,
breath, I was rock'd in a buckler and fed from a blade ; Bade me follow her nursling in life and to death. An infant, was taught to clap hands and to shout, krom the roofs of the tower when the flame had broke
« It pours and it thunders, it lightens amain, In the blood of slain foemen my finger to dip,
As if Lok, the Destroyer, had burst from his chain ! And tiage with its purple my cheek and my lip.- Accursed by the church, and expelld by his sire,
T is thou know'st not truth, that has barter'd in eld, Nor christian nor Dane give him shelter or fire,
Whate'er comes of Gunnar he tarries not here.» Shall awake and give food to her nurslings again, He leapt from his couch and he grasp'd to his spear, The face of his father will Harold review;
Sought the hall of the feast. Undisturbd by his tread, Till then, aged heathen, young christian, adieu !» The wassailers slept fast as the sleep of the dead :
« Ungrateful and bestial!» his anger broke forth, XII.
« To forget 'mid your goblets the pride of the North! Priest, mook, and prelate stood aghast,
And you, ye cowl'd priests, who have plenty in store, As through the pageant the heathen passid.
Must give Gunnar for ransom a palfrey and ore. »
Then heeding full little of ban or of curse, When the holy sign on the earth was thrown!
He has seized on the Prior of Jorvaulx's purse : The fierce old count unsheathed his brand,
Saint Meneholt's abbot next morning has miss'd Eat the calmer prelate stay'd his hand;
His mantle, deep furr'd from the cape to the wrist : Let him pass free !-Heaven knows its hour,
The seneschal's keys from his belt he has ta'en Bat he must own repentance's power,
(Well drench'd on that eve was old Hildebrand's brain). Pray and werp, and penance bear,
To the stable-yard he made his way, Ere he hold land by the Tyne and the Wear.»-
And mounted the bishop's palfrey gay, I lus in scorn and in wrath from his father is gone
Castle and hamlet behind him bas cast, Young Harold the Dauntless, Count Witikind's son. And right on his way to the moorland has pass d.
Sore snorted the palfrey, unused to face
A weather so wild at so rash a pace; High was the feasting in Witikind's hall,
So long he snorted, so loud he neighd, Prevelld priests, soldiers, and pagans, and all;
There answer'd a steed that was bound beside, Sed e'en the good bishop was fain to endure
And the red flash of lightning show'd there where lay
And raised the club in his deadly hand.
The flaxen-hair'd Gunnar his purpose told, The war-songs of Danesman, Norweyan, and Finn, Show'd the palfrey and proffer'd the gold. Till man after man the contention gave o'er,
« Back, back, and home, thou simple boy! (utstretch'd on the rushes that strew'd the hall floor; Thou canst not share my grief or joy .
Have I not markd thee wail and cry
« And hear ye not, brethren,» the proud bishop said,
'Tis merry in green-wood, - thus runs the old lay,
Invites to forest bower;
Like a chieftain's frowning tower;
With brighter tints the flower:
When the sun is in his power.
When the green-wood loses the name;
That opens on his game;
Yet then, too, I love the forest wide,
Like an early widow's veil,
Of beauty wan and pale.
She sat her down, unseen, to thread The scarlet berry's mimic braid,
And while her beads she strung, Like the blithe lark, whose carol gay Gives a good-morrow to the day,
So lightsomely she sung :
SONG « Lord William was born in gilded bower, The heir of Wilton's lofty tower; Yet better loves Lord William now To roam beneath wild Rookhope's brow; And William has lived where ladies fair With gauds and jewels deck their hair, Yet better loves the dew-drops still That pearl the locks of Metelill.
Who lived by bow and quiver.
And well on Ganlesse river.
More fear'd when in wrath she laughd;
Sprung forth the gray-goose shaft.
« The pious palmer loves, I wis,
« My nurse has told me many a tale,
None brighter crown'd the bed,
In this fair isle been bred.
A simple maiden she;
And a downcast blush, and the darts that fly With the sidelong glance of a hazel eye,
Were her arms and witchery.
Beneath the green-wood tree,
As when in infancy ;-
Ah! gentle maid, beware!
Let none his empire share.
VII. Sudden she stops--and starts to feel A weighty band, a glove of steel, Upon her shrinking shoulders laid; Fearful she turn'd, and saw, dismay'd, i A knight in plate and mail array'd, Ilis crest and bearing worn and fray'd,
His surcoat soild and riven; Form'd like that giant race of yore, Whose long-continued crimes out-wore
The sufferance of Heaven. Stern accents made his pleasure known, Though then he used his gentlest tone: « Maiden,» he said, « sing forth thy glee ; Start not-sing on-it pleases me.»
Was all the maiden might;
If thou art mortal wight! But if-of such strange tales are told, Unearthly warrior of the wold, Thou comest to chide mine accents bold, My mother, Jutta, knows the spell, At noon and midnight pleasing well
The disembodied ear;
Oh ! let her powerful charms alone
And cease thy grasp of fear.»
When sinks the tempest's roar;
And haul their barks on shore.
It recks not-it is I demand Fair Metelill ia marriage band; Harold the Dauntless I, whose name Is brave men's boast and caitiffs' shame.The parents sought cach other's eyes, With awe, resentment, and surprise: Wulfstane, to quarrel prompt, began The stranger's size and thewes to scan; But, as he scann'd, his courage sunk, And from unequal strife he shrank. Then forth, to blight and blemish, flies The harmful curse from Jutta's eyes; Yet fatal howsoe'er, the spell On Harold innocently fell; And disappointment and amaze Were in the witch's wilderd gaze.
IX. « Damsel,» he said, « be wise, and learn Matters of weight and deep concern:
From distant realms I come,
To seek myself a home.
No lordly dame for me;
To match in my degree.
In lineaments be fair;
Become thy beauty rare.
XII. But soon the wit of woman woke, And to the warrior mild she spoke : « Her child was all too young.»-« A toy, The refuge of a maiden coy.»— Again, « A powerful baron's heir . Claims in her heart an interest fair.» . « A trifle--whisper in his ear That liarold is a suitor here!» Baffled at length, she sought delay: « Would not the knight till morning stay? Late was the hour-he there might rest Till morn, their lodge's honour'd guest.» Such were her words,-her craft might cast, Her honour'd guest should sleep his last : « No, not to night,-but soon,» he swore, « He would return, nor leave them more.»The threshold then his huge stride crost, And soon he was in darkness lost.
Home sprung the maid without a pause, As leveret 'scaped from greyhound's jaws; But still she lock'd, howe'er distress'd, The secret in her boding breast; Dreading her sire, who oft forbade Her steps should stray to distant glade. Night came--to her accustom'd nook Her distaff aged Jutta took, And, by the lamps imperfect glow, Rough Wulfstane trimm'd his shafts and bow. Sudden and clamorous, from the ground Upstarted slumbering brach and hound; Loud knocking next the lodge alarms, And Wulfstane snatches at his arms. When open fiew the yielding door, And that grim warrior press'd the floor.
XIII. Appall'd awhile the parents stood, Then changed their fear to angry mood, And foremost fell their words of ill On unresisting Metelill: Was she not caution'd and forbid, Forewarnd, implored, accused, and chid, And must she still to green-wood roam, To marshal sach misfortune lome? « Hence, minion-to thy chamber hence, There prudence learn and penitence. She went-her lonely couch to steep In tears which absent lovers weep; Or if she gain d a troubled sleep, Fierce Harold's suit was still the theme And terror of her feverish dream.
XIV. Scarce was she gone, her dame and sire Upon each other bent their ire ; « A woodsman thou, and hast a spear, And couldst thou such an insult bear! Sullen he said, « A man contends With men-a witch with sprites and fiends; Not to mere mortal wight belong Yon gloomy brow and frame so strong. But thou-is this thy promise fair, That your Lord William, wealthy heir
XI. « All peace be here-What! none replies ? Dismiss your fears and your surprise. 'Tis 1--that maid hath told my tale, Or, trembler, did thy courage fail ?