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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 charnelhouse 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 Through woman rose, the Christian doctrine saith: Nor deem I, Gunnar, that thy minstrel skill Can show example where awoman's breath Hath made a true-love vow, and, tempted, kept her faith.” Vii. The minstrel-boy half smiled, half sigh'd, And his half-filling eyes he dried, And said, “The theme I should but wronga 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.
‘Thou art a wild enthusiast,” said
Leave we this place, my page.' No | Northink, a vassal thou of hell, more With hell can strive.” The fiend’
He utter'd till the castle door They cross'd, but there he paused and - said, “My wildness hath awaked the dead, Disturb’d the sacred tomb Methought this night I stood on high, Where Hecla roars in middle sky, And in her cavern'd gulfs could spy The central place of doom; And there before my mortal eye Souls of the dead came flitting by, Whom fiends, with many afiendish cry, Bore to that evil den | My eyes grew dizzy, and my brain Was wilder'd, as the elvish train, With shriek and howl, dragg'd on amain Those who had late been men.
“With haggard eyes and streaming
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 knitthy 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 hand 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 blush'd 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. Whatsees Count Harold in that bower, 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 thine, 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 wither'd 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
xv. ‘Tempter,’ said Harold, firm of heart, ‘I charge thee, hence whate'er thou art, I do defy thee, and resist The kindling frenzy of my breast, Waked by thy words; and of my mail, Norglove, norbuckler, splent, normail, Shall rest with thee—that youth release, And God, or Demon, part in peace.” ‘Eivir,’ the Shape replied, ‘is mine, Mark'd in the birth-hour with my sign. Think'st thou that priest with drops of spray Could wash that blood-red markaway Or that a borrow'd sex and name Can abrogate a Godhead's claim 1' Thrill'd this strange speech through Harold's brain, He clench'd his teeth in high disdain, For not his new-born faith subdued Some tokens of his ancient mood: ‘Now, by the hope so lately given Of better trust and purer heaven, I will assail thee, fiend ' Then rose His mace, and with a storm of blows The mortal and the Demon close.
xvi. Smoke roll'd above, fire flash'd around, Darken'd the sky and shook the ground; But not the artillery of hell, The bickering lightning, nor the rock Of turrets to the earthquake's shock, Could Harold's courage quell. Sternly the Dane his purpose kept, And blows on blows resistless heap'd, Till quail'd that Demon Form,
And—for his power to hurt or kill
xvii. He placed her on a bank of moss, A silver runnel bubbled by, And new-born thoughts his soul engross, And tremors yet unknown across His stubborn sinews fly, The while with timid hand the dev Upon her brow and neck he threw, And mark'd how life with rosy hue On her pale cheek revived anew, 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,
conclusion. And now, Ennui, what ails thee, weary maid? And why these listless looks of yawning sorrow? No need to turn the page, as if 'twere lead, Or fling aside the volume till tomorrow. 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.
END OF HAROLD THE DAUNTLESS.
CoME, Lucy! while ’tis morning hour
Nay, why this hesitating pause ? And, Lucy, as thy step withdraws, Whysidelongeye the streamlet's brim? Titania's foot without a slip, Like thine, though timid, light, and slim, From stone to stonemightsafely trip, Nor risk the glow-worm clasp to dip That binds her slipper's silken rim. Or trust thy lover's strength: nor fear That this same stalwart arm of mine,
Which could yon oak's prone trunk
And now we reach the favourite glade,