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THE MUSICIAN'S TALE.

THE SAGA OF KING OLAF.

THE CHALLENGE OF THOR.
I am the God Thor,

Is but my red beard
I am the War God,

Blown by the night-wind,
I am the Thunderer!

Affrighting the nations !
Here in my Northland,
My fastness and fortress,

Jove is my brother ;
Reign I for ever!

Mine eyes are the lightring;

The wheels of my chariot
Here amid icebergs

Roll in the thunder,
Rule I the nations;

The blows of my hammer
This is my hammer,

Ring in the earthquake!
Mjölner the mighty;
Giants and sorcerers

Force rules the world still,
Cannot withstand it !

Has ruled it, shall rule it;

Meekness is weakness,
These are the gauntlets,

Strength is triumphant,
Wherewith I wield it,

Over the whole earth
And hurl it afar off ;

Still is it Thor's Day!
This is my girdle ;
Whenever I brace it,

Thou art a God too,
Strength is redoubled !

O Galilean!

And thus single-handed
The light thou beholdest

Unto the combat,
Stream through the heavens

Gauntlet or Gospel,
In flashes of crimson,

Here I defy thee !

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All these thoughts of love and strife Thus came Olaf to his own, Glimmered through his Jurid life, | When upon the night-wind blown As the star's intenser light

Passed that cry along the shore; Through the red flames o'er bim trailing, And he answered, while the rifted As his ships went sailing, sailing, Streamers o'er him shook and shifted, Northward in the summer night.

“I accept thy challenge, Thor!'

III.

THORA OF RIMOL.

“ THORA of Rimol! hide me! hide me!

Danger and shame and death betide me!
For Olaf the King is hunting me down
Through field and forest, through thorp and town!”

Thus cried Jarl Hakon

To Thora, the fairest of women.
“Hakon Jarl ! for the love I bear thee
Neither shall shame nor death come near thee?
But the hiding-place wherein thou must lie
Is the cave underneath the swine in the sty."

Thus to Jarl Hakon
Said Thora, the fairest of women.

So Hakon Jarl and his base thrall Karker
Cronched in the cave, than a dungeon darker,
As Olat came riding, with men in mail,
Through the forest roads into Orkadale,

Demanding Jarl Hakon
Of Thora, the fairest of women.

“ Rich and honoured shall be whoever

The head of Hakon Jarl shall dissever!"
Hakon heard him, and Karker the slave,
Through the breathing-holes of the darksome cave,

Alone in her chamber
Wept Thora, the fairest of women.

Said Karker, the crafty, “I will not slay thee!
For all the King's gold I will never betray thee!”.
“ Then why dost thou turn so pale, O churl,
And then again black as the earth?” said the Earl.

More pale and more faithful

Was Thora, the fairest of women.
From a dream in the night the thrall started, saying,
“ Round my neck a gold ring King Olaf was laying!”
And Hakon answered, “Beware of the king !
He will lay round thy neck a blood-red ring."

At the ring on her finger
Gazed Thora, the fairest of women.

At daybreak slept Hakon, with sorrows encumbered,
But screamed and drew up his feet as he slumbered;
The thrall in the darkness plunged with his knife,
And the Earl awakened no more in this life.

But wakeful and weeping
Sat Thora, the fairest of women.

At Nidarholm the priests are all singing, *
Two ghastly heads on the gibbet are swinging;
One is Jarl Hakon's and one is his thrall's,
And the people are shouting from windows and walls;

While alone in her chamber
Swoons Thora, the fairest of women.

IV.

QUEEN SIGRID THE HAUGHTY.
QUEEN SIGRID the Haughty sat proud and aloft
In her chamber, that looked over meadow and croft.

Heart's dearest,
Why dost thou sorrow so?

The floor with tassels of fir was besprent,
Filling the room with their fragrant scent.

She heard the birds sing, she saw the sun shine,
The air of summer was sweeter than wine.

Like a sword without scabbard the bright river lay
Between her own kingdom and Norroway.
But Olaf the King had sued for her hand,
The sword would be sheathed, the river be spanned.
Her maidens were seated around her knee,
Working bright figures in tapestry.
And one was singing the ancient rune
Of Brynhilda's love and the wrath of Gudrun.
And through it, and round it, and over it all
Sounded incessant the waterfall.
The Queen in her hand held a ring of gold,
From the door of Ladé’s Temple old.
King Olaf had sent her this wedding gift,
But her thoughts as arrows were keen and swift.

She had given the ring to her goldsmiths twain,
Who smiled as they handed it back again.
And Sigrid the Queen, in her haughty way,
Said, “Why do you smile, my goldsmiths, say ?”
And they answered: “ () Queen ! if the truth must be told,
The ring is of copper, and not of gold !”
The lightning flashed o'er her forehead and cheek,

She only murmured, she did not speak : 66 If in his gifts he can faithless be,

There will be no gold in his love to me."
A footstep was heard on the outer stair,
And in strode King Olaf with royal air.

He kissed the Queen's hand, and he whispered of love,
And swore to be true as the stars are above.

But she smiled with contempt as she answered : “ King, Will you swear it, as Odin once swore, on the ring?"

And the King: “O speak not of Odin to me,
The wife of King Olaf a Christian must be."

Looking straight at the King, with her level brows,
She said, “I keep true to my faith and my vows.”
Then the face of King Olaf was darkened with gloom,
He rose in his anger and strode through the room.
“ Why then should I care to have thee?” he said, -
“A faded old woman, a heathenish jade!”
His zeal was stronger than fear or love,
And he struck the Queen in the face with his glove.
Then forth from the chamber in anger he fled,
And the wooden stairway shook with his tread.
Queen Sigrid the Haughty said under her breath,
“ This insult, King Olaf, shall be thy death !”

Heart's dearest,
Why dost thou sorrow so?

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Now from all King Olaf's farms

Halfred answered : “I am called His men-at-arms

The Unappalled! Gathered on the Eve of Easter;

Nothing binders me or daunts me To his house at Angvalds-ness

Hearken to me, then, O King,
Fast they press,

While I sing
Drinking with the royal feaster.

The great Ocean song that haunts me." Loudly through the wide-flung door

“I will hear your song sublime Came the roar

Some other time,” Of the sea upon the Skerry;

Says the drowsy monarch, yawning, And its thunder loud and near

And retires ; each laughing guest Reached the ear,

Applauds the jest ; Mingling with their voices merry.

Then they sleep till day is dawning.

Pacing up and down the yard, “ Hark!” said Olaf to his Scald,

King Olaf's guard
Halfred the Bald,

Saw the sea-mist slowly creeping “Listen to that song, and learn it!

O'er the sands, and up the hill,
Half my kingdom would I give,

Gathering still
As I live,

Round the house where they were If by such songs you would earn it !

sleeping. For of all the runes and rhymes It was not the fog he saw, Of all times,

Nor misty flaw, Best I like the ocean's dirges,

That above the landscape brooded; When the old harper heaves and rocks, It was Eyvind Kallda's crew His hoary locks

Of warlocks blue, Flowing and flashing in the surges !”. ! With their caps of darkness hooded I

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