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Round and round the house they go, ;

Weaving slow
Magic circles to encumber
And imprison in their ring

Olaf the King,
As he helpless lies in slumber.

Then athwart the vapours dun

The Easter sun
Streamed with one broad track of

splendour!
In their real forms appeared

The warlocks weird, Awful as the Witch of Endor.

From the gates they sallied forth,

South and north,
Scoured the island coasts around

them,
Seizing all the warlock band

Foot and hand
On the Skerry's rocks they bound them.
And at eve the King again

Called his train,
And, with all the candles burning,
Silent sat and heard once more

The sullen roar
Of the ocean tides returning.
Shrieks and cries of wild despair

Filled the air,
Growing fainter as they listened ;
Then the bursting surge alone

Sounded on :-
Thus the sorcerers were christened !

Blinded by the light that glared,

They groped and stared
Round about with steps unsteady ;
From his window Olaf gazed,

And, amazed,
“Who are these strange people?” said

he.

“ Sing, O Scald, your song sublime,

Your ocean-rhyme,"
Cried, King Olaf: " it will cheer

“Eyvind Kallda and his men!"

Answered then
From the yard a sturdy farmer;
While the men-at-arms apace

Filled the place,
Busily buckling on their armour.

me!"

Said the Scald, with pallid cheeks,

“ The Skerry of Shrieks Sings too loud for you to hear me!"

VI.

THE WRAITH OF ODIN,

THE guests were loud, the ale was strong,
King Olaf feasted late and long;
The hoary Scalds together sang;
O'erhead the smoky rafters rang.

Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

The door swung wide, with creak and din;
A blast of cold night-air came in,
And on the threshold shivering stood
A one-eyed guest, with cloak and hood.

Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

The King exclaimed, “O graybeard pale!
Come warm thee with this cup of ale."
The foaming draught the old man quaffed,
The noisy guests looked on and laughed.

Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

Then spake the King: “Be not afraid;
Sit here by me." The guest obeyed,
And, seated at the table, told
Tales of the sea, and Sagas old.

Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.
And ever, when the tale was o'er,
The King demanded yet one more;
Till Sigurd the Bishop smiling said,
“ 'Tis late, O King, and time for bed."

Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang. The King retired; the stranger-guest Followed and entered with the rest; The lights were out, the pages gone, But still the garrulous guest spake on.

Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

As one who from a volume reads,
He spake of heroes and their deeds,
Of lands and cities he had seen,
And stormy gulfs that tossed between.

Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

Then from his lips in music rolled
The Havamal of Odin old,
With sounds mysterious as the roar
Of billows on a distant shore.

Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.
“Do we not learn from runes and rhymes
Made by the gods in elder times,
And do not still the great Scalds teach
That silence better is than speech ?”

Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang. Smiling at this, the King replied, “Thy lore is by thy tongue belied ; For never was I so enthralled Either by Saga-man or Scald."

Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang. The Bishop said, “ Late hours we keep! Night wanes, O King! 'tis time for sleep!" Then slept the King, and when he woke The guest was gone, the morning broke.

Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

They found the doors securely barred,
They found the watch-dog in the yard.

There was no foot-print in the grass,
And none had seen the stranger pass.

Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.
King Olaf crossed himself and said:
“I know that Odin the Great is dead;
Sure is the triumph of our Faith,
The one-eyed stranger was his wraith.”

Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

VII.

IRON-BEARD.

OLAF the King, one summer morn,

Blew a blast on his bugle-horn, Sending his signal through the land of Drontheim.

And to the Hus-Ting held at Mere

Gathered the farmers far and near,
With their war weapons ready to confront him.

Ploughing under the morning star,

Old Iron-Beard in Yriar
Heard the summons, chuckling with a low laugh.

He wiped the sweat-drops from his brow,

Unharnessed his horses from the plough, And clattering came on horseback to King Olaf.

He was the churliest of the churls ;

Little he cared for king or earls; Bitter as home-brewed ale were his foaming passions.

Hodden-gray was the garb he wore,

And by the Hammer of Thor he swore; He hated the narrow town, and all its fashions.

But he loved the freedom of his farm,

His ale at night, by the fireside warm, Gudrun his daughter, with her flaxen tresses.

He loved his horses and his herds,

The smell of the earth, and the song of birds, His well-filled barns, his brook with its watercresses.

Huge and cumbersome was his frame;

His beard, from which he took his name, Frosty and fierce, like that of Hymer the Giant.

So at the Hus-Ting he appeared,

The farmer of Yriar, Iron-Beard, On horseback, with an attitude defiant.

And to King Olaf he cried aloud,

Out of the middle of the crowd,
That tossed about him like a stormy ocean:

“Such sacrifices shalt thou bring,

To Odin and to Thor, O King,
As other kings have done in their devotion!”

King Olaf answered: “I command

This land to be a Christian land ; Here is my Bishop who the folk baptizes!

“But if you ask me to restore

Your sacrifices, stained with gore, Then will I offer human sacrifices !

“Not slaves and peasants shall they be,

But men of note and high degree,
Such men as Orm of Lyra and Kar of Gryting!”.

Then to the Temple strode he in,

And loud behind him heard the din Of his men-at-arms and the peasants fiercely fighting.

There in their Temple, carved in wood,

The image of great Odin stood,
And other gods, with Thor supreme among them.

King Olaf smote them with the blade

Of his huge war-axe, gold-inlaid, And downward shattered to the pavement flung them.

At the same moment rose without,

From the contending crowd, a shout,
A mingled sound of triumph and of wailing.

And there upon the trampled plain

The farmer Iron-Beard lay slain,
Midway between the assailed and the assailing.

King Olaf from the doorway spoke:

“ Choose ye between two things, my folk To be baptized or given up to slaughter!”

And seeing their leader stark and dead,

The people with a murmur said,
“O King, baptize us with thy holy water !”

So all the Drontheim land became

A Christian land in name and fame,
In the old gods no more believing and trusting.

And as a blood-atonement, soon

King Olaf wed the fair Gudrun;
And thus in peace ended the Drontheim Hus-Ting!

VIII.

GUDRUN.

ON King Olaf's bridal night
Shines the moon with tender light,
And across the chamber streams

Its tide of dreams.

At the fatal midnight hour,
When all evil things have power,
In the glimmer of the moon

Stands Gudrun.
Close against her heaving breast,
Something in her hand is pressed;
Like an icicle, its sheen

Is cold and keen.

Like the drifting snow she sweeps
To the couch where Olaf sleeps;
Suddenly he wakes and stirs,

His eyes meet hers.
“ What is that,” King Olaf said,

“Gleams so bright above thy head ?
Wherefore standest thou so white

In pale moonlight?”
16 'Tis the bodkin that I wear

When at night I bind my hair;
It woke me falling on the floor ;

. 'Tis nothing more."
“Forests have ears, and fields have

eyes;
Often treachery lurking lies
Underneath the fairest hair!

Gudrun beware!”
Ere the earliest peep of morn
Blew King Olaf's bugle-horn;
And for ever sundered ride

Bridegroom and bride!

On the cairn are fixed her eyes
Where her murdered father lies,
And a voice remote and drear

She seems to hear.

What a bridal night is this?
Cold will be the dagger's kiss;
Laden with the chill of death

Is its breath.

IX.

THANGBRAND THE PRIEST.
SHORT of stature, large of limb,

Burly face and russet beard,
All the women stared at him,
When in Iceland he appeared.

“Look !” they said,

With nodding head,
“There goes Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest.”

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