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Twice twelve swift-footed coursers, mettlesome, fast-fettered storm
winds, Stamping stood in the line of stalls, all champing their fodder, Knotted with red their manes, and their hoofs all whitened with steel
shoes. The banquet-hall, a house by itself, was timbered of hard fir. Not five hundred men (at ten times twelve to the hundred) Filled up the roomy hall, when assembled for drinking at Yule-tide. Thorough the hall, as long as it was, went a table of holm-oak, Polished and white, as of steel; the columns twain of the high-seat Stood at the end thereof, two gods carved out of an elm-tree; Odin with lordly look, and Frey with the sun on his frontlet. Lately between the two, on a bear-skin (the skin it was coal-black, Scarlet-red was the throat, but the paws were shodden with silver). Thorsten sat with his friends, Hospitality sitting with Gladness. Oft, when the moon among the night-clouds few, related the old man Wonders from far-distant lands he had seen, and cruises of Vikings Far on the Baltic and Sea of the West, and the North Sea. Hush sat the listening bench, and their glances hung on the gray
beard's Lips, as a bee on the rose; but the Skald was thinking of Bragé, Where, with silver beard, and runes on his tongue, he is seated Under the leafy beech, and tells a tradition by Mimer's Ever-murmuring wave, himself a living tradition. Mid-way the floor (with thatch was it strewn), burned for ever the
fire-flame Glad on its stone-built hearth ; and through the wide-mouthed smoke
flue Looked the stars, those heavenly friends, down into the great hall, But round the walls, upon nails of steel, were hanging in order Breastplate and helm with each other, and here and there in among
them Downward lightened a sword, as in winter evening a star shoots. More than helmets and swords, the shields in the banquet-hall glisten, White as the orb of the sun, or white as the moon's disc of silver. Ever and anon went a maid round the board and filled up the drink
horns; Ever she cast down her eyes and blushed; in the shield her reflection Blushed too, even as she;this gladdened the hard-drinking champions.
SPRING is coming, birds are twittering, forests leaf, and smiles the sun,
Now will hunt the ancient monarch, and the queen shall join the sport;
Now the huntsman's band is ready. Hurrah ! over hill and dale!
Then threw Frithiof down his mantle, and upon the greensward spread,
Thus the two wood-birds did warble ; Frithiof took his war-sword good,
said; “ Pleasantly sleeps one in the shadow, guarded by a brave man's blade. But where is thy sword, O stranger ? Lightning's brother, where is he? Who thus parts you, who should never from each other parted be?” “ It avails not,” Frithiof answered; “in the North are other swords; Sharp, O monarch, is the sword's tongue, and it speaks not peaceful
words; Murky spirits dwell in steel blades, spirits from the Niffelhem, Slumber is not safe before them, silver locks but anger them."
THE CHILDREN OF THE LORD'S SUPPER.
This poem, from the Swedish of Bishop Tegnér, enjoys no inconsiderable reputation in the North of Europe. It is an Idyl descriptive of rural life in Sweden, round which something primeval and picturesque still lingers.
You pass out from the gate of a city, and, as if by magic, the scene changes to a wild, woodland landscape. Around you are forests of fir, with their long, fan-like branches; while underfoot is spread a carpet of yellow leaves. On a wooden bridge you cross a little silver stream: and anon come forth into a pleasant land of farms. Wooden fences divide the adjoining fields. The gates are opened by troops of children, and the peasants take off their hats as you pass. The houses in the villages and smaller towns are built of hewn timber, and are generally painted red. The floors of the taverns are strewn with the fragrant tips of fir-boughs. In many villages there are no taverns, and the peasants take turns in receiving travellers. The thrifty house-wife shows you into the best chamber, the walls of which are hung round with rude pictures from the Bible; and she brings you curdled milk from the pan, with oaten cakes baked some munths before. Meanwhile, the sturdy husband has brought his horses from the plough, and harnessed them to your carriage. Solitary travellers come and go in uincouth one-horse chaises Most of them are smoking pipes, and have hanging around their necks in front a leather wallet, in which they carry tobacco, and the great bank-notes of the country. You meets, also, groups of barefooted Dalekarlian pe.sant women, travelling in pursuit of work, carrying in their hands their shoes, which have high heels under the hollow of the foot, and soles of birch bark.
Frequent, too, are the village churches, standing by the road-side. In the churchyard are a few flowers, and much green grass. The grave-stones are flat, large, low, and perhaps sunken, like the roofs of old houses ; the tenants all sleeping with their heads to the westward. Each held a lighted taper in his hand when he died; and in his coffin were placed his little heart-treasures, and a piece of money for his last journey. Babes that came lifeless into the world were carried in the arms of grey-haired old men to the only cradle they ever slept in; and in the shroud of the dead mother were laid the little garments of the child, that lived and died in her bosom. Near the churchyard gate stands a poor-box, with a sloping roof over it, fastened to a post by iron bands, and secured by a padlock. If it be Sunday, the peasants sit on the church steps and con their psalm-books. Others are coming down the road, listening to their beloved pastor. He is their patriarch, and, like Melchizedek, both priest and king, though he has no other throne than the church pulpit. The women carry psalm-books in their hands, wrapped in silk handkerchiefs, and listen devoutly to the good man's words. But the young men, like Gallio, care for none of these things. They are busy counting the plaits in the kirtles of the peasant girls, their number being an indication of the wearer's wealth,
I must not forget to speak of the suddenly changing seasons of the Northern clime. There is no long spring, gradually unfolding leaf and blossom-no lingering autumn, pompous with many-coloured leaves. But winter and summer are wonderful, and pass into each other. The quail has hardly ceased piping in the corn, when winter from the folds of trailing clouds sows broad-cast over the land snow, icicles, and rattling hail. The days wane apace. Ere long the sun hardly rises ahove the horizon, or does not rise at all. The moon and the stars shine through the day, only, at noon, they are pale and wan, and in the southern sky a red, fiery glow, as of sunset, burns along the horizon, and then goes out. And pleasantly under the silver moon, and twinkling stars, ring the steel shoes of the skaters on the frozen sea, and voices, and the sound of bells.
And now the Northern Lights begin to burn, faintly at first, like sunbeams playing in the waters of the blue sea. Then a soft crimson glow tinges the heavens. There is a blush on the cheek of night. The colours come and go : and change from crimson to gold, from gold to crimson. The snow is stained with rosy light. Twofold from the zenith, east and west, flames a fiery sword : and a broad band passes athwart the heavens, like a summer sunset. Soft purple clouds come sailing over the sky, and through their vapoury folds the winking stars shine white as silver. With such pomp as this is Merry Christmas ushered in, though only a single star heralded the first Christmas. And in memory of that day the Swedish peasants dance on straw; and the peasant girls throw straws at the timbered roof of the hall, and for every one that sticks in a crack shall a groomsman come to their wedding. Merry indeed is Christmas time for Swedish peasants : brandy and nut-brown ale in wooden bowls; and the great
Yulecake crowned with a cheese, and garlanded with apples, and upholding a three armed candlestick over the Christmas feast.
And now leafy mid-summer, full of blossoms and the song of nightingales, is come! In every village there is a May-pole fifty feet high, with wreaths and roses and ribands streaming in the wind, and a noisy weathercock on top. The sun does not set till ten o'clock at night; and the children are at play in the streets an hour l*ter. The windows and doors are all open, and you may sit and read till midnight without a candle. O how beautiful is the summer night, which is not night, but a sunless yet unclonded day, descending upon earth with dews, and shadows, and refreshing coolness! How beautiful the long, mild twiligh, which unites to day with yesterday! How beautiful the silent hour, when Morning and Evening thus sit together, hand in hand, beneath the starless sky of midnight! From the church-tower in the public square the bell tolls the hour. with a soft, musical chime; and the watchman, whose watch-tower is the belfry, blows a blast on his horn, for each stroke of the hammer, and four times, for the four corners of the heavens, in a sonorous voice he chants,
“ Ho! watchman, ho!
Twelve is the clock !
From his swallow's nest in the belfry he can see the sun all night long; and farther north the priest stands at his door in the warm midnight, and lights his pipe with a common burning-glass.
I trust that these remarks will not be deemned irrelevant to the poem, but will lead to a clearer understanding of it. The translation is literal perhaps to a fault. In no instance have I done the author a wrong, by introducing into his work any supposed improvements or embellishments of my own, I have preserved even the measure ; in which, it must be confessed, the motions of the English Muse are not unlike those of a prisoner dancing to the music of his chains; and perhaps, as Dr. Johnson said of the dancing dog," the wonder is not that she should do it so well, but that she should do it at all."
Esaias Tegnér, the author of this poem, was born in the parish of By, in Wärmland, in the year 1782. In 1799 he entered the University of Lund, as a student; and in 1812 was appointed Professor of Greek in that instituti n. In 1824 he became Bisbop of Wexiö. He is the glory and bo ust of Sweden, and stands first among all her poets living or dead. His principal work is Frithiof's Saga; one of the most remarkable poems of the age. Bishop Tegnér is a prophet honoured in his own country, adding one more to the list of great names that adorn her history.
PENTECOST, day of rejoicing, had come. The church of the village
While all around at his feet an eternity slumbered in quiet.
Therefore each nook and corner was swept and cleaned, and the dust wag
Loud rang the bells already; the thronging crowd was assembled Far from valleys and hills, to list to the holy preaching. Hark! then roll forth at once the mighty tones from the organ, Hover like voices from God, aloft like invisible spirits. Like as Elias in heaven, when he cast from off him his mantle, Even so cast off the soul its garments of earth; and with one voice Chimed in the congregation, and sang an anthem immortal Of the sublime Wallin, I of David's harp in the North-land Tuned to the choral of Luther; the song on its mighty pinions Took every living soul, and lifted it gently to heaven, And each face did shine like the Holy One's face upon Tabor. Lo! there entered then into the church the Reverend Teacher. Father he hight and he was in the parish; a christianly plainness Clothed from his head to his feet the old man of seventy winters. Friendly was he to behold, and glad as the heralding angel Walked he among the crowds, but still a contemplative grandeur Lay on his forehead as clear, as on moss-covered grave-stone a sunbeam. As in his inspiration (an evening twilight that faintly Gleams in the human soul, even now, from the day of creation) Th’ Artist, the friend of heaven, imagines Saint John when in Patmos, Grey, with his eyes uplifted to heaven, so seemed then the old man; Such was the glance of his eye, and such were his tresses of silver. All the congregation arose in the pews that were numbered. But with a cordial look to the right and the left hand, the old man Nodding all hail and peace, disappeared in the innermost chancel.
* The Feast of the Tabernacles; in Swedish, Löfhyddohögtiden, the Leaf-huts'-hightide.
+ The Peasant-painter of Sweden. He is known chiefly by his altar-pieces in the village churches.
Å distinguished pulpit-orator and poet. He is particularly remarkable for the beaut and sublimity of his psalms.