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With the brightlevel light ere sinking
Illumined thus, the dauntless Dane Welido I hope that this my minstrel
The Seven Proud Shields that o'er Will temptnotraveller from southern the portal frown, fields,
And on their blazons traced high marks Whether in tilbury, barouche, or of old renown. mail,
A wolf North Wales had on his To view the Castle of these Seven Proud Shields.
armour-coat, Small confirmation its condition
And Rhys of Powis-land a couchant yields
stag; To Meneville's high lay: no towers
Strath-Clwyd's strange emblem was
a stranded boat, On the wild heath, but those that
Donald of Galloway's a trotting fancy builds,
nag; And, save a fosse that tracks the
Acorn-sheaf gilt was fertile Lodon's moor with green,
brag; Is nought remains to tell of what may
A dudgeon-dagger was by Dunmail there have been.
Northumbrian Adolf gave a sea-beat And yet grave authors, with the no small waste
crag Of their grave time, have dignified
Surmounted by a cross; such signs the spot
were borne By theories, to prove the fortress Upon these antique shields, all wasted
now and worn. placed By Roman bands, to curb the invading Scot.
These scann'd, Count Harold sought Hutchinson, Horsley, Camden, I
the castle-door might quote,
Whose ponderous bolts were rusted But rather choose the theoryless civil
to decay; Of boors, who,origin of thingsforgot, Yet till that hour adventurous knight Refer still to the origin of evil,
forbore And for their master-mason choose The unobstructed passage to essay. that master-fiend the Devil,
More strong than armed warders
in array, Therefore, I say, it was on fiend And obstacle more sure than bolt built towers
or bar, That stout Count Harold bent his Sate in the portal Terror and Diswondering gaze,
may, When evening dew was on the While Superstition, who forbade heather flowers,
to war And the last sunbeams made the With foes of other mould than mountain blaze,
mortal clay, And tinged the battlements of other ' Cast spells across the gate, and barr'd days
the onward way.
Vain now those spells; for soon of tarnish'd gold, or silver nothing with heavy clank
clear, The feebly-fasten'd gate was inward With throne begilt, and canopy of push'd,
pall, And, as it oped, through that And tapestry clothed the walls with emblazon'd rank
fragments sear : Of antique shields, the wind of Frail as the spider's mesh did that evening rush'd
rich woof appear. With sound most like a groan, and then was hush'd.
v. Is none who on such spot such
In every bower, as round a hearse, sounds could hear
was hung But to his heart the blood had
A dusky crimson curtain o'er the faster rush'd;
bed, Yet to bold Harold's breast that
And on each couch in ghastly wise throb was dear
were flung It spoke of danger nigh, but had no
The wasted relics of a monarch touch of fear.
Barbaric ornaments around were Yet Harold and his Page no signs
spread, have traced
Vests twined with gold, and chains Within the castle, that of danger
of precious stone, show'd;
And golden circlets, meet for For still the halls and courts were
monarch's head; wild and waste,
While grinn'd, as if in scorn amongst As through their precincts the
them thrown, adventurers trode.
The wearer's fleshless skull, alike with The seven huge towers rose stately,
dust bestrown. tall, and broad, Each tower presenting to their
For these were they who, drunken
with delight, scrutiny A hall in which a king might make
On pleasure's opiate pillow laid
their head, abode,
For whom the bride's shy footstep, And fast beside, garnish'd both
slow and light, proud and high, Was placed a bower for rest in which
Was changed ere morning to the
murderer's tread. a king might lie.
For human bliss and woe in the As if a bridal there of late had
frail thread been,
Of human life are all so closely Deck'd stood the table in each
twined, gorgeous hall;
1 That till the shears of Fate the And yet it was two hundred years, texture shred, I ween,
The close succession cannot be Since date ofthatun hallow'd festival. disjoin'd, Flagons, and ewers, and standing Nor dare we, from one hour, judge cups, were all
that which comes behind.
Firm was that faith, as diamond stone But where the work of vengeance And unrequited; firm and pure,
Pure and unflaw'd, her love unknown, had been done, In that seventh chamber, was a
Her stainless faith could all endure; sterner sight;
From climetoclime, from placeto place, There of the witch-brides lay cachThrough want, and danger, and skeleton,
disgrace, Still in the posture as to death when
A wanderer's wayward steps could dlight.
trace. For this lay prone, by one blow!
All this she did, and guerdon none slain outright;
Required, save that her burial-stone And that, as one who struggled
i Should make at length the secret long in dying;
" Thus hath a faithful woman done." One bony hand held knife, as if to · smite ;
Not in each breast such truth is laid, One bent on fleshless knees, as
But Eivir was a Danish maid.' mercy crying; One lay across the door, as kill'd in
* Thou art a wild enthusiast,' said act of flying.
Count Harold, 'for thy Danish maid ; The stern Dane smiled this charnel- ' And yet, young Gunnar, I will own house to see,
: Hers were a faith to rest upon. For his chafed thought return'd to ! But Eivir sleeps beneath her stone, Metelill;
And all resembling her are gone. And Well,' he said, “hath woman's What maid c'ershow'd such constancy perfidy,
In plighted faith, like thine to me? Empty as air, as water volatile, But couch thee, boy; the darksome Been here avenged. The origin of ill
shade Through woman rose, the Christian Falls thickly round, nor be dismay'd doctrine saith :
Because the dead are hy: Nor deem I, Gunnar, that thy They were as we; our little day minstrel skill
O'erspent, and we shall be as they. Can show example whereawoman's Yet near me, Gunnar, be thou laid, breath
Thy couch upon my mantle made, Hath made a true-love vow, and, . That thou mayst think, should fear tempted, kept her faith.'
Thy master slumbers nigh.' The minstrel-boy half smiled, half | Thus couch'd they in that dread abode, sigh'd,
Until the beams of dawning glow'd. And his half-filling eyes he dried, And said, “The theme I should but wrong,
An alter'd man Lord Harold rose; Unless it were my dying song, When he beheld that dawn unclosc, (Our Scalds have said, in dying hour There's trouble in his eyes, The Northern harp has treble power) | And traces on his brow and cheek Else could I tell of woman's faith, Of mingled awe and wonder speak : Defying danger, scorn, and death.
My page,' he said, “arisc;
Leave we this place, my page.' No Nor think, a vassal thou of hell,
With hell can strive." The fiend He utter'd till the castle door
spoke true! They cross’d, but there he paused and My inmost soul the summons knew, said,
As captives know the knell “My wildness hath awaked the dead, That saysthe headsman's sword is bare,
Disturb'd the sacred tomb ! And, with an accent of despair, Methought this night I stood on high, Commands them quit their cell. Where Hecla roars in middle sky, I felt resistance was in vain, And in her cavern'd gulfs could spy My foot had that fell stirrup ta'en,
The central place of doom ; My hand was on the fatal mane, And there before my mortal eye
When to my rescue sped Souls of the dead came flitting by, That Palmer's visionary form, Whom fiends, with many afiendish cry, And, like the passing of a storm, Bore to that evil den !
The demons yell’d and fled ! My eyes grew dizzy, and my brain
And, Gunnar, I could find
So oft my course on wilful way,
My father Witikind! "With haggard eyes and streaming Doom'd for his sins, and doom'd for hair,
mine, Jutta the Sorceress was there, A wanderer upon earth to piite And there pass'd Wulfstane, lately Until his son shall turn to grace, slain,
And smooth for him a resting-place. All crush'd and foul with bloody stain. Gunnar, he must not haunt in vain More had I seen, but that uprose This world of wretchedness and pain : A whirlwind wild, and swept the I'll tame my wilful heart to live snows;
In peace, to pity and forgive ; And with such sound as when at need | And thou, for so the Vision said, A champion spurs his horse to speed, Must in thy lord's repentance aid. Three armëd knights rush on, who lead Thy mother was a prophetess, Caparison'd a sable steed.
He said, who by her skill could guess Sable their harness, and there came How close the fatal textures join Through their closed visors sparks of Whichknitthythread of life with mine; flame.
Then, dark, he hinted of disguise The first proclaim'd, in sounds of fear, She framed to cheat too curious eyes, “Harold the Dauntless,welcome here!” | That not a moment might divide The next cried," Jubilee! we've won Thy fated footsteps from my side. Count Witikind the Waster's son!” Methought while thus my sire did And the third rider sternly spoke,
teach, " Mount, in the name of Zernebock! I caught the meaning of his speech, From us, O Harold, were thy powers, Yet seems its purport doubtful now.' Thy strength, thy dauntlessness, are | His hand then sought his thoughtful
Then first he mark'd, that in the tower Victory and vengeance; only I
The immortal tilt, the banquet full, Trembling at first, and deadly pale, The brimming draught from foeman's Had Gunnar heard the vision'd tale ;
skull. But when he learn’d the dubious close, Mine art thou, witness this thy glove, He blush'd like any opening rose, The faithful pledge of vassal's love.' And, glad to hide his tell-tale chcek, Hied back that glove of mail to seek; When soon a shriek of deadly dread
• Tempter,' said Harold, firm of heart, Summon'd his master to his aid.
• I charge thee, hence! whate'er thou XII.
art, What sees Count Harold in that bower,
I do defy thee, and resist
| The kindling frenzy of my breast, The semblance of the Evil Power,
Waked by thy words; and of my mail, Adored by all his race!
Nor glove, nor buckler, splent, nor nail, Odin in living form stood there,
Shall rest with thee--that youth His cloak the spoils of Polar bear;
release, For plumy crest a meteor shed
And God, or Demon, part in peace.' Its gloomy radiance o'er his head,
'Eivir,' the Shape replied, 'is mine, Yet veil'd its haggard majesty
Mark'd in the birth-hour with my sign. To the wild lightnings of his eye.
Think'st thou that priest with drops Such height was his, as when in stone
of spray O'er Upsal's giant altar shown:
Could wash that blood-red mark away? So flow'd his hoary beard;
Or that a borrow'd sex and name Such was his lance of mountain-pine, Thrill'd this strange speech through
Can abrogate a Godhead's claim ?' So did his sevenfold buckler shine; But when his voice he rear'd,
He clench'd his teeth in high disdain, Deep, without harshness, slow and
For not his new-born faith subdued strong,
Some tokens of his ancient mood : The powerful accents roll'd along, And, while he spoke, his hand was laid 'Now, by the hope so lately given On captive Gunnar's shrinking head.
Of better trust and purer heaven,
I will assail thee, fiend.' Then rose Harold,' he said, 'what rage is thine,
His mace, and with a storm of blows
The mortal and the Demon close, To quit the worship of thy line,
To leave thy Warrior-God? With me is glory or disgrace,
Smoke roll'd above, fire flash'd around, Mine is the onset and the chase, Darken'd the sky and shook the Embattled hosts before my face
ground; Are wither'd by a nod.
But not the artillery of hell, Wilt thou then forfeit that high seat The bickering lightning, nor the rock Deserved by many a dauntless feat, Of turrets to the carthquake's shock, Among the heroes of thy line,
Could Harold's courage quell. Eric and fiery Thorarine ?
Sternly the Danc his purpose kept, Thou wilt not. Only I can give And blows on blows resistless heap'd, The joys for which the valiant live, Till quail'd that Demon Form,