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~ Historical & Classical Poetry ~

Tales of a Wayside Inn

The Musician's Tale: The Saga of King Olaf: XVI. Queen Thyri and the Angelica Stalks

Northward over Drontheim,
Flew the clamorous sea-gulls,
Sang the lark and linnet
From the meadows green;

Weeping in her chamber,
Lonely and unhappy,
Sat the Drottning Thyri,
Sat King Olaf's Queen.

In at all the windows
Streamed the pleasant sunshine,
On the roof above her
Softly cooed the dove;

But the sound she heard not,
Nor the sunshine heeded,
For the thoughts of Thyri
Were not thoughts of love,

Then King Olaf entered,
Beautiful as morning,
Like the sun at Easter
Shone his happy face;

In his hand he carried
Angelicas uprooted,
With delicious fragrance
Filling all the place.

Like a rainy midnight
Sat the Drottning Thyri,
Even the smile of Olaf
Could not cheer her gloom;

Nor the stalks he gave her
With a gracious gesture,
And with words as pleasant
As their own perfume.

In her hands he placed them,
And her jewelled fingers
Through the green leaves glistened
Like the dews of morn;

But she cast them from her,
Haughty and indignant,
On the floor she threw them
With a look of scorn.

"Richer presents," said she,
"Gave King Harald Gormson
To the Queen, my mother,
Than such worthless weeds;"

"When he ravaged Norway,
Laying waste the kingdom,
Seizing scatt and treasure
For her royal needs."

"But thou darest not venture
Through the Sound to Vendland,
My domains to rescue
From King Burislaf;"

"Lest King Svend of Denmark,
Forked Beard, my brother,
Scatter all thy vessels
As the wind the chaff."

Then up sprang King Olaf,
Like a reindeer bounding,
With an oath he answered
Thus the luckless Queen:

"Never yet did Olaf
Fear King Svend of Denmark;
This right hand shall hale him
By his forked chin!"

Then he left the chamber,
Thundering through the doorway,
Loud his steps resounded
Down the outer stair.

Smarting with the insult,
Through the streets of Drontheim
Strode he red and wrathful,
With his stately air.

All his ships he gathered,
Summoned all his forces,
Making his war levy
In the region round;

Down the coast of Norway,
Like a flock of sea-gulls,
Sailed the fleet of Olaf
Through the Danish Sound.

With his own hand fearless,
Steered he the Long Serpent,
Strained the creaking cordage,
Bent each boom and gaff;

Till in Venland landing,
The domains of Thyri
He redeemed and rescued
From King Burislaf.

Then said Olaf, laughing,
"Not ten yoke of oxen
Have the power to draw us
Like a woman's hair!"

"Now will I confess it,
Better things are jewels
Than angelica stalks are
For a Queen to wear."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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