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~ Historical & Classical Poetry ~

Valhalla: The Myths of Norseland; A Saga, in Twelve Parts

Part Ninth

King Aegir´s Feast

Now Loki's last, worst work was done.
Triumphant Wrong, exalted high,
O'ershadowed even Odin's throne,
And dimmed the glow o'er Earth and sky.
Weeping and gloom
Fill'd Valhal's dome;
The stars gleamed pale
Thro' Heaven's cloud-veil;
Fair Day reined back his steed of light.
Exultant rode forth Jötun Night;
Lost in the consciousness of woe,
All purposeless the Aesir go.
Withered the Earth !
Creation's birth
Reeled blindly 'neath the staggering blow.
Baldur, defenceless, innocent,
Naught but his shining purity
'Gainst evil deeds as surety,
To Hela's feast by craft was sent.
 
Evil before,
Now more and more
Evil and base the traitor grew ;
Lower and lower fell he ever,
Only for ill his each endeavor;
Fled from his heart the pure and true ;
A reckless raging
Each power engaging,
Until to all his very name
Symbol of craft and hate became ;
While, still defiant, held he high
His haughty head, 'neath lowering sky.
Yet still, tho' lost, upon his face
At times a grace
Faint glimmered of the ancient day
When he and Odin, one in soul,
Mingled their love in flowing bowl ;
A transient gleam, — a semblance cast
By shad'wy mem'ries of the past, —
Arising dim to fade away.

Now, to assauge the high gods' grief
And bring their mourning some relief,
From coral caves
'Neath ocean waves.
Mighty King Aegir
Invited the Aesir
To festival
In Hlesey's hall;
That, tho' for Baldur, every guest
Was grieving yet,
He might forget
Awhile his woe in friendly feast.

The vexed waves heard the summons given ;
From white lips hissed their wrath to Heaven ;
Who joy or feasting e'er should know
While Baldur sat with Hel below ?
Panting, heaving, restless waters !
Sobbing, moaning, Aegir's daughters !
Bellowing in sullen roar,
Beating on the rock-girt shore,
Tumbling wild in dismal tide,
Whit'ning all the deep sea wide,
The booming surges thundering fell
O'er sunken rocks in hoarse, sad swell,
While the thick mists flaunted high
Funeral banners to the sky.
Weeping waters !
Aegir's daughters,
Unforgetful,
And regretful.
Wailing over Baldur's fate;
While far below
Their mournful flow.
On throne of state
Sat King Aegir,
Who the Aesir
Would feast at banquet rarely great.

Beneath the watery dome,
AVitli crystalline splendor,
In radiant grandeur,
Upreared the sea-god's home.
More dazzling than foam of the waves,
E'er glimmered and gleamed thro' deep caves
The glistening sands of its floor,
Like some placid lake rippled o'er.
Lights opalescent
Glowed phosphorescent
Thro' its sparkling emerald walls ;
Flowers the fairest,
Rich treasures rarest,
Lavish decked its billowy halls;
Bright shells from ocean's bed.
Gem-like, their luster shed,
Twinkling in rays most bright.
Mingled their gleaming
Brilliantly beaming
Rainbow-like light.

Myriad things of ocean.
With soft gliding motion,
Through branched coral grove
Would dartingly rove.
Thro' blooms and o'er palm trees,
'Mid mosses and sea-fan.
Swayed by the cool breeze
In the grottoes of Ran.
While thro' crystal gulfs were gleaming
Ocean depths, with wonders teeming ;
Shapes of terror, huge, unsightly,
Loomed thro' vaulted roof translucent ;
Silver finnéd fish swam lightly,
Sparkling showers scatt'ring brightly, —
Phosphorescent rays pelucent.

Devouring Ran, by Aegir's side,
Smiled, treacherous, thro' the feast-hall wide.
In festive state awaited they
Their Aesir guests to deep Hlesey.
At length a conch-shell, hung on high,
Rang hoarse and loud.
A greeting proud,
As Odin and his numerous train
To hall drew nigh ;
While Heimdal, with great Gjallar-horn,
Answered the notes, on ripples borne,
In clear refrain.

Then Vans and Aesir, mighty gods.
Of Earth, and air, and Asgard, lords —
Advancing with each goddess fair,
A brilliant retinue most rare. — 
Attending mighty Odin, swept
Up wave-worn aisle in radiant march,
Thro' pillared crystals, glittering bright,
Fair diamond lamps, dispersing light.
Around them briny breezes crept.
Wafting them on
To Aegir's throne
'Neath billowy arch,
Where fountains flowing, filled with mead,
And goblets wreathed with bright sea-weed,
For them abounded ;
While songs resounded
Loud and high
In welcoming cry.
As near and nearer, drew they nigh.

With burnished gold helm, at their head
Great Odin up the feast-hall led, —
Mighty father of the Aesir !
With his bride, the blue-eyed Friga ;
Azure robes around her flowing.
Heron-crested,
Snow-white breasted,
Love upon her soft lips glowing
For her lord, — her heart's desire.

Freya close beside was treading,
Dazzling rays around her shedding
From the starry wreath of light, —
Sun-worlds, — glowing scarce so bright
As fair Beauty's lovely queen
Hast'ning on thro' crystal sheen.

Sweet Bragi, Njörd, Forseti mild.
And gold-curled Sif, the spouse of Thor,
With Vidar, Frey, and many more,
Up thro' the central nave defiled;
Absent alone the Thunderer.
As close to Aegir's throne they drew,
With ev'ry step the conches blew;
The shrill notes rang,
And skoal loud sang !
Skoal to each guest
At Aegir's feast.

Higher and louder swelled the glee.
Merrier the festivity !
When, suddenly, in shadow fell
A shade from Hel
The hall within;
A figure tall
Crept in by stealth, — a shape of sin !
'Twas Loki reared his hateful form ;
Like lull in storm,
A dismal silence shrouded ail,
And ended the high festival.

Julia Clinton Jones, 1878

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