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~ Historical & Classical Poetry ~

Carousal of Odin

Fill the honey'd beverage high,
Fill the skulls, 'tis Odin's cry:
Heard ye not the powerful call,
Thundering through the vaulted hall?
Fill the meath, and spread the board,
Vassals of the grisly lord!

The portal hinges grate, - they come -
The din of voices rocks the dome:
In stalk the various forms, and dress'd
In various armour, various forms, and dress'd
In various armour, various vest,
With helm and morion, targe and shield,
Some quivering lances couch, some biting maces wield:
All march with haughty step, all proudly shake the crest.

The feast begins, the skull goes round;
Laughter shouts - the shouts resound.
The gust of war subsides - E'en now
The grim chief curls his cheek, and smooths his rugged brow.

'Shame to your placid front, ye men of death!'
Cries Hilda, with disorder'd breath:
Hell echoes back her scoff of shame
To the inactive revelling Champion's name.
'Call forth the song,' she scream'd: - the minstrels came -

The theme was glorious war, the dear delight
Of shining best in field, and daring most in fight
'Joy to the soul' the Harpers sung,
'When, embattled ranks among,
(Banners waving o'er his plume)
Foremost rides, the flower and boast
Of the bold determin'd host!'

With greedy ears the guests each note devour'd,
Each struck his beaver, and grasp'd his faithful sword.
The fury mark'd the' auspicious deed,
And bad the Scalds proceed.

'Joy to the soul! a joy divine!
When conflicting armies join;
When trumpets clang, and bugles sound;
When strokes of death are dealt around;
When the sword feasts, yet craves for more;
And every gauntlet drips with gore.'

The charm prevail'd, up rush'd the madden'd throng,
Panting for carnage, as they foam'd along;
Fierce Odin's self led forth the frantic band,
To scatter havoc wide o'er many a guilty land.

Thomas Penrose (1742-1779), English poet
Poem published in 1807