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~ Historical & Classical Poetry ~

Harold the Dauntless

p.191, Canto VI.
(Odin makes an appearance to Harold, who has recently turned to the Christian faith)

What sees Count Harold in that bower.
So late his resting-place? —
The semblance of the Evil Power,
Adored by all his race!
Odin in living form stood there.
His cloak the spoils of Polar bear;
For plumy crest a meteor shed
Its gloomy radiance o'er his head,
Yet veiled its haggard majesty
To the wild lightnings of his eye.
Such height was his, as when in stene
O'er Upsal's giant altar shown:
So flowed his hoary beard;
Such was his lance of mountain-pine.
So did his sevenfold buckler shine —
But when his voice he reared,
Deep, without harshness, slow and strong,
The poweiful accents roll'd along,
And, while he spoke, his hand was laid
On captive Gunnar's shrinking head.


"Harold," he said, "what rage is thine,
To quit the worship of thy line,
To leave thy Warrior-God ?—
With me is glory or disgrace,
Mine is the onset and the chase,
Embattled hosts before my face
Are wither'd by a nod.
Wilt thou then forfeit that high seat
Deserved by many a dauntless feat,
Among the heroes of thy line,
Eric and fiery Thorarine? —
Thou wilt not. Only I can give
The jojrs for which the valiant live,
Victory and vengeance — only I
Can give the joys for which they die,
The immortal tilt— the banquet full,
The brimming draught from foeman's skull.
Mine art thou, witness this thy glove,
The faithful pledge of vassal's love." —

Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)