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~ Historical & Classical Poetry ~

The Giant

I dwell beneath the mountains,
In hollow caverns,
Which never yet were troubled
By Odin's daylight.
I hate the harmless Asas,
The sons of Askur,
Who bow the knee at altars
By me detested.

It is my joy to wander
On midnight whirlwinds ;
To trample on the corn-fields,
To whelm the cargoes.
I lead the weary woodman
Far from his cottage,
Well pleased to see him shudder,
When I am laughing.

Yet I endure the daylight,
Though brightly shining,
To meet Valkyrior waving
Their bloody pinions.
What joy, when twittering arrows
Fly round the battle ;
When human blood is quenching
The fiery falchion !

"Why boastest thou thy virtue,
Thou Embla's daughter ?"
Beneath my wizard kisses
The flower is withered.
"Why battle for thy country,
Thou northern stripling ?"
His fathers' graves he barters
For gold and glitter.

A sage sat in the valley,
And thought profoundly,
As deep as Odin buried
The head of Mimer :
Before the plodder's fancy
I threw a vapour ;
What sport ! the fool denying
His Great Creator !

I loathe the poet's vision,
Valhalla's offspring,
Of fatherland and honour,
Of God and virtue.
I cannot drag the dreamer
From his blue heaven ;
But, while on earth they scorn him,
I am contented.

When Thor comes with his hammer,
I meet him smiling ;
I set my rocky helmet
Upon my forehead.
Though hero-hearts may struggle,
Though suns are gleaming,
Though good may be eternal,
Not dead is evil.

Esaias Tegner, Swedish poet (1782-1846)

From: "Specimens of Swedish and German poetry, tr. by J.E.D. Bethune.
Poems of E. Tegner. (...)", 1848.