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~ Historical & Classical Poetry ~

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

Part Tenth

Loki´s Punishment

Alone, forlorn,
Apart withdrawn,
An outcast, Loki leant
'Gainst coral feast-seat in the aisle;
On traitor shameless each the while
Reproachful glances bent.

" Now, wherefore art thou hither come,
An unsought guest, in Aegir's home ?
At festival
In banquet hall,
For thee, behold ! no seat is set ;
No flowing mead thy lips shall wet.
Depart ! thou scourge of Asgard's race !
Among the gods thou hast no place."

'Twas Bragi spoke;
From Loki broke
Resounding words of insult vile;
" Confusion on all
Within this hall !
Death to the Aesir !
Ruin to Aegir !
May flames of Surtur
Destroy ye all !
Empty your pleasures,
Worthless your treasures ;
In a brief while
Cometh your fall.
Even now Hela
Glares at Valhalla !
Never, ye gods ! again
Shall meet your festive train
At banquet high.
Lo ! darkened sky
Attests my power.
In woeful hour
Your Baldur fell thro' subtle art ;
I plucked the dart
That, surely, pierced the Sun-God's heart.
When Nature wept,
As Thokt, I kept
My tearless watch, lest he
From Hela's kingdom freed might be.
From earliest dawn
Of Time's young morn.
On Asgard's hill,
My steadfast will
Opposed you in each high endeavor ;
Fair tho' I seemed, —
Friend, as ye deemed, —
A double game I played you ever.
Triumphant, tho' I now give way ;
The stronger ye
This time may be.
Soon, Aesir ! comes the woeful day !
Dread Ragnarock ye none can stay ;
Then my fierce power shall Valhal know.
And Asgard feel me open foe.

" Tremble, ye Aesir !
And you, King Aegir !
Hark how fierce Fenrir
Howls loud and long !
Now, Odin ! speed
Your maids of war;
For in Valhalla
Soon is there need
Of brave and strong
Einheriar !
" Ye fair-faced goddesses ! Not one,
By Beauty's light or Wisdom's ray.
Can turn away
The woe begun.
Soon, ravening, shall
Thro' proud Valhal,
And bright Vingolf,
Rage the Gray Wolf!
No seat have I, as welcome guest.
At this your feast !
Where horrors dwell
In halls of Hel,
Behold ! a mightier feast is spread, —
Meats that nourish,
And cause to flourish
The ghastly armies of the Dead.
Above, loud crows your golden Cock !
Once hath the sound
Echoed around !
The third time heralds Ragnarock !"

Scoffing he spoke, and sneering gazed
On throng assembled; — mute, amazed.
They, listening, stood an instant's space.
Then wrath swelled high.
Darkened each eye.
Convulsed each face !
Stung by insulting taunt.
Enraged at odious vaunt,
Quick to his feet each, furious, sprang;
Thro' dome and arch deep curses rang !
When, suddenly, a peal of thunder
Shivered the crystal gulfs asunder;
With lurid ray, fierce lightnings played,
Reflected bright
In diamond light.
'Gainst billowy wall
Of banquet hall,
While winds and waves loud tumult made.
Then quaked the undulating floor,
Quivered each amber lamp,
Each wreath of sea-weed damp ;
Rocked the translucent dome ;
Deep aisles were flecked with foam,
It was the mighty Thunderer, Thor !

Swift drawing nigh
- With flashing eye
And flaming beard,
Wroth, mutt'ring low
'Neath bended brow,
He raised great Mjölnir high;
On traitor vile he glared.
Before the dread
Avenger's tread
Back Loki shrank,
'Mid steel swords' clank,
And, craven ! trembling fled !

Mad for vengeance, wild with hate.
Forth the gods, infuriate,
From gay halls in coral caves,
Rushed thro' surging, swelling waves !
In fearful race,
To Loki chase
The wrathful Aesir gave !
Now, thro' boiling whirlpools darting,
Hissing depths, asunder partuig;
Now, the foaming billows breasting.
Never for a moment resting ;
Until, wearied out at length,
Gathering all his failing strength
Himself to save.
The traitor, to a salmon changing, —
Slipping, sliding,
Doubling, gliding,
Beneath a roaring cascade ranging,
Halted for an instant's space.

In that instant's pause for breathing, —
Waters 'round him frothing, seething,
Sides with fear and flight fast heaving, —
His fierce enemies perceiving
Golden scales thro' foam-clouds flashing,
On him dashing,
Seized and bound him, firmly lashing
Struggling form with horrid coils.
Fettered by the entrails torn
From his own son, Jötun-born,
Laid he, hopeless, in the toils ;
While the Aesir, mocking, taunting,
Chained him — powerless and panting, —
Fast to a triple-pointed rock.
Till freed by final battle-shock.
Ere they left him in his anguish.
O'er his treacherous brow ungrateful,
Skadi hung a serpent hateful,
Venom-drops for aye distilling.
Every nerve with torment filling ;
Thus shall he in horror languish.

By him, still unwearied kneeling,
Sigyn at his tortured side, —
Faithful wife ! with beaker stealing
Drops of venom as they fall, —
Agonizing poison all !
Sleepless, changeless, ever dealing
Comfort, will she still abide;
Only when the cup's o'erflowing
Must fresh pain and smarting cause,
Swift, to void the beaker going,
Shall she in her watching pause.
Then doth Loki
Loudly cry ;
Shrieks of terror,
Groans of horror,
Breaking forth in thunder peals !
With his writhings scared Earth reels.
Trembling and quaking,
E'en high Heav'n shaking !
So wears he out his awful doom,
Until dread Ragnarock be come.

Julia Clinton Jones, 1878