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~ Historical & Classical Poetry ~

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

Part Twelvth


O Chaos wild again
Reigned o'er Creation's fane.
Foul Loki's brood had given birth
To fear in Heav'n, and crime on Earth.
So deep had sunk corruption's stain, —
So far had spread dark sin and pain, —
That Death alone
Could e'er atone :
While thro' the flames of Surtur's sword
Alone could peace be yet restored.
When that dread World-blaze flared on high,
Mingling in ruin earth and sky,—
The lurid glow, still mounting higher,
Shone forth— a god-sent purifier.

'Twas past. The Fire-God's work was done.
Died down the flame;
Weak Nature's shame
Submerged in depths of shoreless sea;
The charred skies, the smoke-wreaths gray.
With battle's din, had passed away;
Day had begun !
All gloriously
Thro' Heaven's broad fields of trackless light,
With splendors bursting thro' the night,
The fairer daughter of the Sun
Rode forth on her celestial way
Round ether main,
Where starry isles strew thick the plain ;
One dazzling blaze
Of cloudless days
Flooded all worlds with ecstacy.
Stept forth the High and Mighty One
From mansions of Eternity,
Where rests for aye His golden throne;
To Whom Time was a moment's birth;
Strong with the strength of Heaven and Earth,
Victorious o'er sin and pain,
With wondrous majesty shall reign
in judgment's solemn panoply.

Then the Life-giving Spirit spoke;
And sudden broke
Up from the bosom of the sea,
Most beateously,
The vernal Earth, ambrosial ;
Fair as the smile of new-born light,
And fairer far than when at dawn
Of young Creation's early morn,
Up-springing from chaotic night.
She sang her praise to proud Valhal.

Raising on high her forehead fair
Crowned with sweet flowers of beauty rare,
She smiled up to the crystal arch,
Laughing with fountain's gurgling plash,
And mountain streamlet's joyous dash;
While shining planets far,
Moving in liquid harmony
Around the Throne of Him most High,
Pausing awhile in measured march,
Poured down a flood of softened beams,
C'aught from blest Gimli's golden gleams,
To greet their sister star.

Decked in bright robes of living green,
Enamelled o'er with flow'rets' sheen.
Sweet Nature stood restored.
Ripe unsown harvests clothed the hills;
The murmuring rills
Refreshing dews o'er meadows poured ;
The mantling vines, luxurious, hung
With purple treasures richly fraught ;
While sunbeams wrought,
The leafy bowers of shade among,
A network rare of gold with dusk ;
Wide gardens of sweet-smelling musk,
With jassamine and roses' scent,
To perfumed air more perfume lent ;
Thick woods, whose boughs of fragrance flung
Their spicy odors to the breeze.
Rose in fresh coolness o'er the vale,
And gently swayed to balmy gale ;
The bending trees,
With burnished fruit, were weighted deep;
While, from the steep,
Rivers of joy rolled down each dale;
On the sweet breeze that gently swelled
From groves of cassia and of palm,
Forth tuneful voices gaily welled
From feathered songsters of the air.
Whose gorgeous plumes, in colors bright,
Flashed jewelled gleams of rainbow light,
Mingled with roseate sunbeams fair.
Caressing breaths of heavenly balm
Young Nature lapped in blesséd calm ;
While throbbing pulses of the Farth
Beat high at her glad second birth.

Thro' all that doomful Day
When .Surtur's flames destroyed the world,
.And back to Chaos Nature hurled,
Two gentle beings lay
Concealed in Mimir's wood —
Hodminir's forest deep; — unscathed,
Unshaken by the tempest shock,
in dreamless slumbers sweetlv swathed,
They, all unharmed, passed 'neath the brand,
That burning sword which o'er all waved,
Devouring else, air, sea, and land, —
Alone, of all Creation, saved
From that resistless fire and flood
Of Time-destroying Ragnarock.

Unconscious thro' that hideous strife,
Awakened now to blissful life,
Guileless and lovely, they arose
In new-born strength and purity.
All passion passed, with care and woes;
Calmed now convulsed Creation's throes
To peaceful rest and surity.
Thro' all that night of horror dread
On dews of morning they were fed;
Now, lifting up their joyful eyes
In rapturous wonder and surprise,
They gazed around
From ether vault to teeming ground.
Above, the broad horizon's zone
With orient effulgence shone ;
Beneath, the bounteous Earth sent up
Unfading grass, and flow'ret's cup,
Filled with the wine of early dawn ;
With dew-drops gemmed, each emerald blade
Within its gleaming, liquid light
The image of the heavens displayed;
Eternal spring breathed thro' the morn,
And cast o'er all her halo bright.

So beauteous lay, — so tranquilly, —
The virgin daughter of the sea,
That the two souls who on her gazed,
Themselves most innocent and fair,
All perfect 'mid perfection rare,
By myriad blooming charms amazed,
Received with joy this dwelling place.
High altars to the gods they reared,
Pure Gimli's fane they loved and feared ;
So, blest and happy, chosen were
As parents of a nobler race.

Upon the perfume-breathing plain
Of Idavöller, where before
Stood Asgard's gold-roofed halls of yore,
The joyous Aesir met again ;
Conquerors from awful fight,
Grown pure thro' fire, grown strong with strife,
Passed thro' dread death to endless life,
As thro' dark bars to fane of light :
For Loki's reign was o'er.
No more
Should foul wrong, loathsome, side by side
With peace and purity abide.
Broken the power of Hel ;
Freed from her gloomy chain,
Baldur again
Rose, luminous, from realms of night.
All shapes of Ill, as rolled away
The Twilight gloom before his ray,
Back to their bonds appalléd fell :
On Vigrid's plain all evil died.
That great Atonement-Day,
In godlike love, thro' godlike might.
Led back the Aesir, purified,
To firmer thrones and brighter halls
Than e'er were found in Asgard's walls.
Love smiled thro' all the universe ;
Arm linked in arm, in sweet converse,
Baldur, with Hcedur seated nigh,
In perfect peace and harmony,
Glad greetings gave exultantly,
As up the heights to Ida's plain
The happy Aesir rose again,
In the clear dawn, triumphantly.

With crystal walls, gold-fretted roof,
A new-built Valhal, tempest-proof.
Towered aloft ;
Without, within, all rich and rare,
Steel to make strong, and jewels fair
All lavish spread
O'er pavement broad, and vaulted dome ;
While music soft
Floated, full voiced, high overhead,
Guiding the Aesir to their home.
Again the beakers deep brimmed o'er ;
Again the great gods' wondrous lore
And mighty deeds of Eld were sung ;
With runic rhyme
Of earlier time
Again the pillared Feast-Hall rung.
But now no Battle-Maidens stood
Round Odin's Throne, at hero-feast,
With gory armor, shields of blood ;
All useless now Valkyriar,
War brought forth no Einheriar,
For war had ceased.
High o'er young Earth and Ida's plain,
By Gimli's fane—
Close by the Throne of Him Most High—
With folded wings, stood Victory ;
While sweetly thro' each sounding sphere,
In tones that swelled on waves of air,
He spoke, commanding " Peace ! "
Gave chains to Death — to Pain, surcease.

Wide thrown, lo ! Gimli's golden gate
On most harmonious hinges swang,
As, from His Everlasting Seat,
Arrayed in majesty complete.
The Judge Eternal, glorious, came,
Weighing, supreme, all things create,
Empires of Earth, of Heaven, of Hell !
To farthest orbs His judgments rang.
As from His lips just sentence fell,
The fetid ranks of Sin shrank down
Beneath His frown,
Thro' radiant vault of ether sky,
To Hel's domain of misery,
On wings of hideous Nidhogg borne,
In Nastrond's fearful stream to lie,
'Neath serpents' fangs, in lurid flame,
By Fenrir torn,
Bound fast in adamantine chain
In frightful depths of endless pain ;—
Such was their doom of agony,
Of fear and shame.

More awful was their second doom.
Exiled forever from His face,
Removéd far in anguished gloom ;
To know, above on starry plain.
In glories shown fair Gimli's fane,
Where joy ecstatic bathed the good
In endless flood ;
\\'hile they, condemned, could gain no place
E'en at His feet —
Never the faintest ray might snatch,
Nor e'en the dimmest shadow catch
Of raptures sweet.
Seated, now, in Gimli's portal.
As before at Asgard's gate,
Fair Iduna, Maid Immortal,
Shall the purer Aesir wait.
Songs of joyance ever singing,
Skoals of triumph, sweet and clear,
Thro' the vaulted dome are ringing,
Echoing thro' crystal sphere.

"Passed is the gloom of night,
Finished the fearful fight,
Welcome, thrice welcome ! to glories on high.
For striving and sadness,
Now taste ye pure gladness ;
Lo ! thro' the radiant, orient sky,
From Gimli's wide portal,
What splendors immortal
Flash o'er your pathway, to Heav'n drawing nigh.
Joy, joy to you, blest ones !
Behold ! for you gold thrones
Fixed 'neath the dome of Eternity rise ;
The stars of the morning
Sing sweet in the dawning !
Rest after conflict, the soul's dearest prize.
Mount, then, ye heroes all,
Hasten to Gimli's hall ;
Near you, on golden wing, Victory flies ! "

Pausing awhile, more clear and high
Awoke the notes triumphantly.
On tuneful hinge, with music sweet,
Back roll the gates most glorious
The entering conquerors to greet.
Then, bending from his lofty seat,
The Judge Supreme,
With smiles that e'er through Gimli gleam,
Now welcomes these, victorious,
Led by Iduna to His feet.

Bowed low before th" Eternal I'hrone,
A loftier measure still she sings ;
Ten thousand harps with sounding strings
Ascribe all praise to Him alone,
His justice, might and wisdom own.
Thro' list'ning orbs the chorus rings ;
The hosts of Heav'n entrancéd stand
Still in their paths, while echoes grand
Roll in huge waves of ceaseless sound
Those countless burning worlds around.

Too high, too pure, that wondrous strain,
For Earth to catch e'en faint refrain :
Yet Still the exultant song rolls on
For victory won !
The Twilight passed — dread Ragnarock
Passed, with its furious battle shock —
All joyful beams, with brillant ray,
Regeneration's glorious Day !

Julia Clinton Jones (publ. 1878)