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~ Historical & Classical Poetry ~

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

Part Third

Einheriar´s Song

Feasting sit the mighty Aesir
In Valhalla's golden splendor :
There, on snow-white arm reclining,
Garlands gay is Freya twining ;
" Mercy," singeth Baldur bright,
" Is the ornament of might.
As wreaths bedeck the victor's shield,
So Mercy crowns him on the field."

Throned high is Odin great ;
Well he loves the Hero-feast :
Wounds adorn each warrior guest.
In that radiant hall of state
Decorated seats are set,
Still with gore the swords are wet.
No craven there
To sit may dare !
In the brightness of the gods,
In those blessed, grand abodes,
Heroes feast, on couches lying,
Brave in life, most blest in dying.

Close beside him, in the Feast-hall,
Stand the beauteous Maids of War,
Who from the stricken field shall call
Bands of strong Einheriar.
Grave they wait, with bright shields gleaming,
Thoughtful, brazen spears in hand,
Of those chosen Norse-sons dreaming,
Soon to feast with Odin's band.
Whispered Odin, " Soon the gray Wolf
In Valhalla shows his face ;
Who can tell how soon in Vingolf
He shall ravage Asgard's race ?
Still seats are empty. Go ye forth
Thro' the kingdoms of the North ;
Bold warriors who have bravely fought,
Mighty deeds have nobly wrought,
Choose ye from the misty Norse-land,
Allies, at our Throne to stand ;
So, when fierce Fenrir comes in might.
They may aid us in the fight.
Heroic deed claims god-like meed,
Of valiant hearts have Aesir need.
Daughters of War !
Scent ye afar
Where red battle doth rage.
The steam of the carnage.
Who on the death-plain
Hath striven to gain
Peace for his country, and fame for his gods,
Bring here on your shields to blessed abodes,
E'er in victorious festival
To sup with us in high Valhal."

Swift thro' the startled air,
Like lightning flashing,
Thro' war-clouds dashing,
Speed the Valkyriar !
Brazen armor gleaming bright,
Glittering far with Glory's light,
Skuld, their leader, upward lifting
Pointing finger, where, thro' rifting
Crimson clouds, the path is lying
To the gods in glorious dying.

Louder the battle roars !
As rain the life-blood pours !
Shivers the barbed lance !
Sharp swords like meteors glance!
Each fiery heart
Pierced by Death's dart
Exults with sluggish life to part !
Fiercer yet see warriors battling,
Twanging bows and quivers rattling ;
Thro' the field, mad chargers rushing,
Ruthless hoofs the fallen crushing ;
O'er red earth, with strong spears crashing,
Gold haired sons of vahant sires
Like their northern blasts are dashing;
In each breast, Berserker fires

Spring hot to life
At sound of strife,
Smell of blood their sinews bracing,
Film of death from glazed eyes chasing ;
Leaping mad thro' hostile bands,
Seizing victory with fierce hands.
Clutching in wild grasp, the spear
Which shall wide their heart-strings tear ;
Triumphant, feel the welcome wound
That, sure, the seat of life has found ;
Falling on the field of slaughter
Wildly screaming joyful laughter.
Exultant, that in Saga's song,
Undying, should their deeds belong ;
Impatient, hail the maids who bear
Their souls aloft on blood-shields rare.

Downward thro' gore and carnage swooping,
Valkyriar, o'er the death-field stooping, —
The field of fame, —
In Odin's name,
Choose from the slain
On whom the hero-mark is plain.
On their brows press icy kisses,
Hold them close in cold embraces,
Snatch them from the arms of Death,
Woo back life with Glory's breath.
Back streams their golden hair
As thro' the trembling air.
Up to the Aesir,
The bold Valkyriar
On gory shields their spirits bear.
Heimdal waits at Asgard's portal,
Leads to Idun, Maid Immortal.
Gaping wounds are bound by Eyra
Ee'r they feast with blue-eyed Freya.
Then, loud the song of triumph rings, —
'Tis Bragi, lo ! the rune who sings !

Bragi´s Song

"Skoal to the Heroes, from battle returning !
Loud sung for aye be each death-dealing blow ;
With scorning, to Hel, the craven ones spurning,
Shield-bearing Valkyrs exultantly go.
Agape are the wounds, proud crimson marks glowing,
Gashes of glory on Heroes who die ;
Precious to Odin, the purple tide flowing,
Each red drop, a wine-draught, runes ev'ry sigh.
Fires of Conquest, the dun skies are lighting,
Vidar is chaunting victorious strain ;
Hail to our Feast-Hall ! great Heimdal, inviting,
On Gjallar-horn sounds triumphant refrain.
Mercy and Might round each bold heart are twining,
Adorning each soul like shield-graven blooms ;
Gondula and Skuld, with Rota, combining.
Bear them to Vingolf, thro' Death's welcome glooms.
Odin awaits them, in splendor proud sitting.
There gather the gods in high festival ;
Vidar and Thor shall receive as befitting
Einheriar led to golden Valhal.
Radiant couches for them are preparing.
Banquets that strengthen the warrior-soul ;
Maidens alluring full beakers are bearing, —
Love mingling with wine in o'erflowing bowl.
Softly recline they on warm bosoms, thrilling
Every quick pulse of the swift throbbing heart ;
Fulla for Friga their mead-cups high filling, —
Joy is imperfect where Love hath no part.
Safely surrounded by Passion's sweet longing,
Feast they and rest they till dawning of light ;
Pleasure and banquet to Valor belonging,
Feasting shall strengthen strong sinews of Might.
Then when the car of fair Day is uprising
From dense murky depths of cloud-land below.
On Idavöld's plain, in warfare surprising,
Till eve shall they strive, in prowess shall grow.
So, when the gray wolf to Asgard be coming,
And Jötun hosts rage in wild tempest shock,
For Odin they'll fight, in Day of dark dooming,
And battle for him, in dread Ragnarock."

So Bragi ends ; thro' list'ning air
Rise, swell, and die, the rune-notes rare.
Around the Hall, on seats of gold
Recline at ease Einheriar bold.
Bright maids, caressing, pour the mead,
While Saga chaunts each warlike deed ;
On Bragi's breast, Iduna leans,
Fair Gerda's blush thro' Valhal gleams,
And Friga welcomes to her side
The Hero-band, great Odin's pride.
In joy and feasting, passes night ;
Their souls, with dawn rejoice in fight ;
They, blest, shall dwell in fair abodes
Till comes the Twilight of the gods ;
'Gainst Hela, and 'her hosts of Dead,
They then shall strive in battle dread.

Julia Clinton Jones, 1878