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A Year of Poetry – Day 296

Loud sounded the music in Fridthjof’s hall,
His ancestors’ praises sang poets all.
O’erwhelmed with sadness
Is Fridthjof, he hears not their songs of gladness.

The earth has again donned her mantle of green
And dragon-ships breasting the waves are seen
But Fridthjof, pondering,
Is at the moon gazing or in the woods wandering.

How fortunate was he but lately, and glad,
For Helge and Halfdan as guests he had;
And with the brothers,
Came Ingeborg; Fridthjof scarce saw the others.

He sat by her side and her soft hand he pressed;
He felt in the pressure returned him thrice blest,
Enraptured gazing
On her whom he honored beyond all praising.

In glad conversation recalling their plays,
When life’s morning dew presaged bright future days
For memory truthful
Keeps life’s rosy gardens in noble minds youthful.

How fondly she greets him from dale and from park,
From loving names growing in White birchen bark,
From hills where flourish
The oaks which the ashes of heroes nourish.

“‘Tis never so pleasant at home as here,
For Halfdan is childish and Helge severe;
Tho kings attending
To nothing but prayers and praise unending.

“And no one (nor could she her blushes hide)
To whom my complainings I may confide.
The palace building,
How stifling compared with the groves of Hilding.

“The doves that we petted, and tamed and fed,

By hawks oft affrighted away have fled;
One pair remaineth,
Let Fridthjof take one, one Ing’borg retaineth.

“She’ll long like another her friend to see,—
And homeward returning will fly to me:
Your message, bind it
Beneath her flee pinion,—there none will find it.”

All day they sat whispering side by side,
Nor ceased the low murmur at eventide;
So breathe in whispers
The zephyrs through lindens at twilight vespers.

But now she has gone, and his joy forsooth
Has gone with the maiden. The blood of youth
His cheek is mounting,
He silently sighs while the past recounting.

His grief at her absence he sent by the dove,
Which joyous set out with its message of love;
But oh! new sorrow,
It stayed with its mate, nor returned on the morrow.

His conduct to Bjorn was displeasing; said he:
“What ails our young eagle, he seems to be
Like some shy sparrow,—
Has his breast or his pinion been pierced by an arrow?

“What wilt thou, Fridthjof? We have for need
The yellow bacon, and the good, brown mead;
And poets singing,
Their jubilant music forever ringing.

“The steeds impatiently stamp in the stalls,—
To the chase! to the chase! the falcon calls;
But Fridthjof retaineth
His gloom. He hunteth in clouds and complaineth.

“Ellide is restless upon the main,—
She frets and she chafes at her cable chain;
Lie still my treasure!
Our Fridthjof is peaceable. Strife is no pleasure.

“Who dies on his pallet,, is dead indeed;
By the lance, as did Odin, we’ll die, if need,—
And thus ensure us
A welcome to Hel, and heaven secure us.”

Then Fridthjof unloos’d the dragon,—and proud,
With full swelling canvas, the waves she plowed,
And swiftly over
The bay to the palace she bore the lover.

The kings were at Bele’s grave met that day,—
To administer justice and counsel weigh;
Fridthjof advances,—
His voice sounds afar like clashing lances.

“Ye kings, lovely Ing’borg, the people’s pride,
I choose, from all women, to be my bride;
The king intended
Our lives thus united in one should be blended.

“He reared us together in Hilding’s sight,—
As two forest saplings whose tops unite,—
A golden cover
Of lace bindeth Freyja the green tops over.

“My sire was a peasant, no earl nor king,—
Yet his memory will live while the poets sing;
In runic story
The grave-mounds are telling my ancestors’ glory.

“I could easily win me a crown and land,
But choose to remain on my native strand:
In battle wielding
My sword for the king, and the peasant shielding.

“On king Bele’s grave we are standing now,
He hears every word in the grave below,
With me he pleadeth,—
A dead father’s counsel a wise son heedeth.”

Then Helge uprose, and replied with scorn,
“Our sister was not for a peasant born,
To kings ’tis given
To strive for our Ingeborg, daughter of heaven.

“You boastfully call yourself chief of swords,—
Win men by violence, women bv words;
Boast not of slaughter,
For arrogance winneth not Odin’s daughter.

“My kingdom doth not seek protection from thee,
I shield it myself. My man wouldst thou be,—
A situation
Among my domestics befits thy station.”

“Thy servant! no, never!” was Fridthjof’s reply,
“My father had never a master—shall I?
From thy silver dwelling
Now fly, Angervadil, the insult repelling.”

In sunshine now glitters the blue steel blade,—
Displaying its letters in flaming red.
“My good sword loyal,
Thy lineage at least,” said Fridthjof, “is royal.

“And were it not now for the high grave’s renown,
Right here would I hew thee, swarthy king, down:
Yet will I teach thee
To come not again where my sword can reach thee.”

So saying, be severed at one fell blow
The gold shield of Helge which hung on a bough.
It fell asunder,—
Its clang on the grave-mound was echoed under.

“Well done, Angervadil. lie still and dream
Of high achievements,— meanwhile the gleam
Of rune-fires paling!
And now we’ll go home o’er the blue waters sailing.”

— Esaias Tegne’r, Fridthjof’s Courting

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