James Elroy Flecker


Hialmar speaks to the Raven: From Leconte de Lisle


Night on the bloodstained snow: the wind is chill:
And there a thousand tombless warriors lie,
Grasping their swords, wild-featured. All are still.
Above them the black ravens wheel and cry.
A brilliant moon sends her cold light abroad:
Hialmar arises from the reddened slain,
Heavily leaning on his broken sword,
And bleeding from his side the battle-rain.

'Hail to you all: is there one breath still drawn
Among those fierce and fearless lads who played
So merrily, and sang as sweet in the dawn
As thrushes singing in the bramble shade?

'They have no word to say: my helm's unbound,
My breastplate by the axe unriveted:
Blood's on my eyes; I hear a spreading sound,
Like waves or wolves that clamour in my head.

'Eater of men, old raven, come this way,
And with thine iron bill open my breast:
To-morrow find us where we lie to-day,
And bear my heart to her that I love best.

'Through Upsala, where drink the Jarls and sing,
And clash their golden bowls in company,
Bird of the moor, carry on tireless wing
To Ylmer's daughter there the heart of me.

'And thou shalt see her standing straight and pale,
High pedestalled on some rook-haunted tower:
She has two earrings, silver and vermeil,
And eyes like stars that shine in sunset hour.

'Tell her my love, thou dark bird ominous;
Give her my heart, no bloodless heart and vile
But red compact and strong, O raven. Thus
Shall Ylmer's daughter greet thee with a smile.

'Now let my life from twenty deep wounds flow,
And wolves may drink the blood. My time is done.
Young, brave and spotless, I rejoice to go
And sit where all the Gods are, in the sun.'

Submitted: Thursday, April 15, 2010

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