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Felicia Dorothea Hemans

(25 September 1793 – 16 May 1835 / Liverpool, England)

Valkyriur Song


The Sea-king woke from the troubled sleep
Of a vision-haunted night,
And he look'd from his bark o'er the gloomy deep,
And counted the streaks of light;
For the red sun's earliest ray
Was to rouse his bands that day,
To the stormy joy of fight!

But the dreams of rest were still on earth,
And the silent stars on high,
And there wav'd not the smoke of one cabin-hearth
'Midst the quiet of the sky;
And along the twilight bay
In their sleep the hamlets lay,
For they knew not the Norse were nigh!

The Sea-king look'd o'er the brooding wave:
He turn'd to the dusky shore,
And there seem'd, through the arch of a tide-worn cave,
A gleam, as of snow, to pour;
And forth, in watery light,
Mov'd phantoms, dimly white,
Which the garb of woman bore.

Slowly they mov'd to the billow side;
And the forms, as they grew more clear,
Seem'd each on a tall pale steed to ride,
And a shadowy crest to rear,
And to beckon with faint hand
From the dark and rocky strand,
And to point a gleaming spear.

Then a stillness on his spirit fell,
Before th' unearthly train,
For he knew Valhalla's daughters well,
The choosers of the slain!
And a sudden rising breeze
Bore across the moaning seas
To his ear their thrilling strain:

'There are songs in Odin's Hall,
For the brave, ere night to fall!
Doth the great sun hide his ray?-
He must bring a wrathful day!
Sleeps the falchion in its sheath?-
Swords must do the work of death!
Regner!-sea-king!-thee we call!
There is joy in Odin's Hall.

'At the feast and in the song,
Thou shalt be remember'd long!
By the green isles of the flood
Thou hast left thy track in blood!
On the earth and on the sea,
There are those will speak of thee!
'Tis enough-the war-gods call-
There is mead in Odin's Hall!

'Regner! tell thy fair-hair'd bride
She must slumber at thy side!
Tell the brother of thy breast
Ev'n for him thy grave hath rest!
Tell the raven-steed which bore thee,
When the wild wolf fled before thee,
He too with his lord must fall-
There is room in Odin's Hall!

'Lo! the mighty sun looks forth-
Arm! thou leader of the north!
Lo! the mists of twilight fly-
We must vanish, thou must die!
By the sword and by the spear,
By the hand that knows not fear,
Sea-king! nobly shalt thou fall!-
There is joy in Odin's Hall!'

There was arming heard on land and wave,
When afar the sunlight spread,
And the phantom forms of the tide-worn cave
With the mists of morning fled.
But at eve, the kingly hand
Of the battle-axe and brand,
Lay cold on a pile of dead!

Submitted: Thursday, April 08, 2010

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