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And no more their lamentation might the maidens hold aback,
But the sound of their bitter mourning was as if red-handed wrack
Ban wild in the Burg of the Niblungs, and the fire were master of all.
Then the voice of Gunnar, the war-king, cried out o'er the weeping hall: 160
'' Wail on, O women forsaken, for the mightiest woman born!
Now the hearth is cold and joyless, and the waste bed lieth forlorn.
Wail on, but amid your weeping lay hand to the glorious dead,
That not alone for an hour may lie Queen Brynhild's head:
For here have been heavy tidings, and the Mightiest under shield
Is laid on the bale high-builded in the Niblungs' hallowed field.
Fare forth! for he abideth, and we do Allfather wrong
If the shining Valhall's pavement await their feet o'erlong."
Then they took the body of Brynhild in the raiment that she wore,
And out through the gate of the Niblungs the holy corpse they bore, 170
And thence forth to the mead of the people, and the high-built shielded bale:
Then afresh in the open meadows breaks forth the women's wail
When they see the bed of Sigurd and the glittering of his gear;
And fresh is the wail of the people as Brynhild draweth anear,
And the tidings go before her that for twain the bale is built,
That for twain is the oak-wood shielded and the pleasant odours spilt.
There is peace on the bale of Sigurd, and
the gods look down from on high, And they see the lids of the Volsung close shut
against the sky, As he lies with his shield beside him in the
hauberk all of gold, That has not its like in the heavens, nor has
earth of its fellow told; ISO And forth from the Helm of Aweingn are the
sunbeams flashing wide,
14 Or the Helm of Dread, won by the slaying of I he dragon Fafnlr.
And the sheathed Wrath of Sigurd lies still
by his mighty side. Then cometh an elder of days, a man of the
ancient times, Who is long past sorrow and joy, and the
steep of the bale he climbs; And he kneeleth down by Sigurd, and bareth
the Wrath to the sun That the beams are gathered about it, and
from hilt to blood-point run, And wide o 'er the plain of the Niblungs doth
the Light of the Branstock glare, Till the wondering mountain-shepherds on that
star of noontide stare, And fear for many an evil; but the ancient
man stands still With the war-flame on his shoulder, nor thinks
of good or of ill, 190 Till the feet of Brynhild's bearers on the topmost bale are laid. And her bed is (light11 by Sigurd's; then he
sinks the pale white blade And lays it 'twixt the sleepers, and leaves them
there alone— He, the last that shall ever behold them,—and
his days are well-nigh done.
Then is silence over the plain; in the noon
shine the torches pale, As the best of the Niblung Earl-folk'" bear fire
to the builded bale: Then a wind in the we3t ariseth, and the white
flames leap on high, And with one voice crieth the people a great
and mighty cry, And men cast up hands to the Heavens, and
pray without a word, As they that have seen God's visage, and the
voice of the Father have heard. 200
They are gone—the lovely, the mighty, the
hope of the ancient Earth: It shall labour and bear the burden as before
that day of their birth; It shall groan in its blind abiding for the day
that Sigurd hath sped, And the hour that Brynhild hath hastened, and
the dawn that waketh the dead; It shall yearn, and be oft-times holpen, and
forget their deeds no more, Till the new sun beams on Baldur, and the
happy sealess shore.*
10 The nobles, or warriors, as opposed to the churls.
* Alluding to the new heaven, that is to arise after the Twilight of the Gods, when Raldur the Good shall be released from Hel and I reign in the seats of the old gods.
THE VOICE OF TOIL,*!
I heard men saying, Leave hope and praying,
When Earth was younger mid toil and hunger,
Go read in story their deeds and glory,
Where fast and faster our iron master,
Where home is a hovel and dull we grovel,
Where mirth is crime, and love a snare.
Who now shall lead us, what god shall heed us
I heard men saying, Leave tears and praying,
When day breaks over dreams and sleep t
Come, shoulder to shoulder ere the world grows older!
Help lies in nought but thee and me;
Hope is before us, the long years that bore us
Bore leaders more than men may be. 32
Let dead hearts tarry and trade and marry,
Come, shoulder to shoulder ere earth grows older!
The Cause spreads over land and sea;
• This poem, now printed In Morris's Poems by thr Woii, was first published. In 1885, In a pamphlet called Chants for Hoetalist*. "The Cans,'" mentioned in the last stanza Is of rour«i> Socialism, in which Morris was niurh Interested In his later life.
ALGERNON CHARLES SWIN-
When the hounds of spring are on winter's traces,
The mother of monthat in meadow or plain Fills the shadows and windy places
With lisp of leaves and ripple of rain; And the brown bright nightingale amorous Is half assuaged for Itylus,1 For the Thracian ships and the foreign faces,
The tongueless vigil, and all the pain. 8
Come with bows bent and with emptying of quivers,
Maiden most perfect, lady of light. With a noise of winds and many rivers,
With a clamour of waters, and with might; Bind on thy sandals, 0 thou most fleet. Over the splendour and speed of thy feet; For the faint cast quickens, the wan west shivers,
Round the feet of the day and the feet of the night. 16
Where shall we find her, how shall we sing to her,
Fold our hands round her knees, and cling? O that man's heart were as fire and could
spring to her, Fire, or the strength of the streams that
For the stars and the winds are unto her
For winter's rains and ruins are over,
And all the season of snows and sins; The days dividing lover and lover,
The light that loses, the night that wins; And time remembered is grief forgotten, And frosts are slain and flowers begotten, And in green underwood and cover
Blossom by blossom the spring begins. 32
The full streams feed on flower of rushes,
! Artemis, or Diana, the goddess of the moon; also the goddess of the bunt—see next stanza. Compare Shelley's Prnmctheim fnftoimrf. It, '-•07.
i Alluding to the old Thracian legend "t Philomela and Procne.
The faint fresh flame of the young year flushes
From leaf to flower and flower to fruit;
The chestnut-husk at the chestnut-root. 40
And Pan by noon and Bacchus by night, fleeter of foot than the fleet-foot kid, Follows with dancing and fills with delight
The Maenad and the Bassarid;2
The ivy falls with the Bacchanal's hair
The wild vine slipping down leaves bare
The wild vine slips with the weight of its leaves,
But the berried ivy catches and cleaves
Let us go hence, my songs; she will not hear.
She would not hear. 7
Let us rise up and part; she will not know.
There is no help, for all these things are so,
She would not know. 14
Let us go home and hence; she will not weep. We gave love many dreams and days to keep, Flowers without scent, and fruits that would not grow,
Saying, "If thou wilt, thrust in thy sickle and reap.''
B Names for bacchanals, or frenzied votaries of Bacchus.
: Thnt 1r. pastoral, out-of-door music takes the place of indoor, festal sons: fan supplants Apollo. An out is a shepherd's pipe made of iin oat stem.
All is reaped now; no grass is left to mow; And we that sowed, though all we fell on sleep,
She would not weep. -1
Let us go hence and rest; she will not love.
Come hence, let be, lie still; it is enough.
Lot us give up, go down; she will not care.
Though all those waves went over us, and drove
Let us go hence, go hence; she will not see.
Will turn a little toward us, sighing; but we,
not been there. Xay, and though all men seeing had pity on me. She would not see. 42
HYMN TO PROSERPINE*
(after The Proclamation In Rome Ok The Christian Faith)
I have lived long enough, having seen one thing, that love hath an end;
Goddess and maiden and queen, be near me now and befriend.
Thou art more than the day or the morrow, tho seasons that laugh or that weep;
For these give joy and sorrow; but thou, Proserpina, sleep.
Sweet is the treading of wine, and sweet the feet of the dove;
♦ Proserpine, or Proserpina, was the Roman goddess of death and the under world. The Latin motto set before this poem means "Thou hast conquered, Oalllean." The words are traditionally ascribed to the dying Kmperor Julian—Julian "the apostate," who had been brought up as a Christian but who reverted to paganism after his accession to the throne. The poem attempts to portray the sentiment of expiring paganism: Swinburne called It "the death-sons of spiritual decadence."
But a goodlier gift is thine than foam of the grapes or love.
Yea, is not even Apollo, with hair and harpstring of gold,
A bitter God to follow, a beautiful God to behold!
I am sick of singing; the bays burn deep and chafe; I am fain
To rest a little from praise and grievous pleasure and pain. 10
For the Gods we know not of, who give us our daily breath,
We know they are cruel as love or life, and lovely as death.
0 Gods dethroned and deceased, cast forth,
wiped out in a dayl
From your wrath is the world released, redeemed from your chains, men say.
New Gods are crowned in the city, their flowers have broken your rods;
They are merciful, clothed with pity, the young compassionate Gods.
But for me their new device is barren, the days are bare;
Things long past over suffice, and men forgotten that were.
Time and the Gods are at strife: ye dwell in the midst thereof,
Draining a little life from the barren breasts of love. 20
1 say to you, cease, take rest; yea, I say to you
all, be at peace, Till the bitter milk of her breast and the barren bosom shall cease. Wilt thou yet take all, Galilean! but these thou
shalt not take, The laurel, the palms, and the pecan, the breasts
of the nymphs in the brake; Breasts more soft than a dove's, that tremble
with tenderer breath; And all the wings of the Loves, and all the joy
before death; All the feet of the hours that sound as a single
Dropped and deep in the flowers, with strings
that flicker like fire. More than these wilt thou give, things fairer
than all these things! Nay, for a little we live, and life hath mutable
wings. 30 A little while and we die; shall life not thrive
as it may!
For no man under the sky lives twice, outliving his day.
And grief is a grievous thing, and a man hath enough of his tears:
Why should he labour and bring fresh grief to
blacken his years? Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean; the world
has grown gray from thy breath; We have drunken of things Lethean, and fed
on the fulness of death. Laurel is green for a season, and love is sweet
for a day;
But love grows bitter with treason, and laurel
outlives not May. Sleep, shall we sleep after all? for the world
is not sweet in the end; For the old faiths loosen and fall, the new
years ruin and rend. 40 Fate is a sea without shore, and the soul is a
rock that abides; But her ears are vexed with the roar and her
face with the foam of the tides. O lips that the live blood faints in, the leavings
of racks and rods!
0 ghastly glories of saints, dead limbs of gib
Though all men abase them before you in spirit, and all knees bend,
1 kneel not, neither adore you, but standing,
look to the end. All delicate days and pleasant, all spirits and
sorrows are cast Far out with the foam of the present that
sweeps to the surf of the past; Where beyond the extreme sea-wall, and between the remote sea-gates, Waste water washes, and tall shij.^ founder.
and deep death waits: BO Where, mighty with deepening sides, clad about
with the seas as with wings, And impelled of invisible tides, and fulfilled
of unspeakable things, White-eyed and poisonous-finned, shark-toothed
and serpentine-curled, Rolls, under the whitening wind of the future,
the wave of the world. The depths stand naked in sunder behind it,
the storms flee away; In the hollow before it the thunder is taken
and snared as a prey; In its sides is the north-wind bound; and its
salt is of all men's tears; With light of ruin, and sound of changes, and
pulse of years; With travail of day after day, and with trouble
of hour upon hour; And bitter as blood is the spray; and the
crests are as fangs that devour: 60 And its vapour and storm of its steam as the
sighing of spirits to be;
And its noise as the noise in a dream; and its
depth as the roots of the sea: And the height of its heads as the height of the
utmost stars of the air; And the ends of the earth at the might thereof
tremble, and time is made bare. Will ye bridle the deep sea with reins, will ye
chasten the high sea with rodsf Will ye take her to chain her with chains, who
is older than all ye Gods! All ye as a wind shall go by, as a fire shall ye
pass and be past; Ye are Gods, and behold ye shall die, and the
waves be upon you at last. In the darkness of time, in the deeps of the
years, in the changes of things, Ye shall sleep as a slain man sleeps, and the
world shall forget you for kings. 70 Though the feet of thine high priests tread
where thy lords and our forefathers trod, Though these that were Gods are dead, and
thou being dead art a God, Though before thee the throned Cytherean be
fallen, and hidden her head, Yet thy kingdom shall pass, Galilean, thy dead
shall go down to thee dead. Of the maiden thy mother, men sing as a goddess with grace clad around; Thou art throned where another was king;
where another was queen she is crowned. Yea, once we had sight of another; but now
she is queen, say these. Not as thine, not as thine was our mother, a
blossom of flowering seas,* Clothed round with the world's desire as with
raiment, and fair as the foam, And fleeter than kindled fire, and a goddess
and mother of Borne. 80 For thine came pale and a maiden, and sister
to sorrow; but ours, Her deep hair heavily laden with odour and
colour of flowers, White rose of the rose-white water, a silver
splendour, a flame, Bent down unto us that besought her, and earth
grew sweet with her name. For thine came weeping, a slave among slaves,
and rejected; but she Came flushed from the full-flushed wave, and
imperial, her foot on the sea, And the wonderful waters knew her, the winds
and the viewless ways, And the roses grew rosier, and bluer the seablue stream of the bays. Ye are fallen, our lords, by what token? we wist
that ye should not fall.
l Venus, horn of the foam.
Ye were all so fair that are broken; and one more fair than ye all. 90
But I turn to her still, having seen she shall surely abide in the end;
Goddess and maiden and queen, be near me now and befriend.
0 daughter of earth, of my mother, her crown
and blossom of birth,
1 am also, I also, thy brother; I go as I came
In the night where thine eyes are as moons are
in heaven, the night where thou art, Where the silence is more than all tunes, where
sleep overflows from the heart, Where the poppies are sweet as the rose in our
world, and the red rose is white, And the wind falls faint as it blows with the
fume of the flowers of the night, And the murmur of spirits that sleep in the
shadow of Gods from afar Grows dim in thine ears and deep as the deep
dim soul of a star, 100 In the sweet low light of thy face, under heavens untrod by the sun, Let my soul with their souls find place, and
forget what is done and undone. Thou art more than the Gods who number the
days of our temporal breath; For these give labour and slumber; but thou,
Proserpina, death. Therefore now at thy feet I abide for a season
in silence. I know
1 shall die as my fathers died, and sleep as they
sleep; even so. For the glass of the years is brittle wherein we
gaze for a span; A little soul for a little bears up this corpse
which is man.2 So long I endure, no longer; and laugh not
again, neither weep. For there is no God found stronger than death;
and death is a sleep. 110
PBELUDE OF SONGS BEFOBE SUNBISE*
Between the green bud and the red
2 Adapted from Eplctetus.
• Swinburne's Bonos Before Sunrtae, published In 1871, and dedicated to Joseph Mazzinl. the Italian patriot, are a noteworthy contribution to the jroetry of political and religions freedom. Tbey were mainly Inspired by the long struggle for a free and united Italy. The partial union of Italy, effected In 1861, was completed by the occupation of Rome In 1870. but the government was monarchical, and not republican, as the more ardent revolutionists had hoped.