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hurrying on each other's heels, and while Hester thought "it is lay,” Janet saw not the awaiting gallows, felt not the approaching death-pangs for herself but only as Hester, as spectator, winced and drew back.
Then from out of that crowd of faces one singled itself and advanced—it was that of Lord Lovel, who looked past the two women as at some sight beyond, and even as he said, “You are saved !” saw only Madcap safe and clasped in her husband's
Swedish Poetry: Ancient and Moderu.
THE rich stores of genuine poetry to be found in the Swedish language are, for the most part, a sealed book to readers in this country, though some Scandinavian writers, such as Tegner, and Frederika Bremer, have been made familiar to us by the translations of Longfellow and the two Howitts. We in this and the following article to trace the progress of poetry in that Northern country from the first rude ballads of heathen times to the works of Runeberg and Mellin, only dead within the last few years.
Our sketches must necessarily be extremely brief and imperfect; still, if by them any interest is raised on the subject of Swedish literature, and any desire awakened in the minds of our readers to acquire the easy language, the object will be gained.
In an article by Herr Bosson, in “Läsning för Folket,” 1873, there is a most interesting sketch of Swedish ballad literature, historical and critical, illustrated by several examples, some of which contain the elements of so much genuine poetry, though clothed in the rugged dress of a high antiquity, that we wish a more skilled hand than our own had been employed in translating them. Want of space prevents our introducing more than a few of Herr Bosson's very lucid and interesting remarks on the subjects of these ballads. Some of them, he tells us, boast a very high antiquity, being the offspring of times when Christianity was a comparatively recent introduction. The struggle between heathenism and the Gospel was still remembered, and the old gods, though no longer worshipped, continued to survive in the popular imagination, degraded into such intermediate beings as necks or water-sprites, mermen, wood-goblins, fairies, giants, and dwarfs. The introduction of Christianity, or rather the Word of Christ, goin:
forth with its message of faith, hope, and charity, seems to be typified by “the dove" in the following ballad :
The dove on the lily doth rest his wing,
There's now no need for sadness;
"In Heav'n there's such wondrous gladness."
with me to Paradise, yeoman, this year?
In Heav'n there's such wondrous gladness!" Then answer made that
yeoman rich- This
I cannot go,
to Heaven I'd go, Though I am not yet in my grave, nor laid by sickness low.” Across the green and flowery field that lovely maid doth hie, And cries, “Oh, mother, make thou up a bed where I can lie ; “And smooth and braid my flowing locks, my sisters kind and dear ; And, father, take thy daughter's form, and place it on its bier." “Nay, sweet, my daughter, leave us not, for if thou here dost bide, Perchance, ere yet this year is out, thou'lt be a monarch's bride." “A monarch's bride must needs be blest, a monarch's crown is bright, But sweeter far it were to shine the spouse of Christ in light.” Then goes to God that maiden fair, and on her bier is laid, Her bower-maids fair and sisters fond her locks for burial braid. Then forth they bear her lifeless form from out the house of woe, And angel-forms come hovering by, and o'er them shed their glow.
The maiden sleeps in the dark, dark mould,
There's now no need for sadness,
In Heav'n there's such wondrous gladness. We have alluded to the ballads in which trolls and watersprites, and such fantastic beings, the degenerate representatives of the deities of the old Norse Pantheon, are introduced. The
following is one of the numerous ones connected with “Neckan," i.e., the “Neck," or spirit of the water. A certain “Herr Peter has his bride stolen from him by Neckan on the very day of their wedding. He in no way loses heart, but resolves to win. her back by the music of his harp. The ballad says
His little foot-pages, Lord Peter the bold
And the fair listening maiden brings with him to land. In many of these ballads the course of the narrative is frequently interrupted by a kind of refrain like
The sun shines fair on Carlisle wall, in Sir Walter Scott's poem; a refrain which has no especial meaning in itself, but as helping rhyme and rhythm, and furnishing a burden to the song. Under this category come the lines occurring in the first ballad we have given
There's now no need for sadness, and
In Heav'n there's such wondrous gladness. Still more characteristic of this class of poetry is the line, “My care far hath travelled," literally, “My sorrow falls wide" (Min sorg falla wida), in the ballad we are about to quote. Herr Silfverdal, the hero of it, has been betrothed in infancy by his father to the daughter of an old companion in arms. He is never told the name and parentage of the lady, though of the cause of this information being withheld we are left ignorant. But when upon his death-bed the elder Silfverdal gives his son the half of a golden girdle, telling him that the other half is in the keeping of his betrothed. He then dies, and the young man wanders about the world vainly seeking to find his bride. In despair he betakes himself to his father's grave, and passionately entreats the spirit of the departed to guide him in his
quest. The answer he receives is, that she whom he seeks is a king's daughter, but that he will have to search for her for two years. Accordingly, forth he fares with the half of the red-gold girdle in his hand, and the ballad goes on to say
Lord Silverdale saddles his good horse gray,
My care far hath travelled.
” “No land is this, Earl Silverdale ; this place is but an isle. “Within this isle thou soon shalt see thy love so fair and true.” Then straight the ring Earl Silverdale from off his finger drew. “Nay, give us not thy gold and gems; nay, keep them for thys We'll show the way thou hast to take for kindness, not for pelf.” Then said the good Earl Silverdale, “ When here as king I'm crow
owned, I'll make you seven the greatest lords that stand my
throne around.” “No care have we for worldly rank,” made answer all that seven; “For we are no mere mortal youths, but angels sent from Heaven.” Then rode Earl Silverdale away, and saw that seven no more, But reached the king's abode, and met his daughter by the door. Then frank went up that noble knight - without ado said he, "Oh, lovely maiden, wilt thou deign, my love, my spouse to be?” " Nay, that I cannot do, Sir Knight---nay, that I cannot be; My father pledged my hand when I had seen of years but three.” Then forth the red-gold girdle rich the gallant knight displayed, And silent placed it in the hand of that fair high-born maid.
The Princess took it, and thus spake she-
My care far hath travelled. Some of the earliest forms of ballad current in Swedenfor instance, the lyrical poems entitled “Omquäds,” those in which every strophe or verse repeats the same phrase—were highly mystical. Each of the frequently repeated phrases or expressions formed the emblem or keynote to some inner thoughtas, for instance, the constant reiteration of the words “ summer, "midsummertide,”—“summer, when all the small birds do sing," indicates the summer of the soul, when all is brightness within, and the fair flowers of fancy bloom in the heart. One of these Omquäds, called “ The Song of Staffan,” relating to the early