The Harvard Classics, Volume 49, Epic and Saga eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 228 pages of information about The Harvard Classics, Volume 49, Epic and Saga.

     Now was the Emperor’s vengeance done,
     And he called to the bishops of France anon
     With those of Bavaria and Allemaine. 
     “A noble captive is in my train. 
     She hath hearkened to sermon and homily,
     And a true believer in Christ will be;
     Baptize her so that her soul have grace.” 
     They say, “Let ladies of noble race,
     At her christening, be her sponsors vowed.” 
     And so there gathered a mighty crowd. 
     At the baths of Aix was the wondrous scene—­
     There baptized they the Spanish queen;
     Julienne they have named her name. 
     In faith and truth unto Christ she came.


     When the Emperor’s justice was satisfied,
     His mighty wrath did awhile subside. 
     Queen Bramimonde was a Christian made,
     The day passed on into night’s dark shade;
     As the king in his vaulted chamber lay,
     Saint Gabriel came from God to say,
     “Karl, thou shalt summon thine empire’s host,
     And march in haste to Bira’s coast;
     Unto Impha city relief to bring,
     And succor Vivian, the Christian king. 
     The heathens in siege have the town essayed
     And the shattered Christians invoke thine aid.” 
     Fain would Karl such task decline. 
     “God! what a life of toil is mine!”
     He wept; his hoary beard he wrung.

* * * * *

     So ends the lay Turoldus sung.





The vast and interesting epic literature of Ireland remained practically inaccessible to English readers till within the last sixty years.  In 1853, Nicholas O’Kearney published the Irish text and an English translation of “The Battle of Gabra,” and since that date the volume of printed texts and English versions has steadily increased, until now there lies open to the ordinary reader a very considerable mass of material illustrating the imaginative life of medieval Ireland.

Of these Irish epic tales, “The Destruction of Da Derga’s Hostel” is a specimen of remarkable beauty and power.  The primitive nature of the story is shown by the fact that the plot turns upon the disasters that follow on the violation of tabus or prohibitions often with a supernatural sanction, by the monstrous nature of many of the warriors, and by the utter absence of any attempt to rationalise or explain the beliefs implied or the marvels related in it.  The powers and achievements of the heroes are fantastic and extraordinary beyond description, and the natural and extra-natural constantly mingle; yet nowhere, does the narrator express surprise.  The technical method of the tale, too, is curiously and almost mechanically symmetrical, after the manner of savage art; and both description and narration are marked by a high degree of freshness and vividness.

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The Harvard Classics, Volume 49, Epic and Saga from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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