Each phrase accustomed, each familiar tone,
Proclaim’d the wretch for daring treasons known.
With giant grasp he seiz’d the youth, whose mind
Nor hoped, nor sought to shun the death design’d;
“And comest thou then, young veteran in deceit,
To make thy work of perfidy complete,
To earn by Vasa’s death one title more,
And revel in another patriot’s gore?—
And think’st thou still to flatter and deceive,
By fables madness only can believe?—
Thy wealth is useless now—this ruined state
Has long in vain required her traitor’s fate;
She bids me, when I can, avenge her woes,
And wreak her wrongs where’er I meet her foes!
Brave Stenon quits the mansions of the dead,
And calls down lightning on his murderer’s head!
Confirm my deed, ye all-attesting skies!
Sweden! accept the grateful sacrifice
That stains thy thirsty soil!” He spoke, and raised
His long-tried sword; high o’er the youth it blazed—
“Accept the sacrifice!” with voice serene
The youth re-echoed, and unalter’d mien:
When lo! that practised arm, which once could rear
The ponderous mace, and couch the winged spear,
That arm, by some superior force unsteel’d,
Shook, and the sword dropp’d idly on the field.
Again he raised the point; again essay’d
To bury in his heart the reeking blade,
When lo! a sudden whirlwind scour’d the sky,
Seiz’d the descending falchion, and on high
In whirling eddies bore it, while around
Low thunders rattled thro’ the heavens profound.
Awhile in dumb suspense the hero stood;
Then sought the falchion thro’ the dusky wood,
Resolved the seeming wonder to explore,
And search the depths of fate’s mysterious lore.
His changing mien
the youth intent survey’d,
And slowly follow’d thro’ the winding shade.
[The Argument to the Fourth Book, of which this is only the commencement, will be found in the Notes.]
Observant of the deepening
maze of fate,
High on his throne of stars the Eternal sate:
Whence his broad eyes the changeful earth survey’d,
The rolling seas, the sun, the infernal shade,
And all his worlds. In one collected beam
Heaven’s various rays around his temples gleam,
Yet veil with dusky cloud the lustre pure,
Whose fulness no archangel can endure.
In bright obscurity he sits sublime,
And tranquil looks thro’ all the stream of time.