Five hundred Danish
youths this post maintain’d,
To fight alike, and hardy ravage train’d;
Prepared the fiercest mountain-host to dare,
And dash from many a battlement the war;
Prepared to hurl the whizzing lance, to pour
The missive flame, or dart the arrowy shower:
Young Eric the selected squadron led,
Count Bernheim’s son, in camps and contests bred;
A fiery spirit, never at a stay,
With martial projects teeming night and day;
Alike by terror, pity, and remorse
Untouch’d, he held, thro’ crimes, his fearless course;
Proud, like his king, to conquer and oppress,
In action rash, and haughty with success.
While thus deep
slumber half the troop oppress’d,
And ev’n the waking found a pause of rest,
The joyful demon, with malignant look,
O’er all the host his sable mantle shook.
Instant before the slumbering soldier’s eyes
Dreams of past joy and sweet illusions rise:
And he whose ardent spirit late engaged
In airy wars, and bloodless battles waged,
A mountain-chief in every vision slew,
And on the yielding rear still foremost flew,
Now, sudden, sees each fading phantom changed,
Feels every care and thought from war estranged,
Seeks the lost quiet of his native shore,
And mourns the lengthen’d toils, he gloried in before:
Burns with impetuous pleasure’s feverish fire,
Or trembles in the tumult of desire.
The drowsy watch a sullen vigil keep,
And scarce oppose the invading hand of sleep.
Ev’n Eric, watchful still, and us’d to bear
His destined weight of military care,
Ev’n Eric feels his soul’s wild tumult fled,
And bows to softer sleep his restless head.
Before him visionary glories roll,
And fancied victories dilate his soul.
Here, to complete
his task, low-hovering stay’d
The fiend; while, mingling with the nightly shade,
Intent his generous purpose to fulfil, }
The radiant herald of th’ eternal will }
Thro’ the wide province flies, and darts from hill to hill. }
SONG FOR THE FOURTH BOOK OF GUSTAVUS VASA:
SUPPOSED TO BE HEARD BY A DALECARLIAN HERMIT.
Circling ages swept away
Sweden’s kings of ancient sway,
And hid their race from sight:
Circling ages bring again
To that race the long-lost reign,
And Time revokes his flight.
Their star shall rise with brighter beam
From slumbering in the ocean-stream.
Dalecarlia, grasp the spear!
Hail thy great Deliverer near,
To alter Sweden’s doom!
Born to raise her darken’d name,
Heir of all her former fame,
And source of all to come,
Past and future glories shine
Centred in the youth divine.