My aching heart and my throbbing brow.
But tell to no one my secret sorrow,
I’d rather suffer than pity borrow;
King Bele’s daughter her fate may dare,—
But kindly greeting to Fridthjof bear.’
The wedding day with its footsteps fateful
Arrived at last. O, the day most hateful!
To the temple marched in procession sad,
The white-robed virgins and men steel-clad;
A bard dejected the train was guiding,
The pale bride followed, a black steed riding
As pale was she as the wraith which sits
On a storm-cloud black, when the lightning flits.
From off the saddle I quietly took her,
Nor at the temple door forsook her;
But led her up to the altar, where
Her vows she uttered in accents clear.
She wept and prayed, on good Balder calling,
While down her cheeks were the tear-drops falling.
When Helge saw on her arm your band,
He tore it off with an angry hand;
On Balder’s image now hangs the jewel.
My wrath burst forth at this act so cruel;
My sword was by me, I drew it forth,—
King Helge then was but little worth.
‘Let be,’ said Ing’borg, in accents broken,
’My brother might surely have spared this token;
How much one suffers ere death sets free,—
The Allfather judgeth ‘twixt him and me.’”
“The Allfather judgeth,” said Fridthjof
“I too would give him my judgment lowly.
Is’t not now mid-summer, Balder’s feast?
And in the temple the crowned priest,—
The king, who sold the maiden tender?
Ah! yes, my judgment I fain would render.”
BALDER’S FUNERAL PILE.
Midnight’s sun on the mountain lay,
Blood-red was its gleaming
It was not night nor was it day,
But just between them seeming.
Balder’s bale-fire, symbol bright,
On sacred hearth was burning,—
Soon is quenched its wasted light,
Hoder’s reign returning.
Priests around the temple wall
Burning brands were grasping;
Silver-bearded, old men all,—
Their hard hands flint knives clasping.
The crowned king stands the altar near;
Hark! the midnight soundeth,—
With clash of weapons, sharp and clear,
The sacred grove resoundeth.
“Bjorn, stand fast by yonder door,
No one must pass under,
Whosoe’er would cross the floor,
Cleave his skull asunder.”
Helge paled: he knew too well
Whose that voice so ringing.
Forth stood Fridthjof; his fierce words fell
Like autumn storm winds singing.
“Here’s the ordered tribute; it came
Safe through the tempest’s rattle;
Take it; then here by Balder’s flame,
For life or death we’ll battle.
“Shields behind us, our bosoms free.
Fair the fight be reckoned;
As king, the first blow belongs to thee,
Mind thou, mine’s the second.
“Caught at last is the wily fox,
Vain all thought of flying;
Think of her with the golden locks,
Of Framness wasted lying.”