Thus he spake, and the purse he’d brought,
Forth he quickly drew it,
Careless of the mischief wrought,
In Helge’s face he threw it.
Darkness swam before the eyes
Of asas’ kinsman sainted;
Blood gushed forth, he could not rise,
But near his altar fainted.
“With the gold you as tribute claim,
Are you overpowered?
None shall Angervadil blame
For felling such a coward.
“Silence, priests with altar-knives,
Moonshine princes, quiet!
Else my sword may drink your lives;
Thirsting ’tis to try it.
“Holy Balder, thy wrath forbear,
Nor ’gainst me enrol it:
But the arm-ring which you wear,
Yonder craven stole it.
“Not for thee did Volund old
Work its fair dimensions;
The maiden wept, but the thief was bold;
Away, such false pretensions.”
Bravely drew he; together fast
Arm and ring seemed growing;
Angered Balder, when loosed at last,
Fell ’mid the embers glowing.
Hark! each flame, as it leaps on high,
A golden tooth resembles;
Bjorn, all pale, stands the doorway nigh,
Fridthjof, anxious, trembles.
“Open, Bjorn, let the people go,
Bv watchmen unimpeded;
The temple burns; throw water, throw
The ocean full, if needed.”
Now a chain is knit to the strand,
Not a link is missing;
Flies the billow from hand to hand
Against the fire-brands hissing.
Fridthjof sits like the god of rain
High o’er beam and water,
Gives to all his orders plain,
Calm amid the slaughter.
Vain! the fire has the upper hand,
Smoke-clouds dense are growing,
Gold falls first on the red-hot sand,
Silver streams are flowing.
All is lost! to the half-burned hall
A fire-red cock is clinging,
He sits and crows on the roof-peak tall,
His loosened pinions swinging.
The wind-blown flame mounts the vaulted sky,
Everything it levels,
Balder’s grove is summer dry,
The hungry fire-king revels.
Fiercely leaping from height to height
Aiming yet still higher;
O, what wild and terrific light!
Strong is Balder’s pyre!
Hark, it crackles! the roots now burn,
The tops are fiery showers;
Muspel’s ruddy children spurn
Man’s mere human powers.
A fire-sea billows in Balder’s grove,
Strandless breaks and hisses,
The sun is up, but bay and cove
Mirror flaming abysses.
Soon in smoldering ashes lay
Grove and temple’s adorning;
Sadly then Fridthjof turned away,—
Wept in the light of morning.
FRIDTHJOF GOES INTO EXILE
On deck at night
In summer bright,
Sat Fridthjof grieving;
Like billows heaving,
Now wrath, now grief,
In his heart was chief;
And shoreward turning
Saw fires still burning.