As swift as a storm on the sea his speed;
The prayers of the queen does the king not heed.
The stranger in mail on his skates is not still,
But passes them swiftly whenever he will.
He writes many runes on the ice besides,—
And over her name lovely Ingeborg rides.
They swiftly speed onward, the lake to span,
But under them lurketh the treacherous Ran.
Her silvery roof in a trice she breaks,
And catches the sled in the hole she makes.
The cheeks of the beautiful queen turn pale;
Then comes like a whirlwind the skater in mail.
He buries his skate in the ice, to clasp
The steed’s flowing mane in his iron grasp.
With one single effort his arm the swings,
And charger and sled to the firm ice brings.
“That stroke,” said Ring, “was a
Not Fridthjof, the strong, could have better done.”
So they all returned to the house of the king,—
The stranger remaining until the spring.
Spring is coming, song-birds twitter, woods are leafing,
smiles the sun;
Dancing downward, toward the ocean, see the loosened rivers run;
Glowing like the cheeks of Freyja, from the buds the roses ope,—
Hearts of men to life awaken, full of courage, love and hope.
Ho! the chase! the aged monarch with his queen will
Now in crowds the court assembles, waiting in confused array,—
Bows are clanging, quivers rattling, steeds impatient paw the ground;
Hooded falcons, wildly shrieking, make the echoing hills resound.
See! the queen appears! Poor Fridthjof, do not
thither cast your eye;
Sits she on her milk-white palfrey like a star in spring’s clear sky,—
Half a Freyja, half a Rota,—lovelier far than either one,—
From her dainty hat of purple, plumes are waving in the sun.
Look not on those eyes so heavenly,—of those golden locks beware!
Oh! take care! that form is supple, full that bosom,
oh! take care!
Look not where the rose and lily shifting hues alternate fling;
Listen not to those loved accents, sighing like the winds of spring.
Now the hunting troop is ready. Hark, through
hills and valleys all
Sounds the horn, the falcon loosened straight ascends to Odin’s hall;
Forest denizens in terror haste to seek their cavern-homes;
But, with spear outstretched before her, each valkyrie swiftly comes.
Aged Ring no longer follows where the eager hunter
By his side alone rides Fridthjof, silent, grave, with downcast eyes.
Darkest thoughts, and full of anguish, stir within his sorrowing breast,
And wherever he may wander, haunting voices banish rest.
“Oh, the sea! why did I leave it? thus to my
own peril blind!
Sorrow thrives not on the billow, scattered ’tis by every wind.
Broods the viking? danger cometh bidding him the lance prepare;
Vanish then all sad reflections, blinded by the weapon’s glare.