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‘O that I knew where I might find Him! that I might even come into His presence!’

‘My help!’

the Emperor called,

‘the bard!

With teaching touch

who toucheth the harp,

and teacheth the heart,

to harp.’

Nor long:

a rhapsody brave

of song:

A hive of breath;

and busy amongst,

the lyrical buzz

and throng:—

‘Good-bye!’

the Viking his Gerd—

a-pressed:

Two sobs that kiss—

then life is a sail—

then life is a-blurr,

and mist.

Ten years:

the consequent times

revolved:

But Hrolf, in Logres,

with Heracles moils,

was making the world

for God.

‘That night,’

so, spinning, to Gurth,

the churl,

The lady glozed,

‘how fine was his calm,

when Hakon besieged

the burg!’

And Gurth:

‘but that was a day,

at Dvaiss!

I wounded fell,

pernicious as Thor,

he hewed me a lane,

and saved.’

So she:

‘he loved thee at heart,

poor Gurth!

A heart, though strong,

yet kingly infirm

with fatherly lodes,

and throes.’

And Gurth:

‘but where can his Sail

be spread?

His Bones where white?

or plies he till now

his continent rage

with men?’

She laughed:

‘reblooms in the night

a gourd!

He, thrilling plumb,

like shuttlecocks falls;

recurs like the moons his

Sword!

‘What Bones!

I know that my war-

-rior lives!

Yet O, that Nord

would wing me with winds,

their wings to the winds

who gives!’

At last

a rumour from God

has vogue:

A myth, a breath:

at Thanet he lies,

his wounds unaneled,

unmoaned.

Nor long:

a schip from the burg-

-bay runs:

Her sixty oars

unanimous troop,

voluminous hoops

her lug.

In vain!

at Thanet was void,

and ah:

One knew—one thought—

he’d fared for the Franks

he’d passed to the Picts—

afar!

‘No more?

and will he no more

be kind?

Then Gurth,’ she cries,

‘the wave be my world,

though waste be its ways,

and wild!’

She cruised:

at London is nought,

but germ:

At Hythe no news—

at Wyht he has stormed—

at Dwyght he was yet

—to storm.

When Day—

his cyclops inflamed

enlaved:

When fairy Night,

in lazuli grot,

her lamp-lit bazaar

unveiled;

Till dawn,

the swarm of her wake

she notes:

Her sea-bitch hunts,

a-hunt is the moon,

and solves in gavottes

the coast.

‘How droll!’

so, pious and boon,

she taled:

‘On Triss, my mare,

when tipsy one day,

his feet on the ground he

trailed.’

And Gurth:

‘but that was a day,

at Fahl!

Our yolle capsized,

and there was his head,

like echoes and claps

a-laugh!’

So she:

‘you men in his train

were rich!

The world, and woes,

were made for his sake,

to furnish with realm

a prince.’

And Gurth:

‘but where can his sword

be groans?

Or south, or north,

with Logresman or Scot,

or rolls with the flood

his Bones?’

She smiled:

‘he wounds, but himself

is Balm!

’Tis said, you know,

the hair of a hound,

though bitter the bite,

can salve.

I wait

a Silence through things

is spun:

The first of men

was made in the night,

and skipped when he saw

the sun.’

Three years:

the seas with her oars

were thronged:

But Hrolf, returned,

in haven was heaved,

and home-sick at home

was strong.

Then four:

the voluble times

returned:

A fame had steered

to Zetland her helm:

at Zetland was void,

and dearth.

He mourned:

all patient, adult,

arrived:

His glance was worth,*

and expert his heart,

and chaste from the rods

of Time.

[* Weorthan = werden, become]

He mourned:

a warrior crowned,

and trite:

His hair was hoar,

his warrings were o’er,

his war-gear he wore

and died.

And rich—

with breastplate of gold,

and targe,

And broidered zone,—

his mort they propose,

sublime on his poop,

and huge.

All day,

like mourners with griefs

a-rave,

The crooning surfs

to funeral troop,

and funerals taint

the rain.

At eve:

his rovers the shore

bethrong:

The torch they use,

the moorings they loose,

the holocaust moves,

is gone!

How grand!

thou mariners’ Nurse,

though wet,

Berock him now!

with languidest waft

they hail him a last

Fare-well!

Afar,

the desert a Sign

acclaims:

Between the hills

a Pillar of Cloud,

with banner of blue,

her sail.

A-rave,

up sun-smears in oils

she glides:

The buxom swell

she glibly excels,

a Pillar of Flame

she rides.

But lo!—

by flurry applied,

her flame—

the billows’ bursts

and cataracts quench:

her peril she slips,

though scathed.

’Twas night:

and Gerda from Zet-

-land works:

The sea-room’s lurch

her governing oar,

andante her cords,

beskirl.

It chanced—

when Imbrifer sets*

in murk,

And sea, and sky,

with dribbly rheums

and equinox squalls,

conturbs.

[* In October.]

She fronts,

sedate on the deck,

the storm:

The spoil of hope,

though foundered in night,

instinctive of light,

her orbs.

And thus,

inclining her head,

to Gurth:

‘I saw, one night,

a mist in his eye,

when Dagmar, the scald,

rehearsed.’

And Gurth:

‘but that was a day,

at Voss!

He felled an oak,

which fell on a thrall,

and fell on the trunk,

and sobbed.’

So she:

‘a typical man,

and tall!

His social wo—

his musical weird . . .

but talk not of oaks

—that fall.’

And Gurth:

‘but who shall his Se-

-cret guess?

Or far, or near,

his Dragon he steers,

or broads to the kites

his Breast?’

She wept:

‘the world is its own

redress!

Its orb, though dark,

is starlight afar,

and smiles like a bride

a death.

‘The past,

like throeings and growth,

we slight;

The future dark may,

dazzling dark,

be dark with excess

of bright.

‘And say:

that sockets for eyes

he keep:

And worst be truth:

an outcome’s innate;

from death-beds a babe

may creep.

’Twas morn:

a sail through the squall

they spy:

Some pirate keel?

upon them he bears!

she, thoral below,

bids fly.

He looms—

a ‘serpent-schip’ lank,

and high:

But slighter she—

and ruffling in stays,

she yaws on the yeast,

and flies.

And now—

with sea-winds my tale

I wet:

In down-hill glee,

each following threat

she wins to her use,

adept.

Their flow

with melting reserves

she rides:

By noon he’s air:

they breathe from the oars:

a westering blotch

he hides.

Away!

affairé on Ahs

the Vault:

The self-sick sea

its bosom bespues:

unearthly the world,

and salt.

The prow

its dissolute Ghost

—out-pants!

The eddies pair

in scampering reel

the regiment stalks,

and tramps.

And bleak,—

comes brooding the dark,

like doom:

A rift remains,

and darkling bleak,

that wraith through the rift

relooms.

One eve—

(the Dead-sea terrasse

I roamed)—

I saw a form,

and still as I fled,

a presence that form

I found;

So they:

and plies them a name-

-less cark!

He steadfast drifts,

and rudderless steers,

an Argonaut blind,

his bark.

There is—

engraved in the deep—

a place,

With eddies vext,

a caldron morose,

all ringstraked with froths,

that race;

And midst,

circumference vast,

—it yawns!

And harab dark,

that staggering void,

and wails from its whorls

a swan.

To this—

for foul was the night,—

they drive:

To this that ship,

as sheep-dogs the sheep’s,

had shiftily shaped

their flight.

As bent—

his jennet some fla-

-grant steed

Pursues a-marsh,

with scattery scamp,

rotatory tramp,

a-ramp.

And soon—

that influence wild

involves:

She twists, she shoots,—

a maenad of death,

she planets, remote,

that orb.

He too:

to lightning my tale

I link!

A-keel they wing,

and fluttering poised,

with shuddering joys,

they wing.

As hunts—

a drake his unwife-

-ly bird,

(Their heads are far,—

—and half on the lake—

—and half on the wing—

they churn.)

So he:

a cable-length late,

he throes:

And round, and round,

in mizmazy rote,

in blackness secerned,

they roam.

When lo!

in rufous she bursts

the tomb!

Some shattered lamp—

in Tophet is dawn;

pregnated he, too,

—up-blooms!

But yet—

not yet does she dream

him nigh—

(As round, and round,

in narrowing whorls,

in volutes of flame,

they fly.)

Till now—

That chiselled extreme

they reach;

(Those satin depths

with shimmering shafts,

like Seraphim swords,

they parch.)

Then first!

then first does she dream

him close!

His streaming flag

—with wondering awe—

—his bulk on the pyre—

she notes.

As when—

some chymist his drugs

combines:

He waits, he frowns,

the menstruum fails;

but rallies the world,

he smiles:

So she—

dismays from her eyes

dismay,

As trance of dawn

at sunset arrests

the withering eye

of day.

’Tis Hrolf!

Reclaimant! how deep!

and strange!’

(He whispers dumb,

and Gorgon he smiles;

surmising her heart,

and sage.)

And swift!

she runs the blockade

of reek—

With poising arms,

like tottering bairns,

her prow she attains

—and leaps.

Nor fails:

for courtly he holds

his poop:

Bonanza rare!

She falls on his Length!

and down to the skies

they swoop.

He ceased:

but silence with song

was rife:

The world’s a star!

more stringèd a psalm

than trills on the ear,

its life.