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A CHRISTMAS CAROL.*

[The Land East of the Sun and West of the Moon: The Earthly Paradise, vol. III, 1870.]

OUTLANDERS, whence come ye last?

The snow in the street and the wind on the door. Through what green seas and great have ye passed? Minstrels and maids, stand forth on the floor.

From far away, O masters mine,
We come to bear you goodly wine.

From far away we come to you
To tell of great tidings strange and true.

News, news of the Trinity,

And Mary and Joseph from over the sea!

For as we wandered far and wide,
What hap do ye deem there should us betide!

Under a bent when the night was deep,
There lay three shepherds tending their sheep.

"O ye shepherds, what have ye seen,
To slay your sorrow, and heal your teen?"

“In an ox-stall this night we saw
A babe and a maid without a flaw.

"There was an old man there beside,
His hair was white and his hood was wide.

"And as we gazed this thing upon,
Those twain knelt down to the Little One.

"And a marvellous song we straight did hear, That slew our sorrow and healed our care."

News of a fair and a marvellous thing,

The snow in the street and the wind on the door. Nowell, nowell, nowell, we sing!

Minstrels and maids, stand forth on the floor.

LOVE IS ENOUGH: IT GREW UP WITHOUT HEEDING.

[Aus: Love is Enough, 1872 ("1873").]

LOVE IS ENOUGH: it grew up without heeding

In the days when ye knew not its name nor its measure, And its leaflets untrodden by the light feet of pleasure Had no boast of the blossom, no sign of the seeding, As the morning and evening passed over its treasure.

And what do ye say then?-that Spring long departed

Has brought forth no child to the softness and showers; -That we slept and we dreamed through the Summer of flowers;

We dreamed of the Winter, and waking dead-hearted Found Winter upon us and waste of dull hours.

Nay, Spring was o'er happy and knew not the reason, And Summer dreamed sadly, for she thought all was ended

In her fulness of wealth that might not be amended; But this is the harvest and the garnering season,

And the leaf and the blossom in the ripe fruit are blended.

It sprang without sowing, it grew without heeding,
Ye knew not its name and ye knew not its measure,
Ye noted it not mid your hope and your pleasure;
There was pain in its blossom, despair in its seeding,
But daylong your bosom now nurseth its treasure.

TO THE MUSE OF THE NORTH.

[Poems by the Way 1891.

"Written before his first visit to Iceland" (1871); Mackail II, pg. 259.]

O MUSE that swayest the sad Northern Song,
Thy right hand full of smiting and of wrong,
Thy left hand holding pity; and thy breast
Heaving with hope of that so certain rest:
Thou, with the grey eyes kind and unafraid,
The soft lips trembling not, though they have said
The doom of the World and those that dwell therein,
The lips that smile not though thy children win
The fated Love that draws the fated Death:
O, borne adown the fresh stream of thy breath,
Let some word reach my ears and touch my heart,
That, if it may be, I may have a part
In that great sorrow of thy children dead

That vexed the brow, and bowed adown the head,
Whitened the hair, made life a wondrous dream,
And death the murmur of a restful stream,
But left no stain upon those souls of thine
Whose greatness through the tangled world doth shine.
O Mother, and Love and Sister all in one,

Come thou; for sure I am enough alone

That thou thine arms about my heart shouldst throw, And wrap me in the grief of long ago.

Aus

THE STORY OF SIGURD THE VOLSUNG AND THE FALL OF THE NIBLUNGS (1876 ["1877"]). [Sigmunds und Signys Zusammentreffen im Walde nach dem Tode der Volsungen (Erstes Buch).]

So she went 'twixt the yellow acres, and the green meads of the sheep,

And or ever she reached the wild-wood the night was waxen deep.

No man she had to lead her, but the path was trodden well

By those messengers of murder, the men with the tale to tell;

And the beams of the high white moon gave a glimmering day through night

Till she came where that lawn of the woods lay wide in the flood of light.

Then she looked, and lo, in its midmost a mighty man there stood,

And laboured the earth of the green-sward with a truncheon torn from the wood;

And behold, it was Sigmund the Volsung: but she cried and had no fear:

"If thou art living, Sigmund, what day's work dost thou here

In the midnight and the forest? but if thou art nought but a ghost,

Then where are those Volsung brethren, of whom thou wert best and most?"

Then he turned about unto her, and his raiment was fouled and torn,

And his eyen were great and hollow, as a famished man forlorn;

But he cried: "Hail, Sister Signy! I looked for thee before, Though what should a woman compass, she one alone and no more,

When all we shielded Volsungs did nought in Siggeir's land?

O yea, I am living indeed, and this labour of mine hand Is to bury the bones of the Volsungs; and lo, it is wellnigh done.

So draw near, Volsung's daughter, and pile we many a

stone

Where lie the grey wolf's gleanings of what was once so good."

So she set her hand to the labour, and they toiled, they twain in the wood,

And when the work was over, dead night was beginning to fail:

Then spake the white-hand Signy: "Now shalt thou tell the tale

Of the death of the Volsung brethren ere the wood thy wrath shall hide,

Ere I wend me back sick-hearted in the dwelling of kings to abide."

He said: "We sat on the tree, and well ye may wot indeed

That we had some hope from thy good-will amidst that bitter need.

Now none had 'scaped the sword-edge in the battle utterly, And so hurt were Agnar and Helgi, that, unhelped, they were like to die;

Though for that we deemed them happier: but now when the moon shone bright,

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