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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,
From far away we come to you
News, news of the Trinity,
And Mary and Joseph from over the sea!
For as we wandered far and wide,
Under a bent when the night was deep,
"O ye shepherds, what have ye seen,
“In an ox-stall this night we saw
"There was an old man there beside,
"And as we gazed this thing upon,
"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,
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,
That vexed the brow, and bowed adown the head,
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.
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
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,