Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
The Norns Watering Yggdrasill
 
William Bell Scott (1811–90)
 
 
For a Picture
 
 
WITHIN the unchanging twilight
  Of the high land of the gods,
Between the murmuring fountain
  And the Ash-tree, tree of trees,
The Norns, the terrible maidens,        5
  For evermore come and go.
 
Yggdrasill the populous Ash-tree,
  Whose leaves embroider heaven,
Fills all the gray air with music—
  To Gods and to men sweet sounds,        10
But speech to the fine-ear’d maidens
  Who evermore come and go.
 
That way to their doomstead thrones
  The Aesir ride each day,
And every one bends to the saddle        15
  As they pass beneath the shade;
Even Odin, the strong All-father,
Bends to the beautiful maidens
  Who cease not to come and go.
 
The tempest crosses the high boughs,        20
  The great snakes heave below,
The wolf, the boar, and antler’d harts
  Delve at the life-giving roots,
But all of them fear the wise maidens,
The wise-hearted water-bearers        25
  Who evermore come and go.
 
And men far away, in the night-hours
  To the north-wind listening, hear;
They hear the howl of the were-wolf,
  And know he hath felt the sting        30
Of the eyes of the potent maidens
  Who sleeplessly come and go.
 
They hear on the wings of the north-wind
  A sound as of three that sing;
And the skald, in the blae mist wandering        35
  High on the midland fell,
Heard the very words of the o’ersong
  Of the Norns who come and go.
 
But alas for the ears of mortals
  Chance-hearing that fate-laden song!        40
The bones of the skald lie there still:
  For the speech of the leaves of the Tree
Is the song of the three Queen-maidens
  Who evermore come and go.
 

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