Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Scotland
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Scotland: Vols. VI–VIII.  1876–79.
 
Introductory to Norway
The Norseman’s Ride
Bayard Taylor (1825–1878)
 
THE FROSTY fires of Northern starlight
  Gleamed on the glittering snow,
And through the forest’s frozen branches
  The shrieking winds did blow;
A floor of blue, translucent marble        5
  Kept ocean’s pulses still,
When, in the depth of dreary midnight,
  Opened the burial hill.
 
Then while a low and creeping shudder
  Thrilled upward through the ground,        10
The Norseman came, as armed for battle,
  In silence from his mound:
He who was mourned in solemn sorrow
  By many a swordsman bold,
And harps that wailed along the ocean,        15
  Struck by the Skalds of old.
 
Sudden, a swift and silver shadow
  Rushed up from out the gloom,—
A horse that stamped with hoof impatient,
  Yet noiseless, on the tomb.        20
“Ha, Surtur! let me hear thy tramping,
  Thou noblest Northern steed,
Whose neigh along the stormy headlands
  Bade the bold Viking heed!”
 
He mounted: like a north-light streaking        25
  The sky with flaming bars,
They, on the winds so wildly shrieking,
  Shot up before the stars.
“Is this thy mane, my fearless Surtur,
  That streams against my breast?        30
Is this thy neck, that curve of moonlight,
  Which Helva’s hand caressed?
 
“No misty breathing strains thy nostril,
  Thine eye shines blue and cold,
Yet, mounting up our airy pathway,        35
  I see thy hoofs of gold!
Not lighter o’er the springing rainbow
  Walhalla’s gods repair,
Than we, in sweeping journey over
  The bending bridge of air.        40
 
“Far, far around, star-gleams are sparkling
  Amid the twilight space;
And Earth, that lay so cold and darkling,
  Has veiled her dusky face.
Are those the Nornes that beckon onward        45
  To seats at Odin’s board,
Where nightly by the hands of heroes
  The foaming mead is poured?
 
“’T is Skuld! her star-eye speaks the glory
  That waits the warrior’s soul,        50
When on its hinge of music opens
  The gateway of the Pole,—
When Odin’s warder leads the hero
  To banquets never done,
And Freya’s eyes outshine in summer        55
  The ever-risen sun.
 
“On! on! the Northern lights are streaming
  In brightness like the morn,
And pealing far amid the vastness,
  I hear the Gjallarhorn:        60
The heart of starry space is throbbing
  With songs of minstrels old,
And now, on high Walhalla’s portal,
  Gleam Surtur’s hoofs of gold!”
 
 
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