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Where our friends the conflict share,
As the paths of fate we tread,
Wading through th' ensanguin'd field,
O'er the youthful king your shield.
We the reins to slaughter give,
Ours to kill, and ours to spare:
(Weave the crimson web of war.)
They, whom once the desert-beach
Low the dauntless earl is laid,
Gor'd with many a gaping wound :
Fate demands a nobler head;
Soon a king shall bite the ground.
Long his loss shall Eirin weep,
Ne'er again his likeness see;
Var. V. 31. Gondula and Geira] Gunna and Gondula.
V. 40. "Insult the plenty of the vales below."
Essay on the Alliance, &c. Luke. V. 44. (Shall bite the ground) “Ovητoι дdağ kλov budas." Hom.
V. 45. Eirin] Ireland.
Long her strains in sorrow steep;
Horror covers all the heath,
Clouds of carnage blot the sun.
Hail the task, and hail the hands!
Mortal, thou that hear'st the tale,
Scotland, thro' each winding vale
Far and wide the notes prolong.
V. 49. This stanza, as it appears in the original, Mr. Herbert has translated without the insertion or omission of a word:
""Tis horrid now to gaze around,
While clouds thro' heaven gore-dropping sail;
Air must be stain'd with blood of men,
Ere all our oracles shall fail."
Select Icelandic Poetry, p. 50.
V. 59. This and the following line are not in the original. Indeed, this poem is not so much a translation, as a loose, though highly-spirited paraphrase; and, as Herbert observes, inferior to the "Descent of Odin."
V. 61. "Bear me hence on wheels of speed."
V. Philips. (Pind. 1. Æn. 3.)
Sisters, hence with spurs of speed:
Each her thundering faulchion wield; Each bestride her sable steed.
Hurry, hurry to the field!
"Sisters, hence, 'tis time to ride:
Now your thundering faulchion wield;
Now your sable steed bestride.
Hurry, hurry to the field." MS.
THE VEGTAM'S KIVITHA;
OR, THE DESCENT OF ODIN. * AN ODE. FROM THE NORSE TONGUE.
[The original is to be found in Saemund's Edda, and in Bartholinus, De Causis contemnendæ Mortis; Hafniæ, 1689, quarto, Lib. III. c. ii. p. 632. (See Warton. Hist. of E. Poetry, vol. i. p. xii. And Warton's Pope, vol. ii. p. 70. "This Ode, I think with Lord Orford, equal to any of Gray's."]
Upreis Odinn allda gautr, &c.
*This Ode is much more literally translated than the preceding. The original title I have restored from Gray's MS. The first five stanzas of this Ode are omitted; in which Balder, one of the sons of Odin, was informed that he should soon die. Upon his communication of his dream, the other gods, finding it true by consulting the oracles, agreed to ward off the approaching danger, and sent Frigga to exact an oath from every thing not to injure Balder. She, however, overlooked the Misletoe, with a branch of which he was afterwards slain by Hoder, at the instigation of Lok. After the execution of this commission, Odin, still alarmed for the life of his son,
UPROSE the king of men with speed,
And saddled straight his coal-black steed;
(The groaning earth beneath him shakes,)
Var. V. 7. (So мs. Wh.)
V. 11. Fruitless] Ceaseless. MS.
called another council; and hearing nothing but divided opinions among the gods, to consult the Prophetess," he uprose with speed." Vali, or Ali, the son of Rinda, afterwards avenged the death of Balder, by slaying Hoder, and is called a "wondrous boy, because he killed his enemy, before he was a day old; before he had washed his face, combed his hair, or seen one setting-sun." See Herbert's Icelandic Translations, p. 45; to which I am indebted for part of this note. Edda of Saemund, translated by Cottle. See also the IntroAnd the duction to the Descent of Frea, in Sayer. Dramatic Sketches of H. Mythology, 1792.
V. 1. "When straight uprose the king of men."
Chapman. Homer. Il. xiii. p. 43. V. 2. Sleipner was the horse of Odin, which had eight legs. Vide Edda. Mason. "And coal black steeds yborne of hellish brood." Spens. F. Q. I. v. xx.
V. 4. Vid. Cottle's Edda. "Song of Vafthrudnes," p. 29. Note. Niflheliar, the hell of the Gothic nations, consisted
Till full before his fearless eyes
Right against the eastern gate,
Thrice pronounc'd, in accents dread,
The thrilling verse that wakes the dead:
V. 14. Shakes] Quakes. Ms.
V. 23. Accents] Murmurs. MS.
of nine worlds, to which were devoted all such as died of sickness, old age, or by any other means than in battle. Over it presided Hela, the goddess of death. Mason.
Hela, in the Edda, is described with a dreadful countenance, and her body half flesh colour, and half blue. Gray.
V. 5. The Edda gives this dog the name of Managarmar. He fed upon the lives of those that were to die.
V. 17. "
Right against the eastern gate
V. 22. In a little poem called the "Magic of Odin," (see Bartholinus, p. 641,) Odin says, "If I see a man dead, and hanging aloft on a tree, I engrave Runic characters so wonderful, that the man immediately descends and converses with me. When I see magicians travelling through the air, I disconcert them with a single look, and force them to abandon their enterprize."
V. 24. The original word is Valgalldr; from Valr mortuus, and Galldr incantatio. Gray.