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The poet having praised the hero of Lexington, at the expense of the old knight who went
called the 'The Falcon of Ser Federigo', Ser Federigo lavished his wealth in wooing one who wed his rival, when, withdrawing to a small farm, the last of his domain, he spent his time in raising wine and fruit.
His only forester and only guest
His falcon, faithful to him, when the rest,
Had now no strength to lift the wooden latch,
That entrance gave beneath a roof of thatch.
One day the son of her he loved, now a widow, comes to see his falcon, and fancies it so much that he falls sick of desire to possess it, and is likely to die. To gratify his desire to possess the falcon, Monna Giovanna visits the recluse.
They found Ser Federigo at his toil,
Like banished Adam delving in the soil;
And when he looked and these fair women spied,
The garden suddenly was glorified;
His long-lost Eden was restored again,
And the strange river winding through the plain
No longer was the Arno to his eyes,
But the Euphrates watering Paradise!
Ser Federigo kills the falcon to furnish a breakfast for his guests, at the close of which the lady prefers with many apologies her request, and learns the truth. Three days later the chapel-bell tolled the death of the child of grief.
Three months went by; and lo! a merrier chime
Rang from the chapel-bells at Christmas-time;
The cottage was deserted, and no more
Ser Federigo sat beside its door,
But now with servitors to do his will,
In the grand villa, half-way up the hill,
Sat at the Christmas feast, and at his side
Never so beautiful, so kind, so fair,
Enthroned once more in the old rustic chair,
And underneath the inscription, with a date,
"All things come round to him who will but wait."
Next comes "The Legend of Rabbi Ben Levi', the tale of the Spanish Jew, a man
Well versed in Hebrew books,
Talmud and Targum, and the lore
Then the Sicilian,
Clean shaven as a priest
Who at the mass on Sunday sings,
Save that upon his upper lip
His beard, a good palm's length at least,
Level and pointed at the tip,
Shot sideways, like a swallow's wings,
tells the story of King Robert, of Sicily', the subject being the Scripture sentence: Deposuit potentes de sede, et exaltavit humiles.' This the king denies, is taught its truth by a bitter experience, acknowledges his error, and is reinstated in his kingdom by the angel who has acted in the king's place, thus:
He beckoued to King Robert to draw nigher,
"Art thou the king?" Then bowing down his head,
A holy light illumined all the place,
And through the open window, loud and clear,
And through the chant a second melody
Rose like the throbbing of a single string,
"I am an Angel, and thou art the King!"
Then the musician, the blue-eyed Norseman' at whose playing
The wood-fire clapped its hands of flame,
told his tale, The Saga of King Olaf'. It is the longest and most perfect story of the book, a fantastic grouping of old Scandinavian legends. The god Thor defies Christ,
And King Olaf heard the cry,
Laid his hand upon his sword,
Having slain Iron-Beard,
There he stood as one who dreamed;
King Olaf from the doorway spoke:
So all the Drontheim land became
A Christian land in name and fame,
In the old gods no more believing and trusting.
Then he conquers Raud the Strong:
Then King Olaf said: "O Sea-King!
Thee and thy Gospel I defy!"
Then between his jaws distended,
Next he builds a ship:
Sharp his tooth was as an arrow,
Raud the Strong blaspheming died.
In their temples Thor and Odin
Preached the Gospel with his sword.
She was the grandest of all vessels,
Half so fine as she!
The Long Serpent was she christened,
'Mid the roar of cheer on cheer!
Then he marries Thyri, and to avenge an insult to her,
Something worse they did than that;
Drawn in charcoal on the wall;
With words that go
"This is Thangbrand, Olaf's priest."
Hardly knowing what he did,
Lay there in the alehouse slain.
Muttered Thangbrand, Olaf's priest.
Much in fear of ax and rope,
Back to Norway sailed he then,
"O King Olaf! little hope
Is there of these Iceland men!"
With bending head,
Pious Thangbrand, Olaf's priest.
Olaf at last is vanquished in a sea-fight, and leaps into the sea. And
There is told a wonderful tale,
Then the nun of Nidaros in her chamber hears the moral of the
Saga from the lips of Saint John the beloved :
It is accepted
The angry defiance,
The challenge of battle!
It is accepted,
But not with the weapons
Of war that thou wieldest!
Cross against corslet,
As torrents in summer,
So hearts that are fainting
Grow full to o'erflowing,
That God at their fountains
Stronger than steel
Is the sword of the Spirit;
The dawn is not distant,