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Myths of the Norsemen From the Eddas and Sagas

Page: 166

And daring art, the massy pile was built; and there

(A giant-work intended

To last till time was ended,)

It rose like Upsal’s temple, where the north

Saw Valhall’s halls fair imag’d here on earth.

“Proud stood it there on mountain-steep, its lofty brow

Reflected calmly on the sea’s bright-flowing wave.

But round about, some girdle like of beauteous flow’rs,

Went Balder’s Dale, with all its groves’ soft-murmur’d sighs,

And all its birds’ sweet-twitter’d songs,—the Home of Peace.”

Tegnér, Frithiof Saga (G. Stephens’s tr.). [327]

Meantime, while the timbers were being hewed, King Helgé was absent upon a foray amongst the Finnish mountains. One day it chanced that his band passed by a crag where stood the lonely shrine of some forgotten god, and King Helgé scaled the rocky summit with intent to raze the ruined walls. The lock held fast, and, as Helgé tugged fiercely at the mouldered gate, suddenly a sculptured image of the deity, rudely summoned from his ancient sleep, started from his niche above.

Heavily he fell upon the head of the intruder, and Helgé stretched his length upon the rocky floor, nor stirred again.

When the temple was duly consecrated to Balder’s service, Frithiof stood by the altar to await the coming of his expected bride. But Halfdan first crossed the threshold, his faltering gait showing plainly that he feared an unfriendly reception. Seeing this, Frithiof unbuckled his sword and strode frankly to Halfdan with hand outstretched, whereupon the king, blushing deeply, grasped heartily the proffered hand, and from that moment all their differences were forgotten. The next moment Ingeborg approached and the renewed amity of the long-sundered friends was ratified with the hand of the bride, which Halfdan placed in that of his new brother.

“Over the copper threshold Halfdan now,

With pallid brow

And fearful fitful glance, advanceth slow

Tow’rds yonder tow’ring ever-dreaded foe—

And, silent, at a distance stands,—

Then Frithiof, with quick hands,

The corslet-hater, Angurvadel, from his thigh

Unbuckleth, and his bright shield’s golden round

Leaning ’gainst the altar, thus draws nigh;—

[328]

While his cow’d enemy

He thus accosts, with pleasant dignity.—

’Most noble in this strife will he be found

Who first his right hand good

Offers in pledge of peaceful brotherhood!’—

Then Halfdan, deeply blushing, doffs with haste

His iron-gauntlet and,—with hearty grasp embrac’d,—

Each long, long, sever’d hand

Its friend-foe hails, steadfast as mountain-bases stand!

“And as th’ last deep accents

Of reconcilement and of blessing sounded;

Lo! Ing’borg sudden enters, rich adorn’d

With bridal ornaments, and all enrob’d

In gorgeous ermine, and by bright-ey’d maidens

Slow-follow’d, as on heav’n’s broad canopy,

Attending star-trains guard the regent-moon!—

But the young bride’s fair eyes,

Those two blue skies,

Fill quick with tears,

And to her brother’s heart she trembling sinketh;—

He, with his sister’s fears


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