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Eleanor Farjeon (Элинор Фарджон)


Wêland and the Swan-Girls


Three white swans flew in the sky
  (Are you heeding, Wêland-Smith?)
Three white swans flew in the sky
Till they did a blue lake spy,
Then the three to earth did fly
And they laid their plumage by.
  (Are you watchful, Wêland-Smith?)

When they stood of plumage bare
  (What's your eye say, Wêland-Smith?)
When they stood of plumage bare
Three white maidens rose up there.
Earthly maids have not such rare
Rose-flushed limbs, such yellow hair,
Earthly maids are not so fair--
  (What's your heart say, Wêland-Smith?)

These three maidens did begin
  (What the ending, Wêland-Smith?)
These three maidens did begin
By the lakeside flax to spin,
And a low-hummed song did win
Thro' their threads all fine and thin,
Stealing, flashing out and in.
  (Was it magic, Wêland-Smith?)

When the golden flax was spun
  (Threads of fate for Wêland-Smith!)
When the golden flax was spun:
"Sisters," said the youngest one,
"See the ripples of the sun
Spinning where the waters run!
Let's unravel them till none
Rests to mock what we have done."
  (Tense with hope lay Wêland-Smith.)

From the blue lake's flowery brim
  (Still your breathing, Wêland-Smith!)
From the sweet lake's flowering brim
These three maids did dive and swim.
Oh, the flash of pearly limb
Visioned through the waters dim!
  (Steal your moment, Wêland-Smith!)

Said the youngest Valkyr-Maid
  (Did she hear you, Wêland-Smith?)
Said the youngest Valkyr-Maid:
"Sisters, I am grown afraid!
Three men hide within the shade--
Quick! before we be betrayed!"
  (Quicker yet was Wêland-Smith.)

Three men stood upon the bank
  (Egil, Slagfinn, Wêland-Smith)
Three men stood upon the bank,
In their hands the plumage lank.
"What prank's this?" the youngest drank
Breath to ask that triple rank.
Wêland said: "This is no prank."
  (Strong and grave was Wêland-Smith.)

Egil lifted up his hand,
  (Not as yet stirred Wêland-Smith)
Egil-Archer raised his hand,
Slagfinn only looked command,
And their maidens came to land,
And the four passed down the strand.
  (Patient still was Wêland-Smith.)

Then the youngest of the brood,
  (Ay, and fairest, Wêland-Smith!)
Then the fairest of the brood
Spoke to him from where she stood:
"Brown young Smith, your eyes are good--
Spare my immortal maidenhood."
But the swan-girl's melting mood
All the stronglier swayed and wooed
Every impulse of his blood
Till desire was at full flood--
  ('Ware of drowning, Wêland-Smith!)

"What reck I of prayer and plea?"
  (So made answer Wêland-Smith.)
"What reck I of prayer and plea?
By this plumage held in fee,
Swan-girl, you belong to me,
Swan-girl, you shall follow me,
Ay, and be true wife to me."
  (Warm of voice was Wêland-Smith.)

"Render me my white swan-wings!"
  (Still she strove with Wêland-Smith.)
"Render me my white swan-wings
And I'll teach you cunning things
From the craft-wise fount that springs
Where iron Thor his hammer swings.
Smith, when your red anvil sings,
Fashioning you magic rings,
Swords for hero-happenings,
Crowns more meet for gods than kings--
You'll not grudge my white swan-wings."
  (Plied she thuswise Wêland-Smith.)

"What reck I of promises?"
  (So made answer Wêland-Smith.)
"What reck I of promises?
When I need such things as these
You shall teach me, if I please,
Wife of mine, upon your knees.
Mine you are beyond release."
  (Firm of voice was Wêland-Smith.)

"Back I take all promise and pray'r!"
  (Proudly faced she Wêland-Smith.)
"Back I take all promise and pray'r!
Hear, you worm of earth! that dare
With base cunning seek to snare
Me, a Valkyr of the air:
Such as I are slow to spare
Who our god-given rights impair--
Render me my plumage fair
Lest I blast you standing there!"
  (Fiercely faced she Wêland-Smith.)

"What reck I of passion and pride?"
  (So made answer Wêland-Smith.)
"What reck I of passion and pride?
Witless woman-words fly wide.
Woman, you are Wêland's bride,
'Shall come meekly to his side,
And he will not be denied."
  (Stern of voice was Wêland-Smith.)

Thro' the lake the swan-girl white,
  (Ah, be gentle, Wêland-Smith!)
Thro' the lake the swan-girl white
Slipped, and came with footfall light
Till beside him in full sight
Stood she beautiful and bright,
Saying with neither fear nor spite:
"I am here for your delight."
  (So she greeted Wêland-Smith.)

"Nay, but hear me ere we go,
  (As I love you, Wêland-Smith!)
Nay, but hear me ere we go
Hence to lay my godhead low
Since my lord will have it so.
Weigh the balance, lord, and know
That if we twain wedded show
All your streams of fate do flow
Henceforth from the tides of woe--
  (Woe, O woe to Wêland-Smith!)

"Full seven years you shall me hold,
  (Seven years' bliss for Wêland-Smith!)
Full seven years you shall me hold.
When the seventh year is told,
Like a parchment read and scrolled--
Ah, but, lord, inscribed in gold!--
That we may no more unfold
  (Only think on, Wêland-Smith),

"I shall know a strange unrest,
  (Dread the eighth year, Wêland-Smith!)
I shall know a strange unrest,
Be of old desires possessed,
Passionate to ride the crest
Of the storm, North, South, East, West--
Ay, and by your strong arm pressed
Win no sleep more on your breast.
  (Sound tho' you sleep, Wêland-Smith.)

"In the ninth year I shall hear,
  (Will you hear, too, Wêland-Smith?)
In the ninth year I shall hear
Iron Thor's thunder very near
Like a summons in my ear--
I shall leap for helm and spear
And shall pass in the ninth year!
Wêland! woe for Wêland! drear
Stands his future all too clear,
Yet I may not read it here.
Cast me from you, lord, with fear!
  (I have warned you, Wêland-Smith.)"

"What reck I of hurt and harm?"
  (Sweet of voice was Wêland-Smith.)
"What reck I of hurt and harm?
I hold you by a seven-years' charm,
My bride and my belovèd, warm
Within the hollow of my arm!"
  (Go seven years happy, Wêland-Smith,
  But Fate shall not be striven with.)



Eleanor Farjeon's other poems:
  1. Three Miles to Penn
  2. Sonnets. 12. I hear love answer: Since within the mesh
  3. Two Choruses from “Merlin in Broceliande”
  4. Sonnets. 4. Wilt thou put seals on love because men say
  5. Sonnets. 14. Now I have love again and life again


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