Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ( )


Thangbrand the Priest


SHORT of stature, large of limb,
  Burly face and russet beard,
All the women stared at him,
  When in Iceland he appeared.
      Look! they said,
      With nodding head,
There goes Thangbrand, Olafs Priest.

All the prayers he knew by rote,
  He could preach like Chrysostome,
From the Fathers he could quote,
  He had even been at Rome.
      A learned clerk,
      A man of mark,
Was this Thangbrand, Olafs Priest.

He was quarrelsome and loud,
  And impatient of control,
Boisterous in the market crowd,
  Boisterous at the wassail-bowl,
      Everywhere
      Would drink and swear,
Swaggering Thangbrand, Olafs Priest.

In his house this malcontent
  Could the King no longer bear,
So to Iceland he was sent
  To convert the heathen there,	
      And away,
      One summer day,
Sailed this Thangbrand, Olafs Priest.

There in Iceland oer their books
  Pored the people day and night,
But he did not like their looks,
  Nor the songs they used to write.
      All this rhyme
      Is waste of time!
Grumbled Thangbrand, Olafs Priest.

To the alehouse, where he sat,
  Came the Scalds and Saga-men;
Is it to be wondered at
  That they quarrelled now and then,
      When oer his beer
      Began to leer
Drunken Thangbrand, Olafs Priest?

All the folk in Altafiord
  Boasted of their island grand;
Saying in a single word,
  Iceland is the finest land
      That the sun
      Doth shine upon!
Loud laughed Thangbrand, Olafs Priest.

And he answered: What s the use
  Of this bragging up and down,
When three women and one goose
  Make a market in your town?
      Every Scald
      Satires scrawled
On poor Thangbrand, Olafs Priest.

Something worse they did than that;
  And what vexed him most of all
Was a figure in shovel hat,
  Drawn in charcoal on the wall;
      With words that go
      Sprawling below,
This is Thangbrand, Olafs Priest.

Hardly knowing what he did,
  Then he smote them might and main,
Thorvald Veile and Veterlid
  Lay there in the alehouse slain.
      To-day we are gold,
      To-morrow mould!
Muttered Thangbrand, Olafs Priest.

Much in fear of axe and rope,
  Back to Norway sailed he then.
O King Olaf! little hope
  Is there of these Iceland men!
      Meekly said,
      With bending head,
Pious Thangbrand, Olafs Priest.



Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's other poems:
  1. King Olafs War-Horns
  2. Thora of Rimol
  3. The Warden of the Cinque Ports
  4. To the River Charles
  5. King Olafs Christmas


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