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Poem by George Henry Borrow
CANTATA. This is Denmark's holyday; Dance, ye maidens! Sing, ye men! Tune, ye harpers! Blush, ye heroes! This is Denmark's holyday. ONE VOICE. In right's enjoyment, in the arm of love, Beneath the olive's shadow, The Daneman sat; Whilst wet and steaming wav'd the bloody flag Above the regions of the sunny South. Pure was our heaven,- Pure and blue; For, with his pinions, angel Peace dispell'd All reek and vapour from mild virtue's sphere; Then lower'd Battle's blood-bespatter'd son Upon our coast,- And haggard Envy lent to him her torch, Which sparkled high with hell's sulphureous light, Then fled the genius of peace, and wept. A SECOND VOICE. But mighty thunders peal'd; the earth it shook, While rattled all the moss-grown giant stones, And Oldom's sunken grave-hill rais'd itself; Then started Skiold and Frode, And Svend, and Knud, and Waldemar, In copper hauberks up, and pointing to Rust-spots of blood on faulchion and on shield- They vanish'd: And in the Gothic aisles, high arch'd and dim, Wild flutter'd of itself, the ancient banner Which hung above a hero's bones; The faulchion clatter'd loud and ceaselessly Within the tomb of Christian the Fourth, By Tordenskiold's chapel on the strand, Wild rose the daring Mermaid's witching song; The stones were loosen'd round about the grave Where lay great Juul; And Hvidtfeld, clad in a transparent mist, With smiles cherubic beaming on his face, Stray'd, arm in arm, with his heroic brothers, Along the deep. CHORUS. We felt the presence of one and all; The old flags wav'd in the arsenal, A wondrous spirit went round, went round The Northern ground. ONE VOICE. Then waken'd Thor, And drew around his loins the mighty belt Of bear-sinews; With love fraternal harden'd he his shield, With eager haste he sharp'd his blunted glaive, And, with the iron of his hammer, touch'd Each Dane's and every Norman's breast- Shot his heroic flame therein, and smil'd! MANY VOICES. And Denmark and Norway smil'd. LOUD CHORUS. Upon the water, Upon the land, We boun'd for slaughter, At Thor's command. MAIDENS. Then fell our tears so quickly, We breath'd, we breath'd so thickly, While scarce our lips could stammer forth Prayers for you, and for the North. MATRONS. And we, and we, with breasts that smarted, Knelt, lowly knelt, whilst firm ye stood, From us and from affection parted, In reek and smoke, in brothers' blood! CHORUS OF MEN. Tenderness comes from God; Woman and man in its praise should sing; But tenderness flies at honour's nod; We offer all up to our land and King. ONE VOICE. What sang ye, warlike throngs? Repeat, repeat this day, One of the simple, nervous, songs Ye murmur'd out, when, hot with wrongs, Ye waited the coming fray. UNIVERSAL CHORUS. We love, we all love thee, beneficent Peace, &c. SOLO. Like the wave of the wild North main, Foaming and frothing came on our foe; Proud of his triumphs, proud of his train, He thought to lay us low: But, from Denmark's lines of oak, A horrible, horrible volley outbroke; Then tumbled his mast, His courage fell fast; And the wave, which resembled his furious mood, Was now with his blood embrued. CHORUS. This is Denmark's holyday; Dance, ye maidens! Sing, ye men! Tune, ye harpers! Blush, ye heroes! This is Denmark's holyday. A VOICE. But, hark! what sobbing and what mournful notes Are mixing with our hymns of ardent joy! Hush, hush, be still; A band of white-rob'd maids approaches slow, With lily chaplets round their yellow locks, With heavy tear-drops in their sunken eye; Broken and trembling sounds The melancholy song, Accompanied by harp-tones rising mild.
George Henry Borrow
George Henry Borrow's other poems:
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