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Poem by Bayard Taylor

The Norsemans Ride

THE FROSTY fires of Northern starlight
  Gleamed on the glittering snow,
And through the forests frozen branches
  The shrieking winds did blow;
A floor of blue, translucent marble
  Kept oceans pulses still,
When, in the depth of dreary midnight,
  Opened the burial hill.

Then while a low and creeping shudder
  Thrilled upward through the ground,
The Norseman came, as armed for battle,
  In silence from his mound:
He who was mourned in solemn sorrow
  By many a swordsman bold,
And harps that wailed along the ocean,
  Struck by the Skalds of old.

Sudden, a swift and silver shadow
  Rushed up from out the gloom,
A horse that stamped with hoof impatient,
  Yet noiseless, on the tomb.
Ha, Surtur! let me hear thy tramping,
  Thou noblest Northern steed,
Whose neigh along the stormy headlands
  Bade the bold Viking heed!

He mounted: like a north-light streaking
  The sky with flaming bars,
They, on the winds so wildly shrieking,
  Shot up before the stars.
Is this thy mane, my fearless Surtur,
  That streams against my breast?
Is this thy neck, that curve of moonlight,
  Which Helvas hand caressed?

No misty breathing strains thy nostril,
  Thine eye shines blue and cold,
Yet, mounting up our airy pathway,
  I see thy hoofs of gold!
Not lighter oer the springing rainbow
  Walhallas gods repair,
Than we, in sweeping journey over
  The bending bridge of air.

Far, far around, star-gleams are sparkling
  Amid the twilight space;
And Earth, that lay so cold and darkling,
  Has veiled her dusky face.
Are those the Nornes that beckon onward	
  To seats at Odins board,
Where nightly by the hands of heroes
  The foaming mead is poured?

T is Skuld! her star-eye speaks the glory
  That waits the warriors soul,
When on its hinge of music opens
  The gateway of the Pole,
When Odins warder leads the hero
  To banquets never done,
And Freyas eyes outshine in summer
  The ever-risen sun.

On! on! the Northern lights are streaming
  In brightness like the morn,
And pealing far amid the vastness,
  I hear the Gjallarhorn:
The heart of starry space is throbbing
  With songs of minstrels old,
And now, on high Walhallas portal,
  Gleam Surturs hoofs of gold!

Bayard Taylor

Bayard Taylor's other poems:
  1. The Return of the Goddess
  2. Gettysburg Ode
  3. America to Iceland
  4. To M. T.
  5. Daughter of Egypt

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