Richard Henry Stoddard

The Sledge at the Gate


I WOULD run this arrow straight into my heart
Sooner than see what I saw to-night.
I harnessed my rein-deer, mounted the sledge,
And skimmed the snow by the northern light.
The thin ice crackled, the water roared,
But I crossed the fiord:
I reached the house when the night is late,
What's this? A deer and a sledge at the gate!

The eyes of Zela are winter springs!
But the wealth of summer is in her hair;
But she loves me not, she is false again,
Or why are the sledge and the rein-deer there?
I throw myself down, face-first in the snow:
"Let the false one go!"
She never shall know my love, or my scorn,
For I shall be frozen stiff in the morn.

The sharp winds blew, and my limbs grew chill.
I knew no more till I felt the fire.
They rubbed my breast, and they rubbed my hands,
And my life came back like a dark desire.
She spake kind words, and smoothed my hair,
But the sledge was there!
"Ah false, but fair!" It was all I said,
I struck her down, and away I fled.

I mounted my sledge, and the rein-deer flew,
In the wind, in the snow, in the blinding sleet:
The wolves were hungry--they scented my track--
But I fought them back!
I fear neither wolves, nor the winter's cold,
For the faithless woman has made me bold.

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