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THE DESCENT OF ODIN.

AN ODE.

FROM THE WORSE-TONGUE^

[The original is to be found in Bartholinus, de Causis contemnendx Mortis; Hafniae, 1689, Quarto. Ufireis Odinn allda gautr, &c]

UPROSE the King of Men with speed,
And saddled strait his coal-black steed:
Down the yawning steep he rode,
That leads to Hela's drear abode e.
Him the Dog of Darkness spied[21];
His shaggy throat he open'd wide,
While from his jaws, with carnage fill'd,
Foam aid human gore distill'd:

e That leads to Hela's dread abode. JViflheimr, the hell of the Gothic nations, consisted of nine worlds, to which were devoted all such as died of sickness, old age, or by any other means than in battle. Over it presided Hela, the Goddess of Death.

[21] The Edda gives this dog the name of Managarmar; he fed upon the lives of those that were to die.

Hoarse he bays [22] with hideous din,
Eyes that glow, and fangs that grin;
And long pursues, with fruitless yell,
The Father of the powerful spell.
Onward still his way he takes,
(The groaning earth beneath him shakes,)
Till full before his fearless eyes
The portals nine of Hell arise.

Right against the eastern gate,
By the moss-grown pile he sate;
Where long of yore to sleep was laid
The dust of the prophetic Maid.
Facing to the northern clime,
Thrice he trac'd the Runic rhyme;
Thrice pronounc'd, in accents dread,
The thrilling verse that wakes the Dead;
Till from out the hollow ground
Slowly breath'd a sullen sound.

PROPHETESS.

What call unknown, what charms, presume To break the quiet of the tomb?

[22] Several Editions have it brays. It is not, however, the nature of the dog, but of the ass, to bray. To bay is, according to Johnson, to bark, as a dog at a thief.

Who thus afflicts my troubled sprite,
And drags me from the realms of night?
Long on these mould'ring bones have beat
The winter's snow, the summer's heat,
The drenching dews, and driving rain!
Let me, let me sleep again.
Who is he, with voice unblest,
That calls me from the bed of rest?

ODIN..

A Traveller, to thee unknown,
Is he that calls, a Warrior's Son.
Thou the deeds of light shalt know j
Tell me what is done below [23],
For whom yon glitt'ring board is spread,
Drest for whom yon golden bed?

PROPHETESS.

Mantling in the goblet see The pure bev'rage of the bee:

[23] Odin, we find both from this Ode and the Edda, was solicitous about the fate of his son Balder, who had dreamed that he was soon to die. The Edda mentions the manner of his death when killed by Odin's other son Hoder; and also that Hoder was himself slain afterwards by Vali, the son of Odin andRintla, consonant with this prophecy.

O'er it hangs the shield of gold;
'Tis the drink of Balder bold:
Balder's head to death is giv'n.
Pain can reach the Sons of Heav'n!
Unwilling I my lips unclose:
Leave me, leave me to repose.

Once again my call obey [24]. Prophetess, arise, and say,

[24] Women were looked upon by the Gothic nations as having a peculiar insight into futurity; and some there were that made profession of magic arts and divination. These travelled round the country, and were received in every house with great respect and honour. Such a woman bore the name of Volva Seidkona, or Spakona. The dress of Thorbiorga, one of these prophetesses, is described at large in Eirick's Rauda Sogu, (apud Bartholin, lib. i. cap. iv. p. 688.) "She had on a blue vest spangled all over with stones, "a necklace of glass beads, and a cap made of the "skin of a black lamb lined with white cat-skin. She "leaned on a staff adorned with brass, with a round "head set with stones; and was girt with anHunlan"dish belt, at which hung her pouch full of magical "instruments. Her buskins were of rough calfskin, "bound on with thongs studded with knobs of brass, "and her gloves of white cat-skin, the fur turned in"wards, &c." They were also called Fiolkyngi or Fiol-kunnug; i. e. Multi-scia: and Visindakona; i. e. Oraculorum Mulier: JVornir; i. e. Parcas.

What dangers Odin's Child await,
Who the Author of his fate?

PROPHETESS.

In Hoder's hand the Hero's doom; His brother sends him to the tomb. Now my weary lips I close • Leave me, leave me to repose.

ODIN.

Prophetess, my spell obey, Once again arise, and say, Who th' Avenger of his guilt, By whom shall Hoder's blood be spilt?

PROPHETESS.

In the caverns of the west, By Odin's fierce embrace comprest, A vvond'rous Boy shall Rinda bear, Who ne'er shall comb his raven-hair, Nor wash his visage in the stream, Nor see the sun's departing beam, Till he on Hoder's corse shall smile Flaming on the fun'ral pile. Now my weary lips I close: Leave me, leave me to repose. ■

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