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~ Historical & Classical Poetry ~

(The poem presents the notion that Odin was a chief of an eastern country oppressed by the Roman Empire,
who emigrated to Scandinavia to form a new empire in freedom.)


Death of Odin.


Soul of my much-lov'd Freya ! yes, I come !
No pale disease's slow-consuming power
Has hasten'd on thy husband's hour ;
Nor pour'd by victor's thirsty hand
Has Odin's life bedew'd the land:
I rush to meet thee by a self-will'd doom.
No more my clattering iron car
Shall rush amid the throng of war;
No more, obedient to my heavenly cause.
Shall crimson conquest stamp his Odin's laws.

I go--I go;
Yet shall the nations own my sway
Far as yon orb shall dart his all-enlivening ray :
Big is the death-fraught cloud of woe
That hangs, proud Rome, impending o'er thy wall,
For Odin shall avenge his Asgard's fall.
Thus burst from Odin's lips the fated sound,
As high in air he rear'd the gleaming blade;
His faithful friends around
In silent wonder saw the scene, affray'd::
He, unappall'd, towards the skies
Uplifts his death-denouncing eyes;

" Ope wide Valhalla's shield-roof 'd hall,
" Virgins of bliss ! obey your master's call;
" From these injurious realms below
" The sire of nations hastes to go."

Say, faulters now your chieftain's breath ?
Or chills pale terror now his death-like face ?
Then weep not, Thor, thy friend's approaching death,
Let no unmanly tears disgrace
The first of mortal's valiant race:
Dauntless Heimdal, mourn not now,
Balder ! clear thy cloudy brow;
I go to happier realms above,
To realms of friendship and of love.
This unmanly grief dispelling,
List to glory's rapturous call;
So with Odin ever dwelling,
Meet him in the shield-roof 'd hall:
Still shall Odin's fateful lance
Before his daring friends advance;

When the bloody fight beginning.
Helms and shields, and hauberks ringing,
Streaming life each fatal wound
Pours its current on the groundj
Still in clouds portentous riding
O'er his comrade host presiding.
Odin, from the stormy air,
O'er your affrighted foes shall scatter wild despair.

'Mid the mighty din of battle,
Whilst conflicting chariots rattle.
Floods of purple slaughter streaming.
Fate-fraught falchions widely gleaming;
When MISTA marks her destin'd prey.
When dread and death deform the day;
Happy he amid the strife.
Who pours the current of his life ;
Every toil and trouble ending,
Odin from his hall descending.
Shall bear him to his blest retreat,
Shall place him in the warrior's seat.

Not such the destin'd joys that wait
The wretched dastard's future fate:
Wild shrieks shall yell in every breath,
The agonizing shrieks of death.
Adown his wan and livid face
Big drops their painful way shall trace;
Each limb in that tremendous hour
Shall quiver in disease's power.
Grim Hela o'er his couch shall hang,
Scoff at his groans, and point each pang;
No Virgin Goddess him shall call
To join you in the shield-roof 'd hall;
No Valkery for him prepare
The smiling mead with lovely care :
Sad and scorn'd the wretch shall lie,
Despairing shriek despairing die !
No Scald in never-dying lays
Shall rear the temple of his praise ;
No Virgin in her vernal bloom
Bedew with tears his high-rear'd tomb;
No Soldier sound his honor'd name;
No song shall hand him down to fame;

But rank weeds o'er the inglorious grave
Shall to the blast their high heads wave;
And swept by time's strong stream away,
He soon shall sink oblivion's prey;
And deep in Niflehim dreary cell,
Aye shall his sprite tormented dwell,
Where grim Remorse for ever wakes,
Where Anguish feeds her torturing snakes,
Where Disappointment and Delay
For ever guard the doleful way ;
Amid the joyless land of woe
Keen and bleak the chill blasts blow ;
Drives the tempest, pours the rain,
Showers the hail with force amain j
Yell the night-birds as they fly
Flitting in the misty sky;
Glows the adder, swells the toad,
For sad is Hela's cold abode.

Spread then the Gothic banners to the sky,
Lift your sable banners high;
Yoke your coursers to the car,
Strike the sounding shield of war;
Go, my lov'd companions, go
Trample on the opposing foe;
Be like the raging torrent's force.
That, rushing from the hills, speds on its foaming course.

Haste, my sons, to war's alarms,
Triumph in the clang of arms ;
Joy amid the warlike toil.
Feed the raven with your spoil;
Go, prepare the eagle's food.
Go, and drench the wolf with blood,
'Till ye shall hear dark Hela's call,
And virgins waft ye to my hall;
There, wrapt in clouds, the shadowy throng
To airy combat glide along;
Till wearied with the friendly fight, _
Serimner's flesh recruits their might;
There, whilst I grasp the Roman skull,
With hydromel sweet-smiling full,
The festive song shall echo round,
The Scald repeat the deathless sound:

Then, Thor, when thou from fight shall cease,
When death shall lay that arm in peace.
Still shall the nations fear thy nod.
The first of warriors now, and then their god;
But be each heart with rage possest.
Let vengeance glow in every breast j
Let conquest fell the Roman wall.
Revenge on Rome my Asgard's fall.
The Druid throng shall fall away,
And sink beneath your victor sway ;
No more shall nations bow the knee,
Vanquish'd Taranis, to thee;
No more upon the sacred stone,
Tentates, shall thy victims groan;
The vanquish'd Odin, Rome, shall cause thy fall,
And his destruction shake thy proud imperial wall.

Yet, my faithful friends, beware
Luxury's enerving snare;
'Twas this that shook our Asgard's dome,
That drove us from our native home;
'Twas this that smooth'd the way for victor Rome:
Gaul's fruitful plains invite your sway.
Conquest points the destin'd way ;
Conquest shall attend your call.
And your success shall gild still more Valhalla's hall.

So spake the dauntless chief, and pierc'd his breast,
Then rush'd to seize the seat of endless rest.

Robert Southey (1774-1843)

From: "Poems: containing The retrospect, odes, elegies, sonnets, &c (1795)"

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