Home  »  Complete Poetical Works by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  »  From the Swedish and Danish. Passages from Frithiof’s Saga. I. Frithiof’s Homestead

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.


From the Swedish and Danish. Passages from Frithiof’s Saga. I. Frithiof’s Homestead

By Esaias Tegnér

THREE miles extended around the fields of the homestead, on three sides

Valleys and mountains and hills, but on the fourth side was the ocean.

Birch woods crowned the summits, but down the slope of the hillsides

Flourished the golden corn, and man-high was waving the rye-field.

Lakes, full many in number, their mirror held up for the mountains,

Held for the forests up, in whose depths the high-horned reindeers

Had their kingly walk, and drank of a hundred brooklets.

But in the valleys widely around, there fed on the greensward

Herds with shining hides and udders that longed for the milk-pail.

’Mid these scattered, now here and now there, were numberless flocks of

Sheep with fleeces white, as thou seest the white-looking stray clouds,

Flock-wise spread o’er the heavenly vault, when it bloweth in spring-time.

Coursers two times twelve, all mettlesome, fast fettered storm-winds,

Stamping stood in the line of stalls, and tugged at their fodder.

Knotted with red were their manes, and their hoofs all white with steel shoes.

Th’ banquet-hall, a house by itself, was timbered of hard fir.

Not five hundred men (at ten times twelve to the hundred)

Filled up the roomy hall, when assembled for drinking, at Yule-tide.

Thorough the hall, as long as it was, went a table of holm-oak,

Polished and white, as of steel; the columns twain of the High-seat

Stood at the end thereof, two gods carved out of an elm-tree;

Odin with lordly look, and Frey with the sun on his frontlet.

Lately between the two, on a bear-skin (the skin it was coal-black,

Scarlet-red was the throat, but the paws were shodden with silver),

Thorsten sat with his friends, Hospitality sitting with Gladness.

Oft, when the moon through the cloud-rack flew, related the old man

Wonders from distant lands he had seen, and cruises of Vikings

Far away on the Baltic, and Sea of the West, and the White Sea.

Hushed sat the listening bench, and their glances hung on the graybeard’s

Lips, as a bee on the rose; but the Scald was thinking of Brage,

Where, with his silver beard, and runes on his tongue, he is seated

Under the leafy beech, and tells a tradition by Mimer’s

Ever-murmuring wave, himself a living tradition.

Midway the floor (with thatch was it strewn) burned ever the fire-flame

Glad on its stone-built hearth; and thorough the wide-mouthed smoke-flue

Looked the stars, those heavenly friends, down into the great hall.

Round the walls, upon nails of steel, were hanging in order

Breastplate and helmet together, and here and there among them

Downward lightened a sword, as in winter evening a star shoots.

More than helmets and swords the shields in the hall were resplendent,

White as the orb of the sun, or white as the moon’s disk of silver.

Ever and anon went a maid round the board, and filled up the drink-horns,

Ever she cast down her eyes and blushed; in the shield her reflection

Blushed, too, even as she; this gladdened the drinking champions.