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

Tales of a Wayside Inn

Part First. Interlude

AND then the blue-eyed Norseman told

A Saga of the days of old.

“There is,” said he, “a wondrous book

Of Legends in the old Norse tongue,

Of the dead kings of Norroway,—

Legends that once were told or sung

In many a smoky fireside nook

Of Iceland, in the ancient day,

By wandering Saga-man or Scald;

‘Heimskringla’ is the volume called;

And he who looks may find therein

The story that I now begin.”

And in each pause the story made

Upon his violin he played,

As an appropriate interlude,

Fragments of old Norwegian tunes

That bound in one the separate runes,

And held the mind in perfect mood,

Entwining and encircling all

The strange and antiquated rhymes

With melodies of olden times;

As over some half-ruined wall,

Disjointed and about to fall,

Fresh woodbines climb and interlace,

And keep the loosened stones in place.