Home  »  Complete Poetical Works by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  »  Part First. The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf. XVI. Queen Thyri and the Angelica Stalks

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

Tales of a Wayside Inn

Part First. The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf. XVI. Queen Thyri and the Angelica Stalks

NORTHWARD over Drontheim,

Flew the clamorous sea-gulls,

Sang the lark and linnet

From the meadows green;

Weeping in her chamber,

Lonely and unhappy,

Sat the Drottning Thyri,

Sat King Olaf’s Queen.

In at all the windows

Streamed the pleasant sunshine,

On the roof above her

Softly cooed the dove;

But the sound she heard not,

Nor the sunshine heeded,

For the thoughts of Thyri

Were not thoughts of love.

Then King Olaf entered,

Beautiful as morning,

Like the sun at Easter

Shone his happy face;

In his hand he carried

Angelicas uprooted,

With delicious fragrance

Filling all the place.

Like a rainy midnight

Sat the Drottning Thyri,

Even the smile of Olaf

Could not cheer her gloom;

Nor the stalks he gave her

With a gracious gesture,

And with words as pleasant

As their own perfume.

In her hands he placed them,

And her jewelled fingers

Through the green leaves glistened

Like the dews of morn;

But she cast them from her,

Haughty and indignant,

On the floor she threw them

With a look of scorn.

“Richer presents,” said she,

“Gave King Harald Gormson

To the Queen, my mother,

Than such worthless weeds;

“When he ravaged Norway,

Laying waste the kingdom,

Seizing scatt and treasure

For her royal needs.

“But thou darest not venture

Through the Sound to Vendland,

My domains to rescue

From King Burislaf;

“Lest King Svend of Denmark,

Forked Beard, my brother,

Scatter all thy vessels

As the wind the chaff.”

Then up sprang King Olaf,

Like a reindeer bounding,

With an oath he answered

Thus the luckless Queen:

“Never yet did Olaf

Fear King Svend of Denmark;

This right hand shall hale him

By his forked chin!”

Then he left the chamber,

Thundering through the doorway,

Loud his steps resounded

Down the outer stair.

Smarting with the insult,

Through the streets of Drontheim

Strode he red and wrathful,

With his stately air.

All his ships he gathered,

Summoned all his forces,

Making his war levy

In the region round.

Down the coast of Norway,

Like a flock of sea-gulls,

Sailed the fleet of Olaf

Through the Danish Sound.

With his own hand fearless

Steered he the Long Serpent,

Strained the creaking cordage,

Bent each boom and gaff;

Till in Vendland landing,

The domains of Thyri

He redeemed and rescued

From King Burislaf.

Then said Olaf, laughing,

“Not ten yoke of oxen

Have the power to draw us

Like a woman’s hair!

“Now will I confess it,

Better things are jewels

Than angelica stalks are

For a queen to wear.”