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His hair was yellow as hay,
Gleamed in his tawny beard.
Hearty and hale was Othere,
His cheek had the color of oak; With a kind of laugh in his speech, Like the sea-tide on a beach,
As unto the King he spoke.
And Alfred, King of the Saxons.
Had a book upon his knees, And wrote down the wondrous tale
Of him who was first to sail
Into the Arctic seas.
“So far I live to the northward,
No man lives north of me; To the east are wild mountain-chains, And beyond them meres and plains ;
To the westward all is sea.
“ So far I live to the northward,
From the harbor of Skeringes-hale, If you only sailed by day, With a fair wind all the way,
More than a month would you sail.
“I own six hundred reindeer,
With sheep and swine beside; I have tribute from the Finns, Whalebone and reindeer-skins,
And ropes of walrus-bide.
I ploughed the land with horses,
heart was ill at ease,
of the seas;
“Of Iceland and of Greenland,
And the stormy Hebrides,
And the undiscovered deep;-
For thinking of those seas.
“ To the northward stretched the desert,
How far I fain would know;
As far as the whale-ships go.
* To the west of me was the ocean,
To the right the desolate shore, But I did not slacken sail
For the walrus or the whale,
Till after three days more.
“ The days grew longer and longer,
Till they became as one,
Of the red midnight sun.
“ And then uprose before me,
Upon the water's edge,
Whose form is like a wedge.
“ The sea was rough and stormy,
The tempest howled and wailed, And the sea-fog, like a ghost, Haunted that dreary coast,
But onward still I sailed.
“ Four days I steered to eastward,
Four days without a night:
With red and lurid light.”
Here Alfred, King of the Saxons,
Ceased writing for a while ;
And raised his eyes from his book, With a strange and puzzled look,
And an incredulous smile.
But Othere, the old sea-captain,
He neither paused nor stirred,
" And now the land," said Othere,
“ Bent southward suddenly, And I followed the curving shore And ever southward bore
Into a nameless sea.
66 And there we hunted the walrus,
The narwhale, and the seal;
Flew our harpoons of steel.