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Ere the ruddy sun be set,

Pikes must shiver, javelins sing, Blade with clattering buckler meet, Hauberk crash, and helmet ring.

(Weave the crimson web of war!)

Let us go, and let us fly
Where our friends the conflict share,
Where they triumph, where they die.

As the paths of Fate we tread,

Wading through th' ensanguined field, Gondula and Geira, spread

O'er the youthful king your shield. We the reins to slaughter give;

Ours to kill, and ours to spare: Spite of danger he shall live.

(Weave the crimson web of war!)

They whom once the desert beach
Pent within its bleak domain,
Soon their ample sway shall stretch
O'er the plenty of the plain.
Low the dauntless earl is laid,

Gored with many a gaping wound:
Fate demands a nobler head;

Soon a king shall bite the ground. Long his loss shall Eirin weep,

Ne'er again his likeness see; Long her strains in sorrow steep, Strains of immortality!

Horror covers all the heath,

Clouds of carnage blot the sun. Sisters, weave the web of death!

Sisters, cease; the work is done.

Hail the task, and hail the hands!
Songs of joy and triumph sing:
Joy to the victorious bands,

Triumph to the younger king.

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1761.

Mortal, thou that hear'st the tale,
Learn the tenor of our song.
Scotland, through each winding vale
Far and wide the notes prolong.

Sisters, hence with spurs of speed;
Each her thundering falchion wield;
Each bestride her sable steed.
Hurry, hurry to the field!

THE DESCENT OF ODIN

Uprose the King of Men with speed,
And saddled straight his coal-black steed;
Down the yawning steep he rode,
That leads to Hela's drear abode.

Him the Dog of Darkness spied:
His shaggy throat he opened wide,
While from his jaws, with carnage filled,
Foam and human gore distilled;
Hoarse he bays with hideous din,
Eyes that glow and fangs that grin,
And long pursues with fruitless yell
The Father of the powerful spell.
Onward still his way he takes

(The groaning earth beneath him shakes),
Till full before his fearless eyes
The portals nine of hell arise.
Right against the eastern gate,
By the moss-grown pile he sate,
Where long of yore to sleep was laid
The dust of the prophetic maid.
Facing to the northern clime,
Thrice he traced the runic rhyme,
Thrice pronounced in accents dread
The thrilling verse that wakes the dead;
Till from out the hollow ground
Slowly breathed a sullen sound.

1768.

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Prophetess. What call unknown, what charms, pre

sume

To break the quiet of the tomb?
Who thus afflicts my troubled sprite,

And drags me from the realms of night?
Long on these mould'ring bones have beat
The winter's snow, the summer's heat,
The drenching dews, and driving rain:
Let me, let me sleep again!
Who is he, with voice unblest,
That calls me from the bed of rest?

Odin. A traveller, to thee unknown,
Is he that calls, a warrior's son.

Thou the deeds of light shalt know:
Tell me what is done below;

For whom yon glitt'ring board is spread,
Drest for whom yon golden bed?

Prophetess. Mantling in the goblet see
The pure bev'rage of the bee;
O'er it hangs the shield of gold;
'Tis the drink of Balder bold:
Balder's head to death is giv'n;
Pain can reach the sons of Heav'n!
Unwilling I my lips unclose:
Leave me, leave me to repose!

Odin. Once again my call obey:
Prophetess, arise, and say
What dangers Odin's child await,
Who the author of his fate?

Prophetess. In Hoder's hand the hero's doom;

His brother sends him to the tomb.

Now my weary lips I close:
Leave me, leave me to repose!

Odin. Prophetess, my spell obey:
Once again arise, and say
Who th' avenger of his guilt,
By whom shall Hoder's blood be spilt?
Prophetess. In the caverns of the west,
By Odin's fierce embrace comprest,
A wondrous boy shall Rinda bear;
Who ne'er shall comb his raven hair,

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Nor wash his visage in the stream,
Nor see the sun's departing beam,
Till he on Hoder's corse shall smile
Flaming on the fun'ral pile.
Now my weary lips I close:
Leave me, leave me to repose!

Odin. Yet awhile my call obey:
Prophetess, awake, and say
What virgins these, in speechless woe,
That bend to earth their solemn brow,
That their flaxen tresses tear,

And snowy veils that float in air.

Tell me whence their sorrows rose;
Then I leave thee to repose.

Prophetess. Ha! no traveller art thou!
King of Men, I know thee now;
Mightiest of a mighty line-

Odin. No boding maid of skill divine
Art thou, nor prophetess of good,
But mother of the giant brood!

Prophetess. Hie thee hence, and boast at home

That never shall enquirer come

To break my iron sleep again,

Till Lok has burst his tenfold chain;

Never, till substantial Night

Has reassumed her ancient right;

Till wrapt in flames, in ruin hurled,
Sinks the fabric of the world.

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SKETCH OF HIS OWN CHARACTER

Too poor for a bribe, and too proud to importune,
He had not the method of making a fortune;

Could love and could hate, so was thought somewhat odd;

No very great wit, he believed in a God;

A place or a pension he did not desire,

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But left church and state to Charles Townshend and Squire.

1761.

1775.

MARK AKENSIDE

FROM

THE PLEASURES OF IMAGINATION

Say, why was man so eminently raised
Amid the vast creation, why ordained
Through life and death to dart his piercing eye,
With thoughts beyond the limit of his frame,
But that th' Omnipotent might send him forth,
In sight of mortal and immortal pow'rs,
As on a boundless theatre, to run

The great career of justice; to exalt
His gen'rous aim to all diviner deeds;

To chase each partial purpose from his breast;
And through the mists of passion and of sense,
And through the tossing tide of chance and pain,
To hold his course unfalt'ring, while the voice
Of Truth and Virtue, up the steep ascent

Of Nature, calls him to his high reward

Th' applauding smile of Heav'n? Else wherefore burns
In mortal bosoms this unquenchèd hope,

That breathes from day to day sublimer things,
And mocks possession? wherefore darts the mind
With such resistless ardour to embrace
Majestic forms, impatient to be free,
Spurning the gross control of wilful might,
Proud of the strong contention of her toils,
Proud to be daring? Who but rather turns
To heav'n's broad fire his unconstrainèd view
Than to the glimmʼring of a waxen flame?
Who that, from Alpine heights, his labʼring eye
Shoots round the wide horizon, to survey
Nilus or Ganges rolling his bright wave

Through mountains, plains, through empires black with

shade,

And continents of sand, will turn his gaze
To mark the windings of a scanty rill
That murmurs at his feet? The high-born soul
Disdains to rest her heav'n-aspiring wing
Beneath its native quarry. Tired of earth

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