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THE SKELETON IN ARMOR.

“SPEAK! speak! thou fearful guest! Who, with thy hollow breast Still in rude armor drest,

Comest to daunt me! Wrapt not in Eastern balms, But with thy fleshless palms Stretched, as if asking alms,

Why dost thou haunt me?"

Then, from those cavernous eyes
Pale flashes seemed to rise,
As when the Northern skies

Gleam in December;
And, like the water's flow
Under December's snow,
Came a dull voice of woe

From the heart's chamber.

“I was a Viking old !
My deeds, though manifold,
No Skald in song has told,

No Saga taught thee!
Take heed, that in thy verse

I 24

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"Far in the Northern land, By the wild Baltic's strand, I, with my childish hand,

Tamed the gerfalcon; And, with my skates fast-bound, Skimmed the half-frozen Sound, That the poor whimpering hound,

Trembled to walk on.

"Oft to his frozen lair
Tracked I the grizzly bear,
While from my path the hare

Fled like a shadow ;
Oft through the forest dark
Followed the were-wolf's bark,
Until the soaring lark

Sang from the meadow.

“But when I older grew, Joining a corsair's crew, O'er the dark sea I flew

With the marauders. Wild was the life we led; Many the souls that sped, Many the hearts that bled, By our stern orders.

"Many a wassail-bout Wore the long Winter out; Often our midnight shout

Set the cocks crowing, As we the Berserk's tale Measured in cups of ale, Draining the oaken pail,

Filled to o'erflowing.

"Once as I told in glee
Tales of the stormy sea,
Soft
eyes
did

gaze on me,
Burning yet tender;
And as the white stars shine
On the dark Norway pine,
On that dark heart of mine

Fell their soft splendor.

“I wooed the blue-eyed maid, Yielding, yet half afraid, And in the forest's shade

Our vows were plighted. Under its loosened vest Fluttered her little breast, Like birds within their nest

By the hawk frighted.

“Bright in her father's hall
Shields gleamed upon the wall,
Loud sang the minstrels all,

Chanting his glory;
When of old Hildebrand
I asked his daughter's hand,
Mute did the minstrels stand

To hear my story.

"While the brown ale he quaffed,
Loud then the champion laughed,
And as the wind-gusts waft

The sea-foam brightly,
So the loud laugh of scorn,
Out of those lips unshorn,
From the deep drinking-horn

Blew the foam lightly.

"She was a Prince's child,
I but a Viking wild,
And though she blushed and smiled,

I was discarded!
Should not the dove so white
Follow the sea-mew's flight,
Why did they leave that night

Her nest unguarded ?

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