The Northern Way

The Norse King's Bridal


The King went forth at dawning
        To watch the turn of the tide:
"Be still, my soul, be still!
        To-day shall bring the bride.

"Sea-gull, oh sea-gull,
        Stay thy shifting wings!
Hast seen the ship a-sailing,
        My love that brings?

"The ship with sails of scarlet
        Where threads of gold entwine---
With maids and merry minstrels,
        And gifts of mine,

"A veil for her head, and a girdle,
        And a bracelet all of gold,
Wrought by a cunning craftsman
        With labours manifold."

The King went forth at even
        To watch the silver web
Woven by wavering moonbeams
        Over the tide at ebb.

"Oh nights are short in summer!
        She will come to me soon;
To-morrow at dawn of day
        Or at height of noon."

Oh the sea grew hoary and grey
        At the turn of the year;
The fire of the whin was faded,
        The heather was brown and sere.

All the air was filled
        With the moan of the mourning main;
And the ship with sails of scarlet
        Came not home again.

The King went forth in the night---
        For care he could not sleep---
Down the perilous pathway---
        Down to the edge of the deep.

There was never a star to shine;
        Nor sea from shore he wist,
Till he felt around his feet
        The chill of the foam that hissed.

There was never a star in the skies,
        And the face of the deep was din---
Yet he saw a wavering wanness
        Like the cold moon sink and swim.

Yea, as in the heart of the billow
        Quivers the wan sea-flame,
Drifting in the darkness
        The mermaiden came.

And on the long sea-swell,
        Like to a foam-wreath pale,
Among her lock a-floating
        He saw a costly veil,

That a queen might wear to wed in---
        And on her arm so cold
He saw a gallant bracelet
        All of the gleaming gold,
Wrought by a cunning craftsman
        With labours manifold.

Then the eyes of the King were darkened,
        And his shuddering soul went down
Like a stone in the dark o' the deeps
        Where shipwrecked sailors drown.

The mermaid shimmering sank
        Like a moon that clouds eclipse---
And the spray of the salt sea mingled
        With the salt of tears on his lips.

The King goes forth at even
        By the sea-side;
He hears in the long dark caverns
        The sobbing of the tide.

Pale is the face of the King
        Like one in a deadly swoon;
Wan o'er the waste of waters
        Glimmers the waning moon.

Index  |  Previous page  |  Next page