Of The Wooing Of Halbiorn The Strong

A STORY FROM THE LAND-SETTLING BOOK OF ICELAND, CHAPTER XXX.

At Deildar-Tongue in the autumn-tide,
So many times over comes summer again,
Stood Odd of Tongue his door beside.
What healing in summer if winter be vain?
Dim and dusk the day was grown,
As he heard his folded wethers moan.
Then through the garth a man drew near,
With painted shield and gold-wrought spear.
Good was his horse and grand his gear,
And his girths were wet with Whitewater.
“Hail, Master Odd, live blithe and long!
How fare the folk at Deildar-Tongue?”
“All hail, thou Hallbiorn the Strong!
How fare the folk by the Brothers’-Tongue?”
“Meat have we there, and drink and fire,
Nor lack all things that we desire.
But by the other Whitewater
Of Hallgerd many a tale we hear.”
“Tales enow may my daughter make
If too many words be said for her sake.”
“What saith thine heart to a word of mine,
That I deem thy daughter fair and fine?
Fair and fine for a bride is she,
And I fain would have her home with me.”
“Full many a word that at noon goes forth
Comes home at even little worth.
Now winter treadeth on autumn-tide,
So here till the spring shalt thou abide.
Then if thy mind be changed no whit,
And ye still will wed, see ye to it!
And on the first of summer days,
A wedded man, ye may go your ways.
Yet look, howso the thing will fall,
My hand shall meddle nought at all.
Lo, now the night and rain draweth up,
And within doors glimmer stoop and cup.
And hark, a little sound I know,
The laugh of Snaebiorn’s fiddle-bow,
My sister’s son, and a craftsman good,
When the red rain drives through the iron wood.”
Hallbiorn laughed, and followed in,
And a merry feast there did begin.
Hallgerd’s hands undid his weed,
Hallgerd’s hands poured out the mead.
Her fingers at his breast he felt,
As her hair fell down about his belt.
Her fingers with the cup he took,
And o’er its rim at her did look.
Cold cup, warm hand, and fingers slim,
Before his eyes were waxen dim.
And if the feast were foul or fair,
He knew not, save that she was there.
He knew not if men laughed or wept,
While still ’twixt wall and dais she stept.
Whether she went or stood that eve,
Not once his eyes her face did leave.
But Snaebiorn laughed and Snaebiorn sang,
And sweet his smitten fiddle rang.
And Hallgerd stood beside him there,
So many times over comes summer again,
Nor ever once he turned to her,
What healing in summer if winter be vain?

Master Odd on the morrow spake,
So many times over comes summer again.
Hearken, O guest, if ye be awake,”
What healing in summer if winter be vain?
“Sure ye champions of the south
Speak many things from a silent mouth.
And thine, meseems, last night did pray
That ye might well be wed to-day.
The year’s ingathering feast it is,
A goodly day to give thee bliss.
Come hither, daughter, fine and fair,
Here is a Wooer from Whitewater.
East away hath he gotten fame,
And his father’s name is e’en my names.
Will ye lay hand within his hand,
That blossoming fair our house may stand?”
She laid her hand within his hand;
White she was as the lily wand.
Low sang Snaebiorn’s brand in its sheath,
And his lips were waxen grey as death.
“Snaebiorn, sing us a song of worth,
If your song must be silent from now henceforth.”
Clear and loud his voice outrang,
And a song of worth at the wedding he sang.
“Sharp sword,” he sang, “and death is sure.”
So many times over comes summer again,
“But love doth over all endure.”
What healing in summer if winter be vain?

Now winter cometh and weareth away,
So many times over comes summer again,
And glad is Hallbiorn many a day.
What healing in summer if winter be vain?
Full soft he lay his love beside;
But dark are the days of wintertide.
Dark are the days, and the nights are long,
And sweet and fair was Snaebiorn’s song.
Many a time he talked with her,
Till they deemed the summer-tide was there.
And they forgat the wind-swept ways
And angry fords of the flitting-days.
While the north wind swept the hillside there
They forgat the other Whitewater.
While nights at Deildar-Tongue were long,
They clean forgat the Brothers’-Tongue.
But whatso falleth ’twixt Hell and Home,
So many times over comes summer again,
Full surely again shall summer come.
What healing in summer if winter be vain?

To Odd spake Hallbiorn on a day
So many times over comes summer again,
“Gone is the snow from everyway.”
What healing in summer if winter be vain?
Now green is grown Wh
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William Morris

William Morris, Mayor of Galway, 1527-28. more…

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