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Sooner than the word was spoken

Flew the yeoman's shaft; Einar's bow in twain was broken,

Einar only laughed.


“What was that?” said Olaf, standing

On the quarter-deck. “ Something heard I like the stranding

Of a shattered wreck." Einar then, the arrow taking

From the loosened string, Answered, “ That was Norway breaking

From thy hand, O King!”

“ Thou art but a poor diviner,”

Straightway Olaf said ;
“ Take my bow, and swifter, Einar,

Let thy shafts be sped."
Of his bows the fairest choosing,

Reached he from above;
Einar saw the blood-drops oozing

Through his iron glove.

But the bow was thin and narrow;

At the first assay,
O'er its head he drew the arrow,

Flung the bow away;
Said, with hot and angry temper

Flushing in his cheek,
“Olaf! for so great a Kämper

Are thy bows too weak !”

Then, with smile of joy defiant

On his beardless lip,

Scaled he, light and self-reliant,

Eric's dragon-ship. Loose his golden locks were flowing,

Bright his armor gleamed ; Like Saint Michael overthrowing

Lucifer he seemed.



All day has the battle raged,
All day have the ships engaged,
But not yet is assuaged

The vengeance of Eric the Earl. .

The decks with blood are red,
The arrows of death are sped,
The ships are filled with the dead,

And the spears the champions hurl.

They drift as wrecks on the tide,
The grappling-irons are plied,
The boarders climb up the side,

The shouts are feeble and few.

Ah! never shall Norway again
See her sailors come back o'er the main,
They all lie wounded or slain,

Or asleep in the billows blue!

On the deck stands Olaf the King,
Around him whistle and sing

The spears that the foemen Aling,

And the stones they hurl with their hands.

In the midst of the stones and the spears,
Kolbiorn, the marshal, appears,
His shield in the air he uprears,

By the side of King Olaf he stands.

Over the slippery wreck
Of the Long Serpent's deck
Sweeps Eric with hardly a check,

His lips with anger are pale ;

He hews with his axe at the mast,
Till it falls, with the sails overcast,
Like a snow-covered pine in the vast

Dim forests of Orkadale.

Seeking King Olaf then,
He rushes aft with his men,
As a hunter into the den

Of the bear, when he stands at bay.

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“Remember Jarl Hakon!” he cries;

When lo! on his wondering eyes,
Two kingly figures arise,

Two Olafs in warlike array!


Then Kolbiorn speaks in the ear
Of King Olaf a word of cheer,
In a whisper that none may hear,

With a smile on his tremulous lip;

Two shields raised high in the air,
Two flashes of golden hair,
Two scarlet meteors' glare,

And both have leaped from the ship.

Earl Eric's men in the boats
Seize Kolbiorn's shield as it floats,
And cry, from their hairy throats,

“See! it is Olaf the King!”

While far on the opposite side
Floats another shield on the tide,
Like a jewel set in the wide

Sea-current’s eddying ring.

There is told a wonderful tale,
How the King stripped off his mail,
Like leaves of the brown sea-kale,

As he swam beneath the main ;

But the young grew old and gray,
And never, by night or by day,
In his kingdom of Nortoway

Was King Olaf seen again !



In the convent of Drontheim,
Alone in her chamber
Knelt Astrid the Abbess,
At midnight, adoring,

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