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PROPHETESS.

30

What call unknown, what charms presume 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?

35

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,

40

Ms.

Var. V. 27. What call unknown] What voice unknown.

V. 29. My troubled] A weary. MS.
V. 35. He] This.

MS.

V. 27. “ What power art thou, who from below
Hast made me rise."

Dryd. K. Arth. vi. V. 33. “ Till cold December comes with driving rain."

Dryden. Virg. G. i. 301. Luke. V. 34. This and the two following verses are not in the original, and therefore Gray probably borrowed them from the Thessalian Incantation in Lucan. Ph. vi. 820: “ Sic postquam fata peregit, stat vultu moestus tacito, mortemque reposcit.” See Quart. Rev. No. xxii. p. 314. “Let me, let me rest." Pope. “Let me, let me drop my freight.” Dryden. Sec. Mag. Rogers. “ Let me, let me freeze again to death.” Dryden. K. Arth.

V. 40. Odin was anxious about the fate of his son, Balder, who had dreamed he was soon to die. He was killed by Odin's other son, Hoder, who was himself slain by Vali, the son of Odin and Rinda, consonant with this prophecy. See the Edda.

For whom yon glitt'ring board is spread,
Dress’d for whom yon golden bed?

PROPHETESS.

45

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?

Var. V. 41. Yon] The. Ms.

V. 48. Reach] Touch. Ms.
V. 51, 52. Once again, &c.]
“ Prophetess, my call obey,

Once again arise and say.” Ms.

V. 42. “ Non movet aurea pompa thori.Prudent. 1. Et. iii. v. iii. “ Aurato lecto.” Juv. Sat. vi. V. 43. “ The spiced goblets mantled high.”

T. Warton. Works, ii. 74. V. 50. “Quid, oro, me post Lethæa pocula, jam Stygiis paludibus innatantem ad momentariæ vitæ reducitis officia ? Desine jam, precor, desine, ac me in meam quietem permitte," Apul. Memor. ii. 40. quoted in the Quarterly Rev. No. xxii.

p. 314.

V. 51. Women were looked upon by the Gothic nations as having a peculiar insight into futurity; and some there were that made profession of magic arts and divination. These travelled round the country, and were received in every house with great respect and honour. Such a woman bore the name

PROPHETESS.

55

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,

Var. V. 59, 60. Prophetess, &c.]

“Once again my call obey,

Prophetess, arise and say.” Ms.
V. 61, 62. Who th' avenger, &c.] These verses are trans-

posed in ms.

of Volva Seidkona or Spakona. The dress of Thorbiorga, one of these prophetesses, is described at large in Eirik's Rauda Sogu, (apud Bartholin. lib. i. cap. iv. p. 688.) “ She had on a blue vest spangled all over with stones, a necklace of glass beads, and a cap made of the skin of a black lamb lined with white cat-skin. She leaned on a staff adorned with brass, with a round head set with stones; and was girt with an Hunlandish belt, at which hung her pouch full of magical instruments. Her buskins were of rough calf-skin, bound on with thongs studded with knobs of brass, and her gloves of white cat-skin, the fur turned inwards,” &c. They were also called Fiolkyngi, or Fiolkunnug, i. e. Multi-scia; and Visindakona, i. e. Oraculorum Mulier; Nornir, i.e. Parcæ. Gray. V. 58. “When my weary lips I close And slumber, 'tis without repose.”

N. Tate. Poems, p. 90. V. 66. King Harold made (according to the singular custom of his time) a solemn vow never to clip or comb his hair, till he should have extended his sway over the whole country.

65

A wondrous boy shall Rinda bear,
Who ne'er shall comb his raven hair,
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.

70

ODIN.

Yet a while my call obey :
Prophetess, awake, and say,
What virgins these, in speechless woe,

75

[blocks in formation]

Herbert. Iceland. Translat. p. 39. In the Dying Song of
Asbiorn, p. 52:

“Know, gentle mother, know,
Thou wilt not comb my flowing hair,

When summer sweets return, In Denmark's vallies, Svanvhide fair!” V. 75. “It is not certain,” says Mr. Herbert, “what Odin means by the question concerning the weeping virgins; but it has been supposed that it alludes to the embassy afterwards sent by Frigga to try to redeem Balder from the infernal regions, and that Odin betrays his divinity by mentioning what had not yet happened.” Iceland. Translat. p. 48. The object of this embassy was frustrated by the perfidy of Loke, who, having assumed (as was supposed) the shape of an old woman, refused to join in the general petition. « I Lok (she said) will weep with dry eyes the funeral of Balder. Let all things, living or dead, weep if they will, but let Hela keep her prey.” After this, Loke hid himself, built a house among the mountains, and made a net. Odin, however, found out his hiding-place, and the gods assembled to take him. He, seeing this, burnt his net, and changed himself into a salmon. After some trouble, Thor caught him by the tail; and this is the reason why salmons, ever after, have had their tails so fine

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.

80

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

Var. V. 77. That, flaxen] Who, flowing. MS.

V. 79. Say from whence. Ms.
V. 83. The mightiest of the mighty line. ms.

and thin. They bound him with chains, and suspended the serpent Skada over his head, whose venom falls upon his face drop by drop. His wife Siguna sits by his side, catches the drops as they fall from his face in a basin, which she empties as often as it is filled. He will remain in chains till the end of the world, or, as the Icelanders call it, the Twilight of the Gods, To this the prophetess alludes in the last stanza. See Butler. Hor. Bibl. ii. 194.

V. 76. This and the following verse are not in the Latin translation. V. 82. “Great Love! I know thee now, Eldest of the Gods, art thou.”

Dryden. K. Arth. Rogers. V. 86. In the Latin, “ mater trium gigantum:" probably Angerbode, who from her name seems to be “no prophetess of good; ” and who bore to Loke, as the Edda says, three children, the wolf Fenris, the great serpent of Midgard, and Hela, all of them called giants in that system of mythology. Mason. Sams. Agon. 1247, “I dread him not, nor all his giant-brood. Luke.

V. 88. In the original, this and the three following lines are represented by this couplet:

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