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Herta, Or The Storm-compeller

( Originally Published Late 1800's )

Being a great admirer of the legends and poetical fictions of the north, I have employed a good deal of my leisure time in endeavouring to express the force of some of the best in English poetry. The following is a Danish ballad, not much known, and supposed to be of some antiquity. I have attempted to represent the various turns and transitions, for which the Danish poems are so remarkable, by a similar change of measure in English. Should it be deemed worthy of insertion in your excellent Magazine, it is much at your service, and will be followed at times by a few others, which I think are perhaps even more remarkable for their wildness and originality.


A Ballad from the Danish.

Herta, according to Scandinavian tradition, was a goddess who presided over storms. The Prince referred to in this ballad was called, according to popular report, " Sweno ;" but little or nothing is known of his history.

O dark-eyed maid of Thasca's dell,
Who sing'st amid the ocean's roar,
Or by Saint Hilda's sacred well,
Or roam'st by haunted Elsinore ;
Hark ! hark !
The sea-mew's scream
Resounds from Friedenborga's stream !
Heard ye how the wild-dogs bark ?
Saw ye the meteor's fearful gleam?
O yes, I heard, and merrily
Sounded the sea-mew's scream to me !
I rejoice when meteors stray,
When the Storm-fiend rushes through the air,
I am there ! I am there !
To speed, to speed him on his way,
When the frenzied lightning's glare
Around my murky tresses play.
What can be more sweet to see,
Than the sailor's agony,
While around the wild waves roar,
And lash with furious rage the shore?
See he clings to yonder plank !
Then I flit above his head,
Then I whelm him, see he sank
To his everlasting bed !
Heavily, heavily went he down
To his place of rest,
Without a sigh, without a groan,
Unhouseled, unconfest.
Him shall Denmark's chiefs bewail,
Him shall Denmark's people mourn,
Accursed be the fatal gale
That bore him to his final bourne !

Here the poem abruptly concludes. It appears that there is a considerable deficiency before the last two lines, unless they may be the words of the people bewailing their lost hero, or perhaps a moral reflection of the writer.

St. Hilda or Eilda, in the original " Enda, sacred of women ;" an expression hardly to be rendered into poetic English.

The sense appears unconnected in different parts, and perhaps some lines are lost. The choruses of the Greek poets, it will be remembered, are sometimes similarly confused.

The epithet storm-compeller (which is rendered literally) will remind the classical reader of so common in Homer.

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