The Norseman.

A swarthy strength, with face of light,1
As dark sword-iron is beaten bright ;2
A brave frank look, with health aglow,3
Bonny blue eyes and open brow ;4
A man who will face to his last breath5
The sternest facts of life and death ;6
His friend he welcomes heart-in-hand,7
But foot to foot his foe must stand :8
This is the daring Norseman.9
The wild wave-motion, weird and strange,10
Rocks in him : seaward he must range.11
His life is just a mighty lust12
To wear away with use, not rust.13
Though bitter wintry cold the storm,14
The fire within him keeps him warm.15
Kings quiver at his flag unfurled :16
The sea-king’s master of the world :17
For conquering comes the Norseman.18
He hides, at heart of his rough life,19
A world of sweetness for the wife ;20
From his rude breast a babe can press21
Soft milk of human tenderness,22
Make his eyes water, his heart dance,23
And sunrise in his countenance ;24
In merry mood his ale he quaffs25
By firelight, and his blithe heart laughs,26
The mild great-hearted Norseman.27
But when the battle-trumpet rings,28
His soul’s a war-horse clad with wings !29
He drinks delight in with the breath30
Of battle and the dust of death !31
The axes redden, spring the sparks,32
Blood-radiant grow the grey mail-sarks :33
Such blows might batter, as they fell,34
Heaven’s gates, or burst the booms of hell :35
So fights the fearless Norseman.36
Valiant and true, as Sagas tell,37
The Norsemen hated lies like hell ;38
Hardy from cradle to the grave,39
’Twas their religion to be brave ;40
Great silent fighting men, whose words41
Were few, soon said, and out with swords !42
One, saw his heart cut from his side,43
Living—and smiled, and smiling, died !44
The unconquerable Norseman.45
They swam the flood, they strode in flame,46
Nor quailed when the Valkyrie came47
To kiss the chosen for her charms,48
With “ Rest, my hero, in mine arms.”49
Their spirits through a grim wide wound,50
The Norse doorway to Heaven found,51
And borne upon the battle-blast,52
Into the Hall of Heroes passed :53
And there was crowned the Norseman.54
The Norseman wrestled with old Rome55
For freedom in our island home :56
He taught us how to ride the sea,57
With hempen bridle, horse of tree.58
The Norseman stood with Robin Hood,59
By freedom in the merry green wood ;60
When William ruled the English land,61
With cruel heart and bloody hand :62
For freedom fights the Norseman.63
Still in our race the Norse king reigns,64
His best blood beats along our veins ;65
With his old glory we can glow,66
And surely sail where he could row.67
Is danger stirring? Up from sleep68
Our war-dog wakes, his watch to keep ;69
Stands with our banner over him,70
True as of old, and stern and grim :71
Come on, you’ll find the Norseman.72
When swords are gleaming you shall see73
The Norseman’s face flash gloriously,74
With look that makes the foeman reel :75
His mirror from of old was steel.76
And still he wields, in battle’s hour,77
That old Thor’s hammer of Norse power ;78
Strikes with a desperate arm of might,79
And at the last tug turns the fight :80
For never yields the Norseman.81