BETA

THE VIKING’S DEATH.

Down to the shore slow marched the mournful throng,1
Bearing within their midst the dying king ;2
And sadly rose and fell the plaintive song,3
As ’ mid the rocks the cortège moved along4
A song as of a people sorrowing.5
Down through the gorge, where, huge on either hand,6
The stern cliffs raise their bare heads to the sky ;7
Where nothing breaks the silence of the land,8
Save fitful sound, heard from the neighbouring strand,9
Of Ocean’s moan, or lonely sea-bird’s cry.10
So to the water’s edge they slowly passed,11
And there laid down their load with tender care,12
Fearful lest each faint breath should be the last13
For life’s enfeebled tide was ebbing fast14
And it should be too late to grant his prayer.15
For he, their king, whose deeds dim legends tell,16
Had made with trembling lips this last request :17
That, rocked to his last sleep on Ocean’s swell,18
Lone ’ mid the waves whose voice he loved so well,19
He might sail slowly to the fabled West.20
So, near the shore a glorious galley lay,21
Splendid with gems, and awnings, fold on fold,22
Wondrous and rich in light of dying day,23
Which lit with varied hues the sparkling spray,24
And shot the purple sails with threads of gold.25
On to the deck the aged king they bore,26
And gently laid him on the silken bed ;27
Placed near his hand the sword he ever wore,28
With shield and crown, that on the distant shore29
He might still be a king among the dead,30
The snow-white deck they strewed with flowers bright,31
And set the sails to catch the gentle wind,32
And then, ere changed the evening’s mystic light33
Into the glimmer of the starlit night,34
The vessel left the shore and them behind.35
The pale stars watched the galley glide all night,36
Wave-rocked, whereon the living, lone king lay ;37
But when the sun uprose in lordly might,38
And bade the world—aroused to life and light39
Renew its toil—the king had passed away.40