Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
Extracts from Sigurd the Volsung: Gunnar’s Death Song
By William Morris (1834–1896)
SO perished the Gap of the Gaping, and the cold sea swayed and sang,
And the wind came down on the waters, and the beaten rock-walls rang;
Then the Sun from the south came shining, and the Starry Host stood round,
And the wandering Moon of the Heavens his habitation found;
And they knew not why they were gathered, nor the deeds of their shaping they knew:        5
But lo, Mid-Earth the Noble ’neath their might and their glory grew,
And the grass spread over its face, and the Night and the Day were born,
And it cried on the Death in the even, and it cried on the Life in the morn,
Yet it waxed and waxed, and knew not, and it lived and had not learned;
And where were the Framers that framed, and the Soul and the Might that had yearned?        10
On the Thrones are the Powers that fashioned, and they name the Night and the Day,
And the tide of the Moon’s increasing, and the tide of his waning away:
And they name the years for the story; and the Lands they change and change,
The great and the mean and the little, that this unto that may be strange:
They met, and they fashioned dwellings, and the House of Glory they built;        15
They met, and they fashioned the Dwarf-kind, and the Gold and the Gifts and the Guilt.
There were twain, and they went upon earth, and were speechless unmighty and wan;
They were hopeless, deathless, lifeless, and the Mighty named them Man:
Then they gave them speech and power, and they gave them colour and breath;
And deeds and the hope they gave them, and they gave them Life and Death;        20
Yea, hope, as the hope of the Framers; yea, might, as the Fashioners had,
Till they wrought, and rejoiced in their bodies, and saw their sons and were glad:
And they changed their lives and departed, and came back as the leaves of the trees
Come back and increase in the summer:—and I, I, I am of these;
And I know of Them that have fashioned, and the deeds that have blossomed and grow;        25
But nought of the Gods’ repentance, or the Gods’ undoing I know.
*        *        *        *        *
O hearken, Kindreds and Nations, and all Kings of the plenteous earth,
Heed, ye that shall come hereafter, and are far and far from the birth!
I have dwelt in the world aforetime, and I called it the garden of God;
I have stayed my heart with its sweetness, and fair on its freshness I trod;        30
I have seen its tempest and wondered, I have cowered adown from its rain,
And desired the brightening sunshine, and seen it and been fain;
I have waked, time was, in its dawning; its noon and its even I wore;
I have slept unafraid of its darkness, and the days have been many and more:
I have dwelt with the deeds of the mighty; I have woven the web of the sword;        35
I have borne up the guilt nor repented; I have sorrowed nor spoken the word;
And I fought and was glad in the morning, and I sing in the night and the end:
So let him stand forth, the Accuser, and do on the death-shoon to wend;
For not here on the earth shall I hearken, nor on earth for the dooming shall stay,
Nor stretch out mine hand for the pleading; for I see the spring of the day        40
Round the doors of the golden Valhall, and I see the mighty arise,
And I hearken the voice of Odin, and his mouth on Gunnar cries,
And he nameth the Son of Giuki, and cries on deeds long done,
And the fathers of my fathers, and the sons of yore agone.

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