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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Thangbrand the Priest
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)
 
From ‘The Saga of King Olaf’ in ‘Tales of a Wayside Inn’

  SHORT of stature, large of limb,
    Burly face and russet beard,
  All the women stared at him,
    When in Iceland he appeared.
      “Look!” they said,        5
      With nodding head,
“There goes Thangbrand, Olaf’s Priest.”
 
  All the prayers he knew by rote,
    He could preach like Chrysostome,
  From the Fathers he could quote.        10
    He had even been at Rome.
      A learned clerk,
      A man of mark,
Was this Thangbrand, Olaf’s Priest
 
  He was quarrelsome and loud,        15
    And impatient of control,
  Boisterous in the market crowd,
    Boisterous at the wassail-bowl;
      Everywhere
      Would drink and swear,—        20
Swaggering Thangbrand, Olaf’s Priest
 
  In his house this malcontent
    Could the King no longer bear,
  So to Iceland he was sent
    To convert the heathen there;        25
      And away
      One summer day
Sailed this Thangbrand, Olaf’s Priest.
 
  There in Iceland, o’er their books
    Pored the people day and night;        30
  But he did not like their looks,
    Nor the songs they used to write.
      “All this rhyme
      Is waste of time!”
Grumbled Thangbrand, Olaf’s Priest.        35
 
  To the alehouse, where he sat,
    Came the skalds and saga-men:
  Is it to be wondered at
    That they quarreled now and then,
      When o’er his beer        40
      Began to leer
Drunken Thangbrand, Olaf’s Priest?
 
  All the folk in Altafiord
    Boasted of their island grand;
  Saying in a single word,        45
    “Iceland is the finest land
      That the sun
      Doth shine upon!”
Loud laughed Thangbrand, Olaf’s Priest.
 
  And he answered, “What’s the use        50
    Of this bragging up and down,
  When three women and one goose
    Make a market in your town!”
      Every skald
      Satires scrawled        55
On poor Thangbrand, Olaf’s Priest.
 
  Something worse they did than that:
    And what vexed him most of all
  Was a figure in shovel hat,
    Drawn in charcoal on the wall;        60
      With words that go
      Sprawling below,
“This is Thangbrand, Olaf’s Priest.”
 
  Hardly knowing what he did,
    Then he smote them might and main:        65
  Thorvald Veile and Veterlid
    Lay there in the alehouse slain.
      “To-day we are gold,
      To-morrow mold!”
Muttered Thangbrand, Olaf’s Priest.        70
 
  Much in fear of axe and rope,
    Back to Norway sailed he then.
  “O King Olaf! Little, hope
    Is there of these Iceland men!”
      Meekly said,        75
      With bending head,
Pious Thangbrand, Olaf’s Priest.
 
 
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