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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Reconciliation
By Esaias Tegnér (1782–1846)
 
        
From ‘Frithiof’s Saga’
  
  [In the thirteenth canto, Frithiof in a defiant mood enters the temple of Balder, seizes the arm-ring, pulls down the image of Balder, and involves the whole temple in ruin, it being consumed in a blaze of unquenchable fire.
  Returning from the sea, Frithiof in disguise visits the court of King Ring, and sees Ingeborg, who recognizes him through his disguise. King Ring also divines his secret, but magnanimously allows him to depart in peace.
  Frithiof rebuilds the temple in a spirit of sincere repentance.
  King Ring has died, and Ingeborg is free.
  The last canto is entitled ‘The Reconciliation,’ and is full of noble sentiment. Frithiof has made atonement, resumes his place in the kingdom, and is united to Ingeborg.]

        FINISHED great Balder’s temple stood!
        Round it no palisade of wood
                Ran now as erst:
        A railing stronger, fairer than the first,
          And all of hammered iron,—each bar        5
            Gold-tipped and regular,—
  Walls Balder’s sacred house. Like some long line
  Of steel-clad champions, whose bright war-spears shine
          And golden helms afar, so stood
  This glittering guard within the holy wood!…        10
 
Proud stood it there on mountain steep, its lofty brow
Reflected calmly on the sea’s bright-flowing wave.
But round about, some girdle like of beauteous flowers,
Went Balder’s dale, with all its groves’ soft-murmured sighs,
And all its birds’ sweet twittered songs,—the home of peace….        15
 
    Farthest within, the god’s high altar rested,
            Hewn all of one sole block
            From Northern marble rock;
    And round thereon its scroll the serpent twisted,
            With solemn rune        20
            Each fold thick strewn,
    Whose words from Havamal and Vala taken
    Deep thoughts in every human bosom waken,—
          While in the wall above
      A niche was seen with stars of gold        25
      On dark-blue ground; and there, behold!
    All mild and gentle as the silver moon
        Sitting heaven’s blue aboon,
  The silver image stands of Balder, God of Love!—
 
  So seemed the sanctuary.—Forth in pairs now tread        30
      Twelve temple virgins; vests of silver thread
      Adorn each slender form, and roses red
          O’er ev’ry cheek soft graces shed,
                    And spread
  O’er ev’ry innocent heart a fragrant fair rose-bed.—        35
      Before the White God’s image, and around
      The late-blessed altar, dancing, light they bound
      As spring winds leap where rippling fount waves sound.
      As woodland elves that skip along the ground,
            Skimming the high-grown grass        40
              Which morning’s dew
    Still hangs with sparkling gems of every hue;—
  Ah! how those jewels tremble as the fairies pass!
 
  And while the dance went round, a holy song they sung
  Of Balder, that mild god, and how he was beloved        45
  By every creature, till he fell by Höder’s dart,
  And earth and ocean wide, and heaven itself, sore wept!
    How pure, how tender that song it pealeth!
            Sure never sprang
            Such tuneful clang        50
    From mortal breast! No,—heaven revealeth
Some tone from Breidablick, from out the gods’ own hall,
All soft as lonely maiden’s thoughts on him she loves,
What time the quail calls deeply ’mid the peace of night;
The North’s tall birches bathed i’ th’ moon’s pale-quivering sheen.        55
 
  And Frithiof, leaning on his sword, whose glance
  Shines far around, stood lost as in a trance,
  And charmed and silent gazed upon the dance!—
  Thereat his childhood’s memories, how they throng
Before his raptured eye!—A jocund train, and long,        60
        And innocent and glad and true,
        With eyes like heaven’s own blue,
  And heads rich circled by bright-golden tresses,—
  His former youth-friend each with some sign addresses;
          Then all his Viking life,        65
          With scenes of murderous strife
          And bold adventures rife,
      Like some dark bloody shadow sinketh
      Fast down to night.—Ah! glad he drinketh
      Forgetfulness’s sweet cup, and thinketh,        70
    “Repose at last those sea-king exploits have,—
I stand a flower-crowned Bauta-Stone upon their grave!”…
 
  “Son Frithiof, welcome! Yes, I’ve long expected
  That thou shouldst come;—for force, ’tis true, still wanders
  Round land and sea afar, wild Berserk like        75
  That pale with rage the shield’s hard border biteth;
  But yet at last it home returns again,
  Outwearied and all calm.—The strong-armed Thor
  Full oft ’gainst giant Jotunheim did wend;
  But spite his belt celestial, spite his gauntlets,        80
  Utgårda-Loke still his throne retains;—
  Evil, itself a force, to force yields never!
  Goodness, not joined with strength, must child’s-play be;—
  On Ägir’s bosom so, the sun shines prettily;
  But fickle as the flood the graspless splendor see!        85
  As sink or rise the billows, thus all changeably
  The fairy brightness flitteth, moving endlessly.
  And force, from goodness severed, surely dies;
  Self-eating, self-consumed, as sword that lies
  In some damp cairn, black rust corrodes the prize:        90
  Yes! Life’s debauch fierce strength’s mad riot is!
  But ah! Oblivion’s heron flutters still
  O’er goblet-brim that traitorous sweet draughts fill,
And deep’s the wakened drunkard’s shame for deeds of ill!…
 
          “King Helge is no more!”—        95
  “King Helge, he,” said Frithiof,—“when, where, how?”
 
    “Thyself know’st well that whilst thou here hast builded
    This temple to the god, King Helge marched
    On painful foray ’mong the heathen Fins,
    Scaling each mountain wall. In Finland’s borders,        100
    Raised on a barren time-worn peak, there stood
    An ancient temple consecrate to Jumala:
    Abandoned and fast-shut, for many ages
    This desolate fane had been, its every rite
    Long since forgotten; but above the portal        105
    An old and monstrous idol of the god
    Stood, frail-supported, trembling to its fall.
    This temple none dared enter, scarce approach;
    For down from sire to son an eld tradition
    Went dimly warning, that whoever first        110
    The temple visited should Jumala view!
    This Helge heard, and in his blind fierce rage,
    The pathless wilds trod ’gainst this deity
    So hated from of old, all bent on razing
    The temple’s heathen walls. But when he’d marched        115
    Up where the ruin threatened, lo! all fast
    The massy moss-grown door was closed; and, covered
    With thick brown rust, the key still sat within it.
    Grim Helge then, the door-posts griping hard,
    With rude uncivil strain the moldering pillars        120
    Fierce shook, and straightway—with tremendous crash
    The sculptured image fell, burying beneath it
    Valhalla’s impious son; and so dread Jumala
    His eyes behold.—A messenger in haste
    These tidings brought ere yet last night was ended.        125
 
    “Now, only Halfdan sits on Bele’s chair.
    Thy hand, brave Frithiof, offer him! Revenge
    And passion sacrifice to heaven’s high gods:
    This Balder’s shrine demandeth;—I demand, too,
    As Balder’s highest priest, in token meet        130
    That peace’s gentle chief thou hast not mocked
    With vain professions and an empty homage.—
  Decide, my son!—shall Balder’s peace be broken?
  If so, in vain thou’st built this fane, the token
Of mild forgiveness, and in vain aged priest hath spoken!”        135
 
      Over the copper threshold Halfdan now,
              With pallid brow
      And fearful fitful glance, advanceth slow
      Tow’rds yonder tow’ring ever-dreaded foe,
        And, silent, at a distance stands.        140
        Then Frithiof, with quick hands,
      The corslet-hater, Angurvadel, from his thigh
    Unbuckleth, and his bright shield’s golden round
      Leaning ’gainst the altar, thus draws nigh;
              While his cowed enemy        145
      He thus accosts, with pleasant dignity:—
    “Most noble in this strife will he be found
          Who first his right hand good
      Offers in pledge of peaceful brotherhood!”
      Then Halfdan, deeply blushing, doffs with haste        150
  His iron gauntlet, and—with hearty grasp embraced—
          Each long, long severed hand
  Its friend-foe hails, steadfast as mountain-bases stand!
 
    That aged and awful priest then glad removeth
    The curse that rested on the varg I veum,        155
    Frithiof the outlaw; and as the last deep accents
    Of reconcilement and of blessing sounded—
    Lo! Ing’borg sudden enters, rich adorned
    With bridal ornaments, and all enrobed
    In gorgeous ermine, and by bright-eyed maidens        160
    Slow followed, as on heaven’s broad canopy
    Attending star-trains guard the regent moon!
          But the young bride’s fair eyes,
              Those two blue skies,
              Fill quick with tears,        165
  And to her brother’s heart she trembling sinketh;—
          He, with his sister’s fears
  Deep-moved, her hand all tenderly in Frithiof’s linketh,
  His burden soft transferring to that hero’s breast,
  Its long-tried faith fit place for Ing’borg’s rest.        170
Then, to her heart’s first, best beloved, her childhood’s friend,
                In nuptial band
          She gives her lily hand,
  As before pardoning Balder’s altar both low bend!
 
 
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