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The Descent of Odin
by Thomas Gray

Up rose the King of Men with speed,
And saddled straight his coal-black steed;
Down the yawning steep he rode,
That leads to Hela's drear abode.
Him the Dog of Darkness spied,
His shaggy throat he opened wide,

While from his jaws, with carnage filled,
Foam and human gore distilled;
Hoarse he bays with hideous din,
Eyes that glow, and fangs that grin;
And long pursues with fruitless yell,
The father of that powerful spell.
Onward still his way he takes,
The groaning earth beneath him shakes,)
Till full before his fearless eyes
The portals nine of hell arise.

Right against the eastern gate,
By the moss-grown pile he sate;
Where long of yore to sleep was laid
The dust of the prophetic Maid (*i.e.Hela).
Facing to the northern clime,
Thrice he traced the runic rime;
Thrice pronounced in accents dread,
The thrilling verse that wakes the dead:
Till from out the hollow ground
Slowly breathed a sullen sound.


'What call unknown, what charms presume
To break the quiet of the tomb?
Who thus afflicts my troubled sprite,
And drags me from the realms of night?
Long on these moldering bones have beat
The winter's snow, the summer's heat,
The drenching dews, and driving rain!
Let me, let me sleep again.
Who is he, with voice unblessed,
That calls me from the bed of rest?'


'A Traveler, to thee unknown,
Is he that calls, a Warrior's son.
Thou the deeds of light shall know;
Tell me what is done below,
From whom yon glitt'ring board is spread,
Dressed for whom yon golden bed.'

[Pr. Maid/ Hela]:

'Mantling in the goblet see
The pure bev'rage of the bee,
O'er it hangs the shield of gold;
'Tis the drink of Balder bold;
Balder's head to death is giv'n.
Pain can reach the sons of Heav'n!
Unwilling I my lips unclose:
Leave me, leave me to repose.'


'Once again my call obey;
Prophetess, arise, and say,
What dangers Odin's child await,
Who the Author of his fate.'


'In Hoder's hand the Hero's doom:
His brother sends him to the tomb.
Now my weary lips I close;
Leave me, leave me to repose.'


'Prophetess, my spell obey;
Once again arise, and say,
Who th'Avenger of his guilt,
By whom shall Hoder's blood be spilled?'


'In the caverns of the west,
By Odin's fierce embrace compressed,
A wond'rous boy shall Rinda bear,
Who ne'er shall comb his raven hair,
Nor wash his visage in the stream,
Nor see the sun's departing beam,
Till he on Hoder's corpse shall smile
Flaming on the funeral pile.
Now my weary lips I close;
Leave me, leave me to repose.'