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The Longbeards’ Saga. A.D. 400
by [?]

Over the camp-fires
Drank I with heroes,
Under the Donau bank,
Warm in the snow trench:
Sagamen heard I there,
Men of the Longbeards,
Cunning and ancient,
Scaring the wolf cub,
Scaring the horn-owl,
Shaking the snow-wreaths
Down from the pine-boughs,
Up to the star roof
Rang out their song.
Singing how Winil men,
Over the ice-floes
Sledging from Scanland
Came unto Scoring;
Singing of Gambara,
Freya’s beloved,
Mother of Ayo,
Mother of Ibor.
Singing of Wendel men,
Ambri and Assi;
How to the Winilfolk
Went they with war-words,–
‘Few are ye, strangers,
And many are we:
Pay us now toll and fee,
Cloth-yarn, and rings, and beeves:
Else at the raven’s meal
Bide the sharp bill’s doom.’
Clutching the dwarfs work then,
Clutching the bullock’s shell,
Girding gray iron on,
Forth fared the Winils all,
Fared the Alruna’s sons,
Ayo and Ibor.
Mad at heart stalked they:
Loud wept the women all,
Loud the Alruna wife;
Sore was their need.
Out of the morning land,
Over the snow-drifts,
Beautiful Freya came,
Tripping to Scoring.
White were the moorlands,
And frozen before her:
Green were the moorlands,
And blooming behind her.
Out of her gold locks
Shaking the spring flowers,
Out of her garments
Shaking the south wind,
Around in the birches
Awaking the throstles,
And making chaste housewives all
Long for their heroes home,
Loving and love-giving,
Came she to Scoring.
Came unto Gambara,
Wisest of Valas,–
‘Vala, why weepest thou?
Far in the wide-blue,
High up in the Elfin-home,
Heard I thy weeping.’
‘Stop not my weeping,
Till one can fight seven.
Sons have I, heroes tall,
First in the sword-play;
This day at the Wendels’ hands
Eagles must tear them.
Their mothers, thrall-weary,
Must grind for the Wendels.’
Wept the Alruna wife;
Kissed her fair Freya:–
‘Far off in the morning land,
High in Valhalla,
A window stands open;
Its sill is the snow-peaks,
Its posts are the waterspouts,
Storm-rack its lintel;
Gold cloud-flakes above
Are piled for the roofing,
Far up to the Elfin-home,
High in the wide-blue.
Smiles out each morning thence
Odin Allfather;
From under the cloud-eaves
Smiles out on the heroes,
Smiles on chaste housewives all,
Smiles on the brood-mares,
Smiles on the smiths’ work:
And theirs is the sword-luck,
With them is the glory,–
So Odin hath sworn it,–
Who first in the morning
Shall meet him and greet him.’
Still the Alruna wept:–
‘Who then shall greet him?
Women alone are here:
Far on the moorlands
Behind the war-lindens,
In vain for the bill’s doom
Watch Winil heroes all,
One against seven.’
Sweetly the Queen laughed:–
‘Hear thou my counsel now;
Take to thee cunning,
Beloved of Freya.
Take thou thy women-folk,
Maidens and wives:
Over your ankles
Lace on the white war-hose;
Over your bosoms
Link up the hard mail-nets;
Over your lips
Plait long tresses with cunning;–
So war-beasts full-bearded
King Odin shall deem you,
When off the gray sea-beach
At sunrise ye greet him.’

Night’s son was driving
His golden-haired horses up;
Over the eastern firths
High flashed their manes.
Smiled from the cloud-eaves out
Allfather Odin,
Waiting the battle-sport:
Freya stood by him.
‘Who are these heroes tall,–
Lusty-limbed Longbeards?
Over the swans’ bath
Why cry they to me?
Bones should be crashing fast,
Wolves should be full-fed,
Where such, mad-hearted,
Swing hands in the sword-play.’

Sweetly laughed Freya:–
‘A name thou hast given them,
Shames neither thee nor them,
Well can they wear it.
Give them the victory,
First have they greeted thee;
Give them the victory,
Yokefellow mine!
Maidens and wives are these,–
Wives of the Winils;
Few are their heroes
And far on the war-road,
So over the swans’ bath
They cry unto thee.’

Royally laughed he then;
Dear was that craft to him,
Odin Allfather,
Shaking the clouds.
‘Cunning are women all,
Bold and importunate!
Longbeards their name shall be,
Ravens shall thank them:
Where women are heroes,
What must the men be?
Theirs is the victory;
No need of me!’

Eversley, 1852.
From Hypatia.