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Think on your father's fame, your own renown,
* O'er-arch'd with golden shields, whose dazzling blaze
And host conflicting adverse host o'erturn:
While bright Valkeries, blue-eyed nymphs, shall crown
With this animated representation of Odin may I be permitted to compare two descriptions of the same deity from the unpublished Epic of Alfred, by Mr. Fitchett, a poem to which I have already
* "The Scandinavian Valhalla, like the Mahometan paradise, was supposed to have been roofed with shields. The Valkeries were employed by Odin to choose in battle those who were to perish, and, like the Houries, to wait on the selected heroes. These 'Posters of the sea and land' have been confounded by other writers, as well as Shakspeare, with the northern Parcæ or Destinies: but the latter, according to Scandinavian mythology, had their abode near the great ash Ydrasil in Asgard, or city of the gods. Skulda only, the youngest of them, is mentioned in the Edda, as
alluded in another work, and which may be said to have incorporated, with great vigour of imagination, the entire system of Scandinavian mythology.
accompanying the Valkeries, when engaged in fulfilling the commands of Odin.
"From these beautiful divinities, so they were once esteemed, who bestrode the sightless coursers of the air,' was most probably derived in subsequent times (with grief be it spoken) the degrading idea of witches riding upon broomsticks. At least, so soon as Christianity began to prevail, (vide Mallet's Northern Antiq. v. ii. p. 101, Transl.) severe edicts were promulgated in different kingdoms against those who travelled through the air in the night-time. The belief in such nocturnal flights, scarcely yet exploded among our country people, was the fashionable creed in the days of James the First. Had our aerial navigators started into existence a century or two sooner, they might possibly have exercised that monarch's sagacity how to bring them within the letter of the law.
"A wild boar, whose flesh was daily renewed, supplied the heroes in Valhalla with food, after their revival from having cut each other in pieces. We are not, however, to suppose that this peculiar mode of diversion was instituted for their amusement only. These heroes were selected, on account of their distinguished valour, as assistants to the gods at that future period of time predicted in the Edda, when the evil genii should burst from their different confinements to wage war against them, and the destruction of all things ensue. On this account, it is said, their arms were buried with them."-HOLE.
* Shakspeare and his Times, vol. ii. p. 549, note.
Of these portraitures, the first presents the god to his worshippers under the attitude of calm and majestic sublimity.
Th' irradiate sky, by swift degrees display'd,
Glory and light, as of a thousand suns,
Burst through the blue meridian vault, and soon
Its gorgeous wheels, flashing purpureal rays,
A still more striking delineation of Odin is given
in the following lines, where he is brought before us in the exercise of his most terrific functions:
From Valhalla's courts,
Conspicuous, arm'd in steel, with clashing noise,
A pillar huge of fire; likest a storm
O'ershadowing heaven, pregnant with sulph'rous flame.
* As a specimen of the calm beauty, philosophic dignity, and tenderness of thought, which pervade a large portion of this extensive and elaborate poem, I must beg leave to quote the following lines, being a part of the meditations of Alfred, in his seclusion beneath the cottage roof of the neat-herd, and under the persuasion that his queen had fallen a sacrifice to the savage fury of his enemies.
Ye stars, or beamy worlds, that hang on high
In grandeur so sublime:-the Power who these
Reverting, however, to the poem of Mr. Hole, we find Valdemar, animated to enthusiasm by the
First form'd, must needs surpass in wisdom, might,
Infinite as unspeakable; that made
All we behold around, systems of worlds
Stretching beyond weak fancy's utmost flight,
The good man's life connects this earth with heaven,
Death has thus lost his terrors: and the good
Among angelic shapes and blessed spirits
More various than men's minds, or stars, or flowers,
Delights unspeakable as unconceived,
Around the present throne of the Supreme,
In still ascending scale, progressive joys,
Oh! there, thou dearest partner of my soul,