Tales of a Wayside Inn

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General Books LLC, 2010 - Fiction - 104 pages
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Excerpt: ...the Earl. The mariners shout, The ships swing about, The yards are all hoisted, The sails flutter out. 150 The war-horns are played, The anchors are weighed, Like moths in the distance The sails flit and fade. The sea is like lead, The harbor lies dead, As a corse on the sea-shore, Whose spirit has fled! On that fatal day, The histories say, Seventy vessels Sailed out of the bay. But soon scattered wide O'er the billows they ride, While Sigvald and Olaf Sail side by side. 151 Cried the Earl: "Follow me! I your pilot will be, For I know all the channels Where flows the deep sea!" So into the strait Where his foes lie in wait, Gallant King Olaf Sails to his fate! Then the sea-fog veils The ships and their sails; Queen Sigrid the Haughty, Thy vengeance prevails! 152 XIX. KING OLAF'S WAR-HORNS. "Strike the sails!" King Olaf said; "Never shall men of mine take flight; Never away from battle I fled, Never away from my foes! Let God dispose Of my life in the fight!" "Sound the horns!" said Olaf the King; And suddenly through the drifting brume The blare of the horns began to ring, Like the terrible trumpet shock Of Regnarock, On the Day of Doom! 153 Louder and louder the war-horns sang Over the level floor of the flood; All the sails came down with a clang, And there in the mist overhead The sun hung red As a drop of blood. Drifting down on the Danish fleet Three together the ships were lashed, So that neither should turn and retreat; In the midst, but in front of the rest The burnished crest Of the Serpent flashed. King Olaf stood on the quarter-deck, With bow of ash and arrows of oak, His gilded shield was without a fleck, His helmet inlaid with gold, And in many a fold Hung his crimson cloak. 154 On the forecastle Ulf the Red Watched the lashing of the ships; "If the Serpent lie so far ahead, We shall have hard work of it here," Said he with a sneer On his bearded lips. King Olaf laid an arrow on string, "Have I a coward on board?" said he. "Shoot it...

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About the author (2010)

During his lifetime, Longfellow enjoyed a popularity that few poets have ever known. This has made a purely literary assessment of his achievement difficult, since his verse has had an effect on so many levels of American culture and society. Certainly, some of his most popular poems are, when considered merely as artistic compositions, found wanting in serious ways: the confused imagery and sentimentality of "A Psalm of Life" (1839), the excessive didacticism of "Excelsior" (1841), the sentimentality of "The Village Blacksmith" (1839). Yet, when judged in terms of popular culture, these works are probably no worse and, in some respects, much better than their counterparts in our time. Longfellow was very successful in responding to the need felt by Americans of his time for a literature of their own, a retelling in verse of the stories and legends of these United States, especially New England. His three most popular narrative poems are thoroughly rooted in American soil. "Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie" (1847), an American idyll; "The Song of Hiawatha" (1855), the first genuinely native epic in American poetry; and "The Courtship of Miles Standish" (1858), a Puritan romance of Longfellow's own ancestors, John Alden and Priscilla Mullens. "Paul Revere's Ride," the best known of the "Tales of a Wayside Inn"(1863), is also intensely national. Then, there is a handful of intensely personal, melancholy poems that deal in very successful ways with those themes not commonly thought of as Longfellow's: sorrow, death, frustration, the pathetic drift of humanity's existence. Chief among these are "My Lost Youth" (1855), "Mezzo Cammin" (1842), "The Ropewalk" (1854), "The Jewish Cemetery at Newport" (1852), and, most remarkable in its artistic success, "The Cross of Snow," a heartfelt sonnet so personal in its expression of the poet's grief for his dead wife that it remained unpublished until after Longfellow's death. A professor of modern literature at Harvard College, Longfellow did much to educate the general reading public in the literatures of Europe by means of his many anthologies and translations, the most important of which was his masterful rendition in English of Dante's Divine Comedy (1865-67).

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