December 14th, 2019

Duath

Thomas Penrose, 'The Carousal of Odin'

The Carousal of Odin
(1775)

Fill the honey’d bev’rage high,
Fill the sculls, ’tis Odin’s cry:
Heard ye not the powerful call,
Thund’ring thro’ the vaulted hall?
“Fill the meath, and spread the board,
“Vassals of the griesly Lord.”—

The portal hinges grate,—they come—
The din of voices rocks the dome.
In stalk the various forms, and, drest
In various armour, various vest,
With helm and morion, targe and shield,
Some quivering launces couch, some biting maces wield:
All march with haughty step, all proudly shake the crest.
The feast begins, the scull goes round,
Laughter shouts—the shouts resound.
The gust of war subsides—E’en now
The grim chief curls his cheek, and smooths his rugged brow.

“Shame to your placid front, ye men of death!”
Cries Hilda, with disorder’d breath.
Hell echoes back her scoff of shame
To the inactive rev’ling Champion’s name.
“Call forth the song,” she scream’d;—the minstrels came
The theme was glorious war, the dear delight
Of shining best in field, and daring most in fight;

“Joy to the soul,” the Harpers sung,
“When embattl’d ranks among,
The steel-clad Knight, in vigour’s bloom,
(Banners waving o’er his plume)
“Foremost rides, the flower and boast
“Of the bold determin’d host!”
With greedy ears the guests each note devour’d,
Each struck his beaver down, and grasp’d his faithful sword.
The fury mark’d th’ auspicious deed,
And bade the Scalds proceed.

“Joy to the soul! a joy divine!
“When conflicting armies join;
“When trumpets clang, and bugles sound;
“When strokes of death are dealt around;
“When the sword feasts, yet craves for more;
“And every gauntlet drips with gore.”—

The charm prevail’d, up rush’d the madden’d throng,
Panting for carnage, as they fum’d along.
Fierce Odin’s self led forth the frantic band,
To scatter havock wide o’er many a guilty land.

By Thomas Penrose