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Poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Tales of a Wayside Inn

XV

A LITTLE BIRD IN THE AIR

A little bird in the air
Is singing of Thyri the fair,
  The sister of Svend the Dane;
And the song of the garrulous bird
In the streets of the town is heard,
  And repeated again and again.
    Hoist up your sails of silk,
    And flee away from each other.

To King Burislaf, it is said,
Was the beautiful Thyri wed,
  And a sorrowful bride went she;
And after a week and a day,
She has fled away and away,
  From his town by the stormy sea.
    Hoist up your sails of silk,
    And flee away from each other.

They say, that through heat and through cold,
Through weald, they say, and through wold,
  By day and by night, they say,
She has fled; and the gossips report
She has come to King Olaf's court,
  And the town is all in dismay.
    Hoist up your sails of silk,
    And flee away from each other.

It is whispered King Olaf has seen,
  Has talked with the beautiful Queen;
  And they wonder how it will end;
For surely, if here she remain,
It is war with King Svend the Dane,
  And King Burislaf the Vend!
    Hoist up your sails of silk,
    And flee away from each other.

O, greatest wonder of all!
It is published in hamlet and hall,
  It roars like a flame that is fanned!
The King--yes, Olaf the King--
Has wedded her with his ring,
  And Thyri is Queen in the land!
    Hoist up your sails of silk,
    And flee away from each other.

XVI

QUEEN THYRI AND THE ANGELICA STALKS

Northward over Drontheim,
Flew the clamorous sea-gulls,
Sang the lark and linnet
  From the meadows green;

Weeping in her chamber,
Lonely and unhappy,
Sat the Drottning Thyri,
  Sat King Olaf's Queen.

In at all the windows
Streamed the pleasant sunshine,
On the roof above her
  Softly cooed the dove;

But the sound she heard not,
Nor the sunshine heeded,
For the thoughts of Thyri
  Were not thoughts of love,

Then King Olaf entered,
Beautiful as morning,
Like the sun at Easter
  Shone his happy face;

In his hand he carried
Angelicas uprooted,
With delicious fragrance
  Filling all the place.

Like a rainy midnight
Sat the Drottning Thyri,
Even the smile of Olaf
  Could not cheer her gloom;

Nor the stalks he gave her
With a gracious gesture,
And with words as pleasant
  As their own perfume.

In her hands he placed them,
And her jewelled fingers
Through the green leaves glistened
  Like the dews of morn;

But she cast them from her,
Haughty and indignant,
On the floor she threw them
  With a look of scorn.

"Richer presents," said she,
"Gave King Harald Gormson
To the Queen, my mother,
  Than such worthless weeds;

"When he ravaged Norway,
Laying waste the kingdom,
Seizing scatt and treasure
  For her royal needs.

"But thou darest not venture
Through the Sound to Vendland,
My domains to rescue
  From King Burislaf;

"Lest King Svend of Denmark,
Forked Beard, my brother,
Scatter all thy vessels
  As the wind the chaff."

Then up sprang King Olaf,
Like a reindeer bounding,
With an oath he answered
  Thus the luckless Queen:

"Never yet did Olaf
Fear King Svend of Denmark;
This right hand shall hale him
  By his forked chin!"

Then he left the chamber,
Thundering through the doorway,
Loud his steps resounded
  Down the outer stair.

Smarting with the insult,
Through the streets of Drontheim
Strode he red and wrathful,
  With his stately air.

All his ships he gathered,
Summoned all his forces,
Making his war levy
  In the region round;

Down the coast of Norway,
Like a flock of sea-gulls,
Sailed the fleet of Olaf
  Through the Danish Sound.

With his own hand fearless,
Steered he the Long Serpent,
Strained the creaking cordage,
  Bent each boom and gaff;

Till in Venland landing,
The domains of Thyri
He redeemed and rescued
  From King Burislaf.

Then said Olaf, laughing,
"Not ten yoke of oxen
Have the power to draw us
  Like a woman's hair!

"Now will I confess it,
Better things are jewels
Than angelica stalks are
  For a Queen to wear."