by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882)

On King Olaf's bridal night
Language: English 
On King Olaf's bridal night
Shines the moon with tender light,
And across the chamber streams
    Its tide of dreams. 

At the fatal midnight hour,
When all evil things have power,
In the glimmer of the moon
    Stands Gudrun. 

Close against her heaving breast
Something in her hand is pressed;
Like an icicle, its sheen
    Is cold and keen. 

On the cairn are fixed her eyes
Where her murdered father lies,
And a voice remote and drear
    She seems to hear. 

What a bridal night is this!
Cold will be the dagger's kiss;
Laden with the chill of death
    Is its breath. 

Like the drifting snow she sweeps
To the couch where Olaf sleeps;
Suddenly he wakes and stirs,
    His eyes meet hers. 

"What is that," [King Olaf said]1,
"Gleams so bright above my head?
Wherefore standest thou so white
    In pale moonlight?" 

"'T is the bodkin that I wear
When at night I bind my hair;
It woke me falling on the floor;
    'T is nothing more." 

"Forests have ears, and fields have eyes;
Often treachery lurking lies
Underneath the fairest hair!
    Gudrun beware!" 

Ere the earliest peep of morn
Blew King Olaf's bugle-horn;
And forever sundered ride
    Bridegroom and bride!

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2009-10-02
Line count: 40
Word count: 202