Loud the anngy wind was wailing As King Olaf's ships came sailing Northward out of Drontheim haven To the mouth of Salten Fiord. Though the flying sea-spray drenches Fore and aft the rowers' benches, Not a single heart is craven Of the champions there on board. All without the Fiord was quiet But within it storm and riot, Such as on his Viking cruises Raud the Strong was wont to ride. And the sea through all its tide-ways Swept the reeling vessels sideways, As the leaves are swept through sluices, When the flood-gates open wide. "'T is the warlock! 't is the demon Raud!" cried Sigurd to the seamen; "But the Lord is not affrighted By the witchcraft of his foes." To the ship's bow he ascended, By his choristers attended, Round him were the tapers lighted, And the sacred incense rose. On the bow stood Bishop Sigurd, In his robes, as one transfigured, And the Crucifix he planted High amid the rain and mist. Then with holy water sprinkled All the ship; the mass-bells tinkled. Loud the monks around him chanted, Loud he read the Evangelist. As into the Fiord they darted, On each side the water parted; Down a path like silver molten Steadily rowed King Olaf's ships; Steadily burned all night the tapers, And the White Christ through the vapors Gleamed across the Fiord of Salten, As through John's Apocalypse,-- Till at last they reached Raud's dwelling On the little isle of Gelling; Not a guard was at the doorway, Not a glimmer of light was seen. But at anchor, carved and gilded, Lay the dragon-ship he builded; 'T was the grandest ship in Norway, With its crest and scales of green. Up the stairway, softly creeping, To the loft where Raud was sleeping, With their fists they burst asunder Bolt and bar that held the door. Drunken with sleep and ale they found him, Dragged him from his bed and bound him, While he stared with stupid wonder, At the look and garb they wore. Then King Olaf said: "O Sea-King! Little time have we for speaking, Choose between the good and evil; Be baptized, or thou shalt die!? But in scorn the heathen scoffer Answered: "I disdain thine offer; Neither fear I God nor Devil; Thee and thy Gospel I defy!" Then between his jaws distended, When his frantic struggles ended, Through King Olaf's horn an adder, Touched by fire, they forced to glide. Sharp his tooth was as an arrow, As he gnawed through bone and marrow; But without a groan or shudder, Raud the Strong blaspheming died. Then baptized they all that region, Swarthy Lap and fair Norwegian, Far as swims the salmon, leaping, Up the streams of Salten Fiord. In their temples Thor and Odin Lay in dust and ashes trodden, As King Olaf, onward sweeping, Preached the Gospel with his sword. Then he took the carved and gilded Dragon-ship that Raud had builded, And the tiller single-handed, Grasping, steered into the main. Southward sailed the sea-gulls o'er him, Southward sailed the ship that bore him, Till at Drontheim haven landed Olaf and his crew again.
- by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882), "Bishop Sigurd at Salten Fiord", appears in Tales of a Wayside Inn, in The Musician's Tale; The Saga of King Olaf, no. 11, first published 1863 [author's text checked 1 time against a primary source]
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This text was added to the website: 2009-10-02
Line count: 88
Word count: 524