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The Death of Balder   By: (1743-1781)

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Transcribed by David Price, email

An Edition of 250 Copies only will be printed. No more will be published.


Author of "Bible in Spain," "Lavengro," "Wild Wales," etc.



The works of the late poet Ewald are deservedly popular in Denmark. The present tragedy, and the opera of "The Fishermen" ("Fiskerne"), in which occurs the bold lyric which has become the national song of the Danes, are esteemed his best productions.

For the fidelity with which the present version has been made I appeal to those of my countrymen who understand the original, and demand whether I have given a thought or expression equivalents to which are not to be found in the Danish tragedy.

I have imitated the peculiar species of blank verse in which the original is composed, in order that the English reader may form an exact idea thereof, and though by having done so my poetry may have somewhat of a cramped, embarrassed gait, I have a firm hope that I shall not meet very severe reprehension for having sacrificed elegance to fidelity.



Balder. Hother. Thor. Nanna. Loke. The Three Valkyrier.

The place of action is a pine wood on the Norwegian mountains. Round about it are seen steep and uneven rocks. The top of the hindermost and highest is covered with snow.


BALDER and THOR are seated upon stones at some distance from each other. Both are armed THOR with his hammer, and BALDER with spear and sword.

BALDER. Land whose proud and rocky bosom Braves the sky continually!

THOR. Where should strength and valour blossom, Land of rocks, if not in thee?

BALDER. Odin's shafts of ruddy levin Back from thy hard sides are driven; Never sun thy snow dispels.

THOR. Sure, he'll joy in deeds of daring, Ne'er for ease voluptuous caring, Who upon the mountain dwells.

BOTH. Land whose proud and rocky bosom Braves the sky continually! Where should strength and valour blossom, Land of rocks, if not in thee?

BALDER (he springs up, but THOR remains sitting, like one in deep thought). Ha! I will quickly fly from thee for ever, Thou hated land, where everything so proudly Upbraids me for my weakness for my fetters: Where I, pursu'd by pains of hopeless passion, The live long nights among deaf rocks do wander Whose echoes sport with Balder's lamentations, Each cold, each feelingless, as Nanna's bosom, The fair, unpitying savage!

THOR. Son of Odin!

BALDER. Speak, mighty Thor!

THOR. Thou sighest, then and vainly?

BALDER. Vainly: without a glimpse of hope; bewildered. What, what have I not promised, vow'd, attempted? How oft have I, O Thor! I blush, but hear it To tears debas'd myself: my tears have trickled Have vainly trickled before Gevar's daughter.

THOR. Ha! Gevar's daughter?

BALDER. Yes, the haughty Nanna.

THOR. Dost mean the daughter of the wise King Gevar, Who reads the actions of the unborn hero, The will of Fate, malicious foemen's projects, And war and death of warriors in the planets: Dost mean his daughter?

BALDER. Think'st thou other fathers possess a Nanna?

THOR. Gods!

[He again casts his eyes upon the ground, like one who meditates deeply.

BALDER. Behind yon pine wood he built an altar unto thee and Odin, There thou mayst see the roof of his still dwelling. There lives the earthly Freia cruel maiden There slumbers she, perhaps the proud one rests in Joy's downy arms, undreaming aught of Balder! As if I did not love, were not a half god; As if by Skalds my name were never chanted As if I were a demon, bad as Loke! Ha! if upon my tongue lurked bane and magic, When fear enchains it and the pale lip trembles; When broken words and a disordered wailing Are all with which I can express my bosom's Desire intense, and dread unwonted torments... Continue reading book >>

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