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AXEL,

A FREE TRANSLATION FROM A POPULAR SWEDISH POEM.

BY ESIAS TEGNER.

Pultowa's fight was o'er--the royal Swede
Immur'd in Bender, like his own war steed
Impatient chaf’d—his country bled to death
Like a spent warrior ; while the fickle breath
Of men that swell’d so late the hero's fame
In murmurs deep subsiding, cursed his name,
Unmoved he stood, as ocean's rock defies
The dashing waves that round its bosom rise,
The storm might burst, Earth's trembling base be rock d,
Th' unconquer'd Spirit still the tempest mock’d.

Eve closed at Bender, as its curtain falls
Upon the exiled--and the monarch calls
Young Axel to his presence; bids him choose
His fleetest steed, and bear momentous news
To Sweden, to the Council-day nor night
Must the youth stay his swift adventurous flight.
He was an orphan-since by Charles's side
His father fell, the King his place supplied.
The camp’s wild nursling own'd a form and face
Too rarely seen ʼmid our degenerate race ;
Youth on his cheek bade freshest roses shine,
His form was stately as his country's pine;
His brow was cloudless as heaven's summer air,
And his pure soul was all reflected there.
His bright eye, like the eagle's, fearless raised
On the great source of light, confiding, gazed,
While unappall’d alike, that stedfast eye
Could all the powers of darkness calm defy.

Proud had been Axel, when the gracious hand
That nurtured, join'd him to a chosen band
Of seven bright youths, their Sovereign's trusty guard,
From rest, from love, from luxury debarr’d.
Strange were the vows which they had sworn to keep,
Ne’er on th’ inglorious couch of ease to sleep,
Ne'er in the battle's stormy hour to yield,
Till seven proud foes lay vanquish'd on the field
And, ah! how harder far than all beside,
Never to wed, till Charles should choose a bride;

;
Vainly must eyes their azure heaven unfold,
Vainly may cluster o'er them locks of gold,
Vainly must roses on the lip repose,
Vainly the swan-like bosom heave its snows;
Thou sword-betroth'd One! close thine eyes or flee,
There is no bride, save Victory—for Thee !

ز

How did the heart of Axel swell with joy, As from his master's presence turn’d the boy !

The precious letter in his belt he sew'd,
And day and night the stripling gaily rode,
Till, on the contines of the wild Ukraine,
A band of warriors seized his flowing rein.
One bade him yield (or die) the precious scroll
Quick Hash'd the hero's sword, and gave his sole,
His Scandinavian answer—to the shore
Of Lethe sent, that caitiff spoke no more !

The youth his back against a trusty oak
Supporting, still with quick successive stroke
His foes diminish’d-on his oath he thought,
And not with seven alone, but twenty fought;
Numbers prevail’d, and desperate grew the strife,
No more for victory, nor even for life ;
Now every blow the fainting warrior gave
Was but to gain companions to the grave.

From many a purple wound, life ebbing fast,
Whisper'd this fatal hour must be his last;
The blood, retreating, slumber'd round the heart,
From the chill hand the faithful sword must part ;
Night spread her pall before his closing eyes,
He sunk, as one who never more might rise !
Madden'd by sight of comrades stretch'd below,
Cruel had been the mercies of the foe,
But, by loud sounds of sylvan warfare scared,
They fled-and in their haste, the stripling spared.

Hurrah ! like whirlwind o'er the boundless plain,
Come rushing to the spot a hunter train.
Outstripping falcon's flight, and staghound's speed,
Rode foremost, on a tiger-spotted steed,
With bow and quiver arm’d, in greenwood guise,
Rose on her cheek, and daylight in her eyes, ,
A lovely female form, too soft, too young
For Dian's—as her half-wild courser sprung
In terror from the fancied corse,--one bound
Brought the light fearless rider to the ground.

Not Dian's self, as o'er the slumb'rer charm’d,
On Latmos' peak the goddess hung alarm'd
By her pale crescent, saw with streaming eye,
A form more lovely, or more deathlike lie !
He lay, as stately oak in northern wood,
Prostrate 'mid saplings-matchless even in blood!

Her trembling hand was to his heart applied,
She bound the gushing wounds his vest that dyed,
Then bade her vassals to her home convey
The form half lifeless in their arms that lay.
Long did she watch through nature's dubious strife,
Hang o'er the couch where hover'd death and life,
As if in that bright Grecian land of song,

(That land, whose sun, alas ! has set so long,) VOL. XIX.

2 A

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He wakes ! but ah! that eye that beam'd.so mild, Roams round the chamber in delirium wild. “ Where am I?-damsel ! hie thee hence, and fee! No eye

of woman must even look on me. I am King Charles's—and no tear of thine Must pour

its balsam into wound of mine. From the cold

grave, where sleeps my father now,
He frowns upon me, and records my vow !
Hence, bright temptation ! Sorceress, away!
My sword, my belt, my letter, where are they ?
Give me my father's sword, whose deadly bite
Was ever fatal to the Muscovite ;-
How gladly did its shining sickle mow,
To-day, the bloody harvest of the foe !
Oh ! had my King been witness to the deed !
But how is this? methinks myself I bleed.
Let me to Stockholm---give the precious scroll,
On which lies pledged the honour of my soul ;
Moments are precious; up! and let me ride!"
Thus, in wild fever's paroxysm, cried
War's dauntless nursling,—then in speechless pain
Upon his friendly pillow sunk again.
At length, glad umpire in the lingering strife,
Youth gave the palm of victory-to Life!
'Mid the fond leisure slow

recovery lent,
How many a speechless glance the rescued bent
On that bright creature of an Eastern sky,
But for whose cares he had been doom'd to die !

a

This was no fair but melancholy maid, (Such as might haunt a northern greenwood shade; Such as might grace a northern poet's lay; Her locks bright beaming with the gold of day ; Her cheek just tinged with evening primrose hue, And eyes where sat Forget-me-not's deep blue ;) Eastern she was in feature, form, and air, Dark lay the masses of her raven hair, At times reposing on her cheek's rich red, Like midnight slumbering on a rosy bed! Bright glow'd her forehead with that freshest ray Aurora wears when leading on the day ; Her step was that of fabled Oread, So unconfined, so dancing, and so glad; High beat the youthful bosom's silver wave With joys that youth and health spontaneous gave; Her soul, a summer heav'n, like it was bright With flowers, with perfume, melody, and light ! In her dark eye celestial fire oft strove With earth-born sweetness, stoln from Venus' dove.

O Axel! since on wounds received in war Time laid his hand, and left thee scarce a scar,

Since all forgotten was the external smart,
Fond dreamer, say, how fares it with thy heart ?
Less fatal were to thee the Turkish brand,
Or Russian carbine, than that milkwhite hand
That bound thine wounds-'twere safer for thine ear
Pultowa's thunders once again to hear,
Than those fresh rosy lips, which only part,
To whisper hopes delusive to thine heart.
When in the grove thou’dst fly the noontide heat,
Stay on thy faithful sword thy trembling feet,
And that round snowy arm for ever shun,
Where Love himself might rest—and be undone.
Oh, Love! thou wonder both of earth and sky !
Whisper of more than earth’s felicity!
Refreshing zephyr of celestial breath,
Sweeping along this thirsty vale of death!
Thou heart in nature's breast ! thou healing rill,
Whence peace and hope for gods and men distil !
Even in the boundless ocean's blue abyss,
Drop clings to drop, with instinct's wondrous kiss ;
From pole to pole, the planets in the sky
Weave bridal dance around the world's bright eye.
Thou shinest upon man like twilight ray,
Or pale reflection of some brighter day
Of blessed infancy; whose pastimes free,
Beneath heaven's silver-fretted canopy,
Claim'd kindred with a bright-wing'd cherub train,
And, lisping, join'd in heaven's seraphic strain !
Alas! how oft, since first he fell to earth,
Is Love unmindful of his heavenly birth!
Yet there are moments when his upward eye
Explores, with wistful glance, his native sky;
When, ʼmid life's tumult, on his ravish'd ears
Steals once again the music of the spheres ;
Like that resistless melody which fills
The Switzer's soul with memory of his hills.

a

It was the evening. In the glowing west
The waves lay dreaming on their bed of rest;
The stars, like Egypt's priests in solemn rite,
Led on the silent mysteries of night;
Earth lay beneath their silver flood so fair,
She seem'd a happy bride,-her raven hair
With nuptial wreaths entwining, and a smile
And blush contending on her cheek the while.
Exhausted with the playful toils of day,
In grots the Naiads meditating lay;
While the last glowing tints of evening drest
In brighter hues the roses on their breast.
Each little Love that, in the solar blaze,
Lay sadly bound, now on the lunar rays,
With bow and quiver arm’d, was riding free
O’er a wide world, where all was glad as he ;

a

Through many an arch of woodland triumph cast,
Where Spring's blest footsteps had but newly past.
Now Nature seem'd to hold her pastoral hour,
Delighted, in her own sequester'd bower;
So full of life, and yet so stilly sweet,
Her
very

heart was almost heard to beat !

The pair enchanted walk'd; and, as they ranged, In bridal pledge their youth's fond tale exchanged. He told, how childhood's happy moments flew, When, in his mother's fostering care, he grew In the far north; where, from the forest hew'd, Stood, 'mid its kindred pines, her dwelling rude. He told of that dear country, and the grave It, one by one, to all his playmates gave ! He told how, in the stormy winter eves, His soul devour'd the Saga's mystic leaves ; How he would long to hear the clash of armsTo taste the fiery bliss of war’s alarmsTo mount the giant steed that Sigurd bore Through flames unscath’d, to Fame's immortal shore ; Till flying, to relieve his throbbing breast, To the wild woods, he climb'd the eagle's nest, And rock'd him in the northern wind, to seek Ease for his heart, and coolness for his cheek! From thence, how often did he long to sail On every cloud that fled before the gale, To that bright land where Victory seem'd to wave, And Fame wove deathless garlands for the brave; Where royal Charles (scarce numb’ring seven years more) Pluck”d with his sword the crowns that monarchs wore; And

gave, with bounty open as the day, The glittering baubles, valueless, away !

My mother yielded !—To the camp I flew,
Amid its kindred atmosphere I grew;
And, like its steady watchfire, faithful burn'd,
Though fame deserted, and though fortune turn’d.
Yet still, when wandering in the soft green wood,
I saw the winged mother rear her brood :
When glad and rosy children round me play'd
On the brook's margin, in the flowery shade,
Then, images of peace delicious stole
O’er the rude warrior surface of

my soul,
Like golden ears of grain, that love to yield
Their peaceful mantle even to battlefield-
Then, at her cottage door, in evening light,
Methought I saw a maiden form, as bright
As those which oft in blessed dreams had come,
And whisperd wondrous tales of love and home ;
By day, by night alike, I see her now
Linda ! the bright reality art Thou !"

“ How blest is man!” said Linda with a sigh, “ Free as the wind that traverses the sky,

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