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THE LAST PAGAN KING OF EUROPE

1. The Last Pagan King of Europe

2. In His Right Hand He Bears a Sword

3. The White People

4. The Wanderer

5. Eardstapa

The Last Pagan King of Europe

Let the spear pierce his breast
Let the rope pull taut and strain
Let the fires consume him
The last pagan king of Europe

By the seashore, by the sea
By the old gods' hanging tree
Beneath the raven ever turning
The last king's funeral is burning

Lay atop the old king's mound
Dream the dreams of iron crowned
Toss the gold into the mire
The last king's funeral is on fire

Let the spear pierce his breast
Let the rope pull taut and strain
Let the fires consume him
The last pagan king of Europe

Sewn-shut lips may learn to speak
Sewn-shut eyes may learn to see
What the king knows must be whispered
Told by lips blackened and blistered

Wait for daybreak in your bed
Spend the night in holy dread
Dying embers may yet burn
And the last king will return

Let the spear pierce his breast
Let the rope pull taut and strain
Let the fires consume him
The last pagan king of Europe

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In His Right Hand He Bears a Sword

"Upon reaching a certain age, a boy is chosen to enter the mound and dwell in the land of the Dead. There he will meet his fate. Many years may pass, but to him they will seem as the rising and setting of the sun. At the end of that time, he will return either as a great king or a great traitor to his people.

"In his right hand he bears a sword; in his left hand, a rod of hazel."

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The White People

"...And sometimes nurse told me tales that she had heard from her great-grandmother, who was very old, and lived in a cottage on the mountain all alone, and most of these tales were about a hill where people used to meet at night long ago, and they used to play all sorts of strange games and do queer things that nurse told me of, but I couldn't understand, and now, she said, everybody but her great-grandmother had forgotten all about it, and nobody knew where the hill was, not even her great-grandmother. But she told me one very strange story about the hill, and I trembled when I remembered it. She said that people always went there in summer, when it was very hot, and they had to dance a good deal. It would be all dark at first, and there were trees there, which made it much darker, and people would come, one by one, from all directions, by a secret path which nobody else knew, and two persons would keep the gate, and every one as they came up had to give a very curious sign, which nurse showed me as well as she could, but she said she couldn't show me properly. And all kinds of people would come; there would be gentle folks and village folks, and some old people and boys and girls, and quite small children, who sat and watched. And it would all be dark as they came in, except in one corner where some one was burning something that smelt strong and sweet, and made them laugh, and there one would see a glaring of coals, and the smoke mounting up red. So they would all come in, and when the last had come there was no door any more, so that no one else could get in, even if they knew there was anything beyond...

"And when they were all inside, round in a ring, touching each other, some one began to sing in the darkness, and some one else would make a noise like thunder with a thing they had on purpose, and on still nights people would hear the thundering noise far, far away beyond the wild land, and some of them, who thought they knew what it was, used to make a sign on their breasts when they woke up in their beds at dead of night and heard that terrible deep noise, like thunder on the mountains. And the noise and the singing would go on and on for a long time, and the people who were in a ring swayed a little to and fro; and the song was in an old, old language that nobody knows now, and the tune was queer. Nurse said her great-grandmother had known some one who remembered a little of it, when she was quite a little girl, and nurse tried to sing some of it to me, and it was so strange a tune that I turned all cold and my flesh crept as if I had put my hand on something dead. Sometimes it was a man that sang and sometimes it was a woman, and sometimes the one who sang it did it so well that two or three of the people who were there fell to the ground shrieking and tearing with their hands. The singing went on, and the people in the ring kept swaying to and fro for a long time, and at last the moon would rise over a place they called the Tole Deol, and came up and showed them swinging and swaying from side to side, with the sweet thick smoke curling up from the burning coals, and floating in circles all around them. Then they had their supper. A boy and a girl brought it to them; the boy carried a great cup of wine, and the girl carried a cake of bread, and they passed the bread and wine round and round, but they tasted quite different from common bread and common wine, and changed everybody that tasted them. Then they all rose up and danced, and secret things were brought out of some hiding place, and they played extraordinary games, and danced round and round and round in the moonlight, and sometimes people would suddenly disappear and never be heard of afterwards, and nobody knew what had happened to them."

        — Arthur Machen
            The White People

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The Wanderer

What has become of the steed?
What has become of the squire?
What has become of the giver of treasure?
What has become of the banqueting houses?
Where are the joys of the hall?
O shining goblet!
O mailed warrior!
O glory of the prince!
How has that time passed away,
Grown shadowy under the canopy of night
As though it had never been?
There remains now of the beloved knights no trace
Save the wall wondrously high,
Decorated with serpent forms.
The nobles have been carried off by the violence of spears,
By weapons greedy for slaughter and by mighty Fate,
And these ramparts of stone are battered by tempests.
Winter's blast, the driving snow-storm enwraps the earth
When the shades of night come darkly lowering,
And sends from the North a cruel hail-storm in wrath against mankind.

All the realm of earth is full of tribulation.
The life of mankind in the world is shattered by the handiwork of the Fates.
Here wealth and friends, liegemen and kinsfolk pass away.
Desolation will hold sway throughout the wide world.

 — Anglo-Saxon poem

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Eardstapa

"Hwær cwom mearg?      Hwær cwom mago?
                              Hwær cwom maþþumgyfa?
Hwær cwom symbla gesetu?      Hwær sindon seledreamas?
Eala beorht bune!      Eala byrnwiga!
Eala þeodnes þrym!      Hu seo þrag gewat,
genap under nihthelm,      swa heo no wære!
Stondeð nu on laste      leofre duguþe
weal wundrum heah,      wyrmlicum fah.
Eorlas fornomon      asca þryþe,
wæpen wælgífru,      Wyrd seo mære;
ond þas stanhleoþu      stormas cnyssað.
Hrið hreosende      hrusan bindeð,
wintres woma,      þonne won cymeð,
nipeð nihtscua,      norþan onsendeð
hreo hæglfare      hæleþum on andan.
Eall is earfoðlic      eorþan rice,
onwendeð Wyrda gesceaft      weoruld under heofonum.
Her bið feoh læne,      her bið freond læne,
her bið mon læne,      her bið mæg læne.
Eal þis eorþan gesteal      idel weorþeð."

        — Anglo-Saxon poem

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