Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE HULDRA-WOMAN, by STOPFORD AUGUSTUS BROOKE



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THE HULDRA-WOMAN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Who walks alone in the red pinewood
Last Line: Again, and again betray.
Subject(s): Women; Love


WHO walks alone in the red pinewood,
Under the Norway sky?
Olaf the Dane, and his heart is full
Of wrath and misery.

Then out of the gloom he came into a glade,
And the moon was bright therein;
And he saw a maiden in the midst,
As beautiful as sin.

Oh soft and fierce her deep grey eyes,
But her cheek like blood on snow!
And her hair was like the flaming fire
Of war-ships in a low.

And she came daintily over the grass,
And laid her hand on his,
'Olaf,' she said, 'come, dance with me,
And thou shalt know my bliss.'

'Oh, I have no heart,' young Olaf said,
'To dance or kiss with thee!
For I am sick within, and moon and sun
Are both alike to me.'

Then he turned him round and saw her back,
And oh, the sight of dread!
For she was as hollow and dark as a boat,
From the heel unto the head.

'A fiend,' he cried, and her wildwood eyes
Flashed like a harlot's knife!
'I am Huldra,' she said, and softly smiled --
'And thou shalt lose thy life.'

Quoth Olaf, 'That would please me well;
For the woman I love and hate,
Is hollow as thou from the head to the heart,
And death is a better mate.'

'Oh, is it so?' the Huldra laughed,
'Then thou art free from me;
Stay, stay with me in the long pinewood
And I will comfort thee.

'And thou shalt forget the liar thou lov'st
When my arms are round thee flung:
I can make myself like a maid of the earth,
And I am always young.'

'Is that better than death?' dark Olaf cried,
'For damned I then shall be;
But I do not care a ray of the moon
What happens unto me.

'I thought that Love was God in Heaven,
But I find it flesh on earth;
Fill up the hollow of thy back,
And come, and make me mirth.

'But swear the oath that binds thee most
From me thou wilt not err,
For if I have not thee, I must
Return again to her.'

'I swear by the forest and by the night
To cling to thee like flame.'
'Then I'll stay,' he said, 'with thee;
'Tis less of sorrow and shame.'

Woe, woe in Norway! A soul is lost,
With Huldra gone to stay;
But joy for the woman, for she can love
Again, and again betray.





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