Monday, May 2, 2011

"The Challenge of Thor": Favorite Poems


I am the God Thor,
I am the War God,
I am the Thunderer!
Here in my Northland,
My fastness and fortress,
Rule I forever!

Here amid icebergs
Rule I the nations;
This is my hammer,
Miolner the mighty;
Giants and sorcerers
Cannot withstand it!

These are the gauntlets
Wherewith I wield it,
And hurl it afar off;
This is my girdle;
Whenever I brace it,
Strength is redoubled!

The light thou beholdest
Stream through the heavens,
In flashes of crimson,
Is but my red beard
Blown by the night-wind,
Affrighting the nations!

Jove is my brother;
Mine eyes are the lightning;
The wheels of my chariot
Roll in the thunder,
The blows of my hammer
Ring in the earthquake!

Force rules the war still,
Has ruled it, shall rule it;
Meekness is weakness,
Strength is triumphant,
Over the whole earth
Still it is Thor's-Day!

Thou art a God too,
O Galilean!
And thus single-handed
Unto the combat,
Gauntlet or Gospel,
Here I defy thee!

--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

I first read this poem back in middle school, without the controversial last stanza, of course. Longfellow wrote in in his famous "Hiawatha" meter, which was of course modelled on the meter of The Kalevala, the national Finnish epic collected and edited by Elias Lonnrot. Longfellow threw in just enough alliteration to give it that Anglo-Saxon/Icelandic flavor.

1 comment:

Babel said...

I don't think I ever read this, it is powerful. That last stanza-ballsy!