Part 3 out of 3
Yet still her eye sparkled, and still her cheek glowed,
As onward so fleetly and bravely she rode.
Thus over Thuringia sped she away,
With the speed of the hawk when he darts on his prey,--
Or an arrow let loose from a warrior's bow,
When it speeds with sure aim to the heart of his foe.
Then the Hartz, the wild Hartz--the terrific--the proud!
Where the mist-spirit dwells in his palace of cloud!
Where the evil ones gather in envious wrath,
To blight and to blast,--towered up in her path.
Still her cheek kept its glow, still her eye flashed in pride,
As onward she flew up the steep mountain side;
And fierce as the tempest, and fleet as the wind,
Stern Bohdo, the ruthless, still followed behind.
To a fearful abyss, whose unhallowed name(3)
By the powers of darkness was given, she came,
And the whirlpool's wild voice, from the dark gulf below,
Came up like the wail of a soul in its we.
Beyond rose the rocky shelf, barren and bare,
Beneath lay the whirlpool, around her despair,
Behind her came one, sweeping on in the chase,
Whose grasp was more dreaded than death's cold embrace.
Then she called on the spirits who watch round the brave,
In peril to nerve, to assist and to save,
Closed calmly her eyes, as one sinking in sleep,
And urged her proud steed to the terrible leap!
A moment it paused on the high precipice,
Then sprang, boldly sprang, o'er the frightful abyss!
And struck its firm hoof in the rock till the sound
Shook the hills, and the sparks flew like lightning around!
And the foot-print it left has remained to this day,
And no rain-flood or tempest shall wear it away;
She was saved--the brave Emma was saved--but her crown,
From her fair brow unloosed, in the whirlpool sank down.
On, on came the chief, in his fierceness and wrath,
Nor saw he the wide gulf that yawned in his path,--
And soon, in the depths of its fathomless tide,
The warrior and war-steed were laid side by side.
And the mountaineer tells how in sullen despair,
His ghost, imannealed of its sins, lingers there;
Ever watching, pale, silent, untiring, unmoved,
The bright golden crown of the maiden he loved.
A diver once, lured by the wealth of the prize,
Sought out the deep cave where it lay, and still lies,
And where, chained by a spirit-breathed spell, it shall stay,
Till the whirlpool and mountain alike pass away.
Twice he rose with the crown, till its gleaming points blazed
On the eyes of the wondering thousands who gazed,
Twice it fell from his grasp, and sank quickly again
To the bed where for years undisturbed it had lain.
He followed,--this effort the treasure may earn--
But vainly they watch who await his return;
A red hue of blood tinged the deep waters o'er,
But the diver came up from their dark depths no more.
1. Bohdo. This hero, as his character is drawn in the original
legend, or tradition, from which the material of these verses
was taken (a tradition which gives the popular account of the
formation of an immense mark or cavity in a rock, called the
"Rosstrappe" or "Horse's footstep,") is worthy of being enrolled
among Odin's Berserker.
2. Nimrod. "A mighty hunter before the Lord." He built Babylon
and founded that royal line which terminated with the death of
Sardanapalus; whose gentleness and aversion to blood spilling,
together with his passion for his "Ionian Myrrha," cost him an
empire, and gained him an immortality.
3. "It was named," says the tradition, "The Devil's dancing-place,
from the triumph there of the spirits of hell."