In days of yore out of deep Ocean
to the Longobards, in the land dwelling
that of old they held amid the isles of the North,
a ship came sailing, shining-timbered
without oar and mast, eastward floating.
The sun behind it sinking westward
with flame kindled the fallow water.
Wind was wakened. Over the world's margin
clouds greyhelmed climbed slowly up
wings unfolding wide and looming,
as mighty eagles moving onward
to eastern Earth omen bearing.
Men there marvelled, in the mist standing
of the dark islands in the deeps of time:
laughter they knew not, light nor wisdom;
shadow was upon them, and sheer mountains
stalked behind them stern and lifeless,
evilhaunted. The East was dark.
The ship came shining to the shore driven
and strode upon the strand, till its stem rested
on sand and shingle. The sun went down.
The clouds overcame the cold heavens.
In fear and wonder to the fallow water
sadhearted men swiftly hastened
to the broken beaches the boat seeking,
gleaming-timbered in the grey twilight.
They looked within, and there laid sleeping
a boy they saw breathing softly:
his face was fair, his form lovely,
his limbs were white, his locks raven
golden-braided. Gilt and carven
with wondrous work was the wood about him.
In golden vessel gleaming water
stood beside him; strung with silver
a harp of gold neath his hand rested;
his sleeping head was soft pillowed
on a sheaf of corn shimmering palely
as the fallow gold doth from far countries
west of Angol. Wonder filled them.
The boat they hauled and on the beach moored it
high above the breakers; then with hands lifted
from the bosom its burden. The boy slumbered.
On his bed they bore him to their bleak dwellings
darkwalled and drear in a dim region
between waste and sea. There of wood builded
high above the houses was a hall standing
forlorn and empty. Long had it stood so,
no noise knowing, night nor morning,
no light seeing. They laid him there,
under lock left him lonely sleeping
in the hollow darkness. They held the doors.
Night wore away. New awakened
as ever on earth early morning;
day came dimly. Doors were opened.
Men strode within, then amazed halted;
fear and wonder filled the watchmen.
The house was bare, hall deserted;
no form found they on the Hoor lying,
but by bed forsaken the bright vessel
dry and empty in the dust standing.
The guest was gone. Grief o'ercame them.
In sorrow they sought him, till the sun rising
over the hills of heaven to the homes of men
light came bearing. They looked upward
and high upon a hill hoar and treeless
the guest beheld they: gold was shining
in his hair, in hand the harp he bore;
at his feet they saw the fallow-golden
cornsheaf lying. Then clear his voice
a song began, sweet, unearthly,
words in music woven strangely,
in tongue unknown. Trees stood silent
and men unmoving marvelling hearkened.
Middle-earth had known for many ages
neither song nor singer; no sight so fair
had eyes of mortal, since the earth was young,
seen when waking in that sad country
long forsaken. No lord they had,
no king nor counsel, but the cold terror
had dwelt in the desert, the dark shadow
that haunted the hills and the hoar forest.
Dread was their master. Dark and silent,
long years forlorn, lonely waited
the hall of kings, house forsaken
without fire or food.
Forth men hastened
from their dim houses. Doors were opened
and gates unbarred. Gladness wakened.
To the hill they thronged, and their heads lifting
on the guest they gazed. Greybearded men
bowed before him and blessed his coming
their years to heal; youths and maidens,
wives and children welcome gave him.
His song was ended. Silent standing
he looked upon them. Lord they called him;
king they made him, crowned with golden
wheaten garland, white his raiment,
his harp his sceptre. In his house was fire,
food and wisdom; there fear came not.
To manhood he grew, might and wisdom.
Sheave they called him, whom the ship brought them,
a name renowned in the North countries
ever since in song. For a secret hidden
his true name was, in tongue unknown
of far countries where the falling seas
wash western shores beyond the ways of men
since the world worsened. The word is forgotten
and the name perished.
Their need he healed,
and laws renewed long forsaken.
Words he taught them wise and lovely -
their tongue ripened in the time of Sheave
to song and music. Secrets he opened
runes revealing. Riches he gave them,
reward of labour, wealth and comfort
from the earth calling, acres ploughing,
sowing in season seed of plenty,
hoarding in garner golden harvest
for the help of men. The hoar forests
in his days drew back to the dark mountains;
the shadow receded, and shining corn,
white ears of wheat, whispered in the breezes
where waste had been. The woods trembled.
Halls and houses hewn of timber,
strong towers of stone steep and lofty,
golden-gabled, in his guarded city
they raised and roofed. In his royal dwelling
of wood well-carven the walls were wrought;
fair-hued figures filled with silver,
gold and scarlet, gleaming hung there,
stories boding of strange countries,
were one wise in wit the woven legends
to thread with thought. At his throne men found
counsel and comfort and care's healing,
justice in judgement. Generous-handed
his gifts he gave. Glory was uplifted.
Far sprang his fame over fallow water,
through Northern lands the renown echoed
of the shining king, Sheave the mighty.
At the end of (ii) occur eight lines which seem to have been added to the
text; they were also inserted in pencil to the 'prose' text (i), here written
in as verse-lines, with a further eight lines following (the whole passage of
sixteen lines was struck through, hut it was used afterwards in The
Notion Club Papers, in the form of an addition to the poem proper).
Seven sons he begat, sires of princes,
men great in mind, mighty-handed
and high-hearted. From his house cometh
the seeds of kings, as songs tell us,
fathers of the fathers, who before the change
in the Elder Years the earth governed,
Northern kingdoms named and founded,
shields of their peoples: Sheave begat them:
Sea-danes and Goths, Swedes and Northmen,
Franks and Frisians, folk of the islands,
Swordmen and Saxons, Swabes and English,
and the Langobards who long ago
beyond Myrcwudu a mighty realm
and wealth won them in the Welsh countries
where Ælfwine Eadwine's heir
in Italy was king. All that has passed.