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Frederick Metcalfe: 1880

THE ENGLISHMAN and THE SCANDINAVIAN
A Comparison of Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse Literature pp 145-146

 


The teller of "the true tale" recounts how the fell rolling of the waves has often drenched him at the anxious night-watch; how his feet were pierced with cold, bound with frost; how his heart was hot with care. Hunger, the sea-wolf's rage, tore him within. When winter came, and hail fell on the earth, coldest of grains, he was hung o'er with icicles. He who enjoys life in cities, elate and wine-flushed, with misfortunes few, hardly can believe what he felt.

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"No man living, be he ever so good, but he must feel fear on a sea-voyage. He has no mind for the sound of the harp, not even for the receipt of rings, nor for the charms of woman. He thinks of nought else but the rolling of the waves and the ice-cold sea as he wanders over the whale's home."

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But here this forlorn seafarer at times in his distress makes "a pastime of the gannet's cry, and the song of the swan, and the 'huilpe's' note. For men's laughter he listens to the song of the sea-mew."

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Towards the close this piece --- like many of the others --- diverges into a train of moral and pious reflection.

 

 

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