Friday, 20 April 2018

The King’s Welcome to Thingvall - Matthías Jochumsson

With strong foot tread the holy ground,
Our snow-land’s King, the lofty-hearted,
Who from thy royal home hast parted,
To greet these hills that guard us round!
Our Freedom’s scroll thy hand hath lent us,
The first of kings whom God has sent us,
Hail! welcome to our country’s heart!

Land’s-father, here the Law-Mount view!
Behold God’s works in all their vastness!
Where saw’st thou Freedom’s fairer fastness,
With fire-heaved ramparts, waters blue?
Here sprang the sagas of our splendor:
Here every Iceland heart is tender:
God built this altar for his flock!

Here, as in thousand years of old,
Sound the same words, a voice unended,
As when their life and law defended
The spearmen with their shields of gold:
The same land yet the same speech giveth,
The ancient soul of Freedom liveth,
And hither, King, we welcome thee!

But now are past a thousand years,
As in the people’s memory hoarded,
And in God’s volume stand recorded
Their strife and trial, woes and fears;
Now let the hope of better ages
Be what thy presence, King! presages,—
Now let the prosperous time be sure!

Our land to thee her thanks shall yield,
A thousand years thy name be chanted,
Here, where the Hill of Law is planted,
’Twixt fiery fount and lava-field:
We pray All-Father, our dependence,
To bless thee and thy far descendants,
And those they rule, a thousand years!

Matthías Jochumsson (1835–1920)
Translated by Bayard Taylor
Source: Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes, ed. by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Boston: James R. Osgood & Co., 1876–79

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