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BALDER THE BEAUTIFUL

 

i

BALDER THE BEAUTIFUL.

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iii

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BALDER THE BEAUTIFUL

 

A Song of Divine Death

 

BY ROBERT BUCHANAN

 

O thanate paian ! *

 

           “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. . . .  But some man
      will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool,
      that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die. . . . Behold, I show you a mystery;
      we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.—P
      AUL,  COR. Ist Ep. chap. xv

       

WILLIAM MULLAN & SON

34 PATERNOSTER ROW LONDON
4 DONEGAL PLACE BELFAST

1877

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iv

NOTE.

           It may be well for readers of the following poem to dismiss from their minds all recollection of the “Eddas,” Ewald’s “Balder,” Oehlenschläger’s “Balder hün Gode,” and even Mr. Arnold’s “Balder Dead.” With the hero of these familiar works, my Balder has little in common; he is neither the shadowy god of the “Edda,” nor the colossal hero of Ewald, nor the good principle of Oehlenschläger, nor the Homeric demigod of Mr. Arnold. In the presentation of both the Father and Son, I have reverted to the lines of the most primitve mythology: discovering in the one the northern Messiah as well as the northern Apollo, in the other (instead of the degraded Odin of later superstition) the Alfadur, or temporarily omnipotent godhead, who, despite his darker features, has affinity with both the Zeus of the Eleusinian mysteries and the Jehovah of the Bible. It is unnecessary, however, further to explain the spirit of a poem which each competent reader will interpret in his own way, and which, if it fulfils its purpose at all, should have many meanings for many minds.
           A portion of “Balder the Beautiful” has already been printed in the pages of the Contemporary Review.
                                                                                                                            R. B.

       

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Printed by Hazell, Watson, and Viney, London and Aylesbury.

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v

CONTENTS.

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PAGE    

PROEM TO —— : A SONG OF A DREAM                                                                                     ix

 

BALDER THE BEAUTIFUL: A SONG OF DIVINE DEATH

 

BOOK I. THE BIRTH OF BALDER.

      1. Balder’s Birth-Song                   .           .           .           .           .           .          .        1
      2. His Growth and Godhead          .           .           .           .           .           .          .       16

       

BOOK II. THE FINDING OF BALDER.

      1. Frea in the Wood                       .           .           .           .           .           .          .        25
      2. The Shadow in the Wood           .           .           .           .           .           .          .        31
      3. Full Godhead                             .           .           .           .           .           .          .        44
      4. The Man by the Ocean               .           .           .           .           .           .          .        53

BOOK III. THE HEAVENWARD JOURNEY.

      1. The Goddesses                          .           .           .           .           .           .          .         63
      2. The Fruit of Life                         .           .           .           .           .           .          .         75
      3. The City of the Gods                  .           .           .           .           .           .          .         80
      4. The Voice of the Father              .           .           .           .           .           .          .         87
      5. Balder’s Return                          .           .           .           .           .           .          .         90

BOOK IV. BALDER’S RETURN TO EARTH.

      1. “Balder if here”                           .           .           .           .           .           .          .       105
      2. “Mid mountains white by rainbows spanned”       .           .           .           .          .       115
      3. All Things blest by Balder           .           .           .           .           .           .          .       120
      4. The Cry from the Ground           .           .           .           .           .           .          .       126
      5. The Shadow on the Earth           .           .           .           .           .           .          .       130
      6. On the Heights—Evening           .           .           .           .           .           .          .       135
      7. The Vow of Balder                    .           .           .           .           .           .          .       143

BOOK V. BALDER’S QUEST FOR DEATH.

      1. “He sought him on the mountains lone and bare”              .           .           .          .       147
      2. “Dawn purple on the peaks, and pouring in floods”          .           .           .          .       153
      3. The Fight of Ships                       .           .           .           .           .           .          .       157
      4. Ydun                                          .           .           .           .           .           .          .       162

BOOK VI. BALDER AND DEATH.

      1. The Altar of Sacrifice                  .           .           .           .           .           .          .       173
      2. Balder and Death                        .           .           .           .           .           .          .       180
      3. “O Death, pale Death”                .           .           .           .           .           .          .       185
      4. Death Sings                                .           .           .           .           .           .          .       186
      5. “Then Balder lifted up his voice and cried”           .           .           .           .          .      191
      6. The Last Prayer                          .           .           .           .           .           .          .      194
      7. The First Snowflake—Falling of the Snow           .           .           .           .          .      202

BOOK VII. THE COMING OF THE OTHER.

      1. Balder Dead                                .           .           .           .           .           .          .      211
      2. The Light on the Snow                 .           .           .           .           .           .          .      214
      3. The Face and the Voice               .           .           .           .           .           .          .      217
      4. “Wake, Balder, wake”                 .           .           .           .           .           .          .      222
      5. The Birth and Death                     .           .           .           .           .           .          .      226
      6. The Paracletes                             .           .           .           .           .           .          .      231
      7. The Blessing of Death                  .           .           .           .           .           .          .      237
      8. “But Balder moan’d, ‘O beauteous Earth’”           .           .           .           .          .      243

BOOK VIII. THE TWILIGHT OF THE GODS.

      1. “Balder, Balder”                          .           .           .           .           .           .          .       251
      2. “And so those twain have passed across the night”           .           .           .          .       255
      3. The Bridge of Ghosts                   .           .           .           .           .           .          .      259
      4. “Behold, I am risen”                     .           .           .           .           .           .          .      264
      5. Alfadur                                        .           .           .           .           .           .          .      271
      6. The Brethren                                .           .           .           .           .           .          .      282
      7. Father and Son                            .           .           .           .           .           .          .      290
      8. Twilight                                        .           .           .           .           .           .          .      293
      9. A Cross and a Lily                       .           .           .           .           .           .          .      298

BOOK IX. THE LAST BLESSING.

      1. The Waking of the Sea                 .           .           .           .           .           .          .      305
      2. From Death to Life                       .           .           .           .           .           .          .      308

       

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[Note:
Although, at first sight (with the proviso that I have absolutely no knowledge of ancient Greek) the Greek quotation would seem to echo Buchanan’s subtitle ‘A Song of Divine Death’,  I believe it  is from Aeschylus, and translates as ‘Death the Saviour’.
The following is taken from A Greek-English Lexicon by Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott (8th edition, American Book Company, 1901):

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And on page 64 of The Mourning Voice by Nicole Loraux (Cornell University Press, 2002), there is the following passage:
     “Paeans can be analyzed in a similar way. Is Aeschylus recanting when—after stating that there is no paean for honoring the god Thanatos (Death), or that there is no defense against this god (oude paionizatai)—he identifies death as the only Savior (hô thanate paian)?”

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[Reviews of ‘Balder The Beautiful’.]

 

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