The Earthly Paradise, (September-November), by William Morris, , at sacred-texts.com
Kiartan back in Iceland; Refna comes into the Tale.
KIARTAN and Kálf in Burgfirth came aland
And raised their tents anigh unto the strand,
As in the summer-tide the fashion was
Of mariners, the while the news did pass
That they were come out, through the country-side,
And there awhile that summer would abide.
Now when to Herdholt did that tidings come,
Olaf and all his sons were gone from home:
So Kiartan saw them not at first, among
The folk that to the newcomers did throng;
Amidst the first of whom, he, none the less, p. 426
Noted his friend Gudmund of Asbiornsness,
Who to his sister Thurid now was wed,
And brought her with him; with all goodlihead
He greeted them, yet Kiartan deemed that they
Looked on him strangely; on the self-same day
Kálf's father, Asgeir, came, and brought with him
Refna, his daughter, fair of face and limb,
Dark-haired, great-eyed, and gentle: timidly
She gazed at Kiartan as he drew anigh
And gave her welcome.
Now as he began
To ask them news of this and that good man,
And how he fared, Thurid with anxious face
Came up to him, and drew him from the place,
Saying, "Come, talk with me apart awhile!"
He followed after with a puzzled smile,
Yet his heart felt as something ill drew near.
So, when they came where none their speech might hear,
Thurid turned round about on him, and said,
"Brother, amidst thy speech, I shook with dread
Lest .Gudrun's name from out thy lips should burst;
How was it then thou spakst not of her first?"
Then Kiartan, trembling, said, "Indeed, I thought
That news of ill unasked would soon be brought
Sister, what ails thee thenis my love dead?"
"Nay," Thurid stammered, "she is welland wed." p. 427
"What!" cried out Kiartan, "and the Peacock's house?
I used to deem my brothers valorous,
My father a great manand Bodli's sword,
Where was it midst this shame?"
Scarce was the word
Out of his lips, ere, looking on her face,
He turned and staggered wildly from the place,
Crying aloud, "O blind, O blind, O blind!
Where is the world I used to deem so kind,
So loving to me? O Gudrun, Gudrun,
Here I come back with all the honour won
We talked of, that thou saidst thou knewest well
Was but for theeto whom then shall I tell
The tale of that well-doing? And thou, friend,
How might I deem that aught but death should end
Our love together? yea, and even now,
How shall I learn to hate thee, friend, though thou
Art changed into a shadow and a lie?
O ill day of my birth, ill earth and sky,
Why was I then bemocked with days of bliss
If still the ending of them must be this?
O wretch, that once wast happy, days a-gone,
Before thou wert so wretched and alone,
How on unhappy faces wouldst thou look
And scarce with scorn and ruth their sorrow brook!
Now then at last thou knowest of the earth,
And why the elders look askance on mirth." p. 428
Some paces had he gone from where she stood,
Gazing in terror on his hapless mood,
And now she called his name; he turned about,
And far away he heard the shipmen's shout
And beat of the sea, and from the down there came
The bleat of ewes; and all these, and his name,
And the sights too, the green down neath the sun,
The white strand and the far-off hill-sides dun,
And white birds wheeling, well-known things did seem,
But pictures now or figures in a dream,
With all their meaning lost. Yet therewithal
On his vexed spirit did the new thought fall
How weak and helpless and alone he was.
Then gently to his sister did he pass,
"Now is the world clean changed for me
In this last minute, yet indeed I see
That still will it go on for all my pain;
Come then, my sister, let us back again;
I must meet folk, and face the life beyond,
And, as I may, walk neath the dreadful bond
Of ugly painsuch men our fathers were,
Not lightly bowed by any weight of care."
She smiled upon him kindly, and they went
And found folk gathered in the biggest tent,
And busied oer the wares, and gay enow
In outward seeming; though ye well may know
Folk dreaded much for all the country's sake p. 429
In what wise Kiartan this ill news would take.
Now Kálf had brought the gayest things to show
The women-folk, and by a bale knelt now
That Kiartan knew right well, and close by him
Sat Refna, with her dainty hand and slim
Laid on a broidered bag, her fair head crowned
With that rich coif thereafter so renowned
In Northland story. As he entered there
She raised to him her deep grey eyes, and fair
Half-opened mouth, and blushed blood-red therewith;
And inwardly indeed did Kiartan writhe
With bitter anguish as his eyes did meet
Her bright-flushed gentle face so pure and sweet;
And he thenceforth to have no lot or part
In such fair things; yet struggling with his heart
He smiled upon her kindly. Pale she grew
When the flush passed, as though in sooth she knew
What sickness ailed him.
"Be not wroth," she said,
"That I have got this queen's gift on my head,
I bade them do it not."
He answered: "Surely it beseemeth thee
Right well, and they who set it there did right.
Rich were the man who owned the maiden bright,
And the bright coif together!"
As he spake
Wandered his eyes; so sore his heart did ache
That not for long those matters might he note; p. 430
Yet a glad flush again dyed face and throat
Of Refna, and she said, "So great and famed,
So fair and kind! where shall the maid be named
To say no to thine asking?"
All pale she grew, for stung by sudden pain
Kiartan turned round upon the shrinking maid,
And, laughing wildly, with a scowl he said:
"All women are alike to meall good
All blessings on this fair earth by the rood!"
Then silence fell on all, yet he began
Within awhile to talk to maid and man
Mildly as he was wont, and through the days
That they abode together in that place
Seemed little changed; and so his father thought
When he to him at last his greeting brought,
And bade him home to Herdholt. So they rode,
Talking of many things, to his abode,
Nor naming Gudrun aught. Thus Kiartan came
Back to his father's house, grown great of fame,
And tidingless a while day passed by day
What hearts soeer neath sorrow's millstone lay.