Katharine Lee Bates

Aug. 12, 1859 - Mar. 28, 1929


At Holmenkollen

by Katharine Lee Bates

Under our balcony twinkles
The capital city of Norway,
Christiania, toy-like
There in the shimmering spaces
Of her encompassing mountains,
Peeping one over the radiant
Shoulder or crest of another,
Called from their silver recesses
But to glisten and vanish
Back to the borders of Dreamland;
Christiania, only
An incident there in our vista
Of deepening, melting horizons,
Of soft green levels divided
By ranks of spruces and hemlocks,
And pines like tapering spires,
The austere grace of the Norland;
Of isle-flecked waters that chanted
Under the keels of the Vikings,
Where now like butterflies cluster
Tiny white sails and wee playboats
Feathered with smoke; ocean liners
Some of them are, but all dwindled
To elfin similitude under
The mighty enchantment that chastens
Christiania into an item
Of the beauty our balcony watches.

Yet we shall longer remember
The vast ethereal pageants,
Cloud-play and storm-sweep and rain-rush,
All the immense panorama
Of this ever-changeable sky-dome
The crystalline roof-tree of Odin,
Who gleams through his mist-woven curtains,
Who tosses his spear in the sunrise.
We shall remember the coast-fog,
Blurring, enfolding the landscape,
Suddenly shot through with sunshine,
Thinning and dazzling and lifting,
Rising on undulant pinions
Like a white sea-gull upsoaring
To be lost in cerulean distance;
And the moon that glowed like a ruby,
Like a hoarded great ruby the troll-folk
Roll to the feet of Allfather;
And sunsets like tapestry pictures
Of the first strange priest at Christ's altar,
Braving Thor's hammer, amazing
The sea-blue eyes of the pagans
That stare on his vestments embroidered
In gold and in seed-pearl with angels,
Roses of Sharon and crosses;
But longest of all, O Belovèd,
We shall remember the rainbow.

Bifröst the Rainbow, no gossamer
Scarf of a light-footed Iris,
Nay, but the bridge to Valhalla,
Fashioned by gods for the fearless,
Wrought of the blues of the zenith,
Greens of the sea-depth, and crimsons
Forged in the flame-core, forever
Guarded by white-armored Heimdall,
We of the Outlands have seen it,
Bifröst the Rainbow, and marvelled.
For fair it flashed out from the rain-veil,
Bright as if woven of banners,
Broad, like a highway for heroes,
Widening, melting, pervading,
Spreading through space, as our friendship
Colors all life into joyance,
Flooding the sky and the water
And earth with a quivering glory.

Let us be glad of the portent,
For the autumn winds are about us,
The blowing garments of Odin,
And the horn of Heimdall the warder,
Waiting white in the dusk-fall,
Shall blend with the winds in due season

Its unappealable summons.
Oh, then may we do no dishonor
To the hope we have trusted together,
The unbidden one speeding the chosen,
As the uncaressable spirit,
Joy-fellow, grief-fellow, beloved,
Fares forth alone for the final,
Valorous-hearted adventure,
Over Bifröst the Rainbow,
To the infinite welcome of Godhome.


Yellow Clover: A Book Of Remembrance
Copyright 1922
E. P. Dutton & Company, New York
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