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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

William Bell Scott 1811–90

The Norns Watering Yggdrasill

WITHIN the unchanging twilight

Of the high land of the gods,

Between the murmuring fountain

And the Ash-tree, tree of trees,

The Norns, the terrible maidens,

For evermore come and go.

Yggdrasill the populous Ash-tree,

Whose leaves embroider heaven,

Fills all the gray air with music—

To Gods and to men sweet sounds,

But speech to the fine-ear’d maidens

Who evermore come and go.

That way to their doomstead thrones

The Aesir ride each day,

And every one bends to the saddle

As they pass beneath the shade;

Even Odin, the strong All-father,

Bends to the beautiful maidens

Who cease not to come and go.

The tempest crosses the high boughs,

The great snakes heave below,

The wolf, the boar, and antler’d harts

Delve at the life-giving roots,

But all of them fear the wise maidens,

The wise-hearted water-bearers

Who evermore come and go.

And men far away, in the night-hours

To the north-wind listening, hear;

They hear the howl of the were-wolf,

And know he hath felt the sting

Of the eyes of the potent maidens

Who sleeplessly come and go.

They hear on the wings of the north-wind

A sound as of three that sing;

And the skald, in the blae mist wandering

High on the midland fell,

Heard the very words of the o’ersong

Of the Norns who come and go.

But alas for the ears of mortals

Chance-hearing that fate-laden song!

The bones of the skald lie there still:

For the speech of the leaves of the Tree

Is the song of the three Queen-maidens

Who evermore come and go.