Thekla. A Swedish Saga. The Temptation

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On the green sward Thekla’s lying,
Summer winds are round her sighing,
At her feet the ocean plays;
In that mirror idly gazing
She beholds, with inward praising,
Her own beauty in amaze.
And with winds and waves attuning
Her low voice, in soft communing
Said: “If truly I’m so fair,
Might the best in our Swedish land
Die all for love of my white hand,
Azure eyes and golden hair.”

And fair Thekla bent down gazing,
Light her golden curls upraising
From her bosom fair to see,
Which, within the azure ocean,
Glittered back hack in soft commotion,
Like a lotus tremblingly.
Saying soft, with pleasure trembling,
“If so fair is the resembling,
How much fairer I must be!
Rose‐lipped shadow, smiling brightly,
Are we angels floating lightly
Through the azure air and sea?
“Oh! that beauty never faded,
That years passing never shaded
Youthful cheek with hues of age!
Oh! thou fairest crystal form,
Can we not time’s hand disarm?”
Hark! the winds begin to rage;
And with onward heaving motion
Rise the waves in wild commotion
Spirits mournfullest they seem
Round the crystal shadow plaining,
Shivered, shattered, fades it waning
From the maiden like a dream.
And from midst the drooping oziers
Of the sunny banks’ enclosures
Rose a woman weird to see:
Strange her mien mein and antique vesture,
Yet with friendly look and gesture
To the trembling girl spake she.
“As the cruel winds bereft thee
Of the shadow that hath left thee,
Maiden, will thy children steal
One by one these treasures from thee,
Till all beauty hath foregone thee:
Mother’s woe is children’s weal.

“For the beauty of the mother
Is the children’s—sister, brother,
As she fades away, will bloom.
Mother’s eyes grow dim by weeping,
Wan her cheek cheak , lone vigils keeping:
Youthful virgin, ’ware your doom!
“Wifely name is sweet from lover,
Yet ere many years are over,
From the fatal day you wed,
Sore you’ll rue the holy altar,
And the salt sea will grow salter
For the bitter tears you’ll shed.
“See the pallid cheek reflected,
Hollow, sunken eyes dejected,
Look of weary, wasting pain;
All changed for thy beauty rarest:
Maiden, tell me, if thou darest
Then come here, and look again.
“But should lovers’ pleading gain thee,
Haste thee quick and I will sain thee
Ere the marriage vows are said;
By the might of magic power,
I can save thee from the hour
Of a mother’s anguish dread.”
Answered Thekla:: “Save me! save me!
Witch or woman, then I crave thee,
From a mother’s fated doom!
So my beauty never fading
Thou canst make with magic aiding,
Fatal Mother, I shall come.”

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