Where sags the sun in its refrain
To pour its gleam on glassy sea;
Where lacteal pink in sky and deep
Will merge upon the doubling main;
Where plaited at the circlet fringe,
Twin orbs will sear where one had sunk,
A storm released one day in fury,
Diffusing in its neutral hue
Across the orbs and dappled gloss,
Advancing from the horizon.
Barrows upon the ocean swelled,
Cresting to spill sea back to sea,
Which, heaving, mounted higher,
Each wave then birthed of wave before.
A breath over the brine exhaled,
As spread the brume from sea to shore,
Dispensing of itself the while,
Drawing adown in languid threads
To dissolve to the seaway grey.
And at a promontory
Where wave upon wave lashes rock,
The wind began to moan and rush,
Disturbing trees to shudder,
Then swept from headland down to plain.
Observing the vale in winter luster,
As eddied wind through grasses sighed,
There sat young Himinglæva
Within her home upon the hillside,
Lonely above the lowland vale.
And ever-lonely dwelled the girl,
Idly awaiting a reprieve
From her exacting mother,
Impoverished and husbandless,
And from the ceaseless burdens
And elder sister always bears.
But few idle and lonely pleasures
Did she take, walking where a stream
Through the forest coursed in summer
Toward the solitary marsh,
Alighting in winter
What places apart she may find
Within the home her mother made.
And neither would she take a husband,
Though all attractive men of youth
Would offer her their eager hand;
And each careful entreaty
By such men all girls have desired,
And each appeal her mother offered
To return her to the travails
Daily compelled by home and hearth,
Each of her sisters’ needful pleas,
All only served to agitate
The thunderous pounding within,
Where longed her vestal heart for flight.
So sat she near to the window,
Housework undone and spindle shunned,
When the wind came to murmur.
A grey lament suppressed the twilight
As the vast storm outstretched its hand
From the sea through the frigid plains,
And what birds, wintering, remained,
Dusted the snow in their retreat
To refuge in the storm-braced firs.
All of the vale at once was livid
In an anticipation.
And the wind glided to the girl,
Approaching her home on the hillside,
Longing with soft words to be near,
To toss amongst her flying hair,
And caress down her pearly skin.
Though her coy fingers to the pane
approached to graze a biting frost,
A flame had lit within her heart
When the voice of her mother called,
“Himinglæva, come from there;
The house must now be readied.
A storm is blowing from the sea.
The shudders must be latched and braced,
The chickens gathered to their coup!”
The words upon her fell like stone,
As from her life’s horizon
Advanced the days ahead her,
When never again would the woman,
When woman at last she would be,
Never would she elated dance
Amongst the springtime blossoms,
Artless and free as when a girl;
When never song would sing of spring,
To draw her to the florets near
As the clean breeze blew through her hair;
When no more would life as a song be;
When she would clean, and cook, and care,
And at days end at last would breathe,
Only to sleep a dreamless sleep.
Fury within her chest came swelling,
And a truth exhaled over her heart.
Then away from the window
She turned to face her mother,
And looked upon her sisters,
As pity then at last released
In tears for those she’d ceased to love.
With one last look did she flee.
The shutters of her home slammed shut
In the wind’s frenzied buffeting.
The sky was now beyond a glimpse,
Obscured within the quickened snow.
Not a voice could she distinguish
As scrambled she down from the hillside
Within the storm’s subduing clamor,
Shaken and lost so near to home.
Yet as she ran into the field
A calm awakened in her heart,
When waves of wind around her teased,
Ascending in a hurried joy
To billow and to pull her dress;
To caress and lash at her face;
To rebound and tug her flowing hair.
Her pallid arms began to hover,
Gliding to dance like rushing water,
As she began to turn in fearful
Rapture, releasing with the wind
Over the prairie to the sky,
Like water from an amphora pouring;
And gossamer became her skin,
As the tossed snow upon the plain;
And light as air became she then,
Diluting in the rushing gale,
Until at last her spirit thinned,
And vanished was her body;
Vanished in wind to flow at last,
As the release of rising smoke
An offering will issue
Through the sun-door of a longhouse,
Himinglæva was no more.