Littell's Living Age/Volume 136/Issue 1753/The Northern Lights; a Norse Superstition
"Nay, mother, nay; the pictured coal is glowing,
Dully and redly on the hearthstone there;
Yon was no flame of careless idlers' throwing,
Nor rocket flashing through the startled air;
'Twas but the gleaming of the Northern Lights —
Ah, there again, they reddened Huntcliff heights.
"So, let me raise you softly on the pillow,
See, how the crimson lustre flares and dies,
Turning to red the long heave of the billow,
And the great arch of all the starless skies;
The fishers say such beauty bodes them sorrow,
Telling of storm, and wind to blow to-morrow."
"No, child, the busy wife may bait her lines,
And net and gear lie ready for the morning,
No presage in that wavering glory shines,
No doom in the rich hues the clouds adorning;
They do but say the lingering hours are past,
The gates, the golden gates, unclose at last.
"Won, the long hill so steep and drear to climb,
Done, the long task so bitter hard in learning;
The tears are shed, and garnered up by time,
The heart beats, freed from all its lonely yearning;
The bar swings back, and, flooding seas and skies,
Burst out the deathless lights of Paradise.
"See, see, by the great valves of pearl they stand,
Friends, children, husband; see glad hands outreaching!
For me, for me, the undiscovered land,
Its promise in that roseate signal teaching;
Ay, kiss me, child, the lips will soon be dumb,
That yet in earthly words can say, 'I come.'"
Again the banner of the Northern Lights
Waved broad and bright across the face of heaven;
And in the cottage on the rugged heights,
The passing radiance, by their glory given,
Showed a pale orphan weeping by the bed,
And the calm smiling of the happy dead.