Freyya and Other Poems (1908)

IMG_5181This book was among thousands of books, all publisher’s file copies, bought from the publisher Orion, who in time had taken over Gollancz, Witherby and Dent. Dent was the publisher of this slimmish volume of poems Freyya and other Poems by E.C.N. (London 1908, 105 pp.) There is no knowing who E.C.N. was, possibly a man as there are several poems addressed to women (although that is by no means  a clincher) and a gifted blank versifier fond of epic and portentous themes and alliteration ( ‘Blessing and blest, to the high heroes home..’) He, or she,  owed something to Swinburne, possibly Milton and some of the poets of the time who were fond of grand sweeping historical themes (Newbolt, Watson, Stephen Phillips.)

Worldcat, Copac and Google give no hint as to the identity of E.C.N. The book itself is quite rare (as often  with file copies.) Somewhere in the haul were very large publisher’s ledgers which can often reveal an author’s true name – as the publisher might have to send money at some point.

In the long title poem Freyya the poet makes much use of Norse mythology with mention of Asgard, Odur, Odin, Frigga and Vana – exploring fantastic realms that later inspired Marvel comics and Hollywood. There is also a poem on the Battle of Marathon – ‘the greatest deed the world has ever known..’ The opening lines of Freyya will give a flavour of ENC’s talents— if around today he could be working on a Python epic or Game of Thrones

Fair as the dawn, fair as the opening rose,

Fair as the flash of sunlight after rain,

Fairest of all that earth of fairest holds

Was Freyya, daughter of the dancing Wind,

Sister of Frey. He through the wide earth went

Delightsome, shedding gladness, Lord of the Elves,

Teaching the unseen powers that build the world

The joyous task of duty: she, with love

Close-ringed, dwelt ever happy in the halls

Of Folkvang, sheltered in the circling arms

Of Odur the Immortal. He, a God,

Far-called by Beauty, Freyya’s dower, had come,

Blessing and blest, to the high Heroes’ home,

Asgard, to take her for his wife, and there,

Lulled with fair summers pleasaunce, sped the years

In calm contentment, perfect unison.

Proud was fair Freyya of her happy lot,

So radiant her glance that all who saw

Felt in their hearts a newer thrilling pulse

Of ecstasy of bliss…

The epic saga does not end well in ‘desolate Folkswang’ with Freyya losing Odur, nearly losing her life (but rescued by Siofna daughter of the Queen of Sleep) and ‘nevermore forgetting to weep.’

One thought on “Freyya and Other Poems (1908)

  1. Dennis Nicoll

    I have a copy of this volume purchased from a second hand bookshop while on holiday in 1967. It cost me one shilling (5 pence in modern UK currency) and the price is still visible, pencilled on the inside front cover.

    I have often wondered, over the years, and would still very much like to know the identity of the author of these poems as way back then, in my early twenties, I was (and yet remain) a great admirer of Swinburne, to whose work these verses have some apparent affinity.


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