902 THE BIRD OF POPULAR SONG
held the scales of justice, when only might was right, and a peasant and a dog were of equal importance, where did the Bird of Song find shelter and protection ? Neither violence nor stupidity gave him a thought.
But in the gabled window of the knightly castle, the lady of the castle sat with the parchment roll before her, and wrote down the old recollections in song and legend, while near her stood the old woman from the wood, and the travelling pedlar who went wandering through the country. As these told their tales, there fluttered around them, with twittering and song, the Bird of Popular Song, who never dies so long as the earth has a hillock upon which his foot may rest.
And now he looks in upon us and sings. Without are the night and the snow-storm : he lays the Runes beneath our tongues, and we know the land of our home. Heaven speaks to us in our native tongue, in the voice of the Bird of Popular Song: the old remembrances awake, the faded colours glow with a fresh lustre, and story and song pour us a blessed draught which lifts up our minds and our thoughts, so that the evening becomes as a Christmas festival.
The snow-flakes chase each other, the ice cracks, the storm rules without, for he has the might, he is lordóbut not the Lord of all.
It is winter-time. The wind is sharp as a two-edged sword, the snow-flakes chase each other: it seemed as though it had been snowing for days and weeks, and the snow lies like a great mountain over the whole town, like a heavy dream of the winter night. Everything on the earth is hidden away, only the golden cross of the church, the symbol of faith, arises over the snow grave, and gleams in the blue air and in the bright sunshine.
And over the buried town fly the birds of heaven, the small and the great; they twitter and they sing as best they may, each bird with his own beak.
First comes the band of sparrows: they pipe at every trifle in the streets and lanes, in the nests and the houses ; they have stories to tell about the front buildings and the back buildings.
* We know the buried town,' they say; ' everything living in it is piep ! piep ! piep !'