According to Old Norse mythology, Óðin, the chief god, who was the
god of wisdom, poetry and war, gained his wisdom and the ability to
assign poetic talents to mortals by stealing the mead of poetry from
the dwarfs. Óðin drank all the mead, changed his nature to an
eagle and flew back home with the mead inside. Almost there, being
followed by the mead's rightful owner, he sent some part of the mead
back. That part of the mead is said to have gone to the skáldafífl
'poetic fools'. This is an early attestation that our creativity is
regarded as an outside force, which we receive in the form of a gift
from higher beings.
a soldier's Gulf War 2
Not Yet Dead
* Stone and Fire
This poem is
dedicated to all warriors of the heathen faith and
especially to the god of war and battle Odin. To all of you who
quest for the halls of Valhalla, where the brave may live forever.
A Viking Poem by Wulfstan Johnson
I am old now, my
only companion Thor's weighty wrestling friend.
Old age brings mighty warriors to their knees.
I still think of you Ragnor, shield wall companion
I see you again by
the mead hall hearth,
A boy dreaming the old sagas,
Ragnor the *coal biter, idle boy, then warrior
My childhood companion.
Playing with a toy
long ship your mother gave to you
To sail with the Vikings, standing at the sternpost
Steering a fine warship, hewing down some foemen
And then heading back for harbour.
with mighty swords, shiny helmets and shield bosses
We sail over the German sea seeking plunder in Angle land
In Wave Walker, a warship, steed of the waves
With snarling dragon head.
Let Saxons quake
in terror before the seventy sea oars
Gained well earned rest cleaving axe and sword
Slippery with blood labours of the ocean
Now labours of the ravens.
driving Wave Walker iron studded dragon on the seal plain,
Over storm-tossed waves the gannet's bath, the German Sea
Wave walker on the whale road, seventy Norwegian Sea oars,
Like an Eagle with beating wings Ragnor, eyes the colour of the sea
cliffs, the waters swirling up inlets
Cobalt and turquoise burying the shingle on Angle Land
Where we planted our banners the hammer and the raven
A bright winter's
morning when midnight frost stayed white
In long, cold shadows Stretched across silent fields.
Seventy Norwegian shields left to warm their hands
On Saxon village fires.
companion staggering from the warship
In small circles on sea legs like a drunk on a pony,
Turning and bending to touch the spinning Earth
Finding again lands legs.
on marshland like old women around damp fires
Cold air escaped from feathers when they shivered
Snow melted as we marched in morning's new and different light
Beneath the Hammer and Raven.
The hard V of geese
came in, a small stitch in grey sky
Growing larger until finally it broke apart.
Seventy spears and shields glistened in the morning air
We feeders of the ravens.
Valhalla rose to
meet us that day with the morning smell
Of mutton, smoke and sweat. the omen sun barely rose red
Over silent fields mist silvered like premonitions
Between birch trees three hundred Saxons waited
the village sweat soaked in the mist.
Arrows echoed in the air, then came the battle cry
And with it a metal shower of rain!
Spear and arrowhead
tattered flesh in the rush
Odin! The cry filled lungs and we fought to fill Valhalla.
Chosen to be with Odin, fighting with him at Ragnarok
Heroes to the end of time.
Not men but demons
fight and kill or die!
In this game of iron do not think and fight
And ignore the pain, smashing the shield wall
And the Saxon line.
superior numbers, thinning Saxon ranks
With obstinance and blade we smashed their shield wall
And sacked the village, howling we killed them
We mighty warriors.
See how bright
these swords and spears shine!
See how they sweat bright blood
From slain mail coats, howling we killed them
We feeders of the ravens.
Raging red fire ate
up their roofs
And kites wheeled in this game of iron.
Sword arms ached as howling we killed them
We proud war smiths.
How well we Vikings
clash slippery in the sea of wounds
Beneath the Hammer and the Raven,
Skewering mail coats sprawling in the village gateways.
Howling we killed them, warriors eager for fame.
We held the village
until a spear
Shattered your right thigh
And exposed the bone, I could not see Odin,
Blinded like Hodur in a sea of sword sweat
Rain of blood
soaking dirt into a gory mire
We had to retreat crossing a path of comrades
Fallen in the mud, where are the Valkyries?
Shield maidens of Odin?
Terrible now to
look as a blood red cloud darkened the sky.
Heavens stained with the blood of men
As the Valkyries started up, their songs filled the air
Seeking the bravest warriors.
Over dead and
dying men, the Valkyries choose the battle slain
For Odin at the Ragnarok, end of time for gods and men.
Heroes laid like battered planks on the bloody road
Paving the way to
Valhalla. I laid you down
On the earth to
rest. turning to flight, more arrows
Rained cutting through , turning my shirt red.
I fell but crawled to you. Ragnor, I saw the paving
That morning in the mud. Your breathe came soft.
Eyes gems of pain
Ragnor, hearth companion,
Soaked with sweat and blood, Valkyries, a warrior for Odin!
Ragnor, my childhood companion, urging me away.
I will stay with
you and we will fight to enter Valhalla.
But we charged and retreat yet again?
The setting sun shone red whilst quiet
We listen to the
cries of dying men
For water, help and death. seventy Norwegian shields
Against three hundred Saxons! Howling we killed them
We proud war smiths, the smell of blood drew hordes of wild pigs
To feed on fallen men, a sight I never want to see with my eyes again
Only death and the Valykrie call will let my eyes forget.
We stayed awake
that night, clubbing the pigs
With our spears then Odin answered cries for water
It rained a deluge and then frost returned, drowning the body heat.
The rain stopped at
dawn and frost encrusted the lips of heroes,
Light filled the smouldering village and battle recommenced
The pigs had gone but we dared not look at their feast.
Through battle and
death’s smell we fought,
Aching for the Valkyries song, to join Odin in Valhalla.
The Saxon ranks broke, seventy Norwegian shields
Fighting the Saxon hordes.
We returned to Wave
Walker, but you left your leg
In that burnt out village, you died on the seal plain.
Lost to me on the whale road Ragnor, my brother in arms
I am old now, With
Thor's weighty wrestling friend.
I will fight again, seeking fame beneath the Hammer and Raven.
Through the haze of blue-tinged smoke in the mead hall
I still think of you. Ragnor, shield wall companion
You liked the mead hall, sizzling beef and herrings,
You the drinking horn, roast wildfowl
And sucking gulls eggs, I still think of you, mighty warrior
The mead hall,
carved benches, hero-marked wooden tables,
And shinning shield bosses reflecting firelight
And the smell of tallow. drinking horn and all of it famed
By our heroic sagas.
This is the World
you loved, warm cosy and familiar
Serving maidens with mead and Ale filled horns
Oyster and mussel shells with bread on iron griddles
Baking on the longhouse fire.
tasted of raids, plunder, unfaithful wives and adventure;
Long ships, slaves and swords all of this you loved
And in such places, I seek your voice And your laughter
For the serving
maidens. Ragnor, mead hall companion
I still seek your drunkenness and disapproval
When it is time to go in the blue-tinged smoke,
I still see you now and then Sitting there waiting for me.
Footnote: Based on Egil Skalla Grimsson's Saga, c925 and using
kennings-images once used by the Viking Poets or "skalds".
Examples of kennings are as follows---
The sea=the whale road or plain of seals
Warrior = mail coat
A battle is a game of iron
Blood is the sweat of the sword
In the sagas, the term "coal-biter" is a lazy boy who
spends his time by the fire but later turns out to be a hero.
The kenning Thor's weighty wrestling friend is one from the
Viking myths. This was with a skinny old woman who won a wrestling
match against the thunder god. In reality she turned out to be old
age itself. The morale of that story is OLD AGE brings even the
mightiest warriors to their knees.
Music:- Anvil Of Crom. Artist: Basil Poledouris
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