Friday, July 21, 2017

THE VIKINGS #OurAuthorGang



On July 7, 1974, when I was 20 years old, I tried my hand at some Nordic verse, inspired by all the movies and books I had read. 

Cast off the gauntlet and hang up the sword,
Tell our women and children we have conquered their horde.
Stoke up the hearth fires and break out the ale,
Listen now closely whilst I tell ye the tale . . .
They came out of the night to pillage and plunder,
The sound of their oaths was the roaring of thunder.
Through field and through forest they burned and they slew,
But the raiders were many and our warriors few.
Our enemies spread death as they swept through our land,
Spilling rivers of blood as we made one last stand.
They raped our young women and slaughtered the old,
Their crimes were too many to even be told.
But word quickly spread and our friends took up arms,
Coming to join us from towns and from farms.
We gathered together where the Vikings made shore,
They would pay with their lives, this we all swore.
We attacked them at dawn whilst they readied to sail,
We gave them a battle that made their hearts quail.
We kissed them with steel and embraced them with death,
No chance did we give them to even draw breath.
'Twas Erik the Tall who sounded the charge
And now he lies dead on the funeral barge.
But mighty was he and he held to his ground --
It took more than one foe to cut Erik down.
The sight of bold Ragnar riding off into doom
Filled me with pride and touched me with gloom.
His sword flashed like fire, dealing death to our foes,
But at last he was felled by their murderous blows.
And there, too, was Gunnar, swinging his axe,
He cut through our foes as if they were wax.
Then did he fall and was seen nevermore,
As down from Valhalla, Odin's tears they did pour.
I shall never forget the rage of that fight,
The cries of the dying still haunt me each night.
Many brave men lie in sweet endless sleep,
Like rain are the tears their families did weep.
The sun was a witness to that terrible day,
When good men were forced to fight and to slay.
The sky was a shroud that covered the Earth,
And each of us learned what a man's life is worth.
We fought 'til our arms were as heavy as lead,
We fought 'til the Earth was covered with dead.
When at last it was over and we stood by the sea,
I wept for my sons -- those glorious three.
Now I pray that I die with sword in my hand,
Whilst fighting to rid our foes from our land.
I pray that I'm worthy of Lord Odin's praise,
When the Valkyries come at the end of my days.

"Death of a Viking Warrior," by Charles Earnest Butler, 1909

"The Vikings," by Joe Bonadonna. Copyright © 1974 Joe Bonadonna