The Warrior & The Valkyrie

Who was she that left so deep a mark
upon a warrior covered in scars?
Gather closer to the fire and
allow this
humble skald to
recount the tale.

There was once a warrior
deeply in love
with a woman of
self-professed,
unconventional beauty.
Her eyes were the captured,
cerulean waters
of the fjord.
Her laugh was
the life-breathing wind.
Her silken hair,
the ruddy brown of
freshly peeled
tree bark.

But be assured, such joy
does not last,
and a pest crept into the lovers’ hut
one night.
It passed over the warrior,
knowing that
a far worse fate
awaited him.
The next morning, her
life
was drained as that
malevolent cancer
struck
without warning.
An enemy that even
the mightiest warrior
can not defeat.

Shattered by
grief,
the warrior gave her a burial befitting
her splendor, and
threw himself
into battle with wild abandon.

He could find no consolation
from his comrades,
and on one of the
many
battlefields, he was felled by
another’s spear.
Looking down, he saw
his lifeblood
cascading
from the wound in
his chest.

All thought of pain
left him as
his gaze lifted
with relief and saw
Her;
His love
transformed with
cascading braids of gold
in the visage of
a Valkyrie.
He knew then that
he had been chosen for Valhalla,
where he would
gladly
be a thrall
in her service.

But the Norns had a cruel joke planned,
and rather than
cutting his life’s thread, they
severed
his connection to
the Valkyrie. Just
as she was about to speak
words of comfort,
his soul
plummeted
back to Midgard
into the ruined tissue of
his flesh.

And what did she leave?
Regret and the
backward translation of
lost language
never to be understood.

Finding himself no longer in bliss,
he shrieked a
black song
toward the heavens:
“I will drink of
Kvasir’s blood and
speak
my love back into being.
I will make
a mountain
of skulls to climb
and find you again.
I will carve
my name into
the histories of men;
challenge the
bravest, the strongest, and the hardiest
Until I find one who is
worthy enough to
return me to my beloved.
This, I swear.”

The warrior trekked across
craggy peaks and
dark ravines to find
the Mead of Suttungr;
but mere words were
not enough to conjure.
As an age passed and
drifts of snow began to patch his beard,
the warrior carried on;
hoping to
meet his match.

He continues
his search; a man
aged beyond his years.
But, if asked, this
lone warrior would tell
you not to weep for him;
he has
purpose and the
terminal knowledge of
his quest’s end.
And while his memory
remains true, he never
travels
alone.

by Erik Shinker

The Long Ships – Review

Flashback Friday: The Long Ships – Review

Perpetually Past Due

Röde Orm by Frans G. Bengtsson

Published in 1941 and 1945, first published in English in 1943 as The Long Ships

Michael Meyer translation

Pages: 503

Genre: Adventure saga

“Along the coast the people lived together in villages, partly to be sure of food, that they might not depend entirely on the luck of their own catch, and partly for the greater security; for ships rounding the Skanian peninsula often sent marauding parties ashore, both in the spring, to replenish cheaply their stock of fresh meat for the westward voyage, and in the winter, if they were returning empty-handed from unsuccessful wars.”

The Long Ships is an epic that would feel welcome on a mahogany bookshelf sitting between Beowulf and TheOdyssey. At least, that’s my understanding. I’ve never read Beowulf and it has been years since I read TheOdyssey so I kind of have to take people…

View original post 687 more words

The Long Ships – Review

Röde Orm by Frans G. Bengtsson

Published in 1941 and 1945, first published in English in 1943 as The Long Ships

Michael Meyer translation

Pages: 503

Genre: Adventure saga

“Along the coast the people lived together in villages, partly to be sure of food, that they might not depend entirely on the luck of their own catch, and partly for the greater security; for ships rounding the Skanian peninsula often sent marauding parties ashore, both in the spring, to replenish cheaply their stock of fresh meat for the westward voyage, and in the winter, if they were returning empty-handed from unsuccessful wars.”

The Long Ships is an epic that would feel welcome on a mahogany bookshelf sitting between Beowulf and The Odyssey. At least, that’s my understanding. I’ve never read Beowulf and it has been years since I read The Odyssey so I kind of have to take people at their word as far as that comparison goes. I also arrange my bookshelf by author and when there are multiple books, by date of publication.

Anyway, The Long Ships focuses on the tale of Orm, who comes to be known as “Red” Orm due to his red hair (clever, no?) and his temper (racist). Orm finds himself the reluctant hero in that the story begins with him being captured by a group of Vikings. His village is attacked and he runs out to fend off the assailants, only to be knocked unconscious and taken prisoner. Not a great start, but he proves himself to his captors and so begins a journey that spans the remainder of his life and a little over 500 pages. Continue reading “The Long Ships – Review”