Sunday, November 21, 2010

Return to Yesteryear

A group of online friends has been reminiscing about the "old days" this week and the fun we used to have bantering on Evil Editor's blog circa 2008. Part of the comraderie back then included round-robins of posts where we read from various writings (although I never actually read; I just listened to the goodness).

Today's challenge: post old work, preferably work that's being read aloud. This is my lamb for the sacrifice.

If you didn't enjoy epic poetry told in heroic couplets in English class, think about skipping this poem altogether. I wrote it during my SCA days and even recited it around a campfire or two. I do have fond memories of those days...

There is no video. And I chose a low-quality format to keep the file size small, so it sounds a bit tinny. The text of the poem is posted below for your read-along enjoyment. (Of course, the hardest thing about reading and writing rhyming poetry is to keep it from sounding like doggerel. So many, many bad memories there...)

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THE SONG OF GERROD GREYWOLF

Come gentle knight, down some ale, a lager heady and strong,
And listen long to a hero's song and a warrior's mighty tale.
Of Gerrod Greywolf, Sigvat's son, who chose the glory game
Chose hero's fame to hear his name on the wings of the setting sun.

Like Beowulf or Charlemagne – proud gestes upon the lyres –
He'd felt their pain and seen them slain in the flames of a thousand fires.
He'd heard Valhalla's warrior hosts in the words of scop and skald;
He'd drunken toasts to those Viking ghosts and upon their gods had called.
He'd held brave brands in his mailed hands, their bright blades dripping blood.
He'd journeyed far to foreign lands and sailed through the flood.

He'd met high kings, givers of rings, and prayed with a Druid priest.
Known Hadrun's feast and Sigurd's beast – and flown on Fafnir's wings.
For gold and jewels, a dragon's bed, his sword for sale to all,
Whose blade life shed and sped the dead to feast in Odin's hall.

'Twas Rudiger who bought that brand and the blades of a thousand more.
'Twas he who planned to make a stand in a grand and noble war.
'Gainst Huns he fought, who'd drawn their swords and left his lands to bleed.
'Twas Huns he sought, 'cross mountain moors, to venge their naked greed.

On Beltane Night they lit their fires and camped by Hadrian's wall;
They danced in gyres amid the pyres, their spirits held in thrall.
The moon was full, the night near shorn, and Gerrod Greywolf knew
Upon the morn as the sun was born the Huns would rage anew.

With a thunderous crash the two sides clashed in the face of the rising sun.
Horse hooves slashed as sword steel flashed 'tween Celtic king and Hun.
The smell of fear hung in the air, thick in their war steeds' sweat.
The trumpets blare pierced the air and cried its hollow threat.
Across the field the milkweed fled, the horses snorted flame,
And Gerrod's blade swung 'round his head and boldly sang its name.

Through hauberks fine it found its way, and a half score hearts it stilled
And swathed in gray upon the clay lay a dozen more he'd killed.
His mighty blade ran red with gore, life's precious fluid spent.
But from the moors a thousand more from Hel's very gate were sent.

Then with brasted heart his steed fell low, its spirit but a dream.
He'd felt the blow, saw its red blood flow, and heard its dying scream.
Dust rose up to choke his breath as he fought upon the lea;
He swung his sword and laughed at death, but oh, so wearily.

Sven of Osberg fell in the press, and Ottar coughed up red,
And on that field of deep distress, nine hundred Celts lay dead.
Oh their standards still flew upon the hills, but where had glory flown?
They battled still amid the rills while their horses stood alone
With heads hung low below their knees as their sides heaved out and in
And one could hear their ragged wheeze and see their deathly grin.

And Rudiger's men were laid carrion 'neath battle axe and sword.
Their lives' race run, their killing done, no match for that Hunnish hoard.
But among the dead there stood one Celt, his body bathed in red,
And from his belt his sword still dealt a deadly rain of dread.

Then a score of steeds broke o'er the hill, a wave of ebon sea.
Their voices shrill, their dark eyes chill, they flew onto the lea.
And upon their backs, with spears in hand, rode maidens of the chain.
Scouring the land like a brigand band, the Valkyries claimed the slain.

And Gerrod Greywolf watched them go, that long parade of men –
Watched them go, glad to know they'd come to fight again.
And his sword grew slow and his shield hung low as he fought a hundred to one.
But even so he never felt the blow from the blade of a single Hun.

For his dreams were for Valhalla now and the men at Odin's side.
For a wooden prow and a solemn vow and the Valkyries' final ride.
And Midgaard's might had stood revealed – but all that now was past.
For upon a shield on a battlefield a warrior breathed his last.


7 comments:

fairyhedgehog said...

I love to hear you reading that. You've got just the right balance between the rhyme, rhythm and sense. Great stuff!

lexcade said...

i love epic poetry....

Phoenix said...

Aw, shucks.

Actually, it needs a deeper, more authoritative voice, but I just can't get that husky thing going. High and squeaky is all I can manage.

pacatrue said...

Hey, I finally made it over and I like it. You hit your stride a few times; particularly in the stanza starting "with a thunderous crash". Now, you've got me contemplating further any cultural connections between the Scandinavians, the Celts, and the Huns.

But most important, it's the first time I've heard your voice, so woohoo!

Whirlochre said...

This would go down a storm on the UK storytelling circuit.

As the Hog of Wonder says, there's tremendous rhythm here underlying the story and the sense of the words, and that carries it all forwards.

If you're concerned about squeaky, going a tad slower will fix it.

Ride on thy iguanae to thy local hangout and perform this live!

Phoenix said...

Yes, Paca, now you have a voice to put with the beak ;o) Is it everything you didn't hope for?

Whirl: YOU are a true performer of words. I am content to merely write them these days.

Robin B. said...

Sorry it took me SO long to get here!! It was well worth the wait, though. Well well well!!