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~ By Courtesy of Others ~

 

The One-Arrow Saga of Olaf Olafson

O thou Odin!  - one-eyed hanged one,
Share thy holy mead cup
(1), brim-full.
Fighters! Heed the Abbey tales or
Drottkvaett
(2) rings thru empty rafters.

Not yet gone the age of heroes,
Nor yet warrior’s ways lost, no!
When within the Abbey halls we
drink deeply the raven god’s mead.

In the hall of five-fold hundred
Doors
(3) sits Olaf, son of Olaf!
Blood swan
(4) Muninn’s (5) whispers sets this
sadness-blunted skald-blade
(6) wagging.

 Mead halls fill with eagle’s mud (7) but
You’ll ne’er hear tales like one told here
Of a forest felled by wood and
Wolves and ravens fed by feathers!

When the Abbot’s hand he raises,
Trees of battle
(8) bestir themselves.
Let all fear the Hammer standard
Borne above the storm of spearpoints
(9).

Olaf, riding foam (10), and beard first,
Hard he goads the Abbey fighters.
“Huginn’s barley
(11) calls us scything,
Trees of merriment
(12) behind us!”

Sullen heat and verdant forest
Thru the trees the foeman flicker.
Now we weave our war-like fabric
(13);
Grey the warp
(14); the shuttle, sharp steel (15).

Walls of stone o’erlooks the drawbridge,
one unfeeling, one hot-blooded
(16).
Steel-tipped brambles
(17) rustle gently
Knowing strong shield wind
(18) approaching.

Grim-faced fighters, gathered silent
Some twice-bearded, grey and silver
(19);
Some yet saplings
(20), no-bark fences (21);
wearing shirts the smith has woven
(22).

Olaf, keen-eyed, one among them,
Egill’s
(23) mews-man (24), hawkland (25) steady.
Hooded raptors
(26) rest at ready,
Rest, awaiting Olaf’s bidding.

Storm of grey spears (27) rumble closer.
Look!  Their blood-fires
(28) fill the greensward.
Forth they rush our battle shelter
(29),
Riding waves of Odin’s laughter.

Steel-hard trees of battle (30) hacked down,
Forest-hewers
(31) march past timber,
Shattered, left for worms and weather.
Blood swans
(32) pick and choose their supper.

Brothers, sisters, bold retainers!
Serve the raven’s wine
(33) full measure!
See the storm clouds gather thicker.
Olaf’s strums his one-note lyre
(34)!

World tree twig (35), was rent by Odin,
Tyr has carved it, Baldr honed it.
Norns have woven bowstrings for it.
Wolves’ ears prick when ‘ere this string plays!

Olaf’s eyes, they miss no hawk home (36),
Dust and shield can make no haven.
How he hails on foeman’s helms, as
Rumbling thunder
(37) spurs his servants (38).

Keen death shafts rend air and armor,
Hiss and crack with screams resounding.
Armored faceplates grant no fastness,
Feathered hunters
(39) claw through sockets.

Foeman wading over comrades,
Fit for looters, food for ravens.
Grim defenders, draped in life’s blood,
Far more room to swing as friends fall.

For the final rush they ready;
Grinning foeman mock their fallen;
Laughter rings and drowns their screaming.
Olaf’s mews
(40) hold one last servant.

Bell-like, peals a hero’s spirit;
Cresting waves hold, crackling fires pause
Like the wake of Fenris’
(41) howling,
waiting for the horn of Heimdall
(42).

Ringing from the thrones of Asgard
To the burning fires of Muspell
(43),
Gods and men await the hero,
Apt, and dauntless in the maelstrom.

Battles pause gives foeman notice:
Olaf’s wood
(44) has formed a forest,
bearing leaves of black and silver;
Saplings
(45) sprung from bloody faceplates.

Nocking now his final eye-hawk (46),
Each sees Olaf draw bead on them.
Grim Hel’s
(47) visage quite unmans them:
Trees of battle
(48), heart-wood rotted.

Then blood-thirst tastes bitter copper,
Urthr’s
(49) embrace brooks no defense.
Flight but gives them two steps more life.
Steel links can’t shield broken spirits.

Raven’s wine (50) seethes out from breached bark.
Eyes and hearts and throats spew spirit.
Faster now than Huginn’s
(51) whispers,
Truer more than Muninn’s
(52) musings.

Storm abated, battle wind (53) stilled,
Banquet’s set and feasters feed well.
Settling armor breaks the silence,
Olaf holds his last shaft, unruffled.

White-boots John, Caid’s ring-giver (54)
Now bring Olaf up before him,
bids the bloody host to harken;
gives him tokens, royal bounty.

Now John speaks, ”some heroes prevail
Wielding mighty wound-flames
(55), thrusting
Spears of ash; but Olaf alone
slays our foes with just one arrow!”

So here ends the eagle’s mud (56), by
one grey-bearded, bothersome skald
who stands now because bold Olaf
stood then, keen-eyed, hawkland
(57) steady.

See! Old Abbey warriors nod!
They know when the strong shield wind
(58) blows,
Spirit must do what shafts cannot,
In each others hands, safeguarded.

By the Abbey battle-camp fire
I will whet and wield my skald blade
(59),
There until my embers cool, or
Til no one remains to listen.

© Eadric, SCA

Author´s Endnotes:

      1.  bring forth poetry
2.
  poetic form
3.
  Valhalla (540 doors, actually)
4.  Raven
5.
  Memory (Odin’s raven: he who remembers)
6.
  Tongue
7.
  Bad poetry
8.
  Warriors
9.
  Battle
10.
       Sea travel
11.
       Raven food: corpses
12.
       Stay-at-home fighters
13.
       War band
14.       Unit color
15.
       Swords
16.
       Castle walls and shield wall
17.
       Spears
18.
       Battle
19.
       Play on facial hair and axe beards
20.
       Youths
21.
       Beardless (women)
22.
       Mail shirts
23.
       Best of the archers
24.
       Keeper of raptors; raptors = arrows; thus, an archer
25.
       Hand (bow hand)
26.
       Arrows
27.
       Battle
28.
       Swords
29.
       Shield wall
30.
       Warriors
31.
       Warriors
32.
       Ravens
33.
       Blood
34.
       Bow
35.
       Yggdrasil, holy ash tree that supports the worlds
36.
       Target
37.
      Thrumming of bowstring
38.
       Arrows
39.
       Arrows
40.
       Quiver
41.
       God-wolf who will break free at Ragnarok
42.
       Horn blown to announce Ragnarok to gods
43.
       World of fire
44.
       Arrows
45.
       Arrows
46.
       Arrows
47.       Goddess of underworld
48.
       Warriors
49.
       “Original” Norn, goddess of fate and death
50.
        Blood
51.
       Thought (Odin’s raven: he who thinks)
52.
       Memory (Odin’s raven: he who remembers)
53.
       Attack, charge
54.
       King
55.
       Swords
56.
       Bad poetry
57.
       Hand (bow hand)
58.
       Battle
59.
       Tongue

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