Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "The Saga of Eriksdottir"

This poem came out of the November 6, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by paka.  It has been selected in an audience poll as the free epic for the December 3, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl reaching the $200 goal.  This poem belongs to The Asgard Eddas series.


The Saga of Eriksdottir



From bright Asgard they breached     the sky, ships shining with fire
Among them lithe Laufrauðr     daring and determined
Voyaging to distant Vinland     planet of a proud people
Bold and blue-feathered     called by some the Shriekers.

Forth went Freydis Eriksdottir     as her ancestress of old
Seeking her fierce fortune     high in the whale-road of heaven
Where black space brings     great glory or else gory death
To those who venture out a-viking     across eternal emptiness.

Lightly they let down in Vinland     on green growing grass
Burned brown by Laufrauðr's rockets     that roared a conqueror's call
Over vale and valley and peak     daring its denizens to deny
Those who came to contest     with fate and fury.

The settlers soon made camp     and raised a high hall of heroes
That turned into a town     where ladies and littles might live
Growing gardens under guard      of wise strong warriors
Behind walls of tall thick wood     and gates hung with heavy hinges.

When the Shriekers struck storm-swift     the watching warriors were quick
To beat them back and back     with licking lasers and lean blades
Until the flood of blue feathers     washed over their wildness
And numbed them with numbers     beyond coping, beyond counting.

The attackers angled in, appropriating     food and fuel and fools slow to run
Leaping away with lavish loot     clutched in their curling claws
Leaving settlers to struggle and starve     without the wealth of warm supplies
Stolen from the staunch town     now reft and ruined behind them.

Then Freydis burst forth, fierce     in her desperate defiance
Crying to her cowering kinsmen,     "Why flee you from feeble creatures
You could cut down like cattle?     Let us women wave weapons --
We'll fight more furiously than you!"     Muttering, mighty men gave way.

Angered, Freydis took arms     charging the Shriekers' champions
And rallying right and left     the wary warriors of her people
But soon she slackened     falling behind the fray
Her big belly a burden     heavy with the hope of life.

Into the wood she went after them     following a trail of fallen feathers
To where Thorbrand's thread of life     lay broken on the bitter ground
Struck low by a strange stone      volleyed by Vinland's defenders
One of whom lay limp and lax     near Thorbrand's fine new knife.

Freydis claimed what they carried --     knife, stone, warriors' weapons all --
And trudged on toward the turf     where battle bayed and broke
With red-running fangs of war     slavering over the slight forms
Of men and aliens alike     all the same in death's solemn grasp.

Seeing her soft round shape     some moved away from her anger
Ferociously Freydis followed them     shooting and slicing and slaying
Until her bright clothes bore blood     rolling like a river's rage
Bodies whacked down like wheat     swept aside by a mighty scythe.

Then her blouse fell from her breast     revealing her ripe form to those
Shriekers who saw her amongst them     and they dropped their dire weapons
Fleeing in fear, floundering farther     from a mother's might and main
Lest her legendary weapon-right     blight them all for her babe's sake.

Then would the warriors wreak     more misery on the Shriekers
But Freydis held back their hands     and said, "Stay, let it stop here.
Leave them their length of land     and we will work our own.
We take no more than our need     so gather up our goods regained."

Slowly they strode to the settlement     bearing the rich baggage back
Where the people piled around them     gabbling their glee like geese
As Freydis embraced her fond family     assuring them of safety and sustenance
Though winter wield its weapons     of snow and storm and snarl.

A strong son she bore soon     Freystein, fine as his father and mother
The very heir of Vinland     loud cries lauding his arrival
While Freydis proudly praised     his ten toes and ten fingers
A little miracle of their making     fate's future made fast.

* * *

Notes:

Read about the original Freydís Eiríksdóttir and The Saga of Erik the Red.

Laufrauðr means "leaf-red," courtesy of the Freelang dictionary.

Old Norse poetry makes use of such techniques as alliteration, kennings, and a caesura in the middle of lines.
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