Mikilalekskvitha

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The literal translation of the title is "The Poem of Big Alex," "Big Alex" is the nickname of Sir Alexander de Hauteville.

This is an account of the serving the write to, and the knighting of that noble warrior, which took place AS 41. It was commissioned by Anghared y Rhosyn ferch Rhian as a gift. It was written by Grim the Skald in the Old Norse style of Fornyrthislag

Practice was called in province north
To make ready for Mid-realm war
At end of the day of armed contest
The hirð[1] was hailed, heralds beckoned

Good king Brion greeted his court
“At King’s command come now Alex!”

“I summon you to yearly war
On Pennsic plain your peers to join
The noble knights name you worthy
Your bravery earns a belt and spurs!”

To kingly call crickets answered
Hall was silent heralds were still
Honored Alex was absent that day
He had not gone to games of war

He traveled instead to teach children
Show them the might of a man of the sword
Show them the way of a warrior true
And fuel the future forces of the East.

A cunning plan the king made then
Brion then beckoned brave Alex to hearth
The King did say ‘twas sword-practice
To Tarragon Hall[2] hied this shield-Tyr[3]

Brion then smiled bade Alex kneel
“Your strength of arm your strength of will
And strength of heart[4] have stirred us all
Now heed your king come to Pennsic!”

“There will you answer what ask I here
‘twixt baldric and belt I bid you choose.
To serve kingdom and carry its might
And not to spurn the spurs offered?”

Though Alex does stand like a stony wall,
Ne’er does he falter in fierce spear-clash
Here did he shake with humble awe
And almost did fall so moved he felt

These words then first fell from his lips:
“You shall without fail find me at Pennsic
Nothing shall stop my steps to that place
Answer there I’ll give to all our land.”

Alex then journeyed to jewel-bright field
Fiercely he fought the foes of the East
In Pennsic keep he kept vigil
In the bright morning Brion came to him

Three peers did speak and praised Alex
A fourth stood then a stately Duke
He sang a song sacred to knights[5]
And Alex did choose chain and the belt—
A regal reward reaped by honor!

Hail Big Alex the Eastern Knight!


© 2006 Dan Marsh

Footnotes

  1. An Old Norse word that refers to the king’s retinue, particularly his warriors.
  2. Brion’s personal residence, rather than a royal hall.
  3. A kenning for “Warrior.” Any god’s name in a Kenning stands for a man.
  4. Repetition of this sort is not uncommon in Eddic Poetry. See, for example, “The First lay of Guðrun”
  5. "Born on the List Filed" by Ivar Battleskald
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