The Lay of Grim the Skald

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Written by Toki Redbeard in Kvithuhattr.
The true story of an Eastern peer who simply wanted a night’s sleep. Events here occured at Barony Wars in Aethelmearc’s Shire of Sterling Vale – June, A.S. 43

Of spear-oaks I’ll speak no praise,
nor strong foes, nor feats mighty.
Learn instead of lone tale-smith.
I sing of his sleepless night.

Grim the Skald, grinning poet,
to strife went in Sterling Vale.
Before clash camped in forest.
Nap he sought in small shelter.

Of this booth I bring you words.
Woven cloth covered framing,
hasty-made home for travelers—
walls and floor did fail to meet.

Through this space sputtered breezes,
splashed the rains in resting place.
Not lordly, the little hall.
Weary skald was worried not.

Tired man, a mat threw down,
placed his bed on bench narrow.
Wide the mat, on which he’d sleep.
Cushion perched poorly on bunk.

Sleep he tried. Tipped his bedding,
balanced not on bench so thin—
flipped him up and flung him down.
This was not the nap he sought.

Down he fell and fast tumbled.
Floor striking. Foreleg pounding;
“That will make a mark,” he said.
Recall the cloth came not to floor—

out of tent tumbled poet,
landing face- first on the ground.
Nearby sat a sage old man—
Drinking ale, archer Macsen

Greybeard spoke, spitting-up beer:
“Greetings friend! Forest’s mat is
soft but yet yonder cabin
does possess softer pillows.”

Splayed was skald, spilled in forest—
moving not, mouth contorted.
Macs wondered if wounds mortal.
Just this once his jokes he ceased.

“Rude am I,” he rambled, beery,
“Is he whole or hurt, the skald?”
Verse-brewer, bloody and scraped,
From woods-floor these words did speak:

“Fort of brains I fell upon.
Hard I fell on helm of thought.
Though broke not the bones within,
bruises found my fame of words.”

Said Macsen, sipping his beer:
“Harm you missed? Happy I am!
I’ll not waste my worry and
mock instead, mercy lacking.

‘As if drunk you dropped on face.
Amateurs at ale drinking
Bring us all embarrassment.
To seasoned the swilling leave.”

Macsen sang, sending forth beer
from his nose— not demurely—
and inquired, “How do we sleep
when the skalds from sky do fall?”

Grim arose, gathered his wits.
Macs took brands of broken wood.
The rune “G” he wryly left,
marking spot where splattered Grim.

Still are seen in Sterling Vale
slender sticks set in forest,
crossed so men recall where once
fell the bard who face-planted.

Song lingers, loud from Macsen.
We listen and wear his beer,
He inquires, “How do we sleep
when the skalds from sky do fall?”


© Michael Dixon

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