The Lay of Thorpatrick

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Written by Toki Redbeard in kvithuhattr. A true story of events that occured at Pennsic 37 (A.S. 43,) replete with lessons learned. Names have not been changed.


Down in bog drinking heavy,
pounding skulls of skald and shirtless
North dweller named just “Padruig”.
Blunt spoke skald, “Bench-mate Northern,

“would that I were you some days.
Wild you are in woods of strife,
well-liked man when maids pour ale.”
Padruig urged Odin’s brewer,

“Keep your life, kenning poet,
word-fame yours for wit and skill.”
These two, when, word-trade finished,
did seek food from the merchants.


They left booth both quite shirtless.
Mighty heat like Muspell raged.
Modest skald, man of red-beard,
tunic grabbed, taking with him.

“Yet might cool the August sky
and besides I am,” he thought,
“not one who wanders shirtless
into booths where bread is sold.”

Padruig foiled friend from donning
tunic fresh, of fine linen.
Said he then, “Some are shirtless
only in August sky-fire.

‘Yet we few fierce berserkers,
shirts leave home, eschewing them;
proud we walk— public heart-home.
Fine people give piercing stares.

‘Ladies fair and lords of court,
gawk upon our grand display.
Not-pleased they by nipples shown
in summer’s sunlight tanning.”

Padruig said, soft to word-friend,
“Modest skald, man of red-beard,”
“You are man met-well, refined.
Bare-sark go, bear the staring.”

Loud they were, these laughing men;
up the hill, in heat wand’ring,
bare their chests. Born by Padruig,
just in case, comrade’s tunic.

Poet walked passing fine-folk
in fair shirts, shunning Northmen.
Coming soon to crest of hill;
from bare-sark he fast took smock.

Marketplace; minstrels playing.
These two drunks dallied briefly,
one shirted, other bare-chest.
Slow at first, sobered the skald.

Padruig bore bottle low-slung;
strong the drink he stored within—
Rus spirits spiced with berries—
offered them to all he met.


Bare-sark saw singer winsome;
“Beloved girl,” he grandly said.
Held her close, hugged to bare-breast.
Wise skald asked when friend met her.

“Here and now,” half-bare one said,
released girl; relieved was she.
Meal they sought and marched they forth.
Food eaten, free of trouble.

Padruig saw small one walking
“Beloved girl,” he grandly said.
“He’s a boy,” Bairn’s mother snapped.
Pried skald ‘round for place to hide.

Turning fast, facing bright one,
Skald did see his sage-friend, Unnr.
“Padruig, go to greet do we.”
word-smith said— wisely adding:

“One rule fast, followed must be.
Let you not your love profess.
Quiet elm we’ve come upon
would shy from shirtless Northmen.”

“Hello Unnr,” hailed the word-friend,
meet you well mate named Padruig.
“We have braved warming sunlight,
questing food. Found it, we did.”

Well did birch welcome shirtless,
though if truth be told she thought,
he stood close, comfort risking.
Seldom she such men observed.

“Padruig, tell tunic have you?
Scarce your clothes.” unscared, she said.
Spoke he truth, spare-dressed Northman,
“Pennsic shirts ne’er press on me.”

Rus spirits spiced with berries—
offered he to elm’s own lips.
But the flask, bottle low-slung,
didn’t move from mounting place.

Spirits’ fire she fast declined,
backing from bare-skinned stranger.
Wondered she from whence they came,
Poet-man and mate, shirtless.


Bare-one moved e’en much closer;
“Beloved girl,” he grandly said.
Held his ground, and hugged her not.
Great the eyes of glaring skald.

Much elm thought `bout Thor-like oak,
bright his hair, bosom naked,
tall and strong, standing closely.
Thought she not of Thor’s hammer.

Unnr than spoke, offered word-fame:
“You I name now Thorpatrik.
By this ken be bare-sark called.
Better this than the old name.”

Brought skald words, “Better know you
than give name while gift keeping.
Giver blessed best when present
given out to honor name.”

“Wrong was I,” then Unnr said, “but
have I naught for name gifting,
save sewing’s silver needle.
With it sew sore-needed shirt.”

Northman bare bristled at this;
spooked by words, spoken power.
Did mighty magic give she?
Did she cause crafty charming?

“Wise to take,” whispered red-beard,
“Gift sits well with ways of old.
Use this name you’ll be famous.
Travelled well this tale shall be.”

Taking pin, tipsy Viking,
elm’s name-gift acknowledged then:
“Think of me as Thorpatrik
Well am I at war re-named.”

Still was he by strong drink swayed.
and his hand, held the needle
Plunged it hard in heart’s castle.
Bare, his chest, bore the skewer.

Brow did flinch, but fast he smiled.
“Beloved gift,” he grandly said,
“Have I not needle sticking?”
“Home,” thought skald “I’ll hie us there.”


Fare-wells made fast they left there
back down hill to bog they walked.
Pain did come, plaguing bare-sark.
“Breast does hurt, “bears wound,” he said.

Whined he not when in public,
but instead bragged of piercing.
Each war-friend was thus treated,
spike they saw speared in bosom.

“How far in?” he was asked then,
by the skald, scanning steel-spike,
unknowing of needles length.
Proud tall one said, “Pretty deep.

‘I feel point poking muscle,
arrowhead entered my breast.
We should pull piercer from me,
Lest sleep drives it deeper in.”

Skald agreed skin-dart needed
to come out early rather
than linger to light of morn,
but not his burden was that.

Saw they friends several dozen.
Pin-sharp stayed standing proudly.

Beloved gift,” || he’d grandly say,

“Have I not needle sticking?”

Then at long last arrived they
home to booths in bog arrayed,
where Norse birch boldly plucked him;
pricker short she pulled, and said,

“Small piercing you proudly showed,
as lance heaved to heart’s-home deep?
Not lethal this little pin;
more you whined than might of steel.”

Yet bare-sark, bragged through revels,
blood-red spot boldly showing.
“Beloved gift,” he’d grandly say,
“Now you see where name-gift stuck.”

Here we leave happy brothers,
bare-sark true; brewer dwarven.
All learning ample lessons.
Hearken now Har-like wisdom:


Wisely drink your draughts of ale.
Never love loudly profess.
Strangers’ ways welcome gladly.
Always give gift at naming.

Never prick your place of heart.
Envy not other’s life-thread.
Come to like your life unpierced.
Slumber not, while needle sticks.


© Michael Dixon

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