Called to Account

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This poem was written by Grim the Skald for Toki Redbeard's Laurel. The first two stanzas were used to herald him into court at the 35th Pennsic war.


Harken now ye heroes
hear my verse-borne wave-horse [1]
Speak of saga spinner
spruce-tall [2] Toki Redbeard
Famed his words he follows
footsteps of great Bragi [3]
This spruce has drunk deeply
dew of Kvasir’s [4]slaying

Once he wolves [5]did gladden,
won purse-snow [6] in spear-clash [7]
Now verse earns his arm-fire, [8]
allies paid with word-fame
Hammer hurler’s name-friend [9]
heard his flight-swift lip-streams [10]
Most sail but sole verse-ships [11]
sallies he armadas

Well this learned worthy
wished to share his knowledge
Give the greenest saplings
gifts of Odin’s wisdom
Stole him streams of malt-surf [12]
from stern Suttungr’s cauldrons [13]
Brought this bear-prize liquid[14]
boundless gifts to wordsmiths

Settlement was sought for
suit was pressed by leaf-crowned [15]
Against the gold-harming [16]
gleaming tyger wardens [17]
Sternly stood the forest
stately sun’s bough-holders [18]
Word spear-clash [19] they spared not
‘till spruce stood among them

Gentle East-elm Anna
and awe-giving Brion
Granted gold-voiced Freya [20]
great settlement that day
Called to account for word-fame
came the spruce of dwarf-mead [21]
Kingly question asked then
keen we heard his answer

©2007 Dan Marsh

Footnotes

  1. Wave-horse is a ship, being borne on verse makes it a poem.
  2. People are often equated with trees in Norse Poetry. Spruce are men.
  3. Bragi is the god of poetry, and may well have been a real 9th century poet.
  4. Kvasir was a being created by the gods who was slain by dwarves. They mixed his blood with honey and made the mead of poetry.
  5. One gladdens wolves by killing people in battle.
  6. Silver
  7. Battle
  8. Gold
  9. Thor’s namesake, i.e. King Thorsson (Thorvald Halvorsson)
  10. Poetry fast as arrows
  11. Poems, just as ref 1
  12. Mead
  13. Suttungr obtained the Mead of Poetry from the dwarves as a death-price for his brother. Odin then stole it from him, and brought poetry into the world.
  14. Mead
  15. A Laurel, specifically Fiana, Toki’s Laurel, who is pressing the suit.
  16. Those who harm gold do not like it, and are therefore giving it away, i.e. generous
  17. The tyger is the symbol of the East. This therefore refers to the monarchs.
  18. Laurels
  19. A “word battle,” a lawsuit.
  20. A goddess stands for a woman in Norse Kennings, this refers to Fiana.
  21. Poetry, so a “spruce of dwarf mead” would be a poet.
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