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~ By Courtesy of Others ~

 

Ragnar Lodbrok´s Death Song

We struck with our swords!
Why should a warrior cower
before the ranks, when braving
the blizzard of spearpoints?
He who mourns his demise has
never fed meat often
to eagles in the edge-game.
It’s hard to urge on weaklings;
no coward takes courage
from his craven heart.

We struck with our swords!
I say it’s right for a lad
to dare to dash at foemen
as they draw swords together.
Let thane not shrink from thane—
that long was the warriors’ way;
maids’ darlings should be dauntless
in the din of swords, always.

We struck with our swords!
It seems to me an ordeal
that our fates we must follow;
few escape the Norns’ craft.
I didn’t imagine Aelle
as the end of my life,
when I fed blood-falcons
and forced keels through the water;
we gave wolves worthy payment
widely, in Scotland’s bays.

We struck with our swords!
My soul is glad, for I know
that Balder’s father’s benches
for a banquet are made ready.
We’ll toss back toasts of ale
from bent trees of the skulls;
no warrior bewails his death
in the wondrous house of Fjolnir.
Not one word of weakness
will I speak in Vidrir’s hall.

We struck with our swords!
The sons of Aslaug all would
rouse the wrath of Hild here
with their ruthless sword-blades,
if they fathomed fully
how far I have traveled,
how so many serpents
stab me with their poison.
My sons’ hearts will help them:
they have their mother’s lineage.

We struck with our swords!
Soon my life will have passed;
Goinn scars me sorely,
settles in my heart’s hall;
I wish the wand of Vidrir
would wound Aelle, one day.
My sons must feel great fury
that their father is put to death;
my daring swains won’t suffer
in silence when they hear this.

We struck with our swords!
I have stood in the ranks
at fifty-one folk-battles,
foremost of the lance-meet.
Never did I dream that
a different king could ever
be found, braver than me—
I bloodied spears when young.
Aesir will ask us to feast;
no anguish for my death.

I desire my death now.
The disir call me home,
whom Herjan hastens onward
from his hall, to take me.
On the high bench, boldly,
I’ll drink beer with the Aesir;
hope of life is lost now,
laughing shall I die!

© Copyright 2009 by Ben Waggoner.

Distribution for non-commercial purposes is allowed
as long as the content is not altered and this notice is not removed.

These are the final eight stanzas (out of twenty-nine) of Ben Waggoner´s rendition of Ragnar's death song.
Look for the whole poem -- and several sagas -- in his book: "The Sagas of Ragnar Lodbrok"

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