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~ By Courtesy of Others ~


'Twas the Night Before Yuletide

'Twas the night before Yuletide, and all through the hall
Not a person was stirring, not even a thrall.
Our swords were all laid by our bedsides with care,
In case feuding enemies should appear here.

Berserkers were nestled all snug in their beds,
With visions of carnage and severing heads.
Me with my tunic and my wife in her dress
Had just settled ourselves for an uneasy rest.

When outside the doors arose such a howl,
I sprang from my bed. Was a wolf on the prowl?
Into the yard I ran like a dart,
causing the chickens to squabble and start.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Painted pictures of ghouls with the shadows below.
When, what my wondering eyes did conceive
But a terrible rider on an eight-legged steed.

With warrior maidens and ghosts of dead men,
I knew in a moment it must be Woden.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Brynhild! Now, Kara! Now, Sigrun and Thrud!
On, Skalmold! On, Rota! On Hildr and Skuld!
From the soul of the bondsman to the ghost of the thrall!
Now capture them! Capture them! Capture them all!"

As dead leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the top of the forest they flew,
With the whole ghostly horde – and old One-Eye, too.

And then, in an instandt, I heard just ahead
The scream of the Valkyries and the wails of the dead.
As I ran back to the hall, and was turning around,
Through the door burst Woden and his wolves with a bound.

He was dressed in dark blue from his head to his foot,
And Geri and Freki were blacker than soot.
In one hand he held a spear, in the other a sword,
And he looked like a general ready for war.

One side of his face was shadowed and scary,
And the eye I could see was as red as a cherry.
An aura of darkness surrounded his form,
And the beard of his chin was as grey as a storm.

He resembled the wolves as he bared his teeth,
And he wore a gold ring on his arm like a wreath.
He gave me a glare that went right to my belly,
And I quivered all over like a bowlful of jelly!

He was muscled and broad, a right fearsome wight,
And I knew I would be getting no more sleep that night!
He gave a wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
And he searched the hall for the wandering dead.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
and claimed the ghost of my grandpa (buried under the hearth).
With no more lost souls in the hall to pursue,
He gave me a nod, and out the entrance they flew!

He sprang to his steed, to his team gave a cry,
And they all flew like ravens into the sky.
But as they rode out of sight I heard Woden roar,
"Happy Yule one and all! Now let´s go get some more!"

© Mikki Fraser

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