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~ By Courtesy of Others ~

The Lessons of Stiklestad

Sorrows turn on radiant night
the moon a spindle, spinning light
the stars atwinkle in the gloom
a thousand fires forecast doom

'Pon a hill rest Olav's forces
coats of mail and restless horses
while below and far yonder
camps the army of the bonders

Take this warning, noble king
when sword and axe begin to sing
when kin you slaughter by ones or slews
avengers compose a death song true

If kings you blind, or kill, or maim
in order to increase your fame
find no surprise when you see
their households sharpen blades for thee

And when folk will not take the cross
fearing for their old ways' loss
cast not blood wrath upon their heads
but leave in peace with understanding's stead

But the hour is late and you have dreamed
of assured victory, so it seemed
but just as the arrow caught in Hardrathi's throat
irrevocable it stands what wyrd does vote

In the coming tide marches the Hound of Tore
a man full versed in Odin's lore
Oh king, in farsighted dream you never saw
Tore's avenging spear thrust into your maw

When the spell of Dag ceases to blaze
all across the field of battle will gaze
and see you, oh king, upon your throne
of razored flesh and beaten bone

Oh king, you did not wise council heed
nor in royal pride didst see the need
for an even hand 'cross field and stone
opressors always shall be overthrown.

© Matthias Wilson

Author´s notes:

The spell of Dag: After Olav's death one of his supporters named 'Dag' made a fierce offensive to rally Olav's forces

Bonders: Landed freemen

 

Image: "Ottar Vendelkråka", © Carlshamns Commersen (www.commersen.se)

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