The writhing of the grieving dragon

Vikings may have attacked monasteries in retaliation for attacks on them.
Christian zealots such as Boniface had been destroying sacred groves and the Carolingians had enforced conversion with a policy of be baptised or killed, the font or the axe, across their northern borders.
This was before the first raid on Lindisfarne in 793AD.
This makes for a more interesting interpretation of events.
In my narratives I chose this theory as it makes a backdrop for ripping yarns

The writhing of the grieving dragon

“A Dragon grieved beside his nest,
His young and mate lay dead.
His tender love then failed this test;
Cold rage burned in his head.

He rode the wave on that cold sea,
Found monks on its far shore.
There seemed a sad pre-destiny
To pains that their Church bore.”

Dragon’s wrath

“The rage, the wrath, the foam, the froth,
The Dragon stormed to sea.
His Love was fragile as a Moth
And now had ceased to be.

It seemed his fate to seethe with hate,
Strike shore of other lands.
He changed then from his natural state,
So, blood now soaks the sands.

Through wrath and rage he wrote a page
Of blood-soaked history.
Why he should fade from off that stage
Might seem a mystery.

But rage and woe will make a foe
Retaliate or die.
Their ebb may then return to flow,
Events then sweep all by.”

Dragon’s Decline

The Dragon’s rage did not abate,
With him grew fat the Raven.
A love that’s twisted into hate
Could well at end turn craven.

The plunder that dark vengeance brings
Would turn from need to greed.
There’s some things may come with such stings;
At end the Dragon bleeds.

Vengeance may start momentum up,
Great mischief has begun.
Like drinking from a poison cup,
All Hope in life is done.

© Trevor Morgan, 2018

From: “Tales of the Half Dane Child”

Note:

The dragon was carved on the prow of Norse ships of war.
It is strange that in Europe the Dragon is fierce whilst in Chinese myth they are capable of being kindly to folk.

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Sonnet – Ragnarök

Poems about Vikings are a bit of a gift.
A gift that is to those who like hamming it up.

It also gives free range for narrative verse and ballads.
Shame the Vikings were real and they put England through long years of brutal wars.

Ragnarök

Sonnet – Ragnarök

All know Odhinn and Loki are to clash
As order and disorder are at odds.
When each will cause the other one to crash
And bring about the twilight of the gods.
Then Lady Hel will open up her realm
And Balder and Blind Hoth resume their fight,
And each in turn will seize and hold the helm
As Balder rules all day and Hoth at night.
Then Fri will fall into a restless sleep
And all the Earth will face a sad decline,
Great monsters will sink back into the deep
With russet sunsets days will end so fine.
The Cosmos came from Chaos at its birth
And in the time to come all find their worth.

©Trevor Morgan, 2018

From: “Tale of the Half-Dane child”

Nan’s Fairy Song

Story time is fun

Fey

Nan’s Fairy Song

“Now there are fairies in each glade,
They’re by each tree and brook.
Some dwell beneath the ash tree’s shade;
You’ll see them if you look.

The young and old may see the fey,
But only if we’re kind.
There are grown men who talk to them,
But they have lost their mind.

Beware the fairy folk please do
And don’t go to their hall.
For they may play such tricks on you,
That you could cry and bawl.

Content yourself to watch the fey,
But do not heed their speech.
Then you’ll come home at end of day
And not be out of reach.

The fairy king he likes young maids,
Yes, he likes having them.
And where a maid has gone with him,
No maid comes back again.

The fairy queen she has tirades
Each time a flower’s lost.
She scolds the king with oaths so grim,
But wenches bear the cost.

The children who may come by chance
Can be blamed on the fey.
Ah, wench you’ve led a merry dance,
When you romped in the hay”

© Trevor Morgan

From: “Tales of Aethelwulf of Lyng”

The Goddess of the future fates

I like ripping yarns and mythology.
There are lots of tales of seers who are not believed by the proud and mighty who then are doomed to defeat.
So as a part of tales of the struggles between Alfred the Great and the Great Heathen Army of invading Danes, this is one of mine.

Völva

The Goddess of the future fates

The Gods in Asgard seemed to sleep,
Or turn their minds away,
As Danish widows moan and weep;
The Noki dance and sway.

They sought to change the fate of men
To help their people win.
The Christians they would curse them then
And call their craft a sin.

They would not let just one witch live
For they must burn them all.
They ask God’s love but can’t forgive,
So, answer Satan’s call.

But Noki by the sea one night
Beneath a waning moon.
Sought refuge in that second sight
They see before they swoon.

In Bragi’s name through each refrain
They asked Skuld for that sight.
Idu the Noki felt the pain
And then screamed out in fright.

A bloody ghost of some dead slave
Embraced her as a friend.
And he said that he now forgave
Those who had caused his end.

“Your kind came here to take this land
You make the orphan slave,
Is Danish doom now close at hand?
Noki can you be brave?

You are a part of our land now
And it’s a part of you,
Gudrum by now has broke his vow
But Loki will be true!

True to the falsehood that’s his game,
Deceit will be deceived.,
It matters not the names I name
For you’ll not be believed”

He held her hand through vistas grand
And showed her all men’s fate.
“A future’s planned here in this land,
The Danes may know too late.

The Oak, the Ash, the Elm, and Yew
Grow tall on Albion’s isle,
And what you view may well come true;
Don’t waste your time with guile.

The Norns dictate so know your fate
And to your gods be true.
Then try some love as well as hate,
Then I will lie with you.

I’ll come in dreams and show you schemes
Of what kings’ plan to do.
And right until the daylight beams ,
I’ll spend each night with you.

The perfect prophet you will be
Until your dying day.
Though you can share your dreams with me,
Be wary what you say!

For you’ve a curse the very worse
The Seer who is alone.
For though you speak in prose or verse
No one will heed your tone.”

Idu the Noki had a fit,
Her mouth was wet with froth.
On waking her hot brow was knit,
She was frail as a moth.

Though dark and deep she could not weep,
The future she could see.
But now in silence she must keep
Her tongue from being free.

The elder Noki saw some signs
And felt a little grief.
But in old age she now resigns
Locked in some disbelief.

From thence on Idu slept a lot
And she’d smile in her sleep.
As when she talked men called it rot,
They now don’t hear her peep.

And she and Sild walk through the years,
The years that are to come
And Idu often shed some tears ,
But Idu had turned dumb.

She saw the fall of all her Danes
And saw them rise again.
She saw them on far distant plains
She saw and she knew when.

She saw the things that Morchan saw,
All those long years ago.
She felt great winds quite cold and raw,
And felt the summers glow.

She met the Seers of future years
Not all would wear her gag.
She shared the hopes, she shared the fears,
She had no need to brag.

The Norns gave Idu for a wife,
To some “man from the sea”.
She had a long contented life,
For what will be will be.

The gods of her place weren’t so dark,
The wind, the wave, the tide.
Her choices then were few not stark,
In her dreams she could hide.

From: “Tales of Aelfrede and Gudrum”

Notes:
Idu is a prophetess who like Cassandra is never believed
Noki are Old Norse priestesses
Morchan is Morgan Le Fey
Sild appears as the Ghost of the Dead Slave but id Verthandi the Norn
There are three Norns equivalent to the Fates in Greek mythology.

Sonnet – Loki Awoke

I find the character of the Norse “god” Loki fascinating.
The Norse actually called the beings of Asgard powers and not gods. Loki was associated with fire, mischief and cunning. The other powers imprisoned him for him telling each of them their faults. When he escapes then a final battle begins.
A good ripping yarn and perhaps there’s more to it…

Loki in chains

Loki Awoke

On high there glowed a comet in the sky
And storm clouds towered there far in the West.
The waning Moon looked sad and seemed to cry,
The watchman in the cold felt past his best.
The white crests on the waves far out at sea
Now beckoned like some portent in a storm.
A ship was driven on rocks there to the lea
And all about things seemed to change their form.
The sea turned from a highroad to a grave
And in the grove the wind tore down the ash.
The brave became all meek, the meek turned brave.
The branches of the oak tree seemed to thrash
Confirming all the words that prophet spoke:
Right there within his lair – Loki awoke!

mistylake

© Trevor Morgan, 2017

From: “Tales of Glimmering Lights”

In the Mead Hall

Throughout history people have sought to enjoy a good time.
I like mead. Not enough mead is drunk in these times.
I must make up for that!

Longhall

Sonnet – In the Mead Hall

The smell of roasting pig pervaded all
As throngs of joyous folk were gathered there.
Here all was plain not much adorned this hall,
A hubbub of small talk now filled the air.
The Gleemen entered in so all was still
And filled with expectations of their act;
For watching Gleemen brought a special thrill,
As much of what they said was short on tact.
They found something to laugh at in all things,
Much mockery and praise they could give out.
Though it was wise to show restraint with kings,
There may be things they could not laugh about.
But feast and jest and fun all add to life
And take men’s minds away from toil and strife.

© Trevor Morgan, 8/5/2018

Note: Traveling groups of entertainers, called Gleemen, were the entertainers in England before the Norman conquest.

The Scriptorium at Winchester

I like Narrative verse.
Much of my work is about the ninth and tenth Century in England. The Viking raids and invasions devastated the land. Out of this came a new wave of writing, art and illustration. Much of this came from Winchester.
So in a narrative I have a monk there beginning this school

Plants

The Scriptorium at Winchester

Osric the scribe worked that long day,
As long as there was light.
He only put his quills away
As dusk turned into night.

This book of Proverbs he worked on
He copied for his Lord.
He rarely saw the sun that shone
And never went abroad.

Within the confines of these walls
He now had spent long years.
He’d never heard the fairies’ calls
And never did shed tears.

A man of plain and simple faith
Who had stuck to his vow.
Before him stood what seemed a wraith,,
What could the monk do now?

He fell down to the floor in fear
He heard a tender voice.
“Get up, good monk, there’s no one near
Get up you face a choice.

My name’s Gabrel, I’m sent to you
To guide you in a task.
Your work it lacks a tender view,
So now do as I ask.

Come with me through the world of men,
Come outside of the walls.
Come see the hills, come see the fen,
Come listen to bird calls”.

Led by the hand through vistas grand,
He saw a wondrous isle.
“God has much planned for your sweet land”,
Gabrel said with a smile.

“The ebb and flow of how things go
Will not be shown to you.
But of this realm there’s much to know,
For deeds that you must do.

For scribes like you must copy well,
Writing the books of God.
And your works here could well excel,
You’ll need to be well shod.

And go from here with books wrote clear,
With these good words you write.
And never sneer, nor ever fear.
The Danes must know what’s right.

Your King has dreams and righteous schemes
Of more monks here with you.
Who’ll write in teams and write vast reams,
And their guide must be true.

So, walk this land with quill in hand,
Record the woods and ways.
Then take in hand what has been planned,
And guide scribes all your days”.

It seemed like Osric had a fit,
His mouth was wet with froth.
That night beside a cross he’d sit,
He was frail as a moth.

So, Osric did as he was bid
And wandered round our land.
And Gabrel saw that nought was hid
And helped him understand.

He went outside into the realm
And wandered for a year.
He knew soon he would take the helm,
But this caused him no fear.

The flowers in the field and fen,
The plants by each wayside,
Osric the monk he saw it then;
God’s work spread far and wide.

Each flower and leaf helped his belief,
Helped him see Christ as King.
Through sin and all of men’s mischief,
Not all could see this thing.

For God is found here all around,
In his creative zest.
His small herbs that spring from the ground
Seemed far above the rest.

© Trevor Morgan 5/5/2018

From: “Tale of Aelfrede and Gudrum”

Vengeance is mine says the Lord

Aggression is best avoided for the wronged may strike back.
Even when they do not strike back, things seems to go wrong for aggressors in the fullness of time; karma perhaps.

Vengeance is mine

Vengeance is mine says the Lord

Reeling then from such mischance,
Battered by bad circumstance,
Here I choose to languish not;
None of the wrongs may be forgot.

There will be no sad distress,
No, nor rotting bitterness.
I’ll not be a sorry sight,
Against what’s done, I choose to fight!

What if life may have turned bad.
So, what I will not feel sad.
They know what they did to me;
So, let them face their destiny.

They have chosen ways of war,
Let us give them even more.
Their ways are to wield the sword;
“Vengeance is mine”, says our good Lord.

© Trevor Morgan, 3/5/2018

From: “Tales of Alfred and Gudrum”

I had wrote these words for Alfred the Great after his defeat at Chippenham at Yule Tide in the year 877AD.
He went on to total victory five months later.

The Baking Lesson

I like the story of King Alfred and the burned cakes.
So, I had to include it in my narrative verses about Alfred.
It may well be just a story and not history but may carry hidden meaning.
There is a fungus commonly called “King Alfred’s Cakes”. This fungus can kill old Ash trees. The Ash tree was identified as sacred to the Norse god Odhin.
Alfred defeated the army of the followers of Odin at the Battle of Ethandun in the late spring of the year 878.
It sounds like a ripping yarn, an old folk tale, with a hidden meaning to me.


King Alfred’s Cakes

KingAlfredsCakes

The Baking Lesson

At daytime he would mope about
Attend to shield and spear
And while there racked in darkest doubt,
That woman’s voice was clear.

“Now will you watch this bread young man?
For I have chores to do,
Though I may help you how I can,
This is a task for you.

He sharpened points, he sharpened blades,
He moped in his despair.
As smoke curled up in greyish shades
He scratched his itchy hair.

When dark smoke billowed up in clouds
His face was in his hand.
The woman’s voice then screeched so loud,
Her fist hit his headband.

Then Alfred reeled across the ground,
His knees were flecked with blood
And then without a single sound ,
He got up from the mud.

Still dazed a bit from her hard blow
He saw he’d burned the bread.
But he then felt an inner glow
As he heard what she said.

“If walls could walk they’d be more use
Than men who sit and mope.
You useless man you’ve cooked your goose,
For you there is no hope.

A simple job that’s all I ask,
Was that too hard for you?
If you could do this little task,
We’d not be in this stew.

You eat the bread that’s on the board,
You don’t need help with that.
You do it of your own accord
Just like a thieving rat.”

But Alfred’s aide reached for his blade,
Reacting to this act.
Then Alfred any moves forbade ,
He’d learned good sense and tact.

“No! Stay your hand; she’s done no wrong,
My chore I failed to do.
They burned for long the smoke smells strong,
They were well in my view.

When each task at its time is done,
We cater for each need
And in a household that’s well run,
You get good bread and mead.

And our bread’s burned because of me,
For I did not attend.
There’s waste in this for all to see,
Burned bread you cannot mend.

The good grain has been wasted now,
It’s all been charred quite black.
There’s no point now to pray or vow,
I cannot bring it back.

Some wrongs done now can’t be undone.
Good food has gone to waste.
It matters how the cooking’s done,
So do not act in haste.

The cook’s the king where food is made
And I the serving hand.
How I deserved her fine tirade,
With curses, oh, so grand.

She’s right to feel I must be blind
Not to see all this smoke
And no sound king should ever mind ,
If he learns from such folk.

The little things we must look to,
To sow and harvest grain.
Through all the little things we do,
Then all of us will gain.

We now divide the work we do
Some spin and others weave.
This goes to make a prosperous land,
It’s waste that makes me grieve.

And I have wasted this good fare
By failing this good wife.
So tell this story everywhere
It’s all a part of life”

© Trevor Morgan, October 2002

From: “Tales of Alfred and Gudrum”

St Paul’s Bay

As a junior seaman I entered St Paul’s Bay in foul weather.
We were in a ship’s boat on a training trip.
I was a 16 year old and serving with the seventh destroyer squadron based in Malta. I knew the biblical account of the ship wreck here that St Paul and all on board survived in classical times.
How that ancient captain managed to beach his ship and save his passengers on the only narrow bay on this rocky coast amazes me still.

storm bird 2 edit
 

St Paul’s Bay

The steer board tore against his grip,
Storm waves rose all about.
His reefed in sails they might yet rip;
His soul felt clouds of doubt.

He thought of Byblos and his home
Above the wine dark sea.
He swore no more now would he roam,
He feared this destiny.

Ahead a sea bird glided by
Across those raging seas.
He heard a faint bewitching cry;
Such birds soar with such ease.

The shearwater was heading west,
Dark skies loomed sour and grey.
That bird she seemed serene and blessed;
Would she show him the way?

He eased about towards the lee
And went the way she flew.
He rode crests of that monstrous sea
With all the skills he knew.

He prayed that bird take him safe on
Towards some safe shore line.
Inside of him some faint Hope shone;
Could this bird be some sign?

Two passengers sat calm serene
Where waves crashed all about.
There faces wet with watery sheen,
Still now they seemed devout.

He was paid well for them to go
To Rome to face some fate.
Yet now they sat here all aglow
Mid seas that raged of hate.

Ahead the sky was black as black,
That shearwater part white.
With darker feathers on her back,
She came and went from sight.

A ships boy there came to him then,
Said “Birds lead to mischief,
They nest away from beast and men
On rocky shore or cliff”.

A panic gripped his heart and mind,
He thrust the steer board out.
Mid such spray that he seemed half blind;
He heard his Bosun shout:

“We missed those rocks you saved us all”,
As cliffs loomed to his right.
The bird let out a frantic call,
A bay came into sight.

He drove his ship straight at the shore,
The prow ploughed through the sand.
Her planking creaked then cracked and tore;
Death still seemed near at hand.

A wave took two men overboard
And straight onto the beach.
They stood and cried out to their Lord,
Then Death slunk out of reach.

The sea became becalmed at last,
That wrecked ship’s days were done.
With broken keel and shattered mast,
Against that storm she’d won.

And Saul of Tarsus walked some way
Up from the low shoreline.
He stopped but briefly, stopped to pray,
“God, could this be a sign”.

Back by the ship the captain stood
And spoke with fervent joy,
“Bosun”, he said “That boy did good”;
“Who sir, we have no boy…”.

His mind it reeled, his mind it spun,
Upon that low shoreline.
He saw rays of a rising sun,
“God, could this be a sign”?

A demon spirit left that bird
She settled on her nest.
That demon stuttered word on word,
“Satan, I failed your test…”!

And Saul of Tarsus travelled forth
To Rome to lose his head.
In that great city to the north
His cause would not lie dead.

From: The Tale of Frigar