The Northern Way


On good Friday it happened in Caithness that a man called Dorroth went out of doors. He saw twelve persons ride toward a stone hut. There they were lost to his sight. When he came up to the hut and looked through a chink in the wall he saw that some women were rinside and had set up a web. Heads of men served as weights, mens entrails formed the woof and weft, a sword did as a weavers reed, and arrows as the rods. They sang this song, called Song of the Valkyries. Then they tore the web down and into pieces, and each one held on to what she had in her hands. Dorroth left the opening and went home; but the women mounted their horses and rode away- six to the north and six to the south.

Widely is flung,         warning of slaughter,
the weavers-beams-web:                tis wet with blood;
is spread now, grey,                the spear-thing before,
the woof-of-the-warriors                which valkyries fill
with the red-warp-of-        Randvrs-banesman.

Is this web woven                and wound of entrails,
and heavy weighted                with heads of slain;
are blood-bespattered        spears the treadles,
iron-bound the beams,        the battens, arrows:
let us weave with our swords        this web of victory!

Goes Hild to weave,                and Hiorthrimul,
Sangrith and Svipul,        with swords brandished:
shields will be shattered,                shafts will be splintered,
will the hound-of-helmets                the hauberks bite.

Wind we, wind we                the web-of-darts,
and follow the atheling                after to war!
Will men behold                shields hewn and bloody
where Gunn and Gondul        have gaurded the thane.

Wind we, wind we                such web-of-darts
as the young war-worker                waged afore-time!
Forth shall we fare                where the fray is thickest,
where friends and fellows                gainst foemen battle!

Wind we, wind we                the web-of-darts
where float the flags        of unflinching men!
Let not the lieges                 life be taken:
valkyries award                the weird of battle.

Will seafaring men                hold sway over lands,
who erstwhile dwelled        on outer nesses;
is doomed to die                a doughty king,
lies slain an earl                 by swords een now.

Will Irish men eke                much ill abide:
twill not ever after                be out of mens minds.
Now the web is woven,        and weapons reddened -
in all lands will be heard                the heroes fall.

Now awful is it                to be without,
as blood-red rack                races overhead;
is the welkin gory                with warriors blood
as we valkyries         war-songs chanted.

Well have we chanted        charms full many
about the kings son:        may it bode him well!
Let him learn them                who listens to us,
and speak these spells                to spearmen after.

Start we swiftly        with steeds unsaddled -
hence to battle        with brandished swords!

© 2000 Hringari Oðinssen

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