Monday, May 2, 2011

Vikings Are Pretty Cool

In preparation for a summer working in Scandinavia, I am reading The Long Ships by Frans Bengtsson (a Swede from the last century with a sense of humor). It's all about Norsemen who roam, ravage and rampage.

Here are some of the chapter titles:

IV. How Krok's men came to Ramiro's Kingdom, and how they paid a rewarding visit

V. How Krok's luck changed twice and Orm became left handed

XI. Concerning the wrath of Brother Willibald, and how Orm tried his hand at wooing

I can get behind that sort of stuff.

Harp Song of the Dane Women

What is a woman that you forsake her,
And the hearth-fire and the home-acre,

To go with the old grey widow-maker?

She has no house to lay a guest in--
But one chill bed for all to rest in,

That the pale sun and the stray bergs nest in.

She has no strong soft arms to fold you,
But the ten-times-fingering weed to hold you--
Out on the rocks where the tide has rolled you.

Yet, when the signs of summer thicken,
And the ice breaks, and the birch-buds quicken,
Yearly you turn from our side and sicken--

Sicken again for the shouts and the slaughters.
You steal away to the lapping waters,
And look at your ship in her winter-quarters.

You forget our mirth and talk at the tables,
The kine in the shed and the horse in the stables--
To pitch her sides and go over her cables.

Then you drive out where the storm-clouds swallow,
And the sound of your oar blades, falling hollow
Is all we have left through the months that follow.

by Rudyard Kipling

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