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Hildeburh’s Lament X

Long the battle lasted,
Loud the weapons clashed.
The Danes stood firm
At the doors on both ends.
Many a Frisian tried
To take the doorkeepers,
But for five long days
They fought in vain.
Then one night, off guard
After gruelling battle,
The Frisians broke in
Bursting the halldoors.
My brother bore
The brunt of swords.
He fell holding fast,
Fearless in death,
Brandishing his bill.
But the bold Danish
Were not cowed by fear.
Far more they kindled
Their anger at losing
Their beloved prince,
No longer the love
Of that lord of men
Would give them joy
In gold gabled hall.
The skirmish raged,
Scouring Finnesburg.
Many of Finn’s thanes
Fought their last,
And still both sides
Sought no trucepledge.
I stood beholding
The hellish scene;
The blood of battlemen
Bursting forth and
The curdling cries
Of the corpselike dying.
Then I saw my son,
Still but a boy,
Borne down by arrows.
Cruellest sight to me,
That stabbed my heart
And robbed me of all
My rightful joy.


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Hildeburh’s Lament VI

Then glad and grim
The good and the bad
News from Danemark,
Dearest homeland,
Reached attentive ears
Eager for tidings.
My father had fared
Forth to the halls
Of his own fathers
As all are fated to.
But my brother, now king,
Was coming to the Burg.
Hnæf! How I’d missed him
My heart’s companion.
Double daggers
Drove through my bosom;
The sad one for sorrow
Smiting with tears,
The other for gay gladness
Giddy with joy.

The pangs of impatience
In preparing wore off.
The royal visit,
A rare occasion,
Requires much work
For Queens to do:
The hall and hearth
From high to low
Must gleam with gold,
Glitter with silver,
The food for feasts
Found and stored well,
And servants instructed
In the smallest matters.

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Hildeburh’s Lament V

Friesland’s fens
Fallow marshes
I grew in time
To regard as home;
Like plants become peat
My place I found
Slowly but surely
Settling into the land.

I soon found my husband’s
Fierceness in battle
Stayed on the battlefield
Like the blood of the slain;
At home and in hall
The hardened warrior rested.
In the mighty Burg,
Unbreachable isle,
The seawolf felt safe
From scathe and harm.
Open handed
To his hearthfellows,
He spent more than he owned:
Mailcoats paid
With next raid’s treasure,
Wrought goldwork.
As winters wore
And waters thawed,
We became used to
Each other’s company
As we shared the weal
And woe of life.

Fróda our firstborn
Filled my heart
With the homely cares
Of happy mothers.
The Frisians bore me
No festering grudge
For soon Finn’s Fróda
Was Finnesburg’s
Dearest darling,
Doted on by all.

Yet sometimes the wind’s whispering,
The whinny of horses,
Or the stamping feet
Of the fastest steeds
Ran my heart through
With an unhealable wound
Ripping open the scar
I’d sealed before —
But I learnt to live
In a land not my own.

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Hildeburh’s Lament III

A peaceweaver’s work
Is parting from home;
From her mother’s hall,
Its hanging tapestries
With maremeadows and
Mighty riders
In gilded threads
Like gold inlaid,
Its carved ceiling,
Such skillful crafting,
From friends dearer
Than darling lovers.
The sundering of friends
Was sorrow indeed,
But the price of peace
Meant parting from Danemark,
And Hnæf biting back
The burning tears,
Still young, unable
To understand
The Witan council’s
Wary counsel.

As the wedding wore on
Wariness relaxed
And feasting forth
In fair meadhall
The guests and hosts,
Hiding grievances,
Drank our health
And danced through the hall.
Mead did much to
Diminish my unease
At the wedding night
Nervous fumbling
In the baffling blindness
Of the bridal chamber.

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Hildeburh’s Lament II

The Hocings at war
With hoarstrong Folcwald
Frieslands’s fighting men,
Forceful in battle,
Could not carve out
The kingdom they desired,
For Hoc’s men held
Their homesteads unyielding.

Many a sad mother
Mourned for her son.
After weary wars
Woedeeds on both sides
And fighting feuds
With Folcwald’s people,
Peaceoaths were sworn
And swords sheathed again.

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The Quest

Soft padding on desert sand,
__A camel harness jangles faint
The glint of something metal and
__Three seeking hearts to rival saints.

Swaying gently over dunes
__A star illuminates that night.
The hope born from those ancient runes
__Bids seek a worldʼs redeeming light.

Lead on, lead on celestial guide
__In silent unison they cried.

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The Thought Walk

The Fall-leaf —
Can you hear it crunch
Beneath your walking boots?

The River —
Can you hear it sing
Joyful as it leaps?

The West wind —
Can you hear it whisper
Mellow through the trees?

The Ocean —
Can you hear it roar
Softly in your mind?

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