The Linnmistar Viking Sword

∴ A Warrior’s Rite∴

Light kisses morning mist
Miring the fighting field,
A silver, silken veil
Swathing a stubbled plain.
Half-drunk on distant drums
That punctuate the day,
You shrug your aching shape
Into shimmering maille.

Its weight hangs, heavy fate,
On shoulders hurt and cold,
Familiar and fain,
The form you now assume:
A serpent in reverse,
Not sloughing off dead skin,
But slipping into scales
Steadfast against the blade.

Half-laughing you heft
The handle of your sword,
Wrought by a fiery forge,
Flat-bladed, made for war.
Three-lobed, the pommel’s press,
Calming against your palm,
The sword extends the self:
The snake of battle wakes.

This poem is written in an approximation of the Skaldic metre used by the warrior poets of Medieval Scandinavia. This highly restrictive form calls for 8 lines of six syllables per verse, with verses in alliterative pairs, the first line of which contains two alliterative syllables. All lines must contain an instance of assonance.

Skaldic metre often acted as a form of encryption within its oral tradition, helping poets to recall the right words, and making it next to impossible for the text to be altered.

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