What do Norse mariners fear? Storming
Seas, ice-cluttered whale-paths? Fear is
Of sea-shadows, sailcloth-tearing specters,
Lurking on foreign shores, horizon’s edge,
Luring unsuspecting longboats into timber-
Nipping ice, rocks surf-crashing. Thus, I,
Brithe, permit not fear to rule my actions,
Sound seafaring advice, ancient wisdom of
Island-raiding forefathers. Hearts iron-
Strong, we sailed north along Greenland
Shores, Brattahlid settlement fiord
Sternward, single sail wind-stretched.
“Dangers are of one mother, her name, Grim’s
Sea-Dóttir,” we sang aloud, wind in rigging
Whistling, ice labyrinth off bow-head, close
To shore we steerboard pushed, closing leads
Tween floating floe-berg ice, towering plateau
Heights. Sail we reduced, oars water striking,
Stout poles at ready, fend off water-cascading
Ice giants. “Fear has one mother,” we boasted.
“Her bastard children wallowing in iceberg
Frozen form, her daughters have no skills,
Her sons gelded beasts.”
O! Ill-greeting sea, dark clouds scudding,
Whitecaps rolling, we aroused witch-storm,
Driving us ashore. “Who craves homestead
Hearth fires, softness of thick-hay bed?”
In secret, we all did, but fear ruled not our
Hearts or minds, shores of Helluland we
Sought. Summer evening, sheltered cove we
Found. No, fear did not rule us, we rested to
Sea-skirmish another day, make sail-oar
Revenge on Grim’s Sea-Dóttir. Next morn, we
Took to glittering seas, safe-passage granted,
Longboat intact, no Norse wounded, killed.
Less than typical saga-length, short Brithe poem, Norse
navigating north along Greenland west coast to Helluland,
or Baffin Island, reckoning with Grim’s Sea-Daughter.
Thanks for reading.