Song I sing of ancient Hvalsey Church,
Witness frozen demise of Greenlandic
Viking habitation. Enduring monument,
Fitted ashlar stones, Christian ruins
Withstood unrelenting approach of
Barren desolation, mournful years,
Ice-slashed grasslands, driving Norse
Kin westward beyond whale-paths to
Wander foreboding shores.
Plunder our life-way, we struck with
Thunder-might, noble tribes whose
Vinéd-lineage traced to Erik Red’s clan-
Folk. Adapting our life-song, we became
Fishermen who tended lowly sheep. Alas,
Blood-lust gradually drained from our
Souls. Dwelling among fell and fields,
We found transient peace, betraying
glories past, first conquerors of Green-
Land southern strands.
We worshiped single God in a thick-walled
House of stone, Savior of love and peace.
As gannet wind-glided over cloud-swept
Fiords, we listened quietly to holy words but
Fathomed not strange thoughts, forgiveness
And self-sacrifice. For those who killed and
Pillaged, we were taught to love neighbors,
Except their bones lay white, broad-sword
Cleft among verdant cliffs where our
Sheep bayed and grazed.
For following this God of Peace, Nordic
Gods sent tempest wrath, tortured curse,
Inflicting benumbing cold. For years we
Fought shadows, advancing frost, crippling
Life’s work. The end closed fast when we
Sent our women and children in square-
Sailed ships to distant Vinland. For those
Few returned, they spit on ground. Odin’s
Hammer forged another curse in heaving
Brine, ice-islands, high-sloped, forests dense.
Our life-story, Vindlanders we became,
Striving honor to restore, worthiness of Eric’s
Clan. Great mead halls we built, drifting hearth-
Smoke, stag hunting and deep snows. We
Persevered an Ice Age under Odin’s reign.
Our blue-eyed lineage returned to Greenlandic
Shores, Norse blood coursing strong, standing
Before the stone-walled church, they live today,
Heart-humbled by our bitter sacrifices pledged
In hostile lands.
Inspired by the ruins of Hvalsey Church, this poem refers to the Little Ice Age, which displaced Nordic Greenlandic life, forcing these seawanders to semi-permanent settlements in Labrador and L’Anse aux Meadows in northern Newfoundland.