Raiding seafarer, daughter of Heidrek
The Wise, Shieldmaiden Hervor protected
Hearth-fires, defended Viking clans.
Armored as male warriors, sword-in-
Hand, she died battle-felled. I praise
Thee, celebrate and mourn, daring life
Sacrificed on bloodstained fighting-fields.
Her body pillaged by warring Huns,
She fought with sword-might, until
Wounded, blood pulse tide-ebbed.
Her face pale-pained, fair eyes
Fought death until valiant life-lights
Ended, well of tears, heaving breath
Stilled, noble heart yielded.
At Hervor’s death side, Viking chieftains
And warriors on knee bitter-wept, anger
Cursed Huns for one who loved Gothland,
Family and clan, fought with equal valor,
Now released to eternal sleep, spirit
Thundering, excellent sister welcomed
To ancestral mead-halls.
Her body committed to ship-grave,
Vikings buried her with companion
Sword and shield, perfumed flowers.
Marsh and fen echoed with somber
Drums, whispered grief, harmonies of
Sacred Odin music-song, torch-lights,
Honored and respected.
Vikings unleashed blood revenge, sword-
Torment, against Hun attackers, all killed
Save one. Fronting cold winds tonight,
I mingle with Hun kin around tent-fires.
Dagger-scarred, I fear of evils committed,
My punishment imposed, I recite “Grim
Tale Shieldmaiden Hervor.”
In this poem, the surviving Hun attacker is condemned to recite Grim Tale of Shieldmaiden Hervor. As depicted by ancient Nordic legend, sheildmaidens, such as Hervor, crossed gender roles to fight along side male warriors. They dressed as men and were equally as brave, at times remorseless. In Peter Nicolai Arbo’s painting, “Hervor død,” the shieldmaiden is pale and lifeless with warriors on bended knee.
See “Shieldmaiden Hervor” under “Micropoetry.”