“Ingeborg,” Peter Nicolai Arbo, 1868, Wikimedia photo, for this poem Brithe.

Part 2: Norse Fates Revealed

Cloak pulled back, mirror of myself revealed.
“Brithe, we are neither foes by blade nor hand.
I am Betrys, Druidess of nearby Ireland.” Years
Of my own, like eyes returned knowing gaze.
“We are of pagan sisterhood, separated by 500
Years, as many miles,” Betrys explained. “Yet
We desire same for our people, sea-perseverance,
Our line to succeed as ancient Celts before me,
Life amongst Norse firths-burgs, dream-riddles
For us both.” Her words thought-heavy, Vikings
Claimed all we found, pillaged without concern
For others, substantial wealth stolen by clanging
Might of sword and shield.

“It is our way,” I countered to Betrys’ narrowing
Eyes. “Do Norse farmers harvest all their crops,
Burn fields, kill all livestock for one meal? Silence
Reigned. “No, we take what is needed, prepare
For hard winters.” Yes, for sea-glitter we yearned,
Silver, gold, worthiness measured by exploits,
Stolen wealth. To central stones we walked,
Wave of Betrys’ hand, Norse Highwielding was
Revealed, seacoasts explored from these outer
Islands to strange realms, kings and queens,
Warmer climes, cerulean seas, Norse influence
Spreading, villages, churches sacked, burned,
Images disclosed, plague of Norse atrocities.

“There is more,” Betrys advised. We stepped
Into standing stone images swirling round:
Iceland, Greenland, decades of prosperity,
Pinnacle of Norse Highwielding on sun-warmed
Greenland fiords, southern forests, farmsteads
Expanding, lucrative trading walrus ivory, whale-
Path exploring, westward, north, Helluland,
Markland, Norse knew no boundaries, iron-
Bolted destinies awaited. Lo! From gold arm-
Band fortunes to poverty, Norse tribes collapsed,
Grass-blighting cold, we realized not evil deeds,
Abandoning Christian faith, churches, full circle
Wheel of fates turned: Vikings were no more.

“Calling of Vikings,” Viktor Vasnetsov, WikiArt

“By bloodstained swords and spears, we caused
Our undoing,” I whispered, Norse crossroads at
These Callanish standing stones, age-old wisdom
Held, Druid priestess revealed. “Remember your
Stout words, Brithe,” Betrys advised. “’For all
Who are voyage-holden will go.’ Bring them to
This place, whilst magic spells persists, for
Themselves to witness, farseeing or gainsayers
If so dared.” Thus, fiord tides turned, cold-dark
Depths, white-crested waves colliding, High-
Wielding
calling before us, 100 souls in three
Longships, provisions, sheep, so arrayed for
True sea-course beyond Norse-ravaged islands.

For more on Norse Greenland disappearance, see this link:
http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/11/why-did-greenland-s-vikings-disappear 
This poem concludes with Part 3. Thanks for reading. 

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