“Cashmere,” John Singer Sargent, 1908, WikiArt.

Part 3: Faroe Islands North Sailing (Last)

All things seen, realized, 100 Norse at standing
Stones, believing, questioning, denying their
Highwielding, Betrys’ magic spells, stones wind-
Wailing, leaden clouds circling overhead, seas
Slate-turned, ancient Celts, torches burning,
Callanish island equinox, rising sun, orbed
Planets night passing, wisdom sought-followed,
Belligerent Norse, raising blood-edged weapons.
To stones, Brithe and Betrys hands stretched
Forth, new Viking island home revealed, tween
Norway and Iceland, their line peace persisting,
Føroyar Isles, all agreed with one condition,
Betrys accompany new-formed sailing tribe.

Norse warriors suspected sea-witch mischief,
Sea-committed hearts anger-filled, Betrys time-
Separated from Ireland 500 years, connections
Far-stretched as Callanish Isle disappeared, with
Brithe sailed, familiar feel of steer-board tiller,
Keen-eyed, hair flowing, longboat wave cleaving,
Tumbling skies unfolding, day-nights hard winds
North-pushing. Alas! Into desolate seas they
Sailed, beyond reach of pagan, Christian gods,
Sea-spray freezing, specters rigging shrieking,
Wave and cloud merged. “Blown off course,”
Brithe to Betrys screamed, cutting hard, abeam
Foam-streaked heaving seas they strove.

Sailing thus by luck or fates, three Norse long-
Ships preserved cold North seas, no souls or
Sheep lost, no shores to call their own, lost
And hope-abandoned, warmth of deck tents,
Ship fires, seasickness spreading round, hard-
Ships of perpetual peril, prayers for Faroe
Mountain peaks, fair-shining light, dreams
Of fishing families, homesteads, storehouses,
Promise of god-fearing peaceful life. All these
Seemed distant dreams, Norse Highwielding
Ruined by Druidess Betrys, visions of Callanish
Island standing-stones. Alas! Arguing in face of
Crashing sea-death, served no purpose but folly.

“Sheep dotting verdant hillsides…”

Heart-harkening sight at sunrise, longboats
Blown west of Faroe Isles, misty clouds upon
Faint mountaintops, Brithe’s and her crew
Raised sail. Other ships, fighting women and
Men, strength pressed to ocean oaring. First
Plume of smoke from stone houses, sheep
Dotting verdant hillsides, evidence of Norse
Habitation. Doubtful looks to Betrys, Vikings
Long-occupied Faroes, sequestered from warring
Strife of Albion shores, Viking Highwielding
Brithe conceived, Betrys revealed at Callanish
Standing stones. High-sloping pebbled beach
They landed, new home for Viking clans.

For more on Norse occupation of Faroe Islands, see these links:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Faroe_Islands

https://www.faroeislands.fo/the-big-picture/history/
Thanks for reading this last poem for 2017.
I hope to post a “Year-End Review” later this week. 

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