Part 2: Sister Muriel and Dyrfinna
“By wind-rustling sails, we know of you,
Lord Gunnolf,” I, Sister Muriel, stated.
“Darting white-crested waves, storm
Petrels relate your seafaring exploits,
Shield and armor blood-spattered, your
Warrior-bride, Dyrfinna, sorceress in
Own right.” Hearing this, suspicions
And weapons lowered. “We come to wage
War, pillage, attain wealth for westward
Sailing quests,” Gunnolf countered.
Mother Mary counsel offered: Give them
What they want, great meal. Christ’s
Cross can be replaced, lives cannot.
Lure of silver too strong, Gunnolf eyed
Christ’s crucifix, communion chalice,
Offerings of food and coin. Churches
And abbeys easy targets, killing of no
Consequence, Gunnolf took all desired.
“We pray to a god, similar to your Odin,
Meal-time prayers,” I began whilst we
Broke bread, ate fresh-roasted lamb,
Swilled cups of wine. “Tell me of this god,”
Stated Dyrfinna, dubious of our claims.
“What magic can your god perform?”
At Mary’s coaxing, I replied, “With these
Beads, prayer of our Lord we recite, who
Sacrificed himself for us, by crucifixion
On the cross, that we may eternal life:
‘Our father who art in heaven, hallowed
Be thy name, your kingdom come, your
Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive
Us our trespasses, as we forgive them
Who trespass against us. Lead us not into
Temptation, but deliver us from evil.’*
Thus is our daily Christian prayer, before
Meals, in evenings,” I concluded.
Lo! All at table present, felt Norsemen were
Our enemies. They ate and drank their fill,
Boasting of kills, pillaging, trials at sea, our
Island abbey their smoky mead-hall. What
Magic can your god perform?” Dyrfinna
Asked again, irritated. “Christ’s Holy Mother,
Is with me now, beckons me as I seek her
Guidance in humble prayer.” By disdainful
Eyes, Norse sorceress was unconvinced. Yet,
Amongst us, shimmering light appeared,
Hovering, form materializing, until in
Living radiance, Mother Mary we beheld.
* Known worldwide as “The Lord’s Prayer.”
In lieu of Norse appeasement, what recourse does Sister Muriel have? Should she fight, defend the cross, or as in the poem, find ways two divergent cultures are similar and ignore differences. Is that the lasting path to peace?
For more on Norse invasion of Ireland, see this link: http://www.wesleyjohnston.com/users/ireland/past/pre_norman_history/vikings.html