Varangian Lament

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Thread: Varangian Lament

  1. #1

    Varangian Lament

    North-wind sweeps these scorched fields
    And brings back scents of home
    Of barley fields and birch-groves white
    And then the scent is gone
    Again it reeks of Nidhogg's breath
    Above the carrion-birds cry
    Circling o'er the battlefield
    In blazing Southern sky

    As this day was hard and long
    I sit to take my breath
    Many brothers fell today
    In this field of death
    As ravens flock towards their feast
    So merrily they cry
    Is this the glory to be won?
    I see no valkyries fly

    Strange and hostile are these lands
    To a man of North
    Forty golden coins a month
    Is all he's ever worth
    A generous fee, that is for sure
    Who lives, comes home rich man
    Yet all these riches I'd give up
    Just to see my home again

    Before the night falls, I will drown
    My sorrows in sweet wine
    A dark-haired Southern maiden's touch
    Brings pleasures most sublime
    Yet finest Miklagaard's red wine
    Is still no Northern ale
    And even fairest maidens Greek
    Do not have flaxen hair

    So many brothers lost today
    No glory has been won
    Only another rebel lord
    Lies cut down dead and gone
    Such is the fate of those who sell
    Their loyalty for gold
    Both traitor lords and sellswords too
    Rarely do grow old

    So as I tread this battlefield
    'Mongst fallen friend and foe
    All I can think is barley fields
    And birch-groves white back home
    But all that lies beyond my reach
    And many years of time
    So tonight I'll drown my sorrows
    In maiden kisses and in wine

  2. #2
    A great lament. There are so many wonderful phrases, stanzas, and lines here. Your first few lines really welcomed me, as a reader, into the poem:

    "North-wind sweeps these scorched fields
    And brings back scents of home
    Of barley fields and birch-groves white
    And then the scent is gone"

    You show the beauty of the homeland and then, in your instant of "gone"- take it away. This impact on the reader is abrupt as it is fitting with the timeline of your poem.

    The poem continues on with another favorite part of mine:

    "Many brothers fell today
    In this field of death
    As ravens flock towards their feast
    So merrily they cry
    Is this the glory to be won?
    I see no valkyries fly"


    You give credence to the fallen and provide the imagery of ravens feasting on what has become not human, but now remains. You speak of the glory that is now lost, just like the scent, and reinforce the image of the lack of Valkyries flying, taking their due course in the sky. This lack is entrancing: you're driving your message home.

    Coin only holds monetary value. The next stanza discusses the wish for a homeland even amidst the promise of gold. It is not worth the price- money is only money.

    Following this, the heart of your poem comes out:

    "Before the night falls, I will drown
    My sorrows in sweet wine
    A dark-haired Southern maiden's touch
    Brings pleasures most sublime
    Yet finest Miklagaard's red wine
    Is still no Northern ale
    And even fairest maidens Greek
    Do not have flaxen hair"

    It reminds me of the idea that sometimes, when people have lost and killed- or seen those die, they must comfort themselves. In this instance, they turn to maidens in the search of something- yet are bereft even in the search, and finding, of their desires. Their search is the very thing itself that makes their yearnings elusive. Your next stanza brings the situation back to reality, and you follow through with:

    So as I tread this battlefield
    'Mongst fallen friend and foe
    All I can think is barley fields
    And birch-groves white back home
    But all that lies beyond my reach
    And many years of time
    So tonight I'll drown my sorrows
    In maiden kisses and in wine

    This is my favorite stanza of all. Sharp, biting, yearning, telling, revealing, soulful, and so much more. This hits the ball out of the court for me. Really enjoyed- thanks for sharing!
    ďAs far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being,"

    -Carl Jung

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