He pulled his woollen jacket on
That stretched down to the knee,
Then donned a coat of heavy mail
And scowled, toward the sea,
A fleet of ships was waiting there
For winter snows to thaw,
Before he sailed for England,
For Danegeld, and for war.
The sons of Ragnar Lodbrok
Took up their beaten swords,
They sharpened up their spearheads
(The manuscript records) :
The sound of bloody tumult
Was music to their ears,
The wives held close the tiny bairns,
Allayed their yearly fears.
For every year the Vikings
Set out to plunder shores
That feared the Norsemen coming,
None tarried out of doors,
For when the grim marauders
Were seen to set their sails,
The Scotsmen and the Saxons all
Were heard to cry and wail.
'Protect us from the Northmen, Lord, '
The Christian altars rang,
'Protect us from the wrath of them, '
The Christian choirs sang,
Then every man and maid returned
So humble to each home,
To close and nail the shutters up
In valley, hill and combe.
But Ubbi, Ivar and Halfdan
Were heathens to the core,
They turned toward Northumbria
Intent on making war,
They burned and pillaged everything,
Slew every man and child,
But maids were taken captive for
The Army to defile.
They took the silver arm-rings of
The warriors they had slain,
And added jewels from each church
They burned along the way,
But when the winter storms came in
And ships were beached, to caulk,
They marched to shelter, right behind
The Roman Walls of York.
Now Halfdan had a Saxon maid
He'd taken at the coast,
She'd fought and screamed, and bitten him,
Defied the Viking boast,
But Athelflaed, the daughter of
A minor Saxon king,
Was quite prepared to die before
She'd give herself to him.
She'd cook, and she would clean as well,
She'd wash his filthy clothes,
Bloodstained from every battle with
The blood of Saxon foes,
But still she would refuse his bed
Until he turned to boast:
'I'll slay both of your brothers,
And your father at the coast.'
Again she would refuse him, saying;
'Go and do your worst!
I wouldn't sell my honour to
A beast that has been cursed, '
So Halfdan raged and swore at her,
And threw his armour on,
He sharpened up his spear, and said:
'Be sure! I'll soon be gone! '
But Athelflaed was cunning
In the wiles of women then,
For Saxon women had their ways
Of keeping men at home,
When Halfdan went to find his boots
Beside his treasure box,
He turned to her and raged:
'You'd better find my bloody socks! '
A thousand years have come and gone,
They're just a memory,
Their lives just trickled out the door,
They're lost in history,
But back in York, at Coppergate,
Began the Jorvik Viking dig…
(This story has a twist!)
For there beneath the turnip ends,
The rotten veg and all,
That lay beside the Viking hut
That Halfdan called his hall,
They found an old and tattered sock,
The only one they found,
So Halfdan never got to walk
That cold, snow-covered ground.
And now, a thousand years away
His grandson, twenty times,
He gets to ride a Harley, with a patch
That says - 'I'm slime! '
While Athelflaed's descendant,
He invented some machine,
That agitates your washing out,
That's right - a washing machine!
And every time we load the wash
You know, in every town,
That Athelflaed, whose genes were strong,
She passed her cunning down,
For when the spinning cycle comes
To rest - that is, it stops,
You're only going to find just one…
From every pair of socks!
16 July 2008
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.