Roy Ernest Ballard
Sutton Hoo - Poem by Roy Ernest Ballard
Wayland the Wanderer wrought in native gold
great shoulder clasps and buckles for the Earl
with filigrees and panels set with bold
embellishments, with interlacing swirl
of chequered garnet, lapis lazuli
blue millefiori, amethyst and glass.
It was a dazzlement of wizardry
that nothing in the wide world could surpass
and yet the Earl found no love for these things.
He knew that iron is the stuff of kings.
So Wayland sought the sky-flung bolts of Mars.
He trawled a lodestone through the muddy streams
and gleaned the dust of those fierce shooting stars
shot from a battle line across our dreams.
He forged the star dust, left it to anneal,
reheated, quenched it, shattered it to bits,
rewelded, folded, beat it into steel
and formed it to the fatal shape that fits
the swordsman's hand. He coated it with clay
and quenched it, heated to the cherry tint,
whetstoned and made it mirror every ray
with horsetail, pumice and the dust of flint.
He richly furnished it, that famous blade,
of steel celestial that Wayland made.
The Earl found many foes to take its measure
and wordless was the tribute that they gave;
the old man honoured it beyond all treasure
and took it with him to an honoured grave.
Now Earl and Wayland, all, are turned to dust
except the gold, still bright and good as new.
The sword that served him lies beside him, rust.
The gold is anyone's; the steel stayed true.
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