Those Words of Love

Those words of love, the promise of your lips,

Were thin and breakable as potato chips;

No longer than a bag our love did last —

One of those bags mostly filled with air

That go so fast.







This poem is based on part of a story from old Norway. I found the story in Snorri Sturluson’s Heimskringla or Chronicles of the Kings of Norway in the Saga of Halfdan the Black. .

The metre of the is very particular and I’m not sure how well the poem comes off  if not read with the right rhythm. The middle two lines of each stanza are straightforward, but in lines one and four after the first 3 or 4 syllables, the last six syllables are at a little brisker tempo. It’s close to the rhythm of the first line of the song from Tangled “I See the Light” (here in French, cause it’s prettier in French.) In musical notation the rhythm of the first line of this poem would be quarter, quarter, half, eighth, eighth, eighth, eighth, quarter, quarter. DUM-dum  DUUM, deedle-eedle dum dum

The 4th line is always DUM-dum  DUM-dum, deedle-eedle dum dum, whereas the 1st alternates between that and DUM-dum DUUM, deedle-eedle dum dum, as already described. The final e’s in names such as Ringerike, Hake, and Hvasse, are pronounced.

If you are still interested in this little poem be warned, it’s a dark and nasty small tableau from old Norway.

Sigurd Hjort, King in Ringerike,
Matchless man in strength and size
Matchless son of Helgi Hvasse,
And of Aslaug (child of Sigurd snake-eyes)

Loved the wild and desolate dark woodland
Where alone he often rode
Where the bear and red-toothed wolf ran
From his eager, eagle-feathered arrows.

Thorny, child of Klakharald of Jutland,
Ragnhild to Sigurd bore
Ragnhild in all the northland
Was most fair and fetching, so the world swore.

All alone the King of Ringerike
Rode one day far through the woods
Rode to where the fearsome Hake,
Brave berserk, with thirty of his men stood

In a clearing waiting, close to Hadeland,
Armed with black steel, keen and grim
Armed to kill the hunter king and
With fresh steeds in hand if they must hunt him.

Sigurd Hjort, drawing forth his yew-bow,
Sent six death-shafts through the air
Sent six singing iron arrows
And six warriors tumbled down in death there.

All around the King of Ringerike,
Came those men with sword and shield
Came with shouting, led by Hake
While above the waiting woodland kite wheeled.

Sun was setting o’er the son of Hvasse;
Sigurd’s sword did loudly ring,
Sigurd struck a hand off Hake,
Yet he fell before him in the clearing.

“Men, of Hadeland, mount up on your horses!
To Hjort’s house!” fierce Hake roared.
To the house he led his forces
Even as hot blood from out his wounds poured.

All was dark, there in Ringerike,
In dead Sigurd’s lonely house;
In her dreams fair Sigurd’s daughter
Saw her father standing by the windows.

Ragnhild, waking from the nightmare
Heard the voice of Hake then,
Heard the horses, saw the torch-glare
Of berserker Hadelander horsemen.

As the land is licked up by the sea-waves,
Breaking, breaking on the shore,
Breaking through the door the axe-thieves,
Seized bright silver — stole dead Sigurd’s gold-store.

But the brightest gem in Ringerike
Was not set in brooch or ring,
‘Twas the treasure one-hand Hake
Rode that night to Ringerike seeking.

Ragnhild, matchless maid of Norway
Hake sought and seized that night,
Hake bore her through the doorway
Bore her home in bloody arms by star-light.





First Lesson in Poetry

Oh, ye young gallant writers all
Come listen unto me
And I will teach the secret skill
Of writing poetry.

To make it plain I chose this theme,
To show the craft most clearly,
That dish men love most dearly.

Words correspond to cream you see,
But everybody knows
That words alone aren’t poetry,
That’s what is known as prose.

So cream alone is not ice cream
Ice gives it form and structure
In poetry the ice ‘twould seem
Is patterned pulse, or metre.

But is that all that’s requisite
To truly make the treat?
In strict sense yes –but what is it
Without some added sweet?

Some added sweetness makes you lick
Ice cream with greater pleasure,
In verse the kick that makes words stick
Is rhyme — poetry’s sugar.

And there are still more ways than this
To give your ice cream flavour,
And there is more that I can list
Of tricks good poets favour.

Alliteration and assonance
Work wonders when well wielded;
The first is done with consonants,
For the other vowels are needed.

Like chopped up chunks of chocolate
Churned right into the mixture
Some poets like a lot of it
To give the text more texture.

And let there be a fine excess
Of sprinkles and of toppings,
In lines that touch of loveliness
No half-way words should stop things.

And as the tastiest flavours are
The ones containing berries,
So verse replete with metaphor
The greatest beauty carries.

I’d say this poem in metaphor
The heights of poesie reaches,
But also does what poems are for
Delights provokes and teaches.

So if toward creativity
Your heart is ever yearning,
Apply my words in poetry
Or  your next ice-cream churning.

Farm boys 1941 ice cream

‘Til Death Us Do Part

If as mere friends our lives had parted ways,
Perhaps years later I might come to hear
That she had died, my friend of bygone days
Had died, and I, perhaps, would shed a tear.
But since God chose our separate threads to braid,
If you should die before me then my part
Will be the deepest pain — a sorrow made
As day by day I gave to you my heart
In hours and hours of talk and work and prayer,
In sickness and in health, and sometimes lost
On winding roads but with you always there.
Yet will love’s parting prove too high a cost?
I choose to brave its pain, gladly I do
As year by year I fall in love with you.


The years of the right hand of the Most High

I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High.
I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. (Psalm 77:10-11)

This is a lyric I wrote inspired by Psalm 77 verses 10-20. I composed it to fit the tune of the famous song ‘Brigante Se More’ by Eugenio Bennato and Carlo D’Angiò

I will remember the works of the LORD

I will remember His wonders of old
Meditate also and talk of His doings
Sing of the years of the right hand of God.

Who is so mighty a God as our God?
Who with his right arm redeemed us of old,
Sent the sea rolling in fear and confusion
Back in the years of the right hand of God?

Sing how His clouds poured their waters on high,
Sing how His thunder song rolled through the sky
Sing of His arrows the wicked pursuing
Sing of the years of the right hand of God.

He made the voice of His thunder be heard
He made His lightening to lighten the world
Earth shook and trembled His majesty viewing,
Shook in the years of the right hand of God.

Deep in the sea is the way of the LORD
Deep in the ocean His footsteps of old;
Pathways untraceable past human knowing
Were shown in the years of the right hand of God.

You led your people, the sheep of your flock,
Led them along in the way they should walk
Gave to them shepherds in Moses and Aaron
Led them along by your right hand, O God.

My lyric has the same number of verses as this lyric but the last verse is sung three times in this recording.

Upon Reading a Wonderful Old Poem  (And being preemptively outraged with what I suspect the critics might dare to say about it)

A poem I discovered yesterday
That truly spoke of beauty and its pain.
Of it I don’t care what the critics say
Who as aesthetic scientists explain
Which couplets have too ‘melodramatic’ a strain.

But even if the heathen critics laugh,
That letter from my sister in the past
With words as coloured glass of fine-cut craft,
Has come to harbour, ‘cross time’s ocean vast
In me — for she to them did not the pearl cast.


Star Trees

And looking up at night it seemed the trees
Held in profusion shimmering silver fruit
Which, climbing up, some child could pluck with ease
And by handfuls twinkling on the black ground strew it.

Cold flaming silver birches then might grow,
And glow like candles lit by tenebrous monks,
And light the lost who stumble as they go
All lantern-less among dark leaves and trunks.