a collection of literature from poets, bards, songwriters, and skalds in the SCA

Hyrst Werre

Short Description: 

Eddic poem about the Battle of Hastings.

Poem (Canso): 

Hwaet! His fair name Harold do we hail, highest of the hlafords, our heahcyning.
Honored the oath-keepers all, offered rings to bind the oath.
Wyrd wove him into those ways; War and weeping were his lot.
Edward had no aetheling, Left no lord to the land.
No cyning, that Confessor, flooding the fords with fighting.
Too sound was his sleeping, that no sunu was seen.
Aefaest at the altar, lifeless in his loins.
What honor has an ealdor, A king without his kinsmen?
Edward's realm, the ring-giver Rising strength, the ruler
Harold held his army As enemies swarmed in.
Harold called Hardrada, Hailed from the giant's home.
Set his sight across the sea, on wave-steed came to Wodensland.
Tostig turned the traitor to take his brother's title.
Sword's sweat dripped where land met sea, Struck swift and true for Sigurdsson.
Flanks were secured at Fulford, Flanked to the right of Fordlands.
From the South, the Saxons Swung first, striking their swordsmen.
The line loosened, but let none through Harold held hope, huscarls at hand.
Regrouped to the river as ravens rushed in for the rebels.
More men murdered, meant nothing As Godwinson gave ground.
The third front thirsted for their blood. The defenders were defeated.
Silent as a shadow, Harold took Hardrada.
Hanged god, from his gallows, Gave Harold his headland of swords.
The Saxons were circled, surrounded, but butchered Norse until they crossed the bridge.
Their trailing was tempered. There, an ax-man turned to tarry.
Flooded the fields with the wound-sea. Forty men he fought and slayed.
Beneath the bridge, a blood-worm Broke the brave man's boldness.
To Tostig and his new thane The true king took his battle.
Sigurdsson held a shield-wall Standing against the Saxons.
The lines clashed, collided, Locking shields, striking with spears,
Thinning out their troops. Traitors taken without armor,
Tossed to the field for ravens. For hours they fought.
So many slain, Sigurdsson among them.
And the traitor, Tostig, Slain in the spear-din.
Mead for their mettle, his men, Made to meet in battle.
Cauldron-liquid filled their cups; In their cups, found courage.
Harold held his head high, heard tales of the heroes.
Men, so many, filled with mead Make oaths without meaning.
Wine was their fill, their weregild, like water for the war hawks.
Heaven's wheel had yet to hail When Harold heard the horn-call.
Bold men, battle-worn, battered, blood-soaked,
Hilt in hand, held the ridge, their home.
Swords shine in sunlight, slaying past sundown.
bucklers between them, bound to the breaker of rings.
Came forward, clashed, for crows to feast.
Dawn brought the dew, called battle-sweat,
Flowing freely silent as the sunrise.
we waited for the war-horn Together to the apple tree.
Not whole, our number, sent notice: “Fearless fighters, to the fore.
Sun's span twice past, twice came twilight.
So spanned the stillness, Before the bloodshed.
First to the field, to the fore, Fearless, fighting the frenzy.
Shield wall stayed solid, Swords swung by strongest arms.
Bold was their behavior; boldly they bled.
The words were wind as William, Rode up the ridge, his claim be reaped.
Fearless until fallen, Fortune not their favor,
Shattering spears, Saxons, swinging swords,
In faith to their ealdor, experts with their axes.
Ridge's roadway they retained There, by the trees, teeth ruddy tinted
Firmly held spears, crafted finely Shoulder to shoulder, single-minded,
Valor unmatched, courageous champions.
Without fear, their wall, without weakness
Holding as the hounds came, Stallions dead for show.
First to the field, Golden-haired and glory-bound,
Huscarls with helmets, hauberks, for Harold,
Skilled with their shields Rushing blood like rain.
Few were their years; vicious their fight. Pressing hard, their line planted.
Deep in their defenses, drenched in the dew,
Slaying past the sunset, swan's song under the stars.
Breaking spears and shields to bits, Before they were cut down like beasts.
First to the field, songs for the blood you spilled.
Quiet and kind; courage without cost;
Your heart, fearless and young, Filled with Harold's love.
Slaying for a song, dying for distinction,
So close they stood; no swords would swing.
Arrows from above, even this endured.
Man and mare metal murdered.
Honor the highest, Bold clashing in battle,
sinking into silence. The sortie slipped, was seen;
soldiers sought them, soon were slain.
Right flank ran to them, rushed to the hills.
Unseen by armies, in the hills, red marked their graves.
Fierce hearts are foolish, sure to fail.
North now, the ridge was naked, bare.
Still they stood, shields busted, spears shattered; Still they stood, under the stars, still fighting.
Diademed, deemed worthy of duty,
loss became his lot, our lord, our leader.
Fallen from arrow fire, faced by his foes,
Fair flower picked from the field, From the field into the fire.
Long live his praise, his legacy, Lost in long-forgotten lands.



Hwaet: (Old English) listen

Harold Godwinson: The last of the Anglo-Saxon kings before the Norman Conquest.

Edward: Edward the Confessor. He died without having a son, leaving men to fight over who had the right to rule.

Harold Sigurdsson/Hardrada: A Norse king and one of the men contesting Harold Godwinson's rule.

Tostig: Harold Godwinson's brother. He teamed up with Hardrada but ultimately died in the fight to take his brother's throne.

Hlafords: (Old English) lords

heahcyning: (Old English) high king.

Wyrd: (Anglo-Saxon) Fate.

Aetheling: (Old English) prince.

Cyning: (Old English) king

sunu: (Old English) son

Aefaest: (Old English) holy; righteous

ealdor: (Old English) king

ring-giver: king

giant's home: Norway

wave-steed: ship

Wodensland: England. Woden is the Anglo-Saxon equivalent of Odin.

Sword's sweat: blood

Hanged god: Odin.

headland of swords: shield; protection.

Wound-sea: Blood

blood-worm: sword

spear-din: battle

Cauldron-liquid: mead

weregild: (Old English) blood payment. Usually a fine a man pays after killing another man's family.

war hawks: ravens

Heaven's wheel: the Sun

breaker of rings: king

dew: blood

battle-sweat: blood

teeth: sword

swan's song: battle