Valhalla Falls by Martin Chase

A clash of steel, of blade upon horned helm,

And axe against mailed breast. Fiery darts

Piercing inky skies and warriors’ hearts,

As battle-spilt blood flows free through our realm.

 

Then we are routed, surrounded by foe,

Us Hammer-Folk, fifty in all, trapped by

Two-hundred, raiding Cross-Folk spear and bow.

Their king Harald demands thus: kneel or die!

 

But to them, we swear by our war-gods nay!

We would, in glorious sortie this day

Fall! Buri our jarl strikes Harald’s shield-man,

And with blood-lust, to fateful fight, we ran!.

Thirty now stand, but fifty we have crushed,

And then ten more souls to pieces we hack.

One by one, the Cross-Folk, bloodied fell back;

For home and old gods, with blood-rage we rushed!

 

But now ten of us, torn by pikes, remain

And below, lies our faithful jarl, slain.

“To Hell with them!” Harald’s foaming maw cries.

In droves, the arrows fall; each brother dies.

 

Soon, I am next; red creek from bosom flows,

And I, like sawed oak trunk to green earth fall.

But my name, I hear sweet, silken voice call,

Songs by fair women sung, as my soul goes.

 

They descend, beautiful, gold-locked, mail-clad,

The Valkyries, riding for worthy dead.

My slain soul smiles, and my brothers are glad.

To Valhalla we go, for feast and mead!

 

Odin’s daughter, with cream-hue hand, lifts me

Onto her gleaming-winged steed; joy I see

In her face, and pride too, in my last stand.

“Worthy are ye, to enter father’s land!”

 

A crack of the reins, and across rainbow

We ride; World Tree’s gold trunk I witness soon,

And above silver leaves, stars, sun, and moon,

Rises a jew’led hall from heavens below.

 

The riders halt, and with happy farewell,

Leave us at a shimm’ring gate, sweet of smell.

With solemn hand, Heimdall beckons us through;

To Valhalla we have come, I and you!

 

‘Neath glist’ning spear rafters, and roof of shields,

At snow-white dragonbone table we seat,

Before us, mead in pearl tankards, elk-meat

Savory, fruit and fowls of finest yields.

 

With exultant roar, we raise sword and glass;

Swordsman and shield-maiden one another

Thus hail. Both child and sire, in joyous mass,

Praise fellow mighty dead and war-brother.

 

So then we, the honored Einherjar dine,

On best victuals feast, and sweetest wine.

Lute and skald-song split the air of the night;

Fit reward for fittest of all who fight.

 

We spin tales of our might and strength of arm,

In happy contest, upon tables duel.

Behind us lie the days deathly and cruel,

In heathen heaven, safe from Cross’ harm.

 

One-eyed All Father, on time-honored throne,

With salute of spear, blesses ev’ryone

Present; “mine Northern children, make merry!”

Bold bearers of culture noble are ye!”

 

Aye, for though our flesh lies bleeding and slain,

In Valhalla do our spirits remain.

 

. . .

 

A crash upon wood, of ram ‘gainst oak gate,

And furious roars that batter our wall,

We start and stare; who dares besiege our hall?

What man shows Valhalla such foolish hate?

 

A final blow, asunder the gates are torn,

Cross-bearing host, with Heimdall’s head on pike,

Rushes through, loathing eyes and red blades borne.

Like mailed adders, with steel venom they strike!

 

We Einherjar burst into desp’rate fray;

With hearts heavy we fight this foe today,

For blood of souls is spilt where no blood should.

Here souls die; to void they go, black and cold.

 

Sword through bosom, hammer ‘gainst skull, limbs hacked,

As gruesome contest slays and damns us all.

Where strong thousands stood, now a number small.

Defeat raises its head, wicked and blacked.

 

For as they have harried us in life, so

Beyond death, they kill flesh and spirit too.

Good folk this foul day on tables are splayed,

Weeping and gutted, without mercy flayed.

 

Then surrounded are we; Cross-King Harald

With fervent scream spouts: “for our god, spare none!”

From behind us, a great shout that splits stone:

“None of thee then shall I spare!” Odin called.

 

A strike from Gungner’s brass haft, hundreds fall.

Hope renewed, our axes avenge our gone kin!

But hope itself is slain; like coward thrall,

Harald, by dart in the back, fells Odin!

 

Our god lies dismembered by mortal hands.

On battered knees, our mournful warring bands

Kneel. Smoke and devils’ laughter fill the air:

The raiders torch walls once strong, thick and fair.

 

In this Hel, flames dance, and damned foes prance,

Splitting crowns, looting gold, defiling all,

They wipe clean ev’ry remnant of our hall,

Till all is ash and blood through fire and lance.

 

As my quickness fades, the world is made still.

Harald and his band depart; all around

My ebbing form is soot and crimson ground.

Our cause is lost, as is my vital will.

 

Corpses of Valkyries, Aesir, and men

Rest beside me; gods I praised, beloved friends,

Driven by savage minds to bloody ends.

Who lives to watch and ease my passing then?

 

Clear stream from mine eyes flows for companions

Killed, and purpose dissolved; where do scions

Of my people go now? To ashen tomb,

For blessed Valhalla has met its doom.

 

Hela beckons, nightfall comes, my vision goes.

Here then ends the Hammer-Folk’s final son;

An ancient world fades with his final throes.

Ragnarok has come; old ways are now done.

 

In Valhalla, our spirits did remain.

‘Tis gone; heathen thought lies bleeding and slain.