Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Winter's Ship

 
 
 

 
 
 
Winter's Ship
 (a 55)
 
 Oaks on the hillside
know wind's desire
fear nothing but fire
become ships in harbor
to ride the waves' wire.
 
In winter without color
midnights without number
sun  cold as axe-snarl
even passion must freeze
or build a way out.

Wind-eater, wave-runner
dragon-faced prowler
king's-welcome coffin;
last home like her first,
the earth roots remember.
 
 
 

December 2021








 
 
 
 
 posted for dVerse Poets Poetics:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Historical Note: "The Gokstad ship is a 9th-century Viking ship found in a burial mound at Gokstad ..Vestfold, Norway It is the largest preserved Viking ship in Norway. It is also the largest Viking ship ever found...During the excavations, a human skeleton was found in a bed inside a timber-built burial chamber. The skeleton was that of a man aged approximately forty to fifty years old, of powerful build..; his identity is unknown. The bones of twelve horses, six dogs, and one peacock were found laid out around the man's body.." ~wikiedia
 
 
 
 
 
 
Images: Gokstadskipet, Vikingskipmuseet, Oslo, 2005, Karamell, shared under a Creative Commons License via wikimedia commons
Danish Winter Landscape, detail, 1838 © Johan Christian Dahl

23 comments:

  1. I love the hyphenated terms here, especially "wind-eater", which after all is exactly what a sailing ship is. (I'm assuming this ship was wind driven, yes?) The idea of the oaks, and their hardy and nearly fearless beginnings at the start of your poem coming full circle to return to the earth.It is a pure genius move and one that you were able to frame your entire poem within.

    I am a little distressed by the note about the animals and bird whose bones were found with the man. I understand that it has something to do with them accompanying him to ,the afterlife, but still, poor animals.

    You are the mistress of the 55, dear BFF, and I am so glad you keep that form alive. Good stuff.

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    1. Please kindly overlook any incoherence and grammatical fumbling. I am sleepy.

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    2. No problems. I wrote "pathos" on your poem, then mistyped it as paths, and then forget I meant pathos and corrected it to path. I don't think it gets more incoherent than that.
      AFA the Gokstad ship, it, like other Viking ships of the era, had sails, and would have used them especially for long voyages, but also had 16 rows of oars, because, just in case. Not sure if this makes it any better, but the animals were buried because they were loved and treasured as much or more than material goods, except for the peacocks, which were probably a status symbol. Nobody who's lived with them could treasure peacocks.

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  2. I love running into old blogging mates. Great story wrapped around this viking ship. Maybe that was the body of a king, all those animals to pass over with him? All very intriguing. We once had a peacock escaped from a neighbor's oddball collection thieving in my greenhouse. And you're right, nobody familiar with them would treasure them!

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    1. Hi,Yvonne. Thanks a lot, it's good to see you here again. Yes the number of animals indicates a high status grave, especially the screaming peacocks, which would have come all the way from Asia.

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  3. I love this. What a beautiful poem that flows and soars like that ship. Thank you for sharing the history of it, too!

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    1. Thank you. This was a prompt after my own heart.

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  4. I love your stunningly earthy imagery here!

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  5. Love your description and consonance. What a great historic artifact you chose to write about!

    Teresa @ Razzamadazzle

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    1. Thanks, Teresa. Hope Millie is still out there, too.

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  6. Joy,
    All the elements of the earth coalesce around this "king's-welcome coffin" and how it rides fiercely in the protective custody of the earth roots that "remember." So enjoyed this poem and bit of history regarding the largest Viking ship ever discovered in Norway. Wow.
    Pax,
    Dora

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  7. Beautiful poeming and such a fascinating discovery and history of the artifact. Imagining the man, his horses, dogs, and peacock frolicking in Valhalla...

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    1. Thank you, Li. History is an enormous abyss to drop into and explore. I never tire of it.

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  8. before he sailed his final, eternal voyage, I wonder how he lived, and what stories were told in the years before the wind took them all.

    you wield 55 with power, as ever ~

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    1. Thanks, M. We know a little, but the sum of what we don't and will never know is huge. We can only feel what we can of those days in our cells.

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  9. The Norse dead are lusty and a-prow again in your recent poems - yay - Amid the seasonal cruelties, there's a Viking joy to this, proud and lusty: in endless winter "even passion must freeze / or build a way out." The burial hill still sings, rich and ripe for the wave if only in the words. A mead to consume.

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    1. Thanks, B. Yule always brings out the Norse in me. I know you share a fascination with these mounds and the people who built them. I purposely did not write of Sutton Hoo, though the excavations there have yielded so much more, because I wanted that feel of the wolf moon and the endless winter dark.

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  10. I love it, especially those kennings in the last stanza. I have seen those ships in Oslo, and it is amazing. Love that your choice was that ship but when coming closer I really liked the Osebergship more... maybe because it was more a real ship than a flashy burial ship.

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    1. Sorry I remembered right... it is the Gokstadt ship that is the real thing, the Oseberg ship looks much more like what we imagine those ships to look like...

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    2. Glad you enjoyed it Bjorn, thank you. I wish I had been able to get close enough to see this ship as she is, restored in the Oslo museum. So much history.

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  11. History has so much to teach us if we are willing pupils. Fascinating write.

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  12. An excellently composed and enjoyable poem. A slow read for me to be fully satisfied.

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"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats