TURNING THE OTHER CHEEK WITH SHAGGY

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“What names do they bear,

those basalt-dwellers

who want to shake

my ships to bits?

More dreadful dames

I don`t think I`ve seen,

a pair more appalling

in appearance, to date.”

               The one nearest him said this verse:

“Bashful they call me,

born up north,

from the High Fell,

Frosty`s daughter.

So superior

my sister here,

Splodge they call her,

she`s come to the sea.”

               Grim said:

“Worst of women,

you won`t get far,

giant maidens,

when I get mad.

Before sun-up

I`ll send you straight

to wolves, a tasty

treat for sure.”

               Splodge said:

“Before we fared

our father caste spells;

it was he who drove hence

the herds of the wave.

You mortal men will never make it

safe home from here

if that`s not your fate.”

               Grim said:

“I`ll promise the pair of you

a speedy piercing,

steel bolts for starters

and spikes that strike.

They`ll find out then,

will frosty`s girls,

whether point or paw

will prove the best.”

Heroes-Group

So goes the Old Norse saga of Grim Shaggy-Cheek: inspired from a trip to my Nordic ancestors in Yorvik, I thought this slyly comedic extract with a suitably Viking steely edge to it, might show the lighter side of Viking writing.

All Vikings possessed a nick-name which summed up their characteristics, and needless to say, Grim was a hairier individual than normal in an era of hirsute men who took great pride in their opulent face-fungus. Actually, Grim popped out of his mother with a full, luxurious beard on one side of his face so thick, that no sword could cut him there. It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “turn the other cheek”.

Grim was the rich and powerful ruler of Halogaland, and deciding he needed a wife, set sail south with eighteen men to woo the fair daughter of Jarl Harald who was a big noise down in Oslo Fjord, who was married to Geirhild, daughter of King Solgi (an even bigger noise than Harald), who was the son of King Hrolf of Berg in the Uplands ( an even mightier noise than Grim, Harald and Solgi in the kingly pecking order).

35_jorvik-2011-image-31

On the way south, Grim decided to pull in at Finmark for a spot of R&R before moving on the next morning: our man settles his hairy cheek down for a restful sleep in front of a nice fire, but is woken by a raging storm and blinding blizzard; he had never experienced such bitter cold and ferocity, as if the Frost Giants themselves had descended upon his crew with vengeance and hard steel in their hearts. Everything around them had frozen into solid ice: the fish in the bay had disappeared; wildlife had seemingly left the world of men. What to do? This was not such a good spot to be after all, but they stayed another night in the hope that all would be better the next day.

In the night, Grim awakens to laughter: jumping quickly to his feet, he grabs his axe and arrows, Gusir`s Gifts, that his old da, Ketil Trout had given him; whereupon he saw two troll-women hovering by his boat, seemingly attempting to shake it to pieces…………

And thus did Grim speak the verse above.

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Like all Norse, Grim tends to shoot first and not bother with asking questions afterwards as to the why and wherefore of the matter: he strikes one of the trolls down with one of Gusir`s Gifts and strikes the other in her shoulder with his axe. She turns and runs, and our hero follows her into a cave: he sees a bright fire burning there, with two old trolls warming themselves from it`s flames, a male and a female with the soles of their feet touching. This was Frosty and Fiery, who greeted Bashful when she entered the cave and asked her where her sister Splodge was…………….

“It went badly for sister Splodge,” she replied. “She`s lying dead out on the shore and I`m mortally wounded. And here are you two lying by the fire.”

Bashful tells them Grim Shaggy-Cheek was the culprit before collapsing down dead from loss of blood: then, without letting the trolls ponder too deeply on matters, Grim charged into the cave and hacked Frosty`s head clean off before getting up close and personal with Fiery and removing her head as well. Feeling he had accomplished a good day`s work, Grim went back to his crew and a nice raging fire to warm his bones……….All in a days work for the average Viking hero.

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2 thoughts on “TURNING THE OTHER CHEEK WITH SHAGGY

    • Well, my Viking ancestry is on the Danish side, so I have a deep interest and fascination with their amazingly vigorous and influential culture. Thanks for popping onto my blog from time to time.

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