Here's a fun little poem a friend and I wrote for Geola (Old English Jul). While I'm not an A-S heathen, my focus being that of an ioma-dhiadhach, a Scottish focused Insular Celt polytheist, I had a blast working on this! So without further adieu, please enjoy this work, and I wish all of you a glæd Geola!
A Visit From Old Grim
'Twas Geola niht, and all through the land,
the cyning's house was blighted, the Ætheling's plot at hand;
With daggers unsheathed and the maidservants away,
It would be time very soon for come what may.
Changes were made, that kingdom grew dark,
Ancient ways forsaken, the world ruined and stark,
The old priests had gone, in a hurry they fled,
before gold-fettered sanctity softened their heads;
Thus the cyning did slumber, content and unwary,
Warded not by spear but by Rood beam, its use imaginary.
And so late that night, in moonlight so great,
Shining ‘pon the rime-frost that seemed to await.
How sudden the cyning awoke, with a great shudder of fear
For the distant baying of dark hounds grew ever more near.
The meadhall alarm grew loud and those Æthelings forsook
Their dreadful plot, for they opted to look,
Out in the sky, across the dark clouds,
Distant shapes could be found, moving enshroud.
Monstrous and canine, the beasts came from the north,
And the most foolish folk prayed instead of hiding henceforth.
The wind whipped quite fiercely, the hall’s great candles extinguished,
The old cyning's bowels were thusly relinquished.
Thick oaken doors thrown wide in a clatter,
Shredded and splintered as if they didn't matter.
Away from the doorway the Æthelings dashed,
As great hell-hounds bayed loudly, their teeth they did gnash
The baying grew louder, a terrifying noise
The chill of a grave, shredding and sapping their poise.
Men and women fled, cowed and afraid,
Alone in dim firelight the false pious then prayed,
A few brave wrecce stepped forth, to fight the large beasts
But the ill-fated warriors became a large, bloody feast.
The Æthelings and thanes both circled around,
The dogs attacking all, each with a terrifying bound.
Darting and running, 'round all the hall,
Each man, woman, and child, they spared none at all.
Among the carrion birds’ calls and the hellish dogs’ glee,
A few wrecce decided they could no longer flee.
Better to stand to the last, and bring out such pain,
Than to meet the anointed Savior in vain.
Hearth-fire turned red, with a hellish aspect,
With brains and lifeblood the walls so bedecked.
Corpse fell upon corpse, men torn asunder,
A soul-reaping fight, the barrow's great plunder.
Quiet thus reigned over the lower hall space,
When the Cyning descended, fear no longer a brace.
He cried out in terror, his Æthelings dead,
His vision blackened, heart filled with dread.
Shadows thus moved from the corners and walls,
Resolving into shriveled Wælcryge making their calls,
The cyning watched in horror at the old crones,
Who piled choice corpses high ‘fore his own throne.
A stranger lounged, his figure weathered, dangerous, and worn,
Thus sat Woden in the lord’s seat, face twisted in scorn.
“Sit with us cyning, and be not so cowed!”
His command was an order, booming and loud.
The cyning approached, stepping over one of his sons,
A dark hound splintered a bone, his meal just begun
The old man jerked back as the beast snarled,
Taking care not to tumble in lich limbs strewn a-gnarl.
The old king was repulsed, he’d grown silent and dumb,
And Woden spoke again, before the man could succumb,
“You wish to know what transpired this cold winter’s eve?
Why, the Allfather has returned, and I’ll not again leave!”
“Your men slew not beasts, but their dear comrades and friends,
For madness and bloodlust my arrival portends.
They'll ride with me now, in my savage Wild Hunt
But yourself, you are doomed, if I may be so blunt.”
“You forsook ancestors, wihta, and e’en the gods
But I’ve never forgotten you, and I don’t like your odds
Of surviving the slaughter I’ll bring to these lands,
The weregild I’ll exact with my own gory hands.”
“I've come for what's mine, and I won't be denied,
By king, priest, or others of your faithless kind.”
With such dark words Woden arose
The cyning's butchered sons shuddered in droves.
Corpses once broken, the slaughtered then stirred,
Bones cracking with hate, the cyning's dead sons spurred.
With that away Woden strode, and the rest followed suit,
They all rode away, the mead-hall left mute.
Shadows shifted high in those darkened skies,
And the old cyning wept loudly, frozen tears in his eyes.