Gisli Sursson’s Epic, Part I

This epic poem is based off of Gisli Sursson’s Saga, a work of medieval Icelandic literature written during the 13th century. This poem has been composed by me and therefore should not be mistaken for a historical source. Please consider reading the ‘original’ prose story (here) before (or after) enjoying this poetry. Also, for your convenience, all parts of this poem can be enjoyed here (as they are released). Listen to this poem performed!


I.

During the yore-days
near Hakon’s death knell,
a person of praise,
powerful Thorkel,
stayed in Surnadal
with his sons and wife—
Ari, above all,
was eldest in life.

That son wed a wife,
welcomed Ingibjorg,
but soon followed strife,
when summertime wore.
Then came Bjorn the Black,
a winter berserk,
seeking wives to sack,
stealing like a jerk.

“Dare to duel?” said he,
“I’ll deem your wife mine,
lest by fear you flee,
fellow with no spine.”
“I am,” spoke Ari,
“accepting your duel.
Shame shan’t befall me,
nor she, my fair jewel.”

Then dawned their dueling
once three days had fled.
Fierce was their fighting,
yet Ari fell dead.
Bjorn boasted his win
until a brother,
Ari’s closest kin,
came to a pother.

Great and more gallant,
his name was Gisli—
teeming with talent
was that tall sword-tree!
Rooted in revenge,
he wished to redeem
and also avenge,
that atrocious scheme.

Ingibjorg informed
that intense man thus:
“My former bond formed
did not favored us,
though I yearned for you;
so you must know this:
My slave’s sword I knew
secures wins and bliss.

“Seek Grey-blade, Gisli,
from my good slave Kol—
Ask for what Ari
wasn’t aware in whole!”
So Gisli sought out
that promising sword,
but Kol did voice doubt,
departing his hoard.

Now with that swift sword,
Gisli sought out Bjorn,
that wicked warlord,
watching him with scorn.
A deadly duel passed
with Gisli deemed best,
Bjorn dead at long last—
lucky was this quest!

Fame soon followed him,
his fortune growing,
blessed to the brim,
favored winds blowing!
Ari’s wife then wed
this wellborn reaper—
now found the farmstead
a fair new keeper!

But a life was lost,
the lordly Thorkel,
his treasure was tossed
to Gisli, I tell.
Now this lordly lad,
lavish man indeed,
Hersir rank thus had—
of him folk took heed!

But Kol stirred in sleep
for his precious sword,
“Gisli cannot keep
my caressed reward!”
He moaned and muttered,
marching to Gisli,
now shamed and shuttered—
things he shouldn’t be.

Greed held Gisli’s hand
from giving it back,
thus Kol’s flames were fanned,
forming an attack.
This sudden surprise
let the slave wound him,
evil were his eyes—
everything turned grim.

Gisli bore Grey-blade,
the great famed blood-ice,
which in motion made
a morbid death-slice:
Kol’s brain-hall was bashed,
the old blade shattered,
their souls were both slashed—
their deaths greed-splattered.


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Skál! 🍻


Acknowledgements:

I would like to offer my most sincere thanks and gratitude to Fjörn’s Fellowship. Without their support, this post would not be possible. In fact, this entire Hall would be nothing if not for their companionship. Here are the names (taken from Patreon) of the members of this Fellowship who supported me during the time I wrote this post:

Anastasia Haysler, Cataclysmit, Froggy, Jonas Lau Markussen, Kathleen Phillips, and Sarah Dunn.


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