Tuesday, 8 October 2013

A Song for the Place that Cannot Say Its Very Name

By Master Hector of the Black Height

Look to the Northlands and follow their wandering,
Through forest and glen to the lakes big as seas;
Deride them or curse them, it makes little matter,
For wolves there remain, and those wolves remain free.

They look to the North, some in awe, some in anger,
They claim it as prize in their noble array:
While Southron takes broadland and thinks it a bauble,
Up North, in our forests, there's wolf cubs at play.

You cannot ignore the wild cries in the darkness,
A flickering candle, or smoke from a fire;
You may turn your back, and then curse what's behind you
But we've patience aplenty - the North does not tire.

Some wolves hunt in packs; some hold ground and menace;
Some slip dark and stealthy 'twixt towering trees.
You may hunt and trap one, or even a dozen,
But hunter, think not that the pack's on its knees.

Deny us a name, ye deny us our right arm;
Like tracks in the snow, hope they'll all blow away,
But memory's long, and our wounds we are licking;
So don't tread in our forest, lest you feel fangs at play.

We look from the North, some in pain, some in pity,
From hearth-fire and household, in sword and in song;
The wolf cubs are nipping the heels of the old wolves:
The pack will be feeding down South before long.

(For the pleasure of the Household)

There's wolves in the height that is haven for eagles;
The Northern claw swoops, amidst clamour and cries:
Assemble the schiltron! Stand fast in the shield-wall!
For House Eagleshaven: the Baron's foe dies!

The Southron comes forward; the strange foreign raider
With strength and with cunning; but fear we don't feel,
For here we have broadswords and broad arms aplenty,
And the best shields of all, 'side me brothers in steel.

The wolf and the eagle: they both stalk the Northland,
Casting shadows of strength from the hills and the skies:
The watch, and they wait, like the House Eagleshaven;
Claws sheathed, but eyes flashing: the Baron's foe dies!

(copyright Arthur McLean 1991-2000)

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