Redone Battle of Hastings

A year ago, I had written a poem about the Battle of Hastings. I was still struggling to grasp OE poetry, so it failed the test of authenticity. This still isn’t perfect, but I think it much improved. 

Edward our leader no aetheling fathered,

No cyning to follow for kingdom’s shelter.

Harold the faithful from hlaford to ruler.

Honored the oath-keepers, offered treasures.

William the cousin woke from slumber,

Snake-like and prideful, seeking the crown-seat.

Harold called Hardrada, Hailing from Giants’-home.

On wave-steed sailing, ere William’s wartime.

Tostig the traitor turned against brother,

For Harold’s title, hopeful for victory.

Striking for Sigurdsson, Swiftly to England.

Southward, the Saxons at Stamford gathered.

Harold was hopeful, huscarls fearless.

Regrouped to the river as ravens feasted.

rushed in for rebels at river’s shoreline.

Harold took the devil Hardrada to his earth-pit.

Their trailing was tempered, Taken by an axe-man

Who tarried at the water, taking their soldiers.

Forty he fought; Forty he murdered

His boldness ended beneath the water.

Sigurdsson’s shield-wall the Saxons dreaded.

Spear-heads striking, shield-walls clashing,

Saxons the victors, Sigurdsson buried.

And the traitor, Tostig, Taken in the spear-din.

Mead for their mettle, for meeting in battle.

Hearing of heroes, Harold feasted.

In the mead-hall, promised Their master’s service.

Water for war-hawks, Their weregild in mead-cups.

Harold heard the horn-call from William.

battle-worn, battered, blood-soaked, soldiers,

Hilt in hand, held the ridge-way.

Swinging their swords, slaying past sundown.

bucklers between them, bound to Harold.

we waited for the war-horn Walked to the orchard.

Our number, sent notice, needing huscarls:

“Fearless fighters, forward for Harold.”

Twice came twilight, Twice passed sunlight.

So spanned the stillness, silence then bloodshed.

First to the field, frenzied Saxons

Fearless in battle, Fighting the Normans.

Shield-wall solid, as strongest huscarls.

Boldly to battle, bleeding for Harold.

On war-horse riding, William hurried

Reaping his bloodshed, ready for kingship.

Fearless until fallen, Fortune neglected.

Shattering spears, Saxons, clamored

experts with their axes In faith to their ealdor.

Ridge-way retained Ruddy tinted.

Shoulder to shoulder, single minded,

without weakness, without fear,

First to the field, forward in battle,

Golden-haired, glory-bound, Godwinson cyning.

Huscarls with helmets, hauberks gleaming,

Deep in their defenses, drenched in spear-dew.

Slaying past the sunset, in starlight falling.

Breaking and spear-shafts Before the slaughter.

courage without cost, Quiet and loyal.

Slaying for a song, From scops in the mead-hall

So closely standing, no swinging weapons.

Arrows from above endured the Saxons.

The highest honor for Harold their leader.

sinking into silence. The sortie taken.

Shield-wall busted, shattered weapons;

Slaying in darkness, Saxons then taken.

Diademed by duty, dearest Harold

Our leader noble, Left for the crow-feast.

The Norman William naming himself

Leader of England, leader of Saxons.


Edwin, ring-giver // England’s chosen
Rightwise and holy, // ruling with honor,
Bretwalda christened, // baptized at Eoforic,
No truer a leader // Throughout all Britain.
But Penda of Mercia, // Pagan crown-seeker,
And the Briton Cadwallon, // to battle they rallied.
Their errand was sinful, // ever for blade-sweat.
The Briton sought Edwin // Blood-shed for his wergild,
Payment for exile, // pagan swords gathered.
Before that slaying, // Bernicia’s leader,
The Deceiver, Edwin, //Drove him, Cadwallon,
Unseated from Gwynedd, // Under that conquest.
To Mercian Penda // Meaning to ally.
On saddle-beasts northward // Seeking Edwin,
With Gleaming, mail-shirts // Gathered spear-men.
On Roman roadways, // Raedwald’s wyrd-path,
to Aethelfrith’s earth-pit // with Edwin the victor.
Ready for sword-sweat, // wanting bloodshed,
Pagan and tyrant, // Penda and Cadwallon,
To Hæðfeld with weapons, // hungry for spear-dew.
sparing no kindness, // showing no good-will.
Raven feeders // readied Edwin,
To war-fields gathered, // wound-hoes grasping.
Oathbound fighters, // Edwin’s liegemen,
To Penda’s war-field, // praying for boldness,
Deira’s princes // daring to follow,
Praying and hoping // for Penda’s downfall.
In mailshirts gleaming // mounted pagans,
Britons leading, // battled Edwin.
Osfric was murdered, // Edwin’s firstborn,
Warlike and dreadful, // war-food for the ravens.
In hatred and anger // hunted Edwin.
Penda took Eadfrid, promised shelter.
Oathbreaking Penda // honored nothing.
Fearful leader // fed the ravens
Eadfrid’s bonehouse – // Edwin’s kinsman.
Boldly Deira // Border warded,
Holding boldly // Hæðfeld’s country.
Driven to sword-sleep, // the death-blow by Penda.
And Fairest Edwin // fallen with his liegemen,
His brain-box taken: // the Briton’s war-prize.
Riding through Deira, // they raided the northlands,
Showing no mercy, // sparing no children.
The Briton Cadwallon, // though baptized a Christian,
Heartless and evil, // Hateful and guiltless.
Though pagan in being, // Penda was fairer!
Crumbled by devils, // that kingdom of Edwin’s
Where liegemen and children // lingered safely.
So adored that high-lord, // Edwin their ruler,
Banners of tribute // before him flying.
Beloved by Deira, // Bernicia’s chosen.
The curséd Cadwallon, // kingdom’s raider –
So unlike a ruler, // no Edwin, Bretwalda,
Though taken was Deira, // its tyrant a weakling,
Sowing hatred, // Spreading bloodshed.
Darkness shrouded // Deira after
Edwin the high-king // Eagles sated.
Shameful that Edwin, // saintly martyr,
At Hæðfeld fallen, // hunted for rancor.
Fearless in battle, // faithful till sword’s-rest.