Berserkergang

March 8, 2020

A cold wind shakes
A cold wind shakes my body
My bones shake my body
My bones are a cold wind

A drum thumps
A drum thumps within my chest
My heart thumps within my chest
My heart is a drum

A fire burns
A fire burns my face
My blood burns my face
My blood is a fire

A horn-blow sounds
A horn-blow sounds in my ears
My shout sounds in my ears
My shout is a horn-blow

A bear stands
A bear stands before me
I stand before me
I am a bear

And then…blackness

I come to when all has passed
To witness the carnage that I must have wrought
As I wear blood that is not my own
And my shield is torn by my own teeth

I fall into a melancholy
It will not abate for many nights
I eat not, and drink sparingly
I am as if dead

I am empty, lost to sense and self
I weep not
For to weep is to know grief
And there is no room for such in my desolation

The all-father died for seven days
For the sake of wisdom won he hanged
I too die for a week
But it is the price, not the reward

Finally, I return to my senses
My voice to song, my heart to joy
I am again at ease
I live once more

But how long will this last?
It is not I who musters the men
The fires of war are not lit by my brand
It is beyond my ken, I know not

But this I do:

As the life of an oak is reckoned
From the time it is an acorn
Till the wind which will fell it
So too is mine before I will fall
To the storm of my rage again

James Frederick William Rowe