Gokstad

A thousand years buried black beneath king’s
mound; ribs, timbers rotting, our ship—
oarsmen long fallen, scattered like their gold

Bread, beer, sword—but never enough gold
in blood-spattered piles, enough to make us kings
so bold and glory-lusting we fitted our ship

shields hung out, oars locked in, then how our ship
sang the waves toward the sun’s own gold—
land ripe for plunder and death to their kings!

All now ghosts: gold, kings, and ship…

 

Imagination fired by a field trip last weekend to see the Viking ship, sailed from Norway to Chicago in 1893 for the World’s Columbian Exposition and now residing in Geneva, Illinois. Viking was modeled on the 9th-century Gokstad ship, excavated in 1880.

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