Birka

 

Maybe what I miss most

Wasn’t the beige dwellings

housing our belongings.

Though I protected them with all my might

I longed to escape their confines.

 

Maybe what I miss most

wasn’t the calm lake that spilled

into the Baltic Sea.

Though it was a silent witness

where Solveig and I made secret love

beneath the twinkling eyes of the gods.

 

Maybe what I miss most

was a curl of Elin’s yellow hair

wisping up into the air

as she loosed her lethal arrow.

Cheeks flushed.

Eyes ablaze with the glory of war.

 

Maybe what I miss most

were sounds of military merriment in the tavern.

Victorious and raucous.

While I washed the blood off of my axe

in the quietness of the lake

that swallowed our stories into the water.

 

Maybe what I miss most

were the sounds of twenty boats

breaking a path through the Baltic Sea.

The promise of fortune and fate

drawing out the heaving breaths

of my army, working the oars through the black water

towards a destination far beyond

what we could see.

 

800px-birka_sweden_viking_grave_bj_581_by_hjalmar_stolpe_in_1889

 

Inspired by the very real historical Viking Warrior, who was first assumed to be male upon excavation in 1878. (And also inspired by a song with the same refrain). Due to the remains being buried with an arsenal of weapons and a game set, used in strategic thinking, it was clear that it was a warrior’s tomb.

It took more than a hundred years later for someone to examine the bones and confirm that the lack of Y-chromosomes indicates the remains were female. This caused much controversy. But the evidence speaks for itself, and the myth of the female Viking warrior became fact.

The artifacts in the tomb indicated she was a high ranking warrior. My poem tries to capture life through the eyes of this dead warrior, in the Viking village of Birka.

Geography plays a major role in the activities and organisation of a community. In this case, Birka (located in Sweden) was a major trading post between Northern Europe and the rest of the world.

Anthropological and historical studies show that much of what the modern world perceives as uniquely masculine or feminine gets debunked by findings such as these. Where medieval and sometimes ancient customs do not have the same roles and customs assigned to specific genders as we do today.

 

Written for dVerse Poets Pub

 

**Images from Smithsonian.com. Featured Image: (Antiquity Publications Ltd./drawing by Tancredi Valeri)

 

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A reconstructed Viking Age house in Birka. Image source: http://www.worldsheritage.travel.wordpress.com

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Birka

  1. A very vivid and realistic portrayal of the events that might have happened. As a reader of your beautiful poem I felt as if I might have time travelled to be one with that female viking warrior. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful post! According to your convenience please do read some of my writings would love to know what you think about them. 😊

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  2. A thoroughly engaging write — I love how you have given a certain mythical quality to this narration which is also at once very human and individualistic. I’m so glad that I got to know of this Viking warrior through your words. Geography certainly has always played a great role in the organization of communities and the lifestyles of people living there — how you define the subversion of gender roles is such an interesting part of historical geography.
    -HA

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  3. What a wonderfully imagined journey for the Viking warrior. It is such a bonus to learn historical facts. Thank you!

    Like

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