Deor the Saxon, poet to a king,
Sang about love and war and joyful spring,
Sang of the longships and the dragon-fire,
While hearts broke at his skill upon the lyre,
Wild spells engendered by each vibrant string.
Deor wore silks and Byzantine brocade,
Studded with gems and trimmed with golden braid.
Gifted with gold he was, and fluent mead;
Flattered with coin, he gilded every deed,
Flattered and fawned the more as he was paid.
Nightly the mead-hall shook from roof to floor —
Deor told tales of shieldwall, swords, and war
Waged on the Celtic borders to the north —
Then, from the throng, a ragged man stepped forth,
Massive and rough and scarred as the shield he bore.
“Deor,” he said, “please give that harp to me.”
Deor bowed low, and gave it graciously.
Softly the strongman played a simple strain,
Singing of brothers crying out in pain,
Cloven and hacked, abandoned in the rain.
Deor went home, and threw his lyre down,
Tore off his golden brooch, and silken gown.
Loudly the maidens pleaded with him: “Stay!”
Deor donned mail and helm, and rode away,
Heavy his sword in hand, and Deor longed to hear it play.
© 2021 by Ellin
Anderson. All rights reserved.
No part of this work may be copied or used in any way
without written permission from the author.