Great Dragons of the North

Norse Long Boats by Richard Benning
Norse Long Boats by Richard Benning


There are tales
Of long ago
Lost in the icy depths
Of the great Northern oceans
Tales of Great people
Who built massive
Boats of wood

On their shores
Oak forests stretched
To the base of forbidding mountains
While mists rolled off
Their cliffs and into
Ocean waves pounding
Rocky shores

Each year at the high tide
Of the summer solstice
Great herds of these
Unwieldy boats would
Thunder into the ocean
Turning into knives
Slicing into the waves

On these great boats they
Would be swept out
Into the endless cold ocean
Letting the winds take them
Further and further into
The blue heart of arctic waters

They would throw out nets
As they went, pulling up
Great piles of thrashing fish
Onto the decks of their boats
And then as night fell they would
Light great torches at the bow and stern

Silence reigned over the vast
Expanse of the summer ocean
While the band of torch lit boats
Floated into the darkness of night and water
They floated like fireflies
As if to rise up from the ocean to the moon

The stillness is broken as
The air stirred by more than
Just the ocean winds
Here come the great dragons
Winging through the night
Circling the great boats

Then with a barely visible
Flip of the wing they would
Drop, first one then another
Onto the decks of the ships
Perfectly center barely causing a wobble

It takes a strong heart
To approach a dragon while
They eat fish on the deck
Of a wooden boat in the middle
Of a cold ocean on a summer night
So each captain took hold of their courage

They approached the dragon humbly and wait
Wait until the dragon turns its head
Just a little flick of the eye
A tip of the head that rocks the boat
But enough for the captain to know
That they can come forward

They come near the dragon’s head
And then bending near they would
Speak in a low whisper about their land
They would speak of all the births and deaths
They would speak of all the battles won and lost
They would speak of all the great things done

Then they would speak of all the sorrows
The illnesses, the accidents, the discords,
The fights in families, the things that they
Carried heavy with them when they came
Home at night, and then they would
End with their wishes and hopes for the year

The dragons would take flight
Leaving the boats rocking wilding
Like a flock of birds trying
To get into formation to fly north
Soon the dragons disappeared into the nigh

The captains and the fishermen knew
That the dragons carried
Their messages, their sorrows
Their tragedies and their hopes
With them for they were
The messengers of the gods.


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