selections from "I Have Wedded This Blade"

by k.l.kahan as Wyndreth

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Original a capella/spoken word Viking-Age Norse-styled stuff. And other stuff too. :)

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released January 1, 2004

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Wyndreth/SavageDaughter/Shieldmaid Wisconsin

Karen Kahan has been writing and performing original works including Viking-Age Norse-styled music and poetry as Wyndreth Berginsdottir, Savage Daughter, and A Shieldmaid, since the early 90s.

Performing largely a capella and with as little processing as possible to capture the candid honesty of oral tradition, she invites you to close your eyes, imagine the great-hall, and listen.
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Track Name: My Mother's Savage Daughter (studio)
My Mother's Savage Daughter words/music c.1990 k.l. u. kahan

Chorus:
I am my mother's savage daughter,
the one who runs barefoot cursing sharp stones.
I am my mother's savage daughter,
I will not cut my hair, I will not lower my voice.

My mother's child is a savage,
She looks for her omens in the colors of stones,
In the faces of cats, in the fall of feathers,
In the dancing of fire and the curve of old bones.

(Chorus)

My mother's child dances in darkness,
And sings heathen songs by the light of the moon,
And watches the stars and renames the planets,
And dreams she can reach them with a song and a broom.

(Chorus)

My mother's child curses too loud and too often,
My mother's child laughs too hard and too long,
And howls at the moon and sleeps in ditches,
And clumsily raises her voice in this song.

(Chorus)

Now we all are brought forth out of darkness and water,
Brought into this world through blood and through pain,
And deep in our bones, the old songs are wakening,
So sing them with voices of thunder and rain.

(Chorus x3)
We are our mother's savage daughters,
The ones who run barefoot cursing sharp stones.
We are our mother's savage daughters,
We will not cut our hair, We will not lower our voice
Track Name: Lifeblood (A Viking Drinking Song) [In-round version]
Lifeblood (A Viking Drinking Song)
Tune, lyrics: © 1993 Karen L.U. Kahan

Drink, for the wind blows cold
and Drink for The Wolf runs free.
Drink to the ships with the sails like wings and
Drink to the storm-tossed seas.

Drink to the lasting nights
and those who warm our beds.
Drink to the mead that warms our hearts
and the cold that clears our head.

Drink to the Allfather's Eye
for Odin's sons are we.
Drink to the World-Tree where he hung
and the Runes of Mystery.

Drink to the truth of steel
and blood that falls like rain.
Drink to Valhalla's golden walls
and to our kinsmen, slain.

Drink to the Glory-field
where a man embraces death,
and thank the gods that we live at all
with our joyous dying breath!

Drink for the wind blows cold
and Drink for the Wolf runs free
Drink to the ships with the sails like wings
for Odin's sons are we!
Track Name: Reid Thorbjarnar
Reith Thorbjarnar (Thorbjorn's Ride):
In Honor of Thorbjorn the Greysides
© Karen L.U. Kahan 1995


Crag of rock justice-sharp, and keen,
oversees ocean-edge.

Weep there many, grief-dew bright
on pale faces.
Then comes this vision, to each watcher
visits on night-wing:

Rises the moon full; Comes the sea-steed
racing seas-mane
with outflung sails wind-bellied, full,
speeds to ship-stead.

Strideth one to prow; Great Wailing, she is hight
by Aesir and Van.
Swan-coated, she; mail-clad; sword-girt
and full fearsome fair.

(She cries:)
"Heed! All manner of alf and wight,
Mark thou me well!
We are come for Grey Thor's Bear!
Valhalla calls his names:

"Hall-Master! Sword-Master!
Sword-Brother! Ring-Giver!
Stead-Keeper! Cheiftain!"

"Who knows not his good wise counsel?
In battle or at bench
to each asker is answer freely given
and weighed with wit."

"Who knows not this free-handed steadkeeper
making welcome all comers?
Within his walls merry mirth and safe rest
found all seekers there."

"Who knows not of Hand-Adder
and Feeder-of-Eagles?
Axe and sword so named by einherjar his blows
have made death-kin!"

"Who knows not his wit at fair words?
Bragi-blessed, his tongue
,and Othroerir-gifted; not coarse nor thick
nor boastful, lesing."

"Who knows not of Grey Thor's Bear?
Valhalla calls his names:
Hall-Master! Sword-Master!
Sword-Brother! Ring-Giver!
Stead-Keeper! Chieftain!"

"Now let all lament and grieve greatly
for this night sails
from the world of wights a sage warrior skald
matchless among men

"And the wail of women and warrior
both make fit chorus
to honor his passage to the Hero-Hall
of the Shining Ones.

"But be sorrowful not: Tonight he boards seat
at Odin's own bench.
Allfather hails him by name
saying, "Thorbjorn Greysides!
You are well met!"

"And pours for him the mellow mead
in his own horn
golden-wrought and graven with wish-speeding runes
and Old Names.

"Be sorrowful not for many number
his kinsmen gone before,
long waiting to clasp arms
again as brothers.

"This night they will raise meadhorn and voices
in mirth and merry
and tell glad tales each one to each
of together times and apart.

"Suchwise in wassail they so will dwell;
this way pass time
until Wyrd summons leman, kinsmen, sib, and bondsmen
from the world of wights."

"Once again I say: Heed, all manner
of alf and wight!
We are come for Grey Thor's Bear!
Valhalla calls his names!

"There will he dwell in place of honor
earned well-over,
in Hero-Hall in kinsmen company
in mirth and merry."

"There will he wait for each of you in turn
as the Norns decree,
and for Ragnarok which we every one
await together!"
Track Name: The Death-Song of Golden Osis Ring-giver
The Death-Song of Golden Osis Ring-giver
(In Honor of Thorbjorn Osis Brandsson, young and mighty.)
© Karen L.U. Kahan 5/1999

On thunder-wing, lightning-shod,
come Screamer, Gnasher, Woe-bringer, all.
Feather-clad, sword-girt, Odin-sent
ride they to Midgard
to choose from the race of Men
one worthy to board bench
in Odin's meadhall;
to bear bright blade
at Ragnarok fell.

Rides the road Golden Osis Jarl,
pony driving homeward
news to bring of foemen felled,
of kinsmen well-met
at week's end.

Thewful, he; broad of back
and strong of limb;
golden-haired and comely.
Gives he rings freehanded
and offers host-mead
when worthy wights
finds he in warholm
or in great hall.

Foremost the Many-Crowned Jarl
to the battle-stead goes,
leads warriors fierce
in number and strength!
To the spear-dance
singing they wend,
rich raven-fare leaving they
wherever they stand!

Maidens sigh,
foemen pale and tremble,
to see him mail-clad,
bathed in war-dew,
mirthful laughing as
helms he cleaves
and byrnies sunders!

First, he, Golden Osis Jarl,
to free foemens' heart-tide.
First, he, Thorbjorn Thunderer,
to wend the wood
of Trees-of-Thrud
and hew them each
timber to tinder!

Exulting, they, the Valkyries
savage singing warshriek fearsome!

"Chosen this one is: Golden Jarl!
Chosen is Golden Osis Ring-Giver!"

"Fear this one, O Sons of Loki!
Bears he bright death in both his hands!
Bears he Sigfather's shining mark!"

"Mourn this one, O Sons of Man!
Rejoice he walked this time among you
for one such as he escapes not long
our notice or Allfather's Eye!"

"The Norns say this:
With his mighty tread
will Valhalla ring,
before the gold-wealth of his hair
bears age-silver strands!"
Track Name: Berserker Song
Berserker Song
words/music © Karen L.U. Kahan 2002

Chorus:
I say to the gods,
I have wedded this blade
and will take no other wife
I have bones for her bride-price
and a barrow for our bed
and the blood of our enemies
to dress us both in red.

It's hard to recall now
the man that I was then
returning from raiding
across the wide sea;
My heart full of pride and
our ship full of plunder,
I watched for the strand
where my stead watched for me.

We thought it was fog--
and that out of season--
that cloaked our fierce prow
and swallowed our wake.
But the thicker it grew,
the more it smelled of burning.
We pulled the oars then
till we feared they would break.

Chorus

We made groundfall;
it seemed a hundred years later.
When we could see clearly
we wished we were blind.
Our steadings were broken
and bloody and barren;
We knew from our raiding
what else we would find.

We wandered like wolves
through the ashes of kinsmen.
The crows mocked our howling
to long-deafened ears.
he stink of death sickened me
nigh unto retching.
We salted the earth of
our dead with our tears.

Chorus

Some say I'm mad now,
but I'm only enamored
of my new shining bride
and her face in the light.
She weeps that she's thirsty,
and I live to please her--
we search for her slaking
through day and through night.

Where a wraith goes,
only wind marks its passing,
but where a man goes,
a good bear-dog can track.
And I'll hound them until the last
wears the blood-eagle
carved like a lover's knot
deep in his back.

2x Chorus