I wrote this poem last spring in response to a lesson I did with a British Literature class I was teaching (I always write with my students). We were reading Beowulf, and the assignment was to write a “boast poem” that included the figurative language techniques of alliteration and kennings. A kenning, which originated in Icelandic/Anglo-Saxon times, is a compound word created to accentuate or magnify a simple idea. I had a great deal of fun writing this. And since we’ve had such a brutally cold, long winter in Vermont, it seemed like the perfect time to post it!
The Lady Says
All ye heroes of olde–
I come from the far green fields and
forested trails of three-leafed trilliums.
I am a bare-footed earth-tender
coaxing greens from cold ground
in rain-soaked springtime when
all is wind-song and unfurling flowers.
Ye winter-princes, seekers of long-sleeps,
who will believe your glory-dreams?
We want no hero’s second-hand stolen silver.
Yay, though ye speak of moon-washed diamonds,
of warm fire hearths and star-tripping to the kingdom of peace,
you offer bouquets of fall’s forgotten ragweed,
empty stew pots and pillows of ice.
We’ll hear no more laments, now go!
Take your white-snow-freeze,
your drizzled-grey ghosts and
and your lead-heavy heart of dark!
I am thy dreaded vanquisher.
My breath is of sweet-apple air,
my blood flows clear-river melt,
my body Olde World tamarisk,
a salt cedar flowering pink
amongst all adversity.
I sing song-spells with the sparrows
call out the road-weary
who stumble their way towards
a fiddler’s flame-seared melody.
I am the one who draws down summer’s
long, luscious light.