Poems 30

Letter to a friend and wife in Oslo who wrote to us in rhyme.


The Reply


Our Dear Friends

With great delight I start to write

(How better could I pass a night)

And take my pen in cosy den

Fast shut from Winter’s shivering ken

My sole desire beside the fire

Close by me all I might require.


My laggard mind has words to find

And in the spell of ink to bind

Then sealed and true, across the blue

I send my captured thoughts to you

Soviq – Sigurd – what magic heard

What dreams of Norsemen in the word

What visions limm of Vikings grim.


What ancient tales of romance brim

What childhood thrill is with us still

What mighty feats of warlike skill

They held in thrall the Celt, the Gaul

They were the scourges of them all

And long ago the Viking prow

Filled all the coasts with fear and woe.


Now what remains but just the names

To fit our pictures into frames

A memory stored in Fell and Fiord

And Thwaite and Solviq and Sigurd!

You have the skill you have the will

You have the Viking spirit still

Your ships still rove by creek or cove

The sea is still your greatest love


How happy we who feel to be still

Part of that great family

And one dark year a message clear

(flashed round your land)


Although so far away you are

Our deepest thoughts we still can share

And should you be in our country

Then what a merry company!


The Winters Tale would never stale

Nor burden us the icy gale

Perhaps within an English Inn

Our understandings could begin.

A lighter vein would be our strain

And perfect accord our refrain

While English ale could scarcely fail

To send us stumbling down the scale

Then home we’d wend with wavering trend

Discussing how to make amend

To wives who wait in furious state

Our very hearts to devastate

How much more wise to harmonise

Beneath those wives’ approving eyes

And when we’ve nursed our precious thirst

To quench with coffee at the worst –

How happy then in sober den

To be acclaimed quite perfect men.


That could not be, for such as we

are weaker far than wives could be.

So now I may close down my lay,

And write you in the normal way

The strain is hard to be a bard

Solviq, good-day, Good day,Siqurd               Margaret and Charles.   March 1955


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