|Marie la Fauconniere|
Gintaras Golden-Boots, large in laughter,
Loved a lady more than life,
Held her honor higher than heaven.
Bull of the Middle Lands, bound in mid-step
Brought low by bright-eyed maiden’s glance.
Long he languished. Naught sufficed
To win the wand-slim one to wife.
Fine were the fabrics he laid at her feet,
Great jewels he gifted to his goddess.
None gained him ground--she strode by, smiling.
Spring and summer, time of sowing
Grain-gold ripening, seasons passed.
War arose in Eastern lands.
The Taura harvested foes like wheat.
Then weary warrior wandered homeward,
Saw gladness gleam in goddess’s eye.
With hunger she hearkened to hero stories,
Wept jealous tears at tales of war.
New fire flared in the heart of Gintaras.
“Meet it is for mead-giving maiden
To seek a strong sword-arm and shield.
Let her ponder upon my prowess:
I have a path to prove my worth.”
Bright-hooved bull, apt for battle
Called challenge in every kingdom’s court
Bade best and bravest bring their bright blades
To try their talents with tools of war.
None withstood the rampaging warrior.
Foes fell or fled before his face.
Loud his laughter as he laid them low.
Silence fell as the slaughter ceased.
In gladness Gintaras let fall his guard
Set shield and spear of ash aside
And hied him homeward, heaped with honors.
Little recked he that rage and ravage
Might lie in wait at mead-hall’s door,
To gain the guarded entry and wreak grue.
Fair as birch trees swayed the wand-limb
White-handed, awaiting the warrior’s return
Bearing brim-full bowls of brewer’s gold
Mighty mead-draughts to slake a dust-dry thirst.
Their savor streamed upon the south-wind,
Waking honey-warriors from summer slumbers
With scent of comb-gold gathered in secret
And not to be raided without recompense.
Swiftly they sped to stake their claim.
Drumming wings drew nigh the doorposts;
A hovering war-host held aloft.
Small sturdy spearmen surged forward, stabbing
With venomed blades to break the wall.
Golden mead-giver proved now her mettle,
Fought with fell hand against the foe-waves.
Dauntless she stood, daughter of doughty men,
Holding the gates of the great mead-hall
But at last she was whelmed, at last borne down.
There Gintaras came to a grievous greeting:
His fair one felled by foul flying foes.
Thunder creased the Taura’s brow,
Rage rose in his throat; yet ere he sought
To send sore return for raider’s sudden strike
He stooped first to the fallen, silent and still.
Gently he raised his golden goddess
Bore precious burden to her deep-piled bed
Bellowed for healers and wise ones to attend her
While he sent an honor guard to Hela in her name!
Then was the great Bull borne up by battle rage;
Heedless of weapons, vengeance and havoc
He wrought on the honey-warrior host.
Dealt death and doom to those who defied him,
Ground them beneath his golden boots.
Laughter had left him. He smote bare-handed
Granting grace only when justice was done.
Still in grim mood Gintaras entered the great hall,
Fearing to find fair maiden’s fate.
His heart leapt to see her, if not hale, then healing
Drawn back by deft hands from Valhalla’s door.
Great was his gladness. He greeted her gravely
As warriors will, when battle is done.
“Hail, shield-maiden! Health and swift healing!
The foe is now fled, no more to darken
The door you so well defended. Worthy
Of word-fame was your deed. Would that I
Had fared home in high time to fight at your side!”
Wise in the ways of war-bands, he spoke
As one who would hearten a weary host
And watched as faint color crept up her cheek.
“Ring-wealth and word-fame are given to warriors,”
She whispered, and shadows fled from her face.
Much was revealed in that moment to Gintaras:
Not his worth, but hers, had she weighed and feared wanting.
No golden gift would be to her greater
Than proof that her valor matched her proud heart.
“Lady and shield-maiden, linger no longer
But take up your sword and bright spear at my side.
Rise now, make haste, there is ring-wealth to be won!”
Laughing she rose up and set her white hand in his.
“Ring-giving lord and leader of war-hosts,
Here am I, a battle-maid tested and true.
Let us fare forth together, find fortune on the swan-road
Till the All-Father calls us to his wide-timbered hall!”
So by battle and thunder, not by baubles and finery
Did Gintaras the great Bull at last bring home his bride.
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