Home Coming - James Prescott


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Home Coming

Copyright © 1992 James Prescott



In the glamour of the dawn's first light
Gold-bright upon the sea of yester morn
Saw we far off the high amber roofs of Iceland
Billowing down wind from her high hallowed hills --
Beginnings of a bitter sweet homecoming,
Like a first visit to a fabled land
Long yearned for but never seen
Save in solitary imaginings,
Until this very hour,
Eleven days sail west of Stad, in Norway.
No mountain broke the distant blue horizon,
But as to the north of west we fared,
Came skimming to meet us sunlit skuas and fulmars,
Far-faring fisher birds, crying promise of land.
Then by noon's bright light through that meadow we sailed
Where ever do feed and play the whales,
Until late it was when first we saw on yester eve
The white and green and brown of lofty Eyjafell.
Iceland at last.
All through the short and luminous night
Sailed we past the Vestmanna Islands,
And closed the southern coast.
Through this mid summer morning's light
To the Olfusa River we came,
Beautiful green valley, dear to my childhood,
And into her mouth we rowed,
And there beached my proud dragon ship,
And there pulled her up on the shore,
And there came to greet us from Eyrarbakki
You fine and hospitable folk.
Now in the afternoon, half shade, half sun,
Full length I lie beneath the racks
Where fish do dry in gentle breeze,
Building this poem of sadness and joy.
When I have finished and laid my last line,
On my shield arm then will I place my courage
And in my sword hand will I take my hope
And come to ask you for tidings.
Lives yet my foster mother?
Lives yet my foster father?
After twenty-five years I do not look
For so unlikely a tale.
Do any live yet at Asmundsstead
To remember me with tears of joy,
That I might mingle along with theirs
The tears of joy I bring for them?
For this my Iceland, this is my homeland,
Though I may not call you yet my home,
For few are there who know me here.
It hurts indeed to be a stranger,
Where you need to feel most welcome.
And if there be none to share my tears,
Yet I bring a rich cargo of money,
And memories wondrous and rare,
From Iberia, Miklagard, Kriti, Kyiv.
In coin and brooch -- wealth of silver,
In poem and song -- wealth of story,
The precious possessions of twenty-five years.
What market will they find?
Tomorrow I ride, be the news good or sad,
Upriver to Thingvellir, up to the Althing,
And there on the banks of the Axe river,
There in that spectacular spot,
With all the great persons of Iceland assembled,
There will I sell a far-travelled fame,
There will I buy a well-favoured farm,
And there will I ask a spirited widow
To carry my keys at her waist.
For I plan now to woo you, Iceland, homeland,
And win you again for my home.



[ I wrote this poem on the occasion of my SCA persona, Thorvald Grimsson, returning to Iceland after twenty-five years out of the country. ]




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