The Scop's Gift
Words and music by Jude
A year since the Thane last strode to battle Since last his axe and armour rattled When he slaughtered the settlers and stole their cattle
That night they drank in the Thane's mead hall While the shadows stretched outside the wall And the land turned white from the swift snowfall
A black-cloaked Scop at the door came knocking From out of the dark where the ghosts were walking He muted their mirth and silenced their talking
Then spoke the Thane in his cloak of sable 'What gift do you bring me, to eat at my table? To feast by my fire and to sleep in the stable?'
'Here is the gift that I trade for your favour- A pouch of salt I bring you to savour That your bread rises well and your meat has flavour'
The thane bade him sit by the blazing fire And eat and drink all he could desire And the Scop sang soft and he strummed his lyre
The Thane drank deep till the dawn was breaking His swordsmen snored as the crows were waking But he drank with a thirst that there was no slaking
Then up rose the Scop from the hearthstone, crying: 'There on the field you left me lying Down in the dirt with the dead and dying
'Hear now the song I come to play you A curse of salt I bring to slay you For you killed my kin and I will repay you
'Salt for a thirst that's never slowing Salt for the earth that will brook no growing Till the winter wind over your bones is blowing'
A year gone past since the great Thane's falling And his hall's a ruin where the rats come crawling Lost to the snow, and the grey gulls' calling