May 19th, 2008


Driving south, we spotted a road sign pointing to a 12th century church. Ailz wanted a coffee break and I wanted Romanesque arches so Ruth made the turning and we ended up in the village of Husthwaite- which is Saxon for "house in a clearing".

The pub was friendly and there was a grand view from the churchyard of the Kilburn white horse- the most northerly of such hill figures. It isn't an ancient tribal totem. It was created in 1857.

Third Oar


Third Oar


When I rowed third oar in my uncle’s boat

We used to raid all along this coast

And burn the houses of the Christians.

I am not an incurious man;

These were strange people. They gave me much to think about.

Why would a man give up women for any god?

Why would he worship a god who let men spit at him and strike him?

And then I considered Odin and how he hung himself on the tree

And all for knowledge.  Now we live in the land

This is the place where we trade, farm, fish- where we raise our children

And it cannot be war all the time. Our king has had conversations

With the bishop- a fine, brave man

Who says a man can be washed in water in the name of Christ

And become like a child- It’s a thought that pleases me.

I have done many things in my life that make me sad.

To be frank I do not want what’s been promised us by our own gods.

All that fighting, bragging, feasting- that’s a heaven for young men

And I have been tamed by Time. I have grandsons.  I like quiet best,

Sitting in my daughter’s house, hearing the hum of the wheel as she spins,

I walked out yesterday beyond the houses to the beach where the nets are hung

And saw the raven of Odin perched on a stake.

He tipped his head at me and fixed me with his very bright eye

And then he spoke. And what I heard him say was “knowledge”.