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The Shield-maid's Song
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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1
The Shield-maid's Song

What foe is this who stands between
My kinsman-king and I?
His eyes are cold, his voice is fell,
He doubts he still can die.
But come now, foulest dwimmerlaik,
Today death claims her due,
For I am neither dead nor man:
My blade shall drink of you.

It's beat and bind and cut and thrust
It's eye and arm and breath
It's nerve and bone and steel and blood
The Shield-maid's Dance of Death


For I have ridden far, my foe,
Ignoring king's command;
My honour died in Harrowdale,
But sword still rests in hand.
Your honour died an age ago,
Or so the minstrels say.
So shall we spar for something else,
Or shall you step away?

It's beat and bind and cut and thrust
It's eye and arm and breath
It's nerve and bone and steel and blood
The Shield-maid's Dance of Death


My breath, it catches in my throat --
'Tis true, I am afraid!
What throat have thee, what breath to catch,
What blood to meet my blade?
For if fear beats all through my breast,
'Tis proof I am alive.
But what of you, my half-dead foe,
What hope that you'll survive?

It's beat and bind and cut and thrust
It's eye and arm and breath
It's nerve and bone and steel and blood
The Shield-maid's Dance of Death


Your mace swings high above our heads,
I quickly step aside.
It's sad: I know what you do not,
I know that you can die.
So swing away, I'll dance with thee,
Until we both be felled;
Remember, she who seeks for death
Has naught to lose as well.

It's beat and bind and cut and thrust
It's eye and arm and breath
It's nerve and bone and steel and blood
The Shield-maid's Dance of Death,
The Shield-maid's Dance of Death.


~~~

Note

This song should stand on its own, without these notes. However, for those interested in my creative process, read on.

I know that this song isn't in a particularly Rohirric mode. If Tolkien were writing this piece he undoubtedly would have cast it in alliterative verse. However, I am not Tolkien, and my inspiration was not one of the old Norse verses.

After I wrote a drabble where I referred to Eowyn's swordplay as a "dance of death", Gwynnyd and I discusseed Michael Longcor's song "Swordsman". She sent me a copy. It worked its way into the deep recesses of my mind until this little filk nuzgul would not be gainsaid. The form is perhaps Gondorian if it is anything; if the theme wasn't so dark I would almost call it a hobbit song. In truth, though, I did not have any of Middle-earth's cultural models in mind when I wrote this. Don't think about that aspect too hard; I didn't.

Is this a filk? Technically, I suppose it is. It is based on "Swordsman", as I said, and the chorus is almost exactly the same as it was in the original. The verses, however, bear little resemblance to Mr. Longcor's piece (only one pair of lines in the final verse has stayed the same), and I think this works without knowledge of the original.

If you're interested in such things, please do check out the original. You can find it on his "Field of Fire" CD (see his site). Go ahead, give your ears a treat. It has a great sound to it, and I liked it well enough to want to adapt it to Middle-earth. (And no, I am not on his payroll!)

Failing that, you can find the original lyrics at this board.


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