So the Viking was sat on the beach by the surf,
He was singing a saga as old as the Earth.
With his audience rapt and not likely to tire,
He recited his tale by the warmth of the fire:
Of the Gods and of mortals so brave and so bold,
Of Valhalla and Valkyries, gleaming in gold,
In the tale that he told, in a voice that was mighty,
All the heroes were strong, all the heroines flighty.
Though the sailors that listened had heard it before,
They would happily sit and enjoy it once more –
For the tale’s in the telling, as I’ve always said,
And the skill of the artist who’s earning his bread.
Yet no agent had he, nor no management suits
Who would leech off this bard, off his fame and repute,
And no laws to protect them were written in stone,
For the oral tradition looked after its own.
And the song wasn’t his, and yet nobody cared:
In the time of the Vikings, all music was shared –
And performed, not for profit, but just for the glow
That both singer and crowd get from passionate shows.
When the epic was over, the embers were cold,
And when all had done praising the skill of the skald,
Then they lay down to sleep in their camp by the sea,
And gave thanks for the fact that such speeches were free.