REH Word of the Week: kine Essay
Viking men and women in Newfoundland with livestock
Illustration by Tom Lovell
1. archaic. plural of cow.
[origin: Middle English kyn, from Old English cyna, genitive pl. of cu]
Eric Ranesen, the viking, son of the sword and spear,
Swept down the coast of England at the height of his wild career,
Swooped down on many a village with his berserk, wild wolf band,
Raged along the coast like a hurricane with fire and sword in his hand,
Harried the coast of England from Severn to the Forth,
Loaded his ships with plunder, then sailed back to the North.
Lord of the North was Eric, from Salten fiord to Skye,
Lord of the wide, wild northern sea and many a land thereby.
He had vanquished Saxon and Welshman; Swede and Finn and Dane
Fled when they saw the flashing of the sword of the son of Rane.
Only one man defied him from Salten fiord to Forth,
And that was Harald of Norway, a reiver of the North.
Harald was shaped like a sword-blade, slim and somewhat tall,
And he was a gallant chieftain in battle or banquet hall.
He was a foe of Eric, whom he hated with awful hate,
He swore that for the sea-king, he would open heaven’s gate.
He swore that oath at Kirkness upon All Saints day,
And then he leaped in his serpent-ship and he sailed far away.
Sailed toward the isles of sunrise with Hasting, the North-Dane,
Avoided sheltered harbors, plowed through the open Main.
Into the Mediterranean, Harald of Norway came,
Pillaging, burning and slaying, gaining both gold and fame;
People of far off countries heard Harald of Norway’s name.
Last he turned to the Northward, leaving the warm seas behind,
Leaving behind the warm lands rich with gold and with kine.
Back, yes back to the Northland sailed Harald, the viking bold,
With his long ship red with blood and weighted with gems and gold.
To Kirkness-town he sailed and anchored his long ship there,
With his flag, the flag of the cormorant, floating free to the air.
[from “Eric of Norway”; to read the complete poem, see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 536; Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 389; and The Rhyme of Salem Town, p. 76]