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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 13, Number 2, June 2019
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Joy McCall
Norwich, Norfolk, England


Sweyn Forkbeard's Meadow

By the roadside near my home, there's a big sign that reads MEADOW FOR SALE. Behind the ubiquitous Norfolk hedges is a small flat green field full of cow parsley and other wild flowers. It ends in a wide copse of oak trees.

I make enquiries of the realtor who tells me–one cannot build upon a meadow; it is pasture for horses, sheep and cows. Anyway, I cannot afford the price he is asking, but I can dream!

It is named Sweyn Forkbeard's Meadow. It is the place where the Danish invader kept his horses when he came to conquer England. He was a cruel man, who slaughtered men, women and children to become the King of England more than 1000 years ago. His did not rule for long. After 40 days on the throne he was speared to death in his sleep, perhaps by his own kin. His son Cnut then became King of England and Denmark and ruled with justice. But he was overcome with his own importance and . . .

Cnut stood
on the sandy shore
holding up his hand
'come no further, waves,
for I am King of this land'

The waves kept on coming and Cnut learned that no man is omnipotent.

kings come
and kings go
however they rule
it ends, like all things,
in dust and ashes

I sit beside the meadow gate and watch rabbits, squirrels and magpies.

I day-dream
I am living there
in a rough hut
writing poems
on plain paper

I would sleep
deep and well there
while the owls call
and the ghosts of kings
drift on by


Author’s Note: Sweyn's bones have just been found under an old wooden church in the grounds of Roskilde Cathedral in Denmark.

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