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Egil’s Lament

May 14, 2010

by Ann Fisher-Wirth

(after Egil’s Saga)

Egil was the firesap in the birch tree,
the raven, his ebony wings’ glint,
his croak that opened the underworld—
Egil who walks on two widow-sticks now.

Egil was the meadhorn running amber rivers,
the wolves’ fur rank and steaming beneath fir trees
groaning with snow: Egil now frosted and feeble
needing the old flame.

Egil was the snarl, the fang bared
to summon the enemies, set them wrangling.
Now Egil sits by the hearth, dodging the blows of women.
Time passes tediously, no king to aid him.

Egil was the salt spray, the dolphin,
the ship turned into the wind,
Egil clammy-cock, hair grown ashen.
And Egil was the sharp-toothed sea all luck was lost in.

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Ann Fisher-Wirth’s third book of poems, Carta Marina, was published by Wings Press in April 2009. Her third chapbook, Slide Shows, was runner-up in the 2008 Finishing Line Chapbook Contest and was released in December 2009. Her poems have appeared widely in journals, online, and in anthologies, including Starting Today: Poems for the First 100 Days, HOW2, and poetryvlog.com. She teaches at the University of Mississippi, and also teaches yoga at Southern Star in Oxford, Mississippi. Until she broke her knee, she was scheduled to teach in Switzerland and give readings in Sweden this spring.

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  1. May 17, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Very nicely done. I don’t know the saga but I love the list, the contrast of what he was and what he is become. Brilliant last line.

    • Ann Fisher-Wirth
      May 17, 2010 at 1:34 pm

      thanks Sherry! It is a wonderful book. My husband read it aloud to me the year we lived in Sweden. The translation we read was by Herman Pálsson and Paul Edwards.

  2. May 18, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    I’m struck not only by the imagery and the execution of the piece but the parallel I immediately perceived involving the narrative and currently eroding American foreign policy. Whether the poet intends to evoke such is–aesthetically speaking–unimportant. The value is in the poem’s capacity to so affect.

  3. JJS
    June 2, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    I love every line of this. There is such evident love of the classic turns of language, but so freshly re-made.

  1. May 15, 2010 at 10:25 am
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