To Valravn

Hail Valravn, most feared of the Danish knights
to join the Einherjar of Óðinn, foe of Fenrir;
the ballads all agree that you began life as one
of the black birds who haunt fields of battle,
but there they stop agreeing. Some would have it
that you pecked clean the bones of a fallen Scylding
King, and others that you supped on the innocent
heart of a child you won in a wager with a desperate
maiden lost in the woods and eager to be reunited
with her betrothed. You promised to lead her to him
in exchange for their firstborn child, and she agreed,
thinking her dear man could easily fight off a raven,
even if it was of the talking variety. Your duty dispatched,
you flew away and were not seen again until they were
about to have their boy baptized. As the priest of the
White Christ held the son aloft, you swooped down
from the rafters and snatched him up, carrying the
baby back to the woods where you lived with your family,
whom you shared your bountiful feast with. Either way
once you consumed the human flesh you were transmuted
into human form. Fueled by rage at your inability to regain
your raven body, you became the most feared warrior
of your age, sending incalculable hosts below to gloomy
Helheimr until Óðinn the Raven God swooped down
and plucked you bodily from the midst of a bloody melee
to join his war-band in Valhöll without ever dying.
Hail Raven of the Slain, immortal harbinger of destruction
who awaits the day of doom when finally you shall meet
an adversary worthy of your battle-skill.