On the island of Björkö near Stockholm was a small city, the center of a massive trading area in the 8th century. It disappeared mysteriously a hundred years later, perhaps decimated by an enemy attack. Some years ago, I spent a magical summer afternoon on this enchanting island. But in the shadows of the beauty whispered the ghosts of the past. They spoke of families fleeing across the frozen windswept lake, illuminated by the towering firestorm that was once their city. Two utterly irreconcilable experiences. My song of Birka.



Run child, run away
For hell is coming, and hell we must pay
For the Norsemen are raging, through wind and through snow
With their weapons of iron, forged in the fires below

Run child, the sky is burning
The Hammer of Thor, the thunder of war
And we’ll all be forgotten – dry dust on a hill

So now run child, run child, run far away from it all


Come in from the cold
Why you’re only nine years old
Dry your tears by our fire
You look so worn and so tired
And sleep...


Run child, run away
The Norsemen are here and here they will stay
Your father is fighting and fighting he’ll fall
So run child, run child, run far away from it all

Run child, I’ll love no other
But you my child, now run far away
No, wait, hold me, hold me!
Now… slip under the wall
I’ll meet you in Valhalla’s hall.