“The Long Ships” – Translation

Earning ones upkeep is essential to write in peace, thus, I’ve been considering many professions. I’m dipping my toe into the translation business and thought my English is good enough to translate old Swedish prose (1940) to a comprehensible English. I would very much appreciate your input in this and I hope you’ll enjoy it.


Many men, of the unruly sort, left Skane to do battle in Hjorungavag with Bue and Vagn while others followed Styrbjorn to Uppsala. But when words spread that few of the men would return, great sorrow engulfed the land and memorial stones were raised in their honour. However, most sensible folk considered it a blessing as they could expect peace and quiet now when few men would feud over their families inheritance. There became many fruitful years and most people flourished; but those who found their yields to be poor they ventured to England and Ireland, finding great bounty, and many remained.

While peace was lasting, men with shaved heads came from the lands of the Saxons and England to preach about the Christian faith. They had many things to say and people were, at first, curious and listened intently to their words. The women found it especially enjoyable to be given white dresses and submerged in water by the strangers. But as soon as the dresses were no longer offered, the people stopped listening to their preachings that seemed tiresome and rather unbelievable; moreover, they spoke in a choppy manner that they had learned in Hedeby or on the Western islands, making the preachers seemed both childish and stupid.

Thereof, few were willing to adopt the Christian faith; and shaved men, who spoke highly of peace and would be most agitated by the gods, was sized by religious men and strung in holy trees, where they found their bodies full of arrows and presented as gifts to Odin’s crows. But others, who had managed to reach north, to the Gothic lands, where little religion was to be found, there they were hailed and bound to be sold as slaves in Smaland, in exchange for ox and bearskins. As thralls by the Smaland people, they would sometimes let their hair grow back and do good work as they were dissatisfied by Jehovah; but most continued their quest against the gods and baptised women and children rather than work in the quarries or the grind wheat, to the dismay of their owners. As a result, the Goths could no longer get even a few three year old Smaland ox for a healthy priest without paying a difference with salt and homespun. Then the attitude towards the shaved men changed.

One summer word spread through all of the Danish Kingdom that King Harald Bluetooth had adopted the new belief. In his youth, Harald had tried the Christian faith but quickly regretted it, but this time, he was sincere. For King Harald was now old and had, for a long while, been plagued by back pain, and have had little enjoyment of his ale and women. Clever Bishops, sent by the Emperor, therefore gave him herbs blessed in the apostle’s names instead of beer and made the sign of the cross over his shoulders to drive the devils out of him until the pain was gone and the King became Christian.


I do not own this story and belongs to Frans G. Bengtsson who has been dead for many years. It was originally published in the 1940s. This translation is not official and is just a test of my capabilities to translate.

God is Forgiving – Very Short Story

Year 1246 of our Lord

Orwald Shilling writing:

I don’t know why I feel the need to write this. Perhaps it’s a desire to be understood, perhaps it is just one of those selfish acts which we human are so famous for? All people are born sinners, after all, and even men of God are not free from sin, however, some sins are more grave than others, naturally. Perhaps this is why I write? For the small chance of redemption in the eyes of at least one person? Indeed, that would be enough; and if this letter finds itself in the hands of a heathen, or a denier, allow me to preach God’s world to you:

God is the creator of all things, heaven and earth. He created man in his image in the Garden of Eden where humanity achieved happiness without sin. However, humans betrayed God, and happiness is now only sin. Man is born evil and everything that makes us happy is a sin. Life is meaningless because it is only in death that we can achieve true happiness, in heaven. However, sinners may live happy lives even so, blissfully unaware, or chose to ignore, damnation that awaits them.

I always thought sinners should be punished in life. Even the promise of eternal damnation doesn’t seem to deter them, nor does it give me any satisfaction knowing this very fact, not yet anyway. I remember witnessing my first execution, long ago, a thief was being hanged; and as I saw life drain from his eyes I was filled with a warmth I could not explain, perhaps it was gratification for he had resisted my words before committing the theft. I would like to believe God made him commit the crime to hurry his damnation, but then, there are those that live in excess and corruption all their lives without consequence… I know one should not question God’s will or try to understand it, even so, All sinners ought to suffer, even in life.

But alas, I’m alone in this.

God never intended for life to have meaning, for life is meaningless when heaven is forever. Thus we suffer to prove our worthiness to ascend into paradise; a test of our vigour so that you can appreciate the splendour when the gates of heaven open to you. However, the ones who fail in this test, no second chance is given… or so I thought. Surely, an outrageous act of true devotion should put you in God’s good grace once more? At least, there is no harm trying – hell awaits you either way.

Life is just pain, after all.

It is the flesh that makes us weak and women are the creators of flesh. Capturing our souls into the torment of life…

Women are damned from the beginning, I believe, their souls are lost and cannot be reclaimed. No wonder they seek to bring men of faith down with them; they do not want to spend eternity alone in the fiery depths of hell. She will not have the last laugh, though, because God has called upon me a second chance.

Where else could this idea come from than from him?

I stopped counting the bodies, after a while, there was no point to it as the act became less and less vile in my eyes. It helped, at first, to see them just as numbers but that itself was a sin, to look down on human life, even sinners are humans, after all. One should feel bad about killing, even if it is righteous. The first few victims were… difficult. I didn’t have the right touch and they screamed and struggled before they collapsed at the cut of my knife. Now, I can slice a man cleanly while they sleep.

Sleeping through one’s death… I wish my demise would be that peaceful, but suicide is out of the question and I don’t trust anyone’s hand but my own. I simply have to wait for the angels to take me, when they believe I’m worthy… My hands are getting shaky now and it’s becoming more difficult to make the clean cut like I used to. Even my back and knees hurt constantly. Growing old is a truly terrible thing. The only solace is that I’ll feel the sweet embrace of death soon, which is why I write while I still retain my sanity and a steady hand.

Don’t think badly of me. I’m but a humble servant of God, who made a mistake in his youth.


© Christopher Stamfors

Featured image by ChrisCold

Chilly Night Poem – Query

In the last story I made a lot of changes from the original to make sure it made sense, but now I’m curious, which one do you prefer? The last one, or, this one:

Look through the midnight winter

and the frost beyond your view.

Raise your hand in enjoyment,

we’ll have another victim soon.

 

Light the candle on the windshield,

show them we are home.

The gates are open

and we’ll greet them with warmth.

 

Their steps echo hollow in this empty house.

Nowhere to go, might as well stay the night.

 

They search the house, to find it abandoned.

Nothing have lived here, for centuries untold.

 

They don’t believe in ghost and creatures of the night.

Find the place comfortable enough,

it beats the air this chilly night.

 

We watch them sleep sweetly together on a makeshift bed.

The masters bedroom is upstairs,

even mortals have a sense to leave it alone,

even under threat.

 

They sleep through the night, everything was fine.

But as the hands of wakening,

they found something not right.

The healthy colour which normal humans shine,

was absent on her mate, his eyes cold as night.

Her scream echoed in the dusty halls.

She awoke the master.

Now she could never leave,

her mate her soul had been.


This version doesn’t rhyme as well and is written in the perspective of someone/something  observing the couple. I’m asking because I kinda like both.

Chilly Night – Poetry Story

Through the darkness and the cold,

the house creaked through the winter storm

And on the driveway, in this winter’s night, a couple emerged

Banging on the door, trying to get inside

The door opened, without a sound

Only their footsteps echoed through an empty house

They search the home, to find it abandoned

Nothing else was living, for centuries uncaring.

 

Dust caked on the floor and the wind howled through the ceiling

A perfect place for ghosts and other unsavoury beings

But the couple didn’t believe in ghost and creatures of the night

So they find the place comfortable enough,

it beats the air this chilly night.

 

They slept sweetly on a makeshift bed.

Thank god they left the master’s room untread

 

They sleep through the night, everything was fine.

But as they awoken, the woman found something’s not right.

Cold and blue was the eyes of her mate

Frozen to the bone, there was nothing to reanimate

Her scream echoed in the dusty hall

The Master would have his call

Where nothing remained

Even in thaw


© Christopher Stamfors

Featured image by ChrisCold

Walking Fear – Very Short Story

The mist churned on the paved street, engulfing the road until their was nothing but misty fog beneath our feet. People rushed inside their homes and barred the doors – like always when the moon was full. Was there ever a time when the mist was seen as nothing more than force of nature? When the imaginary mind could conjure the illusion of drifting high above the clouds as the mist was thick and all encompassing?

To my knowledge, this had never been the case, for my grandfather told what his grandfather had told – the chain of eternal past bounding us to this place. But grandfather also spoke of other things most adults forget in their elder years. He told of times when priests roamed the land, when they cast blessings of rhymes upon the houses and soothed the dead to their eternal rest. But time had not been kind to the people of Aeru as the forebears of those ancient rhymes was long gone and had never returned. Indeed, those without family ties – no matter how ancient – had left the country and now only those bound by the past is tormented by it.

I remember, at one of those nights, when resting my head on my mother’s lap as we cowered on the floor in the cellar with my two sisters beside me. My father had been slow to secure the door, that night, and he was still on the first floor when the mist came. I glanced at the window to my right where the mist seeped onto the floor. My mother turned my head from it and buried my face into her gown, for it is said that gazing on the terrible will terrible wrought!

But a young mind does not heed such words, curiosity, more than anything, occupies ones thoughts. So with worry for my father, and anxiety in sitting still, I did not listen to my mother’s warnings and left her lap and stood by the stairs where the sounds of the terrible hitting our neighbours doors reverberated through the streets. But somehow, ours was quite. Mother looked in terror and beckoned me back, but I could not leave it as it was, as I had never known true fright. In my naivety and belief in my own strength, I headed upstairs. Mother, too frightened to move, and concern for my sisters, remained on the floor. On the top floor, I saw our door, that ought to be secured, stood ajar, and there was no sight of my father.

The sounds, that had been vivid before, was now silent, yet the mist crept into our home. Through the opening in the door, I peeked out on the street and saw only white mist, and black figures standing about. At the centre of the shapeless black stood another figure, his arms flailing as if in distress – still, no sounds were heard. My first reaction was the towns folk had somehow braved their fears and gathered on the street, expelling the evil. So I approached fearless, but as I drew closer, my mind began to swirl, as if the mist itself made my head lighter and I saw one of the figures turned to me and looked with hollow eyes upon me. Despite his horrible visage, I felt no fear, as I noticed its moustache twirling in familiar loops of my grandfather.

I remembered nothing after this and I am now in my elder years. I don’t know if it is blessing or a curse when the mist draws over us, for though it hides what we don’t want to see, it mystifies it and makes it more horrible as our minds make up what isn’t there.

My father did return to us and he spoke as if he’d brought the past to the present for he spoke of things we had long ceased to believe and we now make homage to the dead and the dead has stayed in the ground ever since. But the mist would forever be associated by eerie gloom and people would still refuse to go about at night, except my father, who preferred the night’s best and he chanted the rhymes that kept evil away until his death of age. Now I bear the torch and I lull the dead, alone as the mystic, the priest, and the insane.


© Christopher Stamfors

Featured image by ChrisCold

Macabre Profession – Very Short Story

The sky glittered in the moonless night, its rays hidden beneath the horizon. Things had gone well for Mr. Harrison, his business boomed in the absence of the king, and his daughter was out of the house, married to a sweet young man who would honour their trade.

Yes, things were looking well for Mr. Harrison and life was good.

He brought out his celebratory pipe that twirled in a fashion suited for the occasion and filled it with a blend of roots and herbs, gifted by his friend the Herbalist. Mr. Harrison grinned, knowing he was one of the few outside the Herbalist’s family who had ever tasted it. He sipped at the blend and let the smoke engulf his mouth, watching it sail down in front of him. 

This was how power tasted, he thought.

With a smile, he puffed another cloud of smoke that rose and fell until the balcony was in a haze. Wind soon caught in it and dragged it away into the night. But as he watched the smoke sail away, a cloud remained near his face that swirled without a sign to dissipate. He stared at it, not in fear but in bewilderment, and as it remained he puffed another cloud that soon merged into the haze. Mr. Harrison sighed and sunk into his chair anew, dismissing it as a mirage. But again the haze caught wind and the single cloud remained in front of him. Confused, he swung his hand at the spot but the cloud remained.

Suddenly, the cloud changed form and the contours of a man emerged. His heart made a jolt when a face stared back at him, then the cloud dissipated. Mr. Harrison looked around nervously, as if being watched and he let the ember in his pipe die from neglect. Hesitant to light it anew, he grunted defiantly at the otherworldly scene. A Harrison was not squeamish whatsoever, especially considering the field in which they worked. So he lit the pipe again, now with a steady hand, and he watched how the smoke sailed and dissipated. For a moment, everything seemed back the way it was when the cloud slowly formed again, this time, the face emerged disfigured and his heart raced when he recognised his handy work.

So shocked was he that he swung his hand around like one who would swat a bee and his pipe arched over the balcony in his exertion. When the smoke dissipated once more, he entered his house and closed the door. Then, as if closing the door made him exit one world and enter another, the furniture swirled and bent in shapes not possible by solid objects. The tools on his wall seemed to leap out after him and he shrieked in fright as their sharp edges lurched towards him. Mr. Harrison rushed into the living room where no dangerous tool hung and he rummaged through his cupboard with trembling hands. Finding what he was looking for, he filled a glass with a golden liquid.

Calm washed over him from the liquors warming grace and he saw his home as it was, and he breathed out. “What the hell was in that blend?!”


© Christopher Stamfors

Featured image by ChrisCold

Terrifying Beauty – Very Short Story

I stared in awe at things of imagination, for what else could they possibly be but a fabrication of my mind? Yet I was not alone gawking at the sky that bloomed in light of shaded blue, illuminating the night like the stars we were used to. The people boomed their thoughts of evils lurking and blessings approaching, the only two possible explanations such a magnificent, yet terrifying, display could reveal.

Though nothing we said that night could accurately describe what we saw, we neither ran nor cried for help when the orb like globes descended upon the earth. My inner mind told me to step away as they came nearer, and when I did, another took my place as she reached out her hands to catch it. Such is the mind of humanity, irrational and filled with hope, hope that the globes (that poured over us), did not have evil intent.

All around the people watched as she made contact with the orb. It floated on her palms like it weighed nothing despite being twice her size. Yet the wind did not catch it, indeed, the woman was not sure if it was there at all for she expressed that she felt nothing of what she saw.

Others gathered around and drew closer for it had been a while and no evil had emerged, or of any blessing. I heard others yelp in the vast crowd around me, and I do not know if others caught the globes, nor did I witness what happened when nobody caught them, for my attention was fixated at the woman.

As nothing of malice occurred, people dared to touch the light the orb emanated. But when many hands felt it, the globe popped like a bubble; and all its rays, that were harboured within, shot across everything and our bodies. At first, it was pleasant, for the lights warmed wherever it touched in the cold autumn night. But screams soon engulfed the area as the burning of those sparks grew more intense. I felt it all over my torso, head, arms, and legs for I had faced the light when it burst. The pain was searing and I could no longer make use of my legs. It was as if the very flesh melted off my bones… but it was there… it was still there attached when I rose and the burning dissipated. Screams, that had engulfed us, soon faded and we all rose to find darkness all encompassing. People shouted, the stars were gone! Others that the moon was too. Indeed, I saw nothing of any kind as I wandered in the darkness, touching and stepping on those in my path. It was only later, when the people who had hid from the strangeness, and thus had not been burned, emerged, that we learned the stars were still there and that the moon still shone brightly in our path.


© Christopher Stamfors

Featured image by ChrisCold

Reflection – Poem

Fear touch those who fear fester

Leave them be

And they will someone else pester

© Christopher Stamfors

Righteous – Poem

Stand tall

Your hand is just

Burry that hatchet

into the temple crust

Let the blood course

over the sinners body

God will forgive you

if you his son embody


© Christopher Stamfors

Unseen Shadows – Poem

Where am I heading,

is a question often unseen

The future is now

And only a fool would attempt,

to glean further than we perceive

Yet we must try,

at the hands of the judger

For nothing is more important

Than the approval,

of the faith one muster


© Christopher Stamfors