"Valkyrie Daughter" is for my friend Loki and his late daughter Whitney. Shortly after Whitney's passing, Loki asked me to write a song for her about how Valkyries don't just come for warriors. This was the only lead he gave me, and I stayed away from writing this song for over a year. When the time was right, it came, in its solemn glory. The song has turned out to be more for Loki than for his daughter, but sometimes the stories know what they're doing when they don't come out the way they're expected to. As was reaffirmed to me when I performed the song for Loki, his friends, and his family for the first time, songs truly have healing power. I am blessed to have been the channel for this one.
Valhalla is ever receiving
as her sons are forever at war
but her gates are not barred, as you may have been told,
to the women and children worth fighting for.
Time was that a soldier named for Loki had daughters aplenty.
He reared them up fierce in his pride.
The fairest had just reached her flowering time
when the Norns cut her thread and she died.
Well, he wouldn't take no for an answer,
nor grieve for the rest of his days.
He set off for the wild, with his tears still a-stream,
resolved to petition the Valkyrie.
For the sake of his child, he would enter this plea:
retrieve her and teach her your ways.
So he searched and he strove many seasons
'til the gray had come into his beard.
He returned home to the scorn of his colleagues and friends.
His wife rejoiced quietly for his folly's end
and asked Frigga for strength, that his spirit would mend,
that he'd not prove as mad as she feared him.
Well, a soldier is nothing if not full of pride,
no warrior if not hard and bold,
so he set off again well before winter's end
to the wild, without telling a soul.
In spite of himself, in the snowdrifts he fell
and succumbed to the night and the cold.
Deep in the sleep of exhaustion
the soldier did fall, and he dreamed.
He found himself walking the world of Niflheim
where things are indeed as grim as they seem.
His courage held fast, he continued
to the hall where the mistress of that realm did dwell.
There sat Lady Hel, in her fearsome estate.
He felt his great heart as it skipped a few beats.
Just the same, he bowed all the way down to her feet,
and she grudgingly gave him a smile.
"I know why you've come here, young soldier," she said,
"but you may state your case if you please.
The roads to this realm do not tolerate men
unless they have come to me at their life's end,
but you've conquered your fears and so it appears
your dreams let you here with great need."
"I am nothing to you, O my underworld queen,
but I come for the sake of my child.
I do not beg her back, thus insulting your lands,
but my girl deserves better, at much different hands.
My daughter should ride with the Valkyrie band!
I'll do all that I can just to have this fulfilled!"
The gods are no strangers to bargains.
Traditions with teeth have their time and their place,
but Hel is the child of the Breaker of Rules,
and she had this father's measure, written plainly on his face.
"For the sake of your child, you will strike me a deal.
I will speak with the fierce Valkyrie.
The condition is this, to be sealed with your blood:
No matter your valor, your warrior's fate,
your place in Valhalla is forfeit this night.
You will come, in the end, back to me."
The soldier's eyes clouded, but he cut his own palm
and signed all his honor away.
He thanked Lady Hel for her kindness
and hoped that her rank would hold sway.
"Go now, young man, for your body is cold.
Your time in my realm draws too near.
Return to your wife and your children who live.
Surround them with all of the love you can give.
They think they have lost you, but they will forgive.
Get you home, and banish their fears."
The soldier woke, struggled back fully to life,
and made his way slowly back home.
Treacherous toil of a way that it was,
a goddess had sent him back where he belonged
and no avalanche would slow him down.
It's every hand keeps a family strong.
It's the self who is last to forgive.
He vowed on that day ne'er again to forget
the worth of his loved ones who live.
This time he was lauded upon his return--
the men gave great shouts and his wife a tearful smile.
The village turned out for a great merry feast.
Never again did his warrior colleagues
serve up their scorn. No, they left him in peace,
for his journey was writ in his eyes.
Though he held in his heart now a fine tavern tale,
the soldier did not tell a soul.
Some truths are too fine to mix in with the ale
and he held this one close while so many others were told.
With no way of knowing his lost daughter's fate,
he set all his worries to fade
and threw all his heart into raising the rest.
Thus, a fine generation was made.
The years took their toll, and he took up his cane.
His family still lit his world,
but he onced asked a favor of a wandering bard
that she write a fine song for his lost little girl.
One fine afternoon as the summer rolled on
and the harvest was just at its start,
as he worked side by side with his nephews and sons,
he lost an old war with his heart.
Never to walk in Valhalla, he thought
to find himself deep in Niflheim,
but a wonder occurred as he opened his eyes.
There was his daughter, come down from the skies.
She rode astride with her Valkyrie sisters.
With joy far too great for the dead who arise,
he took her small hand, as if for the first time.
She told him, "oh, father! Goddesses oft change their minds!"
Valhalla is ever receiving, as her sons are forever at war.
But her gates are not shut, as you've heard in this tale,
as was told to a bard by a soldier,
to the Valkyrie daughters worth fighting for!
released October 31, 2006
for Loki and Whitney, and their family. 7/7/06