Timothy Murphy


My Inner Norwegian II

Their linden shields defended every gunwale,
their anchor rodes were braided walrus hide,
and looted gold cascaded through a funnel
to Norway where the brave had waves to ride.

In Northern Italy you’ll see red hair
on women taller, fairer than the mean,
shouting aloud, “The Vikings, they were there!”
not long after the Romans fled the scene

for Sicily, Sardinia, much the same
with ancient ruins smashed beyond repair
by tall sea voyagers who left no name.
I think I’ll go shampoo my Viking hair.

Born in 1951, Timothy Murphy grew up in the Red River Valley of the North. He studied at Yale University under Robert Penn Warren, graduating (B.A.) as Scholar of the House in Poetry in 1972. Afterwards, he farmed and hunted in the Dakotas until his death from cancer in June, 2018. His previous collections of poetry are The Deed of Gift (Story Line Press, 1998); Very Far North (Waywiser Press, 2002); Mortal Stakes/Faint Thunder (The Dakota Institute, 2011); Hunter’s Log (The Dakota Institute, 2011); and Devotions (North Dakota State University Press, 2017). His memoir in verse and prose, Set the Ploughshare Deep, was published by Ohio University Press in 2002. With his late partner, Alan Sullivan, he translated Beowulf (AB Longman, 2004).