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Quotes / Viking Funeral

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Shield was still thriving when his time came
and he crossed over into the Lord's keeping.
His warrior band did what he bade them
when he laid down the law among the Danes:
they shouldered him out to the sea's flood,
the chief they revered who had long ruled them.
A ring-whorled prow rode in the harbour,
ice-clad, outbound, a craft for a prince.
They stretched their beloved lord in his boat,
laid out by the mast, amidships,
the great ring-giver. Far-fetched treasures
were piled upon him, and precious gear.
I never heard before of a ship so well furbished
with battle-tackle, bladed weapons
and coats of mail. The massed treasure
was loaded on top of him: it would travel far
on out into the ocean's sway. [...]
And they set a gold standard up
high above his head and let him drift
to wind and tide, bewailing him
and mourning their loss. No man can tell,
no wise man in hall or weathered veteran
knows for certain who salvaged that load.
The funeral of King Scyld, Beowulf, v. 26-52

King Haki got in the battle so many wounds that he saw the days of his life would not be long. Then he had a ship brought up that he owned, and had it laden with dead men and weapons, had it floated out to the sea, had the rudder shipped and the sail hoisted, and had fire put to pitch wood and a firebale made on the ship. The wind blew from the land; King Haki was then dead or nearly dead when he was laid on the firebale. The burning ship then sailed out on the sea and that was much talked about for a long time after.
The funeral of King Haki of Sweden, Heimskringla, "Ynglinga Saga"

Now a Viking's funeral cannot be solemnised every day in the week, for it involves, among other things, the destruction of a long-ship.
The dead Viking is laid upon a funeral pyre in the centre of his ship, his spear and shield are laid beside him, his horse and hound are slaughtered and their bodies placed in attendance, the pyre is lighted, and the ship sent out to sea with all sail set.

"That's what I call a funeral! ...Compare that with being stuck ten feet down in the mud and clay of a beastly cemetery for worms to eat and maggots to wriggle about in you. ...Cripes! I'd give something to have one like that when my turn comes. ...Good idea! I'll write it down in my will, and none of you dirty little dogs will get anything from me, unless you see it properly done."
Michael "Beau" Geste, Beau Geste

"Prepare a funeral for a Viking!"
Eric, The Vikings (1958)

I lit my engines and rose from the surface of the dying moon.
From space I looked back on it. What was fitting? Some races burned their dead, some ate them, some buried them in the ground. Some finality was called for so that the floating bones and exoskeletons and shells of all those honored dead could cease to be grotesque. I called on my weapons and I blasted the moon 'til it broke apart, 'til the atmosphere was ripped, away, 'til the sea boiled up into the vacuum, 'til the molten remains spiraled slowly down in the gravity well of the planet and were incinerated on reentry.
Then I entered Z-space and put a billion miles between myself and that foul place.
Toomin, Animorphs - The Ellimist Chronicles

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