The Saga Of Gundar Hafnilsson

Every October 12th we celebrate the epic voyage of Christopher Columbus, discoverer of the New World. Or at least some of us do. Some claim the first European to reach these shores was not Columbus, but Leif Eriksson, some five hundred years or so earlier. Verse-afire has come upon a recently discovered ancient manuscript written by a contemporary of Leif Eriksson, a Norwegian seaman named Gundar Hafnilsson, a manuscript that throws new light on the controversy. If the manuscript is genuine, and I believe it is, then America was not discovered by Columbus or Leif Eriksson, but by Gundar Hafnilsson. The following is a translation from the Old Norse account, and clearly shows that, as always, the wrong man gets the credit. Damn shame.






Gundar is my name

And thunder is my game

I sail the storm-tossed seas of ice and cold

I cross the ocean wide

Beyond the great divide

Once crossed by ancient mariners of old


To lands far in the west

Where once none would have guessed

That skraelings would have danced upon the shore

We landed in a bay

And gathered round to pray

And gave our thanks to god almighty Thor


We stayed for but a while

For thanks to skraeling guile

Those skraeling arrows did us greatly harm

We struggled to resist

And greatly did insist

We came thus not to conquer but to farm


The long trip home was tough

The sea was very rough

And many seamen took it quite unwell

With dragon ships awash

With pemmican and squash

The decks became aslick with every swell


When Norway we did reach

And stumbled up the beach

The first I saw was Eric’s first son Leif

Who bade me tell him all

Of every port of call

But mostly was the land of skraelings safe


I told him sadly no

‘Twas no kind place to go

The people there rent Viking shields apart

He sadly shook his head

And very calmly said

To England then, an easier place to start


These words upon his mouth

So saying he sailed south

To the fertile fields of Devon and the Thames

While I my crew did fetch

Every single wretch

And sailed we west for new world gold and gems


I quite concealed my glee

As we put out to sea

For having put one over on my friend

And put him off the trail

Of discovery’s holy grail

While my name rang from now to history’s end


And thusly’s how it came

The future shouts my name

From heavens high with pride and awesome wonder

  Though discovery’s pride of place

Still calls for some small grace

 I am proud to say my rightful name is Gundar


  Knowing history does declare

‘Twas Leif who first was there

Such slings hurt only those poor souls who let it

For surely we’ve all known

That history has shown

Invariably the wrong man gets the credit


Yes Gundar is my name

And thunder is my game

And though my crew and I are getting old

We still sail toward setting sun

And till the quest is won

We shall sail the sea of ice and bitter cold

Yes, we shall sail the sea of ice and bitter cold