The Viking Spirit [Book Review]

This is the first of a new feature on this blog. I’ll be posting ocassional reviews of books that I am reading, poetry related or not. If you’d like to see more of these, please let me know in the comments.

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Title: The Viking Spirit: An Introduction to Norse Mythology and Religion.

Author: Daniel McCoy

This book is intended as a introduction to Norse/Viking Mythology and culture for the layman. It is written in a fairly accessible style and contains a plethora of information and retells many of the best known tales from Norse Mythology. He also includes many footnotes and a large bibliography if one is inclined to read deeper about these topics. However, there are some pretty substantial flaws in the book that a potential reader should be aware of:

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Ravens and Crows

I saw one of Wodan’s ravens
— Or was it one of Badb’s crows? —
Through dirty bus windows,
Flying over hard and frozen snow.

Fly on, old friend, with your mission,
And the messages you wish to bestow,
While, across the rivers, through the mountains
To grandmother’s house I go.

But grandmother doesn’t live there
— Or anywhere —
anymore.
So, to grandfather’s
— my father’s —
house I go.

Rails ride into the night,
Past mountain, tree, and snow,
Darkened windows reflect back
Future fears I cannot know.

Ten full moons have passed
Since the Banshee gently wailed,
Calling me back to the valley
Before the light finally failed.

The last time I saw mother’s face,
So weak and fragile her body’d grown
Yet from her eyes, her loving smile,
That old fire still shone.

And now, across snow-capped Cascades
I am called back once more,
For duty, for love, for unpaid debts,
And a destiny I can no longer ignore.

Not the sorrowful Banshee cry,
But crow-caw; raven-whispers,
Wisdom from the One-Eyed Wanderer;
Warnings from the Crow-Queen’s sisters.

The tapestry the Weird Sisters weave
Is completed when the final knot is tied.
Prepared or not, the future will arrive
On schedule, never avoided, delayed, or denied.

And so, I descend into the valley,
The steel steed never slows.
Uneasy, uncertain, yet undeterred,
Ready to sail wherever this river flows.

The future lies in the past
In that half-empty haunted bungalow,
Watched over and silently guided
By brother Raven and sister Crow.

12/30/18 – 04/23/19

Huginn and Muninn (Haiku)

Odinn, Huginn, and Muninn

Two ravens fly out
Watching all under the sky
And returning home.

1/2/19

This haiku is my response to Colleen’s 2019 Weekly #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 117, “Poet’s Choice of Words”

The Birth of Miðgarðr

An Excerpt from the Recitation of Visions of Ðanuz, High Priestess of Jorð

Listen and attend,
Sons and daughters of
Ash and Elm,
Grandchildren of Yggdrasil,
To the visions and memories
I share and recite.
Older than all your
Gods and kings am I,
More ancient than all your cities
And all your petty borders!

I remember when
Fair Alfheim still stood
Above the waves
Of the Fomoires abode,
Before Falias’ foundation,
Or a single tunnel
Dug out by Dvergar hands
Into the depths below
Niðavellir’s dark fields.

I recall when Alßiz’s kin
First arrives in moonlight
Along the banks of the Rhun,
Long before the sons of Alßiz
Founded the cities of the north,
Before Æliz took up his holy
—If not misguided—
Mission in the east,
Before brother ßanðr fell to darkness
And Chaos.

Generations before the tyrrany
Of Aurgelmir, son of Tiwaz,
Gluttenous Ymir, great-grandson of
Etunaz the bold,
Who brought with him
The Long Winter of Blainn
From which only Woðanaz
And the sons of Borr could thaw
And retore order to the world.

I was there and saw
The Alföðr and his brothers
Raise the walls made
Of Jotnar bones,
To protect the saplings of
Ash and Elm
From the chaos and wrath
Of the surviving insatiable offspring
of Ymir’s loins,
In the garden at the heart
Of the world.

4/16/18

Notes on Pronunciation:
ß = “v”
Đ / ð = “th” as in father
ȝ = “y” as in youth.
Æ = “aye”

Miðgarðr = Mith-garth (“th” as in father)
Ðanuz = Than-ooze (“th” as in father)
Jorð = yorth (“th” as in father)
Yggdrasil = Eeg-drass-ill
Alfheim = Alf-Haym
Dvergar = D-verg-ar
Niðavellir= Nith-a-vel-ear (“th” as in father)
Alßiz = Al-viz
Rhun = Roon
Æliz = Aye-liz
ßanðr = Van-thur (“th” as in father)
Aurgelmir = Our-gel-meer (“g” as in gold)
Tiwaz = Two-az
Ymir = Eye-Meer
Woðanaz = Woah-than-ahz (“th” as in father)
Alföðr = all-fa-ther (“th” as in father)
Jotnar = Yote-nar

My 16th poem for National Poetry Writing Month.

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Dreams of Ancient Álfheimr Before the Flood

Glorious kingdom of the sons of Alßiz,
Stretching from the gleaming towers
Of Taran in Falias,
Near the grove where the wise Oak-Knowers
Taught and discussed the secrets of existence,
To the shadowed streets of Twerias
In the mines of Niðavellir,
Where the Iron-Knowers, sons of Đwerȝaz,
Molded metals into treasures
Fit for gods.

So much lost,
Washed away in the waves,
Hidden under Austri’s sea,
Drowned Dvergar mines,
Flood waters cutting off
The sacred cities of the north
From the lands of man,
Leaving only
The abundant Isle of Ériu
And Ælfeon,
Also known as Ynys Ælfar,
Last isle of the Elves,
Called Myriddunin,
The Sea Fortess
That would be the home and sanctuary
Of the children of Pritan.

3-10-4/1/18

 

My first poem for National Poetry Writing Month.

Pronunciation Key:
ß = “v”
Đ / ð = “th” as in father
ȝ = “y” as in youth.
Æ = “aye”
dd = “th” as in father

Đwerȝaz

Two_Völuspá_Dwarves_by_Frølich

Đwerȝaz,
Đwerȝar Föðr, Twergar Fater, Dvergar Föðr,
Craftsman, smith; miner,
Born of Alβiz Alfar Föðr,
Apprentice to his great smith uncle,
βanðr Døkkálfar,
Called Svartálf, Black Elf,
Preferring the blackness of the mines
To the brightness of the day.

Dug out the labrynth underground
Mine city of Twerias,
Under the misty plains of Niðavellir,
Within sight of the spot
Where moonbeams shone
On the surface of the Rhun,
Where Móðsognir dug
And Durinn forged treasures
For elves, men, and gods:
Swords and spears,
Cups and cauldrens,
War hammers and wigs.

Four treasures for Alfheim,
Destined for Éire.
Thirteen treasures for Albion,
Isle of Alfar.
Six treasures for Asgard,
Forged in mischief,
Powerless to save them from thier doom.

1/16/18

Pronunciation Guide:
Đwerȝaz = Thwer-yaz (“th” as in father)
Đwerȝaz = Thwer-yar (“th” as in father)
Föðr = Fa-ther
Twergar = Twer-gar
Fater = Fah-ter
Dvergar = D-verg-ar (Old Norse, Dwarves, Plural of Dvergr)
Alβiz = Al-viz
Alfar = Al-far (old Norse, Elf)
βanðr =Van-thur (“th” as in father)
Døkkálfar = Dock-Al-Far
Twerias = Twer-ee-ahs
Niðavellir = Nith-a-vel-ear (“th” as in father)
Móðsognir = Moeth-sog-near (“th” as in father)
Alfheim = Alf-haym
Éire = Air-eh

Image:An illustration of two dwarves for Völuspá by Lorenz Frølich. Published in 1895 in Karl Gjellerup’s Den ældre Eddas Gudesange. Found on Wikimedia Commons.

Of Alfar and Dvergar

Alβiz Alfar Föðr,
Born of moonbeams
Dancing on the fog of the forrest
Near the river of Rhun,
Patriarch to seven brothers and sisters
Awoken on the riverbank.

Married Nerþuz, earth mother,
Daughter of sunlight
Refracted off the dew drops
Dripping from a rose petal.

Five sons and four cities founded
In the north west of the world,
Where the Alfar found a home:
Falȝaz the wise, student of Nature,
Keeper of her secrets.
Warrior twins, Gorȝaz and Finđȝaz,
Defenders of their tribe.
Murȝaz the cultivator
Of fruits, vegitables, and lamb.
Đwerȝaz the fabricator,
Crafting tools, weapons and treasures
For his parents, brothers, and people.

Đwerȝaz Dvergar Föðr,
Molding metals as if so much clay.
Móðsognir Đwerȝaz-son
Digging at the misty dark
Mines of Niðavellir,
Searching the earths for metals and gems
For his father and brother, Durinn,
To mold into swords, stones, spears and cauldrons,
Treasures kept in city vaults
Until their time of need.

12-5-17

Pronunciation Guide:
Alfar = Al-far (old Norse, Elf)
Dvergar = D-verg-ar (Old Norse, Dwarves, Plural of Dvergr)
Alβiz = Al-viz
Föðr = Fa-ther
Rhun = Rune
Nerþuz = Ner-thooz (“th” as in Thor)
Falȝaz = Fal-yaz
Gorȝaz = Gore-yaz
Finđȝaz = Finth-yaz (“th” as in father)
Murȝaz = Mer-yaz
Đwerȝaz = Thwer-yaz (“th” as in father)
Móðsognir = Moeth-sog-near (“th” as in father)
Niðavellir = Nith-a-vel-ear (“th” as in father)

Twilight Visions

A one-armed Odin-eyed
Mad martyr prophet
Stands at the edge of the abyss,
Visions of the White Wyrm
Strangling creation; swallowing time.

Twilight stars fall,
Diamonds plunged in velvet night,
Grandsons kill grandfathers
Before fathers are conceived,
Chaos and Paradox burn
The charred corpse of causality.
Yesterday, today; tomorrow
Collapse on themselves
Folding into singularity:
The final moment.

Wolves loose their chains,
Feasting on Sun, Moon and Sky.
Darkness & silence fall.
The Question left unanswered.

7/6-7/9/17

This poem was originally published on The Ink Owl on 8/28/17 as part of his writing prompt challenge using the phrase ‘Into the Deep I Plunge’ to create a fantasy based piece.

Staring into the Flames

Dedicated to the brave men and women fighting all the wild fires in Oregon
(And everywhere!)

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Raging fires of Muspelheim
Flaming sword of Surtr,
Gentle beautiful glow
Of destruction peers over the ridge.

A brigade of brave warriors,
Oath sworn to Móðir Jorð,
Stand ready in defense
Of her ancient holy lodge,
Prepared to give no quarter
And surrender no ground,
Facing down the Eldjötnar
And sons of Muspel,
Tearing through the forests of Freyja,
Burning Miðgarð black.

Oðinn’s army,
Children of Ash and Elm,
Siblings of Oak and Fir,
Stand at the edge of Ragnarok
Without fear.

9/5/17

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Pronunciations:
Muspelheim = Moo-spell-haym
Móðir Jorð = Moe-thear Yorth (Th as in father) – “Mother Jorð (Earth)”
Eldjötnar = Eld-Yote-nar
Freyja = Frey-ya
Miðgarð = Mith-garth (Th as in Father)
Oðinn = Oh-thin (TH as in Father)
Ragnarök = Rag-na-rock

Pictures are of the Elk Creek Fire currently burning (September ’17) along the Columbia River in Oregon.

Endings

Heimdall’s horn,
Horn of Gondor
Slow gong of the Cloister Bell
Ringing from the depths of the TARDIS.
A call to arms,
Sent from the watchtower on the bridge,
Across the lands of Asgard,
A cry for help
Echoing the shores of Nen Hithoel,
From Amon Hen to Minas Tirith.
The halflings are gone,
The Enemy advances,
Twilight is dawning,
This is the end,
But the moment has been prepared for.

8/25/17