The Virtue of Perseverance in the Lore

It is one of the major themes of my blog that the lore should be made operative and used in modern heathen poetry. Such poetry can be put to a number of uses. In one kind of usage, it can inspire and instruct, and it should relate the lore to our modern needs. Today I present a poem that should help illustrate at least some aspects of what is meant by that.

Most American Asatruar are at least familiar with the Nine Noble Virtues, regardless of what they may think of them. (An earlier poem on this blog gives a complete list in poetic form.) It is common to say that the NNV were originally gleaned from a reading of the lore, primarily the Hávamál. At one point, I took a closer look into one of the nine, Perseverance, with the aim to discover if it was displayed in other parts of the lore, particularly the rest of the Poetic and Prose Eddas and the Rune Poems. Here is a poem I wrote based on what I found.

It is seven stanzas of fornyrðislag, and the spelling is completely anglicized. Stanzas two through seven are inspired by portions in the Hávamál, the Skáldskaparmál (Prose Edda), the Grímismál, the Skírnismál, the Völuspá, and the Old English Rune Poem, respectively. The poem is simply titled “Perseverance.”

Perseverance
is a powerful virtue.
Steadfast in struggles
you should strive to be —
resolute and firm,
if facing hardship,
to succeed and prevail
in seeking victory.

Odin did hang
eagerly on the Tree;
through nine of nights,
he never quit;
wounded and hungry
he willed to succeed.
Endurance obtained
the dear-bought Runes.

Odin went seeking
Odroerir’s poetry;
the labor of slaves
for a long summer
had bought Bolverk
Baugi’s favor.
He pilfered that mead
with patient work.

Geirrod abused
Grimnir with fire;
for eight of nights
the agony continued
until Agnar gave
Odin a drink.
Strength of commitment
had made him stay.

Gleipnir’s getter
had gained for Freyr
glorious Gerd,
Gymir’s daughter;
Skirnir endured,
undaunted by threats.
Tenacity fulfilled
that needful errand.

Gored upon spears,
Gullveig was burned;
that witch endured
the worst of pain
until reborn as Heid,
bright and holy.
Unwavering purpose
won that victory.

If faced with need
and fearsome toil,
remember that Ash,
awesome in might;
though heavily oppressed,
it holds its place.
Strong you must be,
steadfast like that Tree.

Copyright © 2013 Eirik Westcoat.
All rights reserved.

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