An Ullr Poem

While it is still winter in the northern hemisphere, I present a poem in honor of Ullr, one of the gods most associated with winter. This is perhaps because he is associated with skis, a distinction he shares with Skaði, who is also connected with wintertime.

There is not much lore about Ullr, but I have worked most of it into this poem. In stanza one, the unusual surfing reference comes from the Gesta Danorum by Saxo Grammaticus (which is also the source of the variant name Ollerus). Stanza two is inspired by Atlakviða (stanza 30), which seems to connect Ullr to the swearing of oaths. Ull’s dwelling in Ýdalir is mentioned in Grímnismál 5, though I have added the idea of winter winds being there. The other half of stanza three is inspired by Ull’s connection to hunting via archery. The first half of stanza four is built from the attributes that Snorri ascribes to him (Gylfaginning 31). The poem is in fornyrðislag.

Wulþuz and Wuldor,
as well as Ollerus:
the other names
of Ullr we know.
This glorious god
is gifted with skis
and surfs the seas
on sorcerous bone.

Oaths had Atli
— on Ull’s great ring,
sworn to Gunnar —
forsaken for gold.
The god’s blessing
— glory brightest —
departed from him,
replaced by death.

In Ýdalir
is Ull’s dwelling,
where winter’s winds
are whirling about.
He hunts the game
that happy gods
fix for fine feasts
with fimbul guests.

This accomplished archer
is called upon
— the son of Sif —
for single combat.
Little else we know,
yet lift him a horn
and honor Ullr
with excellent mead!

Copyright © 2013 Eirik Westcoat.
All rights reserved.

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