This week, I present a poem very much different from anything I’ve posted here before, one that was written more for fun than anything else. It is also one of the very few poems I’ve written that has no connection to Norse mythology and is not in a Norse poetic meter. Its form is rather that of an English (Shakespearean) sonnet.
It was inspired by the name of an obscure item in a video game called Dragon Quest V that my brother had been playing a while back: the Ghoulroarer. (The name, of course, is a modification of bullroarer, whether through a deliberate twist or an accidental mishearing.) After hearing the name, it occurred to me that I should write a poem about this fictional musical instrument. Also, for some time, I had it in my to-do list to write a sonnet. I thus mixed the two together and took the approach of treating the Ghoulroarer as though it were something that might have come from Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. The poem is simply titled “The Ghoulroarer.”
From time to time, I get to write longer poems that have a more central role in a ritual, as opposed to my poetic calls, which generally serve as part of the opening of a ritual. Today’s poem is one of those centerpieces — a longer praise poem to Freyr (a flokkr, since it does not have a refrain) in 12 stanzas of ljóðaháttr with a galdralag ending. I wrote it for the main ritual at Pittsburgh’s Pagan Pride Day 2013, which took place this past Saturday, September 14. The ritual was a harvest blessing primarily in honor of Freyr, performed by the Asatru kindred that I’m a member of: the Hearth of Yggdrasil.
In January, I posted a special longer sumbel toast to Odin and said that it was part of a three round sequence of more-elaborate-than-usual sumbel toasts. Today I present the second toast from that sequence, intended for the second round of a typical sumbel, wherein one gives toasts to heroes and ancestors. Like that Odin toast, it is written as a seven stanza ljóðaháttrdrápa, with the final stanza ending in a galdralag couplet; the refrain is italicized. As with the other toast, I have completely anglicized the spelling of the Norse names and words.
Now I turn
my needful praise
to the heroes in Odin’s hall;
With mead I toast
those mighty dead
who eternally fight and feast.
Some may have wondered if there is a particular way in which the poetic calls to the gods should be recited. Of course, anyone trying these in their rituals is free to develop their own style. I prefer a style with a strong rhythm and forceful recitation. For those curious as to how I envision them, I present today an audio recording of five of my calls.