Wrath of a Tiny Etin?

In his book Runelore (on page 188), Edred Thorsson notes that etins don’t have to be of great size, although Ymir certainly is. Sometimes they can be small, and he notes that, “the name of a certain beetle in Old Norse is jötunuxi [etin-ox].” He also reckons them to be non-evolving beings. I found myself wondering if viruses can be seen as etins after a fashion, especially after I got stricken with one this past week. They certainly have no consciousness, at least not any that would be remotely familiar to humans, as they occupy a sort of borderland between life and non-life. Unfortunately for us, they do evolve somewhat to thwart efforts to wipe them out entirely. Nonetheless, they remain viruses despite the changes they undergo, and so in another sense, they don’t evolve.

The particular virus that struck me was a cold, or at least I thought so at first. It was rather nasty, as if it were in tryouts to be the flu. The worst of it for me has past, however. So for this update, I wrote a short verse about it. It is two stanzas of fornyrðislag.

The invisible virus,
is a violent etin,
the smallest of all
that smite us humans.
With fire and ice,
fever and chills,
the flesh fights back
to further life.

Was it cold or flu?
I couldn’t tell.
I battled with ascorbate.
and a bounty of rest.
A lingering cough,
the last of symptoms,
is all that remains
of the etin’s struggle.

Copyright © 2014 Eirik Westcoat.
All rights reserved.


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