A Sumbel Toast to the Folk

Today I finish the special sequence of elaborate sumbel toasts that I started with a toast to Odin in January and continued with a toast to the Einherjar in September. This third and final toast of the sequence was written for the third round of a typical sumbel, wherein one may present oaths, boasts, or any sort of toast that would not fit in the first two rounds. In particular, one may toast living people, which is disallowed in the first two rounds, as the living are not gods or ancestors while they are still alive! Rather than toast any one particular living person, this final toast is to the living collective of modern heathens known as the Folk. Just like the previous two toasts of the sequence, it is written as a seven stanza ljóðaháttr drápa with the final stanza ending in a galdralag couplet; the refrain is italicized. As with the other toasts, I have completely anglicized the spelling of the Norse names and words.

To the Folk’s future
forward I look,
and praise the past as well;
A full horn I raise
to the Folk today —
the modern heathen heroes.

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The Drápa of Battle Cry

I look to traditional Old Norse forms for inspiration and ideas for new poems. It was perhaps inevitable that I would turn to the genre of the “shield drápa” eventually, and indeed I have. My post today features my first shield drápa, but first I shall say a bit more about what a shield drápa is, with reference to some historical examples, of course.

In the Old Norse period, finely decorated shields, often depicting scenes from the mythology, were occasionally given as gifts. If a poet received one as a gift, it was apparently expected that the poet would compose a poem about it, sometimes even in the form of a drápa. In Egil’s Saga (chapter 81), it is mentioned that a friend of Egil’s, Einar Skallaglam, came to visit him with a shield as a gift. But Egil was away. After three nights, Egil still had not returned. Since staying longer than three nights on a visit was contrary to custom, Einar left at that point, but left the shield behind as a gift. When Egil discovered it, he is reported to have said, “That scoundrel. Does he expect me to stay awake making a poem about his shield? Fetch my horse, I shall ride after him and kill him.” Egil was exaggerating a bit, as he did not actually go out and kill his friend. He is reported to have compose a drápa about the shield nonetheless, though only a single stanza of it is quoted in his saga.

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A Sumbel Toast to the Einherjar

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 ljóðaháttr drápa, 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.

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In Praise of Summertime

Now that warmer days have finally arrived in earnest in the Northern Hemisphere (or at least the tiny part of it known as Pennsylvania), I present a poem in honor of Summertime. Like my previous poem in honor of Wintertime, it is a drápa of ten stanzas in fornyrðislag.

The poem is called “Sumartímadrápa.” (The name is in Old Norse, and simply means “Summertime drápa.)

This song I brewed
with sweetest honey
to celebrate summer
and sun’s bright light.
I made this mead
with mirth today,
to fill the folk
with frolic and joy.

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On the Different Kinds of Poetry I Write

Last week, I posted the first drápa on this blog. Now seems as good a time as any for some commentary on the different sorts of poems I have been posting and will be posting on this blog. These can be distinguished by their type and purpose.

You may find it helpful to read my earlier post on the meters I use, either before or after reading this one.

First, the distinction of type, which is between drápa and flokkr.

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In Praise of Wintertime

Here is a poem in honor of Wintertime. Its meter is fornyrðislag, but the type of poem is known as a drápa, which is a praise poem with one or more refrains. (In a future post, I will say more about drápur and the different types of poems that I’ve been writing.)

The poem is called “Vetrartímadrápa.” (The name is in Old Norse and simply means “Wintertime drápa.”)

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