Háskólavísur 08: Climb the Mountain

On a fine February day in Iceland, the intrepid students of Viking Studies walked the lands once tread by Njáll, Gunnar, and others from Njáls saga, and climbed the steep hill known as Stóra-Dímon near Hlíðarendi. Eirik skald was with them. Many weeks later, after some reflection, with respect to spiritual pursuits, on the metaphor of the climb and the magnificence of the view from the top compared to that of the bottom, he composed this verse:

Clear cold crisp air: it cuts sharply,
but victory’s view from ‘vantaged point
above the abyss is the best of sights.
Below on land, we lumber around,
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Háskólavísur 07: Nýtt Ár Ríma (New Year Rhyme)

Having reached at last the end of 2014, the skald and his lady enjoyed two Icelandic New Year’s traditions — the bonfires and fireworks. Then Eirik composed this ríma in the ferskeytt meter:

Mighty bonfire, burning fierce
brightly will shine, searing.
Deep it will the darkness pierce,
undimmed things appearing.

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Háskólavísur 06: The Battles of Sæmundargata

The onslaught of work spewed forth by the semester grew greater and greater, and it seemed to Eirik that attempts to get ahead of it were succeeding less than they had before. But the semester was mortally wounded, and the brave skald knew that he had only to fight a little bit longer. On December 12, final victory was gained. The skald had conquered, and the semester lay dead at last. Then Eirik composed this verse:

Black Knight’s challenge at bridge was first.
Though “none shall pass,” a knowledge contest,
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Háskólavísur 05: First Snow in Reykjavík

On October 20, the first snow accumulation of the season fell on Reykjavik. Then Eirik composed this verse:

Reykjavik’s snow rested on ground
an October morning autumnal delight.
Its fair flurries had fallen at night
on the sleeping city at sea-shore’s edge.
But the winter wonder, welcomed too soon,
had melted down in muddled drizzle,
with a likeness of memory left in waters
that the well of wyrd had away taken.

Snow In Reykjavík

Copyright © 2014 Eirik Westcoat.
All rights reserved.

Háskólavísur 03: My Heathen Hof

“Hof” is my room: a heathen temple
to higher learning, where a horn is raised
to the elder gods of the Medieval North.
Repeating paradigms, I practice Old Norse,
and runes are written for raising consciousness.
The tales of knights by Chrétien I read,
and grails are sought for gain in my soul.
Of a Corpus of Lit, I acquire knowledge,
and mead is made for many to enjoy.

Copyright © 2014 Eirik Westcoat.
All rights reserved.

Háskólavísur 01: Infamous Foodstuffs

Today starts a new experiment on this blog that will hopefully involve more frequent updates, though they will generally be shorter and still somewhat random. For now, I’m calling it Háskólavísur, which translates to “university verses.” These will be short verses on various aspects of my life here in Iceland as an M.A. student. The name is inspired by the term “lausavísur” (loose verses) used to describe the short bits of poetry that occur in Icelandic sagas, often as a poet’s response to some situation or other as part of the narrative. The meters I use for these verses may vary, with fornyrðislag, ljóðaháttr, and anglo-saxon being most likely. Later such posts probably won’t include much, if any, in the way of introduction, though the title will always include “Háskólavísur” with a steadily-increasing index number. Today’s verse is about some of the infamous Icelandic specialty foods.

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