Audio for Gunnlaðarljóð

Today brings my tenth audio recording to this blog. This time, it is Gunnlaðarljóð, which was posted as text last November. My recitation uses the original Norse pronunciations of the names instead of the anglicized versions.

Here is the downloadable file of me reciting the poem:
Eirik Westcoat – Gunnlaðarljóð

And here is the inline player:

Enjoy! Feel free to share the file. For details, see the Creative Commons link below.

This post is:
Copyright © 2014 Eirik Westcoat.
All rights reserved.

The linked audio file of Gunnlaðarljóð is:
Copyright © 2014 Eirik Westcoat.
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives License.

Audio for Building Asgard’s Wall

Today I present an audio recording of another eddic tale that I’ve set in verse. This time, it is Building Asgard’s Wall, which was posted as text last March. In this spoken version, the words are different in a few places from what I posted, and the original post has not been edited.

Here is the downloadable file of me reciting the poem:
Eirik Westcoat – Building Asgard’s Wall

And here is the inline player:

Enjoy! Feel free to share the file. For details, see the Creative Commons link below.

This post is:
Copyright © 2014 Eirik Westcoat.
All rights reserved.

The linked audio file of Building Asgard’s Wall is:
Copyright © 2014 Eirik Westcoat.
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives License.

Gunnlaðarljóð

Today’s poem is a lore poem, but one rather different from others posted here. It is a retelling of Odin’s winning of the poetic mead, but instead of following Odin’s point of view (as my poem The Mead Quest did), my poem today follows Gunnlod’s point of view. However, any such tale must necessarily be somewhat speculative. All that Snorri’s Edda tells us about Gunnlod is that her father Suttung put her in charge of guarding the mead (after he got it from the dwarves), and that: “Bolverk went to where Gunnlod was and lay with her for three nights and then she let him drink three draughts of the mead.” (The quote is from the Anthony Faulkes translation.) The Hávamál scarcely tells us more, but there seems to be some implication that Gunnlod helped Odin escape. (See stanzas 13-14 and 104-110 for the somewhat cryptic talk about it all.) The modern day poet must necessarily invent some motivation or other for Gunnlod in this story. We can probably assume she’s unhappy with her father. (A possibly similar father-daughter antagonism seems to be at work in the Welsh tale of Culhwch and Olwen.) She may also have been spell-bound, figuratively or literally, by Odin. Probably other things must be invented as well to finish the story, but I won’t try to make an exhaustive list of it. Suffice it to say that my story here should *not* be thought of as authoritative or canonical. Other Asatruar will probably have different ideas about what Gunnlod’s motives were.

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Audio for The Rúnatal

Four weeks after its posting as text, I now present an audio recording of my poetic translation of the Rúnatal, which is Hávamál stanzas 138-145. For those who seek after the runes, there is much essential lore in these eight stanzas.

Here is the downloadable file of me reciting the poem:
Eirik Westcoat – The Rúnatal

And here is the inline player:

Enjoy! Feel free to share the file. For details, see the Creative Commons link below.

This post is:
Copyright © 2013 Eirik Westcoat.
All rights reserved.

The linked audio file of The Rúnatal is:
Copyright © 2013 Eirik Westcoat.
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives License.

Building Asgard’s Wall

Today I present the tale of the building of Asgard’s wall in a lore poem of eleven stanzas of fornyrðislag with completely anglicized spelling. It is based on the story as found in the Gylfaginning of Snorri Sturluson’s Edda. It tells how Asgard got a defensive wall and of the origin of the eight-legged horse Sleipnir. The opening stanza in my poem includes a feature that is found in many skaldic poems — a reference to poetry through one of the many kennings for it. The poem’s title is simply “Building Asgard’s Wall.”

Silence I seek
for saying my tale
of the master mason
who meant to build
for the garth of gods
the greatest of walls;
with Ygg’s ale now
I utter my words.

Midgard was made
and mighty Valhalla;
for proof against
the passage of etins
the Aesir sought
a solid defense;
a builder offered
the best of walls.

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Audio for The Mead Quest

I now present an audio recording of my poem The Mead Quest, which is a short poetic rendering of Óðin’s winning of Óðrerir, the poetic mead. For aspiring skalds in modern Asatru, this tale is perhaps the most important part of the mythology.

Here is the file of me reciting the poem: Eirik Westcoat – The Mead Quest

Enjoy! Feel free to share the file. For details, see the Creative Commons link below.

This post is:
Copyright © 2013 Eirik Westcoat.
All rights reserved.

The linked audio file of The Mead Quest is:
Copyright © 2013 Eirik Westcoat.
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives License.

Valhalla

It is time for another lore poem. This one is not a narrative like The Six Treasures or The Mead Quest. Instead, it is a synthesis of lore on Valhalla that appears in the Poetic Edda (mostly the Grímnismál) and Prose Edda (various places).

It is written as ten stanzas of fornyrðislag. (Only the first stanza is prior to the break.) It is not anglicized at all, except for the word Valhalla. (The proper Old Norse form would be Valhöll.) A short note on an aspect of composition: the semi-riddle nature of the poem is intentional. I use various bynames of Óðinn prior to the second-to-last line, and I avoid using the name Valhalla itself until the very last word of the poem.

A spell of the lore
I speak to you now
by pouring Hropt’s
powerful drink.
I sing of that hall
high on the Tree;
to warriors dead
‘tis a welcome sight.

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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.

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The Virtue of Perseverance in the Lore

It is one of the major themes of my blog that the lore should be made operative and used in modern heathen poetry. Such poetry can be put to a number of uses. In one kind of usage, it can inspire and instruct, and it should relate the lore to our modern needs. Today I present a poem that should help illustrate at least some aspects of what is meant by that.

Most American Asatruar are at least familiar with the Nine Noble Virtues, regardless of what they may think of them. (An earlier poem on this blog gives a complete list in poetic form.) It is common to say that the NNV were originally gleaned from a reading of the lore, primarily the Hávamál. At one point, I took a closer look into one of the nine, Perseverance, with the aim to discover if it was displayed in other parts of the lore, particularly the rest of the Poetic and Prose Eddas and the Rune Poems. Here is a poem I wrote based on what I found.

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The Mead Quest

Here is one of my favorite early poems, based on the tale of Odin’s winning of the poetic mead from Snorri’s Edda. A version of the tale exists in the Havamal, but it clearly has some differences. I have written it as a lore poem in eight stanzas of ljóðaháttr. In this one, the spelling has been completely anglicized. Since mead is strongly identified with poetry in the Old Norse tradition, this tale allowed for a tight interweaving of the two concepts, especially in the first and last stanzas. (As a change, I have now put the first stanza prior to the break.)

The poem is called “The Mead Quest.”

Honor I Odin
by eagerly pouring
that precious and potent mead.
How he won
that wynnful draught:
that spell I speak in verse.

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