Et in Arcadia Ego

Where is Arcadia? What is Arcadia?
These are fair questions for finding answers.
But most important is the message it has.
Forests of Spirit are found in that land.
The trees have deep roots: tall they will grow,
to touch the sky in triumph and Ascent.
Runes aplently are readily grasped;
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Hanging from a Tree

That’s how he did it, by hanging from a tree,
how Óðinn won the ancient runes.
He challenges us to change our lives
by seeking those mysteries. And so we must,
by hanging also on a hallowed tree.
But what is Yggdrasil, and where might it be,
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Eirik’s Hymn and Some Updates

Cædmon’s Hymn is a nine-line piece of Old English Christian poetry that uses kenning-like phrases for its deity, such as heavenly kingdom’s warder, glory father, eternal drighten, and mankind’s warder. My thanks go to Mary Ellen Rowe, who pointed out that if you transpose these Old English kenning-like phrases into Old Norse, they sound a lot like kennings for certain Old Norse gods. Upon hearing that, I realized I could make an extremely loose “translation” of Cædmon’s Hymn that heathenized it completely. However, it has ended up as piece that should be considered “inspired by” Cædmon’s Hymn rather than as a translation of it. Also, I’ve named the gods directly in most cases. Like the original, it is in nine lines of continuous verse — which is also just like the sequence of prayers from my last two posts. Here is the result of that experiment, which I suppose could be called “Eirik’s Hymn.” 🙂

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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.

The Duel, Part 1

I present another poetic rendering of a prose tale from the lore. It is the story of the first (and probably last) giant to challenge Thor to a formal duel, and it has several things in common with the last Thor story I posted three months ago about his visit to Geirrod (part 1 and part 2). Just like that tale, Snorri presents in it prose with many details, and he also quotes from a difficult skaldic poem that mentions the story as well. (The skaldic poem is Haustlöng by Þjóðólfr of Hvinir.)

Rather than a difficult skaldic meter, I have written my retelling in 20 stanzas of my usual and more accessible fornyrðislag. The spellings have been anglicized throughout. It is well known that Odin has many different names in the lore; less well known is that Thor also has many names, although not as many as Odin, of course. The reader will see quite a few of those names in this poem. Like the previous Thor tale, I present the first half here today, and the second half will follow next Wednesday. The poem’s title is simply “The Duel.”

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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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