A Vision of the Skald

I’m thrilled to announce that my MPhil thesis, “A Vision of the Skald: Seeking the Ideal in the Probable Works of Snorri Sturluson,” is now available on the University of Oslo’s public research archive. You can download and read it at: <https://www.duo.uio.no/handle/10852/52012>. It is the capstone of my recently-completed joint MA/MPhil degree in Viking & Medieval Norse Studies from the Universities of Iceland and Oslo.

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Háskólavísur 14: The End of the Degree

The cold Oslo winter persisted, and the Skald fortified himself for the long siege, working diligently on his master’s thesis. But after 15 weeks, as winter’s assault finally relented, the Skald finished his glorious text of 36,000 words about his ancient counterpart, the figure of the skald as found in the probable works of Snorri Sturluson: Edda, Heimskringla, and Egils saga. After a brief celebration and much relaxing that included plenty of sight-seeing, the Skald prepared to face the final contest in his master’s degree. With his lady from his time in Iceland by his side once more, he undertook the ordeal of a trial-by-lecture in a runology course and emerged victorious. It is said he celebrated the day with fine rum and a cigar in the afternoon, and by a sushi dinner and a bottle of mead with his lady in the evening. He rested the next day, composing this verse:

My wode had waxed through the winter’s dark
and opened my flow of artful words.
O’er pages of ink, I poured the Mead,
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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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Audio for Valhalla

I’ve been in quite a mood for audio recording lately, and this is now the third week in a row for a recorded recitation. This time it’s for Valhalla, the text of which I posted back in late February.

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

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 Valhalla 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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