by Carol Whittam
Out of the Northlands,
From that – huge before time
Before? When the world was new.
From that – ‘Once upon a time…
A deeply woven mythology grew –
When a man’s world was small.
Norsemen created their cosmos
…. As a world tree ….
To try to make sense of it all!
Heavens of stars,
Misty clouds and ice,
Dark chasms and wells below,
Whilst in the primordial centre,
A giant Ash tree started to grow!
Betwixt the Heavens & Hell,
Stretching and branching,
– Evergreen –
From gnarled roots
Nine realms find!
Above, around and beneath
The tree’s gigantic girth,
One home in Midgard
The Viking farmers
From thence sailed the brave,
– Leaving warm home fires –
Not knowing where they’d go!
Hauling wooden longships
Away from fire-stone, ice and snow;
Across serpent-ridden seas,
Steel-eyed, warrior minds,
Searching horizons, learning tides,
Battling storms, risking lives!
Never knowing what they’d find!
Not knowing where they were going,
But knowing from whence they came:
Created from giant Ymir
Whom Odin ripped apart!
In sacrifice and renewal
He became their ancient sire.
In homelands formed of volcanic stone
Such folk were born with hearts of fire!
Their land was of his flesh,
Sacrificed to make their home.
Blood of blood and bone of bone.
O how his eyes made the sun glow!
O how his mind made the moon!
Powerful blood became water,
Breath of life the airy wind!
In this elemental world
Such Norsemen were born:
Born to be farming the land,
Born to be tested by waves,
Born with fire in their hearts,
They who were valiant and brave!
And Ymir, the life-bringer,
Sacrificial source of Earth,
The Heavens, the pounding waves of the sea!
And at the World’s centre, Firm and strong,
The mighty Ash: The Yggdrasil tree!
From this elemental world
Of the Northlands
These Vikings came!
Carol is a retired 3/4 Irish teacher of English, from Accrington, Lancashire, aged 62. Her love of drawing and painting … was overtaken by writing in the hectic course of her career. For 34 years she had the fun filled privilege of creating and selecting pieces to stimulate and facilitate children’s writing. Particularly fond memories remain of collaborative workshops ending in much appreciated performances….so, although she is not actively involved in social media …she was inspired to collaborate off the scene, becoming a ‘pupil’ by responding to the info posted by ArtiPeeps ( last year on Transformations) and for this year’s much bigger extravaganza on the Vikings. She found that following the crescendo of progress by tuning in, tends to promote infectious enthusiasm and the question: What would I make of that? (Who knows …but it is likely that there are others out there who had the same reaction!) In this situation, she says, “I find myself still thinking like a teacher considering a narrative style, offering a way in for the uninitiated by choosing a suitable voice which will address the reader directly whilst paying homage to the factual and emotional aspects of the subject.
The poem above evolved from taking that approach and looking at some of the lovely Viking imagery and visualisations of the Yggdrassil tree on line. I had fun writing them and offer them retrospectively!
Watch out for a third piece from Carol in the near future….