Tag Archives: Asgard

Asgard: ‘Warriors and Ravens’ 5/5′ The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

11 Dec

World Tree Norse

The Nine Realms

9 months, 22 poets and writers, 22 Artists, 3 composers, 1 Viking boat: a magical reworking of Norse Mythology for contemporary audiences

 

Poems and Writing inspired by the Norse realm of Asgard

Featuring:

Karin Heyer, Kate Garrett and Mina Polen

 

Northern Lights

by Karin Heyer

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Green magic light rushed
through the deep blue northern night,
when Odin, Allfather
stood at the roots of Yggdrasill
thirsting
for the secrets of the universe,
he gives his one eye
for knowing all —

He built a throne
high up in the crown of Yggdrasill,
best of trees,
world tree,
its roots to survey all realms,
Odin recalls the creation.

When

fire furious fills the air
crashing ice creates,
when life-licking cow
conjures woman and man,
sun, moon and stars in one,
a dread flame of power
never-ceasing creation,
eternal wind a-blowing —

Yet

Yggdrasill still stands solid
for ever North – South,
green, yellow lights
luminous, amazing,
burning, blazing
in the sky, even now!

.

 

 

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Harvest

by Kate Garrett

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i sneak, i reap

i am a trick of the light

light from a golden crop

of wheat-silk soft
& mine with one swipe
of scythe

break my fingers
break my toes
one by one by one

i provide, i scheme

i push you into motion

motion of worlds beneath

so panic – panic until
back & forth & back
the needle swings

threading this voice
you fear down into
my throat

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* Based on the myth of Thor’s hammer, specifically the part where Loki steals Sif’s hair and is punished for it. The difference between physical power (Thor) and one type of mental power (Loki).

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Alone and afraid

by Mina Polen

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All alone
…………..smashing stones
…………..carving wood
…………..playing with gold

all alone
…………..behind a broken wall
…………..waiting for another spell

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all afraid

…………..that the world might change
…………..that more giants might come

all afraid

……………and the wolf is howling
……………and the serpent is rattling
……………and they can hear the giants’ steps

all alone
all afraid.

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You can read the overview of Asgard here and see more of the Asgard poems here

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Find out more about Karin, Kate and Mina:

Karin Heyer

No website, as yet. Contact ArtiPeeps.

Kate Garrett

http://www.kategarrettwrites.co.uk/

https://twitter.com/kate_garrett

Mina Polen

 http://www.lulu.com/shop/mina-polen/scylla-and-charybdis/paperback/product-21019437.html

https://twitter.com/minapolen

 

Watch out for Vanaheim (the realm of the giants) poetry next week!

As always, thank you for your interest. 

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Asgard: ‘Warriors and Ravens’ 4/5′ The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

3 Dec

World Tree Norse

The Nine Realms

9 months, 22 poets and writers, 22 Artists, 3 composers, 1 Viking boat: a magical reworking of Norse Mythology for contemporary audiences

 

Poems and Writing inspired by the Norse realm of Asgard

Featuring:

Greg Mackie, Lenka Monk, Rebecca Audra Smith and Rob De Born

 

KILLING YMIR

by Greg Mackie

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Between my head and my heart,

there was a no man’s land

the size of Iceland –

all frost and volcanoes.
Ice, to the north –

cold, clinical,

sceptical and cynical.
Fire, to the south –

a passion burning in my gut;

the inevitable contradiction.
And at the centre of this,

rising like a geyser, 

Ymir, the primeval us – 

a mystery

to be broken,

into smaller mysteries,

given names

and meanings.
And so I did –

shatter and scatter

his body and blood,

across worlds –
Until there was

no more left 

of him,

to remind me,

of my ignorance.

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Ymir

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Heimdall’s oath

by Lenka Monk

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I’ve seen it, heard it all
From Midgard of men to mighty Asgard.
No matter the rise, no matter the fall
The rainbow bridge I guard.

The prophecy once told
In the lieu of eloquence,
Speaks of shadows born in a cold
Doused in frosty decadence.

The twisted knots of fate
In the monster’s breath of ice,
Will untangle at the gate
With last roll of a dice.

I will fight to the end
For my realm and my land,
Our hallowed reign I shall defend
With sword in my hand.

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Poem read by Nicky Mortlock on Lenka’s behalf.

Heimdallr

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Frigg Beginnings

by Rebecca Audra Smith

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We began in war,
splitting apart the giant man,
white and frosty with age.

Frigg like an itch a scratch of mothers lives.
Can’t you see, we said to her,
your daughters need to open the world.

One woman hefted a mallet.
We used his lungs to embryo the earth,
wrapping the atmosphere in a fine pink gauze.

The soft tissue of his brain the ocean bed,
here is where the gracious mammals float,
unwieldy and full of old knowledge,
his hippocampus their swimming ground.

Many things were birthed, first came
The small thoughts, then the larger ones
Till we’d built a city out of our need.

And the men, we got them from the flotsam,
The sea-spray, the wreckage of the ocean floor.
We began in war.

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Eight Legged Stallion

by Rebecca Audra Smith

 

Snipped Eight Legged Stalion

 

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Frigg

Loki

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Two Children

by Robert De Born

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Odin and God
made saviours,
grave minds
held prophecies:
the rune and the tablet.

Hung from wood,
pierced with spears;
God knew everything.
Odin didn’t.
God’s child arrived immaculate
in the spaces between
Herod’s fingertips.
An angel watching
held him from apocalypse
in dark places,
fragile as plaster of Paris
but Charis colludes where grace is.

God knew everything.

Odin, when he found
his child taken,
salvation pierced with the spear,
sought the holy virgin;

and appeared first
as a soldier,
broad-shouldered
with polished shoes
and medals from neck to navel

and he asked nicely.

Then appeared a bard,
voice gypsum-rich
with melodies winding as the gamut of the amber trade,
fingers flickering on the lyre
like demons’ tongues

and he asked nicely.

Then appeared,
hands full of washrags

and he raped her.

Blood never looked darker
than against those sheets
as white as Baldr’s skin
and seen through the milky mistletoe
transparency of Odin’s cornea.
And then, collapse.

The eyes of wolves have the golden gaze of a God who knows everything.

An eye bright.
An eye dark.
Night and day fog into one.

Nine nights and days fixed to the tree.

I pace by the wall,

take a lung of air,
a lung of smoke

waiting for poetry
to blossom like murder

on my lips.

.

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Odin

 

You can read the overview of Asgard here

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Find out more about Greg, Lenka, Rebecca and Rob:

 

Greg Mackie

frenzyofflies.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/FrenzyOfFlies

Lenka Monk

Contact ArtiPeeps

Rebecca Audra Smith

beccaaudra.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/BeccaAudra

Robert De Born

https://twitter.com/RobertDeBorn

robertdeborn.wordpress.com

 

Watch out for more Asgard poetry next week!

As always, thank you for your interest. 

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Asgard: ‘Warriors and Ravens’ 3/5′ The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

27 Nov

World Tree Norse

The Nine Realms

9 months, 22 poets and writers, 22 Artists, 3 composers, 1 Viking boat: a magical reworking of Norse Mythology for contemporary audiences

 

Poems and Writing inspired by the Norse realm of Asgard

Featuring:

Richard Biddle, Eleanor Perry,

Jim C. Mackintosh, Carol Robson

 

Mimir Speaks

by Richard Biddle

First you must become
your own assassin.

With the clarity of
a perfectly balanced
blade

and as easily as clouds
pass over an
unblemished sky,

cut through yourself.

Once severed from the
object of your body

you shall reawaken
into a deathless peace

and inside this
formless void
you will find a new voice
with which to speak.

As the me of your
memory melts,

like not quite white
fallen snow

laying bare
the groundless
ground

on which
all can tread
without trace,

know that
all you are
is the knowing
of knowing.


Now
look inwardly,
and see
there is no enemy
named he or she
there is no you
there is no me,
there is only
this perfectly
present moment.

And all
are headless.

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I take my inspiration from this extract found in, Kevin Crossley-Holland’s book ‘The Norse Myths’

“Odin took Mimir’s head and cradled it. he smeared it with herbs to preserve it, so that it would never decay. And then the High One sang charms over it and gave back to Mimir’s head the power of speech. So its wisdom became Odin’s wisdom – many truths unknown to any other being.”

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1.

Waste

by Eleanor Perry

Waste 1 jpeg

Waste 3 jpeg

Waste 2 jpeg

 

MP3 to come

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Asgard

by Jim C. Mackintosh

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Shh! Close your eyes.
Open your mind.

Do you believe?
Do you believe in the Gods?
In the Gods that surround you,
Embracing your thoughts, shaping your dreams
In the confused, nibbled edge of the rainbow
Brilliant, then at once dissolved into the clouds,
Lost to our perception but never ending, to bind
Its ribbon’d flames on to the lush plains of Asgard
Beyond our reach, unless you believe – do you?

Do you believe?
In the distance, those wise mountains, we hold in awe,
Yet they’re nothing more than the quarried odds,
For the walls of Asgard hewn from the depths by
The rock giant condemned by Thor’s mighty blow,
His skull scattered amongst the scree in fragments
Echoing in ravines and gulley’s at the thunderous
Crack of Mjollnir – the Hammer of Thor, the sparks
Of fury scored across our world as lightning.

Do you believe?
That gentle stroke of honeyed breeze
Out of nothing, brushing past our innocence
On a calm summer’s day – pulling at your senses,
Sleipnir has passed you quietly by – its silver mane
Catching your attention but for a moment – then gone
For Odin, his Master has business beyond our vision
In the lands of the Forgotten
In the Halls of the Slain – in Valhalla.

Do you believe?
Lost in the golden sparkle
Of a million tealights dancing
Across the rippled sea, to the horizon
Each one a teardrop lost from the curve
Of Freyja’s immeasurable beauty – a glimpse
Of her solitude, exposed briefly
To our mortal greed then gone
For Odin will not allow it – nobody
Holds the fragrant beauty of Freyja close but him.

Do you believe?
In the columned pines that tilt and moan
In the storms yet hold the weight of Asgard
Beyond our understanding – the waters
That seep as rain from the Well of Urd through
Clouds folding and masking the horizon
Which we cannot reach unless we believe
In the Realm of Asgard, in all of the Nine Realms
Bound in the sinewed embrace of Yggdrasill’s roots.

So, do you believe?
In the Gods that exist in you, that become you.
Open your eyes. Live in your mind.
Welcome to Asgard – where the journey begins.
The journey that never ends, unless your mind
Stops for breath, believe me, believe yourself.
We must go now.
We have far to travel.
Much has happened.
Much has yet to be remembered.
.

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Rainbow Keeper

by Carol Robson

(Heimdallr)

Born of nine
nourished in fertility
of thy mother earth,
washed – cleansed,
in wave after wave
of brine and blood.

Guardian gatekeeper,
ever watchful
in sight and sound.
Deceiver so big,
changing to, another RIG.
Nemesis for good,
this giant he stood.

Rainbow sentinel so proud,
bearer of horn, so loud.
His sword to flash
for enemies to crash.

Asgard protected down the ages,
depicted in so many pages.
In mythology, he’s in the A-list
Although in Stargate
he was a Geneticist.

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©Carol Robson 2014

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Heimdallr

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You can read the overview of Asgard here

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Find out more about Richard, Eleanor, Jim and Carol:

 

Richard Biddle

writings43.blogspot.co.uk

https://twitter.com/littledeaths68

Eleanor Perry

https://twitter.com/nellperry

Jim C Mackintosh

bigbaffy.com

https://twitter.com/JimCMackintosh

Carol Robson

carolrobson.com

https://twitter.com/Chakracaz

 

Watch out for more Asgard poetry next week!

As always, thank you for your interest. 

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Asgard: ‘Warriors and Ravens’ 2/5′ The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

20 Nov

World Tree Norse

The Nine Realms

9 months, 22 poets and writers, 22 Artists, 3 composers, 1 Viking boat: a magical reworking of Norse Mythology for contemporary audiences

 

Poems and Writing inspired by the Norse realm of Asgard

Featuring:

Shirley Golden, John Mansell, Lydia Allison, Ross Beattie

 

Yggdrasill Groans

by Shirley Golden

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So here am I: ancient, wise and eternal. Rooted in the heart of Asgard, I channel into lower realms. Above, my canopy extends as a shield for all creation. Always was and is and will be, so they say. You might imagine that one of my standing would claim attention and be heeded. If only. Ra-ta-tap, ra-ta-tap: paws scurry along bark and branch from source to crown, conducting a berserk exchange. Together. Apart. Deep in the soil, Nidhogg’s scales abrade my knotted foundations. His teeth rip and tear, keen to unearth. Deer and harts snack on my shoots before I have time to unfurl. I’m gnawed and chewed upon, hung from, and tapped for sweet knowledge. But it’s never enough. Trouble is the gods aren’t so gifted to keep calm, listen or reflect.

Look at him, running around with his stunted hammer, trying to wield notions of equality, and him a god. Granted, he has a stout heart and likes to keep things in order, but why oh why can he never grasp when he’s being tricked by those frost giants? And the Allfather with his all-seeing eye? Pah! I mean, how often does He neglect to observe the rascal’s antics? Time and again the shape-changer creates chaos, and with his wheedle words slithers out of predicaments, slippery as a fish. Will they never learn? How many times can one make amends with ill-gotten gifts? I blame the eye. Sacrificed for wisdom, but He failed to appreciate the value of depth perception.

Is that harsh? I’m old, too old and cranky. If it wasn’t for the Norns and their care, I’d have rotted long ago. I tire of the gods and their games. It’s all act, act, act; treks to other realms, tests and trials. Who’s the toughest or the swiftest? I do my best to give sound counsel but I’m unconvinced that they hear me. All they sense is a susurration of leaves, lifted by the breeze, from which they seize a sketchy message and thunder ahead, regardless.

The wind gusts his ice-breath and my joints creak and moan, but I’ve seeds to sow and trust that one day they’ll take. Understand that I’ve considered on countless occasions what I might say (if only I could articulate their words, and if only they’d be still and mark my warnings). And the best advice I could offer?

“Whatever you do, don’t listen to Loki.”

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Yggdrasil

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Asgard

by John Mansell

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I

Slaked emptied the meaded-horns.
The soothsayer’s runes yield their redden field.
The smoke coil-feast entwining the bowed heads of Long Serpents
bobbing with rimmed-eyed-red.
The feast for slaughter to wed the lost to death.

Grim battle carrion shredded bannered.
The disjointed stride of deed beneath the beak.
Splashed vivid and dripping the echoes of dawn.
War hounds draped in the grim spoils between the broken weaponry.
The shattered bodies sprawl by jewel tipped shaft.

II

By Bifrost span the heralded torn from earthly womb.
The golden shrill shouts of the choosers of the slain.
Renewal of strength, rearmed and armoured
by the wall of spears and the shielded roof.
Aesir-dwellers in brine enactment of that perfect fate.

The daily spectacle before Geri and Freki by their Master’s feet;
by Huguinn and Muninn at the godly ear.
And man’s desire to repeat his seething deeds,
rehealed and re-aled beneath the folds of Frigga’s sky,
reveals no boy returning from whence only men filed.

III

Far below, the earthly funeral lights the dimming horizon.
Adorning glory. The warriors muster and poets sing.
The brutal ferocity glad against the breast of night.
And in humble earth-wood home the hero’s woman
beside another who soon will taste the meaded-horn.

And all men by their camped fires recite the lists of dead.
Who line abreast four score by ten the many rounded doors.
The quieting scene. The poet eyes the distant moraine.
And hums in rhythm and fighting rhyme
His battle hymn to those aloft in eternal praise.

 

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Poem read by Nicky Mortlock on John’s behalf.

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they never said

by Lydia Allison

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dying is travelling
a light-year in a second
completely alone,
in a sense you have never felt before
not in dreams or worship
or bleak nights.

I was part of the writhing mass
the storming spreading attack
part of the dance between me and that
man that other warrior that superior clan
I was part of that
company, closer than everything
and when I look back
his face was the face of my wife.

did he look away out of shame
for my weakness shame
for his own life shame
for how tenderly my body leaned to his blade.

here is the look of oil on water
like heaven’s reflection you can touch.
as a child I chased rainbows
made idols from glass refractions,
stooped in the road.

I see thickly, this space shimmers with moving light
violet edging faces I know
and I mourn my rainbow
revising memories of blood
the sun, fresh leaves, and sky,
pure darkness, and white light of ash
and I weep clear tears
laced with the pigments of the dead.

they never said it’s just like living,
seeing one colour
and searching for your own heartbeat.
and when you go it’s more like
everybody you’ve known is falling
away, leaving you to grieve in morbid hope that they
would not, that they would stay.

 

Lydia on her poem: ‘One of the things that intrigued me most throughout the reading was the idea of light a rainbow/bifrost, acting as a bridge to Asgard’.

MP3 to come.

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Asgard

by Ross Beattie

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Stand beside me brother and together we can begin again.
Only through death can we break the existence in which we suffer.
We will wash our exhausted hands in the blood filled rivers, before growing strength again to walk fearlessly through the doubt.
Will we ever know if we are too afraid to try ?
I see the palaces in my mind, huge hallways and gold walled rooms, beauty in our control from the sacrifices we choose to make.
Wisdoms waits at the end of the battle, and even though we cannot see what lays ahead we mustn’t turn our heads now from fear as that will make this an ending instead of the beginning that it stands to be.
So stand strong beside me and we will cover the ground in flesh, and build every single mountain from the bones we will rip away from the deathly cold that controls all we see.
And from there we can create all that I know is possible.

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You can read the overview of Asgard here

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Find out more about Shirley, John, Lydia and Ross:

 

Shirley Golden

shirleygolden.net

https://twitter.com/shirl1001

John Mansell

https://twitter.com/JohnMansell1

Lydia Allison

http://lydiaallison.wordpress.com/

https://twitter.com/LydiaAllison13

Ross Beattie

http://blackpoemblues.weebly.com/

https://twitter.com/blackpoemblues

 

Watch out for more Asgard poetry next week!

As always, thank you for your interest. 

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Asgard: ‘Warriors and Ravens 1/5’ The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

13 Nov

World Tree Norse

The Nine Realms

9 months, 22 poets and writers, 22 Artists, 3 composers, 1 Viking boat: a magical reworking of Norse Mythology for contemporary audiences

 

Poems and Writing inspired by the Norse realm of Asgard

Featuring:

Tom Murphy, Joanna Lee, James Knight, Nat Hall

 

Asgard

by Tom Murphy

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on the first night I was called by the jackdaw
tapping on the sill after the moon went dark
“fly” she said, and I was able to follow
a cold night but I soared
over the meadow
into the wood
across the bridge

I saw bodies hanging in the tree
the nine lives offered
the snake
the wolf
the elk
the hare
the frog
the cat
the fox
the calf

by the fire
the old man sat
a circle already prepared
so deep was his look
he saw my birth
through my left eye

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All the world needs is another dumb princess

by Joanna Lee

 

Jpeg All the World by Joanna Lee

 

Click on the poem to enlarge. 

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To find out more about the back-story to this poem click here.

 

 Ymir

by James Knight

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Ymir used to be a big nothing;
Now he’s everything. 

His hair is the grass, the trees, the reeds
His scalp is the desert
His skull is the empty vault of space
His brain is telecommunications
His skin is a reality made of matter and mirages
His forehead is the Ten Commandments
His eyebrows are lethargy and a thousand easy lies
His eyelashes are the meshes of love
His eyes are stars, supernovas, lightbulbs, fireworks, napalm, nuclear war
His ears are the remains of imaginary animals 
His nose is a sad farewell
His nostrils are wormholes to another dimension where the Bird King reigns from his electric throne
His lips are a debate on the meaning of the word “jihad”
His teeth are Coca Cola
His tongue is mother of all languages 
His cheeks are zoology
His chin is Mount Olympus 
His neck is an execution at dawn
His shoulders are art installations attempting controversy through the juxtaposition of childhood and terrorism 
His arms are escape routes to Hell
His hands are bird cages or prison cells or holding bays or rooms without doors 
His chest is archaeology 
His ribcage is the phantom city at dusk
His heart is time
His lungs are the four winds, weather, disaster
His abdomen is sentiment
His digestive system is a labyrinth of corridors and offices 
His hips are cemeteries
His genitals are every whimsical thought anyone has ever had
His legs are mannequins staring murderously at passersby
His feet are oceans. 

The rest of Ymir remains uncatalogued
In boxes 
In a basement 
Under the ruins of a building
Forgotten by the story-tellers.

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Title Jpeg

(Superstition)

by Nat Hall

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Feel flight feathers & falcon’s skin.

Now walk through clouds, realm of Æsir,
where ravens perch on primal
strand of the rainbow;
where rain falls red
and Mjollnir *
sleeps –
he
who
wears blue
will not be seen as the shaman,
but a rider extraordinaire –
Huginn & Muninn**
side by side,
birds of
battle wish for
wisdom.
Rumour rambles
inside gods’ dreams, he
who controls the many moods of
heavens’ eyes, fruits of
the Earth and fights
giants, can be
called in the name of law,
farming men frown to his chariot…
Skygods in mighty citadel,
home inside halls, walls built by a tricked
gigantic mason,
there is a sly one among them –
he might just be a half-brother, metamorphic,
so fair of face, unafraid to turn a
stallion, hides black inside.
And if you doubt
superstition,
wait for the slain,
flames, ferryman – hear
valkyries*** run on
floorboards,
stand
on
other side of
the shore.

Now let gods gaze at the cauldron.

Let them drink tides of golden
mead brewed for them in
the sea god’s hall.
From his high
seat at
Valaskjalf*.
He, mighty seer, surveys it all in the nine realms.

© Nat Hall 2014

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1 * Mjollnir: Thor’s hammer;’** Huginn & Muninn: Odin’s ravens – Huginn (thought) & Muninn (Memory)
2 ***Valkyries: Odin’s twelve maidens who conducted the slain warriors of their choice from the battlefield to
Valhalla (Vikings’ paradise). Valaskjalf: Odin’s Hall

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You can read the overview of Asgard here

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Find out more about Tom, Joanna, James and Nat here:

Tom Murphy

https://twitter.com/sandcave

Joanna Lee

http://the-tenth-muse.com/

https://twitter.com/la_poetessa

James Knight

http://thebirdking.com/

http://chimeragroup.wordpress.com/

https://twitter.com/badbadpoet

Nat Hall

http://nordicblackbird.weebly.com/

https://twitter.com/nordicblackbird

 

Watch out for more Asgard poetry next week!

As always, thank you for your interest. 

Realm 1: Asgard – Overview and writing prompts, The Nine Realms, an ArtiPeeps Writing, Art and Music Collaboration 2014-2015

6 Oct

World Tree Norse

The Nine Realms

9 months, 22 poets and writers, 22 Artists, 3 composers, 1 Viking boat and a magical reworking of Norse Mythology for contemporary audiences

Asgard

(the realm of the warrior gods)

 

Vikings Ahoy!

Here we are at the beginning of October and into the first month of ArtiPeeps’ next EPIC collaboration. This month we are outlining the realm of Asgard and the deadline for all writing and poetry and mp3s for this realm is Thursday 6th November 2014. As soon as the poetry is in we will start posting it out on a weekly basis. 

These monthly posts will draw from a range of primary and secondary source materials and focus on selected gods, themes and stories that circle around the highlighted realm. They will not attempt to cover everything, and writers can embrace any other stories and characters within their writing which is not covered. Month by month we will be building our own magical, contemporary norse world whilst exploring the themes of POWER, NATURE and RELIGION.  The project’s overall intention is to embrace orality, translation, storytelling and rhythm all of which are inspired by the origins of the oral tradition of the Norse Sagas.

I may well put out little mini-posts intermittently focusing on orality and poetic form as necessary.  

What is presented below is designed to inspire, present basic information and offer a starting point for individual creativity within the project inspired by the themes, characters and spirit of the myths and stories.

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Asgard

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A brief  Overview of the Viking Cosmos:

 When Ymir lived long ago
Was no sand, no surging waves.
Nowhere was there earth nor heaven above.
Bur a grinning gap and grass nowhere

Voluspa-The Song of the Sybil

So the story goes,  Odin, King of Asgard set out with his two brothers to kill Ymir (a primeval frost giant made of clay). From Ymir’s body they formed the world. His blood became rivers, his flesh land, his bones mountains and his skull the sea. Four dwarves were sent to the four corners of the firmament, and the sun and moon in chariots were sent out to follow each other across the sky. 

Having made the world Odin seeks to fill it with beings. First came the dwarves, and then came people- formed out of flotsam from the seashore and he gave them a home-in centre Midgard. After human kind was taken care of they created Asgard, a place filled with huge halls and palaces. 

Asgard, reached only by crossing a bridge guarded by Heimdall, the divine watchman, is the realm of the warrior gods, known as the Aesir. The pillar of wisdom, which all norse mythology pivots around, runs through the middle of Asgard. It is the centre of Wisdom.

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Odin_with_Gunnlöd_by_Johannes_Gehrts

Odin

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The Aesir 

The Aesir gods are one of two divine families (alongside the Vanir) who live in Asgard.

Odin is the head of the Aesir- the All-Father (Ellis-Davidson: 29):

‘Then third said, ‘Odin is the highest and oldest of the gods. He rules in all matters, and, although the other gods are powerful, all serve him as children do their father….He is also called Father of the Slain [Val Father] because all who fall in battle are his adopted sons’ (Sturlson: 30, The Prose Edda, 20. Odin the All-Father)

Odin journeyed all over the world with two carrier ravens as companions called Huginn and Munnin (Thought and Reason). He also possessed a magical spear which guaranteed death.

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Odin_hrafnar

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Odin, roaming outside of Asgard, would often wander around Midgard dressed in a disguise as a tall grey-bearded man in a long cloak and hat. Odin was feared and respected, and would go to any length to acquire knowledge and sate his curiosity.  His quest for wisdom knew no bounds and in a story within Hávamál  in the Poetic Eddha he endured not only 9 days hanging from the Yggsdrasil (the tree of wisdom) but the piercing of his own eye with a spear all to gain the knowledge of the runes..

I wot that I hung….‘on the wind-tossed tree
………….all of nights nine,
wounded by spear,……bespoken to Othin
…………..bespoken myself to myself
[upon that tree…..of which none tellet
…………….from what roots it doth rise]

(Hollander: 36, tr. The Poetic Edda, Hávamál , The Sayings of Har/The Sayings of the High One)

The meaning of the story above seems to revolve around the notion of sacrifice: despite many lures being offered to him he nevertheless continued to sacrifice himself. Odin was thought, symbollically to bring success.

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Frigg

Frigg

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Frigg:

 Frigg is queen of Asgard and married to Odin. She is goddess of marriage and motherhood and has great powers of magic; she can foretell the future of gods and man. In many early religions, states Davidson,  mother earth often ‘appears as the wife of the supreme sun god’ (110). However, clear proof of the worship of the Earth Mother in Scandinavia is hard to find. The only truly maternal figure in Asgard, depicted in the Prose Edda, is that of Frigg.

In the Poetic Edda poem, Oddrúnargrátr (Odin’s Lament) she is sited as the goddess to be invoked during childbirth, and similarly  in the Völsunga as connected to motherhood as she asks Odin to grant permission for a couple to have children (Ellis Davidson ((131-132). In North-Western Europe the figure of Frigg has had a huge influence  with certain groups throughout the centuries and ‘their ability to determine the destiny of the{ir} new-born child[ren]’ (132) . 

May hallowed wightsbring help to thee,
Frigg and Freya……and favouring gods,
as oft thou warded…..evil from me
(and hastened hitherhelp to bring me)

(Hollander: 280, The Poetic Edda, Oddrúnargrátr )

Frigg figures consistently in the poetry of the Poetic Edda.  Her role as queen cannot be underestimated but she is often overpowered in the Eddas by the depiction of Freya (from the Vanir gods).

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Thor

Thor

.Thor:

 Thor is the son of  Odin and Jord (Earth), Living in a huge mansion with his wife Sif  Thor, the thunder god, possessed three great treasures: the hammer Mjollnir which could destroy giants and shatter rocks, a belt of power which gave him strength,  and iron gloves to allow him to grip his hammer.

Thor is the enemy of giants. There is the story of how he killed the mighty giant Geirröd by hurling back  a mighty lump of melting iron at the giant. 

You can find the Lay of Thor/Thorsdrapa here: http://www.stavacademy.co.uk/mimir/thorsdrapa.htm

Despite his antagonism towards giants he nevertheless had two children  by the giantess Jarnsaxa. Járnsaxa is also the name of one of the Nine Mothers of Heimdallr. who were nine sisters who gave birth to the god Heimdallr who possesses the resounding horn Gjallarhorn. The poem The Lay of Hyndla within The Poetic Edda contains the story of Heimdallr. Called The Song of Hyndla, in the Caolyne Larrington translation of The Poetic Edda. 

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Freya awakes Hyndla

Freya awakes Hyndla

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Thor was associated with the elements. He champions the Aesir and defends Asgard The cult surrounding him has had a long history in western europe. He kills with direction (unlike Odin and Loki). He kills with bolders and force. He is the god that travellers call to before setting out on journeys. Thor, it is said, can be trusted as:

‘Thor had done many great works, and had split rocks and shattered cliffs, while Odin gave men victory’ (Tryggvason, Olaf’s Saga cited in Ellis Davidson: 74).

Thor was the most popular god with 25% of the population in Iceland having his name as part their name. Iceland’s annual assembly opens on Thursday, his day.  Thor is a god who although reigned omnipotently is associated with equality across all walks of life from craftsperson to aristocrat. (Allan: 51).

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Thor's Hammer

Thor’s Hammer

 

.Loki:

Was the child of giants and lived in Asgard, and is known for his mischievousness and trickery. He gained entry into Asgard by befriending Odin. Odin and Loki were blood brothers. Snori Sturlson (the writer of the Prose Edda) calls Loki ‘the slander bearer of the Aesir, the promoter of deceipt’ (Allan: 54) .  He ‘ was the cause of many things’ (Sturluson: 69). Loki was also known for his ability to change shape and sex.

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Loki 2

 

The stories around Loki usually consist of him getting some sort of punishment. For instance, nearly having his lips sewn up as punishment for a lost bet. It is a fitting comeuppance for a smooth talker (54). However, he has also saved Asgard- when a giant demanded that he should have the sun, the moon and Freya in payment for building a wall around Asgard (54).  He saved the day by confusing the giant by turning himself into a stallion to distract the mare of the ogre. Loki has two sides. 

From the pairing of Loki and the mare came Sleipnir,  an 8-legged horse. Loki’s children all had dark undertones. This showed in his other child with giantess Angrboða with whom he begat Hel, Queen of the Dead.  Loki also played a key role in Ragnorak (the doom of the gods).

An excerpt from the Edda poem  Völuspá (which contains the story of Ragnorak) can be found here. See video of a reading of the poem below. 

 

Themes and Relevance, Questions:

Power and its consequences. The questioning of leadership: Asgard is the seat of power, leadership, craft and justice. The qualites of its primary gods and godesses speak to that. The strength of Odin and Thor through to shapeshifter Loki represent a spectrum of qualities both good and bad, both mutable and fixed. It is interesting to think about the dynamics of force and freedom in relation to this.

The questioning of Knowledge/ Wisdom: Asgard has the root of Wisdom from the Yggsdaril tree running right through its centre, signalling its status as the focus of Wisdom. But often the actual behaviour of the gods does not seem to reflect this. What does this say about knowledge? 

The Force of Creation and Mutability: Frigg, one of the few female godesses in Asgard seems to symbolically be there to juxtapose against the male gods’ acts of power. As a symbol of fertility and growth, she represents the other side of the coin. Different forces of creation and destruction rest side by side in Asgard. Loki also represents this through his shapeshifting.

 

Things of Interest:

On the Poetic Form of Norse Sagas: Alliteration, Kenning

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Norse_poetry

http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/meters.shtml

BBC The Viking Sagas

British Museum:

http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/cultures/europe/vikings.aspx

BBC Schools Radio, Thor and the Giants

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schoolradio/subjects/english/viking_sagas/episodes/part_4

Voluspa Part 1/2:

Voluspa Part 2/2:

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Optional Poetry and Writing Prompts:

If you wish you can use the following poetic form for your poem:

The Brisbane Sonnet:  consists of two sestets and a couplet. The original sestet was based on the Hymnal Octave form which has a rhyme scheme of a.b.c.b.a.b.c.b. Two of the b lines are removed and leave a rhyme scheme of a.b.c.a.b.c. by adding another similar sestet d.e.f.d.e.f. and a couplet, g.g., this sonnet form was born.

For more information see: http://goo.gl/9dLg2l

Writing Word Prompts:  Shapeshifter, Twisting, Birth, Flotsom, Smashing, Discipline, Endearment, Quest

To confirm, the deadline for all writing, poetry and mp3s for the Asgard realm is Thursday 6th November.

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 Thanks so much for your interest.

References

 Allan, T (202) Vikings, The Battle at the End of Time, London: Watkins Publishing

Ellis Davidson, H.R. (1990) Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, Penguin Books

Hollander, L.M. (1996) tr. The Poetic Edda, Austin: University of Texas Press

Larrington, C. (1996) tr. The Poetic Edda, Oxford University Press

Sturlson, S. (2005) The Prose Edda, Penguin Classics, tr. Jesse L. Byock

 

 

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