Tag Archives: Gjalp

Jotunheim: ‘ Strength & Might’ 2/3′ The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

13 Feb

nine realms8

19 poets, 22 Artists, 3 musicians and a Viking Boat

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 Jotunheim

Featuring:

James Knight, Rebecca Audra Smith and Kate Garrett

 

Skrymir

by James Knight

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Thursday started routinely:
night departed,
birds sang,
colours fattened.
Then a succession
of unsuspicious things:
yawns, mucus, footsteps, a door,
a toilet, urine, hands, water, a towel,
more footsteps, stairs,
another door, a kettle,
a tea bag,
milk (no sugar).

Then sitting and looking at nothing in particular
and thinking less
and sipping hot tea.

Then (too early in the day,
almost certainly too early):
writing.

White paper, black pen,
a picture in my mind
(through frosted glass)
of a giant,
foetal,
straining against womb walls,
a question mark made flesh.

So I started to write
but the words worked against me.
Phrases bridled,
clauses rioted,
sentences slipped beyond meaning,
paragraphs undid the tale
I was trying to tell,
unmade the giant,
hid his portrait in
a hall,
a glove,
a food bag,
a mountain,
an ocean,
the tides,
a cat,
a dragon,
a hammer,
a journey.

I put down my pen
and placed a blank sheet of paper
over the one that had been spoiled.
A gesture, nothing more.

My tea was stone cold.

That night, I dreamt
and saw the giant’s immortal coil
in the night’s red womb,
heard laughter
through the waves of nothing.

On Friday, I uncovered the sheet
where words tugged and tumbled
and saw the giant,
saw his story,
there all along,
larger than life.

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MP3 to come

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Skrymir

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The Daughter of a Giant

by Rebecca Audra Smith

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You rode a motorbike and carried a she-wee
When on your blob you stuffed yourself with a cup made of silicone
poured the blood into the toilet’s gut.

Surviving on beer, your bike fed off petrol, gulping it down with the miles
when you came across two women, back broken from their trudge, sex workers,
world weary, you strung together your hands and your bones to make them laugh

You raced with thought to see who would win and found it went pissing against a tree, obsessed with its own initials while you skirted the growing puddle
and leapt to the finish line, revved up

They said you were more mountain than woman, they dared you to pick up a cat.

It flowed hissing into your arms and burrowed its nose into your chest,
rubbing the glands of its cheeks into your fingers as you found the soft spots of its ears-
you hefted it easily, like you hefted the weight of the world

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MP3 to come

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Freyja’s Feather Cloak

by Rebecca Audra Smith

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Woman made a cloak of feathers, picking odd tufts of pigeon from the streets
Lacing the peacock shine of a magpie grinning wing into the design
Pulling at dove to get the white, plucking at raven for the sheer fun of its gloss

When they asked her to put on her cloak and marry him, she said no
When they told her this was her fate and she must go, she said no
When they told her it was best for the family and herself, she said no

They pulled at the pattern, unstitched the thread, bound it up again,
sent her anyway.

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MP3 to come

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Freyja

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mountainside

by Kate Garrett

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supporting the green burden graceful
outcrops jut against mists
inside the frozen womb of a giantess
roots vein the rock, midwife of elements

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devourer

by Kate Garrett

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a line of pebbles signs
a ‘cut here’ instruction
& the river is guided, it slices below
to his drowning & cursing, caught in the flow

​*

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Gjalp

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You can read the overview of Jotunheim here , and read some Vanaheim poems here

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Find out more about James, Rebecca and Kate:

James Knight

thebirdking.com

https://twitter.com/badbadpoet

Rebecca Audra Smith

beccaaudra.wordpress.com

 https://twitter.com/BeccaAudra

 Kate Garrett

kategarrettwrites.co.uk

https://twitter.com/kate_garrett

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As always, thank you for your interest.

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Jotunheim: ‘ Strength & Might’ 1/3′ The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

29 Jan

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 Jotunheim

Featuring:

Tom Murphy, Joanna Lee and Shirley Golden

 

Jotunheim

by Tom Murphy

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when he was with her
she made him feel small

in her words were a spell
a glamour of careful construction
leaving him like a stone on a mountain
like a drop of mead in a barrel
so small he didn’t exist

he preferred to be himself
three days was all he could take

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Today

by Joanna Lee

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your dragon purrs, earth-
quaking, scaly metaphor
made heavy flesh, a serpent

that circles your world. you,
its catspaw to bat and squeeze
and toss gray skyward

where you seek snow
to pillow the hard gorge of falling,
or a hero, a hammer-wielding

savior to break the cage of winter.
lift a cup with me, drain the ocean
of ache and illusion. every season

has its ending, every Goliath
its David, every snake its eagle.

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Today plays with the language of a story wherein Thor and his companions are tricked by the illusory magic giant Loki. Among other things, Thor is challenged to pick up a grey cat but can only lift a paw; it is revealed later that the cat is actually Jormundgand, the serpant that encircles the world. The story is in The Poetic Edda.

 

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The Other Female

by Shirley Golden

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She’s just a woman, the men said. But she wasn’t; she was a giant, Gale Jup. And she guarded the gateway to Gerry’s office.

He recruited her for his protection services to stop us from barging in unannounced and disturbing him with trivia. He didn’t care to hear of the intricacies of debt collection. His only concern was that we bring back the goods or the dosh. He wasn’t interested in excuses, false promises or complaints.

There was no getting past Gale. He called her, ‘daughter’ but no one knew if it were true. She never referred to him as ‘father’. But she wasn’t the sort to admit her existence was contingent upon another. She dragged in her own desk, carved from rowan, bumping it up several flights of stairs. She filled reception with her booming voice and the scent of wild flowers, scattered in sentinel vases, balanced on surrounding cabinets.

She curbed the stream of petty hitches, held back the lawsuits and hid the details of hospitalisations. We took turns to try and get past her, to talk to the boss about pay and conditions but no one could get close. Until Roth turned up.

Roth’s credentials looked good on the page. But he had gained a reputation as a thug. Some said he had worked for Doni Fury (one of many names given to the mobster boss). Others said he still did.

Gerry believed Gale could deal with Roth, and that he’d be perfect for the tougher clients. Certainly, he knew his way around a threat and had a temper quick as a hammer strike, sparking on an anvil.

He settled in without a fuss until pay day. We were all familiar with Gerry’s habits. He never rewarded what he promised. Roth demanded to see Gerry, and the men gathered around the edges of reception, keen to see how this would play out; they hoped his objections might benefit them all.

Gale straddled her chair and used every feminine fibre of her being to distract him.
For three days, she was successful. We placed bets on how long it would take. Would today be the day he broke her backbone? I was the only one who bet against Roth.

Gale preoccupied him with a swing of her hips and the promise of a latte from the vending machine. But on the fourth day he held fast to her desk and refused to let go. She stopped giggling and whispering. She crossed her arms and ordered him to leave. He grabbed a vase and hurled it towards her head, but she ducked and it cracked the glass on Gerry’s office door. She straightened to her full height. She strode towards Roth, seized him by the scruff of the neck and frogmarched him down the stairs. The others looked on in disbelief. My small applause and cheer were lost in a sea of glares.

We never saw Roth again. No one tries to get past Gale anymore. Of course, when new boys arrive the others tell the tale of Roth and his now mythical status, how he burst into Gerry’s office like a wave, crushing her coastal defences.

I try to explain that wasn’t how things panned out at all, and how the tape across Gerry’s door represents Roth’s failure, not hers.

But they take no notice of me, the other female in the department.

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You can read the overview of Jotenheim  here , and read some Vanaheim poems here

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Find out more about Tom, Joanna and Shirley:

Tom Murphy

https://twitter.com/sandcave

Joanna Lee

the-tenth-muse.com

https://twitter.com/la_poetessa

 Shirley Golden

https://twitter.com/shirl1001

shirleygolden.net

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As always, thank you for your interest.

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Realm 3: Jotunheim – Overview and writing prompts, The Nine Realms, an ArtiPeeps Combined Arts Collaboration 2014-2015

4 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

Jotunheim

(the realm of the frost and stone giants)

 

Vikings Ahoy!

Here we are at the beginning of December,  with the deadline for the poetry and writing for the 2nd realm Vanaheim coming up: Thursday 8th December 2014. I shall start to post out pieces created for Vanaheim the week after next. This month we are outlining the realm of Jotunheim and the deadline for all writing, poetry and mp3s for this realm is Monday 12th January 2015.

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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The Giant Skymir

The Giant Skymir

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1. A brief  Overview of Jotunheim

 Jotunheim is the home to both the Rock and Frost Giants. It is where the giants fled to start a new race to prevent the extinction of Odin and his family. This race was called the jötnar (or jotunn)  It is the realm where many conflicts take place between the gods and the giants and where they try to reek havoc on Midgard and Asgard. The sons of Borr (Odin’s father) marked out the boundaries  of Jotunheim. The sons also built a vast boundary inland to protect themselves from the giants. The river  Ifing runs through the centre of Jotunheim and separates it from Asgard. There are a range of territories in Jotunheim: 1. Gastropnir where  Menglöð the lover of Svipdagr lives; 2. Mímir’s Well, which can be found under the roots of the Yggdrasil in Jotunheim, and from which Odin wants to glean great knowledge; 3. Thrymheim the home of Thaizi (see below, the son of giant Olvadi); 4. Utgard is the the capital of Vanaheim and is ruled by Skrymir (see below) and 5. Vimur River, where the giantess Gjálp attempted to drown Thor (see below).

2. Giants in Context:

The giants are generally considered the adversaries of the gods (the Vanir and the Aesir). However, relationships between the gods and the giants did exist. Thor himself was a child of the union between Odin and Jord  (personification of the earth) and Freyja and Freyr were the children of the marriage between Njord and the giantess Skadi.

Giantess, Skadi Hunting In the Mountains

Giantess, Skadi Hunting In the Mountains

 

Giants could also show kindness. This can be seen in the story of a young prince called Agnar who passing through Jotunheim on his way to reclaim his kingdom from his brother, found kindness and shelter with the giants. They were also seen (alongside elves) to also be sources of knowledge, magic and wisdom (see the Alvissmal).  Giants despite this are depicted as cold and dark. They cannot stand the sun and are turned into stone if the sun’s rays fell upon them. The giants also lived alongside trolls  in Jotunheim, and they were often the giants’ servants. They lived in isolated mountains and are said to be very unfriendly!  Many references can be found to them in the Prose Edda’s Skáldskaparmál (Poetic Diction). 

You can find a version of the Skalskaparmal here.

The giants are also equated with the natural world. Odin takes parts of the huge giant Ymir (formed out of the chaos of creation, out of the clash of two extreme forces:

Contained within Snorri Sturluson‘s Gylfaginning, Ymir’s creation is recounted:

Just as from Niflheim there arose coldness and all things grim, so what was facing close to Muspell was hot and bright, but Ginnungagap was as mild as a windless sky. And when the rime and the blowing of the warmth met so that it thawed and dripped, there was a quickening from these flowing drops due to the power of the source of the heat, and it became the form of a man, and he was given the name Ymir

You can find the Gylfaginning here.

There have been said to be two types of giants: frost and stone. The frost giants live in the mountains of Jotunheim and are surrounded by winter and they live alongside the stone giants who are hill dwellers and known for their strength. When Ymir was killed by The Sons of Borr nearly all of the frost giants were killed except for Bergelmir and his wife who kept themselves safe. From these two people came the frost giants:

‘Countless winters

before the earth was created

back then Berglmir was born;

that is the the first I remember

when the wise giant 

was placed on a box’

from the Lay of Vaftthrudnir, 35, (The Prose Edda: 16, tr. Jesse Byock, Penguin Classics)

 

Bergelmir

Bergelmir

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3.  Some Giants….

A. King Thrym

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Thrym's Wedding Feast

Thrym’s Wedding Feast

King Thrym was King of Jotunheim and the story connected with him and the stealing of Thor’s hammer is one of the most famous in The Poetic Edda (The Lay of Thrym). The poem was considered to be written in the 10th century or earlier. However, this opinion has been debated [see Hollander: 105].

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1. Wroth was Vingthor…….when awaking he

….Mjolnir missed………………his mighty hammer;

….his beard gan shake, …..his shaggy head,

….Fjorgyn’s first-born-……….he fumbled about him. 

2.  These words then first….fell from his lips:

……‘Hear thou Loki,……………what loss I have,

……which no wight knows-…………….neither on earth

……nor in heaven: ……………..my hammer is stolen!’

The Poetic Edda (tr. Hollander: 104)

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The story runs that Thor’s hammer goes missing. Thor and Loki take Freyja’s feather-cloak so that he can fly to Jotunheim and challenge Thrym, accusing him of taking the sword.  Thrym acknowledges the fact that he has stolen the hammer, and says he will only give it back if Freyja (the goddess associated with love, sexuality, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death) can be his wife.  Loki returns to Asgard and asks Freyja to go to Jotunheim and marry Thrym. However, she refuses. At a council of the Aesir Heimdall suggests that Thor could dress up as Freyja and go to Jotunheim in disguise. Thor eventually agrees to this . The disquise works. Thrym becomes entranced by Thor’s eyes and is amazed at how much meat and fish he can eat, let alone how much he can drink. The sword Mjollnir is brought in to sanctify the marriage and Thor grabs it and beats all the giants up, and in so doing reclaims the sword.

31. Laughed Hlorrithi’s……heart within him

…..when the hammer beheld………..the hardy one:

…..Thrym he slew first, ………….the thurses’ lord,

 ….then crushed he all…………..the etins’ kin

The Poetic Edda [tr. Hollander: 109]

See here for the full Lay.

W.H. Auden

W.H. Auden

 

The Lay of Thrym is also one of the stories W.H. Auden focused on in his collection of  Norse Poems, published in 1969:

‘Then Loki flew- the feathers whistled-

Out of the door of the hall of gods

On and onto the hall of giants.’ 

(Auden and Taylor, Norse Poems: 218)

Working with the translation from Paul B. Taylor, Auden, able to read Icelandic himself,  attempted to capture the rhythms of the Icelandic verse.

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B. Skrymir:

Skrymir by Elmer Boyd Smith

Skrymir by Elmer Boyd Smith

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As  mentioned in the Prose Edda, Gylfaginning….. Whilst sleeping in the grove of the giant Skrymir, Thor, Loki and Thor’s servant Þjálfi, are tricked by Skrymir’s illusions and the giant ends up going along with them on their travels towards Utgard.  The giant causes mischief and tries to take their food….  

Once they reach Utgard the giants gets Thor and his travellers to undertake a battle with ‘metaphors- made-flesh’; Thor’s servant has a footrace against thought, and an eating contest against fire personified.  Thor is asked to pick up a cat which is in fact the World. He also wrestles with old age personified. Thor gets so fed up with the tricks of the giant he tries to kill Skrymir while he sleeps. However the giant shields himself behind a magic mountain.

By the end of the contest  Skrymir develops respect for the 3 travellers and tells them how he has deceived them with his illusions. Thor tries to attack him, but as he does so the giant magics the whole castle away-and all that is left is a prairie. 

*You can find this tale on p55-61 of The Prose Edda, Penguin Classics Edition (tr.Jesse Byock, sections 45 and 46). And a section translated from Icelandic here.

*You will find the tale of Skrymir between p84-85 of The Penguin Book of Norse Myths (See bibliography below)

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C. Thiazi:

Thiazi and the Magic Apples

Thiazi and the Magic Apples

 

Thiazi was the son of the giant  Olvaldi, and he was made notorious because of the kidnapping of the goddess Iðunn.  The three gods Odin, Loki and Hoenir were travelling together, and they tried to roast an Ox for their dinner, but the meat would just not cook. An eagle who was sitting in an oak tree called out to them and offered to cook the meat for them if they gave him a share.  However, the eagle seems to take more than a fair portion and Loki becomes angry and tries to hit him with a stick. Loki gets ensnared and the eagle flies away with him. The eagle will not release him until he has Idun (Iounn) and her golden apples.

Loki goes back to Asgard and lures Idun outside and Thiazi, disguised as the eagle, takes off with her and her apples. Without tha apples of youth the Aesir begin to grow old and Loki feeling guilty takes off to Thiazi’s abode, and takes the shape of a falcon. When he arrives Thiazi is out fishing and Loki changes Idun into a nut and takes off with her. Thiazi’s daughter Skadi comes to avenge  her father and this is how she ends up being married to Njord.

You can find this story also in the Skalskaparmal here.

 

D. Gjálp (daughter of giant Geirröðr):

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Thors journey to Geirrodsgard where he spies Gjalp

Thors journey to Geirrodsgard where he spies Gjalp

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In The Prose Edda (Skaldskarparmal) Thor comes upun Gjalp with her legs straddled across two ravines. Her huge presence affects the flow of  the water running through the ravine and the river rises dramatically (This act is usually taken to be Gjalp trying to drown Thor with menstral fluid or urine!).  Thor throws a stone at her telling her to release the flow. In order to save himself from the rising water Thor grabs hold of some rowan branches:

‘Just then he was swept towards the shore, where he was able to grab hold of some rowan branches, and so was able to climb up from the river. The event is the origin of the expression that rowan trees are Thor’s salvation. ‘ (tr. Byock: 91).

Thor arrives at Geirrod’s house (Gjalp and Geip’s father) and immediately sits down on the only chair in the room. Huge screams come out from down below the chair as he realises the two daughters are underneath. He has broken their backs.  Consequently, Geirrod and Thor fight and the giant tosse a large piece of molten iron at him. However, Thor deflects the piece of metal and it pierces a pillar. Geirrod ends up on the floor outside.

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Themes, Relevance and Questions:

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Strength and Feminity:  Gjalp is a female giant who blocks the waters of a river with her legs causing Thor to get very angry. It could be said that she represents a very interesting form of femininity,  one which has the strength to force nature into submission. However, it seems that Thor (the epitomy of strength wins over when the giantesses backs gets broken when he sits on them).  Exploration Point: the power dynamics within the norse sagas.

The origins of language, linked to fun, play and mutability: The story linked to the giant Skrymir is an interesting one as it directly engages with language and literary forms in a playful way, through a story where metaphors are made flesh. Objects are personified and characters ‘play with language’ (racing against thought).  A bit like the story of ‘ The Mead of Poetry’ mentioned in the Vanaheim Overview, it is clear that underlying this play, there is a subtle subtext that the sagas are attempting to communicate. That is: how their authors see language- as playful, spirited, fluid and bold; like the strength of the giants and the flow of water. 

Things of Interest:

1. Learning Schools Radio: Thor and the Giants:

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

2.  Giants: Mystery and Myth:

The Discovery Channel:

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The second of the 6 programmes can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFXAPByoj9w

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3. A Musical Rendering of W.H. Auden’s Poem Baldr’s Dream 

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Baldur’s Dream …..Eddara Sæmund (as translated by W. H. Auden & P. B. Taylor)

Barbara Thornton, voice
Benjamin Bagby, voice
Elizabeth Gaver, fiddle

Edda Sequenta.

If you go to the link the full length poem can be found there.

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Optional Poetry and Writing Prompts:

An Onegin Sonnet/Pushkin Sonnet:

This form was created by the writer Pushkin for his verse novel Eugene Onegin

The stanzas have 14 lines of iambic tetrameter rhyming ababccddeffegg.  The green letters indicate feminine rhymes (the lines have an extra unstressed syllable) and the black letters are for masculine rhymes (a simple rhyme- bat/cat).

See here for more details.

Writing Word Prompts:  Myth, Power, Dreams, Threat, Pebble, Fate, String, Cowerdice

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To confirm, the deadline for all writing, poetry and mp3s for the Jotunheim realm is Monday 12th January 2015.

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 Thanks so much for your interest.

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References

 Allan, T (2010) Vikings, The Battle at the End of Time, London: Watkins Publishing

Crossley-Holland, K (1993) The Penguin Book of Norse Myths: Gods of the Vikings, London, Penguin Books

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

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

 

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