The Nine Realms
9 months, 19 poets and writers, 22 Artists, 3 musicians, 1 Viking boat : a magical reworking of Norse Mythology for contemporary audiences
Poems and Writing inspired by the Norse realm of Nidavellir (The Realm of the Dwarves)
Tom Murphy, Shirley Golden and Jim C. Mackintosh
by Tom Murphy
the times when it’s darkest
bear the most precious things
wrought from stones
and rarer minerals
each design unique
each with qualities, refined
don’t let them fade
reflect on them often
in case they’re forgot
MP3 to come
The Smile of Gold and Dust
by Shirley Golden
The first ray hits and he comprehends. It scatters the rich expressions that intoxicated and clouded his judgment. His skin, tightens, blackens and starts to flake like ash. Pain screams through skin and vein but Alvis can’t help smile at his opponent, even as his limbs crumble to dust. Cheshire-cat-like, it is the smile that remains when all else has collapsed.
It’s difficult to see what this clever, gold minor could find so amusing at such a moment. You’d need to be as wise as a dwarf, or as all-knowing as a god. Or possess a time machine and travel back to hear the words Alvis crowed as he strutted into Thor’s hall and demanded the hand of his daughter.
‘…there’s nothing I do not know…’ Perhaps it was that. Or, ‘…I don’t mean to hang around here any longer than I have to.’ But that must have stung a tad. Could such a remark really be the source of his amusement?
How did Thor start each question? Ah, yes, that was it: ‘Tell me, Alvis! You’re the dwarf who knows everything about our fates and fortunes…’
Turns out he couldn’t guess at his own.
It’d be easy to suppose that Thor delayed Alvis with his strength or even with a trick. But Alvis understands exactly why he stayed and time passed without his knowing. He can feel the rhythms and the pauses, heartbeat and breath. He can sense the rise and fall of meanings, pulsing through his veins like a rush of blood to the head. And there’s the beauty of piecing it all together, and how it bound him, tighter than Fenrir’s binding. And how he was compelled to reply and sustain the narrative that spun its potent mix of lyrical knowledge. Because Thor, with all his command, could not have held him captive until the sun broke through the dripping hall.
So, yes, he smiles because the god of thunder will boast of this victory for aeons to come. But Alvis knows it was not a god’s might that undone him.
The Mock of Alvis
by Jim C. Mackintosh
What sort of man are you? Your pallor
Of death’s disregard, your slumbered
Bend lifted from the mortal slab of Gods.
You creep from the depths below
The growing one’s burdened weight.
Your shoulders soaked under
The vaulted ceiling of the dripping hall.
You dare to follow the shiner
To seek my unbound promise.
You shun Dvalin’s Deluder,
Its nibbled edge at your grubby heels.
You seek the folded comfort of the concealing helmet
To stand before Thor with the trickery of your wisdom.
Your fear, I sense, pushed on stormer’s edge
Whipped by Mjollnir’s Thunder will set you.
You dare to stir the essence of day
With your vain plans of matrimony.
You defy the endless depths of oceans
To drown me with your words.
You will suffer the lick of the hurrier
Catching your eyes, boiling your brains.
You betray the kinship of the dream goddess
To uncork your bottled, hopeless greed.
You should quaff your mead slowly, All-Wise
The last amber beads picked out in the sun.
You will crack and groan and stiffen.
I will laugh and mock and listen –
As your pale bones gather moss,
Your wisdom spent.
The sea of words will score
its drag marks
across you forever.
All the fates of men
Know this to be true.
This poem is based on the Lay of Alvis in which the dwarf Alvis (All-Wise) engages with Thor in a wisdom contest to claim what he feels is his right, the hand of Thor’s daughter, Thrud in marriage. This is my interpretation of Thor’s response at the end of the fated challenge.
Thor is deliberately mocking Alvis by using the Dwarf phrases that Alvis would know –
The Growing One is Earth
The Dripping Hall is Sky
The Hastener is the Moon
Dvalin’s Deluder* is the Sun
The Concealing Helmet are the Clouds
The Stormer is the Wind
The Deep Ocean* is the Sea
The Hurrier is Fire
The Dream Goddess is Night
The Mead is Ale, Beer
*Dvalin was a dwarf who suffered the same fate overtaking Alvis.
*also referred to as Lagasta
You can read the overview of Nidavellir here, and read some Vanaheim poems here
Find out more about Tom, Shirley and Jim:
Jim C. Mackintosh
As always, thank you for your interest.