Sunday, December 26, 2010

When the Cold goes to my Head....

We follow earth’s rune prints,
Into sharp winds teeth
Howling full round
Ice giants breathe…
Stout hearted MacDubh
Four legged brother
Braving white ground cloak
By bitter ice water…

Ghosts of great prows
The dragons in winter
Slip past on swan road,
Great water unending
Hard ice lines burn
Hold Windcloaks full billow,
Leap spirits brighter
Far from lands red with slaughter
Dream open eyes,
Of fell deeds and laughter…

Warm home and house sun,
Wait for brothers returning
Linger we still in snow field
And worldshadow
Wind words chant boldly,
Long ice spears form
Óðinn-blind gifts seek we
From great world tree
Sharp runes voice-cry
From sun’s dark falling
Hear we the word swords,
To our soul shields calling -

"Hige sceal þe heardra,
Heorte þe cenre,
Mod sceal þe mare,
Swa ure mægen lytlað…" *


Ok...Where did THAT one come from??? Here's the's the day after Christmas, and we have 4 inches of snow on the ground. Around about 10:00 pm at night, MacDubh (see really cute dog in my pictures to the side...) came and insisted that he wanted to "go walkies" again (typing the words very quietly - he is asleep and i don't want him to hear them!). He'd already been outside once this evening and it was a bit of an appalling experience for a Southerner. We have snow on the ground, icicles hang, and there is a 30 - 40 mph wind screaming down the lake. I do NOT want a computation of wind chill, thank you...the technical term for it was &%$@ COLD! We'd already been out once and WHY he wanted to go out again is beyond me...its not like he has real fur! We had come in from that first trip out into the wind, and I had joked with Wordweaving that I had seen the Viking ship go by on the fjord, trailed by the ice flow with the seals up at the lake. Now the idiot boy asked to go again, and I always take him if he asks.

So I bundled up again, and out we go...if anything it was um...colder. Seriously, we live in a double wide trailer, and the wind was screaming around our humble home hard enough to shake it! So back MacDubh drags me to the lake...where he has to sniff and catalog everything. Didn't have to go to the bathroom either. Hmph! So I am standing there, looking out across the dark water, fancying I could see the sail on the Viking ship, and distant bonfires on the far shore...

And my brain took off. I love alliterative narrative poetry, such as Beowulf, The Battle of Maldon (both Anglo Saxon) and Old Norse Poetry such as the Prose Eda. I haven't always had the best of luck trying to write in that style, even though I adore it, and the above poem started evolving as I stood freezing slowly to the shore of the lake and MacDubh was bounding about, wondering why the squirrels weren't out to play. I informed the dog that we were going in, that all self respecting squirrels were in bed for the night, pried my feet up from their frozen niche in the bracken, and generally aimed the dog (with many course corrections) back to the house.
Once inside and having thawed out enough to be able to think, I started muddling through writing this poem.

The last four lines are from the actual "Battle of Malden, quoted at the end of my poem. I hope that every one enjoys it...and that everybody who also reads this kind of poetry, will be kind and not tear apart, I mean - ahem - critique it too harshly. I did attempt to use "Kennings", the lovely "figures of speech" used in the Nordic poetry...some that I used were actual kennings pulled from reading such poetry - "swan road" for instance means water, and some I made up myself.
Obviously the cold has gone to my head to the detriment of my good sense. But it was fun to write. Hopefully I can continue to improve in this style. Going to crawl in a warm bed now, and thaw out!

"Will must be the harder, courage the bolder,
spirit must be greater, as our strength lessens…”
Battle of Maldon, 991 C.E.


  1. Ah, my beloved, reincarnated Celt! One of the many reasons I fell in love with you was your amazing talent with words! I have to admit, it took a great deal of courage to battle the winds and cold last night...and there's a joy in your reading this aloud to me as I drowsed in our warm bed...

    I love the style, the imagery and the power evoked by the words!

    And now I have Odin's Call (the song) stuck in my head.

  2. LOVE this poem, Cameron! Especially the 3rd stanza -- beautiful! I just finished reading a book about Vikings and it resonated even more because of that. What a fierce bunch they were. And of course their genes were mixed in completely with the gaelic scots of the Orkneys, etc. Your ancestors!

  3. I can't believe that I found your blog!
    First, a thank you more than you even know...when I saw Episcopagan in your blog title I knew I had to read on.
    Thank you for sharing your journey and I look forward to following your blog that expresses so much of my own heart.
    Thank you again and again.