Monday, July 18, 2011

Ragnarök


Ragnarök by Collingwood



Brothers will fight and kill each other,
sisters' children will defile kinship.
It is harsh in the world, whoredom rife

—an axe age, a sword age
—shields are riven—
a wind age, a wolf age—
before the world goes headlong.

No man will have
mercy on another.

~from Völuspá (Prophecy of the Seeress) the Poetic Edda,
trans Ursula Dronke


Ragnarök

Death runs on the wild wind
a wolf, a black dog
biting the throat

Changeling child
sleep while you can

Those who do wrong
eat those who do right
flesh is crackling

Changeling child
learn while you can

Brother’s arms
a snare for your raping
bile and black bruises

Changeling child
fight while you can

Mother’s arms
your last bed making
soft under swampgrass

Changeling child
run while you can


Death calls from the wild wind
none will have
mercy 

Changeling child
live while you can


July 2011

Posted for the final   Form Monday  at the inimitable and irreplaceable 
One Stop Poetry

Today's prompt is by Brendan MacOdrum of Oran's Well, to write to a mythic reference. Thanks to Brendan for an exceptionally lucid and living article on myth and poetry, his own particular blue ocean of poetic endeavor.

Thanks also to Gay Cannon, for hosting this series so ably since its inception.

****

Ragnarök, often called the twilight of the gods, more aptly translated as the fate or final destiny of the gods, is the moment in Norse Mythology ordained since time's beginning when the divine Aesir will fight, slay yet ultimately be defeated by supernatural embodiments of evil such as Fenrir the Wolf, and the world as we know it will perish in a great cataclysm, to be reborn purged and new. 

The times preceding it are said to be extremely ill-omened, and so, this poem.


Image: Ragnarök (motive from the Heysham hogback) by W.G.Collingwood, appearing in the 1908 English translation of  The Elder or Poetic Edda, by Olive Bray

21 comments:

  1. And though it all, Vidar remains as well as the humans hiding in the shell of Yggdrasil to begin again, gods reborn and the cycle restarted. Only the primal fire of Surt remains.

    Fitting for these end days, wouldn't you agree?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I would LV. And I think I'd like to find that tree.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mesmerising! Like mists of time parting a little for just a brief glimpse of mythical realms!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Let the power go out for a week, and this is what will ensue rather quickly. Yours is a chilling, yet rather lyrical poem, Witchy. It seems tender at its heart, to me, though not hopeful.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yikes. I'm going to ring my praises of this poem two ways, first as blunt a jeremiad of the darker portents of the age (a sort of Ted Hughes recitation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road) and as an initiation-dream of Odin-in-Hedgewitch, the Viking bloodeagle (where victims lungs were cut out from behind) essential in the transformation of the eagle who flies up to Yggdrasil's highest boughs. In the time of Ragnarok, there is only hope in changeling lycanthropy (for The Road is dark, dark dark); but the moon has seen a lot, and will beacon what we can't yet see. Just my opinion. This poem should not be read after sunset, not without a bandolier of silver bullets and a shotglass of Keats. Oh well, I asked for it ... - Brendan

    ReplyDelete
  6. A frightening lyric this one.

    ReplyDelete
  7. yeah i got a chill reading this ...flesh is crackling...brothers arms a snare...yes live while you can they are waiting to take it...

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wow. Inspired by myth or the evening news?

    ReplyDelete
  9. I really enjoyed this one! You wrote a wonderful piece! Magic and dark.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You were born about a thousand years too late.
    Or maybe you were alive then?

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is so masterfully executed! This is one of my favorite cataclysmic tales and you hit the high notes like Maria Callas, full of passion and drama. The changeling child brings us through every fireside, bedside, and harbinger building to a frenzied climax running alongside the great wolf!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Just wonderful... I love the refrain to the changeling child, and how you altered it slightly to create progression through the poem.

    ReplyDelete
  13. This is stunningly, starkly beautiful. I so totaly loved it, every word and line. Portentous!

    ReplyDelete
  14. An enthralling piece, glimmering possibilities, yet unltimately, overtaken by a merciless world.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Losing my mind. I thought I responded. Just returned from Corpus. This is haunting. Nature rebounding, eat or be eaten, days go dark, and life bruises, bites, aches. And underneath there's the subtext - Kyrie Eleison, Christie Eleison, just have mercy, or spare us quickly. Wonderful, and wonderful use of the myth as foundation for your fine tales and visions. Thank you so much for everything!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Joy, I love the repetition of the "changeling child", there is a haunting quality to this. Beautifully done.

    Pamela

    ReplyDelete
  17. The repetition in this works really well. Frightening imagery but applicable to modern times as well as mythology, sadly.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Interesting counterpoint of myths as a changeling is that left in the world when the human is snatched away by faeries and that we see the world of struggle

    ReplyDelete
  19. your semi-repeated 'Changeling child' refrain is so effective and underpins the piece aesthetically and thematically. I love repetition and this has it in spades. Ragnarok fascinated me from childhood and you've done a great job with it here. Startling imagery you manage to conjure with that pen of yours. This is wonderfully nasty -

    Brother’s arms
    a snare for your raping
    bile and black bruises

    ReplyDelete
  20. A haunting and poignant poetry... thank you for the backgrounder. The refrain of the changeling child hits home and gave me the chills.

    Great to see you as part of team d'Verse~

    ReplyDelete
  21. It may be because I noticed the music videos you posted, it may be because I'm terribly ignorant about mythology, or it may be because I'm perverse, but I thought about the Replacements song "Go" while I read this. The song urges the youthful: "Go, while you can..." The tone, as in your poem, is urgent and desperate. Go, live while you can; soon enough life will beat you down and the bloom of youth will be gone.

    ReplyDelete

'Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance' ~Carl Sandburg