Monday, December 24, 2012

The Yule Goat

This is a repost of an older poem just to keep the place from going completely moribund.

Happy Yule to All!

Goat watching

Yule Goat

In December’s dark descent
across crackled breaking sky ice
slivered with dagger snow,
bells ring in whitened night, sharp
hooves stamp on the cloudcloth
shaking pearl dust stripes on
viridian spruces, candelabra arms
turquoise and white pinwheels
circling their wands
of bitter bark raven haunted.

The god of thunders 
pulls the sun's shadow,
flickering hammer tucked
in his brace of clouds,
drives his twin goats
toward the time when day
and night are strait, equals at last
as Odin's wild hunt 
passes damned, mad,
howling overhead

The Snarler and the Grinder
fleet of foot, heedless of fate
run on; tonight's feast, tomorrow’s
feat, killed for meat this starveling
night, raised at dawn.
Spread the skins and 
let each bone 
fall with care so
those here reborn 
race again on the solar wind.

O bright black eye
split with too much knowledge
devil’s mask, canting voice
of the abyss, god's bearer, hunger's enemy
come bless us this Yule with your
yellow stare, ignite yourself
against the hag’s winter storm,
flute your flames through a straw ribcage. 
Watch us make the old dance new again
under the reckless stars.

December 2011

In Norse myth, Thor was not only provided with his mountain-shattering hammer Mjölnir, his magical, strength doubling belt Megingjörð, but a chariot in which he traveled through the sky pulled by two goats, Tanngrisnir (Old Norse "teeth-barer, snarler") and Tanngnjóstr (Old Norse "teeth grinder") spoken of in the Prose Edda, who could be slain for food at Thor's discretion then resurrected with the power of Mjölnir and returned to the traces.~ from wikipedia: 'The Yule Goat is one of the oldest Scandinavian and Northern European Yule and Christmas symbols and traditions. Originally denoting the goat that was slaughtered during the Germanic pagan festival of Yule, "Yule Goat" now typically refers to a goat-figure made of straw. It is also associated with the custom of wassailing, sometimes referred to as "going Yule Goat" in Scandinavia.' As always, I've taken a few liberties with the letter of the myths.You can read more about the folklore of the Yule Goat here  and the Wild Hunt here.

Header Photo: Goat watching, by on flick'r
Shared under a Creative Commons License 
Footer Photo: The Gävle goat burning, author unknown
All copyright belongs to the copyright holder


  1. I love the language and scope of this poem, with its nod to the wild hunt and the endless cycle of life and death which is reflected in the seasons.

    Yuletide should be celebrated with feasts and mead - hope yours is a time of abundance.

  2. Merry Christmas to the Yule Goat and to you, Hedge!

  3. come bless us
    this Yule with your
    yellow stare,

    That's probably what the Yule goats are doing! Merry Christmas and Happy holidays, Joy!


  4. loving me some reckless stars...and dancing new again...also love the nature elements in this as well...we are all in this together you know...hopefully you are too busy with your littles to light friend...and know you are thought of today as well...smiles.

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  6. typo deletion (must be the eggnog)

    hey hedge

    this is pure headcandy in the reading.

    Stanzas one and two are absolute dynamo out loud -
    a real thrill to read . . .

    and being a Europhile
    and a student of all things neo-Scandinavian
    I adore the motion of the notion

    a cracking piece of poetry

    Happy Yule! :)

  7. i hope the goats don't remember being killed! {smile}

    wishing you peace, happiness and love in the new year, Joy!


  8. So nice to hear from you! Hope you are having a great break!

    Also so nice to revisit this poem. I remember but, of course, read it differently, alighting on different details - I love the combination of realism and pageantry - don't know if that's the right word - myth/legend/ritual - but find it especially compelling in third stanza with the black eye split with knowledge and yellow stare - so true of a goat but so forceful with this goat - and I love the dagger snow. Tonight's feast, tomorrow's feat - such wonderful telling details adding up like kindling. k.

  9. Missing you! Hope you are having a great break! k.

    1. Thanks for reading again, k. I am enjoying my break, and having a bit of a disconnect from the internet. I've actually gotten a lot done that's just been languishing--even cleaned my refrigerator from top to bottom! My writing seems to be lying fallow atm, but I expect to pick up the routine again after New Year's. I'll be back to pester everyone soon, I promise. ;_) Hope you too are getting some relaxation in.

  10. Reveling in the beauty of this one, again.
    Happy Yule Light, Hedge.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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