Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Repost: The Yule Goat

Thanks to  jane davitt hewey   for reminding me of this poem.

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 DAV.es 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. Those yellow eyes know more than they say! You give a hint of it here. I especially like the descriptions in the first stanza, which are so powerfully naturalistic. Have a wonderful holiday, Joy--I hope it lives up to your name. k.

  2. def a very cool look at mythology joy...making hte old dance new again, all about that...have a wonderful solstince, merry christmas...just have a fine time for of love and we will be covered...smiles.

  3. This is wonderful, Hedge, full of myth and terror and (of course) I'm very much for a nod to the old gods at Yuletide.

  4. Purely stunning, Hedge. Happy Yule!

  5. Happy Yule, Joy. May Vikings wipe that other holiday from the face of the earth.

  6. Thanks everyone. It's nice to know who one's friends are, and you all are the best, Hope everyone had a good Christmas, and that a new year gets here as soon as possible, cuz I for one have had enough Xmas.

  7. It is good to recite the foundation-myths and -poems at the turning points and cross-quarters. Else we forget the great wheel is still spinning slow and dark and sure. The inflated Santa on the roof wilted, I think, within an hour of the last opened present, tossed and forgotten like whatever it was Aunt Tildy sent this year. Hung merrily on the horns of this Yule goat. Great to read this again and give due to the dark eye of Odin; a feral blessing here, as winter survivals must be, with words soaked in Norse grog. What is liturgy but the better poems that endure through every repetition of their season?

    1. Thank you, B. Words have not been serving me well of late, so a harking back seemed more appropriate than a harping on which is tediously inadequate. I hope your holidays are passing pleasantly, and your neck and your mom are doing better.

  8. What a beautiful and ominous poem! :-)

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours! :-)

    Greetings from London.


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

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