Friday, July 18, 2014

The Tenth World

The Tenth World

Nine worlds walk 
in the count of all things:
one for fire and smoke
one for mist and ice;
two were made for the gods of life
and change, one for cold death, another
for the dark in the Dripping Hall,
one for the bright ones beneath the Fair Roof;
one for the giants where all things begin,
one pulled out complete for the time of men.

The Seer came traveling
over each one by one. She sought
the spinning, the Well and the Tree;
the farther shores, the other skies
where the dancing of wheat
and mollusks meet
where the wise one dies
choked in his thoughts
to brew the robbed mead
of gods and skalds.

From the Old Ones she learned
the names for all things:
the Ways, the Weaver
the Wind's Kite of Clouds,
the Hush and Wave
of sea and calm air,
Wildfire, green Wand,
the flying Seed
and the Foaming that steals
away sense and care.

She traveled each world
high to deep, end to end
till her closed eye could see
where all traveling ascends,
where the moon's mare runs wild
at last wolf-free,
where Lif and Lifthrasir
have found the Tree
in the Tenth World's
pine-candled sanctuary.

~July 2014

posted for    real toads

Fireblossom Friday: Another You
The  incomparable and incendiary Fireblossom (Shay's Word Garden) asks us to imagine another world on which there is another you; I have gone a bit overboard by imagining ten worlds, but at least only one hedgewitchian alter-ego. (And she did most generously say, 'Really, anything the clip inspires you to write will be okay.' so that'll larn her.) Thanks to all who have the patience to wade through my mythological self-indulgence.

Process Notes: To cite everything I've dismantled from Norse mythology here would be an exercise even longer than the poem, but below you will find at least a few high points, with some explanatory links to wikipedia. Please don't feel you have to read any of this unless you are so inclined:

Norse mythology posits at least six 'homeworlds' and the Poetic Edda lists nine, which I have cataloged in stanza one.
In stanza two, The Well is Mimir's, and the Tree is Yggdrasil.  Skald is the old Norse for scholar, or poet. I also refer to the myth of Kvasir, the 'man who knew all the answers' and his demise at the hands of the dwarves who murdered him, then told the gods he had suffocated in his own intelligence (details can be found here, ) as well as Odin's theft of the resultant Mead of Poetry (here.) I will just quote this one part, because I love it:" Odin [spat his loot out quickly into containers placed by the Aesir]. But Suttung was so close.. that ..some drop[ped] backwards. Anybody could drink this part, which is known as the "rhymester's share"... But the [true] mead of poetry was given by Odin to the gods and to the [skalds ...]"
Stanza three, again plundering the Poetic Edda, has the names given by the Vanir (the oldest Norse gods, thought possibly to be originally Indo-European deities of magic, nature and fertility) to the world and various things in it: Earth(the Ways) Heaven(the Weaver) Ale(the Foaming) wind, clouds, sea, etc.
Stanza four refers to Lif and Lifthrasir, who shelter in a protected wood called Hoddmímis holt, and are the Adam and Eve-like couple chosen to repopulate the earth after  ragnarök.   I have invented the phrase 'Tenth World' as a name for whatever might exist then, after the old gods and old worlds have passed.

Image: An amulet of gold from the Iron Age, thought to depict the Vanir Freyr and his wife the giantess Gerth(Geror,Gerd) Public domain  via wikimedia commons


  1. What a feast and what a journey, Hedge! I like yours better than Shakespeare's, because while he had a person ending up sans everything, your ends with a beginning, really. This contains all of your usual anything-but-usual imagery and phrasing ("where the dancing wheat and mollusks meet" and the pine-candled close). This seems to be me to be almost literally woven, with the reader darting into, through, and out of each successive realm, before ending up at the beginning; the circle of so many spiritual teachings. Wonderful wonderful horn-helmeted stuff, Joy, and I thank you for adding it to my FBF challenge.

  2. wow. nice weaving...i guess we can hope to one day find that tenth world, i have serious doubts our worlds could ever be redeemed to such a place of sanctuary...perhaps if we like the seer could walk all the other worlds and gleen what we can we might find our way to such a place as well...

  3. Loved loved loved it.... Such a dip into mythology... Really enjoyed!

  4. Balanced mythologized realities, if one dares to open that formerly closed eye... and see. So many stories in the brew...

  5. This could be carved in runes on stone and take its place among the myth and legend of an ancient culture. Such is the authenticity of voice and world view brought to life again by your imagination. Stellar stuff.

  6. You captured my (me) and I thank you for the further depth of your poem.

  7. Hey Joy--this felt like it became more lyrical as it moved along, more of a song. It winds its own mythic tale and feels as if could have a place in the world of Tolkien and others. My favorite lines have to do with the other skies where the dancing of wheat and mollusks meet, and the kite's wind of clouds--not sure if I've got that right-- agree with Kerry, that the authority of your voice here is very impressive. k.

    1. Thanks, k--not happy with the first stanza--it is awkward, *very* Tolkein-y, and needs editing, but spent a lot of time with this and am sick of it now. I like it, but I am sick of it. I know you know what I mean.

  8. I reached the Adam and Eve of the tenth world without being sure of the rest. Now I know from your note--but before that made my own associations, noting that the seer--you, I think--must have spent long in the world of human's to see what she saw and then emerge with a sense of a new beginning right where Judaic Christian mythology has us receive our worst punishment. To survive Ragnorak! Wow. And what will your new world bring? Much love of words and sound and myth, perhaps, a vision as yet unseen by any watching the fabulists on the TV screen.

  9. Oh my goodness, I read this like an ode to my soul......such glorious language, I would have to quote the entire poem back to you - I loved every line.

  10. I love the extensive list-y-ness of this and especially the descriptions of all the alternate worlds...awesome work, Hedge!!

  11. Lovely and lyrical, both inspired and inspiring. There is power in these words, reverberations of wondrous worlds and wild dreams. Kudos!

  12. kind of you to include "one pulled out complete for the time of men." (not that we necessarily are deserving.)

    even without any knowledge of the mythology which you pulled from, this is a journey of worlds both magical and terrifying which inspires the reader to want to accompany the seer. you are, as always, a storyteller extraordinaire, Joy!

  13. I think of the tenth world here as the one which completes the spell of the nine prior: What does one sing after the ninth has been traveled, when all have been exhumed and accounted? Our singing must catch up for all the dreaming that sailed from our reading: What have we seen, where have we been? Life-work, and perhaps a fidelity to the dead, the Old Ones. When the contemporary in its hurry takes it as a video game, a score, pork rinds one gasses without glossing. Ah well. So much to contain in four stanzas here, like fitting ten horses into a 2-mare carrier; you do a great job of summarizing the 9 worlds in the first stanza, though for me there's tantalizingly too much summarized in short (though eloquent) order. Dunno how you let those cats out of the bag without them running around the rest of the poem. As foundational as that first stanza is, you could almost lose it and start with the second, working in something about the 9 worlds of the Old Ones or something. Great pattern of rhyme throughout to enable less Norse-read readers an enjoyable journey through. I was hoping for more at the end. What does finding the sanctuary this say about the Seer now? Is the now that resonant, candle-lit space? Is that faith enough? No real criticism though, this is silver and gold. We do have to tone some of the references down else we lose readers, but I'd like to see this same poem in naked conversation with its gods. What is faith without a beef?

    1. I cut two couplets, beginning and end that were something along the lines you feel are missing, ie, more of a dialogue between the walker and the shape of things--one was introductory: "Is there another world, high or deep/where a woman can say she's not born to weep?' and the other valedictory: "In the womb of that wildwood she longed to lie/ but those born to Midgard are born to die." I don't know if that gives you more of what you want. They seemed a bit too-too, to me, after twenty re-readings. ;_) . And yes--this could have been much longer and gone deeper, but when I write spontaneously to a challenge, I can't let the material simmer for days, weeks or months in the cauldron as I prefer--where other days of inspiration and thought can add and subtract. Not an excuse, just sayin that I don't write well to prompts.Thanks for reading, B, and offering your analysis.

    2. Heavens, those couplets are such great bookends. I can see where mortaring them in might take more revision of the rest to accommodate ... and challenge-writing is a hurried thing, a peformative moment which resists revision, as Wally would say, almost successfully. I thought it was a great prompt but wasn't anyway I could see tackling it on the run. And posting the result even a day late halves the response. You caught the crux of my complaint, which hasn't anything to do with the depth or quality of your work as the confines of the guidelines. Anyway. Glad to see you had considered those bookends. Too-too for me usually means cut or revise with more heart or energy than I usually have. A lot more poem there with that beanie and bell-toes intact.

    3. Thanks, B. I'm glad you like them. Yes, they just seemed to need more from the body of the poem than was there, especially because they rhymed so deliberately, and the rest was rather accidentally rhymed--so it was easier to just take them out then rework the main body into form. I usually dust something off from the files for a prompt, which helps with the half-baked issues, but this time I had nothing and got lucky with my morning scribble. Thanks again for the close attention to the write--I had to write *something* after I read that bit about Odin's backwash and the 'rhymesters portion'--I doubt it will be the last time I take a walk through the nine worlds--hopefully will do them more justice next time.

  14. I feel with reading this I have stepped out of this often plastic world and traveled to ancient places where life melts into purpose. Nature, Gods and humans meet face to face in a circle of seeking. So beautiful!

  15. the days we live in Yggdrasil's shade - Wotan's Day, Thor's Day, Freya's Day - your other world is this one, yes, shifted by a degree?

    Been dry of late. Hope to catch up with reading and commenting even though I have nothing to pen ~


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

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