minstrel: Fwd: Opinions on Skaldic

J. Michael Shew jshewkc at pei.edu
Wed Jan 15 22:21:31 PST 1997

> Date:    97-01-14 22:27:17 EST
> From:    ThoronR
> To:      minstral at pbm.com
> Gentle Bards:
> I am in the process of finishing an epic poem, and I would like some comments
> on 
> it.  I want to re-create the feel of Viking poetry in English, which is
> usually difficult due to the intricate rules of most Norse verse forms (which
> were apparently easier to do in Old Norse than they are in English).  What
> I've come up with is sort of a mix of anglo-saxon  (alliterative) form with a
> rhyme scheme.  I'm interested to know what people think of the form, how
> close it is in "feel" to old norse verse, etc.  The epic is called "Doom of
> the Draugr" and revolves around the norse legends of  Draugr-- people who
> come back from the dead.  Here is the first section (please remember it's a
> rough draft!).  Thanks for any comments you might have!
> Thoron Ravenoak, Caid

	OOOOOOOOHHHHH! They all stood back from the fire expecting Mikal
to enter and comment!  I feel Honored!  (He drains the horn in his hand,
pushes back the wide sleeve on his right arm, and settles his
not-unconsiderable bulk onto a stool to pontificate...)
	Nice!  I have just finished a project like this myself.  (Don't as
to see it.  It is 186 pages not counting the footnotes and Bibliography.
210 pages in all, unless I include the critiques from the OldNorsenet.)
As I tell my friends, the bruises are almost healed and I am allowed
around sharp objects next week!
	Do you mind if I take a stab at line-by-line work?  I do not wish
to offend, but it looks so tempting...

> Trogr’s Fall
	(or Trogrsbanna, in the Old norse, Meaning Trogr's bane.  The name
Trogr is interesting, as in "ditch Maker" or "grave maker?"  The word Trog
in ON is Trough or Ditch.)

> 	Thunder rolled over			Towering mountains.
> 	Sky-ships releasing			Shadowy fountains.
> 	Walking the hill road			Washed by the cloud-tears
> 	Strode ugly Trogr			Shaper of fears.

	Interesting.  5-5, 5-5, 5-5, 5-4.  An unusual rhythm.  The closest
I have ever found to that is an Icelandic Heroic verse that I used as a
model for part of my project:

Cold was the wind       as he walked in the wood
Far from the sight      Of farmstead or village
Holding his cloak-edge      High over his fore-head
As he walked in the wood       away from the wind

	Of course this does not have the "vowel" rhyme you used, as the
example was to be earlier period.  But the count there is 4-6, 4-6, 4
(okay, if you are counting the added "edge" it is a trick used to trip up
the unwary!  Don't blame me, blame Snorri Sturlusson!)-6, 6-4.
	Shorter lines indicate more action and less plot.  Most of the
myths use similar structurs, so I applaud your choice.  Was there a model?

> 	Crafter of ill-wyrd			Called by cursed names.
> 	Many suspected			Murder his passion
> 	Always unproven			After the fashion.
> 	Now was he grumbling		North of the Hoy fells

	EEEEP!  The count just changed.  The lines now seem to be 5-4 (or
5 if you pronounce it Call-ed), 5-5, 5-5, 5-5.  Could you restructure it
	Ill-wyrd Crafter	Named in Curses
	Many declare	Murder his name
	Never proven	Never be blamed
	Now he grumbled    North of Hoy fells
	Okay, so I took a little Liberties with the lines.  Norse poetic
rhyme fales on consonants.  the original- "always-after" rhymes won't work
in Norse.  Also, you do not have to lead off the line with the
Alliteration.  It needs only fall within the major "Beats" of the line.
The Shorter lines of Norse Poetry fall like Oar-strokes.  You can hear the
blades of the oars hit the water if you listen close enough... 		

> 	Plotting his evil,				Planning his spells.
> 	Then as he came to			Edge of Tor Ness cliff
> 	Where the rocks moaned	And winds were stiff,
> 	Sudden a dark hand			From shadows stabbing
> 	Red Trogr flailing			Futily grabbing--
> 	Terror he screamed,			Thrashing, he fell
> 	Driven at long last			Down to cold Hel!

	Neat.  If the lines meshed a bit finer, i would be totally
pleased.  One note, though.  Hel is not the same as our Hell.  Hel is not
a punishment in the old Norse concept, and it got scrambled with the
Christian idea later.  Trully evil people and things bypassed Hel and went
to the lowest part of the worlds where Nidhogg dwelt. Here woere the
trolls and dark dwarves, a lot of the elves, (sorry Tolkien fans, ) and
the cowards.
	By the by.  What killed him?  Most Norse tales identify the thing
that does someone in.

	Hope I didn't overstretch my welcome.  I like it, I really do!
And I do want to read more, even if I did write too much in return!
	Mikal Hrafspa

    Mikal the Ram; an annoying Bard of no redeeming qualities
__________________________(jshewkc at pei.edu)________________________________
        That he is bright, let no man boast
        But take good heed of his tounge
        The silent sage , will seldom need grief
        They are honored here in the hall
        A friend more faithful, you will never find
        Than a shrewd head on your shoulders
                        The Hamaval  (translation mine)

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