- Write two poems of at least 16 lines each appropriate for performance at a High Day ritual. One poem may be in free-verse form, but one must employ some form of meter and/or rhyme. Note in each case for which High Day the poem is intended.
This poem to Odin is for Yule.
Off in the distance you hear such a sound,
Call of the horn and the bay of the hound.
With the caw of the crow,
And the fall of the snow,
Clearly it’s Odin who’s coming through town.
Nanna has said to look out for their flight,
Wild runs the boar that they hunt on this night.
With his men giving chase,
And the hounds setting pace,
Ducking your head you avoid their firm bite.
Tuck and you cover they fly overhead,
Watch for their eyes or you’ll live with the dead.
So you hide from their sight,
You should cower this night,
Odin hunts boar but would take you instead.
Sit in the house and you watch it go by,
Clang of the shields are in ample supply.
With the roar of the horse,
And the boom of the force,
After they pass see that nothing’s awry.
This one is for Spring Equinox. Periodically my grove does a ritual celebrating chaos at Spring Equinox, and this past year we used Ratatosk as our gatekeeper with great success. Since the ritual went so well, I have been asked to do it again this year, and this was written for that.
Ode to the Great Squirrely One
Oh Great Squirrely One!
How you run up and down that tree,
From its serpent infested roots
To the crown adorned with feathers.
How do you not tire,
On this endless journey?
Oh great communicator of Yggdrasil!
You share the words of the wyrm, Níðhöggr;
You share the words of eagle on high.
Insults are hurled between the two.
You keep the order of the worlds
through the insults that you hurl.
Ratatosk, Great Squirrely One!
We call on you to be our communicator:
Spread our words throughout the worlds
From the crown above to the roots below.
Ride that great horse Ygg,
On your path between the worlds!
- Compare and contrast examples from the work of three poets in one cultural tradition from at least two historical eras. (minimum 300 words of the student's original essay material beyond the verses provided, at least one poem per poet)
I have chosen Geoffrey Chaucer’s (1343-1400? Midieval period) Canterbury Tales (The Friar’s Prologue), William Shakespeare’s (1564-1616 Renaissanse period) Sonnet (Sonnet 18), and John Milton’s (1608-1674 Renaissanse period) Sonnet (To the Nightingale) as examples of their works.
Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, Friar’s Prologue:
This worthy lymytour, this noble frere,
He made alwey a maner louryng chiere
Upon the somonour, but for honestee
No vileyns word as yet to hym spak he.
But atte laste he seyde unto the wyf,
Dame, quod he, God yeve yow right good lyf!
Ye han heer touched, also moot I thee,
In scole-matere greet difficultee.
Ye han seyd muche thyng right wel, I seye;
But, dame, heere as we ryde by the weye,
Us nedeth nat to speken but of game,
And lete auctoritees, on goddes name,
To prechyng and to scole eek of clergye.
But if it lyke to this compaignye,
I wol yow of a somonour telle a game.
Pardee, ye may wel knowe by the name
That of a somonour may no good be sayd;
I praye that noon of you be yvele apayd.
A somonour is a rennere up and doun
With mandementz for fornicacioun,
And is ybet at every townes ende.
Oure hoost tho spak, a! sire, ye sholde be hende
And curteys, as a man of youre estaat;
In compaignye we wol have no debaat.
Telleth youre tale, and lat the somonour be.
Nay, quod the somonour, lat hym seye to me
What so hym list; whan it comth to me lot,
By god! I shal hym quiten every grot.
I shal hym tellen which a greet honour
It is to be a flaterynge lymytour;
And eek of many another manere cryme
Which nedeth nat rehercen at this tyme;
And his office I shal hym telle, ywis.
Oure hoost answerde, pees, namoore of this!
And after this he seyde unto the frere,
Tel forth youre tale, my leeve maister deere.
William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18:
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st,
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
John Milton, To the Nightingale:
O Nightingale that on yon bloomy spray
Warbl'st at eve, when all the woods are still,
Thou with fresh hope the lover's heart dost fill,
While the jolly hours lead on propitious May.
Thy liquid notes that close the eye of day,
First heard before the shallow cuckoo's bill,
Portend success in love. O, if Jove's will
Have linked that amorous power to thy soft lay,
Now timely sing, ere the rude bird of hate
Foretell my hopeles doom, in some grove nigh;
As thou from year to year hast sung too late
For my relief, yet hadst no reason why.
Whether the Muse or Love call thee his mate,
Both them I serve, and of their train am I.
Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales dates from fourteenth century England. I have included a small, but typical, section of the Canterbury Tales entitled The Friar's Prologue in the original Middle English. Problems arise with finding rhyme and meter if a translation is used.
When looking at this section of the poem you can see some patterns arising. The most obvious one is the rhyming couplet pattern of aabbcc... When we look at the meter of the poem, it becomes clear that it is a decasyllabic meter, and in general it is iambic pentameter, although at some points the stressed syllables are not as strong a stress as others leading to a feeling of a different meter.
The subjects of his works are the people of his timeframe. The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories of the people he meets when traveling through England. As such, you see the language used change based on whose tale is being told.
William Shakespeare’s works date from the sixteenth century England. I have included sonnet 18 as a typical example of his 154 sonnets. This is also best read in the original language as you can see the rhyme and meter better than in translations into modern speech.
Similar to the Canterbury Tales, the Sonnets are written in iambic pentameter. Sonnets also have a rhyming scheme, but not rhyming by couplets. Instead it is three quatrains with the rhyming pattern of abab, and ends with a rhyming couplet, thus, the Shakespearian Sonnet form is fourteen lines in length (Turco 263-264).
In contrast to Chaucer’s use of telling the story of a person, the Sonnets of Shakespeare are poems mostly to or about a person, commonly relating his feelings about the poems subject. Sonnet 18 is a perfect example of this as it shows Shakespeare expressing his undying love for the subject of the poem.
John Milton’s works date from the seventeenth century and he is also is one that wrote multiple sonnets, I have included his sonnet number one, To the Nightingale. Meter and style wise, this is the same form that was popularized by Shakespeare and already described above. In contrast to Shakespeare’s sonnets though, the subjects of his sonnets are not necessarily people, but often other things such as the nightingale in the example I provide.
One common theme among the sonnets of both Shakespeare and Milton is the feeling of the poem being a song, and is a true interpretation of the original meaning of sonnet, “little song” (Turco 263). This is in contrast to Chaucer’s work which is not as melodious even though it’s written in the same meter.
- Compare and contrast examples from the work of two poets of the same historical era from two different cultural traditions. (minimum 300 words of the student's original essay material beyond the verses provided at least two poems per poet)
For this question, I am going to use two contemporary poets, Robert Frost (1874-1963), an American poet, and William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), an Irish poet.
Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
William Butler Yeats, The Two Trees:
Beloved, gaze in thine own heart,
The holy tree is growing there;
From joy the holy branches start,
And all the trembling flowers they bear.
The changing colours of its fruit
Have dowered the stars with merry light;
The surety of its hidden root
Has planted quiet in the night;
The shaking of its leafy head
Has given the waves their melody,
And made my lips and music wed,
Murmuring a wizard song for thee.
There the Loves a circle go,
The flaming circle of our days,
Gyring, spiring to and fro
In those great ignorant leafy ways;
Remembering all that shaken hair
And how the wingèd sandals dart,
Thine eyes grow full of tender care:
Beloved, gaze in thine own heart.
Gaze no more in the bitter glass
The demons, with their subtle guile,
Lift up before us when they pass,
Or only gaze a little while;
For there a fatal image grows
That the stormy night receives,
Roots half hidden under snows,
Broken boughs and blackened leaves.
For all things turn to barrenness
In the dim glass the demons hold,
The glass of outer weariness,
Made when God slept in times of old.
There, through the broken branches, go
The ravens of unresting thought;
Flying, crying, to and fro,
Cruel claw and hungry throat,
Or else they stand and sniff the wind,
And shake their ragged wings; alas!
Thy tender eyes grow all unkind:
Gaze no more in the bitter glass.
These two poets while on different sides of the ocean, both were ones that were sticklers for meter. At the time of their works, poetry was taking a turn towards free verse, and less towards traditional forms and meters. While neither of the works I have chosen above fit into a traditional form, they both are very structured by meter and rhyme.
Both of these poems are tetrameter, or four stressed syllables in each line. In Frost’s poem, the rhyme scheme is abaab. Yeats on the other hand has five quatrains with the rhyme scheme of abab, and the first line of the stanza is repeated as the last line of the poem.
When we look at the number of syllables and kinds of accentual prosody used though, neither poet made that consistent throughout their works. Frost on average used nine syllables per line, and Yeats on average used eight syllables.
While both of these poems use nature as their language, neither is about nature. When we analyze the content of these specific poems we can see what they are truly about.
Frost’s poem is about making decisions and their consequences. He starts out describe the situation he finds himself at, a fork in the road, and there being a well beaten path. The second stanza describes the less worn path and how he has to make a decision between them. The third stanza shows him quibbling over which road to take and his desire to take both if time allows. Finally, in the last stanza he gives us his decision to travel the road less traveled.
The poem from Yeats though is a comparison of inner to outer beauty. The first stanza is all about the subject’s inner beauty, and comparing it to a holy tree. He then goes on to describe the looks and qualities of the tree, why he does love and she should love it (her inner beauty). The second stanza is about her outer looks. He tells her to not look into the mirror for that shows only the outer beauty that fades and gets destroyed through time.
- Compare and contrast two mythological or folkloric tales from two Indo-European cultures. Include a discussion of the use of narrative point-of-view, the element of time, and any relevant issues of religious (or other) bias influencing the narrative. (minimum 600 words)
The stories I have chosen for this are the Welsh story of Llud and Llevelys from the Mabinogion (Gantz 128-133) and Norse story Hymir’s Poem from the Poetic Edda (Larington 78-83).
In Llud and Llevelys, we are told of a people that are being troubled by three plagues: invasion by the Corannyeid, a deadly shriek on May Day, and famine. The main characters in the story are Llud who was the king of the Welsh and his brother Llevelys who had married and moved to France. The brothers meet in the sea to discuss the problem, and do this through a brass horn that only spouted out hatred. We can clearly see the Christian influence in this translation as it says “Llevelys perceived there was a devil frustrating them and causing trouble he ordered wine to be poured through the horn to wash it out, and the power of the wine drove the devil out” (Gantz 131).
Once that was cleared up though, Llevelys was able to instruct Llud on how to take care of the plagues. First was to create magical (implied holy) water to spread over the people and his would be fine, but the Corannyeid would be harmed. The second was the shriek was being made by a battle between two dragons. To solve this he was to dig a hole in the center of the island, put a cauldron of mead covered in a white sheet, and when the dragons tire, they’ll settle in the sheet as pigs, drink the mead and fall asleep. At that point he could tie up the sheet and lock them away in a stone chest. The third plague was being caused by a magician putting everyone to sleep and stealing the food at the feasts, and Llud could stay awake by immersing himself in a vat of cold water when he started to fall asleep. When the magician then showed up, he could fight him, and remove the plague of famine. Llud went back to Wales and did all of that, and it all worked.
In Hyrim’s Poem, we see the Æsir insisting that Ægir host a feast for all the deities. This being a big task, Ægir did not want to do that, so he insisted that they get a kettle big enough for him to brew enough drink in for all in one shot. This lead to Thor and Tyr going to Tyr’s parent’s home to retrieve a cauldron a league in depth. When they got there, Thor and Tyr’s father, the giant Hyrim, got into a battle of strength. They ate dinner and the next morning they went fishing to catch more food. Hyrim caught two whales and put them into the boat. Thor caught Jörmungandr, the Midgard serpent. Thor then hits it on the head and sends it back to the sea. When they get back to land, Thor’s strength is challenged again and he brings in the boat and whales all together. Then one final test, Thor has to break a crystal glass, and does that as advised by Tyr’s grandmother, by smashing it on Hyrim’s head, the only surface hard enough. Hyrim gets angry, destroys his house. Tyr and Thor survive by hiding under the giant cauldron, and Thor eventually slays Hyrim. In the end, the cauldron is brought back to Ægir and he brews the beer and hosts the feast.
When we compare these two stories, we can see that like much of the myth out there, they are told in third person. The two stories are told differently though in that the Welsh one is told in a story form. The Norse story is told in Eddic poetry. Both stories though are told in such a way that you know what the outcome will be, but not necessarily the details on how to get there. In the Welsh story, we see how a king is working to keep his kingdom together and not fall to outside forces. In the Norse one, we can see how the rules (Æsir) use their power to insist on a feast as was proper custom in the time.
Both stories talk about subduing a serpent. In the Welsh, it’s by letting the battling dragons tire, and drink mead to subdue them. In the Norse tale, it’s by catching it on a fishing line and hitting it on the head. This was more disturbing to the Norse though because the world serpent plays a role at Ragnarok, the end of the world.
When we look at the time each story takes, the Welsh story takes months in time, but is told in only a few pages. The Norse story on the other hand is mostly occurs over two days for the majority of the story. It really was over a few months though because Ægir needed time to brew the beer and both Tyr and Thor needed time to travel to Hyrim’s home.
When we look for Bias in the stories the Welsh story though does have a very Christian bias. You can see that in the example I mentioned earlier of driving the devil out of the horn. It’s also implied by the way it was written that the magical water Llud was to cast over everyone is holy water. In contrast, the Norse story does not have any obvious Christian bias. It does carry the undertones that occur throught all the lore though that the giants are bad and are beings to be used and/or destroyed. This more shows us the role of the outsiders, those beyond our village’s boundaries, and how they were viewed by the people as different and not necessairly good instead of any kind of Christian good vs evil bias.
Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Friar's Prologue. 03 Jan 2009 <http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=cme;idno=CT;rgn=div2;vi…;.
Frost, Robert. The Road Not Taken. 03 Jan 2009 <http://www.poetry-archive.com/f/the_road_not_taken.html>.
Gantz, Jeffrey, trans. The Mabinogion. NY: Penguin Books, 1976.
Larington, Carolyne, trans. Poetic Edda. NY: Oxford Press, 1999.
Milton, John. John Milton: Sonnet I: To The Nightingale. 03 Jan 2009 <http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/milton/nighting.htm>.
Shkespeare, William. Shakespeare's Sonnets: Sonnet 18. 03 Jan 2009 <http://poetry.eserver.org/sonnets/018.html>.
Turco, Lewis. The Book of Forms. Hanover: University Press of New England, 2000.
Yeats, William Butler. The Two Trees. 03 Jan 2009 <http://www.poetry-archive.com/y/the_two_trees.html>.