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4 DrottkvŠtt stanzas for ┌llr, My thoughts about it & Skaldic 201: Drottkvaet

(....) I am shocked (though pleased) by the end results of this poem.  Many have heard this rant before but it warrants another speach.  My thoughts about this center on the "word leading to word" passage in the Havamal.  When writing in DrottkvŠtt, the skald is in constant struggle to make things fit.  I feel like a fox chasing my own tail.  For example, you may correct one word to make it 'half-rhyme' only to discover you are now in violation of an alliteration rule.  Several hours later, one might find a stanza of conforming lines.  The meaning however has completely changed from the skald's original intent or idea.  This is especially true for this one to Ullr.  Looking at the poem in front of me...I can honestly say it doesn't feel like I wrote it.  (This is very emboldening and humbling at the same time.)  A layer of words isn't just followed by more words, they shape the words to be.  I am struck by how  'language' has carved its pathways in our inner most psyche.  It is formed within us as babes in such a way that adults cannot fathom what it is like without it.  It is conjured up from the spirit, from the depths of the Well inside us.  We cannot escape our language, no more than I can escape my own hide.  By attempting to convey truths about our Eldest Ancestors in skaldic meter, we can catch a glimpse of these inner pathways revealed in the story.  The poem maps them out for us - the contours of our souls. This is perhaps the great origin of our holy myths.  Maybe this is how a folk share feelings, fetch, luck and dreams together.  To find the spiritual level of these connections, we must look no farther than our own words. 


Now for Skaldic 201:   DrˇttkvŠtt ľ ôNoble-speech.ö

  • Formed of symmetrical stanzas of 8 lines.
  • Each line contains three stressed staves, (I will bold stressed syllables).
  • Main stave is the first stave in the even lines, (main stave is italic).
  • At least two staves in the odd line must alliterate with the main stave, (I will underline alliterations).
  • The last stave in the odd line must precede an unstressed syllable, (I usually didn't keep this rule - it isn't kind to English and is much easier to stick to when writing in ON)).
  • Fixed number of syllables in each line, (I stray only when I fear the meaning will be confused).
  • Usually six syllables in each line, (# of syllables is put in parenthesis after each line).  
  • Odd lines must contain two skothending syllables (half-rhymes), one of which must come at the end of the line.  Skothendingar contain a different vowel sound but same ending consonant sounds. (I colored skothendingar in red).
  • Even lines must contain two a­alhending syllables (full-rhymes), one of which must come at the end of the line.  A­alhendingar contain the same vowel sound and the same ending consonant sound.  (A­alhendingar are in blue). 

Challenge:  Go through and read just the colored portions below - out loud!  It will form a kind of sing-song affect. ( s - ice, orth - orthad - id, ind - ind, etc.)   I find this exercise greatly increases the beauty of the final reading.  Then, read the whole poem again - out load.  As you read, make sure you vocally stress the bolded syllables and match the tones of the rhymed portions (red and blue) to accentuate their connectedness to each other.

Lakeside Hunter

The s is crossing ice,  (6)

llr from the North comes forth, (6)
On blades of bone he slides,  (6)

Borne through hindering winds. (6)

On frozen firth he rises, (7)

The forest greets their meeting.  (7)

He wears the wild caught furs, (6)

Woolens hold back the cold.  (6)  (don't be tempted to stress 'back' it ruins the hold - cold rhyme)


Staring from stand of firs, (6)

A stag in blowing snow. (6)

His light-brown colored coat (6)

Crests shine tawny from dawn. (6)

Lashings light on his feet. (6)

On laced frames hunter braces  (7)

He bends the yew wood bound. (6)

The bow kept taught held low. (6)


Raising, sighting, sizing, (6)

Seeking the bone of his cheek. (7)

Squinting eye scopes the point. (6)  
And squares to horse tail hair (6)

The gust from grasp released, (6)

The grip of fletch bound tip, (6)

Wending it splits the wind, (6)

Whispers in lake air crisp. (6)


Feathered tail of felling, (6)

Firmly sets biting wřrm. (6)

Pierced by painful arrow, (6)

His prize from hiding rises. (7)

Bounding full he soon finds, (6)

Faltering hoof steps halt. (6)

llr the Hunter then hailed, (6)

The hart from forest shore. (6)

Jon Cyr

Raven Kindred North

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