Thursday, 21 July 2011

Thor's Poetry Recitals

(With apologies to Edgar Allen Poe.  Cross-posted at Year X.)

Once upon a midnight dreary, when I awoke both pale and bleary
My head still swimming fiercely from mead quaffed the day before,
With stomach swelled and bowels flapping, suddenly there came a tapping
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my Thrudvang door.
‘Tis some mortal,’ I muttered, ‘tapping at my Thrudvang door.
Only this, and nothing more.’

Ah, distinctly I remember, ‘twas my own day, in December,
And the ale-horns and the goat-bones spread their stains upon the floor
And I wished not for tomorrow, for ‘tis hard to make men follow
Gods who retched themselves out hollow, hollow even to the core
And with rare and radiant Sif gone, I was frozen to the core
Thunderstruck forever more
And the ne’er before unnerving rustling of each trollhide curtain
Now thrilled and filled with terrors a heart that had known none before
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
‘Tis some mortal who’ll prove helpless against my Thrudvang’s door
Some lost mortal who’ll prove helpless against my Thrudvang’s door
That is it, and nothing more.’
The pain in my skull grew stronger; I could bear the noise no longer
‘Fool,’ said I, ‘Of Midgard, Mighty Thor’s head is so sore,
That if you don’t hold fast your rapping, you’ll soon be found a’napping
Since your skull I'll put a gap in, when through your head Mjollnir bores
So begone before I smite you’ – here I flung open the door;-
Darkness there, and nothing more.
Deep into that darkness peering, I stood with my innards searing
Until I felt my stomach heaving and ran through the privy door;
And the silence was then broken by sounds of a Norse God choking;
For his churning guts had spoken and he must throw up his core;
But I swore that from the doorway I heard a whisper ‘Sif’; no more.
Merely ‘Sif’, and nothing more.
Back into my chamber turning, with stomach and bowels both burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
‘Surely,’ said I, ‘surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and then back to bed to snore –
Let my head be calm a moment and then back to bed to snore –
‘Tis a headache, nothing more!’
Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In stepped one of father’s ravens, jet black from beak to core.
And no tribute did he pay me; for no raven will obey me
When they’re of the lord or lady who’ve ruled since days of yore –
Perched he on the skulls of giants I’d piled by my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
For indeed I spied my father in the countenance it wore,
‘Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, still I recognise you raven,
And since Muninn is no craven who would quake behind my door –
Tell me what thy lord is wanting from the great and mighty Thor!”
Quoth the raven ‘Sif I saw.’
Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl chose to speak so plainly
For my father’s raven’s riddling was often best ignored
But I could not help agreeing that if honest he was being
And he had been blessed by seeing Sif on ocean or on shore
Then welcome was this raven to sit on skulls beside my door
For who else claims ‘Sif I saw’?
But the raven sitting lonely on the gleaming bones spoke only,
Those three words, as if his souls in that one phrase he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered – not a feather then he fluttered –
Till I scarcely more than muttered ‘I have heard such tales before –
On the morrow hope will leave me, as will the bile that burns my craw’
Then the bird said ‘Sif I saw.’
Startled at the stillness broken by reply so quickly spoken
‘Doubtless’ said I, ‘what it utters Odin taught it, to anger Thor,
Damn you, unfeeling master, who would take my heart’s disaster
And use it to remind me that I am bleeding from my core
This dirge you’ve made from hope weights burdens that you knew I bore
Say no more ‘Sif I saw.’
But the raven still beguiling my fur-lined mouth into smiling,
Rubbing my aching forehead I sat down beside the door,
Then my mind still slow from drinking I began to start the linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this Odin-bird of yore –
What this grim, unsettled memory made flesh as Odin-bird of yore
Meant in croaking ‘Sif I saw!’
Thus I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose eyes were burning what only Sif had lit before;
This and more I sat divining, with my brain cells wailing, whining
For to sit with thoughts entwining is no fit state for mighty Thor!
No, to sit with thoughts entwining was no fit state for mighty Thor!
‘Til first my Sif I saw.
Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from some holy censer
Swung by some impish elfling who would creep across my floor.
‘Wretch,’ I cried, ‘Odin hath lent thee – as Memory he has sent thee
To remind me he hath rent me in pieces forevermore
Alone, ‘tis he who could have rent me, by sailing my Sif from shore!’
Quoth the raven ‘Sif I saw.’
‘Muginn!’ said I, ‘thing of evil! – Memory still, if bird or devil!
Whether Odin sent, or whether Frigga tossed you to my shore,
Desolate yet all undaunted in this land of fields enchanted –
This home by lonely silence haunted – tell me truly, I implore –
Is she – is she still in Asgard? – tell me – tell me, I implore!’
Quoth the raven ‘Sif I saw.’
‘Muginn!’ said I, ‘thing of evil! – Memory still, if bird or devil!
By the bones of all the Aesir – by each goat and bear and boar –
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the flight of raven
I can find a dark-haired maiden by swimming from my shore
For I will find her where I must, though I pass through Jormungand’s jaws
Quoth the raven ‘Sif I saw’.
‘Be that line our sign of parting, Odin’s crow!’ I screamed upstarting –
Head and belly both forgotten as thunder rolled and lightning clawed
‘Leave no black plume as a token of the lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken, lest you be hammered to my door!
Take thy feet from off my skulls, and take thy form out through my door!’
Quoth the raven ‘Sif I saw’.
So the raven, never flitting still is sitting, still is sitting
For I cannot take a hammer to one who claims that Sif they saw;
For Memory gives no way of knowing what has past and what’s ongoing
And whether Sif might yet be rowing her way to some new land's shore
And still there might come a day when the raven will say more.
And so waits mighty Thor.


Brutal Snake said...

This made my day! The Raven is pretty much the perfect poem :)

SpaceSquid said...

It certainly has the advantages of being about memories, ravens, and things that rhyme with Thor...