Thursday, November 10, 2011

D'Verse Prose to Poem- Prose Edda Chapter XVI


Original passage from The Prose Edda, by Snorri Sturluson. “The Fooling of Gylfe, Chapter XVI Ragnarok,
Then happens what will seem a great miracle, that the wolf devours the sun, and this will seem a great loss.  The other wolf will devour the moon, and this too will cause great mischief.  The stars shall be Hurled from heaven.  Then it shall come to pass that the earth and the mountains will shake so violently that tree will be torn up by the roots, the mountains will topple down, and all bonds and fetters will be broken and snapped.  The Fenris-wolg gets loose.  The sea rushes over the earth, for the Midgard-serpent writhes in giant rage and seeks to gain the land.  The ship that is called Naglfar also becomes loose.  It is made of the nails of dead men; wherefore it is worth warning that, when a man dies with unpared nails, he supplies a large amount of materials for the building of this shop, which both gods and men wish may be finished as late as possible. But in this flood Naglfar gets afloat. The giant Hrym is its steersman.  The Fenris-Wolf advances with wide open mouth; the upper jaw reaches to heaven and the lower jaw is on the earth.  He would open it still wider had he room.  Fire flashes from his eyes and nostrils.  The Midgard-serpent vomits forth venom, defiling all the air and the sea; he is very terrible, and places himself by the side of the wolf.


 Turned to poetic form, keeping original text and punctuation.
Then happens what will seem a great miracle,
that the wolf devours the sun,
and this will seem a great loss. 
The other wolf will devour the moon,
and this too will cause great mischief. 
The stars shall be Hurled from heaven. 
Then it shall come to pass
that the earth and the mountains will shake
so violently that tree will be torn up by the roots,
the mountains will topple down,
and all bonds and fetters will be broken and snapped. 

The Fenris-wolf gets loose.

The sea rushes over the earth,
for the Midgard-serpent writhes
in giant rage and seeks to gain the land. 

The ship that is called Naglfar also becomes loose. 
It is made of the nails of dead men;
wherefore it is worth warning that,
when a man dies with unpared nails,
he supplies a large amount of materials
for the building of this ship,
which both gods and men
wish may be finished
as late as possible.

But in this flood Naglfar gets afloat.
The giant Hrym is its steersman. 

The Fenris-Wolf advances with wide open mouth;
the upper jaw reaches to heaven
and the lower jaw is on the earth. 
He would open it still wider had he room. 

Fire flashes from his eyes and nostrils. 

The Midgard-serpent vomits forth venom,
defiling all the air and the sea;
he is very terrible,
 and places himself
 by the side of the wolf.


 My Poetic Interpretation of the Passage
At the end of days,
Mercy shall pour,

As the snarling fangs devour light
All dreams destroyed in darkest night

Stars collide.
Fall.  Dead.
Empty. Void.

And so the storm shall feel
As if long past.

Survivors, all whom remain,
Will kiss the ground in thanks,

But lips shall first feel
The bubbling cracks below
The violent tremors break
Unleashing beast below

Prompting a universal flood

Drowning
Souls saved
Briefly by
Boatman’s ride

Yet beast grows
Constricts the orb
Spitting out what
It cannot hide
In belly
Craving

Pathways blocked
And extraction
Of the soul commences
By serpent tongue
Siding with the
Frenzied beast
Reborn
From beneath
The dead.

D'Verse is open and serving up a dose of prose to poem this week for Meeting the Bar.  I thought it an interesting challenge, but I didn't know where to begin.  So I grabbed the first book near me, but that was a topology book, and figured nobody really wanted to hear me write on that:)  So I turned my head and saw my books on myth, but none seemed to urge my getting up from the computer chair.  So I delved into Ibooks and found that version of The Prose Edda staring at me.  It took a couple minutes to find a passage not smothered in hard-to-pronounce names, but I found one, and it just so happened to be about Armageddon, or as they call it Ragnarok. I may have alluded to a bit of information not presented in this passage, but not that much, if at all.  Just a piece of that chapter, perhaps longer than intended, but I found this exercise fun, and didn't want to leave the piece hanging mid passage.  It was different for sure, but different is good.

16 comments:

  1. i am hoping then that perhaps i am gone there at the end...smiles. really fine use of language in your transformed piece...this fit well with your style...

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  2. you have improved the imagery in the prose, such as "the snarling fangs devour light"

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  3. I just read this passage a few days ago. Your poem clips the lines to great effect, adding to the chaos and desperate feel. A real sense that nothing can save you when the whole world is devoured. A transformation that 'will seem a great loss' hinting that there is something more to come.

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  4. this is so uber cool fred....love the text you took and love what you did with it...really, really great stuff...isn't this is a cool prompt...? back from brighton with delayed flight and all..and more around again now...smiles

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  5. Your final poetic translation works brilliantly. It has great economy of language and speaks with an authentic and original voice.

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  6. Didn't Tolkien spend some time translating The Prose Edda? How rich folklore is. I love how you distilled it into the darkness it is.

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  7. The Eddas can quite interesting to read. A beautiful poem.

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  8. There must be something in the water--I just read this, or about this, in my new copy of Myths of the Norsemen last night when I couldn't sleep. Snorri is getting a lot of attention. I found that image of the fenris wolf opening his jaw from earth to sky extremely vivid--you've retold it very well here, with that same feeling of matter-of-fact intensity that seems to pervade the Eddas. (I love the nail-parings bit, too. trim your nails or you'll hasten the end of the world, boys!) Great work, Fred.

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  9. Wow! This is one of my favs from you thus far. Loving the powerful lines and their brevity is top-notch poetic writing imho.

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  10. I was taken by the explanation in your Process notes. You had followed closely to what was required to be done and accomplished it brilliantly. The icing on the cake are the 2 gems that you produced. Excellent,Fred!

    Hank

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  11. I knew you'd jump at this one with all your books, didn't go for a dictionary though?..how dissapointing..hahaha...but as always the verse never dissapoints great dVerse play, heard of Ragnarok obviously, but not book, you will always one up me there..haha.

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  12. I like the extraction of the soul bit, and am interested in how it gives the story a kind of Judeo-Christian element that's distinct from the Edda's.

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  13. Brian- Yes, I really don't want to be here when all Hell Breaks loose literally, although, in a Christian sense, it does say that those who are still around at this time will be sorted into 2 groups- Those who deserve immediate ascension into Heaven and those that will bear the burden of cleaning up after the Havok has unleashed. Obviously two different end-game structures I've just unceremoniously clustered right there, but oh well. Still, no way do I want to see the fangs first hand.

    Bat- Wow, you have no idea what a compliment that is- The Edda is one of my favorite pieces in all of literature- Thank You

    Anna, yes, exactly-love your interpretation- That hinting at this "more to come" has always been something I've mulled over. Personally I think it's not as subtle as I'd like to think it is, but some don't see it this way. Glad you caught that.:)

    Thanks Claudia, really appreciate your comments:) Glad you got back home safely.

    James, thanks I appreciate that. You know I don't know If I'm missing something but I tried finding your piece on the Mr. Linky but couldn't find it, and when I went to your sites the only things I saw were pieces I'd previously read. If I'm missing it, or it's on another site please let me know, I enjoy your work and would like to see your offering here.

    Yousei- Not sure for a fact, but I think in a way the entire Rings...fantasy could be compared if one tried, as I can see similarities between the works.

    JP, Thanks for visiting, I appreciate your feedback

    Hedge, Yes I've seen an uptick on the Norse Mythology as of late, seems perhaps the Thor movie may have garnered some additional interest. Norse Mythology is by far my favorite of any mythic structure, I do love them all, but something about the Norse tales, Edda's in particular, that just do that extra something for me. Really glad you enjoyed my piece, and can't thank you enough for the wonderful compliments:)

    Sheila- Thanks, really glad you enjoyed the piece. It's a very powerful chapter for sure, glad I was able to get that across.

    Hank, thanks, I appreciate your feedback, really glad you enjoyed the piece. I love being compared to Brilliance and I love cake, so doubly grateful:)

    Pat, yeah it was too hard to pass up. I still think you should pit the cat against the Serpent- Bet the cat makes him cough up a world-ball- get it-lol oh that was an awful joke:) Never one up the cat, no way, no how-impossible.

    Manic- Thanks I appreciate your feedback.

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  14. Fred,

    What a great selection! You are the only one in this challenge to select any kind of sacred text. And a very interesting choice, indeed! Love your transformation and how you really brought this to life! Love the contrasts and the variation and the different number of lines in various stanzas to further enhance the interest. Very well done!

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  15. Zum- Thanks I appreciate your comments here very much. I love the piece and yes, I consider it sacred in a sense as well. Really an ego boost those last few lines- I'll savor them. Thanks

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