Stavros of Minsk – Fornyrðislag – September 27, 2014

Silver Cesar Santos 26

Cesar Santos

Stavros of Minsk

In slumber slipping – one dark autumn night,
Downwards nigh the rose arbour I walked.

Ardent lovers dreamily a-waltzing – in angst stopped stunned as I entered,
Yet the dulcimer player wailed on with his dismal sonata.

Desolation surrounded the dark arbour – ghostly spectators seemed to be watching,
Awaiting some signal – from some ghastly invisible source.

The sonata waxed louder – my head was soon spinning,
When a spider-like web, wound round my nude shoulders.

Silky gossamer threads wound round me – with a will of their own.
I realized suddenly with a shudder, that I reeled not alone.

Regal and sombre there stood – a ghostly shroud of dismal darkness.
Darting and dancing around me, as he appraised my soul avidly.

Not dithering sulkily in sordid reflections – I sought out his name,
A-vowing to relieve myself of this shroud of destruction.

Answering in sepulchre tones – my shadowy companion advised me saying:
Know now my name humble slave – I’m the prince of darkness, Stavros of Minsk!

Light shot through the shadowy arbour – a superior voice shattered the scene:
“That’s thoroughly absurd – there’s no such name as Stavros from Minsk!”

The ghastly shimmering shadows – cracked and shattered then at once receded!
And there I lay in my creased bed-clothes – cowled by the shout of sovereign reality.

(C) G.s.k. ’14


This is my imperfect attempt to write a Fornyrðislag … you say looking perplexed, what is a Fornyrðislag:

Fornyrðislag (“fort near this lahg”) is an alliterative verse form that was used in ancient German, Norse, and Anglo-Saxon poetry. Today it is sometimes still used in Iceland.
Fornyrðislag is composed of lines with four or more syllables each. The lines are divided into half-lines (A and B) with a heavy pause (or caesura) between the half-lines. Each half-line has two stressed syllables, or lifts. The first lift in half-line B alliterates (repeats consonant sounds) with one (or both) lifts in half-line A. (The second lift in B does not need to alliterate with the lifts in A.) Alliteration in one line connects with alliteration somewhere in the next line to create line-pairs. Lines are grouped into stanzas which are anywhere from 2 to 8 lines long. Syllable count varies, but lines should be fairly dense.
Enjambment helps keep the lines from becoming “sing-songy”. Kennings (like “foe-cleaver” and “orc-chopper”) are common.

For further reading: Formal Features of Jónas Hallgrímsson’s Poetry or Arnaut & Karkur’s ultimate on-line prosody resource

I’ve seen this form used a few times by Jen at Blog it or Lose it!  I thought I’d give it a try, as I’ll try anything at least once.  I’m not sure that I’ve followed all the rules, I get lost when I read words like enjambment  … but here it is in all its enfamy or glory … based on a dream gone astray.  I’m also adding this to Mindlovesmisery’s September 16 Photo Challenge … this lovely photo has been haunting me for days and it seemed well-suited for the poem!

27 thoughts on “Stavros of Minsk – Fornyrðislag – September 27, 2014

  1. This is wonderful Georgia! [standing and applauding!] If it makes you feel better, I didn’t use enjambment either (continuing the first line into the second line). I felt lucky to get my A’s and B’s connected. 😉

    So many dream elements here, so much activity — like you’ve really delved into the subconscious. It almost feels like the ‘Sister Awake’ video with the silken cords controlling your movement, like the cords that made the archer stand and shoot. A very nightmarish quality – our communal fears (being watched, being controlled, being in the presence of darkness).

    For the sake of this scary dream, I’m glad your inner censor kicked in and said “there’s no such thing as Stavros of Minsk” — but really, Stavros of Minsk *does* have a bit of a creepy sound to it.

    Well done my dear! 😀
    Hie thee to the chocolate hence! 😉


    • Wow … I’m prancing with my head up high and saying … look at me and what I’ve done. Really though … it took days to pull the thing together … not write it (that only took a couple of hours which is really long for me), just pull it together. I decided to use Stavros of Minsk after we chatted yesterday about my acrostic (or was it the ABC poem?) that gelled the poem with the dream I’d had … so let the muse have her head and off we went!

      Thanks for the praise and the chocolate!!! I’m right pleased.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You earned it!
        Sometimes that’s the way it works, isn’t it? Forever to get the ideas to merge, and then the piecing together process is relatively quick.
        Except when you’re worrying about lifts. And alliteration. And A’s and B’s. 😉


        • Yes .. that’s how it is sometimes especially with something new .. at least for me.

          I’m not sure I got those lifts to tell the truth and the As and Bs seem a bit wobbly but I sure did alliterate 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          • LOL!!!!! 😀

            The *next* one will be less wobbly and you’ll get more comfortable with it. This is a form that really takes some practice because it involves thinking so much differently than we’re used to. 🙂


          • Me too and it’s not easy to translate that stuff literarily (thik I invented that) you’d have to interpret rather than translate the work … and some people would get bent out of shape if you did that!


          • It’s a lose-lose situation — UNLESS you add extra appendices to compare/contrast the “literal” and the “interpreted” versions. (Like a textbook.) Lotta work in that though.


          • I’m sure someone will do it someday … here they’re Tolkien crazy .. and most people have been disgusted by the movies of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings for that reason.


          • Took WAY too many liberties with the plot, that’s for sure.

            As for me — well, if I can listen to Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug, they can do whatever they darn well want to do. I was probably the one person in the theater rooting for the dragon! 😉


          • Ach … In Italian he’s not Benedict Cumberbatch so we can’t even forgive him for that reason 😉 (I did see it in English though in streaming … what a soave voice!


          • Amazing isn’t it? Ahhhh!!!!
            Saw a video of him performing the part for the animators — acting out the movements, the facial expressions, etc., with those white dots all over him. More than just his voice – he really put *everything* into that role. I was so impressed.


  2. Pingback: Yeterday’s Posts – September 28, 2014 | Bastet and Sekhmet's Library

  3. This is a spectacular image – not only the literal – put the work you have created; it truly is unique and astounding – holding great power and depth, as well as mystery. Bravo and well done!


in shadows light - walking under weeping pines - spring rain

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.