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!