I’ve stated my love for mythology several times before. Whether the ornate exuberance of Greek Mythology, or the worshipful power of the Egyptian pantheon (and all the pantheons in between), if you give me Myths, I’ll take them with open arms.
Nordic and Scandinavian lore is not an exception. With the recent rise of interest around the characters of Thor and Loki due to the mass blockbuster movies released throughout the last 5 years (let’s all give a doubtful “thank you” to Marvel for that), despite the severe mistakes and creative liberties, interest has indeed increased among the population for the mythology supporting these characters.
The Valkyries, Asgard, The Ragnarok, Valhalla, Mjölnir, Yggdrasil, One-Eyed Odin…
These are all terms that have been part of our society since viking times, and have populated and graced human literature many times over. Nordic mythology is probably the most well-known after the Classic Greek, and it represents an important part of English Language history.
Unlike the Greek pantheon, however, the Nordics are warriors through and through, and the richness of their myths is given by the fabulous legends and tales of warfare, rewarded heroes, battles of good versus evil, and the promise of the end of the world to come.
With an iconic narration, the musicality of a gone era, and the nostalgic feeling of a time when bravery and might were taken for granted, all these tales make up for quite an exciting read, rivaling any modern Thriller or Epic Fantasy best-seller.
Today, I bring you a collection of exactly such stories, translated by Mr. Ian Cumpstey (Northern Displayers, Skadi Press).
Warrior Lore is a compilation of Scandinavian ballads and tales, sure to make the delights of any mythology lover out there:
Thor resorts to cross-dressing in a bid to recover his stolen hammer. The hero Widrick Waylandsson comes face to face with a troll in the forest. A king’s daughter is abducted from a convent in rural Sweden. A young fighter has to show off his prowess in skiing and shooting for King Harald Hardrada. And more…
The medieval Scandinavian ballads in this collection tell stories of champions and fighters, vikings, and trolls, drawing on Norse mythology and heroic legend. There are riddles, and there are appearances from Thor, Loki, Sigurd, and other figures from the myths of the Edda and from history. Narrative ballads were part of an oral folk music tradition in Scandinavia, and were first written down around 1600, although the ballads themselves are older. These new English verse translations are mainly based on Swedish tradition.
Excerpt from Widrick Waylandsson’s Fight with Long-Ben Reyser:
It was Widrick Waylandsson,
Rode through the woods awhile.
He came to Long-Ben Reyser,
Who lay there black and vile.
And it was Widrick Waylandsson,
Hit Long-Ben where he lay:
“Get up now, Long-Ben Reyser,
“I’ll talk with you today!”
“Here have I lain for fifteen years,
“All on my left-hand side,
“And never has a fighter come,
“To challenge me to fight.
“Ride on, ride on, little man,
“And put away your spear.
“It doesn’t suit a stable boy,
“To challenge a fighter fierce.”
“I am not a stable boy,
“Although you thought it right,
“But rather has that fighter come,
“Who’ll challenge you to fight.”
And it was Long-Ben Reyser,
He lifted up his ear:
“Tell me then, my fair young swain,
“Of your blunt weapons here.”
“Shymbling is my noble horse,
“Born of Grimmer’s stud,
“And Mimmering is my good sword,
“Hard with fighters’ blood.
“Skrepping is my glorious shield,
“That many swords has shattered,
“Blank my proud and shining helm,
“That many arrows scattered.
“Wayland is my father’s name,
“He was a smith so fine,
“And Bodil is my mother’s name,
“Fair daughter of a King.
“And I am Widrick Waylandsson,
“In iron I am dressed,
“And this I’ll say to you in truth,
“As a fighter, I’m the best!”
Check out Warrior Lore:
Skadi Press: http://www.northerndisplayers.co.uk/