"I of you as you of me

In life, not death we join

And I of you and all that’s gone

And I of you and all to come

Past and present held through me

As befits the timeless one."

Blankets are much underrated. Blankets are an important part of life. They are with us from birth to death, token objects uniting all three times. In past, present and future days blankets bind the ends. They start each day, finish it, an eternal mimic of mortality. Each day begins as life begins, tight warmth wrapped to slow a dawning world. Each days ends as life ends, a blanket raised upon closing eyes.

And blankets reflect the flaws. Flaws in natural order. Blankets are to be found exactly where least needed. It is not the homeless on cold ground who have the warmest blankets.

So mused Carolin in her tower, blanket wrapped around her knees. Carolin now fifteen years old and full of contemplation. Such slight things draw her attention. In them she finds unique meaning not revealed to others. This was the property she knew was hers, that made him so attracted.

She felt the pang of uncertainty that this thought of him aroused. When would she next be with Tom? She deliberately broke this train of thought. It would happen and its contemplation would not speed its advent.

She could smell cooking cabbage, drifting from downstairs. It had that slight pungent smell that comes when things go wrong. Mother would be cross with herself, she was a good cook, but occasionally as happens to even the best, too many things at once cause some to go astray.

Father was home. As he came in he had noted the small book Carolin had left at the foot of the stairs, ready for her later ascent to her observatory.

He could not resist, picking it up, glancing at the first few cover pages then meticulously putting it back down, calling out to the kitchen. " Snorri. Snorri Sturluson, whose copy of the Edda is this? Is it mine?"

Carolin did not know he had a copy and even if she had known it is improbable that she would have had any interest in it. This was from Marlene, loaned that day, in response to Carolin’s delight in the Nordic stories Marlene told.

Father, having been acquainted with its source said " I guess you didn’t know the strong connections to Wagner."

She hadn’t known. He continued "If you are interested in Snorri you might like to see some of the ways they are connected."

He had taken down his own copy of the "Prose Edda" and several bound copies of Wagner’s operas.

He started with "The Ring Cycle", pointing out Wagner’s peculiar alliterative style and how it imitated that of Norse poetry. An ancient set of sound patterns applied in a disciplined way.

Father felt Carolin needed to know the use of props and staves. "Norse poetry is difficult for the modern ear", he stated, "because it relies not on rhyme and metre as we know it but a fixed number of sounds put into special places in each line of verse. These props and rhymes have special rules." He showed her this in the last chapter of the Edda, then showed how the pattern in the last six verses of the chapter are found almost exactly throughout the famous duet of "Tristan and Isolde". 


Tristan & Isolde

Act 2 Scene 2
So Sturben wir I die for you
Um ungetrennt And you for me
Ewig einig Deathless to
Ohne End’, Infinity
Ohn Erwachen Without waking
Ohn Erbangen Without sighing
Namenlos Wondrously
In Lieb’ umfangen In love undying
Ganz uns selbst gegeben, One on one depending,
Der Liebe nur zu leben Our love shall be unending!
Prose Edda , Chapter 3, penultimate verse
Sottak fremd I sought honour
Sotta ek fund konungs I sought meeting with a king
Sottak itran iarl, I sought a splendid earl
Tha er ek reist- when I cut-
Tha er ek renna gat- cold current -
Kaldan straum kili- with a keel-
Kaldan sia kili. When I make this keel
run over cold sea.

"And one other thing is common to both Wagner and Snorri. Rhyme is not absent but it is not often ‘end rhyme’ as we know it. It sometimes starts lines, mostly occurs within a line, at others it is placed across paired lines. And even lines use a different pattern to odd lines." Again he used the last chapter of the Edda to illustrate his point, but this time using the first verse.

"Half rhyme here in the odd line. ‘iord’ and ‘fyrd’. See only the sound of the first and last word matches ‘iord kann frelsa fyrdum’, the vowel is different but here in the even line, ‘fridrofs konungr ofsa’, full rhyme with ‘ofs’ occurring twice and nearly always one of these is the penultimate sound of the line. "

He concluded saying "Wagner was trying to write music based on the very earliest sounds, when speech relied on music’s qualities rather than words. He was looking for sounds of words and notes that caused people’s emotions to respond. He thought this would do it. That’s why his operas are so different."

They had finished there, cleared the table and left mother to her neglected cooking.

Carolin settled down to read. She would now have fifteen minutes or more. As she read she could feel that strangeness that she had felt before.

She knew at exactly which point the story began to change.

Thus spoke Third: ‘But first there was the world in the southern region called Muspell. It is bright and hot. That area is flaming and burning and it is impassable for those that are foreigners there and are not native to it. There is one called Surt that is stationed there at the frontier to defend the land. He has a flaming sword and at the end of the world he will go and wage war and burn the whole world with fire. Thus it says in Voluspa:

Surt travels from the south with the stick-destroyer
Shines from his sword the sun of the gods of the slain,
Rock cliffs crash and troll-wives abroad,
Heroes tread the road of Hel and heaven splits.

She could not be sure what caused the change, the word association, its links to recent Australia or the history in which she was placed. She felt a breeze and tucked more tightly the blanket that was bound around her. And from below she heard music, the sound of Wagner’s ‘Flying Dutchman’, his early opera from whose every page one conductor had professed, the wind always blew.

Snorri Sturluson, Lawspeaker, Icelander, violent, unpleasant man clung in clenched fist anger, waiting for his end. Lawspeaker, once and coming leader of his parliament, should not be subject to this.

The sea howled in groaning, shrieking tones, the wind crushed him wetly down. Raised, turned, sideways tossed, the deck held no stability. No wind like this had been foreseen, no storm to end his journey. Thirteenth century craftmanship not quite what it had been. The yawing, creaking timbers gasping with each wave, awash, streaming, slipping timbers must surely soon give way.

There is no sky, no sea either, air and water elements accursed, confused into seething grey. Grey and green, white and green, a howling whining, shrieking, crashing green.

A curse upon the captain, a curse upon his crew, pagan curse with Christian curse, whichever one is worst. Curse upon their silence, the absence of their chants. Wind-sucked mouths, their chants are useless. They no longer know the way. No charts to guide them, nothing written down. A curse upon the chants, the only thread to life. The loss of land, tormented sky, rending useless this mind-held data.

Surging wrenching sea, timbers crashing down around him. Howling now, howling at the wind. Stretched upward, bearded craggy face, howling curses, slashed with rain.

No stars, no charts, only chants. Useless chants learned by useless men. Chants on whose passed-on disciplines ancient, modern sailors rely. Chants for Iceland and for Norway, chants for fiord after fiord. Chants that in the sounds within them tell of rocks along the way. Chants that sung by wisened travellers yield the secrets of the sky.

Curses, howls, blasted out by nature, shattering lights across the sky. Hissing waves, missing stays, swishing, washing shattered timbers.

Listed lost, long lists of heroes, Vikings, pagan warriors. Lost in seas alike to this, on nights like this, chantless as this, sundered, rendered as this, this abysmal Norse abyss.

Fickle mind held data. Oral links finding fickle charted waters. No charts such as King Hakon has. Charts of stars with newly given names, stars to match known circles. Arab charts Alzuthi drew, these his mind retains.

The chant that holds them now release. Chant the chant to the winds. Howl the names to howling sky. Let the gods now be appeased.

Curse you Alcyone, Procyon, Aldebaran with all the clarity of your names. Alkaid, Phecda, Megrez, Dubhe familiar chariot or bear. Circling chariot, unspoken names, Arab bear names now known by Snorri. Hakon! Skuli! Sufi! Norway!Transgressor! Odin defied!. Nordic mind tracked learning pitting Sufi against Odin. Sounds revealing time by distance opposing Wotan’s bolt to flash . Berserker!.Bear seeker! Law-speaker!Names of the all circling gods, that pagan Vikings never sound. Hidden names known by meaning only. Release these new cursed memories, release them to the coldness of the sea. I say it twice as mariners star aids do.

Foreign sky so abnormal. Begone!. Go with the wind back where you belong. No normal wheel on turning axle turning relentless in the sky. No normal wheel with southern appendage but only rising, linear stars.

Alzuthi stars I curse your names. Release us from this storm.

Carolin, Carolin. Are you awake? I have called you four times already. Dinner’s ready.