Tag Archives: fire

smuha 

There’s a tremor in the island.

A she-jarl emerged off a long line of masculine “tradition” of guizer jarls… She made headlines in newspapers, and I hear even in London.

She made us dream last Friday night.



Here, to celebrate such event, a humble triptych of poetry.

SMUHA 2015

For Lesley S., first ever woman jarl in Shetland history.

Acrostic

Skeo Clett,

Music inside sand,

Undo twilight to let us sing,

Hold torches high for a galley & a woman,

Aud, unafraid of world’s fire.

—-

Free Style

By the Atlantic we gathered,

blue-eyed dragon looked to Venus

inside a night fit for

a realm, where

folk marched 

as one with

fire,

down to

the edge of

shells and sand, to

celebrate Aud The Minded

who captained her boat

till its end –

brandished her axe

before our world,

stars 

assembled 

inside a

sky

fit for 

a Jarl & her

people.

—–

Avant-garde

Sleep

in 

the 

arms of the

dragon, by Skeo Clett, 

wild Atlantic, where stars gather

above our heads, home of 

the human fire snake

that comes to die

in boat’s belly –

woman,

child, 

man 

march

by your side, 

through day and

night around da Ness,

fire unites kindred

spirits, fills cups

with mead

after

twilight,

animates hearts

till final reel.

Now

you have

stood among its flames,

led your own crowd

to edge of waves,

and sang the

song of

the

Norseman, 

wake 

in the arms of the dragon.



Notes:

SMUHA is Shetland’s South Mainland Fire Festival, held annually South of Lerwick.

A “jarl” is a viking chief.

“Skeo Clett” is the name of the rocky feature on the northern side of St Ninian’s tombolo (sandbar that links the Isle of Saint Ninian to the mainland). 

A “galley” is a viking longship. 

“da Ness” is the way folk call the Parish of Dunrossness (the southern part of Shetland’s main island, itself known as “South Mainland”)

© Nat Hall 2015

Programme image courtesy of smuha.org where more information can be found 🙂 

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alight

Up-Helly-Aa 2015
Lerwick, Shetland – 1 Jarl, 47 squads, 969 torches through the streets of the Islands’ capital…
Les moments forts, highlights in a string of images fresh from my iPod 🙂

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Vikings

It is Up-Helly-Aa Day on the island and two squads of Vikings are rampaging through our world until their boats end up in flames after sunset.
Merriment follows through the night.
Here,
the Junior Jarl Squad in full swing just at the start of Period 1…

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14-2-14

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Parlons d’amour.

Ce matin les oiseaux ont chanté
les premiers soupirs
du printemps
encore endormi dans
les brassées de
la mer,
cheveux
de bruyère de
la terre,
courbes & teint hâlé de
la lande, là où
les cœurs s’encrent
au rouge orangé du soleil.

Ouvre ton cœur,
laisse-le me souffler des mots
ambres.

Let’s speak of love.

Today birds sang spring’s
primal sighs,
still
asleep
inside ocean’s
arms – hills’ heathery
hair, shapes & tanned skin
from our peatlands,
where hearts
ink themselves
from this orange-scarlet sunrise.

Unlock
your heart,
let it whisper me amber words.

© Nat Hall 2014

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fire time

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Tension, excitement, fever reached fire levels from sunrise, as silver helmets, shields, shiny axes and black feathers were expected inside the heart of our high school.
And here they came past 9 a.m.

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Braving storm winds & lashing rain, our young Vikings entered the granite strong institution where their elders once tattooed old footsteps…

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Their replica Viking long ship (known locally as da galley) would wait outside in the carpark.

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On such great day, our brave Junior Up-Helly-Aa squad shone as bright as their shields & their helmets. No need to force the school’s main doors, they knew their welcome would be warm.

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So they gathered & found shelter in between double doors, as crowds of junior pupils massed inside the great assembly hall.
The raven painted on their shield waited to jeer inside all hearts.

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So they brandished their spirit & axes.

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On the signal, they marched with pride towards the packed assembly hall, as pupils met them with applause, smiles & sheer awe. They paraded like true Norsemen, as their elders would do tonight.

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In sheer Shetlandic tradition, they sang the great fire festival song to the pleasure of the crowd; were acknowledged by the whole school before investing corridors, classrooms in a very cheery manner.
Our junior squad did what their elders did. By the evening, they would parade with their torches in the heart of Old Lerwick & throw them in their boat in an effort to defy the wrath & fury of winter & celebrate the sun’s return…
And if you stood by their torches, you saw the mast engulfed in flames.

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Just as their elders did just opposite the flower park.

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