Feathered for a day,
Feathered and proud, on the final Tuesday of January, as eyes of the world turn to a group of young Vikings about to perpetuate a tradition fit for our Nordic latitude.
It is a time when our Junior Jarl Squad shines inside our hall before they stampede through the school and then the town with their elders for a marathon of merriment.
Every year, the island’s sole urban centre sets itself for such day.
As night settles, their replica viking long ships will be torched like a winter bonfire. You can watch live via 60N TV online.
May this summons the return of the sun 🙂
Happy Lerwick Up-Helly-Aa!
Filed under 60N, ash, blogging, boats, celebration, earth, festival, fire, geopoetics, home, images, island, lerwick, life, north, scotland, shetland, spirit, vikings
Already the sun has begun to rise higher at its zenith.
To celebrate its return, men have built long boats to immolate out in a gale from winter’s depth. Whereas Scalloway opens a season of fire torching, and merriment inside halls, the island’s (modern) capital will attract crowds local and global on the final Tuesday of this month.
Winter will die out by fire. Like cosmic laws on the island, we brave the rawness of the ice that grips the Auld Rock to the core – from Saxa Vord to Compass Head… As snow covers heather and shore, and swans gather on frozen lochs.
And every trip defies the light in icicles.
Dawn starts earlier,
Crystal purple before sunrise.
It feels magic when this sky speaks in such colour. By the time I go home, light still lingers behind curtains… With it comes sly thin layer of black ice that seek your feet every morning.
Winter feels harsh on us, dwellers of the north. Yet I find solace in the thought that February welcomes Imbolc – the early signs of Earth’s Spring – in spite of struggle with more ice.
Winter possesses so many claws it defies those of the dragon. Soon the sun will revive our hearts as it continues to rise higher in our sky.
In the meantime, we shall raise our eyes to torches, it is written in every bay. 🙂
Filed under 2016, 60N, Arcania, blogging, earth, geopoetics, home, images, island, north, roots, scotland, shetland, shore, snow, spirit, winter
Not an occupational hazard, but a marvellous world, where we, poets, writers and artists, mingle and collaborate to bring alive our heritage.
This weekend, somewhere in Norfolk, at King’s Lynn Hanse House, a multi-disciplinary collaborative project – entitled The Nine Realms – is celebrating the Viking world. It is the fruit from a wonderful tree, curated and nurtured by Nicky Mortlock c/o ArtiPeeps. It has brought together a long boat load of writers and artists, as well as a boat (head) carver and Millfield School – younglings, who have been participating to the project in their own words.
Two links here, should you wish to acquire a copy of The Nine Realms’ Poetry Book, and or The Nine Realms’ School Book. Now, and if you are lucky enough to visit Norfolk – King’s Lynn this weekend and/or Norwich Library – where there will be poetry read by the poets present there on Monday – please do go along and leave your prints in the guest book! I, the poet based on my 60N latitude, am here in spirit.
“Vikings Ahoy!”, Nicky and all!
Have a marvellous time, everyone!
Filed under 2015, 60N, artipeeps, arts, atlantic, celebration, collaboration, education, exhibition, hansehouse, norfolk, poetry, project, theninerealms, vikings
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.
For Lesley S., first ever woman jarl in Shetland history.
Music inside sand,
Undo twilight to let us sing,
Hold torches high for a galley & a woman,
Aud, unafraid of world’s fire.
By the Atlantic we gathered,
blue-eyed dragon looked to Venus
inside a night fit for
a realm, where
as one with
the edge of
shells and sand, to
celebrate Aud The Minded
who captained her boat
till its end –
brandished her axe
before our world,
a Jarl & her
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 –
by your side,
through day and
night around da Ness,
fire unites kindred
spirits, fills cups
till final reel.
stood among its flames,
led your own crowd
to edge of waves,
and sang the
in the arms of the dragon.
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 🙂
Filed under 2015, 60N, Arcania, atlantic, boats, celebration, festival, fire, geopoetics, home, images, island, ninian, north, poet, poetry, scotland, shetland, shore, spirit, verse, verse poetry, winter, world, writing
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 🙂
Filed under 60N, ash, boats, celebration, colours, festival, fire, geopoetics, home, island, lerwick, life, north, scotland, shetland, spirit, world
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.
the Junior Jarl Squad in full swing just at the start of Period 1…
Filed under 60N, boats, celebration, festival, fire, geopoetics, home, images, island, lerwick, life, north, scotland, shetland, shore, spirit, world, writing
Ce matin les oiseaux ont chanté
les premiers soupirs
encore endormi dans
les brassées de
de bruyère de
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
Let’s speak of love.
Today birds sang spring’s
arms – hills’ heathery
hair, shapes & tanned skin
from our peatlands,
from this orange-scarlet sunrise.
let it whisper me amber words.
© Nat Hall 2014
Filed under 2014, 60N, Arcania, birds, celebration, colours, earth, fire, geopoetics, home, island, life, north, poet, poetry, shetland, spirit, verse, verse poetry, winter, world, writing