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
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.
Braving storm winds & lashing rain, our young Vikings entered the granite strong institution where their elders once tattooed old footsteps…
Their replica Viking long ship (known locally as da galley) would wait outside in the carpark.
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.
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.
So they brandished their spirit & axes.
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.
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.
Just as their elders did just opposite the flower park.
Filed under 2014, 60N, boats, celebration, festival, fire, geopoetics, home, images, island, lerwick, north, shetland, spirit, wind, winter, writing