I've been reading Jackson Crawford's The Wanderer's Havamal, so my head is full of all things Nordic. I wrote this while my students were doing their Ethics tests yesterday and today; there are a few poetic licenses, whether for the odd rhyme scheme or to fill in a bit what the norns do (our information is patchy), but most things in it have at least some foundation in sources.
The air is cold, the sun is bright, and I
am waiting for the night;
the leaves are rustling, crisp and winter-dry;
the boughs look strange and bent.
The ash of worlds is swayed by gale from home
of elves to shadowed Hel,
but roots go down within the sand and loam;
the tree of realms will stand.
The caverns down below with darker ways are filled,
the caves that know no days,
where live the beasts no god, no soul, has willed,
with eyes as black as coal.
Beneath the tree, the steed where rides the god,
the fateful threefold hides;
they rule with might more sure than ruthless rod;
their word is bitter truth.
The waters trickle down the stony stair
to world untouched, alone;
where Urth is weaving golden thread the air
is weighted thick with dead.
The well of Urth is deep and cold; its maw
is like a dragon bold.
By Urthabrunn the ancient fates make law
devoid of love and hate.
Those waters holy heal, their dew the tree
of realms can make as new;
to taste that water is to wholly be,
and be made fresh of soul.
There too the swans a whiteness sure receive
from water hale and pure;
the draughts of truth all wounds and griefs relieve,
and fair are those reliefs.
The three who know all things there speak in thought;
all secret lore they seek.
Their turning thread they wove; their net has caught
the passed, the now, the yet.
Verthandi speaks the word of nornish doom
and men are slain or born,
and Skuld will consecrate the blooded gloom
and set aside the good.
Verthandi writes the runes on graven wood,
this man to free or save,
and Skuld the valkyrie in verdant maiden's hood
will sort each soldier-shade.
But Urth in law beyond all law is great;
around her head is awe,
for being is as she will deem its fate
and as her maidens dream.
Around a crowd is formed, with norn on norn
for every creature born,
to oversee the birth when babe from womb is torn
and fix its someday tomb.
Your birth is fated; fated too your death,
your fortunes old and new;
a good or evil norn has given breath
to you, and thus you live.
The waters trickle upward full of force,
in spirits form and pool
each Urthabrunn is echoing as source,
to shape each living thing.
From deepest sand and stone the roots go up
and give off greening shoots.
The tree of worlds is rising high and fair.
Its breezes gently sigh.
The boughs are vital-lovely, blooming worlds,
defying mortal doom;
every stem is blowing, dreams uncurled,
with bright and dewy gleams.
It overarches earth and even sky,
a fair and mighty eave;
upheld by fate, its leaves are bright, and I
am waiting dawning light.