24 Jun 2015

Poem: Jörmunísskast

‘Alex!’ you cry; ‘wherever have you been? And don’t you owe us a poem?’ you enquire. Well, dear reader: you are indeed correct. Though my blogging has been less than impressive so far—blame the writing of personal statements—I do nevertheless have a poem in store for you. ’Tis known as Jörmunísskast (literally ‘Great Ice Castle’ in Norse) or Aslaug the Banished.

It may be helpful to know some of the underlying context behind this, however, before you go jumping in. Aslaug is in mythology proper a noble princess raised by peasants; I, however, have taken liberty to name Aslaug a daughter of Loki, and a former idol of man. Being displeased of her power, Odin banished her to Niflheim—the land of ice.

Aslaug, of course, was less than pleased with this development; and so she schemes, in her grand ice castle, of how she may contrive to grasp her former power.

As befits a dark goddess, Aslaug is a bitter old soul. She harkens to the days of old, when men bowed to her might, and she was great; and she holds her new protégées—the creatures of the Ice: Frost Giants, sea serpents, great bear-like beasts—in contempt. Jörmunísskast, on the other hand, is forged of her own power. It is a testament to her invincible power; to her rule, over her dark, cold realm.

In any case; I’ve given you enough on the way of background. If you are unfamiliar with the better known tenets of Norse mythology, Thor and Loki are the gods of thunder and wickedness (respectively) and have been at each other’s throats since time-immemorial. Hrothgar is a clement King described in the Beowulf saga; Midgardr is the ‘middle world,’—the human realm; and the serpent is Jörmungandr, a massive sea serpent that encircles Midgardr, and a child of Loki. Now, feel free to take a look…

Jörmunísskast, or Aslaug the Banished

Jörmunísskast, how great are thee!
O’er fallen cries of great white beasts
You stand tall; and even Winter’s
Inclement caress
Can but grace those
Gleaming icen walls.

You call Jörmunnordr—the
Great North—your timeless foe;
And yet, as you stand proud;
As you hold defiant, to savage Viking cry
And mighty Godly bellow
You call Jörmunnordr, brother.

Neither invaders’ grand desire
Nor death’s timeless machinations
Can defeat the regents of the Ice.
Your graceful, arrogant towers
Reach, with foolish hand, to Asgard’s
Fickle realm.

Of Niflheim, you are; and in
Your everlasting purlieu, your land
Of ice and star; your Queen,
Grows restless, in audacious

Like Thor and Loki,
You, Jörmunísskast, are but damned
To battle eternal; for she,
Man’s bitter love past
Shall forever lust for that
Forbidden fruit.

‘Let man tremble against the powers of the ice,’ says she;
The capricious beast!
‘Let him wonder, as he enjoys ephemeral fire,
‘Of what patient foe lurks deep in northern Hinterland.’
’Tis true, her word: for man knows
The fickle heart of that capricious god.

When the Frost Giant’s breath shall blow far;
When darkness shall covet stars
Aslaug’s dreams shall find solace.
In her throne—a sculpted totem
Of Winter’s incipient fury—she smiles
Eyes gleaming, cold blue.

Like Hrothgar’s magnanimous caricature
She walks, form posed in lethal grace;
Ice follows faithfully, and the Cold Ones
Await her bloody promise.
‘Rise! Rise, creatures of the ice,’ she calls.

Her hand aloft, her sword alight
She calls to Jormunisskast:
‘Stand with me, great ice castle;
Stand, and let our enemies
Know Winter’s age-old wraith.’
So says man’s former Queen.

In Midgardr, the serpent coils
And the gates are torn asunder.

I shall also take the liberty to draw your attention to a few of the particulars. Take:

Neither invaders’ grand desire
Nor death’s timeless machinations
Can defeat the regents of the Ice.
Your graceful, arrogant towers
Reach, with foolish hand, to Asgard’s
Fickle realm.

The first few lines concern themselves with our castle’s impressive record: it has repelled Aslaug’s enemies in Asgard (the realm of the Gods), and it has even defeated the dauðr—undead beings of the ice, and former denizens of Niflheim.

The lines thereafter, however, are interesting in that they pay homage to a Christian myth: the Tower of Babel. Aslaug, the former God, still desires a place at Odin’s side; and, fittingly, her pride is what ultimately resulted in her losing it.

Let us also take a look at Jörmunnordr—the Great North. In some ways, it is Jörmunísskast’s enemy; or, implicitly, Aslaug’s foe. After all: Aslaug despises its denizens, and Jörmunnordr is a wall against her former worlds.

And yet, the two are like rival brothers. They seem to possess great dislike of one another; and yet, nevertheless, they share a fraternal bond—a brotherly camaraderie forged of common enemies and desires. There is also a literal aspect to this: the ice castle is designed both to hold the Great North’s elements at bay, and to guard Aslaug from her enemies. The former leads the two to enmity, while the latter is a gift they share.

Very well. I have discussed this little side-poem in detail; now I must concern myself with essays, more poems for the Fallen Saga, and of course: the Ark. With regards to the latter, I shall present to you two things: firstly, the ‘Upcoming’ page, which has been requested; secondly, I shall plan and begin the Ark.

Until then—may the stars be with you.


  1. so hello alex. I just read your post in another blog. seriously I'm actually interested in your Necromancer, but I love poetry more. let me know if you let me to have a discuss about poetry. i'll be so glad.


  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Dear Surya:

    If you wish to discuss the poem, here is the best place to do it.