Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In Honor of Egil's Fight with the Frisians

I'm reading Egil's Saga...Yes, again! Each time I read it, I discover something new. This time, it was the magic used by Atli in his duel with Egil. For some reason, it simply didn't filter into my head that Atli, "skilled in magic arts," was blunting Egil's sword strokes with magic! Yet, the text is quite clear. Most marvelously and quite in character, Egil gets around the magic thus,

He threw down his sword and shield, ran for Atli and grabbed him with his hands. By his greater strength, Egil pushed Atli over backwards, then sprawled over him and bit through his throat. Atli died on the spot. -transl Bernard Scudder

This outrageous act is followed by Egil running over to the sacrificial bull and breaking its neck. He follows this up by, of all things, a poetic recitation of his own composition.

I'm so smitten with Egil and his feats that I wrote him a poem, In Honor of Egil's Fight with the Frisians.

Egil and his sea wolves chased the Frisians who fled

across a bridge over a ditch to a farther field.

Once over, the Frisians pulled the spanning planks

but Egil leapt running across the banks.

Too bad none of his band was as largely bred.

The Vikings left Egil forfeited,

but he fought eleven till the field ran red

then returned to the wolves who had thought him dead.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ch'ing P'ing Lyrics

Waking in the gallery
at dawn, and told it's snowing,

I raise the blinds and gaze into pure good fortune.
Courtyard steps a bright mirage of distance,

kitchen smoke trails light through flurried skies,
and the cold hangs jewels among whitened grasses.

Must be heaven's immortals in a drunken frenzy,
grabbing cloud and grinding it into white dust.

-Li Po

Li Po is one of my top ten favorite poets. :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

In the greenhouse, I sat in the sun and soaked it up like a lizard.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Moonlight drifts down to the snow;
one glitters, one glows.
Silent is a great, old owl.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Written on a Snowy Night

One Summer Day in the North

Blind in one eye, Bright in the other,

Ve and Vili's brother, the bees' conductor.

Buzzing galdr and songs of Balder

Among poppies so bold, brewing mead so gold.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Tracing back my surname (specific to MY genealogy, mind you!) suggests the following sequence of spelling changes: Sperlingham-->Sperlingh-->Sperling-->Sparling-->Sparlin.

I probably had an ancestor, Jan or Pieter or Niels, etc., who lived in the town of Sperlingham, thus, Jan of Sperlingham. I give this ancestor a Dutch first name, because his descendants later settled in New Amsterdam, and their names are found on the rolls of the Dutch Reformed Churches.

Sperling might refer to a fish--might! I've tried to track down the etymology, but it is ambiguous. If it does refer to a fish, I like to imagine that Sperlingham was along a coastline, perhaps a fishing village and that the great number of men were fisherman.

When Jan & family traveled to America, the name, "Jan of the town of Sperlingh," was shortened to Jan Sperlingh and so on. Some of the changes were, undoubtedly, errors, but might also have been personal preference. In one family, at least, from Indiana, the sons variously spelled their name either with or without the terminal "g," giving rise to Sparlins and Sparlings who were first cousins.

I am the descendant of one of these brothers who dropped the "g," and now with Social Security numbers firmly rooted in our society, there's less chance the spelling will change soon. However, a SSN, as immutable as that seems to us, is only a blip in history, and I have no doubt that hundreds of years from now, a descendant with a similar--but not exact--name will be squinting at my name, Kecia Sparlin, and making up stories about me, too.