Old Norse Family Values

Gísla saga Súrssonar

Son of sour milk
tried to trick fate
by going under a lifted strip of sod,
making a coin with two heads
held together with rivets,
even staging his own death.

The sons & daughter of Sour
soon soured on each other,
& the blood-brother’s blood, which had dried
on the point of an ensorcelled spear,
blended with the blood of the killer
who had earlier refused such a mingling,
refused to swear brotherhood.

They outlawed the killer’s killer
(also his brother-in-law).
He went back under the sod to hide,
& in his dreams, two women
took turns filling his drinking horn,
one with mead, the other with gore,
& all streams flowed down
into the same broad fjord.


See Rachel’s photographic response: “Blood and milk.”

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4 Replies to “Old Norse Family Values”

  1. “Ensorcelled” – how I love that word! A fine poem. I enjoy Via Negativa’s posts every morning. Never boring, often disturbing, sometimes they just make me smile. Thanks to both of you.

  2. When I first saw this I didn’t notice the conversari tag. I love the dualities here and rather wish that I could transfer the picture I’ve just posted to go with this. But hey, it only took 10 months to come up with that one. Plenty of time to find something for this.

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