Monday, January 26, 2015

General Bardic Studies for Liturgists 1 - Citations

Works Cited

Atsma, Aaron J. "Helios." 2000. Theoi Project. 5 1 2015.
—. "Selene." 2000. Theoi Project. 5 1 2015.
Austen, Jane. "I've A Pain in my Head." 2006. Famous Poets and Poems. <HTML ->.
Dictionary.Com LLC. "Narrative Poem." 2003. <>.
Famous Poets and Poems. "Faun by Robert Graves." 2006. Famous Poets and Poems. 24 12 2014.
—. "Like Snow By Robert Graves." 2006. Famous Poets and Poems. 24 12 2014.
—. "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost." 2006. Famous Poets and Poems. 24 12 21.
—. "The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost." 2006. Famous Poets and Poems. 24 12 2014.
McCoy, Dan. "Sol and Mani." 2012. Norse Mythology for Smart People. 5 1 2015.
Mortensen, Karl. A Handbook to Norse Mythology. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1913 (Translation date).
Shakespeare, William. "Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind." 2006. Famous Poets and Poems. <HTML ->.
Tolkien, J.R.R. "All That is Gold Does Not Glitter." 2006. Famous Poets and Poems. <HTML ->.
Völuspá. "The Poetic Edda - Volume 1 Lays of the Gods: The Wise-Woman's Prophecy." 1270. 5 1 2015.
Watkins, Calvert. How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Wittenberg University. "English Social Structure in the Early 18th Century." 2014. Wittenberg University. 6 1 2015.

General Bardic Studies for Liturgists 1 - Part 4

Compare and contrast two mythological or folkloric tales from two Indo-European cultures. Include a discussion of the use of narrative point-of-view, the element of time, and any relevant issues of religious (or other) bias influencing the narrative.

The Norse Story of Sól and Máni
In Norse mythology, the sun and moon are seen to be sister and brother, Sól and Máni [pronounced like the English word “soul”… “MAH-nee”… (McCoy)]. According to McCoy, they were the first to emerge during the creation of the cosmos, though at the time they were not given their respective powers in the new world. This can be seen in The Poetic Edda (Völuspá):

5. The sun, the sister | of the moon, from the south
Her right hand cast | over heaven's rim;
No knowledge she had | where her home should be,
The moon knew not | what might was his,
The stars knew not | where their stations were.

During this creation process, the gods gathered together to set in motion the cycles of night and day, the year, and the cycle of the moon. As it is not very clear on who these gods are, I assume the gods being referred to here are those from the Norse creation mythos Bor, Odin, Vili, and Ve as they were the ones to sacrifice Ymir during the act of creation (Mortensen 19-24). It is here that Sól and Máni were given their powers over their respective parts of the heavens (Völuspá):

6. Then sought the gods | their assembly-seats,
The holy ones, | and council held;
Names then gave they | to noon and twilight,
Morning they named, | and the waning moon,
Night and evening, | the years to number.

                This division of power and time shows that the ancients believed that the sun and moon governed the seasons and time. We will see this reflected in the Hellenic Mythology as well when we look at the powers and children associated with the deities of the sun and moon in that culture.

McCoy goes on further to state that both goddess and god rode “… through the sky on horse-drawn chariots” (McCoy).

The Hellenic Story of Helius and Selene

                Much like the sun and moon in the Norse culture, Helius and Selene in Greek mythology are seen as being present during the creation of the cosmos. Though the twins, Apollon and Artemis, as well as many other deities, were sometimes associated with the sun and moon, it is actually the Titans Helius and Selene who are the sun and moon incarnate. Both Selene and Helius were said to ride in chariots across the sky. Selene’s chariot was drawn by “… a pair of winged steeds. Her lunar sphere or crescent was represented as either a crown set upon her head or as the fold of a raised shinning cloak. Sometimes she was said to drive a team of oxen and her lunar crescent was likened to the horns of a bull” (Atsma, Selene). Helius’ chariot was pulled by “… four fiery winged steeds and (Helius was…) crowned with aureole of the sun” (Atsma, Helios).
                Selene was credited as being the mother of “… Pandia (All-Gifts), Ersa (Dew), the Menai (Months), and some say of the four Horai (Seasons)” (Atsma, Selene). This shows the power she had on the cycles of life in the Middle Realm, especially since the seasons and telling of time were forecasted by a lunar calendar in ancient times.

                Helius was said to rise up out of the River God Okeanos in the morning and “… set in the land of the Hesperides (Evenings) in the West he descended into a golden cup which carried him around the northern streams of Okeanos back to his rising place in the East” (Atsma, Helios).


                In contrast to the Norse Sól and Máni, Selene is the goddess of the moon and Helius is the god of the sun. This difference could be seen as the corresponding relationship that each culture might have seen with the sun and moon. When we look at the vast amounts of information of the Hellenic culture, we perhaps see why these associations are in such contrast to one another.

                The moon is seen as giving birth to all that is important to fertility in the Hellenic mythologies. This could be seen because the sun in the Mediterranean could be extremely harsh on the land, as well as the people. These are the kinds of aspects that were associated with male deities, generally, while female deities were associated more with fertility and life. Therefore, it would be logical to see the moon as a beacon of the cool desirable times of the cycle. Conversely, in the extremes northern countries of the Norse culture, the sun would be seen as the warming of the harshness of the night. It would be welcomed as the life-giving, fertile light by which the people could farm and fish by. Here the moon and the times of darkness would be seen as the harsher times of life. It would be the times in which the people struggled to survive as the land and sea would be less life giving.

                Another important aspect to remember is that Selene and Helius were not Olympians but Titans. The Titans were primordial beings that ruled the cosmos before the Olympians came into power. Many scholars view this era as a time of chaos, of which the Titans themselves were a part. It was through the domination of the Titans by the Olympians that Order was brought to the cosmos so that life could begin. In the Norse mythology, we are given the impression that Sól and Máni were born during a time when the beginning Order was taking place, but perhaps they were still were a part of the Chaos that the Asgardians ended through bringing purpose and Order. This order can be seen in both cultures through the lunar and solar cycles, being the givers of time and marking of the change of the seasons. So despite the seemingly superficial differences between these two sets deities, they can be closely linked in function because both sets brought about the demarcation of time set to the new Order of the universe.

General Bardic Studies for Liturgists 1 - Part 3

Compare and contrast examples from the work of two poets of the same historical era from two different cultural traditions. (minim 300 words of the student’s original essay material beyond the verses provided at least two poems per poet)

                For this section, I went with one of my favorite poets, Robert Frost, an American poet, and with Robert Graves, a British poet. They are both from the 19th Century. I wanted to go with Graves as one of the poets to review because I knew so little about him. Though I knew of his book The White Goddess and its influence on modern Paganism, there was very little else I had read by him. The poems that I decided to work with for both poets were very interesting because they reflected aspects of nature and humanity’s interaction with them. I will first present the poems then an actual analysis of them.

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost (Famous Poets and Poems)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost (Famous Poets and Poems)

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Like Snow by Robert Graves (Famous Poets and Poems)

She, then, like snow in a dark night,
Fell secretly. And the world waked
With dazzling of the drowsy eye,
So that some muttered 'Too much light',
And drew the curtains close.
Like snow, warmer than fingers feared,
And to soil friendly;
Holding the histories of the night
In yet unmelted tracks.

Faun by Robert Graves (Famous Poets and Poems)

Here down this very way,
Here only yesterday
King Faun went leaping.
He sang, with careless shout
Hurling his name about;
He sang, with oaken stock
His steps from rock to rock
In safety keeping,
“Here Faun is free,
Here Faun is free!”

Today against yon pine,
Forlorn yet still divine,
King Faun leant weeping.
“They drank my holy brook,
My strawberries they took,
My private path they trod.”
Loud wept the desolate God,
Scorn on scorn heaping,
“Faun, what is he?
Faun, what is he?”

Analysis of poems

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost (Famous Poets and Poems)

This poem uses Anapest and Iambic meter with varying between dimeter, trimeter, and tetrameter. The lines also vary in Varying syllable lengths of 8, 9, and & 10. This poem also uses end rhymes and assonance of “…aim”, “…ame”, “…igh”, “I”, and “…y”
Rhyming scheme: A-B-A-A-B, C-D-C-C-D, E-F-E-E-F, G-H-G-G-H

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost (Famous Poets and Poems)

This poem uses Anapest and Iambic meter with varying dimeter, trimeter, and tetrameter. There are varying syllable lengths of 5, 7, & and 8. We also see the use of end rhymes and assonance of “…ake”, “…ough”, “…ow”, “…ear”, and “…eer”.
Rhyming scheme: A-A-B-A-B-B-C-B, C-C-D-C-D-D-D-D

Like Snow by Robert Graves (Famous Poets and Poems)

This poem is in free verse with little attention paid to any specific rhyming scheme.  There is a mix of Dactyl, Trochee, Iambic, and Anapest set to dimeter, trimeter, and tetrameter, along with a varying range of syllable length ranging from 5 to 9.

Faun by Robert Graves (Famous Poets and Poems)

There is a mix of Dactyl, Iambic, and Anapest set to dimeter, trimeter, and tetrameter. Varying syllable lengths of 4, 5, 6, & 7. The poem uses end rhyme and assonance of “…out”, “…ing”, “…ine” and “…od”.
Rhyming scheme of A-B-A, C-C-D-D, B-E-E, F-F-B, D-D-G, G-B-E-E

Both of the poems by Frost fit very well into the flow and ebb of rhythm through the traditional use of meter and rhythmic devices, despite the varying lengths of syllables and metric footing. However, when we look at the work of Graves, more specifically in Like Snow, we see that the break from these traditional tools into free verse gives a different feel to the poem. In this poem, Graves does not use any specific rhyming scheme nor is there much attention paid to the metrics of the poem. In the second example of his work, Graves uses both end rhyme, as well as assonance, to give the flowing motion we see in both of Frost’s work. We do not have the lyrical back and forth, which gives a fluid flow, like we do in the other three poems presented. I personally think I prefer the use of rhyming schemes and at least some sort of structure being used through metrics within poems, especially after working through these. I get a feeling of being disjointed with the free verse style of Like Snow. When I first started working on this section I wondered if there would be a great difference in technical uses of device with poets from the same century but different cultures. From these samples, over all, it seemed that the poetic device usage did not vary greatly from differing cultures. Much of the difference came from points of view.

When we look at both poems from Frost, we see the use of imagery to demonstrate the mental or intellectual process of discussion-making as various aspects of travel through nature. Graves, on the other hand, compares the actions of nature to that of a woman with both the use of metaphor and imagery in Like Snow. It is interesting to see that both poets use nature to help get their views of humanity across. Three of the poems have a rather flavorful outlook on this “relationship”, then Graves turns around to show how humanity takes thoughtlessly and carelessly from nature without regard. From the four poems, I take from the authors that both believed that the better aspects of humanity could reflect the harmonious cycles and lessons which nature has to offer.