Heroic poetry is largely of a bygone era. Attempts to resurrect the genre as recently as the 1800’s in England largely failed. So, other than in fantasy books that draw upon medieval imagery (and songs and poem forms) in the construction of their worlds, one rarely sees a new heroic poem. But then there is this, an anachronism if there ever was one.
I like it. This poem is not trying to tell an old tale, but rather a dystopian one of a near future. However, the form is true to the style and meter of the Icelandic Edda. The effect is not unlike Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet. The tone and color are old, but the guns are today. The similarities between the ancient tales of murder and revenge to today’s gangs and vendettas are made all the more clear.
The concept is worth more than the 3 stars I’ve given it. The execution is not, and that’s too bad. There is a reason that English veered away from the heavily accented, short-meter poems after the shift from Old English to Middle English. English in its more French-ified form does not lend itself well to the punchy cadence. While this is definitely worth the read, the tale also could have been told in the longer forms of English tradition to great effect. Spenser, Sidney, Chaucer . . . any of these poets could have been modeled. While the form fits the Icelandic landscape from which it stems and where the poem takes place, the language is not fully up to the challenge.