By: Gerður Kristný, Rory McTurk (Translator)
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
Bloodhoof is the re-casting into compulsively spare modern verse of an ancient Eddic poem – but this only begins to hint at its attractions. It is a minimalist epic telling of the abduction of Gerdur Gymisdottir from the land of giants to the court of Freyr of the ‘wolf-grey eyes’, and the subsequent events culminating in the birth of her son and her hopes of being saved by her own kin.
It is full of iron-hard rocks and ice, serpents in the breast gnawing at the harness of hope, but also wide-reaching fields of corn whispering in the breeze and a throne carved with beasts and dragons-heads. You could read the whole book in perhaps half an hour but it will take many months or years to begin to clear the ghosts and long-dead heroes from your mind.
I first encountered this book while I was in Iceland; there was this bookstore I had visited the first time I was there and revisited it again recently. However I didn’t pick up a copy of this book until I returned to Canada–bought way too many books as it was at the time!
Bloodhoof was a wonderful read. I don’t remember encountering the original Eddic poem when I read the poems a few years back, but thankfully this book has an introduction that introduces the original poem and where Kristny draws her sources from to write this book. I especially love the fact that this book is bilingual, with the original poem in Icelandic set at the top and the English translation at the bottom; Icelandic is a complex language but I always appreciate it when a book is bilingual like that, you can refer to it. The poem itself is minimalist but rich in imagery and feeling.
Suffice to say I really enjoyed this poem and glad I picked it up 🙂