Tuesday, 21 June 2016
A Sound Of Thunder
"Helgi rode on at the head of his own troop. The river murmured and blinked in sunlight. Tree shadows dappled it. A kingfisher darted, blue as the hovering dragonflies. Hoofs plopped, leather squeaked, metal clinked. The air was thick and hot; men sweated and swatted at bugs. Westward above the leaves was piling a violet wall of clouds, and thunder rolled across miles."
-Poul Anderson, Hrolf Kraki's Saga (New York, 1973), p. 105.
I had to quote that paragraph in full. Each new description of nature seems better than its predecessors. The river gives us sound and reflected sunlight. Colors are blue and violet. There are three sounds associated with riding. Heat is a fourth kind of physical sensation; "...sweated and swatted..." is good alliteration. And we end with the sound of thunder - a warning of Helgi's imminent death?
Immediately after the thunder:
"Suddenly clangor awoke. Scrambling from the brush to take stance across the ruts came a host of armed men." (ibid.)
Dying, Helgi quotes the Edda:
"'Garm breaks loose. He has swallowed the moon -'" (p. 107)
A Biblical passage is also appropriate:
"...all who draw the sword will die by the sword." (Mt. 26:52) See also here.