a difficult one

Freya’s Steel

What walks on four legs in the morning, two at noon, and three in the evening?

—Theban sphinx (via Robert Graves)

A sword must combine two different and incompatible properties of materials. It must be flexible and yet it must be hard. These are not properties which can be built into the same material unless it consists of layers. In order to achieve that the steel billet is cut and then doubled over again and again so as to make a multitude of inner surfaces.

—J. Bronowski

She was fast asleep.

—James Joyce


1. Edge/Flux

Winter’s seeds blossom
into ice and wind and iron and snow,
thrustsilver shards that cold afternoons
razorflash bright.
Smelt without heat,
the snow is water; starshine
twists new shapes each night.
Knives of nature disguise the grass,
deadseeming, drenched in sharp shapes
which freeze
and grow.
Winter is still time,
perfect in ice, dreaming,
and sap still runs in hearts
quick but slow.

Frozen blandations
bloom in ice and eyes,
rimes of cold blood and stars,
saltfire, careless jeers.
Your borealis breath
with precise crimes,
dispassionate, circumstantial—
so-severing years.

The crystalline season shrives you,
natural incantation,
an icequick

2. Blade/Stasis

Winter’s flowers
ice the wind and iron the snow.
Color is dead,
worn gray by wind’s cold scire,
mirrorkeen, edged like pain.
Sunlight seeks to show,
but frozen air devours
warmth, unstrings that lyre.
like a knife
cuts flesh for bone;
bloodless marrow dusts
the cold air’s scheming,
and hearts (drained bleak)
pump dirt and stone.

Winter still time;
locked in ice the stars are dreaming
visions of catastrophe,
winding ice in eyes: rimes
of cut blood,
stars, mirrorfire,
stagnant fears.
Blustrous words crack cold air,
and retardant rhymes
toss leaflike love upon the gale—
these severing years.

Windscalpels dissect me,
a treenaked, tuneless
self-sacrifice, spewing
slate air, spit, confusion
and wet ice.

3. Point/Steel

Winter’s leaves bleed ice,
wind, iron: and snow:
Silverflash glare as layered air
and ice unite, and
opalescent snow descends.
Starshine twists new shapes each night.
Astral refractions condense
and cool. Windliar-lovely,
identical and unique
graycrystal darts of ice
pierce hearts (quick, slow)
with fire,
for winter is still time,
perfect ferre-ice,

sliced eyes folded in a rhyme
of cupped blood, stars, steelfire,
fearful tears.
Starfalling wind freezes, iceprisms
bending back time,
oxymoronic and micalike love
blends sharp the severing years.

Winter becomes us,
an all at once translated
rune, möbius-spectrum,
warped and sung as the wrung wind’s tune.

a prism of three fractured, interreflecting sonnets

early 1977 through 1978

I found these notes that date from quite a while after the poem, offered here as a nod to my own pomposity and to aid in understanding…



winterʹs seeds ice=razor/smelt=water=snow<—>twisted by

starshine wind     iron      snow=water

iceshards=razorflashbrihgt=knives of nature=sharp shapes=eyes=rime

ice is smelt (without heat)

ice disguises grass (seeminlgy dead)

winter is time stilled=perfect=dreaming (in ice)

frozen blossoms bloom in ice and eyes (rhyme/identity)


flowerless winter colorless (dead)=gray (worn so by ice)

wind=air=scire (L need to know/nomnified verb)=gray=scheming=eyes=vision=rimes of catastrophe (pun?)

color=warmth=sunlight=lyre (pun?)          whindwhine=knife=MIRROR

winter stills time: locked in ice stars dream

words crack cold air           wind dissects me

wind (slate air) spitsconfusion & wet ice


leaves of winter layered air and ice unite ——>

snowflakes=darts of ice=astral refractions condense & cooled

windlyre        icedarts (Cupidlike?) pierce hearts

winter is yet TIME perfect FERROUS (ferre-ice), dreaming

all ferre possible translations     perfect iron is steel (made by folding) forging/hammering sparks=stars??

songs are swordlike——>fold together ICE&EYES into a rhyme (ice)

STARFALLING WIND freezes (creates) iceprisms bending back TIME

love blends years

winter=rune translated all at once=spectrum=Möbius strip

windʹs tune warped and sung


©2009 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.


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