Egill’s tenth-century piece is lyrical, confessional and personal. The dynamic of Sonatorrek is based on the notion of sacrifice: poetry is seen as a form of recompense for the loss of Egill’s sons, who are symbolically imagined as a sacrifice to Óðinn. The poem grapples with the disruption of the natural order of things, developing a framework of associations between disparate elements of nature, myth, the psyche, poetry, the metaphorical and the literal, in order to produce a kind of imaginative balance: to create, as it were, a sense of poetic justice out of the seemingly unjust trauma of loss.
In ‘The Lost Boy’, John Glenday adopts the compulsive feel of Egill’s terse metre, drawing on the themes and imagery of Sonatorrek to convey the story of his uncle, who was killed at the Battle of the Sambre in November 1918.”
Sonatorrek (Loss of Sons) is a Filmpoem of John Glenday’s poem The Lost Boy, written for Modern Poets in Viking Poetry, for the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic (asnc.cam.ac.uk) at University of Cambridge, as part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The work is based on Glenday’s Uncle Alexander, who was in the D’ Battery 307th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery and died in the Battle of the Sambre on November 4th 1918, the same battle as Wilfred Owen. Glenday’s Grandfather, who was a blacksmith, signed the papers allowing his son to go into the Forces before he was of age. The footage is used under a Creative Commons licence from archive.org