Y is for…

YGGDRASIL!

(I’m handing over to the guest blogger again today.)

Yggdrasil is defined as: “An immense tree that is central in Norse cosmology on which the nine worlds existed” (Wikipedia). Apparently, in old Norse, it means “Odin’s Horse”.

What? You’ve never heard of it? A Google search throws up just over 3.5 million results (including pictures & drawings of seemingly endless variety!). Among those, on the first few pages are some intriguing examples:

1. Yggdrasil – the board game. On sale at Amazon for around $35-40.

2. Yggdrasil – a Swedish band (apparently of the genre “folk metal” – an oxymoron of a music type if ever I heard one!). Visit their MySpace site for latest info but some knowledge of written & spoken Swedish would be useful. Their debut album was “Kvällningsvindar Över Nordrönt Land.” (For those of you, without Swedish as a first language, it translates to: “Evening Winds Over Northern Lands”).

3. Yggdrasil – http://www.yggdrasil.com/ is the 7th result in the list and is a domain name which is up for sale. Yours for a mere $16,990 (£10,500)! Go on treat yourself!

4. Yggdrasil Afghan – This is a knitted blanket (or throw) based on the world tree idea from Norse mythology.

There are millions of other Yggdrasil results but perhaps one of the oddest is on the “nationstates.net” site which tells us there are 140 nations in Yggdrasil and if you look down the list you can see the different ones with their flags and main characteristics. Unreality springs to mind!

Odd word perhaps, to many of you – special to me. Why? Because I can remember exactly when I first learnt it and when I used it in an essay for the first and only time, ever – UNTIL NOW!

Why so memorable? It begins with me having to sit an English Literature exam many years ago. I was not good at Eng Lit. Prior to the exam I thought it might be a good idea to improve my chances of passing by learning some new words and slip them into some of the essays to make my work look better than it really was. Along with “Yggdrasil” I remember learning “amorphous” but can’t remember the others because I couldn’t work them into my answers. How did I come across “amorphous” & “yggdrasil”? Easy. I just flicked through the pages of the dictionary on our bookshelf at home. When I saw Yggdrasil I thought it looked quite unusual and would demonstrate my supposedly superior vocabulary skills.

Exam day arrives. I file into the hall. I sit down. When instructed, I “turn the paper over”. I begin the rehearsed pre-exam routine: spend the first few minutes reading all the questions thoroughly. Don’t start writing straight away in case you miss something later on. We’d had a reading list, of approx 50 books grouped into 5 blocks. We were told that, in the exam, there would be 5 sections, each with about 5 questions. As it was impossible to read and remember the plots and characters for all 50 books, we were told you could pick about 10 (2 from each section) and that should give you the ability to answer one from each of the required sections without too much trouble. Easy? Well, providing you’d done the work. I hadn’t. I’d read only 6-7 books, hoping to have done enough. My 5 minute look over the paper confirmed I hadn’t! I was ok for essays in Sections 1,2, & 3 but 4 looked tricky and in 5 I couldn’t do any of the questions. In section 4 there was a question along the lines of “Describe what John & Sally” – made up names because I can’t remember the exact ones in the question – “saw on their journey through the forest”. My extra words sprang to mind. I thought I could work a few into this question with descriptions of parkland, forest and some of that atmospheric mist drifting about etc. I’d have to give the 5th essay a miss and hope I would score enough on the four I could do. 1st mistake. I set off scribbling away on the first three essays and then finally came to what, I imagined, John & Sally saw on their journey. I breathed a sigh of relief as I put the pen down and the papers were collected. On the way out I did, as you tend to do, ask friends which ones they’d picked to answer. It was then I discovered my rather glaring mistake as a friend said, of the (John & Sally) question I had answered, “I couldn’t do that because I hadn’t read the book with them in.” “Book?” I said, rather glumly, immediately realising then, that I written a whole essay which was a complete fabrication. 2nd mistake. I’d been so determined to get my unusual words into an answer that I hadn’t related it to any, let alone “the”, book on the course at all! Doh!

The lesson was and still is today: concentrate – especially on the wording of each question on the paper.

Oh, and of course, I’ve never forgotten the word; I didn’t fool the exam markers; and, not surprisingly, I failed that particular exam – mea culpa!

Here’s a quote from a 2008 Graham Lockey poem actually called, “Yggdrasil”:

“Mysteries unravel in the time-wide shade
Thrown by Yggdrasil,
And under Yggdrasil
I solved the riddle of it all
And found what smiles lead to.
I’m bringing that smile home to you.”

I hope this ramble, from real life, did bring a smile to your face, wherever you are.

 

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