By Maxwell Gray
In January of 2016, a misogynist blog post of the Anglo-Saxonist Allen Frantzen circulated online after a medieval studies graduate student who was searching for a citation discovered it on the retired professor’s personal website. One of the authors Frantzen cites in his writing on masculinity is the anarcho-fascist author Jack Donovan, whose online writing and photography feature postmedieval imaginations and intersecting ideologies of whiteness, ableism, and cisgender mascuilinity. Myself a graduate student of one of Frantzen’s advisees, I composed this experimental American sonnet of lines of translation from Old English by Miller Oberman, personal experience narrative of illness and disability by Audre Lorde, and one of Donovan’s online essays:
There was a house built before you were born.
She overlooked the mistletoe, because it seemed harmless.
Before you came from your mother, your dust was here.
The gods wept and placed his funeral pyre on a ship.
For the first time the essential questions of my own mortality.
In a place “out of time,” consciously revolting.
All the time as a background of pain and terror and disbelief.
Passed around a bowl full of black ash, blood and mead.
But we all hurt in so many different ways, all the time.
And begin a new age with the survivors of the cataclysm.
Now you are brought there where you shall be.
The fact that I am still alive, and might not have been.
Escaping to another world, building an autonomous zone.
Now you are measured and the dirt after that.
Maxwell Gray is a medievalist graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.