When I wrote Dolor and Shadow, I wanted to write a nursery rhyme that sounded like it had been told a thousand years ago. This led me to a side research project on Medieval and ancient prose.
The oldest nursery rhyme is believed, by some, to be Jack and Jill. Some scholars (Jacob Grimm being one of them) present a strong argument to support a tie in to the Norse myth of Hjuki and Bil. Hjuki and Bil is the Nordic tale of the Man in the Moon. In this case, they were two children who carry water to the Mani, the moon, as they are being chased by two wolves: Hati and Skol. When I stumbled upon this Nordic tale in the Prose Edda, I wanted to write an ode to Jack and Jill and honor its Nordic roots.
I present to you Hjuki and Bil. Note the meter that mimics Jack and Jill…but not quite. Hjuki uses a Norse “J” like we hear in “fjord”. Therefore, Hjuki is a two syllable word that sounds like “He-you-key” with the stress on Hju-.
Hjuki and Bil
Hjuki and Bil chased the moon,
With waters from Byrgir’s well,
Upon their shoulders they did share,
Simul the pole and Saegr.
‘Mani,’ they cried and chased the sky,
‘From Byrgir whence we came,
To water the earth and water your drink,
And water the seas with rain’.
Hati looked back and Skol ahead,
But Mani gave no reply,
For Hjuki he took, and bent his crook,
And Bil was taken thereafter.
Hjuki and Bil still chase the moon,
From Byrgir whence they came,
To water the earth and water the drink,
And water the seas with rain.