YULE-LADS – POEM

The yuletide-lads. 

Let me tell the story

of the lads of few charms

who once upon a time

used to visit our farms. 

They came from the mountains, 

as many of you know, 

In a long single file

to the farmsteads below. 

Grýla was their mother

 -she gave them ogre milk-

and the father Leppalúði:

a loathsome ilk. 

They were called the Yuletide-lads

-at Yuletide they were due-

and always came one by one

not ever two and two. 

Thirteen altogether, 

these gents in their prime

didn’t want to irk people

all at one time. 

Creeping up, all stealth, 

they unlocked the door. 

The kitchen and the pantry

they came looking for. 

They hid were they could, 

with a cunning look or sneer, 

ready with their pranks

when people weren’t near. 

And even when they were seen

they weren’t loath to roam

and play their tricks – disturbing

the peace of the home. 

Stiff-Legs was the first. 

Like a stick of wood he came

to prey upon the farmer´s sheep

and, following his game, 

he wished to suck the ewes, 

but it was no accident 

he couldn’t, cause his knees were stiff

not too convenient. 

Gully Gawk came second,

gray his head and mien. 

He snuck into the cow barn

from his craggy ravine. 

Hiding in the stalls, 

he would steal the milk, while 

the milkmaid gave the cowherd 

a meaningful smile. 

Stubby was the third called, 

a stunted little man, 

who watched for every chance he got

to whisk off a pan. 

And scurrying away with it, 

he scraped off the bits 

that stuck to the bottom 

and brims – his favorites. 

The fourth one was Spoonlicker; 

like spindle he was thin. 

He felt himself in clover 

when the cook wasn’t in. 

Then, stepping up, he grappled 

The stirring spoon with glee, 

holding it with both hands 

for it was slippery. 

Potscraper, the fifth one, 

was a funny sort of chap. 

When kids were given scrapings, 

he’d come to the door and tap. 

And they would rush to see 

If there really was a guest. 

Then he hurried to the pot 

and had a scrapingfest. 

Bowl-Licker, the sixth one, 

was shockingly ill bred. 

From underneath the bedsteads 

he stuck his ugly head. 

And when the bowls were left 

to be licked by dog or cat, 

he snatched them for himself 

– he was sure good at that! 

The seventh was Door-Slammer, 

a devil of abuse:

When people in the twilight 

would take a little snooze, 

he felt happy as a lark 

with the havoc he could wreak, 

slamming doors and hearing 

the hinges on them squeak. 

Skyr-Gobbler, the eighth, 

was an awful stupid bloke. 

He lambasted the skyr tub

till the lid on it broke.

Then he would keep gobbling 

– his greed was well known – 

until, about to burst, 

he would bleat, howl and groan. 

The ninth was Sausage-Swiper, 

a shifty pilferer. 

He climbed up to the rafters

and raided food from there. 

Sitting on a crossbeam 

in soot and in smoke, 

he fed himself on sausage 

fit for gentlefolk. 

The tenth was Window-Peeper 

-wicked, creepy twit – 

who stepped up to the window 

and stole a peek through it. 

And whatever was inside

to which his eye was drawn, 

he most likely attempted 

to take later on. 

Eleventh was Door-Sniffer,

a doltish lad and gross. 

He never got a cold, yet had 

a huge, sensitive nose. 

He caught the scent of lace bread 

while leagues away still 

and ran toward it weightless 

as wind over dale and hill. 

Meathook, the twelfth one, 

his talent would display 

as soon as he arrived 

on Saint Thorlak’s Day. 

He snagged himself a morsel

of meet of any sort, 

although his hook at times was 

a tiny bit short. 

The thirteenth was Candlebeggar 

– ‘twas cold, I believe,

if he was not the last 

of the lot on Christmas Eve. 

He trailed after the little ones 

who, like happy sprites, 

ran about the farm with 

their fine tallow lights. 

On Christmas night itself

-so a wise man writes-

the lads were all restraint

and just stared at the lights. 

Then one by one they trotted off

into the frost and snow.

On Twelfth Night the last

of the lads used to go. 

Their footprints in the highlands

are effaced now for long,

the memories all turned

to image and song.