Once I was a jury member in a short story competition for schoolchildren in Liverpool in 2007. They were asked to make a story based on Norse Mythology and the prize was a trip to Iceland. The story that captivated us and eventually won the contest was this one here by the (then) 11 year old Dillon McGurty: God of Music, God of Silence. The authors idol was Kurt Cobain and he wrote a story about Cobain like he was a Norse God. It is quite wonderful how Dillon understands his idol in the story and manages to use mythology to write about tragic things like drugs and suicide. My fellow jury members were Mike McCarthney and Margrét Torp. Here is the story:
God of Music, God of Silence
My homework is about Norse mythology, and about how tales from the past have been retold and translated into the present day. I was asked to use a modern day story and see if I could compose a Norse myth from which this story might have been taken. My story is based on Kurt Cobain who is a rock legend and an idol to me. I am retelling his life story in the style of a Norse myth.
A long time ago, there was a boy called Kurtnin whose destiny was to play music. He was the eldest son of Odinn and Frigg. He was disowned by both of them and lived his life on the streets of Nirvana. When he was a young boy, Kurtnin found a guitar on the street. He taught himself to play and he was very good at it. Kurtnin had long blonde hair, pale skin and a distinctive handsome look. When he grew older he married a goddess, the goddess of happiness. They had a child call Beaner, who was the goddess of beautiful hair.
Kurtnin enjoyed playing music, but it wasn’t enough just to play for himself. So he started to play with his friends, David Grohllian and Kristoph Nova, in a stable near his home. The friends went on to create a trio of musicians who wanted to share their music with others. Dyllanian Carlson was the first person to hear the trio play and he was so impressed that he brought other people to hear them play. Word of Kurtnin’s music spread far and wide, from village to village across the country and eventually across the whole world. As he became more and more popular, he travelled across the entire world by horses, by elephants, by boats and by carriages. He took his music to everyone near and far. Odinn heard his son play and was so amazed that he immediately invited him back to his family, and decreed that Kurtnin was now the true god of music. Now that he was the god of music, he played music constantly for everyone from the highest gods and kings to the lowliest peasants.
Playing music all across the world all the time meant that Kurtnin became worshipped for his abilities by everyone. However, he did not wish to be worshipped. Although at first he enjoyed being loved and accepted by all the crowds, all he ever really wanted was for people to enjoy his music, not worship him. Not long after, he started to become sad and depressed. He discovered a sorcerer who could give him a magic potion which would make him feel less unhappy. But after taking the potion, he felt more depressed and sad. He decided that the only way he could stop being worshipped was if he stopped making music. However, without music he became even more miserable and glum.
So he went to seek advice from his father, Odinn. He told his father about the potions he had been taking and why he had stopped taking them. Odinn tried to persuade him to stop taking the magic medicine, but unfortunately that did not work. So he gave Kurtnin two choices; either stop taking the enchanted brew; or he could use Odinn’s magic sword to take away his unhappiness.
Kurtnin held the potion and the sword in front of him, and an epic battle began in his own mind. How could he ever carry on making music while it continued to make him so unhappy? He cried out to the sky, “What should I do?” In such a confused state, with one hand he gulped down the potion, but an almighty force rose in his other hand to bring the magic sword crashing down into his mouth, slicing off his tongue completely. In anger that he would never hear Kurtnin’s beautiful voice, Odinn smashed his sword down and chopped off both of Kurtnin’s hands so that he would never again be allowed to play his beloved guitar.
The people who worshipped Kurtnin became saddened that their actions had caused them to lose his amazing music from their life. From that day forward, Odinn decreed that Kurtnin’s name should be changed to Hoenir, and he would forever be known as the god of silence. He spent the rest of his days in Valhalla, alone with his music in his head and in his heart. All he ever wanted to do was spread his joy and love of music around the world. But, because the people worshipped him and not just his music, he was lost to the world forever. That is why there is a god of silence and no god of music.