Art by Matt Smith

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Fuckin’ hwæt!

Ah some shit, right? I don’t really know, but that’s how all those ancient Brahmin rat bastahds talked back in those days when evuhryone was still wicked supahstitious n’ believed that fuckin’ fi’ah-breathin’ dragons n’ cave-dwellin’ trolls n’ shit were constantly prowlin’ ‘round out there in the goddamn dahkness, just chompin’ at the fuckin’ bit tah fuckin’ get their claws on whoevah they fuckin’ could. N’, well, in times like that, who wouldn’t want’ah just stay at home n’ sit ‘round the heahrth fi’ah, drinkin’ ale n’ listenin’ tah some classic stahries ‘bout fuckin’ gods n’ monstahs n’ supah-human heroes like Sigurd n’ Beowulf n’ Bobby Orr?

‘Cause the thing ‘bout those guys is they were all real fuckin’ troopahs. But Sigurd’s not as famous as Bobby Orr since he nevah played at the gahden. N’ he’s alsah not as famous as Beowulf eithah fahr that mattah since his exploits ahren’t a standahd paht’ah the fuckin’ cuhrriculum fahr basic’ly evuhry goddamn teenagah from L.A. tah London. Plus Sigurd’s pehrsonal life was just a complete fuckin’ total disastah. Don’t even get me stahted. But Bobby Orr on the othah hand, he’s always been a real class act. N’ Beowulf too—I mean that guy, he was the goddamn golden boy who could nevah do no fuckin’ wrong n’ he’s still a household name even in our own godfahsaken times!

It’s just it’s a fuckin’ travesty that most people nowadays tend tah associate his stahry mohr with ahbitrahry homewohrk assignments fah r’English class ‘en with his own notahrious monstah destroyin’ capabilities ah his supah r’awesome swimmin’ skills. I mean that guy, he could really fuckin’ swim.

The Göta Älv (Geat River) as viewed from one of the dams in Trollhättan (The Troll’s Hat) in Västra Götaland (Western Geatland).

But now hee’ah’s the thing ‘bout Beowulf: he was a fuckin’ Geat. Which means he came from fuckin’ Geatland. N’ most people think that Geatland doesn’t even fuckin’ exist anymohr, n’ that’s only if they even bothah tah remembah the details’ah the old poem from English class in the fihrst fuckin’ place. Can yah believe that?! I mean, the prevailin’ assumption is that all practical traces’ah Geatishness ahr fuckin’ gone fahr good just like the Brady-Belichick era n’ now it’s only the legend that remains. But the truth’ah the mattah r’is the legacy’ah Geatland lives on in lots’ah fuckin’ ways.

Now see, back in those ancient days the Geats were basic’ly just anothah fuckin’ Scandinavian tribe, wedged between the Swedes n’ the Danes tightah r’en a g-string belongin’ tah Sweden’s own famous fuckin’ bikini team. ‘Cause back in those days the Swedes were only concentrated ’round their precious Lake Mälaren n’ the Uppsala region. They didn’t have the run’ah the whole fuckin’ country as we now know it today.

N’ it gets mohr muddled ‘en the mixed traffic at Cleveland Circle too as there were alsah Gutes n’ Goths in southuhrn Scandinavia n’ some’ah those guys ended up migratin’ outtah the cold hahrsh nohrth n’ hahrassin’ the Roman Empi’yah n’ settlin’ down south duhrin’ that whole folk-wandrin’-era. N’ they might’ah all been mohr ah less all paht’ah the same basic stock’ah people n’ sometimes the tehrms get all intahchanged n’ no one really knows the real nitty gritty fahr sure one way ah the othah r’n it’s all besides the fuckin’ point anyway.

The remains of Götaverken (The Geat Works), once the world’s largest shipyard, as viewed across the Göta Älv (Geat River) in Göteborg (Fortress of the Geats) in Västra Götaland (Western Geatland).

‘Cause the fuckin’ point is: Geatland is still a genuine fuckin’ tehrritahrial demahcation in the mothahfuckin’ present-day Kingdom’ah Sweden! The Swedes, they call it Götaland with a big capital G that sounds like a big fuckin’ Y fahr who the fuck knows why. N’ it’s a big, broad fuckin’ area too, yah know, basic’ly evuhrything south’ah Svealand, which contains the histahric heart’ah ancient Svitjod that became Swedeland where Stockholm is today.

But gettin’ back tah Geatland, that’s the paht’ah the country that comprises the histahric counties’ah Western Geatland n’ Eastern Geatland as well as some othah r’old provinces like fuckin’ Small Land n’ Valley Land n’ even some fohrmah Danish tehrritahries too n’ so it doesn’t exactly adhee’ah tah the ancient boundahries, yah know? But at least in Eastern n’ Western Geatland, traces’ah Geatishness fuckin’ abound. I mean, Western Geatland’s got Sweden’s second biggest city—Göteborg, the mothah-fuckin’ fohrtress ah’ the Geats, alsah called Gothenburg on accoun’ah all the histahric n’ linguistical confusion n’ shit. N’ then there’s the Göta Älv, the biggest rivah r’in all’ah Sweden n’ then there’s alsah all sohrts’ah businesses n’ sehrvices n’ shit featuh’rin’ some sohrtah reference tah general Geatishness in their fuckin’ names n’ mahketin’ matehrials.

N’ so basic’ly, Geatland fuckin’ abides. It’s nevah been totally fuckin’ gone fahrevah. It’s just it got absorbed intah greatah Sweden sohrtah like how Plymouth Colony got absorbed intah Mass Bay but we still all remembah the Pilgrams anyway n’ gohrge ourselves on tuhrkey when the time is right. N’ no one knows exactly how the Geats fell undah the sway’ah the Swedes, but it had tah have been gradual n’ it was really the whole unification’ah the Geats with the Swedes that resulted in the emehergence’ah the Kingdom ah’Sweden as we now know it today.

The Östgötapendeln (The Eastern Geat Commuter Rail) service connects the larger communities of Östergötland (Eastern Geatland); this train is parked at the station in Norrköping (Northern Shopping Place).

N’ the guy that wrote down Beowulf’s biography, he really gets intah the whole Geatish versus Swedish thing. I mean this guy, he totally fuckin’ fixates on the Geatish defeats. N’ the Swedes no doubt had the uppah hand, makin’ sehrious incuhrsions intah Geatish tehrritahry n’ whatnot, but what he doesn’t say is how the Western Geats still ended up gettin’ some’ah their hometeam guys like Stenkil Ragnvaldsson n’ Håkon the Red tah sit on the Swedish throne ah how that crazy bastahd Birger Jarl who’s from Eastern Geatland went n’ fuckin’ founded Stockholm in Swedeland n’ stahted a whole goddamn royal dynasty. Prob’ly ‘cause these things all happened aftah the poet bit the fuckin’ dust.

But there was still a shit ton’ah strife too no doubt n’ both the Swedish n’ Geatish claimants tah the throne were droppin’ like fuckin’ flies fah r’awhile but the Swedes n’ the Geats had mohr in common ‘en not. Sohrtah like—n’, ah shit…

It really fuckin’ pains me tah say this.

I mean, shit…

But I can’t tell a lie. It’s just it fuckin’ hurts, yah know?

But… the truth’ah the mattah r’is the Swedes n’ the Geats, they were ovahr’all pretty fuckin’ similah—just like how we relate bettah tah New Yohrk ‘en some place like Miami ah Houston ah wherevah.

Shit. I can’t believe I even fuckin’ just said that out loud. I feel like I need tah wash my mouth out with fuckin’ soap ah somethin’.

Ah maybe it’s just time tah get a drink n’ take the edge off a little n’ fahget ‘bout my shame. All this Geatish talk has got me in the mood tah cross the fuckin’ rivah r’n go get a pint ovah r’at Grendel’s Den. Maybe I’ll see yah there? We could even hit up fuckin’ Asgard n’ the Mead Hall on the way. Plus I just realized I fahgot all ‘bout Bobby Orr so there’s still a shit ton tah fuckin’ talk ’bout.

Map of present-day Sweden illustrating the Geatish territories within its borders.

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BOSTONIANS AND BEYOND: Join Rowdy Geirsson and Matt Smith at Idle Hands’ tap room for some good, old-fashioned, high-quality craft beer-drinking, ambient Norse music, and signings of selections from their corpus of scholarly and artistic works. Sunday, October 24, 2021, from 2-5 pm. 89 Commercial St., Malden, Mass.