Monday, December 12, 2011

A Chicken Posting

Today, Jackson Crawford, who runs the highly entertaining and instructive Tattúínárdǿla saga, posted a message about  The Temple of Vængr the wing-god.  I encourage you all to go have a look; it's good for laugh.  In honor of Vængr the wing-god, I present to you the following flokkr of verses, discovered in a middens filled with egg-shells, burnt bread crusts, and dark brown granular particulates. The manuscript, apparently written by the Boreal Master something 1000+ years ago, seems to refer to a warrior who may well have been a congregant at The Temple of Vængr the wing-god.  The manuscript, written on a piece of parchment covered with circular stains which have been identified as having similar characteristics to the dark brown granular particulates found in the midden, was wrapped around a shard of pottery similarly stained. At the head of the manuscript was written in red letters:

Hœna flokkr eggja-gæzlumaðr (which translates very roughly as The Flokkr of Henny Egg-protector-man)

The verses run as follows (taken from a diplomatic version edited by Alowishus T. Cornpone and published in Annals of Animal-Husbandry and Other Felonies, vol. 17, number 3 [March, 1946], pp. 47-48):

Hœna flokkr eggja-gæzlumaðr

Verse 1:

Poetic Order:

Hklaka mattigs óðar hylð þu
hauka tal þelli-hringa flokkr
Heppin bóru bana hœnaar
hviti-kjöt eggjaveðr mattig.

Prose order:

Hlyð þu mattigs óðar hklaka-hauka; tal þelli-hringa flokkr.  Heppen hviti-kjöt bóru mattig  eggjaveðr bana-hœnar.  


Hear my mighty poem, Klucking-hawk; I tell of the fir-ring of the flock (> woman > chicken).  Well-starred (> lucky, fortunate) white-meat (> chicken) brought a mighty edge-windstorm (> battle) to the bane of hens (fox).

Verse 2:

Poetic Order:

Hœna réttir estu Hœna Pœna
Hverr fuglar es þer stóru verri

Prose Order:

Réttir hœna estu Hœna Pœna; hverr fuglar es þer stóru verri.


A  mighty hen are you, Henny Penny; every bird is below you.

Verse # 3

hana-Óðinn sunginn hagstœðr
hróstinn burja Loxsi-lósti

Prose order:

Hagstœðr sunginn hana-Óðinn burja hróstinn Loxsi-lósti.


Fair singing cock of Óðinn (> warrior rooster) struck bragging Loxsi-lusting (> fox).


Unfortunately (or blessedly, depending on your point of view) the script following this flokkr is utterly scrambled, giving us no further clues as to the outcome of the saga.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Steff-granni (Stem-thin)

This is a revision. I want to make my poetry more grammatically correct as I go along, and I decided to take a few days to go over two or three recent verses and see if I can't make them "right".

The first is below, entitle "Steff-granni" after the first two words.  What you have is the original version, which was first posted on December 1.  It is followed by the revised verse. The meanings haven't changed, but, if I'm lucky, the grammar has improved.

On this one, I truly encourage those who know to give me corrections and take me to task. Part of the learning process, right?


Original Verse Revised Verse
Stef-grannr klofað stríðs-maðr
staðfastr á flaðgs-mór;
kyrtil gróm-lauss kongsgjøf
kompásað miðli stríðs-manns.
Folk-Tyr mattig (fagr-eygr)
(furu-rafir) krúnu
fara andvigr (fylgt hinn)
feginn-samligr (legg ást).
Stef-granni klofa striðs-maðr
ok staðfasti til flaðgar-mós;
kyrtill gróm-lauss kongs-gjøf
kompassar mitti striðs-manns.
Folk-Tyr mattig (fagr-eyga)
(furu-rafir) krúnu
ferr vega (hann fylgja)
fagnaðar (með ástum).

Line-by-Line Meaning Prose Order Meaning
stem-thin strides strife-man
and stedfast to the ogress-moor
Stainless belt the king's gift
compasses middle of strife-man.
Army-god mighty (fair-eyed)
(fir tree of amber) crown
goes to fight for (guide him)
joyfulness-filled (by love)
Stedfast stem-thin strife-man
strides to the ogress-moor;
The King's gift, a stainless belt
compasses the strife-man's waist
The army-Tyr goes joyfully
to fight for the crown;
the fair-eyed amber fir-tree
guides him by her love

Love It?  Hate It?
Am I Doing Better or Worse?

Please leave me comments!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dags kyndill (Day´s candle)

Today was a gloomy one in upstate New York, another in what will become a depressing string of sullen, dismal days. I hope we get snow before Christmas, but until we do, I fear it will be "rain, rain,go away...."

One of my friends, Julie Golick, a skald from Canada (Montréal, I believe), mentioned the guttering day's candle this morning and lit a small votive flame for my skaldic side. What follows is what she inspired. It is intended to be quasi-religious, using the sun as a metaphor for the Blessed Virgin Mary. The rest follows from that central image. I hope it works on both levels, however.


Dags kyndill
Old Icelandic Literal Translation Idiomatic Translation
Dags kyndill dylisk
dúkar hon eru lúku;
aldri neitar illar
ylir synds-trja gyldr
Dyrkað vér djarf-liga
dǫglingr fróns sólar:
silki-dúkar skilja
svart-grána ok regn-ful;
láta kynda léttast
lyfit logi skýja.
Days candle hides
curtains her are drawn;
ever denies evil
warmth sin-trees golden.
Beg we boldly
king of the land of the sun:
Silky-curtains part
dark-gray and rain-filled;
let kindle most cheerful
healing light of the clouds
The days-candle hides -
her curtains are drawn;
(she) ever denies evil
sin-trees golden warmth.
King of the Land of the Sun,
we boldly beg (that you)
part the dark-gray,
rain-filled curtains
(and) let the most cheerful
healing light of the clouds kindle


Kennings Used

Dags kyndel  > Day's candle   >  SUN
dúkar  >  curtain  >  CLOUDS
synds-trja  >  sin-trees  >  MEN
dǫglingr fróns sólar  >  king of the land of the sun  >  king of Heaven  >  GOD
silki-dúkar  >  silky-curtains  >  CLOUDS
logi  skýja  >  light of the clouds  >  SUN



Please leave your comments below.

Friday, December 2, 2011


I have been fascinated by ravens since I was a boy. I watched crows, and I read of their cousins, the ravens. Tales of ravens, such as Hugin and Munin, are part of what drew me to Norse mythology and, eventually, to the sagas and poetry. The Norse had a fascination with the ravens and their eerie behavior when scavenging. The kennings list at the Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages website shows no fewer than 125 different kennings for ravens.

A few years ago, I read Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds, by Bernd Heinrich, a fascinating book which discusses the intelligence of the birds. Recently, I came across a web posting on the same subject. In the article, the authors discuss the sophisticated communications system of ravens:
[R]avens use their beaks similar to hands to show and offer objects such as moss, stones and twigs. These distinct gestures were predominantly aimed at partners of the opposite sex and resulted in frequent orientation of recipients to the object and the signallers. Subsequently, the ravens interacted with each other, for example, by example billing or joint manipulation of the object. Ravens in particular can be characterized by complex intra-pair communication, relatively long-time periods to form bonds and a relatively high degree of cooperation between partners.
It is this highly developed communications strategy that helped inspire this verse describing a pair of ravens viewing a battlefield. I hope you will enjoy it!




Hrafnar (Ravens)
Old Icelandic Line-by-Line Translation Prose-Order Translation
Blígja um braut brandéls
blóðig nágagl eygt-svart;
á hvíslur hast-ligu
hreyr dæmum leyndar.
Hrafnar einir heyra
haug-mál hrylla-liga;
skipta ein-hjal skáliga
skárfir roða sára.

Svipa í hlóði sveita
svanir fæða á bana;
boginn hǫfuð heyra
hag-mæltr bana-mana.
Eru stolen arm-hring
offran fyrir Tyrs-náð.
Eru stoliinn sagar
sagði fyrir Herjans.

Fljúga heim môr Hugins
(Hanga-drótins sam-siði)
vísi bjóða vigs-menn
(veg-semd syngja víg-liðs)
meyja Viðris máttkar
(minni halda þinna)
ok syngja á heim sálnar
(ok sǫgur telja soks-mans)
Gaze over road of sword-storm
bloody corpse-geese black-eyed;
in whispers harsh
corpses talk secrets.
Ravens only hear
cairn-talk horrid;
bandying secrets baleful
sea-gulls huddle of wounds.

swoop silently blood
swans to feed on death;
bent heads listen
(to) well-spoken dead-men.
are stolen arm-rings
offering for Tyr's grace.
are stolen tales
told for Herjans

Fly home swarm of Hugin
(Hanged-god's companion)
Guide (and) offer war-men
(glory sing of war-folk)
(to) maids of Viðris mighty
(hold your memories)
and sing home the souls
(and tales tell of attack-men)
Bloody black-eyed corpse geese
Gaze over sword-storm road;
corpses talk secrets
in harsh whispers.
Only ravens hear
the horrid cairn-talk
seagulls of wounds huddle
bandying baleful secrets

Blood swans silent swoop
to feed on death;
bent heads listen
to well-spoken dead-men.
Stolen arm-rings are
offerings for Tyr's grace;
Stolen tales are
told for Herjans

Swarm of Hugin, fly home and
offer to guide to war-men
Viðris's mighty maids
and sing home the souls.
Companion of the hanged-god
sing the glory of war-folks
hold your memories and
tell the heroes' tales


Kennings Used

braut brandéls   >  sword-storm road  >  BATTLE-FIELD
nágagl  >  corpse-geese  >  RAVENS
skárfir sára  >  wound sea-gulls  >  RAVENS
svanir sveita  >  blood-swans  >  RAVENS
môr Hugins  >  Hugin's swarm  >  RAVENS
Hanga-drótins sam-siði  >  Hanged-god's companion  >  ODIN'S companion  >  RAVEN
meyja Viðris  >  maid of Viðris  >  ODIN'S maid  >  VALKYRIE


One note: In the third stanza, I did a tricky - I essentially split the two half-stanzas into four lines and mixed them together. So, when you look at the Old Icelandic and Line-by-Line versions, the parenthetical lines go together, as they do in the prose order translation. This is a rarely used technique, but an interesting one to use once in a while. I'm sorry if this causes confusion.


Your comments mean a great deal to me. They help guide me. Please, comment below or to my e-mail.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Old Wine in New Bottles, Part Two

Another new verse, based on previously written material. Like the earlier verse today, this is for the Crown Tournament þáttr.
Old Icelandic Line-by-Line Translation Prose-Order Translation
Stef-grannr klofað stríðs-maðr
staðfastr á flaðg's-mór;
kyrtil gróm-lauss kongsgjøf
kompásað miðli stríðs-manns.
Folk-Tyr mattig (fagr-eygr)
(furu-rafir) krúnu
fara andvigr (fylgt hinn)
feginn-samligr (legg ást).
stem-thin strides strife-man
stedfast to the ogress-moor
Stainless belt the king's gift
compasses middle of strife-man.
Army-god mighty (fair-eyed)
(fir tree of amber) crown
goes to fight for (guide him)
joyfulness-filled (by love)
Stedfast stem-thin strife-man
strides to the ogress-moor;
The King's gift, a stainless belt
compasses the strfe-man's waist
The army-Tyr goes joyfully
to fight for the crown;
the fair-eyed amber fir-tree
guides him by her love


stríðs-maðr & stríðs-manns > strife-man > WARRIOR
flaðg's-mór > ogress-moor > BATTLE FIELD (the ogress being a symbol of disharmony)
Folk-Tyr > Army-god > WARRIOR
furu-rafir > fir tree of amber > WOMAN



Leave your comments below, please!

A New Verse from Old Parts

Today, taking a verse previously written in English and re-working it into Icelandic.
Old Icelandic Word-by-Word Translation Prose-Order Translation
Hæru-kollr til koma
kasta á vøll-hasel;
bregða skarpa bragr
branda rjóðr rønd-fisk.
Grimm-leitr klofað gramr
gata-skalda glotti;
hjó-staf greip haukstrandr -
hefjum róggeisla.
Hoary-head to comes
to cast on field of hazel
brandishes sharp best
sword reddener rim-fish.
Grimly strides warrior
gate of skald grins
hew-stem grips hawk-strand
he hefts battle-beam.
Hoary-head comes to cast
his chance on the hazel-field;
Best sword-reddener
brings (the) rim-fish.
Grimly strides the warrior
skald-gates grinning;
hew-stem is gripped by hawk´s strand
(he) hefts the battle-beam


Hæru-kollr > Hoary-head >  an old WARRIOR
hasel-vøll > hazel-field > a LIST for fighting
rjóðr-branda > sword-reddener > WARRIOR
rønd-fisk > rim-fish > SWORD
gata-skalda > skald's gate > MOUTH or LIPS
hjó-staf > hew-stem > SWORD
haukstrandr > hawk strand > ARM
róggeisla > battle-beam > SWORD



Please leave your comments below!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Krónu þáttr miðju sumars [Tale of Midsummer Crown], UPDATED NOVEMBER 30!!!!


As promised earlier today, here is the first part of a new þáttr about a tournament.  In it, I´m using verses that you've seen before, with some needed modifications.  The whole tale is about four paragraphs and six verses long and will be published over the next few weeks. Look for updates. 

In writing this þáttr, I have gone a different route, attempting to write the prose without using any translation tools, except a dictionary and grammar. I've used  the on-line Cleasby-Vigfusson and Michael Barnes's A New Introduction to Old Norse.  Of course, all of the writing and errors are mine. Please. comment and suggest how my clumsy prose can be improved. 

UPDATED - November 30. The new section is red-lettered.


Krónu þáttr miðju-sumars

Maðr er nefndr Isenulfr, sonr Thorhalls. Orrostur mørg børðusk hann ok er konung máttugr. Hann gékk at eiga Rosalindis, einn kona tignar Frankis. Réðu þeir í samt nítján vetra, en kynsæll ekki þeir. Svá at konung-ríkit arfuna hafa, Isenulfr kvað at orði einn burt-reið mikla. Sigrmagnaðinn taka arf at krónu aptir Isenulf ok Rosalinidis. Isenulfr konung gørða orð til allra herjar -  "Kóma allt til boðit at miðju sumri ok gangu á hólm mín!"

Svá segir skald-gamli:

Hvélinn skein á hólar

himins enda-lauss dimmir -

Stýri gildr bauð skatna

stafar malregns djarfr
Sverð-taka jarn-fastr

ok ýtar fresknastr rítar;

forú át mó fleins flug

finnar erfingi þínna.

Margir menn kómu til konungs-bús á Midju-sumars vaku. þeir váru heilsat af báðra Isenulf ok Rosalindis. Bóð mikil er haldin. Nóttina var dá-samligr ok sérhverr váru plagaðusk með mann-doma. Konung gaf þeimall gull-hring vér skulum marka áf burt-reidinn.  Talði þeim hann burtreiðar-løginn.  Burt-reiðainn skyldi vera berjaði með vapnum eggum-vølr. Striðs-mennin ok dómandír skydi gripa á loturin. Alla striðsmenn látum at burt-reiðdarinn ok festat á hlýða.  Næsta morgin, fyrðarinir géngu á hasel-vøll burdeiga. Kvenna kusu nafn ok øttu. Burdeigaðu fyrðar til midju-dag. Skininn var sól ok dagr var heitr.

Svá segir skald-gamli:

Blaka merki bik-svart
bor'a með gull ok vørar
Kallarir hrósat hringa
hrað-mæltr sírar glaðligr.
Fram-leitat þjórar from-fuss
frýði gjórdar-vitr prýddr -
Kallad her-blástr koll-hufs
á kró litr-járn gnýs-odda.

The Tale of Mid-Summer Crown

There was a man named Eisenwulf son of Thorhall. He had fought many battles and had become a great king. He was married to Rosalindis, a noble woman from France.  Together, they had ruled for nineteen winters, but they had not been blessed with children. In order that the kingdom would have an heir, Isenwulf decreed that a great tourney be held. The victor would be the heir to the crown after Isenwulf and Rosalinda. King Isenwulf sent words to all warriors: "All come to the Midsummer feast and meet my challenge!"

As the old skald says:

(The wheel of heaven shone on
endless dusky hills.
Mighty ruler you summoned
metal-rain staves bold.
Iron-fast sword-takers elder
and bold shield-impellers come
to the spear flight moor
to find your heir.)


Many men came to the royal-house on Mid-summer's eve. They were warmly greeted by both Eisenwulf and Rosalindis. They held a sumptuous feast. The night was glorious and everyone was treated with great generosity.  The king gave each fighter a gold ring to mark him for the tournament. He told them the rules. The tournament would be fought with blunt-edged weapons. The fighters and judges would decide each bout.  All the fighters swore that they would follow the rules.

The next morning, the warriors met on the hazel-field. The Queen drew and matched names. The fighters battled until the mid-day. The sun shone and the day was hot.

As the old skald says:

(pitch black banners broidered
with gold and fur flew
Heralds quick of speech
praised cheerful ring-saplings.
Eager honor seeking young bulls
challenged adorned white belts -
war-trumpets called iron-skull-caps
to the sword-pint pen.)


Of course, when translating the SCA into Old Icelandic, some liberties get taken, and I apologize here and now to Their Majesties, Isenwulf and Rosalinda, for fictionalizing slightly. I hope I do not offend.


Leave comments below, please.

Just a song before I go, To whom it may concern.

No, I'm not quite leaving, but, the Thanksgiving weekend is upon us and with the impending visit of my daughter (and follower) Brigid! whom I love and have greatly missed. She has been living in Austin since February, making a new home for herself, and I am very proud of her!

Anyway, before I disappear for the couple of days, I have two postings. The first one is sort of silly.

This morning, a friend of mine, Carrie DeWeese, posted this YouTube link to the Court Jester at Facebook:

This was pretty durned coincidental, given that I'm working on a þáttr concerning a tournament.  The "Vessel with the Pestle" routine has made me grin and giggle for almost fifty years, and it occurred to me that it should have been done in Old Icelandic, of course. :) Twenty minutes later, the four lines were done.

drykkin með dreka
er kuppr með koppa
eða pelit með pila
hefr vini al-hreinna

The drink with the dragon
is the cup with the pellet
but the bottle with the pestle
holds the wine that is pure.

Anyway, the real, serious posting follows soon.  Have a great Thanksgiving, all.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New verse for Haakonar saga eiki

Today (sorry for being quiet for a bit) a new verse for Haakonar saga eiki, chapter three. It is a two-parter, a dialogue between the King and Boris. The first helmingr is spoken by the King; the second by kol-skeggr.


Sonr Þorvalds sköruligr
stófni trjá né heldur ---
hagr ert þu á hjálm-Griður
hríð fleinþollarr gegn þer?

Fjall-skógs myrki fylkir
frá mér lundr þinn örugg
en hjálm-Griður mín heilla
hjakk fleinþollar blakka

Stalwart son of Thorvaldr
stems of trees don´t stop you -
handy are you with battle-witch
while spear-firs attack you?

mountain forest dark king
your grove is safe from me
but my battle-witch lucky
hacks spear-firs black



Only two kennings here:

hjálm-Gríður : helmet-Gríður [troll-woman] :  AXE
fleinþollarrr :  spear firs : WARRIORS


LOVE IT?????? HATE IT????????

Please, leave me comments below!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Two verses for Haakonar saga eki

Here are two verses I have written for the Haakonar saga eiki.  They are written in kviðuháttr, the same meter as the Sonatorrek, which was written by Egil Skalgrimsson.

The first describes Boris kol-skeggr coming home from  a tavern:

gjögrað kol-skeggr
þremr skautum -
hlæja skipa ok
syngur stúlkna.
ok vísa hlóa

staggers black-beard
three-sheets -
they laugh of the ship 
and sing of girls.
He laughs at jokes
and verses bellows

In the second, Boris "addresses" the king, loudly and drunkenly, while standing in fromt of the king's great house:

"Konung heyrðu
slarkarí kol-skeggr -
frið-maðr máttkir
drótinn mildi.
óvinnar þinn
ék mun upp-ræta
sem blað-rauði
rô Þorrs rífa aptr"

King, hear 
drunkard black-beard
Might ally of
generous lord -
enemies thine
I will up-root
as the red-leaved
Thor´s yard-arm I tore up.


One kenning here:

rô Þorrs > Thor´s yard arm > TREE.

They don't loo like much yet, but they will work better when placed in a þáttr. I promise!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A New Blog Site


Today I opened a new blog site called A Skalds Journey: Haakonar saga eiki. At this new site, I'll be posting chapters containing tales of Haakonr eiki [Haakon oak] and his brother, Boris kol-skeggr [Boris black-beard].  This saga project is an experiment in combining prose and verse, as was done in the original sagas.

I hope you'll go check it out here.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Hverja nótt húns (Every bear´s night) [NaPoWriMo # 4]

November 4 - Verse # 4

Today was a long day and I had very little inspiration to write. However, thanks to a set of replies to a "give me a word" posting, I got some inspiration. The verse is a description of winter, a kenning for which is Hverja nótt húns "Every bear's night".  There are a few kenningar in the verse - explained in the notes following it.



Hverja nótt húns

Old Icelandic Line Translation Prose Order Translation
Skikkja djupgr seil-ras
snæugr hylja inn skógr-fjall;
hærð orms gamla galla
gellan kominn hélu.
Sofari-hells síngjarn
snerkja af vin-berja;
af eplar-frosinn fuglar
fátídir fors-fullr þrátta.
Mantle deep of earth-rope
snowy hides mountain-forest;
haired worms ancient gall
yelling arrived rime.
Greedy Cave-sleeper
snores because of wine-berry;
over apples-frozen birds
strange angry quarrel.
The deep snowy mantle of earth-rope
hides the mountain-forest;
rime-haired ancient worm´s gall
yelling arrived.
The greedy cave-sleeper
snores from berry-wine
(while) strange angry birds
quarrel about frozen-apples.


Kennings Used

seil-ras > earth-rope > SNAKE
orms galla > worm's gall > WINTER
sofari-hells  > cave-sleeper > BEAR

I hope you enjoyed the verse.  Comment below, please!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hólm-ganga (the Duel), verse 1 [NaPoWriMo # 3]

November 3 - Day 3:

Yesterday's verse is tagged for future use in a þattr as I explained. Today´s verse is the second verse to go into the very same þattr about our hero fighting a hólm-gang (duel) against a foe who has insulted him.  The hólm-gang is traditionally ought on a small island, barely large enough for the two men to stand, with the battle being to the death.  If fought on land, a hólm-hring (duel ring) is drawn around the two combatants. To step beyond its limits, unless you are victorious, means death.  This is pretty serious stuff.

Today's verse features multiple kenningar which are explained in the notes following the verse.




Old Icelandic Line-by-Line Prose Order Translation
Á sker-garða elg-stafna
styri-flotna (fyr virðing)
(sveigr mikill leiks-sára)
(skorðir á holm) röri.
Sól-geisli al-skarlat
svaltung rauði fuðru;
sam-hljóði át ströndu
songar-sverða dverg-mælti.
to rock-reef elk of stems
Wielder of men (for fame)
(the brandisher great of wound-leek)
(you challenged to a duel) you rowed.
Sun-beams all-scarlet
sword-tongues red blazed;
harmony across the shore
the sword-songs dwarf-talked.
Wielder of men you rowed
the stem-elk to the rock reef;
you challenged the great wound-leek
brandisher to a duel for fame.
Sun-beams all-scarlet
blazed sword-tongues red;
sword-songs dwarf-talked
harmony across the shore.



Kennings Used

elg-stafna  > elk of stems > BOAT
styri-flotna  > wielder of men > WARRIOR LEADER
sveigr leiks sára > brandisher of the wound-leek > sword > WARRIOR
svaltung > sword-tongues > BLADES
songar-sverða > sword-songs > BATTLE
dverg-mælti > dwarf-talked > ECHOED (Note: This is not exactly a kenning, but still warrants explanation.


I hope you enjoyed Day 3 of my NaPoWriMo exercise.  Please leave your comments below!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sker-garðr (Rock-reef) [NaPoWriMo # 2]

Today is November 2nd ... Poem # 2 ...

Near our house runs a section of the Canandaigua Outlet, a prosaic name for a lovely stream that flows from the north end of Canandaigua Lake to the Seneca River to Lake Ontario.  For a number of years, I have seen a great blue heron fishing the outlet, and, as part of my November poetry project, I'm setting out to capture him on film. Today was day one of "The Hunt for Big Blue" which produced no heron, but several lovely photos. I've chosen a couple to inspire today's verse.



Old Icelandic Line-by-Line Prose-Order Translation
Ek sá veg-sviðr ís-á
(eyju-þoka) flótinn
(stóð í miðju strauma)
(stutta) át haf, djúpastr.
Synt gæti (ey frá-skila)
át strǫnd þaðan ønginn -
stór-grýtta ey sker-garðr
(sá blódhólm-ganga) kǫlluðu.
I saw way-swift ice-stream
(islet-misty) flowing
(stood in mid-stream)
(stunted) to the ocean, deepest.
Swam from (island isolated)
to shore there no one -
Stony island "rock-reef"
(saw bloody duels) was called.
I saw a deepest, way-swift
ice-stream flowing to the ocean.
In mid-stream, a stunted misty
islet stood. No one could swim
from there to the shore;
The lonely island saw bloody duels;
The stoney island was called


The verse is intended to be the first of two or three describing a hólm-ganga or duel, fought on an island or within a restricted space. The finished poem will be included in a longer prose story called a þáttr. You can see one þáttr that I've written already here. I hope you enjoyed today's verse.  Please comment!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Elds-vimr ("Fire-Whims") [NaPoWriMo # 1]

With apologies to my friends who are participating in NaNoWriMo, I thought I´d try my hand at my variant, NaPoWriMo (National Poem Writing Month).  I hope to write a verse a day and post the results here on a daily basis this month. Wish me well!

Here is NaPoWriMo #1:

When I was in college at SUNY Geneseo, many long years ago, I was walking home one deep dark January night. Freezing as I walked, I happened to look up to the northern sky and I stood, transfixed, seemingly forever, by the sheets of light across the sky. It was the first time I had seen the aurora borealis. I have seen it a few times since, always deep into the night, always on the coldest, clearest night of the year.

I´m certain that you have heard by now of the fiery aurora that we experienced in the recent past. While there are excellent scientific explanations of this astounding phenomenon, I envision a more poetic cause.

≪ ≫


Elds-Vimr (Fire-Whims)

Old Icelandic Line-by-Line Prose Order Translation
sá of heiðu stjörnur
snjóiga dala-lagið -
kómu inn ljós kaltast
kyndi heiðu himna
á náttar-þelli illu,
elds-vimr glóðu róðinn
hring-serk blód-liga Hamðis
hirðmenn ljósa dró fyrir
Saw (I) over bright stars
snowy waste-land -
Came the light coldest (and)
kindled the clear sky.
At dead of night evil,
fire-whims glowed bloody;
Ring-shirt bloody of Hamdis
hirthmen (of) light veiled over.
I saw bright stars
over snowy waste-land;
the coldest light came
and kindled the clear sky.
At the evil dead of night,
Bloody fire-whims glowed;
Hamðis's bloody ring-shirt
veiled the light's hirthmen.



elds-vimr > fire-whims > Aurora Borealis
hring-serk Hamðis > Hamdis's mail-shirt > the Aurora
hirðmenn ljósa > the light's hirthmen > the stars

For those who are new to my poetry, a brief explanation: the form is dróttkvætt (court meter), a poetic style most often associated with Medieval period Iceland.  Each line contains three accented syllables.  The first and next-to-last syllable of each odd numbered line alliterates with the first syllable of the following even-numbered line.  Finally, in each even numbered line, two syllables (generally either the first or third and (always) the next to last syllable must rhyme.  The verse breaks into two sections of four lines each - each of these sections (called a helmingr) is a separate syntactic unit.  The two half-verses (helmingar) are closely related.  The three poetic devices noted above are called kennings, essentially complex metaphors.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this poem.  Please leave a comment in the space below.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Three Verses for Cold Weather

So, back when I was beginning this quest, I wrote poems in dróttkvætt metre, but in English.  I did this as an exercise to keep my mind going between inspirations.  Here are three of these English verses, slightly extended and modified, in honor of the change of weather Upstate New York is now experiencing.  Not that long ago, we had temperatures in the 70´s, with sunshine and occasional thunderstorms.  Last night, we dipped below freezing and the "higher elevations" had measurable snowfall. It's what makes Upstate living so "interesting," in a Chinese curse way.

These three verses go in order - from late summer storm through the leaf fall to winter's cold grip.  One definition: a heiti is a one-word metaphor, usually a god's name or familiar name for a thing.  In these verses, I use three heiti which are listed with the kennings in the notes.

So, parkas on? Snow shoes ready? Here we go.  Enjoy!


Three Verses for Cold Weather

Through the storm-shrines tear-veil
torn by Vigþor's war-bolt,
shield-trees ride to safety
sheltered by the elm-masts.
Ash-bane flares in ice-homes.
Eyebrow-stones are blinded.
Lime-tree-bane knocks limbs down -
Loaf-bane flies for high-home.

Sviðrir´s yard-arm slumbers
Shields on ground he yields
Winter's onslaught waits he
Waking serpent-slayer.
Rostri - tree-top runner -
ruts through leaves on nut-quest;
Flyting with the flay-claw
Fleers at mouse-bane's queerness.

Forni's sacred fish-bath
frozen by Ull's chosen
servant - Norðri's sail-bane
settles waves to metal.
Neath the throne of narwals
neap-tide's wave-herds sleeping
wait for Suðri's warm breath
to welcome boat-land's melting.



storm-shrine > THE SKY
tear-veil > CLOUDS
Vigþor's war-bolt > [VIGÞOR =Thor of Battle] > LIGHTNING
shield-trees > MEN
Ash-bane > LIGHTNING
ice-homes > CLOUDS
eyebrow-stones > EYES
lime-tree-bane > WIND
loaf-bane > MAN

Sviðrir´s yard-arm > [SVIÐRIR = Óðinn] > TREE
shields on ground > LEAVES
serpent-slayer > FROST
Rostri > a heiti for SQUIRREL
flay-claw & mouse-bane > CAT

fish-bath > POND
Norðri > a heiti for THE NORTH
sail-bane > STORMS
throne of narwhals > WATER
wave-herds > FISH
Suðri > a heiti for THE SOUTH
boat-land > WATER


Please, comment!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Nótt-veidr (Night-Hunt)

This poem is for Halloween. In Old Germanic lore, this time of year was when the Wild Hunt took place. There is a great deal of literature on the lore of the Wild Hunt. One explanation is at the Orkneyjar website. I have chosen the Wild Hunt motif here, lead by Loki and consisting of the ghouls, ghasts, and goblins we popularly think of when we dress for Halloween.

I have written in runhent, which literally means rhyming endings. It is the only metre in Old Norse-Icelandic poetry that uses end-rhymes. Although lines of runhent can vary in length from four to eight syllables, I have used primarily a four-syllable line, with occasional five-syllable lines. The verses should move fairly quickly when spoken and I hope the form is more comfortable for you to read than the longer, more technically demanding dróttkvætt that I usually write.

The poem is presented, as usual, in Old Icelandic, English Line by Line, and a Prose Translation, all followed by notes on the kennings used.

A note about the Jack-o-Lantern. When it first became a popular symbol of Halloween, the Jack-o-Lantern was based on folklore that shows it being a guardian spirit. The bold fellow i the picture above is a traditional Irish Jack-o-Lantern, carved from a turnip! You can read more here.



Old Icelandic English Line-by-Line Prose Order
Lopts fár-veiði
bereð mús-flæði
ok tán-riðinn
ok úlf-héðinn.
Almsorg ýla
blóð-tungl fýlla
eðl-vina blistra
slydda rísta
Loki´s hunt
brings the flood-mouse
and the hedge-rider
and the wolf-skin.
The elm-grief howls
the blood-moon fills
the toad friend whistles
the rain slashes.
Loki´s hunt
brings the flood-mouse
and the hedge-rider
and the wolf-skin.
The elm-grief howls
the blood-moon fills
the toad friend whistles
the rain slashes.
Upp strætir býrs
kveld-riðar fyrst
borgar-lýðr hvak
á gýgjar blakr.
Bjarnar tryllska
seið-kvenna sjá
ok menn mein-samr
með vargar u-tamr.
Up streets town
dark-riders flow
towns-people quail
at orges black.
Children bewitched
spell-women see
and men noxious
with wolves wild.
Up the town's streets
dark-riders flow
towns-people quail
at orges black.
Children bewitched
see spell-women
and noxious men
with wild wolves.
Háf-ulfr í blys-ljos
hálf-limt af kveld-mús
flet-þak brenna.
Stað-fólk gnella
á skræmir ílla;
brysti bera
fyrir fólk hverra?
Half-wolf in torch-lit
twilight of night-mouse
straw-thatch burn
Town-folk scream
at scarecrows evil;
breast bares
for folk who?
Torch-lit half-wolf in
twilight of the night-mouse;
burn straw-thatch (roofs).
Town-folk scream
at scarecrows evil;
who bares his breast
for the folk?
Upp fram-hus stíg
inn skulla-víg
brósa rauð-gull
ward festa-ból.
egg-leika krella.
Fára á hæl
veiði-konungr bæl.
Up porch stair
the skull of war
smiles red-yellow
guard abode.
Candle skull
edge-plays spirits.
Takes to the heel
the hunt-king burn(ing).
Up the porch stair
the skull of war
smiles - red-yellow
house guard .
Candle skull
edge-plays with spirits.
The burn(ing) hunt-king
takes to his heels.
Brý-bana bið
gefa fólk fríð
ok staðir-drott
allr svófu-rott.
The witch-bane abiding
gives the folk peace
and town- people
all sleep sweetly.
The abiding witch-bane
gives the folk peace
and the town-people
all sleep sweetly.



mús-flæði – the ´flood-mouse´ > BAT
tán-riðinn – the hedge-rider > GHOST
úlf-héðinn – the wolf-skin > WEREWOLF
almsorg – the grief of elms > WIND
eðl-vina – toad-friend > WITCH
kveld-riðar – dark riders > ZOMBIES
seið-kvenna – spell-women > WITCHES
háf-ulfr – half-wolf > WEREWOLF
kveld-mús – night-mouse > VAMPIRE
skulla-víg – skull (of) war > JACK-o-LANTERN
festa-ból – locked or fast house > ABODE
kyndill-skella - candle skull > JACK-o-LANTERN
egg-leika – edge-plays > BATTLES
veiði-konungr – hunt-king > LOKI
brý-bana – witch-bane > JACK-o-LANTERN


Now it's your turn - to leave a comment. Here are three questions to help you get started.

1. What image or images did you like the most?

2. What images or idea in the poem would you like to know more about?

3. What do you like or dislike about this metre,

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Tears of Bees

tu pater es, rerum inventor, tu patria nobis suppeditas praecepta, tuisque ex, inclute, chartis, floriferis ut apes in saltibus omnia libant, omnia nos itidem depascimur aurea dicta…Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, Bk. 3, ll. 9-12

You are our father, the discoverer of truths, you supply us with a father's precepts, from your pages, illustrious man, as bees in the flowery glades sip all the sweets, so we likewise feed on all your golden words

So much depends on the bees. I was working in the yard Monday and they were right there beside me, hitting up the wild flowers. We blissfully ignored one another, being careful to keep our respective distances: the bees, from my hoe; me, from their stings. As I watched them, my mind wandered and this poem was born.

Bý-tár Bee's-tears Prose Order
Engis gulla augar
óð-rærs hæna smyrill;
fluga-stinga súpa
sæta mjölk-blóms læ-víss.
Vængar með höggvanda
vínsvelgr fljóta til býhus
Þer hunangs ymr-þjuða
þrek-liga stemma lækr-gull

Birti-gulla bý-tár
bekkr dam-stæð leka
játir bara-jastars
yndi-ligr bekkr vinds-gnýr.
Hrannir út hann dynjað
Hárs á saltunnu skáldit
siglað Óðinns segjað
skald-skipit ok öl-hrönn
Meadow golden-eyes
wisdom-raiser attract hawk;
fly-sting sips
sweet milk-bloom liquor-wise.
Wings with staggering
drunkard floats to beehouse;
there honey buzzing-tribe
strongly stems stream-gold.

Bright-gold bee-tears
brook dam-yard leaks
yields wave-yeast
Charming brook squalling.
waves out of which poured
Hárs onto hall-barrel the skald
sails Odin´s speaks
skald´s ship and ale-wave.
The meadow's golden eyes
attract the hawk of wisdom-raiser;
stinging-fly sips
sweet intoxicating flower´s milk.
With staggering wings
drunkard floats to beehive
The buzzing tribe there honey
golden streams stems strongly.

Dam-yard leaks a brook
of bright-gold bee-tears;
charming brook yields
to squally yeast-wave
which pours into the waves
of Hárs hall-barrel [and] into the skald
[who] sails the skald's ship
and speaks Odin´s ale-wave


Kennings Used:

engis augar > eyes of the meadow > wildflowers

óðörærs smyrill > hawk of the wisdom raiser > hawk of nectar > bee

mjölk-bloms > milk of the flowers > nectar

bý-tár > bee's tears > honey

dam-stæði > dam-yard > honey-comb

bara-jastars > yeast-wave > mead

hrannir Hárs saltunnu > waves of Hár´s (Óðinn´s) hall-barrel > mead

skald-skipit > the skald-ship > dreams

Óðinns öl-hrönn > Ódinn's ale-wave > poetry


Please, now that you've read the poem, leave me a comment on it. Here are the three questions:
1. What did you like about this poem?

2. What would you change about this poem?

3. What else would you like to learn?
Finally, a shout out to Dr Beverliey Braune, whose excellent blog, Musings on skáldic poetry is a constant inspiration to me. Thank you, Dr. Braune.



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Skald-Praising Re-visited


I know, I know, you may have seen this one before. I thought I'd try re-cycling one or two of the favorites in the new html version, in hopes that I can garner more hits and more comments. Please, read it to the end and comment!

This verse is in an unusual form called iðurmæltr “repeatedly said” by Snorri. You can find an original example in the Heilagra meyja drápa (‘Drápa about Holy Maidens’). This verse form uses repetition of the final word from one line to the first word of the following line, though in a different form.

My original verse was written in English:

Speak o glorious silk-Syf
Silken voices fill us -
Filled with sword din's fever
Fevered tales you're weaving.
Weaver of our wild dreams
Dreamers grasp your seemings
Seamless runs the silk-stream
Silky-smooth your speeches.


The re-crafted lausavísr, which you can hear here, is slightly different, as you would expect. I think it achieves my purpose of describing and praising a Skald:

Skáld-lofligr Skald-praising Prose order translation
Segðú hæra silk-smiðr
silki-raddir fyllum
fyllask sóttin sverða
sverða songar ferðir
ferða-maðr drómundr draumi
drauma-manna gripa þykkju
þykk-ligr rennr straum-silki
silki-liðka þinn sagðr
Speak, highest silk-smith
Silken voices fill us
filled with the fever of swords
sword song exploits
Traveller the war-ship of dreams
Dreaming-men grasp thoughts
Thickly flows stream-silk
Silky-smooth your tellings
Speak, highest silk-smith
silken-voices fill us
(you are) filled with thoughts of battle
with the songs of the sword's exploits
Traveller on the dream war-ship
dreaming men grasp (your) thoughts
thickly flows the silk-stream
silky-smooth your speaking.



silk-smiðr > Silk-maker > Smooth-speech-maker > SKALD
silki-raddir > Silken-voices > POETRY
sóttin sverða > fever of the sword > BATTLE
sverða songar > songs of the sword > BATTLE
ferða-maðr drómundr draumi > traveller (on) the war-ship of dreams > SKALD
drauma-manna > dreaming-men >LISTENERS
straum-silki > silk-streams > POETRY


Hope you enjoyed! Before you go, please leave a comment. Here are three ideas to start:

1. What was one thing you liked in this poem?

2. What change could make the poem better?

3. What would you like to know more about?



Sunday, October 9, 2011

Krónuvísur - Crown Verses

This past weekend saw the 30th Crown Tournament of the Kingdom of Æthelmearc. 18 fighters gathered to select the next King and Queen of our Kingdom in the SCA. I wrote the following poem between Friday and today in honor and memory of the wonderful, sun-filled, chivalrous combat.

In the poem, I have referred to the devices of the two combatants in the final round. The first, Sir Timothy of Arindale, features a winged bear as its primary charge; the second, His Royal Highness Andreas Morgan, features two squirrels as his primary charges (his lady, Her Royal Highness Kallista Morgunova, also has a squirrel on her device).

So, here it is, in columns once again, for your reading ease. Please, comment on it, if you wish. I always appreciate your comments. I'll put up a recording later this week, for your listening pleasure.

Old Icelandic English Prose Translation
Hvélinn skein á hólar
himins enda-lauss dimmir -
Stýri gildr bauð skatna
stafar malregns djarfr
Ildest sverð-taka jarn-fastr
ok ýtar fresknastr rítar;
forú át mó fleins flug
finnar erfingi þínna.

Blakat merki bik-svart
borða með gull ok vörur
kallarir hrósat hringa
hrað-mæltr sírar glaðligr
Fram-leitat þjórar from-fuss
frýdi gjórdar-vitr prýddr -
kallað her-blástr koll-hufs
á kró litr-járn gnýs-odda

Stokkr-bryni snúðigt
skjaldar ganga á hjaldar
barninn skegglauss bond-ligr
ban-skot garðað megin-grimmr.
Gjorð-vitr prýdi gjarnastr
gjögar kljufuð róg-þornar
hlynir-brandr hlákka
Hlóriðs sinna hjör-opi.

Skjaldar hyggja át skýja
sverða-hlynar berjand
fruvor helztr ok hersir
heita görað hjörleiks.
Folk-Tyr mattig (fagr-eygr)
(furu-rafir) krúnu
fara andvigr (fylgt hinn)
feginn-samligr (legg ást).

Hilmr-ýta kallað á hólm-gangr
hjalmar-Týrir tví jam-ýkkr
sverð-Tyrir svertað til stals
sterki-þrekr reynast brékar-fjands.
Á holmgang kvámu hetjar
hjálmar-skaða hlammandi
gulli bjorn-maðdr flygill
ok gárp-menn töskir-jarðar

Andres loð-skegg (Hlaðguðs)
lauf-mann (elboði) bann-fjór
færði hleypi (fljótrast)
(fina engjalað kyndill.)
Raynir þakkat ronda
hringa-Ságu minntaskt
eptir krúna-efni
eggi-sveig vinnað-sigr.

Þjód-konungr, snallr jófurr
hjalm-stafr reynast frægr.
Riki-alm-viðs reka
runni efni er buinnast.
The wheel shone on hills
heaven´s end-less dusky -
Ruler mighty summoned men
staves out metal-rain bold
eldest sword-takers iron-fast
and impellers boldest of shields
They came to moor of spear flight
discover your heir.

Flew banners pitch-black
broidered with gold and fur
Heralds praised ring
quick of speech saplings cheerful.
Honor-seeking young bulls eager
challenged belts-white adorned -
called war-trumpets skull-caps
to pen colored-iron of din of points.

Tree-trunk byrnie haughtily
shield strode to uproar
youth beardless, farmer-like,
death-shot delivered, very fierce.
Belt-white proud most willing
rifts cleaved foemen.
Sword-maple eagle-screamed
Bellowing-Thunderer's sword cry.

Shield looks at of clouds
sword-maples striking
ladies gentlest and lords
high cheered sword-play.
Army-Tyr mighty (fair-eyed)
(fir tree of amber) crown
goes to fight for (guided him)
joyfulness-filled (by love).

Protector of men calls to list
helmet-Tyrs two well-matched
sword-gods file to core
courageous proved foe-breakers.
To list came heroes
helm-destroyers clashing:
golden bear-man winged
and brave man squirrel-lands.

Andreas shaggy-beard (Hlaðgoðs)
leaf-man (storm-bringer) life-ban
brings sudden (swiftest)
(fine rewarded candle).
Trier grateful of shields
ring-goddess kissed
after crown of heirs
the edge-swayer won.

Mighty king, your brave prince
helm-stave is proven glorious.
Realm of elm-leaves, counselor
of warriors heir is most ready.
The wheel of heaven shone on
endless dusky hills.
The mighty ruler summoned
metal-rain staves bold.
Iron-fast sword-takers elder
and bold shield-impellers come
to the spear flight moor
to find your heir.

Pitch-black banners broidered
with gold and fur flew;
Heralds quick of speech
praised cheerful ring-saplings.
Eager honor-seeking young bulls
challenged adorned white-belts.
War trumpets called iron-skull-caps
to the sword-point pen.

The tree-trunk byrnie strode
to the shield up-roar.
To the beardless farm-youth
he delivered the death-blow.
The willing white-belt proud
cleft rifts through foemen;
the sword-maple shrieked the
war-cry of the Bellowing Thunderer.

The shield of clouds looked at
the striking sword-maples.
Gentlest ladies and high lords
cheered the sword-play.
The mighty Army-Tyr fought
for crown guided by the love
of the fair fir-tree of amber.

Protector of men, you called
two well-matched helmet Tyrs to battle.
The sword-gods fled to the core;
they proved courageous foe-breakers.
To the list came heroes,
clashing helm destroyers:
The man of the golden winged-bear and
the brave man from squirrel-lands.

Andreas shaggy-beard brought
sudden life-ban to the leaf-lord.
Hlaðguð's swiftest storm-bringer
rewarded the fine candle.
The grateful trier of shields
kissed his ring-goddess,
after he, the edge-swayer,
won the crown of heirs.

Mighty king, the glorious helm-stave,
your brave prince, is proven.
Realm of elm-leaves,
the warrior counselor's heir is ready!



Verse 1:

Hvélinn himins > Heaven's wheel > SUN
Stýri skatna > Ruler of men > KING
stafar malregns > staves of metal-rain > WARRIORS
sverð-taka > sword-taker > KNIGHT (who swears an oath on the sword)
ýtar rítar > impellers od shields > WARRIORS
mó fleins flug > moor of spear flight > BATTLE-FIELD

Verse 2:

hringa sírar > ring-saplings > WOMEN
þjorar > young bulls > WARRIORS
giórðar-vitr > belts-white > KNIGHTS
koll-hufs járn-litr helmets > WARRIORS kró gnýs-odda > pen of din of [sword] points > LIST

Verse 3:

Stokkr-bryni > tree-trunk byrnie > large WARRIOR
skjaldar hjaldar > shield uproar > BATTLE
Gjorð-vitr > belt-white > KNIGHT
hlynir-brandr > sword maple > WARRIOR
Hlóriðs > Battle Thunderer > THOR

Verse 4:

Skyjaldar skyja > Shield of clouds > SUN
sverða hlynar > sword-maples > WARRIORS
Folk-Týr > Army-Tyr (god) > WARRIOR
furu-rafir > fir-tree ofamber > LADY

Verse 5:

Hilmr-ýta > Protector of men > KING
hjalmar-Týrir > helmet Tyrs > WARRIORS
sverð-Týrir > sword Tyrs > WARRIORS
svertað til stals > file to the core > fight to the end
brekar-fjánds > foe-breakers > WARRIORS
hjalmar-skada > helm-destroyers > WARRIORS
bjorn-maðr > bear-man > Timothy of Arindale
gárp-menn töskir-jardar > brave man of squirrel-land > Andreas Morgan

Verse 6:

lauf-mann > leaf-lord > DUKE (Timothy)
bann-fjór > life-ban > DEATH
Hlaðguðs elbóði > Hladgud's (valkyrie's) storm-bringer > WARRIOR
fina kyndill > fine candle > LADY
Raynir ronda > trier of shields > WARRIOR
hringa-Ságu > ring-Ságu (goddess) > WOMAN
eggi-sveig > edge-swayer > WARRIOR

Verse 7:

hjalm-stafr > helm-stave > WARRIOR
Riki-alm-viðs > Realm of elm-leaves > AETHELMEARC
reka runni > counselor of warriors > KING




Friday, October 7, 2011


Today, I'm taking a real wide swing around my usual poetry to do a quick addition to the #occupythemiddleages twitter feed that Karl Steel put up at In The Middle.  There, Karl sees the Middle English poem, Gode speede the ploghe, as a veiled warning to the Church and the Landholders, the 1% of the times, to more closely value the peasants, the 99% of the time.

You see the same message in the poetry of the Kings' Sagas, most particularly in the Bersoglisvisur of Sigvatr Þórðarson.  In it, the skald berates the king for his ill-treatment of the farmers, and reminds him that
enn eru búendir seinir af, þvís minnir
the farmers are still slow to relinquish what they remember (verse 5)
He also gives a more direct warning of future dissent, when he says
Vasat á her, með hjorvi / hlið, þars stóðk i miðjum / hrösinn (skal með hrísi) hans flokki (við þjokkva)
There was no gap in the ranks where I stood proudly in the midst of his men with my sword; one must make the forest denser with brush. (verse 3)
Finally, in verse 12, the warning is more explicit yet:

Hætts þats allir ætlask / (áðr skal við því ráða) / hárir menn, es heyrik  / hót, skjǫldungi at móti; / greypt's þat, 's hǫfðum hnepta, / heldr, ok niðr í felda / (slegit hefr þǫgn á þegna) / þingmenn nǫsum stinga.
The threat is dangerous when all grey-haired men, as I hear, intend [to revolt] against the ruler; that must be prevented in advance.  It's rather grim when assembly members hand their heads and stick their noses into their cloaks; silence has descended on your followers.
That image, of the King's supporters, the farmers and common men keeping silent and choosing to "stick their noses in their cloaks is a powerful one.  It warns the King to respect the rights the farmers have enjoyed under his father, in order to be certain that the army will have their support, that "the brush will make the forest denser" and fill the lines.

King Magnús Óláfsson heeded the warning he was given.  I hope the 1% heeds the warning its receiving today.


(Sources for the poetry are

  • Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages, vol. 2: Poetry from the Kings' Sagas 2, pp. 11-30.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

An Interim Post!

While I'm working on the next poem, a brief interlude. In browsing Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages, vol. 7, Poetry on Christian Subjects, for inspiration, I came across these two verses in Latin, but written in dróttkvætt. The editor of this section, Jonathan Grove, says that these Stanzas Addressed to Fellow Ecclesiastics are "the only known examples of medieval Scandinavian Lat. poetry composed in skaldic metres." (SPSMA, vol. 2, p. 471). It appears that these two verses may have been written by the same author, and may date from early 14th century.
Latin Verses English Translations
Verse 1

Ad te, care ave, mitto;
audi nostrum carmen laudis:
factus esto fratrum recte
flore decus seniorum.
Presta, summe Pater, castam
plene fidem Audoeno
† aminaui † ut tu, Numen,
isto uiro prebuisti

Verse 2

Esto, consors caste,
cura mente purus;
sume tibi, Thoma,
tutum fide scutum
Vive intus, ave,
ortus celi porta;
inde gregis grandis
gaude Christi laude.
Verse 1

I send [this] to you, dear grandsire
hear our song of praise;
flowering may you be rightly made
a splendour of the senior brethren.
Bestow, Highest Father, spotless
faith abundantly upon Audenus
just as you Godhead,
have granted to that man "aminuai."

Verse 2

Chaste colleague, through attentiveness
be pure in thought;
take upon yourself, Thomas,
the sheltering shield of faith.
Having arisen, grandsire,
dwell in the gateway of Heaven;
Then rejoice in the great congregation's
praise of Christ
One thing I find interesting about these verses is the ease with which they fit into the skaldic meter. I believe that the inflected nature of Latin is the reason why Latin works so well in dróttkvætt meter. I also have found the Latin phrase celi porta "Heaven's gateway" appears in a later set of verses in Icelandic, himinríkis which is used as a kenning for the Virgin Mary. (Máríudrápa, verse 30, SPSMA, vol. 2, p. 30-31). Next time, the promised flokkr on "A Journey". Enjoy,


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Enda-rimmu (Battle's End)

This flokkr of verses is designed to "show" a battle, a first victorious, but, as the gods often will it, with a turning at the end. I'm experimenting with a new layout, which I hope will help ease the understanding of what is going on here. Please let me know how you like both the poem and the lay-out. You can hear it here.
Old Norse-IcelandicWord-by-WordProse Order Translation

Vask með gram vargs-nistir
vapna-sennus happ-frjodr
Reð herkonungr hrjóda
hneitis egg í sveita.
Allvaldr dreki eld-ligr
ílla bjóðuð hildi
gladdi marg már-gunnar
góður sköldungr þjóðar.

Norðan-jarl setja át jarn
jöfurr-stýri glófi
hjoggu harða dyggvir
hirðmenn norða stirða
sigr-verk blóðgan seggja
sótti ok fekk drótinn
baugs en barðir lógu
borvar, grjoóts ok orva

Sveirteik harðan spandi
svornu kornum jóri
sveigjað malmregns suðræn
sigbjarkar ok egg-skugg
sœfri hlenna skað-vænn
sigr-blót þinn sór birgjað
sék inn hjor-flaug hastligr
hjarða smó þinn hervæðr

féllt með hilmir fóldar
fimm-tugr Norðmenn hjordr
sás á sinni ævi
sásk aldrigi háska
barask á bauglistir
á bolstað lik skjöldr
leiða longar dauða
limar illa mik stillis

I was with lord wolf-feeder
weapon-quarrel wise
Did army-king stripe
sword's edge in gore.
Overlord dragon fiery
calamitous offered battle;
fed many gulls of battle
good ruler of people.

Northern earl attacked iron
prince-controller glove
cut down most loyal
retainers Northmen relentless
victory bloody lord of
you sought and won men
ring were down lay
trees, spears and arrows

sword-play hard attracted
troll-woman's chorus steed
swayed metal-rain Southern
battle-birches and edge-thunder
slayer of thieves destructive
victory sacrifice your wounds made
I saw the spear-flight sudden
hard pierce your war-garb

fell with lord of the land
fifty Northmen hardy
he who in his life
feared never danger
carried on ring-damager's
to home corpse shield
affect me long of death
branches grievously of king

I was with you, lord, the wolf-
feeder [WARRIOR] wise of
weapon-quarrels [BATTLES].
The army-king [LEADER]
striped sword-edges in gore.
The fiery overlord of dragons
offered calamitous battle.
You, good ruler of the people
[KING] fed many battle-gulls [RAVENS].

The Northern earl, iron-gloved,
attacked, O prince-controller
[KING]. Your most loyal
retainers cut down relentless
Northmen. Lord of men [KING],
you sought and won bloody victory.
Ring-trees [WARRIORS] were
laid low by spears and arrows

The chorus of the horse of the
troll-woman [WOLF-TROOP
> Ealdormereans]
hard sword-play [BATTLE]
The Southern battle-birches
[WARRIORS] swayed in the
edge-thunder and metal-rains [BATTLE].
Slayer of destructive thieves
[KING], your wounds made
the victory-sacrifice.
I saw the sudden spear-
flight pierce your hardened
war-garb [ARMOUR]

The lord of the land fell
surrounded by fifty Northmen
He who in his life
never feared danger
Ring-damager´s [KING] corpse
carried home on shield
The long branches [MEMORIES]
of the King's death affect me grievously