Sunday, May 15, 2011

The White Raven and the Black Lion

Before I began working in Old Icelandic, I wrote poems in the Old Norse style in English.  This poem was written in 2008, specifically for the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronisms).  It is to honor the Khalek Shuraag Od and Branwyn ferch Gwyther, who were King and Queen of AEthelmearc in 2008.   The title comes from her given name, which roughly means “White Raven”, and his fighting style, which resembles a cat stalking his prey.
It is written in an English version of dróttkvætt,  without the internal partial rhyme in the odd-numbered lines.  It is also in the form of a “dance”, with the two, beast & bird, slowly circling one another, then meeting, then joining.

Deep woods flash with flight's blur
Fleet bird snow clad goes free
ring tree's laughter light fills
Lonely soul with full heart
Bright war eagle's eyes shine
Artless maiden gazes
Flees from happy homestead
Hunts she harts for heart's ease
Shadow lurking lion
Lets no eye bespy him
Keeps his guard against all
Guileful beast lord seeks foes
Climb tree stalks the stalwart
Stag through darkened lark homes
Sharp claws flash stop fleet deer
Flight of elder elk ends
Eagle's stand goes stoney
Still gold-tree swift sees all
white warhawk's new heart sings
Hope her soul now full fills
Elk bane tenses turning
Tilts his eyes to spy her
Raven crined crouches
creeping preyward flay-claw
Silent daring death moves
Doom's dark gaze amazes
Rises high to hold fast
Hawk-wing  hastens day's end
Thor's hawk silent sights him
Sighing gold-tree boldly
Meets his gold orb's gaze and
Gains his heart with dart's sting
Turns then white-clad warhawk
Whispers peace to beast-lord
Sudden still he stands to
Stay by light-wing's right hand
Calms his blood-lust blazing
Blessed love discovers
Soft-paw gently joins
Joyous partner's heart song
Black-lord rises rightly
Ring-tree's sweet song greets all
Full of pride and power
Pleasing music soothes 
Gold-tree lightly laughing
Lion's soaring roar calls
Brazen rounds of Royals
Ring their brows and rouse cheers
Come now Hearth-lords high-born
Hill folk wending 'tend them
Praise all Branwyn Bright-eyes
Bringing joyous noises
Noble Khalek Khan now
Crowns his love above all
Good folk all round exult
Aethling Crowns resounding
The first verse is given over to the White Raven, the second to the Black Lion; in the third, the first half belongs to her, the second to him.  The order is reversed in the fourth verse.  In the fidth verse, they alternate couplets: the first and third are hers, the second and fourth are his.  In the sixth verse, they alternate singles lines: hers are # 2, 4, & 5; his are # 1, 3, & 6.  Lines 7 & 8 lead into the final verse which shows both being crowned.  There really are no SCA-related kennings in use here, and very few kennings in general:.  there are a few for woman (ring-tree, gold-tree), cat (soft paw, climb tree, flay claw), raven (Thor’s warhawk, war eagle, hawk wing)

1 comment:

  1. Hail Word-Weaver!
    Weord of wulder upon Middangeard