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?




  1. 1. The imagery is great.
    2. The middle section. The opening and closing sections relay very nicely the silky smoothness of the Skald's craft. I would have liked to see the silk metaphor continue in the middle, perhaps in the movement of the warship or the wind in it's sails. This may be my modern western symmetry impinging on a form in which I am but a neophyte.
    3. I would like to know more of how you pick your metaphors.

  2. Hi, Bobby!

    1. Thank you!
    2. So would I, but the rules of this particular form of poetry took me in a different direction. Perhaps anoher pass at it, or something like it, will allow me to run the silk image all the way from caterpillar to pajamas, if you will.
    3. There are some images/metaphors/kennings that come to me from my mind; there are others that I pick from the Skaldic Poetry website (http://skaldic.arts.usyd.edu.au/). The list of kennings there is pretty exhaustive and is a serpent's hoard for a ugget seeker such as I.

    Thanks for the comments and the dedicated readership.