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!