Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Vár-dagar (Spring-days)

From Persephone to Brigit to Iðunn, every culture has a Spring goddess and a Spring myth. In Old Norse, the tale of the god of poetry Bragi's wife Iðunn and her kidnapping by the giant Þjazi, which causes the gods (and the world) to grow old, is the tale of Winter and its defeat by the renewing powers of Spring. Although her silver apples do not make an appearance in this verse of Spring, Iðunn and her healing powers are the controlling images.


Old Norse Verse Word-by-Word Translation Prose-Order Translation
Bragis kona brǫgðrotts
brað-sól drif-fastu lífgað;
undir bragð sœt engjar
af nýju hennar eflask.
Brún ok dal ís brandar
bræða Iðuns bæði
ok forða blóm fagr-vaxinn
faðm-lag ísa dauð-ligt.
Bragi's wife crafty
sun-bright the drift-bound revives
under countenance sweet meadows
a-new her grow strong.
Ridge and dale ice brands
melt Iðun's both
and escape blossoms fair-standing
embrace of ice deadly
Crafty Bragi's sun-bright
wife revives the drift-bound.
Under her sweet countenance
meadows grow strong again.
Iðunn's brands melt both
ice-ridge and ice-dale
and fair blossoms escape
deadly ice-embrace.


Kennings Used

Bragis konaIðunn
Iðuns brandarIðun's brands/swords > Sun-beams


Won't You Comment, Please?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Vetr-veðr (Winter-weather)

So, here we are in "First Month", the equinox behind us and Easter about to be upon us, and I'm writing about .... winter, the season we never seemed to have in upstate New York this year.  This verse uses a number of mythological references, especially to the giants who are associated with the dark, cold times in Eddaic tales.


Old Norse Verse Word-by-Word Translation Prose-Order Translation
Þagnaðu er þegnar
Þorra flugar bruggi;
festar vetrar fast-liga
fagr kæfaðu gerði;
hremddu á hrimþursar
hringi-grundar brún-vita;
jakar frystat Jǫkulls
ýsna fyrir lý-skála
Grew silent when thegns
of Thorri birds schemed;
clutched at rime-thurses
rings of the ground white-browed;
chains of winter tightly
fair choked fields;
the ice-floes froze of Jokull
haddock's over fish-hall.
Birds grew silent when
Thorri's thegns schemed.
Chains of winter tightly
choked fair fields.
White-browed rime-thurses
clutched at ground-rings.
Jokull's ice-floes froze
over the haddock's fish-hall.


Kennings Used

þegnar Þorra > Thanes of Thorri ("frozen snow") > WINTER
hrimþursar > Rime-giants > WINTER
hringi-grundar > ground-rings > SNAKES
Jǫkull > ("icicle, glacier") a Giant name > WINTER
lý-skála > fish hall > LAKE or SEA


Comments, PLEASE?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hrafni-hattr (Raven-hat)

So, before Austin and San Antonio (The trip was, by and large great fun. We enjoyed great weather, got to be very touristy, saw a bit of South by Southwest, visited the Alamo, enjoyed wonderful food - if you like Tex-Mex, try Trudy's on Burnet Road - their Smoked Chicken Molé is a marvel! We saw The Artist, which is a great movie), I put up the following picture from the upcoming Lone Ranger  movie and a challenge.

Today it's my turn to post a verse. This may be a wee-bit far-fetched, but at least I left out, "Hi-ho, Silver! Away!" I´ll give you the Old Norse, followed only by a translation. It's truly THAT simple. Jackson Crawford - your turn!


Skraelings hattr skraut-ligr
skrafa laga-mann afreks.
"farðu lags-manna fárs-morðs
frek-liga hefnd-rektú"
Grimu-ridi graman
grá-eygr sárlóm heyra:
"hǫfum vit á hefni
hraun-skegg eða deyjum!" 

Showy hat of the Skraeling
talks to law-man valiant.
"(you) Go and harshly vengeance gain
for kinsmen foully murdered!"
Masked rider grey-eyed listens 
to angry blood-loon:
"Gain we vengeance
Wild-man or we die!"



Did you know that Tonto's name comes from the Potawatomie language and means "Wild One"? This explains "hraun-skegg" in line 8.

Skraelings hattr skraut-ligr > Skaeling's showy-hat > RAVEN
laga-mnn > law-man > the LONE RANGER
sárlóm > blood loon > RAVEN


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Rauði-júpar (Red jackets)

So, the other day, I saw a pair of young male cardinals pursuing a female (who seemed decidedly disinterested).  They inspired a quick couplet:

Tiðleikum í tamast
tvau júpar-rauði

Went courting most ready
two jackets-red.

Thought I´d share. The Lone Ranger-Tonto verse is percolating. Maybe tomorrow.

Where I Am (Other than Poetry)

Ok, so I'm stuck on a poem... It's been building up inside of me for .... never mind. And I haven't posted in a while. Well, there are enough different aspects to my studies to write about it, I think.

For longer than I've been writing poetry, I've been reading about, thinking about, and teaching about the culture of Commonwealth Iceland. My World History teacher, Mary McMullen, proudly pointed to Iceland as the first democracy, an idea that stuck with me for many years. Combine that lesson with the Lord of the Rings and other fantasy, and you get the seeds of my interest. Then I found the SCA and became more interested in the topic. As my interest grew, I began to read. At first, Jesse Byock, then the Saga literature, and on to deeper reading. These days, I'm taking my reading a step further to writing and teaching.

As I've moved along through this amateur research, I've gone back to my professional roots and have begun teaching in the SCA. Generally, I teach at four or five different events each year, usually two or three different classes at each event. So, I'm teaching ten to fifteen classes per year, trying not to repeat topics too often. All told, I have about twenty different classes I've taught, with two or three more either in active preparation or on my list. The topics range from Heraldry to Medieval Science to Icelandic Literature, Culture and History.

I've also written several "handouts" for these classes. An average handout looks more like an undergraduate college term paper, mostly informational, running ten to fifteen pages in length. I've posted two or three at, but none recently. (Well, THAT changed last night.  Now you can find almost all of my handouts at Academia) Please note that all of these are "works in progress" and that, while I'm happy to share them, I appreciate proper credit should you use them in your research.

The classes I'm offering the most often of late are as follows:

  • Feuds in the Sagas - an overview of how feuds work in the sagas, what causes them, how they are played out and settled, and how feuds makes the sagas a distinct literary genre. This also includes a look at the social and legal structures of Commonwealth Iceland.
  • inn Draugar, or the Viking Zombie - a look into the draugr or undead in the sagas. This class has been popular at Pennsic, as it has the "Z-word" in the title. It includes story-telling and analysis. And lawyers! (Maybe it should be titled "Heroes, Lawyers, and Zombies"?)
  • How to build a Kenning with Ideas you have lying around in your Mind - a long title, eh? This class explores the kenning, the basic building block of Old Norse, Germanic, and Anglo-Saxon poetry. It looks at types of kennings, how they are formed, and examples from period poetry, as well as from some of my poetry.
  • Heraldic Underwear, or Aesthetic Philosophy and Heraldic Design - in another life, I've been a herald for more than 35 years. In that time, I've become more and more interested in how period aesthetic theory helps formulate the basic design principles of period armoury. This class attempts to draw some connections between the aesthetics of Aristotle and Aquinas and period design.
  • Old Icelandic Manuscripts  - an overview of the manuscripts written in the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries in Iceland. This class was designed for scribes in the SCA, looking at how one can design scrolls for Old Icelandic-Norse personae. It looks at a selection of the manuscripts housed at the Arnamagnaen Institute in Reykjavik.
  • The Dróttkvætt Metre - a look at the most formal of the Old Norse-Icelandic poetic forms, in both English and Old Norse.
  • How Water Works - a medieval sciences class, looking at period beliefs about hydrology. How do the tides happen? How does saline water from the ocean become fresh water when it flows from the inland rivers and streams? How do the rivers have a constant source of water? Where did the waters from the Great Flood come from?
I'm also working on a new class, which I hope to debut in June at the Æthelmearc Æcademy session in Salem, WV:
  • The Big-Man in Commonwealth Iceland - a look at the social and political structure of the Commonwealth Period (c. 930 - 1262) and its demise with the signing of the Gamli sáttmáli.
There are about ten other classes I have taught, mostly concerning heraldry or the use of rubrics in the SCA, and I'm always looking for new ideas, generally focusing on Commonwealth-era Iceland.

So, back to poetry.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Skraeling-Old West Mash-Up?

The first still from The Lone Ranger came out today.

Jackson Crawford! Here's our chance - what say we BOTH write a verse on this theme?

I'll be working on it while driving from upstate New York to Austin Texas. We'll be there for a week, seeing our elder daughter & "doing" South X Southwest.


In the meantime, here's your photo!

Have At You!


Thursday, March 8, 2012


Today, but two paltry lines depicting a tornado.



Old Norse Verse

rýting gargan rauði
reykja bœir keyra.


roaring serpent red 
smoky farmhouses lashes

Prose Order

roaring, the smoky serpent 
lashes red farmhouses.


gargan reyka > serpent smoky > TORNADO


Did You Like It?

Please, leave commets below.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Elds-vimr (Fire-whims) # 2

A second pass at auroras today. I´m trying to get my imagery more consistent throughout a verse. In this verse, I´m using a martial imagery scheme. I hope it works for you.


Old Norse Line-by-Line Translation Prose Order Translation
Egg fránn herjar Oðins
élker norðan birta --
sverða glóa Svǫlnis
svaðil ofan á hrylligr.
Borgar manna birting
blinda ljósa skjolda.
Drauma hirðmanns drepa
dreka krókar blóði.
Edge-flashing army Oðins
storm-vessel northern brightens;
sword glows of Svǫlnis
frozen lands over ghastly.
Wall men´s brightness
blinds light-shields;
dreams hirthman´s kill
dragon coils bloody.
The flashing edge of Odin´s army
brightens the northern storm-vessel;
Svǫlnis´s sword glows over
the ghastly frozen ground.
The wall of light-shields
blinds men´s brightness;
Dragon's bloody coils
kill hirthman´s dreams.

Kennings Used

Egg fránn herjar Oðins > flashing edge of the Army of Oðin > the AURORA
élker > storm vessel > SKY
Svǫlnis sverða > sword of Svǫlnis [Oðinn] > the AURORA
Borgar ljósa skjólda > wall of light-shields > the AURORA
manna birting > man´s brightness > man´s VISION
dreka krókar blóði >  dragon´s bloody coils > the AURORA


How do You like It?

Please leave your comments below!