Friday, August 31, 2012

Songs of the Twelve, Part One

A very good friend of mine and great story-teller, Mistress Morgana Bro Morganwg, tells an inspiring tale of Jarl Haakon and his skald, Haukr. In the tale, the skald "stands in two worlds" - the world of man as well as that of the gods - and can sense things beyond the ken of mortal man.

In the tale, Haukr sings a battle song which so moves the valkyrie, Orðtrúaðr "Word-believer", that she spares the lives of Haakon and his men, and kills the Jarl's traitorous brother, instead.

In the poem I have written, I have imagined that song. The song is written in ríma, a "non-skaldic" form that can only be found at Óláfs ríma Haraldssonar. As I said in a previous post, this verse form seems to feature
  • four lines to a verse
  • six to eight syllable in each line
  • alliteration in odd-to-even lines
  • a rhyme scheme of abab

I have tried to follow that form as closely as possible in this poem.

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Old Norse Verses Poetic Translation
STEF:

Koma lát sigrmeyjar
sálur vár úpskera!
Af vár linna skjaldar
lœblandinn dauð úpsnara!

VERSIR:

Gæzku-fullr jarl gǫfgastr -
glaðar eyðendr geimar -
til frænda vartu trúfastr
ok trǫlltrygða til þín beimar

Drengi hôr hringdrífr
hjalmôru þín leiddir
fylgdu banar-hlifa
til bardaga, hrafngreddir.

Blétuð karlaskar fjándum
með jafnan kappi miklu
ok Æsir yfir lóndum
at yndi eggmôts bliku.

Er kallaði bróðir
utan ef broddrjóðr
kvaddi spjarrar tólfir
komu þeir, sversbjóðr.

At þín boði ríða
borðhesti heiptfíkinn
of ferla flausta, greiða
Móða-flein fulbluíkinn.

Á hjarta lagar, gjaf mildr,
á meðal tolftinn stóttú -
á útstrǫnd sendina, skyldir,
gnístinn svikdóms fráttu.

Hríðkǫttr kallar frændum
ásjá þín hverr beðit
en kǫttar sonr snuízk í fjándum
ok seimtýnir forréðit.

Hverfa þú hringstríði
tolftinn ulfgœðendar;
Jarl Þú ert í fríði
með Þín fleinhristendar!
REFRAIN:

Let the victory-maidens
our souls come to harvest
From our shield-snakes raging,
let traitors death ensnare!

VERSES:

Gracious faithful jarl -
clearer of the seas horses -
to kinsmen were you faithful
and to your men troll-true.

Gallant lofty ring-strewer
led you helmet envoys -
banes of shield walls followed
to battle, raven-feeder.

Enemies' souls you offered
Aesir with great zeal
whose love of edge storm shone
upon you, brave land-ruler.

When called to you your brother
point reddener without doubt
you summoned twelve spears to you
came they soon, sword-greeter.

At your bidding, Jarl,
journeys plankhorse mighty;
sped across the ship's path,
Móða's spear full-gleaming.

On water´s heart, stood you,
open-handed with the twelve -
on sandy sea-strand, troop obliger,
treason's snarling heard you.

Snowcat called you kinsman
who begged for your protection
but foeman cat's son turned
betrayed you, gold-destroyer.

Surrounded you ring-harmer
the dozen bold wolf-feeders;
safely kept my Jarl
your kinsmen, all spear-shakers!

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Kennings Used

sigrmeyjar > the victory-maidens > VALKYRIES
skjaldar linna > snakes of the shield > SWORDS
lœblandinn > the baleful > TRAITORS
glaðar eyðendr geimar > clearer of the horses of the sea > clearer of ships > SEA-WARRIOR, JARL
trǫlltrygða > troll-true > loyal til death > FAITHFUL MAN, JARL
hringdrífr > ring-strewer > RULER, JARL
hjalmôru > helmet envoys > WARRIORS
hrafngreddir > raven-feeder > WARRIOR, JARL
eggmôts > edge-storm > BATTLE
broddrjóðr > point reddener > WARRIOR, JARL
spjarrar tólfir > spears twelve > TWELVE WARRIORS
sversbjóðr > sword greeter > WARRIOR RULER, JARL
borðhesti > plankhorse > SHIP
ferla flausta > ship's path > SEA
Móða-flein > Móða's spear > WARSHIP
hjarta lagar — ‘the heart of the water' > ISLAND
gjaf mildr > open-handed, generous > JARL
skyldir > obliger > COMMANDER, JARL
gnístinn svikdóms > snarling of treason > TRAITORS
kǫttar sonr > cat's son > BASTARD
seimtýnir > Gold-destroyer > JARL

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Thanks for reading this long poem. I hope/plan to write two more: a song of Orðtrúaðr and an elegy for the Jarl, but they will have to wait for now. Please, leave me comments on this poem, either in the comments box below or send them to me.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

It's a Beginning, Part two

So, in the past two days, three more verses of The Song of the Twelve have been written. They are not in their final order (a couple of intervening verses need to be written), but they are in pretty close to their final form. Those who know the tale they go with will recognize that I've changed the villain's name; it's, ummm, irony. For those who like that kind of stuff, here you go (Old Norse verses, followed by poetic translation; kennings at the end. The form is ríma - see "It's A Beginning" for details):

Old Norse

Drengi hôr hringdrífr
hjalmôru þín leiddir
fylgdu banar-hlifa
til bardaga, hrafngreddir

Blétuð karlaskar fjándum
með jafnan kappi miklu
ok Æsir yfir lóndum
at yndi eggmôts bliku.

Hríðkǫttr kallar frændum
ásjá þín hverr beðit
en kǫttar sonr snuízk í fjándum
ok seimtýnir forréðit.

Poetic Translation

Gallant lofty ring-strewer
led you helmet envoys -
banes of shield walls followed
to battle, raven-feeder.

Enemies' souls you offered
Aesir with great zeal
whose love of edge storm shone
upon you, brave land-ruler.

Snowcat called you kinsman
who begged for your protection
but the cat's son turned your foeman
and betrayed you, gold-destroyer.

Kennings Used

hringdrífr > ring-strewer > RULER
hjalmôru > helmet envoys > WARRIORS
hrafngreddir > raven-feeder > WARRIOR, JARL
eggmôts > edge-storm > BATTLE
kǫttar sonr > cat's son > BASTARD
seimtýnir > Gold-destroyer > JARL

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When the entire set of songs (probably totaling 12 to 15 verses) are completed, I'll post a reading of it all. For now, I hope you like it. Please give me comments below or Send Mail

Friday, August 17, 2012

It's a beginning

I'm working on a new project, a series of three songs that will go with a story an SCA friend tells. In the story she speaks of a skaldr singing a song that moves a valkyrie to action. But, being a good storyteller, she doesn't tell us the contents of the song.

This is where my impertinence comes into play.

So, here is the first verse. The poem/song is in a "non-skaldic" form called ríma. My analysis of the major example of ríma: Óláfs ríma Haraldssonar seems to show that there are four requirements:

  • four lines to a verse
  • six to eight syllable in each line
  • alliteration in odd-to-even lines
  • a rhyme scheme of abab


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Original Word-for-Word Poetic Translation
Gæzku-fullr jarl gǫfgastr -
glaðar eyðendr geimar -
til frænda vartu trúfastr
ok trǫlltrygða til þín beimar
Gracious jarl faithful -
horses clearer of the seas
to kinsmen were you faithful
and troll-true to your men.
Gracious faithful jarl -
clearer of the seas horses -
to kinsmen were you faithful
and to your men troll-true.


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Kennings used:

glaðar eyðendr geimar > clearer of the horses of the sea > clearer of ships > SEA-WARRIOR

trǫllatrygða > troll-true > loyal til death

The second kenning, trǫlltrygða, is a very interesting one. Cleasby-Vigfusson has the following explanation:
In one single instance the trolls, strange to say, play a good part, viz. as being grateful and faithful; trolls and giants were the old dwellers on the earth, whom the gods drove out and extirpated, replacing them by man, yet a few remained haunting lonely places in wildernesses and mountains; these trolls, if they meet with a good turn from man, are said to remain thankful for ever, and shew their gratitude; hence the phrases, tryggr sem tröll, faithful as a troll; and trygða-tröll, hann er mesta trygða-tröll, a faithful soul, faithful person; trölla-trygð, 'trolls-trust,' faithfulness to death;
For me, it is a wonderful image.

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I hope to continue this first song for about eight verses. I'll post more as I finish them. Please, leave comments below, or send them to me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hrafnars ýr (Ravens' yews)

In the Barony of Thescorre (located in Rochester, NY), we have excellent archers. In celebration of these fine folk, I wrote the following poem. It involves an attack by certain raiders from the Kingdom of Ealdormere and how they are repelled by the brave archers of the Barony. From what I understand, this  poem may well start a bardic war with our friends from across the Inland Seas.

If so, while I may perish, I will struggle to the end. To wit,


"HAVE AT YOU, WOLVES OF THE BREED!"

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Hrafnars ýr

Fram norðt vargsfjǫll fimvig
fjándr sigla svandalir;
nautfé kaupangs unýtast
níðings-sunnar rifsa
gangandi til gunnar
geirviðir af myrkskógi -
akraspillir ekrum
undír traðkað sunnhreinn.

Athos goði ýskelfir
ættfólk kallar snjallast:
Virkismenn varðatu
vals Yggs heim með hagl skóds.
Á barna gylðis berbeinn
bogaþruma dundu!
Með undreyr svartast svǫrrblóð
svíneyg ulfgrár dreiftu!

Svara ýglǫð Eadmund
enski : Bogar bendum
svarttyrf hrafnars sverjum
með skirir Hǫgna firra!
þrir skora bog-menn þermsligr
þrymu Ullar fljúgask.
Hergaupur harki
hagli Finna vinna.

Nóttfǫrullars norðr
nóra hlaunnar ǫrbursti.
Flyja dreypandi frenjar
til festa gaula hestr.
Of vǫll lunda válandi
vargmenn sigǫrs targa;
rekald vargham Roaks
hrylla til heim sigla.
The Ravens' Yews

War-skilled fiends from wolf-fells
northern sail swan-dales;
niðings-bastards pillage
townfolk's useless cattle.
Spear trees from dark woods
marching to battle -
destroyers of fields
trample sun-bright acres.

Athos bow-shaker, chieftain,
calls to his best kinsfolk:
Yeomen, Yggs gull's homeland
defend with weapons hail!
On Gyldis's-bastards bare-legged
rain down your bow-thunder!
With blackest blood-birds' wound-reeds
scatter swine-eyed grey-wolves!"

Edmund yew-glad English
answered: Bend we bows -
Raven´s black-turf we swear
to defend with Hogni's showers! "
Three score fittest bow-men
Join in Ullar´s Thunder;
Rabble of war-lynxes
suffer Sami's hail.

Little northern night-thieves'
buttocks arrow-bristle.
They flee to mooring-horses
dropping cattle lowing.
Across the plain of puffins
wolfmen – war-shafts targets;
Roak’s wolfish jetsam
horrid sail homeward.
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Kennings Used

svandalir > swan's dale > SEA
níðings-sunnar > níðings sons > RAIDERS
geirviðir > spear trees > WARRIORS
akraspillir > destroyers of fields > WARRIORS

vals Yggs > gulls of Ygg > RAVENS
vals Yggs heim > gulls of Yggs home > THESCORRE
barna gylðis > Gyldis's bastards > RAIDERS
bogaþruma > bow-thunder > ARROWS
undreyr svartast svǫrrblóð > blackest bloodbirds' wound-reeds > blackest ravens' wound-reeds > ARROWS
ulfgrár > grey wolves > RAIDERS

skirir Hǫgna > Hogna's showers > ARROWS
þrymu Ullar > Ullar's thunder > BATTLE
hagli Finna > Sami's hail > ARROWS

Nóttfǫrullars > Night thieves > RAIDERS
festa gaula > mooring horses > SHIPS
vǫll lunda > plain of puffins > SEA
sigǫrs targa victory (or war) shafts targets> arrows' targets > RAIDERS
rekald vargham Roaks > Roak's wolfish jetsam > RAIDERS


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Leave your comments below, or contact me directly!

Thanks for your continued readership and support.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Foes and Friends Forever

For those of you who are in the SCA, you may have heard that I was elevated by TRM Andreas and Kallista to the Most Noble Order of the Laurel. Her Majesty then invited me to be one of her bards for the Known World Bardic Challenge at the Pennsic Wars. As you read this entry, the circle has ended, and the following poem received its world debut.

The theme of the circle was Enemies and Friends , and this poem catches the theme, I think.  It is written in English, in the dróttkvætt meter. The kennings are pretty simple.

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Foes and Friends Forever
Battle joined by bitter
bold foes crying old gripes -
blood is let by blade-Tyrs
blasting horns call fast spears.
Sword-storm's lightning seering
seething helm-lines heaving -
Iron-gods' knights-errant
On field reddened yield not.

Day's heat on the hot field
hammers foes in gam'sons
drives the sword-tree droves
drained of precious rains-gift.
Seek the helm-folk sacred
sups of Odin's cup-streams.
Find they there the fiend-men
friends to glad-night's ending.

Joined by valor's gentle
jumbling, spear-foes humbled
honor's love find intact.
Armored not gainst harm now,
point-din yields til pint-song
peals from laughing steel-oaks -
spear-trees come from spar-storm
sword-gods hug their war-friends.


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You can hear the poem by clicking below:

video


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I hope you enjoyed the poem. Please let me know by commenting below or by writing me.