Friday, October 19, 2012

Haustdag hástoðum

Today´s offering is a poem of the harvest. It is written in haðarlog, a dróttkvætt variant. Snorri cites it in the Hattatal, section 79 (p. 211 in the Everyman edition of the Edda). It is the same as dróttkvætt, except that there are only five syllables per line. The prime example of haðarlog may be Hrafnsmál by Sturla Þórðarson. You can read it here. In her notes on the poem, found in Poetry from the Kings Sagas, vol. 2, pp. 727-745, Kari Ellen Gade notes, "Because of the restrictions imposed by the metre, the poems contains a wealth of nominal compounds, many of which are hap[ax] leg[omenon]" (words or terms not found elsewhere) "and some of which are very awkward." In other words, the missing syllable forces you to invent new compound words for the poem. It's nice to know that Sturla had the same challenge I did in this matter.

The verse, which started life as a gentle pastoral, turned into an extended metaphor for war, as ON poems are wont to do. Snorri would call this use of the same metaphor throughout the verse nýgjǫrvingar "allegory" (Hattatal, section 6; Everyman, p. 170)

There is a recording, as well as the verse and its translation. The music is mine, based on a version of the Lilja, a medieval Icelandic song, which you can find here

Old Norse Verses Poetic Translation
Haustdagr hástóðum
Hornar gullkorni
gransíðr góðþegnar
gáfa þorpskáru.
Vélinn ljárvaldi
vaðblóði mýgjaðu
ok fargað vínberjum
fyr fínast ulfsvínsgǫrðr.

On Fall days high-stood
Freyja´s golden wheat
good thegns Long-bearded
field-sheared the gifts.
Good-men scythe-wielders
mowed-down blood-waders
pressed the wine-berries
for the fine wolf-wine.



Two beautiful ladies helped make this poem better: Emer Holbert, who has given me the courage to dig for music for my verses; and Lilli Haicken, who suggested the hap. leg. þorpskáru in line 4.

Kennings Used

gullkorni > "golden wheat/corn" > WARRIORS (in shining armor)
ljárvaldi > "scythe-wielders" > WARRIORS
vaðblóði > "blood-waders" > WARRIORS
ulfsvín > "wolf-wine" > BLOOD

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