Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tolftinn Sǫngr (The Song of Twelve) NOW WITH A RECORDING!

NOTE: This is a reposting with an added recording.

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.

Since I wrote this poem, THL Emer nic Aidan, a good friend from Toronto, and an amazing talent in her own right, has helped me find my musical "voice". Because of her inspiration, I have put Tolftinn Sǫngr to music. The music is based on the ancient Danish song, Drømde mik en drøm i natt which may be found at Viking Songs.

You can hear Tolftinn Sǫngr here:

video

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Old Norse Verses Poetic Translation

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

Koma lát sigrmeyjar
sálur vár úpskera!
af vár skjaldum linna
lœblandinn dauð úpsnara!

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.

Koma lát sigrmeyjar
sálur vár úpskera!
af vár skjaldum linna
lœblandinn dauð úpsnara!

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.

Koma lát sigrmeyjar
sálur vár úpskera!
af vár skjaldum linna
lœblandinn dauð úpsnara!

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

Hverfa þú hringstríði
tolftinn ulfgœðendr;
Jarl Þú ert í fríði
með Þín fleinhristendr!

Koma lát sigrmeyjar
sálur vár úpskera!
af vár skjaldum linna
lœblandinn dauð úpsnara!

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

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

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

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.

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

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

Stood you on water´s heart-beam
with dozen open-handed-
on sea-strand, troop obliger,
treason's snarling heard you.

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

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

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

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

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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.

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