Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hrafn drápa hvitr (Drapa for the White Raven)

A very good friend of mine, Mistress Morgana bro Morganwg, is seriously ill with cancer. A story-teller of power and vitality, she has been one of my greatest inspirations, helping me in some of the darkest moments of my soul. My debt to her can never be re-paid in full. However, this poem is an attempt to do so. Technically, it should be called an erfidrápa, "memorial poem", but I chose to publish it now so that she can enjoy it as well. It is in the Fornyrðislag metre, one of the most ancient of Old Norse forms. In brief, this metre follows these guidelines:
In each verse there are two lines, connected by alliteration to form pairs:

Vildu at ek Valföðr Vel fyr telja

That creates the base unit of the metrical structure. In the a-line two syllables may alliterate with one syllable in the b-line. It can also be just one syllable in the a-line:

Hljóðs bið ek allar helgar kindir

But in the b-line readers always find a second non-alliterating syllable to put stress on, matching the second stressed syllable (often alliterating) of the a-line.

(source: http://www.trobar.org/prosody/pnort.php)
The "White Raven" in the title come from an Old Norse proverb, sjaldsénir hvítir hrafnar, "White ravens are not seen every day."

In writing this, I hope and pray that both Morgana and my readers are in good health and that she will be with us for a very long time to come.

*****************************************************************************************************

Hrafn drápa hvitr

Old Norse Verses Poetic Translation
STEF:

Skarpar hrafnar sjaldan vitar -
en heyrðum hofðum hvardýggvu þin

VERSIR:

Folkstari hefir lengi flogit
vitru delir Váfǫðurins.
Elskat hefir angrtæl sifunu
ok reist til þu ramsligs skaldstírs.

Folkstari hefir lengi flogit
vitru delir Váfǫðurins.
Elshrings hernættir allra lærssveinar
flogit hefir til ferða módir.

Folkstari hefir lengi flogit
vitru delir Váfǫðurins.
drykk af vǫtni Skotzkr drekkum -
háraptr með skelli hlægja hristisk.

Sǫguljóðin segðir hetjna
tarrat ágœti Ýtars rítar
af kattum Hǫrna ok handa Tyrs.
Hauk í horni ok Haakon eldbrand

Sǫguljóðin segðir hetjna
tarrat ágœti Ýtars rítar.
af hverrgætum gallharðum Friggjar
af brandum Hofs ok bjóri Hárs.

Fræði borit forna hefðir ok
nafna gefit neytu til þu
manni illast úþegn Atlis
frændum beykra â flatneskjum vígs

Fræði borit forna hefðir ok
nafna gefit neytu til þu
bræðr Þorinns blátta hǫrunds
stolinn svipliga úfalla í strá

Fljugask skipu víð fljót þíslar
ok kertu brenask at þér boðorðum.
þó ert lágvaxinn sonu Lofars
fárreiða hefir frósit með tillit.

Fljugask skipu víð fljót þíslar
ok kertu brenask at þér boðorðum.
at eggþingi kvartað konungar geystir -
grút hellatir á græðum skelfðan.

Um Vestanhavit til Vindheimins
nú hrafn skaltu fljúga hvitr.
Ver skal gráta skalda mæðra
því meguma at fljúga með þu.

Um Vestanhavit til Vindheimins
nú hrafn skaltu fljúga hvitr.
Áhlýðast vilja engir menn á þik
nær fjǫru fundit fjarri hefir.

Um Vestanhavit til Vindheimins
nú hrafn skaltu fljúga hvitr.
munu kvattu með Muninn þá;
bíðliga skaldsǫl drekkir baðir.

REFRAIN:

White Raven, you are seldom heard
But we have listened to your wisdom.

VERSES:

Long war-starling have you flown
wisdom-dealer of Woe-father.
Grief beguiler, you have loved
and raised your folk to strong skald's glory.

Long war-starling have you flown
wisdom-dealer of Woe-father.
Journey-mother, you have led
to war-night fire-rings all your lore-swains.

Long war-starling have you flown
wisdom-dealer of Woe-father.
We drank a draft of Scottish waters
laughter roaring shook Highrafters.

Told the tales of heroes' glory:
Spread the fame of shield impellers
of cats of Freyja, hand of Tyr
of cornered Hawk and fiery Haakon.

Told the tales of heroes' glory:
Spread the fame of shield impellers
of cinder-hardened cooks of Frigga
of brands of Hof and beer of Hárs.

You have brought the ancient lore
and given useful names
to illest man - not Atli's thegn
to Cooper's kin on Pennsic plain.

You have brought the ancient lore
and given useful names
to boldest Þorinn's brothers blue-skinned
steering swift, not-felled-in-straw.

Ships of the wain-shaft swiftly fly
and burn the candles at your bid-words.
Fiercesome Lofar's sons you froze
by glance, though only shrub-high are you.

Ships of the wain-shaft swiftly fly
and burn the candles at your bid-words.
At edge-thing kvetched the raging kings
oil you poured on troubled waters.

O'er Western seas to high Winds' home
You, white raven, now must fly.
True skalds' mother we must weep
because we may not fly with you.

O'er Western seas to high Winds' home
You, white raven, now must fly.
No man to you an ear will give
when you have found the farther shore.

O'er Western seas to high Winds' home
You, white raven, now must fly.
You shall talk with Munin then
blithely drinking skalds-ale both.

**************************************************************************************************

You can hear it in Old Norse here:

video

and in English here:

video

**************************************************************************************************
KENNINGS USED

hrafn vitr - white raven - MORGANA
vitru delir - wisdom-dealer - POET/STORY-TELLER
Folkstari - war-starling - RAVEN
Váfǫðurins - of Woe-Father - ÓÐINN
angrtæl sifunu - Grief-beguiler - MORGANA
lærssveinar - lore-swains - APPRENTICES
ferða módir - Journey-mother - MORGANA
Ýtars rítar - shield impellers - WARRIORS
gallharðum - cinder-hardened - BURNED
manni illast úþegn Atlis - "illest" man not Atli's [Attila's] thegn - "A MOSTLY SQUARE MAN ... WHO WASN'T GOOD ENOUGH TO BE A TUCHUK" - refers to an ancient tale of the Pennsic Wars
bræðr Þorinns blátta hǫrunds - blue-skinned brothers of boldest Thorinn [dwarf] - the NAC MAC FEEGLE from Terry Pratchett's novels
úfalla í strá - not fallen in straw - NOT LOST
skipu þíslar - ships of the wain-shaft - WAGONS/TRAINS
boðorðum - bid-words - ORDERS
Fljugask skipu víð fljót þíslar [at þér boðorðum] - Ships of the wain-shaft swiftly fly at your bid-words - THE TRAINS RUN ON TIME
kertu brenask at þér boðorðum - candles burn at your bid-words - TIMES PASSES ON YOUR ORDERS
sonu Lofars - sons of Lofar - DWARVES
eggþingi - edge thing - WAR
Vindheimins - High Winds' Home - HEAVEN
skalda mæðra - mother of skalds - MORGANA
skaldsǫl - skald's ale - POETRY

**************************************************************************************************

LIKE IT? HATE IT? GOT QUESTIONS?


Please leave a comment below or send me e-mail. Thank you!

No comments:

Post a Comment