Audio for The Rúnatal

Four weeks after its posting as text, I now present an audio recording of my poetic translation of the Rúnatal, which is Hávamál stanzas 138-145. For those who seek after the runes, there is much essential lore in these eight stanzas.

Here is the downloadable file of me reciting the poem:
Eirik Westcoat – The Rúnatal

And here is the inline player:

Enjoy! Feel free to share the file. For details, see the Creative Commons link below.

This post is:
Copyright © 2013 Eirik Westcoat.
All rights reserved.

The linked audio file of The Rúnatal is:
Copyright © 2013 Eirik Westcoat.
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives License.

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The Binding of Fenrir, Part 1

The Binding of Fenrir is another of the famous stories from Snorri’s Edda that does not have a corresponding form in verse in the Poetic Edda. Today I present the first half of my poetic retelling of this story, in seven stanzas of ljóðaháttr. Next week, I’ll post the remaining seven stanzas.

The ale of Ygg
I eagerly brewed,
and here I pour a poem.
Of Fenrir’s binding
and famous Týr,
that spell I speak to all.

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The Skald as Scholar

In addition to writing poetry in modern versions of the traditional Old Norse and Old English meters, I also study those meters from a scholarly perspective. This week, I’m going to the 48th International Congress on Medieval Studies, where I’ll be presenting a paper on the uses of the galdralag meter in the Old Norse poetic corpus. It is a condensed version of a longer paper that takes a broader look at historical galdralag. In the future, I may post the shorter paper here or on my academia.edu page, and I intended to seek publication for the longer, more comprehensive paper.

As a brief taste, here are the two introductory paragraphs of the shorter paper.

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The Rúnatal: A Poetic Translation

Now, for the first time on this blog, I am posting my own poetic translation of a short passage from the Poetic Edda. It is of Hávamál stanzas 138-145, which are sometimes called the Rúnatal, because they deal with Odin’s winning of the Runes. Regular readers may notice the rather odd stanza structure here. This portion of the Hávamál is rather irregular in the use of the long lines and full lines of the ljóðaháttr meter (and in stanza length), and I have followed the original pattern of lines rather than try to recast it into completely regular meter. Nonetheless, I have aimed to keep it poetic and alliterative at the expense of absolute literalness. I have tried to maintain consistency in the translation when possible. That is, when particular and important Old Norse words occur more than once in the passage, I try to translate them the same way each time. Man translates two different words, mann and þjóð, but I think it is better that way. In some cases, words were added that don’t have correspondences in the original for the sake of the meter, such as wyrd and mammoth in the first stanza. They are, however, quite appropriate for describing that tree. Translation always involves compromises, and it is at least as much art as science.

For nights all nine,
I know that I hung
on that wyrd and windy tree,
by gar wounded
and given to Odin,
myself to myself I gave,
on that mammoth tree
of which Man knows not
from where the roots do run.

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