A Runic Poem of the Nine Noble Virtues

Over a year ago, I posted a poem about the Nine Noble Virtues. Today I present a second poem on the Nine Noble Virtues, one that takes a different approach. For this poem, I went through the rune staves of the Elder Futhark and paired a single stave to each of the virtues. It is in six stanzas of fornyrðislag. The names of the runes and the virtues are capitalized here.

A mainful song
I sing of virtues;
nine they number,
noble they be.
Useful to have,
they help my quest,
riding the road
to Runes and Mead.

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The Virtue of Perseverance in the Lore

It is one of the major themes of my blog that the lore should be made operative and used in modern heathen poetry. Such poetry can be put to a number of uses. In one kind of usage, it can inspire and instruct, and it should relate the lore to our modern needs. Today I present a poem that should help illustrate at least some aspects of what is meant by that.

Most American Asatruar are at least familiar with the Nine Noble Virtues, regardless of what they may think of them. (An earlier poem on this blog gives a complete list in poetic form.) It is common to say that the NNV were originally gleaned from a reading of the lore, primarily the Hávamál. At one point, I took a closer look into one of the nine, Perseverance, with the aim to discover if it was displayed in other parts of the lore, particularly the rest of the Poetic and Prose Eddas and the Rune Poems. Here is a poem I wrote based on what I found.

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Nine Noble Virtues

It’s time for another poem.

In the Poetic Edda, there are some examples of numbered lists, where the speak counts out the items. In Hávamál, the speaker relates 18 magic spells he knows. In Sigrdrífumál, Sigrdrífa gives 11 pieces of advice to Sigurðr. In Grógaldr, the dead woman Gróa sings 9 magic spells to protect her son on a dangerous journey.

This poem was inspired by those counting list poems. It’s also in the fornyrðislag style, although in this one I use three syllable lines more often than usual. It is based on what is probably the most well-known list in modern American Asatru, with my own interpretations and descriptions for each of items, some of which make references to the mythology. There is a strange word in this poem that most will not be familiar with and for which a dictionary probably won’t help: ginn-holy. James Chisholm used this to represent the Old Norse ginnheilög (which means “most holy”) in his translation of the Poetic Edda (in Völuspá 6, for instance). That’s probably what inspired me to use it in a poem. (Actually, there’s probably a few more strange words in here… perhaps another time I’ll make a glossary post to this blog of such words and their meanings.)

The poem is called “Nine Noble Virtues”

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