Preview of a New Rúnatal

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Though I haven’t posted, I’ve still been writing poetry, and a lot of it, and I’ll share some draft pieces today. What I’ve been writing lately will ultimately be a 729-line poem in the Anglo-Saxon style (the style debuted here on my blog), a New Rune Tally (aka “Rúnatal en Nýja” if you prefer Old Norse), inspired by the Rúnatal þáttr Óðins, which is Hávamál stanzas 138-145. (My poetic translation of that traditional Rúnatal is here.) A sizeable chunk of it will consist of tallies of certain things, with nine lines devoted to each item in each tally.

The whole poem, when finished, will be too long to fit in a blog post. Nevertheless, it will make its way to the world eventually, when it has been sufficiently revised and edited. The portions I preview today from the various tallies should be thought of as draft versions that are subject to change. Continue reading

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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.

Continue reading