Need‘s Rune poem partner is the Human stanza, but you can’t translate the Need stanza without keeping an eye on the Hail stanza next door. Need and Hail are so much alike. Hail comes suddenly and can destroy a crop, smash berries from bushes, fruit from trees, destroy a roof. Hail makes need. Need can come suddenly too. You know quickly when you are in need. The sky opens up and pummels you with it.
Both the Need and Hail stanzas are anomalies in the Rune Poem. They stand out for being only two lines each, when the others are three or four (five for the final one) and they stand out for having many more stressed words per line than is customary for Old English poetry. The effect when sung is a fast staccato beat. A rapid pounding of the heart. Sounds like hail feels like need.
You ok? You look a mess. Well, you knew this meltdown was coming. We all did. There were signals and patterns and that was a massive red flag back there, but no. Some people don’t listen. Well, don’t just stand there looking at everybody else’s better deal, you need to pay attention now before the next thing grabs you, and it will grab you. Like a fist around your heart, squeezing. So listen up. Hwat! Pay attention.
Pay attention in advance of what? What is it that’s coming? That’s the question. The answer depends on what the meaning of the word is, is. If is means is and never has been, that is one thing. If it means there is none, that is a completely true statement. If is means now, there is nothing in any one given teeny moment of now, none, there’s no time for it, so if you ask a question … More
Both the Need and Human stanzas say that life is guided and determined by the gods, and they both highlight two seemingly contradictory aspects of fate, its changeability and its certainty. Need sends a warning. Listening to omens can bring help when fate turns against us, so you’d better listen up. The Human stanza warns something else: we enjoy life with each other, but only until the gods decide our ultimate fate, the permanence of death, so let’s enjoy each other now while we can.
This is powerful stuff. The gods do not, however, have absolute power. In a world governed by fate (wyrd in Old English), it is not the case that the gods have sole and complete charge over every aspect of our lives. Even with deities such as the omnipresent ones (nosy, deeply involved in human business) belonging to the people of the Rune Poem, people have discernment. People are … More
The Rune Poem stanzas Wealth and Human have so much in common they ought to be a matched set, except they already have their own partners, The Grave, and Need. Here are Wealth and Human repeating themselves:
Wealth: Sceal ðeah manna gehwylc (though each of us must).
Human: Sceal þeah anra gehwylc (though each and every one must).
And look at how many words they share: byþ, gehwylcum/gehwylc, sceal, wile/wyle, ðeah/þeah, drihtne/dryhten, dome/domes, 7 not counting pronouns. The name of the Human rune, manna, appears in the Wealth stanza so let’s count that one too: 8 words in common is a large number, especially when you consider that the Wealth stanza has only 18 words and the Human stanza has 23 if you include ꝥ, which isn’t a whole word but a grammalogue for the … More
Listen up. As if from nowhere you will have nothing. Nowhere is where nothing comes from, did you not know? That pain in your chest will be your heart squeezing down two sizes too small. You’ll be in need and you will feel it. Pay attention to the gods on this one baby love, help will come if you shush, listen, and do what you’re told.
Voiced alveolar nasal. Vibrate some air through your vocal cords, stop it at the roof of your mouth with your tongue. Nope. No passage here. Never. Send that air out through your nose.
When N stands next to C or G both letters are pronounced together and sound a bit like Ing, the other nasal letter besides M, which is N’s Rune Poem partner. M and N are still close in modern English, next door neighbors, and together they are the only nasal letters left to us since Ing went east.
Carve a line straight down to rock bottom. Now constrict it with another line, right through the heart. Point that line down a bit too, but also point it up.