The Ac stanza is a bad riddle because the answer to the riddle is right there in the wording. Since when does an Old English riddle include its answer? I’ll tell you when. Never.… More
The ash tree is oferheah. Over-high. Tall. And it grows from nothing: the smallest sapling can become something oferheah, massive, with root systems that are fairly shallow, but… More
What is this thing Ior? Runes are riddles and this one is unsolved, but let’s try anyway.
The Rune Poem calls ior a river fish that forages on land. Amphibian. Eel fits well. Some… More
Ur, the aurochs, is a wild bovine, a cow but not a normal cow. Dangerous. Think of the fiercest cows you know: the toro bravo they use for bull fighting, or the Jersey dairy bull which … More
Old English uses very few words at a time, but in all the minimalism there’s a massive amount of meaning: often multiple meanings of the same word are intended, black is sometimes… More
This is a stanza about a plant; it’s clear from the context and from the word secg, which means a sedge or reed. It also means a person, poetically, and a sword. In Beowulf it is a … More
This stanza is about time. Some see it as a specific time, like harvest when the bright bleda (fruits) mentioned are ready for eating. Others translate this as springtime, when bleda… More
There’s lots of words for horse in Old English, hors, for one. But there’s wicg, hengest, friþhengest, onrid, radhors, mearh, sceam, steda, stott, blanca, gelew, all… More
There is nothing more cold than ice. it is oferceald. There is nothing more slippery than ice: slidor ungemetum. Met means measurement, it is slippery beyond measure. Ice can be a dreadful… More
In Old English, a mann is a human being of any gender, translated into modern English as anyone, they, people, a citizen, a human. Mann is not a male person here, so when you see Mann as… More
There each of the nights might
see a horrible wonder,
Fire on flowing water.
None so wise live
Of the children of the people,
that know the depth.
Though the heath stalker
pressed by hounds,… More
Waterways were busy places during the time of the Rune Poem, making for convenient connections between coastal settlements and with ports of trade farther afield. However, it gets… More
The first eight stanzas of the Rune Poem are each three lines long, with four beats in each line, twelve beats total. Then we get a pair side by side: Hail and Need, that are two lines each,… More
To them then Scyld went, at the fated time, on a journey full of exploits, to God. Then they carried him away to the surf on the shore, his beloved companions, as he himself asked, while… More