Tag Archives: Translation

Translating Mann

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

Translating Nyd

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.… More

Your hand hurts. Your non-ergonomically correct work station is giving you all kinds of scoliosis. You are low on ink and making more is a whole thing. That stuff doesn’t grow… More

Life and Death

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 HumanMore

Translating Hægl

The Rune Poem’s stanzas vary in length. Each of the first eight stanzas consist of three lines containing four beats of stressed syllables: twelve beats total. Then we get an… More

Translating Lagu

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, things… More

A Horrible Wonder

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

Translating Ing

Ing is a mystery. Who is Ing? Where did he go? Why did he leave? We don’t know. You know who knows? The Rune Poem knows: the Rune Poem has the only specific intel we’ve got on… More

Translating Wyn

The Wyn stanza breaks with the usual byþ beginning: it starts with ne. Ne means not, or no. It can be used as a conjunction too, but here ne is neither this nor that. Old English is an inflected… More

Ing is for Scylding

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

Translating Gifu

Gift giving was a big deal to the people of the Rune Poem. It was everything. They gave everything. It could be food or goods, but they loved ornament and anything old especially: gilded,… More

Translating Eþel

The Rune Poem is sung in a tempo that changes from time to time. You can find the beats and the rests between them in the stresses of the words in each stanza. Some move quickly like the adjacent… More

I Sing This Wretched Song

I sing this wretched song, my full sorrow
Of my departure by myself, that I might speak
That I dwelt in destitution, since I grew up,
Newly until of old, no more than now,
Forever I suffered… More

Translating Dæg

The word drihtnes appears twice in the rune poem, here and in stanza one, feoh, wealth. It means God, but in the sense of God as a lord, God the leader, the one in charge. God has other jobs:… More

Translating Cen

Cen is a rare word in Old English. It’s a torch here in the Rune Poem, and Cynewulf uses it to mean torch in his games with runes. Cynewulf: an Old English poet and fascinating person… More

Translating Rad

Rad means riding on horseback, the ride itself. Sometimes it will mean the road, especially when found in a compound word. This stanza specifies it’s going to be a long ride oferMore

Translating Ac

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

Translating Æsc

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, butMore

Translating Os

Os means God, non specified, though this stanza might be talking about a specific one. There are other specific gods in the Rune Poem. Tiw is here. So is Ing. We don’t know much More

Translating Thorn

Let’s worry about the þegna, the thegns. They set up camp at night, prepare food, tend to horses, fires. Get ordered around by el jefe to do every damn thing. They can’t … More

Translating Yr

In Old English yr means only the name for this rune. A bow is a guess, a bow made out of yew. In Old Norse yr means the yew tree. The Icelandic Rune Poem says yr is “bent bow and brittle… More

Translating Ior

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

Translating Ur

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

Translating Feoh

Feoh means cattle, which meant everything to the rune carvers. People kept sheep and pigs, but it’s the cows that were the money. Cattle are useful, they pull things, they’re… More

Translating Ear

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

O Yes, W.


byþ frofur.         fira gehwylcum.
Sceal ðeah manna gehwylc.         miclun hyt dælan.
gif he wile. for drihtne         domes hleotan
᛬᛫

It is a consolation to each one of us,More

Translating Eolhx

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

Translating Peorð

Nobody knows what this is. The only time we ever see the word peorð in Old English is in lists of rune names. All we know is what the Rune Poem riddle says, and that it is what it is. We don’t… More

Translating Sigel

The answer to this riddle is the sun, though when you read it it could be something else related to seafaring. Semannum, more commonly spelled sæmanum, means mariners, plural, people… More

Translating Tiw

Tiw is one of the signs, a tacn, a token. This is the first clue in the riddle. A sign is a clue to something as well; signs symbolize in shorthand something else. A letter in an alphabet… More