North Sea Nostrum

By way of editorial comment: For the love of “Beowulf,” “The Wanderer,” “The Seafarer,” and “The Dream of the Rood”! I loved my undergraduate studies of Old English poetry so much that I wanted to study, in graduate school, linguistics courses on Old English grammar and the History of the English language (welcome to HEL…who, incidentally is one of my favorite Old Norse goddesses, as I explain in this series of posts). This poem is my homage to the Anglo-Saxon forebears of the language we all speak and take for granted every day and their wonderfully elegaic sensibilities and warrior ethos. One of my favorite Old English poetic devices is the use of the kenning–see how many you can spot in my poem,

North Sea Nostrum

The spray of salt tinges the air along this whale-road

Limpets and lichens cling to bleak black rocks

Protruding like the teeth of giants

Now that the tide is low

"Late Evening Mood at North Sea" by J. Chanders

“Late Evening Mood at North Sea” by J. Chanders

 

Here at the edge of ebb, not flow

Land mass has nowhere to go

I kick at stones at stub my toe

Overhead

The terns

Freewheeling

From other terns the herrings they are stealing

Night uncorks her ink bottle to blot the sky

I stand transfixed

But what presents itself before me

Is not the scene here drawn in by my eyes

 

Veil parted between rowan trees

On a journey of short duration

Threshold of manhood

Crossed when

First blood flowed

Down quivering dirk hands

A stifled cry from the quarry for Raven of Battle

In thickets, crouching

Quick shield snatching

Tough hide jerkin stripping

To my camp I returned, hooting

The accolades

The thane-troth

Dead noble’s

Heavy

Gilded

Torc

On my neck

By campfire glowing

 

Into the murky swan-way this braided gold I will be throwing

 

The world-candle is snuffed out at the horizon

A fitting sight to accompany reveries

Of the many eagle-feasts I have been to

The many ring-givers gone to All-Father’s feasting halls

The many spear-trees hewn in the valleys

And the riverbanks

Betwixt clefts of ice mounds

Ymir’s knuckles

But from my axe-weary sending honor buckles

And to the haggard Norns, those three,

Faint and raspy chuckles

Why?

Why?

Why?

The circling terns cry out as I fling

The first fruit of first blood

Into Ran’s realm

With nary a clamorous shout

I shall meander along the coastline tonight

A barrow-wight still searching for his mound

A wizened head that cries out from the ground

Burial mound, north Götland, Sweden

Burial mound, north Götland, Sweden

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