Olde English Rune Poem
Written onto parchment in the late eighth or early ninth century by the clergy of the time in an attempt to preserve the oral tradition of the runic mantra, this rune poem contains Kristianized overtones that one must take with a grain of sea-salt. It is however the only surviving poem–to–date which includes the Eldar Futhark within the body and is quite descriptive in content, whereas the Norsk and Islandic poems are more obscurely aphoristical. Also this version happens to be the one most readily referred to among scholars and seekers alike possibly because it can be translated fairly easily from the Anglo–Saxon manuscript it is artistically scrawled upon:
wealth is a comfort to one and all,
but he must share it who hopes to cast
his lot for judgment before the lord.
the Aurochs is single-minded, with horns
ascending high, a fierce horn-fighter
stamping his moors, a striking beast.
the Thorn is most sharp, an evil thing
to take a grip on, extremely grim
for any man who rests among them.
the Mouth is origin of every speech,
support of wisdom and wise men's comfort,
ease and hope to every noble.
Riding for a hero inside the hall
is soft, more strenuous when astride
a great horse pounding the long mile paths.
the Torch, familiar to the living aflame,
is blinding and brilliant; it burns most often
where royal folk are at rest within.
Giving, to men, is an ornament
displaying worth – and to every outcast
without any other is substance and honour.
Joy is for one who knows little of woe,
unhampered by sorrow he will have
bright fruits and bliss and buildings enough.
Hail is whitest of grains.
It whirls from the sky
whipped by the gusting wind,
then turns into water.
Need is a tight band on the breast, but it often
turned into an omen of help, if attended to
Ice is over-cold, very slippery.
it glistens like glass, most like a jewel,
a floor made of frost, fair to see.
the Season is hopeful when heaven's king
allows the fields to blossom forth
a bright abundance for rich and poor.
Yew on the outside is an un-smooth tree,
but strong and firm, the fires' guardian,
upheld by deep roots, a joy to the home.
a lively Tune means laughter and games
where brave folk sit in the banquet hall,
birth–giving wives blithe together.
Eel–Grass grows most often in fen,
waxes in water, grimly wounds,
burning with stripes of blood the one
who tries to get a grip on it.
the Sun to seafarers always means hope,
when they ferry across the fishes' bath
till the horse of the sea brings them to harbour.
Tir is a special sign. With princes
it keeps faith well, is ever on course
over the night's dark; it never fails.
the Poplar is fruit–less, even so puts forth
shoots without seeding, has shining branches
high in an ornamented helmet,
laden with leaves, in touch with the sky.
the Horse before peers is a princely joy
stepping out proudly when spoken of
by wealthy riders all around him –
and to one who's unquiet he is ever a comfort.
a Man in his gladness is dear to his kinsman;
yet each must fail the friend he loves
for the lord in his judgment will allot
that unfortunate flesh to the earth.
Water to lands-men seems overly long
if they must go on the galloping ship,
and the sea–waves scare them excessively,
and the horse of the sea heeds not his bridle.
Ing at first was seen by folk
among the East Danes, till afterwards he
went over the waves, followed his wagon.
thus the Heardings named this hero.
Home is beloved of everyone human,
if there he may properly and in peace
enjoy in the hall a frequent harvest.
Day, God's message, is dear to men:
the great lord's light means gladness and hope
to rich and poor, a profit to all.
Oak on this earth is useful to men
as fodder for pigs - and often it fares
on the gannet's bath, where the spear–sharp sea
tests if the oak has noble timber.
the Ash looms high, beloved of men
in a firm position holds well to its place
though many foes advance to fight it.
the Bow is a joy to princes and nobles,
a reminder of worth, looks well on a steed,
quick in its course, fine equipment.
the Beaver is a river–fish. Though it always ranges
for food on land, it has a fair dwelling
lapped round by water, where it lives happily.
the Dust is dreadful to every noble.
when suddenly the flesh begins
to cool, and the corpse must choose the earth
as bleak bed-fellow. Bright fruits fall,
joys pass away, covenants fail.
Choose Where You Will
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