Posts tagged ‘10th Century’

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Lausavisur 10 by Hallfreðr Óttarsson (vandræðaskáld)

The whole race of men to win
Óðinn’s grace has wrought poems
(I recall the exquisite
works of my forebears);
but with sorrow, for well did
Viðrir’s [Óðinn’s] power please the poet,
do I conceive hate for the first husband of
Frigg [Óðinn], now I serve Christ.


Date: 10th century (original in Old Norse); 2012 (translation in English)

By: Hallfreðr Óttarsson (vandræðaskáld) (c965-c1007)

Translated by: Diana Whaley (19??- )

Sunday, 22 July 2018

I Had Hoped to Keep Secret by Mibu no Tadami

I had hoped to keep secret
feelings that had begun to stir
within my heart,
but already rumours are rife
that I am in love with you.

From: MacMillan, Peter (ed. and transl.), One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each: A Treasury of Classical Japanese Verse, 2018, Penguin: London , p. 41.

Date: 10th century (original in Japanese); 2008 (translation in English)

By: Mibu no Tadami (10th century)

Translated by: Peter MacMillan (19??- )

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Lausavísa by Hildr Hrólfsdóttir nefju

You frame my father’s namesake*
and force him on the wolf’s road.
You hound the high-born hero.
How, lord, can you allow this?
I warn you: ‘ware, warrior!
Wolf-deeds reap warfare.
The lupine lad may lust
for his former’s lord livestock.

*This skald plays on the name of its subject (Hrolf) which partly means “wolf”. It was spoken by Hrolf’s mother as she asked King Harald of Norway why her son, accused of plundering livestock, had been sent into exile.

From: Straubhaar, Sandra Ballif, Old Norse Women’s Poetry: The Voices of Female Skalds, Translated from the Old Norse, 2011, D. S. Brewer: Cambridge, p. 12.

Date: 10th century (original in Old Norse); 2011 (translation in English)

By: Hildr Hrólfsdóttir nefju (10th century)

Translated by: Sandra Ballif Straubhaar (19??- )

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Even in Dreams by Ise no miyasudokoro

Even in dreams
I do not want him to know
that it is me he is making love to,
for I am overcome with blushes
when I see my face in my morning mirror.

From: Rexroth, Kenneth and Atsumi, Ikuko (eds.), Women Poets of Japan, 1977, New Directions: New York, p. 18.

Date: 10th century (original in Japanese); 1977 (translation in English)

By: Ise no miyasudokoro (c875-c938)

Translated by: Kenneth Charles Marion Rexroth (1905-1982) and Ikuko Atsumi (1940- )

Sunday, 19 March 2017

The Biting Message by Jórunn Skáldmær

Red with blood of wretches
were royal prince’s weapons.
Hirdmen angered Haraldr.
Houses fell a-flaming.

O Hálfdan, Haraldr heard
of hard deeds, did Fairhair;
dastardly seemed your doings,
and dark, to kingly swordsman.

Highborn king of heroes,
his heart was stirred to action
when magnifiers of murder
dared mark their swords with bloodshed.
What more farflung fame
can be found among us
than bestowed by two bold princes
upon hearing hawk-eyed Gutþormr?

Hard-hearted kings repented.
Sindri’s skillful skaldcraft
softened stern dissension.

Strong ode from ring-destroyer
strife stopped for Haraldr.
Good pay from goodly king
Gutþormr got for skaldship.
Pair of lordly princes
poet moved to peacemake.
Spearmen planned for sword-storm;
saved they were from slaughter.

From: Anderson, Sarah M. and Swenson, Karen (eds.), Cold Counsel: Women in Old Norse Literature and Mythology, 2002, Routledge: New York and London, pp. 264-265.

Date: 10th century (original in Old Norse); 2002 (translation in English)

By: Jórunn Skáldmær (10th century)

Translated by: Sandra Ballif Straubhaar (19??- )

Note: This poem, thought to be the only surviving fragments of a longer work, refers to a conflict between Haraldr (known as Fine/Fairhair) (850-933), the first king of Norway, and his son, Hálfdan (known as the Black). Hirdmen acted as the personal guards of Viking nobility. Gutþormr Sindri was a noted court poet (a skald). Jórunn Skáldmær is notable for being one of the few known women skalds (skáldmær translates as skald/poet maiden).

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Alas for Youth by Abu ʾl-Qasim Ferdowsi Tusi

Much have I labored, much read o’er
Of Arabic and Persian lore,
Collecting tales unknown and known;
Now two and sixty years are flown.
Regret, and deeper woe of sin,
‘Tis all that youth has ended in,
And I with mournful thoughts rehearse
Bu Táhir Khusrawáni’s verse:
“I mind me of my youth and sigh,
Alas for youth, for youth gone by!”


Date: 10th century (original in Arabic); 1927 (translation in English)

By: Abu ʾl-Qasim Ferdowsi Tusi (c940–1020)

Translated by: Reynold Alleyne Nicholson (1868-1945)

Saturday, 4 February 2017

A Quatrain on Dyeing the Hair by Abu Abdollah Jafar ibn Mohammad Rudaki

Not for this reason, black my hair I dye.
To look more young and vices new to try ;
People in time of grief don raiment black —
I black my hair in grief at old age nigh.

From: Jackson, A. V. Williams, Early Persian Poetry: From the Beginnings Down to the Time of Firdausi, 1920, The MacMillan Company: New York, p. 41.

Date: 10th century (original in Arabic); 1920 (translation in English)

By: Abu Abdollah Jafar ibn Mohammad Rudaki (858-c941)

Translated by: Abraham Valentine Williams Jackson (1862-1937)

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Deor’s Lament by Deor

Weland the blade-winder      suffered woe,
That steadfast man      knew misery.
Sorrow and longing      walked beside him,
wintered in him,      kept wearing him down
after Nithad      hampered and restrained him,
lithe sinew-bonds      on the better man.
That passed over,       this can too.

For Beadohilde      her brother’s death
weighed less heavily      than her own heartsoreness
once it was clearly      understood
she was bearing a child.      Her ability
to think and decide      deserted her then.
That passed over,      this can too.

We have heard tell      of Mathilde’s laments,
the grief that afflicted      Geat’s wife.
Her love was her bane,      it banished sleep.
That passed over,      this can too.

For thirty winters—      it was common knowledge—
Theodric held      the Maerings’ fort.
That passed over,      this can too.

Earmonric      had the mind of a wolf,
by all accounts      a cruel king,
lord of the far flung      Gothic outlands.
Everywhere men sat      shackled in sorrow,
expecting the worst,      wishing often
he and his kingdom      would be conquered.
That passed over,      this can too.

A man sits mournful,      his mind in darkness,
so daunted in spirit      he deems himself
ever after      fated to endure.
He may think then      how throughout this world
the Lord in his wisdom      often works change—
meting out honor,      ongoing fame
to many, to others      only their distress.
Of myself, this much      I have to say:
for a time I was poet      of the Heoden people,
dear to my lord.      Deor was my name.
For years I enjoyed      my duties as minstrel
and that lord’s favor,      but now the freehold
and land titles      he bestowed upon me once
he has vested in Heorrenda,      master of verse-craft.
That passed over,      this can too.


Date: ?10th century (original in Anglo-Saxon); 2011 (translation in English)

By: Deor (?10th century)

Translated by: Seamus Justin Heaney (1939-2013)

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The Rhymed Poem by Anonymous

He granted me life, who revealed this sun
and graciously revealed that radiant engine.
I was glad with glee, adorned with hues,
with the colours of joy, with the hues of blossoms.
Men gazed upon me — banquets were not lacking —,
rejoiced in the gift of life. Caparisoned horses
carried me joyfully in journeys over the plains,
delightfully with long strides of the limbs.
Then was the world quickened and kindled with growth,
expanded under the skies, covered with a troop of advisers.
Guests came and went, mingled chatter,
lingered over delight, joyfully embellished it.
The appointed ship glided through the distance into the broad sea;
there was a path upon the ocean stream, where I was not without guidance.
I had high rank; I lacked nothing in the hall,
so a brave company rode there. There it often befel the warrior
that he saw in the hall weighty treasure,
serviceable to thanes. I was puffed up with power;
wise men praised me, saved me in battle,
conducted me well, protected me from foes.
So joy dwelt within me, a family troop encompassed me,
I possessed estates, where I stepped I had command over
whatever the earth brought forth, I had a princely throne,
I sang with charmed words, old friendship did not grow less.
Moreover, there was a year rich in gifts, a resounding harp-string,
lasting peace cut short the river of sorrow.
The servants were active, the harp was resonant,
loudly rang; sound pealed,
music made melody, did not greatly abate;
the castle hall trembled, it towered bright.
Courage increased, wealth attracted;
I gave wise counsel to the lords, enriched the valiant.
Mind became mighty, heart rejoiced,
good faith flourished, glory abounded,
abundance smiled.
I furnished gold, the gem passed round,
treasure did treachery, the bond of friendship narrowed.
Bold I was in my array, noble in my equipment,
my joy was lordly, my way of life happy.
I protected the land, I was leader to the folk;
for a long time my life among the people was
familiar with glory, well devoted to it.

Now my heart is troubled, fearful owing to various disasters,
nigh to unavoidable distresses. There departs into flight by night
he who in the day had been bold. There wanders now deep and far
a burning secret disease in full growth, developed within the breast,
spread in different directions. Evil has blossomed
greatly in the mind. The mind’s nature
bottomless grief, too much penned in, attacks,
burns eager for calamity, runs fiercely to and fro.
The weary man suffers, begins a far journey,
his pain is pitiless, he adds to his sorrows,
his glory ceases, he loses his happiness,
he loses his skill, he does not burn with desires.

In the same way here joys perish, lordships fall;
here men lose life, often choose sins;
too evil is the time of good faith that feebly declined;
it went badly with the high seat and every hour went to the worse.
So now the world changes, brings death,
and pursues hate, brings men to shame.
The race of men perishes, the slaughtering spear rends,
the deceitful evildoer brawls, wickedness polishes the arrow,
debt-anxiety bites, old age cuts short courage,
the time of misery binds, anger desecrates the oath,
constant grief spreads widely, the indirect path is treacherous.
Fierce anger digs wrinkles, …………………. engraves,
artificial beauty grows foul, summer heat becomes cool,
the wealth of the earth perishes, enmity rages,
the might of the world ages, courage grows cold.

Fate wove it me and my deserts brought it upon me
that I should dig a grave, and that grim cavern
I cannot avoid with my flesh, when death, arrow-swift,
seizes my life in his inevitable grasp, when the night comes,
that dispossesses me of my home and deprives me of my abode here.
Then the body lies low, the worm devours the limbs,
nay, has delight and takes sustenance,
until the bones are …………………. one,
and finally there is nothing, except that the lot of necessity
is here appointed for evil deeds. Good fame will not be destroyed;
all the sooner the good man thinks of that, he chastens himself the more often,
avoids the bitter sins, has hope of the better joy,
remembers the delight of the heavenly rewards. Here are the blisses of the mercies of God
joyous in the kingdom of heaven. Let us now, like the saints,
freed from sins, hasten saved,
defended from vices, gloriously saved,
where mankind, happy before the Judge, may
see the true God and for ever rejoice in peace.

From: Mackie, W. S., “The Old English “Rhymed Poem”” in The Journal of English and Germanic Philogy, Volume 21, 1922, pp. 507-519.

Date: 10th Century (original in Old English); 1922 (translation in English)

By: Anonymous

Translated by: William Souter Mackie (1884-19??)

Alternative Titles: The Rhyming Poem, The Riming Poem