|Rune poems (1915)
, translated by Bruce Dickins
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The Norwegian Rune Poem
ᚠ Fé vældr frænda róge;
føðesk ulfr í skóge.
ᚢ Úr er af illu jarne;
opt løypr ræinn á hjarne.
ᚦ Þurs vældr kvinna kvillu;
kátr værðr fár af illu.
ᚬ Óss er flæstra færða
fǫr; en skalpr er sværða.
ᚱ Ræið kveða rossom væsta;
Reginn sló sværðet bæzta.
ᚴ Kaun er barna bǫlvan;
bǫl gørver nán fǫlvan.
ᚼ Hagall er kaldastr korna;
Kristr skóp hæimenn forna.
ᚾ Nauðr gerer næppa koste;
nøktan kælr í froste.
ᛁ Ís kǫllum brú bræiða;
blindan þarf at læiða.
ᛅ Ár er gumna góðe;
get ek at ǫrr var Fróðe.
ᛋ Sól er landa ljóme;
lúti ek helgum dóme.
ᛏ Týr er æinendr ása;
opt værðr smiðr blása.
ᛒ Bjarkan er laufgrønstr líma;
Loki bar flærða tíma.
ᛘ Maðr er moldar auki;
mikil er græip á hauki.
ᛚ Lǫgr er, fællr ór fjalle
foss; en gull ero nosser.
ᛦ Ýr er vetrgrønstr viða;
vænt er, er brennr, at sviða.
Translation of Norwegian Rune Poem
Wealth is a source of discord among kinsmen;
the wolf lives in the forest.
Dross comes from bad iron;
the reindeer often races over the frozen snow.
Giant causes anguish to women;
misfortune makes few men cheerful.
Estuary is the way of most journeys;
but a scabbard is of swords.
Riding is said to be the worst thing for horses;
Reginn forged the finest sword.
Ulcer is fatal to children;
death makes a corpse pale.
Hail is the coldest of grain;
Christ created the world of old.
Constraint gives scant choice;
a naked man is chilled by the frost.
Ice we call the broad bridge;
the blind man must be led.
Plenty is a boon to men;
I say that Frodi was generous.
Sun is the light of the world;
I bow to the divine decree.
Tyr is a one-handed god;
often has the smith to blow.
Birch has the greenest leaves of any shrub;
Loki was fortunate in his deceit.
Man is an augmentation of the dust;
great is the claw of the hawk.
A waterfall is a River which falls from a mountain-side;
but ornaments are of gold.
Yew is the greenest of trees in winter;
it is wont to crackle when it burns.
The Icelandic Rune Poem
ᚠ Fé er frænda róg ok flæðar viti ok grafseiðs gata aurum fylkir.
ᚢ Úr er skýja grátr ok skára þverrir ok hirðis hatr. umbre vísi
ᚦ Þurs er kvenna kvöl ok kletta búi ok varðrúnar verr. Saturnus þengill.
ᚬ Óss er algingautr ok ásgarðs jöfurr, ok valhallar vísi. Jupiter oddviti.
ᚱ Reið er sitjandi sæla ok snúðig ferð ok jórs erfiði. iter ræsir.
ᚴ Kaun er barna böl ok bardaga [för] ok holdfúa hús. flagella konungr.
ᚼ Hagall er kaldakorn ok krapadrífa ok snáka sótt. grando hildingr.
ᚾ Nauð er Þýjar þrá ok þungr kostr ok vássamlig verk. opera niflungr.
ᛁ Íss er árbörkr ok unnar þak ok feigra manna fár. glacies jöfurr.
ᛅ Ár er gumna góði ok gott sumar algróinn akr. annus allvaldr.
ᛋ Sól er skýja skjöldr ok skínandi röðull ok ísa aldrtregi. rota siklingr.
ᛏ Týr er einhendr áss ok ulfs leifar ok hofa hilmir. Mars tiggi.
ᛒ Bjarkan er laufgat lim ok lítit tré ok ungsamligr viðr. abies buðlungr.
ᛘ Maðr er manns gaman ok moldar auki ok skipa skreytir. homo mildingr.
ᛚ Lögr er vellanda vatn ok viðr ketill ok glömmungr grund. lacus lofðungr.
ᛦ Ýr er bendr bogi ok brotgjarnt járn ok fífu fárbauti. arcus ynglingr.
Translation of Icelandic Rune Poem
Fé - Wealth Source of discord among kinsmen and fire of the sea and path of the serpent.
Úr - Shower Lamentation of the clouds and ruin of the hay-harvest and abomination of the shepherd.
Thurs - Giant Torture of women and cliff-dweller and husband of a giantess.
Óss - God Aged Gautr and prince of Ásgardr and lord of Vallhalla.
Reid - Riding Joy of the horsemen and speedy journey and toil of the steed.
Kaun - Ulcer Disease fatal to children and painful spot and abode of mortification.
Hagall - Hail Cold grain and shower of sleet and sickness of serpents.
Naud - Constraint Grief of the bond-maid and state of oppression and toilsome work.
Iss - Ice Bark of rivers and roof of the wave and destruction of the doomed.
Ár - Plenty Boon to men and good summer and thriving crops.
Sól - Sun Shield of the clouds and shining ray and destroyer of ice.
Tyr God with one hand and leavings of the wolf and prince of temples.
Bjarken - Birch Leafy twig and little tree and fresh young shrub.
Madr - Man Delight of man and augmentation of the earth and adorner of ships.
Lögr - Water Eddying stream and broad geysir and land of the fish.
Yr - Yew Bent bow and brittle iron and giant of the arrow.
The Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem
ᚠ Feoh byþ frofur fira gehwylcum; sceal ðeah manna gehwylc miclun hyt dælan gif he wile for drihtne domes hleotan.
ᚢ Ur byþ anmod ond oferhyrned, felafrecne deor, feohteþ mid hornum mære morstapa; þæt is modig wuht.
ᚦ Ðorn byþ ðearle scearp; ðegna gehwylcum anfeng ys yfyl, ungemetum reþe manna gehwelcum, ðe him mid resteð.
ᚩ Os byþ ordfruma ælere spræce, wisdomes wraþu ond witena frofur and eorla gehwam eadnys ond tohiht.
ᚱ Rad byþ on recyde rinca gehwylcum sefte ond swiþhwæt, ðamðe sitteþ on ufan meare mægenheardum ofer milpaþas.
ᚳ Cen byþ cwicera gehwam, cuþ on fyre blac ond beorhtlic, byrneþ oftust ðær hi æþelingas inne restaþ.
ᚷ Gyfu gumena byþ gleng and herenys, wraþu and wyrþscype and wræcna gehwam ar and ætwist, ðe byþ oþra leas.
ᚹ Wenne bruceþ, ðe can weana lyt sares and sorge and him sylfa hæfþ blæd and blysse and eac byrga geniht.
ᚻ Hægl byþ hwitust corna; hwyrft hit of heofones lyfte, wealcaþ hit windes scura; weorþeþ hit to wætere syððan.
ᚾ Nyd byþ nearu on breostan; weorþeþ hi þeah oft niþa bearnum to helpe and to hæle gehwæþre, gif hi his hlystaþ æror.
ᛁ Is byþ ofereald, ungemetum slidor, glisnaþ glæshluttur gimmum gelicust, flor forste geworuht, fæger ansyne.
ᛄ Ger byþ gumena hiht, ðonne God læteþ, halig heofones cyning, hrusan syllan beorhte bleda beornum ond ðearfum.
ᛇ Eoh byþ utan unsmeþe treow, heard hrusan fæst, hyrde fyres, wyrtrumun underwreþyd, wyn on eþle.
ᛈ Peorð byþ symble plega and hlehter wlancum [on middum], ðar wigan sittaþ on beorsele bliþe ætsomne.
ᛉ Eolh-secg eard hæfþ oftust on fenne wexeð on wature, wundaþ grimme, blode breneð beorna gehwylcne ðe him ænigne onfeng gedeþ.
ᛋ Sigel semannum symble biþ on hihte, ðonne hi hine feriaþ ofer fisces beþ, oþ hi brimhengest bringeþ to lande.
ᛏ Tir biþ tacna sum, healdeð trywa wel wiþ æþelingas; a biþ on færylde ofer nihta genipu, næfre swiceþ.
ᛒ Beorc byþ bleda leas, bereþ efne swa ðeah tanas butan tudder, biþ on telgum wlitig, heah on helme hrysted fægere, geloden leafum, lyfte getenge.
ᛖ Eh byþ for eorlum æþelinga wyn, hors hofum wlanc, ðær him hæleþ ymb[e] welege on wicgum wrixlaþ spræce and biþ unstyllum æfre frofur.
ᛗ Man byþ on myrgþe his magan leof: sceal þeah anra gehwylc oðrum swican, forðum drihten wyle dome sine þæt earme flæsc eorþan betæcan.
ᛚ Lagu byþ leodum langsum geþuht, gif hi sculun neþan on nacan tealtum and hi sæyþa swyþe bregaþ and se brimhengest bridles ne gym[eð].
ᛝ Ing wæs ærest mid East-Denum gesewen secgun, oþ he siððan est ofer wæg gewat; wæn æfter ran; ðus Heardingas ðone hæle nemdun.
ᛟ Eþel byþ oferleof æghwylcum men, gif he mot ðær rihtes and gerysena on brucan on bolde bleadum oftast.
ᛞ Dæg byþ drihtnes sond, deore mannum, mære metodes leoht, myrgþ and tohiht eadgum and earmum, eallum brice.
ᚪ Ac byþ on eorþan elda bearnum flæsces fodor, fereþ gelome ofer ganotes bæþ; garsecg fandaþ hwæþer ac hæbbe æþele treowe.
ᚫ Æsc biþ oferheah, eldum dyre stiþ on staþule, stede rihte hylt, ðeah him feohtan on firas monige.
ᚣ Yr byþ æþelinga and eorla gehwæs wyn and wyrþmynd, byþ on wicge fæger, fæstlic on færelde, fyrdgeatewa sum.
ᛡ Iar byþ eafix and ðeah a bruceþ fodres on foldan, hafaþ fægerne eard wætre beworpen, ðær he wynnum leofaþ.
ᛠ Ear byþ egle eorla gehwylcun, ðonn[e] fæstlice flæsc onginneþ, hraw colian, hrusan ceosan blac to gebeddan; bleda gedreosaþ, wynna gewitaþ, wera geswicaþ.
Translation (Dickins 1915)
Wealth is a comfort to all men;
yet must every man bestow it freely,
if he wish to gain honour in the sight of the Lord.
The aurochs is proud and has great horns;
it is a very savage beast and fights with its horns;
a great ranger of the moors, it is a creature of mettle.
The thorn is exceedingly sharp,
an evil thing for any knight to touch,
uncommonly severe on all who sit among them.
The mouth is the source of all language,
a pillar of wisdom and a comfort to wise men,
a blessing and a joy to every knight.
Riding seems easy to every warrior while he is indoors
and very courageous to him who traverses the high-roads
on the back of a stout horse.
The torch is known to every living man by its pale, bright flame;
it always burns where princes sit within.
Generosity brings credit and honour, which support one's dignity;
it furnishes help and subsistence
to all broken men who are devoid of aught else.
Bliss he enjoys who knows not suffering, sorrow nor anxiety,
and has prosperity and happiness and a good enough house.
Hail is the whitest of grain;
it is whirled from the vault of heaven
and is tossed about by gusts of wind
and then it melts into water.
Trouble is oppressive to the heart;
yet often it proves a source of help and salvation
to the children of men, to everyone who heeds it betimes.
Ice is very cold and immeasurably slippery;
it glistens as clear as glass and most like to gems;
it is a floor wrought by the frost, fair to look upon.
Summer is a joy to men, when God, the holy King of Heaven,
suffers the earth to bring forth shining fruits
for rich and poor alike.
The yew is a tree with rough bark,
hard and fast in the earth, supported by its roots,
a guardian of flame and a joy upon an estate.
Peorth is a source of recreation and amusement to the great,
where warriors sit blithely together in the banqueting-hall.
The Eolh-sedge is mostly to be found in a marsh;
it grows in the water and makes a ghastly wound,
covering with blood every warrior who touches it.
The sun is ever a joy in the hopes of seafarers
when they journey away over the fishes' bath,
until the courser of the deep bears them to land.
Tiw is a guiding star; well does it keep faith with princes;
it is ever on its course over the mists of night and never fails.
The poplar bears no fruit; yet without seed it brings forth suckers,
for it is generated from its leaves.
Splendid are its branches and gloriously adorned
its lofty crown which reaches to the skies.
The horse is a joy to princes in the presence of warriors.
A steed in the pride of its hoofs,
when rich men on horseback bandy words about it;
and it is ever a source of comfort to the restless.
The joyous man is dear to his kinsmen;
yet every man is doomed to fail his fellow,
since the Lord by his decree will commit the vile carrion to the earth.
The ocean seems interminable to men,
if they venture on the rolling bark
and the waves of the sea terrify them
and the courser of the deep heed not its bridle.
Ing was first seen by men among the East-Danes,
till, followed by his chariot,
he departed eastwards over the waves.
So the Heardingas named the hero.
An estate is very dear to every man,
if he can enjoy there in his house
whatever is right and proper in constant prosperity.
Day, the glorious light of the Creator, is sent by the Lord;
it is beloved of men, a source of hope and happiness to rich and poor,
and of service to all.
The oak fattens the flesh of pigs for the children of men.
Often it traverses the gannet's bath,
and the ocean proves whether the oak keeps faith
in honourable fashion.
The ash is exceedingly high and precious to men.
With its sturdy trunk it offers a stubborn resistance,
though attacked by many a man.
Yr is a source of joy and honour to every prince and knight;
it looks well on a horse and is a reliable equipment for a journey.
Iar is a river fish and yet it always feeds on land;
it has a fair abode encompassed by water, where it lives in happiness.
The grave is horrible to every knight,
when the corpse quickly begins to cool
and is laid in the bosom of the dark earth.
Prosperity declines, happiness passes away
and covenants are broken.
The Abecedarium Nordmannicum
(There are various readings of this difficult manuscript. The following is the reading given by Dickins, Runic and heroic poems of the old Teutonic peoples, published 1915 and thus free of copyright. Cursive letters are emendations by Dickins.)
- Feu forman
- Ur after
- Thuris thritten stabu,
- Os is himo oboro,
- Rat endost ritan
- Chaon thanne cliuôt.
- Hagal, Naut hab&
- Is, Ar endi Sol
- Tiu, Brica endi Man midi
- Lagu the leohto,
- Yr al bihabet.