Monday, May 29, 2017

Emma of Bearhall

Upon the Birth of Emma, daughter of Bjarn and Orlaith
By Maister Colyne Stewart, May AS 52 (2017)

Listen carl | skald come and thane
Of Emma hear | of Ēostre’s get
Eagle-feeder | ancient ageless
Fenrir’s pack mate | proud hound of blood

Bearman’s daughter | Berzerker seed
Maiden mother | maker of weavings
Both iron wrought | bless’d well by Freyja
Within her hall | hale Emma slept

Loath the babe was | leaving naught her bed
Iðunn guardian | implored action
wound-sea born her | Bjarnsdottir
Orlaith’s belov’d | bold northern youth

Tremble Norðri | tales will be sung
Of Emma’s deeds | as ages pass on
Odin written | Jarl’s wyrd one
What force can stand | before bear’s daughter?

Written in fornyrðislag, an Eddic verse form consisting of a 4-line stanza, each line divided by a caesura into two half-lines, which in turn have two accented syllables and two or three unaccented ones. There are six variations of half-lines that could be used. The half-lines are linked together by alliteration, which in case of the first line could fall on one or the other of the stressed syllables, but in the second half-line had to fall on the first stressed syllables. The alliteration of the first half-line was called stuðlar (props), the one in the second half-line höfuðstafr (head-stave). The alliteration is actually an initial rhyme consisting of consonants alliterating with the same consonants, except sk, sp and st, which could be alliterated with themselves, and of a vowel alliterating with any other vowel, as well as with j.

Annotated version follows:

Listen carl[1] | skald[2] come and thegn[3]
Of Emma hear | of Ēostre’s[4] get[5]
Eagle-feeder[6] | ancient ageless
Fenrir’s pack mate[7] | proud hound of blood[8]

Bearman’s daughter[9] | Berzerker[10] seed
Maiden mother[11] | maker of weavings[12]
Both iron wrought[13] | bless’d well by Freyja[14]
Within her hall[15] | hale Emma slept[16]

Loath she was | leaving naught her bed
Iðunn[17] guardian[18] | implored action[19]
wound-sea[20] born her | Bjarnsdottir
Orlaith’s belov’d | bold northern youth

Tremble Norðri[21] | tales will be sung
Of Emma’s deeds | as ages pass on
Odin written | Jarl’s[22] wyrd[23] one[24]
What force can stand | Before bear’s daughter?

[1] A servant or housetroop.
[2] A bard.
[3] A retainer to a king.
[4] Goddess of fertility.
[5] Get as in offspring, brood.
[6] Warrior. Emma was a fighter from the get go.
[7] A wolf. Emma is of Ealdormere, sybmolized by the wolf.
[8] Also a kenning for wolf.
[9] Bjarn, Emma’s father, whose name means ‘bear’.
[10] Norse warriors who wore bearskins. Bjorn is a fighter.
[11] Orlaith, Emma’s mother.
[12] Orlaith is a skilled fabric artist.
[13] Bjarn and Orlath are two of the toughest people I know.
[14] Goddess of Fertility.
[15] Orlaith’s womb.
[16] Emma seemed quite content to stay inside and her birth had to be induced.
[17] Goddess of the young.
[18] “Iðunn guardian” kenning for the doctor.
[19] The birth is induced.
[20] Blood.
[21] Old Norse for the North.
[22] A chief.
[23] Fate.
[24] I’m implying there is much to come for young Emma.

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