Monthly Archives: February 2017

Hildeburhʼs Lament IV

Many miles over
Markland we rode.
Then wended our way,
The whaleroad taking,
In whorl helmed
Waterhorses,
When Finn’s helmsward,
Farman, asked me
ʻʻLady Hildeburh,
Why look you unhappy?
Is not the sea’s scent
The smell of brine,
The wind in your face,
While winging the foam,
A gladdening sight?ʼʼ
ʻʻForgive me captain,
I am a markmaiden;
Where mares run free,
On heath under heaven,
My heart’s dwelling is.
The sea’s surging
Sore reminded me
Of whirling, wind tossed,
Waves of grassland…ʼʼ
I stopped ’fore tears
Could tear the facade
Of cool and calm.
Keen was the wind
Cutting my words off
To the kind seaman,
My throat throttled
By thoughts of home.
Would I ever see
Its soil again?
Finn and Folcwald
Were forging anew
Plans for expansion,
Possibly southwards,
Leaving me oft
To look at miles
Of watery wastelands
From worm shaped prow.

Leave a comment

Filed under Medieval

Hildeburh’s Lament III

A peaceweaver’s work
Is parting from home;
From her mother’s hall,
Its hanging tapestries
With maremeadows and
Mighty riders
In gilded threads
Like gold inlaid,
Its carved ceiling,
Such skillful crafting,
From friends dearer
Than darling lovers.
The sundering of friends
Was sorrow indeed,
But the price of peace
Meant parting from Danemark,
And Hnæf biting back
The burning tears,
Still young, unable
To understand
The Witan council’s
Wary counsel.

As the wedding wore on
Wariness relaxed
And feasting forth
In fair meadhall
The guests and hosts,
Hiding grievances,
Drank our health
And danced through the hall.
Mead did much to
Diminish my unease
At the wedding night
Nervous fumbling
In the baffling blindness
Of the bridal chamber.

Leave a comment

Filed under Medieval, Uncategorized

Hildeburh’s Lament II

The Hocings at war
With hoarstrong Folcwald
Frieslands’s fighting men,
Forceful in battle,
Could not carve out
The kingdom they desired,
For Hoc’s men held
Their homesteads unyielding.

Many a sad mother
Mourned for her son.
After weary wars
Woedeeds on both sides
And fighting feuds
With Folcwald’s people,
Peaceoaths were sworn
And swords sheathed again.

Leave a comment

Filed under Medieval, Uncategorized

Hildeburh’s Lament: Background

This post will give you some background information to the 12 part poem Hildeburh’s Lament (part 1: https://andysportry.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/hildeburhs-lament-i/). This longer piece is based on the story of a Danish princess as alluded to in the Anglo-saxon epic Beowulf and the Finnesburg Fragment. This post gives a bit of background to the story. The story is set in Northern Europe, on the coastline of the North Sea, at the time of the Völkerwanderung (=Migration Period: before and after the fall of the Roman Empire). The story focusses on are two rival Germanic tribes, the Danes (sometimes called Scyldings) and the Frisians. Their genealogies are given below. A third tribe, the Jutes, is also involved.

danes

frisians

On the alliterative metre the poem is written in see my notes to St. Edmund (https://andysportry.wordpress.com/2014/10/11/st-edmund/)

Wyrd is the Old English spelling of weird meaning “The principle, power, or agency by which events are predetermined; fate, destiny” (Oxford English Dictionary), as used in Macbeth with the weird sisters.

Leave a comment

Filed under Medieval

Hildeburh’s Lament I

Hwæt, of the Speardanes
And their strength in deeds,
And of Friesland’s Finn,
Foremost of kings,
Many singers have sung
Songs of battleglory
In days long ago.
Death left only me,
Tholing with thoughts
On the threads of Wyrd,
My meat in eld —
End is nighing.
Yet once fair and
Young as Freya was I,
Free as a hind
In forest or hurst.
With Hnæf my brother
Born after me,
My first friend,
I frolicked unbound
Many a summer’s day
We spent dreaming
In the wind’s wake
We wove our tales
Of Vanir and Æsir;
Their victories, defeats
And truce bought with
The exchange of a bride.
Óthr’s wife Freya
Forced to marry;
Griefladen by her
Groom’s madness;
And of Frigg’s boy,
Baldr, Freyr’s son,
Slain by Loki,
Sly and wily.
We both thrilled at
Thor’s exploits and
Sung his stories
Of strength and thunder.
Of elves and dwarves,
Of Asgard and Midgard
We knew enough,
Yet nothing of the world,
Till violent battles
Invaded our lives.

1 Comment

Filed under Medieval