Atsókn vetrar – Winter’s Attack,
by Fridrikr Tomasson
This poem in Old Norse is in the form called dróttkvaett which has the following main characteristics:
- Eight lines to a stanza
- Six syllables to a line
- Alliteration (repeating beginning sounds)
- Internal rhyming (imperfect in the odd-numbered lines, perfect in the even-numbered lines)
- Use of kennings (metaphorical figures)
This particular verse is intended to celebrate the coming of winter. Following the verse, there is a word-for-word translation, a prose version in proper English, and a list of kennings used in the poem.
Þagnaðu er þegnar
Þorra fuglar bruggað;
festar vetrar fastliga
fagra kæfaðu garða;
hremddu á hrímþursar
jálkar frystat Jökulls
ýsna fyrir lýskála.
Prose order translation of the poem:
Grew silent when thegn of Thorri birds schemed; Chains of winter tightly fair choked fields; Clutched at rime-thurses rings of the ground white-browed; The mares froze of Jokull haddock’s over fish-hall.
Regular prose order translation:
Birds grew silent when Thorri’s thegn schemed. Chains of winter tightly choked fair fields. White-browed rime-thurses clutched at ground-rings. Jokull’s mares froze over the haddock’s fish-hall.
Kennings used in this poem:
þegna Þorra – Thora’s thegn – Thorri is the goddess of winter, her thegn is winter weather.
festar vetrar – chains of winter – snow drifts & ice.
hrímþursar – rime-thurses (ice-giants) – winter storms
hringagrundar – rings of the ground – fields
jálkar Jökulls – Jökul’s mare – ice floes. Jökull is the name given to the glaciers. His horse (mare) is the ice he rides into the valleys.
lýskála – fish-hall – a lake or pond.