OETG #3 – 12 November

Week three, and we’re up to lines 10-21 of ‘The Rune Poem’.

This week, I translated the lines 13-16, or the  ᚱ (Rad) stanza.

This is a difficult section to translate from the very first word. Meanings for rad across BT and other translations include ‘riding’, ‘the ride’, or even ‘road’ (link), but also ‘equipment’ and ‘furniture’ (both within a house and particularly of horses).

I settled on ‘reigns’, imagining both the equipment as it is put onto a horse, a metaphor for the act of riding itself, but also with a vision of the kit hung up on the wall, on display but ready to use. I think I was very much influenced by having visited Sutton Hoo on the weekend and spending a long time gawping at the beautiful gold harness details found with the horse buried next to his supposed ‘prince’.

Sutton Hoo Harness

The gold horse harness details from Sutton Hoo. Image link.

Apart from puzzling over rad, we all very much enjoyed working through the etymology of gleng, l.19, part of the ‘Gift’ stanza. BT gives ‘An ornament, honour‘, and also ‘decoration, adornment, glory, pomp, splendour, display‘.  We felt that an excellent translation, retaining the sound and the many senses of the word, is ‘bling’!

As a bonus, the next lines of the riddle concern the ‘Torch’ rune, so it’s pretty neat to have ‘bling’ foreshadow the torch, its origins being an onomatopoeic reference to the sound of light glinting off of a diamond.

If ‘bling’ is a little passé now, perhaps we need to bring back gleng?

Fran, PhD on Anglo-Saxon things and contemporary creative and cultural practices, @franchesykia


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