Old English Wisdom: The Exeter Book Maxims

One of the more unusual genres of poetry you encounter when studying Old English (and Old Norse) is so-called wisdom poetry. Carolyne Larrington characterises a wisdom poem as one ‘which exists primarily to impart a body of information about the condition of the world’, usually paired with advice, and notes that it is among one … Continue reading Old English Wisdom: The Exeter Book Maxims

When translation goes wrong: the Finnesburg Fragment

My translations are ok. Competent but not, y'know, sensational. I aim to have them be akin to the sort of thing an undergraduate might read: relatively 'faithful' to what the text says, roughly approximating some stylistic aspects of the originals, and perhaps even occasionally offering something aesthetically pleasing. For me, translation was an obvious, if … Continue reading When translation goes wrong: the Finnesburg Fragment

Poetry and Conversion in the Viking Age, Part 2: Hallfreðr ‘troublesome poet’ at the court of King Olaf Tryggvason

In the first part of this post I explored Hallfreðr's Conversion Verses, providing a translation of them as a coherent whole. We don't, however, have a contemporary tenth- or eleventh-century account of Hallfreðr's performance of this poetry, and indeed it is only in the later Middle Ages that we have any record of the poet … Continue reading Poetry and Conversion in the Viking Age, Part 2: Hallfreðr ‘troublesome poet’ at the court of King Olaf Tryggvason

Poetry and Conversion in the Viking Age, Part 1: Hallfreðr ‘troublesome-poet’ Óttarsson’s Conversion Verses

Hallfreðr Óttarsson, known as vandræðaskáld ('troublesome-poet'), was an Icelandic court poet at the turn of the eleventh century who spent much of his time in Norway. Court poets in the Viking Age were known as skalds (Old Norse skáld) and seem to have been highly mobile figures, plying their trade across the North Sea region … Continue reading Poetry and Conversion in the Viking Age, Part 1: Hallfreðr ‘troublesome-poet’ Óttarsson’s Conversion Verses

Set yet speaking: Welcome to my website + Beowulf lines 1687-98a

Hello everyone. If you've come here via my Twitter account - and let's face it, you definitely have - then you will know that I like to post translations of Old English and Old Norse texts. I enjoy translating poetry in particular, despite (or maybe because of) the anxiety in balancing "fidelty" and creativity, of … Continue reading Set yet speaking: Welcome to my website + Beowulf lines 1687-98a