The Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem: Remixed

A young woman named Claire Smith, of the Spider Tribe, has had the creativity and courage (and audacity? ;) to adapt the old Anglo-Saxon rune poem to something decidedly new, but true to form to the spirit and meaning of the old Anglo-Saxon rune poem. With her permission, I’m re-posting it on Rune Secrets to share with you this inspiring creative undertaking.

You can visit Claire and see some of her other poetry on her Spider Tribe website.

Wealth is a comfort to all men
But greater is the good of riches shared,
The barrow’s treasure is a dragon’s den
Of teetering gems ~ hoarder, be prepared
For the wolves that track the scent of gold,
Give to the living, for death lies cold.

The up~horned aurochs is fierce and proud,
Great girded warrior of the moor
With eyes of fire and spirit loud,
Savage and feared as a god of war
But the man who is brave, or the man who is wise
Might show the mettle for the beast’s demise.

The thorn is sharp to human flesh,
Push against it ~it will win the duel,
One thorn can hide a wicked mesh
Of thorns, demon company is cruel.
Best be vigilant or be easily caught
On the barbs of evil deed or thought.

The mouth gives shape and sound to words,
Is the comfort of councilors and Wisdom’s pillar,
On the palate of the ageless sky, the birds
Are blessed and confident; Woden is Healer,
Prophet and Sage and as Shaman he gave
More than his eye to cut the whisper on the stave.

The saddle is soft and the way is clear
In the journey of a hearth~dream, but the dreaming fire
Is no preparation for the hardships that will appear
On the mile~paths cruel with rock and mire.
The wise traveler and his horse are bold
When the ashes of dreams have long lain cold.

Torch is known to the living by its light
And heat of flame when the nobles are within,
When men of common purpose talk into the night,
When they are gathered together, kith and kin.
Its beacon is sure and true and courage
Is like oxygen, empowering its quiet rage.

Generosity is for men glory and exaltation,
A word of kindness can mean more than gold,
However small the gift, express appreciation ~
The grudging man pines, but he who is kind and bold
Seldom has cares, even the man who is broken
Can give or receive the simplest token.

Joyful is he who knows no sorrow,
Has little want and bears no pain,
Who thanks the day and does not fear tomorrow.
Sadness will come, but do not seek to attain
Its touch of grey ~ Wyrd has enough bliss
And woe for all ~ bittersweet, the parting kiss.

Hail is the whitest of grains, fleet
As the messenger with urgent news, cold mortar
Through the vaults of heaven, a sleet
Of arrows that sweetly melts to water
Having felled the golden legions of the field.
And so, in times of plenty, make good your yield.

Need is an aching in the breast, but then
Just as the medicine with the bitter taste
Can soothe, need is comfort to the sons of men.
Hardship, like guilt, is better faced ~
Be strong and certain of brighter days
And the gods will hold you in their gaze.

Ice is over~cold, a skater’s dream,
A walker’s nightmare, a floor of frost
Cold glass and gems, the faraway gleam
Of all we desire that is easily lost.
Crystals and opals and diamonds all,
Cruel and worthless when we fall.

Year is the hope and joy of men, She
Who is Earth and of the earth, who bears
The fruits of earth and flesh for all humanity,
Rich and poor alike, is all beauty when she wears
The green and blossoms as her gown, the sky
In her hair ~ and so shall be when we all die.

Yew is outwardly an unsmooth tree
Hard and fast in the earth, the shepherd
Of fire, roots earth~locked, tangled as mystery.
Its branches sky~reaching are, as the web of Wyrd,
Questing for the seven worlds, seen and unseen ~
Irminsul, a joy on the land and evergreen.

Hearth is to the proud the place of laughter,
Song and recreation, where the warriors in the mead hall
Sit now blithe and companionable after
The giants of flesh and mind and heart, all
Have been slain for the day; when battles are chessmen
And challenges are riddles, all is pleasure then.

Elksedge, waxing in the water of the marsh,
Has a hilt to suit the warrior’s grasp
But it meets the flesh with substance harsh ~
Hilt becomes blade, a living rasp
That sears the flesh and burns the blood.
Be strong, to clutch at straws will yield no good.

Sun, bright sail of the tranquil sky,
Is ever a joy to the farers of the sea,
When dreams are fish shoals and hopes fly high
With the sea birds and confidence and opportunity
Rise with the halyards, until the steed of brine and foam,
Courser of the deep, brings them gladly home.

Tiw is a guiding star, the warrior’s friend,
Ever moving over night’s mist and darkness.
First of the gods, ever burning to defend
The fields of men and the shining fortress,
Stronghold of the gods that we call heaven,
Keeping faith with princes and trust with all men.

Birch bears no fruit, yet brings forth shoots
Until its crown is splendid, laden with leaves,
Heavy in the air ~ and so it is that its fruits
Are those of healing and enchantment, such spells it weaves
Out of green and time as the creative fire communes
With the mind of man, is the flesh of wands and runes.

Horse, proud in its hooves, at the helm
Of warriors is a joy to princes and royal
In its mane, be it on the mile~paths of its realm
Granting a hero speed, or standing loyal
Where the rich men barter words and impress
With deeds. And is ever a comfort to the restless.

The man of laughter is dear to his friends,
Yet every kinsman will betray his fellow:
The time must come to all when laughter ends
And Sculd, by Her decree, lays flesh below
The living green and the solemn oaths of man
Are brought to nothing. Enjoy the laughter, while you can.

Water to men seems endless, when the rocking bark
Is fragile on the quake of sea, when the horse
Of the deep, thundering vast and dark
Defies the bridle. But still they plot a course
For new horizons, the reward of distant lands,
Seizing opportunity with trembling hands.

Ing was first among the East Danes
Seen by men, until he departed over the deep,
His wagon behind him and they with war in their veins
Named the hero. Rouse him from his winter sleep
When you burn the holly ~ he survives the snow
As the seed of life, with his corn~sheaf pillow.

Homeland, dear to man, won by the blood
And courage of the men of old, is the hearthlight
Of all that is safe and right and good,
The legacy for which we fought and still must fight.
It swells the blood with pride and sings
In the hearts of common men and kings.

Day, beloved of men, is the herald
Of Woden and the glorious skein of thread
Spun by Metod. Such comfort in that gold ~
Lightening the mind, the heart, the tread
Of rich and poor alike, of service to all
Is reason and understanding, fair and rational.

Oak is food for flesh, joy to the lips
Of man in the meat that grew sweet and succulent
Feasting on acorns. And oak is the faith of ships,
The trusted timber, stable on the torrent
Of the gannet’s bath and so we must ensure
That the acorns of our lifetime, as oaks endure.

Ash, much prized by man, is high
Steadfast and firm, swift when it grows,
Stout when it stands, straight when it streaks the sky
As a singing spear or a sleet of arrows.
Ash is ambush, attack, the power to advance
And yet is stockade, defence and vigilance.

The ax~hammer is a joy and an honour
To prince and warrior alike. It is bold
On the journey, intrinsic to the brave armour
Of war and fair on the horse, a sight to behold
As it hangs from the saddle, hellbent on battlefields,
The clang of war~gear and the walls of shields.

Ior is a river~fish and yet it feeds
Always on the land and lives a life
Of quiet joy, working hard to meet its own needs,
Building a home that is free from strife,
Encompassed by water. His is time well spent,
Is peace of mind and home~and~dry contentment.

Grave is the terror of all, even from birth
When life first warms the flesh, it is the only certainty
That flesh will cool and choose the pale earth
As its last companion. But thus shall we find equality
In that end ~ and a spur~ for the dead are dumb to speak
When the rich lie poor and the strong lie weak.

8 thoughts on “The Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem: Remixed”

  1. Stunning! It is apparent to me that the voice of the Gods has spoken through you and that their hands have moved yours in this new interpretation of the classic poem. Thank you for allowing this to happen and helping us to a new understanding of the runes! Blessed be!

    I, too, plan to reference this poem extensively in my own work with the runes; it has definitely opened my mind a lot more to the possibilities inherent in them!

  2. Word-wise Skald!
    Kvasir’d kennings cloaked in flowering flowing fires

    May Gladness of cup, gladness of hearth, gladness of star-turnings embrace you!

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