Wolf Ears

Infants have been said to find the Poetic Edda calming, especially the Fáfnismál in Old Norse. Fáfnismál is the story of the young Sigurth killing the dragon Fafnir. I wasn’t sure about all the dragon blood and fratricide, but after trying the meter a little bit, (it’s written in Ljóðaháttr), I sort of liked the philosophical angle. Here it is in English, with commentary in English, and in Old Norse.

The “wolf ears” are from an old Viking proverb that appears in other sources:

þar er mér ulfs ván,
er ek eyru sék

meaning “There is ever a wolf | where his ears I spy.”
Or in plain English, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire”.

=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=

Another proverb about rashness:

Fafnir spake:

11….In the water shalt drown | if thou row ‘gainst the wind,

í vatni þú druknar
ef í vindi rœr,

=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=

Sigurth spake:
24. “Unknown it is, | when all are together,
(The sons of the glorious gods,)
Who bravest born shall seem;
Some are valiant | who redden no sword
In the blood of a foeman’s breast.”

24.
“Þat er óvíst at vita,
þá er komum allir saman,
hverr óblauðastr er alinn,
margr er sá hvatr
er hjör né rýðr
annars brjóstum í.”

=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=

Sigurth spake:
28. “Better is heart | than a mighty blade
For him who shall fiercely fight;
The brave man well | shall fight and win,
Though dull his blade may be.

Sigurðr kvað:

28.
“Fjarri þú gekkt,
meðan ek á Fáfni rauðk
minn inn hvassa hjör;
afli mínu
atta ek við orms megin,
meðan þú í lyngvi látt.”

=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=||=

Image: St. George Church, Madaba, Jordan

Advertisements
Posted in Poetry. Comments Off on Wolf Ears