norse poetry

Viking Runestones

Viking Runestones are large carved stones that memorialize ancient Scandinavians who participated in various Viking expeditions over land and sea. These expeditions went as far west – across the Atlantic no less – and into modern day Newfoundland. They also went as far east as Byzantium and the Middle East.

It is unlikely that the stones mention all the Vikings who participated in these expeditions, nor is there sufficient evidence to point to any specific Vikings who partook in any pillaging, despite the fact that pillaging certainly occurred.

All of the inscriptions are engraved in Old Norse. The stones were carved during the so-called “Viking Age” which is somewhat arbitrarily defined as ranging between 793 and 1066.

The Kjula Runestone (final picture) is considered to be the most famous, as it contain an Old Norse poem in the alliterative poetic meter known as fornyrðislag: a verse form common in Old Norse Eddas. Fornyrðislag roughly translates to “way of ancient words.” The Kjula Runestone recites the poem of a man called “Spear” and his war-like ways. The poem and its translation are below.

saʀ vestarla                                who had been

um vaʀit hafði,                            in the west,

borg um brutna                           broken down and fought

i ok um barða;                            in townships.

rð han karsaʀ                         He knew all

kunni allaʀ.                                the journey’s fortresses.



“Waves crash in time with her heartbeat
and her blood is stinging salt water
and her tears rob men
of their lives.

They are swallowed by the sea
dragged down the depths
to a ruinous kingdom
of shipwrecks.

There is something
so awful and beautiful
about destruction.

And there is nothing more so
than the queen of the sea.”

© Madeleine C. | @mythaelogy

Be a gentle soul. Let Kindness be part of who you are. Be generous and understanding. Care about your friends, your family and your loved ones.

But also be fierce. If someone puts yourself or the people you care about in danger - be strong. Be frightening and protect what is yours. Be a force they have to keep in mind.


They said You were an angry god,

With a thirst for blood

And a fist for violence,

But when You came to me, you were silent,

And when I was frightened,

You stepped back and kept Your distance.

I felt the power of Your existence,

But there was no rush, and Your persistence

Was patient and understanding,

Not aggressive or demanding:

You could wait until I loved myself enough

To not fear us both.

The path you left was smooth, not rough

And lead to steady growth.

When I met You at the end,

You smiled and called me Your friend.

And I think they forgot to mention

What You provide us is protection;

That all of Your acts of aggression

Aren’t out of bloodlust but of love.

I promised Thórr ages ago that I’d write Him a poem as thanks for something. I was kind of stumped and didn’t know what to write for a long time, and then Loki said that if I actually wanted to make it meaningful I should write about Him as I’ve experienced Him. Finally got around to actually doing it.

(I’ll schedule a reblog for a time I know more people are actually online.)

If you know a man who has a really long beard, you should be able to call him “beard-Bragi” to make everyone immediately understand that he’s real about his facial hair. This according to Snorri Sturlason, who names Bragi, the god of poetry, as the one with the longest beard in all of Asgard.

I didn’t really feel like making him old and bearded, because really, he’s married to Idunn, the goddess of youth. If you’re immortal, you can grow out your beard without looking like someone’s grandpa. So here are some first sketches.

And why is his hair grey then? It’s not, I promise. It’s just the weird variety of natural blonde that’s known as “dirt-road-brown” in Finnish and “dusty blonde” in English. The scale for what’s blonde and what’s dark is skewed pretty far to the blonde side in the Nordic countries.
You can see the first variants in the corner, but a “true” blonde looked too shiny and the darker dirt-road-brown was too strong.