NaPoWriMo PROMPT: Our optional prompt for today is to write a poem that contains at least one kenning. Kennings were metaphorical phrases developed in Nordic sagas. At their simplest, they generally consist of two nouns joined together, which imaginatively describe or name a third thing. The phrase “whale road,” for example, could be used instead of “sea” or “ocean,” and “sky candle” could be used for “sun.” The kennings used in Nordic sagas eventually got so complex that you basically needed a decoder-ring to figure them out. And Vikings being Vikings, there tended to be an awful lot of kennings for swords, warriors, ships, and gold. But at their best, they are suprising and evocative. I hope you have fun trying to invent your own.
A Kenning for her Lily Petals
Blessed by the father of the sea thread,
the gnarled Viking sailed the whale road
in a hardy wave traveler.
He knew his piercing tip would drip battle sweat.
but it was his inner sword that sought
the Scottish maiden by the loch.
She strolled in moonlight,
locks of Sif’s hair cradling shoulders.
In shadow, he watched, yearned.
If only he had Grímnir’s lip-streams
to speak the words to win her.
He listened to the silent bird of night
screech like a witch at work.
The maiden lifted her chin
and called back.
Enchanted now, the Viking stepped forth.
He would win her, not with the iclcle of blood,
but with the breaker of trees at his back.